Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SPORTS >>Catholic wanting revenge on Bears

Leader sportswriter

Today’s opening game between Sylvan Hills and Little Rock Catholic will be a test of speed versus size, as the quicker Bears will take on the larger Rockets at Bill Blackwood Field this evening at 7 p.m. Last year’s Hooten’s kickoff-classic game between the two schools would turn out to be one of the Bears’ best performances of the year, with a big first half that would lift them to a first-week win.

That was then, this is now. And according to new Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow, there are plenty of concerns, size of which being the biggest.

“They’re huge,” Withrow said. “You look down their roster, and it’s a lot of 6’2”, 300 lbs., 6’0”, 280 lbs. We expect a good old fashioned smash mouth, pound it down their throats type football. We’ll have to play fast and get after them to give ourselves a chance; with some play-action things off the zone.”

For Rockets coach Scooter Register, his team also has what he feels is one must-do task in order to be victorious.

“We know we have to stop Hunter Miller,” Register said. “He is one of the best quarterbacks around, and we don’t want him to have the same kind of game he had against us last year. We were able to come back on them some last year because they got tired, but I’m sure they have worked on their overall conditioning this summer to improve that.

“I think the biggest thing will be who can keep the mistakes down, it may even come down to the kicking game.” Catholic undoubtedly has the advantage when it comes to numbers, with 25 seniors on this year’s team, and what looks to be one of the more sizeable offensive lines in the state.

The Rockets’ most noticeable absence this season is La’Norris Dukes, the bruising running back that ran for nearly 1,300 yards last season. Although the shoes left by Dukes to fill were enourmous, Register says he has another solid back in Chris Rose?

The only major issue for the Bears in the preseason has been snap timing. Miscues in the intra-squad game and scrimmages gave the offense its few bad looks, but Withrow says the only way to rectify the problem is repetitive execution in practices.
“Whatever you run, you’re not going to be great at it right off the bat,” Withrow said. “It doesn’t matter how simple or how complex it is, you can’t just jump off the ship and be perfect. It takes a lot of work, and guys getting more familiar with what’s supposed to be going on.”

The Rockets will visit Bill Blackwood Field today for the season opener, with kickoff at 7 p.m.

SPORTS >>Beebe anxious to face off with Greenbrier

Leader sports editor

Believe it or not, the Beebe Badgers are about to play their first game under the direction of new head coach John Shannon. Shannon has been so outgoing and available to fans, media and parents since his arrival last spring, that it seems like he’s been there forever. An old Badger himself, after an initial rough going with staff changes, he fell right into place almost as if he’d never left.

But all of that is mere perception. Reality is that no one knows for certain how well this team has picked up on the dramatic changes Shannon began implementing upon his arrival.

That will be answered somewhat Friday night when the Badgers host Greenbrier. Shannon has been pleased with the progress his team has made since day one. Other than an occasional bad day of practice, it’s been all good reports about the team’s progress and ability to understand and put into action Shannon’s system.

Even a coach can’t be sure until his team faces a stiff challenge, and that’s what Greenbrier has been for Beebe for the last several years. The Badgers hold a slight win-loss advantage in the series, but most of the games have been close ones. That should mean a good test for the Badgers’ new system.

Like Beebe, Greenbrier has been a spread team for much of the past few seasons. That won’t be the case this year. The Panthers could line up in the spread at times, but it will be just one of many looks the Badger defense could see.

“They line up in a bunch of different formations,” Shannon said. “We have to make sure we get our kids lined up right. We didn’t do that a few times last week (in a scrimmage game against Oak Grove). We’ve got to do better this time.”

While there will be many formations, there may not be a large variety of plays. Few teams show their full hand in benefit games, but the Beebe coaching staff saw something very familiar about the plays Greenbrier was running.

“I’d say they’re basically a Wing-T team,” Shannon said. “Most of their plays are Wing-T plays. They just run them out of different formations. They’re trying to get the angle on you, which is why we have to be sure we’re in the right spots on defense.”

The Badgers have been pumped since having success on offense and defense at last week’s benefit game. That’s something Shannon is glad to see as opening night approaches.

“The kids have responded well since then,” Shannon said. “They had a really good practice the next day and Thursday. We came back in here Saturday morning and hopefully we’re going to hit the ground running on game night. The kids have been excited, they’ve had some pep in their step. I’m real pleased to see that.”

SPORTS >>JHS ladies volleyball overcome Panthers

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils continue to look strong in the early season, beating Greenbrier in four games, 28-26, 23-25, 26-24 and 25-18 Monday evening at the Devils Den. The non-conference match would be the first win over Greenbrier for the Lady Red Devils seniors, who came into the match determined not to go out winless against the 5A powerhouse.

The seniors had lost to Greenbrier in both their sophomore and junior years, but pulling out the win in game three to give themselves a 2-1 lead put the Lady Panthers behind the eight ball, and gave Jacksonville a determination in the final game that would carry them from a 12-8 deficit to a 14-14 tie before eventually pulling out the win by seven points to claim the 3-1 decision.

“I can’t be any more proud of them,” Lady Devils coach Melissa Reeves said. “We’re still having a few problems with our work ethic and our attitude, but we’re getting there, and the kids that want to be there, that want to play and put out their best effort – you saw them on the floor tonight. Before that last game, I told them ‘this is your chance.’ If it would have went to five (games), then who knows, but they showed they were ready to play on their home court.”

Greenbrier took early control in each game, only to watch Jacksonville rally each time to take control of the game by the mid-way point. The Lady Devils only had to worry about one major weapon for the young Greenbrier squad in hitter Tarron Henry, but she would be enough to cause a threat both at the net and the service line.

Henry’s low-clearance serves caused problems for Jacksonville, particularly in the opening moments of game two, when she rolled off six straight points for the Lady Panthers. The game-two win for Greenbrier denied the Lady Devils of a sweep, but the mood after the game made it clear that Jacksonville was in no way concerned about giving up a game. After losing to the Lady Panthers their sophomore and junior years, there was little sympathy for Greenbrier from the Lady Devil seniors.

“Payback is a you-know-what,” senior hitter Jennifer? Brown said after the game. “I am so proud of the team. We work as a team; we try to pick each other up if someone gets down. We did pretty good out there today.”

Brown would prove to be too hard for Greenbrier to contain at the net. Brown took control in game four, with three kills and two blocks after sitting out the first half of the game to rest. Brown’s entry into the game in the middle of the final game put momentum on Jacksonville’s side, and seemed to put the Lady Panthers in surrender mode. The Devils took nine of the final 12 points to claim game four and assure the win.

While Brown’s performance was to be expected, it was the back row play of NO 19 and the setting skills of NO 7 that also made a big part of the win. NO 19 had a number of good saves and difficult digs to keep the ball active, particularly when Henry stood at the serve line for Greenbrier. Her injured foot gave her a bit of trouble in the late going, but she played through to finish the contest. NO 7’s setting was best in the final game, when she set up Brown for the kill on three occasions.

The Lady Red Devils are now 3-1, and played ?? last night at home after Leader deadlines.

SPORTS >>Cabot hosts Devils to start season

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers and Jacksonville Red Devils no longer have two-and-a-half months to build up to their rivalry game like they did for so many years while in the same conference. Starting last year, the game was moved to week one, which has done nothing to take any steam off or lessen any of the intensity of the old rivalry game.

There’s always a story line to the game. In recent years, it’s been one team or the other trying to end a losing streak. That’s not the case this season, so that line has given way to the new one, one that Cabot coach Mike Malham summed up well.
“I guess this is the rubbermatch,” Malham said. “Our seniors and their seniors are 1-1 against each other, so I guess this is the one to decide that.”

Cabot won most recently, taking a big win in last seeason’s opener, and also ending a two-year losing streak to the Red Devils. Whatley doesn’t know if his team has the psychological advantage this year, being the team wanting revenge, but does expect his team’s best effort.

“Hopefully every time you step out there, you got that burning desire to succeed and play every game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Whatley said. “They were a very hungry team last year, this year we’re going to have to find that hunger and drive, because they’re better than they were last year.”

Malham also doesn’t think winning last year gives his team’s opponent any psychological edge, partly because of the rubbermatch mentality his team is bringing into the contest, but mostly because it’s week one.

“Everybody wants to win the first one,” Malham said. “Everybody wants to start 1-0 and nobody wants to start 0-1. We sure want to win the first one, it doesn’t matter much who we’re playing.”

Cabot has some advantages, but Malham believes Jacksonville does as well.

“They look pretty good,” Malham said. “They’ve got good skill position people. Their line may not be as big as it has been, but we sure can’t let them get loose because they’ve got speed in spots where we don’t have it.”

The Panthers big advantage is depth, and the news along those lines continues to get better for the home team. Last week Cabot got two starting offensive linemen back. This week they’ll get back a third lineman, tight end Blake Carter, as well as defensive lineman Kyle Deblock.

“There’s two more coming back for us so that’ll help,” Malham said. “That gives us a few more options. It could be an advantage for us. Jacksonville don’t look quite as big up front as they have been.”

Whatley also understands that his team will be at a disadvantage in depth, but that’s not his biggest concern.

“Cabot is Cabot and they’re going to make you play a perfect football game,” Whatley said. “The scheme they run is difficult to defend. They come off that line low and hard, the feet never die. We’re just going to have to be perfect.”

Besides Jacksonville’s speed, his own team’s youth is another concern for Malham. He’ll likely play more sophomores than Jacksonville has on the roster.

“They won’t have very many young guys out there,” Malham said. “We’ll have a bunch of them, and that is a concern because a game like this, a lot of times come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.”

For Jacksonville, depth may be the secondary concern, but it is still a concern. Much of Cabot’s depth is young, but it’s there. For Jacksonville that’s not the case at every position.

“That’s the one thing that is going to be tough on us,” Whatley said. “I do wonder how last Friday would have turned out if that was a complete ballgame, with them having so much more players than we have. Cabot’s going to have that same advantage, so we’re going to have to be ready. I thought our conditioning was improved from what it was at the Red-White game, but it’s going to have to get better.”

The Panthers and Red Devils will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium.

EDITORIALS>>Special session is not needed

The flap over legalizing kiddie marriages is a quintessential Arkansas legislature story — Ledge screws up again! — but we think it is overblown and no cause for panic. It certainly seems needless to summon the legislature into urgent special session to fix it, as Gov. Beebe wisely concluded Monday.

In their resolve to fix a curious little constitutional infirmity, a few judges had suggested changing the law on the minimum age for marriage in Arkansas. Without parental consent it was 16 for women but 17 for men.

Why not raise it to 18 and make it uniform for both, thereby preventing a challenge based on sexual discrimination? They added a proviso that a pregnant woman could get a waiver if she was under 18 and her parents consented. Our own Rep. Will Bond took the judges’ bill and introduced it, the legislature passed it, and Gov. Beebe signed it into law.

Then it was discovered that an extra “not” got into the language, which on close reading meant that any girl could get married at any age regardless of whether she was pregnant as long as she had a parent’s consent. The discovery raised images of parents marrying off their toddlers to pedophiles. A few legislators thought the governor should assemble the legislature to prevent such atrocities.

It is much ado about very little. The legislature’s intent, if not its language, was clear and the code writers took cognizance of it. County clerks, who issue marriage licenses, can refuse licenses or notify the child-welfare people if people do try to marry off their children before the legislature assembles again and corrects it.

Someone wanting to marry off a child would have to sue to enforce the letter of the law and that won’t happen. Three states now have no minimum marriage age; they provide for voiding them afterward.

There will be far more serious problems that will need the legislature’s attention before long — there already are — and this little canker can be fixed then.

Waiting will save a sizable amount of money that must be spent to run the legislative show for even the minimum three days.

EDITORIALS>>Gonzales had to go

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales must have performed some public-spirited act in his many years in the service of George W. Bush, but his resignation at long last was easily his noblest. It relieves a blight on the presidency and gives the country a fresh lease on impartial justice.

President Bush praised his longtime loyalist, who had been giving him advice that he wanted to hear for 15 years. He said Democrats had unfairly victimized Gonzales.

But Little Rock’s Harry E. “Bud” Cummins II, who got this ball rolling by contesting the Justice Department’s explanations for firing a big batch of U.S. attorneys, got it right. Gonzales had to go, Cummins said, because he had corrupted the federal system of justice by politicizing it. It was not just Democrats. After months of lying and stonewalling, Gonzales was virtually bereft of supporters in his own party.

Even at the end, hours before his resignation became public but well after he had notified the president, Gonzales was still lying, saying there was no truth to rumors that he was leaving.

He took a cue from the president, who last year publicly insisted that Donald Rumsfeld was going to remain as secretary of defense after he had already picked his successor. Lying is just no big deal anymore.

Now the president must choose an attorney general for the last 15 months of his administration and he is obliged to appoint someone who will swear to administer even-handed justice and mean it. Surely it will not be Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who is most prominently mentioned.

Chertoff is Washington’s quintessential hatchet man. He will have to answer questions about his lassitude and incompetence after Hurricane Katrina and about whether he lied or had incompetent aides when he testified that he knew nothing about the brutal interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Naval Base when he was head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and his aides were attending meetings on the interrogations.

The Washington speculation is that the president cannot put an independent lawyer in charge of justice because he has too much at stake.

Republicans remember President Bill Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, who appointed special prosecutors — seven of them —to investigate the Clinton administration upon the slightest whiff or rumor of scandal.

With investigations swirling around the political manipulation in the Justice Department and other cabinet offices and wholesale contracting fraud in the Iraq and Afghanistan war operations, Bush politically cannot afford a Janet Reno. The country cannot afford anything less.

OBITUARIES >> 08-29-07

Jim Barrett

Jim Barrett, 87, of Cabot, died Aug. 22. He was a member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus. He retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service and was one of the first chief master sergeants in the Air Force. He was a member of the Flying Tigers during the Second World War.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Frances Edney Barrett; three sons, J. Philip Barrett of North Little Rock, Harry D. Barrett and wife B. J. of Cabot and Robert L. “Bob” Barrett of Maumelle; daughter, Linda Barrett Hrynyk of Cabot; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark., 72204 or St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Drive, Jacksonville, Ark. 72076. Mass of Christian burial was Aug. 27 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church. Entombment was in Calvary Cemetery Mausoleum. Arrangements were by North Little Rock Funeral Home.

Annie Kent

Annie “Ruth” Kent, 64, of Jacksonville, died peacefully at home Aug. 24. She was born March 26, 1943 in Blackshear, Ga., to the late Woodrow Strickland and Edith Mae King.

Ruth is survived by her loving brother, Walter A. Strickland; son, John Michael Kent and wife Kellie; daughter, Terry Kent Quinn and husband Walter; three grandchildren, Rian Kent, Luke Quinn and Marge Anna Quinn.

Ruth was a devoted nurse and lived her life caring for others. She was an avid gardener and was passionate about the outdoors.

Memorial services were Aug. 28 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Memorials may be sent to your local Humane Society in honor of her favorite Yorkie, Gabby.

Jackie Overton

Jackie Lee Overton, 72, of Hensley passed peacefully from this life on Aug. 24. He is survived by two brothers, John Overton and A.B. Wood; three children, Rhonda and husband Edward Gillies, Samee and husband Larry Hollingsworth and Brock Overton; seven grandsons and a great-granddaughter.

A memorial service was held Aug. 27 at Arlie Moore Picnic Pavilion on Lake DeGray with a picnic following. Funeral ar-rangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Bill Reveley

Bill Levon Reveley, 71, of Cabot died Aug. 25.  

He was born Aug. 11, 1930 in Ward to the late Robert and Ruby Phillips Reveley.

In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his son Ernest Leonard.  

He retired from the Navy after 22 years of service.

He is survived by his wife, Doanie Mitchell Reveley; four children, Mike Reveley and wife Shannon of Ward, Sandra Collins of Jacksonville, Beth Glover and husband Larry and Denise Presley and husband Scott, all of Austin; four siblings, Bobbie Jean Horn of Austin, Johnnie Farris and husband Lynn of Sherwood, Richard Reveley of Conway, and Jimmy Reveley of Ward; 10 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.  

The funeral service was August 28 at the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home with Rev. Tommy Miller officiating.   

Lena Thurman

Lena Thurman, 95, of Deer Park, Texas, formerly of Ward, died August 24.

She was born July 25, 1912, at Ward to Thomas and Sylvia Smith Cox.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill Thurman and great-grandson, Spencer Chapman.

She is survived by one daughter, Wanda Chapman and husband John of LaPorte, Texas; two grandchildren, John L. Chapman of LaPorte and Jody Britton and husband Dean of Seabrook, Texas; five great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Graveside service was held Aug. 27 at Butlerville Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Danny Fortson

Danny Ray Fortson, 54, of Stephens died Aug. 25.

He was born April 3, 1953 in Searcy to Vernon and Bonnie Fortson.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Bonnie Fortson.

Survivors include his daughter Miranda Fortson; father and step-mother, Vernon and Louise Fortson and one half sister.
Graveside service was held Aug. 28 at Sylvania Cemetery. Arrangement were by Thomas Funeral Service.

Kade Curlett

Kade “Bubba” Curlett, 7-month-old son of Sara Jackson and John Christopher Curlett of Conway, died Aug. 21.

He is also survived by his sisters, Journie Curlett and Sunnie Jackson; grandparents, Rita Krigbaum and husband Bill and Ricky Jackson and wife Lindsey, all of Beebe, and Norma and John Curlett of Conway.

Funeral was Aug. 24 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe.
Memorials may be made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Cardiology Department, P.O. Box 2222, Little Rock, Ark. 72203-0084.

Vicki Carmical

Vicki Jo Carmical, 48, of Cabot died August 10.

She was born Aug. 16, 1958 in Albany, Ga.

She graduated from Fulton High School in 1976.

She was employed by Dassault in Little Rock for 29 years.

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

Funeral services were August 13 at Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home with burial at Sumner Cemetery.

TOP STORY >>Woman says defect caused her behavior

Leader senior staff writer

The woman—perhaps delusional—who grabbed the wheel of an eastbound Greyhound bus July 9, forcing the bus off I-40 and into a stand of trees in Lonoke County, Monday pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect. Circuit Judge Lance Hanshaw ordered her to undergo an Act 3 mental evaluation before her Nov. 5 court appearance.

Victoria Combs, 27, reportedly a soldier stationed at Ft. Campbell, has been charged with 47 counts of aggravated assault, one for the driver and each of the 46 other passengers on the bus, according to a spokesman for Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain. Combs also was charged with a single count of criminal mischief, also a felony.

David Meyers was appointed her public defender. No one was killed or seriously injured, although the bus cleared its own path into the marshy woods.

Combs, who appeared in court in a shirt with the word “ARMY” on the front, said she would like charges dropped so she could return to Afghanistan.

She is free on bond.

Eleven people, including Combs, were taken to hospitals after the crash at about 5:45 p.m.

After the passengers were evacuated and Combs arrested, it took Rich’s Wrecker Service two hours to pull the bus free.

George Rich, company’s owner, said the steering was damaged, the front end smashed and the windshield came out.

Combs had fled out the door after the bus came to rest sharply tilted to one side, but other passengers chased her down and held her until police arrived, one passenger said.

The accident occurred near the Remington Road intersection with I-40 just east of the Pulaski-Lonoke County line, about 30 miles east-northeast of Little Rock.

The bus traveled about 25 yards into the growth brush and, after the crash, could barely be seen from the highway.
Passenger Charlotte Simmons, 29, of Hot Springs, said Combs had been acting erratically since she boarded the bus in Nashville, Tenn.

“She got on with a police escort, saying she was afraid someone was going to kill her,” Simmons said.
Combs reported to the driver that other passengers were spraying her with something.

“Then Combs got up, grabbed the wheel and we all just went flying,” Simmons said.

A spokeswoman for Greyhound said 49 people were aboard the bus.

The bus began its trip at Richmond, Va., and its eventual destination was Dallas.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Pizzeria closes after move and owner's surgery

The state Highway Department is completing work on an on-ramp at Hwy. 67/167 in north Jacksonville, where the Pizza Company did pretty decent business for more than a decade.

Over the years, other restaurants opened and shut down at that same location on T.P. White Drive, but the Pizza Company had found a niche feeding young athletes and their families, until the Highway Department told the owners a couple of years ago that the northbound on-ramp would go right through their pizzeria, so they had to move last summer.

The Highway Department paid Virgil Wilson and his wife Leigh a few bucks for their moving expenses (they didn’t own the building) and they relocated inside the Howard Johnson’s a couple of miles south of their old location, but business never took off.

Old customers drifted away, and then, a couple of months ago, Virgil, who is 63 and a Vietnam veteran, had triple-bypass surgery.

Virgil returned to work a few days after his surgery — nobody could make pizza like he could, prepared fresh every day — but he was too weak to work seven days a week anymore, so on Aug. 13, he shut the Pizza Company down, a victim of progress, tough times and a broken heart.

“We got screwed over the whole deal,” he says.

“I fought for this country,” Wilson, an Army veteran, told us last year when he was forced to move. “I’ve been shot at. I even have a Bronze Star.”

The Wilsons were optimistic when they first reopened at their new location and hoped they would rebuild their business.
The couple moved a lot of their old d├ęcor into the new restaurant and put up a U.S. flag that had flown in Iraq.

“We’ve kept a lot of the old and have added some new,” he said when they moved into the Howard Johnson’s, formerly the Ramada Inn.

The old included a lunch buffet that was expanded to seven days a week. The new included alcoholic beverages as part of the dinner menu, with several new entrees.

“We don’t buy precut onions and vegetables,” he said before he closed his business. “Leigh does all the salad bar cutting and preparations daily.”

He used his own recipes for the restaurant’s barbecue, roast beef, chicken and shrimp dishes, along with the pizzas.

“Our favorites are still pepperoni, supreme and dessert pizzas,” Wilson said. “But you haven’t lived until you try our Polish pizza—mustard sauce, sauerkraut and Polish sausage.”

Before his surgery, Wilson worked 80 hours a week, and his wife about 50 hours.

He himself made 200 pizzas a week and gave a lot of them away to Little League teams, schools and newly arrived airmen.
“We always supported youth sports,” he recalled. If we kept a few of them off the streets and kept them from getting into trouble, it was worth it.”

“We took everything we had and put it in the new location,” he continued. “I just figured things would turn around after I got my feet on the ground. But a lot of things went haywire.”

At his age, he says, “I’m too old to work for somebody else.”

He’s not giving up, though. If his health improves, he’ll start looking for work.

“I’ll try to figure out what to do next,” he said.

TOP STORY >>Beebe names new police chief

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council hired a new police chief Monday night to complete the transformation of the department which has been underway since the beginning of the summer.

Assistant Chief Wayne Ballew, who has been acting chief since Don Inns was fired earlier this month, is now the official head of a department of mostly seasoned police officers with an average age of more than 40.

The young, inexperienced officers are gone. One police officer and one dispatcher were fired for viewing pornography on a police computer. Another was fired for using inappropriate language on a Web site where he was identified as a Beebe police officer.

Counting Ballew and Hal Britt, who was police chief more than a decade ago and now works as an investigator, six of eight police officers have been hired since the first of the year.

Earlier this month, the council hired Ron Lewis, a part-time Lonoke County sheriff’s deputy and a former state trooper who once headed the Lonoke County Drug Task Force. Monday night, the council gave approval to hire James Armstrong, a former White County sheriff’s deputy, to replace an officer who resigned voluntarily for work elsewhere.

Mayor Mike Robertson said during an interview Tuesday morning that he has known Lewis since 1996 (during Robertson’s first term as mayor) when he helped Britt with the investigation into Big Boy’s Toys, an illegal drug operation masquerading as an antique car dealership.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Ron isn’t named assistant chief,” Robertson said. “We’re going to clean up the drug activity (in Beebe). These people who have been getting by with it aren’t going to get by with it anymore.”

Alderman Becky Short, a former city clerk and lifetime resident, said after the meeting that she was “tickled pink” with the changes that have been made. The city now has a police force that will patrol the streets and treat the residents with respect, she said.

Robertson fired Inns Aug. 5, after learning he had fixed an arrest warrant so that a parolee wanted on drug charges would not be picked up.

Robertson said at that time and again Monday night that too many drug busts ended with no one going to jail. He said Inns told him he intended to use the lawbreakers as informants. But those days are over, Robertson said.

He told the council that in the past two weeks, “doors have been kicked down and arrests have been made. There will be no deals with drug dealers.”

Robertson reported to the council Monday that a state police investigation into the police department is underway. He did not say that Inns is the subject of that investigation, but he did say that Inns was the only department employee with access to the evidence room where confiscated guns and drugs were not properly labeled.

Robertson also said that when Inns was police chief, he was the only employee with access to the department’s “drug buy” money.

Since he was fired, the money ($400) has been turned over to the city clerk.

TOP STORY >>Lights could ease traffic

Leader staff writer

Cabot residents trying to get home from Little Rock during the afternoon rush must deal with wait times of 15 minutes or more on the Hwy. 67/167 shoulders and off- ramp, but traffic signals that are supposed to be installed within two weeks could shorten that delay.

Admittedly that is the same information this newspaper reported at the end of April, but Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said this week that he is confident it really will happen this time and soon.

A snafu in the paperwork was the main reason for the holdup, he said. But the Highway Department marked the location for the poles last week and unless the project hits a snag such as cables being buried where the poles are supposed to be set, then the signals should be in place soon.

The plan is to install two signals, one to stop the traffic on Hwy. 5 and one to move traffic off the ramp. Instead of sitting and waiting for a break in the Hwy. 5 traffic, 20 or 30 motorists will be exiting the off-ramp at one time, he said.

Williams said the project should have cost about $110,000, but the Highway Department has given its blessings on used equipment and wooden poles, and the cost will actually be only about $14,000.

“In the transportation world, a week is a month and 12 weeks is a year,” the mayor said.

But he added that everything is coming together and relief is in sight for the 17,000 or so motorists who pass through the Hwy. 5 interchange daily.

The mayor has also asked the state for a traffic signal at the intersection of Hwy. 5 and South Rockwood, the new road to Wal-Mart which was completed this spring. From the time the road opened, residents have complained that left turns onto Hwy. 5 are almost impossible, but Williams said the Highway Department must conduct a traffic study there before a signal will be considered.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a light down there,” he said during a recent city council meeting.

In addition to evening rush hour, traffic congestion is also a problem during the morning and afternoon when parents are dropping off and picking up children at school. The city’s attempts to alleviate that problem worked at two schools where changes were made but failed at the third school.

Police Chief Jackie Davis reported early last week that traffic moved smoothly at Southside Elementary. Cabot Public Works Director Jerrel Maxwell, who watched the flow at Middle School North, said there was no backup on Kerr Station Road.

But at Northside Elementary, where city officials hoped to stack cars on East Mountain Springs Road to keep them off Locust, parents have been told to go back to the way they used to travel at least until the city and school district have built a loading area on the campus. Maxwell said this week that East Mountain Springs Road isn’t wide enough to have cars stopped on the shoulder while waiting to get on campus.

The school district worked with the city to build a new parking lot for about 40 employees, which took them out of the mix during rush hour.

The district also has approved building a loading area for 100 cars, with the school district paying for the materials and the city providing the labor and equipment, he said. But so far, the city has not seen the district’s plan for the work.

TOP STORY >>Insufficient evidence: Jailer gets to go free

Leader senior staff writer

After being the butt of jokes and innuendo for more than a year for allegedly having sex with an Act 309 state prisoner while she was a dispatcher and jailer at Lonoke city jail in 2005, Amy Staley was acquitted Monday in a bench trial before Special Judge John Cole of Sheridan.

“I can’t determine that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Cole said in a trial that included neither opening nor closing arguments and lasted less than two hours. “Someone is telling the truth and someone isn’t. I have no choice but to find her not guilty.”

Anthony Shane Scott, handcuffed, in ankle bracelets and wearing the Correction Department inmate whites, testified that he had sex three times with Staley during the spring of 2005, while she was a police department employee and he was an inmate in Lonoke.

Scott is the Act 309 Correction Department inmate whose alleged sexual trysts with Staley and with then-Police Chief Jay Campbell’s wife while in the Lonoke jail led to the investigation that eventually deposed a mayor, imprisoned the popular police chief and his wife and led to serious felony charges against a pair of bail bondsmen.

Act 309 inmates are state inmates screened and loaned to sheriffs and police chiefs as manpower while increasing the number of prison beds available to the state, but the inmate may not perform work for private individuals.

Both Jay Campbell and Thomas Privett, then mayor, admitted paying Act 309 inmates a stipend to do work at their homes.
Privett is expected to face trial next month for theft of services, a misdemeanor, in connection with that work. Lonoke voters turned him out of office last November over the incident.

Campbell was sentenced in April to 40 years in prison for running a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and numerous counts of theft by receiving and drug counts. Kelly Campbell was sentenced to 10 years for participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise, theft of property and illegal possession of drugs. Cole dismissed sex charges against her because technically it was not a crime for a civilian to have sex with an inmate.

Both Campbells are in prison, appealing their sentences. She is at the women’s McPherson Unit, and he is in a Missouri prison for his own safety. Scott testified Monday that he had sex three times with Staley in a bathroom before breaking off the relationship to pursue a sexual relationship with Kelly Campbell.

Staley’s attorney, Eric Kennedy of Des Arc, cross examined Scott, who admitted that the first times he was questioned he denied having sex with Staley. At a subsequent interview he said he had sex with her twice and at yet another interview, he said they had sex three times.

Staley testified that she had never had sex with Scott. There were no witnesses to a sex act between the two, although Staley’s former coworker Courtney Kocourek testified that he walked in on the pair in the jail kitchen when Staley had her arms around Scott’s neck in an embrace and had him pinned against the refrigerator. Kocourek is now a State Police trooper.
Staley said she stood on a box to retrieve her bowl from atop the refrigerator, fell, and Scott caught her.

“We are extremely happy,” said Kennedy. “I’m just glad she can move on with her life,” he said. “I felt like that’s what the outcome would be.”

“When you’re dealing with sex, and only two people know the truth—I knew this could happen,” said Prosecutor Lona McCastlain.

“The evidence was there, but she has a second chance,” McCastlain added.

TOP STORY >>Base contractor on way out

Leader senior staff writer

“Given the current project’s financial conditions, it is unlikely that American Eagle will be able to resume work (on them),” an Air Force spokesman said Monday of housing privatization contracts at the Jacksonville air base and three other air bases.
That could confirm Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz’s comment last week that he believed a different developer would finish the job.

American Eagle Communities has not responded to questions emailed Friday.

Work stopped May 7 on the company’s $127 million contract to build, renovate, own, manage and rent housing to airmen and their families at Little Rock Air Force Base. American Eagle Communities, a joint limited-liability venture between the Carabetta family of Meridan, Conn., and Shaw Infrastructures of Baton Rouge, has left some contractors and suppliers on the LRAFB project owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Carabettas, through American Eagle and other legal entities, have privatization contracts with four Air Force bases, and work has stopped on all four.

They have said publicly that they are selling two of the jobs and trying to sell the others.

Work stopped in March at Moody Air Force Base, where contractors may be owed millions of dollars, and at Hanscom and Patrick air bases as well.

“American Eagle’s obligations as stated in the project documents, are still valid,” according to Mike Hawkins, spokesman for the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment.

Schatz, the base commander, has said the project is already two years behind schedule and that about 200 homes should have been built by now instead of the 25 completed.

He reported recently that the base paid more than $9 million through its basic housing allowance in 2006.
Hawkins said this week that the project was still receiving rent revenues, but that it “goes into a lockbox account.”
He said the proceeds were used to pay for daily operational expenses such as repairs, maintenance and utilities, plus insurance payments and debt service.

“Additional revenue beyond these expenses generally goes into accounts for long-term capital repair and replacement, i.e., hot water heaters, roofs, carpeting…and reinvestment accounts.

“The project lenders (at Moody Family Housing) have initiated legal action/documentation to default the project owners or place the project into state receivership,” according to Hawkins.

“The Air Force has legal remedies as well which may also be pursued. We work on a daily basis with the bondholders, the project owner, and other stakeholders to resolve issues at hand as expeditiously as possible.”

Tom Brockway, American Eagle’s project manager for LRAFB Family Housing, is still overseeing operations, but he declined to answer questions last week, asking instead for an email that he would forward to his bosses.

Among those questions, so far unanswered, are whether or not American Eagle intends to complete the LRAFB contract, default on it or sell it and why the company is so far behind schedule both at the Jacksonville base and at similar bases and forts across the country.

We asked whether they intended to pay suppliers and subcontractors and if so, whether they would be paid in full and when.
We asked whether the company had filed for bankruptcy and whether it was in receivership, and finally, “What happened?”
Hawkins said the privatization problems are unique to the Carabetta projects.

“The Air Force hopes that the current impasse gets resolved expeditiously and that construction resumes as quickly as possible,” according to Hawkins. “The Air Force goal is to get quality housing for our airmen.”

Here’s a roundup of their military privatization jobs:

Little Rock Air Force Base, Jacksonville—Worked stopped in May on American Eagle’s project to build 468 new homes and remodel 732 homes. Twenty-five homes completed to date.

Moody Air Force Base, Georgia—Carabetta Enterprises Inc. contracted to build more than 600 homes.
Work stopped in May with two houses built.

Patrick Air Force Base, Pelican Coast Florida—American Eagle Communities contracted to build 552 homes for Air Force personnel and 400 for non-military.

Of those, 164 have been completed and work has stopped.

Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.—Contract awarded in April 2007 to American Eagle for at least 784 new homes. Work proceeds intermittently.

Beale Air Force Base, near Sacramento—American Eagle won a contract in 2004 to build 585 new housing units and remodel 759, but was dropped from the contract over a legal question.

Ft. Leonard Wood—Work began in January 2004 to privatize and manage more than 2,200 military family housing units.
An Army spokesman says the job is on schedule. A local observer says the job is behind schedule.

Pacific Northwest Com-munities—American Eagle is selling its contract to build or renovate and manage more than 2,700 Navy homes throughout Puget Sound, including 604 new homes. The contract was signed in September 2005.

TOP STORY >>Area cities get boost from state turnbacks

Leader staff writer

Sherwood is set to receive a one-time payment of about $145,000 from the state. Jacksonville is expecting more than $200,000. Cabot is looking forward to a $150,000 windfall and Lonoke is to get approximately $29,000.

The money is a one-time return of tax funds that divvies up the almost $900 million surplus the state had at the end of last year. The state legislature earmarked the extra money for a number of projects and also decided to give each city a portion of the surplus.

“It works out to $6.75 per person,” Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman told the city council Monday night.

She suggested the city use the money to update and replace the city’s storm sirens.

Alderman Sheila Sulcer agreed, saying the one in her neighborhood wasn’t working last year. “If we had a tornado come through, it would have been horrible,” she said.

Hillman said she believed all the sirens were working, but that there were always problems with them.

The council took no action Monday, but will decide at a later council meeting if they want to spend the one-time money on the sirens.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said the city has been anticipating the state refund, but no check has been cut yet. “We did not put the money in our budget, and I’m coming up with a list of possible projects that we can spend the money on. The final decision will be up to the council,” the mayor said. He added there is no deadline for cities to spend or use the money.
Cabot will be using its money to help pay for 15.5 acres in the industrial park on Hwy. 367, where an armory is supposed to be built.

The city council has agreed to purchase the property for $399,000 with the stipulation that all but $49,000 of that amount will come from the state.

Once the property is purchased, the deed will be signed over to the Arkansas National Guard, which will have the construction of the $8 million armory placed in line for federal funding within the next five years. Lonoke will be using its funds to finish remodeling the old train depot where the city holds meetings, according to Mayor Wayne McGee.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SPORTS >>Bears potent in scrimmage

Leader sportswriter

If the early scrimmages held Tuesday are any indication, this year’s version of the Sylvan Hills Bears proves to be offensively potent. The Bears had two successful scrimmages against Little Rock Hall and Little Rock Parkview on Tuesday, downing both teams in regulation two-quarter halves.

There were four teams on hand for the scrimmages held at Bill Blackwood Field, with Parkview and Pulaski Academy squaring off in game one before the Bears and Warriors took to the field for game two. The Bruins downed Parkview in the opener 27-17, and would take the win over Hall in the third game also.

Hall took first possession, and was forced to punt when the SH defense held them to only four yards in three plays. It didn’t take long for the Bears to show their hand, as Hunter Miller found Jacob Clark on a crossing pattern on the Bears’ second play from scrimmage. Clark cleared a pair of nearside defenders, and scooted the rest of the way in for a 70-yard touchdown play.

The second possession for Sylvan Hills would also produce a score, but it would take a lot more work to punch it in this time. The drive was mostly sustained by runs from senior quarterback Miller, who called his own number to get the ball into Warrior territory.

Miller then converted on a fourth and five play when he had to scramble out of the pocket for the yardage necessary for the first down, and junior Lawrence Hodges advanced the ball into the Hall red zone with a run up the middle to the 15-yard line. Hodges had also saved the drive moments earlier when he gained 20 yards on a run to the left side that took the Bears from facing a third and 25 to a more manageable fourth and five.

Miller took things from there, finding room off the right side of the line before cutting back to the middle to run the ball in from 15 yards out for the score.

The Bears’ defense looked particularly good against Hall, not giving up a first down until the Warriors’ third possession. A large number of junior varsity players were on the field when Hall finally started moving the ball. The Warriors scored with 7:58 left in the first quarter on a 43-yard pass play.

Frequent substitutions and experimental plays made ball movement a little more sparse in the second quarter, but Miller did get the chance to showcase his passing abilities with a 39-yard toss down the left side to senior Clint Thornton. Miller’s pass had good placement, and Thornton pulled the ball down for the short dash to the end zone for the third and final Sylvan Hills score of the scrimmage. Mitch Zimmerman backed up his strong performance in last Friday’s intra-squad game with another good showing in the defensive backfield. Zimmerman put an exclamation point on the first scrimmage for Sylvan Hills with an interception in the final minute.

Zimmerman may have been tops for the Bears defensively in the opener, but it was senior linebacker Blake Rix who had the biggest hand in stopping Parkview in the finale. Rix recorded five tackles and fell on two loose balls for Sylvan Hills, showing much more speed than his 5’7”, 170 lb. might indicate at first glance.

Offensively, the Bears started out strong with more good runs by Miller and sophomore Juliean Broner. Broner and teammate Hodges have looked to be the class of the underclassmen in early scrimmage action. Broner averaged 10.1 yards per carry against the Patriots, carrying six times for 62 yards, including a 28-yard run in the final minute after being nearly brought down by Parkview at the line of scrimmage on the tailback draw play.

Miller carried the ball six times for 69 yards against Parkview, including a 25-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ first possession, but with one fumble. Thornton carried only one time in the second game, but it was good enough for a touchdown run from 19 yards out.

“It was a good effort,” Bears coach Jim Withrow said. “We gave up some big plays on defense, and we can’t do that. Turnovers were the only thing that really got me hot. One turnover is one too many; three or four is just disgraceful. We have a long ways to go on our execution and consistency — I thought we lost focus some in that second game instead of putting them away.” Chris Daulton also had a solid game on the defensive side in game two, recording a pair of tackles and coming away with an interception on Parkview quarterback Darell Mixon in the first half.

SPORTS >>Panthers run over Wolves

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers ran like a wrecking ball through Lake Hamilton in a preseason scrimmage Tuesday night at Panther Stadium. The varsity offense scored on every possession, and were never stopped on downs. The two teams traded four, 15-play drives, two each for varsity and junior varsity. The Panther JV offense didn’t look bad either.

Cabot coach Mike Malham was very pleased with the looks of the offense.

“I thought they looked pretty good,” Malham said. “(Chris) Bayles and (Jordan) Carlisle ran the ball real well. Michael James, the sophomore, looked good at fullback. We got (linemen) Jackson (Matt) and Gunn (Jordan) back, and of course that helps. Overall I thought the line blocked well. We’ve got some size up there. I wish they were a little quicker, but they come off good, and they’re physical.”

Lake Hamilton’s first string started with the ball, and drove down the field without much resistance. That ended when the Wolves got into the red zone. Cabot’s defense stiffened up inside the 10-yard line. Lake Hamilton failed to score a touchdown after first and goal, and settled for a field goal.

Cabot then took the ball and ate up yardage in chunks. Bayles took the first carry 11 yards. Carlisle took the second 15 to set up first down at the Lake Hamilton 49-yard line.

Michael James then carried 11 yards for the third first down in as many plays.

Things briefly got a little tougher. Cabot was faced with fourth and inches after three more plays, but James easily converted with a three-yard carry.

He then went nine and eight yards to set up first and goal at the eight. Keifer Richmond then carried for three yards before quarterback Seth Bloomberg kept for the final five and the score on the 11th play of the drive.

With four plays left, Cabot tried a few things besides running up the middle. A downfield pass attempt to Les McGregor was incomplete, and an option pitch from Bloomberg to Carlisle was off the mark. Carlisle fell on the loose ball for a loss of six yards. A Bayles run of six and a Bloomberg keeper for three yards ended the drive. The second string’s first offensive drive was highlighted by a 45-yard run by Nathan Millar down to the 1-yard line. He got to finish his work on the next play with a one-yard plunge for a touchdown.

Lake Hamilton looked better on its second varsity possession. After two incompletions, the Wolves struck for a 36-yard pass play for a first down at the 34.

After that, Lake Hamilton ate up chunks of yardage. Two for seven yards, one for eight and a 12-yard run capped the scoring drive with eight plays left.

Those final eight plays weren’t nearly as productive. After an initial 15-yard completion, Ben Ford got the first sack of the game for a one-yard loss.

After a three-yard run set up third and eight, another sack by Callen Boris for an eight-yard loss made it fourth and 15. Boris then deflected a pass on fourth down. The Wolves got just one more yard on their final three plays.

Cabot put together another good drive, this time a 13-play march for its second score. The longest run of the drive was the last one, a 12-yard run by James.

James carried 12 times in the two drives for 82 yards.

The two teams then traded three possessions each starting at the 10-yard line to work on goal- line situations. Neither defense did well. Six touchdowns were scored in the six combined possessions.

“Our goal line defense will have to be better than that,” Malham said. “I thought the defense did ok. There were a lot of mistakes made out there, but they were playing hard and Lake Hamilton has a pretty good offense. They were pretty good last year and they’ve got everybody back.”

Cabot opens the season Friday at home against Jacksonville.

SPORTS >>Cabot wins in tri-match

Leader sportswriter

Lack of size and seniors made 2006 a little trying for the Lady Panthers at times last season, but those two problems appear to be things of the past after a very successful opening week this year. Cabot beat both Morrilton and Lonoke during a tri-match Tuesday at the Panther gym, and downed Morrilton again on Thursday in a regulation match in five sets.

Cabot’s overall hitting has started out especially strong. Senior Katie Mantione and junior Tori Hendrix handled the bulk of the hitting duties as expected, and racked up some impressive early-season numbers in the Thursday match against Morrilton.

Mantione recorded 20 kills on nine errors for a .256 percentage, while Hendrix managed 25 kills on just four errors for a .389 average. The overall team hitting ended up at .299, just one tick away from the desired .300 mark.

While the first week has been strong for the Lady Panthers, there has been an odd glitch in their second game performances. Cabot has dominated every first game of its first three matches, but has experienced systematic breakdowns heading into the second game. The second game against Morrilton on Thursday was actually the Lady Panthers’ first lost game, followed by another struggling frame in game three.

Lady Panthers coach Terry Williams attributes the game two struggles to lost focus. She believes that too much of a relaxed attitude after winning the openers have caused the troubles in the following game.

“I think it all starts when you have to switch benches,” Williams said. “We move to the other side of the court and don’t get back down to business. Our second game has been weak in every game. We have to get it more consistent.”

Sara Fuller would take leading hitter honors during Tuesday’s tri-match, ending up with a .389 percentage for the night. The team hit .250 overall against Lonoke and Morrilton, with a perfect 24 for 24 serving performance by Whitney High.

The Thursday match with Morrilton ended up going the distance. Cabot took game one 25-16, but gave up game two 13-25. The Lady Devil Dogs also took game three 22-25, but the Lady Panthers came back to claim the final two games 25-22 and 15-10.

“I think they proved to themselves that they can be competitive,” Williams said. “For the first week, they did a really good job of taking care of the ball.” Williams was also pleased with the effort by her team Thursday with one starter on the bench. Morgan Young sat out the Morrilton match while under the weather, and Williams said the team responded well.

“They had to do a lot of shifting around and adjusting,” Williams said. “They pulled together and put in a good effort. They handled the line-up change really well.”

The Lady Panthers have one more non-conference match with Beebe on Thursday in Cabot, and will begin conference play the following Thursday at Russellville.

EDITORIALS>>Vote against dirty plant

That coal-fired generating plant in Hempstead County, which is supposed to start sending 6 million tons of carbon dioxide a year our way by 2011, is looking like less a bargain every day. Southwestern Electric Power Co. is trying to persuade the state Public Service Commission of the need for the big electricity plant and of the environmental tranquility that it will offer all of us.

The hearings at the Capitol need to start producing some fetching testimony for the company fast. But we frankly hope they don’t. The world doesn’t need another dirty plant that contributes so much to atmospheric warming, and the evidence so far is that the region doesn’t really need the power anytime soon either.

We had a deep suspicion early on that Swepco picked Arkansas for the plant because it thought its regulators were the most pliable. It had considered a number of sites for the plant and it chose one in southwestern Arkansas, although the electricity that it would produce would go primarily to Texas. The Public Service Commission under Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was still in charge when Swepco applied to build the plant, was not known as a stern taskmaster for utilities, and the prospective next governor, one Mike Beebe, had a reputation as a state senator who was especially friendly to the power industry.

Our suspicions were confirmed when officials testified this week about why they moved the Arkansas plant site, near the town of McNab between Hope and Texarkana, ahead of all the others, although other sites ranked higher on the company’s scale of attributes. Low Arkansas property taxes made the construction and operating costs lower than some sites. But a primary concern was heavy opposition in Texas. Mayors tended not to want the belching smokestacks near their population. (Hope wants them.) Opposition to plans for 11 coal-fired plants in Texas being proposed by TXU Corp. — they were all scrapped eventually — moved Swepco away from Texas sites, so it settled on Arkansas.

Arkansas already has some of the dirtiest coal plants west of the Mississippi River. They pump 58 billion pounds of carbon into the atmosphere every year. A molecule of carbon dioxide, the chief global-warming compound, hangs around in the atmosphere for 50 to 200 years. The PSC is supposed to ponder the environmental impact of the plant on the surrounding land, water and air. It will use some 6,000 gallons of water a minute from the Little River, and its emissions will affect the waterfowl and animal habitat for miles around and add to the respiratory problems of much of the citizenry. But we hope the commission assumes a wider mission and considers that it is a tribune for future generations of denizens of this planet.

But is the plant — somewhere — essential? Experts testified Thursday that, well, actually it isn’t. There is an abundance of power in the region already. It is just hard to access now because there is not a good transmission grid. Entergy Corp. has substantial excess power it would be willing to sell, if it could. A big independent generating plant at El Dorado, fired by clean-burning natural gas, has bountiful capacity that it is not using because it doesn’t have a buyer. It would like to sell it to the Texas customers but reliable transmission apparently is a problem. But that is an inexpensive problem to solve. State and federal regulators ought to be able to do it.

As we have observed before, the new Public Service Commission — thank you, Gov. Beebe — seems to take its obligations of public service seriously. We hope the power company misjudged the regulatory climate in Arkansas.

OBITUARIES >> 08-25-07

BillIe Pennington

Billie “Bill” Joe Pennington, 84, of Garner went to be with his Lord August 22. Bill was born June 28, 1923, at Garner to Jasper and Effie Pennington.

With the exception of honorably serving three years in the Army in Europe during the Second World War and later living three years in Little Rock, he was a lifetime resident of Garner and a member of the Garner Baptist Church for over 70 years.
He served for 10 years as pastor of Garner Baptist Church, where he also served as Sunday school superintendent, teacher and deacon.

He also was a volunteer minister for over 15 years at Leisure Lodge Retirement Center as well as serving as pastor at Harrison Chapel in Beebe.

He also was retired from James H. Matthews Company.

He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Jean Pennington.

Bill is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Mildred Flanagin Pennington of Garner; by one brother, Ray and wife Allene Pennington of Sherwood; one sister-in-law, Clotine Pennington of Beebe; four children, Barbara and husband Larry Dugger, Karen and husband Doug Florer of Gentry; Judy Pennington of Searcy and Ken and wife Pennie Pennington of Yakima, Wash.; six grandchildren, Bobby and wife Jessica Dugger, Lisa and husband Jason Speer of Conway, Brandy and husband Randy Fox of Siloam Springs, Lindsay and husband Matt Pool of Centerton, Kendra Pennington of Yakima, Wash., and Kymberly Pennington of Conway; seven great-grandchildren, Brooklyn, Levi and Haylee Fox, Taylor, Mackenzie and Landon Pool, and Brayden Speer; numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends.

Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25 at Garner Baptist Church with burial in Garner Cemetery. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Memorials may be sent to Garner Baptist Church, P.O. Box 127, Garner, Ark. 72052.

Dorothy Clement

Dorothy Miram Clement, 92, of Lonoke died August 22.

Mrs. Clement was a member of Concord United Methodist Church for 82 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Alfred H. Clement and son, Kenneth Clement.

Survivors include daughter, Judy and husband Verne Bader of Little Rock; sons, Richard and wife Sandra Clement of Butlerville and Ronnie and wife Vicki Clement of Lonoke; sister, Jewell Rochelle of Lonoke; nine grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 25 at Concord United Methodist Church with burial in Concord Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Concord Cemetery Association. Arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. 

Roy Glenn

Roy Gene Glenn, 77, of Jacksonville, passed away August 22, surrounded by his family at his home.

He was born Dec. 8, 1929 in Haskell, Texas, to the late Clifford Roy and Angie N. Gardner Glenn.

Roy was an avid golfer who also enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time with family and friends.

He was a member of the American Legion and the Hole-In-One Club at Little Rock Air Force Base. Roy was of the Baptist faith.

Survivors include his loving wife, Rose Lee Glenn of the home; son, Clifton Roy Glenn of Morgan City, La.; brother, Bob Glenn and wife Grace of McLean, Texas; sister, Faye Gould and husband Curtis of Rockdale, Texas; granddaughter, Valerie Glenn of Cabot, grandson, Chris Glenn and wife Denise of Cabot, great grandchildren, Brooklyn Snead, Jay Allen Longhibler, Cameron Glenn and Cheyenne Glenn.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 25 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with burial to follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Marvin Simpson

Rev. Marvin Cleo Simpson, 95, of Beebe passed away August 23 at White County Hospice Center. He was born at Vilonia Dec. 3, 1911, to the late Owen Simpson and Eddie O’Quinn Simpson.

He was a devout Christian and a Nazarene minister for 43 years.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Alvin Simpson, Edwin Simpson, and Carmin Simpson; two sisters, Mary Ann Bailey and Mynette Watkins; one daughter, Marilyn Kay Simpson; and two granddaughters, Sabra Ann Nipper and Jacqueline Michelle Nipper.

He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Mildred Clements Simpson; daughter, Shirley Nipper and husband Tommy; and a granddaughter, Connie Nipper Kinman and husband Dalin; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

The family would like to thank the nurses at White County Hospital, White County Hospice Center, and Beebe Nursing Home for their care during his illness.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, August 25 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, August 26 at First Church of the Nazarene in Beebe with Dr. Barney Baggot officiating. Burial will follow at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Billi Jo Seigrist

Billi Jo Seigrist, 16, of Jacksonville, passed away August 22.  She was born Oct. 21, 1990 in Denver, Col., to Charles and Alyce Dale Seigrist of Jacksonville.

Formerly she attended Lonoke High School. She also attended Glad Tidings Assembly of God.  

Besides her parents, survivors include sisters, Wendy Seigrist Wilson, Amber Tylisha Seigrist, Jodi Gale Seigrist, Charolette Re-nee Seigrist and Amber Elizabeth Seigrist; brother, Charles B. Seigrist, Jr., all of Jacksonville; aunts and uncles; Sammy and Jackie Thompson of Jacksonville and David and Sheila Coleman of North Little Rock; nieces and nephews; Aleah Williams, Hunter “Man” Williams, Alyssa Mealler, Kristi Wilson and a host of family members and friends.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, August 26 at Orion Church with Rev. Bobby Don Wickcliff and Rev. Ronnie Johnson officiating.

Burial will follow in Orion Cemetery in Redfield. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, August 25 at the funeral home.
Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

TOP STORY >>Courts taking measures to increase security soon

Leader staff writer

Court buildings in the area will have added security next year.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is requiring every county to create a local security and emergency-preparedness advisory committee for county and local court facilities to improve security and emergency plans by Jan. 1.

The committee is co-chaired by an administrative and county judge, as well as district court judges, city and county executive officers, law enforcement officers, local preparedness officials and a member of the public.

They will create a plan dealing with security issues such as personnel and training, controlled access to court buildings with locks and alarms, employee identification, communications, after-hours security, incident reporting and firearms policy. They will offer their recommendations to the state Supreme Court for approval.

Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain said, “I think it is an excellent thing, something that is a long-time coming. We have very little security here, and this emphasizes the need for it. It encourages counties to implement security measures which ensure safety to court personnel and the public.

“We have had incidents in the past with prisoners in the courtroom and in the hallways. The way the courthouse is built makes it difficult to ensure safety. Security has been a concern for a long time here. The court is adding cameras to the hallways. The courtroom only has bailiffs and officers when a prisoner in custody is on trial,” McCastlain said.

Lonoke County Circuit Judge Barbara Elmore said, “With the issues in my courtroom — divorces, child custody and protection orders — these cases are very close to the heart. Tempers and emotions can run very high. This is why courtroom safety is important.”

Lonoke County is in the early stages of creating a uniform plan for security and emergency response at court facilities.
“We have installed a security system at entrances to the courtroom and judge’s chambers. Bailiffs and court staff have been trained to used metal detectors,” said Lonoke County Administrative Judge Phillip Whitaker.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Van Smith said, “The committee is working on an assessment of all the buildings and the security needs at the Pulaski County Courthouse and all 10 district courts. Each facility is different and there will be plans made for each one.”

Work on security is underway at the Pulaski County Courthouse by adding bailiffs in the courtroom, installing metal detectors at entrances, having radios for communication and panic buttons for judges in the courtroom.

“We are ahead of the game with security, but there is still work needed,” Smith added.

Smith said the state Supreme Court pushed the new emergency plans after the Atlanta courthouse shooting in 2005, when a judge and two other people were killed.

“Citizens believe a court should be a safe place,” he said. “We want to ensure it is safe for the litigants, witnesses, staff workers and court members.”

Pulaski County’s rough draft of the security plan will be submitted to the quorum court and local city councils for review before submitting the plan to the state Supreme Court. On Sept. 6, there will be a seminar in Little Rock on court-facilities security for county judges.

TOP STORY >>Snyder uncertain on center funding

Leader staff writer

With Congress in recess, it’s still too early to know if the Senate will fund the Jacksonville-Little Rock Air Force Base Joint Education Center this year, Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, said Wednesday.

Snyder, visiting constituents at the Beebe Knight’s Super Foods, said the Arkansas congressional delegation has “strong support for the center, but it is an expensive project.”

Under Snyder’s guidance, the House funded the center at $9.8 million, but the funding was stripped in the Senate Military Construction Committee budget.

Snyder, who is seeking re-election next year, said the Arkansas delegation hopes to restore the Air Force’s share of the $15 million project either in the Senate or in joint conference committee.

Jacksonville funded its $5 million share of the college when voters approved a two-year penny sales tax in 2003.

When it is built on base property but outside the fence, the center will be the first such cooperative venture between the Air Force and a city.

Around 20 constituents waited in line inside the grocery store for the congressman to listen and answer their questions and see if he could help with their problems. His aides wrote down every question asked by each person for future discussion or action.

The group had a range of questions for Snyder dealing from health care and Social Security to soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Ellen Whitington arrived to show her support for the congressman.

Edith Long wanted to speak with him about two issues. She said, “I think the taxes on funerals is ridiculous and you can’t live on $700 a month with Social Security and disability,” she added.

TOP STORY >>Cabot to charge for false alarms

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s fire and police committee has passed an ordinance along to the full city council that if approved will allow the city to fine residents or businesses for false burglary alarms. When an alarm is activated, police must respond.

The rationale behind the proposed ordinance is that if residents have to pay for wasting an officer’s time, they will be more inclined to repair their equipment so it doesn’t happen again.

As the ordinance is drafted, a notice will be sent after three false alarms in a three-month period. If corrective action isn’t taken and the false alarms continue, the following fine schedule would be imposed: $100 for up to six false alarms in a three-month period and $250 for up to nine false alarms in a three-month period.

The committee, which met for about two hours Thursday evening, also worked on an ordinance to keep sexually-oriented businesses out of the city and an ordinance that would allow Greystone residents to drive golf carts on city streets to get from one course to another. Although the consensus of the committee was that both ordinances have merit, neither is ready for a vote et.

David McKinney, who lives in Greystone, spoke for the golf cart ordinance. McKinney asked the committee to recommend that adults be allowed to use the golf carts on city streets only to drive to the courses but to not allow children under 16 to do so.

McKinney said he had tried to no avail for 10 years to get Greystone residents to stop allowing their children to drive golf carts through the subdivision. And he hoped the council would be able to accomplish what he had not.

Aldermen Becky Lemaster and Teri Miessner voiced several concerns about the proposed ordinance.

“We’re already short of police officers and we can’t have them at Greystone 24-7,” Lemaster said.

Miessner pointed out that residents who don’t live in a golf course subdivision like Greystone still play golf and still own golf carts. People have selective understanding of the law, she said. If the city legalizes golf carts on city streets only to drive between courses, residents who live in subdivisions without golf courses will feel at liberty to use theirs to visit neighbors, she said.

The committee agreed that parents would pay more attention to the ordinance if it included authority to tow golf carts driven by children. Members also questioned who would pay for the damage if a car hit a golf cart. Most said they thought golf carts are covered under homeowners’ policies, but they wanted more information before sending the proposed ordinance to the council. City Attorney Jim Taylor said he would add a towing clause to the draft and talk to insurance companies about coverage.

Although the prospect of licensing adult-oriented businesses appeared distasteful to committee members, the city attorney said without a licensing ordinance, there is no way to restrict them in the city. He told the committee that there is nothing to keep them out now.

As Alderman Ken Williams read through the draft ordinance he asked the city attorney, “Jimmy, do we have to have this stuff? I don’t want semi-nude employees.”

The draft contains definitions for such terms as sexual-device shop, sexual-encounter center, specified anatomical areas, viewing room and adult motel.

The consensus of the committee was that when the ordinance is finally ready to be voted on, it would legally restrict sex shops to the point that no business owner would try to open in Cabot.

TOP STORY >>Schools doing well in Beebe for first week

Leader staff writer

Five days into the new school year, Beebe Supt. Belinda Shook said everything is running smoothly.
“It’s almost like we never quit,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean the first week didn’t have its rough spots. For the first couple of days the traffic was so backed up on Center Street that the shuttle buses from the middle school in McRae couldn’t get on to campus, Shook said. But soon parents were putting children on the buses in the morning instead of driving them and now the traffic is manageable.
“It gets better every day,” she said.

Though the numbers are not official, the district has 3,095 students this year. Enrollment of new students is down from last year, which saw a significant increase of about 140. So far the increase this year is 60 or 70, which is closer to normal, Shook said.

The district added 17 new teachers this year, some of them part-time and five of them for the pre-K program which now has 110 students. The district got a state grant this year to add spaces for 80 additional four-year-olds. Those students are currently housed in portable buildings, but the district has purchased property on Holly Street to build a pre-K facility. That project is currently in the design phase.

To keep down traffic congestion, the drop off and pick up for pre-K students is 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than for other students. Students are now using the six-room addition to the junior high building, which cost the district $1.5 million.

Shook said the triple-digit temperatures are a concern, but there have been no reported injuries. The heat is really an issue with the athletes, she said, but the coaches monitor them closely to make sure they don’t become dehydrated.

Badger Academy, the district’s alternative learning environment (ALE), is somewhat changed for the 2007-2008 school year. In addition to the 45 7th – 12th graders, the program now has room for 15 adults from 18-21 who want to take night classes to complete credits for graduation.

So far only two have enrolled in the new program, so Shook encourages anyone interested in completing credits to call 882-8413 and speak to Brandy Dillin, director or Badger Academy.

TOP STORY >>Construction could resume at year's end


Three years into its 50-year military housing privatization contract at Little Rock Air Force Base, the financially troubled developer is trying to sell properties and contracts here and at four other stalled military housing privatization projects around the country.

“The $100 million (Little Rock) deal was signed in 2003 – before I got here – and it was a great proposal,” Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz told the Cabot Chamber of Commerce Thursday at its membership luncheon. Schatz is Little Rock Air Force Base commander.

“Three years later – it took two years of thrashing to get the project started –we’re supposed to have 120 new homes and we’ve only got 25. We’re supposed to have almost 500 renovated homes and we’ve got three.”

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

American Eagle Communities, LLC failed to pay some Little Rock-area contractors and suppliers, fell far behind schedule for construction and refurbishing of 1,200 base homes and work stopped May 7, leaving the Air Force scrambling for answers and solutions.

Work has stopped or is behind schedule at five other bases where American Eagle Communities LLC, or Carabetta Enterprises of Meridan, Conn., have the privatization contracts. Schatz said work could resume at the base at year’s end.
American Eagle is a partnership between Carabetta and the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, La.


“Our goal by the end of the year is to have someone with a proven track record in housing privatization with a new restructured deal able to start construction again,” Schatz said.

“The bottom line is we need to have the best possible housing available for our warriors and their families and we don’t have that now. We need to get there and it’s a very complicated process, but we’re working hard,” he said.

LRAFB has 1,500 homes built around the 1956-58 mark, Schatz said, and the homes look their age.

Schatz said a senior official with the Secretary of Defense’s office visited LRAFB last week, got a tour of the base and saw a house that would be offered to the next family that came in.

“He was shocked that nothing had been done to the house — no renovations,” Schatz said. “Most projects, if the developer isn’t going to tear it down for a couple of years, they at least put new kitchen cabinets in, new bathrooms.

“But nothing. So we have the same house built in the 1950s, renovated here probably back in the early ‘90s, late ‘80s,” Schatz said.

Given the age and quality of the homes, he said the occupancy rate for base housing, 82 percent, was better than he expected it to be. “That’s not bad considering the age of the houses.”

Little Rock is currently working with Air Force headquarters to hold the developer in the default process or have American Eagle sell to another developer because of failed military projects at LRAFB and other bases around the country, all because American Eagle has not lived up to their end of the bargain, Schatz said.

The contracts, part of a Defense Department initiative to turn all responsibility for base housing over to private companies, sold on- and off-base military housing to American Eagle with an exclusive 50-year contract to build new housing, renovate older housing, manage the properties and collect and keep the rents.


So far, American Eagle has been better at collecting rents than building and remodeling houses, at least at Little Rock, where it received $9 million in 2006 alone, according to a base spokesman.

Tom Brockway, project manager for American Eagle Communities’ Little Rock Family Housing, is still on the job at Little Rock.
Brockway declined to comment on the telephone but promised Friday to forward a list of emailed questions to his bosses.
American Eagle Communities and Carabetta Enterprises won Air Force privatization projects at Little Rock Air Force Base; Moody Air Force base in Valdosta, Ga.; Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, plus Fort Leonard Wood Army Base in Missouri and the sprawling Puget Sound Naval installation in Washington State.

The Moody job was locked down in March, where the developer owes contractors and suppliers perhaps millions of dollars, with only two of 400 homes promised completed.


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

Among other air bases experiencing difficulties, at Hanscom Air Force Base, only 17 new houses were completed out of 784 proposed, and 163 completed at Patrick of 552 proposed units according to the Record-Journal in Meriden, Conn.

American Eagle managing director at Patrick, Tom Swain, told the Florida Today newspaper that no further homes would be built and that the company is selling five military developments.

“Two are in the process and others, including Pelican Coast (at Patrick AFB) are seeking bids,” he said.

It was reported early this month that American Eagle had sold its nearly 3,000-home contract with the Navy at Puget Sound.


Meanwhile, American Eagle is wrangling to get out of paying real estate taxes both at Patrick Air Force Base and also at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The developer was told at the time of the sale of the 1,200 Little Rock houses that they would still be subject to property taxes, but they appealed to Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, who granted them an exemption.

County Assessor Janet Troutman Ward has challenged Villines’ ruling and the case is currently in Pulaski County Circuit Court, according to County Attorney Karla Burnett.

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

TOP STORY >>New elementary is overcrowded

Leader staff writer

Stagecoach Elementary School in Cabot is asking three families to voluntarily move their children from Cabot’s newest elementary school because of overcrowding.

Parents received a letter from the school Thursday explaining that Stagecoach is three students over the limit in third-grade.
There are 103 third-graders and four third-grade classrooms at the new school. The legal limit on the number of students per classroom for that grade level is 25.

Letters of the same type have also gone out to parents from other Cabot schools.

According to Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman, Eastside and Westside Elementary schools are over the limit in kindergarten and Westside is also over the limit in first-grade.

“But no school is over by more than three students at this time,” he said.

Thurman said the district has plenty of open seats at other schools in the district.

“We can’t hire a teacher being only three over with plenty of room at other schools, so we are asking parents if they’d like the option of moving to one of the schools with open seats,” Thurman said Friday.

If an additional teacher was hired and a classroom added, students would have to be pulled from the four full classrooms to fill the additional room, making none of the classes a full class of 25. An additional teacher would also mean an additional cost to the district of at least $50,000 a year – the salary and benefits package for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience. That cost of course increases with experience and education.

School’s roads

The Cabot School Board recognized Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman during its monthly meeting Tuesday for his work in getting the roads widened at Stagecoach Elementary.

Assistant superintendent Jim Dalton, during meetings with Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams and Troutman, mentioned traffic around Stagecoach and widening the roads out there.

“He (Troutman) said he would be glad to help out with that and two days later the equipment was sitting out there waiting to go,” Dalton said. “It was very impressive.”

The Cabot School District paid for the materials to get the job done and Troutman’s crews did all the work.
“If you’ve been out there, you know we couldn’t be surviving as a school on that road without it being widened,” Dalton told those in attendance Tuesday.

“I was glad to do it,” Troutman said. “I’m always looking at economic development and the Cabot School District is a big part of economic development and moving forward,” he said.

Troutman added he still thinks the district should blacktop Stagecoach Road, but that it could be done at anytime.