Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SPORTS>>Local athletes dominate All-Star softball

Leader sports editor

The All-Star teams for spring sports were released Tuesday. While a few local players were selected in all three sports, the East fastpitch softball team is dominated by players from The Leader coverage area.

Jacksonville, Beebe and Harding Academy put two players each on the team, while Cabot and Lonoke will also be represented among the top senior ball players in the state of Arkansas.

Jacksonville pitcher Jessica Bock and power hitter Gabrielle Hart will face the West All-Stars next month. Bock has recorded over 1,000 strikeouts in her four years as the Lady Devils’ ace hurler. She has signed to play college ball at Bossier City Junior College in Louisiana.

Hart hit a school-record nine home runs this season for the Lady Devils, and led the team with an overall batting average above .500. She will play for Butler County Community College in Kansas next year. Beebe second baseman Brandi Burkhalter and catcher Sara Flenor were also selected by the East coaching staff, which will be headed up by Melbourne’s Mike Watson.

Burkhalter led the Lady Badgers in batting average this season. She and Flenor are two of only three seniors on the squad that were part of an era of Lady Bagers softball that saw three conference championships, a 40-2 conference record and two state championship-game appearances. Flenor signed with Williams Baptist College in the early signing period. Burkhalter has several offers, but hasn’t decided on the direction she plans to take in college.

Harding Academy pitcher Loghan Lowery and shortstop Taylor Pryor were named to the team. Lowery drew interest from many schools, but decided to attend Harding University and not pursue college athletics. Pryor is also receiving interest, but has not made a decision.

Cabot’s Jamie Sterrenberg will join her coach Becky Steward in Fayetteville. Steward was selected as an assistant coach on the East team. Sterrenberg was the Lady Panthers’ leading hitting this season. She has interest from several schools in softball and basketball, but hasn’t yet decided where to continue her athletic career.

The final local selection is Lonoke’s Emily Burns. Burns helped take Lonoke to a second-place finish in conference and district tournament, and to a regional playoff appearance. In soccer, North Pulaski’s Sarah Watson, Jacksonville’s Stephanie Kennedy and state champion Searcy’s Michelle Giezman will play for Valley View’s Ron Test for the East squad.

Searcy’s boys, who also won the 6A state title, put Seth McGinnis and Bruce Beakheimer on the East squad as well.
The Lions also put a pair of players on the East baseball team. Adam Robertson and Scott Sammons will join Cabot’s Colin Fuller, Abundant Life’s Jerry Lawson and Sylvan Hills’ Taylor Roark when they take on the West team at Baum Stadium.
Fuller was also selected to the East football team, but only allowed to play one sport, plans to play in the baseball game.
All-Star Week is set for June 19-22 at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Games start at 5 p.m. Tuesday June 19 when the baseball doubleheader gets started at Baum Stadium. Girls soccer starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday and boys soccer is set for 8 p.m.

Softball and volleyball will be Wednesday. Softball will start at Lady Back Yard at 5 p.m. with volleyball beginning at 7 p.m. at Barnhill Arena. Basketball is set for Thursday. The girls take the floor at Bud Walton Arena at 6 p.m. and the boys follow at approximately 8 p.m. All-Star Week concludes with the All-Star football game at Razorback Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.

SPORTS>>New-look Lions see positives in wing T

Leader sportswriter

The 2007 version of the Searcy Lions will have somewhat of a familiar look this season, but it will be a new look from the previous two seasons. Last week was spring practice for Searcy football, with a new formation and new mentality in the works.

The Lions ran the spread for the first two years of coach Bart McFarland’s regime, with undesirable results. The Lions went 1-19 during the ‘05-’06 seasons with the spread offense in place, but the days of the wide-open offense at Searcy are over.
Under former coach Danny Mallet, the Lions ran out of the wing-T formation before McFarland came on board with the spread. This season will see a return to the wing-T, a move that the head Lion says was out of necessity.

“It suits our personnel better,” McFarland said. “The coaches and the kids seem more comfortable with it. We think it will give us a better chance to win. We need to get some more toughness, and we think this is the way to do it.”

There were 62 players on hand for the five days of practice, with 22 of them seniors. The offensive line had the most experience to come back, with all but one of last year’s starters returning. Justin Drain will be back in the interior this season, along with Blake Taylor and Murray Moore. Dylan Cook and Mikey Branch will complete the line for Searcy, giving them seasoned personnel in place where it matters the most with the new formation in place.

In the backfield, Jamie Carr and Trace Madden top the depth charts for the Lions, with John Moore and E.J. Bailey also listed as running backs.

“We’ve got a lot of good running backs that can make plays,” McFarland said. “They’re just average size kids, but as long as they can run the ball and gain us four yards, that’s what we’re looking for. We think it’s going to give us a chance to better evaluate situations and find out what we need to do in order to win.”

The majority of the spring sessions were spent on basic fundamentals as opposed to preparing for 7-on-7 summer football like the past two years. McFarland says that along with the new offensive approach, the Lions are also trying to instill a more traditional smash-mouth mindset.

“We have a different mentality heading into this season,” McFarland said. “That should help us a lot. That has been part of our problem in the past, but it was actually an accumulation of different things. It wasn’t from a lack of effort by any means, we just didn’t get it done.

McFarland says the numbers don’t matter as long as the kids in place can get the job done this season.

“We’re pleased with the kids we have,” McFarland said. “We’re going to coach them until our tails fall off. We had a real good spring; we learned a lot about our offense, and the kids picked up on it well. It doesn’t matter to us if we have 62 kids or 82 kids, we’re going to take the ones we have and coach them up.”

SPORTS>>More options for ’Rabbits

Leader sportswriter

It wasn’t a lack of talent that hampered the Lonoke Jackrabbits during the 2006 season, it was a lack of versatility.
A limited offense and unfamiliar coach resulted in a trying 3-7 record for the ‘Rabbits, but the ’07 version looks to be improved in both regards.

Many of last year’s skill players and all but one lineman returned to Abraham Field for spring practice beginning last week. Monday afternoon marked only the second day of pads for the squad, as they went through a variety of offensive sets.
Lonoke ran an almost exclusive spread attack last year, although a great deal of it was on the ground. Monday saw plenty of passing routes from the spread, but the Jackrabbits also spent a fair amount of time working out of the pro set with twin backs. Coach Jeff Jones says the pro-set formation is not completely new to the returning players, but will be used in more game situations during the coming season.

“We worked on that some last year,” Jones said. “We just didn’t use it like we needed to. We’re going to be able to do that this year; we’ll be more physical than we were last year. Last year, we were just to the point of putting it in place. This year, we’re trying to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. That’s just the next extension we’re taking.”

The ‘Rabbits have grown not only in offensive options, but in field generals as well. Last year’s starting quarterback Alex Cash will return again for his senior year at QB, but this year, he won’t be alone. Juniors Rollins Elam and Clarence Harris both spent time under center during practice Monday.

“Alex is a versatile runner and passer,” Jones said. “Rollins Elam is a great pocket passer, and Clarence Harris, he was our flanker last year. We’re going to put him in there and let him run the ball and do some play-action passing as well. We’re trying to mix it up some and add a little variety to our offense. They’re going to get to play, but I guess it depends on how well they do in practice, how many reps they get in the game at that position.”

There were 41 players dressed out on Monday, with a number of players absent due to a summer league baseball game. Jones estimates the total at just under 50; the number he expected to participate.

Along with experience at the skill positions, a number of seasoned linemen return for the Jackrabbits as well. Keifer Vaughn, Brad Harvey and Joel Harris ??? all return to the Lonoke offensive interior this season. Harris was moved to tight end, but Vaughn and Harvey will remain inside for the ‘Rabbits.

In the backfield, Brandon Smith moves up from last year’s conference champion ninth grade team in 2007 at tailback, along with Tyler Crow, who saw playing time in the position late last year. All Conference standout Amir Fleming will once again take on fullback duties along with his linebacker position on defense.

Along with sharing quarterback duties, Clarence Harris will also return to receiving duties this season, along with Daniel Smith. Jones also says there are several potential receivers in the ninth-grade unit that will be moving up as well.
“We’ve got some guys we know we can count on,” Jones said. “And some young guys we feel good about. We’re just trying to teach them the techniques and why we’re doing certain things. We’re way ahead of the game from where we were at this time last year.”

EDITORIALS>>Rude owners

The Jacksonville City Council made a mistake when it voted to ban pit bulls at its meeting Thursday night.

Instead, aldermen should have banned the rude and crude owners of the pit bulls. That’s right: Keep the dogs and kick out the owners. In 20 years of this newspaper covering city council meetings, the absolute rudeness of these dog owners was some of the worst we’ve seen.

Now, granted it was not all the owners—just like it’s not all the pit bulls doing the biting and attacking—but there were too many making fools of themselves.

The mayor was threatened, an aldermen was told that his neck would be broken if he wrote down the speaker’s address, the whole council was derailed and belittled, and a parent describing a terrible pit-bull attack on his 12-year-old son was instantly attacked by a number of owners claiming it was his fault for not being outside with the boy.

Alderman Reedie Ray called it right, saying the actions of one of those in attendance were enough to make him vote for the ban.

Dogs do have their own personalities, but they also feed off their owners, and with the amount of disrespect and hate shown to the council—we are surprised these dogs aren’t ravaging the city.

Kudos go to Mayor Tommy Swaim—whom we are often at odds with—for keeping his demeanor and cool and trying his best to allow the opposition to speak. Out of the 45 minutes he gave the opposition, half that time was spent on babbling, threats and points that had nothing to do with the issue. The opposition was its own worst enemy.

One opposition speaker accused Alderman Bob Stroud of already having his mind made up. Of course he had his mind made up to ban the dogs: He was the one who brought the ordinance to the council. He is allowed to have his mind already made up.

But most of the other aldermen were open to discussion, and two even voiced opposition to the idea of a ban, but finally voted for it, more because of the actions of the mob rather than the actions of the dogs.

EDITORIALS>>Straight talk from Beebe

Gov. Beebe climbed the ladder of political success by coming pretty close to pleasing everybody as a state senator and attorney general, but after getting elected governor he has become the real version of the Straight Talk Express. We like the conversion.

The governor was addressing some 100 northwest Arkansas businessmen last Wednesday in Springdale, a gathering of power and money, including more than one Fortune 400 tycoon. John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, wanted to know when Beebe was going to lower state income taxes, which he thought slowed business growth. Arkansas has to compete with states that either have no personal income tax like Texas or have lower marginal rates, Tyson observed.

Straight talk on taxes is not in vogue nowadays, as anyone who has watched the Republican presidential debates and smaller cattle shows around the country knows. Mention of any tax draws a promise from every candidate to cut it or get rid of it altogether. Every candidate boasts of his tax-cutting history, even Mike Huckabee, who raised more taxes than any governor in Arkansas history. Huckabee promises to get rid of income taxes altogether and impose a European-style sales tax that would shift taxes dramatically from rich people like Tyson to working people. “I’m not going to lie to you,” Beebe replied. “I don’t know where we’d go without the income tax.”

He said there might be small revisions in the tax in the next few years, but they should expect no major reduction in tax rates. This year, the legislature and Beebe eliminated personal income taxes on very low-wage workers and reduced them for families with incomes not far above the poverty line. They also cut the sales taxes on groceries in half.

Beebe spelled out the clear reasons why it could not be done. People are demanding better services — improved education, highways and health care — and flattening the income tax would impair the state’s ability to meet even the present level of services. Corporate and personal income taxes supply about 40 percent of the state’s general revenues, the central pool of support for schools and colleges, law enforcement and health services. Arkansas property taxes are among the lowest in the United States and people hate even those, Beebe said. So people will not stand for the tax burden to be shifted from income to property, and neither will they stand for a hike in the sales tax, which is among the highest in the region.

The governor might have added, but didn’t, that men in Tyson’s income group — the top 10th of 1 percent of Americans — have done very well in recent years. Congress radically lowered their income tax rates, excused them from paying much tax on their stock earnings and dividends and eliminated both the federal and state-level taxes on vast inheritances. Eight years ago, the Arkansas legislature also slashed the taxes they pay on long-term capital gains.

The Arkansas personal income tax, which has a top marginal rate of 7 percent, and the corporate tax rate of 6 percent are not really so burdensome when you consider that the taxes are deductible on federal returns, which means that Uncle Sam pays much of the state tax for them, and that both the federal and state codes are generous with deductions and credits for corporations and people with large investment earnings.

Beebe’s blunt talk ought not to be news since his point was self-obvious, but it passes nowadays for unusual courage. We found it refreshing.

OBITUARIES >> 5-23-07

Roger Armstrong

Roger Gene Armstrong, 69, of Beebe passed away May 19 in Little Rock. He was born Nov. 14, 1937 in Estelline, S.D., to the late Virgil B. and Ida A. Skoglund Armstrong.

He served in the Air Force and helped with the construction of Little Rock Air Force Base. He was a field service Engineer for Par-Tech Inc. and worked as a computer technician. He was a pastor with the Church Of God Of Prophecy for 33 years.
Survivors include his wife, Priscilla Louise Lang Armstrong of Beebe; children, Eddie Gene Armstrong and wife Linda of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Alan Dale Armstrong and wife Brenda of Cleveland, Tenn.; sisters, Karen Fleming of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Sharon Weatherly of Surprise, Ariz.; three grandchildren, Angela, Andrew and Christy Armstrong.

Funeral services will be Wednesday, May 23 at The Church of God of Prophecy in Jacksonville with Bishop Wayne Pense and Bishop Don Yancey officiating. Burial will follow at Arkansas State Veteran’s Cemetery in North Little Rock. Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Jerry Gramling

Jerry Gramling, 74, of Jacksonville passed away May 20. He was born May 14, 1933 in Stanford (Greene County) to the late Robert Earl and Mabel Gregory Gramling.

He retired after working more than 20 years for the state as a tax auditor. He was a member of Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church. He was also preceded in death by his wife, Norma Owens Gramling, and a brother, Glenn Gramling.

Survivors include his children, Pam Thompson and husband Charles of Sherwood, Nan Black of North Little Rock, Mike Gramling of Jacksonville, Marty Gramling and wife Andrea of Ozark, Mo., and Becky Hobby and husband Brian of Sherwood; sisters, Joy Powers and Judy Rowland and husband Donnie all of Stanford; grandchildren, Amanda Thompson, Heather Carroll, Kent Hobby, Meghan Hobby, Brandi Gramling, Christopher Gramling, Madison Gramling and Joshua Gramling; great-grandchildren, Hayden Carroll and Peyton Hobby and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 23 at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville with Rev. Jim Rowland officiating.

Burial will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park. Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

John Smith

John Smith, 83, of Jacksonville went to be with the Lord May 21. He was born April 2, 1924 to the late Earnest Edward and Margaret Kamp Smith in Salem, Ill.

He retired from the Air Force with rank of technical sergeant and was a retired general contractor. He served his community as a member of the Lion’s Club, the NCOA, and a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans group 7. He served the Lord as a deacon at Chapel Hill Baptist Church. His first wife, Lois J. Smith, preceded him in death.

Survivors include his wife, Carrie Smith of Jacksonville; sons, Kevin Michael Smith of Jacksonville, Keith Mark Smith and wife Toni of Bentonville and Michael Morris Jr. of Ada, Okla.; daughters, Jo Ann Mederios and husband John of Vancouver, Wash., Renee Smith of Jacksonville and Melody Wisnosky and husband Marc of Jourdanton, Texas; brother, James Henry Louis and sister, Liz Holden both of Phoenix, Ariz., and his grandchildren, Johnny and Lisa Mederios, Jimmy Smith, Joshua and Tawnie DeGroot and Nick Wisnosky.

Funeral services will be at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at Chapel Hill Baptist Church in Jacksonville with Rev. Mike Douglas officiating. Burial will follow in Rest Hills Memorial Park. Visitation will be at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home on Wednesday, May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Letha Jones

Letha M. Jones, 74, died May 20. She was born near Marianna, Sept. 25, 1932 to Hulett and Lula Graham.
She was a member of Browns-ville First Baptist Church.

She was retired and enjoyed volunteering at Lonoke County Cares. She was a member of the Jacksonville and Little Rock Duplicate Bridge Club and was a bronze life master with the American Contract Bridge League.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Freeman Jones.

Survivors include a daughter, Patti and husband Bill Adams of Lonoke; four sisters, Mildred Berry of Poplar Grove, Lavinia Fuqua of Star City, Stella Brogdon of Higden and Barbara Goodman of Montgomery, Ala.

Funeral services were May 22 at First Baptist Church in Brownsville. Burial followed in Weir Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Brownsville or Lonoke County Cares.

Mary Pfleeger

Mary Michele “Shelley” Pfleeger, 45, of Cabot passed away May 22. She was born October 4, 1961 in LaGrange, Ind., to Donald Duane and Suzanne Marie Ackerman Hoover. She was a member of Grace Fellowship Church in Cabot and Holy Family Catholic Church on Little Rock Air Force Base.

She is survived by her husband Edward Pfleeger of Cabot; her parents of Albion, Ind.; one daughter, Melynda Beth Pfleeger and husband John of Gravel Ridge; one son, Joshua Edward Pfleeger and wife Beth of Portland, Ore.; three brothers, Jeff W. Hoover and wife Kim of Albion, Ind., Doug Hoover and wife Karen of Cromwell, Ind., and Steve Hoover and wife Stacy of Viola, Wis.; two grandchildren, Jasper and Matt Ables as well as a host of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends Wednesday, May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home. Funeral services will take place in Albion, Ind.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>How city wiped out vet’s investment

IN SHORT: A veteran of Vietnam, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, Jim Eggert bought two commercial buildings in Jacksonville, but the closing of the Graham Road rail crossing killed business. He’s put his property up for sale, but he’ll have to take a huge loss.

Jim Eggert is a retired Air Force master sergeant who has served his country in Vietnam, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia and now works for Army Air Force Exchange Service in Japan.

He was stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base and liked Jacksonville so much he bought a couple of small buildings with several business tenants near the railroad tracks at Graham Road.

He thought buying the buildings would be a solid investment, but this combat veteran is facing financial ruin because the city put up a barrier near his property when the Main Street overpass was built, destroying almost all commerce in the area.
The businesses, which had paid him rent so he could pay his mortgage, are gone, like almost every storefront on both sides of the tracks.

The neighborhood, long depressed, is now a lot worse off since the city diverted traffic away from Eggert’s buildings and closed the railroad crossing in 2003, chocking off traffic from the other side of the tracks.

This all happened while Eggert was serving overseas: When Jacksonville closed the railroad crossing, business dropped so sharply, he gave his tenants a break on the rent, but still they couldn’t hold on.

The laundromat is gone, and so is the catfish restaurant. Businesses around the corner in the other building he owns are also shut down. The gas station across the street went under in anticipation of the rail crossing being blocked off.
Eggert put up a for-sale sign, but he’ll probably take a big hit before he can stop the hemorrhaging: He’s asking $95,000 for the property, but he paid more than $125,000 for it.

The only offer he’s had on the buildings so far was for $60,000 from an investor who wants to use them for storage.
When Eggert first heard about the closing of the Graham Road rail crossing, “I was in Kosovo and assumed it would not last,” he said. “I voluntarily cut my tenants’ rent in half to help out, assuming this was a temporary issue.

“I put my sweat and tears into getting the property ready for tenants and have personally lost thousands of dollars in income, three good tenants and many, many good customers and friends,” Eggert recalled.

“My wife, my daughter with Down’s and myself ran the laundromat for eight months ourselves prior to our renting it out and met many friends in Jacksonville.

“I have had three years of combat tours in Vietnam and eight months in Saudi Arabia during my active service. Since working for AAFES, I also volunteered to serve the military again as a civilian in Kosovo and Macedonia and this last two years, ending in November 2006, I served in Tikrit in southern Iraq, Kirkuk Air Base in northeastern Iraq, Mosul Air Base in north Iraq and lastly at Forward Operation Base Spiker in northeastern Iraq.

“When I came home for a small vacation during my tour, I contacted the mayor’s office and was informed by his administrative assistant that he had, in fact, made a deal with the railroad and she felt the barrier was only a temporary measure.  

“This did not seem right, so I called over to the state attorney general’s office and was told that it was not their business but the mayor’s business and he would have to settle it. Great support from our so-called elected officials,” Eggert added bitterly.
He’d come across their kind of flippant attitude while traveling overseas. After all, it was only his life savings he was worried about, so why should that concern city officials?

“ I found their attitude similar to many socialist countries’ attitudes that I had visited during my military career — people in authority misusing that authority at will,” Eggert said.  “You can do whatever you please.”  
The city had not approached any of the businesses while they were still open to ask if officials could extend them a helping hand.
It’s as if Jacksonville doesn’t care if businesses thrive or not.
As far as he’s concerned, it’s like being mugged in church or assaulted in school.

It’s as if no one’s safe anywhere: You’d better watch out — a city will pick your pockets and put you out of business while you’re serving your country overseas.

It takes a special kind of bureaucratic folly to push all these businesses under and to financially ruin a combat veteran who has served his country with distinction.

“After my returning from Iraq this November, I noticed that the barrier was still there and very dusty from the years of standing there,” Eggert saids. “As I assumed this would be, as I stated, a temporary situation, I didn’t give it much thought. My company was transferring to Japan anyway, so I assumed the barrier would eventually be removed.  

“This was logical as the silly barrier served no purpose except to block off (newly widened First Street) and choke out all the minority business in that area.  

“I assumed again that this action was or should be illegal or in the very least irresponsible and surely wouldn’t be tolerated by our citizens.  My mistake. Surely this barrier is not for the good of anyone or any entity nor for the good of our Jacksonville or Arkansas citizens.

“Something needs to be done,” Eggert pleads, “to reverse this action for the good of not only myself and my family, but my Jacksonville family and friends.  It’s only fair.”

All good people should lend Eggert a hand, help him reopen the railroad crossing and tell him: Instead of letting the city wipe you out financially, we’ll help you get back on your feet — and, unlike the people who’ve tried to ruin you, thank you for serving your country as long as you have.

TOP STORY >>Payoff held till center in compliance

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams says the final bill on the city’s new community center won’t be paid until the building complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and issues with the cost overruns have been resolved.

The budget committee of the Cabot City Council voted earlier this month to send the cost overruns created by change orders to the council where paying the $74,382 arguably still owed to the architects and construction manager could be discussed by all the members.

But that item was not on the agenda for the Monday night council meeting as expected because Williams is now talking to the architects and construction manager instead.

“We have hired a civil engineer to do a detailed analysis of all ADA issues and all the ADA issues will be resolved,” Williams said Tuesday.

As for the unpaid balance of $44,761 to architects Taggard, Foster, Currence and Gray and the $29,619 not reimbursed to the construction manager, Kullander Construction, for change orders, Williams says he’s waiting for legal advice. “At this point, from a legal standpoint, we’re going to see what our options are,” he said.

The total cost of the community center including the $300,000 for furnishings, is about $4.9 million. Williams said he first learned that the new building was not ADA compliant when he took office in January. Williams said Mikel Kullander has agreed to make the necessary modifications to bring it into compliance at no cost to the city.

Although City Attorney Jim Taylor told the budget committee that he recommended the city pay the bills from the architects and the construction company, Williams said this week that he is doing more research now. Taylor told the budget committee earlier this month that the contract with the architects gave them authority to approve change orders for the city, but it said they were to provide written copies of the change orders and proper documentation as to the necessity of the change orders.

However, the contract didn’t specify when the city should receive the paperwork. In this case, the change order was prepared in April after City Attorney Jim Taylor asked for it, and there was no supporting documentation. All the change orders were verbal and authorized by Jim Towe, the former mayor’s public works director.

TOP STORY >>Overpass is taking more hits

Leader senior staff writer

For the second time in just over a year, an accident has torn up the old-style Hwy. 67/167 southbound overpass railing at Main Street in Jacksonville.

This time, no one was killed or injured.

Although the replacement guardrail was knocked into the street below in a recent one-car accident, it may not be correct to say that it failed.

The 1999 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Britney Davenport, 21, of Cabot hit the guardrail at 10:24 a.m

May 11, but remained on the road, according to Capt. Gloria Weakland, commander of Troop A, State Police. “My car pulled to the right, and I couldn’t get it to pull back,” Davenport told the investigating officer.

The report lists failure to maintain control and careless and prohibited driving as factors in the accident, but Davenport was not cited, Weakland said.

Road conditions included daylight and a dry, clear road with no defects on the roadway. Davenport was not ejected from the vehicle when its right front struck the guardrail. There were no injuries, Weakland said.

Repairs began Monday and could continue for another day or two, according to state Highway and Transportation Department spokesmen, who say it is not practical to put the newer, concrete barriers on the old bridge. In the meantime, at least one Jacksonville resident says she fears driving under the overpass on Main Street, afraid a passing vehicle will knock a heavy orange barrel down onto her.

In February 2006, a gravel truck driven by Donald Ray Watkins, 36, of Ward, slammed into a line of stopped traffic on the overpass, driving two vehicles through the same guardrail and landing among them on the street below.
Jerry Justice, 34, of Ward was killed in that accident and four others were hospitalized.

Watkins has been charged with four misdemeanors—negligent homicide and three counts of third-degree battery—in connection with the incident, according to Rob Berry, deputy Pulaski County prosecutor.In addition, there is “lots of civil stuff pending,” Berry said.

Watkins, represented by Mark Hampton, is slated for a pretrial hearing May 30, according to Berry. Highway and Transportation Department spokesman Glenn Bolick said that as highway widening continues northward, eventually the twin overpasses at Main Street would be replaced with wider, better overpasses. There is tentatively $32 million earmarked to widen Hwy. 67-167 from south of Redmond Road to north of Vandenberg, according to the official Metroplan 2030 long-term transportation plan.

That would include new, wider overpasses at Main Street and at James Street as well as the widening of Hwy. 67/167 sometime before 2030. The State Crime Lab reported that Watkins had had Diazepam, Nordiazpam and Trazodone in his blood. The report noted that the quantities in Watkins’ blood were “consistent with values widely considered to be normal or therapeutic.”

The report did not say whether or not the quantities in question could have impaired Watkins’ driving and contributed to the accident. A pharmacist who asked not to be identified said that Diazepam—a generic Valium — and Trazodone used together could be “really sedating,” and should not be taken at the same time. Each would carry a warning not to operate heavy equipment or machinery, the pharmacist said.

The Nordiazepam was the Diazepam that had already been metabolized, said the pharmacist.Trazodone is an antidepressant used for sleep or for pain control.

TOP STORY >>Ex-mayor prepares to fight if charges are filed

Leader staff writer

Although the FBI will not confirm that former Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh is at the center of a public-corruption probe that has lasted almost two years, sources at city hall say an investigator has talked to several employees, including the current mayor, budget manager and city clerk.

Stumbaugh is expected to put up a vigorous fight if charges are filed.

The investigation started when the city hired USI-Arkansas to design a multi-million water project, which included upgrades to the system and a connection to Central Arkansas Water, which will supply the city with reliable lake water.
USI, the parent company of USI-Arkansas, was under investigation at that time for bribing public officials, and the president and vice president of the parent company have since been convicted in federal court. Sources say the investigation into Stumbaugh’s administration will not be closed until after Sohan P. Singh, president of USI, is sentenced, presumably because the severity of the sentence could depend upon how much information he gives the FBI about his company’s business practices.

Singh was scheduled for sentencingin March. Officials with USI Arkansas say they’re no loner with the parent company.
The FBI has seized the computers used by the former mayor and his public works director and several city documents, including bank statements for the general fund and the water department, which was not run by a commission until 2006, the last year Stumbaugh was in office.

Stumbaugh, who denies any wrongdoing, also is gathering information. City records show he made requests for documents under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act on April 13, April 18 and April 26. His requests include documents related to the selection process for hiring USI-Arkansas for both the water project and the sewer treatment plant.

He also has requested and received personnel information on the budget manager, who is now under the city clerk but was the finance director under the mayor when Stumbaugh was in office. And he has requested documents pertaining to the city’s current contract for garbage and yard wastes with IESI.IESI was awarded the contract the first time after Stumbaugh took office more that four years ago, but did not bid when it was time to renew the contract.
Stumbaugh, who was hired by IESI after he left office in December, told the council last July that all the bids were too high and he threw them out and re-bid the contract.

Jerry Lester with L&L Services, which had the contract before IESI, complained in July before the council approved the new contract that the bidding was unfair because IESI knew what the others bid and bid less. Stumbaugh said then that IESI did not receive proper notification that it was time to bid the contract again.

Since The Leader wrote in April about the FBI investigation, the IESI employees who ran the operation in Cabot have been fired, but W.J. Grammer, the general manager, said Tuesday that his termination had nothing to do with the FBI investigation.
Instead, Grammer said he was fired because he didn’t have authorization to re-hire a former employee who was needed to clean up the yard wastes that were collecting in April along Cabot streets.

Grammer said Mayor Eddie Joe Williams was pressuring him to clean up the mess and he didn’t have enough workers to get it done. Stumbaugh, who was hired for his public relations skills, pitched in, Grammer said, but he needed another driver and hired the only one available. His superiors were upset that he hired the driver without their approval and fired him.
Don Smith, the district manager for IESI, confirmed that Grammer was fired for re-hiring the driver.

“He tried to slip him in on us,” Smith said, adding that the company has a policy against re-hiring because employees who leave and come back several times cost the company too much.

Smith said Grammer also was fired because his work was unacceptable. Grammer has been replaced by Craig Kirchhoff, he said. Smith said since Kirchhoff took over the city is cleaner.

Smith said he knew nothing about the investigation until he read about it in the paper and no agents have contacted him. Stumbaugh was hired in an effort to obtain more municipal contracts, he said.

TOP STORY >>Graduation day for area seniors

Leader staff writer

More than 760 seniors graduated Friday night from Cabot, Beebe and Lonoke high schools, and about 550 more will graduate this weekend from Jacksonville, North Pulaski and Sylvan Hills high schools as commencement ceremonies are taking place in the area.

Cabot’s 480-plus graduates walked at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock with more than 7,000 family and friends watching the ceremony.

John C. Thompson, chairman of the Cabot Scholarship Foundation and Cabot alumni, was the community representative for the evening’s ceremony and told graduates to move their Class of 2007 tassel from the left to the right, marking their transition from high school into the real world.

Heather Bodiford and Sarah Coggins graduated at the head of Cabot’s class as co-valedictorians; Sondra Grinnis was the salutatorian. Cabot had a total of 13 high honor graduates, including Bodiford, Coggins and Grinnis, and 86 honor graduates.

Lonoke High School graduated 113 seniors at the Lonoke football stadium. Jason Barnes and Jonathan Tackett led the LHS Class of 2007 as co-valedictorians; Logan Danielsen was salutatorian. Lonoke had nine other honor graduates. At Beebe, out of a total of 170 graduates, 167 walked during Fri-day’s commencement. Brittney Bass and Katie McIlwain led the Beebe High School Class of 2007 as valedictorian and salutatorian; there were 18 other honor graduates.

Jacksonville, North Pulaski and Sylvan Hills high school seniors will graduate this week. Seniors at JHS will graduate at 7 p.m. Friday at the JHS football stadium. Jacksonville’s class of 2007 co-valedictorians are LaRae Brown and John Wilkins, salutatorian is Christopher Copeland; there are 13 other honor graduates at JHS.

Sylvan Hills’ seniors will graduate at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center located at the north side of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus. Valedictorian Andrew Reynolds and salutatorian Caroline Borden, with 15 other honor graduates, lead the class.

North Pulaski’s commencement will be at 7 p.m. Saturday; North Pulaski’s ceremony will also take place at the Stephens Center at UALR. Sarah Watson, valedictorian, and Charles Gervasini, salutatorian, lead their graduating class; there are 14 additional honor graduates in North Pulaski’s Class of 2007. Searcy’s Class of 2007 graduated May 12.

TOP STORY >>City has 20 days to reply to suit

Leader staff writer

Sherwood placed a moratorium on any development plans for the North Hills Country Club to get the sale price lowered and more time to get an appraisal, according to an appeal filed Friday by the owners of the facility. Sherwood has 20 days, about June 8, to respond to the appeal, and then the issue could end up in court.

“We are studying the complaint,” said City Attorney Steve Cobb, “and will make the appropriate response in a timely manner.”
In the meantime the condition of the golf course deteriorates as very little landscape and maintenance work is being done to the property since it officially closed earlier this month.

Jim Rodgers and Thomas Eanes, owners of the North Hills Country Club, believe that Sherwood’s building moratorium killed their $5.1 million sale of the course and that the city may only offer up to $1.7 million for the 106-acre facility. The appeal asks Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox to reverse the city resolution and declare it “to be void and of no force and effect.”

The appeal names the city, the mayor and all eight aldermen as defendants.

According to the appeal, the city discussed and voted on the resolution April 23 even though it was not on the original agenda. The resolution called for a “six-month moratorium on the filing of applications for rezonings, subdivision plats and for the issuance of building permits for the area known as North Hills Country Club.”

The Sherwood City Council voted 8-0 to approve the resolution.

The owners’ attorney Stuart Hankins, in the appeal, called the resolution “arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, unlawful, oppressive and discriminatory.”

The appeal states the city’s actions were improper because it only applies to “the North Hills Country Club property, and no other property or property owner in the City of Sherwood is affected by it.”

Sherwood approved a building moratorium once before to stop the construction of an apartment complex. That builder filed a lawsuit, and the city pulled the moratorium.

This moratorium, according to the appeal, “effectively stops all development and pending or potential sales of the North Hills Country Club property in an unlawful attempt to cause termination of the real estate sales contract for the unlawful purpose of helping to obtain a direct economic benefit in the lowering of the sales price for the City’s intention of acquiring the North Hills Country Club property for use as a municipal facility.”

Hankins wrote in the appeal that the owners had entered into a written agreement with Ron Campbell and Roy Marples to buy the acreage for $5.1 million. Campbell and Marples envisioned turning the property into a gated high-end development of single-family homes.

“The closing of the country club and the sale of North Hills Country Club property to developers were motivating factors in the City’s adoption of the moratorium resolution,” the appeal claims.

The appeal also claims that the moratorium “effectively grants the city a free option to purchase the North Hills Country Club property for six months while the city decides whether or not to condemn the property presumably based upon the conclusions of a feasibility study and an appraisal of the property.”

Hankins said the moratorium is “unlawful because its stated purpose exceeds the statutory power granted to cities to condemn property.”

Monday, May 21, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot enjoys early success from offense

IN SHORT: Good size on the offensive line and quarterback play has led to a productive spring session for the Panther offense.

Leader sports editor

Little changed with personnel for the Cabot Panthers from day one to day four of spring football practice. The Panthers took Friday off and will finish their last day of practice in full pads on Monday. While the players leading the way on day one are still doing so, the coaching staff has seen improvement from the whole team in the way of execution.

As coaches always hope is the case, the team has steadily progressed since day one.

“The players are all about where we were Monday, but they’re learning and doing all right,” Cabot head coach Mike Malham said. “I think they look pretty good and getting a lot done, so we’re pretty pleased with that aspect. We’re going to be young and we’ve still got a long way to go, but they’re learning.”

While little changed with personnel, a little did change. Most changes were due to minor injuries. Sophomore Seth Bloomberg got all the repetitions at quarterback on Thursday. Junior Nathan Byrnes tweaked his knee on Wednesday and was kept out of practice Thursday.

Junior Chris Bayles took over some reps at halfback. ?? James, who started spring drills at halfback, also suffered a minor sting and sat out.

“Bayles looked pretty good running the ball,” Malham said. “He’s not very big. He’s about the same as Carlisle, but they both have decent speed, so I think we’re going to be all right there. We’ve got a little depth at halfback.”

Bloomberg broke some long runs and went the distance a couple of times in scrimmage. The sophomore made good reads and drew praise from the coach, and so did the line that opened the holes.

“Bloomberg looked pretty good,” Malham said. “He made good reads and broke some plays. Burns looked pretty good when he was in there too. Of course our offensive line has got some big guys up there for a change and that sure has helped. It’s a young group and they’ve got a lot to learn, but they’re pretty hard-nosed. The ones up front are pretty good, but there’s not much depth right now. We need some guys to step up and be ready to go in case we get anybody hurt because one injury messes up a lot of things.”

If the offense is dominating the scrimmages, that of course means the defense is struggling, but some of that has to do with injuries and inexperience.

Neither of last year’s starting defensive ends played Thursday. Daniel Hillenburg is nursing an injury. His counterpart at the other end last year moved to Tennessee.

Size also was part of the equation in the offense’s success.

“We’ve got the defense out-sized by far,” Malham said. They’ve got 200-pounders going up against 280-pounders. They’re going to see a lot of that this year, but not really anybody doing what we do. We’re going to see a lot more wide spread stuff, but they’ve still got their work cut out for them. I see some good things on defense. They are getting some things done and making progress. There’s just a lot of sophomores that have all the tools that are just going to have to get ready.”

SPORTS >>SH Bears learning new coach's way

IN SHORT: The 2007 Sylvan Hills football team turned out in strong numbers for the first week of spring practice; the first under new head coach Jim Withrow, formerly of Mills.

Leader sportswriter

The Jim Withrow era of Sylvan Hills football is now officially underway with the first week of spring practice this past week, although it hasn’t taken off quite as quickly as the new head Bear would like.

The numbers were strong for the Bears, with close to 65 players turning out for the spring drills. The players only got one day of non-pad practice in. Lightning on Tuesday cancelled the final prep day, but Withrow says the lost day is nothing compared to the task of installing a whole new team strategy.

“We’re making progress, but it’s baby steps right now,” Withrow said. “It’s a new coach, a new system, but we’re getting through it. The good thing about it is that they are good kids, and good kids will always make it through, but we have a long, long ways to go.”

Most of the Thursday practice was a full-on scrimmage between first team offenses and defenses, with the second-team defense also seeing significant time. While the offense looked shaky at times, both defensive units seemed to be strong in the linebacker department. The defensive line was green on its timing, jumping on quarterback Hunter Miller’s snap counts on a number of occasions, a penalty that was met with a number of grass drills for the guilty party.

“We’re at the point right now where we’re feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit,” Withrow said. “We’re kind of uninspired. We have to come out every day and work hard, and then that will translate into a new attitude. It’s just going to take a little time.”

One major element of the slow start is five starting seniors for next year who are currently out hurt. Unable to use any kind of data from the previous season, Withrow says the injuries will prevent him from getting a complete look at the abilities and chemistry of his new squad.

“If I had been here before, I would feel better about it,” Withrow said. “But I need to see everybody. That’s just what we’re dealt, and we have to live with it, but the positive thing about it is it gives us a chance to see some guys that we may not have got a look at.”

Withrow says all in all that the offense seems to be picking up the new system pretty well, and was particularly complimentary of the offensive line, and the work they have put in during the off season.

One thing Withrow is trying to accomplish with the new plan is to keep the skill players from having to go both ways on Friday nights, particularly quarterback Miller.

“He’s probably going to play more at quarterback than he is on defense until we get to the conference,” Withrow said. “In this offense, we’re asking him to do a lot, so it’s just going to be tough for him to play both ways all the time.”

The staff was happy with the numbers that turned out for the spring sessions, but Withrow says he would like to see the numbers even higher.

“I would like for us to be around 80 players,” Withrow said. “If we could get that, then we could go with a varsity group and a JV group, and eventually go with possibly a JV and a sophomore team. That’s all it is right now, is a depth game for us. As it stands now, we would have five or six kids that would have to play both ways, and you just can’t do that. If you lose one player, you are essentially losing two positions.

“We’re trying to get to the point where we use about 20-25 players a game. If we can get to that point, I think we’ll be okay.”
The plan for the remaining days of spring practice will be to touch on everything at least once before school dismisses for the summer, and fine tune the system starting in August.

“We’ll hit the special teams some tomorrow,” Withrow said. “When we leave next Friday, we want everything in place. It may not be well executed, but we want everyone knowing where they’re going. We just want to get the plan out there, and we can clean up the execution this summer.”

SPORTS >>Beebe springs into dead T

IN SHORT: New Badger head coach John Shannon brings his experience as Cabot offensive coach to Beebe, along with the set.

Leader sports editor

After four days of spring practice, including two in full pads, the new-look Beebe Badgers have taken some long strides in learning the new offense of new coach John Shannon.

The Beebe players aren’t going through just any old adjustment that typically comes with a new coach. They’re attempting to vault the entire spectrum of offenses, going from the widest of wide-open spread formations that was employed by exited coach Cam Prock, to the tightly compact dead T offense utilized by Shannon.

In just two days of full contact, Shannon has seen progress, but what he’s most excited about is the team’s willingness.

“I’m very pleased with the effort we’re getting from the kids,” Shannon said. “They are making progress. The first group has already picked up on what we want them to do. They’re making the right calls at the line of scrimmage, so that tells me that they’re listening and learning. We have a long way to go though on technique, and that’s just going to take repetition.”

Repetition is the perfect word to describe the first few days of practice. The team broke up into one group of linemen and two groups of backs, and repeated the same drills over and over and over trying to hone the unique technique involved in running the dead-T option and blocking schemes.

Shannon, who was a lineman in high school and college and coached offensive line at Cabot the last several years, worked mostly with the linemen in drills, and has been pleased so far.

“They’re working hard,” Shannon said. “They’re used to pass blocking all the time, and this is totally different. We’re trying to teach them to run block, which is a lot of staying low and plowing forward, and they’re just not used to that, but they’re improving. As long as they’re willing to keep working hard, we’re going to keep improving. It’s something new that we need to keep doing over and over and over.”

One thing Shannon did like was the size on his line.
“I’m very pleased with our size,” Shannon said. “We don’t really have any monsters over there, but we’ve got some tall kids that are solid. There’s definitely a lot to work with athletically on the lines.”

Shannon says it’s still too early to say much about an overall depth chart, but did say the offensive skill players are starting to come into focus.

Roger Glaude and Charlie Spakes are working with the first-team offense. Luke Gardner, Sammy Williams and Kyle Williams have gotten most of the first-team reps in the three running back positions.

“The rest of the positions, it’s still just a little too early to talk about,” Shannon said. “Nothing is really set completely. We’ve got a lot to look at between now and summer. A lot could change. We’re still looking for a lot of people to step up, but I like where we’re at right now.”

EDITORIALS>>Welcome back, Col. Schatz

The 314th Airlift Wing has a new commander, but Col. Rowayne A. Schatz is no stranger to these parts. A decade ago, he commanded the 50th Airlift Squadron at the base, where the squadron was voted the best in Air Mobility Command.

Col. Schatz has distinguished himself with every assignment before getting his next promotion. He’s been selected to receive his first star, so soon you’ll be able to call him Gen. Schatz.

He has held several important positions, from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, to Yokota Air Base in Japan, from McChord Air Force Base in Washington state to U.S. Central Command in the Middle East.

An outstanding C-130 pilot and instructor, Col. Schatz combines flying and management skills that have earned him his plum assignment as commander of the 314 Airlift Wing.

The Air Force sends us the best, as Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, commander of the 19th Air Force, who officiated at Wednesday’s change-of-command ceremony, pointed out. The general praised Col. Schatz as a top-notch Air Mobility expert who is a natural to lead the wing to greater heights.

“Wayne is no stranger to the C-130 and Little Rock. This provides the wing an unusual advantage…He knows this mission and he knows this community. Minimum spin up required, he’s ready to roll,” Halter said.

“We have great confidence in you,” Halter told Schatz. “We have given you one of our toughest units at a pivotal time, and we could think of no one that is better for this job.”

With that kind of endorsement, it’s no surprise that Col. Schatz now leads the men and women of Little Rock Air Force Base. Welcome back!

EDITORIALS>>A preacher's legacy

If a pastor is God’s vicar on earth, his life ought to be measured by the number of souls that he saved or at least by his effort. By that assessment, Rev. Jerry Falwell, who died suddenly on Tuesday, would have to have been deemed a successful pastor because the vast church and television audience that his rich voice and promotional skills developed must have reached lots of lost sinners.

We can never be quite sure of that effect, but we are quite sure that his legacy is larger and very different from that. Falwell certainly believed that it was, and the reaction to his death — the fulsome or polite encomiums in the mainstream media and the ridicule in the blogging world — attests to it.

Jerry Falwell never believed Edmund Burke’s dictum that politics and the pulpit had little in agreement. “No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity,” the great conservative statesman wrote to a member of the National Assembly in 1791.

Pastor Falwell did more than anyone else besides perhaps his friend and follower Pat Robertson to secularize religion, which is one of the central developments of our era. He delivered to the Republican Party in the United States its biggest favor or its biggest curse, depending on your view, by pronouncing the GOP to be God’s Own Party. He and Robertson embraced the Republican Party and its leaders unflinchingly, and the party over his generation refashioned itself into the Falwell mold — the scourge of abortion, homosexuals and women’s rights and the government enforcer of religious doctrine.

He placed his church’s and God’s stamp on whatever initiative a Republican president or the party leaders undertook: repeal of the tax on vast inheritances, repeal of taxes on investment income, opposition to the minimum wage and, of course, support for both invasions of Iraq.

What the George W. Bush administration carefully only hinted — that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the 9/11 attacks — Rev. Falwell stated as fact although that connection never materialized and President Bush would insist that he had never suggested that the dictator had anything to do with the attacks.

Occasionally, his exuberance or vitriol embarrassed the president as when he said that the United States deserved the 9/11 attacks. God was punishing the United States for its immoral drift, Rev. Falwell said, by continuing “to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.” He said God was furious at the American Civil Liberties Union, the People for the American Way and federal courts and suggested that He took His fury out on the victims in the World Trade Center.

The worldwide scourge of AIDS, the preacher said, was God’s punishment to homosexuals although the disease touched millions, including children, who did not engage in homosexual sex. He suggested that HIV sufferers should be herded into compounds and quarantined like infected cattle or lepers.

He delivered all his screeds with biblical certitude and never made corrections for factual errors or missteps but only explanations as when to tamp down the fury over his 9/11 remarks, saying that he did not intend to shift blame from the terrorists.

His skills and his message brought him greater influence and wealth than any clergyman of the 20th century. He altered the politics of his time. Whether he advanced the faith or merely gave it a heartless face is another matter. That judgment is not left to us.

OBITUARIES >> 05-19-07

Robert Sharp
Robert Lee Sharp, 82, of Cabot, formerly of Kansas City, Kansas, passed away on May 17. He was born Sept. 23, 1924 to the late John C. and Violet A. Sharp.

He was a soldier in the Navy and fought in the Second World War.

He was also preceded in death by his wife, Geraldine Wilcox Sharp and one half brother, John Sharp.

Survivors include his only son, Ron Sharp and his wife Sheila of Ward; two grandchildren, Brian Sharp of Folsom, Calif. and Amy Sharp of Vacaville, Calif.; and three great-grandchildren, Brianna Sharp, Brennon Sharp and Alanna Castillo.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, May 21 at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Kansas City, Kansas.
Funeral arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Billy Shelton
Billy Ray Shelton, 79, of Jacksonville, passed away May 14.  He was born Sept. 30, 1927 in Jacksonville to John and Zola Shelton.  

He retired after 26 years with AFCO Steel, and opened his own business Superior LP Supply in Little Rock.  After retiring from Superior LP Supply, he dabbled in real estate and enjoyed his family and friends.  

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sarah Frances Shelton, and two grandchildren, Robert Keith Williamson II and Claire Olea Fisher.

He is survived by one brother, Virgil Shelton of Little Rock; one daughter, Linda and husband Bob of Cumby, Texas; three sons, Kenneth and wife Mary, Billy and wife Debbie, and Steven, all of Lonoke; 14 grandchildren, Ann Marie Wright, Laura Riddle, Kathy Brewington, Shauna Fisher, Juliana Ross, Keith Shelton, Kelli Ann Ash, Bradley Shelton, Craig Shelton, Cory Shelton, Ross Shelton, Lynle Shelton, Blake Shelton and Brent Shelton; and 18 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 19 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Jacksonville with burial in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville.  Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Sam Rawe
Sam Joseph Rawe, 80, of Cabot passed away May 16.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Veda Rose Rawe; father, Joe and stepmother, Alice Rawe; and sister, Ethel Loyer.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Delsie; sons, Andy and wife Cherryl and Mike and wife Tina; daughter, Ramona; seven grandchildren, Phillip, Joey, Tommie Jo, Jessica, Jodi, Magan and Jill; seven great-grandchildren, Zac, Rachel, Kassey, Abby, Christopher, Raelyn and Taylor. He is also survived by his sisters, Mabel Luszcz Alexander, Nellie Cleveland and Alice Faye McKenzie; and brothers, C.A. Rawe and John Rawe.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at Old Austin United Methodist Church with burial in Old Austin Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home at Beebe.

Phillip Thomas
Phillip I. Thomas, 19, of Sherwood, went home to be with the Lord May 14 in Nashville, Tenn. He was born April 15, 1988 to Robert and Adrienne Brown Thomas in Fayetteville, N.C.

Phillip was a mechanic for Maverick Transportation, friend, brother, and son. 

Survivors include his parents of Sherwood; brothers, Jamar Stone of Decatur, Ga., Robert Thomas and wife Kimberly, Steven Thomas, and Benjamin Thomas; sisters, Alicia Thomas and Lorienne Thomas all of Sherwood; two nieces, Jaylin and Alexa as well as many other family and friends.

A going-home celebration will be held in Phillip’s honor at 11 a.m. Monday, May 21 at the Base Chapel on the Little Rock Air Force Base.

Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Thomas Dunlap
Thomas Jefferson Dunlap, 38, formerly of Cabot, joined his loved ones in heaven from his Auburn, Wash., home  on May 16.
Thomas was born March 30, 1969 in Clarksville to Diane Painter Dunlap Schmidt and the late Thomas Laser Dunlap.  

He was also preceded in death by his sister, Laser Dunlap. 

Survivors include his beloved, Rita Cederblom; his mother and stepfather, Bryan Schmidt; brothers, Michael Dunlap, Jacob Schmidt, and Sean Cheney; sisters, Dawn Charlton, Jenny Boster, Jaime Aistrup, and Jill Schmidt; grandmother, Ruth Painter; niece, Alexis and nephews, Joey, Colin, Sam, Gabriel and Elijah. 

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 at Moore’s Funeral Home in Jacksonville.  

Burial will follow in Sumner Cemetery in Cabot.  Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 21 at the funeral home.  

LaVerne Wallace
LaVerne “Bud” Wallace Sr., 79, of Sherwood, formerly of Jacksonville passed away May 16.

Bud was a regular attendee of the Jacksonville Senior Citizen Center where he loved to play dominoes and bingo.
He was preceded in death by one son, LaVerne Culwell Wallace, Jr., of Fulton, Mo.

He is survived by five children, Cindy Tyson of Sherwood, Connie and husband Jim Waller, Ronald Wallace, John Wallace and Jimmy and wife Pauline Wallace all of Fulton, Mo.; five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and one brother Ed Wallace of Mexico, Mo.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 20 between at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home in North Little Rock.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 21 at the funeral home. The family would like to sincerely thank Arkansas Hospice for all the loving care and support the staff their provided during Mr. Wallace’s illness.

Shirley Polk
Shirley Lee Polk, 71 of Jacksonville passed away May 15.  She was born May 14, 1936 in Newport to the late Earnest and Anna Ice Goins.  She was also preceded in death by her husband, Audrey Polk and a sister.

Survivors include her son, Allen Polk; daughter, Tracy Sears and husband Steve; four grandchildren, James, Justin, Aber, and Jacob Sears; and a brother, Donald Goins. Memorial services were May 16 in Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville.  

EVENTS>>Spring 2007

Lonoke County 4-H is sponsoring a day camp Tuesday and Wednesday, June 19-20. This day camp is designed to provide an introduction to shooting sports. The two-day event will involve hands-on demonstrations and classroom education. At the end of the second day, you will have earned your Arkansas Game and Fish Commission hunter education card. (You must pass a test in order to earn the card.)
The camp will include archery skills and games; pellet rifle skills and games; fishing education; hunter education certification; all equipment provided; introduction to 4-H Shooting Sports and conservation education.
Space is limited, so be sure and to contact the Lonoke County Extension Service for an application. This will be first come – first serve. Cost of the camp is $30 before May 15 and $40 after that day. You must sign up by June 12.
The camp will be held at the UAPB Farm on Hwy. 31 North from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Pack a sack lunch for both days. Drinks and snacks will be sold to the campers.

If you have any questions, contact Keith Perkins at 501-676-3124.

The 2007 Lonoke County Lincoln Day Dinner will be held Saturday, June 9 in the Cabot High School cafeteria. Bill Vickery, political consultant and radio talk show host, will be the featured speaker. The program will start at 7 p.m. with dinner being served at 7:15 p.m.
Tickets are $30 each, $50 per couple, $200 for table of eight. Contact Johnie Benefield at 843-3147 for more information.

The South Bend Firefighters Association will have its monthly family breakfast, 8 to 10 a.m. June 9 at Station 1 located at 4414 Highway 294, Jacksonville. The event is free, but donations are accepted.

Evangelistic Ministries Church in Jacksonville will be holding a Community Homeownership Workshop Saturday, June 30 at the church.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. It is aimed at those who would like to own their own homes.
For more information or to register for the workshop, call 985-3067.

The Cabot High School Class of 1987 will hold its 20-year reunion in October. The two-day event will kick off Friday, Oct. 12 at the Cabot Panther homecoming football game and will continue with a dinner in Little Rock on Saturday, Oct. 13. For more information, class members can contact Lisa (Young) Lee at or visit the official class website at

Children all over Cabot will be selling lemonade from stands Saturday as part of Lemonade and Love, a Cabot United Methodist Church’s Senior High Sunday School Class fundraiser for abused and neglected children who are housed at the Open Arms Shelter.

“We are challenging the youth and children in other Lonoke County churches to sell lemonade at stands all over the county on Saturday. We are asking kids to sell cups of lemonade for donations to the activity fund at Open Arms Shelter,” Marley Huckabee, who organized the event aloong with Jared Santiago.

“We are trying to get kids excited about helping other kids,” she said.

Lebanon homecoming scheduled for June 10
The Lebanon Cemetery Association invites you to attend the annual homecoming at the Lebanon Cemetery Pavilion on Sunday, June 10. The morning activities will begin with a memorial service at 10:45 a.m. A potluck dinner will start at noon, followed by an afternoon of singing and fellowship.
If you are not able to attend and would like to make a donation toward cemetery maintenance, please mail your contribution to Lebanon Cemetery Association, P. O. Box 74, McRae, Ark., 72102.

Annual construction appreciation fair scheduled
The second annual construction appreciation fair sponsored by the Cabot Area Homebuilders Association will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Richie Road ball park. In case of rain, participants should go to the basketball complex.
Many representatives will be on-site. For more information contact Bill O’Brien at 843-3067 or Fayon Haynes at 941-8159.

Lonoke County Lincoln Day Dinner set June 9

The 2007 Lonoke County Lincoln Day Dinner will be June 9 in the Cabot High School cafeteria. Bill Vickery, political consultant and radio talk show host, will be the featured speaker. The program will start at 7 p.m. with dinner being served at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $30 each, $50 per couple, $200 for table of eight. Contact Johnie Benefield at 843-3147 for more information.

Firefighters breakfast slated for next Saturday

The SouthBend Firefighters Association will have its monthly family breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. June 9 at Station 1, located at 4414 Hwy. 294, Jacksonville. The event is free, but donations are accepted.

Kung-fu fundraiser for Jacksonville library

To help raise funds for the new Jacksonville Esther D. Nixon Library, an evening of Chinese Kung-fu performances will take place at the Unique Connection Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. June 9. Mayor Tommy Swaim and Bobby Roberts, director of Central Arkansas Library System, will be the guests of honor.

There will be 20 masters performing. Tickets are on sale at Unique Furniture and Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call Sue Khoo at 501-985-8888 or 501-786-1798.

Exploratory forum for Cabot parade scheduled

The sixth installment of an exploratory forum to have a Cabot Christmas parade will be held at noon June 14. The meeting will be held at the Veterans Park Community Center and lunch will be provided. Items to discuss include a route and line-up, funding, invitations and mailings, non-profit status and community Christmas tree.
For more information call 501-920-2122

Cabot Chamber to hold an open house June 21

Cabot Chamber of Commerce will have an open house June 21 at their new location, 110 S. First St. This event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m.

Alzheimer’s caregivers support group will meet

The Jacksonville Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group will be meeting at 7 p.m. June 21 at Rebsamen Medical Center in the Education Building. This group provides caregivers with a private session for personal questions to professional advisors and seasoned caregivers.

Interested participants can share ideas and express concerns in order to gain helpful information. For more information contact Priscilla Pittman at 224-0021 or Col. Norman at 912-0614.

Register now for 4-H sewing, baking day camp

The Lonoke County Cooperative Extension Service, 2001 Hwy. 70 East in Lonoke, will be the site for a 4-H sponsored ‘Adventures in Baking and Sewing’ Day Camp June 25 through 29.

This day camp will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Youth ages nine- to 19-years-old will learn basic hand sewing, basic baking techniques, and how to operate a sewing machine. They will practice these techniques by making a quilt and baking various foods. Cost is $60 before June 4 and $75 after; call Carolyn Burns at 501-676-3124 for an application or questions. Space is limited, so call soon.

The quilts will be suitable to enter in the county fair in September. They can easily duplicate the baked goods to also enter in the fair, if they would like. There will also be games and experiments for fun and to reinforce what they are learning. Youth will need to bring a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies, plus the fabric for their quilt. There are several machines available for use on a first-come, first-served basis.

Cost is $60 before June 4 and $75 after. Please call Carolyn Burns for an application or questions. Space is limited, so call soon.

TOP STORY >>City takes bite out of pit bulls

IN SHORT: Jacksonville ordinance will allow current owners to keep dogs if they comply with rules, but others must stay out.

Leader staff writer

After an hour of raucous debate that included police to help quell the exchange of heated words and to escort at least three people out of the council meeting, Jacksonville aldermen voted unanimously to ban pit bulls from the city.

Pit bulls, according to a local vet, are the number one breed in Jacksonville.

No emergency clause was passed, so the new ordinance won’t take effect for 30 days.

Jacksonville’s actions follow Lonoke, which banned the breed last week.

Alderman Bob Stroud, who sponsored the ban, told the standing-room-only crowd, “Personally, I’d rather there not be another pit bull on this earth than to have a child maimed, hurt or attacked.”

Stroud did emphasize to the crowd, many of whom are pit bull owners, that “we are not going to come and take your dog. This ordinance has a grandfather clause.”

The ordinance bans all pit bulls, most bulldogs or any mixed breed that is predominantly pit bull. The bull terrier breed was dropped from the ban and will still be allowed.

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 veterinary care, special-event dog shows sanctioned by the city or for use by law- enforcement or military personnel as part of their duties.

Banned 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 going 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 for identification and to help track them.

Alderman Terry Sansing voiced concern over banning the breed. “I do not believe you can paint the entire breed as a problem. Before pit bulls topped the list of concerns, it was the chow and before that the Doberman pinscher. If we need to do something, let’s penalize the bad owners,” Sansing said.

“Dogs are personal property, and the property owner is the one responsible,” he added.
Stroud reiterated that he was “not worried about the breed, only worried about people.”

Dr. Lee Misak, a local veterinarian, said he had a number of problems with the proposed ban.

“First off, what defines a mixed pit bull? Any large breed dog that doesn’t look like a collie could fit the definition. And who determines if the dog is a pit bull mix?” he asked.

Misak said that, in general, he was against the banning off any specific breed of dog “as are a number of national organizations, including the Humane Society.”

The vet said that 90 percent of the pit bulls he sees are friendly and the owners are responsible. “This breed,” he said, “seems to be divided into two factions—excellent dogs and fighters.”

He said that because it is the most popular breed in the city, it was only natural that it would be involved in the most bites. “We are punishing the responsible owner here. There will always be some bad dogs out there, no matter the breed.”

Those in the audience against the ban, which was the clear majority, had a chance to speak before the aldermen voted on the ban.

Lynn Tanner — who threatened to break an alderman’s neck if he wrote down his address and told the mayor that he and the council were never properly elected — said the council was threatening him because he took the responsibility to love a pit bull. Tanner interrupted numerous aldermen and disputed the meeting to a point where police nearly handcuffed him.

“This man alone makes me want to vote to ban this dog,” Aldermen Reedie Ray said.

Resident Amanda Erickson said that there needed to be an exception for the responsible owners of the dogs. Another resident said she had been around pit bulls all her life and never had a problem. “You mean to tell me that I can shoot a person who breaks into my house, but my dog can’t bite them?” she asked.

Dawn House, who owns a pit bull, a German shepherd and a Rottweiler, said she had problems with the ban “when every other dog has the ability to hurt or maim.”

“I rather leave my daughter with pit bulls than some of the poodles I’ve seen,” she said.

Stroud asked a number of residents who had been attacked or had someone in their family attacked by pit bulls to speak.
Tim Hamby told about the pit bull that attacked his 12-year-old son three years ago.

“It was the neighbor’s dog. My son had played with dog before. On this Saturday morning my son was in the street playing football with the neighbor kids when this pit jumped over two fences and attacked him. The dog pounced and knocked my son down three different times. He needed 33 stitches. It scares me to think what if that was my 5-year-old daughter out there,” Hamby said.

“My question is why are we arguing over a dog? My kids are more important than an animal,” he said.

Jerry Bryant said his next-door neighbor moved out because of a pit bull in the neighborhood and the people who moved into that house brought with them a pit bull and two other large dogs.

“I have a privacy fence between that yard and mine. Every time I go out into the backyard those dogs rush the fence. They have tried to burrow under. Quite frankly, it scares me. I’ve lived here peacefully and securely for 35 years, and now I’m scared,” he said.

Myra Clary told the council about a time six years ago that a pit bull got into her yard and killed her little dog in just four minutes.

Three months ago another pit bull showed up and tried to attack her new dogs, and just recently she helped a woman in the neighborhood who was attacked by that same pit bull.

“My dogs were barking like crazy and when I looked outside a woman was pinned down by a pit bull and the dog had the woman’s little dog in her mouth,” she explained.

Clary quickly went out and helped the woman.

Patti Jones, from the North Little Rock animal control department, told aldermen and those in the chambers that if the ban were not passed things would just get worse. “As other cities ban the dog, they will come here and into the county,” she said.
Jones said there was currently a 13-year-old boy in the hospital recovering from wounds he received in a pit bull attack in the county.

She said that when North Little Rock banned the breed two years ago the ordinance had a grandfather clause in it too. “At the time we had about 4,000 pit bulls in the city, only 211 were registered after the ban went into effect. “Those other dogs had to go somewhere,” she said.

Before relenting and voting for the ban, Sansing had two concerns. The first was for military people who transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base. “Do they have to get base housing or lose their pets?”

“Yes,” Mayor Tommy Swaim said. “Once the ordinance takes effect no pit bulls will be allowed to move into the city.”

Sansing also felt the ordinance discriminated against the responsible owners. “We are asking them to micro-chip their dog and have the pet spayed or neutered. It’s not fair that they should have those out-of-pocket expenses,” he said.

Alderman Gary Fletcher asked the council to table the ordinance until the next meeting.

“It’s clear that a lot of people want to speak and we should give them time to call and talk to us,” he said.
He made a motion to delay the vote, but no one seconded the motion, so his request failed.

Fletcher suggested the delay even though he said he was “turned off by the rudeness displayed by many people in the audience. As an alderman I have taken an oath to look after the safety, health and welfare of the people of Jacksonville,” he said.

On the final vote, all aldermen voted for the ban.

TOP STORY >>Cabot district: Don't blame us

Leader staff writer

Cabot School District is fighting back after an article in a Little Rock newspaper seemed to imply that district officials were responsible for the mismanagement of a federal grant for the state’s special-education program.

Dr. Frank Holman, school superintendent, handed out a letter during a school board meeting this week that not only denied any wrongdoing on the part of the school district but also said the school district stopped acting as a fiscal agent for the special-education grant because the state employees who ran the programs did not provide proper documentation to pay the bills.

“The article said (the state) pulled the grant. That’s not true,” Holman said in a later interview. “We dissolved it.”
Julie Thompson, spokesman for the Department of Education, said Friday after reviewing Holman’s open letter that if there was any confusion, it did not start with the Department of Education.

Thompson pointed out that a Department of Education employee was fired because of the irregularities.
“At no time did we say (the school districts) were responsible,” Thompson said. “We have not held the districts responsible and never intimated that they were.”

Jonesboro School District also was used to funnel federal money into state special education programs. The article that appeared last weekend in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said state auditors had discovered the Cabot School District made $25,554 in questionable travel disbursements to employees of the Department of Education’s special education unit.

Additionally, the school district allowed the director of the unit’s state improvement grant office to purchase about $17,000 worth of books and materials he had written himself.

Holman explained to The Leader that the federal money used for special education programs across the state can’t be administered by the Arkansas Department of Education. The programs are run by the state, but the money to pay for them must be funneled through school districts or educational cooperatives.

Essentially, Cabot cut the checks to pay the bills but had no oversight of the programs or the employees and no control over how the money was spent. The only compensation the district received for that service was the salary paid to the half-time employee who paid the bills, Holman said.

Holman’s open letter to state officials and school patrons says in part: “Our district has worked with the Arkansas Special Education Resource Center (ASERC) for almost 10 years and served only as a paying or fiscal agent. We did not supervise any of the employees or evaluate them for performance.

“We had several issues with the approval process the State Department was using and had communicated the concerns to (them) several times and in fact requested a meeting to discuss better accountability and payment processes. We met with them in Little Rock on at least two occasions to rectify the concerns and for a while things would be better.

“We had also brought to the State Department of Education Special Education Division’s attention a concern of a grantee being allowed to profit from the sale of their materials and was assured that there was not any conflict of interest involved.

“We did sever any ties with the ASERC division of the State Department of Education last year due to a concern of not having full accountability and lack of follow-up on their part. We have cooperated with the auditors and been assured we were not being blamed in any of the auditors’ concerns but were the fiscal agent with signed-off invoices by the State Department of Education.

“We are appalled and alarmed about the article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette with Cabot District’s name being used over and over when in fact we were the ones that had brought this to the department’s attention and alerted them to a lack of accountability that they chose to ignore.”

Holman said the district has not been a funnel for grant money since June 30, 2006. Jonesboro also is out of the program. The work the school districts did for the state is now performed by educational cooperatives in Helena, Gillham, Monticello and Arkadelphia.

TOP STORY >>ACE school honored in U.S. capital

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s charter school, the Academic Center of Excellence (ACE), has been recognized as a national charter school of the year by the Center of Education Reform, the nation’s premiere education-reform group.

Representatives from the program, including June Elliott, the school district’s director of federal programs, who wrote the charter for the school three years ago, were honored recently at a reception in Washington.

The Cabot School Board learned about the school’s honor during the regular meeting earlier this month.

The ACE was selected from among about 4,000 charter schools across the nation serving 1.5 million students. The ACE has 200 students and a waiting list of 35, but this fall the charter school will move from the old school administration building to the top floor of old Community Bank building owned by the city.

The ACE has received state approval to increase enrollment from 200 to 500 for grades 5-12, and Elliott says the new accommodations in the old bank building will provide the space needed to expand.

Elliott said the school is graduating 47 seniors this year who will walk Friday night with the seniors from the high school.
The school works because it gives students what they need, she said.

“The charter schools are innovative,” she said. “We designed them for students who don’t fit the regular high school, who don’t fit the regular junior high.”

Elliott says the ACE teaches the three Rs, rigor, relevance and relationship.

The program includes distance learning, projects and online work. Students work at their own pace with flexible hours, some as many as 60 hours a week.

“ACE has served as a model for customizing the educational opportunities for our students in the district,” Dr. Frank Holman, Cabot superintendent, said during the board meeting. “We have a model of high-quality learning for all children and it has saved many from dropping out or losing interest in school,” he said.

All charter schools in the country were eligible for the honor the ACE received. Elliott said the elimination process started with a survey and followed by a more in-depth questionnaire. Then the Center of Education Reform went online and researched the Cabot school before selecting it.

Evaluation of the schools proceeded along four themes: achievement, planning and execution, satisfaction, and policies and programs. Each theme included 12 additional criteria, such as improvement over time; percentage of at-risk students served, meeting mission and goals, and parental involvement.

TOP STORY >>Gas reaches record high

Leader staff writer

Gasoline prices didn’t just break the $3 mark over the last few days; prices zoomed right past that barrier, marking a record for the state.

According to the American Automobile Association, the state average is $3.03 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, up 25 cents from a month ago, but it’s hard to find a station in the local area at or below that price. One of the cheapest was the U.S. Fuels station on James Street at $2.99—but that was late Thursday night. A survey of local stations showed the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Jacksonville is at $3.15, while Cabot and Sherwood average about the same. Expect more price increases this summer.

The rising cost of crude oil—now over $70 a barrel—has been listed a contributing factor, along with a breakdown of a Louisiana refinery, but mostly, according to AAA, its supply and demand.

Most oil experts do not see the prices slowing down or retreating anytime during the upcoming summer months.
With Arkansas now above the $3 mark, that leaves only 13 states with averages below the $3 mark. Tennessee and Mississippi have the lowest average per gallon of unleaded at $2.94, followed by Louisiana at $2.95.

Nationally, the average is $3.13 per gallon, with California at $3.46 and Washington at $3.44.

In Arkansas, Texarkana had the lowest average at $2.92 according to an AAA survey, followed by Pine Bluff at $3.00 a gallon and Little Rock-North Little Rock area at $3.02, even though some stations were pushing unleaded gas for $3.25 a gallon.

Northwest Arkansas is at $3.25 and Ft. Smith is selling unleaded gasoline at an average of $3.20 per gallon. For the local averages, the Leader surveyed eight gas stations in Cabot, and nine in Jacksonville and Sherwood.

TOP STORY >>From principal to super

IN SHORT: New Cabot superintendent stays focused before he takes on new job.

Leader staff writer

Dr. Tony Thurman has a little more than a month before his title changes from principal of Cabot High School to superintendent of Cabot Public Schools and until then, he’s soaking up all he can from Dr. Frank Holman, Cabot’s outgoing superintendent.

The Cabot school board selected Thurman Tuesday night in a 6-1 vote as the next chief of Cabot schools, filling the void left when Holman announced his resignation back in March.

“At this point, I’m focused on working with Dr. Holman on the transition and doing great things for the students in our district,” Thurman said.

His appointment as superintendent means the district must now find a new principal for CHS, the position Thurman has held for the past four years.

The search for the next high school principal has already started with the district advertising the position both in-district and across the state.

“We have a very short time line for applications since we would like to fill this position as quickly as possible. The transition at the high school will be as important as the transition at the district level,” the new chief of schools said.

Thurman will be involved in the selection of his replacement at the high school.
“We have great things happening in our school and I want to ensure that the next individual understands the long-term goals and relates well to the students, parents and staff,” he said.

The majority of his teachers, people he calls friends and family and not coworkers, were present at the school board meeting to show their support.

And although they will miss him now at the high school, they felt he was the right choice for the district and will do great things to advance Cabot schools.

Thurman already has goals in mind to continue the tradition of educational excellence that has been Cabot’s earmark.

“We have a great community. We continue to grow and while we are becoming a large school district in terms of size, I want to make sure that we never lose that sense of community and family within the district,” he said.

“The ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act has changed the way that we do business in education,” he said.

“This focus on accountability is welcome but we can never forget that we must also focus on the heart of each child. We work in partnership with the home to guide our students in making positive decisions each day,” Thurman added.

There are also facility issues that must be addressed in Cabot’s near future.
“Growth brings major challenges. Cabot is a residential community with little to no industrial base to support the tax structure,” he said.

“We must work together as a school and community to address these issues and continue to provide the resources and facilities that we expect,” Thurman explained, adding, “Dr. Holman has us focused on the future; this will not change.”

As the next chief of schools, Thurman will make between $135,000 and $175,000 each of the three years of his initial contract that begins July 1 when he takes administrative control of the 9,000-strong district.

A $5,000 moving allowance was also to be given to the new superintendent, but because Thurman is already planted in the district, he told the board he did not need it.

“The school board has been very good to me. I do not want or need the moving allowance since I plan on remaining in Cabot for a long time,” he said. “We are happy in our present location and I agree with the board that the $5,000 could go to better use in the district since I am already established,” Thurman said.

Thurman, as principal of CHS, graduated his last class of Cabot seniors Friday at Alltel Arena.

He has many more graduations in his future as superintendent of Cabot schools.

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

“I will join 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.

TOP STORY >>Campbell moved to Missouri

IN SHORT: The former Lonoke police chief is removed from Pine Bluff for his own safety under a cooperative agreement with other states, according to Arkansas Correction Department spokesperson Dina Tyler.

Leader senior staff writer

The Arkansas Correction De-partment Thursday moved former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell from its Diagnostic Unit at Pine Bluff to an undisclosed prison in Missouri, according to Dina Tyler, the department spokesperson.

The move was one of three options the department had to help ensure his security, Tyler said. The DOC could have placed Campbell in protective custody, placed him in administrative segregation or transferred him to another state under the cooperative agreement known as the interstate compact.

Special Circuit Judge John Cole sentenced Campbell to 40 years in prison for masterminding a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine and for a raft of residential burglary, theft and obtaining controlled substance convictions in Lonoke Circuit Court.

As a career law enforcement official, Campbell is believed to have enemies in Arkansas prisons.

Campbell and his wife Kelly Campbell were tried together. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison for 26 convictions including residential burglary, theft and obtaining a controlled substance by theft.
She is currently housed at the McPhearson Unit in Newport.

At the end of their first week in Arkansas prisons, the Campbells returned to a Cabot courtroom for what they believed was a pretty perfunctory hearing and release on appeals bonds. But Cole vacated his previous order, which would have set bond at $200,000 for him, $100,000 for her.

Unless they successfully appeal Cole’s decision that they are not eligible for bond, the two will remain in prison for the approximately 18 months it will take for the state Supreme Court to receive and hear their appeals.

In related matters, Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona Mc-Castlain says former Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett and former Lonoke Police Department dispatcher Amy Staley will probably be tried in July, but no date has been set.

Privett is charged with theft of services, a misdemeanor, for having state Act 309 trustees hang his Christmas decorations and fix an air conditioner at his home.

Staley is charged with having sex with an Act 309 inmate.
Also this week, Special Pro-secutor Larry Jegley said he had just begun reviewing the case file on former Campbell codefendants Bobby Junior Cox and Larry Norwood, both bail bondsmen.

Both are charged with conspiring with Jay Campbell to manufacture methamphetamine. A State Police investigation is underway to determine whether there are sufficient grounds for charging them with soliciting capital murder. A witness has said Cox asked him to kill McCastlain and a star prosecution witness.

That’s why Jegley, the Pulaski County prosecutor, will try the two men.
Jegley said no trial or hearing dates have been set.

TOP STORY >>Schatz takes command

IN SHORT: It’s a homecoming for the California native, who commanded the award-winning 50th Airlift Squadron here.

Leader staff writer

It was a beautiful day at Little Rock Air Force Base when Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., assumed command of the 314th Airlift Wing from Brig. Gen. Kip Self during a change-of -command ceremony Wednesday.

Gov. Mike Beebe, as well as the Jacksonville, Cabot and Ward mayors, attended the base’s ceremony showing their support of Little Rock Air Force Base. (See editorial, page 8A.)

Beebe is the first governor in years to attend a change-of -command ceremony on base.
As Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, commander of the 19th Air Force and officiating officer for Wednesday’s ceremony, said, Col. Schatz is yet another Air Mobility expert taking command of the wing.

“Wayne is no stranger to the C-130 and Little Rock. This provides the wing an unusual advantage…he knows this mission and he knows this community. Minimum spin-up required, he’s ready to roll,” Halter said.

“We have great confidence in you,” Halter told Schatz. “We have given you one of our toughest units at a pivotal time and we could think of no one who is better for this job.”

The new commander said he and his family, wife Kim and children Marissa and Wayne, were excited to be back at Little Rock again after eight years; Schatz was assigned to The Rock from 1997 to 1999 as commander of the 50th Airlift Squadron.
“We are thrilled at the chance to lead such an outstanding wing of America’s finest combat air lifters,” Schatz, a Lodi, Calif., native, said.

“I promise to do my best to support our airmen and their families at Team Little Rock to do the best we can,” Schatz said to Halter on giving him the opportunity to command the 314th.

“Kip and Sue Self, thanks for your superb leadership for the past nearly two years, clearly the 314th Airlift Wing and Team Little Rock are in outstanding shape thanks to your hard work and selfless dedication. We wish you fair skies and tail winds always as you move on,” Schatz said to Self, who relinquished his command after only 20 months at the helm.

“To the men and women of the 314th Airlift Wing, Team Little Rock has a tradition of excellence and I promise to give you 100 percent to help maintain that position. For now, all standing orders remain in effect,” Schatz told his airmen.

“The Hercules community is our roots, so you can bet we’re excited to be back in Little Rock. We’ll be proud to call Little Rock Air Force Base home again, honored to command such a great wing, and excited to be in the C-130 training wing,” Schatz said during the close of ceremonies.

Schatz says mission, people and community are his main areas of concentration and he plans to continue with a lot of the same trends Self started at Little Rock.

“We’ve got some challenges with the base realignment and closing commission. A big part of what we do here is working to plan to bring other C-130s from Pope (Air Force Base, S.C.) and do that smoothly.

“Continuing our deployment responsibility with support of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Iraq and Afghanistan will be key to staying ready to do our mission when called upon. And of course, training for over 1,800 C-130 air lifters from the United States, all the joint services, as well as 31 nations, will keep us busy,” Schatz said in an interview after the change of command ceremony.

Little Rock is losing Self to the Air Force Expeditionary Center, Air Mobility Command at McGuire AFB, N.J., where he will take command next Wednesday.

He was asked to give up his wing command after only 20 months on the job.
“Good commanders take care of their wing, great ones embrace and love them, and there is no doubt about in which category Kip Self falls into,” Halter said.

“He was the perfect choice to command the place where America’s C-130 professionals get their start,” he said of Self’s selection as commander of the 314th AW.

“Kip, thank you for your stewardship to the 314th, its airmen and its mission; Sue, thank you for your great care of our airmen and their families. You two have executed your unofficial but truthful duties to perfection; you will be missed both here and back at Randolph (Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas),” Halter added.

The Legion of Merit award was presented to Self during the ceremony for the work he performed during his tenure at Little Rock Air Force Base, but Self said those things could not have been done without the men and women of the 314th.

“That citation was nicely written by my executive officers, but it’s all about these folks in blue. Sue and I were cheerleaders the last 20 months. We did very little but we were always there,” Self said.

Self said he owed thanks to his “exceptional wing command” for the great things that occurred on base and was lucky to have had them. “It wouldn’t have been without y’all,” Self added.