Wednesday, May 16, 2007

SPORTS>>Cabot track athletes qualify for 7A state

Leader sportswriter

Russellville High School was the site of this year’s 7A-Central Conference track meet last Tuesday. It was a respectable showing for both the boys and girls Cabot teams, with the girls capturing sixth overall with a total score of 61, while the boys ended up fifth overall with a 63.

Pine Bluff took the championship in the girls division, scoring 149 total points. Russellville came in a close second with 147 points, while Bryant took third with 77 points.

Conway was the winner on the boys side with a winning score of 190 points. Pine Bluff was the only school to place in the top three on both sides. The Zebras almost backed up the efforts of the girls team, finishing second with 116 points. North Little Rock took third with 100 points.

A total of 18 athletes qualified for today’s 7A state meet, also at Russellville. There were 11 boys to qualify, along with seven Lady Panthers that earned bids to the event.

Although it only resulted in an eighth-place finish overall, there was one school record broken at the meet. Jeff Hicks scored a 41-00.25 during the event, setting a new Cabot High School record.

Marissa De La Paz and Emily Carpenter turned in the strongest girls performances for Cabot. Carpenter got the only event win for the Lady Panthers, taking first-place in the 3200 meter run with a time of 12:03.94. De La Paz finished fourth in the event, but edged out her teammate in the 1600 meter run. De La Paz finished second behind Russellville’s Brittany Blackman with a time of 5:28.32, a good nine-seconds faster than Carpenter’s third-place time of 5:37.03. De La Paz also finished third in the 800 meter run with a 2:28.66.

In the 4x800 relay, the group of De La Paz, Carpenter, Brittani Bennett and Sarah Brewer took fourth-place with a total time of 10:17.34. Sophomore Tori Hendrix and Kayla Milam had success in the girls high jump event. Hendrix finished fourth with an even 5’ jump, and Milam was sixth with a 4’ 8” leap, enough to qualify for state as well. Bekah Miller finished third in the pole vault with an even nine-foot vault.

The boys side had an equal amount of success. Jacob De La Paz followed his sister’s tracks to a third-place run in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:06.56. Nathan Johnson was second in the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:35.42. Johnson was also a hundredth of a second off of capturing an event win for the Panthers in the 3200 meter run, finishing second to Bryant’s Ethan Blakley. Blakley had a winning time of 9:52.75, compared to a very close 9:52.76 for Johnson. Robert Gault finished seventh in the event for Cabot.

Jared Santiago took sixth-place in the 300 meter hurdles with a 43.80.

In the relays, the team of Michael Reitz, Chris Bayles, Hunter Hess and Trevor Carpenter finished sixth in the 4x100 meter relay with a time of 46.11. Carpenter then teamed with De La Paz, Blake Norman and William Paschal for the 4x400 meter relay, capturing sixth-place with a 3:33.41. The best relay run for the Panthers would turn out to be the 4x800 meter relay, where the team of De La Paz, Gault, Johnson and Norman took second to Bryant with a time of 8:16.44.
In field events, Nick Lawhon finished fifth in the boys high jump, but it was Tyler Spencer that had the greatest success for Cabot in field events. Spencer finished second in the shot put competition with a throw of 44 feet, 8.75 inches. His throw of 126 feet one inch in the discuss throw was good for fourth place.

SPORTS>>Panthers are eager but young this spring

Leader sports editor

The first couple of spring football practices have been a pleasant surprise so far for the Cabot Panthers. There will be a lot of new faces in the skill positions for Cabot in the upcoming season, but many of those new faces have looked good in the spring.

Never before has more than a handful of sophomores-to-be come over for spring practice, but this year a dozen current freshmen have donned the pads for hot-weather ball, and looked good in doing so.
A few of them have a chance to earn starting spots while head Panther Mike Malham says he believes all of them will push for playing time.

“They looked pretty good on the first day,” Malham said. “They were aggressive. Sometimes your freshmen coming over are a little timid and you worry about that, but these kids weren’t. They got after it and they’re a pretty athletic group.”

The Panthers lost all but one of the offensive backs from a year ago, but the Cabot coaching staff feels good about their replacements. Returning is senior Casey Carlisle, who has played halfback the last two years. The positions aren’t yet determined, but freshman Michael James has been effective carrying the ball, as well as junior Jake Davis.
Sophomore Seth Bloomberg and junior Nathan Burns are competing for the quarterback spot.
It will be a youthful front line for the Panthers on both sides of the ball too. Leading the way will be senior LJ Tarrant, who Malham believes is outstanding.

“He’s one of the best blockers we’ve had around here in a long time,” Malham said. “He’s going to be playing somewhere in college that’s almost certain. If he was 6-foot-3 or 6-4, he could name his schools, but he’s a six-footer. Some smaller schools is probably going to snatch him up and have heck of a lineman.”

Tarrant will be the only senior on the offensive line, working with a crop of juniors and maybe even a sophomore or two.
The Bryant twins, sophomores Powell and Joseph, are competing for playing time at safety, while sophomore ?? Nuemann has been impressive at linebacker.

“They’ve all got pretty good speed,” Malham said. “They’re not blazing fast, but they’re all in the 4.6, 4.7 range, which is better than we’ve had in a while.”

Nuemann is also working at running back and doing a good job, but his play at linebacker is what is catching the eyes of the coaching staff in the early going.

Daniel Hillenburg returns as a starting defensive end and has continued to solidify his spot atop the depth chart.
There were only 60 players out for the first day of spring practice. While it will be a small and young group, it’s not totally lacking in experience, and it’s one of the more athletic groups assembled for a spring practice in a while.

“Overall the talent level seems to be up,” Malham said. “The sophomores last year were a good group as a whole and this one is a good group. That’s what you need to get good is a couple of three good groups in a row. I think we’re sitting better right now than we have been the past few years at this time.”

SPORTS>>Hits don’t come when needed

Leader sports editor

Fayetteville – Abundant Life gave up three unearned runs, but the key issue of its 5-1 loss to Horatio in the state championship game Saturday in Fayetteville was lack of timely hitting. The Owls got seven base hits, compared to just three for the Lions, but only got their leadoff hitter on base once, and couldn’t get that elusive base hit while runners on the bags.
“That’s it,” Abundant Life coach Wes Johnson said. “We only struck out twice, so we were putting it in play. We just couldn’t get a base hit when we just had to have it. The one inning we got the leadoff runner on, we scored. We just weren’t able to do anything until there were two outs, and then couldn’t get anything after that.”

The Owls’ first run came in the second inning when a Justin Treece single scored Jerry Lawson.

Abundant Life lost the lead in the bottom of the third, but only after what should have been a third-out strikeout by starting pitcher D.J. Baxendale. Baxendale struck out Horatio’s Brett Weatherwax with a curve ball in the dirt that got by the catcher. Baxendale then hit Alex Ayers, and Dillon Blankenship laid down a sacrifice bunt that was misplayed by the Owls. Catcher Thomas Garrick overthrew second baseman Carson Seelinger, who was covering first base. Right- fielder Colby Woolverton then mishandled the ball while scooping up the overthrow and both runners scored on the play. Horatio starting pitcher Kolton Saulsbury then tripled down the right-field line for the first Lion hit of the game. The hit drove in Blankenship, and Saulsbury scored on an infield single by Matt Jones.

Bad luck cost the Owls another run in the fifth inning. A bases-loaded pop-up down the right-field line, just behind first base, landed in just the perfect spot for Matt Jones. No Owl fielder could get the to ball before it landed on right on the dirt-grass border. Woolverton caught the ball on the bounce and threw home. The throw was in time to get a force out, but no tag was applied. The umpires ruled the hit an infield fly, which took away the force and left the runner safe at home to set the final margin. The ruling was technically the right call, and no beef was made. The big disappointment for the Owls goes back to the timely hitting.

“They had two runs that were legitimately earned,” Johnson said. “So the bottom line is we still have to score more runs. We still lose even if you take away our mistakes. We just didn’t get it done today.

“Baxendale threw a good game. The sophomore right-hander went the distance with eight strikeouts and no walks while giving up only three hits.

Abundant Life finishes the season with a record of ?? while Horatio finished 30-6.

“That’s a great record,” Johnson said of Horatio. “Any time you win 30 ball games you’ve done something. We knew we had to hit well and play mistake-free baseball to beat a team like that, and we didn’t do it. We feel like things would have been different if we had done those things, but we didn’t so we just give Horatio all the credit they deserve.”

OBITUARIES >> 5-16-07

Glendal Strayhorn

Glendal Wayne Strayhorn, 72, of Little Rock died May 15 at his home after a lengthy illness. He was born Dec. 3, 1934, at McRae and was retired from a career in manufacturing.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Sue Jones Strayhorn; one son, Kevin Strayhorn and his wife Karen of Little Rock; one daughter, Karen Williams of North Little Rock; four grandchildren, Kendal and Koby Strayhorn and Halea and Winston Williams.

He is also survived by five brothers, Herman, Clarence and wife Vela, Franklin and wife Lydia, O. C. and wife Alice, and James and wife Diane Strayhorn; and three sisters, Laverne Thompson, Shirley and husband Jerry Surratt, and Juanita and husband Tommy Stanley.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Finis M. and Alice Strayhorn; one brother, Delbert Strayhorn; and one sister, Opal Webb.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 17 at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Mt. Carmel Cemetery on Hwy. 89 South in Cabot.
Donations may be designated to the ALS Foundation, c/o Muscular Dystrophy Association, Inc., 204 Executive Ct. #208, Little Rock, Ark. 72205.

Leonard Brewer

Leonard Dale Brewer, 58, of Jacksonville passed away May 10 at his home. He was born Dec. 28, 1948 to Babel Ninecheck Brewer the late Daryle Brewer.

Brewer served in the Army and was a carpenter.

Survivors include his wife, Monica Hicks Brewer; four children, Joseph, David, Olivia Brewer, and Liberty Millien; granddaughter, Skyler Brewer; four brothers, one sister, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Memorial service was May 14 at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville.

Jessie Lovell

Jessie L. Lovell, 80, of Jacksonville passed away May 11 in Little Rock. He was born July 28, 1926 in Bigelow to the late Jessie H. and Myrtle Hopkins Lovell.

He is also preceded in death by a son, Dale Lovell; two daughters, Karen and Eva Jane Lovell; as well as a brother, Bud Lovell.
Lovell proudly served his country during WWII in the Army.

Survivors include his loving wife, Eunie of Jacksonville; sister, Pat Taylor and her husband Brandon of Bend, Ore.; grandchildren, Aaron Lovell and wife Cindy, Lori Yearber and husband Kenneth, all of Jacksonville; as well as greatgrandchildren Candy Yearber, Shawna, Cheyenne, Triston, Jessie and Justina Lovell.

Memorial service was May 14.

Mary Blankenship

Mary Esther Blankenship, 74, of Cabot passed away May 11 in North Little Rock.

She was born April 16, 1933 to Margaret E. Brown Nolen in Chattanooga, Tenn., and the late James M. Nolen. Her son, Loyd Blankenship, Jr., and a sister, Ann Nolen Wood, preceded her in death.

Mary had a great love for animals, especially dogs and cats. She took in many strays and gave them tender love and care.
Survivors include her two sons; Allan Duane and Charles Blankenship both of Cabot, two sisters; Augusta Stuff and her husband John, and Carolyn Bell all of Chattanooga, Tenn., and a brother, James L. Nolen and his wife Joyce, of Birchwood, Tenn.

Graveside funeral services were May 14 at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cabot.

Dale Roberson

Dale Eugene Roberson, 47, of Jacksonville passed away May 1 in the Bahamas.

He was born in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Sept. 7, 1959. He worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and was a licensed electrician.

Roberson was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy Mae Roberson.

Survivors include his wife of 15 years, Pam Roberson of Jacksonville; two sons, Bradley and Cory Roberson of Cabot; one daughter, Jennifer Roberson of Cabot; two stepchildren, April and husband Shawn Burns of Mississippi, and Grayson and wife Nicole Holt of Fort Knox, Ky.

Also surviving him are his father and stepmother, Leonard and Ina of Rosebud; two brothers, William and wife Peggy Roberson of North Little Rock, and Glen and wife Ranee Roberson of Quitman; one sister, Carla and husband Johnny Davidson of Conway; three grandchildren and one step-grandson.

He is also survived by other relatives and many friends. A memorial service was officiated by Rev. Bruce W. Venable.

Essie Taylor

Essie Estelle Taylor, 92, of Cabot passed away May 11. She was born May 6, 1915 in Alabama to the late Monroe and Chessie Harris Head.

She was a member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church for over 70 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Finis Taylor; a son, William Taylor; as well as three sisters and two brothers.

She is survived by one son, James and wife Mickie Taylor of Cabot; seven grandchildren, Farrell, Cindy, Mike, Tim, Lloyd, Dwayne, and Scott; nine great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren; as well as a sister, Dot Howell of Columbia, Tenn.

Funeral services were May 14 at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church with burial following in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

EDITORIALS>>Charters flop

Charter schools, like vouchers, are a typical educational panacea. It is bold, appealing and it doesn’t work.
That generalization is not quite accurate. There are very good charter programs, like the KIPP Delta College Preparatory School at Helena, a truly innovative and rigorous program that produces results. Charter schools, which are funded by public school money, are supposed to offer innovative programs that reach disadvantaged children in ways that conventional K-12 schools do not.

But they too often have become merely a ruse for vouchers to enable advantaged children to go to what essentially are private academies with public tax support. Arkansas charter schools have been struggling. Because they do not have the fiscal controls of public schools, they often run into fiscal trouble and have to be abandoned. More often, they just fail to show any difference in achievement. Nationally, the record of charter school students is no better than that of comparable students in the public schools and frequently worse.

But the idea is hard to surrender. Most members of the state Board of Education, appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee, are committed charter schoolers. Their anti-public-school ideology is why they are on the board. One is the program officer for the Walton Family Foundation, which puts tens of millions of dollars a year into voucher programs and other alternatives to public schools.

Tuesday, the board voted to give a charter school at Rogers in Benton County a license to operate for another five years, although the standardized test scores of students in two grades actually have been declining from one year to the next and the overall performance of students is essentially no better than the public schools.

To make the picture worse, the charter school is nearly all-white and its students are not typically disadvantaged. Thirty-seven percent of the children in the city’s public schools are Hispanic, but only 3 percent in the charter school. The director of the school said it took whoever enrolled and the children just happened to be white.

Never mind. It may work some day, a majority of the state board decided. That is accountability in the board that regulates education.
—Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>Fuel efficiency must improve

Was it the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline and perpetual war in the region where we get much of our oil, the growing dismay over global warming, a timely decision by the U. S. Supreme Court or the rising chorus from Democratic presidential candidates demanding higher fuel standards? Whichever, President Bush at long last said Monday that he would look into raising the federal fuel-efficiency standards for new cars.

Not that it matters much. The president is not going to follow through, at least not to an extent that will make much difference. He has always been opposed to mandatory efficiency standards and promised U.S. automakers in 2000 that he would see to it that they did not have to make cars that got much higher gas mileage. He has kept his word, although Congress — both parties — has not applied any pressure. His heart is not in the efficiency cause, and no one should expect to see any results in the next 18 months.

But every week another of the Democratic presidential candidates pronounces himself an advocate of much higher standards. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said he would double the current average fuel economy of American automakers — about 24 miles per gallon — to 50 mpg by 2017. Four other candidates propose less draconian steps.

The corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFÉ) standards, which were first imposed by the Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975, provided the single most dramatic reduction in the domestic demand for imported oil, and the failure to continue the pressure for better cars for nearly 20 years has been the single largest contributor to the present crisis: $3-a-gallon gasoline at Arkansas pumps this week, an enervating war in the Middle East, and the intolerable carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

Congress imposed the CAFÉ standards after the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 tripled the price of crude. Something had to be done to reduce the demand for oil and our dependence on the Middle East. New models in 1974 got an average of 12.9 mpg. The law required manufacturers to produce models that met a series of annual averages, up to 27.5 mpg by 1985. The idea was that since the technology was available the government would continue the pressure until the fleetwide average reached 50 mpg. But future administrations and congresses went in the opposite direction as fuel costs declined and U.S. automakers wanted to meet the demand for bigger and faster cars rather than lighter, more efficient ones.

The average fuel efficiency of the Big Three U.S. automakers has been steadily declining for years. Meantime, they have been dramatically losing market share to more efficient models made by Japanese companies.

Perhaps the president really is sincere. There is at last a recognition in some quarters that the Middle East stability that the United States says it pursues by war is not attainable by arms after all and that a far safer and more certain strategy is to control the crisis on the demand side, by reducing dependence on imports from the oil oligarchies.

The Republican-controlled Supreme Court gave him another wake-up call last month by ruling that the Clean Air Act required his administration to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions, which numerous state governments (not Arkansas’) had petitioned him to do. To avoid it, the president will have to make a scientific conclusion that carbon dioxide does not contribute to global warming. The Bush administration seems no longer willing to make that claim.

Starting the long process of building cleaner and more efficient cars and trucks will help get us to that safer future, even if it is years away. Other alternative technologies to fossil fuels need to be pursued, too, but nothing is surer and quicker than doing what we already know can be done.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Famed photographer had roots in area

If you turn off Hwy. 5 at Cabot near the freeway and drive down Cleland Road for less than a mile, you’ll come to Mt. Pleasant Road.

Turn right on the little road, and you’ll find Mt. Pleasant Church and Cemetery a few yards in front of you. The Counts family has several gravestones in the cemetery. Toward the end of the road, as you pass the church, you’ll see a marker for Ira Wilmer Counts and his wife, Jeanne.

Their son’s ashes are buried alongside them, although there’s not a marker there for him yet. He died in 2001 at the age of 70, and he, too, was named Ira Wilmer Counts, an award-winning photographer known simply as Will Counts, who grew up in Cabot, Plum Bayou near England, and Rose Bud in White County.

When he was a young man, he took two of the most famous photographs of the 20th Century: A mob harassing Elizabeth Eckford as she attempted to enter Central High School in September 1957.

The National Guard troops had just turned her away, under orders of Gov. Orval Faubus, and the mob kept taunting her until she got on a city bus and tearfully told her mother what had happened at school that morning. Counts’ other famous photo is of Alex Wilson, a black reporter for the Memphis Tri-State Defender, who was kicked and beaten by a furious mob in front of the school. The Associated Press and the Encyclopedia Britannica have included both photos in their lists of the most important photographs of the 20th Century.

You can see those photographs and dozens of others in Will Counts’ “A Life Is More Than a Moment: The Desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High,” with text by Counts and Robert S. McCord, who had hired Counts at the Arkansas Democrat just a few months before the crisis.

There’s also a chapter on Central by our own Ernie Dumas and an introduction by Will Campbell, a minister who was at the school during the troubles.

The first edition appeared a decade ago, when Counts was still alive, and this 50th anniversary edition paperback ($19.95 from Indiana University Press) coincides with the upcoming anniversary of Central High’s integration.

Counts was 27 years old, fresh out of college, but looked as if he were still in school, and he was assigned to cover the Central High School crisis. While other photographers were content with capturing your average newspaper photo — people milling around the high school, soldiers standing guard — young Counts was always where the action was: People were marching and screaming and protesting. They were on the move, and Counts was right in front of them.

He wore casual clothes, while other journalists wore suits and ties, so he could move around faster, and the other photographers carried bulky cameras, while he used his little 35-mm Nikon S2 wide-angle camera, shooting 36 exposures without reloading, jumping all over the place, despite a slight limp because of a difficult birth. (The older photographers had to reload film every time they took a picture.)

His hero was the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who believed in capturing the “decisive moment.” (The title of Counts’ book comes from a remark by Hazel Bryan, the white girl who screamed “Nigger! Nigger!” behind Elizabeth Eckford. Bryan said her life is more than that moment at Central.)

Cartier-Bresson would have been proud of the young man from rural Arkansas, where his father was a tenant farmer before the family moved to Little Rock. Counts attended Little Rock High School before it was renamed Central High. He’d lived in the neighborhood, and he knew his way around.

Almost everyone has seen his photo of Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan. Another white girl, named Sammie Dean Parker, turned her head in that famous picture, but she’s seen in several other frames in the book.

(Bryan didn’t attend Central, but Parker and her boyfriend harassed the black students throughout the school year.)
Eckford, trying to escape the mob, made it to a bus stop, where Benjamin Fine of the New York Times told her, “Don’t let them see you cry.”

Counts’ classic photo made the front page of the New York Times last week, accompanying an article about the troubled Little Rock School District after 50 years of desegregation efforts. The picture is also on the cover of a recent history of the Central High School crisis, which I reviewed here six weeks ago. That photo, I wrote, should have won the Pulitzer Prize.

Until I read “A Life Is More Than a Moment,” I didn’t know that Counts had won the Pulitzer Prize, but the board of Columbia University, which administers the prize, overruled the judges who’d picked him and gave the award to someone else because too many journalists were honored that year for their Central High work.

The old Arkansas Gazette won two awards, while a couple of out-of-state reporters also received prizes.

Will, by all accounts an unassuming fellow, had to make do with other honors and seeing his photos reprinted all over the world.

Until I read Counts’ book, I also didn’t know that he was from around here. Growing up around England, he made friends with black kids and empathized with the Little Rock Nine and the black reporters who were trying to do their job outside the school. (There was another reason Will identified with minorities: His widow, Vivian Counts, told me her husband was part Cherokee.)

Notice Counts’ photo of the black reporter who was attacked by the mob, reprinted here: There’s a photographer on the right, still holding his bulky camera (Counts stuck to his much smaller camera), and another photographer is approaching the scene on the rear left. The first photographer was too stunned to take a picture, and the second photographer was probably too late to make his way around the mob.

President Eisenhower had seen Counts’ photos, especially the one of the Wilson beating, and Ike had enough: A decade earlier, he’d liberated Europe, where thugs had also attacked minorities in the streets, and he sent federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the law of the land.

Will left Little Rock in 1960, when the Associated Press offered him a job in Chicago. A few years later, he joined the faculty at Indiana University, where he taught photojournalism for 32 years.

Not long ago, Vivian Counts brought his ashes back home to Cabot. May his soul rest in peace.

TOP STORY >>Jacksonville may ban pit bulls

Leader staff writer

All pit bulls, bull dogs or any mixed breed that is predominantly pit bull will have to be registered, spayed or neutered and micro-chipped if an ordinance to ban the breed from Jacksonville is approved.

Aldermen will vote on the matter at their regular meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
Not only will the dogs be required to be clipped and chipped, if they are picked up because they are running loose, causing a nuisance or biting a human or another animal, the owners will have 48 hours to remove the animal from the city.
A second offense brings the death sentence.

Alderman Robert Stroud is sponsoring the ordinance, which will not allow any more pit bulls or bulldogs into the city. “We just got to do something,” he explained. “Pit bulls have been responsible for more than half the bite cases this year and last year. And the population in the city is growing exponentially since neighboring cities have banned the breed.”

Those type of dogs already in the city will be allowed to stay if the owner can show proof that the animal was licensed before the new ordinance went into effect, has proof of rabies vaccination and the owner is at least 21—and then has the dog spayed or neutered, registered and has a licensed veterinarian implant a computer chip into the animal.

“I really don’t like the idea of grandfathering in some of the dogs,” Stroud said, “because we can’t determine the good dogs and owners from the bad ones until a bite or attack occurs.”

Stroud said he recently got a call from a resident that is afraid to go into his own backyard. Stroud said the neighbor has three pit bulls that try to go through the fence every time the man goes into his backyard. “Why does anyone need three of those dogs?” the alderman asked.

According to the ordinance the only time a pit bull or bull dog may be brought into the city after the ordinance goes into effect is for the purpose of veterinary care, special event dog shows sanctioned by the city or for use by law enforcement or military personnel as part of their duties. “I know it’s controversial, but it’s best for the city,” Stroud said.

Other items on the council agenda include:

Deciding whether to buy three Kubota or Mahindra brush hog tractors. This decision was tabled at the last meeting.

The company selling the Mahindra tractors had the lowest price, but Public Works Director Jim Oakley asked the council to bypass the low bidder in favor of the Kubotas (the second lowest price) because he felt they were better tractors. The fire chief and police chief will make their monthly report to the council. So will the animal control and engineering departments.

TOP STORY >>Principal promoted to top job

Leader staff writer

Dr. Tony Thurman, principal of Cabot High School, is the new superintendent of Cabot Public Schools.

The Cabot School Board, in a 6-1 vote, selected Thurman, 38, from among 22 candidates as the next chief of schools during Tuesday night’s board meeting.

A round of applause, cheers and tears erupted after Thurman was named superintendent. Most of the teachers from CHS were present at the board meeting to offer support and congratulations. One said that although the teacher will miss him at the high school, he will do great things for the district.

“I want to thank Mr. (Jim) Dalton for bringing me to this district (from McGehee). He said I was a person for Cabot,” Thurman said upon being named the next superintendent of Cabot schools. “I guarantee I will do everything in my power to continue Cabot’s tradition (of excellence) and make us only bigger and better.”

School board president David Hipp was the lone opposing vote. Although he voted against the rest of the board that picked Thurman, Hipp said his decision would not affect his ability to work with Thurman in the future.

“I will join with the board to support Dr. Thurman and the work he will be tasked to do. We will have a unified effort to keep Cabot schools on the cutting edge of excellence and providing an educational opportunity for our children in the Cabot School District,” Hipp said.

Thurman acknowledged Hipp’s opinion saying he will do everything possible to show Hipp he was the right choice.“I do not take this position lightly; I understand your position and will do everything in my power to show you that I was the right man for the job,” he told Hipp and the school board, adding, “I thank you for this opportunity.”

“I am very humble. I know it was a hard decision, and I respect that and also understand his (Hipp’s) decision,” Thurman told The Leader.

Thurman’s three-year contract begins July 1 when he takes administrative control of the 9,000 strong school district. He will make between $135,000 and $175,000. Because he is already in the Cabot district, Thurman will not receive the $5,000 for moving expenses and said he didn’t want or need it.

A total of 22 people, including five from within the Cabot district and 10 from within the state, applied for the position that became available after current superintendent Dr. Frank Holman announced his resignation in March.

Holman’s last day is June 30 when he leaves to take the superintendent position with the Lincoln Consolidated School District near Fayetteville where he has previously worked for 16 years.

Thurman took over as principal of CHS in 2003. He is a past Cabot middle school principal (2000-2003) and was an elementary school principal for McGehee schools from 1998-2000.

He spent five years teaching and coaching before going into administration. Although he said he is perfectly happy being the high school principal, he applied for the superintendent position as a way to stay in a district he loves and work with all the students in the district.

Thurman received his doctorate in education administration in 2003.

He and his wife Tara Leigh, an elementary school teacher, have two children, Ryane Elizabeth and Rhett Jackson. The list of applicants from within Cabot included: Thurman; Teresa Chance, director of curriculum; June Elliott, director of federal programs; Charlie Donham, director of transportation, and Robert Martin, director of career and technical education.

Applicants from other districts within Arkansas included: Wayne Fawcett of Bald Knob, Bruce Evans of Piggott, Dr. Randy Byrd of Brinkley, Joseph Cornelison of Horatio, James Simmons of Conway, Mickey Billingsley of Bauxite, Dr. Larry Bennett of Green Forest, Rhonda Bradford of Mayflower, Jim Loyd of Paris and Gary Masters of Marked Tree.

Out-of-state applicants were Pat Travis from Detroit, Texas; Jake Honea from West Columbia, Texas; Bob Biggs from Pleasant Hope, Mo.; James Dubus from Pittsburg, Texas; Michael Mitchell from Corsicana, Texas; Chris Carem from Gastonia, N.C.; and Richard Wilde from Castle Rock, Wash.

TOP STORY >>Security specialist killed in Baghdad

Leader staff writer

A roadside bomb killed a military member from Little Rock Air Force in Baghdad Monday while he was in a three-vehicle convoy. Three other airmen, from other military bases, were injured in the attack.

Staff Sgt. John T. Self, 29, of Pontotoc, Miss., a member of the 314th Security Forces Squadron, had been in Iraq since September training Iraqi police officers.

It was his third tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Maj. Allan Fiel, 314th SFS commander. “He had actually volunteered for this assignment while he was still on his second tour because it was a different type of mission.”
Fiel said each tour is about six months long, preceded by four to six weeks of readiness training.

About 60 members of the 314th SFS are currently serving in Iraqi. “Our job is mostly detainee security,” explained CMSgt. Keith Morris, the squadron’s security force manager.

Self, who had no family in Arkansas, joined the Air Force in 1999 and had been stationed at the base since March 2004.
“We mourn his death,” Fiel said. “He was a great NCO (noncommissioned officer) and he loved doing what he was trained to do.”

Fiel said the sergeant was always aware of the dangers he faced as he carried out his mission in the Middle East. At a news briefing about Self’s death Tuesday, Fiel read an email from Self that the squadron had received shortly before his death. “As far as the heat of danger goes, every time a military member comes to the desert, they’re in the heat of danger…It’s my job to be in the heat of danger.

“Whether it’s looking for insurgents, guarding detainees, or sitting on a fence line, it’s all dangerous,” Self wrote.
Self “is a shining example of our airmen who truly place ‘service before self’ and he will be greatly missed,” Fiel said.
Self is the second member of LRAFB to be killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

SSgt. Dustin Peters, 25, of El Dorado, Kan., with the 314th Logistics Readiness Squadron was killed by a roadside bomb on July 11, 2005.

Self is the the sixth security forces member, Air Force wide, to be killed in the conflict, and the second Mississippi military member to be killed within a week. Self was a 1998 graduate of South Pontotoc High School, where he played trumpet in the marching band.

“He loved to deer hunt and fish and play computer games. He was a loving child. He was there for his family and friends,” said his mother, Jill Self. “I loved him very much and he’s going to be missed.” Funeral arrangements are pending.

Capt. David Faggard, with 314th Public Affairs, said the Air Force has 30,000 airmen deployed in support of 11 operations.
(Associated Press conribbuted to this report.)

TOP STORY >>Change of command today on base

Leader staff writer

Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., will become the new face of Little Rock Air Force Base today during a change-of -command ceremony.

Schatz replaces Brig. Gen. Kip Self as commander of the 314th Airlift Wing.

Self will take command next Wed-nesday of the Air Force Expeditionary Center, Air Mobility Command at McGuire AFB, N.J.
Schatz and his wife, Kim, were stationed at LRAFB from 1997-99 while he was operations officer and commander of the 50th Airlift Squadron. During his tenure as squadron commander, the 50th won the 1998 General Smith Trophy as the best airlift squadron in Air Mobility Command.

“He (Col. Schatz) is a ‘full-up round’ and more than capable to lead this team. He and Kim bring experience. Continuity and quality are only going to go up at The Rock,” Self said of his successor, adding, “The sky’s the limit.”

Schatz is returning to Arkansas from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he served as the deputy director of operations and plans with the U.S. Transportation Command. He has also been the executive officer to the commander of U.S. Transportation Command.

As deputy director of Operations and Plans, he was responsible for directing and monitoring current operations of a combatant command and its three components that create and implement world-class global deployment and distribution solutions in support of the president, secretary of defense and combatant command- assigned missions. During his 24-years of service, Schatz, a command pilot, has been a C-130 instructor pilot and a C-130 flight-examiner pilot.

He and his family have been stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan; his first group command was at Yokota when he commanded the 374th Operations Group from 2001-2003.

From Japan he moved to Charleston AFB, S.C., as the vice-commander of the 437th Airlift Wing from 2003-2004. He moved to McChord AFB, Wash., in 2004 to command the 62nd Airlift Wing and stayed there until 2006 when he was reassigned to U.S. Transportation Command at Scott AFB.

Under his leadership, the 62nd AW earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and the 2005 Air Mobility Command Flying Safety Award. Schatz has also deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch, Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines.

In 2005 he deployed as the U.S. Central Command Air Forces deputy director of mobility forces where he coordinated theater air mobility support for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. During Self’s 21-month tenure as commander of the 314th AW, LRAFB has made many improvements to help both the mission and quality of life. Self’s most recent focus was on things that would ensure the mission is executed.

“The number one thing is the 50-year-old airfield and making sure it is able to handle the load in five years,” Self said.
The commissary and BX will receive improvements; construction of a new BX will begin in 2008; $150,000 a year will be spent to replace gym equipment due to frequent use.

There are 14 construction projects currently in the works on base – a new child development center, a new football field with lights, a new dining facility, renovations to the medical center, and new base housing to name a few.

“We have made Little Rock a center of excellence and with that comes the money to continue doing so; we’ve been very successful in the forefront (of construction projects) because of our congressional leaders,” Self said. “If we can keep the quality of life at the forefront, then people will stay. If we have happy spouses, the members will be happy and will be able to continue the mission,” he added.

As the next commander of the Expeditionary Center, previously known as the Air Mobility Warfare Center, Self will still have a hand in the education and training of personnel. The center is Air Mobility Command’s single focal point for the advanced education and training of mobility forces and expeditionary training.

The center’s schools, directorates, detachments and operating locations work together to achieve one major goal – keeping mobility forces ready, at a moment’s notice, to deploy anywhere in the world. The center also teaches thousands of airmen about landing in hostile areas, setting up bases almost overnight and making sure airmen are well supplied.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SPORTS>>SAU signs a second Lady ’Rab

Leader sportswriter

Joining her teammate at the next level, Lonoke senior Calisha Kirk signed her letter of intent to attend Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia on Monday afternoon. Fellow Lady Jackrabbit Kristy Shinn signed with the Muleriders two weeks prior, giving the school a strong Lonoke connection.

Kirk, the 5’-11” forward, had an incredible senior year as a starter on the Lady Jackrabbits basketball team. She averaged 14.2 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, along with 1.9 assists per game and 1.7 steals per game.

Kirk was named to the All Conference team twice, and was named to the 4A All-State team her senior year. In a first for Lonoke High School girls athletics, Kirk will also participate in the state All-Star game in Fayetteville later this summer as a starter on the East squad.

Kirk helped lead the Lady Jackrabbits to an outright conference title in the 4A-2, as well as district and regional championships. Lonoke also made only its third trip ever to the state finals, losing a closely contested game to Central Arkansas Christian after leading for most of the second half.

For Lady Jackrabbits coach Nathan Morris, it is the fourth signing in his two years as head coach. For the second straight year, two of his three seniors went to the next level, giving him an impressive 66 percent signing ratio.

Morris believes that Kirk becoming a Lady Mulerider will be a huge advantage for both her and Shinn.

“We are certainly proud that Calisha is able to have this accomplishment,” Morris said. “I think that she and Kristy will be a good fit there, and the fact that they have already played together for all of these years will be very helpful down the road. To have two girls heading out to the same school is pretty exciting for us all; everyone in Lonoke will just have to become Mulerider fans now.”

Kirk’s leadership was evident all throughout the playoffs this season for the Lady Jackrabbits. In the district championship game against host team Pocahontas, Kirk led the team in scoring, and put in the title-winning shot of an inbounds pass with seconds remaining on the clock.

Big plays like that have made Kirk a favorite to watch among local high school basketball fans. Her ability to score inside is a great compliment to outside abilities of Shinn, making the duo a great package deal for Lady Muleriders coach Sam Biley and the SAU squad.

SPORTS>>Walk-off hit dooms Beebe

Leader sports staff

Fayetteville — The Lady Badgers led the whole way, but a line-drive from Vilonia’s Savanah Roland with two outs scored two runs for the Lady Eagles, giving them a miraculous come-from-behind 2-1 win during the 5A state championship game at the Ladyback Yard Friday afternoon.

With a 1-0 lead heading into the final turn, the Lady Badgers needed only three outs to secure the first state softball title for Beebe. The first out came easily enough, as Beebe retired the leadoff batter.

Both teams had played a fairly clean game up until then, but a pair of errors for the Lady Badgers would give the Lady Eagles’ struggling offense new life in the closing moments. Courtney McFarland reached for Vilonia on an error at shortstop to put the tying run in position. McFarland then moved to second on a wild pitch from Lady Badgers hurler Callie Mahoney, a pitch that would also walk Lady Eagles batter Carley Gaines.

Beebe got its second out when Mahoney struck out Lauren Fougerousse, but catcher Sara Flenor tried to pick off Gaines at first after the throw. Beebe first baseman Ashley Watkins dropped the throw from Flenor, which allowed McFarland to move to third.

Gaines then set up the dramatic finish for Vilonia when she stole second on Roland’s at-bat. Lady Eagles sophomore Roland was making her first trip to the plate in the contest as a sub-hitter, and the move paid off for Vilonia. Roland sent Mahoney’s final offering into left-center with a line drive hit that scored McFarland and Gaines to end the game.

“We did hit it well,” Lady Badgers coach Terry Flenor said. “But we did it at the top of the order every time and never could get a hit when we got people on base. Bad luck was part of it, but they got a hit when they needed it, and it was a solid hit.”
Vilonia coach Calvin Roninette was not surprised by the stout defensive effort from his squad.

“We have a defense,” Roninette said. “That’s what has kept us in a lot of games all year.” Roninette also acknowledged that putting his sophomore in with two outs was a calculated risk.

“We’ve got good hitters all down the lineup and on the bench,” Roninette said. “I felt like if our defense would keep holding them, we’d give ourselves a chance at some point. Savanah is just a sophomore, but we knew we could stick her in there since the other girls weren’t doing that well, and she would make contact. All we can ask of them is to put it in play, and we knew she could do that.”

Beebe’s only run would come at the start of the contest. Senior second baseman Brandi Birkhalter reached on a walk in the top of the first inning, and made her way around the diamond on steals. Birkhalter was initially called out at third, but the umpires determined that interference from the Vilonia shortstop impeded her progress, and awarded her with the steal.
Birkhalter came in on a passed ball one pitch later for the run, giving the Lady Badgers an early 1-0 advantage. That lead would hold until the final inning, though numerous chances to pad that lead were left on throughout the contest.

Senior pitcher Callie Mahoney singled in the top of the second inning, and stole her way to third with only one out, but the Lady Badgers failed to bring her home. The leadoff batters for both the second and third innings reached, but both were left on.

The difference in the game would turn out to be two potential runs left during the top of the fourth inning. Sara Flenor doubled to start things off for Beebe in the fourth, and Ashley Watkins was hit by a pitch to put two Lady Badgers on with no outs. Their best opportunity score would go unfulfilled, however, as the Vilonia defense stiffened once again to retire the next three batters.

Birkhalter tried to repeat her first inning efforts in the top of the fifth inning, reaching on a single and stealing second. As in the three innings prior, however, Birkhalter was still standing on base when the third out was called, leaving another badly needed score by the wayside.

Beebe finished the game with one run on six hits, and had three errors. The Lady Eagles took the win and the state title with two runs on four hits, and had no errors. Beebe finishes the season with a final record of 23-7, and has been a finalist for two of the last three seasons.

SPORTS>>SH senior Philander-bound

Leader sports writer

Sylvan Hills’ senior Brianna Austin will not have to travel far in the fall when she begins her tenure at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. The former Lady Bears starter signed her letter of intent to the university late Friday morning at the Sylvan Hills High School media center.It was the second signing for a member of the Lady Bears basketball team this year. Scoring guard Rachele Dobbins signed with Grambling State in Louisiana at the beginning of basketball season in late ’06. Another former Sylvan Hills standout had a key role in Austin landing at PSC.

Shontaye Reed, a current member of the Lady Panthers basketball program, invited Austin and a number of other players to the school at the request of Philander Smith head coach James Johnson. Johnson was also on hand for the signing on Friday.

The Lady Panthers suffered through a difficult rebuilding season last year, ending up with a 5-20 record.
With only six freshmen and three sophomores, the young squad had little depth, a stat that coach Johnson hopes to rid himself of with the acquisition of Austin, along with four other players.

“We’re looking for a lot better year this year,” Johnson said. “The sophomores have improved a lot, along with the freshmen. With Brianna’s help, along with a couple of other key recruits we have coming in, we hope to improve a great deal.”
It wasn’t one single aspect of Austin’s abilities that impressed Johnson, but rather her overall size and athleticism.
“She has a lot of size, and she can play inside and outside,” Johnson said. “That will be a great asset for our level. She can also shoot the ball really well.”

The signing almost seemed like an overall celebration of the Lady Bears achievements during the 2006-07 school year, as Dobbins and recent CBC soccer signee Brittany Flowers sat in the front row during Austin’s signing. The trio was all smiles, cracking jokes and greeting faculty and classmates that attended.

Austin said the fact that there is a familiar name on the PSC roster was a huge factor in her decision to become a Lady Panther.

“My best friend Shontaye Reed is going there,” Austin said. “She invited me out for a pick-up game, and coach Johnson saw me play. He talked to me and a couple of other girls, then I was told to give him a call.”

Austin also had interest from Henderson State and Central Baptist College, but ultimately chose PSC due to the Sylvan Hills connection with Reed and the fact that the school is much closer to home.

OBITUARIES >> 5-12-07

Robbie Walker
Robbie Lee Walker, 66, of Jacksonville died at Arkansas Hospice in North Little Rock on April 30.

He was born March 14, 1941, in Van Alstyne, Texas, to the late J. D. Walker and Ruby Head Walker.

He graduated from Van Alstyne High School. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of North Texas. He earned a master’s degree in psychology and received a certificate in physical therapy from the University of Texas in Dallas. He did an internship at Baylor University Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

He was a lifetime member of the American Physical Therapy Association. He owned and operated the Robbie Walker Physical Therapy Clinic in Jacksonville for 20 years. He was a member of Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock. He belonged to Hickory Creek Golf Club.

Survivors include his wife, Shirley Joyner Walker of Jacksonville, formerly of Guy; brother, James Dale Walker and wife Margaret of Sherman, Texas; sister, Wilma Walker Allen and husband Tom of Garland, Texas; mother-in-law, Venice Joyner of Jacksonville and Guy; two step-sons, Cass Pierce and Doug Pierce and wife Cindy, of Little Rock.

A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church, 220 W. Main St., Jacksonville at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 13. Funeral services were held May 3 in Texas. The family requests no flowers for the memorial service.

Robert MacManus

Chief Master Sergeant Robert “Alan” MacManus, 67, of Jacksonville died May 3, at his daughter’s home in Medford, Mass.
Born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, he was the son of the late Robert G. and Claire E. Bigoness MacManus.

MacManus was a 30-year veteran of the Air Force serving in Teheran, Iran; San Vito, Italy; Luzon, Philippines; Hahn, Germany; and numerous sites throughout the United States.

He retired from Little Rock Air Force Base in 1992. In recent years he worked as director of alternative education program in the Cabot school system.

He was also a chief of the Cabot High School Junior Air Force R.O.T.C. program.

He is survived by a son, Robert Scott MacManus of Hampton, Va.; two daughters, Lori MacManus of Medford, Mass. and Catherine DelPonte of Somerville, Mass.; two brothers, John and wife Sandra MacManus, and Donald and wife, Lydia, all of Seekonk, Mass.; three grandchildren, Joseph A. and James M. DelPonte and Laken Marie MacManus; three nieces, Kirsten Westfield, Jessica and Alicia MacManus, all of Seekonk, Mass.

He was the stepfather of Jason and Jennifer Giffen. He was the brother of the late Jeffrey MacManus.In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Alan’s memory to the Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Funeral arrangements are through Doherty Funeral Home, Somerville, Mass.

Carolyn McCall

Carolyn C. McCall, 57, of Sherwood went to be with the Lord, May 7 in North Little Rock.

She was born to Dalton Allen Raines and Hellen Louise Staton Raines on Nov. 9, 1949 in Ponca City, Okla. Carolyn was preceded in death by her father and a brother, Mark Raines.

She was of the Methodist faith and loved her Arkansas Razorback sports as well as her beloved pet, ‘Sugar.’ Survivors include her mother, Hellen L. Raines of Jacksonville; sisters, Janice Rankin and husband Phillip of Highlands Ranch, Col., and Susan Raines of Jacksonville; three nieces, Rachael Braswell, Jessica Raines and Stephanie Dunn and husband Billy; nephew, Jason Braswell and great-nephew, Stephen Dunn.

Services were May 10 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Dr. Carroll Goddard officiating. Burial will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to either Arkansas Hospice or First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville.

Helen Adams

Helen Carnell Adams, 86, of El Paso, passed away May 10.

She was born Dec. 1, 1920, at Mt. Vernon, to the late Oley V. and Jessie Nelson Harlan. She was a devout member of Oak Church of Christ at El Paso and was retired from a job she loved at Conway Regional Medical Center.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Carl Adams; son, Ricky Adams; and a brother, Frank Harlan. Survivors include daughters, Arbra Dell Boardman and husband, Jud of Cabot and Jan Mathis of El Paso; three granddaughters, Alisie Rock and Teresa French of Cabot, Jennifer Mathis and finance, Trey Wulf of Sherwood; three great-grandchildren; her brothers, C.L. “Buck” Harlan of Mt. Vernon and Joe Harlan of Adairville, Ken., and sister, Mary Hill of Ward, and a host of nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at Oak Church of Christ in El Paso with burial in Blasingame Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Woodie Wilson

Woodie “DiDi” Lee Wilson passed away May 2007.

She was born June 26, 1947 in Ennis, Texas to the late Horace Edgar and Mary Lee Wood.  

She retired due to complications in health from Dillard’s Department Stores after 19 years of service.

She is survived by her husband of 12 years, Raymond L. Wilson of Jacksonville; son, Thomas R. Gerbereux, Jr. and wife Pamela A. Gerbereux; two granddaughters; Leah N. Gerbereux and Steffiani L.R. Gerbereux, all of Skiatook, Oka.; two brothers, Thomas W. Vyers of Ardmore, Ala. and Scotty V. Vyers of Ennis, Texas. She was a member of McArthur Assembly of God in Jacksonville, where a memorial service was held on May 10 with her pastor Rev. Larry Burton officiating.

The family would like to give special thanks to the wonderful people who cared for DiDi Wilson, including her friends, Barbara Powell, Susan Woods, Dennis Pigman, Joanne and Ted Baker, and Toni Baker and to the host of others would support her with their friendship and prayers.

Cheryl Musgrove

Cheryl Aelene Musgrove went to be with the Lord after a battle with cancer.

She was a veteran and mother.Her parents were the late Francis W. Gilson of Jacksonville and the late James R. Kirkpatrick of Des Arc.

Survivors include her stepfather, Phillip L. Gilson and Beryle “Kitty” Kirkpatrick, both of Jacksonville; daughter, Tonda Laya and husband Keven Kerley of Hampton, Va.; son, Sgt. Shilo Musgrove of Fort Eustis, Va.; three granddaughters, Barenia, Emmalee and Daniell, all of Hampton, Va.; two brothers, Rene R. Kirkpatrick of Cabot and Faren Lee Kirkpatrick of North Little Rock; three half brothers, Thomas and wife Carrie Sunday of Memphis, Tenn., William E. Duffy and wife Rita of Lexington, Tenn., and Jedediah Kirkpatrick of Austin, Texas; many aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

There will be a memorial servcie held at a later date.

Walter Roberts

Walter Lee Roberts, 86, of Beebe died May 7.

He was born May 19, 1920, at Guinn, Ala. He was an exceptional father. He was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Inez; one daughter and two sons. He is survived by his son, Joe Roberts of Beebe; and his daughter, Patsy Knight of Fairfield, Calif.; five grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

Funeral was May 10 at First Pentecostal Church of God in Searcy, with burial at Old Union Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Joseph Rogers

Joseph Wayne Rogers, 75, of Searcy, died May 4.

He was born Oct. 22, 1931, in Romance, to Elmore and Doris Matthews Rogers.
He is survived by his wife, Rita Harrison Rogers. Funeral services were May 7 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Romance Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

EDITORIALS>>Free speech

Rod Bryan, the quixotic candidate for governor who fueled his car with old vegetable oils from restaurants and raised novel ideas about conserving energy and taxes at the Capitol, was entirely too quaint for most voters, at least for those who even knew he was on the ballot last fall.

He hooted at the major candidates for repeating platitudes and ducking issues, if you can hoot in a mild voice, but no one paid attention.

But most people will think the young man deserves better than he received from the local constabulary this week. Bryan, who ran as an independent after circulating petitions to get on the ballot, hooted at a couple of police cars in the same way that he squawked at Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson.

Bryan was bicycling to work Thursday, as he does most days to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere of his city, when two Little Rock police cars whizzed by him at the crest of a hill on a quiet stretch of West Seventh Street.
Bryan estimated that they were traveling 80 mph, but their lights were not flashing. He thought that was dangerous.
“Turn on your lights,” he hollered after them. The police mission was not such an emergency that one of the cars could not stop.

A policeman collared Bryan and asked him what he said. Bryan repeated the remark. The policeman radioed for back-up and Bryan was soon surrounded by squad cars. Bryan stood his ground that they should have had their warning flashers on and that he had a right to say that.

He was cited for disorderly conduct. The officers explained that Bryan had shown a “dislike” for how policemen do their job. You apparently cannot do that in the United States of America, or at least in Little Rock, Ark.

Now Bryan will have to take time off from work at the bakery to pedal down to the courts building to defend his First Amendment right to free speech. That ought to be an easy morning’s work, but nowadays you never know.

EDITORIALS>>Our money goes where?

Paul Suskie has been on the job as the state’s top utility regulator for only a few months, but he wasted no time earning our confidence. Suskie was the North Little Rock city attorney who ran for attorney general last year (with our support) and then got the chairmanship of the Public Service Commission as sort of a consolation prize, or so it seemed.

His first big case is Entergy Corp.’s application for a $106.5 million rate increase, one of the biggest rate increases in Arkansas history. Almost a third of every homeowner’s new electricity charges would be used to fatten the lifestyles of the corporation’s top executives in the form of bonuses, stock options, jet travel, country club dues, golf vacations, football tickets, catered parties, personal financial advice and help on their personal taxes. A delinquent company telephone bill that had soared to $934 also was thrown into the rate base as a justification for future earnings.

On the last day of the rate hearing this week, Suskie drolly told an Entergy official who had been testifying about the company’s needs that he had been traveling around the state meeting with utility officials to familiarize himself with energy problems. He visited the offices of the Farmers Electric Cooperative at Newport and found that the furniture in the boardroom was from the 1960s. More than that, it seemed functional and the co-op people seemed perfectly comfortable with it. Then Suskie got to the point.

“Do you think when Entergy pays for basketball tickets and then wants ratepayers to pay for them — do you think that’s prudent? Do you think the [company] does a good job of engendering cooperation with its customers?”

The Entergy official did not have a ready answer. But he said he could not address why Farmers Cooperative had not modernized its executive furnishings.

“Maybe they didn’t need to,” Suskie replied. “Maybe they do just fine engendering cooperation with their customers.”
Suskie might have continued that line of questioning with the top Entergy executives.

He might have asked, for example: What is lacking in the life of Entergy’s CEO that he is not able to acquire with his current level of compensation — a measly $18 million last year — and that is so vital that the state should sanction hard-pressed home and business owners to buy it for him?

It is not a churlish question, although its kind is never asked at these very civil proceedings. But it is one that to ratepayers seems utterly relevant.

We suspect that Paul Suskie and, we hope, the other commissioners will take those questions and the assumed answers into account next month when they decide the case.

TOP STORY >>Sherwood golf course could be profitable facility

Leader staff writer

If the owners of the North Hills Country Club drop their price by 70 percent, Sherwood coughs up $2 million-plus and the course averages more than 30,000 rounds of golf over the next seven years at about $30 a round then the golf course could be “an affordable, quality daily fee property” for Sherwood.

This is according to W.P.D. Golf management and Consulting, out of Horseshoe Bay, Texas, which released about 100 pages of its feasibility study earlier this week.

Jim Rodgers with Club Property Inc., the owners of the country club had the property sold last month to businessman and developer Ron Campbell for $5.1 million, but the sale was derailed when the city issued a building moratorium to stop Campbell from turning the 105-acre golf course property into a high-end subdivision of about 190 single-family homes.
Rodgers believes the property is still worth at least $5 million.

The report clearly states, “As a golf course, this project cannot support a purchase price of $5 million. Should the city decide to purchase, we suggest $1.5 million to purchase the course and another $1.3 million for improvements, soft costs and closing costs.”

The study states to buy the facility, make all the necessary repairs and start an aggressive marketing campaign, the city would have to spend $2.7 million before the first customer swings from the first tee. More than likely that money would have to be raised through some sort of sales tax. Bill Dowling, president of W.P.D., in the study, said, “The golf course will provide a needed public recreational facility, create employment opportunities, provide recreation programs for youth and families, preserve open green space and provide quality of life, while supporting local businesses.”

The consultants also hired three other firms to help determine the feasibility of the city buying the country club and operating it as a municipal golf course. Spear Consultants focused on the income, expense, capital needs and purchase scenario (what the city could afford to pay in order to get a profitable return on the investment). Paladin Golf Marketing did a 20-mile-radius market research of golf courses. International Golf Maintenance looked at maintenance issues and the associated costs.

Even though Bowling painted an encouraging picture for the course, the study contained a number of cautions and red flags.
The Paladin report stated that golfing levels at area courses were stagnant or slightly down in 2006. It went on to say that even though Sherwood’s population growth is considered “healthy” and expected to grow at about 4.2 percent, central Arkansas, as a whole, is losing population.

The facility is functional, but in disrepair. In a 100-point survey of the country club facility and the course, North Hills scored a 39 out of 100. The Paladin report said most public or municipal courses score 60 or better. The study expressed concern that one of the three onsite wells used to maintain the greens is collapsing, which means more city water would have to be used.

The club’s swimming pool is one of the oldest in the area and the study suggested rather than repair it, to fill it. Spear Consultants reported that the 15,000-square-foot clubhouse, built in 1962, was in fair condition, and needed painting, interior work and roof repair.

The 1,500-square-foot maintenance building, built in 1960, rated fair, needs repairs and must also be expanded. The 3,000 square-foot cart storage facility was also in fair condition, and more than likely would need to be expanded. The Spear report also said that it would take four years for North Hills to have sufficient cash flow. The study also recommended the city conduct an environmental study. “This should be completed before the city moves forward with a closing,” the report said.

The consultants recommend that if the city buys the course that the course be open 365 days a year from dusk to dawn “to ensure the maximization of course utilization.” Projections indicate that weather would close the course 20 percent of the time.

The city should also hire a professional golf-management firm to run the course initially and have that company work with the parks and recreation department to transition the city into full-time operators of the course, the study said. W.P.D. suggests that a PGA golf professional with at least five years’ experience in managing a daily-fee golf course be hired to run the day-to-day operations of the course.

The consultants also recommend hiring a golf course superintendent, a director of marketing, a food and beverage manger, all on salary, plus an assistant golf course superintendent, an equipment mechanic and an accountant. International Golf Maintenance placed the annual budget for staffing the course properly at almost $285,000. It also said the annual maintenance budget would be about $424,000.

TOP STORY >>Mortgage defaults increase

Special to The Leader

Bankruptcies and home foreclosures are rising in central Arkansas even though help is available to high-risk borrowers who are in financial trouble.

There are 1,788 homes in Pulaski County, 398 in Lonoke County and 266 in White County in foreclosure, according to Realty Trac, a company that tracks foreclosures.

“They may feel they have to file for bankruptcy, but not always,” said Linda Tucker, director of education at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. Her agency offers free credit and home ownership counseling. She said she has recently seen an increase in the number of people who have attempted to save their homes by filing for bankruptcy.

“A lot of people think their name will appear in the paper when they file for bankruptcy and that’s it,” she said, noting the process is more complicated than that. “When it’s time to get out of bankruptcy, it could take years.”

Foreclosures are not only worrying homeowners who have defaulted on their mortgages, the real estate industry has noticed the increase and is looking at whether mortgage defaults will further push down home prices that have already been dropping across the country.

“Because there are a lot of foreclosures and a lot of higher-risk loans, a lot of those companies are revising guidelines and the federal government is looking at regulations,” said Ethan Nobles of the Arkansas Realtors Association.

Economists attribute the rise in foreclosures to the number of such high-risk loans, called subprime mortgages, which became popular at the beginning of the housing boom in 2000. Subprime mortgages were offered with extremely low or no-interest rates that increase well beyond those of conventional mortgages after a few years. They are generally given to people with poor credit, including those who have previously filed for bankruptcy. The number of subprime mortgage loans increased over the last few years, while delinquencies and foreclosures rose almost simultaneously.

Doug Duncan, Mortgage Bankers Association of America’s (MBA) chief economist, said, “Increases in delinquency and foreclosure rates were noticeably larger for subprime loans.”

His organization reports that Arkansas ranks 14th in mortgage delinquencies and 27th in foreclosures. A quarter of homeowners in Arkansas have subprime or Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

“There needs to be some regulation because there are some problems. (The federal government) wants to do something to reduce the default rate, but we have to keep loans viable — some people cannot apply for conventional 30-year loans,” Nobles said. “It’s better to have something available so they can get homes.”

MBA reported that subprime mortgages have contributed to a decline in the housing market.

Nobles said real estate sales have not slowed down in Arkansas as much as in other parts of the nation, but he said, “Building is down a bit, a number of houses have been down just a bit and we’re behind from last year. I know from builders in Arkansas that the slow housing market is hurting them.”

The drop in the housing market will even affect consumers who have kept up with their high-interest mortgages. They have a limited chance of refinancing with lower interest mortgages because they can only borrow against a property’s value. “They get behind in credit cards, and then they weren’t paying house payments and can’t catch up,” Tucker said. Credit card companies are aggressive in seeking payment, which can cause consumers to “get their priorities mixed up.”

Borrowers who get into trouble go to an attorney, who usually suggests bankruptcy, but before then, a financial counselor can help by mediating between the mortgage lender and the consumer, she said. Homeowners should get help before they default on their mortgages and have to enter into foreclosure.

“It is extremely rare for someone to be able to reverse a home foreclosure once it begins,” Tucker said. The Consumer Credit Counseling Service can be reached by phone at 501-753-0202 or online at

TOP STORY >>Magical answer eludes county

Leader senior staff writer

Don’t look for any magical solutions to an overcrowded, inadequate Pulaski County lockup when UALR’s Public Safety Task Force reports back to the Pulaski County Quorum Court as early as mid-June.

That’s according to Charles Hathaway, former president of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and chairman of the task force.

The Pulaski County Detention Center currently is approved for 880 inmates and sometimes holds as many as 900, according to County Judge Floyd “Buddy” Villines.

Villines said the UALR study is being paid for by the business-group 50 for the Future.

The Pulaski County Detention Center is frequently closed, accepting only the most violent criminals. It has been described as a revolving door, with nonviolent offenders so certain of quick or immediate release that they don’t bother to post bond.
County residents turned thumbs down last September on a quarter-cent dedicated sales tax to improve and expand the current jail, largely because residents felt the county could take care of the problem with existing funds if it spent its money more wisely.

Mike Coulson, president of Coulson Oil Company, said that public perception was that county funds were inappropriately spent, and that in large part accounted for the failure of the sales tax increase recommended by an earlier jail study group—of which he was a member.

Residents pointed to money spent on the Big Dam Bridge and downtown cable cars, but Villines and others have pointed out that those were dedicated funds not available for jail use.

Hathaway says roughly 82 percent of the county’s budget is already dedicated to personnel costs. Seventy-two percent of the county general budget is dedicated to the Detention Center and the Sheriff’s Office. That doesn’t leave much money to run the county, fix roofs and air-conditioning systems and repair and expand the existing lockup.

The county is required by law to provide a detention center, but in recent years, the cost of housing inmates has increased while the county’s share of the sales-tax revenues has decreased and Little Rock has responded only with relatively small, one-time funds to keep an additional 80 beds open.

To restore the public trust, the county should hire an outside auditor, Coulson said. “People want to know when the county says it’s out of money, if it’s the truth. It’s good for openness in county government.”

Coulson points to the agreement of the county with North Little Rock and Little Rock that resulted in a unified water system—Central Arkansas Water—as a model of the type of cooperation that might make law enforcement and incarceration more efficient.

“While policing is not the same as water, it made sense in the long run to combine water utilities,” Coulson said. “I suggested is there a benefit to looking at a policing function. Should we have a Pulaski County police department, or should the county get out of policing, and (just) run the jail?”

Hathaway said, however, that the most successful instances of such joint efforts occur in counties where there is only one large city. Coulson said if more money were put into so-called PIT programs—prevention, intervention and treatment—the county might not need to build more jail space. “We’re looking at much more than the detention center,” said Hathaway. “We looked at county finances, how we got into this situation (in which) we now find ourselves.”

“We looked broadly at the criminal justice system, judges, the jail and are trying to determine…the appropriate size. We looked at a lot of statistics. Other communities are struggling with that.”

He said the task force would make recommendations on financing and changes that need to be made. While alternatives may be important, he said the group found that some, like monitoring bracelets, don’t work too well. His task force held three public meetings, with the one in Jacksonville best attended, he said.

TOP STORY >>Protecting area water source

Leader senior staff writer

With the most critical Deltic Timber land at the Lake Maumelle drinking water reservoir condemned and paid for, staff and lawyers from Central Arkansas Water have turned their attention to crafting a protection agreement with Rick Ferguson and other Waterview Estates landowners to serve as a model for future development in the watershed, which provides water to this area.

Ferguson wants to develop about 300 acres close to the lake. Between them, Ferguson and Deltic own large portions of the 80,000-acre watershed. Deltic had wanted to build mini-estates on 700 acres close to the lake. Following a long fight, CAW condemned the land and agreed to pay Deltic $8 million.

Lawyers for both CAW and Ferguson told the water commissioners Thursday that their agreement is 95 percent completed, with four points left to be resolved, two of them quite minor. The current schedule calls for CAW’s Bruce McMath and Ferguson’s Hal Kemp to hammer out those final details in time for a special May 10 CAW board meeting, with a public meeting probably during the week of May 21.

That way board members would have time to study the final proposal before acting upon it June 6. Jim McKenzie of Metroplan gave the commissioners a seven-page outline of the agreement he helped craft with the help of the attorneys, the actual agreement being nearly two inches thick. “Ferguson paid a lot to lawyers and engineers toward creating this model,” he told the group.

The agreement is a 20-year memorandum of understanding that lays out the process for developing the appropriate lands, for resolving conflicts and for overseeing the process and enforcing its conditions. One important aspect to Ferguson is that CAW not develop or allow to be develop other nearby lands in competition with the current landowners.

One of the most important physical aspects of the agreement, which is ultimately intended to keep the water in this important drinking water reservoir clean, is a concrete diversion ditch that will direct runoff away from the reservoir.
The Waterview landowners must agree to execute a conservation easement on lands taken in condemnation action that haven’t been removed from the watershed by means of the ditch, and also requires CAW to pay Waterview $1 million to settle its lawsuit.

In other action, the board approved a resolution authorizing a bond issue not to exceed $18.1 million.
The bond will be retired from water use payments. First a public hearing must be scheduled.

TOP STORY >>District to name its chief Tuesday

Leader staff writer

After three months of interviews, the next superintendent of Cabot schools will be announced Tuesday during the school board meeting, board president David Hipp said Friday.

A total of 22 people, including five from within the Cabot district and 10 from within the state, applied for the position that became available after current superintendent Dr. Frank Holman announced his resignation in March. Four of the five Cabot applicants work for central administration: Teresa Chance, June Elliott, Charlie Donham and Robert Martin. The fifth is high school principal Dr. Tony Thurman.

Of the original 10 in-state applicants, one, Gary Masters from Marked Tree, withdrew his application some time ago; eight applicants have fewer than 1,300 students in their district; and only one, James Simmons of Conway, is the current chief of a district that is about the same size as Cabot.


Chance has been the director of curriculum for Cabot schools since 2000. She is also a past Cabot Middle School principal (1995-2000) and Eastside Elementary School principal (1994-95), and was assistant principal for Southside and Eastside Elementary from 1992 to 1994. She taught for 13 years before moving into administration.

She said she applied for the position because she wants to see Cabot schools continue to grow and remain at the top of education by providing a quality education for all students and preparing them for the future. Elliott is the director of federal programs for the district. She has been out of town throughout the week and unable to provide any additional information.

Donham is the director of transportation for Cabot schools and the transportation-discipline administrator. He was the director of the district’s alternative learning environment (A.L.E.) from 2005-2006 and is a past principal of Cabot Junior High North (1998-2005). He taught and coached for 17 years before moving into administration, 14 years with Cabot, and three with Forrest City schools.

Donham said he applied for the position because he wants to contribute his knowledge to maximize the student-learning experience and continue to make Cabot schools the best in the state. Martin has been the director of career and technical education for Cabot schools since 2005. He was the director of A.L.E. from 2003-2005. He came to Cabot in 1996 to take the position as principal of Cabot High School; Thurman replaced him. Of Martin’s 33 years in education, he spent eight of those teaching and coaching.

Martin said he applied for the superintendent’s position because he desires a genuine commitment between the school and the community and wants to see the district continue to grow and continue the level of education it provides. Thurman became CHS principal in 2003. He is a past Cabot middle school principal (2000-2003) and was an elementary school principal for McGehee schools from 1998-2000. He has spent five years teaching and coaching before going into administration.

Although he says he’s happy being the high school principal, Thurman applied for the superintendent’s position as a way to stay in a district he loves and work with all the students in the district.


Applicants from districts within Arkansas include Wayne Fawcett of Bald Knob, Bruce Evans of Piggott, Dr. Randy Byrd of Brinkley, Joseph Cornelison of Horatio, James Simmons of Conway, Mickey Billingsley of Bauxite, Dr. Larry Bennett of Green Forest, Rhonda Bradford of Mayflower, Jim Loyd of Paris and Gary Masters of Marked Tree.

Fawcett’s district, Bald Knob, has three schools and a total enrollment of 1,217 with 103 kindergarten students. Evans is on administrative leave from Piggott schools until June 30. He said he took his leave before Cabot’s position was open because he was ready for a change.

Piggott has two schools and a total of 919 students with an additional 94 kindergarten students.

Evans said Cabot is a solid district that provides for and turns out quality academicians and he wants to be part of such a system. He has 10 years’ experience as a superintendent and a total of 25 years in education.

Byrd, with Brinkley schools, oversees three schools and 792 students plus 57 kindergarteners. A superintendent for almost six years, Byrd said he would bring experience, test-score improvements and financial stability to the Cabot district.
He taught for 10 years and has spent 18 years in education.

Cornelison has three schools in the Horatio district; 754 students plus 54 kindergarteners. He has 12 years superintendent’s experience and is convinced that one of the bigger issues facing Arkansas schools over the next few years is the issue of facilities. He believes it will take someone with experience coupled with vision to solve the problem. Cornelison has spent 22 years in education as teacher, counselor, principal and superintendent. Simmons is the only Arkansas applicant from a district relatively the same size as Cabot.

The Conway district includes 14 schools with 8,057 students, plus an additional 717 kindergarten students. He said Cabot is an outstanding district and he would like the opportunity to lead Cabot to continued greatness. Simmons has five years’ experience as superintendent and a total of 30 years in education. Billingsley with the Bauxite district oversees two schools and 1,142 students plus 103 kindergarteners. Bennett, superintendent at Green Forrest, has three schools in his district of 1,156 first- through 12th-grade students and 99 kindergarten students.

He said what he knows of the Cabot district is that it is progressive and does great things for kids and is supported by the Cabot community, qualities that make the position attractive.

Bennett said he would make sure all the stakeholders, from parents to teachers and administrators to community leaders, are involved in the decision-making process if selected for the job. He has 17 years’ experience as superintendent with a total of 34 years in education, 29 years were spent in Texas. Bradford, who has already been replaced as superintendent of the Mayflower district, oversaw three schools and 907 students with 64 kindergarten students.

Loyd, with the Paris district, oversees three schools and 1,077 students with 96 kindergarteners.

Masters, superintendent of Marked Tree schools, said he withdrew his application from the Cabot superintendent’s position some time ago. Marked Tree has two schools, 600 first- through 12th-grade students and 53 kindergarten students.


Seven applicants from outside Arkansas applied to be chief of Cabot schools: Pat Travis from Detroit, Texas; Jake Honea from West Columbia, Texas; Bob Biggs from Pleasant Hope, Mo.; James Dubus from Pittsburg, Texas; Michael Mitchell from Corsicana, Texas; Chris Carem from Gastonia, N.C.; and Richard Wilde from Castle Rock, Wash.

New chief

Whomever the board has chosen to replace Holman to head the almost 9,000 strong Cabot district will make between $135,000 to $175,000 depending on prior experience, education level, and the size of a district they are coming from, if applicable.

The new superintendent, who would receive a three-year contract and start work July 1, would also receive $5,000 for moving expenses. Holman’s last day is June 30 when he becomes superintendent with the Lincoln Consolidated School District near Fayetteville.