Friday, August 17, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Huck must review record

One of our encyclopedic services is political advice to Arkansas sons and daughters, an obligation that we take especially seriously when they gambol upon the national stage. On the chance that Mike Huckabee’s second-place showing in the Iowa Straw Poll last week has catapulted him into the ranks of serious candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, we offer some earnest counsel.

He needs to straighten out some untruths about his record as Arkansas governor before the press scavengers and the opposition researchers for Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback start combing the archives.

Recall what happened to Al Gore in 2000. Republican op teams, led by our own Tim Griffin, combed through stories and records looking for conflicts in Gore’s public statements and leaked them to the media. One actually was an untruth, that he had personally attended a disaster program in Texas, but the rest were distortions of what Gore had actually said.

Nevertheless, the hammering developed an image of Gore as a serial liar and exaggerator that he could not shake. We don’t want that to happen to our former governor, and the best way to avoid it is to come forward now, voluntarily, to correct his public misstatements. Many are about his record on taxing and spending in his 10 ½ years as governor.

This one, for instance: The Iowa papers are full of claims by Huckabee that he never raised motor fuel taxes in Arkansas. “Eighty percent of the people of my state voted to do it,” he was quoted in one newspaper as saying last week. A letter to all the television station managers in Iowa made the same claim, that voters at a statewide referendum, not he, raised diesel and gasoline taxes and that defying the voters’ will would have violated his oath of office.

But that never happened. The legislature passed Huckabee’s highway program, which included hikes in gasoline and diesel taxes, and he signed it into law. Voters never got a chance to vote on those taxes. They were allowed to vote whether to apply those taxes on a pay-as-you-go program or to borrow $575 million and build them sooner. Anyone can look up the law, the Arkansas Highway Financing Act of 1999, Act 1027, and see that the taxes were never subjected to a vote and that they were collected regardless of what happened on the bond election.

He implies that a one-eighth of one percent sales taxes for the Game and Fish Commission and state parks were imposed by the people and that he had nothing to do with it. Anyone with a computer can check the newspaper archives in October 1996 and read about the governor’s four-day journey in his bass boat down the Arkansas River from Fort Smith to Dumas to urge voters to go vote for his conservation tax, which was imposed by a constitutional amendment. If ever a tax belonged to a single individual, it was the conservation sales tax of 1996. He touted it as one of his greatest accomplishments.

He ought to correct the record also about the governor being responsible for only a small part of the appropriation of general and special revenues. (He had nothing to do with the 65 percent increase in state spending on his watch, he said.) In truth, the governor submits a budget for every single state agency and has the veto power if the legislature raises his budgets heedlessly. He never did it. And he needs to explain that he did not force 94 tax cuts through the legislature, and that the big one that he has bragged about, the omnibus income tax law of 1997, was the proposal of his predecessor, Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, and it was the Democratic tax bill, not his.

That record is nothing to be ashamed of. We commiserate with the governor’s dilemma. Iowa Republicans are supposed to be especially hostile to taxes. The real shame will be to be proved to have been lying. Already, the rich boys at the Club for Growth are pestering him about it, but there is time to come clean honorably before Mitt Romney or Sam Brownback or The New York Times begin brandishing the record. He won’t be able to live it down with a thousand homespun jokes.
While he’s at it, he might want to correct the misstatements in TV interviews about not wanting Wayne Dumond released from prison so that he could kill.

Truth and candor, he will discover, are mighty political weapons if he chooses to wield them. They would separate him from the rest of the crowd in this campaign.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Cooking with gas

Gov. Beebe’s style of leadership is both frustrating and reassuring. He comes to awareness about the public good glacially, month by month and year by year, but he always gets there.

So there he was last week promising to lead an effort to require big energy companies to pay a modest severance tax on the gas they siphon from the Arkansas earth and pipe to the industrial centers to the east. When he took office in January he said that was not on his agenda. Weeks ago he said a severance tax actually was a moral imperative but that he was unwilling to lead the suicide effort to combat the political power of the energy companies. It takes a three-fourths vote in each house of the legislature to pass severance taxes and most other business taxes.

Last week, Beebe let it be known that he was talking to the gas executives and telling them they must settle on a severance tax that was comparable to those in other states and help him pass it in the legislature in 2009. If not, he said, he would lead a petition drive to put it on the 2010 ballot as an initiated act. Backroom consensus building was Beebe’s forte in two decades in the state Senate and his leverage is even better in the governor’s office. We have no doubt he can do it.

But 2010? Why wait three-and-a-half years when it could be done easily next year? Find a settlement and offer it to the legislature at a special session whenever one is called or put it on the 2008 ballot.

The settlement should be simple to reach. Severance taxes on natural resources run generally from 5 to 7.5 percent of the fair market value of gas at the wellhead.

Five percent of wellhead value should be a rock-bottom rate. Our current rate (a fixed three-tenths of a penny on each 1,000 cubic feet) is an almost infinitesimal fraction of the lowest rate in other states. If we are competing with other states, our biggest competitor is Texas, from which comes much of the gas that we consume. If the producers there pass on the tax to consumers, we are paying the 7.5 percent tax in our monthly gas bill. Why shouldn’t factories in the Ohio River Valley contribute something to our public schools and colleges when they burn our shale gas?

They should, of course, just as we support the schools of Wyoming when we pay our monthly electricity bills.

Wyoming charges a whopping severance tax on its coal, which is shipped to Arkansas and used to generate much of our electricity. Arkansas alone sends its vanishing natural resources abroad virtually free, apropos a colony rather than a state. There is another consideration. The gas severance tax would enable Beebe to take the other 3 percent of state sales tax off groceries. Generations would rise up and call him blessed.
— Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>When second is first

Mike Huckabee’s campaign for president, which was on life support, got a shot of adrenalin Saturday — or was it morphine? He finished second behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa Straw Poll, a hokey stunt by the Iowa Republican Party to raise money.

Huckabee declared that his showing — 18 percent of the roughly 14,300 people who participated — elevated him from the second to first tier of Republican candidates. The national media did reward him with some unprecedented attention, even a front-page story in The New York Times about his campaign jokes, which have been the hallmark of his campaign.

Although three of the four major contenders ducked the Iowa taffy pull altogether, Huckabee threw everything into it. Unable to raise money and stuck in the low single digits in national polls and even in Iowa, the former governor saw it as his only chance to obtain lift-off before the late-winter primaries that seem likely to settle everything. He has criss-crossed Iowa relentlessly promoting himself rather than the dour Sam Brownback of neighboring Kansas as the best choice of evangelical conservatives. He barely edged Brownback for the second spot.

Having nearly exhausted his pitiful campaign chest, the straw poll was do or die for Huckabee, and he survived. Now he must somehow realize the payoff: money. If the rich people who bankroll the candidates cannot be convinced that he is a serious contender, he will limp into the real Iowa caucus vote and the primaries with nothing to sustain him but his stale campaign humor.

He upended Brownback by less than 400 votes and that was thanks to an outfit called, which has raised $5 million to tout a national sales tax during the presidential campaign. Huckabee jumped on their bandwagon early and the fair-taxers supplied the cavalry for his straw vote. It supplied buses and tickets to get sales tax supporters to the Ames campus to vote for Huckabee.

His common effort with the fair-tax fruitcakes got him into the coveted second spot in the straw poll and saved his campaign, but it will not help him in the larger campaign. The so-called Fair Tax, which has been around for nearly two decades, would replace federal income and payroll taxes with a national sales tax that would produce the same amount of federal revenues.

The fair-taxers say that would be 30 percent on every $1 purchase (or 23 percent of the final price after taxes), although tax economists say it would have to be much higher, up to 67 percent, to offset the loss of taxes in the mammoth black market that would develop. The idea of adding 67 percent, or even 30 percent, to your mortgage when you buy a new house, or to the price a new car, the doctor’s bill, a sack of groceries or the babysitter will not appeal to many voters.

The Fair Tax would send the resilient American economy into a tailspin and set up a tax-collection leviathan that would make the IRS look like a charity raffle.

Huckabee ought to be careful about embracing such silliness or it will imperil his chances of landing on the ticket with Romney or Rudy Giuliani, who will be looking for Southern balance. Stupidity is not balance. His record of progressive reform and willingness to raise taxes for good causes might be.

TOP STORY >>Group exploring jail tax options

Leader staff writer

Because Pulaski County voters turned down a dedicated quarter-cent sales tax last year for the jail, county officials are looking for ways to maximize the resources they have now, according to Allen Kerr, District 3 justice of the peace, who is chairing a public safety subcommittee.

The county needs the additional money to expand, rehabilitate and operate the county detention center, used by all cities and towns in the county, but until the public is ready, officials are implementing some of the 16 recommendations of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Task Force to managing funds and the jail more efficiently and with greater transparency, he said.

“You can’t take 15 years of wrong decisions and fix them overnight, you slowly have to chip away at it,” Kerr said.

The task force, chaired by former UALR Chancellor Charles Hathaway, suggested two comprehensive, expensive audits, one of the county’s finances, and the other of jobs and personnel.

Kerr’s subcommittee will make recommendations to the ways and means committee, which in turn can recommend ordinances to the entire quorum court.

At a subcommittee meeting Monday night, participants, including half-a-dozen quorum court members, suggested that the county sequester funds for public safety and make those financial and personnel audits a high priority, even though it will cost the county about $500,000.

Sheriff Doc Holladay said, “We want to close the North Little Rock jail facility, but would need to filter the prisoners into another facility. It’s a terrible excuse for a holding facility.”

He plans on repairing the roof at the regional detention center, which has needed repair for many years. The public safety subcommittee was expected to make recommendations to the ways and means committee Tuesday.

“The county is responsible for the courts, the jail, and public safety. We are working to do a better job at this,” Doug Reed, Justice of Peace District 1, said.

“We are brainstorming to get this problem into a positive motion,” Kerr said, “and to come up with solutions with the city and the county.” Committee members said the public should be able to review and understand the county’s annual reports.
Hathaway said, “The reports by the county treasurer, available to the public, need to be changed from the special language used by accountants and written at an eighth-grade reading level, simplified into understandable terms.”

An idea of using digital camera or video conferencing could save money on transporting detainees to court, and avoid exposing the public to potential danger, however a member at the meeting said some judges won’t allow video monitoring and want the prisoners brought before them in court.

Because some prevention, intervention and treatment programs work better than others, Hathaway recommended a national expert available from the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence out of Colorado, who can evaluate the programs. Then funds can be focused on the programs that do work.

TOP STORY >>Well water to stabilize city’s rates

Leader staff writer

Water rates doubled in Cabot about four years ago to pay for improvements to the system and lay the 30-inch line to connect to Central Arkansas Water at a cost of about $30 million.

But the commission that now runs the water and sewer systems says customers need not fear another rate hike for eight to 10 years because the state has granted a request to keep using the well field long after it was supposed to close down.
Cabot’s original permit to take water from its wells between Beebe and Lonoke said the wells were to be shut down in 2010 when the city connected to lines that were supposed to come from Greers Ferry Lake through the Lonoke / White Water Project.

That project faltered after Cabot pulled out in favor of CAW, although it has been revamped and could still be completed sometime in the future with Cabot as one of its members.

In the meantime, Cabot asked Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, which issued the city’s permit to take water from its wells, to increase the allowable amount from 3 million gallons a day to 6 million gallons through 2030.

That request was denied, but Natural Resources has agreed to allow the city to take up to 6 million gallons a day until the connection to CAW is completed in 2010 and 3 million gallons a day until 2023.

After the cutoff point, the wells can still be used for emergency backup.

The decision from Natural Resources is a favorable one for ratepayers because it means Cabot WaterWorks will be able to supply much of its own water even after the connection is made to CAW.

That means the rates that were increased to pay for the connection to CAW won’t have to go up again to actually pay for the water.

But even though water rates are expected to stay the same for years to come Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission says sewer rates will have to go up in the near future to pay for improvements to the collection system.

City residents voted to extend a one-cent sales tax in great part to pay for a $10 million sewer treatment plant without raising rates.

The new plant, scheduled for completion by the end of the year, should take care of city sewage for the next 20 years. But the sewer collection system is not keeping up with the city’s growth and commission has hired an engineer to develop plans to remedy the situation.

Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission have been in full control of the water and sewer departments, which they named Cabot WaterWorks, for less than two years.

The five-member commission takes pride in the fact that although their discussion is often lively, they have always come together in the end and never had a vote that wasn’t unanimous.

Don Keesee, the banker who often took on the role of devil’s advocate during discussions, was also the member who most frequently talked with pride about the commission’s solidarity.

Interviewed by phone Tuesday, Keesee, who resigned from the commission this month to become president of Regions Bank in Springdale and Fayetteville, said he had never served with a group that he respected more.

“They’re ethical and moral and they are there for the citizens,” Keesee said.

“There were never any personal agendas. It’s unbelievable how far they’ve come and what it’s done.

With its combined experience in business, banking and engineering, Keesee called the commission “a beautiful marriage of abilities.”

Keesee said after he accepted the position with Regions, he had to leave for northwest Arkansas almost immediately.
The commission has decided to advertise to find someone of comparable ability to replace him.

TOP STORY >>Rezoning gets board approval

Leader staff writer

After more than an hour of discussion and debate in front of a standing room only crowd Monday night at city hall, the Jacksonville Planning Commission, by a 4 to 3 vote, approved a rezoning that would allow an 80-lot subdivision to be built near Loop Road and Northeastern Avenue.

But turned down the developer’s basic sketch plan for the area because there were still too many concerns and questions about the plan that needed to be addressed.

Commissioners voted to rezone the 19.5 acres from R-0 (single family homes with 70x120 foot lots) to R-1 (single family homes with 60x100 foot lots).

The smaller lots would allow the developer to put in about 15 more homes and would allow him to build garden or patio-style homes, which have less yard to maintain than a normal home.

“I have no intentions of leaving the land undeveloped,” said the developer Jack Wilson right before the commission voted.
The rezoning must now go through the city council for final approval.

The commission and the packed-in-tight audience had concerns with traffic, train noise and the size of the homes.
Wilson told commissioners that in his other subdivisions in other cities he had $400,000 homes across the street from $225,000 homes and 4,000-square-foot homes across from 1,625-square foot homes.

The minimum size of the homes he proposed to build in the new subdivision was 1,500 square feet, smaller than the surrounding Foxwood homes.

“The minimum is 1,500 square feet, but we will build what the market wants,” he said.

Wilson also promised to build a 10 to 12 foot berm with timber growth on top to buffer the subdivision and current residents from the train noise.

Charles Evans, one of the spokesmen for the large group of residents, told the commissioners, “We are here at your mercy. The only people who will benefit from this subdivision is the developer and real estate people. Why does it have to be rezoned? Why not let it stay large lots and match the rest of Foxwood?”

Evans also expressed concerns about the traffic. “There are two schools in the area and traffic is already bad. This subdivision will add at least 150 more cars.”

Dan Broughton, another concerned resident, read a copy of a letter that he and his wife wrote and gave to each commissioner. He touched on traffic concerns, safety of the neighborhood kids, train noise and property values. “Smaller lots and smaller houses will detract from the larger lots and houses already in existence in the Foxwood subdivision and lower the value of existing homes,” he said.

Numerous residents suggested that Wilson add more street in and out of the subdivision and put the major entrances on Loop Road.

Wilson replied, “I’m appalled the way they want to treat the people buying the homes. Having entrances off a commercial highway is dangerous for seniors.”

Commissioner Bart Gray Jr., in making the recommendation to approve the rezoning, said this was a good opportunity for the city, but even though he was for the rezoning, felt the developer needed to come back with a better plan before he could vote for the sketch plan.

Commissioners Gray, Susan Dollar, John Herbold and Tom Evans voted to approve the rezoning, while commissioners Art Brannen, Chad Young and Alderman Bill Howard voted no.

Commissioners also denied plans that were presented for an additional 10 to 12 homes off Edinburgh because traffic concerns had not been addressed like the commissioners had asked the developer to do.

Jim Moore, vice president of the Stonewall Property Owners Association, told the commissioners in his efforts to get the plan denied, “You guys are supposed to protect us. Edinburgh is a small feeder street and cannot handle the construction equipment or projected traffic.”

Developer Jim Peacock told the commission that there were at least 11 other subdivisions with just one way in and out like his proposed Edinburgh Subdivision, all with the same size street as Edinburgh, and all apparently working fine.

Last month, Peacock brought a plan before the council that called for a mix of single-family homes and multi-family units for the land he owns. Commissioners asked him to bring it back with only the single family homes and to address the traffic concerns. He brought back a plan for single-family homes, but no changes or suggestions for traffic flow.
In other commission business:

Commissioners approved a three-lot sketch plat for the Besancon Property off Red Fox Lane.

The commission approved the sketch plat for Delaney Heights, a new single-family home subdivision east of Laurel Street and adjacent to Graham Road.

Commissioners approved the final plat of Wendi’s Corner which will allow a house to be built on two lots behind Western Sizzlin.

Commissioners approved the final plat of the Northlake Subdivision, Phase X-C.

The commission approved the final plats of lots 1 and 2 of the Jacksonville Commerce Subdivision off General Samuels, which will give the city a better chance to sell the property to industrial or commercial enterprises.

Commissioners turned down a request from Marshall Road Pharmacy to extend the building until a variance from the Board of Adjustments could received.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>My father: A witness to 20th Century

When my father passed away at the age of 85 late in the afternoon on Aug. 5, one of the doctors at the emergency room at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami called my brother Steve with the terrible news.

Our mother was with our father, who’d been transported to the hospital an hour earlier by ambulance, but she couldn’t convey the news to either one of her sons, so the doctor called Steve, who called me, and we called the rest of our families with the shocking news.

Ferenc Feldman had been in failing health for years, but he’d survived one crisis after another, all the way back to his youth in rural Hungary, where the Nazis had rounded up his family and killed them in Auschwitz. But they couldn’t kill my father, and later he took his young family out of communist Hungary as the Soviet army reoccupied the country.

He rebuilt his life in America, which is why it was shocking that his body finally gave out decades after fascist brutes couldn’t crush him.

We mourned for a week in our parents’ apartment and said Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, which is not about death, but a reaffirmation of life and religious faith that kept my father alive in Nazi death camps and communist jail cells.

The World War II generation is passing quickly, and those who survive are well into their 80s and 90s. My father’s cousin, Rudy, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, is 92, and his brother, Sidney, a veteran of the Pacific theater, died a couple of years ago at the age of 85.

They were born in America after their fathers (my grandfather’s brothers) left Hungary around the First World War, but for those who stayed behind in Europe, there was death and destruction.

My brother made these notes after our father passed away as we sat shiva:
“It is hard to imagine a more unlikely place for great world events to unfold than the Nyirseg (birch tree) region of eastern Hungary. It is a sleepy backwater even today, and it was even more removed from the wider world when our father was born there in the summer of 1922. You would have thought that this out-of-the-way corner of the globe would have shielded its inhabitants from the world’s miseries, yet our father suffered twice from the 20th century’s ugliest and most brutal political movements—Nazism and communism.

“In 1943, when he was just 21, our father and his cousin Imre, together with all able-bodied young Jewish men in Hungary, were impressed into labor battalions attached to the Hungarian army. Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany. Conditions varied depending on the whims of battalion commanders, but as the Second World War progressed, and as the Russian army moved closer and closer to Hungary, the forced laborers’ situation deteriorated. Our father’s battalion was dispatched to a mountainous region of the Ukraine to dig ditches. The battalion had to spend a night on the freezing mountainside; the young men huddled together, not knowing which of them would awaken in the morning.

“As the Russians moved even closer from the east, the labor battalions were moved farther west. By the bitterly cold winter of 1945, our father’s group was put on forced march from western Hungary to central Austria. Those who fell by the icy roadside were shot by the Germans. By late April, our father’s group had reached the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp. He, his cousin and the other prisoners (including, as chance would have it, my future father-in-law) were liberated on May 5th at the nearby sub-camp of Gunskirchen. Our father and his cousin were the only members of their extended family in Europe to survive the Holocaust.

“Despite that bloody history, our father decided to return home. He soon met a young Jewish woman, also a survivor who had lost her entire family. They married in 1947; my brother was born the next summer and I was born in early 1954.

“In Hungary in the late 1940s and early 1950s, our parents had to live under a second delusional, totalitarian political system: communism. Faced with the anti-religious ideology of communism, our parents had to practice their Judaism quietly. Many others abandoned their faith entirely, with many not even telling their children they were Jewish.

“By October 1956 Hungarians could no longer stand the repressive communist regime and mounted a major uprising. Statues of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin were toppled, and Russian tanks withdrew from the country — only to return in a few days. Our parents became frightened and packed what they could and with a handful of other families hired a guide to lead them across the border to Austria. It was December 21, 1956, and the group had to trudge through heavy snow; my father carried me on his back.

“After more than four years in various refugee camps, we came to America. We settled in Chicago, where our father had two uncles and an aunt who had left Europe before the Second World War. Here, our parents were at last free from religious persecution. They raised their two sons and worked at various jobs until they were able to start their own business caring for elderly people—an ordinary immigrant story until you recall what our parents had to survive just to get here.

“On the day before he died, our father was in his favorite place, after his home, at Sabbath services in his synagogue. During his lifetime, he had seen many of the great events of the 20th century: the destruction of Europe’s Jews, communist repression and the Jewish national rebirth represented by the vibrant and flourishing State of Israel. Among the last words he heard in the synagogue were from the Book of Isaiah, perhaps the most magisterial book in the Hebrew Bible: “For God will comfort Zion, he will comfort all her ruins. He will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert like God’s garden. Joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music.” (Isaiah 51:3)

It is said that tears clean the souls of the dead as they pass to another life. That’s where Ferenc Feldman is resting now. May his memory be a blessing.

TOP STORY >>Dog ban rejected in Ward

Leader staff writer

Ward City Council decided Monday not to follow the trend of banning pit bulls as neighboring cities had, but instead voted to keep their animal ordinance, which includes a section on vicious/dangerous dogs.

Alderman Charles Gastineau made the motion to do away with the prepared ordinance banning specific breeds, saying the city didn’t need it.

“We have a dangerous dog ordinance, let it do its job. I’m not for breed specific banning and don’t think we need this,” Gastineau told the council.

The motion passed 4-1, the only opposing vote by Maurice Jackson.

Alderman Jeff Shaver agreed the city didn’t need to ban specific breeds, noting that the city currently does not have the facilities to enforce such a ban.

“If the animal ordinance is strong enough, and ours is, it will cover vicious dogs,” Shaver said. “There will always be a dog hated by certain people because of its viciousness,” he added.

Gastineau believes ordinances put in place by cities such as Sherwood, Jacksonville, Cabot and Lonoke are “knee-jerk reactions” to attention-grabbing incidents that have recently occurred.

Ward’s animal ordinance, enforced by animal control officer Jason Ellerbee, includes a section on vicious dogs. As stated in the ordinance, the term vicious dog means any member of the canine family that has exhibited fierce or vicious behavior towards a person, has attacked a person or another animal with such severity as to cause physical injury or property damage, or is the offspring of a domestic dog and an innately wild animal.

The behavior of the dog is not considered vicious if it was provoked or teased. According to the ordinance, if the animal control officer deems a dog vicious, the owner is notified and the dog is taken into custody; it won’t be released until owner requirements are met or unless ordered by the court. The owner also has the right to appeal the decision before a committee of peers as set forth in the ordinance.

To release the animal, the owner has to sign a written agreement stating that unless or until the dog is deemed no longer vicious, it will be controlled in a manner consistent with the ordinance when inside the Ward city limits.

If determined to be truly vicious, the owner must have “insurance of warranty bond on said canine in an amount no less than $100,000 if they wish to maintain the animal” and follow the rules on controlling the dog.

If the dog is not picked up within five days after a decision has been reached, animal control may humanely destroy the vicious dog. If it’s not vicious and not picked up, the dog can be adopted or destroyed in accordance with the ordinances, rules and regulations of Ward and the animal control department that generally apply to all impounded dogs.

The council listened to Bill Seidenschwarz, a dog lover and owner who lives near Cocklebur Road, who told the council he is now taking care of upwards of 30 dogs at his home that the owners can no longer keep because of the banning.

“I’ve had messages in my mailbox, pictures – ‘I’ve had this dog since it was six-weeks-old. I love it but I can’t keep it. Will you please take it?” he said, adding, “They call me at all hours of the night and bring dogs by.”

“I spend about $800 a month out of my pocket to take care of them. I do this because this breed deserves to be taken care of and someday, somewhere, somebody will understand its not a bad dog,” Seidenschwarz said.

He informed the council that there is no breed of dog recognized by any registry as pit bull.

“There never has been, never will be. It’s a nickname given to dogs by people who don’t know of what they speak,” he said.
Seidenschwarz continued, telling the council it’s a people problem. “We need someone to educate the public on how to care for a dog, how to feed it, how to contain them,” he said. “We need a common sense, logical approach to it,” Seidenschwarz added.

“You can follow what your sister cities have done or you can step forward and do what is right,” he told the council in closing.
Roger Schnyer, a Lonoke County resident representing Responsible Owners of Arkansas Dogs, also addressed the council and supplied them with a list of dog breeds banned throughout the United States.

On that list, compiled by Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States (RDOWS), of which Schnyer is the Arkansas director, are such breeds as the Alaskan Malamute, Blue Heeler, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Pug and Saint Bernard, just to name a handful of the 75 breeds on the list. The complete list can be found on RDOWS’ Website, According to Schnyer, the Responsible Dog Owners of Arkansas have filed a lawsuit against Lonoke and are working on a suit against Jacksonville because of their breed-specific bans.

“Their ordinances are unconstitutional six times over,” he said, offering his services for free to show the city what a constitutional dog ordinance can do and keep Ward off the list of cities being sued over unconstitutional ordinances.

“I’ll come here any time, at my expense, to sit down with you and go over what can be a constitutional law that will cover all aspects of raising a dog, breeding a dog, feeding a dog, housing a dog and everything that will stand constitutional muster. I’m here to help you, not hurt you,” Schnyer said, “Don’t pass breed-specific legislation because it’s not constitutional and it won’t hold up.”

Mayor Art Brooke told those present that the city had done its homework on the issue and realized a breed specific ban had some negatives, specifically the cost to the city to enforce the ban.

“We’ve put out the best product we can to represent the people of Ward and the animal owners,” Brooke said. “If people took care of their animals we wouldn’t even be talking about this,” he added.

Brooke had obtained area breed-specific ordinances passed recently. “Sherwood has had an ordinance in place for 20 years and had no problems until pit bulls became an issue but they still don’t have a problem because their ordinance has held up,” Brooke said.

While an ordinance was still being discussed, the mayor said the city had been trying to make a good ordinance that owners could live with and keep their pets, but at the same time take care of the citizens of Ward.

TOP STORY >>PCSSD splitting district distant action

Leader staff writer

Following a loud and emotional consideration of Bishop James Bolden’s proposed resolution in support of a stand-alone Jacksonville School District Tuesday night, the Pulaski County Special School District board instead regrouped to unanimously direct the district’s attorney to pursue unitary status, at least in the area of student assignment.

In a related issue a public hearing has been set for 6 p.m. Friday at Jacksonville City Hall to gather public input about a new math and science charter school for the area.

A designation of unitary status is a prerequisite to getting out from under the 20-year-old court-enforced desegregation agreement and to any consideration of a Jacksonville School District.

A unitary school system is one in which the school district has eliminated the old racially segregated dual school system.
Until District Judge Bill Wilson releases PCSSD from the agreement for achieving unitary status, there can be no Jacksonville district.

Not even Bolden liked the wording of the resolution he brought before the board, but he was essentially asking for the board members to endorse the concept of a Jacksonville district.

With caveats and conditions, each board member did express support for such a district.

Charlie Wood said he believed Jacksonville had the right to have its own district, but he wanted to make sure it was not at the expense of his Sherwood constituents. Noting that the people of Sherwood might want their own district, Wood said he as “a little afraid of letting Jacksonville out there first.”

Danny Gilliland, who represents northern Pulaski County, said he favored a Jacksonville district as long as North Pulaski High School and its feeder schools were included.

Board President Gwen Williams said she favored the idea, but had “conditions.”
“I will support Dr. Bolden,” said Mildred Tatum.

Debby Murphy said she supported the idea in principal, but wanted to table the motion and come back with more information and better wording. Superintendent James Sharp said if Bolden was seeking assurance that the district would not stand in the way of a Jacksonville district, he had it.

TOP STORY >>Climate Heatwave

Written by Leader staff

Central Arkansas Water, which provides water for 398,000 people in Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties, announced Tuesday that water usage surpassed 100 million gallons of water a day for the last six days—each day registered high temperatures over 100 degrees.

Chief executive officer Graham Rich said he did not anticipate water rationing this summer, but said consumption could surpass the system’s record of 121.7 million gallons in one day, set on Aug. 31, 2000.

The heat wave, caused by a big dome of high pressure forcing cooler and wetter air to the north and leaving Arkansas and surrounding states baking, has kept high temperatures in the 100s since Aug. 9, breaking two records and causing at least five heat-related deaths in the state.

On Sunday the temperature hit 106 degrees, breaking the 104-degree record set in 1980, the hottest summer in the state’s history.

Then Tuesday, the temperature climbed to 104 degrees, breaking the 1954 record of 103 degrees.
During the summer of 1980 there were 47 days where the temperature hit 100 degrees or more and in 1954, residents saw 46 triple-digit days.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in July never made it above 95 degrees.

The forecast calls for sunny hot days with high temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for at least the next week.

In Beebe, Mayor Mike Robertson said workers are beating the heat by keeping different hours.

“Basically, we’re starting early and getting off early,” the mayor said. “And if it gets so hot they can’t work and take off a couple of hours early, we’re not going to penalize them for it.”

Robertson said Milton McCullar, who heads the street department, also keeps workers supplied with Gatorade.


Lonoke County on Tuesday became the latest to proclaim a burn ban until further notice because of the hot dry conditions, according to County Judge Charlie Troutman. Pulaski and White counties have also put burn bans in place as have Cabot and Ward.

Troutman said hot, cloudless days had slowed work on county roads, but that most of his employees were in the air-conditioned cabs of trucks, graders or tractors pulling bush hogs.

As for the hot work of road resurfacing, it’s still a little early for that and the work is bid out to private contractors anyway, Troutman said.

In the city of Lonoke, Parks Director Roy Don Lewis said his employees are coming to work at 6 a.m., working until noon, then from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

He said the crews have PowerAde in water jugs to keep hydrated.

Lonoke city street, water and sewer supervisor Keith Whitworth said his leaf and grass-cutting crews will continue working from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. until the weather cools back down.

Both Lewis and Whitworth said there hadn’t been any major heat-related problems on their jobs.

Jerrel Maxwell, director of public works in Cabot, says he’s instructed his workers to not stay in the sun for extended periods and to make sure they get plenty of fluids supplied by the city.

“We try to do smaller jobs so they don’t feel like they’re pushed to get them done,” Maxwell said.

Right now, their most important tasks are in connection with changes in traffic patterns for the schools. Maxwell’s street department employees have re-striped some streets and set up barrels to direct traffic. They must be outside to paint stripes, but Maxwell says they have painted the barrels inside the city shop that is cooled by large fans.


Although it was jokingly said they might show up to work naked, Jacksonville Public Works employees are doing all they can to do their work outside around town in the triple-digit temperatures.

“Some are coming in earlier now,” Tracy Keck, an engineering technician, said. “The normal workday begins at 7 a.m., but recently employees are starting earlier in the day – when it’s only 85 degrees instead of 104,” he said.

In general, employees are encouraged to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day, take breaks as often as possible and try to keep from getting too hot.

To help combat the heat, airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base work on a 15/45 work schedule, 15 minutes of labor in the heat and 45 minutes of rest, according to Sgt. Kati Garcia.

Water coolers and water backpacks are available for those who work on the flight lines or in other outside areas.
Heat as health risk

Despite the intense heat, an employee of North Cabot Family Medicine said Tuesday that none of the patients there have suffered from heat injuries. Instead, the clinic is seeing sprains and broken bones.

However, doctors at McAfee Medical Clinic in Beebe have diagnosed two cases of heat exhaustion.

Rebsamen Medical Center reports they have recently treated patients suffering from heat related illnesses.

According to Kristen James, marketing coordinator, the emergency room has seen a slight increase in the number of patients treated.

“They’ve had a few more than they normally do at this point in the summer,” James said. “Typically they are seeing people that are dizzy, weak, nauseous, vomiting and those that have stopped sweating,” she said.

Typical treatment includes prescribing medication for the vomiting, checking patient’s electrolyte levels and getting the patient rehydrated with water or through an IV.

The Arkansas Department of Health advises that while the elderly, people with health problems and very young children are the most vulnerable, extreme heat can affect anyone.

Even strong, healthy athletes can be stricken. Heat disorders are progressive and should be attended to immediately.
Heat cramps occur first from heat exposure and cause prolonged muscular pain as a result of muscle spasm due to severe salt depletion from heavy sweating. 

Treatment includes salt replacement, cooling down and gentle massage. Heat exhaustion is the most common illness caused by heat and often occurs while working outside or attending outside events in extremely hot, humid weather.

Symptoms include weakness and feeling faint, dizziness, nausea, headache and confusion. The person should be moved to a cooler place, and wet cloths applied for cooling down.  Fluid and salt should be replaced. 

Depending on the severity of the illness, hospitalization and intravenous fluid replacement may be necessary.  This condition precedes heat stroke, a life-threatening condition in which the victim’s temperature-control system ceases to work.

Sweating stops completely, and the body’s temperature can rise so high that the nervous system, the brain and other organs can be damaged permanently.  Death can occur if the body is not cooled quickly. 

The symptoms of heat stroke include sudden high fever, dry skin, delirium, convulsions and seizures.  Heat stroke is a medical emergency—call 911 and cool the person quickly. Ice, a cold bath, and wet sheets are recommended until medical help arrives. 

Care for pets

Triple-digit temperatures are tough on people, but extreme temperatures can also be tough on pets and require taking extra precautions for those furry friends.

Summerizing your pet by giving it plenty of shade and cool fresh water are just two tips for ensuring the summer is fun and safe for one’s dog or cat.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers tips for heat protection, parasites, car safety and pet sterilization that need extra attention during the summer months.

The number-one suggestion of both HSUS and the local animal shelters is to make sure that your pet has protection from heat and sun – a dog house doesn’t provide relief from heat – and plenty of fresh water when outdoors.

“Heat stroke can be fatal for pets as well as people,” Linda Sakiewicz, director of the Jacksonville Animal Shelter, said.
While owners like to take their pets with them when they go for a drive, owners are urged not to leave pets unattended in a parked car – even with the windows cracked.

“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.

The normal body temperature of an animal should be 102 degrees.

If you see an animal in a parked car this summer, Sakiewicz suggests alerting the management of the shopping area or grocery store and if the owner doesn’t return promptly, call local animal control or the police.


The same sunny, hot and rainless weather that has kept the irrigation pumps running in Lonoke County has also kept soybean rust at bay, according to Jeff Welch, chief of the county extension service.

“Both the heat and the sunlight are staving off rust,” Welch said. The rust spores can stay alive about two hours during cloudless days. They need about 24 hours of moisture on the leaf surface to peg into the plant.

So farmers aren’t spraying rust fungicides now, unless they are spraying for other diseases. It would be a different combination of fungicides in that case.

“We want to hold off as long as we can.”

Producers are making a lot of rice he said, and would begin draining fields this week and next, “getting ready to dry down.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OBITUARIES >> 08-15-07

Lester Williams

Lester Ray Williams, Sr., 74, of Cabot went to be with his Heavenly Father on August 11 while surrounded by his loving family.

Ray as everyone called him was born Feb. 21, 1933 in Lonoke County to the late Raymond L. and Bessie K. Williams.
In 1952, Ray entered the Air Force, where he served his country during wartime. On Nov. 23, 1954 he married Peggy Ann Skaggs in Dardanelle. Within four years they had three sons, Ray, Jr., Randy and Roy.

Ray was an avid Arkansas Razorback fan and St. Louis Cardinals fan. He was a charter member of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Gideons International, secretary for Mt. Carmel Cemetery and a member of Family Life Church in Cabot.

He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond L. Williams; mother, Bessie K. Williams; and one brother, Herbert C. Williams.

He leaves behind to cherish his memory his loving wife of 53 years, Peggy Ann Williams of Cabot; three sons: Rev. Lester Ray Williams, Jr. and wife Carolyn of Little Rock, SMSGT David Randal Williams and wife Michelle of White Hall, John Roy Williams and wife Mary of Ward; 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister, Mary K. Yarbrough of Van Buren; along with many other family members and dear friends.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 15 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Cabot with Pastor David Smith and Rev. Ray Williams, Jr. officiating. Burial will follow at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cabot.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be made to the Gideons International Cabot Camp, P.O. Box 212 Cabot, Ark., 72023. Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service.

Curtis Haynie

Curtis Lawrence Haynie, 80, of North Little Rock died August 11.

Born July 28, 1927, in Jacksonville he was the son of Herman J. “Red” and Lela Osborne Haynie.

On July 3, 1945, Mr. Haynie began service with the Navy onboard the USS LST 245, the USS LST 131, and the USS LST 8873 out of San Diego, Calif., and was honorably discharged when his tour of duty was completed.

He was a retired captain of the Little Rock Fire Department after 39 years of service.

He completed radiological monitoring school and taught classes in Little Rock for the firefighters, and was instrumental in training voluntary firemen in the nearby rural area.

He was a lifetime member of the Arkansas Firefighters Association Local 34; the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Carl W. Reed Post 9095 for 25 years when he transferred membership to the Levy Memorial Post 11474 in 1998; and a lifetime member of the American Legion Post 334. A lifetime member of the Magnolia Lodge 60, Consistory, and Shrine, Scimitar Temple, and a 32nd Degree Mason, he was also a member of Reynolds Baptist Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Joe Haynie and a sister, Lois Wallace.

He is survived by two daughters, Sandra Gail Graham and husband Ken Wyant, and Karen Elaine Knebel and husband Chuck, all of Cabot; one granddaughter, Rhiannon Lee Duke and husband Doug; one grandson, David Lawrence Harness; and two great-granddaughters, Madesyn Katheryn and Kenslee Nicole.

Special thanks are extended to Brookside Rehabilitation Center, to the Veterans Administration Hospital, and to Arkansas Hospice and staff. Also, the daughters wish to especially thank Mr. Haynie’s special friend and caregiver, Mary Haynie.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m., Thursday, August 16 in the chapel of Griffin Leggett Healey and Roth in Little Rock with his nephew, the Rev. Eric Jordan of Concord, Okla., officiating. Burial will follow in Bayou Meto Cemetery in Jacksonville.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, August 15 at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial, P. O. Box 56470, Little Rock, Ark., 72115.

Geneva Oates

Geneva Viola Stites Oates, 89, of Cabot, formerly of Little Rock, passed away August 10. She was born July 11, 1918 in Oliphant to George Andrew Stites and Crena Mayes Stites.

She was preceded in death by her parents, George Andrew Stites and Crena Mayes Stites; her husband, William Hershel Oates; son, William Hershel Oates Jr. and daughter-in-law, Pat Hendrickson Oates. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Carolyn and Roy “Bud” Pearrow of Cabot; four grandchildren, Bill Pearrow and wife Lisa of Cabot, Jeanne Odom and husband Jack of Cabot, David Pearrow and wife Laura of Russellville and Matt Oates and wife Teresa of Lebanon, Tenn.; seven great-grandchildren, Shea Pearrow, Christen, Stephenie, Micah and Mark Odom, Madelyn and Coleman Oates.

Graveside service was August 13 at Pinecrest Memorial Park. The family would like to thank Arkansas Hospice Staff from the North Little Rock Arkansas Hospice Unit for their loving care and devotion. Arrangements were by Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home in North Little Rock.

Betty Tipton

Betty Louise Tipton, 75, died in Conway on August 13 following a courageous battle with cancer.

She was born July 28, 1932 in Vilonia to the late Horace and Mamie Jones Stephens.

Betty joins her beloved husband of 55 years in heaven, James Curtis Tipton, who preceded her in eternal rest Nov. 6, 2006.
The two met in 1951 while working at the Sears and Roebuck Store in Little Rock and spent the next 25 years working together in the banking industry.

Upon their retirement, the Tiptons embarked upon a new adventure as business owners with convenience stores in the Jacksonville and North Little Rock area.

Even in the workplace, the Tiptons were inseparable. We are so thankful they are healthy, happy and together once again.
She was a member of Military Road Missionary Baptist Church of Jacksonville. She was also preceded by a grandson, Tanner Tipton.

Betty is survived by two sons, Tim Tipton, his wife Connie, their children Jordan, Chandler and Madelyn of Conway; and Geoff Tipton, his wife Michelle and their daughter Paige of Cornelia, Ga.; her sister, Marcelle Cherry of North Little Rock and her children: Jim, Dave and Ron; another sister, Frieda Burkett and her children, Steve, Rick and Stefani.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 15 at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home Chapel in North Little Rock.

A celebration of her life will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, August 16 at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home with entombment to follow at the Rest Hills Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be David Zakrzewski, Gene Frazier, Darrell Penn, Kevin Willhite, Willie Oxner and Mark Moody.

The family would like to extend their gratitude to the Conway Regional emergency room physicians and staff, the CCU nurses, Dr. Lee, the staff at CARTI and Dr. Imamura. Your kindness and compassion are immeasurable.

The family would also like to thank Dr. Mendelsohn and his staff for their love, patience and extraordinary care given to our mother over the last year.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 901 N. University, Little Rock, Ark., 72203.

Terry Reynolds

Terry Karen Turner Reynolds, 50, of Jacksonville passed away August 9.

She is survived by her son, Curtis and wife Patricia Gaebel of Plano, Texas; daughter, Nicole Wilson of Cabot; mother and stepfather, Gerry and C.A. Lively of Cabot; and two grandsons, C.J. and Charles Gaebel, both of Plano.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to North Pulaski United Methodist Church, Hwy. 107 and Kelso Road, Gravel Ridge. A graveside service was held Monday at Rest Hills Memorial Park. Funeral arrangements were by North Little Rock Funeral Home.

Stella Gelakoske

Stella Vay Gelakoske, 98, of Austin died August 10.

She was born March 22, 1909.

Stella, the eldest of nine children, was born in a covered wagon in what was then Oklahoma Indian Territory.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward Gelakoske.

She is survived by her daughter, Dixie James of San Diego, three sisters; one brother; granddaughter, Denise Jones and grandson in-law, Jeff Jones of Austin; five additional grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service date will be announced later. A memorial for junior bowlers will be established in her memory. Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home.

O.D. Bradford

O.D. Bradford, 73, of Beebe went to be with his Lord Thursday, August 9. He was born Oct. 25, 1933, at Hickory Plains to Monroe Thomas and Una Lee Ferguson Bradford.

He served in the Army during the Cold War. He was a past member of the McRae School Board, territorial sales manager for Guerdon Industries and was a member of Crosspoint Ministries.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Bradford; one daughter, Shawna Kirk and husband Rick of Florida; one step-son, Donald Ward and wife Carla of Beebe; four grandchildren, Stephen Kirk, Ashley Craig, William Ward and Madison Ward; one brother, Roland Bradford of Indiana; two sisters, Geneva Bollnak of Searcy and Ludean James of Florida; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Funeral was August 12 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe.

SPORTS >>Dominating the Scrapp

Leader sportswriter

Peyton Taylor of Desha had the fastest car all weekend at the fifth-annual Scrapp Fox Memorial modified championship held at Beebe Speedway, and he proved it in Friday night’s 35-lap feature with a strong pass to the outside on Paragould’s Robbie Arnold on lap 18 to take the $3,000 first-place prize.

A slight bobble in the 10-lap dash to determine the starting position for the first four rows put Taylor tailback on a restart, but the regional pilot showed his muscle more than he had all weekend with a strong charge to make up five positions before the end of the brief qualifier.

That would put Taylor to the inside of row two for the start of the feature behind front-row starters Arnold and Mike Bowers of North Little Rock. Taylor followed Arnold’s low line to take second away from Bowers at the green flag, and waited out the frequent early cautions before pouncing on Arnold for the point mid-way through the event.

“He would go in good,” Taylor said. “But he just had to stop right there in the center. I couldn’t get up there real high because it was so marbley, so I just had to drive it right up there on him. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pass him on the bottom, but I knew if I could keep my momentum, I could make the top work.”

Taylor got around Arnold from the inside on a restart, but a another yellow before the end of the circuit would negate Taylor’s pass, putting him behind the 96 of Arnold again for yet another restart.

The extensive track prep from promoter Kenny Morden and the staff at Beebe Speedway paid off during the two-day event. The track stayed smooth for most of the Thursday card, and was racy on Friday until just before the start of the SFM feature. The inside became the only useable line in the final 15 laps, but Taylor was complimentary of the efforts of the Beebe staff for the consistent surface over the weekend.

“It started cleaning out a little bit,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t really rubbered up, but you could go in, and it was a little bit more scotchy than it was up top. That’s going to happen at a big show; promoters do all they can to keep from it, but we had an awesome track here all weekend, and that’s all you can ask for.”

After Taylor took the lead away from Arnold, he began to pull away for the final half of the race, and Arnold began to fall into the clutches of the veteran Bowers. It only took a couple of laps for Arnolds car to fade even more, enough for Bowers to get to the inside on lap 22 and take over the second spot. Arnold was at one point in danger of falling out of the top five with Patrick Linn and Casey Findley closing in, but his car leveled out before the final restart, and he was able to hold on to third place.

Linn finished in fourth, and points leader Findley took the highest-finishing regular honor with a fifth-place finish. Jeremy Kester finished in the sixth position in front of Oklahoma driver Hank Long in seventh, with Donnie Stringfellow, Hunter Rasden and Austin driver Jayson Hefley rounding out the top ten. Cabot’s Jason Flory finished in the 13 th position.
It would be another disappointing Scrapp Fox weekend for the Fox Racing team. After strong Thursday performances from Randy Weaver and Robert Davis, things were looking up for the Steve Fox-led team for Friday, but problems for both drivers during the dash compounded in the feature. Weaver and Davis would both retire out of the race early on, ending up with respective 19 th and 20 th place finishes.

Joe Long took the win in street stocks with a thrilling pass on Randy Weaver on the final lap. Weaver’s troubles in his modified carried over into the street class, where his car shut down on the final lap, allowing Long and Willie Gilliam inside of him. Long, who took the white flag in third place, squeezed along the inside to the lead to take the checkers in front of Gilliam.

Tyler Stevens swept the weekend in the E-mod class with wins on both Thursday and Friday. Brandon Capps kept his winning streak alive with another win in the factory stocks on Friday, raising his season win total to six.

SPORTS >>Teams dealing with heat

Leader sports editor

“I haven’t seen it like this since the 80s when the freeways were buckling.” That’s how Jacksonville head football coach Mark Whatley described the heat in which his team is practicing twice a day in the heat. Teams have been doing it for decades all over the country.

Whatley’s counterpart in Cabot, Mike Malham, concurs when it comes to the heat.

In the deep South, the heat can occasionally become problematic, as it has this year with temperatures reaching well into triple digits, and the heat index at times soaring above 110 degrees.

Compound that with the fact that the players are wearing a few dozen pounds of gear that can also double as insulation, and the temperatures they’re experiencing are even greater.

Whatley knows what it’s like to endure practice in that kind of heat.

When those freeways were buckling, he was going through two-a-days at Ouchita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. He understands what the players are going through, and is taking every precaution and then some.

“The biggest thing that we have, and I thank the Lord every day that we have him, is Jason Cates,” Whatley said of the Jacksonville athletic trainer who also practices sports medicine for Ortho Arkansas.

“He does a fantastic job of monitoring these kids,” Whatley said, “weighing them before and after every practice. He has it down to exactly how much fluid they need to take in every practice. I want to do everything in our power to make sure these kids are taken care of. We just happen to have a big advantage in that area with Jason, and we’re darn sure we’re going to use him.”

Just down the road at rival Cabot, which has a reputation for holding one of the more grueling preseason regimens, this year’s heat has forced some extra precaution, although head coach Mike Malham hasn’t seen much of a problem.

“Our kids haven’t had much trouble with (the heat),” Malham said. “They’re in good shape and we keep ‘em hydrated pretty good. We let ‘em take a pretty long break after about an hour now. We give ‘em about 10 minutes to get back inside and get all the water and Gatorade they can drink. It helps us too that we have air conditioned dressing rooms now. That helps get them cooled down a lot better. Walking into a 70-degree dressing room gets that body temperature down a lot quicker.”
Cabot has practiced with water troughs constantly running for several years now. They’re normally utilized only during planned breaks for a quick drink and back to practice, but that’s different this year.

“We keep ‘em running and anytime they want water they can run over and get a drink as long as they don’t miss their drill,” Malham said.

Both teams, as have most at this point, have cut back from two-a-days to now just practicing once a day, but mandatory teachers’ meetings have forced practice time back to a terrible time of day.

“The worry is not as great because we’re down to once a day,” Malham said. “The only problem is we won’t get to practice until about 3:30. I like to start afternoon practice about 1:00 and get finished about 3:30 before the heat index gets up real high, but we’re not able to do that right now.”

Whatley and the Jacksonville staff are faced with the same dilemma, and are trying to find an alternate practice, but Whatley admits it may not be possible.

“I’d like to start practicing in the evenings, but I don’t know if it will work,” Whatley said. “I’ve got so many that have jobs it may not be possible. But we’re going to get with them today, evaluate where everybody has to be and see if we can start practicing later.”

SPORTS >>Red Devil linemen stepping up effort

Leader sports editor

It’s the third week of football practice and Jacksonville is coming along nicely. Two-a-days are now gone, and the Red Devils are practicing just once per day.

The battle for the starting quarterback position is not yet settled, and may not be for several more weeks. Senior Cameron Hood and junior Thomas Blade have each impressed Coach Mark Whatley enough to stay in the running for the job.

“They’re running neck and neck, which is a good thing,” Whatley said. “They’re both doing things that you can win with. A lot of it is going to come down to who can take the offense, manufacture drives and put points on the board. We won’t know a lot about that until we play. We’ve got our scrimmage game and three non-conference games to find that out before we really feel like we have to make that decision and move forward to the ones that really count.”

The team has progressed in learning the offensive and defensive systems, but are still looking for more linemen to step in and added much-needed depth to the line core.

With few players other than starters impressing on the line, Jacksonville is looking at moving players from other positions. Some linebackers have shown some ability on the defensive line, and that position is deeper than the line already.

“We may move some linebackers down,” Jacksonville head coach Mark Whatley said. “We have some kids we think might be able to step in at linebacker, and some linebackers that have looked pretty good on the line. That may be what we have to do.”

Defensively the team has seen a few people line up and look good on the interior. Whatley sang T.J. Moore’s praises Tuesday morning.

“T.J. Moore came on strong and looked really impressive on the defensive line last week,” Whatley said. “Of course he’s our starting offensive tackle. We’re finding some that can do it, but sometimes it’s just the wrong ones. There’s just so many to go around.”

While finding the numbers to have two completely different units on the offensive and defensive lines has proved troublesome, they have at least found enough players to rotate in and out. No one will have to play almost every down on both sides of the ball.

“I think we’ll be able to rotate all of them,” Whatley said. “Coach (Rick) Russell does a great job of getting them in and out defensively, finding spots to get kids some rest.”

The 100-plus degree heat hasn’t been a big problem for the Red Devils. Jacksonville has taken some extra precaution, but Whatley says his players have continued to work hard.

“They’ve been super as far as getting after and working through discomfort. They’re doing that. As a matter of fact, we went through 32 plays with our offense scrimmaging, and after practice (wide receiver) Terrell L’Hrisse came up and said we’ve got to have more scrimmage than that. They’re ready to play and want to work to get better.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

SPORTS>>Falcons’ backfield to be the backbone

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski football team has made some strides in the second week of practice. The heat has taken its toll on some of the conditioning work, and are illness has run through the team as well. Only 32 of the 45 players on the roll were at practice Thursday.

The team is finding players to fill positions. The Falcons will have some excellent size in the offensive backfield, although it’s not certain exactly where everyone will play.

Three players are still battling for the quarterback spot. Marshall Shipley, a sophomore who started for the freshmen team last year, is battling AJ Allen and Melvin Tenner. Tenner has the strongest arm, but could be better utilized at tailback.
“We want to throw it some, throw some short stuff,” North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon said. “Right now Tenner’s got the strongest arm for throwing the out and stuff like that. The problem is he’s also probably our best tailback. He’s got the best combination of size and speed. Tenner is 6-foot-1 and about 200 pounds. He played fullback last season and also played on the defensive side of the ball.

Likely joining him in the backfield is fullback Jeremy Flint. Flint is a 6-2, 220 pounder. He’s not a speedster, but runs pretty well.

“He’s a load to bring down,” Bohannon said. “He runs pretty well too. Our biggest challenge right now is finding out who’s going to block for them. We’ve got a few linemen we feel pretty good about, but we don’t have enough at this point.”
North Pulaski has 16 players working as linemen, so the numbers are decent in that area. The staff is still trying to find the ones they feel will do the best job of opening and clogging holes, depending on the side of the ball.

“We got Dillon Sheffield back we feel good about him,” Bohannon said. “JJ Thomas just got out here this week. We’re counting on him but he’s behind. Cliff Copeland, he’s one of them that’s been sick. He’s been out here but we’ve got to get him in better shape. He’s got great size, we just have to get him ready. Right now we’re looking at playing guys both ways and that’s tough. We really hope some more are able to step up and fill some of those roles.”

SPORTS>>Cabot girls have good numbers out for ’07

Leader sportswriter

Depth will be the major difference from last season for the Cabot Lady Panthers when they begin the 2007 volleyball season later this month. A total of 23 players turned out for the first two weeks of practice, leaving coach Terry Williams with the recently unfamiliar chore of cutting some girls before the start of the season.

Two injuries left 21 players on the court for Friday’s practice. Among the returning players are eight seniors and nine juniors, most of which have seen significant playing time last year. Most of the seniors were starters or at least frequent subs last year, giving the Lady Panthers a great deal of experience.

As of Friday, a number of spots were still up for grabs. Coach Williams was not ready to release any names, stating that she wanted to give everyone a fair shot before making her final choices.

“Things are still wide open,” Williams said. “A lot of them are in the process of showing what they can do. The seniors are still making their way as far as how to be leaders. It’s just too early to say anything for sure.”

The final half of the practice was a set of scrimmages between various squads. Varsity and JV-level players interchanged to give each squad a mix of size and skill. Williams says the progress made in the first two weeks of practice has been good, and that she believes that the added depth will make for a stronger team.

“Any rotation we are in, we can have three pretty tall girls on the front,” Williams said. “We have a lot of people to choose from. It’s good in a way, but it’s also bad, because if someone’s not out there, then they get their feelings hurt. There’s a lot still up ”

The Lady Panthers also participated in a team camp on Monday and Tuesday against North Little Rock, Beebe and Vilonia. It was a good showing for them at the camp, and Williams believes their second run through the 7A-Central Conference should be much more competitive. Cabot started out their ’06 campaign strong, but key injuries and lack of sufficient depth down the stretch forced the Lady Panthers to limp for most of the second half of the year. The added depth, along with more experience and height should make them more competitive against usual powerhouses in their conference such as Mt. Saint Mary and Russellville.

The Lady Panthers had seven players who appeared to be 5’10” plus, and three of the smaller players had excellent jumping abilities, which should give them an advantage at the front against many competitors. The serving and hitting appeared to be on par, with a little bit of struggles in the dig department. Williams says a major focus of the early practices has been getting to the ball quickly to allow easier set-ups.

“We’ve been working on that a lot,” Williams said. “They have done a good job reacting better. We have a lot of work to do in order to improve our consistency, but they have got the basics down pretty well.”

SPORTS>>Injury bug biting CHS again

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers made it through one week without the injury bug biting too badly, but not the second week. After several years of the same problem occurring, the injury bug may have graduated to a curse at Cabot High School.

Only four players missed significant practice time last week, but that number more than doubled in week two, including six players that were expected to play starting roles.

Fortunately, none of the injuries are expected to threaten an entire season.

“We’ve got some kids that are going to miss a lot of practice and maybe a couple of games,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “This group is pretty talented though. Hopefully we’ll find some kids that can step in there and give us a lot of depth when we get the other kids back. The group we’re working with is pretty talented, we’re just really young. They’re learning the positions they’re playing, so if we can get everybody back and healthy, we should have a little depth too.”

Sophomore Seth Bloomberg is taking almost all the varsity snaps in practice. He began two-a-days battling junior Jake Burns for the starting job, but Burns is one of the players out. He is nursing a broken nose.

“Both of those kids can play,” Malham said. “They’ve been neck and neck for a while. If anything happens to Bloomberg, though, we’re going to be hurting.”

An injury to last year’s starting fullback Vince Aguilar, left some question marks in the offensive backfield that are beginning to be answered.

Sophomore Michael James, junior Chris Bayles and senior Casey Carlisle have worked into the three starting positions for the moment. Carlisle returns as the starting halfback while Bayles and James have alternated between halfback and the feature position of fullback. James has the size that dead T teams typically like to have at fullback, while Bayles comes in at 130 pounds.

“He’s little bitty but he’s the fastest kid we’ve got,” Malham said. “James has been doing most the work at fullback, but Bayles’ speed is hard to find, especially around here the last few years.”

Returning starting lineman Jordan Gunn is also out with an injury, but sophomore Jay Turpin has looked good as his replacement in practice. Turpin stands six feet and weighs 230.

There are three sophomores that have found starting spots in the defensive side. Joe Bryant will work at safety, ?? Nuemann has looked good at linebacker and Terrence Bertran will work extensively on the defensive line.

The Panthers will be hosting its annual Arkansas Activities Association benefit game against Lake Hamilton August 21. The annual Red-White game featuring all the football teams from seventh grade up will be August 24.

EDITORIALS>>Persecution of a judge

The five-year-old pursuit of Judge Wendell L. Griffen by the executive director of the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission came to an end this week with a whimper. Never mind, a panel of the commission said, the judge was always within his rights.

While the panel’s unanimous report is only a recommendation to the full commission, the commission nearly always respects decisions by its panels, especially unanimous ones. It certainly should in this troubling case.

Since March 2002, when Griffen, a judge on the state Court of Appeals, criticized the University of Arkansas at a meeting of black state legislators, the director of the commission, James A. Badami, has been trying to get him reprimanded or removed from the bench for speaking out of turn. The commission that fall issued a formal reprimand saying that Griffen’s public utterance violated the state’s canon of judicial ethics, which forbade judges from revealing their thoughts about public issues. The Arkansas Supreme Court eventually threw out the reprimand because it violated his right to free speech under the federal and state constitutions.

But Griffen, a black Baptist minister as well as a judge, got quoted in the public prints six or seven times more over the next several years in newspapers in Arkansas or elsewhere on Hurricane Katrina, the Iraqi war, the punishment of gays, racism and President Bush’s appointment of a chief justice. One was at a meeting of the National Baptist Convention USA in Columbus, Ga., where he was quoted in a local paper as criticizing the government’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.

Fresh charges were lodged against Griffen at the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission even though the U. S. Supreme Court ruled years ago that the Constitution protected the speech rights of judges as well as the rest of us.

But James Badami, Grif-fen’s own police inspector Javert, insisted that the state’s anti-speech rules for judges were still valid because someone who was aware of Judge Griffen’s ideas about immigrants or homosexuals or the war or Hurricane Katrina but who had opposite ideas might feel he would not get a fair shake when his personal-injury or contract suit reached Judge Griffen. It would be better, Badami said, if his ideas were a secret.

For nearly two years Judge Griffen has been trying to get the charges dismissed or get a final decision from the commission so that he could appeal it again and get it thrown out. He faces re-election next spring and the ignominy of a reprimand for misconduct would almost certainly defeat him. Last month, he petitioned the federal district court at Little Rock to stop the inquisition and affirm his right to say what is on his mind as long as it does not affect cases that will come before him.
A three-lawyer panel of the commission ended the long ordeal Wednesday, concluding that all of the remarks that Griffen had been quoted as making were protected by the Bill of Rights. They described that conclusion as “inescapable.”

-Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>Hochstetter moves on

Sandra Hochstetter took her leave from the state Public Service Commission very abruptly Wednesday but it was not a day too soon. Her departure seemed to be hastened by a telephone call from Gov. Beebe, who smelled an ethical crisis even if she did not.

Hochstetter, who was appointed to the utility commission by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, announced early in the week that she would resign from the commission in “a month or so” to take a job as vice president of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corp. She seemed to faintly recognize a potential conflict of interest because in two days she was about to sit in judgment on a request from a partner of the cooperatives to build a giant coal-fired generating plant in Hempstead County. She said that her future employer’s keen interest in the issue would not influence her in the least and that she expected to participate unless any of the disputing parties to the case objected.

They did — within minutes. So she recused from the coal-plant hearings, which began Thursday, and Gov. Beebe promptly appointed a former Supreme Court justice as a special arbiter to sit with the other two commissioners. Thank goodness for that.

But what could Ms. Hochstetter have been thinking? It is enough that the public must see the old revolving door between utilities and the regulatory commission swing once again, as it has so often in this ethically challenged state. Regulators do their public work and then take lucrative jobs with the utilities that they have been regulating. Sometimes, as in Ms. Hochstetter’s case, the governor goes to the utilities in the first place to get someone to regulate them. That is routine in the government of George W. Bush, but it is it is rare in state government. Hochstetter had been an attorney for Arkla Gas, later gobbled up by Centerpoint Energy, when Huckabee tapped her for the commission. A righteous state senator, Jim Argue of Little Rock, objected, so the governor had her sit for a while as a commission staffer, who did not have to be confirmed by the Senate, before elevating her to the commission. She was in her second six-year term on the commission.

Her impending employment by one of the largest utilities cast a shadow on all the impending cases involving the cooperatives and their competitors and upon those cases on which she has already sat, including preliminary decisions on the coal plant, which Southwestern Electric Power Co. is already building in anticipation of the PSC’s approval. The cooperatives expect to contract for a portion of the plant’s output. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said she should resign immediately, not in “a month or so.” Beebe said so, too, and his view counts. He telephoned her Wednesday and she ruminated a few minutes before resigning.

The state has one small caveat about revolving doors. For one year, Hochstetter will not be able to represent the cooperatives — in person —before the commission and her former employees.

OBITUARIES >> 08-11-07

Ferenc Feldman

Ferenc Feldman, 85, died Aug. 5 at Mt.Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, Fla.

His survivors include his wife of 59 years, Ilona; their sons Garrick and wife Eileen Feldman of Jacksonville and Steven Feldman and his wife Anne-Marie Deutsch of Bethesda, Md.; grandchildren Rebecca, Jonathan and Aliya Feldman of New York and Ezra and Molly Deutsch-Feldman of Bethesda.

Services were Aug. 7 at Levitt-Weinstein Memorial Chapel led by Rabbi Philip Weberman. Burial was at Mt. Sinai Cemetery in Miami.

Ferenc Feldman was a member of Congregation Mogan David of Surfside, Fla.

He was born in Apagy, Hungary, on July 27, 1922. He survived forced labor camps in Hungary and Austria during the Second World War and was liberated by the U.S. Army in a Nazi death camp in Gunskirchen, Austria, in May 1945.

His parents, brothers, sisters and grandmother were murdered in Auschwitz, Poland, the largest death camp in Nazi Europe.
He married Ilona Klein in 1947 in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, where they raised two sons. The family fled communist Hungary after the Soviets crushed a revolution in 1956.

They lived in refugee camps in Austria before their arrival in Chicago in 1961. He worked in a meat-packing plant and later operated a small home for the elderly.

He spent his final years in Surfside, Fla., where he and his wife enjoyed the sunshine, visits from their family and friends and attending religious services at nearby congregations.

The family thanks his caregiver Barbara Cassis and Drs. Raimundo Acosta and Andrew Kovacs for their compassionate care.
“What does the Lord your God ask of you? That you fear the Lord your God and walk in His ways and to love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12).

Colleen Miller

Colleen Love Miller, 79, of Beebe died August 8. She was born March 29, 1928, at Hickory Plains. She retired from Remington Arms in Lonoke in 1991 after 19 years of service.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Mary Elizabeth Love; her father, Emmet Love and her sisters, Laurice Miller and Elaine Howell of Des Arc.

She is survived by nine children, Larry Miller of Smackover, Patricia Miller of North Little Rock, Jimmy Love of Louann, Sharon Rogers of Broken Arrow, Okla., Christy McCartney of Beebe, Billy Miller of Ward, Timmy Miller of Ward, Donna Smith of Monroe, La. and Tonya Welch of Des Arc; 20 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and her sister, Virginia Venable of Waldron and her five children.

Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11 at Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe with burial in Johnson Chapel Cemetery, Hickory Plains.

Vicki Carmical

Vicki Jo Carmical, 48, of Cabot died August 10. She was born August 17, 1958 in Albany, Ga.

She graduated from Des Arc High School in 1946. She retired from Remington Arms in Lonoke in 1991, after 19 years of service.

She is survived by her parents, Carl and Emma Hopkins Strange; husband, Richard Carmical; two children, Tara V. and Andrew J. Carmical both of Cabot; two sisters, Kacee Dee Vojdani of Rogers and Jennifer Elaine Raney of Ft. Worth, Texas, and one nephew, Lucas Raney of Forth Worth.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, August 13 at Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home with burial at Sumner Cemetery.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, August 12 at the funeral home.

TOP STORY >>WaterWorks seeks member willing to work

Leader staff writer

The commission that runs Cabot WaterWorks will advertise soon for a new member, someone with the background and education to help with the seemingly endless list of details associated with the city’s growth that has kept the commission busy for the past two years.

That was the consensus Thursday night of the four members left after the sudden resignation of banker Don Keesee, who has taken a position in northern Arkansas with Regions Bank.

“We need someone who wants to work,” said Bill Cypert, commission secretary.

Commissioner Cary Hobbs concurred. Whoever takes over Keesee’s seat will have to understand that serving on the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission is “not an every other Thursday golf and lunch club,” he said.

The commission is currently engaged in building a sewer plant and a water line to connect to Central Arkansas Water. With the help of Tadd Bohannon, the commission’s attorney, it has drafted and approved developer polices to ensure, for example, that the pipes that go in the ground are inspected before they are covered.

Commissioner Gary Walker, who was unanimously chosen by the other commissioners to replace Keesee as vice-chairman, called the decision to advertise “a wise move.”

So did city Attorney Jim Taylor, who has attended the meetings in recent months. Taylor said advertising would be an affirmation that the commission really does answer to the public.

Only Chairman J.M. Park had reservations. Only one person can be chosen, he said. So it is very likely that someone is going to be mad, he said.

Before they can advertise, the commission must approve the criteria for selecting its new member. Cypert, Bohannon and Karen Ballard, WaterWorks human resources manager, were selected for a committee to draft that document.

The selection process could take several months. Park pointed out that the commission must have at least three members to do business. With four, they can easily operate until a new member is found.

But by state law, the commission can only recommend Keesee’s replacement. The city council, which appointed all the other commissioners, will appoint the new one.

The commission also discussed insurance for employees. Currently, WaterWorks employees and city employees, have insurance through the Municipal League. To keep the cost down for all the employees Ballard has been working with the city’s human resources manager to find a new insurance provider.

TOP STORY >>Public meeting set for Friday

Leader staff writer

All interested persons are encouraged to attend the public meeting August 17 to assess Jacksonville’s interest in operating open-enrollment public charter schools in the community.

The charter school concept will also be explained during the 6 p.m. meeting at Jacksonville City Hall.

The public’s thoughts are sought on the matter either in person or in writing to Dr. Caroline Proctor, the executive director of Arkansas Charter School Resource Center at the University of Arkansas, Graduate Education 201, Fayetteville, Ark., 72701.

Community members are also asked to respond by email to the community-needs assessment located at, using passcode 1100 for central Arkansas.

The needs assessment will establish local support, interest and needs for the area.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce members are supporting the petition to the Arkansas State Board of Education to open charter schools in town due to recent problems with the Pulaski County Special School District.

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.
Chamber member Mike Wilson spearheaded the proposal that he says “has the promise of helping our kids.”

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

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

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.

These people want your opinions.

TOP STORY >>Cabot commission approves rezoning

Leader staff writer

The most controversial rezoning in Cabot’s recent history made it through the planning commission Tuesday night and will go before the city council Aug. 20.

Whether businesses should be allowed at Rockwood and Hwy. 89 across from the commercial development that has grown up around Wal-Mart has been the subject of hot debate and one court case for about a decade.

The planning commission approved commercial rezoning there a year ago only to have that ruling overturned by the city council after residents of the subdivisions behind the property protested that traffic at the intersection is terrible now and would only get worse if more businesses go in.

They said accidents at the intersection increased 212 percent from 2000 to 2006 (from eight to 25). Adding credence to their claim were the two accidents at the intersection that very day.

Three months ago, the property, which has been known as the Smith property, went before the planning commission again for commercial rezoning after it was purchased by the Burrows Family Trust of Jonesboro.

The rezoning was denied, but the planning commission ruled Tuesday that the latest proposal of C-2 along Highway 89 and O-1 (for offices) abutting the residential area was different enough from the proposal three months ago that it could be heard again before the required one-year waiting period for resubmission.

Then, over the protests of the residents who filled the council chamber where the meeting was held, the commission voted to send the rezoning to the council where it will be voted up or down. Matt Webber was the only member who voted against the rezoning.

Residents said they were concerned for their children’s safety and that their property values would decline.

“Gentlemen, think when you vote,” said Carl Schmidt. “Would you want this in your neighborhood?”

Mary Ann Taft told the commission that she knew the area would eventually go commercial but that now is not the time. It should wait until Highway 89 is widened to four lanes.

“That’s not the last bit of commercial property in Cabot,” Taft said. “Is there any urgency about this?”

The commissioners said the city’s land-use plan calls for commercial zoning of the property along Highway 89, so they had little choice except to send the matter to the city council.

In other business, the commission approved a master street plan that must also go before the council for approval.

Commissioners agreed that it is important to have the plan in place so houses and businesses will not be built on land that the city needs for streets.

As expected, the commission denied a request for two additional driveways into Lakewood commercial subdivision on Highway 321. Developer Jim Green’s request for the road cuts died for lack of a motion to even consider approving it.
The commission told Green in July when they first heard his request that they were not inclined to approve the driveways because of the traffic problems they could cause as Highway 321 develops.

TOP STORY >>Upsetting plans being revamped

Leader staff writer

Two development plans that Jacksonville residents stalled last month are back on the planning commission agenda. Both plans have been revamped.

The commission will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at city hall.

The first stalled plan is a rezoning request by Jack Wilson to have Foxwood Gardens, near Loop Road and Northeastern Avenue rezoned from R-0 (single family homes) to R-1 (single family homes with smaller lots). The change would allow the developer to add about 15 more homes to the subdivision.

The second stalled plan was for the Edinburgh Subdivision.

Developer Jim Peacock presented a sketch plat that included plans to build about 10 single homes and 30 duplexes in the subdivision.

Both were tabled in July after residents voiced opposition.

More than half the crowd at the July planning commission meeting was there to oppose the rezoning of the 19.5-acre Foxwood Gardens subdivision.

The original request was to rezone the property to R-2 (duplexes), but Tommy Bond, of Bond Consulting Engineers, quickly amended it to R-1, but that still didn’t satisfy the crowd. “We have no intentions of building multi-family units in this subdivision. Plans are to build a gated community of garden homes and the homes would range from 1,500 square feet to 2,500 square,” he explained to the riled crowd.

Plans called for about 80 garden-style homes on the acreage.

The largest concern of the residents was the only one street would be used to enter and exit the gated subdivision. “That’s a lot of traffic to be turning in and out that close to a school,” said Charles Evans, of 1801 Steeplechase.

The planned exits and entrances to the subdivision are at the dead end of Steeplechase Drive, and where Foxwood turns east and west, close to Pinewood Elementary. According to Bond, only residents would use one of the entrances, the other would be for emergency vehicles.

Don Hall of 1513 Foxwood said “Kids congregate in that area for school buses and the only sidewalk is on that side. The extra traffic would create a very dangerous situation.”

Even though the subdivision design was a separate issue from the rezoning, the commissioners asked Bond to bring the request to the August meeting with a more complete plan to help determine whether the subdivision would be a good fit for the area or not.

The remaining residents at the July meeting were upset about plans for the Edinburgh Subdivision and again traffic was a major concern.

Residents didn’t want the duplexes and were concerned that all the traffic would feed off Edinburgh. Because of Splash Zone, the area already gets a large amount of traffic and children are everywhere, residents told the commissioners.

“This goes in and a lot of us are moving. I understand it’s about the developer making money, and he has that right, but don’t stick the knife in my back to make your dollar,” said John Williams, a Jacksonville police officer.

Also on the commission agenda:

The New Testament Holiness Church is seeking permission to operate a daycare facility at 2311 Green Acres, which is in a residential area.

The commission will look at approving a sketch plat for the Besancon property off Red Fox.

Commissioners will review a sketch plat for Delaney Heights Subdivision near Cherry and Laurel streets.

The commission will review the final plat of Wendi’s Corner near the intersection of Bailey and Gregory.

Commissioners will look at approving the final plat of the Northlake Subdivision.

The commissioners will decide on the final plats of lots 1 and 2 of the Jacksonville Commerce Subdivision, which could lead to more commercial or industrial development in the city.

Commissioners will look at approving a building permit for the Marshall Road Pharmacy.

TOP STORY >>Pryor: Can air base do better?

Leader senior staff writer

The Air Force wants new developers to take over failed housing privatization at Little Rock Air Force Base, Sen. Mark Pryor said Thursday, and he thinks the base is a logical site for training crew and maintainers of the new short-range, reduced-load cargo plane the Department of Defense seems likely to order.

With work at a standstill at Little Rock Air Force Base and other bases where Connecticut’s Carabetta family won contracts worth billions of dollars over the next 50 years to build, remodel, own and manage thousands of housing units for airmen and their families, the Air Force is trying to repackage the contracts for other developers to finish the job, Pryor said Thursday after visiting with officials on the base.

Pryor said the quality of the 25 units completed was good, but Brig. Gen. Select Rowayne Schatz has said Carabetta’s American Eagle Communities should have completed 200 units by now and is two years behind schedule.

“This is costing time,” said Pryor. “It’s a quality of life issue.”

He said he’s concerned that in restructuring privatization, the Air Force might have to scale back.

Given Carabetta’s decades-long history of unpaid subcontractors, unfinished work and litigation, he said he wants to know why they were awarded the contracts in the first place.

“We’ll try to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

Pryor said that a new joint cargo aircraft “looks like a done deal,” and while it’s not a C-130J, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, he said Little Rock Air Force Base would still be a good place to train pilots, crews and maintainers.
“It seems to me that Little Rock should get strong consideration,” he said.

That plane, the C-27J, will mostly be assigned to National Guard units.

Regarding the Air Force’s $9.8 million share of the planned Jacksonville/Little Rock Air Force Base Joint Education Center, Pryor said he would fight to restore that money—stripped from the military construction budget by the Senate Armed Forces Committee—when the bill is considered on the Senate floor.

He hopes to restore the money as a member of the House/Senate Conference Committee.

He is especially interested in the House version of the bill, in large part because Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, included the money for the education center.

“Cong. Snyder has been a tireless advocate in the House,” Pryor said. “He’s been like a dog with a bone.”

Pryor said he supports undertaking a detailed analysis of the nation’s infrastructure—not only roads, bridges, locks and dams and railroads, but also water delivery systems, electricity and broadband service.

“We need to create a blueprint to allocate resources,” he said. “We think about the next election, not 25 years down the road.”
“We need a comprehensive review, then to make some good public policy,” he said.

He said the nation also needed to figure out how to pay for the needed repairs.

“We need a healthy debate.”

“Iraq is so expensive—it’s off the charts. It takes (money) away from other things we need.”

On other matters, Pryor said he had worked hard to secure the nation’s borders, noting that he and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., successfully sponsored a bill that added $3 billion to border security.

He said he hoped that existing legislation that would fine business owners $10,000 for employing an illegal immigrant won’t result in unpicked crops rotting in the fields or increasing prices at the grocery store.

Pryor, who as a member of the so-called Gang of 14 headed off a Republican threat to eliminate the filibuster if the Democrats tried to use it to block votes on President Bush’s picks for judge a year ago, says it’s frustrating now to find the same Republicans resorting to the filibuster themselves to block the new Democratic majority from moving its own agenda forward.

Still, he said, Democrats have managed to implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation, fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, if only for a year, and increase the minimum wage.