Friday, June 15, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot beefs up water inspections

IN SHORT: Commissioners vote to hire new inspector, ban low-grade pipes and change procedures.

Leader staff writer

The commissioners who have run Cabot’s water and wastewater departments for the past year and a half say that to get maintenance costs down, they must take steps to ensure that the pipes that go in the ground are of good quality and are installed correctly.

How to achieve those goals consumed 95 percent of their two-hour meeting Thursday night and included such actions as hiring a second inspector, banning low-grade water pipe, and amending the developer policy to require inspection of pipe before it is covered.

“They have to call us before they start covering pipe or else they are subject to uncovering them,” Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said about the amendment to the developer policy that was expected to be on the WaterWorks Website the next morning. “It’s becoming glowingly obvious that inspection is the most important thing we do,” Bill Cypert, commission secretary, said about hiring a second inspector. “One man can’t do it. I have my doubts that two men can do it.”

Also in the works is a five-mile jurisdiction outside the city so eventually Cabot WaterWorks would be able to require its standards be met even in subdivisions that might actually be in another water department’s territory.

To make sure that WaterWorks’ standards are followed in subdivisions that are inside the city now, Cypert and Gary Walker are trying to coordinate with Cabot Public Works, which issues building permits and certificates of occupancy, to ensure that no development can start if the developer has not complied with all the requirements set by Cabot WaterWorks.

Standing in a row on one side of Joyner’s office is broken plastic pipe of various sizes marked with the name of the subdivision where it was dug up and replaced.

It is all Class 200 pipe, Joyner said, and it is no longer allowed. From now on, only ductile iron and C-900 pipe is to be used in Cabot.

In other business, the commission approved a resolution to pay up to $10,000 in uninsured damage to homes caused by breaks in water and sewer lines if the breaks are due to negligence on the part of Cabot WaterWorks.
Along that same line, the commission also approved a property-restoration policy whereby WaterWorks would repair the damage from laying new lines in developed areas.

For example, disturbed sod would be replaced and damage to sidewalks and driveways would be repaired.
“We want to be good citizens and good neighbors and put things back right,” said Don Keesee.

The commission is not responsible for damage caused by sewer backflow because the city council has passed an ordinance declaring that the city is not responsible for backflow because homes are to be equipped with backflow preventers.
The commission is looking for a permanent home for WaterWorks which currently operates out of the city annex and the law office next door to the annex.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams wants the commission to buy property already owned by the city because he said it is not fair for taxpayers for water and wastewater money to go to the private sector when city property is available.

The commission considered purchasing the annex but decided not to after it appraised for about $650,000. The old city shop on Kerr also is available, but the appraisal has not been completed.

The land around the shop (16.5 acres, privately owned) is also for sale, but it is zoned residential and the city council has refused in the past to allow it rezoned for commercial or industrial use.

J.M. Park, commission chairman, said he didn’t think buying that property was a good idea until he looked at it and saw its potential.

“You’ve wanted to get everything under one roof. It would work,” he said to Joyner. “You could put the whole shooting match down there.”

TOP STORY >>Interchange for Lonoke is not far off

Leader staff writer

Lonoke-area residents could be using a second I-40 interchange, this one on the west side of town, by 2010, officials told about 30 residents and other interested persons in a meeting Thursday at the Old Lonoke Train Depot meeting room.

Lonoke officials unveiled their preferred alignment for the new Hwy. 89/I-40 interchange and three alternative variations.
Chris Wilbourn, project manager for Garver Engineers, said the preferred alignment avoided wetlands, would require purchase of minimal right-of-way and would be the most economical of the choices.

He estimated that if the project were bid today it could cost about $6,750,000. It could be ready for bids in about 18 months, and building-material inflation has been great in recent months. During construction, the existing Hwy. 89 overpass at I-40 would remain in use, Wilbourn said, but would be demolished when the project was completed.

On the preferred route, superimposed on an aerial photograph, Hwy. 89 northbound would veer slightly west of the existing Hwy. 89 as it nears I-40. A new overpass, built to modern standards and perhaps three lanes wide, would cross the interstate and make a gentler curve than the existing curve.

A three-lane overpass would allow for widening the overpass to four or more lanes in the future if local traffic or increased industrial use should require a widening, Wilbourn said.

Although not a cloverleaf, the interchange would allow the full range of east and west entrances to and exits from I-40.
Lonoke officials say they would already have a Toyota-related parts plant in Lonoke if they could have guaranteed the west interchange. The fields in the southwest quadrant of the proposed interchange have been designated as an industrial site.

While the city and its engineers must justify the interchange in terms of traffic, the real motivation is to encourage one or more manufacturing company to bring relatively high-paying jobs and revenues to the area.

A second interchange also would provide more retail opportunities for gas stations or restaurants, which would translate into additional revenues for the city and the county.

“We’re looking for an economic explosion,” said John Garner, the Lonoke Chamber director.
Agencies and officials will meet with Garver Engineers in July, and later, there will be a public hearing sponsored by the state Highway and Transportation Department, according to Bill Ryker, head of the town’s interchange committee.

While the notion of a west-side interchange is a decade old or more, it came of age during Thomas Privett’s administration as Lonoke mayor, and current Mayor Wayne McGee, along with Cong. Marion Berry, D-Gillett, Gene Sullivan, Ryker and many others have continued to push the idea forward.

Berry, who was represented at the meeting by new aide Katherine AufderHeide, has secured $5.4 million in federal earmarks for the project so far.

The city of Lonoke will have to raise 20 percent of the cost in matching funds. Ryker said the Lonoke Industrial Development Commission has or could raise some of that money.

McGee said the funds would not come out of city road money.
Other officials in attendance included state Sen. Bobby Glover, County Judge Charlie Troutman and city Treasurer Walls McCrary.

TOP STORY >>Getting new passports taking 12 to 14 weeks

IN SHORT: Express service takes half the time as applications drop in Jacksonville and Cabot, but not in NLR.

Leader staff writer

Fewer travelers from Cabot and Jacksonville are seeking passports at local post offices after months of heavy demand. But the North Little Rock Post Office reports an increase in passport applications.

A Cabot postal em-ployee said, “We are averaging between four and six completed passport applications a day. Passport processing times are running four to six weeks for express service and 12 to 14 weeks for regular.”

The Jacksonville Post Office reports about six applications a day.
Cabot started taking passport application last November. At first, there were about six to eight applications a week.
That number more than doubled for a while, according to a postal official there. “I believe the rush is over in Cabot,” he said.
Most of the applications were for cruises, he added.

Congress voted this week to postpone passports for 17 months for travel to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Applicants can return forms and have their photos taken at the Jacksonville, Cabot, North Little Rock, and Searcy post offices, William F. Laman Public Library in North Little Rock, or the White County Circuit Court clerk’s office.

Local post offices don’t handle or process passports but pass them on to passport centers that print and mail them to applicants.

A new center in Hot Springs should speed up the process for those eager to travel this summer.Passports costs $97 for those 16 years or older and $82 for those under 16, with regular delivery service taking 10 to 12 weeks for processing. Expedited service is $189.50 for 16 years or older, and $174.50 for those younger and takes two to three weeks for processing.

The Arkansas Passport Center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday in Hot Springs with Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Maura Harty and Gov. Mike Beebe attending.

The processing center opened on March 27 and has produced 130,000 passports to date. The center is not a regional passport agency but receives passport applications across the U.S.

For those traveling within two weeks needing a passport, they should schedule an appointment with the Regional Passport Agency at 877-487-2778.

The closest offices are in New Orleans and Houston. There is no charge to make an appointment.
The backlog is a result of the Western Hemisphere travel initiative passed by Congress as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for citizens and legitimate international visitors.  

WHTI requirements for air travel took effect on Jan. 23. 

According to the Website, “The U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security, an-nounced June 8, that U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda who have applied for but not yet received passports can nevertheless temporarily enter and depart from the United States by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport through Sept. 30. 

“The federal government is making this accommodation for air travel due to longer-than-expected processing times for passport applications in the face of record-breaking demand.”

The State Department is refunding the $60 for expedited passports for those who have reason to believe that they did not receive expedited service.

They should contact the Department of State at Department of State Passport Services/PPS/Refunds, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20037-3202. It is a case-by-case basis.

Information about passport status can be found by calling the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778, 6 a.m. to midnight Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays.

Expect delays and repeated calling attempts before speaking with a representative.

Another way to check is on-line at
E-mail responses may take two to four days.

TOP STORY >>Pit bulls are out starting Sunday

IN SHORT: As the ban starts in Jacksonville other cities such as Ward, Beebe and Cabot are also considering banning the breed. Pit bulls currently in Jacksonville will be allowed to remain if their owners have the dogs registered, neutered or spayed and microchipped for tracking purposes.

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s ban on pit bulls starts Sunday, and contrary to a so-called humorous column in another paper, animal control officers will not be shooting pit bulls and their owners with tranquilizer guns and dumping them in a compound in Gravel Ridge.

“You would be surprised at the number of upset callers we had after that article appeared,” said Linda Sakiewicz, with Jacksonville’s animal control department.

The department does have tranquilizer guns but only uses them as a last resort. The last time one was used was about a month ago on a runaway black lab mix that continually avoided capture.

All animal control officers are trained in the use of the guns.
The pit bull ban will give owners 30 days to properly register their pets and follow the other requirements of the ordinance or remove their dogs from the city.

As the ban goes into effect, Cabot, Beebe and Ward are looking into similar bans. Lonoke has also recently banned the breed.
In getting the city council to approve the ban at its May 17 meeting, Alderman Bob Stroud, who sponsored the ordinance, told the standing-room-only crowd, “Personally, I rather there not be another pit bull on this earth than to have a child maimed, hurt or attacked,” he said.

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

Banned dogs already in the city will be allowed to stay if the owner can show proof that the animal was licensed prior to the new ordinance going into effect, has proof of rabies vaccination and the owner is at least 21 years old — 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.

Sakiewicz said close to 50 residents have already registered their pit bulls with the city. Registration can only be done in person at the animal shelter on Redmond Road.

She said that once the ordinance goes into effect and a pit bull is picked up because it is running loose, the owner will have 48 hours to verify that the dog was been spayed or neutered, shots are up to date and it has been micro chipped, then pay a $100 fine — and then the owner will still have to move the dog out of the city.

“We will not release the pit bull to the owner if we can’t verify that it will be taken out of the city,” she said.
Most of the pit bulls picked up that are not in compliance and claimed will be euthanized, according to animal control officials.

Sakiewicz emphasized that her officers will not be going into yards to check on pit bulls unless there is a complaint or the owner is not in compliance.

All pit bulls kept outside must be in a pen inside of a fence when the owner is not present. When an owner is walking a pit bull it must be on a proper leash and muzzled, according to the ordinance.

At their May council meeting, Beebe aldermen examined the Lonoke ordinance, the same one Cabot is considering, and decided they don’t want to grandfather the dogs already in the city.

They asked City Attorney Mark Derrick to prepare an ordinance for the June meeting that would give owners 60 days to get rid of the dogs.

Some wanted the ban in effect almost immediately, but Alderman Les Cossey said if the pit bull owners were renters, they would need at least 60 days to find new housing.

Leonard Fort, the city’s code-enforcement officer, said two families with pit bulls, one from Lonoke and one from Des Arc, have moved to Beebe within the past three weeks.

“We have an abundance of pit bulls,” Mayor Mike Robertson said about the need to pass some version of the Lonoke ordinance.

A pit bull ban in Cabot is necessary, said Cabot City Attorney Jim Taylor, because North Little Rock, Sherwood, Jacksonville and Lonoke have already banned the dogs, which means their owners are likely moving toward Cabot.

The pit bull ordinance would require registration of pit bulls already in the city and make it illegal to bring more in.
If walking outside, the dogs would have to be restrained with leashes no longer than four feet long.

They could not be chained to trees, for example, and they could not be outside unattended.

Puppies born inside the city to grandfathered females would have to be out of the city by the time they are six weeks old.
The police chief told the committee that no one has been seriously injured yet by a pit bull, but he said they are frequently tied at the front door of drug houses and it is only a matter of time before someone is hurt.

TOP STORY >>Ceremony, prayer service mark Flag Day

Special to The Leader

Little Rock Air Force Base Heritage Park was a solemn sea of red, white and blue with 1,400 miniature American flags marking Flag Day Thursday.

The Flag Day ceremony and prayer service were the idea of Air Force Reserve Chaplain (1st Lt.) John Weeks, who is assigned to the base chapel.

“We are in a high operations tempo, and people need to remember what it is we are standing for,” Chaplain Weeks said.
“The traditions and symbolic importance of the flag since that time,” he said, referring to the nation’s beginnings, “cannot be overstated. Most people don’t think too much about Flag Day and let it go by without much fanfare. I think it is important to our fighting men and women to honor their service,” he said.

The observance also offered an opportunity to remember fellow service members who are deployed fighting the global war on terror, the chaplain said.

“The goal was to highlight the patriotism that exists here and honor our fighting men and women,” Weeks said.
“I wanted to remind people that our mission here has a greater and more historic value than we think about in our day-to-day operations,” the chaplain explained.

“I also wanted to provide an opportunity for the community on base to express their prayer concerns about the global war on terrorism as it affects their friends, family, co-workers and all military members,” he said.

OBITUARIES >> 06-16-07

Daria Hunter
Daria Hunter, 59, of Bryant died June 14.  

She was born on July 19, 1947 to the late Claude and Dorothy Cook O’Barr in North Little Rock.
She was a member of Bryant’s First Southern Baptist Church.  

She is survived by her children, John Hunter and wife Danita of Bryant, and Claudie Smith and husband Charles of Little Rock; sisters, Claudia Hillman of North Little Rock, Linda Kay Shaddell of Jacksonville, Joyce Wilson of Ward and Nancy Edwards O’Barr of North Little Rock; one brother, John O’Barr of North Little Rock; four grandchildren, Blake Hunter, Allysa Miller, Erika Hunter and Jenna Hunter and a host of nieces and nephews.  

Funeral services will be 1 p.m. Monday, June 18 at Bryant’s First Southern Baptist Church.  

Burial will follow at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Alexander.  

Visitation will be at 11 a.m. at the church prior to the service. Arrangements are by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Jack McCollough
Jack McCollough, 85, of Jacksonville died June 13.

He was a member of McArthur Assembly of God Church, spending many years doing missionary work, building churches in Africa, Mexico, Alaska and the United States. Jack also built cottages for the children of the Hillcrest Children’s Home.

He is survived by his wife, Carol Sparks McCollough; sons, Ronald Jack McCollough and wife Lynn, Daniel Gene McCollough and wife Joy, Scott Allen McCollough and wife Diane and Joseph Matthew McCollough and wife Donna; brother, Clyde McCollough and wife Mavis; sisters, Rosalee Waits and Minnie Lee Oden; granddaughter, Kelli McCollough; and grandsons, Ryan Ollar, Matthew McCollough and Jake McCollough.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16 at McArthur Assembly of God Church officiated by Rev. Glenn Dorsey and Rev. Larry Burton. Burial will follow in Rest Hills Memorial Park in Sherwood. Arrangements are by Little Rock Funeral Home.

Wanda Jones
Wanda L. Jones, 74, of Searcy died June 14.

Born Dec. 16, 1932 at Searcy to James W. and Jannie Lee Smalley Hilton. She was a member of Kensett Church of Christ.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Harold L. Jones; her parents and sister, Laverne McDonald.

She is survived by a niece and nephew, Janie Sue Murry and husband Tommy of North Little Rock and James McDonald, Sr. and wife Wanda of Bald Knob.

Graveside funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16 at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe. Funeral arrangements will be by Westbrooke Funeral Home in Beebe.

Linda Taylor
Linda Kay Taylor, 39, of Hot Springs died June 13. She was preceded in death by her mother, Betty Smith James.

She is survived by her father, Don James and wife Joyce of Romance; special friend, Bo Reynolds of Hot Springs; sister, Brenda Rowland of Cabot; grandmother, Ruby Allen of Jonesboro; niece, Kristin James of North Little Rock; nephews, Danny Hill of Cabot, Hank and Zachary Rowland of Farmington; great-nephew, Kaleb James of North Little Rock.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 16 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with graveside funeral to follow at 2 p.m. Saturday at New Floyd Cemetery.

Wanda Shireman
Wanda A. Shireman, 81, of Jacksonville died June 12, in North Little Rock.

She was born Sept. 9, 1925 in Camp Douglas, Wis., to the late William and Agatha Bernemen Kelley.

She was also preceded in death by her husband Paul Shireman; son, Paul Shireman Jr. and a sister, Iona Kelley.

Wanda was an avid bowler and a past member of Jacksonville Women’s Bowling Association. She was of the Catholic faith.
Survivors include her children, Dennis Shireman and wife Vickie of Elk City, Okla., Christian Shireman and wife Leanne, Cherri Shireman, and Brian Shireman and wife Pamela all of Jacksonville; five grandchildren, Justin, Christian, and Paul Shireman, Rachel McReynolds and Jennie Murray, and four great-grandchildren, Hailey and Dean McReynolds, Josie Murray and Kalyn McReynolds.

The family would like to express their deepest thanks to the staff of Arkansas Hospice Inpatient Care Facility in North Little Rock for the love and kindness they provided.

Donations may be made in Wanda’s honor to Arkansas Hospice Foundation, North Little Rock Inpatient Center, 5600 W. 12th Street, Little Rock, Ark., 72204.

Funeral services were June 15 in the Chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Burial will be in Arkansas State Veteran Cemetery in North Little Rock.

David Tarter
David Gayle Tarter died June 13. He was born Feb. 27, 1933.

David spent four years in the Air Force and was a Korean War veteran. He was an employee of American Airlines from Dec. 5, 1957 until July 1, 1990. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and photographer, and loved to travel.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Jim and Susie Tarter; brother, Keith Tarter; and sister Aileen Cox.
In Dec. 23, 1952 he married Sue West.

Survivors include three daughters, Susan Gayle Tarter Ward and husband Mike, Pamela Dianne Tarter Satterfield and Mary Beth Tarter Lenderman and husband Rev. Jim; six grandsons; one granddaughter; one great-granddaughter; three great-grandsons; a brother, Gordon Tarter and wife Jackie of Carlisle; and sister, Sue Turner and husband Hank of Little Rock.

Funeral services were June 15 at Carlisle First United Methodist Church with burial in Carlisle Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Carlisle United Methodist Church.

Jerome Litton
Jerome W. Litton, Sr., 94, of Jacksonville died June 13 in Jacksonville.

He was born May 25, 1913 in Santa Fe, Tenn., to the late Albert L. and Nellie Kern Litton.

He grew up in Litton, Miss., and in 1967 moved to Arkansas. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Albert Z. Litton, and son, Robby Frank Litton.

Survivors include his wife, Della Louise Litton of the home, sons, Thomas Leroy Litton and wife Weta Marie of Downsville, La., Jerome W. Litton Jr., and wife Margie of Jacksonville; daughter, Sandra Rose Coleman of Boyle, Miss.; sister, Mary Frances Litton of Clarksdale, Miss.; and daughter-in-law, Sandra Litton of Greenville, Miss.; 13 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren as well as several nieces, nephews, and other friends and family.

Funeral services were June 15 at First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville with Dr. Carole Goddard officiating. Burial was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Donations may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Earlene Olson
Earlene Olson, 64, of Romance died June 11. She was born April 17, 1943 at Butlerville to L. D. and Mearlene Thomas Free.

Her husband, Richard Olson, and a son, Stephen Lawson, preceded her in death.

She is survived by two daughters, Cathey Holley and Victoria Converse; one son, Doug Lawson and wife Lucresha; stepson, Wayne Ness, all of Romance; grandchildren, Jamie Rochelle Cates, Amanda Nicole Lawson, Chancery Douglas Holley, Amanda Lee Converse and Joseph King; great-grandson, Andrew King; parents, L.D. and Mearlene Free of Beebe; two brothers, Bill and Ken Free, both of Beebe; one sister, Sylvia Jean Isaacs of Tennessee.

Family received friends June 15 at Westbrook Funeral Home Beebe. No services are planned.

Jean Preseley
Jean D. “J.D.” Preseley, 84, of Cabot, formerly of Pine Bluff, died May 30 at home. He was born March 10, 1923 in Guy to the late Clem and Myrtle Helms Preseley.

He was reared and received his early education in Guy, graduating from Guy-Perkins High School. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, serving in northern Africa, Sardinia and Italy. After military service, he earned his degree from Arkansas Tech in Russellville in 1950. He married Floy G. Cogbill, August 3, 1949 in Pine Bluff.

He worked in the accounting department for International Paper Co. for 30 years, retiring in 1985. He was a member of
Westside Church of Christ in Cabot and a former member of Sixth Avenue and 28th Avenue Church of Christ in Pine Bluff.

Five sisters preceded him in death, Vestal Rowlett, Juanita Preseley, Faye Rotton, Lynndell Tucker and Mildred Decker.

Survivors include his wife, Floy Cogbill Preseley of Cabot; daughter and son-in-law, Nellwyn and Norman Kemper of Austin; and two grandchildren, Jayson Kemper of Fayetteville and Bethany Kemper of Austin.

Services were held in the chapel of Ralph Robinson and Son in Pine Bluff on June 2 with Jeff Asher and David Brown officiating. Interment was in Memorial Park Cemetery in Pine Bluff.

EDITORIALS>>What Griffin didn't say

Timothy Griffin’s own Apologia Pro Vita Sua, delivered Thursday to a packed house at the Clinton School in Little Rock, fell considerably short of Cardinal Newman’s compelling explanation of his philosophical journey to Catholicism.

Griffin, a central character in Attorneygate, spent more than an hour recounting his life story, sometimes verging on tears, but shed not a glint of light on the subject everyone came to hear about: How the Justice Department came to dismiss a bunch of U.S. attorneys who had solid records.

All that Griffin was willing to say about the firing scandal was that he wanted the prosecutor’s job in eastern Arkansas because he wanted to return to Arkansas and that he was happily connected with friends in high places who were willing to help him get it.

Specifically, he denied several bits of speculation about what he was supposed to do with the job: reopen investigations of Hillary Clinton to damage her presidential campaign, embarrass Democrats or put himself in position to run for the U.S. Senate next year against Mark Pryor, whose objections to Griffin’s sneaky appointment set off the still burgeoning investigation of the prosecutor firings last year.

Griffin resigned from the job this month after Congress passed a law ending the president’s power under the Patriot Act to make open-ended appointments of U. S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. President Bush signed the act yesterday.
On the other subject, Griffin’s role in suppressing votes by Democratic-leaning people in the 2004 presidential election, he said he was innocent. But Griffin did not permit questions about any of it, at least not from the media. By pre-arrangement, the dean of the Clinton School would not recognize journalists for questions.

So the questions will have to be answered by others and perhaps by Griffin, under subpoena. House and Senate committees this week subpoenaed Harriet E. Miers, the president’s former counsel, and Joyce Taylor, a former colleague of Griffin in the White House political office.

Miers had been identified as the person who had insisted upon the firing of H. E. “Bud” Cummins III as the Arkansas prosecutor and the appointment of Griffin, although the White House has insisted that it had little to do with decisions to replace attorneys in states where partisan activity had engendered federal investigations.

An e-mail from Taylor, which the committees obtained this week, confirmed the White House’s interest in dismissing Cummins, whom she described as “lazy.” She said the controversy was hurting Griffin’s political career.

How the president of the United States came to be tracking the work habits of a federal prosecutor in eastern Arkansas is an intriguing question. Taylor resigned but seemed to be willing to testify. The White House, however, is resisting allowing either woman to be questioned under oath.

Sooner or later, the White House must accede to the demands of Congress and the people and settle the questions about the politicization of the Justice Department.

It can do that by allowing the general counsel and political staffs of the White House to testify under oath and by furnishing the paper trail between the president’s people and the Justice Department on the dismissals. Bill Clinton’s counsel and numerous aides had to testify before numerous congressional investigating committees.

The president’s old and loyal friend, Alberto Gonzales, hangs on as attorney general while aides all around him and his lingering connections in the White House counsel and political offices have fled. Gonzales has hardly a supporter left besides the president. The nation needs to believe that its chief law- enforcement agency is interested in one thing, firm and evenhanded justice.

Tim Griffin’s apologia ended with a touching and seemingly earnest regret about public service. He said his noble service in the government sector simply was not worth the ordeal of the past six months for him and his wife.

We wanted to ask, “What ordeal?” It was Bud Cummins who was fired and accused of laziness and underperforming by leaders of his party. A BBC journalist had reported in 2004 on Griffin’s “caging” of voters in Florida, which resulted in some voters being disenfranchised, but that was it.

But it was a strange lament for a man whose most prominent public duties were to dig up dirt to destroy men and women in public life.

Griffin first came into prominence in 2004 with the BBC broadcast and an article in The Atlantic magazine about the Republican and Democratic “opposition research” teams.

It recounted Griffin, then a research director at the Republican National Committee, standing in front of a banner that read “ON MY COMMAND — UNLEASH HELL (ON AL).” That was Al Gore, the Democratic nominee for president. Griffin’s duties were to pipe anti-Gore stories to the national media.

He had played a similar role in 2002, when he did opposition research on Mark Pryor. Griffin was quoted as saying in 2004, “We think of ourselves as the creators of the ammunition in a war. We make the bullets.”
One ought not to complain about ricochets.

EVENTS>>Summer 2007

Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) will host a free Make Your Money Work financial literacy class from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, June 22.
Class will be held at the CADC Lonoke County Office, 117 East Front Street in Lonoke.
The Make Your Money Work class is free and open to the public. Those who attend will learn a multitude of tips to increase their earning power including learning how to budget, spending money more wisely and improving credit.
CADC is a private nonprofit community action agency that was formed in 1965 to fight and win the war on poverty. The mission of CADC is to improve the quality of life and build strong communities in Arkansas. For more information, call Angel Clingmon at 676-0019.

There will be two AARP driver-safety programs offered in June. The first will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Arkansas Bank and Trust, 600 W. Main Street, in Jacksonville. Call 985-4068 to register. The second class will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday at Rebsamen Medical Center’s Health Education Building. To register for the evening class, call 988-4844 or 988-4553. Cost is $10 per person.  

The Jacksonville Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rebsamen Medical Center in the education building. The 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.

Neil Curry will speak to Lonoke County Master Gardeners about creating bird-friendly landscapes at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Tips will be provided on how to enhance property for the benefit of wildlife and viewing enjoyment. Curry is the director of the Witt Stephens, Jr., Central Arkansas Nature Center, which will open next year in Little Rock.
Curry has been involved with wildlife and nature for many years and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge. The program will be held at the Lonoke County Extension Office on Hwy. 70 East, two miles east of Lonoke. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact County Extension Agent Keith Perkins, at 501-676-3124

The Cabot Chamber of Commerce will have an open house at its new location, 110 S. First St., from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday.
The event is open to all chamber members and the public.

The Austin Community Auxiliary and Volunteer Fire Department is having an all-you-can-eat hot dogs and hamburgers fund-raiser Friday at Austin City Hall.
The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under.

Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, 1017 Ray Road, Jacksonville, will have a Strengthen Our Faith Walk-A-Thon and Health Fair from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 at Jacksonville High School’s Jan Crow Stadium, 2400 Linda Lane.
This is a benefit for the young people and to award scholarships to academically-deserving students.
Free screenings for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol, AIDS/HIV, and prostate cancer will be offered. There will be door prizes, information, food, games and lots of fun. Those wishing to have diabetes and cholesterol screenings should come early and remember to fast. This will ensure a more accurate test reading.
All are welcome to attend.
For additional information, call the church at 501-982-6215.

Brian Arnold will be at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Cabot at 6 p.m. Sunday to preach, sing, and play the piano.
Brian has a dynamic testimony of overcoming adversity. On the piano he makes one hand sound like two, and writes many of his own songs. He will bring a message of encouragement and the need for Jesus and the salvation that comes only from Him. Plan to attend this service and invite your family and friends to come with you.
A love offering will be received during the service.
The church is located on Zion Hill Road near the intersection of Highway 89 and 107, approximately 7 miles west of Cabot.
For more information, contact the church office at 988-4989.

The Lonoke County Cooperative Extension will be holding a baking and sewing day camp from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25 through 29 for youth 9 to 19 years old. They 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. 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 we 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 Friday and $75 after. Please call Carolyn Burns for an application or questions. Space is limited, so call soon.

The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office rodeo and field events is being rescheduled to due to other events already scheduled for the year. Plans to schedule the event will be considered for the beginning of 2008. For more information call Lt. James Kulesa at (501) 676-0414.

Have you lost someone close to you to death? Are you grieving? Beginning June 24 and continuing through Aug. 12, First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville is offering Toward the Light, an eight session grief recovery workshop, to help those experiencing grief from the death of a loved one. The one and a half hour sessions are from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The workshop is open to all interested persons from the area. There is no charge for the workshop, but in order to have enough materials, please register by calling FUMC at 982-8176.

Our Savior Lutheran Church 301 S. Pine St.(S.89) in Cabot will present Group’s “Avalanche Ranch” vacation bible school June 25 to 29 for ages 4 to 12. To register contact Melanie Potter (501)941-0011 or (501)425-5950.

SPORTS >>Pros visit, host British Challenger Soccer Camp

IN SHORT: The Cabot Soccer Association hosted its annual British Soccer Camp this week.

Leader sports editor

The annual Cabot Soccer Associ-ation’s professionally run Challenger British Soccer Camp was as big and as fun as ever for the city’s youthful soccer enthusiasts. Six European professional soccer players were on hand to teach the kids in the basic fundamentals of the game. The Challenger British Soccer Camp program sends about 600 professional soccer players to 1,700 camps across the United States each year.

It is the 10th year for the mostly British group of pros to tour the states teaching soccer, and Cabot camp director Mark Shackleton says the American kids are getting better and better at the most international of sports.

“They most definitely are getting better,” Shackleton said. “These kids here in Cabot are especially talented. I was just talking with (coach) Michael (Guest) about how the kids here in Cabot are among the most talented and knowledgable groups that we’ve ever coached at these camps.”

This year’s event was run by six English players and one from Trinidad in Tobago. Almost all of the coaches that participate in these camps come from Great Britain.

“Joel (Richardson) is the first we’ve had that’s not from our Great Britain,” Shackleton said. “We all come from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.”

The Europeans make their camps much more than just drilling kids in soccer fundamentals.
“We absolutely want to make it as fun as it can be,” Shackleton said Thursday as he wore his body-length ephod wtih a life-size image of a bikini-clad woman that was mandated by his students.

His unusual wardrobe was donned because Thursday was “campers dress the coaches” day at camp, and the campers were very creative.

Joel Richardson of Trinidad dawned ferry wings and flippers to accent the pink bikini he wore over his team uniform. Another coached was dressed like a scarecrow while two others were put in drag, complete with hand bags and pink wigs, as they taught the basics of their craft.

On Wednesday, the campers got to concoct their own sports drinks for the coaches to sample after practice.
“That part’s always gets a bit yucky, but if the kids are enjoying themselves, enjoying being here and learning about soccer, we are and love it and are happy to do it,” Shackleton said.

The coaches also performed special skills and competed with each other in challenges after each day of practice.
This morning, the final day fo camp, the campers and Cabot Soccer Association coaches play a fun game against the British professionals.

Last year over 1000 children were involved in the Cabot Soccer Association’s fall and spring seasons. The CSA’s Sabrina Blankenship hopes that number continues to grow. The CSA begins registration for the upcoming fall season next Saturday.

Registration will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hibbett Sports in Cabot. For more information about registration or the CSA, contact Blankenship at 563-9838, or visit

SPORTS >>Cabot Post 71 gets marathon win over 'Dogs

IN SHORT: It took 10 full innings, but the Cabot Class A American Legion team got a close win over Maumelle 4-3 Wednesday night at Conrade Field. The win improved Cabot’s record to 6-3 on the year.

Leader sportswriter

In nearly twice the amount of time as a normal Class A American Legion matchup, Cabot Post 71 finally got the fourth and decisive run in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Maumelle Bulldogs to take a 4-3 win Wednesday night at the Brian Wade Conrade Memorial Baseball Field.

The teams traded the lead back and forth in the early going, but it was a controversial run from Maumelle in the top of the sixth inning that tied the game at 3-3, and tacked on an extra hour of play in the process.

“We’ve had two extra-inning games now, and we’ve won both of them,” Cabot coach Jay Darr said. “We’ve done well in those situations, and it’s a testament to the kids for not giving up. This team seems to get better the longer a game goes.”

Cabot entered the frame with a narrow 3-2 lead, but Maumelle quickly put two men on in the sixth with a walk from Cabot hurler Tyler Sorrells and an error at second base. Cabot force-walked the next batter to load the bases, a move which would pay off when the next batter blooped it to second base. Cabot second baseman Anthony Rye made a heads-up play, getting the throw to catcher Ken Harness for the out at the plate to deny the Bulldogs the tying score.

Sorrells then struck out the next batter, and had the following batter down 1-2 in the count when the third-base runner charged the plate.

Cabot trapped the runner between the bases, but a curious call allowed the run in.

Third baseman Ben Wainwright threw to Sorrells, who was standing right against the baseline for the tag, but his extended arm was dodged by the runner to cross the plate for the score.

A brief protest by the Cabot bench for the runner leaving the baseline was dismissed, and play resumed with a 3-3 score.
“It looked like he may have stepped on the grass, but the important thing is that it didn’t rattle our guys,” Darr said. “As a coach, you really can’t do anything about calls like that; you just hope your team recovers from them. It was good to see them keep their composure, and we finally got the run we needed to get the win.”

The score would remain tied at three for the next four innings, as the contest suddenly became somewhat of a pitchers’ duel.
Both teams had made pitching changes early on, but Sorrells and Maumelle’s second hurler went from the fourth inning on for their respective teams. Sorrells gave notice in the top of the eighth that the extra-innings session might be a long one, as he sent the Maumelle lineup packing with three strikeouts.

Cabot did manage to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, but a strikeout on Shane Bittner kept Maumelle in the game once again.

After hitting the Maumelle leadoff batter with a pitch, Sorrells continued the strikeout frenzy on the mound in the top of the ninth inning, sending away the next two batters swinging.

The next batter got a close infield hit, but another heads-up play by catcher Harness got the leadoff out at the plate to keep Cabot alive.

It was Cabot who would miss another opportunity in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sorrells started things off with a single to centerfield, but a pop up to center by Wainwright prevented him from advancing.

Sorrells made his way to third, but good play behind the plate would prevent yet another score, as Sorrells was tagged out trying to come in for the score for the third out.

Anthony Rye finally put an end to the game as it entered its third hour in the bottom of the 10th. Rye singled after lead off Chase Beasley was stuck out, and advanced on a bunt single by Harness.

Another strikeout on Nick Ackett gave Cabot two outs, but C. J. Jacoby finally drove in the winning run with a shot down the third base line into left field for the RBI.

Cabot got its first run in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI single from Michael Cochran that scored Beasley.
The catcher caught Cochran snoozing while leading off at first, however, and got the throw to the bag for the final out of the inning.

Cabot took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the third inning with a score from Jacoby off a hit to left by Wainwright. Maumelle answered in the top of the fourth to tie, but Jacoby’s second score in the bottom of the fifth put Post 71 in the lead once more.

Cabot is now 6-3 on the season. The next game for Post 71 will be at Greenbrier on Monday.

SPORTS >>Jacksonville whips Colts

IN SHORT: Jacksonville used 16 base hits to down a strong North Little Rock team 13-7 Thursday at Burns Park.

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Class A baseball team bruised and battered North Little Rock Thursday night at Burns Park to remain undefeated in zone play and improve to 8-7 overall on the season.

The younger Chevy boys pounded out 16 base hits in the 13-7 victory over the hosting Colts.
The big victory didn’t look so much like a Mike Tyson 90-second knockout as much as an Evander Holyfield systematic beatdown.

Jacksonville scored four runs in the first inning, two in the second, two in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth inning. Every time North Little Rock rallied to get within a respectable margin, the Gwatney team answered and usually one-upped its host.

Jacksonville took the lead right away against North Little Rock’s hard-throwing right-hander Cody Gill. Tyler Wisdom led off with a double and scored two batters later on a single by Jason Regnas.

Catcher Caleb Mitchell then singled to drive in Regnas, and Mitchell scored on a two-out double by Daniel Thurman. Thurman then scored on a single by Hayden Simpson to cap off the “He threw hard and we hit him hard,” Jacksonville A coach Travis Lyda said. “When they pulled him and put the soft thrower in, we hit him too. We worked for hours on hitting (Wednesday) and it showed tonight.”

The Colts got one unearned run in the bottom of the first. AJ Williamson led off with a double to left field, and scored on two passed balls. Jacksonville pitcher Clayton Fenton then sat the next three batters down in order to preserve his 4-1 lead.
Williamson’s leadoff hit in the first was the only one given up by Clayton in his three innings on the mound. He finished his outing without giving up an earned run while striking out two and walking one.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s off-ense added two runs to its lead with two outs in the second. A.J. Allen started the two-out rally with a single to left field. Regnas and Mitchell were hit by pitches and Seth Tomboli doubled to left-center to drive in the two runs.

Four consecutive two-out singles by A.J. Allen, Regnas, Mitchell and Tomboli brought in two more runs in the fourth to give Gwatney an 8-1 lead.

North Little Rock trimmed that margin to 8-3 in the bottom of the same frame, but that’s as close as the Colts would get.
Jeffrey Tillman led off the inning with a single to left field and Wisdom was robbed of a base hit when he laced a line drive to centerfield.

Allen singled but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Regnas. Mitchell then doubled to right for his third base hit and third RBI of the game. Mitchell’s courtesy runner Terrell Brown scored on the next at-bat when Tomboli climbed out of a hole and sent an 0-2 pitch into the gap in right centerfield.

That put Jacksonville up 11-3 and drew some more praise from Lyda.
“After that fourth inning I told them I wanted those two runs that we just gift-wrapped for them back,” Lyda said. “They went out and got those two back plus one more.”

North Little Rock got an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 11-4, but Jacksonville got two in the top of the sixth. Simpson was hit by a pitch and Brown walked to start the inning. Tillman moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Wisdom drove them home with a two-RBI single to centerfield.

The Colts rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth off Simson. Drew Hampton took the mound with no outs and the bases juiced and shut down the rally to seal the win.

The win lifted Jacksonville to 8-7 overall and 4-0 against teams inside its zone.

“I’m looking for that number- one seed in the zone tournament because there’s a good chance we could get a bye,” Lyda said. “We played like a team that was falling apart on Tuesday, but after our come-to-Jesus meeting we responded very well. We’ve played well in our zone games and those are the ones that count the most at this point.”

Allen went 3 for 3 with three singles and two runs scored. Tomboli also went 3 for 3, including a double and four RBIs. Mitchell went 3 for 4 with a double and three runs batted in. Regnas went 2 for 3 with an RBI and scored four runs, while Wisdom was 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.

The Gwatney A team hosted Maumelle last night after Leader deadlines, and will host Morrilton at Dupree Park Monday before taking a week off.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SPORTS>>Cabot AAA explodes for 15 runs at Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s Class AAA American Legion team finally put everything together Monday night, and the result was a 15-2 defeat of Jacksonville in five innings at Dupree Park.

It’s been a slow start to the season for the Post 71 team, but steady improvement had head coach Andy Runyan optimistic that good things were coming.

“We’d been getting better and better, and then we had a little bit of a dip last time out when Russellville came to our place and got us,” Runyan said. “Still, the way we’ve been playing, you could just sense that a night like this was coming. Games like this are easy to coach. All I had to do was sit back and watch them swing. It was a lot of fun.”

Jacksonville pitcher Casey Winstead, who has enjoyed good outings his last two appearances, struggled against the Cabot lineup.

He sat the visitors down in order in the first inning with three straight ground balls to third base. Gwatney’s Eric Berry made one routine play and two running stops to get the first three outs.

After forcing a pop-up to start the second inning, it was the bottom of Cabot’s lineup that did the early damage. Sam Bates walked before Jonathan Parker and Justin Free singled. The two hits sandwiched a pop-up to short for the second out, and Free’s hit drove in Bates to give Cabot a 1-0 lead.

Nine-hole hitter Trey Rosel singled to load the bases, which brought leadoff hitter Colin Fuller back to the plate. Fuller drilled a line drive double over the head of centerfielder Cameron Hood that cleared the bases and gave the visitors a 4-0 lead.
Cabot made it 6-0 with a brief two-out rally in the third. Bates walked for the second time and Parker hit a line-drive home run over the left field wall.

Jacksonville put together a small rally in the third, but it was thwarted by Cabot catcher Shayne Burgan. Three of Jacksonville’s four batters in the inning reached base, but only one scored.

Larry Simone walked with one out, but was caught stealing by Burgan. Blake Mattison beat out an infield grounder for a single, and reached second when a late throw was high over Bates’ head at first base.

Jason Regnas took Mattison’s cue and got his own infield single, and Mattison scored on the play with alert base running. Regnas’ grounder was deflected by Fuller at the mound, but Cabot’s infield was slow to react. Mattison noticed the unattended ball lying in the infield grass and broke for home, where Burgan was unable to corral a low throw to the plate as Mattison slid home.

The rally then ended with Burgan gunned Regnas down trying to steal second base.

An error at shortstop kicked off Cabot’s biggest inning in the top of the fourth. Free reached on the misplayed grounder, and Rosel and Fuller got back-to-back bunt singles to load the bases.

Burgan then hit a two-RBI single to centerfield to drive in the two runs and prompt Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham to make the first of three pitching changes.

Logan Lucas then singled to left to drive Fuller home and give Cabot a 9-1 lead. Drew Burks and Bates flew out to the outfield for the first two outs of the inning. Parker then walked and Sean Clarkson got a two-RBI single to centerfield to make it 11-1.

Jacksonville’s final run came when Zach Thomas reached on an error at third base and Brian Thurman hit an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the fourth.

Cabot the final touches on the win in the fifth. Rosel started things with a walk before Justin Haas, who was hitting for Fuller, reached with a pop up single down the line in shallow left field. Burgan then reached on an error at shortstop and Lucas hit a sacrifice grounder to score Rosel.

Ben Wainwright then stepped to the plate in place of Burks, and hit a three-run homerun to left field to set the final margin.
Haas took the mound in the bottom of the fifth. After giving up a hard, leadoff line drive double to right-centerfield by Ricky Tomboli, Haas fanned the next three batters in order to seal the victory.

Fuller got the win on the mound. He pitched four innings, gave up four hits and no earned runs, while striking out three and walking two.

Cabot got 11 base hits and 12 earned runs off of three Jacksonville pitchers. The fourth, Zach Thomas, pitched to the final two Cabot batters and got two strikeouts.

Fuller, Parker and Rosel each had two base hits. Fuller went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs. Parker also went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs. Rosel went 2 for 2 and added a walk to reach all three times at bat.

Cabot, how ??, is off the rest of the week and will resume play next Tuesday when it hosts Maumelle.
Jacksonville traveled to Sheridan last night, and will be at North Little Rock last night.

SPORTS>>Bruins get early comeback

Leader sports writer

The first half of the game belonged to Benton, but a strong performance at the plate in the bottom of the third inning was all Sylvan Hills needed to take a 3-0 deficit and turn it into a two-point lead. A pair of insurance runs in the sixth allowed the Bruins to take the win 7-4 over Big Red Fina in a great comeback performance Monday night at Kevin McReynolds Field.
SH hurler Blaine Sims gave up five hits early, but shut Benton down at the plate from the fourth inning through the sixth inning. Sims only allowed one more hit in the top of the seventh that scored another run, but it would not be enough to send the game past its scheduled seven innings.

“We’re kind of evolving,” Bruins coach Mike Bromley said. “We’ve been making a lot of mistakes, but the guys have been trying to correct some of those things in practice, and it’s starting to work a little bit. We hope to be in good shape by district.”

The Bruins took the win despite the absence of catcher Taylor Roark and Jared Eller, who were both at an orientation at Henderson State. Bromley says even though the season is into its third week, few of the starting positions are actually set in stone.

“Everybody’s fighting for a spot right now,” Bromley said. “Whoever does the best in each position are the boys that are going to play.” Bromley was also complimentary of Sims’ performance on the mound Monday.

“He’s been working on his command,” Bromley said, “putting the ball where he wants it. He did a good job tonight.”
Sylvan Hills’ five-run spree in the third came with two outs on the board. Leadoff hitter Grant Garlington started the inning off with a fly to shortstop, but Matt Rugger squeezed in a single to left between Garlington’s fly and another infield pop up from three-hole hitter Ross Bogard.

Benton pitcher Heston Besancon had looked fairly solid in the first two innings, and quickly got two outs in the third from the SH pop ups, but would give up three more hits, along with two Fina fielding errors to allow Sylvan Hills to the lead.

Besancon committed the first error himself on a bunt from cleanup hitter Jarrett Boles, allowing Rugger in for the first score, and then gave up a hit right field from Nathan Eller that scored Joe Gardener. Gardener had reached on a walk, bringing in a run to pull the Bruins to within a score.

The tying run came in on a single by David Simpson. Tony Pavan was the next SH batter up, grounding to shortstop for what appeared to be the third out, but the throw to first from Fina shortstop Mark Lewis was way too high, and Eller and Simpson took the easy trip around the diamond to score runs four and five to put the Bruins up for the first time all night.

Sims made sure Sylvan Hills stayed out in front, sending Benton three and out in the top of the fourth with a pair of strikeouts, and catcher Simpson made the best play of the fifth inning when he picked off an attempted steal at second Tyler Keene after Keene singled to right center.

Benton started out the sixth inning with its cleanup hitter, but Sims sent the 4-5-6 Fina batters out with two easily handled infield smacks and a fly to center.

Pavan, for all intents and purposes, put a cap on the game in the bottom of the sixth when he led off with a triple deep into left centerfield. He would score along with hit-by-pitch recipient Garlington on a double from Gardener to put the Bruins up 7-3.

Dustin Johnson scored the final run for Benton in the seventh despite being struck out by Sims. Johnson reached on a passed ball during the third strike from Sims, and was driven in by a single to center from Lewis. An error at first put one more runner on for Big Red Fina, but Sims was able to close by forcing a ground ball to SH shortstop Eller for the final out of the game.

Both teams put runners on with hits in the first inning, but neither was able to capitalize for a score. Benton struck first in the top of the second inning with a single form Blake Childress that scored Stuart Snell. Fina added two more runs in the top of the second off two hits and an error to give them the early advantage.

Sims took the win for Sylvan Hills, allowing seven hits while striking out six and walking none. The Bruins finished with 10 hits for seven runs, and committed two errors. Pavan led Sylvan Hills at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a triple and three RBIs. Gardener also finished with two RBIs, with the remaining three coming from Boles, Eller and Simpson.

SPORTS>>Gwatney A defeats Cabot

Leader sports editor

Gwatney Chevrolet’s Class A American Legion team got its third consecutive win Monday night, beating Cabot American Legion Post 71 5-4 at Dupree Park.

Jacksonville led 5-2 heading into the final inning and held off a Cabot rally to seal the win.

Jacksonville starting pitcher Jason Regnas threw six innings before yielding to Clayton Fenton in the seventh. Fenton started off in some trouble, but pitched through the crisis to get the save.

Cabot’s Ken Harness led off the seventh with a double to left before Fenton struck out Shane Cavaress. CJ Jacoby walked and leadoff hitter Matt Williams hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. Nick Ackett then reached on an error at second base that also scored Harness. Ben Wainwright singled to centerfield to drive in Jacoby, pulling Cabot to within one run and loading the bases.

Fenton and Cabot’s Josh Brown battled through a long at bat, but Fenton ultimately got the last word when he forced Brown into a routine grounder to second base to seal the win.

Regnas gave up four hits in six innings. One was the opening at bat of the game, the other three were in the third inning. He didn’t allow a hit in the final three innings he pitched.

“I thought Jason Regnas had an outstanding night,” Jacksonville A coach Travis Lyda said. “He was calm, he hit his spots and he didn’t get flustered when they rallied on him a little bit. He gathered himself and shut them down.”

Gwatney led from the starting gates with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Tyler Wisdom walked and Terrell Brown was hit by a pitch to start things off for the host team. Regnas then reached on an error on the mound that scored the two base runners.

With one out, Seth Tomboli got a sacrifice grounder that drove in Regnas and put Gwatney up 3-0.

It quickly went to 4-0 in the second inning when singles by A.J. Allen, Jordan Gardner and Wisdom garnered another run, but a pitching change to the southpaw Jacoby began to slow the Gwatney bats.

Jacksonville got just four more hits the rest of the night, but all four were for extra bases and brought across the one run needed to hold on for the win.

Cabot began to touch Regnas in the third inning and cut Jacksonville’s lead in half, but the Gwatney southpaw settled down and regained control of the game the rest of the way.

Cavaress singled to lead off the inning before Jacoby and Williams flew out, Ackett then singled to center and Wainwright got a two-RBI double off the wall in left field to drive in the two runners. That was the last base hit allowed by Regnas, who went through the fourth, fifth and sixth innings giving up just two walks.

Gwatney went up 5-2 in the fourth inning. Gardner got a one-out double with a grounder ball to left field just inside the third base line. Two batters later and with two outs, Brown doubled to left to score Gardner.

Daniel Thurman and Jeffrey Tillman added doubles to Jacksonville’s to complete Jacksonville’s hit total.

Jacksonville got two earned runs off seven base hits while Cabot got two earned off six base hits.

Gardner was the only Gwatney player with multiple hits. He went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored.

“I was so happy to see Jordan Gardner break out like that,” Lyda said. “I’ve got guys that are wanting playing time, so I’m trying to give it to them. I tell them that when you get your chance, you need to produce, and Jordan produced for us.”
Jacksonville, who is now 7-6 on the season, faced Sheridan last night after Leader deadlines. The team will travel to North Little Rock Thursday for an A-AAA doubleheader.

Cabot fell to ?? and will host a single game at 7 p.m. tonight against Maumelle.

EDITORIALS>>Dump Alberto

Almost two-fifths of the United States Senate want Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to stay on the job or at least they do not want to publicly force him out. Is that a ringing endorsement for the man assigned to administer federal justice or what?
But it was enough that President Bush lavished his blessings on his longtime servant once again. One can admire the president’s loyalty to those who have served him with fierce obedience since the beginning of his political career without paying homage to his wisdom.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sponsored the resolution expressing no confidence in the attorney general, a gesture that was only symbolic but that was calculated to give the president cover to tell Gonzales that it was time to go for the good of the team. Thirty-seven Republicans and one independent prevented a final vote on the resolution by voting not to shut off debate. Needing 60 votes, it failed 53-38. Four other Democrats would have come off the campaign trail or sick bed to vote for it, but it would still have fallen short.

It was a lame victory for Gonzales and the president, who saw seven Republicans break ranks and cast their lot very publicly with the attorney general’s critics. This is the definition of Pyrrhic victory.

“There is no confidence in the attorney general from this side of the aisle,” said Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. A number of the 37 Republicans privately have murmured deep disappointment with Gonzales but did not want to embarrass the president, who has enough problems.

But he has few problems greater than a Justice Department that enjoys no confidence from the legislative branch and not much from its own ranks. The top echelon has been decimated by resignations and recriminations, and morale is miserable.
When the attorney general fired eight U.S. attorneys for what can only be described as partisan reasons, lied to an Arkansas senator about a new appointee for the east Arkansas prosecutor’s job and then claimed to have little to do with major decisions in his department, he had little credibility left.

Then came testimony that as President Bush’s counsel Gonzales went to the critical-care unit of a Washington hospital to pressure the gravely ill attorney general into signing a privacy policy that the attorney general had already concluded violated the Constitution.

Here clearly was a man unsuited for an independent and fearless pursuit of the rule of law. He doesn’t help either with another of the president’s image problems, competence. The president should get this problem behind him. It will help with the others, too.

EDITORIALS>>Court favors states’ rights

For the rich and the favored, states’ rights has always been a handy principle, but there are times when it gets in the way. For example, when a big tobacco company wants to avoid liability.

In a surprising siege of unanimity, the United States Supreme Court said tobacco companies could be sued in a state court in front of a jury chosen under state laws and before an elected state judge. Two Arkansas women — one has since left the state — tried to sue Philip Morris four years ago in the Pulaski County Circuit Court claiming that their health was jeopardized by misleading advertising about the healthful qualities of light cigarettes. The company objected that the state court did not have jurisdiction because the federal government stringently regulated tobacco. They would have to sue in federal court. A federal district judge and, not surprisingly, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis agreed.

The tobacco lawyers did not argue that the commerce clause of the Constitution dictated it — the usual state v. federal doctrine — but rather that suing the tobacco companies was the same as suing the federal government. Uncle Sam was in loco parentis, or something like that. That really was the argument and we would have guessed that the new ultraconservative majority on the Supreme Court would have adopted it just like the Eighth Circuit did. The theory was that because the offending light cigarettes were regulated by federal agencies, the company was operating under supervising federal officials. That made Philip Morris the same as a branch of the federal government, and the federal government cannot be sued for damages in a state court.

What do you think of that argument? The Supreme Court — all nine justices — did not care for it either. If the tobacco companies were subcontractors making products for the federal government, say nicotine canisters for the Department of Defense, it might be another matter. Tobacco companies, which have been fighting product liability battles for years, prefer the federal courts, where judges and juries have been far more stinting on judgments than state courts.

Tobacco companies, drug manufacturers, automakers and other manufacturers are especially fearful of trial in states with elected judges, like Arkansas, suspecting that they are more prone to consider the suffering of people. We don’t know if that is true, but it does not matter. State courts are particularly suited to try torts, which is a legal issue largely framed by state law. Justice is swifter and nowadays just about as sure in state courts as in the tenured federal system.

Good decision, Supreme Court! States’ rights are alive and well.

OBITUARIES >> 6-13-07

Amanda Baldwin

Amanda Dawn Kirtley Baldwin, 27, of Lonoke died June 9.

She was preceded in death by grandparents, Bonnie Dillon, Marion Stone and Gerald Kirtley.

Survivors include her husband, Johnny Baldwin; sons, Johnathon and Cody Baldwin; mother, Doris Cook; father, Charles Kirtley; sister, Stacey Kirtley; brothers, Keith and Allen Kirtley and grandfather Barney Dillon.

Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13 at Boyd Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 14  at Faith Community Church with burial following in Concord Cemetery.

Burnell Clemons

Burnell Clemons, 82, of Humphrey died June 11 at his home.

He was born June 6, 1925 to Issac Newton and Dora Clemons. He was a retired barber of 50 years in Stuttgart and Furlow and a member of Humphrey Baptist Church. In his spare time, he loved gardening, fishing and hunting.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother Hubert Clemons and sister, Lucille Jones.

Survivors include his loving companion, caregiver and friend Janie Bowen; two daughters, Brenda Parker of Stuttgart and Debby Wade of Clarendon; son Donny Clemons of West Helena; sisters, Dorothy Harr and Erma Dale Graves of Stuttgart.
A private graveside service will be held Wednesday, June 13. The family will be at the home of Erma Dale Graves, 209 W. Third, Stuttgart.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Haiti Fund, Humphrey Baptist Church, Box 16, Humphrey, Ark., 72073. Funeral arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Joseph Rhodes

Joseph Doyle Rhodes, 21, of Lonoke died on June 10.

He is survived by his father and mother Luther and Gay Rhodes; brother, Luke and wife Amy Rhodes all of Lonoke; grandparents, Doyle and Cecelia Anderson of Lonoke, Elvin and Addie Hicks of Bald Knob; great-grandparents, Berlie and Dorothy Johnson of Bradford and Robert and Barbara Hoyle of North Little Rock; three nephews, Gregory, Zane and Seth Rhodes and a host of other relatives and friends.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13 at Boyd Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 14 at Brownsville Baptist Church, Hwy. 31 North in Lonoke with burial following at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

James Redding

James O. Redding, 71, of North Little Rock, was born Jan. 17, 1936, at Paris, to Omer and Bonnie Sharp Redding, and died June 10.

He was an Army veteran and was retired from the North Little Rock Municipal Water Department. Redding was a member of Lynchview Missionary Baptist Church in North Little Rock.

He is survived by one son, Scott Redding of Paragould; two daughters, Lisa Henry of North Little Rock and Krissa Brister of Memphis; six grandchildren; one brother, Robert Redding, and Barbara Moore, both of Paris.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 13, at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Moore Cemetery in Paris.

Carl Markham

Carl David Markham, 59, of Furlow departed this life June 5 at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. He was born Feb. 1, 1948, to Didi Markham and Virginia Cook in Fort Hood, Texas.

He was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Jacksonville.

Survivors include life partner Connie Green of Furlow; three daughters, Mary Ann Horton of Little Rock, Bonnie Gatlin of Bryant and Amanda Markham of Tyler, Texas; two sons, Frankie Markham of West Helena and Ronnie Peeks of Morrilton; three sisters, Paulette Conn of Texas; Janie Smith of Little Rock; Denise Grissom of Texas; two brothers, Frank Markham of Texas and Randy Markham of New Mexico; 12 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Memorial services were held June 11 at Bingham Road Baptist Church in Little Rock.

Arrangements were entrusted to Larry G. Acklin Funeral Home ,8821 Colonel Glenn in Little Rock.

Victoria Hall

Victoria “Vicki” Ellen Hall, 62, of Jacksonville died June 11 in Jacksonville.

She was born Aug. 30, 1944, in Harford County, Maryland, to Robert Gray and Della Vern Chesshir Hall.

Her human resources career started in 1972 at Franklin Electric in Jacksonville, where she worked for 16 years, and then Falcon Jet for three years,  Raytheon Aircraft for 10 years and finally, Deluxe Video for six years, where she retired. She was a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Survivors include her son, Michael Hall and his wife Kristi Misak-Hall of Jacksonville; father, Robert Gray Hall Sr. and wife Doris of Fife Lake, Mich.; one brother, Robert G. Hall Jr. and wife Angie Smith of Maumelle; three grandchildren, Natali, Ragan and Julia Hall, as well as her loving niece, Courtney Glemser. Vicki is preceded in death by her mother and a brother, Henry “Hank” Ray Hall.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 14 at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville with Rev. Cliff Hutchins officiating. Visitation will be at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13.

Burial will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 16 at Liberty Cemetery in Manton, Mich.

TOP STORY >>Board angers chamber pair

Leader staff writer

“And you wonder why people want to develop in Sherwood instead of Jacksonville,” attorney Mike Wilson blurted out Monday after the planning commission turned down a request for apartment-style housing on a piece of property the city owns.

Wilson, representing the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said the group felt the city would benefit by selling a piece of property located between Swift Drive and General Samuels Road for residential development.

The land is part of a larger parcel the city owns and is zoned M-2 for manufacturing and industry.

The foundation asked the planning commission to rezone the property to C-4 (commercial), and for conditional use of R-3 (multi-family housing). “The idea is to make this property as marketable as possible,” Wilson said. The commission agreed to the C-4 rezoning, but balked at the conditional-use request.

Commissioner Susan Dollar said she was open to the idea, but didn’t want to give a blanket approval. “What conditions can we place on it without seeing a plan?” she asked.

Commissioner John Herbold adamantly said, “We don’t need low-end rentals.” Wilson replied that city ordinances “don’t allow us to say what kind of rentals will be in an area. The marketplace will take care of that.”

Bonita Rownd, executive director of the chamber, added that one of the possible buyers of the land approached the chamber some time ago and had plans for higher quality units on the land.

“This will provide us with nice niche housing that is currently missing in our town,” she said.

Commissioner Art Brannen was against the idea because of the mix of traffic. “There’ll be city vehicles, plumbing trucks and cement trucks mixing with residential traffic,” he said. Commissioner Bart Gray Jr. wanted the developer to ask for the conditional use when he is ready to buy the property. The commission voted to go ahead with the commercial rezoning, but not the conditional, residential use. The turn down was the commission’s only no vote of the evening.

“We won’t be able to market it to any reasonable buyer,” Rownd said. Both her and Wilson left upset and disappointed with the commission’s actions.

TOP STORY >>Bond: PCSSD needs new school

Leader staff writer

With a proposed new Jacksonville Middle School nowhere on the Pulaski County Special School District long-range facilities plan, state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, suggested looking at new options such as a combination school/police station.
“There needs to be a focus on the Jacksonville Middle School facilities,” Bond told fellow Jacksonville Rotarians Monday. “They are old and outdated.”

If approved by the state Education Board, the state would bear about 25 percent of the costs of constructing a new school, Bond said.

“This problem needs to be attacked, and try to come up with $12 million to complete the funding,” Bond said. “The middle school could be placed in a distressed facilities category. The state may then force the district (to replace it).”

Bond, who has been an effective proponent for a stand-alone Jacksonville School District, said the cost of the current desegregation agreement is $68 million this year and nearly $70 million next year. Bond and consultants hired by the state have recommended phasing out the desegregation agreement and the money supporting it, and in the process, allowing Jacksonville to have its own district.

In all, the state already has spent $700 million on desegregation, Bond said.

“How bad do the school facilities need to be to be declared for replacement?” asked one Rotary member. “The newest school built in Jacksonville was in 1984. The conditions of the schools have an effect on the community.”

No new school is slated for construction in the Jacksonville area until the 2009-2010 school year, when a new elementary school could be started at Little Rock Air Force Base to replace Arnold Drive Elementary. That school could open for the 2011-2012 school year.

On another education-related Bond, promoted a state lottery as a way to fund college scholarships.

“The Arkansas scholarship fund has $34 million, but we’ll need an additional $40 to $60 million for the new plan,” Bond said.
That plan would fund college, community college or vocational training for all Arkansas high school graduates.

Bond said taxpayers aren’t even noticing the effect of the $50 increase to $350 on the Homestead Property Tax Credit, and yet it is costing the state a lot of money.

TOP STORY >>Holman ends 5-year tenure

Leader staff writer

As the school year has ended, so too has Dr. Frank Holman’ tenure as superintendent of Cabot Public Schools.
His last official day is June 30, when he will begin his new position as superintendent of the Lincoln Consolidated School District near Fayetteville. The move means a substantial pay cut for Holman, who made more than $170,000 in Cabot. He was the highest paid superintendent in 2003. Holman was among the many recognized by the district Monday for his years of service to the district during his five-years as chief of schools.

Dr. Tony Thurman succeeds Holman as superintendent.

“I am very proud of what we have done together,” Holman said. “It is a result of dedicated, hard working professionals.”
Highlights of Holman’s career in Cabot include: more than $40 million in funding spent for new school facilities over five years and approval of $80 million for new projects over the next couple of years to rebuild Junior High North, build additional elementary classrooms and other renovations.

“That’s nearly $120 million in construction from 2003 to 2009,” Holman said. “Our challenge will be coming up with our share of the matching 40 percent.”

His accomplishments include: professional development and learning that are a model for the state; an increase in student achievement at all schools and on all measures; information and technology tools for teachers, staff, students, parents and the community, including a 3- to -1 computer-to-student ratio and a fiber-optics network connecting all schools with every campus having wireless access; a better alignment of curriculum that is being duplicated by several states based on the work of the Cabot team and Cabot’s conversion charter school, the Academic Center of Excellence (ACE), receiving the National Charter School of the Year award.

“ACE has dropped the number of students being expelled by 90 percent and made a dramatic improvement of curbing the number of dropouts each year,” Holman said. “We have had fantastic results for the three years of ACE and were just approved for another five-year period with 500 students.”

Cabot’s pre-kindergarten program has also increased from 40 students to 260. The total student population increased from 7,500 to 9,000 over five years.

Holman’s other accomplishments include being named Arkansas Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year for 2006; finalist for the 2007 Cable’s Leaders in Learning Awards; the President’s Award for his support of Arkansas Gifted and Talented Educators for 2006 and election to a second term as president of the North Central Association of Schools Accreditation and School Improvement for Arkansas for 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 year

TOP STORY >>Couple to get a new home

Leader staff writer

Wayne and Wanda Bridges are one Saturday closer to being homeowners thanks to the Lonoke County Habitat for Humanity and its volunteers.

“We’re so happy. We’ve never had a house to call our own before,” Wayne Bridges said.

The Bridges hope to move into their new 900-square-foot home by Sept. 1 after 12 Saturdays of Habitat work on the home.
They have to contribute 300 hours of sweat equity themselves, but as Wayne said, “We don’t mind doing that at all.” The five-year Lonoke residents currently live in the Woodlake Apartments and can’t wait until they can move into their new home.

“We’ll take good care of it and enjoy it,” Wanda Bridges said.

During the first work day volunteers erected all of the exterior wall frames and all but finished the 12 by 12 foot storage building.

“It’s amazing what can be accomplished in one Saturday when you get so many people together,” Mary Anne Taft, president of Lonoke County Habitat for Humanity, said. Termed the “Grace House,” the property was donated by Rev. Virgil and Lillie Turner. Those volunteering to help build the home are members of area Lonoke County churches.

“It’s just a bunch of guys and girls from the churches coming together,” Mike Hedges, project director, said.

For many of the volunteers, this isn’t their first time building a home as most of them have traveled with their church on mission trips to aid others in need. Larry Cagwin from South Bend United Methodist Church has helped on a build in Guatemala as well as worked on an orphanage in Hot Springs.

This is his first time to help with a Habitat home, but got on board when he heard about it at church. This is also Roger Huitt’s first Habitat home; he is also from South Bend UMC.

“I’m happy to be here,” Huitt said, “and to be able to help somebody out and contribute something.”

Butch Randolph and his son Aaron were also among those volunteering their time Saturday.

“We came out to get some work done and make sure people have a good place to live,” Aaron Randolph said. David True and his son John of Cabot came out to “try and help those in need of help.”

Because the labor is donated, the Bridges will only have to pay in monthly rent the cost to build their new home. Covenant Termite treated the ground before the construction began; electrician Doug Gates is donating his time to wire the home; West Lake Plumbing donated their time to install the water pipes; Gold Heat and Air is donating time to install the heating and air unit for the home. The Cabot Police Department will be installing the roof on the two-bedroom home when the time comes.

“Its about building relationships and not just homes,” Taft said, adding those who would like to volunteer with Habitat can attend the monthly meetings held at 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday of the month at the accounting office of Shelly Russell, 1904 S. Pine St., Suite E, Cabot.

Once the Bridges’ home is completed, a second Habitat house will be built at the rear of the property, bringing Lonoke County’s total of Habitat homes to four, two in Lonoke and two in Cabot.

TOP STORY >>Man’s death investigated as homicide

Leader staff writer

White County authorities are investigating a possible murder, but they are awaiting an autopsy to determine if the beating of a 46-year-old Pine Bluff man, which allegedly occurred last week between Ward and Beebe, was the direct cause of death, Prosecuting Attorney Chris Raff told The Leader.

A good samaritan, Robert Heath, helped out the 46-year-old Pine Bluff man later identified as Randall Helms, who was bleeding from his face and head and was found in a ditch off South Redmond Road in Jacksonville last Wednesday. Heath said the injured man was incoherent.

Heath, who is from Jacksonville, put Helms in his pickup and took him to the emergency room at Rebsamen Medical Center.
Helms said he was beaten at a residence between Ward and Beebe. A message was sent to both police departments notifying them of the beating.

“I believe he died the next day,” said Lt. Martin Cass, public information officer for Jacksonville Police Department.
Beebe law-enforcement authorities were unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutor Raff said there had been no arrests in the case.

TOP STORY >>Spending remains key issue in Cabot

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams was called on the carpet Monday night to explain to the city council budget committee why he bought savings bonds to recognize good employees without talking to them first.

Alderman Eddie Cook, chairman of the budget committee, explained why the committee was troubled by the expenditure despite the fact that the mayor had not gone over the budget by paying $2,000 for the bonds.

“We heard about this on the back end, and the budget committee wants to know where the money is coming from,” he said.
Committee members also did not support the mayor’s plan to pay $50 toward the electric bill for a literacy program that is opening in the city, and they asked how the city can pay about $16,000 for a new Website when they keep hearing that the city can barely afford to pay its bills.

Whether the city will help with the electric bill for the nonprofit literacy group will go before the council for further discussion.

The most outspoken during the more than two-hour long meeting were Aldermen Teri Miessner and Becky Lemaster.
Both repeatedly told the mayor the city didn’t need to spend money for extras when the budgets in the fire department and police department are stretched thin.

The mayor didn’t cut any positions in those departments in January, but he said he would not fill any vacated positions.
He recently reconsidered that stance and has told the fire chief to hire three firefighters to replace those who quit. To help fund those positions, three more city employees have been laid off: Donna Grimes, the mayor’s assistant; Ann Webb, the fire department secretary, and Dale Walker, the budget manager.

Williams said the cuts would free about $150,000 a year to pay the salaries and benefits of the new firefighters.
The three employees were told Friday that they were no longer needed, the mayor said. Miessner said after the Monday committee meeting that she had heard nothing about it. Lemaster told Williams during the meeting that she had spoken to the city’s firefighters and police officers and they would rather have more backup than a chance at a $1,000 savings bond four times a year.

“Doing without a recognition program until we get legs under us is part of doing business,” said Miessner, a banker. “If the money isn’t there we don’t need to spend it. Why are we finding money to reward our employees if we can’t pay our bills?”
Alderman Ken Williams, a lawyer, told Williams he thought recognizing employees was probably a good idea, but he was puzzled by the way the winners are selected. Instead of being selected by their bosses, they are selected by fellow workers.
Much of the conversation during the meeting centered on the numbers in the financial reports the members receive. Though the committee members said the reports are difficult to read because they are not consistent from month to month, it is clear that the city does have some money in savings. And near the end of the meeting, Miessner got to the crux of her beef with the mayor.

The mayor should stop saying the city has no money when there is money in savings, she said.

Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler, who, with Walker gone, is now in charge of the city’s finances again after more than four years, said later that the city has $280,000 in reserve, about enough to make payroll for one month. Williams conceded that the city’s finances are not as bad as he tends to make them out to be.

“I want to paint it a little dimmer than I hope it is,” he said, and explained to the committee that he treats the city’s finances as he always has his personal finances. He said he lives below his means and puts as much away as possible.

“Savings is just as important as paying the electric bill to me,” he said. But he also pointed out that even though the city is making payroll and paying bills, there are no capital expenditures budgeted for 2007.

The city is not buying anything this year. He said later that the city had already contracted for the new website before he took office.

Williams said he believes it is more important now than ever to recognize city workers for their efforts because with budget cuts, city employees must work harder than ever.

So far he has bought four $1,000 savings bonds for $500 each. The employees in each of the city departments – administration, public works, fire and police – voted on the recipient. Even without the approval of the committee, the mayor can continue to give the bonds every three months to reward city workers for their extra effort.

He said the money for the bonds would come out of the general fund, not from the department budgets.
“Recognition is a pat on the back. Reward has monetary value,” he told the committee.

Williams said after the meeting that his job as mayor is to take care of the day-to-day operation of the city. He’s doing that, he said, but if the council wants more information he will try to provide it.

TOP STORY >>Lawsuit over golf course in U.S. court

Leader staff writer

An appeal that the owners of North Hills Country Club have filed against Sherwood has been moved to federal court at the city’s request.

The case has been assigned to Judge G. Thomas Eisele, but no court date has been set yet.

“The appeal involves a number of constitutional issues that are better suited in federal court,” said City Attorney Steve Cobb.
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. According to their appeal, the city placed a moratorium on any development plans for the North Hills Country Club to get the sale price lowered and for more time to get an appraisal.

The appeal names the city, the mayor and all eight aldermen as defendants and asked Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Tim Fox to reverse the city’s resolution and declare it “to be void and of no force and effect.”

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

In the city’s response to the appeal, filed in federal court last Wednesday, attorneys Cobb and David Fuqua deny most of the claims in Rodgers’ and Eanes’ appeal, adding, “the defendants who are members of the Sherwood City Council are entitled to absolute legislative immunity from damages.”

The city’s answer also claims that the “moratorium is an action authorized by statute an does not violate any right of the plaintiff.”

The initial 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.”

Cobb and Fuqua, in the city’s answer, said, “The parties have no reasonable expectation that the city of Sherwood would not exercise its land use regulatory authority, and any such action by the city would not substantially impair the alleged contract.”

The city closed its answer with “the actions of the city of Sherwood did not directly impair any contract of the Plaintiff or right of contract.”

The city asks the federal court to turn down the appeal and have Rodgers and Eanes pay all court costs.

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 Marple 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.”

TOP STORY >>County to crack down on cheats

Leader senior staff writer

More charges may be looming for former Pulaski County Comptroller Ron Quillin, accused last week of embezzling about $42,000 in county funds.

Even as chairmen of the quorum court’s budget, ways and means, county services and administration committees convened a special meeting to find ways to discourage future thefts from the county, Sheriff Doc Holladay said the investigation into Quillin’s activities continued.

Pulaski County officials know more than they are saying, but they seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop in the Quillin investigation. Choosing his words carefully, Holladay said his investigators had “gathered a lot of financial information,” and that it was “possible there would be additional charges.”

Those charges could revolve around illegal use of a county credit card or reimbursement for non-business travel, meals and expenses.

Justice of the Peace Phil Stowers said “There may have been some travel on county money but it may not have been done for county business. We need to make sure it was for a meeting in St. Louis, not screwing off.”

Quillin, who is free on $35,000 bond, pleaded not guilty last week to 16 felony counts of theft of property, two felony counts of forgery and a misdemeanor count of abuse of office when he appeared before District Judge Wayne Gruber.

Those chairmen—Stowers, Steve Goss, Charles Roberson, and Jacksonville’s Bob Johnson—voted unanimously to have the new comptroller, Mike Hutchins, prepare a request for qualifications for an investigator—perhaps a CPA—to check into credit-card use by county employees. Hutchins also will prepare a request for qualifications for a lawyer to represent if necessary the quorum court on a per-hour basis. In most matters, County Attorney Karla Burnett represents the court, but she is technically an employee of the county judge’s office.

The four announced their intention to conduct a limited audit of the county credit cards, saying that for the $50,000 they were authorized to spend, they couldn’t get a full-fledged audit. Some department heads—including Quillin—were issued cards with credit lines of as much as $100,000.

As long as there is appropriate oversight, the cards can be a good idea, Johnson said. The county sometimes gets a discount as well as 2 percent of the price of all charged purchases back.

When County Judge Buddy Villines charged $35,000 worth of new air conditioners for a county building recently, the county got $700 back.

Such purchase cards—P-cards as they are known—are helpful in times of emergency, Johnson said. Quillin’s alleged crimes began in January 2006, continuing until recently, according to county officials.

While Quillin was comptroller at the time of the alleged crimes, he had been promoted to director of administration, and left that job April 30 to become the chief financial officer of the state’s Medicaid program for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Julie Munsell, spokesman for DHHS, said following Quillin’s arrest that the state has put him on administrative leave.
The alleged embezzlement came to light May 24, Villines said, when a county employee alerted him that she was concerned about an account “outside county government.”

The next day, staff found “what appeared to be misappropriation of funds,” said the judge.
After that things moved pretty fast, he said. Villines called for background checks and bonding of county employees who handle money. Earlier this week, Villines issued an executive order that the State Police conduct background checks on those in positions of trust and handling money.