Wednesday, August 22, 2007

EDITORIALS>>County jail full

The city directors of Little Rock, who never heard the parable of the bloodless turnip, seem bent on suing the county government to force the county jail to absorb the city’s prisoners.

The city’s frustration is understandable. After a long decline, street crime is rising and the government’s inability to put miscreants in jail is at least partly responsible, probably mostly responsible. The criminal courtrooms are nothing more than revolving doors because there is no room in the county jail. That is true countywide, not simply in Little Rock.

Municipal lockups are supposed to be temporary holding facilities. Counties are supposed to house prisoners, but Pulaski County simply cannot fulfill its obligation. It does not have the money to operate the jail capacity that it has, and it wants municipal governments to contribute more.

Since the voters last year defeated a sales tax that would have opened existing beds and built more, there has been stalemate, the cities demanding that the county do something, the county shrugging. Opponents of the jail tax were going to produce a solution but they have been silent.

Little Rock directors said they sympathized with County Judge Buddy Villines’ dilemma but that it was still his problem and his obligation. So the city is going to sue.

What would it see as success? A court order to the county to provide jail space at whatever cost to other county services? The county is already under court directives not to unconstitutionally crowd. It is hard to imagine any remedy that a court might order that will make neighborhoods safer.

Every remedy is political, not judicial. Is there a tax that voters might approve or a dramatic reallocation of resources that people would stand for?

That is what political leadership is supposed to calculate. If there is any quotient of leadership in these elected officials, they will be meeting to work it out. — Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>PSC a tribune of the people

Pray that we do not have to eat our words, but it looks like we have a real Public Service Commission at the state Capitol, one that takes its civic responsibility seriously, one that follows the dictum of Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was governor of New York. Roosevelt said his utility regulators should not be mere arbitrators between utilities and customers but tribunes of the people.

The PSC, which is under the new direction of Paul Suskie of North Little Rock, reaffirmed its decision that Entergy Corp. was not entitled to the $106.5 million rate increase it sought and instead had to actually reduce its rates to produce $5.7 million in lower revenues a year. Moreover, the commission said last week, all that rate reduction should go to residential customers.
Here is the effect of the commission’s ruling: Homeowners should see their monthly bills lowered by about 6.7 percent. To understand how remarkable this is, you must remember that starting this summer, Arkansas ratepayers through their monthly light bills are subsidizing customers of Entergy Corp. in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under President Bush ordered Arkansas to pay into Entergy’s coffers each month enough to equalize the production costs among all the subsidiaries of Entergy. Years ago, Arkansans paid to build the first nuclear and coal generating units in the Entergy system. Those now produce power more cheaply than do the generators to the south of us, which use costlier fuels and produce power from far more expensive nuclear plants than Arkansas’ ANO units at Russellville. Arkansans paid more early on, and now they will pay more again to be good neighbors — very good neighbors — to Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as their electricity costs rise.

Those subsidy payments would have more than offset the base rate reductions that the PSC ordered, but shifting the reductions entirely to residential customers, along with the reduced costs of generating fuel, will mean that customers will actually see a net reduction in their kilowatt-hour costs. Industrial and commercial buyers will see reductions, too, but not as large as they anticipated. For residential customers, many of whom face hardship paying for electricity and gas, the PSC actions had real meaning.

Entergy had asked the PSC to reconsider the rate order, first issued in June, and now it will take its case for higher rates to the Arkansas Court of Appeals. The PSC lowered its allowable profit rate and also rejected some $30 million of annual expenses and perks for top executives that the company wanted to build into its rate base. They included stock options, bonuses, country club dues, golf vacations, sports tickets, catered parties and personal financial advice. Without those things, the company argued, some of its top executives might be lured away to other jobs and the loss of managerial talent would hurt customers. The threat was that another company might hire away Entergy’s CEO, whose compensation last year was limited to $18 million, and he might be replaced by someone who was not as smart or lacked his marvelous managerial abilities.

We have Paul Suskie to thank for rejecting such nonsense, which in other times and other venues actually prevails. A tip of the hat may be in order, too, for the man who appointed him, Gov. Beebe. As a state senator, Beebe was known for his tight relationship with Entergy Corp. Only three years ago, as attorney general, Beebe was secretly intervening on behalf of the big electric companies in a federal suit to allow them to evade environmental responsibilities.

For some men, elevation to high office is liberation. We have more reason to hope that Beebe is one of those.

OBITUARIES >> 08-22-07

Ron Yates

Ron Yates, 62, of Searcy died Aug. 20.

He was born Oct. 11, 1944, at Hot Springs to the late Dennison Fulton and Eva Virginia Ellison Yates.

He was a Vietnam veteran, served on the USS America in the Mediterranean and was a lifetime member of VFW Post 7769.
He was also preceded in death by one son, Jason Yates.

He is survived by his wife, Peggy; son, Andrew Hornecker and wife Christine of Conway; three daughters, Suzanne Bennett and husband Mark of Conway, Angie Lewis and husband Earl of Beebe and Kimberly Russell and husband Jeremy of Searcy; three brothers, Jay Yates of Quitman, Bill Yates of Conway and Dennison Yates of Bella Vista; two sisters, Patricia James of Benton and Janice Estes of Magnolia; six grandchildren, Jason and Haley Hornecker, Brittany Daniel, Courtney Lewis, Jay and Victoria Mandrell, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, August 22 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 at Westbrook Funeral Home. Graveside service will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in Havana Cemetery, Yell County, Havana.

Buford Moody

Buford G. Moody, 77, of Beebe died Aug. 21.

He was born to Charlie and Veda Moody Feb. 4, 1930, at Hickory Plains.

He was a devoted husband and father, a member of the Landmark Missionary Baptist Church of Romance and a Missionary Baptist preacher for 47 years, pastoring six churches in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

He is survived by his loving wife of over 56 years, Wanda Smith Moody; a daughter, Cathie Powell and husband Jimmy; a son, Larry Moody; all of Beebe; six grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; two sisters, Carolyn Hart of Des Arc and Brenda Boyles of Higginson; two brothers, Leroy and C. A. Moody, both of Beebe; and a host of friends and relatives.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, August 23 at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Beebe. Burial will be at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe.

Floyd Hines

Floyd Sherman Hines Sr., 86, of Jacksonville passed away Aug. 18.  

He was born Dec. 28, 1920 in Bauxite to the late Isaac Luther and Annie Louiza Pate Hines.  

He was also preceded in death by his first wife Clara “Jake” Overton Hines, mother of his children, and his second wife, Betty Isbell Hines; brothers and sisters, Freida Rambo, Agnes Hines, Ivan Hines, Elmer Hines, Edward  Hines and Arvel Clay “Little Boe” Hines and step-son, Steve Sanders.  

Hines was a minister for 50 years.  He ministered at Westside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fourth Street Baptist Church in West Helena, Harmony Baptist Church in West Helena, Faith Baptist Church in Clarksdale, Miss., Park View Baptist Church in Clarksdale, Miss., Rondo Baptist Church in Rondo and Eastside Baptist Church in Lonoke.  

He was a Navy veteran and a survivor of Pearl Harbor.

He is survived by his son, Floyd Hines Jr. of Beebe; daughter, Donna Blaine of Bartlett, Tenn.; daughter-in-law, Wanda Sanders of Jacksonville; brother, James  Hines of Nocona, Texas; sister, Hazel  Hild of Sherwood; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 22 at Westside Baptist Church with Rev. Bo Hines and Rev. Ronnie Johnson officiating.  Burial will be at Memorial Gardens in Clarksdale, Miss.

William Elia

William R. “Billy Ray” Elia, 73, of Jacksonville passed away suddenly at his home Aug. 17.  
He was born in Camden on Dec. 22, 1933.  

Bill was preceded in death by his mother, Dicie M. McMahen of Camden and his father, Scott Elia of Saraland, Ala.  

He is survived by his loving wife of 32 years, Cynthia “Cindy” L. Elia; stepbrother, Edward Phillip Elia of Saraland, Ala.; daughters, Gabriele and husband John Osmun and Rene Elia; sons, Ricky and Jeffrey Elia; grandchildren, Sam, Clinton, Amber, Cody, Cassandra, Vinnie and Jayda and two great-grandchildren.

Bill retired as chief master sergeant with 27 years in the Air Force.  Since his retirement he worked as a realtor for Bart Gray Realty and as an area manager for Woodmen of the World Insurance Society.  

Bill was an active member of several organizations in the Jacksonville area.  He was on the board of directors of the Kiwanis Club, the Salvation Army, Jacksonville Care Channel and Pathfinder.  

He was vice president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.  Bill was instrumental in chartering the Woodmen of the World Lodge 1437, serving as president for four years and won the Fraternal Spirit Award in 2000 and 2006.  

He won the Woodmen of the World’s highest award, the Honor Award, in 1995.  Bill has been active in the Jacksonville Museum of Military History since its inception.

He served as vice chairman of the board and his service to the museum was tireless as a passionate advocate, a master story teller and countless hours of volunteer support to staff and visitors.  Bill’s absence leaves a void in the many lives he touched through his service.

Funeral services were Aug. 21 at United First Methodist Church in Jacksonville with Carroll Sites presiding. Burial was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville.  Memorials may be made to Pathfinder, P.O. Box 647, Jacksonville, Ark., 72078 or Jacksonville Museum of Military History, P.O. Box 252, Jacksonville, Ark., 72078.

Furneral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Cora Lukes

Cora Lukes, 61, of Fayetteville, N.C., formerly of Hickory Plains, died Aug. 13.

She was born April 8, 1946, at Hickory Plains to Samuel Peters Ford and Beaulah Beatrice Hood.

She grew up in Arkansas; she also lived in Illinois, Texas and Florida and traveled to Germany and Japan.

She is survived by five daughters, Lisa Ford and Melissa Crawford, both of North Carolina, Jennifer Johnson of Curtis Bay, Maryland, Julianna Johnson of Miami Gardens, Florida, Lucky Lukes of Homestead, Florida; three grandchildren, Antoinette Crawford, Simone Bailey and Elijah Bailey; seven sisters, Mary Adams, Annetta Thompson, Verlene McCalip, Franki, Gladys and Wrena Ford and Betty Hunt; three brothers, Billy Ford, Samuel Ford and Henry Ford.

Funeral services were August 19 at Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, Hickory Plains with burial in Pleasant Ridge Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Dorothy Lenderman

Dorothy Cornett Wyatt Lenderman, 87, of Elkhart, Ind., formerly of Des Arc, died August 15.

She was born May 4, 1920, at Griffithville to Orland Perry and Nealy Bone Roberts.

She married her first husband, Fred L. Wyatt on Sept. 3, 1938, and he died Sept. 12, 1993. She married her second husband, Ray Lenderman on June 9, 1994, and he died in Dec. of 2002.

She also had one grandchild preceed her death in 2002.

Dorothy is survived by two sons, James W. Wyatt of South Bend, Ind., and Jerry L. Wyatt of Cortez, Col.; one daughter, Dorothy E. Eller of Phoenix, Ariz.; seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were August 21 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe.

Ray Yielding

Ray Yielding, 90, of Ward died Saturday, Aug. 18.

He was born August 19, 1916, at Ward to Sullivan and Leona Speck Yielding, and was a retired farmer.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred, and daughter, Fran.

He is survived by three sons, Ray Yielding, Jr. of Ward, Alan Yielding of Cabot, and Ricky Yielding of Missouri; 14 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; one brother, Leon Yielding of North Little Rock; three sisters, Beatrice Cullen of College Station, Texas, Clara Howell of Little Rock and Mattie Lee Hefner of McCrory.

Graveside service was Aug. 21 at Monk Cemetery in Ward.

Murrey Wilson

Murrey Woodrow Wilson, 90, passed from this life Aug. 17.

He was born to Adolphus and Sally May Wilson Sept. 9, 1916 in Lewisburg, Tenn.

He was a minister for the Church of Christ, associate Professor at Harding University, and a deacon for the College Church of Christ in Searcy.

He was preceded in death by Hazel Wilson, his beloved wife of 56 years, in August 1997.

Survivors include daughters, Janice White of Cabot and Sharon Voorhees of Madison, Ala.; grandchildren, Terry White of Thompson Station, Tenn., Katherine Mussleman of Houston, Texas, Kristi Nelms of Shannon Hills, and Elizabeth Clifton of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

He is also survived by 10 great-grandchildren: Kayli White, Shelby Holiman, Samual Nelms, Molly and Carlee White,Chase and Anna Mussleman, and Jonah, Ezra, and Naomi Clifton.

Funeral services were August 19 with Don England of College Church officiating. Burial was in Oaklawn Cemetery in Searcy. Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot handled arrangements.

Vera Story

Vera Lurlene Story, 78, of Jacksonville passed away Aug. 13. She was born Nov. 2, 1929 to the late H.T. and Stella Stephens.
She was a Christian and a member of Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Vera was a proud member of The Order Of Eastern Star Chapter 520 in Jacksonville. She was a late-blooming artist who painted various oil paintings.

She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers.

She is survived by her husband of almost 52 years, Kenneth Story; one son, Albert and wife Nancy Story of Prescott Valley, Ariz.; four grandchildren, Stephenie and Remington of Phoenix, Ariz., Robert Scott and Kenneth Story II, of Prescott Valley, Ariz.; two great-grandchildren, Bryan David and Thomas Avery; three sisters, Doris, Johnnie Faye, and Joyce Ann.

Funeral services were at Jacksonville Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville with Bro Steven Tiner officiating under the direction of Griffin Leggett-Rest Hills Funeral Home. Burial was in Rest Hills Memorial Park Cemetery in North Little Rock.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Okla. 73123-1718.

SPORTS >>Devils’ intra-squad goes well

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils held their annual preseason intra-squad scrimmage Saturday night, and looked good doing it. Enthusiasm from the coaching staff was tempered, but it was easy to see that things like 14-play scoring drives pleased head coach and offensive coordinator Mark Whatley, while three forced turnovers and three sacks were enough to leave defensive coordinator Rick Russell optimistic.

“We did some things that you can build on,” Whatley said. “Cameron made some good reads, and both quarterbacks threw the ball very well. It was a positive start, but there’s still a long, long way to go. One big thing is we’re definitely not in shape. There was an awful lot of huffin’ and puffin’ going on out there later on. We’re going to have to buckle down and work to improve that.”

Senior quarterback Cameron Hood engineered the game’s longest drive on the red team’s opening possession. The drive went 80 yards and included three third down conversions. Pass coverage by the white team’s defense was good, but Hood provided an element to Whatley’s spread offense that Jacksonville has not had since Whatley’s arrival. When the receivers weren’t open after all the check- offs, Hood tucked and ran, and did so three times for 28 yards.

He also found senior wideout Terrell L’Hrisse up the middle on third and nine. L’Hrisse caught the ball about 10 yards up field, broke a tackle and scampered another 16 yards for the longest completion of the drive.

A few players, Hood and L’Hrisse hooked up again, this time on first and goal from the nine-yard line. L’Hrisse ran the corner lob and made the catch in the corner of the end zone for the only touchdown of the scrimmage.

The White team had its moments, and one of the best was its first offensive play. Senior quarterback Thomas Blade threw a perfect strike, a high spiral that came down right into the hands of receiver Daron Wheeler for a 41-yard gain.

Blade also showed some running ability when he scrambled for nine yards on the next play. Two plays later on third and one, the quarterback draw was called, but linebacker Quinton Ezeagwula blew through the gap and put his helmet right on the ball about three yards in the backfield, forcing a fumble that the defense covered.

That put the White team back at the 20-yard line, and things weren’t quite as productive from there. One running play and a completion yielded no positive yardage. On third and 10, L’Hrisse flew untouched into the backfield and sacked Blade for a 16-yard loss.

Starting again at the 20, things began clicking again for the White offense. Running back Jeffrey Tillman picked up six yards on the option. Blade then found sophomore receiver Devin Featherston downfield for a 29-yard completion. Two plays later, Blade hit junior Cordero Shelton for 15 yards over the middle. Blade then gained 11 yards on a quarterback keeper, but the play was called back for holding.

The drive’s 15th and final play was a 10-yard completion to junior Butch Walker.

After the freshmen took the field for about 12 plays, the varsity Red squad went back on offense. They had another good drive going, but it ended at the goal line.

It started with a 15-yard scramble by Hood followed by a quick toss down the line of scrimmage to junior Stanley Appleby, who turned upfield for six yards. Hood was again forced to run after being unable to find a receiver, this time he picked up 19 yards. Again, Hood’s scramble was followed by a quick toss down the line to Appleby, who this time gained nine yards.
Marquis Simpkins’ number was then called. He caught an inverted screen pass and picked up 17 yards to the 14-yard line. On first down, a high lob pass was picked off by Wheeler, who returned out to the 16 before being chopped down by Appleby.

The White offense took over and Cordero Shelton started it off with a nine-yard reception. Terrell Brown then fumbled and sophomore Joey Gates recovered for the Red team.

Starting back at the 20, an incompletion was followed by a 9-yard scramble by Blade, but he was dropped for a 1-yard loss by Brayden Murray on a third and one draw.

On fourth down, Brown picked up four yards to convert the first down. Two more runs by Brown, one for four yards and one for seven, ended the scrimmage.

Russell, like Whatley, was pleased for the most part, but saw one thing lacking that is crucial to being a good defense.
“We have to tackle better,” Russell said. “We made some play on defense, got some sacks and a couple of fumbles, but we didn’t wrap up like we’ve been working on. We let a few guys get away that shouldn’t have. Overall though, it wasn’t bad for this time of year.”

Jacksonville will scrimmage against North Little Rock this Friday at Jan Crowe Stadium.

SPORTS >>SH snaps into form in second

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills took the next step towards the 2007 season with the annual blue-white scrimmage at Bill Blackwood Field Friday night. Two twenty-minute halves gave the varsity squad its first opportunity to showcase their talents in front of parents and students.

The scrimmage had its share of highlights on both sides of the ball, with a strong defensive showing in the first half, followed by a number of successful offensive drives in the second half. The bugs on the offensive side were evident in the first 20 minutes, particularly with snaps. A number of miscues between the senior quarterbacks and three different SH centers hampered offensive progress on the first two drives.

While a large portion of the hype on the hillside has been over returning senior QB Hunter Miller, it was the underclassmen that would end up shining from the backfield on Friday. Lawrence Hodges accounted for most of the offensive flair in the first half before sophomore Julian Brawner stepped in with some incredible runs in the second half, including a 68-yard touchdown run in the final five minutes.

“It was good and bad,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “I was a little disappointed in our execution, but I think our defense is playing better and better. The nerves of being under the lights for the first time sucked the wind out of us a little bit. On the whole, I was happy with our effort.”

Miller’s performance may not have been the wide-open thriller the SH faithful had hoped for, but his maturity on the field took precedent over stats. Miller recovered from a series of bad snaps in the first two drives to prevent turnovers, and his few passes were made carefully, putting the ball in routes that could not be intercepted.

While not a strict scrimmage, the varsity blue-white was essentially a two-a-days practice in game jerseys and in front of spectators. The blue team served as offense, and the white team was the all-time defensive unit. Members of the defense donned yellow smocks in the second half when they crossed the line of scrimmage to try their offensive hands.

One of those players, senior linebacker Chris Daulton, came away with a score when he ran in a 68-yard touchdown player from the fullback slot. The sophomore Brawner came away with the other big offensive play of the game moments later with a 70-yard run up the middle. Brawner’s speed and ability to move under the defense was impressive, and warranted the praise of Withrow afterward.

While there was not a tremendous amount of passing, Deonte Davis looked best of the receivers. Davis was the target of several slant patterns, along with Hodges. Among notable defensive performances was Nick? Zimmerman, who broke up a number of plays for the white squad, and pulled down an interception in the second half.

The first half was not without its offensive moments, as both Hodge and Miller capped off lengthy drives with short-distance runs for scores. The gains were short for the most part in the first 20 minutes, but in Miller’s defense, some of the misdirection-style plays in the first half imploded at the line, as if the defense was a little too familiar with what was coming at them.

The Bears had their first test of outside competition last night in a jamboree scrimmage against Hall, Parkview, and ?? Look for details of those games in the Saturday edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >>Falcons improve late in scrimmage

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski got off to a bad start in its preseason football scrimmage Monday evening at Pulaski Robinson High School. Five teams were on hand and each team played one quarter against the rest, giving each team four quarters of play.
The Falcons spent their first two quarters giving the ball away. The final two quarters were much better when the team switched from its more wide open formations into a tight T and a power I formation.

“It looks like that might be what’s going to work best for us,” North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon said. “That’s why we did what we did here. We wanted to find out a few things. The other good thing about it is we have this stuff on film now. We can show ‘em what they’re doing and get some things corrected.”

The Falcons started against England, and went three and out. The defense forced the Lions into three and out as well, but still couldn’t generate any offense. Two rushes and an incomplete pass left fourth and three at their own 26-yard line, but fullback Melvin Tenner could only get two-and-a-half yards, giving England possession at the NP 28.

It took the Class 3A contenders four plays to cover that distance for a touchdown. From that point all the way through their second quarter against Robinson, the Falcons could not hold on to the ball.

The next three, and last three of the opening scrimmage, NP possessions ended in interceptions. The defense played pretty well against England, giving up just one more first down and not allowing a score, despite England’s possessions starting deep inside Falcon territory.

That wasn’t the case against Robinson.

The Falcons started on offense. After a two-yard gain by Tenner, a bad pitch led to another turnover that the Senators covered at the NP 18.

Robinson started with a five-yard out pattern before Tenner got a sack that negated the gain and set up third and 10. An off-sides penalty made it third and five, and Robinson scored on the next play, a 13-yard rollout pass.

The Falcons fumbled again on the second play of their next drive, setting the Senators up on the NP 31.

Against the Falcons forced Robinson into third and long, but again gave up a big play. On third and seven, Robinson struck for a 28-yard touchdown strike.

The Falcons didn’t turn it over on their next possession, but did fumble again and lost 19 yards in three plays before punting.

A short punt again set Robinson up in Falcon territory at the 41. This time NP forced fourth down and three, but the Senators picked up 23 yards on fourth down, and scored on a quarterback draw on the next play to go up 21-0 with 2:52 left in the quarter.

The Falcons picked up two yards on its next drive before punting with seconds left, but Robinson still scored again, this time on a 68-yard run on the last play by Brandon Aldridge.

In the third quarter, the Falcons scrimmage Dardanelle, and did much better. They weren’t able to score, but they out-gained the Sandlizards and moved the ball effectively out of the T formation.

The first drive went 10 plays before stalling at the Dardanelle 34 after a failed halfback pass. Dardanelle got just two yards on its first two plays, but NP jumped off sides to make a third and long just third and three. Still, the Falcons tackled the Dardanelle’s quarterback for a 1-yard loss on an option keep.

The two teams traded three-and-outs a couple of times before NP finally got a couple more first downs. The Falcon defense did not give up a first down against the Sandlizards. In fact, Dardanelle had minus 4 total yards until a 4-yard gain on the last play of the scrimmage broke the team even. The Falcons gained 55 yards in the quarter.

The Falcons finished with Mills and almost got their first score. North Pulaski was on the Comet 7-yard line when time ran out in the quarter.

The biggest play of the scrimmage was a 24-yard pass from A.J. Allen to Michael Fleshman. Jeremy Flint also had a 15-yard run bulldog run up the middle in the scrimmage.

Defensively, Flint, #71 and Vinnie Osmun recorded sacks for the Falcons.

NP ran out of the Power I formation and picked up 63 total yards to 35 for Mills. That gave the team a 118 to 35 advantage in total yards over the final two quarters.

TOP STORY >>Library contract signals start of construction

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s new library is closer to construction with a signing of the building contract this week, Mayor Tommy Swaim said at the Jacksonville Rotary Club meeting on Monday.

Swaim also discussed forming a separate school district, making access roads along Hwy. 67/167 one way, improving alternate routes in case of an accident along the freeway, adding more space in the county jail, accepting bids on a police and fire training center and finding tenants for the old Wal-Mart building.

The $3.6 million library contract is with Wilkins Construction of North Little Rock. Funds for the library will come from a $2.5 million bond issue, as well as $450,000 from the Central Arkansas Library System, $400,000 from capital improvement funds and $300,000 from the sale of the old library building.

First United Methodist Church is a prospective buyer for the building.

Swaim said the library “will be completed one year after the official start date.” The library will be 13,000 square feet. The old Nixon library has only 9,265 square feet.

Jacksonville is providing the facilities, while the Central Arkansas Library System provides the staff and material in the library.
To save money, the city has changed carpet styles and lighting fixtures and will use less expensive choices for the interior.
The library, to be built on Main Street across from Jacksonville Shopping Center, will still have a park area and gazebo.

Also at the Rotary meeting, Swaim said the state Highway Department has approved making both John Harden Drive and T.P. White Drive between the James Street overpass and Vandenberg Boulevard one-way access roads when funding is available.
Swaim said he’d like to see one-way access roads extended all the way to Main Street.

John Harden Drive eventually will be one-way south and T.P. White one-way north, with a flyover turnaround at James Street allowing motorists on John Harden to get easily over to T.P. White and another flyover or cross under at Vandenberg to allow motorists on T.P. White to get over to John Harden.

Motorists would be expected to adapt quickly to one-way frontage roads and turnarounds as they have farther south along Hwy. 67/167 between Wildwood and Trammel Roads and McCain.

Pointing to the fiery tractor-trailer accident two weeks ago on Hwy. 67/167, which brought traffic to a crawl for several hours, Swaim said he and his staff are looking at alternate evacuation routes in case an evacuation is ordered. Jacksonville residents could use Military Road, Hwy. 107, Toneyville Road and Hwy. 161 into the North Little Rock area in case of an accident, he said.

Swaim also discussed a planned police and fire-training center to be built off Marshall Road near the recycling park. He said the city would soon choose an architect for the project.

The center would have a fire-drill tower, a concrete defensive driving pad, water pumping testing station for fire trucks and a police firing range.

The city now uses North Little Rock’s firefighting facility for training and parking lots for driving practice. Funds for the center are being collected from a one-cent sales tax.

He said the training would help the city, and he hopes it could serve as a regional training facility.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Sad news hits us hard this August

A death in the family and deaths of friends have made us think about mortality.

Soon after my father’s funeral two weeks ago, we lost a good friend when Bill Elia died in his sleep last Friday morning at the age of 73.

Shirley Bonham, a good friend of Elia’s, called later to tell us that her son Larry had suddenly died a week ago Monday at a truck stop near I-40 in Prothro Junction. He was 52.

He’d come to celebrate his father’s 75th birthday in Jacksonville and was going back on the road.

“He was hooking up his trailer to his truck when he died from heat exhaustion,” his mother recalled. “It must have been 125 degrees on that asphalt.”

She added, “He was so proud of his truck. He had his own living room in there.”

The funeral was last Wed-nesday. He leaves a wife and 2-month-old baby.

Funeral services were held Tuesday for Elia, who was one of the original organizers of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History. Bill was a youthful 73 who served in the military for many years.

Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Bob Johnson stood in front of Elia’s open casket and couldn’t hold back his tears. He wasn’t the only one.

The flag in front of the military museum has flown at half-mast.

The museum won’t be the same without Bill, who served his country with distinction in the Air Force during the Cold War, establishing backup communications in the air in case of nuclear war. He also flew missions over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war.

Elia was born in Camden and spoke with a slow southern drawl that could disappear in this age of global communication. He worked out regularly at the air base gym and never said a bad word about anybody.

He was among the last of the southern gentlemen.

Postscript to my column on my father’s death: Thanks for the many sympathy cards, calls and flowers. Many of you have asked about making a contribution in his memory.

As you know, my dad was a Holocaust survivor (as is my mother, who survives him). Our family would be pleased if you send your donation to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1000 Raoul Wallenberg Place, Washington, D.C. 20024-2126.

TOP STORY >>Cabot candidates to be nonpartisan

Leader staff writer

A resolution requiring all candidates for office in Cabot to run as independents in 2008 passed the city council with a 5-2 vote Monday over the strong objections of area Republicans.

By the next day, Republican leaders were considering circulating a petition calling for a vote of the people to overturn the council decision.

Mark Edwards, a Republican who represents Cabot on the Lonoke County Quorum Court, said Tuesday that he is still researching how many signatures are needed for a referendum. He said the council’s vote clearly did not reflect the wishes of the people they were elected to serve.

The proponents of party elections who spoke during the meeting said voters need to know whether candidates are Republican or Democrat to know whether their values are the same as theirs.

But Alderman Eddie Cook, who sponsored the resolution calling for non-partisan elections, said the Cabot council never deals with the issues like abortion and homosexuality. Instead of looking for the “R” or “D” beside a candidate’s name, voters should get to know the candidates, he said.

North Lonoke County is predominantly Republican, so Republican candidates are the most likely to be elected. Cook said in support of his resolution that without getting to know the candidates, it’s impossible to determine their values.

“What’s to keep everybody in the next election from running as Republicans?” he asked.

Some Republicans in Lonoke County are members of both the Lonoke County Republican Committee and the more conservative Republican Assembly, two groups that have not always seen eye to eye.

Vince Scarlatta, who introduced himself as first vice-chairman of the committee and a board member of the assembly, told the council that they might be surprised to learn that both groups want partisan elections.

Scarlatta said when a candidate is identified with a party, voters know their core values. Without the checks and balances of a multi-party system, elected officials can do what they want, he said, and prevailed upon Mayor Eddie Joe Williams to use his influence “to not let this happen.”

Bill “Pete” Pedersen, who lost his bid for mayor to Williams in 2006 during the Republican primary, alluded to Williams’ veto power when he asked, “Where do you stand, Mr. Mayor?”

“I don’t have a voice in this matter,” Williams responded, adding, “If the city puts up the right people, it won’t matter if they are an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ or an ‘I.’”

Aldermen Becky Lemaster and Teri Miessner, both Republicans, voted against the resolution. Lemaster said voters needed to know which candidates to align themselves with.

“We cannot take that tool away from those voters for any reason,” Lemaster said.

Miessner agreed and added that she thought the resolution failed to make it out of the budget and personnel committee, which meant it should not have gone before the full council, she said.

Although the city council passed an ordinance in January referring legislation to three different committees before it goes before the full council, City Attorney Jim Taylor said it did not prohibit council members from bringing any ordinance before the full council.

“They are the council people and they have that ability,” Taylor said.

Lemaster made the last statement after the resolution for non-partisan elections passed.

“What I have witnessed is an absolute abuse of office,” she said. “The people have spoken and we didn’t listen.” The next morning she turned in a request to the city attorney for an ordinance doing away with the council committees.

“That resolution died in committee and had no business being forwarded (to the full council),” she said. “We’ve proven they don’t work and we need to do away with them.”

TOP STORY >>PCSSD scores outpace LR, NLR districts

Leader senior staff writer

The Pulaski County Special School District has a greater percentage of students proficient in elementary and middle school math and literacy than the Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts, according to Beverly Ruthven, PCSSD assistant superintendent for learning services.

Pulaski County students had the highest benchmarks among the three co-joined districts for third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grade math, but North Little Rock students led in eighth grade math, Ruthven told the school board last week.

Part way through her PowerPoint presentation telling the board how the district was doing and about strategies for improving weaknesses identified by test scores, the board grew restless, saying they should have been given the results before the meeting, and told her to stop her presentation.

“We’re pleased with the results this year,” Ruthven told The Leader Tuesday, but expressed concern for the falloff in performance at the eighth grade level.

The district does have a plan to improve proficiency for eighth graders.

No such falloff occurred in literacy, where PCSSD had the highest percent of proficient students in all six age groups.

Quite the opposite was true however for the proficiency ratings in algebra, geometry and 11th-grade literacy end-of-course exams.

Ruthven said it was a district level problem that would be solved with district support, including the JBHM program.
“Formative assessment will assist in identifying any needs in curriculum materials, professional development and work with individual students,” Ruthven said.

Ruthven said that the district used all the various tests to identify both problems in teaching certain skills in a particular grade and also to identify which skills individual students needed help with.

PCSSD also had the lowest racial disparity, closing the performance gap between African- American and Caucasian students on benchmark math-proficiency rates.

She said the district would work with intervention coaches to train teachers and continue to lower the disparity. It ranged between 23 percent and 33 percent across the elementary and middle school grades.

In third-grade math, the increase in math proficiency was 6 percent, with the greatest improvement at Sylvan Hills and the least improvement—5 percent—at Sherwood and Bates Elementary schools.

Harris, which has the lowest proficiency rate, still managed a 13 percent increase in proficiency
Tolleson improved 9 percent, Jacksonville Elementary 10 percent, Scott 11 percent and Bayou Meto 11 percent.

Over half of the elementary schools in the district showed gains. Of the 13 schools with gains, nine of them sent principals to participate in a district leadership development program.

District wide, third-grade math proficiency increased to 66 percent, while literacy proficiency was 53 percent.

District wide, fourth-grade literacy declined 4 percent to 54 percent, but still outpaced North Little Rock and Little Rock.
Proficiency in fifth-grade math increased 10 percent, with the largest increase at Harris, where 33 percent more children were proficient than a year ago.

Jacksonville Middle School-Boys increased the percentage of those proficient in both 8th grade math and literacy.


Among the strategies for improving this school year are creation of professional learning communities, classroom walk-throughs, Odyssey-technology, transition camps, America’s Choice and International Baccalaureate, according to Ruthven.
Literacy plans for the year include early literacy learning in Arkansas, Effective Literacy, Literacy Now Institute Coaching for Participating Teachers and Literacy Now Leadership Devel-opment with Dr. Sharon Faber.

Math plans include bringing in Linda Griffith to train math coaches, Cognitively Guided Instruction, Math Links and JBHM Education Group.


Eighteen PCSSD schools are on school improvement as of April of this year and eight of those are in north Pulaski County, including Jacksonville.

Sylvan Hills Middle School is in year four school improvement despite making adequate progress in the combined population because of insufficient progress in economically disadvantaged math and students with disabilities in both math and literacy.
Jacksonville High School is in school-improvement year three with insufficient proficiency in combined population math, combined population literacy, African-American math and literacy and economically disadvantaged math and literacy.

North Pulaski’s combined population math and literacy are making sufficient progress, but insufficient progress in math and literacy among African-American students.

Northwood has made insufficient progress in the economically disadvantaged math, students with disabilities math and literacy subpopulations.

Murrell Taylor has failed to make adequate progress in the follow subpopulations: Title I students, combined math, combined literacy, economically disadvantaged math and literacy and students with disabilities, math and literacy.

Jacksonville Middle School (boys and girls combined) is in second year school improvement for insufficient progress combined math, African-American math, Caucasian math and math for economically disadvantaged-students.

Sylvan Hills High School is in the second-year of school improvement, with insufficient progress in African-American math and literacy and math for economically disadvantaged students.


“We are making sure and steady progress with student achievement in the state,” said Dr. Ken James, education commissioner.

“Every teacher, administrator, parent and child involved in education in Arkansas should be both proud and encouraged to continue to expect high levels of learning from all students.”

The state is realizing achievement gains because of several factors: dedication of public school staff, quality professional development for teachers and administrators, and high expectations for all students, James said.

“The trend toward higher scores on our state’s tests is proof that higher expectations and accountability lead to positive results.

“Remember, we have some of the toughest learning standards in the nation, so we can feel confident that when a child scores proficient in Arkansas, he or she is prepared to succeed in Arkansas, in the United States, and, indeed, in the world.”

TOP STORY >>First day of school fares well

Leader staff writers

The start of school this week went smoothly for the Cabot School District, according to Superintendent Tony Thurman.
The district’s schools reported a total of 9,050 students Monday for the first day of school, compared to last year’s first day total of 8,694.

Thurman said the second day usually brings an increase of about 50 students, but this year’s second day of school total was 9,109.

Traffic posed a problem at some campuses, but, as Thurman said, a lot of it was caused by people who had parked their vehicles to take their children into classrooms Monday morning.

A few traffic issues were seen at the new Stagecoach Elementary, but again, mostly because of parents taking children to their classes instead of dropping them off.

Because of sign-in procedures for pre-kindergarten students, who started school Tuesday, more cars were seen parked at Central, Westside, Northside and Ward Central elementaries on the second day of school. Central has seven pre-kindergarten classes this year, a total of 120 students; the three other elementaries each have two classes.

Moving the roughly 1,200 Junior High North students to the high school campus went well, Thurman said and actually helped the traffic flow along North Lincoln.

He said congestion around the high school was namely because of all the traffic in the general area.

The district is also looking at solutions for the traffic flow around Northside Elementary.

“We needed to see the flow and now that we have we can come up with some options,” Thurman said.


Enrollment at Lonoke School District could be down 64 students from last year, using preliminary first-day counts, according to Superintendent Sharron Havens, but no one takes student numbers too seriously until after Labor Day. “It’s hard to find everyone,” she said, especially with new classes and classrooms in the district’s rehabilitated “new” vocational classroom building.

The teachers had a very good in-service training, she said. “Everything went very smoothly,” including pickup of students from the primary and elementary school buildings.

“We’re always looking for bus drivers,” she said. Of the new teachers, “We feel good about them. I got by all their classrooms.”

With middle school students in the new school since last winter, the district rehabilitated several rooms of the old Carver Middle School into the region’s first public vocational school, with classes in auto-collision repair, collision shop, health professions, special services and also classrooms for students needing extra attention and for those serving in-school suspensions.


At Pulaski County Special School District, “So far everything is going according to plan with no mishaps,” according to Carletta Wilson, director of community affairs.

“We’re looking forward to a wonderful year. I haven’t heard of any problems with kids getting on and off the buses,” Wilson said. “A few of the new students had to be instructed what bus to ride.”

She said neither the students nor the teachers were looking dazed or confused.

TOP STORY >>Schools in Cabot still on state list

Leader staff writer

Although the Cabot School District has the highest test scores in central Arkansas, three schools have been placed on school improvement following the 2007 Arkansas Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) test taken last spring.

Junior High South and Middle School South are both on year-one school improvement; Middle School North is on year-two school improvement and must provide tutoring to any student who wants it.

MSN was placed on year one last year for math. It met the math standard this year but fell short in reaching the AYP’s goals for literature. Junior High South and MSS both fell short in literature this year; JHS is also on alert status for math.

The Cabot district has 30 days to appeal the designations to the Arkansas Department of Education.

The entire student body took the test, which is mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act, but the subpopulation of students with disabilities at the three campuses didn’t reach AYP’s goals, bringing the school-improvement classifications to the district.

Ninety-five percent of a subpopulation must take the same test as the rest of the students and no test modifications are made for those with disabilities. “We’re upset and disappointed about it, but it’s a challenge we’re ready to meet,” Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman said Friday of the classifications.

Of the roughly 1,000 special- education students in Cabot, 49 percent receive more than 80 percent of their instruction in the general education classroom.

“When a student improves, we dismiss them from special education classes and put them back in a regular classroom setting. We’re not going to hold better special-education students back to help our scores; we’re going to do what’s best for the student,” Thurman said.

Valerie Stone, the district’s director of special education programs, said the worst part of the classifications is the possible negative perception it creates to those that don’t understand the AYP process.

“People who don’t understand how AYP works and who don’t understand how the data works and don’t really know much about students with disabilities kind of jump to the conclusion that something is wrong with the program we are offering or the instruction is not adequate,” Stone said.

“We are expecting them to go farther each year than their non-disabled peers and we’re expecting them to do so with much less ability; it’s very difficult,” she said.

Stone said special-education administrators have been campaigning both the federal government and the state to recognize that an intermediate assessment-type is needed.

“It’s something we’ve been advocating for since No Child Left Behind was first passed because people who know about students with disabilities recognized immediately that there was going to be a problem there, that we would have that group of kids that would not be able to meet that standard criteria (of classifying a student as having a mild disability or moderate to severe disability only)” Stone said.

She said it was hard for her not to become defensive about the information because she knows how hard the staff and the students worked. “We have kids who sit and cry when they take the assessment because they know it’s important,” Stone said. “We have children throw-up during testing; it’s very difficult,” she said.

Thurman added that as a district in trouble with a subpopulation, they must make sure the teachers don’t get down on themselves. “Our teachers are doing a very good job,” he said.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education’s Web site, school-improvement year- one schools must offer their students the opportunity to attend another school within the district that is not designated as a school improvement school.
Year-two improvement schools must continue to offer the option of attending another school and also provide access to supplemental education services focused on improving student achievement.

If schools reach a year-three improvement classification, they must take corrective action, which includes options ranging from changes in staffing to changes in curriculum.

For schools in school-improvement year four, the ADE will take more aggressive action, which may include options ranging from making changes in the school’s management, making changes in staffing or exercising more day-to-day involvement in implementing the school’s improvement plan.

Students with disabilities include those with autism, deaf-blindness, hearing impairment, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairments, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury or visual impairment.

Monday, August 20, 2007

SPORTS >>Wildcat lineup set, final touches added

Leader sportswriter

Everything is still going according to game plan for Harding Academy as they prepare for a Tuesday scrimmage at Jessieville. The third week of practice went off without a hitch for the Wildcats, as finishing touches were the primary focus. With all but one position with a definite starter in place, Harding Academy spent week three smoothing out the few rough edges.
Wildcats coach Tommy Shoemaker, now in his 11th year at Harding Academy, says the main focus of the coaching staff has been to make sure there are no loose ends before the trip to Jessieville.

“Mainly, we’ve been trying to take a few more looks at everyone we’re going to have in the scrimmage next week,” Shoemaker said. “Really, we’re polishing up and making sure that everyone knows where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing. We’ll know a lot more after the scrimmage. We will be able to figure out how much everyone knows.”

With a loaded team in a conference full of rebuilding squads, the Wildcats are poised to have an even easier run through the 2-3A Conference than last year’s undefeated regular-season team. Above anything else this season, Shoemaker wants his kids to stay healthy during the early stages of the season. “I feel good about it,” Shoemaker said. “There will always be some concerns after the scrimmage that we will have to fix, but for the most part, I feel like we’re in pretty good shape and ready to go. Obviously, you don’t want to get anybody hurt, but it will be different going up against someone else.”

The Thursday practice started out with individual drills. Aside from about six linemen working on blocking drills, the rest of the 37 players lined up for passing drills.

Starting junior quarterback Matt Lincoln and backup Seth Keese both looked good in the practice, airing out a number of long passes with pretty consistent accuracy and travel.

The receivers also had a good workout on Thursday, as all receivers and running backs took turns running post routes and clearout patterns during the three-and-a-half hour workout. There were few drops in the first 30 minutes of practice, nearly all of which were products of receivers not securing the ball before running.

Most of the starting positions have been settled with the exception of center, in which sophomores Matt Calhoun and Brandon Kutcher are still fighting for the anchor position.

Shoemaker says that decision may not be made until after next week’s scrimmage.

The Tuesday scrimmage at Jessieville precedes the season opener at Little Rock Christian.

The Wildcats started off the season with a win over the Warriors last year after a late fumble recovery in Christian territory that allowed a last minute touchdown by Harding Academy.

The momentum from that win seemed to carry over for the remainder of the year, a feat that Shoemaker and the Wildcats hope to repeat once again at the end of this month.

SPORTS >>Red Devil volleyball athletes dedicated

Leader sportswriter

The first three weeks of summer volleyball practice have generated much progress for the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils. There are three returning seniors, but it’s the juniors who make up the core of this year’s team. Senior captains Brittany Harrison, Amber Powlaski and Vanessa Brown provide the on-the-court leadership for the Lady Red Devils, along with second-year coach Melissa Reeves.

Last year was a difficult one for Jacksonville, with no conference wins after losing a number of seniors throughout the season. Reeves says there is a lot more dedication from the team in summer workouts this time around.

“We were very young last year,” Reeves said. “We had a whole bunch of sophomores, three juniors and only one senior. It’s the sophomores who are stepping up now as juniors. Those seniors that got a lot of playing time last year as juniors are really coming on strong.”

There are 18 players on the squad, including the three seniors. Also working in Jacksonville’s favor this year is the schedule, with seven home games after last year’s treacherous stint of nine straight road games. The players seemed to have put the struggles of last season behind them, and have kept excitement high at the practices.

“They are a great bunch of kids,” Reeves said. “They listen, they work hard, and they do what you ask them to do. There has been a lot of enthusiasm. We didn’t win any conference games last year, but I hope for us to make a run in there at some point this year. Our hitters have grown over the summer. The first week we were a little shaky, but they got better last week. They have done much better this week.”

Along with the seniors, the Lady Red Devils are getting help from athletes from other sports, including junior basketball standout Tyra Terry, who also started last year, and softball players Raven Pickett and Paula Burr. Jacksonville also picked up a player from Cabot, 6’0” sophomore Jessica Lanier will add a good dose of size to the Lady Red Devils’ lineup. ”

The seniors are enthusiastic about the upcoming season. Harrison, Powlaski and Brown talked to The Leader about their progress during the summer.

“It’s been going good,” Harrison said. “We’ve been working hard, helping the juniors and sophomores work with each other. We have a pretty good squad. Everyone is learning how to move on the floor and cover.” Back row player Powlaski says the team should have more hitting strength this season.

“I think we have more hitters than we did last year,” Powlaski said. “That should make us more competitive.”

Brown, along with Harrison, is a hitter for Jacksonville. Brown says the team has done well despite the sweltering summer heat.

“I hope that we can win more games this year,” Brown said. “Summer practices have gone well, but it’s been tough also. It’s been really hot.” Brown also laid out a typical day at practice for the Lady Red Devils, which begins with arm stretches before going into hitting drills. From there, they split into groups of three to practice sets and kills before a brief water break. After the break, it’s on to team offense and defense practice for the final half of practice.

The Lady Red Devils will start their season on Tuesday with a match against Little Rock Hall at the Devils Den.

SPORTS >>Energy still high at JHS

Leader sports editor

Like most other teams, the Jacksonville Red Devils trimmed their preseason regimen down to one practice per day this week. The change was mostly due to teachers getting ready for the school year that begins Monday. Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley says the two-a-day grind that kicked off in late July had not worn down the players like it has in years past.

“They fought through all that pretty good,” Whatley said. The effort has been there all summer. I can’t complain about that. We’re going to have to do better with technique than we are right now, but I’ve never had any problems with the effort these guys have given.”

Jacksonville is faced with several players stepping into positions that had been held by multiple-year starters. The process of learning those positions is still underway for the Red Devils, but it’s a process that is showing progress.

“We’re going to have to be a very good technique football team,” Whatley said.

They stated that this year’s team may not have quite the talent level of last year’s, but that’s not the main reason for stressing technique this week.

The main thing is the league you play in,” Whatley said. “You’ve got to trust your technique first and then play football. That’s football 101 right there. You can’t neglect that and expect to be successful.”

The Red Devils clearly exhibited the effort Whatley praised during kick off and kick-off return skeleton drills. Players went full speed up and down the field in those drills, led by lead returner Stanley Appleby.

“Stanley is a unique athlete in that he goes full speed every play,” Whatley said. “We can be running a drill with him and wideout where he’ll know he’s not getting the ball, and he’s going all out. If you had 11 or 12 of like him, you’d have the answer to a lot of problems.”

Whatley and the Red Devil coaching staff are still looking for more interior players to show themselves worthy of a starting spot. The head Devil has stated since two-a-days began that he has enough linemen to have a great unit on one side of the ball or the other, but needs depth to give those players a rest.

Not as many have stepped up yet as he had hoped, but he’s not resigned yet to playing several linemen both ways.

“We still have time,” Whatley said. “The good thing is, and the main reason we haven’t settled on playing a bunch both ways, is that the kids have not settled for being second team. They’re still out there busting their butts trying to earn that playing time, and trying to earn that label as starter. They just haven’t accepted second team yet and that’s a great thing to see.”

Jacksonville has not yet settled on a place kicker. The lack of someone to kick extra points has been a problem for Jacksonville for a couple of years. Several players were given opportunities to win the job this week, but no one has yet been given the duties.

“The biggest thing about kicking extra points is that it has to be important to you,” Whatley said. “I have a pretty good idea of who it’s going to come down to, but we haven’t made the final decision yet.”

Jacksonville’s annual Red-White game is tonight. The Booster Club cookout begins at 5:30. The freshmen team will take the field at 7 p.m. with the varsity following at 8 p.m.

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 roads 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 1 percent sales tax for the Game and Fish Commission and state parks was 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.

OBITUARIES >> 08-18-07

Lucile Price

Lucile Price, 93, of London, died August 16 at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. She was born Aug. 22, 1913, at London to William Henry and Mina Victoria Hon Becker.  

She was a member of West Side Church of Christ.  For the past two years Lucile had lived in Stella Manor Nursing Center.  In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her husband, James Burris Price; two brothers, Henry Becker and Dwain Price; a sister, Nadine Dale; and a grandson, Jim Price.

Survivors include two sons, Darwin and wife Glennette Price of London, and Larry Gwyn Price and wife Nancy of Jacksonville; a daughter, Laura and husband Jerry Smith of Monticello; a brother, Joe and wife Ruth Ellen Becker of Russellville.

Also surviving her are four grandsons, Randy and wife Olga Price of Kokomo, In., Tad and wife Brenda Price of Jacksonville, Jerry and wife Stephanie Price of Cabot, and Dr. J. Scott Smith  and wife Celena of Searcy; three granddaughters, Joni and husband Mike Kozak of  London, Marilee Rodefer of Jacksonville, and Tracy and husband David Roberts of  Southlake, Texas; six great-grandsons, David Price of Kokomo, Ind., Trent Roberts, Turner Roberts, Connor Whitted of London, Trey Price of Jacksonville, and Jackson Price of Cabot; seven great-granddaughters, Kaylan Whitted, Lisa Goodman, Mikki Rodefer, Tori Roberts, Sydney Smith, Gentry Smith, and Jaclyn Price; and three great-great-grandchildren, Bailey Jackson, Wyatt Jackson, and Tristen Seiter.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 18 at Shinn Chapel with Mr. Dan Lightfoot and Mr. Bruce Grice officiating.  Burial will be in Price Cemetery near London.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the West Side Church of Christ, 2300 W. C Street, Russellville, Ark.  72801.  

Billy Floyd

Billy Roy Floyd, 68, of Searcy passed away at White County Medical Center Aug. 10.  He was born May 10, 1939. He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy “Bud” and Estelle Floyd.  
At 18 years of age, he married his high school sweetheart, Sandra Sue Harrison. Together for 48 years, Billy and Sandra had three children, Tina, Ricky and Randy.

Billy’s life example of stability led each of his kids to currently be married for 25 years (Tina to Robert Hudgins), 23 years (Ricky to Kim Stark), and 18 years (Randy to Lu Anne Graves).  Each of these couples have three children, giving Billy nine grandchildren; Christina Hudgins, Scott Hudgins, Michael Hudgins, Audra Floyd, Austin Floyd, Abby Floyd, Madeline Floyd, Jacob Floyd and Joshua Floyd.    

He attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Starting out early as a route driver for Coca-Cola Bottling Company, he progressed to various senior management positions concluding a 35-year career with Coca-Cola.   In 1970, Billy completed his executive management certification at Harvard Business School.

Billy and Sandra left Searcy in 1986 with Coca-Cola, living in Little Rock then Shreveport, La., before returning to Searcy in 1996. Not a person for retirement, Billy worked for Yarnell’s Ice Cream for more than five years as a consultant. He concluded his career owning and operating a successful motorsport business, Searcy Yamaha Suzuki Kawasaki Polaris Sales for over seven years.    

He was also on various bank boards with First Community Bank. Billy was successful in the various aspects he pursued and will be remembered by the many employees that worked for him as a great leader who cared about them and their families’ well being.    

During his life he also was a Sunday school teacher and an ordained deacon of the Baptist faith. Billy was president of several groups, including Sidney Deener PTA, Jaycees, Kiwanis Club, Whitewood Shrine Club and the chamber of commerce.    
In 1978 he was named citizen of the year. He was involved with 4-H clubs because he showed cattle as a young 4-H member.

Funeral service was Aug. 13 at First Baptist Church in Searcy with Brother David Crouch and Dr. Dennis Bennett officiating.
Entombment will be at the mausoleum at the Oaklawn Memorial Gardens. Arrangements were by Powell Funeral Home. 

TOP STORY >>City seen slighted by PCSSD

Leader senior staff writer

Bishop James Bolden rattled the rafters Tuesday night, apparently realizing for the first time that Maumelle was getting a second new school while the area he represents in the Pulaski County Special School District, Jacksonville, hasn’t had a new school since 1983.

“I don’t like another school being put in Maumelle,” said Bolden. “We’re screwing Jacksonville totally. Why don’t you put up a new building?”

The district’s 10-year facilities master plan, which the board approved in January, includes a new Sylvan Hills Middle School and the Oak Grove High School in Maumelle. The board was asked to approve issuance of second lien bonds worth $4.5 million—$4 million for the schools and another $444,000 to purchase new school buses.

“Maumelle just got a brand new middle school,” said Bolden. “Why not (put the new school) in Jacksonville?

“The board has already voted to do this,” said Superintendent James Sharpe. “This is for Stephens Inc. …They need authority to issue the bonds.”

Pam Roberts, who represents Maumelle, chose that moment to tell other board members how envious those who attended a tri-district breakfast for partners in education were of the wonderful new Maumelle Middle School—“what a fine building we have.”

At that, Bolden flinched, rolled his eyes and grimaced.

“Maumelle already has a new school,” Bolden said. “Go to Jacksonville Middle School, Jacksonville High School—students are freezing in the halls.

“I’m tired of Jacksonville being treated like a stepchild,” he said.

Bolden announced twice at the meeting that he was running for reelection because he wants to continue to work toward a Jacksonville district.

The first new building planned for Jacksonville will replace Arnold Drive Elementary on Little Rock Air Force Base. It is planned for construction in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 at a cost of approximately $15 million. It appeared suddenly on the build list after LRAFB Commander Kip Self and members of the Arkansas congressional delegation got involved.

Later in the meeting, the Pulaski County Special School District stopped short of approving Bolden’s resolution supporting creation of a new Jacksonville district from part of the existing PCSSD.

The members did unanimously direct the district and its attorney, Sam Jones, to pursue unitary school status, at least in the area of student assignment. With some reservation, each board member expressed support for such a district.

But first, the state Department of Education must hire a consultant on achieving unitary status, and that hasn’t happened yet, according to Julie Thompson of the Education Department.

“Right now the attorney general’s office and Department of Education should be meeting with PCSSD and the North Little Rock District regarding pursuit of unitary status, according to state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, who authored the legislation aimed at ending the desegregation agreement and court oversight. The law took effect July 31.

Bond said they should also be meeting with all three districts regarding a phase out on the $60 million a year the state pays to support desegregation.

The districts must start by the end of October and must be unitary by June 14, 2008 to qualify for $250,000 to help cover legal expenses.

In other action, the board approved raises and other increases for support staff totaling $1.36 million. That includes a 3.25 percent increase to the base salary schedule, a 3.20 percent step increase and a 3.5 percent longevity increase.

At the July meeting, the board reinstated the Pulaski Association of Support Staff (PASS) as negotiating agent for the support staff and at the August meeting, the board rejected a request for $25,000 to pay Arkansas Educational Consulting to negotiate a new contract with PASS. Board member Mildred Tate objected, saying that in the past, the administration did the negotiation.

Superintendent James Sharpe responded that a new contract would have to be drafted from scratch, but in the end, the board directed Deborah Coley, assistant superintendent for human resources, to work out details of a new contract with PASS.

The board rejected two competing proposals for raises for eligible certified administrators—a $409,000 raise favored by Sharpe and a $307,000 proposal put forward by the personnel policies committee. Jacksonville Boys Middle School Principal Mike Nellums spoke for the second proposal, which would have curtailed raises for some who got raises last year in favor of raises for those who didn’t.

The issue is apparently on hold until an updated report next meeting comparing district compensation with compensation for like jobs at other districts.

The board approved $43,421 to add two multi-age intercessors in multi-age classrooms at Bates and Jacksonville elementaries.

“Due to the success of the multi-age classroom at Harris Elementary, we are expanding the program,” Coley wrote in her proposal.

The board approved mental-health services from Centers for Youth and Families, Professional Counseling Associates, Rivendell, Life Strategies, Inc., Therapeutic Family services, Pathfinder and Youth Home.

TOP STORY >>Special school plans to upgrade

Leader senior staff writer

The Lonoke Exception School plans about $2.2 million in expansions in Cabot and Lonoke and asked the Quorum Court Thursday night to create a public facilities board through which it could borrow money more economically.

School director Janie Sexton, said banks would only lend her money at relatively high interest rates and for only five years, with a huge balloon payment and uncertain interest rates at the end of that term.

Quorum Court members seemed supportive of the project, but want to study the powers and authority of a public facilities board.

Justice of the Peace Mark Edwards, who had read the public facilities law, found that it could have the power to take land by eminent domain. No county money would be involved, but the quorum court would have to authorize formation of such a board, define its powers and could reserve for itself the power to approve future bond applications.

Sexton said a new Cabot facility would accommodate 90 clients and allow conversion of the existing building or 30 adult clients. It also would have a kitchen so that meals would no longer have to be transported each day from the Lonoke facility.
Expansion would also allow the Lonoke facility to serve more clients.

The court also heard a proposal from the Johanson Group to study the county’s employees, their jobs and experience and propose pay ranges that would be comparable from department to department and also competitive with other employers in the area, using a lot of interviews and a sophisticated computer program that Johanson has developed.

His presentation was at the invitation of the personnel committee, chaired by Jeanette Minton.

The cost of the service would be about $27,000. Discussion of Johanson’s proposal was placed on the agenda for the September meeting.

County Judge Charlie Troutman reported that the refurbishing of quarters for the new, third, Lonoke County Circuit Court was completed for about $32,000. Troutman was authorized to spend $50,000.

He also reported that state Sen. Bobby Glover and state Rep. Lenville Evans had helped get $170,000 for use in completing the courthouse annex. Glover’s share was $110,000.

Troutman said he thought it could be done for about $70,000.

He said the balance could be available to finish the 22-bed expansion of the county jail, estimated to cost $350,000 to $375,000. Sheriff Jim Roberson warned the court that the expansion would require hiring one new employee per jail shift, by law.

TOP STORY >>Boy injured, stepfather tries suicide

Leader staff writer

The 2-year-old son of a Little Rock Air Force Base senior airman has been declared brain dead by doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital after he was found unresponsive Tuesday while under the care of his stepfather.

Lt. Martin Cass, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, said Friday the family was waiting for relatives to arrive from out-of-town before taking the toddler off life support.

The stepfather, Ausencio Lopez, attempted to take his own life Wednesday by jumping off a Little Rock overpass into traffic.
Jacksonville police were dispatched to Rebsamen Medical Center at approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday for a 2-year-old white male toddler that had been taken there from LRAFB with unknown injuries, according to Cass.

The child was unconscious and unresponsive while in Rebsamen’s emergency room and was then transported to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with a closed-head injury with massive cerebral edema, Cass said.

Cass told The Leader that the child had apparently been unconscious and unresponsive for some part of the day.

“Our detectives found that the mom, Sr. Airman Sharilyn Lopez, came home for lunch and the step-father told her the child was taking a nap,” Cass said. “When she came home after work around 6:15 p.m., she showered and was told he was still asleep. She thought it was strange he was still asleep and went in to check on him. She found him on the floor, face-up and unresponsive,” he said.

“She carefully tried to get air into his lungs and called 911,” Cass added.

The boy’s parents, while at Rebsamen, told the officers he had injured himself when he fell out of his bed at home.

But doctors at Children’s Hospital say the injuries the little boy had could not have happened from a 20-inch fall from the bed, Cass said Friday. “Seeing the pictures of this little boy’s injuries makes you appreciate even more the ones you have,” Cass said.

At about 10:35 a.m. Wednesday, Ausencio Lopez climbed the railings of the Battery Street overpass in Little Rock, located next to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and, after slitting his wrists, jumped onto I-630.

According to the Little Rock Police Department, he was on his back on the interstate’s shoulder when they arrived on scene; he was responsive, stated his name and said he could not move.

He was taken to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and according to the police report, his injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

Jacksonville police detectives investigating the toddler’s case went to the hospital Thursday to talk with him, Cass said, but he was in surgery and the detectives do not yet know to what extent he is involved with the toddler’s injuries.

As far as the Jacksonville police are concerned, the case is still classified as suspected child abuse but they won’t know for sure until an autopsy has been performed, Cass said, at which time charges may or may not be filed.

The Jacksonville Police Department is the investigating department on all LRAFB cases when it involves civilians. Because the child is a military dependent, he is considered a civilian, and therefore the case is being worked by the Jacksonville police.
The base’s security forces (police department) investigate cases involving military members.

TOP STORY >>Building schools in Cabot resumes

Leader staff writer

As one building project is completed, Cabot Public Schools move forward with their next big project – rebuilding Cabot Junior High North, which was lost to a fire last August.

At this time last year the district was working on a solution to where the roughly 1,200 displaced JHN students would attend class after the Aug. 10, 2006 electrical fire destroyed the eight-year-old school, but Friday the school board learned reconstruction could possibly begin in late September.

Assistant superintendent Jim Dalton told the board during a committee meeting that the state had approved the footprint for the new two-story structure, the dirt work had already been started and the building plans were ready to go.

Dalton met with Doug Eaton, director of the Arkansas Department of Education’s Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation Commission, after the committee meeting to get his blessing on the designs.
“He was easy to work with and didn’t see a problem getting his part done in the next two weeks,” Dalton said after the meeting.

Once Eaton’s part is complete, construction of the 134,000 square-foot campus could start by Sept. 27 and would take 18 months to complete.

The total projected cost to rebuild CJHN is $18.5 million. The estimated cost for the district will be about $10 million the district received in January from Great American Insurance Company of Ohio, the district’s insurance company, and the $5.2 million in catastrophic funding received through the state’s facilities division.

Architect Steve Elliot, of Lewis, Elliott and Studer, Inc. in Little Rock, designed the new school, as well as Cabot High School and the new Stagecoach Elementary School, and delivered the 150 pages of plans during the committee meeting.

He said after the state gives their final approval, within two weeks of bids being accepted for the construction, one would be able to see the building started.

“Just about the time they finish the dirt work we’ll be ready to start construction,” Elliot said.

The new CJHN will be rebuilt on the hill with facilities capable of holding 1,200 students. There will be 51,850-square-foot classrooms to meet the new building standards, increasing the classroom size by 100-square feet. It will have a sprinkler system, meet the indoor air-quality standards and have a larger cafeteria to hold more students.

The design also has places available to add more space down the road if needed but not that much, Dalton said. The design utilizes current parking and buildings. The vocational building, multi-purpose building and physical-education building were left intact after the fire destroyed the rest of the campus. Junior High North students attended classes last year in trailers set up between the tennis courts and CJHN gym at a cost of $40,000 a month in rent for the more than 30 trailers.

Beginning Monday, CJHN students will attend school on the north end of the high school campus. Ninth-graders will attend classes at the end of the north wing of the high school building, which is closest to the current JHN principal’s complex. Seventh- and eighth-graders will attend class in K, S, and the old high school media center and 15 portable classrooms.

TOP STORY >>Charter school backed by many parents

Leader staff

About 40 concerned Jacksonville parents, business people and Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce members joined forces Friday night at city hall and agreed they want Mayor Tommy Swaim and the city council to support a broadly based steering committee to go further with the process of starting open-enrollment charter schools.

To open a charter school, a petition must first be filed with the state Board of Education a year in advance before classes can start. That means a possible Jacksonville charter school — it would be tax-supported with private funds — could be open as early as August 2009.

The public was urged to complete an online community-needs assessment to establish local support, interest and needs for the area.

Several parents at the meeting were enthusiastic about the proposed charter school.
“How do we get the ball rolling?” asked a parent in the audience.

Former state Rep. Mike Wilson, who is spearheading the charter school initiative, told her the city should get behind the project and get local officials to promote it.

“We taxed ourselves to build a new library and an education center,” said Wilson, who predicted that the charter school would not only get off the ground but would complement an independent Jacksonville school district when it separates from the Pulaski County Special School District.

According to Dr. Caroline Proctor, executive director of Arkansas Charter School Resource Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, she has received about 40-50 of the eight-page surveys throughout the week and was quite impressed with them.

“Everybody seems to be for a middle school and high school — half of them are for an elementary school,” Proctor said.
“All of them wanted teachers to be paid for performance, and it was 50/50 on going an extended school day (7 a.m.–5 p.m.) and 50/50 on going year-round,” she added.

Proctor said charter schools were a way to give all parents the same choice of where and what type of school they want their children to go to. “The communities (with charter schools) have crafted schools that bring something in they see they need or want in the community,” Proctor said.

“The surveys help when you form committees and you begin to talk. Having kids and being business people, you’ll all have an idea of how you want a charter school to look,” she said.

Charter schools are publicly funded and are not private or religious schools.

Mike Scoles, a consultant to Arkansas Charter School Resource Center at UA who teaches statistics at the University of Central Arkansas, said test results in Pulaski County are below the state average and continue to drop as students get older.
“Those who can afford it have always had a choice,” he said. “With charters, the rest of us have a choice.”
Wilson said, “It is a type of school that promotes and should promote better learning for our kids, a more rigorous curriculum with goals and accountability and discipline in those schools that we all expect and would like to have.

“It would be open to any child in the community or outside the community and even across county lines,” Wilson added.
“At this point, none of us know what the community would like in the way of a charter school – elementary, middle school, high school, or some kind of combination of all those – but they are all possibilities we should and will explore,” Wilson said.
“The community is strong and deep in education and we can keep on doing it,” he added.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they had 3,000 applicants,” said Chuck Baclawski after the meeting.

Mark Perry said, “It’s not going to be for everybody. But if you think it’s going to be for your kids, it would give them an option. It’s going to be a neat project. It’s going to happen.”

Perry thought the meeting clarified some misconceptions about charter schools.

“A lot of people think it’s a private school,” he said. “It’s not. It’s a public school.”

He predicted that students would “come from all over,” including Cabot, Sherwood and other communities.
Pat Griggs wondered about athletic programs, which are modest when compared with large public schools.
Proctor said charter schools usually field soccer teams, since they’re the easiest to organize.

TOP STORY >>Teachers prepare their classrooms

Leader staff writer

The wait is over for Cabot Public Schools as its newest elementary school is ready to welcome students Monday for the start of school.

An open house will be held from 2–3:30 p.m. Sunday at Stagecoach Elementary School at Campground and Stagecoach roads, to give students and parents a preview of the school and meet teachers.

Faculty received word Aug. 10 that their new $6.6 million school was ready for them to move in and quickly began occupying the building.

“I found out about 1 p.m. Friday that we could have the school to get moved in,” Principal Pam Waymack said Monday while giving a Leader reporter a tour of the new campus.

She credited the hard work of contractors and school custodians for the timely move.

“They’ve done a lot,” Waymack said. “Some were here at 7 a.m. on Saturday hard at work.”

Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman gave credit to the district’s construction, maintenance, custodial and technology crews for making it happen.

“This has been another very challenging summer moving Junior High North to the high school campus and getting Stagecoach ready to open,” Thurman said.

Cabot’s crews have also worked on general maintenance at all schools in the district this summer including replacing flooring in areas at Westside Elementary and Northside Elementary.

“Our directors do amazing work. L.B. Capps is in charge of maintenance and construction, Bill Holden is in charge of custodial and Kendal Wells is in charge of technology.

“These directors do great work and have great crews that work with them to make things happen for our students, teachers and community,” Thurman said.

Thurman is no stranger to a ‘ready, but not really ready’ school building as he opened Cabot High School last August without the building completely finished. He knows all too well what Waymack will have to deal with come Monday.

“Starting a new school is much like building a house and moving in for the first time,” Thurman said. “There will be things that need to be changed, things not working like they should and general maintenance items that need to be checked. It will be a continuous work in progress,” he said.

Thurman said they are also working on having the $23,000 of new playground equipment ready as quickly as possible, but “have been focused on being ready for instruction on the first day of classes.”

“The teachers have been very patient and Ms. Waymack has done a great job getting things ready to go,” Thurman added.
On Monday, about a dozen of the 30 classrooms were well underway to being transformed into creative educational environments while others still had bare walls.

“They’ve (the teachers) really worked hard to have got in on Friday (August 10) and already have so much up on the walls around the school,” Waymack said.

The teachers weren’t the only ones in the 76,395-square-foot building. Painters, electricians and school custodians were also hard at work finishing up loose ends.

Chuck Coleman with Rowe Painting was applying a second coat of paint to a classroom doorframe. Painting began the middle of May with Coleman’s three-person team – himself, his wife Kathy and their son.

According to Cole-man, second coats on doorframes, some exterior painting and finishing up in the offices once all the cabinetry was installed was all they had left to complete.

The 4,851-square-foot air-conditioned gymnasium was acting as a temporary holding area for desks, chairs and cafeteria tables until classrooms were ready for them. The 4,284-square-foot cafeteria, which has a full kitchen, was receiving a final floor waxing.

The 1,976-square-foot media center had its bookshelves lining the walls and reading tables set up around the room, but was waiting for its $70,000 in new books to be placed on the shelves. Computer instructor Pam Gray was decorating her lab room as she waited for her computers to be delivered later in the week. There will be 30 student stations in the lab.

All the classrooms are media-savvy with ceiling-mounted projectors. This new technology replaces the older overhead projectors and the PC to TV converters other schools have, Waymack said.

PC to TV converters enable teachers to show the information on their computer on the classroom television; however, the ceiling projectors are linked directly to the teacher’s computer and project that image, document or Web site onto the classroom’s dry-erase board, cutting out the need for a television in the room.

It can also be used to project an image, like a flashcard or map, onto the dry-erase board using a projector arm with a camera at the end. Stagecoach also has separate classroom areas for music, art, science, speech and gifted and talented. There is also a professional- technology center with computer access for the teachers’ use.

Many of the Stagecoach teachers were at other schools within Cabot last year; for some, this is their first year to teach or their first year in Cabot. But the general consensus among the teachers on coming to Stagecoach was one of excitement for all Stagecoach offers.

Teachers have walls full of storage space, large classrooms and brand new equipment and desks, not to mention the luxury of a brand new school. First-grade teacher Sarah Taylor came to Stagecoach from Ward Central Elementary where she had taught for the past three years.

“It’s just new,” she said in comparing the two schools; “we have more space and more storage here too,” she said.
Christy Lyons, a fourth-grade teacher, felt lucky to be at Stagecoach.

“It was well worth the wait and I am fortunate to be here,” she said. Lyons has spent the last three years as an academic coach at Northside Elementary and is very excited to be back in the classroom. “I missed the kids and was ready to get back – it’s what excites me the most,” she added.

Science teacher Peggy Self just wished she had her room completed.

“I wish I could just blink and it be done,” Self said. Excited about being at Stagecoach, she switched gears after teaching eight years at Cabot Middle School North because “it was time for a change.”

To accommodate the opening of Cabot’s newest elementary school, the district was rezoned in May to include the following attendance areas for Stagecoach Elementary:

Campground Road and the Pinewood and Autumnwood subdivisions, residents behind The Cabot Patch daycare, South Stagecoach Road up to its intersection with Honeysuckle Lane, CR 302 at Dogwood Lane, Burgess Lane at Hwy. 321, Mt. Tabor Road at Sandhill Road, and stops at the Cabot district boundary, butting up against the Carlisle, Des Arc and Lonoke school districts.