Wednesday, August 08, 2007

SPORTS>>Jackrabbits show new system is taking hold

Leader sportswriter

The second week of practice for the Lonoke Jackrabbits started out strong with a good three-and-a-half hour workout on Monday. The majority of the practice focused on individual station drills, followed by team offense and defense before the offensive unit ended practice with uncontested drives up and down the practice field two times. Second-year coach Jeff Jones was satisfied with the workout to start the week, and was happy to see the kids buying into the staff’s system.

“We had a pretty good day,” Jones said. “You can tell that a lot of the teaching is starting to take hold. The guys are starting to take their individual drills into our team practice, and we’re excited about that. For a Monday coming off of a weekend we had great enthusiasm and started the week off right.”

Jones says there has been progress from the first day of practice last week, but wishes that progress would develop a little faster in some areas. He hopes to pick up the pace for the second week of practice, as scrimmage-game time draws closer.

“We didn’t make as much progress as we wanted to,” Jones said. “But every day, I did see progress. We’re filming everything; we go in, we evaluate the film, evaluate the players to see who all is catching on. We have a long ways to go, and we are working hard to get there. We are progressing, but we would sure like for it to go a little bit quicker.”

Lonoke currently has 95 percent of its game installed according to Jones. He says the players know what to do in most instances; the task now will be to improve their abilities to execute the plays more consistently.

“We’re pretty good as far as knowing where we need to be,” Jones said. “Now we just have to get a little better at our technique of getting there and what we do when we get there. Offensively, we’re doing real well for this early in the season.”
Injuries have not been a problem so far for the Jackrabbits. While Keifer Vaughn is still recovering from a? injury, Amir Fleming is healthy and back on the field. With five players fresh from church camps and various other summer activities, Jones said Monday’s practice was at full force personnel-wise.

Depth at quarterback will not be a problem for the ‘Rabbits, with four players being groomed for the position. Rollins Elam, Clarence Harris, Jacob Taylor and Michael Nelson have all seen time under center since last week. Elam will get the nod as the starter, but Harris saw a fair amount of time in Monday’s practice out of the option.

Lonoke’s plans for the rest of the week included an afternoon practice on Tuesday due to a morning in-service for faculty, but the Jackrabbits returned to morning sessions this morning. Thursday will also be a morning practice before picture day on Friday morning, followed by a brief scrimmage.

SPORTS>>Sylvan Hills searching for linemen

Leader sportswriter

Finding more depth on the offensive and defensive lines is job one for the Sylvan Hills Bears during the second week of practice. Although currently sitting with a respectable number of 59 players, many of them are suited for skill/defensive backfield positions.

The goal is to avoid linemen going both ways during games, but first-year coach Jim Withrow says that for a few linemen, it may be unavoidable.

“The problem right now is, we just don’t have the numbers,” Withrow said. “We would like to have enough linemen where we didn’t have anyone on both sides of the ball, but a couple of these guys may not have any choice.” Among the linemen that may see dual action, Withrow pointed to senior lineman J.T. Long and said there were about three others that could also front both offensively and defensively.

The other big priority for the Bears this week and the remainder of the pre-season practices will be special teams work.
“We really have to harp on special teams,” Withrow said. “I thought we would be further along with that than what we are. We’ve gotten parts of our kicking game in, but the time it has taken us for implementing the offense and defense has taken away from that. Plus, we had one of our fullbacks get injured in a 7-on-7 game last month, and he was one of the ones we had on just about all the special teams coverage.

The injured fullback is senior Braylon Harris, who is suspected to have torn an ACL in his knee. Doctors have indicated that Harris may be able to eventually get by with wearing a brace until the end of the season, but the staff is waiting to see if Harris will be able to see the field.

Aside from Harris, the Bears are still healthy after a week of practices in the early August heat.

“They’re a little bit sore, and they have some bumps and bruises,” Withrow said. “So right now, we just have to make it though the soreness. In a week or so, we’ll be okay, it’s just one of these things where they will develop a little more mental toughness.”

Although currently sitting at 59 players, Withrow expects to pick up around six more players by the time the opener against Little Rock Catholic rolls around in two weeks. Three members of the golf team are expected to join, as well as one player who is still in AAU basketball. Two more players have not reported due to family vacations, and Withrow also suspects two or three sophomores will most likely join after the start of school.

With most of the offense and defense installed, Withrow says the progress may have been a little slow in some areas, but the overall effort has been satisfactory.

“High school football has evolved from the days of running two or three plays and lifting weights some in the offseason,” Withrow said. “We’re at that point now where the guys we have now are the ones we will look to; the guys about to come in may can help us later down the road. The guys have done a very good job of knowing what they’re supposed to be doing. We just have to keep doing it and improving every day.”

SPORTS>>Tougher regimen no problem at Beebe

Leader sports editor

The first week of Beebe Badger two-a-days went off better than expected, even in the eyes of the man in charge of those practices, first-year head coach John Shannon.

This year is the first in many years that the Beebe Badgers have gone through two-a-days. Summer practices were usually just once a day under previous tutelage, but there has been no lack of effort under the more strenuous schedule.

“I was very, very impressed with the way we worked that first week,” Shannon said Tuesday morning. “We started with 48 and had one move it. We didn’t lose any players and we pushed ‘em pretty hard. I’m very pleased with the effort they showed.”
Even when the temperature shot into three digits and the team donned full gear, the intensity level stayed high.

Thursday and Friday of last week were the two hottest days of the year so far, and were also the first two days that Beebe went in full pads and scrimmaged.

“I really feel like as the week went along, we got better,” Shannon said. “The offense is really coming along. They’re a little ahead of the defense right now, but we worked a lot more on offense over the summer, so we sort of expected that.”
The offense dominated Thursday’s scrimmage, but after just one day, the defense improved greatly.

“We didn’t really hit like I wanted us to hit on that first day of scrimmage,” Shannon said. “The offense was still ahead the second day, but the defense did a lot better. We came back on Friday and the defense hit a whole lot better.”

There was a bit of a drop-off the following Monday. Shannon wasn’t totally surprised that it happened, but was a bit confused about when it happened.

“We had a bad day of practice Monday,” Shannon said. “You pretty much expect one of those every year during two-a-days, and we were due because had six great days the first week. It’s just that usually it comes at the end of a week when they’re tired and sore. It was a strange time to have a bad practice, and I hope it’ll be the only one we have.”

At first glance, the 49 players that are out seems low for a 5A school, but Shannon isn’t concerned about it.

“I’ve talked to some other coaches in our conference and we’re right at about the average,” Shannon said. “You always wish you had more, but I don’t see the numbers we have as any sort of disadvantage.”

There has been only one injury. Halfbackk/defensive back James Anderson suffered a fractured collarbone. It’s not a major break, and Anderson is expected to be back in four to six weeks.

The battle for the starting quarterback job is still not settled. Charlie Spakes and Roger Glaude have each performed well, and a starter will likely be named by the end of this week.

“At this point we feel pretty comfortable with either one of them,” Shannon said. “The only thing is, whichever one doesn’t start at quarterback, will be starting on defense, so we need to make that decision and move forward from there.”
Overall, Shannon is still very pleased and very optimistic about how things have gone so far.

“I tell the kids I feel better about where we’re at now than I ever thought I would at this point,” Shannon said. “There is definitely a hunger for success from this group of kids and they’re putting the work in to achieve a high level of success.”

OBITUARIES >> 08-08-07

Bryson Fuller

Bryson Lynn Fuller, of Lonoke infant, went to be with Jesus August 6.

He was born June 6, 2007 to his proud parents, Tyler and Lauren Robinson Fuller in North Little Rock.

Bryson was preceded in death by his grandfather, Jerry Fuller; great-grandfathers, Raymond Malone, Coy Strobel and Dean Fuller; great-grandmother, Cleba Dawson and aunt, April Fuller.

Survivors include his parents; grandparents, Rita and Steve Strobel of Lonoke, Debbie Brickley of North Fork, Ronnie Brickley of Lonoke and Jim Roberson of Little Rock; great-grandparents, Betty Strobel and Sue Malone of Jacksonville, Mary Fuller of Searcy, Jimmy and Judy Hipp of Greer’s Ferry, Danny and Rose Roberson of Little Rock and Bobby and Jean Styles of Florida; great-great grandmother, Marion Contorno of Little Rock; uncles, Matt and Haley Fuller of Carlisle, J.J. and Ashley Fuller of South Carolina; aunts, Kristen Brickley of Lonoke and Ashley Hurst as well as many other cousins, family and friends.

Graveside funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Wednesday, August 8 at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Visitation will be at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home from 9 to 11 a.m. prior to the service.

Seth McMurtry

Seth Allen McMurtry, 3-months-old, of Cabot passed away August 3.

He was born April 10, 2007 in North Little Rock to James McMurtry and Holly Willhite.

Those left behind to cherish his memory are his parents; one brother, Rodney McMurtry; three sisters, Lacy, Jessica and Haley Willhite, all of the home; grandparents, Harold and Terry McMurtry of Austin; great-grandfather, Guy Spence of Austin; along with numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 8 at Christ Worship Center in Cabot with a private family burial.
Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

James Morgan

James Percy Morgan, 78, passed into the loving hands of God on August 5.

He was a retired medical advisor and veteran of the Army, having served in Vietnam.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Jewell Morgan; two daughters, Brenda and husband Alan Glover of Cabot and Ramona Hammack of Lonoke; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and two brothers, Bill Morgan and Pete Morgan of Louisiana.

A private memorial service will be held. Arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Lonoke.

Leoda Talkington

Leoda Parchman Talkington, 96, of Charleston, formerly of McRae, died August 2.

Funeral services were Monday, August 6, at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with graveside services following.

Clifford Lindsey, Sr.

Clifford Thomas Lindsey, Sr., 57, of Jacksonville died August 5. He was born Nov. 14, 1949 in Maui, Hawaii.

Clifford was preceded in death by his father, Ray Lindsey, Sr. and his brother, Ray Lindsey, Jr.  He served in the Air Force and was a member of the Arkansas Cattleman’s Association.  

Clifford is survived by his wife of 37 years, Bonnie Hume Lindsey; mother, Josephine Fretas Lindsey; two sons, Clifford Lindsey, Jr. and his wife Stacy of Sheridan and Damian Lindsey and wife Azalea of Mt. Dora, Fla.; six brothers and sisters, Paulette Kinoris, Jerald Lindsey, Henry Lindsey, Gene Lindsey, Brenda Kualaau and Damian Lindsey; and four grandchildren, Damian Vaughn Lindsey, Brianna Lindsey, Austin Bean and Rebecca Robinson.

A graveside service was held August 7 at Arkansas State Veteran’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice; 5600 W. 12th Street; Little Rock, Ark., 72205. Funeral services were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Stephen Beard

Stephen Dale Beard, 63, of Jacksonville passed away August 2.  

He was born Sept. 20, 1943 in North Little Rock to Troy Dale and Edith Brickell Beard.  

He worked in construction and was a member of First Pentecostal Church in North Little Rock.

Survivors include his wife, Reba Beard; parents, Earlene and John McKay; children, Ginger Beard Martin and her husband Tony of Toronto, Canada, and Stephanie Skowfoe and her husband Wayne of Gilboa, N.Y.; brother, Ronnie Woodall; sisters, Bonnie Peoples and her husband Bill and Angela Jones and her husband Tom; and grandchildren, Wayne Skowfoe, Jamie Skowfoe and John Martin.

A private burial will be held at a later date. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

EDITORIALS>>Where taxes go

As expected, the Jacksonville City Council last week approved a two-cent hamburger tax that starts this fall and will benefit the city’s parks and several of its attractions, such as the military museum and Reed’s Bridge Battlefield site. The council could have put the proposal before the voters but chose not to, but at least the discussion on how to allocate some $500,000 a year in taxes helped refocus the issue, resulting in a more sensible distribution of the funds.

The controversial allocation of hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising in the Little Rock media will probably be scaled back, so Jacksonville residents will instead see more tangible results from the hamburger tax: Better parks and facilities.

The city could probably get huge chunks of free advertising from the Little Rock media as it has during the huge open house at Little Rock Air Force Base, when public-service ads air for several weeks before the event. Comcast Cable, which has had a lucrative franchise with the city for years, has donated airtime in the past, and if it were asked to promote Jacksonville’s attractions, surely the cable giant wouldn’t mind giving back a small share of its income in the form of free commercials.

EDITORIALS>>Coal burning filthy idea

Every year, three electricity-generating plants in Arkansas that burn Wyoming soft coal cough into our atmosphere about 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. One molecule of the stuff will hang around in the atmosphere for 50 to 200 years to contribute to the overheating of the planet. Can you and the kids and grandkids handle an additional 6 to 10 million tons a year?

Stripped to the fundamentals, that is what the state Public Service Commission must decide in the Hempstead County power-plant case. Southwestern Electric Power Co. (Swepco) and its parent want to build a 600-megawatt generating plant 130 miles upwind from us in the McNab community between Texarkana and Hope.

The PSC will give the utility a permit to build the plant if it concludes that the extra power is needed and the plant is economically and environmentally suitable. The PSC gets to decide what is suitable for the environment. Traditionally, those decisions have been based on the local environment, and the commission decided in the 1970s and ‘80s that coal-burning plants in Jefferson County, Independence County and Benton County were compatible to the three regions in spite of the high production of dirty greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. But the awakening to global warming means that all of us, downwind and around the world have a stake in the commission’s decisions. Our grandchildren have an even keener concern.

The decision seems self-evident to us. The permit needs to be denied and the utility and its big holding company should be told to return to the drawing boards for a better, healthier remedy to the rising demand for electricity. There are remedies. The public battle in the media is between southwest Arkansas interests who see temporary and permanent jobs if the plant is built — Lord knows they need the jobs! — and some rich swells who own hunting clubs in the pristine Grassy Lake area and imagine their hunting preserves adulterated by the gases, the slag and the mercury that will leach into nearby waters. The pristine Grassy Lake is the last great alligator habitat in Arkansas, and a refuge for the beleaguered black-bellied whistling duck, the interior least tern and the Ouachita rock pocketbook mussel.

We can be philosophical about a decline in the gator community and we can also accept the utility’s projections that the duck and the mussel will adapt to their new surroundings, but it does not try to assure us that the planet and its future dwellers will be no worse from its contribution of poisonous gases that will linger for centuries. Other states — Florida most recently — are concluding that dirty coal is not the future. Construction plans for nearly two-dozen coal plants have been canceled in the last minutes either voluntarily by utilities or by regulatory disapprovals.

Coal had become the generating future because it is relatively cheap owing to the skyrocketing price of natural gas, which produces electricity at a fraction of the volume of pollution. The Hempstead County plant, incidentally, would pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a year than all the cars and trucks in Arkansas. Swepco is building a couple of other plants, one in Oklahoma, that use a new technology to sequester the carbon pollutants and store them underground. It is expensive and the company insists that it is still experimental. It would be far more expensive to retrofit the plant with the technology later rather than now.

Other remedies? Duke Energy, which canceled plans for a big coal plant in North Carolina, is instead investing in conservation. It will help customers make their homes and businesses energy efficient and earn upon that investment. Reducing demand is the best of all possible remedies, for the consumer and the environment. Other clean-coal technologies like converting coal to combustible gas offer hope, though they are far more expensive than simply venting the carbon dioxide into the air. Then there is natural gas. Swepco turned on a new gas-powered generating plant in Washington County this summer. Shale gas from Arkansas soil is plentiful, and its cost is now competitive with other fuels though not with the soft coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, where all those coal trains across Arkansas originate. It is not merely the asthma sufferers of Arkansas but all the denizens of earth who ask for the PSC’s ear. No more dirty-coal plants.

TOP STORY >>Jacksonville principal seeks LRSD board seat

Leader staff writer

With the deadline to file for the Sept. 18 school board elections over, a sometimes controversial professional educator is running for the board in Little Rock.

Jacksonville Boys Middle School Principal Mike Nellums, no stranger to locking horns with school boards and unionized teachers in the Pulaski County Special School District, has waded into the four-person Zone 2 race for the Little Rock School Board.

Nellums hopes to unseat incumbent Michael Daughtery, who in recent months has become a very controversial board member.

Other candidates for that seat include Anna Swaim and Drew Pritt.

Lonoke County

In the Cabot School District, barring any write-in candidates for the Position 7 school board seat, Ken Kincade will be running unopposed, as Dr. Brenda Thielemier did not file for re-election. Incumbent Jim Coy will face off against Arthur Evans for the Position 3 seat. Two positions are sought in the England School District.

Kenneth Bascue and Jason Willard are running for the Zone 3 seat. A three-way race will be had for the Zone 7 seat between Jerry Rice, Charles W. McDonald and Vernon B. Brazell.

No candidates filed for school board election in the Carlisle School District, but there is still the possibility of write-in candidates.

Write-in candidates there and elsewhere have until Aug. 13 to notify the county clerk if they intend to run. In the Lonoke School District, incumbent Ray Kelleybrew will be running unopposed for his Zone 1, Position 3 seat.
Richard Pennington and Darryl Parks have filed to run for the Zone 3, Position 2 seat.

Pulaski County

In the Pulaski County Special School District, five people are set to run for election this year. Bill Vasquez of Jacksonville has filed against incumbent Dr. James E. Bolden, III, also of Jacksonville, for his Zone 6 seat. Mildred Tatum is running unopposed for her Zone 1 seat.

Debbie Murphy now has an opponent for the Zone 2 seat as Shanna H. Chaplin has filed to run as well.
White County

Brenda K. McKown and Christopher Mark Gross have filed for the Beebe School Board.

McKown was president of the McRae School Board when that school consolidated with Beebe three years ago.

Although a petition to file for school board required 20 signatures, write-in candidates simply have to notify the county clerk of their intentions.

Come election day Sept. 18, voters will have to write in that candidates name on the ballot in order to vote for them.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Is Villines trying to hide more disgrace ?

It’s hard to figure out why Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has opposed the release of emails written by a disgraced former employee — unless Villines thinks they will make his office look bad and raise questions about what his workers are doing when they’re on the clock.

Taxpayers have long suspected that many public agencies are overstaffed, wasteful and unproductive, and the case of Ron Quillen — the former county comptroller and director of administrative services who now faces criminal charges for pocketing some $42,000 in public funds — may prove them right.

What if half the public employees were laid off today — would we lose anything as far as the level of services go?

Pulaski County would have hefty reserves without Quillens on the payroll. Not only would the county reduce overhead, but characters like Quillen shouldn’t goof off on county time and line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers.

The county would have money to expand its inadequate jail and hire more deputies, instead of wasting money on Quillen and his ilk who expect sexual favors in return for valuable contracts. Maybe that’s why Villines doesn’t want the steamy emails Quillen sent to a lady contractor out in the open.

The media have gone after Quillen’s emails through Freedom of Information Act requests, despite Villines’ stalling, but why not go further and ask for all official documents — time sheets, productivity, emails — and find out how much time public employees are putting into their jobs?

That should all be public information, and it would be interesting to know who is earning their pay: These employees are working for us, not Villines, so let’s find out if we’re getting good value for our buck.

If you think your taxes are too high, it’s people like Quillen who should get much of the blame.

Pulaski Circuit Judge Mary Ann McGowan is our nominee for public servant of the year because she has gone to bat in behalf of the public, which doesn’t happen often: She has defended the state’s Freedom of Information Act to the letter, ruling that Pulaski County must release just about every email between Quillen and his girlfriend who did a lot of business with the county.

The state Supreme Court had blocked Judge McGowan’s decision, but she will eventually release most of the material, drip by drip.

The public interest is crucial here, because as the judge has noted, “The personal relationship may have influenced Quillin in expenditures of funds of Pulaski County. Further, there are more instances in which, if the public were not allowed to know, information concerning public money may not come to light.”

Not to mention jewelry and clothing Quillen had given his lady friend which “may or may not have come from a county account” — that is, out of your pocketbook.

It’s a mess, but no amount of stalling will keep the truth from the public. The Freedom of Information Act was passed to let the sunshine into government, and as long as the media keep poking around, we’ll keep the light on for you.

TOP STORY >>Beebe mayor fires police chief

Leader staff writer

Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson fired his police chief Sunday after learning he had fixed an arrest warrant so that a parolee wanted on drug charges would not be picked up.

The Beebe City Council learned about the firing of Don Inns, who became chief of police under former Mayor Donald Ward, during a special council meeting Monday. The council discussed the details of Inns dismissal during executive session, but the mayor released a prepared statement Tuesday explaining his decision to fire Inns. Robertson said he also would send a letter to the police standards office in Little Rock that would be available to any agency considering hiring Inns.

Inns did not attend the meeting to defend himself and could not be reached for comment later. He was fired following the Sunday arrest of Brian Chappell, 40, whose warrant on misdemeanor drug charges had been fixed. Chappell is a parolee who has been convicted of murder and arson. The Leader learned Chappell’s identity from a radio log that was viewed under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. In his prepared statement, Robertson referred to Chappell as “the subject.”

The warrant for Chappell’s arrest was issued on Sept. 8, 2006 and had to be served within one year from that date or be voided.

On Sept. 9, the warrant was entered into the Arkansas Crime Information Center, the computer that links all law enforcement agencies in the state. On Sept. 22, a dispatcher cleared the warrant from ACIC without the warrant being served.

A note on the actual warrant instructed police officers “Do not serve per chief.”

The mayor said during an interview about the firing that he learned about the attempt to keep Chappell out of jail following a conversation with District Judge Teresa Hughes. Robertson said he had become concerned because Inns’ staff was reporting to him that Inns was releasing too many prisoners on their own recognizance (without bail).

The court staff had been working on files and someone recalled the warrant with the odd notation.

Robertson said he turned the matter over to Assistant Police Chief Wayne Ballew and asked him to get to the bottom of it. Ballew, a retired state trooper, was hired in April.

When he was fired, Inns was already facing disciplinary action for taking possession of a drug-seized 2000 model Tahoe without permission from the mayor or council. Robertson said the SUV was seized in April and impounded at Mahoney’s Garage. Inns filled out the paperwork for the city to take possession of it and the circuit court released it July 30.

Robertson said Inns had already put new tires on the Tahoe before he was aware that the city had taken possession of it. He still doesn’t know who is responsible for the $4,600 payoff, the mayor said. He has asked the city attorney to look into it.
“I don’t think any of us want it,” the mayor said. “I think police ought to drive police cars.”

Since Inns was fired, Ballew has taken over his workload, Robertson said, adding that he has no plans to fill the position at this time. But eventually, he will likely ask the assistant chief if he is interested in becoming chief.

TOP STORY >>August’s hot days call for caution

Leader staff writer

July was relatively cool and wet, but August has started out, well, like August—hot and dry.

Temperatures are forecasted to hit in the triple-digits by the weekend for the first time this year and that has Don Hindman, executive director of Sherwood’s Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center concerned.

Hindman lost both his dad and his father-in-law from heat- related illnesses. “They both were working outside and got overheated,” he explained.

He has reason to be concerned as the state health department confirmed the second heat-related death of the year Monday. Last year, seven heat-related deaths were reported to the state health department.

So at the monthly senior luncheon, attended by about 100 people Monday, Hindman took time out from the cheery activities to remind everyone to try and stay indoors or do their gardening and yard work early in the morning.

A temperature of 95 degrees, coupled with humidity, makes it feel like 102 degrees, and the forecast for the entire week calls for high temperatures in the 98 to 100 degree range.

“We keep our air conditioner on high during the day and many seniors will come in and play cards or other activities during the day,” Hindman said. “It saves them money from running their air.”

Nikeba Davis, executive director of the Jacksonville Senior Center said her wheels-on-meals volunteers do a great job checking on seniors.

“When they deliver the meals, they are making sure the house is cool enough and talking to the people and making sure everything is okay. If they see a problem, they let us know and we help in any way that we can.”

The wheels-on-meals program delivers about 200 meals a day.

Davis also says her center has spent time educating seniors about staying cool and, of course, the Jacksonville center is also open and cool for seniors to come spend the day.

“And if anyone has fans to donate, we’ll be happy to take them,” Davis added. Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services, which provides ambulance service in Sherwood, Cabot and other parts of Pulaski and Lonoke County, has noticed a rise in heat-related runs.

“We don’t have a heat-related category, but this past week we’ve had enough calls to notice it,” said Greg Thompson, with MEMS.

He said part of the problem is that this heat has sneaked up on people.

“We had a mild July, and people haven’t become accustomed to the weather, and realize that they have to take extra precautions,” Thompson said.

Fire chiefs with the Jacksonville and Sherwood fire departments have not had any major runs this summer during the heat of the day. “Not yet,” said Jacksonville Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, “but we are prepared.”

He said all fire trucks carry plenty of ice water and carry misters to help cool firefighters and others on the scene.
Vanderhoof’s advice to battle the heat is simple. “Don’t be outside if you don’t have to be. Stay inside.”

He added that for those who have to be out — drink plenty of fluids (water, not soda), take breaks and use common sense.
Linda Sakiewicz, with Jacksonville Animal Control, says not to forget about pets in these hot sunny days.

“Make sure they have plenty of fresh water and shade,” she said.

“Don’t leave your animals in the car,” Sakiewicz said. “In 10 minutes in 80 degree weather with the windows down can cause your animal’s temperature to be over 110 degrees and could cause heat stroke,” she said.

According to the National Weather Service, Thursday through Saturday will be sunny and hot with temperatures near 99 degrees.

There are four major heat-related disorders that everyone needs to be aware of, according to the NWS. They are sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Sunburns can range from mild redness and small blisters that ointments and creams can help to serious, extensive burning that calls for a trip to the doctor or even the emergency room.

Usually firm pressure on the cramped muscle or massaging the area will give relief to those suffering from heat cramps, along with sips of water and getting the person out of the sun.

A person suffering from heat exhaustion needs to get out of the sun as quickly as possible. Get the person to lie down and loosen clothing.

Apply cool, wet cloths and get the person into an air conditioned room or one with a fan, and give sips of water.
If the person starts to vomit, then seek immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling faint and weak, dizziness, nausea, headache and confusion.
Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is a severe medical emergency and the person should either be taken to the hospital or 911 needs to be called.

Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, do not give the person fluids.

Just move them to a cooler area and try to reduce the body temperature with a cold bath or sponging.

A person’s temperature-control system stops working when they are suffering a heat stroke, according to the state health department.

Sweating stops completely and the body’s temperature can rise so high that the nervous system, the brain and other organs can be permanently damaged.

TOP STORY >>Base builder bankrupt

Leader senior staff writer

At Little Rock Air Force Base, not a spade of earth has been turned or a nail driven since May 7 on American Eagle Communities’ stalled $127-million contract to provide housing for LRAFB airmen and families and it now appears the developer responsible is apparently in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings regarding its Moody Air Force Base privatization contract in Georgia.

American Eagle Community LLC has incorporated separately in each state for its various privatization jobs, but in Georgia, Regions Bank, a trustee on the $30-million construction bond, has filed for receivership in Lowndes County Superior Court, according to an article in the hometown Valdosta Daily Times.

Although no one for American Eagle Communities at LRAFB or the Air Force would comment, the government is said to be looking for a new developer to take over the Moody contract.

Meanwhile, American Eagle Communities reportedly sold its interest in 2,985 Navy housing units on Puget Sound in Washington state for an undisclosed sum to Forest City Military Communities, subject to approval by the Navy, it was announced August 1.

Central Arkansas subcontractors and suppliers have been left holding the bag for at least hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work and materials and still the failed developer collects about $9 million a year in rents from LRAFB airmen in privatized base housing.

Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation have begun to take note.

“The situation is very concerning to everyone,” said Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Arkansas, a long-time supporter of the base and chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

“It’s not clear to me at this time how this is going to get resolved to the best interest of our Air Force families.”
Sen. Mark Pryor’s office said he would address the issue Thursday after a tour of the base.

The developer, American Eagle Communities LLC, is two years behind schedule at LRAFB, according to Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz, the base commander.

In addition to the 25 homes that have been completed and occupied, about 70 concrete slabs have been poured. The contract calls for 468 new homes and 732 homes remodeled by 2011.

Schatz said about 200 homes should have been built or remodeled by now.

At Moody Air Force Base, where work stopped in January, Wing Commander Col. Kenn Todorov took Cong. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, and other officials on a driving tour Monday to see the dilapidated condition of Moody Air Force Base’s privatized housing project.

“The Air Force continues to work with all parties to find ways to move the projects forward, Mike Hawkins, an Air Force spokesman familiar with all four Carabetta Air Force housing-privatization contracts said Tuesday.

The Carabetta family, either alone or as managing partner of American Eagle Communities LLC, is the developer of Air Force privatization projects at Little Rock, Moody, Patrick and Hanscom Air Force bases.

Despite Carabettas’ 25-year history of bankruptcy, corruption allegations, unpaid contractors, slowly paid contractors, unfinished projects, unhappy partners and lawsuits, the Air Force determined that past performance was satisfactory for all four Carabetta/Shaw projects, according to Hawkins.

In an August 1 editorial, the Valdosta Daily Times asks how that can be and suggests an investigation may be in order.

Monday, August 06, 2007

SPORTS>>BHS grad to play for Lady Mustangs

Leader sportswriter

Beebe High School graduate Callie Mahoney will be a Lady Mustang at Central Baptist College in Conway. Mahoney, a three-time All-State pitcher with the Lady Badgers, signed with CBC at the Beebe High School library on Wednesday in front of family, coaches and media.

Mahoney helped to lead the Lady Badgers to two state-championship game appearances her sophomore and senior years, as well as a semifinal appearance her junior year in 2006. The Lady Badgers have featured a group of dominating seniors the past few years, and ’07 was no exception.

Mahoney, along with teammates Sara Flenor and Brandi Birkhalter, only suffered one conference loss during their sophomore through senior years of softball, and never went out of the state championship lower than third place.

Mahoney had her choice of colleges, with interest from the University of Arkansas, Lyon College in Batesville, the University of Central Arkansas and her ultimate choice, CBC. She says the decision to choose Central Baptist was a tough one, but finally chose Central due in part to its closeness to home.

“I had so many things to think about and consider,” Mahoney said. “I had other offers, so it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. I went to visit the other schools. I have friends that go to Central, and I also wanted to stay at home while I can. It just seemed like I would be more comfortable there.”

Mahoney racked up some impressive stats while playing for the Lady Badgers. Her junior year, she pitched a 21-5 record with an earned run average of 0.75. She also batted a .525 with four home runs. Her senior year, her ERA dropped to a staggering 0.75, with a 19-2 record, along with a .325 batting average and three home runs.

Lady Badgers coach Terry Flenor says Mahoney’s contribution to the team was stellar all the way around, but that she shined the brightest when the stakes were high.

“She was a dominant pitcher for her four years of high school,” Flenor said. “She pitched a lot of big games against a lot of big teams. She was our number one pitcher for three years. Even when we had Crystal (Robinson), Callie threw as much as she did; it was just a matter of Crystal being a little older and a little more experience.”

As for the championship losses, Mahoney said it was tough to experience the heartbreak two separate times, but chalks the outcomes up to fate.

“It was hard on all of us,” Mahoney said. “We wanted it so bad our last year. Even the younger girls were telling us ‘we’re doing this for y’all because it’s your last year and we want this for you, but everything happens for a reason.”

SPORTS>>Cabot battles heat

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers have looked good through the first week of two-a-days, including the last two days when the team went into full pads for the first time. Full-pad practice began around the state on Thursday. Thursday and Friday were also two of the hottest days of the year, but the Panthers fought through it well.

“We looked pretty good,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “The kids worked out pretty hard over the summer so they’re in good shape. We kept ‘em watered down and they got through it fine. We had one, I think, that caught a cramp in his leg, but other than that we didn’t have any problems.”

The Panthers do have a few problems with injuries, but underclassmen and transfers are filling roles left by injured players nicely.

Keifer Richmond, who played for Cabot as a sophomore before moving to Vilonia, is back and providing some depth at offensive guard.

Projected starter Matt Jackson is out right now with injury, but Richmond has played well in his old position.
“He played there as a sophomore,” Malham said. “With Jackson out, offensive guard is a must and he’s doing pretty well right now.

Callin Norris, who transferred in from North Carolina, is taking over some duties and relieving some problems at another thin position, defensive end.

“We weren’t sure who we were going to be able to put there, but he looks like he’s going to be able to play,” Malham said.
Quarterback depth is a problem right now.

Malham has not settled on a definite starter between junior Nathan Byrnes and sophomore Seth Bloomberg, but Bloomberg is taking all the varsity snaps as Byrnes sits out with a broken nose.

“We feel both of those guys can really play,” Malham said. “Depth is a problem right now. If something happens and Bloomberg goes down, with Burns already out, we could be in a bind.”

A few other injuries are forcing younger players into varsity repetitions, but that’s not entirely a negative thing, according to Malham.

“With these guys standing and watching, it’s creating opportunities for some other guys to show what they can do,” Malham said. “This sophomore class has got some athletes. We’ve got six of them working with the varsity right now and they’re not bad. We’re just going to be young.”

SPORTS>>Getting on the same page

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville football team held off from going into full pads this week. Thursday was the first day that teams were allowed to participate in full-contact practice, but the Red Devils opted to stay in shorts and helmets for a couple of key reasons.

The Jacksonville coaching staff decided to get the team fully up to speed on its packages before heading into contact.
“Our first bunch know what we’re doing,” Whatley said. “We wanted to start this week from the ground floor and get these other guys caught up mentally. Once we get them caught up we can go full speed, full contact and give them a chance to compete for some spots. It’s a little hard for those guys to compete when they don’t know as much as the guys they’re competing against.”

The Red Devils plan to put on shoulder pads on Monday, and will begin going full contact later next week.

The temperature went through the roof in the last two days, but the team played through it well. That’s another reason the decision was made to wait before donning all the pads.

“One thing is certain, and that is that concentration starts to wane when you’re tired,” Whatley said. “We’ve been able to get a lot of running in this week and that’s going to help when we put the pads and start running plays. We want to get our entire packages in on both sides of the ball before we start a lot of hitting.”

The team handled the running and the heat well.

“They responded and hustled,” Whatley said. “This is a small group so far, but it’s a good group. They listen, well-mannered, it’s a god character group.

Senior Cameron Hood is still in front at quarterback, but Thomas Blade is making steady progress. Quarterback depth was a major concern, but Blade has shown enough to ease some of the tension caused by depth concerns at the position.

“Thomas is coming along and getting better every day,” Whatley said. “He’s to the point now that we’re pretty confident that if one guy is having an off day, the other one can come in and make some things happen.”

Hood is also a standout linebacker, and the coaching staff would love to see him on the defensive side of the ball.
“Cam is just a football player,” Whatley said. “There are so many positions he could play. It’s almost an injustice to him not to let him play linebacker because that’s where he could really step up at the next level.”

About 55 players were on the field at the end of the week, with six or seven others that are expected to show up by the end of next week.

That number is a little down from the two previous seasons under Whatley. Strangely, it’s the sophomore class, which is usually the largest class of high school team’s, where the numbers are lacking. There are only six 10th graders on the squad.

EDITORIALS>>A law we don’t need

Women everywhere can feel secure in the knowledge that starting this week they will be safer when they venture into the virtuous confines of Arkansas. Or not.

That is owing to an act of the Arkansas legislature that makes it a crime to snap a photograph or a video in public that peers down a woman’s blouse or up her skirt.

The legislation is the crowning freshman achievement of Rep. Donna Hutchinson, R-Bella Vista, better known as the first wife of former U. S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, who had a fling with one of his Senate employees several years ago and then divorced Mrs. Hutchinson.

Thus, her career took off as her ex-husband’s came to an ignominious end. He was beaten by Mark Pryor in 2002.
We were reminded of Mrs. Hutchinson’s first legislative spawn — she called it the “Paris Hilton law” — when we published examples of the 1,755 laws that the General Assembly passed in a span of some 50 working days and that took effect this week.

We have always been amazed at the sheer volume, if not the quality, of laws that the legislature passes at every biennial sitting.

How can they craft so much policy detail much less master it while partying like crazy?

The answer, of course, is that others often write the legislation and we are lucky if the lawmakers master just the important stuff.

Mrs. Hutchinson’s cleavage law reminds us of something else. We have too many criminal laws. Every session, the legislature expands the criminal code by criminalizing scores more examples of reprehensible or simply tasteless behavior.

It is not merely the Arkansas legislature but the nature of lawmaking.

State legislatures make it a criminal act for teenagers to wear low-rise jeans or to show their underwear.

Most of the laws are never or rarely enforced simply because lawmen have better things to do, but they still contribute to the burden of crowded jails, prisons and courts.

Frank Trippett, an old statehouse reporter who wrote a book once called “The States: United They Fell,” called the legislative appetite for trivia “microphilia.” Good word.

Gene Healy, a senior editor at the libertarian think tank, Cato Institute, wrote a book about the impulse to outlaw distasteful conduct a couple of years ago called “Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything.”

“The criminal law has become an all-purpose tool for legislators to signal that they are serious about whatever the social problem of the month is, and that’s really a dangerous tendency,” Healy said. “The criminal law is the society’s most powerful moral sanction and it ought to be reserved for those sorts of really dangerous and blameworthy offenses that you’re willing to lock people up for.”

Risqué photography is not one of them.

Paris Hilton indeed! If Rep. Hutchinson will spend less time surfing Internet Web sites and more time studying the tax code, lawmaking will be improved.

Editorial by Ernie Dumas.

EDITORIALS>>Mayor Hillman

Virginia Hillman, Sherwood’s new mayor, was all smiles Wednesday after she was sworn into office, accepting congratulations from supporters and other people of goodwill who wished her well.

Hillman had fought a tough campaign against several formidable opponents, including former Mayor Bill Harmon, whom she faced in Tuesday’s runoff, besting him almost 2-1, a remarkable achievement considering the powerful forces who lined up behind Harmon.

Hillman, the former city clerk, is eager to work with the city council, which had a stormy relationship with former Mayor Danny Stedman, who served in office just four months before resigning for health reasons.

The council should give Hillman an opportunity to lead a growing community that will see dramatic growth with the development of some 2,000 acres that city recently annexed. Sherwood’s population could surpass Jacksonville’s in the next five years as a result of the annexation. Jacksonville had also hoped to annex at least part of the area northwest of Sherwood but lost out in a contentious court battle.

Also high on Hillman’s agenda is deciding what to do with the proposed sale of Rolling Hills Country Club, which Harmon, who until this week acted as interim mayor, wanted the city to buy the property and stop private developers from putting a subdivision on the golf course.

Hillman, ever the concilliator, wants the public to decide what to do with the golf course. That is her style of governing, and here’s wishing her all the best.

EDITORIALS>>Judge’s ruling rescues FOI

Pulaski Circuit Judge Mary Ann McGowan is our nominee for public servant of the year: For the third time, she has defended the state’s Freedom of Information Act to the letter, ruling that Pulaski County must release just about every e-mail between a former employee accused of stealing public funds and a woman he romanced while she did business with the county.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette had sued to get access to the emails after the former comptroller was arrested and charged with fraud in the misuse of county funds.

The state Supreme Court had put on hold Judge McGowan’s decision ordering Pulaski County to release the potentially embarrassing emails from Ron Quillen, the former comptroller and director of administrative services for the county, who now faces criminal charges for pocketing some $42,000 in public funds. The Supreme Court told Judge McGowan to review all the e-mails first, and on Thursday she decided the county must release all but the most obscene materials from Quillen and his paramour.

The emails will not be released while Pulaski County appeals the judge’s rulling. County Judge F. G. “Buddy” Villines still wants the emails kept from the public. He and Karla Bennett, the county attorney, are appealing the judge’s ruling for the second time, even though the emails were sent on county property while Quillen was collecting a paycheck and sending county business to his girlfriend, who is identified as Doe in the lawsuit.

As Judge McGowan noted, “There are many emails that indicate that Quillin favors Doe regarding business besides pleasure.”
The two apparently had become lovers as well while they were doing the taxpayers’ business, and the email exchanges had gotten steamy. Karla Bennett said some were too graphic and too personal for a reporter to see. It turns out that Quillin also was trying to get the county attorney a state government job.

Here’s the key issue, and why the emails are public property: “The personal relationship may have influenced Quillin in expenditures of funds of Pulaski County,” the judge wrote. “Further, there are more instances in which, if the public were not allowed to know, information concerning public money may not come to light.”

She also wonders if jewelry and clothing Quillen had given Doe “may or may not have come from a county account” — that is, out of your pocketbook.

Before issuing their ruling, the Supreme Court justices sought more details about how the state’s Freedom of Information Act might or might not cover private emails to and from county employees using public computers. Unfortunately, the majority misread the law, telling Judge McGowan, who has ruled correctly all along, that she must review every one of the hundreds of emails between Quillen and Doe., which she has patiently done, however odious the task might have been.

Judge McGowan had it right back in June, when she first ruled on this case: She said the freedom of information law means what it says about letting the public see public records and that it applies to the county government.

As we’ve said before, the Freedom of Information Act does not exempt material of a sexual nature from public access. We have had occasion in our community, notably in Lonoke, to see how sex and the conduct of the public’s business can collide. Former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and his wife Kelly wound up in prison for their misconduct.

County Judge Villines ought to order the release of just about all the emails connected with Quillin’s work instead of filing more appeals that he has little chance of overturning.

OBITUARIES >> 08-04-07

Tommy Price

Tommy Ray Price, 51, of Hickory Plains died August 1 as a result of an automobile accident.

He was born Sept. 28, 1955, at Beebe, to Oscar “Bully” and Nell Daily Price. He was a truck driver for Pronto Express Trucking of Judsonia.

He was preceded in death by two brothers, Randall and Timmy Price, and a nephew, Matt Price.

He is survived by his parents; four sons, Shane Price and wife Shawna, Dustin Price and wife Katrina, Joseph Price and Michael Price; three daughters, Jennifer Jennings and husband Bryan, Sally Walker and husband Billy and Jessica Price, all of Hickory Plains; nine grandchildren; four brothers, Rodney Price of Hallsville, Texas, Richard Price, Bobby Price, both of Hickory Plains and Russell Price of Camden; one sister, Becky Geans of DeValls Bluff; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 4 at Beebe First Church of the Nazarene, with burial in Hickory Plains Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Sheila Legate

Sheila Vail Legate, 50, died August 1.

She is survived by her husband, Jerry Legate; children, Tracy Tate, Kristy Legate and Matthew Legate, all of Lonoke; parents, Billy Joe and Josie Stell; brothers and sisters, Dennie, James, Walter, Judy and Sherry Stell and six grandchildren.
Graveside services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 4 at Legate Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke.

Valentine Vickers

Valentine Anne Vickers, 88, passed away August 1 at her Cabot home.

She was born Feb. 1, 1919 in Tsinanfu, China, to the late Alexander and Anna Kossah Dobro.

She was also preceded in death by her husband, Col. Earl Kenneth Vickers, Jr., and a brother, Constance Dobro.  
She was a member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville and the Altar Rosary Society.

Survivors include three sons, Earl, Phillip Michael and Vincent Vickers; six daughters, Jennifer Deanne Muddiman, Earleen Patrice Reese, Sheila Maureen Roberson, Josephine Elaine New-ton, Bridget Anne Norton and Marguerite Loriane White; a sister, Jenny Brosseau; 22 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, one niece and one nephew.

Funeral mass will be at 10 a.m., Tuesday, August 7 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church with Father Les Farley officiating. Interment will follow at National Cemetery in Little Rock.  Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the church with Rosary following at 7 p.m.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

John Brown

John D. Brown, 68, of Austin passed away July 27 after a six-week ordeal with cancer.
He was born June 20, 1939.

John retired after 30-plus years as an engineer serving on the Missouri Pacific/Union Pacific Railroad. His love for building race cars and racing filled his younger years. Later, hunting, camping, fishing and boating with his family and many friends became his favorite pastimes.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Frank Brown and Mary Louise Brown Luther; brother-in-law, Jay, and numerous other family members including stepfather, Oscar Luther and 16 aunts/uncles and many cousins.

He is survived by his former wife, Mary L. Brown; three daughters, Sheila, Rebecca and Kimberly and her husband Jimmy. Also surviving him are his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sisters, Norma and husband Joe and Sharon; and aunts, Faye and Helen. He leaves behind an additional daughter, Faith Ann, from his first marriage.

In honor of John’s final request, a private service will be conducted at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, please show special kindness to someone today.

TOP STORY >>Another C-130J lands here

Leader staff writer

The 41st Airlift Squadron, the Air Force’s first active-duty combat C-130J squadron, received its newest and fourth C-130J aircraft Friday at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Lt. Gen. Donald J. Hoffman, military deputy in the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition at the Pentagon, flew the new Herk in from the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, Ga. “It was my pleasure to be part of these ceremonies; it was a great flight,” Hoffman said.

He admitted to those gathered for the brief welcoming ceremony that he did fly a C-130J simulator while in Marietta, calling it a “humbling experience.”

“It (the actual C-130J) flies much better than the simulator,” he said. “The C-130 has helped and served this nation well over many, many decades,” Hoffman added.

Hoffman is responsible for research and development, test, production and modernization of Air Force programs worth more than $23 billion annually.

The 41st AS and the 463rd Airlift Maintenance Squadron – Silver AMU, will be home to tail number 64633.

Together they will be responsible for deploying the C-130J in combat and contingency operations, adding to Little Rock Air Force Base’s legacy of providing worldwide support capability when and where they require it.

The plane’s addition will improve the squadron’s combat-airlift capabilities by providing its aircrews more training opportunities as they prepare for upcoming Aerospace Ex-peditionary Force deployments.

The 41st will face its first rotation (deployment) since realigning to LRAFB from Pope AFB, N.C., as early as next February, according to Col. Jeffrey Hoffer, commander of the 463rd Airlift Group.

Lt. Col. Dan Tulley, 41st squadron commander, added the rotation would more than likely be earlier rather than later in the new year, but he didn’t know exactly when.

He said it would be a normal 120-day rotation when the time came.

The 41st was reassigned to the 463rd AG at LRAFB following base realignment and closure (BRAC). The squadron called the 43rd Airlift Wing at Pope home for 36 years.

A total of 14 C-130Js are planned for the Blackcats of the 41st AS.

TOP STORY >>New mayor hard at work

Leader staff writer

Finishing up her first week in office, Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman simply said it was busy. Even though she was the city clerk for six years, she said she still didn’t have a complete picture of the mayor’s job. “It’s bigger and broader over here,” the new mayor said.

The mayor, 43, who garnered 2,646 votes, or 64.4 percent, against interim Mayor Bill Harmon, who received 1,461 votes, or 35.6 percent in Tuesday’s runoff election, said her first few days have been very positive.

“I’ve attended a chamber meeting and have met with a number of the aldermen, and it’s all been very positive and upbeat,” she said.

Alderman Butch Davis said Hillman was very helpful to him when she was city clerk and expects her and the council to work well together. “Her job is to administrate and our job is to legislate, and yes, the two can co-exist.”

Davis expects some disagreements with Hillman. “I had them with Mayor Harmon and won a few and lost a few, but we were always able to shake hands afterwards.” He expects to do the same with Hillman.

Alderman David Henry said Hillman “was pretty sharp.”

“Everything will be all right. There’ll be no problems,” he said.

On Monday, she’ll attended the monthly senior citizens’ luncheon as she has for years, but this will be the first time as the mayor.

“It’ll be fun,” she said.

Hillman will finish out the remaining 41 months of Mayor Dan Stedman’s term. Stedman was elected last November, took office in January, but resigned in April due to health issues.

Former Mayor Bill Harmon, who didn’t run in the November election, opting for retirement instead, was appointed interim mayor a week after Stedman re-signed and then decided to make another run for the position.

Hillman and Harmon were the top vote-getters out of a five-candidate field in a July 10 special election.

Since neither Hillman nor Harmon received more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff was scheduled, and on Tuesday Hillman beat Harmon.

After the runoff election, Sherwood resident Julann Carney, who is active in city affairs, said, “Virginia Hillman is a common person with uncommon values.  I believe that due to her 21 years as a city employee that she brings in a vast breadth of knowledge to the office.  She has an outstanding reputation for unimpeachable character and integrity.”

Carney added, “I hope that the city council will work with Mayor Hillman much better than they worked with Mayor Stedman. The people of Sherwood have given her a mandate, and the city council needs to remember that when they convene again.”

TOP STORY >>Candidates have to file by Monday

Leader staff writers

There is still time before the deadline at 4:30 p.m. Monday to gather 20 or so signatures of qualified voters and file for the Sept. 18 school board elections.

The actual deadline was today, but it was extended because it fell on Saturday.

The statewide school board elections will be held Sept. 18.

Pulaski County

In the Pulaski County Special School District, four people have filed for the school board election.

Bill Vasquez of Jacksonville has filed against Dr. James E. Bolden, III, also of Jacksonville, for Bolden’s Zone 6 seat.
Mildred Tatum is running unopposed for her Zone 1 seat. Debbie Murphy is running unopposed for the Zone 2 seat.

Lonoke County

In the Cabot School District, Dr. Brenda Thielemier, board vice president, has yet to file for re-election to her Position 7 seat. Ken Kincade is running for Thielemier’s vacant position or against her if she decides to run.

Board member Jim Coy is running for re-election to his Position 3 seat. Arthur Evans has filed against him.

Kincade and Evans both ran in last year’s school board election, for the Position 2 seat, against current board president David Hipp.

Two positions are open in the England School District.

Kenneth Bascue and Jason Willard are running for the Zone 3, Ward 2 seat.

A three-way race will be had for the Zone 7 seat between Jerry Rice, Charles W. McDonald and Vernon B. Brazell.

As of Friday, no one had filed in the Carlisle School Board election, but hopefuls have until 4:30 p.m. Monday to file for office.
So far in the Lonoke district, only the incumbent Ray Kelleybrew has filed for the Zone 1 seat that is open this year.

White County

In Beebe, Brenda K. McKown filed late Friday morning for the seat held by Lorrie Belew, who is not running for re-election.
Belew, who has served on the board for five years, says that is long enough. She is ready to relax, she said.

“We’ve been through a lot,” Belew said. “We had the McRae annexation and we hired a new superintendent; I’m ready for somebody else to take over. There are plenty of people in Beebe with talent and good leadership skills who can take my spot,” she said.

Although only 20 signatures are required on the petition to file for school board, county clerks recommend that candidates gather at least 25 in case some are thrown out because they are not qualified voters.

TOP STORY >>Repairs needed on local bridges

Leader senior staff writer

“Safe and closed” are the two categories of bridges and overpasses in Arkansas, said state Highway and Transportation Department spokesman Glenn Bolick Thursday in the wake of the Mississippi River bridge collapse at Minneapolis. “We have zero unsafe bridges,” he said.

In Arkansas, 11 similar bridges have designs similar to the one that collapsed in Minneapolis—none of them close to that size or carrying the traffic the Minneapolis bridge did and none over major bodies of water, according to Randy Ort of the state Highway and Transportation Department.

Locally, the Broadway Bridge over the Arkansas River is old, functionally obsolete and showing signs of wear and deterioration, but is structurally sound, Ort said. Inspectors also have found cracks in some steel under the I-440 bridge over the Arkansas River but it also is structurally safe, he said.

“The sufficiency rating is a management tool that helps us identify which bridges are eligible for federal bridge replacement funds,” according to Ort. “It is not an indicator of the structural integrity of the bridge. It considers the condition, age, design and use of the bridge.

Among Pulaski and Lonoke county structures, only the Hwy. 67/167 overpass at Main Street in Jacksonville is “functionally obsolete,” said Bolick, but nonetheless, it’s safe.

“It doesn’t meet today’s design standards,” Bolick said. He said it should be wider, have wider shoulders and better-designed guard rails on the sides, but no changes are planned until that entire section of the highway is widened.

That overpass is among roughly 15 percent of bridges and overpasses in the state are considered functionally obsolete, while another 8 percent are considered structurally deficient, usually meaning they require signs telling truckers what the safe weight load is—less than the standard 80,000 pounds, he said.

Nearly 1,000 bridges in Arkansas are rated structurally deficient, the same federal designation given to a Minnesota bridge that collapsed during rush-hour traffic, Arkansas highway officials said Thursday. But that doesn’t mean any of the state’s deficient bridges must be closed, according to Bolick.

Twenty-nine state-owned bridges and structures in Pulaski, Lonoke and White counties were listed as structurally deficient as of Thursday.

Bridges in White County are safe as long as the posted weight limits are followed, says Joe Trantham, the District 5 construction engineer for the Highway Department, which inspects every bridge in the county at least every two years.
Trantham says the bridges are in various states of repair depending on age and the materials used to build them, but none are in danger of collapsing unless someone exceeds the weight limit.

“The old wood bridges used to give us problems,” said Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman. “We only have one wood bridge left—a 120-foot span over Bayou Meto between Lonoke and Prairie County on Durham Road northeast of Humnoke. I’d like it out, but it probably doesn’t see six cars a day.”

He said the state Highway Department inspects all roads in bridges in the county.

“There used to be some dangerous bridges,” said long-time Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, but they’ve been “all replaced or repaired. There are some little issue here we need to take care of.”

Jacksonville City Administrator Jay Whisker said all city bridges are “in good working order.” He said one bridge — a concrete slab over two steel culverts — needed the culverts replaced. Usually an inspection reveals nothing more than the need to replace stolen signs, Whisker said.

White County has 23 bridges that have been classified as functionally deficient, which means weight-limit signs are supposed to be posted. The Highway Department furnishes the signs and the county or (depending upon the location) the city is responsible for putting them up.

The Highway Department also tells the county judges and mayors what repairs need to be made, Trantham said. If a bridge is becoming dangerous, the Highway Department will make more frequent inspections, Trantham said. Although the Highway Department has no enforcement authority, it can withhold state money if repairs aren’t made and weight-limit signs aren’t installed.

About four years ago, a truck carrying building materials and weighing more than the posted 40-ton weight limit broke through a bridge off El Paso Road, he said. Not only was it illegal for the truck to cross the bridge, the company that owned the truck had to pay to rebuild it, he said.

To avoid being caught exceeding the weight limit, some haulers simply pull the weight-limit signs out of the ground and throw them to the side, he said.

“That way they can say they didn’t see any sign,” Trantham said. “You wouldn’t believe how big a problem it is.”

“If any information is found that warrants a review of inspection procedures in our state, my office will work together with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to take necessary steps,” Gov. Mike Beebe announced Thursday.
Leader staff writer Joan McCoy contributed to this report.

TOP STORY >>Funding parks is priority for city

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville residents and visitors to the city will see the price of their favorite fast-food combo go up starting in October as the city council approved a new 2-cent prepared- food tax by an 8-2 vote Thursday night.

Half of the tax, about $275,000, will go to the parks and recreation department, much more than what the city’s advertising and promotion commission originally recommended. Less will go for advertising than the commission had originally suggested.

The new tax covers all forms of food prepared “on site” at restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, grocery and department stores, and even ball park concession stands, unless the organization is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit group.
Aldermen Terry Sansing and Kevin McCleary voted no on the tax issue.

“It’s not that I’m against what this tax will do for the city, but my personal philosophy is that any tax needs to be voted on by the people,” Sansing said.

State law gives cities the option to enact the tax through council action or by electoral vote — the council chose to make the decision itself.

“Lots of cities in the state have this tax,” said Alderman Marshall Smith, who also chairs the advertising and promotion commission, “and I think only one had the people vote on it.”

Finance Director Paul Mush-rush said by starting the tax Oct. 1, it starts with the new quarter. “That gives us time to get our paperwork and permits in order and by starting at the beginning of the quarter it will be easier to make revenue projections and calculations,” he said.

The advertising and promotion commission, which wrestled with the idea of the tax for about nine months before proposing it to the council last month, originally planned to put the bulk — about $275,000 of the $551,000 that the tax would bring in — into a promotion fund to be used for logos, slogans, print advertising and television commercials promoting the city.
Then $163,000 was slated for the parks and recreation department, about $40,000 in administrative and staffing costs, and the rest divided between facilities, programs and activities like the military museum, Reed’s Bridge Battlefield, Wing Ding festival and July 4th Patriotic Spectacular, designed to bring visitors to the city.

But those amounts will change as aldermen made it clear the city’s top draw was its parks, which include ball fields and the Splash Zone aquatic park and that was where the majority of the money needed to go.

Aldermen amended the original version of the ordinance, which had no set amounts of money go into any particular fund or activity, to where 50 percent of whatever is collected would go to the parks and recreation department.

That means those funds would be initially put into the city’s general fund and then distributed to the parks department for specific purposes and projects by the city council.

The advertising and promotion commission would have the authority over the remaining funds generated by the tax and would use that amount to help out the museum and other facilities and projects and promote the city. The commission will review its proposed budget for the tax at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at city hall.

Before approving the tax, a few aldermen expressed concern with aspects of the tax proposal.

“I have problems with any tax,” said Alderman Gary Fletcher. “And I have a great problem with how this money is going to be spent.

“If you are going to promote Jacksonville, tell me, tell all of us, the two or three things that will bring people to Jacksonville. I’d like to see us put money into the city first,” he said.

Fletcher suggested working on Main Street landscaping first.

He said he didn’t the ads to be better than what Jacksonville has to offer. “I don’t want the movie trailers to be the best part,” he explained.

Fletcher also thought collecting and paying the tax, while not a problem for most chain restaurants, might be a burden to smaller businesses. “We need to make it as easy as possible,” he said.

Alderman Bob Stroud had a slightly different view, wanting the ordinance to have stronger penalties for those businesses not paying the tax. The ordinance states that a business not paying the tax can be charged with a misdemeanor. Stroud wanted that changed to a felony, but City Attorney Robert Bamburg said state law would not allow that.

In other council business:

The council also accepted a $75,758 construction bid from T.I.M. Construction to build sidewalks and handicap-accessible ramps in the Sunnyside area.

Police Chief Robert Baker told the council that his department received a $29,600 federal grant that will be used to buy equipment needed for the department’s DARE program for area schools and its criminal investigation division.

TOP STORY >>Thousands play legalized game

Leader staff writer

Seven area bingo halls opened their door during the first week of legalized charity bingo in the state, with four more planning to open by September.

Sherwood’s Moose Lodge opened Tuesday night with 170 players and increased to 200 on Thursday.
Bill Walters, Beebe Veterans of Foreign Wars commander, said, “We had 80 people attend opening night Wednesday with players from Augusta and Newport.”

Jacksonville’s VFW post had 116 players on Wednesday’s opening night. The King’s Outreach, a nonprofit organization helping the homeless and the needy with two thrift stores in Cabot and Jacksonville, opened a 250-seat bingo hall in Gravel Ridge with 45 people attending.

“I’m pleased with the crowd, since this was our very first time to host bingo. With all the parlors opening up at the same time, it hurt attendance, but I believe crowds will grow,” said Jackie Klatt, director.

Voters in November 2006 approved a constitutional amendment allowing charitable bingo. “Bingo had always been illegal since the state Constitution of 1874, because money is needed to participate in a game of chance for a prize reward,” said Gabe Holmstrom, spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

Bob Douglas, administrator for the Moose lodge, said, “75 percent of money brought in goes back to the players.” The lodge pays for the bingo cards and taxes. The rest goes to lodge-supported charities.

Bingo parlors can only be open twice a week and workers are volunteers.

Games last about five hours with a 10-game card pack averaging $20. Players must be at least 18 years old.

Several bingo players were glad this week arrived. Karen Hampton of North Little Rock said, “I really enjoy bingo, it’s my time to relax. I’m glad to know if I want to play bingo, I can feel good playing it because it’s legalized.”

Marilyn Tillman and her cousins, Claudia Phillips and Ann Moore, all of England, drove to Sherwood to play bingo. They have played for more than 15 years.

“Bingo lets us have a girls’ day out. We would carpool to Oklahoma to play bingo before tonight. I like playing for the money, and it’s something to do,” Tillman said.

Phillips said, “I was very upset when the games closed down, but now I have something to look forward to on Tuesdays.”
“I played bingo once a week, and think it is about time bingo came back; I signed all the petitions for it. People are going to gamble, and we might as well keep the money in the state,” said Fawn True of Cabot.

Winning at bingo is more than getting five numbers across.

Some games require double bingos before a card is a winner and there are more than 12 different game patterns a bingo hall can use during the night for a card to be a winner.

To see which pattern is playing, each player receives a game schedule for the evening or can look at the bingo board.
Patterns resemble football goals, kites, postage stamps, X’s, T’s, L’s, little jugs, large and small diamonds, large and small picture frames, four corners, baseball diamonds, block of nines and cover alls – all numbers stamped on a card.

Games at Moose Lodge, 4000 E. Kiehl Ave., are played on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Games start at 6 p.m. and end by 10:15 p.m.

TKO, The King’s Outreach, a nonprofit organization, plays bingo in Gravel Ridge at 14200 Hwy. 107. Games are from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays.

On Friday nights at 7, bingo is played at the South Bend Volunteer Fire station at 4414 Hwy. 294 N. in Jacksonville.
Proceeds benefit the South Bend Fire Fighters Association, a separate non-profit entity from the fire department.
SBFFA helps with community service projects, assisting families during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and buys emergency equipment for the firefighters.

Beebe’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, 1405 E. Center St., hosts bingo 6 to 10 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Jacksonville’s VFW Post 4540 on Hwy. 161 N. plays bingo Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. and Sundays at 4:15 p.m.
Jacksonville’s Knights of Columbus will hold its first bingo night at 7 and Saturday at St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Drive.

The American Veterans post on 288 Hwy. 64 between El Paso and Beebe will hold games 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

There will also be a one-time specially licensed bingo night at Pulaski Technical Col-lege Foundation from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 7, in the Grand Hall of the PTC Campus Center.

“Bingo night will help with scholarships and the foundation, which is separate from the state,” said Tim Jones, director of public relations and marketing.

Tickets to the event are $25 and include one bingo card for the first five games; additional cards will be available for $5 a card.

Little Rock Air Force Base Spouses’ Club will host “Red, White, and Bingo!”
Check-in and social hour begins at 6 p.m. with games starting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 16 at the LRAFB Conference Center. All spouses of active duty, Guard, Reserve, retiree and government service employees are invited to attend.

This is an open house to welcome back club members and not a fund-raising or gambling event.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Rachel Kreps at 765-0316 by 5 p.m. Aug. 13.