Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SPORTS >>Jacksonville falls twice at Harrison

Leader sportswriter

The first dents appeared in what has been near-flawless armor on the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils this year, with a disappointing 1-2 performance at the Harrison Parks and Recreation volleyball tournament last weekend. The Lady Devils dropped a close opener with host team Harrison that sent them into the consolation bracket, and it all went downhill from there.

Jacksonville did come away with one win, but a 25-4, 25-11 performance against struggling Little Rock Hall preceded a 23-25, 13-25 loss to Greenbrier, a team that the Lady Red Devils had already decisively beaten two weeks earlier.

“They all had expectations of winning that first game and advancing into the winner’s bracket,” Jacksonville coach Melissa Reeves said. “When that didn’t happen, it just seemed like they gave up a little bit.” The long journey to Harrison and early start to the tournament did little to help the Lady Red Devils’ efforts, but Reeves says that adapting to stringent schedules is necessary if they want to be contenders when the postseason arrives.

“We did have to travel quite a ways and spend the night, and we had to get up at 6:30 because we played at 10 o’clock,” Reeves said. “But they are just going to have to get used to doing that. If we are going to make it to the state tournament and be competitive, we will have to be prepared for situations like that, because some of those games will be played early in the morning also.”

The tournament started out tough for Jacksonville against the Lady Goblins, with a 28-26 win in game one before a tough 15-25 loss in game two. The second game has been the biggest letdown for Jacksonville in the early season, and Saturday would be no exception. Errors on the back row led to an eventual 2-1 loss to Harrison, putting the Lady Red Devils in the loser’s bracket.

One of the main goals for Reeves during the tourney was for her squad to see different teams besides the local schools in the Pulaski County area, but the trip to the consolation bracket meant repeat contests against the Lady Warriors and Lady Panthers.

Raven Pickett has been solid from the libero position in the early stages of the 2007 season, and plans for a new rotation around the junior should give her more control over gray-area hits.

“We’ve been running our poor setter all over the floor,” Reeves said. “Some of them are not understanding that if the ball gets into the gray to let Raven have it. We are going to adjust things to leave her in the backcourt by herself a little more, kind of like we did last year with Rachele (Holder). When we get that first good pass, everything goes alright, but when we send the ball everywhere on the court, it makes it tough.” Starting setter Baylee Herlacher sat out most of the match against Greenbrier injured, leaving sophomore Allison Cox with the setting duty for the remainder of the tournament. Reeves said Cox did a good job in substitution for Herlacher, but is ready to see how the adjustments on the back will improve strategy at the front.
The Lady Red Devils played a rematch against Mills at The Galaxy last night after Leader deadlines, and will stay on the road Thursday with their conference opener at West Memphis.

SPORTS >>Red Devils must stop turnovers, start faster

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville got a big win last week after suffering a big loss in week one. Little about either game is likely to give much of a hint as to what may happen this week when the Red Devils host Lake Hamilton at Jan Crow Stadium. One clue could be found about the potential outcome, however, if the Red Devils don’t fix one major downfall.

Jacksonville has committed four turnovers in each of its first two games. It spelled disaster in week one. In week two, Jacksonville was the better team, and got the ball back on turnovers just as many times as it lost it.

If there are four turnovers against Lake Hamilton, Whatley isn’t expecting great things.

“When you turn it over that many times, bad things happen,” Whatley said. “Lake Hamilton has been a very opportunistic team. They’ve got a lot of turnovers and they turned them into points real quick. I think their scores show just how good that offense can be, and if you give them the ball and a short field, they’re going to make you pay.”

The Wolves have won their two games by a combined score of 93-18. They beat JA Fair 48-6 in the opener, then hammered class 7A Pine Bluff 43-12 last week at Pine Bluff.

Whatley can see the long strides the team has made since their meeting in week two of last season.

“They are a much-improved football team,” Whatley said. “They got pretty much everybody back. The quarterback is very much improved. They’re doing a lot more things than they did last year and they do them all pretty good. The balance it out pretty well too. They give you a lot of stuff to have to prepare for.”

Lake Hamilton coach Larry Clay is pleased with the improvement his team has shown as well, but believes Jacksonville will be better than his team’s previous two opponents.

“I think Jacksonville is the best team we’ve played to this point,” Clay said. “They have comparable speed to Pine Bluff, but overall I think they’re a little better. They’re pretty efficient at what they do. I’d say the quarterback this year is much more of a threat to run, and that gives them an extra element they didn’t have last year.”

Last year’s game saw the Wolves cough the ball up six times, helping the Red Devils to an easy win down in Pearcy.

Lake Hamilton has been the beneficiary of turnovers so far this season, and Clay has been pleased with how his team has handled the luck.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some things turn our way,” Clay said. “We’ve had short fields to work with, but we’ve done what we needed to do when we got those opportunities.”

The Wolves have four starters back on an offensive line that has created holes in the running game and provided ample time for an effective passing game.

“This line is seasoned,” Clay said. “We’re trying to do a little more power football this year. Last year the line was young wasn’t really ready to do that. This year they’re a year older, they’re stronger and they’re playing pretty well.”

Lake Hamilton hopes to be able to minimize some of Jacksonville’s speed, especially on kickoffs. The Wolves kicker, ??, is one of the state’s best.

“We have an outstanding kicker,” Clay said. “That helps against everybody, especially these really athletic teams. He kicks it into the end zone on kickoffs about 90 percent of the time. Of course, if they score as fast as they did last year it won’t matter how far we kick it.”

Jacksonville will try to guard against turnovers, but overall execution still needs to improve, according to the head Red Devil.

“By no means are we where we need to be,” Whatley said. “We didn’t execute real well. We played a better second half in both games, but we’ve got to get out of the box faster than we have. Two weeks ago we couldn’t overcome it. Last week we were able to, but we can’t get keep doing that.”

SPORTS >>Cabot expecting best from Lions

Leader sports staff

On paper, Cabot’s week-three matchup at home against Searcy should be its easiest to date. Searcy is mired in a long losing streak while Cabot appears to be on the road back to contender status in the state’s largest classification.

None of that seems to matter much to Cabot coach Mike Malham, who knows that there are two factors working against that point of view.

The first is Searcy played its best game of the season last week, in losing a second-half lead and falling 28-20 to Batesville. Though still a loss, it was a step in the right direction for a team that’s searching for signs of improvement.

The other factor is that no matter the situation, Searcy always plays Cabot well.

“This is a big game for them and they always come ready to play,” Malham said. “Last year they might’ve gone 0-10, but they were ahead of us going into the fourth quarter. They always play us tough and I’m not expecting anything easy. We’re not good enough to do that. We’re the kind of team, if we come ready to play and execute and don’t make mistakes, I think we can beat anybody. But we can also be beat by just about anybody if we show up thinking we’re going to win just for showing up.”

Searcy’s last outing was a vast improvement from its week one loss to Vilonia, and from its scrimmage game against Bryant two weeks before the season. Searcy coach Bart McFarland sees Friday’s close loss with Batesville as something that can serve as a foundation to be built on. The head Lion believes that the strong performance against the Pioneers can do wonders for team morale, as long as it was a legitimate sign of things to come, and not just a one-game wonder.

“This will improve the attitude of the team, no doubt,” McFarland said. “But we have to continue that. We can’t just go out there and play strong for one week and expect everything else to just fall into place, we have to find a way to take this and turn it into wins.”

McFarland says that being prepared for the Panthers on Friday means being ready for the size that the offensive and defensive line for Cabot possesses.

“They’re big up front,” McFarland said. “They come off the ball really hard; they’re just fundamentally sound. We’ll see if we can find any holes in their armor or not, but they are definitely solid.”

While most everyone would rather have an easy win than a tough one, in a way Malham is glad that Searcy’s outing last week was better.

“You can see the improvement they’re making in the Wing T,” Malham said. “They played a lot better, and I’m glad they did it last week. Hopefully that’ll mean our guys will get ready to play and we won’t have to worry about being overconfident. We don’t want to be the team they get it all going against.”

Cabot’s win in week two, a 23-8 victory at Sylvan Hills, wasn’t as dominant as its 42-0 win in week one, but Malham was still pleased with the overall outing.

“Well I thought we did what we needed to do,” Malham said. “Most of the credit for it being close goes to Sylvan Hills. We didn’t really make a lot of mistakes, they just played tough and didn’t give up. It would have been really easy for them to lay down going into halftime down by three scores, but they didn’t. I thought we played pretty good defense. On offense we only had six possessions and scored on four of them. One we turned it over on downs and one we ended the game with, so the offense did its job for the most part. Sylvan Hills just played us a tough game.”

The Panthers did get senior Jake Davis back last week. He missed most of preseason with an injury. When he went down, he was the projected starting fullback, but he played defensive tackle last week, which is where he is likely to remain.

“He did a good job for us on defense and having him there on the line gives us a few more options in other places,” Malham said. “Whether he’ll play any running back I don’t know. The ones we have there now are doing a pretty good job.”

Cabot and Searcy will kickoff from Panther Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.

OBITUARIES >> 09-12-07

Ellis Sanders

Ellis Leonard Sanders, 89, of Beebe joined his beloved wife of 44 years, Lula, in heaven on Sept. 10.

He was born May 1, 1918, to the late Walter Edgar and Lora Sanders Dukes at Butlerville.

He was a proud member of the Army, serving his country during the Second World War. He retired from Western Waterproofing Company after 38 years of employment, and devoted his time to his great passions in life; family, church, friends and his love of hunting and fishing.

He was a long-standing member of Union Valley Baptist Church and a faithful member of the Joy Sunday school class. His legacy will be his family, his love of life and his “kind, gentle heart.”

He is survived by four children, Jeannie Holland and husband Jerry, Rodney Sanders and wife Margaret, Cathie Ammons and husband Richard and Faye Poe and husband James; 10 grandchildren, Jerry Holland, Michael Holland, Sherri Taylor, Christi Johnston, Nikki Holland, Laura O’Neal, Patrick Ammons, Timothy Ammons, Stephen Poe and Cortney Poe; 15 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by two brothers, Pete Dukes and wife Jane, and Charles Dukes.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 at the funeral home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Pallbearers are his grandsons, Jerry Holland, Jr., Michael Holland, Patrick Ammons, Timothy Ammons, Stephen Poe, and his oldest great-grandson, Shanon Holland. Honorary pallbearers will be Kyle Holland, Tim Taylor, Trint Taylor, Joshua Holland, James Johnston, Gary Dukes, Raymond O’Neal and Jason Gibbs.

Raedyn Garrity

Raedyn Garrity, 3 months old, of Ward died Sept. 6.

Graveside services were Sept. 10 at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Delpha David

Delpha May David, 90, of Austin died Sept. 6.

She was born May 13, 1917, at Wattensaw to Willie Harvey and Allie Virtie Ellis Jones.

She was retired from Franklin Electric and was a Methodist.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Luther; three brothers, Dewitte, Bill and Elmer Jones; and one great-granddaughter, Jennifer David.

She is survived by two sons, Bobby David of Judsonia and James Earl David of Austin; two daughters, June David and Sue and husband Donald Cates, both of Austin; 13 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; and one sister, Evelyn Busby of Ward.
Funeral services were Sept. 10 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Butlerville Cemetery.

Icie Blakemore

Icie Blakemore, 96, of Beebe died Sept. 9.

She was born June 7, 1911, at Mt. Vernon to Boliver and Balzoria Burton Hogue.

She is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Graveside services were Sept. 11 at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Bernice Caruthers

Bernice Conder Caruthers, 98, of Romance died August 31 at Woodhills Healthcare in Jacksonville.

She was born to Milburn and Elzada Davis Belew at Romance.

She was preceded in death by her parents and husbands, Bailey Conder and Clayton Caruthers.

She is survived by her brother, Glenn Belew; children, Mary Anne and husband Marvin Holeman, Carl Bailey and wife Norweita Conder, Delbert Conder, Bobby and wife Sue Conder and Johnny and wife Linda Conder; 12 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; two steps-sons, Bruce and James Caruthers; and one step-daughter, Mary Myers. Services were Sept. 2 at Romance Church of Christ with burial at Romance Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements were by Searcy-McEuen Funeral Home of Searcy.

EDITORIALS>>Arkansas fights battle of bulge

More and more Arkansas adults are getting fatter and fatter, more and more unhealthy. The trend may be affecting children, too, in spite of the state government’s efforts to stem the obesity epidemic.

That is bad news for former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is campaigning for president partly on the claim of stupendous leadership on that front. Huckabee can crack a few jokes and divert attention from the failing, but it doesn’t work for the rest of us.

Obesity is a costly proposition, for all of us and not merely those of us who suffer from fat-related diseases like diabetes. It raises health-care costs for everyone owing to the cost shifting that is endemic to the U. S. healthcare system. Each of us is spending about $250 a year through the state Medicaid program and other government health services to treat obesity-related diseases.

Arkansas ranks sixth or seventh, depending on the year, in the percentage of adults who are obese. More than one in four Arkansans qualifies as being extremely overweight. For children, the figures are not quite as bad, about one in five. The figure inched up slightly the last school year after a couple of years of light decline.

Dr. Joe Thompson, the state surgeon general, tried to put a good twist on the latest figures this week by pointing out that fewer children last year subjected themselves to the body mass index, from which the statistics come. But the reality is probably worse, not better, than the statistics because parents of obese children might keep them home on the day of the weigh-ins to protect them from embarrassment.

Clearly, the steps that the state has taken – the body mass index, the notes to parents and light regulation of high-calorie, low-nutrition, vending-machine foods in the schools are not getting the job done. Huckabee’s personal example of weight loss and training and his occasional lecture about healthy lifestyles, while laudable, have done nothing to change the habits of people. Few states have done much more.

Obesity runs highest among the very poor. In four school districts, all in the most desperately poor areas of east and south Arkansas, more than half the children are obese, a community catastrophe in the making. Bad eating habits and lack of exercise are parallel with poor education.

There are tough steps government could take to drive down obesity, like high taxes on empty snack foods and sodas, but they are heavy-handed and of limited help. Many simply buy fewer nutritional foods.

Better would be a persistent and high-tempo educational campaign to persuade people of the grave risks of poor eating and recreational habits.

It has worked well to sharply reduce tobacco use. Poor nutrition is at least as deadly as tobacco. The state has used some of its tobacco-settlement funds to advertise the perils of smoking in collaboration with national antismoking campaigns. There could be no wiser investment of state funds than to raise the level of public fitness.
– Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>State studies global warming

Arkansas now has an official agency commissioned to do something about global warming on our small province of the planet, the Governor’s Commission on Global Warming. Gov. Beebe, who appointed 17 of the 21 members, had some hopeful things to say about it on its send-off.

But we all know, don’t we, that nothing much ever comes from these study commissions. This one will suggest some small energy-saving steps, talk about encouraging the development of clean-burning biofuels and renewable energy sources, and what else? Once finished, the report will take up a little shelf space in the state archives.

Could this commission be different? After all, the sponsor of the act creating the commission, the indefatigable idealist Rep. Kathy Webb, also will be on the commission, having been appointed by House Speaker Benny Petrus Jr. Webb gets things done and she may be able to get a workable consensus from the corporate bureaucrats and nonprofit representatives on the commission and then get the legislature to implement some of the solutions. We’d like to hope.

Arkansas is a tiny part of this rapidly heating planet and it can do no more than make a barely discernible reduction in the greenhouse gases that are heating the atmosphere and melting the polar icecaps. But it can do that, and it might set an example for others.

The commission and Gov. Beebe could do one thing immediately that would contribute far more than anything else it is liable to do. They could intervene at the Public Service Commission and urge the commissioners not to grant a certificate for the construction of the big coal-fired generating plant in Hempstead County sought by Southwestern Electric Power Co.
Once in operation, the plant will send more warming carbon dioxide into the air every year than all the automobiles and commercial machinery in Arkansas combined.

The environmental hearing looks almost exclusively at mercury, sulfur dioxide and other emissions that tend to have immediate and localized effect on the streams, forests and air.

It could jeopardize the verdant and pristine Grassy Lake region. But the carbon dioxide that the plant will produce rises into the atmosphere to affect the whole planet for hundreds of years. Arkansas’ existing three coal-burning plants pump nearly 30 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. That is enough from us.

Time may be too short for the new commission to intervene effectively (the PSC will make its decision this fall), but it would be an energizing start.

TOP STORY >>Payday borrowers will get break from lenders

Leader senior staff writer

Some local banks have shown interest in making short-term, lower-interest payday alternative loans (PAL) similar to those to be available by month’s end to members of the military and their families, according to Arkansans Against Abusive Payday Lending.

These loans would be in competition with the short-term, high-interest loans made to so-called sub-prime lenders, typically $300 for two weeks, with about $50 additional owed in interest.

The PAL loans that some banks may soon be making will provide affordable installment loans of as much as $500 with a unique savings component equal to 100 percent of the loan amount, according to Lyn Haralson, community affairs specialist for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Little Rock branch.

Haralson is chairman of the AAAPL alternatives committee. “There is clearly a significant demand for affordable small-dollar loans,” she said.

“The stories of borrowers paying 10 times the original amount borrowed before they are able to satisfy the debt is of grave concern,” she added.

She said AAAPL and its founder, Hank Klein, have held workshops for interested banks, but that she doesn’t yet know of any banks that have started PALs.

Arkansas Federal Credit Union will begin offering military appreciation loans at 18 percent annual interest by Oct. 1, according to Terry Vick, vice president of lending for the credit union.

A new federal law takes effect by then, limiting to 36 percent the interest rate that members of the military can be charged on a loan.

The loan is intended to help the troops get out of payday difficulties, Vick says.

Vick said the credit union would lend as much as $750 to members of the military plus put an additional $375 into a savings account, funded by the interest payments.

The money in the savings account is placed on hold until the entire loan is paid off over the course of a single year.
Haralson said the bank loans would be capped at 17 percent.

“These are bank customers, they already have accounts,” said Haralson. “Banks are trying to figure out how to meet those needs without going outside regulated institutions. We’re looking to create opportunities where a person banks right now.”
She said PAL loans are a good alternative not only to payday loans, which charge hundreds of percent interest, but also for those who need short-term loans to get out of so-called “courtesy pay”, also known as overdraft protection. Overdraft protection can be more expensive than even a payday loan in some circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Government Accounting Office has found fault with assumptions upon which Congress bases its new military lending law, limiting interest to 36 percent, according to a press release from the Community Financial Services Association of America—the payday lending industry’s trade group.

“Our suspicion that the (Department of Defense) worked closely with payday lending critics and relied on limited information and flawed methodology to come up with their recommendations has been confirmed,” said Darrin Andersen, president of the association.

TOP STORY >>City still unhappy with route

Leader staff writer

Sherwood’s rapid growth and development have already added years and millions of dollars to the cost of constructing the next leg of the North Belt Loop from Highway 67/167, and they might now add even more to the cost.

The city is taking offense at the Highway Department’s plans for an I-440 interchange near the intersection of Brockington and Oakdale. The city thinks current plans put the interchange too close to the intersection and will choke commercial development of the four corners of the intersection.

The problem is if the area develops commercially before design plans are locked in, it could spell trouble for completion of the North Belt.

Alderman Steve Fender told Sherwood’s City Council recently that a planned North Belt freeway interchange close to Oakdale and Brockington could prevent the development of commercially-zoned land in the area.

In question are two tracts of commercial land, totaling more than 100 acres. “The development of this four- corners area is very important to the city,” Fender told the city council at its meeting last month.

“Right now with the design the Highway Department is advocating, the city is faced with either having the freeway and interchange or having development on the four corners of that area,” he said.

Randy Ort, a spokesman for the Highway Department, said the highway extension was still very early in the planning stages and interchange designs could be changed.

“We are aware of the city’s concerns and always try to work with a community,” he said. “No matter what we come up with some people are going to be negatively impacted. The growth that will be generated by the North Belt will benefit not only Sherwood, but all of central Arkansas,” Ort said.

Ort explained that once a design is developed there will be public hearings on it. “The department will use the comments from those hearings to finalize the design, making any changes that are necessary,” he explained.

Ort said that a route was tentatively planned for the North Belt leg between Highway 67/167 and Highway 107 back in the early 1990’s. “We even had federal approval, but Sherwood had different plans for a portion of the land we wanted for the North Belt,” he said. The city went to Metroplan to plead its case, and Metroplan agreed. “Without Metroplan’s backing, we can’t get federal money and you need federal money for a project of this size,” Ort said.

Now 13 years later, the piece of land is Miller’s Crossing subdivision and a new route has been proposed for the leg. “We had to look at alternative routes and do a new environmental impact study,” Ort said.

According to Fender, the Highway Department doesn’t have the power to place a moratorium on construction in the planned interchange area. Only the city can do that, and the department needs to know that no construction will take place in the right of way that it needs for the interchange.

But until the city issues a moratorium, it cannot deny any development requests for that land if all other criteria have been met.

The concern, according to City Engineer Michael Clayton, is that the on and off ramps will be too close to the signal-light intersection, preventing commercial growth. Clayton said he is working with the developers and owners of the property to come up with a consensus on what is the best solution to move forward on this thorny issue.

According to Highway Department officials, once the city ensures the department that no development will take place; the state will proceed with the survey and the preliminary designs.

Both Clayton and Fender hope to present to the council at its next meeting a recommendation based on consensus of the developers and the Highway Department to protect the integrity of the interchange and still allow for some commercial growth.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>All voices need to be heard now

No one at the Little Rock School District or at Central High School will tell us if the city will honor white students and their teachers who stood up to the bigots outside Central High School when Gov. Faubus tried to keep nine black kids out of their neighborhood school 50 years ago this month.

Nobody has called us back with a comment about the anniversary celebrations later this month, maybe because the public-relations staff is busy doing interviews with out-of-state media. Why bother talking to a suburban newspaper when you have the New York Times and the BBC on the line?

Hundreds of journalists from around the world will cover the anniversary events on Sept. 25. Perhaps they’ll also interview the decent people who didn’t attack and humiliate the Little Rock Nine. The dark side of humanity was on display that September 50 years ago, but good triumphed over bad: The bad guys eventually lost, as they always do.

Several former white students feel slighted that they’re not getting the recognition due them. Last week, Gene Bowman, a Jacksonville insurance agent who was a sophomore during the integration troubles, told us some of the white kids deserve a little recognition, too.

Apparently, some people think Bowman shouldn’t speak out.

A reader complained to the insurance company Bowman works for, presumably because he spoke his mind, but his boss told him he did nothing wrong by talking to us, so Gene is sticking to his position: The students who didn’t act like a bunch of jerks deserve some recognition.

This is not to take anything away from the nine courageous black students who risked their lives going into Central with a mob out in front.

But many white students at Central who reached out to the Little Rock Nine are speaking out in a new book. It’s called “Central in Our Lives: Voices from Little Rock Central High School, 1957-58,” by Ralph Brodie, a Little Rock lawyer who was the student council president, and Marvin Schwartz, a Little Rock freelance writer.

Jane Emery Prather, Class of 1958, says in the book, “Will preconceived notions about Southern racism prevent the (media) from hearing that the majority of white students were, in fact, the unsung heroes who kept their classroom situation calm enough for the school year to proceed?”

Shirley Swaim Stancil, a guidance counselor at Central: “I remember telling my homeroom students regularly, ‘Don’t do anything today that you can’t live with the rest of your life.’”

Coach Wilson Matthews told a varsity team meeting Sept. 23, 1957, at the height of the integration crisis: “Don’t look out the window and worry about what’s going on outside. If I hear any of you getting involved in any of this, you are finished with football. You will answer to me.”

There were plenty of courageous people at Central, from the administration down to the youngest students who befriended the new black kids. Their side of the story is told in “Central in Our Lives,” which we’ll review in our next column.

TOP STORY >>Lawmakers must leave because of term limits

Leader senior staff writer

Whether or not you think term limits are a good idea, your current state representative won’t be there for you when the state House of Representatives next reconvenes in 2009 if you live in or around Jacksonville, Cabot, Sherwood or Lonoke.

Gone from office will be Reps. Will Bond, Sandra Prater, Jeff Wood, Susan Schulte and Lenville Evans.

The current law limits state representatives to three two-year terms and state senators to two four-year terms.

But Bond points out that by the end of his six years in office, the legislature will have been in session less than one year, including special sessions.

The Arkansas General Assembly meets every two years for 90 days—so that’s three years times 90 days, or 270 days.

Actually, the current crop of area representatives will have “termed out” after four years and 91 days, according to his reckoning.

Bond, the Jacksonville representative, has been particularly outspoken in his opposition to term limits as they now exist, and for his articulate and outspoken advocacy for change, U.S. Termlimits Inc., a national group, has mocked him in a 30-second television spot that features dancing cartoon pigs in a hay loft.

“Bond wants to gut term limits, just so (he) can dance with the lobbyists a little longer,” an off-screen voice says.

Bond sponsored an act to let voters decide whether or not to let both state representatives and senators each serve 12 years, but his act—far from partying with the lobbyists—would have prohibited any legislator from taking any sort of gratuity, trip, item, drink, meal or anything from a lobbyist. It also would have prohibited legislators from going to work as a lobbyist for 12 months after leaving office.

Called the Government Reform act, it “would have banned lobbying and entertainment,” said Bond.

“It made it to the joint committee, which adjourned without referring the bill out,” Bond said.

Bond said he had been accused of trying to extend his own term, but “I’m done. I’m not running for the House again, even if (limits) are extended.”

Including federal funds that pass through the legislature, lawmakers budget more than $14 billion, while employing about 10,000 state employees—more than Wal-Mart, and it’s not a job for a lot of inexperienced people.

“We oversee appropriations,” said Bond. “We make determinations of budgets. No business would operate with anyone with less than one year’s experience making those decisions.”

Evans, Schulte, Prater and Wood each agreed that representatives could be more effective if term limits were longer.

Each of the legislators expressed pride at the work done in the General Assembly during their three terms.


“As a group, legislatively, we’ve committed a tremendous amount of resources to education,” Bond said.

“In 2004, we made tough tax decisions on Lakeview school adequacy,” he said. “I’m proud of the consolidation measure, it made a whole lot of sense.”

He said lawmakers enacted meaningful sentencing reform, including use of transitional housing as an option for some inmates.

“We have a moral imperative to give folks an opportunity at redemption,” he said.

For many of his constituents, the leadership Bond asserted in advancing the possibility of a stand-alone Jacksonville school district may be his legislative legacy.

In 2005, he arranged for the state Education Department to hire consultants to assess the feasibility of a Jacksonville district.
Now that the idea has been found feasible, Bond promoted bills intended to help the state save about $60 million a year in desegregation costs, and to hire consultants and lawyers to help get all Pulaski County school districts in compliance with the court-ordered desegregation agreement.


Rep. Prater, who worked closely with Bond on several issues, sponsored a new law that requires additional training in Alzheimer’s and other dementia for certified nurse assistants, so they would better understand the disease process and be better able to take care of such patients in a nursing home, she said.

This session, she also passed a law creating the Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force. She said she had been asked to serve on that task force.

It can help families who have to deal with family members with such injuries, including those coming back from Iraq. “We want to develop a statewide plan to move us forward, looking at treatment and at the same time having opportunities for families to get formation for necessary help,” she said.

She was lead sponsor on a bill that requires counseling and helps patients and their families assess various services available, including home health care, assisted living or nursing homes.

“We think the cost factor will be better as well,” she said, “costing fewer Medicaid dollars.”

Prater wouldn’t rule out running for another office in the future, perhaps the seat to be vacated by state Sen. John Paul Capps in 2010.


Rep. Jeff Wood, D-Sherwood, said he would miss the people and the process, but would get to spend more time with his family.

“I enjoyed working the bills through the legislature and making a difference in lives of my constitutents.”

Wood said he believed that term limits weakens the legislative body while strengthening the judicial and executive branches and the lobbyists.

He said he would consider running for the state Senate after Mary Ann Salmon is term limited, depending on redistricting and other variables.

“We’ll wait and see,” he said. Wood, a lawyer in the National Guard’s JAG corps, frequently sponsored legislation helpful to Arkansas soldiers.

“I really enjoyed getting the income-tax exemption raised from $6,000 to $10,000 for enlisted men and officers,” he said. “I like working more behind the scenes to get the bill passed.”

He sponsored the Military Protection Act, passed in 2005. He said when the new law passed by Congress takes effect on October 1, payday lenders will have to limit loans to military and their families to 36 percent.

Ironically, he said, his law was used as an excuse in the past to continue making high interest loans—several hundred percent in interest—to the military, so as to not discriminate against the military.

“I’m going to miss serving with Will (Bond) and Sandra (Prater),” he said. “I think we built a real strong relationship working together.”


“This was a quiet session for me,” Rep. Schulte said. “I was excited to see the energy bill that Lindsley Smith (D-Fayetteville) passed.”

She said it should provide an incentive to chicken farmers to capture and burn the naturally occurring methane gas in used chicken litter to generate electricity for their own use and to sell back to power companies on the electric grid.

“I think over my three terms I’ve seen a progressively conservative legislature,” said Schulte, the area’s only Republican representative.

“It’s been gratifying to see more pro-life bills have passed and that we were able to reduce taxes this time and to take care of some of the gaps we had in services with the surplus.”

She said it was difficult for a small business owner like her to juggle the responsibilities of work and duty during the sessions, but, “I feel very lucky to have been able to do this—to see how government works.”

She said a beneficial aspect of term limits is that regular folks come in and “have a hand protecting the government and changing it to be what they think it ought to be.”

She thinks the terms should be extended however.

“We come in with so little knowledge and don’t have any kind of (institutional) memory.”

She said she’d be in favor of a constitutional amendment that would require the General Assembly to meet annually, dealing with the budget the first year of the biennium and other matters in the second.

“Whenever we enacted term limits, we didn’t understand the unintended consequences,” she said.


Rep. Evans, who served about six years as Lonoke mayor before his election as state representative, says he favors term limits, but the current limits are too short.

He said the highlight of his terms in office was “getting the schools situated.”

“We should be through with Lakeview now,” referring to the landmark school-funding case. He said he also was proud that legislators greatly reduced the tax on groceries.

He said he also was proud of “some of the stuff I voted against,” but he didn’t elaborate.

“This has been a very rewarding, humbling experience,” he added.

TOP STORY >>Cabot passes budget

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board met Tuesday evening to approve an $82.8 million district budget for the 2007-08 school year.

The current school year budget includes $29.8 million for salaries, $26.6 million for operating expenses, $2.6 million for the district’s debt services, and a total of $23.7 million for categorical and federal funds.

Last school year, Cabot spent $29.16 million on salaries and $25.6 million for operating expenses.

Operational expenses, including ransportation, textbooks, and district-wide equipment and supplies, received an additional $1.053 million for the current school year.

Of the 29 categories that comprise the operating fund, all but four, including expenses for Junior High North, saw an increase in funding.

Last year, JHN had $1.6 million in expenses, but only $650,000 is set aside for this school year.

Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman credits not having to set up the JHN village from scratch as the reason for eliminating $958,781 in costs for Junior High North operations.

“The initial cost to get the village running was tremendous; this included the utility set-up for water and electrical, gravel, phones and more,” Thurman said.

“Basically, needing things set up quickly last year was extremely expensive and those are costs we will not incur this year,” he said.

The teacher salary fund received an overall increase of $661,216 for this school year, but some teacher categories were cut.
Kindergarten teacher funds were cut by $118,515, special-education teacher funds were reduced by $54,691 and the $18,500 for professional development stipends were cut all together. However, elementary teacher funds saw a $154,893 increase, junior high teacher funds gained $171,840, and principals have an additional $92,477 in their salary fund.

This year’s building fund has $12.39 million allocated for district construction projects; last year the amount was $8.65 million and in 2005-06 it was $13.08 million.

“This will complete the cost of Stagecoach Elementary and the balance will be used toward the construction of Junior High North,” Thurman said.

The budget also includes a total of $4.736 million in title and categorical funds and grants used by the district’s federal and special initiative programs.

Title funds, $1.077 million, pay for contract services for teacher licensure, professional development, extended-learning services for the four campuses listed on school improvement, the Partners in Active Learning Support (PALS) program at Cabot High School, and will cover purchasing calculators for middle school students.

The $2.28 million in categorical funds is comprised of National School Lunch Act (NSLA) funds and professional development, Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) and limited English (ELL) expenses.

TOP STORY >>$1B invested on base

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base could soon have half a billion dollars in construction projects and upgrades once Congress approves $22.4 million in funding, in addition to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new aircraft the base will see in the coming years.

Current construction projects at LRAFB total around $28 million – $7 million for a new headquarters building for the 463rd Airlift Group, $10 million for a C-130J corrosion-control facility, $7 million for a new dining facility and $3.9 million for a new child development center.

There will be a net gain of 22 airplanes and a possible 315 airmen at the base.

The additional $22.4 million in appropriations could be completed by October and should include money not just for a new runway but also for a new joint-education center, as well as money to modernize the base’s aerospace ground equipment and engine facility.

According to Lisa Ackerman, spokesperson for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), the $109.2 billion fiscal year 2008 military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill has little opposition in Congress and should be signed by Oct. 1, which marks the beginning of the fiscal year for the U.S. government.

But before the defense bill is sent to President Bush, both the Senate and the House of Representatives will meet in conference committees to reconcile the differences between the Senate and the House versions of the bill.

The big difference for LRAFB in the two bills is funding of the base’s joint-education center — the House bill includes $9.8 million for the project, but the Senate bill does not.

“The committee will negotiate the differences for the final version of the bill, and we are hopeful it will include both projects for Little Rock Air Force Base,” Ackerman said.

“Once it is conferenced, the bill is voted on by the Senate and the House and then it is signed by the president,” she added.
The Senate approved its version of the bill last Thursday, calling for a total of $12.6 million for improvements at LRAFB – $9.8 million to repair the 314th Airlift Wing’s aging airfield, and $2.8 million to modernize the aerospace ground equipment and engine facility on base.

The House passed its bill June 15, including $9.8 million for the Jacksonville/LRAFB education center. The city is contributing $5 million toward the center.

Although the House gave its blessing on funding a new flightline, that bill didn’t include money for it.

The Senate Armed Services subcommittee had stripped money for the education center from the Senate bill.

Current projects

The 463rd Airlift Group broke ground Aug. 30 for two new projects, a $7 million headquarters building and a $10 million C-130J corrosion-control facility, both of which support implementation of the base realignment and closure process (BRAC).
Under BRAC, the 463rd AG will be reorganized as an operational combat wing. Currently, the more than 1,200 airmen and 30 C-130s that comprise the 463rd AG report directly to Air Mobility Command, their parent command.

The new headquarters will encompass both the wing and maintenance-group leadership teams as they move to 52 C-130s and four flying squadrons.

There are three flying squadrons among the 463rd AG – the 41st, 50th and 61st Airlift squadrons.

The 41st AS is the base’s first combat-ready C-130J squadron and includes 150 aircrew and their families and 16 C-130Js.
To date, they have received four and will welcome their fifth J model Wednesday.

Once the 463rd AG becomes a wing, the fourth flying squadron will be the 53rd AS, which will go from a training squadron to an operations squadron.

The 463rd is also comprised of the following squadrons: the 463rd Operations Support Squadron, the 463rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 463rd Maintenance Operations Squadron, and the 30th Airlift Squadron, a detached unit located in Wyoming.

The new C-130J corrosion-control facility will improve the 463rd AG’s maintenance capability as they continue to fight the global war on terrorism, Col. Jeff Hoffer, 463rd AG commander, said.

Base improvements are also underway for a new $7 million Hercules Dining Facility that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2008. Construction began following a groundbreaking ceremony in February.

The 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will replace the current dining facility, Razorback Inn, which was built in 1955, and will have a 60 percent increase in seating with a total seating capacity to accommodate 250 customers.

A new $3.8 million Child Development Center, located across from the Consolidated Support Facility building, is nearing completion.

Future projects

Once the $9.8 million is appropriated, the base could begin work to upgrade its runway, ensuring it is fully functional for the 314th Airlift Wing’s training missions and the 463rd AG’s combat missions.

The funding will allow the base to repair the deteriorated runway and shoulder pavements, remove or eliminate airfield obstructions, replace runway lighting, and reorganize instrument guidance and navigation systems.

The airfield was built in 1955 and is in a state of deterioration, which could adversely affect combat readiness and may endanger aircrew lives and aircraft assets.

The joint-education center, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a community and a base, should receive $9.8 million in appropriations once the bill is passed. The center is expected to cost about $15 million; Jacksonville already has its part, $5 million, in the bank after residents taxed themselves in 2003 with a two-year penny sales tax.

The 50,000-square-foot center will be constructed on base property but outside the fence to make classes more accessible to civilians at times of high alert on base.

It is authorized as a multi-purpose educational facility that meets Air Force standards for distance learning, video teleconferencing and seminar needs.

LRAFB is also slated to receive $2.8 million to modernize its aerospace ground equipment and engine facility.


Air Force officials announced last year that under BRAC, Little Rock Air Force Base will increase the number of airplanes of Air Mobility Command (AMC) to 52 C-130s and four flying squadrons, an addition of 22 aircraft.

The 41st AS alone will receive 11 more C-130Js in the future, a total of about $550 million in new aircraft built by Lockheed Martin.

At a cost of about $50 million apiece for a new J model, about $12 million each for an E model, and just over $30 million for a C-130H model, the remaining 11 additional planes needed could cost anywhere from $132 million to $550 million, if new.
But with the 53rd AS, currently a training squadron, moving over to AMC this winter, their planes will likely move with them, thus eliminating the additional cost for 11 C-130 Hercules. The number of airmen on base will remain about the same, but Air Education and Training Command (AETC) will decrease the 314th AW’s aircraft to 24 C-130s and two flying squadrons – the 48th AS, which flies training missions on the C-130Js, and the 62nd AS, which trains on the C-130E.

In addition, AMC personnel at Little Rock AFB will increase by 1,346 and AETC will lose 1,302 people here.

Overall, the numbers reflect a net increase of about 315 airmen for the base.

But this number does not reflect gains and losses of family members.

When BRAC officials originally made their recommendations, the thought was that Little Rock AFB would become a single location for the U.S.’s active-duty C-130 force structure.

Monday, September 10, 2007

SPORTS >>JHS ladies dominate net, beat Lutheran

Leader sportswriter

Another easy win catapulted the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils to a 6-1 season record on Tuesday. This time, it was the Lutheran Lady Lions who were the unlucky challengers. Jacksonville took the match in straight games, 25-15, 25-9, and 25-12 for a home stand sweep.

It was the only match for Jacksonville during the week, and served as a primer for this weekend’s annual Harrison Parks and Recreation Tournament, which will include Greenbrier, Springdale, Little Rock Hall, host team Harrison and 6A-East Conference mates Mountain Home along with the Lady Devils.

At this point in the season, Jacksonville coach Melissa Reeves says that the only thing needed by her team is a few polishing touches.

“We need to fine tune a few things,” Reeves said. “We’ve been missing a few of our serves. That is something we shouldn’t be struggling with at this point, and it aggravates me to death when we do. Other than that, we just need to work on talking on the court; calling the ball. We’re pretty sure that the tournament will show us some stuff.”

The usual suspects took control at the front against Lutheran, with hitters ?Jessica Lanier and Vanessa Brown dominating the net for most of the contest. Brittany Harrison also got back into the mix against the Lady Lions after quiet performances last week against Robinson and Mills. Harrison had more kills in the Lutheran match than her last two matches combined, as the Lady Red Devils have begun to solidify a triple-threat up front.

The Lady Red Devils have become accustomed to winning at this point, but still marvel over the difference between this year’s Jacksonville team and that of one year ago.

“My kids were talking the other day,” Reeves said, “that at this point last year, we still had not won a single match. We went to the Harrison tournament last year without a win, so we’re pretty excited about how things have gone this year. We’ve played some tough teams, but we have Mountain Home, Jonesboro and Marion when we start conference, so we really won’t know everything until we get there.”

The Lady Red Devils will kick off the tournament in Harrison today with a 10 a.m. match against the host Lady Goblins.
Jacksonville will return Tuesday for its final non-conference match in a rematch at Mills. Conference play will begin Thursday for Jacksonville, with a home match against West Memphis.

SPORTS >>Beebe rolls at Lonoke

Leader sports editor

A disastrous first quarter never got any better for Lonoke, and Beebe was the benefactor as the Badgers hammered the Jackrabbits 32-7 Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium in Lonoke.

The Jackrabbits fumbled the ball away on their first play of the game, but it was only the first of nine turnovers the team would commit.

Beebe coach John Shannon recognized that his team got the breaks, but was still pleased with the effort and improvement his team showed.

“We got lucky a few times when they dropped the ball,” Shannon said. “I was worried about their speed all week, but the defense did a great job for us. They flew to the football. They had that one big mistake when they scored, but overall I think the defense played outstanding.”

The first turnover came on the end of an 11-yard run by Brandon Smith when Smith fumbled and the Badgers covered at the 50-yard line.

Beebe lined up in the dead T and pushed the ball down the field, using nine plays to cover the distance and take a 6-0 lead. The first of five failed conversions followed, leaving the Badgers’ lead at six points.

Lonoke didn’t even get to snap the ball before committing its second turnover. This one came on a handoff attempt on the kickoff. It fell to the ground and Beebe’s Ethan Quick covered it at the Lonoke 20.

It only took Beebe fullback Sammy Williams two plays to pick up that distance, rumbling up the middle for the final seven yards for the score with 7:04 left in the first quarter. The two-point conversion was stuffed leaving it 12-0 Beebe.

Lonoke didn’t turn it over on its next possession. The Jackrabbits picked up four yards and punted on fourth and six, but the punt bounced off the up back and traveled backwards nine yards, where Beebe took over at the Lonoke 30.

The Badgers lost a yard on their next possession, but even when things went good for Lonoke, they went bad.

Beebe went for it on fourth and 11 from the 31. A deep pass was off the mark of its intended target and right to Rabbit defensive back Lance Jackson. Jackson picked off the pass and was tackled at the six, which turned out to be as good as a punt for the Badgers.

Lonoke gained just two yards and was forced to punt when disaster struck again. A high snap out of the back of the end zone went for a safety and gave Beebe a 14-0 lead with 2:18 left in the opening quarter.

Beebe took the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Lonoke 36, where it began its third scoring drive. The big play of the drive was a 24-yard option keeper by quarterback Charlie Spakes on fourth and nine. Beebe faced fourth down again on the next set of downs, but scored on fourth and four from the 5-yard line. Sammy Williams again punched it in and the extra point was no good, giving Beebe a 20-0 lead with 10:31 left in the half.

Lonoke went three and out again, and got a big 56-yard punt by Elam that pinned the Badgers on their own 1-yard line. They made it out to the 24 before a bad option pitch on third down lost 12 yards and left Beebe with fourth and 19.

Lonoke got a good run back and started on the Badger 34. Three plays left fourth and seven, and another high snap busted the fourth-down attempt, and Beebe took over on its own 30.

The Badgers again went three and out and punted back to Lonoke, who finally got something going offensively. After an 8-yard run by Clarence Harris on first down, Elam hooked up with wide receiver Michael Howard for 61 yards and a touchdown. The play worked to perfection, with Howard beating the Badger defensive backs deep, and Elams pass hitting him in stride for the easy score. The extra point was good and got Lonoke back into the game with 1:46 left in the half.

Beebe threatened the nullify the score and steal the momentum when a 40-yard reception by James Anderson gave Beebe first and goal at the 4-yard line with 16 seconds left. Spakes then fumbled when he was pressured out of the pocket. The Badgers covered the fumble, but had no timeouts left to stop the clock before time expired.

Somehow, things got worse for Lonoke in the second half. Until their final possession began with 2:23 left in the game, the Jackrabbits had almost as many turnovers in the second half as they had snaps. There five turnovers to six snaps to that point. There was also a mental lapse that was just as bad as a turnover when no one covered a short kickoff.

Beebe went three and out to start the half, but Lonoke mishandled the punt and Beebe covered at the Lonoke 3. Three plays later, Kyle Williams scored to give Beebe a 26-7 lead.

The Jackrabbits then watched as a high sideline kick landed amidst a slew of purple jerseys, and Beebe covered at the Lonoke 37.

It took the Badgers 12 plays to cover the short distance. Sammy Williams ended the drive with his third touchdown of the night to set the final margin.

Lonoke did not snap the ball in the second half until only 58 seconds remained in the third quarter. The first snap was an interception by Josh Turner. The fourth snap was an interception by Roger Glaude. The fifth snap was an interception by Brandon Purcell, and the sixth snap of the half was over Elam’s head and recovered by Beebe’s Dillon Jones.

The Badgers converted only one first down off all four turnovers, and fumbled it back to Lonoke twice.

Again, it took until the final drive of the half for Lonoke to see any positive yardage. Smith picked up 26 yards on two carries. Morgan Linton caught a pass for a 15-yard gain and Harris got 11 yards on one carry before time expired.
Beebe capitalized on the first two to set the final margin with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

Beebe totaled 281 yards while Lonoke gained 111.

Badger fullback Sammy Williams carried 29 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns. The two teams combined for 11 turnovers, with the Jackrabbits committing eight. Beebe ran 75 plays to just 31 for Lonoke. The Badgers held the ball for
The 2-0 Badgers will host Vilonia next week while Lonoke visits North Pulaski.

SPORTS >>Panthers escape from Bears

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s traditional creed of three yards and a cloud of dust was modified to six yards and a splatter of mud Friday night, as the Panthers rolled their way to a 23-8 win over the Sylvan Hills Bears at Bill Blackwood Field. The Bears had no answer for Cabot sophomore halfback Michael James. The stats on James list him as 5’11”, 185 lbs., but the youngster plowed his way through the SH defensive line like a 210-plus back in the first half.

James scored both of the touchdowns for Cabot in the first two quarters, along with a 28-yard field goal from senior kicker Steve Lamb for a 17-0 lead.

To the Bears’ credit, their second-half adjustments made it a game, as they rallied to score against the brutal Panthers’ defense for the first time all season. Sylvan Hills had three other trips to the red zone in the contest, but mistakes, combined with a steel beam of a defensive line for Cabot, held Bears senior quarterback Hunter Miller at bay whenever the dual-threat piloted the SH offense anywhere close to the Panthers end zone.

Panthers coach Mike Malham was pleased with the second strong game from his oversized defense, but was also complimentary of Miller and the Bears offense.

“The defense did good, but that Miller kid is tough,” Malham said. “He broke one a couple of times; he’s a threat. It makes you hold your breath every time he touches it. We gave up our first score of the year, but they have some talent over there too. Offensively, we did pretty good, we ate up a lot of time and controlled the ball in the first half. The second half, I don’t think we even had the ball that much. In the third quarter, we only had about three plays. They came back out and played tough in that second half.”

To be exact, it was 1:44 and four plays that the Panthers actually had possession in the third quarter, as Miller and company ate up almost seven minutes off the clock during the first possession of the second half.

It wasn’t a passing fan’s game for sure, but Miller did land a nice one during the opening second half drive on a play that nearly started out as a turnover. Another tricky snap had Miller juggling the ball with Cabot defenders closing in, but Miller somehow rifled it down the right side to wide receiver Deonte Davis for a 44-yard gain into Panther territory.

The Bears moved all the way down to the Cabot 8-yard line, but a 25-yard field goal attempt by Stephan Kettle was blocked by senior defensive tackle L.D. Tarrant and scooped up by Ethan Coffee. Coffee took off like a shot after picking up the free ball, scrambling all the way down to the Sylvan Hills 43-yard line.

The Bears stiffened up defensively to make their only stop on Cabot in the third quarter. Quarterback Seth Bloomberg handed off to Jordan Carlisle on fourth and two from the SH 36, but the Bears held him just short of the markers. The officials worked the yard markers hard, and when they signaled Bears football, a vocal number of the Cabot faithful cried foul.

The Bears never conceded defeat, and were even more determined to avoid being shut out. Sylvan Hills marched downfield on a seven play, 65-yard drive that resulted in the end of six quarters of scoreless football for the Cabot defense.

Miller started out the drive with a big run, going up the middle and cutting left as he crossed midfield. Cabot defender Joe Bryant finally dragged Miller down, but not after a 45-yard gain down to the Panthers 26-yard line.

Lawrence Hodges finally punched it in for Sylvan Hills on the second play of the fourth quarter for the score, and a faked extra-point attempt was converted into two points with a pass from SH backup quarterback and holder Casey Cerrato to Mark Turpin. That would make it a game at 17-8, but Chris Bayles’ second run of the second half on the ensuing Cabot possession would put it out of reach for good.

The Panthers were faced with fourth and one at the Sylvan Hills 33-yard line, but Bayles made moving the sticks unnecessary with a run down the right side all the way in for the score. Lamb’s extra-point attempt went wide right, keeping the score at 23-8.

Despite some difficulty in the second half, Malham was happy with the push up front offensively in the first half.

“Our offensive line has the potential to be one of the best around,” Malham said. “They’re all a bunch of young kids, most of them are juniors. The best thing about is that they’re all back (next year). They’re getting better, we have some more size, and that makes a huge difference. We’re just happy to get out of here with a win, it wasn’t an easy game.”

The momentum was much more cut and dry for the Panthers in the first half, as three possessions resulted in three scores for Cabot. The opening drive went 65 yards in 12 plays, highlighted with strong runs from Jordan Carlisle and James. The longest run of the drive would be a nine-yarder for James, and the shortest a three-yarder for Carlisle. James would punch it in from five yards out at the 7:22 mark, with the point-after from Lamb to make it 7-0.

The Panthers settled for three on their next possession, but James would strike again before the half. This time, it was a 19-yard run off tackle on the left side for the score with 2:49 left in the first half.

The drive was set up with a Sylvan Hills turnover when Miller, who struggled to bring down snaps in the second quarter, bobbled the first snap of the drive, and defensive end Callen Boris pounced on the ball for the Panthers at the SH 28-yard line.

James led the Panthers with 19 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Carlisle carried 16 times for 58 yards, and Bayles had 15 rushes for 91 yards and a touchdown. Cabot finished with 279 yards of total offense, with six penalties for 45 yards.

For Sylvan Hills, Miller completed 7 of 12 passing attempts for 97 yards and two fumbles. He carried 14 times for 62 yards after no rushing yards in the first half. Hodges carried eight times for 32 yards and a touchdown, and Deonte Davis had three receptions for 67 yards. In total, the Bears had 202 yards of offense, and was penalized four times for 20 yards.

The grandedios non-conference schedule for the Bears continues next week with an away game at North Little Rock, while the Panthers will face Searcy, a 28-20 loser to Batesville on Friday, at home.

EDITORIALS>>Hillary vs. Huckabee?

Fantasizing about a race for president against Sen. Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that he would be the Republicans’ best candidate because his record contrasted the most sharply with hers.
Half of his equation could be right.

Our former governor might be the GOP’s best candidate against Sen. Clinton, at least among the present and forthcoming challengers, but his strength would be that he is closest to, not farthest from, Sen. Clinton on the issues and their records. Better than the others, he might carve into the middle ground of independent voters who would otherwise tilt toward the Democrat.

We noticed that he was not very specific on their contrasts. It was strange that he vaguely mentioned two comparisons: education and health care. It would be hard to separate the former Arkansas governor and the former Arkansas first lady on those issues, based on their Arkansas records. It was on education and health care that as Arkansas first lady she made a lasting imprint.

She was the author of the higher school standards that were approved in 1983 over her husband’s imprimatur, and she worked to expand children’s health-care initiatives, founding the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Huckabee claims education and children’s health care as his best innovations.

So what is the contrast? You will remember that ArKids First, the great expansion of government-paid health insurance for children, was Arkansas Advocates’ suggestion to the newly sworn in Gov. Huckabee in 1996. He eagerly embraced it and calls it even today his proudest achievement. Sen. Clinton’s husband, as president, brought it about on the national level a few months afterward.

We presume that Huckabee, alone among the GOP presidential candidates, favors expanding the national children’s health initiative, which Sen. Clinton and all the Democratic members of the congressional delegation favor.

As governor, Huckabee sought and won a federal waiver for a plan to have the federal government — that’s you — subsidize health insurance for poor adult workers. Other Republicans, including President Bush, are opposing that remedy as creeping socialism.

Education affords the best comparison. Huckabee likes to lump the Clintons together as a unit, which is fair. So how do they stack up? Hillary’s tough school standards in 1983 forced some gradual school consolidation as school districts failed to measure up to the standards over five years.

Huckabee demanded wholesale and immediate school consolidation and abolished more than 50 of them in one swoop. He wanted more than 100 other school districts consolidated but the legislature balked. Does he dare boast about that?
Taxes? Huckabee raised them considerably more in 10 years than Clinton did in 12. Clinton vetoed a 4-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax, and it passed over his veto.

Huckabee fathered a 4-cent increase in gasoline and diesel taxes. He claims before conservative audiences that the voters, not he, approved those taxes, but that is not true. Debt? The Clinton regime produced a small increase in general state indebtedness, to fund water projects and college construction.

Huckabee accounted for bigger increase in general state debt — the kind that taxpayers are obliged to service — than all previous Arkansas governors combined. Sen. Clinton is nailing down union endorsements in the Democratic primary. Huckabee is the only Republican candidate to seek them.

One dramatic contrast occurs to us. Gov. Clinton — we don’t know how his wife felt about it — was wary of granting pardons and commutations to convicts after his return to office in 1983.

Huckabee was unusually liberal with them, helping the famous rapist Wayne Dumond gain his freedom. Huckabee will have to decide how much attention to call to that difference. In the unlikely scenario that Huckabee and Clinton do square off in the 2008 general election, their records will be compared minutely, but Huckabee will not get to characterize or mischaracterize them with impunity.

The records will be there for all to see and voters will want to see them. We think the governor’s moderate-to-liberal record would not hurt him, but he does not want Republican voters in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire to get wind of it now.

OBITUARIES >> 09-08-07

John Delp

John Matthew Delp, 20, of Cabot passed away Sept. 1.

He was born May 15, 1987 in Little Rock.

He is survived by his mother, Terri Torres of North Little Rock; one sister, Shantell Elaine Buckner and husband Chad; two nephews, Christopher and Gavin and one niece, Katherine, all of Austin; grandparents, Max and Margaret Pruett of Cabot; great-grandmothers, Betty Pruett and Lorriett Mitchell; aunts, Kerri, Sherri, Eva, Judy, Pat, Wanda, Rhonda, Belinda; uncles, Michael, John, Butch, Mick, Jack, Charles, Herkey, Sonny, Skip; along with numerous cousins, loved ones and friends.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot. Funeral arrangement will be by Thomas Funeral Service.

Brenda Uribe

Brenda Joyce Uribe, 62, of Beebe lost a long battle with cancer Sept. 5, and has gone to be with her Lord. She was born in Pangburn to Homer and Eva Williams on July 25, 1945.

She is survived by two sons, Tony Brandon and wife Kathy, Scott Brandon; four grandchildren, Heather, Justin, Chris and Dakota, all of Beebe; four sisters, Myrtle Casey, Louise Houston, Sarah Shaw and Nancy Bellinger and two brothers, Nathan and Reed Williams.

Family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at the home of Tony and Kathy Brandon, 121 Sandy Ford Road, Beebe. Cremation arrangements will be by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Lillie Barrett

Lillie Frances Barrett, 88, of Cabot passed away Sept. 5.

She was a registered nurse in the Army during the Second World War and served in Italy and Africa. She retired from Ft.Roots Veterans Administration after 16 years of service.

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

She was recently preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Jim Barrett.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th Street, Little Rock, AR, 72204 or St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Drive, Jacksonville, AR, 72076. Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church. Entombment will be in Calvary Cemetery Mausoleum.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church with the Rosary to follow at 7 p.m.

Funeral arrangements will be by North Little Rock Funeral Home.

George Binderim

George F. Binderim, 84, of Cabot lost his battle with cancer but won the war against Satan Sept. 6.

He was born Jan. 3, 1923 in Oklahoma City, Okla., to the late George and Miriam Matthews Binderim.

He was a member of Cabot Church of Christ. His passion was helping the needy. In 1989, his dream was realized when he established “Friends House” at his church where five days a week a hot meal is provided. He was awarded the 2004 Citizen of the Year by the Cabot Chamber of Commerce and on Jan. 30, 2005. The Mayor signed a proclamation making that day “Binderim Day.”

In June 2005, KARK awarded him a Community Service award and a year later, a Certificate of Recognition. In February 2007 he was recognized by Legislative Proclamation presented by Representative Susan Shulte and recognized for Random Acts of Kindness by Mayor Eddie Joe Williams. In April of this year he was given a certificate of appreciation for all his work by the Cabot Church of Christ.

He is survived by his wife Marian Binderim; three children, Yvonne Hill and husband James of Carlisle, Kay Jensen and husband Al of Jacksonville, and Karl Binderim of Jacksonville; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at the Cabot Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Arkansas State Veterans’ Cemetery in North Little Rock.

Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 9 at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Friends House at Cabot Church of Christ.

Herbert Colvert

Herbert Colvert, Jr., 70, of Jacksonville entered the gates of heaven Tuesday, Sept. 4.

He was born Nov. 18, 1936, in Kilgore, Texas to the late Herbert L. Colvert, Sr. and Theola Colvert.

He attended Jacksonville High School, was a member of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and was a Mason with the Cabot Mason Lodge. He was in the Air Force in his younger years and was a switch operator for GTE until he retired.

After his military service, he played semi-pro football. He was an owner-trainer of thoroughbred race horses and was an avid sportsman and hunting enthusiast and he enjoyed working with the youth of Jacksonville.

He was preceded in death by a daughter Kay Ruelle of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Patsy Mae Colvert; brother, Frankie Colvert and wife Veronica of Texas; brother, Larry Colvert and wife Sissy of Jacksonville; sons, Herbert Morgan Colvert and wife Kelley of Lonoke, John Daniel of Canada; daughters, Sarah Williams of Benton, Johnna Yates and husband Bill of Cabot, Sylvia Jones and husband Chris of Texas; 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The Colvert family would like to thank the many blessed people at the Veterans Administration — Arkansas Hospice facility in North Little Rock.

A graveside service was held Sept. 7 at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

TOP STORY >>Cabot roads will be repaired with $1.5M bond

Leader staff writer

Jerrel Maxwell, Cabot’s director or public works, told city residents Thursday night that he would take the $1.5 million left from a $2 million bond issue and make it go as far as possible toward improving city streets.

Top of the list, but not yet in any particular order, are widening Highway 89 West and Locust Street, extending Elm Street, repairing Greystone Boulevard and repairing Dietrich Lane.

But he also said his street department workers would repair Cleveland Street, where residents from apartments run by the Lonoke County Housing Authority said water stands all but about three months of the year.

One elderly resident from the Cleveland Street area who attended the meeting called to get input from residents, told Maxwell that the water stands for so long that tadpoles grow into frogs there. And even letters to city officials inviting them to go frog gigging have not led to any improvements.

“I was pleased with the comments we got,” Maxwell said after the meeting.

Voters passed a one-cent tax in September 2005 which supports the $2 million in bonds for street improvement. City Attorney Jim Taylor confirmed Thursday night during the meeting that all the money must be spent by September 2008, or by law, it will have to be returned.

Alderman Ken Williams, who attended the meeting, pointed out that since the special census in 2006, the city is now collecting about $30,000 more in state turnback than previously, and all that money must be used for streets.

“That’s not chicken feed. It’s a lot of money and a heck of a lot more than we had before,” Williams said, adding that the city should do as much as possible with the $1.5 million in bond money then develop a plan for upgrading streets with the $30,000 a month that is going to the street fund now.

Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, who also attended the meeting, said in response to questions from Maxwell that it costs about $70,000 to pave a mile of road.

“A million and a half won’t go far,” Troutman said.

From the $2 million, the city has already paid $175,000 for the right-of-way to extend Elm Street and $250,000 to complete S. Rockwood, which connects Highway 5 to Wal-Mart.

Maxwell said after the meeting that Bond Engineering is already working on plans to widen Highway 89 West from Wal-Mart to Arena Road, about a half mile. Troutman, who has provided labor and equipment for other city street projects this year, has not yet said yes to helping with Highway 89, Maxwell said.

But Troutman has said that what is good for Cabot is good for Lonoke County.

Alderman Eddie Cook said widening Locust Street is essential because it will be the route many will take to get to the freeway after the new overpass is completed in about 18 months.

Alderman Becky Lemaster pointed out that acquiring right-of-way to widen that street will be problematic because of the many houses in the area. Cook told Maxwell during the council committee meeting that followed the public meeting to prepare a prioritized list for the committee to consider next month when it meets.

TOP STORY >>State sends $205,000 back to Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has received a $205,000 check from the state and may use it to develop a farmers market.

The money is a return of part of the state’s $800 million surplus from last year. The state legislature opted to give some of the extra funds back to cities—about $6.75 per person—to use as needed.

“This is one-time money,” Mayor Tommy Swaim told the city council Thursday night, “and cannot be spent on reoccurring expenses.”

Swaim told the council that some possibilities that have been suggested include developing a farmer’s market, expanding the parking lot for the municipal court, improving park landscaping, building a bridge in Dupree Park or an extra fire siren for the fire department.

The idea of the farmer’s market received the most enthusiasm from the council, although no action was taken.

The mayor said the bridge would cost too much, and the fire department said the siren would be good to have, but that the city is currently covered. The council will continue to discuss its options at its next meeting. Sherwood, which is receiving about $145,000, is looking at using the money to replace and update its storm sirens.

In other council business:

Aldermen agreed to waive competitive bidding for the installation of an electric ventilation system at the Jacksonville Community Center. The city wants to hire Howell Utilities of Little Rock because the firm has worked on the building before.
The council voted to spend $51,000 to purchase a diesel tractor with a boom loader.

Aldermen passed a resolution “expressing a willingness of the city to utilize federal aid monies” in the construction of a Stonewall Park walking and jogging trail.

The resolution was necessary for the city to obtain a federal grant for the project. The grant requires the city to cover 20 percent of the cost. The total cost of the project was not listed in the resolution.

The council passed a resolution that gives a tax break to the AGL Corp., 2202 Redmond Road.

The resolution endorses the company’s participation in the tax-back program in exchange for expanding its local operations.
In his monthly report to the council, Fire Chief John Vanderhoof said his department responded to 95 rescue calls, 36 still alarms, 24 general alarms and had 191 am-bulance runs during July.

He said estimated fire loss for the month was $13,000, while fire savings was placed at $217,000.

In its monthly report, the engineering department said it issued 29 building permits and 10 business licenses during August. The department also performed more than 300 inspections and sent out nearly 500 letters to residents and businesses for trashy or unkempt yards.

TOP STORY >>Migrant children receive benefits

Leader staff writer

During harvest season, many children in migrant families move from school to school while their parents search for work. Some may not know it, but that makes them eligible for educational, health and family services provided through Arkansas Migrant Education cooperatives across the state.

Because these services are offered only to families that move seeking agricultural, fishing-related and some forestry jobs,
not a large number

of students in area schools use the program, Beth McCarty, director of the Northeast Arkansas Migrant Education Cooperative, said.

Cabot schools have four migrant students this year. Beebe had about 20 last year and Lonoke had four.

Not many Pulaski County Special School District students use the services because, according to McCarty, the parents are in construction, yard maintenance or restaurant work and those types of jobs do not qualify.

Sue Spainhouer, director of the Southeast Migrant Cooperative, which covers the Lonoke area, said Wednesday the cooperative is trying to find out how many migrant students are in Lonoke.

All Arkansas students, age 3-22, who have moved with their families across school-district lines in the last three years to obtain temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing work are eligible for migrant-education program services.
The number of students using the services varies, because unless they move again, a student is eligible only for three years, McCarty said.

Once identified as migrant students, they are eligible for free school meals, limited medical and vision services and extended learning opportunities, among others.

Health services include vision/hearing screenings, wellness checkups, blood pressure, dental ($100 limit), eyeglasses ($144 limit), doctor’s visits ($60 limit) and prescriptions ($40 limit).

“A lot of times students who come across the border have never seen a doctor,” Spainhouer said. “They may have broken their arm years ago and it never got set. It (medical services) is a need we see with a lot of our students,” she said.

Extended learning opportunities include a PASS course, free independent study courses designed specifically for mobile migrant students in grades 9-12 to allow the student to stay on track for graduation, and Moving Up Arkansas, a three-week residential school at the Lyon College campus that allows qualified high school migrant students the opportunity to work on credit accrual, leading toward graduation.

There is also a college-assistance migrant program (CAMP) that provides grant money for first-year college expenses, along with an academic-tutoring program.

“Kids in every area of the state are helped with the secondary programs,” McCarty said.

TOP STORY >>No child is left behind when it comes to food

Leader staff writer

No child will be left behind when it comes to eating at school, at least that’s what area school districts say.

Although every district faces the challenges of students not having their lunch money and the difficulty of collecting owed money, students in Pulaski County Special, Cabot, Lonoke and Beebe schools won’t be missing lunch anytime soon because of it.

“I don’t know of any time we have turned a student away from their meal because they couldn’t pay and I’ve been doing this for almost 29 years,” Michael Harvey, director of PCSSD’s student nutrition division, said. “We don’t deny students a meal. If they don’t qualify for free lunch and don’t have the money for a reduced or regular priced meal, it is recorded as a charge and we notify the parents to pay,” he said.

Students also do not get alternative meals like sandwiches or cheese and crackers. “Students get the same meal as everyone else,” Harvey said, adding, “I get very upset when I hear other districts take food away and give an alternative meal – those babies can’t help it.”

He said the toughest issue is collecting the money owed from the parents, but he’ll work out payment plans with them if needed.

“I’ll bend over backwards to work out what they owe us. There’s no way in the world I would ever want to embarrass or hurt the kids in our schools (because they can’t pay),” Harvey said. “We’re going to feed them, and if money is owed, we’ll visit with the parents and get it collected.”

At the middle and high school level, students are allowed up to three charges and after that, they must see the cafeteria manager.

Harvey said the students have to sign a sheet saying they had to charge lunch, which then puts some of the responsibility of paying the owed money on the student, because at that grade, the students are supposed to be old enough to accept some of the responsibility.

“It’s harder to get money from secondary students than elementary parents,” Harvey added.

The Arkansas Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Guidelines require schools be reimbursed for every meal served; if a student can’t pay, the money comes from the district’s operating fund, which officials hope will be paid back by the parents.
Lonoke secondary students can charge as often as three times before parents are called about money owed, but those students won’t go hungry even if it means eating a subsidized meal.

“We’ll usually just give them the same meal as the other students and then try to get money from parents,” Sue Roedel, food service director of Lonoke schools, said.

Lonoke primary and elementary students will always be allowed to eat, regardless of ability to pay.

“We would never deny them a meal and would never separate them out,” Roedel said, adding, “They are so young, it might scar them for life.”

She said she is most concerned about those students who fall through the cracks, the ones who don’t qualify for the free or reduced meals but still face a financial hardship.

“I wish Congress would do something to provide free meals across the board. It would be better for the education systems, and I think if would make all the difference,” Roedel said.

In Lonoke, some owed accounts are carried over yearly. Roedel said it might be the student’s senior year before the district gets the money back.

“For the most part, the accounts are paid off at the end of the year, even if we have to use the district’s operational fund to balance out at the end of the year, but the money is still owed by the parent and when we get it in, it goes back into the operational fund,” she said.

And just like any bill, if it comes down to it, Roedel said the district will turn the matter over to the prosecuting attorney’s office and collect the owed money that way.

“We had some accounts last year that owed over $100. We told the parents they had three days to make arrangements with us to either pay in full or in installments, but after the three days we had no choice but to turn it over to the prosecuting attorney,” she said.

In Cabot, kindergarten through sixth-grade students are allowed to charge up to $17.50, but no charging is allowed for seventh- through 12th-graders.

“When their account reaches $17.50, the principal is notified and they contact the parent,” Erin Hartz, Cabot’s director of food services, said. “The parent is asked to either pay on the account or to pack their child’s lunch until the account is paid.
“However, the student is still allowed to eat if the account is not paid or the child doesn’t bring lunch,” Hartz said.

Once students reach the junior high and high school level, if they don’t have money to eat, they must seek approval from personnel on duty in the cafeteria.

The Cabot district has approximately $5,000 in owed lunches that has not been collected from last school year, Hartz said.
“However, payment arrangements have been made with all of these families to eliminate their charges,” she said.

Lists of unpaid charges are sent to school principals, who then make contact with the parents.

“Parents are encouraged to submit an application for free and reduced meals if they are having financial difficulties,” Hartz said. “We want to make sure that we are supportive of our parents and students.”

In White County, Beebe students eat the same lunch regardless of their money situation and grade level.

Jackie Rowe, director of child nutrition, said for pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade students, there is no limit on the number of times the child is allowed to charge; the official policy for fifth- through eight-graders, per the district’s handbook, is only three charges, and ninth- through 12th-graders are not allowed to charge at all.

Even though the policy states only three charges, that’s usually not the case.

“Fifth- and sixth-graders are allowed to keep charging and we let the parent know they are above the charge limit,” Rowe said. “For seventh- and eighth-graders, after three charges they have to go talk with the principal, who then sends them back to the cafeteria to eat lunch.”

At the high school level (ninth- through 12th-grade), Rowe said if students do not have money to eat, they must see the cafeteria manager.

“The cafeteria manager keeps a student-loan fund, which we (cafeteria employees) add to regularly, and the student is allowed to borrow from that account. The students sign a log acknowledging they borrowed money from the fund, and most of the time they pay us back,” Rowe said.

Once charges reach a set limit, charge slips are sent home weekly with the students notifying parents of the amount their child owes. Each school building also sends letters, and the principals get in touch with parents in an effort to collect the money.

If the money has not been collected by the end of the year, Rowe said calls continue to be made to parents during the summer.

“We don’t collect all the (owed) money by far,” she said, and because the accounts must still be paid, each building has to use their activity funds to get the accounts out of the red for the end of the year.

“Some buildings have to use $1,300 to $1,400 from their activity funds,” Rowe said. “The principals continue to call parents so their funds are reimbursed, but for the most part, it’s not collected.”

TOP STORY >>Flightline funds are approved for LRAFB

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base has secured $9.8 million to upgrade its 50-year-old flightline, but money for the joint education center at the base is still questionable.

The base will also get $2.8 million to modernize its aerospace ground equipment and engine facility.

Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln announced Thursday that the Senate had approved nearly $80 million for construction projects at LRAFB, Camp Robinson, Fort Chaffee and Arkadelphia through the $109.2 billion fiscal year 2008 military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill devoted to military construction, military family housing and veterans affairs programs.

“We appreciate the strong support the Arkansas congressional delegation continues to provide Little Rock Air Force Base. This money will ensure that Little Rock is fully able to support the combat airlift mission around the world well into the future,” Col. Mark Vlahos, 314th Airlift Wing vice commander, said Friday.

“The 314th Airlift Wing’s C-130 training mission and the 463rd Airlift Group’s combat mission here directly correlates to taking convoys off the roads in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Vlahos said. “Ensuring we have a fully functional runway here means saving lives in our global war on terrorism.”

Pryor and Lincoln said they were pleased to secure funding for the runway to ensure the 314th Airlift Wing has a fully functional airfield to support mission-essential flying training.

“Little Rock Air Force Base has proven itself over and over again to be one of the nation’s top-notch training facilities,” Pryor said. “I’m determined to keep it that way. These airfield upgrades are expensive but necessary to our missions around the globe.”

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

The airfield was built in 1955 and is in a state of deterioration, which could hinder combat readiness and may endanger the lives of aircrews and their aircraft.

The funding allows the base to repair the deteriorated runway and shoulder pavements, remove or eliminate airfield obstructions, replace runway lighting, and reorganize instrument guidance and navigation systems.

Lincoln believes investing in the nation’s military installments and strategic operations is essential for the “safety and security of our citizens and our homeland.”

She praised service members for carrying on the state’s long military tradition.

Education center

Senate and House conferees will negotiate the differences between the two versions of the joint education center bill, which was approved in the House but not in the Senate.

Pryor and Lincoln said they are committed to working with Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, to include an additional $9.8 million for the base’s education facility.

The Senate Armed Services subcommittee had stripped money for the center from the bill. Snyder said the Arkansas congressional delegation has “strong support for the center, but it is an expensive project.”

The Jacksonville-LRAFB education center, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a community and a base, is expected to cost about $15 million.

Jacksonville residents in 2003 passed a two-year penny sales tax and already have their share, $5 million, in the bank.
Snyder and the delegation hope to restore the Air Force’s share of the project either on the Senate floor or in the joint conference committee.

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

Currently, the education center is housed in two inadequate converted dormitories that provide a limited scope of academic offerings due to space constraints and distance from the base library, according to Nancy Shefflette, director of the ASU-Beebe LRAFB Degree Center and former colonel at LRAFB.

The idea for the joint education center, which will be 50,000 square-feet, grew out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the problem of making the classes more assessable to civilians at times of high alert, Shefflette said.

Other construction

Camp Robinson will receive $5.5 million to improve its ammunition supply point, providing specially designed anti-terrorism force protection upgrades, improvements to parking, fencing, outside lighting, access road improvements, perimeter fence installation and key card control access.

Camp Robinson’s Professional Education Center (PEC) will receive $18.4 million to build a new complex for the GED Plus program.

The facility, housed on 4.5 acres, will include barracks, classrooms, a dining area and administrative offices.

The PEC is the national training center for the Army National Guard and hosts more than 20,000 conferees annually from the National Guard, Army Reserve, active Army, Department of Defense, state and federal agencies.

As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, Arkansas is also slated to receive $31.3 million to build a joint force vehicle maintenance facility at Ft. Chaffee and $12.2 million to build an Armed Forces Reserve Center building in Arkadelphia.