Wednesday, August 01, 2007

SPORTS>>Panthers out in record numbers for first day

Leader sports editor

More Cabot Panthers turned out for the first day of two-a-days than ever before Monday morning. A total of 87 were dressed out and on the practice field, with about 82 of those going full speed. Four Panthers sat out the first few days and another, Ethan Coffee, hobbled his way through practice with an injured foot.

One of the best things about the 87 on day one was that all of them returned for day two.

Cabot head coach Mike Malham likes the numbers he sees, and doesn’t see much turnover in the future.

“I think we’ll have over 80 when it’s all said and done,” Malham said. “That’ll be the most we’ve ever had. Eighty-seven is the most we’ve had on the first day, and they came in here and gave a pretty good effort.”

A vast majority of the group is underclassmen. Only 17 seniors are on the preseason roster. That small group is leading the way and setting the example for 30 juniors and 40 sophomores. The junior class will dominate the starting lineup, along with a handful of seniors and a couple of sophomores filling roles.

“We’re going to be young, but athletically I think we’re going to be alright,” Malham said. “We’ve got some pretty good speed this year, average anyway. We’ve been downright slow the last few years, we’re back up to at least average speed now.”

Just off the top of his head, Malham named four Panthers than ran better than a 4.7 40-yard dash. The fastest Cabot player is Chris Bayless, who timed about 4.5 in the spring. Casey Carlisle, Michael James and Joseph Bryant came in around 4.6. Returning starting fullback Vince Aguilar timed in around 4.7, but he’s one of the few that hasn’t participated in practice. Aguilar is still nursing a knee injury he suffered in the spring, but could be ready to go before the season starts.

“He was looking really good in the spring,” Malham said of Aguilar. “He’s lost a little weight and gotten stronger and was running it pretty good.”

The team has been on its toes for the first two days, but that has been in shorts instead of pads. Malham has liked the effort he’s seen so far, but is withholding his evaluation in that area for the end of the week. Teams will begin full pad practice on Thursday.

“We’ve looked good for a day-and-a-half in shorts,” Malham said after Tuesday morning’s practice. “We’ll see how they look at the end of the week when they’re tired and carrying the pads.”

SPORTS>>Cabot rallies, but ousted

Leader sports editor

The Cabot AAA baseball team played hard and out hit Zone 3 tournament host North Little Rock 19-11, but couldn’t overcome a disastrous first inning that saw the Colts score 11 runs on six hits before the skies opened up and caused a nearly two-hour rain delay.

After the delay, Cabot outscored North Little Rock 9-8, but the first was too much to overcome. Cabot coach Andy Runyan was still pleased with how his team fought back.

“To be down 11-0 after one and not get run ruled just shows what kind of heart this team has,” Runyan said. “Golly they played hard. I got ‘em together and said look, we can either roll over and get embarrassed, or we can just play hard, pull together, try to peck away at the lead and see what happens. We never could get real close, but we never gave up. We made those umpires earn their money, I can tell you that. ”

The Post 71 team was down 16-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning when it staved off an early ending for the first time. Catcher Shayne Burgan came through with a two-RBI double to get within the 10-run limit.

To get it that close, left fielder Colin Fuller hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning. Fuller got base hits on each of his last three at bats.

Drew Burks went to the mound in the second inning and pitched three frames before yielding to Sam Bates, who finished out the contest.

“There’s two guys that have battled injuries and just haven’t seen a lot of mound time, but they came in and did a good job for us. North Little Rock has just been killing the ball all tournament, and they kept as quiet as anybody we’ve seen ‘em play in this thing.”

Burks gave up three earned runs while Bates allowed just two in his the final four innings.

The story of the game, outside of the first inning, was the stranded Cabot runners.

“We left a small village on the base paths,” Runyan said. “We out-hit them by seven or eight hits, but we put a lot of their guys on and they capitalized. For some reason we didn’t. We still did pretty well. Nine runs is usually enough to win, but when you think about how many more we left on base, you see it was really close to being a lot closer game.”

Fuller and Burgan each finished 3 for 6 while Chad Bryant went 3 for 5. Jackson Chism went 1 for 1 with three walks and scored two runs.

Runyan goes back to the previous as a better testament to how much his team has improved since the summer season began.

Cabot lost that game 6-5 to Conway in 10 innings in the finals of the winners’ bracket, but there’s more to that story than it seems.

“When you look back at how badly they beat us in high school, and look at the fact that we took them to extra innings, that’s a big step for us because we haven’t been there. They threw their best two at us and we gave them everything they wanted. They got us pretty good two times in high school, and I think that game shows how far we’ve come this summer.”
The Cabot Post 71 Class AAA team finished 14-17 on the season.

SPORTS>>Gwatney creates waves in zone play

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Gwatney Chev-rolet Class AAA American Legion team saw its season come to an end in the semifinals of the Zone 3 tournament Saturday at Burns Park. Gwatney, as a result of losing 8-3 to Cabot on Friday, had to play twice Saturday, and the task was too much for a pitching-thin ball club. The host team North Little Rock got four runs in the first inning and extended its lead to as much as 10-2 before settling for a 13-7 victory over the Chevy boys. Jacksonville came from behind earlier in the day to beat Russellville 10-8 to advance to the semifinal round.

The Jacksonville squad was given the No. 7 seed of the seven-team tournament, and made a statement by winning two games in the event that head coach Bob Hickingbotham was proud to see.

“No one thought this team was going to be able to do anything,” Hickingbotham said. “Beating Sylvan Hills in that first one, that kind of lifted them up a little bit. They felt like they could go out there and play with those teams and they did. I was real proud of all of ‘em.”

Against Russellville’s Cogswell Motors, Jacksonville scored four runs in the seventh inning and two in the eighth to pull out a 10-8 victory.

Russellville jumped ahead 3-0 in the first inning and led 5-1 after five before Gwatney mounted its comeback.

Leadoff hitter Blake Mattison started the rally in the seventh with a one-out single. Two batters later with two outs, Cameron Hood got the first of three straight base hits. Zach Thomas followed Hood’s single with an RBI base hit. Brian Thurman then doubled to left field to drive in Hood and Thomas. Thurman would score on the next at bat on a wild pitch to make it 8-8.
Jacksonville took its first lead in the eighth without a hit. Daniel Henard batted in the nine-hole for starter Adam Ussery after Ussery suffered a badly cut chin earlier in the game. Henard struck out, but the ball got by the Cogswell catcher and Henard reached base safely. Mattison then reached on an error at shortstop, the mistake also allowed the runners to move into scoring position. Terrell Brown and Cameron Hood flew out and grounded out, but a wild pitch and a subsequent error allowed the two base runners to score. Henard scored when a wild pitch hit the backstop. The catcher, in an attempt to throw out Henard, threw wildly back to the plate, which allowed Mattison to score and set the final margin.

Brown put Jacksonville on the board in the third inning. He doubled with two outs and Hood singled for the RBI. Jacksonville scored two more in the fourth inning on three Russellville errors. Two more hits by Brown and Hood scored another run in the fifth.

In the late game, North Little Rock simply extended its strong hitting from its 24-4 win over Sylvan Hills earlier in the day to also jump on Jacksonville early.

North Little Rock’s Tyler Thompson his a grand slam in the first inning to give the Colts a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The dinger of Thompson’s third of the tournament and second that cleared juiced bases.

Jacksonville came back to score two runs in the bottom of the same inning, but a base runner blunder cost it another run. The run came after two walks, one by Terrell Brown and one by Zach Thomas, sandwiched a single by Cameron Hood to load the bases. Brian Thurman then hit a sacrifice grounder to second base that got Thomas thrown at second. The play easily scored Brown, but an alert and speedy Hood also rounded third and made it home safely on the play.

That was it for Jacksonville until the sixth inning. In the meantime, North Little Rock added three runs in the third, two in the fifth and one in the top of the sixth to make it 10-2. Jacksonville answered with five in the bottom of the sixth to make it interesting.

With one out, the six through one hitters reached base consecutively. Casey Winstead and Ricky Tomboli singled and Seth Tomboli was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Daniel Henard then singled to drive in Winstead, and Blake Mattison singled to score the two Tombolis. After a fly ball out to left field, Hood singled to shortstop to score Henard, and bad throw then allowed Mattison to score and make it 10-7.

North Little Rock added two runs in the seventh and one in the ninth to set the final margin.

Winstead and Hood each went 2 for 3 to lead the team offensively. Henard was 2 for 4 while Mattison went 2 for 5 at the plate.

Both teams left many runners on base. North Little Rock piled up 16 base hits, drew seven walks, two hit batters and three reached on Jacksonville errors.

Jacksonville got 13 base hits – 11 of which came after the fourth inning – drew five walks, had two hit batters and got two on base via Colt errors.

OBITUARIES >> 08-01-07

Mattie Noah

Mattie Ruth Noah, 64, of Cabot passed away July 29. She was born on Aug. 14, 1942 to Troy and Mattie Chadwick Wilkins.  

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Donald Dodson; two brothers, Jimmy Wilkins and Jerry Wilkins and three great-grandchildren.

Survivors include her loving husband, Mearlon Noah, Sr. of Cabot; six children, Ronnie Craft and wife Terrie of Redfield, Donnie Dodson and wife Tiffany of Cabot, Darrell Dodson of Cabot, Mearlon Noah, Jr. and Randall Noah of North Little Rock and David Noah of Cabot; her parents, Troy and Mattie Wilkins of Sherwood; two brothers, Troy and wife Sandy Wilkins and Charles and wife Maudie Wilkins; one sister, Ann and husband Rick Tyler; one sister-in-law, Jean Wilkins; eight grandchildren, Johnathan Craft, Crystal Craft, Elaine Noah, Brandy Noah, Madison Dodson, Whitney Dodson, Sarah Craft and Matthew Dodson; and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with James Bancroft and Henry McDaniels officiating.  Burial will follow at Harmony Cemetery.

Minnie Fowler

Minnie Bell “Sissy” Fowler, 71, of Beebe departed July 29 at 7:47 p.m, surrounded by loved ones, to join her Lord and Savior.
She fought cancer with her indomitable spirit, never complained or shed a tear. Her strength, courage and grace were always abounding.

Sissy was known as a loving wife and mother and doting grandmother who loved to play basketball, baseball, video games and cards with her grandsons when they were young.

She was a member of Garner Baptist Church. She was a cosmetologist, an avid Razorbacks fan, an excellent seamstress and an amazingly optimistic, encouraging and loyal friend—she will be profoundly missed.

She was preceded in death by her father and mother, Edgar and Ruby Price; her brother, Dallas Price; and grandson, Tyler Jordan Fowler.

She is survived by her husband, Benny J. Fowler; one daughter, Brenda Luebke and husband Mark of Little Rock; one son, Tim Fowler and Kim of Beebe; three grandsons, Derek and Dustan Fowler and Brandon Luebke; one sister, Barbara Rawls and husband John of Higginson; and one brother, James Price and wife Deanie of Mt. Washington, Ky.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Beebe Cemetery.

Catherine Holden

Catherine Glendean Holden, 73, of Cabot passed away July 26.  

She was born May 24, 1934 in Searcy to the late Marshall and Stella McGiness Gray.  In addition to her parents, Catherine was preceded in death by her sister, Mary Lee Hays; daughter-in-law, Tillie Holden and two great-grandchildren.  

She enjoyed yard-selling, reading, playing solitaire, having fun with family and loving her children and grandchildren.  
Survivors include her children, Randy Holden and wife Bonnie of Cabot, Bill Holden and wife Janice of Austin and Porter Vaughan and wife Lockie of Vilonia; seven grandchildren, Shelley Montoya, Cathy Holden, Heather Vaughan, Christopher Vaughan, Christina Jackson, Nichole Carr, and Duncan Holden and eight great-grandchildren, Joy, Oriana, Hope, Caliyah, Haygen, Hannah, Conley and Kambree.  

The funeral services were July 28 at the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.  Burieal followed at Oak Grove Cemetery in Searcy.

Charles Ferriter

Charles F. “Butch” Ferriter passed away July 26.

He will be forever remembered for his devotion to family and friends, the respect he earned professionally, and the positive impact he had on the students he taught and coached.

Many would describe him as the fairest, most principled man they had ever met, earning the love and respect of all those whose lives he touched.

Butch was a 1957 graduate of Central High School, where he played on the 1956-1957 Big 8 championship team and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, where he lettered in basketball.

His coaching career took him to McGehee High School, where he coached two championship teams, taking them to the state playoffs, and on to Texarkana, where he was head basketball coach and assistant football coach.

One of his greatest accomplishments was the establishment of the athletic program at Pulaski Academy, where in his nine years with the Academy, his teams became among the most respected in the Mid-South Association of Non-public Schools (MANS).

During his tenure at Pulaski Academy, he fought to obtain and won membership for the school in the Arkansas Activities Association, where he served many years on the board of directors.

Coach Ferriter’s dedication and loyalty to the students of Pulaski Academy earned him the honor of having the 1980 school yearbook dedicated to him. A Web site has been established by “Butch’s Kids” (all his former students), inviting contributions of the coach’s memorable “one-liners.”

Butch will be missed by those he left behind, especially his loving wife, Jauan Ferriter; sister, Chris Curley; step-daughter, Holly Francis; and the light of his life, his granddaughter, Madelyn James, who was the daughter he never had.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Connie Quimby Ferriter; mother and step-father, Mildred and C. J. Curley; and one of “Butch’s Brothers,” Harry Vines.

The family wishes to express a heartfelt “thank you” to the nurses and staff of Baptist Hospital and Baptist Hospice for their compassionate care of Butch and his family during his time with each agency.

A memorial service was July 30 at Second Presbyterian Church officiated by Rev. Steve Hancock.

The family requests that donations be made to Baptist Hospice 11900 Colonel Glenn Road, Suite 2000, Little Rock, Ark., 72210-2820, or to Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock, Ark. 72227. Arrangements were by Little Rock Funeral Home.

Elsie Carmical

Elsie M. Carmical, 90, of Cabot passed away July 27.  

She was born Oct. 14, 1916 to the late Lawrence and Selma Faulkner Perrine in Pulaski County.  

In addition to her parents, Elsie was preceded in death by her daughter, Martha Perkins and her husband, Charlie Carmical in 1990.

She was an active member of Bayou Meto Baptist Church and attended the Jacksonville Senior Center.

Elsie is survived by her children, Bobby Carmical of Cabot, Tommy Carmical and wife Peggy of Cabot, Lois Tackett and husband Tommy of Jacksonville, Linda Milatz and husband Harry of Cabot and Norma Gunter and husband Michael of Topeka, Kansas; two brothers, Lawrence Perrine Jr. and James Perrine; eight grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were July 30 at the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.  Burial followed at Sumner Cemetery in Cabot.  

EDITORIALS>>Animal cruelty

To the editor:

Our national media have had a field day reporting on allegations that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick ran a brutal dog fighting operation and personally slaughtered eight dogs.

Yet, no one ever reports on the brutal slaughter every hour of every day of every year of a million cows, pigs, and other innocent, sentient animals who are just as deserving of our respect and compassion as Vick’s dogs.

There is no life before death for these animals. In today’s factory farms, cows’ babies are torn from their mothers at birth and chained by the neck for 16 weeks in tiny wood crates to produce veal. Breeding sows are impregnated artificially and confined in similarly tight metal cages. As many as seven laying hens are stuffed for months in a metal cage the size of a folded newspaper.
Following this unconscionable abuse, the animals are trucked for hours without food or water and exposed to extreme cold or heat. Many never make it. At the slaughterhouse, they are frequently dismembered, skinned, scalded, or drowned while fully conscious. Every dollar we spend for meat or dairy products at the checkout counter is our direct subsidy for animal cruelty. Let’s remember our own responsibility whenever we get upset over the latest report on Michael Vick’s cruel treatment of his dogs.

Jasper Navarro

EDITORIALS>>Farm bill cuts waste

Nothing forces members of Congress to choose between the national wellbeing and parochial interests like a farm bill, which establishes the nation’s agriculture policy and spending in five-year increments. The bill passed Friday by the House of Representatives moves the national and farm-belt interests slightly closer, barely enough to call the bill reform.

The narrowly Democratic House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserve a medium-sized cheer for the good work that produced a farm program that is more economical, compassionate and farsighted than the present law and just slightly fairer. If it becomes law, big agricultural combines would still receive needlessly fat subsidies at a time of soaring crop prices but not as much as they do now. Arkansas’ Democratic congressmen voted for it, and it’s easy to see why. Arkansas, and not merely the handful of rich farm outfits in east Arkansas, would do well under the bill. Arkansas’ lone Republican congressman, John Boozman, voted against it, like most other Republicans in a show of protest over a provision of the bill that closes a tax loophole for the U.S. profits of offshore corporations. They tried to argue that a tax loophole for big foreign corporations was good for American workers.

But let’s save the real congratulations for the fall in the hope that the Senate will fashion and force upon the House an even fairer program and one that is less likely to bring international repercussions. The World Trade Organization will rule soon whether lavish U.S. government crop subsidies violate free-trade agreements. It does not look hopeful. Only last week the W.T.O. issued an interim report that U.S. cotton subsidies did not conform to trade rules. We still bale a good amount of cotton in Arkansas.

First, let us praise the good that the farm bill does. It increases funding for nutrition programs for the needy at home and abroad ($30 billion a year in the United States) and for land conservation and research in renewable energy like cellulose-based ethanol, which holds promise for south and east Arkansas. It was to pay for the increased food program that the House voted to tax the profits of U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations.

U.S. farm programs ordinarily provide income security for the big crops — soybeans, corn, rice, tobacco, cotton — but the House bill for the first time adds a measure of fairness for specialty produce: $1.6 billion for fruit and vegetable growers. The bill authorizes a permanent disaster program. American growers and perhaps consumers as well will welcome the mandatory labeling of the country of origin on food products sold in the United States. And — good news for a few east Arkansas farmers — it will finally settle claims of racial discrimination by black farmers against the Agriculture Department, an enduring disgrace.

For these measures and for one other — shutting down subsidy payments when a farmer earns more than $1 million a year — the bill is entitled to be called reform. The House killed a tougher measure, which put the subsidy ceiling at profits of $250,000 a year rather than $1 million, and the Senate may yet do better.

Tom Harkin, D.-Iowa, the liberal Corn-Belt senator, proposes that the current guaranteed-subsidy program, which encourages overproduction and is so costly to the taxpayer, be replaced by crop insurance and other steps that would protect farmers against disasters and catastrophic price swings: help from the American taxpayer only when the farmer really needs it, and not when torrid demand and crop prices already guarantee small fortunes.

Good work, House. Senate, give us better.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Americans who make a difference

While we visited the other day with Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz, the commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, and later with members of a local church, they reluctantly mentioned some extraordinary things they’ve done — one in the line of duty, the others going overseas with a church group.

Schatz mentioned his role in the tsunami relief at the end of a long interview, and by the time I worked through my notes, I’d run out of space in my three-part interview with him to write about his humanitarian work.

Two months ago, two couples from Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville — Alderman Gary Fletcher, his wife Glenda, and John and Leta Haggard and their son Sam — as well as Josh and Michael Faulkner of Friendship Baptist Church in Sherwood — along with other church groups from around the country, traveled 8,000 miles to a Romanian village to build a little church in less than a week.

But as I say, people don’t like to brag about the good they do. You almost have to coax it out of them:
After a couple of interviews with Schatz and taking several pages of notes, I’ve just found a couple of paragraphs I jotted down toward the end of our second meeting about how Schatz had led humanitarian aid efforts after the tsunami hit Southeast Asia and an earthquake destroyed an area of Pakistan.

The general doesn’t advertise his accomplishments in Asia, but if you keep asking, he’ll give you the details.

Schatz says C-130s and C-17s flew into Banda Acha in Indonesia with supplies as the U.S. military helped with recovery efforts.

“Our approval rating went up from 10 percent to 65 percent,” Schatz said.

He was also in charge of rescue operations after an earthquake devastated parts of Pakistan in 2005.

He says, “2005 was a busy year.”

Crews airlifted 25 helicopters into Pakistan so they could deliver supplies into the mountainous regions where the earthquake had killed thousands of people.

“Twelve hours after the earthquake, the ambassador had called for aid,” Schatz recalled. “We flew into Islamabad within 24 hours of the quake.

“That had more of an impact on the war on terrorism than anything we’ve done. We were the ones who came and helped.
“It’s key to achieving America’s objectives in the world,” Schatz said.

The same could be said for individual Americans who try to make the world a better place in their own modest way.

That’s what members of Jacksonville’s Second Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church set out to do in late May, when they flew to the Romanian capital of Bucharest — after having the hardest time obtaining passports — and then took a bus across the country to the village of Birchis in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania.

The group was part of the Romanian Chapel Project.

John and Leta Haggard had been to Romania many times before and had even lived there for three years. They had built 40 churches over the years.

This time, the group worked every day from 7 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. and sometimes till 6 p.m. It rained every day, but they kept going, stopping to eat meals prepared by the villagers.

“We like to go every year. It’s totally different from here. It’s almost a Third World country,” John Haggard told us. But, he added, “It’s a beautiful country.”

“They had the most beautiful gardens,” Glenda Fletcher recalled. “They had the most beautiful grapevines and beautiful gates. They had cattle and chickens and ducks and donkeys that ran around.

“It rained until the last day, when we finished the church,” she continued. “The sun came out, and it was absolutely gorgeous.”

The day they dedicated the church, the mayor attended with 200 other villagers. Many of them had to stand outside during services. Beyond the village, the mountains were still covered in snow in June, the Fletchers said.

“They’re the sweetest, the most hospitable people,” Mrs. Fletcher said. “It was a life-changing experience.”
Why did they pick Romania?

“That’s where God led us,” John Haggard said.

TOP STORY >>Housing authority planning improvements

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Housing Authority, which is ahead of schedule in fixing federal violations, plans to remodel, add security and build more handicapped-accessible duplexes at Max Howell Place.

Phil Nix, JHA’s new director, said there is a five-year plan to renovate all the Max Howell units, which are subsidized low-income apartments.

“JHA is working with the mayor’s office to build a Jacksonville police substation on the grounds,” Nix said. “The station will be built when two units are demolished. These units were meth labs in 2004 and are unfit for rental.

“We also have an agreement between JHA and the police department to share information on criminal activity at the housing units,” he added.

Nix was hired in January by a newly appointed board of directors, with Jim Durham as chairman and Mike Wilkinson as vice chairman, to oversee the JHA’s daily operations after last year’s critical review by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Also, HUD asked for the records of contracts and work orders for more than $132,000 spent by the authority that were not properly awarded.

Max Howell Place was completed in the mid-1980’s on 20 acres in north Jacksonville. It has 50 buildings with 100 units with one to four bedrooms and central heat and air conditioning.

The duplexes have cable, phone and washer and dryer connections. JHA provides lawn care and pest control on the property. The authority has eight employees.

Pam Dednam, public housing manager, said, “Things are changing for the better at Max Howell since Phil arrived here. We want to improve the housing complex for our residents. Plans are to add benches at the playground for parents to watch their children. We are talking about adding a computer room at the office for the residents.”

There are 14 units with electric utilities designated for the elderly; all other units use natural gas.

For disabled residents there are two units, having lower cabinets, handicapped accessible bathrooms and ramps.

Plans are to change three more units to meet the American Disability Act standards requiring 5 percent of a housing complex be handicapped accessible. JHA is modifying 13 handicap ramps for easier use with a wheelchair.

Tenants pay rent based on 30 percent of their adjusted anticipated income for the upcoming year, and the renter pays for all utilities.

As part of the government- assistance program, renters have to complete eight hours of community service a month, except for the elderly, disabled, full-time students or those with special exemption from the Department of Human Services.
Gisela Williams, housing authority secretary, said, “Anyone can apply for the housing assistance. All applicants must meet the base gross income guidelines by HUD and pass a criminal background check.”

Transportation for the renters is a concern.

“Many of the renters don’t have a car and the complex is so far away from the center of Jacksonville for them to walk to work. It would help improve the lives of many, if Jacksonville could provide city transportation out here,” Dednam said.
There are 105 people on the waiting list to get into Max Howell Place.

Applications are accepted at the housing authority office 9 to 11 a.m. every Thursday, except holidays, at 3600 Max Howell Drive.

Another housing option offered by JHA is Section 8 rental. It is an income-based assisted housing program, where a person can live away from the housing complex.

The program has a waiting list for the allotted 362 housing vouchers.

Vouchers are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications to be on the waiting list will be accepted on 9 to 3 p.m., August 22 and 23.

Anyone can apply for the housing assistance. All applicants must meet the base gross-income guidelines by HUD and pass a criminal background check.

When applicants are approved, they receive a voucher. The voucher holders has 60 days to find suitable housing. If they do not, they have to reapply the next time applications are taken. Once tenants find a house, apartment or trailer, JHA inspects the property to make sure it meets the authority’s housing quality standard. Then a lease contract is agreed on between the voucher and landlord.

Williams explained, “A voucher holder can rent anywhere in and around a 10-mile radius of Jacksonville, but cannot cross county lines.

“They have a one-year lease with the landlord. Tenants pay rent based on 30 percent of their adjusted gross income for the up-coming year and they pay their own utilities, and JHA assists with the rest of the rent payment.

“The renter is responsible for payment directly to the landlord. After a year, the lease can be renewed monthly and the renter is recertified,” Williams said.

“JHA verifies and updates records to make sure the renter still qualifies for assistances.”

JHA payment standards are based on fair market rents published by HUD and updated yearly.

TOP STORY >>Technology aids in pleas

Leader staff writer

Starting today, if all goes as planned, Cabot prisoners won’t leave the jail for their first court appearance.

At the request of Judge Joe O’Bryan and Police Chief Jackie Davis, the city has installed a camera system that will allow the judge to hear prisoners’ pleas from the courtroom at the city annex while they are still in the lockup at city hall.
The system, essentially two cameras and two monitors, cost the city about $4,000.

The judge attended a June fire and police committee meeting to get approval for the technology. The committee gave its blessings and told the police chief that he was already budgeted for the purchase so it need not even go before the full council.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said Tuesday he was in favor of the new system because it is more secure and keeps police officers from waiting with prisoners in the courtroom.

“It reduces the cost of handling prisoners,” the mayor said.

He said he has been pushing since January to improve technology in the city because in the long run it will help keep expenses down.

He will update the city council on the progress in that direction during a special council meeting planned for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.

Williams said he will report on linking all city computers through a common server.

Most of the equipment was purchased for that project before he took office, Williams said.

He also will give an update on the new city Web site, where residents will eventually be able to file complaints, for example, about potholes, download copies of accident reports and look up minutes of council meetings.

Williams, who describes himself as a penny-pincher, says city hall employees spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with records that he wants to make available online.

TOP STORY >>Senate cuts out school's funding

Leader senior staff writer

The Senate Armed Services subcommittee has stripped money for the Jacksonville-Little Rock Air Force Base Joint Education Center from the proposed 2008 military construction appropriation ap-proved by the House and passed to the Senate floor, but Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s office says there are still two chances to put $9.8 million back into the bill.

“It’s still open for debate on the floor and then in the joint conference committee,” said Katie Laning, spokesman for Lincoln.
“The education facility is definitely a priority for Lincoln and the entire delegation,” she said.

“We’re not done with the process,” said Pryor’s spokesman, Michael Teague. “We’ll continue to fight for those dollars, to put our best foot forward with (Cong. Vic Snyder) on the House side.”

“I am hopeful that the education center will be in the final conference report, but there is a long way to go in the legislative process,” Cong. Vic Snyder said Tuesday. The base is in Snyder’s congressional district and he’s a long-time advocate for it.
The issue came to light locally Monday, when John Chavis, LRAFB deputy base civil engineer, warned that the base had never received appropriations for two major construction jobs in the same fiscal year.


Both the Senate committee and the House versions of the military construction appropriation both include $9.8 million for runway repairs at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“Little Rock has never had two (construction appropriations) in one year, and the Senate is more interested in airfield repair,” Chavis told Jacksonville Rotarians Monday.

The base needs money to patch runways worn by the relentless take-offs and landings at the nation’s premiere C-130 center.

In the House version, both projects are funded for $9.8 million in the 2008 House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriation Act, approved in June, but the bill has languished in the Senate and is unlikely to be considered before lawmakers leave for the August recess, according to Nancy Shefflette, director of the ASU-Beebe LRAFB Degree Center.
The Jacksonville-LRAFB education center, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a community and a base, is expected to cost about $15 million, and Jacksonville residents taxed themselves and already have their share in the bank.


“When complete, the joint education facility will be a trailblazer,” said local banker Larry Wilson. “We taxed ourselves,” he said of Jacksonville residents.

The city of Jacksonville has set aside $5 million for its share.

The joint education center, to be constructed on the civilian side of the base perimeter—outside the wire, in military parlance—is authorized as a multi-purpose educational facility that meets Air Force standards for distance learning, video teleconferencing and seminar needs.

Currently, the Education Center is housed in two inadequate converted dormitories that provide a limited scope of academic offerings due to space constraints and distance from the base library, according to Shefflette.

Jacksonville officials and leaders view the center as part of a strategy to provide a college education for local residents.


The center includes classes affiliated with ASU-Beebe, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Park University, Southern Illinois University, University of Arkansas and Webster University.

The center originally was expected to be 82,000 sq. ft., but was scaled down to 50,000 sq. ft., Shefflette said.
“Of the six schools represented at the base, ASU-Beebe, offering associate’s degrees and also a certificate of proficiency in upholstery, has the most students, according to Shefflette, a former colonel at the base and also former director of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Before 9/11, she had 168 civilians enrolled, but in the immediate wake of the terrorist attacks, civilian students couldn’t get on base.

Today, there are fewer than 50 civilian students in her program, she said.

The Joint Education Center idea grew out of the 911 terrorist attacks and the problem of making the classes more accessible to civilians at time of high alert, she said.

Classes range from self-improvement classes such as learning to upholster to classes leading to associates’ degrees, bachelor of science degrees and master’s degrees in arts, science, aeronautical science, business administration and public administration.

TOP STORY >>Hillman defeats Harmon in runoff

Leader staff writer

City Clerk Virginia Hillman bested interim and former Mayor Bill Harmon by just 10 votes in a five-way contest July 10, but she widened the gap Tuesday by 1,285 votes to become Sherwood’s new mayor.

Unofficially, with ballots from all 10 precincts in, Hillman, 43, collected 2,646 votes, or 64.4 percent. Harmon, 80, garnered 1,461 votes, or 35.6 percent. More than 4,100 residents voted in the runoff election, nearly 300 more than who voted in the July 10 five-candidate election.

Hillman will serve out the remaining 41 months of Mayor Dan Stedman’s term, who resigned in April after four months on the job, citing health issues.

“We are just ecstatic,” Hillman said. “We felt good all day. We just felt like we were going to win.”

Hillman will be sworn in at 11 a.m. today in the council chambers at city hall. District Judge Butch Hale will give Hillman the oath of office.

She has several issues to deal with—whether the city should proceed with efforts to purchase North Hills Country Club, efforts to get relief for Sherwood residents from high North Little Rock electric rates, road repair and traffic congestion. “But not tonight,” Hillman said after the results were in. “We are just enjoying the victory. There’s plenty of time after tonight to tackle those issues.”

Hillman must also recommend a replacement to fill her position as city clerk. The council will have to approve that appointment.

Harmon did not return phone calls Tuesday night.

Hillman has worked for the city of Sherwood for 21 years, and was first appointed to city clerk/treasurer in 2001, when Bobbie Chapman retired. Hillman was then elected to that position in 2002 and won re-election in 2006.

Harmon served 10 years as a city alderman, then 14 years as mayor, opting to retire rather than run again in 2006. He was appointed interim mayor after Stedman resigned.

Hillman bested Harmon by 10 votes in the July 10 election, but neither was able to get 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

In that election, Hillman collected 1,252 votes, followed by Harmon with 1,242 votes.

Monday, July 30, 2007

SPORTS>>Old Bear is taking over SH softball

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills’ fastpitch program will be under new tutelage for the upcoming season. Former Jacksonville assistant softball and head volleyball coach Phil Bradley will take over for the Lady Bears softball team. Bradley graduated from Sylvan Hills and began his coaching career there in 1999, where he was an assistant coach on the SHHS state softball championship team.
“It really is a dream job for me,” Bradley said. “I graduated from there, I started coaching there. Now I have the chance to go back there and try and put that program on a path to some more championships. What better place to do that than the place you graduated from.”

Bradley moved to Jacksonville after one year at Sylvan Hills, where he became an assistant coach in volleyball, basketball and softball. In 2001 he took the head volleyball coaching position, where he led the Lady Red Devils to state tournament appearances all five seasons as head coach. He also started up the softball program in November while head coach Tanya Ganey was still working with her basketball team.

Ganey and Bradley won two outright conference championships, shared another, finished as runners up twice and advanced to the state semifinals the last two seasons.

“We did some good things that I’m very proud of,” Bradley said. “We accomplished a lot, we had some good players that were willing to work hard. Hopefully I can go over to Sylvan Hills and take it a step further.”

Bradley doesn’t have a complete idea of what he’ll have at SHHS, but he did play the lady Bears twice this past season, and knows there are some things to work with.

“I don’t know if we’ll have big hoss on the mound that just dominates, but we’ll have some decent throwers,” Bradley said. “There’s potential in that lineup too.”

More changes

Several other late changes have taken place in local coaching staffs. Beebe boys basketball coach Chris Ellis stepped away from coaching to accept an administrative position in the Beebe school district. Beebe athletic director Jerry Jordan could not be reached for comment on the current search for Ellis’ replacement.

Jacksonville hired a former Red Devil as an assistant football and baseball coach. Jeremiah Clennon will join his alma matre’s staff as the new assistant baseball coach, and will also assist with ninth-grade football.

Jacksonville head baseball coach Larry Burrows, who was an assistant when Clennon played for JHS, is excited about Clennon’s arrival.

“He’s a high-character guy,” Burrow said. “I remember how hard he played and how hard he worked when he was here. He’s knowledgeable about the game and he’s going to help a ton.”

SPORTS>>Cabot gets big first-round win

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s American Legion AAA team put its late season struggles behind with a vital 2-1 win over Maumelle in the first round of the Zone 3 tournament Thursday night at Burns Park. Post 71 needed one extra inning to get the job done, but found a little bit of good fortune when an interference call on Bulldogs relief pitcher Tyler Pickell gave Cabot base runner Drew Burks a free trip across the plate for the winning score in the tenth inning.

Although it was a big win for Post 71, they payed the price at the mound with six innings of service from ace Colin Fuller and four innings of work for southpaw Justin Haas. That leaves Post 71’s two best hurlers with limited time remaining, but coach Andy Runyan says he has confidence in his pitching roster from top to bottom.

“All of our kids can throw against quality opponents,” Runyan said. “I know it’s tough to use up your two strongest guys, but coach (Chris) Gross and I talked about it, and we came to the conclusion that it’s hard to win one of these tournaments if you don’t win that first game with these double-elimination tournaments and the way they are set up. We’re going to go with Sean Clarkson (Friday); he pitched six innings of shutout baseball against Pine Bluff, and they’re the defending state champs, so he can go get strong opponents himself.”

Runyan felt the effects of the close game himself, with a hoarse and crackling voice after the game when he talked to The Leader. He said all of the close heartbreakers experienced by his team in the early season are finally starting to pay dividend.
“There’s not a whole lot of silver lining to losing six games by one or two runs,” Runyan said, “but now we know how to play in tight ballgames like the one we had tonight.”

The moment of truth came on double into deep right centerfield by Sam Bates. Burks, who singled into center moments earlier made his way around the pads when he colided with Pickle? just beyond third base. Runyan instantly began to lobby for the interferance call, and got it when the officials pointed for Burks to take the plate for what would be the winning run. Haas did his part on the mound in the bottom of the tenth taking three of his four game strikeouts to stop a potential Bulldog score in its tracks at second base.

Colin Fuller started out the game for Cabot with a strikeout. Shane Burgan then grounded out to starting Maumelle pitcher Drew Smiley, who ended the opening frame by striking out Drew Burks. That would put the Bulldogs at the plate for the bottom of the first.

Fuller started at the mound for Cabot, sending Maumelle leadoff batter Matt Tipton to first with a walk.Fuller returned the favor to Smiley, with a strikeout from the two-hole slot for the first out, and an unsuccesful steal attempt at second moments later by Tipton would generate the second Bulldogs out. Matt Polanski reached for Maumelle on a Cabot infield error to bring cleanup hitter Drew Sullivan to the plate. Sullivan grounded out to third, leaving Polanski stranded at first.

Sam Bates started off the second inning for Cabot with a walk, and made it all the way to third before Smiley and the Bulldog defense stopped him in his tracks. Bates stole second, and took third on groundout by Chad Bryant. That would put Jon Parker at the plate with two outs. Smiley retired Parker with his second strikeout of the game, leaving the Cabot run at third.
Ben Pardee got the first hit of the game to lead off the bottom of the second inning, but Fuller responded with three straight strikeouts. That would put Jackson Chism at the plate to start the third inning.

Chism flew out and nine-hole hitter Trey Rosel struck out to send Fuller back to the plate at the top of the order with two outs. Smiley walked Fuller, and he stole second before a groundout Burgan left the second Post 71 runner of the game stranded.

Maumelle put two on in the bottom of the third with a leadoff bunt single by Drew Hughey and a walk for Polanski after a Fuller strikeout on Tipton and a flyout Smiley. Sullivan then grounded out to retire the side with two on.

Smiley retired three straight for Cabot in the top of the fourth, including strikeouts against Bates and Wainwright. Fuller walked Pardee to start out the bottom of the fourth, but after a mound meeting with coach Andy Runyan and all of the infielders, Fuller struck out the next two batters and threw out Daniel Black when Black returned his pitch with a dribble back to the mound.

Cabot finally put a run on the board in the top of the fifth inning. A Smiley strikeout on Parker] would have been the second out of the inning, but the ball got away from Bulldog catcher Polanski, and Parker safely made it to first. Jackson Chism followed that with the first Cabot hit of the game with a single to right field to advance Parker, and Fuller sent him home with an RBI single to center.

Maumelle turned an impressive 6-4-3 double play in the top of the sixth inning to end Cabot’s turn after three batters after Bates reached on a single, but Cabot would dodge an even bigger bullet on the bottom side of the sixth.

The Bulldogs loaded the bases with a hit from Pardee in between walks from Fuller. This would put Black at the plate with only one out, but Fuller answered with his ninth strikeout, and then caught Drew Hughey looking to send the game into the seventh inning with K number 10, leaving the diamond full of would-be Bulldog scores.

Bryant led off the top of the seventh inning with a single fly to left field, but a fielder’s choice smack by Parker landed him out at second. Smiley would then retire Chism and Trey Rosel with strikeouts to leave Parker at first.

The Bulldogs tied the score in the bottom of the seventh. A lead off hit for leadoff batter Tipton would move Fuller from the mound to DH, making way for southpaw Justin Haas. An infield error allowed Tipton to third, and he would tag on a pop up by Sullivan for the score.

Cabot had a chance to blow the game wide open in the top of the eighth inning. Fuller popped up to right field to start the inning, but Burgan was able to reach on an error. Burks singled on a hit to shortstop, and a walk for Sam Bates loaded the bases with only one out. Maumelle regrouped with an infield meeting, and Smiley struck out Ben Wainwright for the second out, and Bryant grounded out to second.

Haas sent Maumelle away from the plate with two pop ups and a grounder to second after giving up his first walk of the game to set up a shootout to break the 1-1 tie in the ninth inning.

Bates led Cabot offensively, going 2 for 3 with a double and a RBI. Fuller was 1 for 4 with a RBI, and Burks finished the game 2 for 5. Maumelle right fielder Ben Pardee led the Bulldogs, going 2 for 3 with a double. Fuller took the win at the mound, giving up no runs and four hits, while walking four runners and striking out 11.

Cabot played local rival Jacksonville, a 16-14 first round winner over Sylvan Hills last night after Leader deadlines.

SPORTS>>Jacksonville outlasts Bruins

Leader sportswriter

Thursday’s first-round Zone 3 tournament game between Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville at Burns Park in North Little Rock would mark the ninth meeting between the two squads this summer, and by far would turn out to be the most bizarre. Gwatney Chevrolet pulled off a 16-14 upset win, showing resolve and focus in the face of adversity after watching the Bruins erase a 12-run deficit to tie the game at 14-14. A pair of late Chevy- boy runs would put an end to the 25-hit, eight error affair.

Both teams used a significant portion of their pitching roster, with Gwatney and Sylvan Hills each putting four pitchers on the mound at one time or another. Brian Thurman had a solid start for Gwatney, but gave way to Clayton Fenton in the top of the sixth inning, who was replaced by Jordan Payer one inning later. Seth Tomboli replaced Payer in the top of the eighth, and limped the Chevy boys home for the awkard win.

Sylvan Hills’ effort at the mound ended up even shakier, with starting ace Ross Bogard getting hammered for four runs on five hits, and only a portion of an inning for Shane Graham before making way for Tony Pavan. Pavan was the only one of the Bruins pitchers that could seem to find any consistancy, holding Jacksonville to four runs during his five-inning stint.

“We swung the bat good for the first three innings,” Gwatney coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “The big story in this game is that we continued to battle after they came back and tied the thing up on us; we haven’t been doing that in some of the other games we’ve been in. Thurman did a good job on the mound for us, he just got tired. Some of the other guys did good considering they haven’t pitched in 10 days. This was our first nine-inning game of the year, so it was some good heads up baseball to come back and get the win.”

Pavan soldiered the Bruins back from an 8-0 deficit to a 14-14 tie, only to see his efforts slip away the moment he left the mound. A passed ball on the first pitch from Blaine Sims allowed Adam Ussery in for what would turn out to be the winning score, followed by Regnas with the insurance score when the throw to the plate was off-target.

Tomoli struggled through most of his stint at the mound for Jacksonville, but struck out two of the final three batters in the top of the ninth, and forced a pop-up from Jarrett Boles to secure the win for Gwatney.

Sylvan Hills got a hit off of starting Jacksonville pitcher Brian Thurman in the top of the first inning, with a single by Matt Rugger, but Gwatney showed its defensvie hand early with a perfectly-executed U6-3 double play by Terrell Brown to Jason Regnas to retire the side.

The Chevy boys came out with a vengance, scoring three runs during their first turn at the plate in the bottom of the first inning. Blake Mattison ripped starting Bruins pitcher Ross Bogard’s second offering of the game into right field to set up the first score, and got into position with a single into left center by Cameron Hood. Mattison would come in on a ground rule double over the centerfield wall by Zach Thomas, and passed ball moments later scored Hood. Brian Thurman drove in the final run of the opening inning with a single grounder to right field that plated Thomas for an early 3-0 Gwatney lead.

Things went from bad to worse for the Bruins in the second inning. Three walks from Thurman gave Sylvan Hills loaded bases with only one out when he walked three of the opening four batters in the top of the second, but another heads up double play would keep the Bruins off the scoreboard. This time, it was a 5-2-3 play off a grounder to third by Nathan Eller. Tomboli quickly got the ball to Thomas at the plate for the tag on Grant Garlington, and Regnas stuck Eller at first for the third out.
The bottom of the second was potentially the ugliest inning of the season for Sylvan Hills, as Gwatney rocked three seperate Bruins pitchers for seven runs off five hits. Bogard was retired early on in the disasterous affair, but reliever Shane Graham didn’t last very long himself before Tony Pavan was sent in to try and stop the bleeding.

Things started off alright enough for Bogard with a strikeout on Clayton Fenton, but the sky would fall for the Bruins ace after that. Ussery singled to right field, followed by an infield error that allowed Mattison to first. Regnas then succesfully bunted to load the bases for Gwatney, and a force-walk for Hood brought in Ussery.

That would be the end for Bogard, but Graham’s entry on the mound would result in a score by Mattison after Hood snookered first baseman Garrett Eller and second baseman ?? into a game of cat and mouse. Mattison waited for the right moment before sprinting home for the fifth run.

A walk for Thomas loaded the bases once again for Gwatney, and a single by Thurman scored Regnas. Brown singled after that to plate Hood, and a walk for Tomboli gave Thomas a free trip home for an 8-0 Gwatney advantage.

That would bring Pavan in for Graham, but it did little to stop Jacksonville. A strikeout on Fenton gave Sylvan Hills two outs, but a double to center by Ussery scored Brown and Thomas. Pavan finally put the Bruins out of their misery with a groundout on Mattison.

Bogard made up two of the 10 runs given up by he and his cohorts in the top of the third inning with a two-run shot over the right field wall that brought in walk recipient Pavan. That made it 10-2, but the Chevy boys were far from done.

Regnas kicked off the bottom of the third with a double for Gwatney, and scored three batters later when Thurman doubled to center. Hood and Thomas were retired in between the hitters for two outs, but another double for Brown scored Thurman, and a a single by Tomboli after that brought in Regnas for a 13-2 Jacksonville lead.

Gwatney had a couple of close defensive calls in the top of the fourth inning, but a pair of critical plays at the plate kept the Bruins off the scoreboard. The first came when catcher Thomas picked off Ryan Wood at second base on an attempted steal with a perfect throw to shortstop Brown. Thomas then was the recipient of a perfect throw to the plate from centerfielder Fenton off a hit by Jarrett Boles. The throw from deep center was right on the money, and in plenty of time for a tag on Joe Gardener to prevent the score.

Sylvan Hills loaded the bases again with a single by Pavan, but Brown made another great play in the middle on a smack by SH leadoff Roark. Brown extended for the grounder and got the throw to Regnas to retire the Bruins with three left on .

Jacksonville put the interval back at 12 with a RBI from Hood to score Ussery in the bottom of the fourth. Sylvan Hills managed to put the deficit back to 10 in the top of the fifth with runs by Rugger and Bogard to make it 14-4.

Jacksonville was undoubedly all over the Bruins in the game, but Sylvan Hills worst wound was self inflicted in the top of the sixth inning when Bogard was tossed after letting his frustration show when he was struck out by relief pitcher Fenton. Bogard was the first batter Fenton faced, giving Gwatney the second out of the frame. The ejection would mean that the SH ace is uneligible to play in the remainder of the tournament.

Thurman walked Pavan and Rugger before being retired, and Pavan was in scoring postion at third when Mattison robbed Garlington on a smack into center. Mattison slid into position on what should have been a RBI for Garlington, keeping Jacksonville in position to run-rule the Bruins after seven innings with a 14-4 lead.

Six runs for the Bruins in the top of the seventh inning and four more in the eighth would make it a game again briefly, but the seemingly flustered Chevy boys dug deep when it counted the most. The Sylvan Hills faithful were long gone from the stands at that point after the early Jacksonville flurry, but the Gwatney stands were still full when the final pitch was delivered by Tomboli just minutes before 1 a.m.

The win pitted Jacksonville against Cabot, a 2-1 winner over Maumelle earlier Thursday, last night after Leader deadlines.

OBITUARIES >> 07-28-07

Artle Crocker

Artle Brady Crocker, 100, passed away July 25, just two weeks shy of her 101st birthday.

She was preceded in death by her husband, three daughters and one grandson. She is survived by three grandchildren, Dennis and and his wife Carol Armstrong, Marva and and her husband Paul Verkler and Debbie Cooper; five great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

She will be missed by her loving family and a host of friends.

Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 28 at Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Mary Roetzel

Mary Lou Roetzel, 79, of Lonoke, formerly of Shannon Hills, passed away July 26.

She is survived by her husband, Robert Roetzel; two sons, Vic Ashcraft of Kansas City, Mo., and Tom Ashcraft of Sims; one daughter, Susan Davenport of Lonoke; two step-sons, Bobby Roetzel of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Steve Roetzel of Dallas, Texas; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, and a host of friends and family.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 28 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. Graveside will follow at Pine Crest Cemetery in Alexander at 1 p.m.

Velma Cummings

Velma Lee Cummings, 84, of McRae passed away July 26.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Lloyd R. Cummings; her parents, Floyd and Trema Cook; two brothers, J. E. and Ralph Cook of McRae.

She is survived by her daughter, Annette Lockwood of West Monroe, La.; son, Wayne Cummings of McRae; one granddaughter, Monica Hemphill and husband Chris of Monroe, La.; two great-grandchildren, Tiffany and Tyler Hemphill of Monroe; two brothers, Carroll Dean Cook and wife Eldean and Homer Cook and wife Gene; one sister, Nellie Ruth Cook; and one sister-in-law, Virginia Cook, all of McRae, and numerous nieces and nephews.

She will be greatly missed by her family and a host of friends.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 28 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Lebanon Cemetery.

Turner Mitchell

Turner Mitchell, 93, of Carlisle went to be with the Lord July 24. He was born Dec. 5, 1913, at Wattensaw to Tom and Pearl Hensley Mitchell. He was retired from Carlisle Implement Co. and was a member of Landmark Baptist Church where he served as deacon for many years.

He was preceded in death by a son, James “Jimmy” Mitchell and his parents; four brothers, Lloyd, Cecil, Elmer, Clyde; and a sister, Thelma.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Blanche Mitchell; five sons, William Mitchell and wife Susie of Cabot, Vernon Mitchell and wife Linda of Carlisle, Miles Mitchell and wife Carol of Nashville, Ronald Mitchell and wife Lori of Mablevale, Jerald Mitchell and wife Pam of Carlisle; two daughters, Carla Barnwell and husband Charles of Beebe, Clara Mae Harlan and husband Henry of North Little Rock; 11 grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; two step-great-grandchildren; one sister, Mary Johnson of Odessa, Texas; and numerous nephews, nieces, family and friends.

The family would like to thank Arkansas Hospice staff and staff at Chambers Nursing Home in Carlisle for all their care and services.

Funeral services were July 27 at Landmark Baptist Church in Carlisle with burial in Carlisle Cemetery. Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, Cabot Division, 3022 S. 2nd St., Cabot, Ark., 72023.

Neleta Balding

Neleta “Rose” Balding, 65, went to be with the Lord July 24. She was a daughter of Harvey Thomas and Mary Poe, born in Roe on Oct. 10, 1941.

She married Forest Bedford Balding Jr. (1935-2005) and together they raised three sons, T.H. Balding (1961-1993), Forest Bedford Balding III, and Harvey Atwood Balding. Rose loved her family and friends and she lived her life according to the Gospel.

She was a firm believer that the Lord Jesus was her Savior. Rose will be sorely missed by all of her friends and family.

She is survived by her two sons, Forest and wife Jeannie and Harvey and wife Cecile, and her three wonderful grandchildren, Krystal, Nathan, and Forrest. She is also survived by three sisters, Mary Huges, Dorothy White, and Alice Periece.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 28 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial to follow at Sylvania Cemetery, Ward.

David Hagar

David James Hagar, 50, of Beebe died July 24.

He is survived by his wife, Tina; three children, Elizabeth, Rachel and Derek, all of Beebe; his mother, Elnora Hagar of McRae; two sisters, Verna Holder of Greenbriar and Mary Maslow of Fort Worth, Texas, and three grandchildren, Malakai, Mason and Marian Shaw.

Memorial service was held July 27 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

EDITORIALS>>Taxpayers fleeced again

When something seems too good to be true it usually is, which is a lesson that the Pulaski County government keeps learning, ruefully, over and over. Now it has found that municipal bonds are not the risk-free answer to everything.

You may remember that press conference in Little Rock’s River Market five years ago when a buoyant County Judge Buddy Villines and other swells announced that the county was issuing $43 million in municipal bonds, which was going to put 400 to 600 low-income families into homes that they would own.

They would be deserving families who simply could not get loans in the normal mortgage market because they were credit risks. Borrowing $43 million in the taxpayers’ name was not going to put one dime of the public’s money at risk because private groups would handle the program, the judge pointed out.

The county was merely lending its good name so that the groups could borrow the money more cheaply since investors would not have to pay income taxes on their bond-interest earnings.

Not long afterward, President Bush touted the program at the White House by introducing a couple who had acquired one of the modest homes.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported this week that the program had quietly crashed, but not before private interests in California and France that put the deal together and a phalanx of bond dealers and lawyers made off with a cool $2.5 million.
And what about those 400 to 600 new homeowners? The Pulaski County Public Facilities Board put exactly six families in modest dwellings at a cost of $2.1 million. That’s it: six families, $2.1 million. And President Bush’s proud examples? They were out of the house within months, leaving debts and needed repairs.

The county government — and you, the taxpayers — may end up suffering more than humiliation for this boondoggle. The federal government wants the county or the bond investors — someone — to compensate it for the government’s losses.
While the bonds did not cost the county anything, the federal government — and that also is you — was subsidizing the whole enterprise. That’s what municipal bonds are — a federal subsidy for public projects.

The government exempts from income taxes the interest that investors earn from municipal bonds so that the investors will accept a lower interest rate on the investment.

This stimulates private investment in projects that have public benefits, like highways, hospitals, libraries, schools and universities, and reduces the borrowing costs for the agencies or private groups undertaking the program because interest rates are lower.

It is clear now that the principal beneficiaries of the $43 million bond issue was not the public but private entrepreneurs — a French bank, a Beverly Hills, Calif., brokerage, and brokers and lawyers in Little Rock — so the Internal Revenue Service now wants the income taxes that it gave up.

The French bank got $1.9 million for its troubles. And, oh, a Little Rock outfit created by a church received $50,000 for a 14-page report on the feasibility of the project. The church’s leaders had prayed and got God’s clearance to undertake it.

The Dream to Own program was not a bad idea. Throughout the South and elsewhere, community development corporations are struggling with similar programs that help low-income people overcome their credit issues and become homeowners.
They don’t get $43 million handed to them. This was a program undertaken by people who knew little about how to do it; it was principally a way to make some easy money.

The county government is guilty not of corruption but naïveté in surrendering its imprimatur so casually to private groups about whom it knew nothing. The county had no accountability and demanded none.

The County Public Facilities Board and the Quorum Court do this routinely for a variety of enterprises of questionable public benefit.

They authorize government bonds to be issued in the county’s name for private school interests — $31 million in refinancing for the Pulaski Academy school for the children of the well-to-do in Little Rock, which apparently helped the academy buy the abandoned Fellowship Bible Church property (the church was building a new facility and needed to sell the old one), and $2.5 million to allow Arkansas Baptist School to build a junior high at a savings.

In a sense, it’s your federal and state income tax dollars at work.

We’d like our county government to be more stinting, more demanding and, yes, smarter.

TOP STORY >>Two hopefuls face off in Sherwood contest

Leader staff writer

By 9:30 p.m. Tuesday the unofficial word should come from the Pulaski Election Commission as to who is the new mayor of Sherwood: City Clerk Virginia Hillman, 43, or Interim Mayor Bill Harmon, 80.

The pair ended up in a virtual dead heat out of five candidates in the July 10 special mayoral election to fill the spot vacated by Mayor Danny Stedman when he resigned in early April for health reasons. But Hillman came in first.

The city council quickly appointed Harmon, the former mayor, to fill in until an election could fill the seat.

More than 100 residents have already voted at the Jack Evans Senior Center and another two dozen at the Pulaski County Courthouse. Early voting will continue at the courthouse only on Monday.

Regular voting will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at polling sites across Sherwood.

Hillman bested Harmon by 10 votes in the July 10 election, but neither was able to get 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

With all 10 precincts reporting, Hillman collected 1,252 votes, or 32.4 percent, followed by Harmon with 1,242 votes or 32.2 percent.

Two of the other former candidates, Doris Anderson and Victor Sierra, have officially announced their support for Hillman. “She is a woman of the highest integrity and will lead this city forward,” Anderson said.

Richard Devine, also a former candidate, has not publicly backed either candidate.

Hillman has worked for the city for 21 years, and was first appointed to city clerk/treasurer in 2001, when Bobbie Chapman retired and was then elected to that position in 2002 and won re-election in 2006.

Harmon has served 10 years as a city alderman, then 14 years as mayor, opting to retire rather than run again in 2006.
Both candidates answered a number of questions posed to them by The Leader. Their answers have not been changed. Hillman is listed first because she filed her candidacy first.

Q: Whether the city should or should not buy North Hills Golf Course continues to be a hot issue.  With the recommendation of the “blue ribbon” committee in and at least one lawsuit filed--what do you think the city should do in this issue?

Hillman: Generally speaking, citizens do not feel that they have had a voice in this decision. A proposal should be developed for the use of the property, along with a funding mechanism, and placed on the ballot for the people to decide.

At this time, the city is not financially able to purchase and maintain the property as a public golf course without an increase in tax or a decrease of services in other areas. Both the feasibility study and the appraisal indicate that the property, as well as existing structures, is in need of repairs in order to continue as a golf course.

City leaders should have considered purchasing the property in the past when the offer was much less. The 105 acres would be a nice asset, as well as an investment, if the city had the finances to purchase the property.

Expecting the current property owners to sell the property for one-half of what they have recently been offered does not seem fair nor is it good business. I would not appreciate being forced to sell my home for $100,000 if I had already had a valid offer of $200,000. The current lawsuit, with perhaps a second one pending, could be costly to the city.

Harmon: Ever since the prospective development of the North Hills Country Club Pro-perty was first announced, I’ve felt it would be a tragedy to lose this 105 acres or irreplaceable green space and 100-year-old oak trees in the middle of our city.
However, I’ve become even more committed to trying to save this green space since it was revealed by our city engineer that the development of this property for housing would cost the city well over $2 million in street and drainage improvements. Whether as a golf course, park or some combination of both, this green space is far too valuable to our citizens to let it slip away. Among possible uses for part of the property would be a water park, which is a concept with which other cities in our area have had great success.

We could also use the building as a multi-use facility to handle the overflow we frequently have to turn away at Sherwood Forest.

Another fact people have to keep in mind when considering the possible development of this green space is that what the developer proposes to build, and what is actually built, are often two different things. Once a property is zoned R-1 residential, its owner can construct anything he wants on that property that complies with that zoning classification, subject of course to the city’s building codes and subdivision rules and regulations.

Q: Related to the golf course issue,  do you feel the building moratorium on that property  was the right move for the city and how should the city move forward in continuing the moratorium or canceling it?

 Hillman: While the moratorium may have been the right legal avenue, I do not believe that it was an ethical one.  As municipal government, I do not believe that we have the power to control property that we do not own other than for public safety reasons.  Negotiations must begin to resolve the issue.  The current property owners need to regain right of their property.

Harmon: This matter is the subject of a lawsuit, so on advice of our city attorney I have to be very careful in addressing this issue.

Obviously I feel the moratorium serves the best interests of the citizens of Sherwood at this time or I would have sought to have it repealed. We needed time to address the feasibility and financing of any possible purchase of the golf course property, as well as to try and determine the will of the Sherwood people.

I believe that once the lawsuit on this issue has been resolved, everyone will see that this was the best course of action, and the city of Sherwood will prevail.

  Q: The golf course aside, what do you think are the most important issues facing Sherwood and how would you handle those issues?

Hillman: Sherwood has a great reputation of public safety. With the population growth in Sherwood, more officers are needed on the streets for visibility.

The presence of officers on the streets is a proven crime deterrent. There are many streets within the city in need of improvements. Brockington Road has been funded for many years but construction is yet to begin.

It is time to relieve the traffic congestion of the northern portion of the city and widen Brockington Road. The city has recently annexed approximately 2,000 acres north of Gravel Ridge. As this area develops, Brockington will carry even more traffic.

Harmon: First I believe that the problem with the increased electric rates from North Little Rock Electric, and the pending case against that utility to confirm Sherwood’s right to choose its own utility provider, is our most urgent issue facing many Sherwood citizens. I will continue to aggressively pursue that case and a resolution that results in lower electric rates for our citizens.

Also, because Sherwood is easily the best city in Arkansas and one of the best in the country, in which to live and raise a family, many people and businesses want to be a part of our city. This is a good problem to have, but a problem nevertheless.

We have to continue to update our land use planning and our zoning ordinance to make certain we have orderly growth, and we must continue to pursue our existing plans for street improvements. I also feel we have to continue to offer top notch police and fire protection, especially as our city continues to grow.

Our low crime rate, great fire protection, top-notch medical care and variety of public and private school choices, along with the fact that we have the lowest taxes for our citizens of any first-class city in central Arkansas, are what make Sherwood so attractive as a hometown.

Q: More than 6,000 Sherwood homes are provided electricity by North Little Rock which not long ago increased its rates by nearly 40 percent. What can you do to help maintain quality and affordable electricity to city residents?

Hillman: As a city government, we must explore the high cost of electrical service currently being charged to our residents.  Other sources must be explored.  It is unrealistic to determine that this can be accomplished within a short period of time.  A new provider must negotiate infrastructure costs of the existing equipment owned by North Little Rock Electric.  This is possible and work must begin.  The rate increases were announced last year but no negotiations appear to have been acted upon by our current administration.

Harmon: I previously authorized the filing of a lawsuit against North Little Rock Electric to address this issue, and as I’ve mentioned before, will continue to aggressively pursue this case so that Sherwood can choose its own utility provider and obtain lower electric rates for its citizens. The court date set for this case is in January 2008, and we are continuing to try and move that date up or otherwise come to a quicker resolution.

I consider this a top priority.

Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of Sherwood?

Hillman: Sherwood is a wonderful place to live. The reputation within the city is that of a safe hometown. We cannot ignore that the crime rate has increased within the past few years. If we ever lose our reputation of a safe community, it will be very difficult to regain.

Our fire department has worked very hard to earn a very low ISO rating. We have seen good teamwork within the fire department as the two departments worked to merge a few years ago. The next step of progression should probably be moving toward a fully operated municipal fire department.

Harmon: Some of the major strengths of our city are our terrific police force and low crime rate; terrific fire protection, which has resulted in one of the lowest ISO classifications for insurance in the state; and the fact that among cities of the first class in central Arkansas, we have the lowest taxes for our citizens.

With four private schools inside or immediately adjacent to our city limits, and some of the best facilities that the Pulaski County Special School District has to offer, our educational opportunities for our children are also a big strength.

However, all of this said, our biggest strength is our people. Sherwood is a city of good, honest, hard working people who care about their families and community.

Our biggest weakness is easily the situation with the electric rates being charged a majority of our citizens by North Little Rock Electric.

Q: The issue of a new apartment complex is being debating at the moment. Does the city need more apartments or does it already have too many? How should the city proceed to offer proper housing for an influx of new citizens?

Hillman: The city of Sherwood appears to have a high ratio per capita of apartments.  However, the need should be defined by supply and demand.  In regards to proper housing for new citizens, there are plenty of new homes on the market here in Sherwood.

Harmon: We need to be very judicious in allowing apartment development. Apartments offer a different lifestyle than many Sherwood residents are accustomed to, but they are an important source of housing to many young people starting out, as well as many mobile-career people, such as the military.

Multi-family housing can also be useful as a buffer between commercial property and single-family housing. However, I believe we have to be very careful not to allow so many apartment units as to cause excessive competition, resulting in high vacancy rates and reduced rental rates. We simply cannot allow more apartments than are necessary to accommodate the needs of our population. 

Q: Without being negative toward the other opponent, what makes you better to serve Sherwood and its residents as mayor?
Hillman: I believe that I am well qualified with 21 years of Sherwood municipal government experience and am capable of bringing a fresh approach to Sherwood city government.

Harmon: My family and I have lived in Sherwood for 43 years. My wife, Marvelle, and I raised four children in Sherwood. We have both been actively involved in our community, our schools and in First Baptist Church, where we’ve been members for almost 40 years.

I served as a member of the city council for 10 years prior to being elected mayor in 1993. I have seen many things change in Sherwood over the years, but one thing that has not changed is my commitment to serve. I believe I have grown with the job of mayor, and am extremely proud of the record of accomplishments for our city during my administration. I hope the people of Sherwood will value my experience and see fit to allow me to continue that record of accomplishment.

Q:  What have you been doing to make sure your supporters get out Tuesday and vote for you?

Hillman: We continue to knock on doors to get the message out as well as word of mouth.

Harmon: We have initiated a program of contacting voters again, since the first election, and asking for their support, as well as reminding them to get out and vote.

I feel that personal contact is the best way to reach people, and I’m so grateful to the numerous volunteers that have been going the extra mile, helping me contact as many voters as possible and ask for their support.

Q: Any final words or thoughts?

Hillman: I am excited about the upcoming runoff on Tuesday and I look forward to the high possibility of becoming the next mayor of Sherwood.

Harmon: I want to say that I am humbled by the support and good wishes of the people of Sherwood, both during this campaign and in the past.

As I have stated before, we have a record of accomplishment during my 14 years as mayor for which I am very proud, and I have a vision for so much more that we can accomplish, if elected.

Sherwood is a great city because it has great people, and I hope to continue working on behalf of those people.

TOP STORY >>Priorities in Cabot

Leader staff writer

The members of Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission spent two hours Thursday night discussing the progress of various projects.

Projects include the new sewer treatment plant, the North Belt transmission line to connect to Central Arkansas Water, buying land for a headquarters for Cabot WaterWorks and moving administration temporarily into the old Community Bank building the city is buying.

But also on the agenda was discussion of two topics that the members said were certain to be controversial – a five-mile planning area around the city for water and not extending sewer at this time to development west of Highway 5 beyond the commercial development in Greystone.

The commission is considering holding developers in the planning area to the same standards for water lines as developers inside city limits.

And since other water providers, like the city of Ward and Bayou Two Water Association, operate in part of that planning area it is inevitable that Cabot WaterWorks could be in the position of setting the standards for pipes that another provider will run its water through.

Commissioners say they hope Cabot WaterWorks will someday serve all Cabot residents. To do that would mean buying out their competitors and replacing small water lines with lines large enough to fight fires.

So far, no other water provider’s lines have been purchased, but by enforcing a five-mile planning area, the commission wouldn’t have to replace lines in new subdivisions if that time ever comes.

When the commission took control of water and wastewater almost two years ago, the city had already allowed a 50-acre commercial development on Highway 5 to run its sewer line into the line that carries sewage from Greystone to the treatment plant.

The extra burden was causing problems in Greystone until a pump station was beefed up as a short-term fix.

Crist Engineers has been hired to work on plans for a permanent remedy. In the meantime, the commission has instructed Tim Joyner, WaterWorks manager, to tell the owners of the commercial development that they have almost reached the 250-gallons per minute that they and the commission agreed to and they will not be allowed to exceed the agreed upon amount.
The commission agreed that a planned complex with a nursing home and apartments for assisted living will not be allowed to tie into the Greystone line.

Bill Cypert, commission secretary, said the commission isn’t opposed to growth, but they will not allow new development to take up the sewer capacity that Greystone developers have already paid for.

Cypert reported that construction of the sewer treatment plant is on schedule and expected to be in operation by January.
The North Belt transmission line is expected to be completed by 2011, but the route of the line is still not known. The water line is supposed to parallel the North Belt Freeway and that route is still undetermined. If the route is through Camp Robinson, the cost savings would be about $1.5 million each for Cabot, Jacksonville and CAW and about $500,000 for North Pulaski Water Association.

TOP STORY >>North Belt gets route, no funding

Leader senior staff writer

At least two members of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department disagree on whether the second phase of the North Belt Freeway should be financed with tolls, since no highway money is available right now for the project.

Because no money has been allocated for construction, Highway Commissioner Carl Rosenbaum has said often he favors designing it as a toll road, to pay for itself and speed up construction.

Highway commissioner Cliff Hoofman of North Little Rock said Friday that he didn’t believe it was feasible to pay for the remaining sections by tolling them.

“I’m committed to see that we build the (remainder) if at all possible during my term on the commission,” Hoofman said.
Hoofman was just appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe to a 10-year term on the commission.

He said he believes the state would have to make existing portions of I-440 into toll roads all the way to the airport to make it feasible.

The 12.5-mile project is 20 years behind schedule and still lacks funding for at least five years. But despite last-ditch opposition by a handful of angry homeowners, the Metroplan board of directors Wednesday approved the state Highway and Transportation Department’s preferred alignment for the so-called Sherwood corridor of the North Belt Freeway.

The board is made up of county judges and mayors in central Arkansas or their appointees and a member of the state Highway Department. Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines voted against the plan.

Design work and purchase of some important right-of-way could begin by the end of the year, but no money is available to begin construction at least through 2011, according to Glenn Bolick, department spokesman.

The Sherwood City Council has approved a resolution supporting the proposed route and confirming that it conforms to both the city’s master street plan and master land-use plans, thus clearing the way for the Metroplan development.


The North Belt Loop, a three-decades-old concept, has suffered setbacks through the years over the issue of the Sherwood alignment. It is intended to complete a northern loop around Little Rock to alleviate some congestion, primarily on I-40. It will be designated when complete as I-440.

The completed section runs from I-40 near Prothro Junction to Hwy. 67-167 in south Jacksonville.

When finished, it will continue through north Sherwood and Camp Robinson and meet up with I-40 and I-430 near Crystal Hill at an estimated cost of about $200 million — twice the original estimated cost of the entire project. Language in the current environmental-impact statement would allow construction of portions of the loop, according to Jim McKenzie, executive director of Metroplan. That means that as money becomes available, sections of the alignment could be built between Hwy. 67-167 and Hwy.107, for instance, or between Hwy. 340 and Hwy. 365 to help alleviate congestion.


Several residents of the Kellogg Road area or North Lake subdivision, many of them retired and some with disabilities, asked the board not to approve the alignment, which would either run through or near their homes.

But in the end, the 30-year-old project was approved by voice vote with Pulaski County Judge Villines and one or two other board members registering dissent.

Opponents also said they had gathered signatures of about 210 area residents opposed to the route. Villines has been supportive of the project over the years, but said he voted no Wednesday on the alignment to represent “my constituents” in north Pulaski County.

“That’s probably the best alignment they can come up with,” said Villines, “but I represent the unincorporated part of the county and they needed someone to express their feelings. I represent them.”


Metroplan’s approval constituted “a step we’ve never had before, an important step,” according to Glenn Bolick, a Highway Department spokesman.

Still required is a record of decision by the Federal Highway Administration, which could be approved by the end of this year, according to Steve Mitchell, the Highway Department’s representative on the board. Then the department will begin a more detailed survey. The alignment could shift slightly, which is of little importance to most county residents, but could be of great importance to local homeowners, who aren’t even sure whether or not their homes will be taken for the project.
Mitchell said that once there is a design, there would be an additional public hearing. “There’s a lot of constraints,” said Mitchell, including floodways, flood plains, geographical feature and others.

“My hope is that once they are through with final design, at least all the right of way will be procured and they will cement the route and relieve some of the uncertainty in their lives,” said Metroplan’s McKenzie.

Jay Whisker, Jacksonville director of administration, said he was concerned that the preferred alignment kept creeping further north and that it might interfere with residents and development at the North Lakes subdivision.

But Jacksonville’s position has always been one of strong support for the North Belt Freeway, and he did vote to approve the alignment. Sherwood resient Wayne Riffle said the city had pushed the alignment north, out of city limits. Now, “we can’t make improvements, we can’t sell—the process is holding us hostage,” he said. “You’re destroying our neighborhood.”

His wife Bobby has a disability that prevents her from talking at normal volume, she said, and her daughter, who is immobile, can barely whisper. She expressed concern that with an interstate running past their house, she would be unable to hear her daughter, even when in distress.

Karen Engle lives across the street from the Riffles. She said she understands progress and doesn’t want to stand in the way, but she wants fair value for her home and wants to know as soon as possible the exact route—whether it would take her home or render it nearly worthless. “I can’t sell my home,” she said. “People won’t buy (not knowing),” she said. “I need help with this.”

Kellogg Road residents were assured that there would not be an interchange taking and discharging more traffic onto their road.

“I put a lot of money and sweat into building my home,” said Rudy Ealy, who has lived at the west end of Mine Road since 1992. He bought his land with assurances that the North Belt would run far south of him, approximately in the east-west Hwy. 107 corridor.”

“I need to know that you are good for your word.” He pointed out that Sherwood’s “50-year” plan affects him even though he lives outside they city. “That’s crazy,” he said.

He said officials had been “disingenuous from the beginning.”

TOP STORY >>Charter school hearing

Leader staff writer

In light of problems with the Pulaski County Special School District, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce members are supporting a petition to the Arkansas State Board of Education to operate open-enrollment public charter schools in the community.

The charter school would be operated in connection with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and Arts (ASMSA) in Hot Springs or a stand-alone charter school focused on math, science, economics and the arts, or a combination of both.
A public meeting has been scheduled on the matter for 6 p.m. Aug. 17 at Jacksonville City Hall to assess the community’s interest and explain the charter school concept.

The school’s anticipated opening date would be August 2008.

Public charter schools are public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools.

“We’re proud of our commitment to education in this community in spite of the problems with PCSSD, and we are anxious to support a proposal which has the promise of helping our kids,” chamber member Mike K. Wilson said.

Wilson spearheaded the proposal and has contacted Luke Gordy, the chairman of the board at the Hot Springs school.

In a letter to Gordy, Wilson writes: “Mayor Tommy Swaim, Jacksonville Education Foundation president Pat Bond, Chamber of Commerce leaders and others are thrilled at the possibility of locating an ASMSA charter school here, and we want your board to know there is broad public support in our city for such an effort, as well as the distinct probability of private financial support.”

A proposed site for the charter school is the old Main Street Furniture location adjacent to the new Nixon Library site and across from First Arkansas Bank and Trust.

The Arkansas Charter School Resource Center of the University of Arkansas is providing assistance for the project.
According to the Arkansas Department of Education Web site, the freedoms given a charter school allow more flexibility to implement creative and innovative programs and policies but are held more accountable for student success.

Arkansas currently has 17 public charter schools operating under contracts detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment and ways to measure success.

An open-enrollment school is a public charter school run by a governmental entity, an institution of higher learning or a tax-exempt non-sectarian organization. They can also draw students from across district boundaries.

The groups that commonly operate public charter schools include parents, teachers and community leaders, public schools and private entities.

According to ADE, the benefits of public charter schools are: increases the opportunities for learning and access to quality education for all students; creates choice for parents and students within the public school system; provides a system of accountability for results in public education; encourages innovative teaching practices; creates new professional opportunities for teachers; encourages community and parent involvement in public education, and creates competition among public schools and thus simulates improvement.

TOP STORY >>Reviving downtown

Leader staff writer

In 1998, MJMJ LLC, led by Mike Wilson, Jim Peacock, Mike Abdin and Jim O’Brian, purchased about 12 acres located in the 600 block of West Main in downtown Jacksonville, the 130,000-square-foot Jacksonville Shopping Center.
But after almost a decade of ownership, Wilson, Peacock and O’Brian have decided to sell to aid in reviving the downtown area.

“There’s lots of interest in downtown now because of the new library, Wendy’s and others that might come down the road,” Wilson said. “Downtown is going through a redevelopment and we wanted to be part of it and let others be too; selling is just one probability,” Wilson added.

Stores like Chambers Drug, That Little Flea Market, Abdin Jewelers, Stroman’s and Unique Furniture are a few of the 10 businesses that call the strip home.

Although the deal is not yet finalized and may not be until the new year, Sue Khoo, owner of Unique Furniture, will be the new owner of the business strip that also includes the Unique Connection Center (which Khoo currently leases) and a nearby vacant restaurant building, the former home of Peppers Restaurant.

Khoo envisions turning the strip into a small Asian town with restaurants and an Asian supermarket to entice more people to visit downtown and to hopefully bring in more business.

But new ideas means existing businesses must move, except for Chambers Drugs.

So far, only one business, That Little Flea Market, has received notice that it must vacate.

Owner Mary Little said it was a shockwhen she received notice. “I was told Monday when I got to work,” Little said Friday. “We’ve got to try and get out by the end of August,” she said.

She’s been at 632 W. Main for more than 20 years and is currently trying to find a new home for her business.

“I’m trying to move. I called about a building today,” she said. “I guess we’ll all have to find new buildings,” she added, saying she has thought about trying to move across from Knight’s.

Other businesses, after learning of Little’s notice, have begun looking for new facilities if and when their time comes to move out.

“We haven’t gotten a notice yet, but we’re getting all our ducks in row in case it goes down,” Sean Funderburt, manager of Stroman’s, said. “We’ve been out looking at property to cover our basics,” he added.