Thursday, October 11, 2007

SPORTS >>Devils trying to regain passion

Leader sports editor

Maybe under normal circumstances, Jacksonville would be brimming with confidence as it prepares to face an 0-6 team that has lost its last two games by a combined 92-0. This week is anything but normal, though. The Red Devils are also fresh off an embarrassing loss to a team with which it usually plays very competitively, and usually beats.

The Red Devils’ 35-13 loss to Sylvan Hills last week has them fully aware that they can’t overlook anyone.

“We just got our tails totally whipped Friday,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “That gives you plenty to worry about. We’re going to have to go out and play with some passion again like we did the previous two weeks.”

Sylvan Hills blitzed like mad men against Jacksonville, and it worked perfectly. When the Red Devils were able to complete a pass, many times there was nowhere to go after the catch. Whatley was hesitant to take anything away from Sylvan Hills, but believes failures in many departments by his team aided the Bears’ cause.

“It comes down to they executed their game plan better than we executed ours,” Whatley said. “But id we do what we’re supposed to do, we don’t have all the problems we had. We mis-declared a front all night long and that freed a guy we couldn’t account for. We had some hot reads called that if we had hit ‘em they could’ve been big plays for us. We have to block on the perimeter, get blocks down field, we just have to execute and a lot of those problems will go away.”

Knowing what to correct and executing those corrections on Friday night are two different things. Whatley expects Searcy to mimic Sylvan Hills until his team can prove it can handle the pressure.

“I expect teams to try and bring the heat,” Whatley said. “I would if I had watched tape of that game. But if we do the things we’re supposed to, we can handle it.”

Depth continues to be a struggle for the Red Devils. It was worse for some reason last week, so steps will be taken to remedy that problem as well.

“We’re going to try to play even more,” Whatley said. “Especially our skill people. We were spent before the game started it seemed like. We’re going to have to have more people playing and rest people more.”

Searcy’s record indicates little to be concerned with, but the Lions have played a couple of good teams close this season, and do some things very well. Whatley didn’t have to hesitate when asked about problems the Lions present.

“Technique-wise they do what they are supposed to do,” Whatley said. “The defensive ends do a good job of squeezing and making things bounce to the corner. Offensive line is not bad, they come off low and hard and we’ll have to match that.”

Jacksonville was unable to get anyone but tailback Patrick Geans involved in the offense last week. Some of that had to do with execution, some had to do with the competitiveness, according to Whatley.

“There are other players we’d like to get the ball to,” Whatley said. “We’d love for No. 4 (Stanley Appleby) to have the ball in space, we just aren’t executing the way we need to in order for that to happen. Some of it just has to do with the fact that No. 2 (Geans) is a tremendous competitor. He plays full speed on every down. If we can everybody playing at that level, we’d have better results.”

SPORTS >>Cabot’s foe has tougher defense

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s task gets no easier this week, and that’s saying a lot on the heels of a narrow escape with a 21-20 win over North Little Rock last Friday. This week, Cabot hosts Little Rock Central. The Tigers have struggled on offense all season, but have shown signs of improvement the last two weeks. The Tiger defense, however, started the season strong, and shows no signs of weakening after six games.

“They’re good,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “North Little Rock’s defense is tough, but I think Central’s is even better. Nobody has been able to do anything with them. They’re big and athletic up front. They’re fast at linebacker and in the secondary. We’re going to have to try and figure out some way to beat ‘em.”

Central’s offensive woes reached their peak two weeks ago in a 23-0 loss at Russellville. Russellville got a help from its defense with those 23 points, but the shutout was the surprise. As badly as Central has struggled, it hadn’t been shut out in a game this season. The goose egg appears to have lit a fire. The Tigers scored 21 last week in a 21-14 win over Conway.

Again, the defense yielded nothing. Conway scored on defense and special teams. Texarkana also scored two special teams touchdowns against the Tigers in a 13-7 win.

“That defense just hasn’t given up anything,” Malham said. “The defensive line is the scary thing. They’re big and move really well. That tackle they got, I don’t know how we’re going to block him.”

Magnifying Malham’s concerns about Central’s defense is the way his offense has played recently. It moved the ball very well in the first half last week as it took a 21-0 lead into halftime. In the second half, however, penalties, fumbles and busted plays were the main story line as the Panthers held on for dear life.

The week before, Cabot lost four fumbles in a loss to Catholic.

“We’re going to have to be smarter and take care of the ball,” Malham said. “If we keep making all these mistakes and putting the ball on the ground, we’re going to get beat because we’re not good enough to do that. I thought we moved it pretty well in the first half, but yards are going to be tougher this week. We’re going to have to put drives together, so there are going to be more opportunities for mistakes. We’ve got to have that mind right and play smarter than we played in the second half last week. Every time we got it we went the wrong way, called the wrong formation, jumped off sides, had a busted play. Those are drive killers and we can’t afford that this week.”

Central’s athleticism is a key reason that Cabot can’t afford mistakes. Limiting opportunities and keeping those athletes contained will be the name of the game for the Panthers.

“If we let them loose we’re beat because we can’t catch ‘em,” Malham said. “We’ve got to be sure and take good solid angles and bring them down when we get to them. We’ve got to tackle. The best thing we can do though is keep it out of their hands as much as possible.”

SPORTS >>Badgers, Chicks for top spot

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski will be short-handed when it travels to Paragould this Friday night to take on the Rams, and the loss is a big one. Starting tailback Melvin Tenner will have to miss the trip to Greene County due to being ejected, controversially, from last week’s game against Batesville. Any ejection also carries an automatic one-game suspension, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for the Falcons.

North Pulaski, 1-2 in conference play with both losses coming to co-leaders Beebe and Batesville, wouldn’t be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, but its chances would diminish.

With three teams, Batesville, Beebe and Blytheville, still unbeaten in league play, all three are in good position to make the playoffs, leaving just one spot for the remaining four teams. NP already has a leg up on Greene County Tech, so wins over Paragould, Wynne and Nettleton will put NP in the playoffs with no help needed. A loss this week likely means the Falcons will need some help to get into the playoffs.

Falcon coach Tony Bohannon understands the magnitude of a win this week.

“We need this one,” Bohannon said. “The kids are aware of it too, if they aren’t they will be because they’ll be hearing it all week. I also think this is a very winnable ball game. We just have to play smart and pick up the slack from not having Melvin out there.”

Those duties will likely fall to a pair of sophomores.

A.J. Stephens has come on strong at running back recently. Josh Molden is also a talented back that will get some carries in Tenner’s place. Neither back as Tenner’s size, but both are similar in speed.

“Stephens has run the ball quite a bit the last two weeks,” Bohannon said. “He’s looked pretty good. Molden could help us out a whole lot too. There are still some things he needs to work on. He got out here late, so that’s holding him back a little bit.”
Anthony Bizzell can also step in at tailback. He has played almost exclusively at fullback on offense, but could handle the tailback duties in a pinch.

“He don’t have the speed some of the other ones have, but he knows the plays and can run pretty well,” Bohannon said.
Aside from the running game, North Pulaski’s passing has looked better in recent weeks. The Falcons were able to complete some plays for good yardage against Batesville last week, and may look to take to the air a little more this Friday against Paragould.

“We were able to do some things that we’d been wanting to do,” Bohannon said. “The blocking has been better, and (quarterback A.J.) Allen is throwing the ball a lot better. The big thing is the line. The offensive line has been improving each week.”

Bohannon didn’t have a clear grasp of what Paragould likes to do most. The Rams are extremely versatile, so the game plan this week is to try to prepare the Falcons for everything they may see.

“It’s hard to say what they do best,” Bohannon said. “The film I watched, it looked like they try to do everything in the book. Against us, I’d say they’re probably going to try to run it at us, but it’s hard to say. We just have to get ready for a little bit of everything.”

OBITUARIES >> 10-10-07

Aaron McCoy

Tech Sgt. Aaron D. McCoy, 35, of Jacksonville died Oct. 5. He was born in Cumberland, Md., to David and Linda McCoy.  
He proudly served his country and the Air Force for more than 16 years.

He entered the Air Force at age 19, and following initial training was assigned to his first duty station in the 400th Munitions Maintenance Squadron in Okinawa, Japan.

In 1995, he cross-trained to the loadmaster career field and was assigned to the AC-130U gunships at Hurlburt Field, Fl.  During this assignment, McCoy’s awards included the 16th Special Opera-tions Wing Outstanding Aircrew Training Enlisted Member of the Year, the 16th OSS NCO of the year 2001, and the FY ‘00 Air Force Chief of Safety Aircrew of Distinction Award.  Additionally he received six Air Medals, the NATO Medal and many other awards and commendations.

While stationed in Florida, he participated in operations in Kosovo, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq.  His next assignment brought him to Little Rock Air Force Base, where he was assigned to the 53rd Airlift Squadron as an instructor loadmaster. While stationed here, he attended the Keesler Non- commissioned Officer Academy where he earned the prestigious Commandant’s Award.

He was selected as the 314th Operations Group Non-commissioned Officer of the Year for 2006.  He was recently assigned to the 62nd Airlift Squadron.  While stationed in Ft. Walton Beach, he met his wife, Christina, and was married at First Baptist Church of Mary Esther, Fla., on July 6, 1996.  

He is survived by his wife, Christina, and children, Samuel A. McCoy, 10, Chandler L. McCoy, 8, Lanie K. McCoy, 4, and Bennett W. McCoy, 2; parents, David and Linda McCoy; grandmother, Charlotte Sullivan; brother, Adam McCoy and wife Carole; sisters, Amy Howsare and husband Steve, and Leah Knotts and husband Joel; and many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Central Baptist Church in North Little Rock with Bro. Stephen Kyle.  Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the McCoy Children’s Fund, c/o First Arkansas Bank and Trust, 600 West Main, Jacksonville, Ark., 72076.

Mary Maness

Mary Evelyn Maness, 64, of Jacksonville died Oct. 6. She was born August 24, 1943 in Minden, La., to the late Donald and Edith Miller Sanders.

She was preceded in death by brother, James “Sonny” Sanders. She is survived by children, Don Maness of Jacksonville and Teri Riley of Sherwood, Oregon and one granddaughter, Brenna Riley.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

Carolyn Schutz

Carolyn Marie Schutz, 60, of Beebe died Oct. 6. She and her husband Bob were the owners and operators of College Street Florist in Beebe.

She is survived by her husband Bob; two sons, Matthew of Beebe and Robby Schutz of Salt Lake City, Utah; daughter, Melissa Gonzalez and husband Rafael of Sherwood; two grandchildren, Arianna and Sofia Gonzalez; mother, Jane Price of Beebe; mother-in-law, Julia Brewington of Virginia; brother, Buddy Price Jr. of Beebe; six sisters, Janet Price, Linda Willhite, Myra Burrow and Pamela Sue Pierron of Beebe, Patricia Scott of Fayetteville and Barbara Laurien of Sedalia, Mo.

She was preceded in death by her father, E.L. Buddy Price Sr.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.
Memorials may be made to Exodus II, c/o John Hagee Ministries, P.O. Box 1400, San Antonio, Texas, 78295 or Woman’s Place, P.O. Box 446, Beebe, Ark. 72012.

Lily Adams

Lily Beatrice Adams, 90, of Beebe died Oct. 6, at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.

She was born July 25, 1917, at El Paso to Otha Weatherford and Floy Aclin Weatherford. She married Vernon Eugene Adams in 1935.

She worked in retail for 40 years and was a member of Beebe First Baptist Church. She was a skilled seamstress, and in her later years she spent many hours making quilts for her loved ones.

She was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, O. B. Weatherford and R. H. “Hugh Jack” Weatherford and two sisters, Marguerite Allen and Merle Anderson.

Survivors include one son, Eddie Adams and wife Reita of Bartlesville, Okla.; one daughter, Karen Stevens and husband Robert of Springdale; one sister, Pauline Fowlkes of Mountain View; and eight grandchildren, Rachel Adams, Sarah Adams, Jessica Adams, Lindsey Givens, Grant Givens, Sarah Stevens, Aaron Stevens and Nicholas Stevens.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Grissard Cemetery in El Paso. Memorials in Beatrice’s name may be made to Grissard Cemetery Corp., P.O. Box 93, El Paso, Ark., 72045.

Jerry Osborn

Jerry “Hippy” Osborn, 58, of Beebe died Oct. 6.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Randall and Virgie Osborn and a sister, Ginger Fritz.

He is survived by one son, Gerald Franklin Herlacher of Lonoke; one daughter, Elizabeth Jo Osborn of Searcy; one grandson, Jaden Herlacher; brothers, Jackie Osborn, John Osborn and Bill Mathis; sisters, Judy Lybarger and Melody Harrison
Family will receive friends from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with a cremation to follow.

Jorden Elslager

Jorden Scott Elslager, 15, of Jacksonville passed away Oct. 2 in Jacksonville. He was born July 5, 1992 in Huntington, West Virginia and attended Lighthouse Tabernacle Church.

Survivors include his mother, Deanne Plymate and step-father, Mike Garrison; brothers, Corey, Dean and Dillon Elslager; and sister, Katlyn Elslager, all of Jacksonville; aunt, Michelle Plymate of Charlotte, NC; and uncle, Mick Plymate of Davenport, Iowa.

Funeral services were Oct.6 at Lighthouse Tabernacle Church in Jacksonville with Rev. Ron Denton, Corey York and Brian Massie officiating. Arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Harry Godwin

Harry J. Godwin, 59, of Cabot died Oct. 6. He was born August 9, 1948 in Whiteville, North Carolina to Ethel Kersey Godwin and the late Joseph Godwin.

Also preceding him in death was a daughter, Kim Godwin and two brothers, Garry Godwin and Sammy Godwin.

He leaves behind to cherish his memory, his wife Cherry Godwin of the home; four daughters, Sherry Beavers of Austin, Pam and husband Bill Miller of Cabot, Angela Thompson of Cabot and Teri and husband Anthony Motes of Cabot; his mother, Ethel Godwin; one sister, Wanda Berry; one brother, Jimmy Godwin, all of North Carolina; eight grandchildren, Keith, Amanda, Kaylie, Tyler, Courtney, Lauren, Madison and Skylie; along with many other family members and friends.

Funeral services were Oct. 9 at Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Cabot with Bro. Brent Summerhill officiating.
Burial was at Old Austin Cemetery. Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Sheryl Hamrick

Sheryl Frances “Fran” Hamrick of Beebe died Oct. 6. She was born July 9, 1951, in Renton, Wash., and graduated from Belleville High School in 1969.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Sharlie Gayle Hamrick and maternal grandparents Buster and Johnnie Cobb.

She is survived by her daughter, Michelle D. Stane; granddaughter, Megan and grandson Nick; her adopted son, Jerry Hall and wife Cherie; grandsons, Jay and Ayden Hall; granddaughter, Rita Hall; her father, Hanson Hamrick Sr.; brothers, Jerry and wife Jody Hamrick, Mark and wife Ceclia Hamrick, Kent Hamrick, and Hanson Hamrick Jr.; eight nephews, six nieces and 15 great-nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were Oct. 9 at Union Valley Baptist Church in Beebe. Cremation followed the services.

Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

EDITORIALS>>Women take over

To the editor: Look alive, men! The women are conspiring against us. They are hiding behind hay bales and planning in the full moon. They are quietly reconnoitering to take the U.S. presidency.

Ladies! Don’t do it.

You have been discovered. Cease and desist. Go back to your kitchens where you belong. You know full and well that your husbands, preachers and fathers will not allow you to vote for that woman, Ms. Clinton.

Be good girls, and do what you know is right. Vote for “the man.” You, Republican women! Do not vote in the Democratic primary. They will not let you join their team. Stick to the Republican primary, where you belong. Don’t even think about it.

Stop thinking!
Gene Mason

EDITORIALS>>Housing mess hurts air base

Will someone please straighten out the mess that the Carabetta organization has made of housing privatization for families at Little Rock Air Force Base and at least three other bases?

These Connecticut developers walked away from the barely begun job in May, leaving unpaid subcontractors and Air Force families in the lurch.

We applaud Senators Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas, and Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, who have passed a resolution directing the comptroller general of the United States to investigate the contracts, define the problem and suggest alternatives to fix it.

Did anyone check out this outfit, which has been embroiled in lawsuits over government contracts in its home state?

How exactly did the Carabettas, with a 25-year record that includes business failures, bankruptcy and unpaid subcontractors, secure more than $3 billion worth of government housing-privatization contracts?

And why has Arch Insurance, the bondholder, not made good on claims by the subcontractors who’ve been left holding the bag?

By 2012, Carabetta’s American Eagle was to have renovated 732 existing homes and built 648 new homes at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Three years into the project, privatization at the base was already about two years behind schedule — only a new town hall and 25 new, occupied homes were built and nearly 70 slabs poured.

Most Americans, whatever their feelings about the war in Iraq, insist that our fighting men and women be supported with the best armor and equipment in the field and the best health and education benefits at home.

And make that a decent home.

That presumably was the intent of the Defense Department when it began its housing-privatization program. According to a DOD spokesmen, the Carabettas, along with their sometimes partners Shaw Infrastructure, are the only privatization developers unable to perform their contract.

So airmen and families here and at Moody, Hanscom and Patrick Air Force bases, unpaid subcontractors on those jobs and, probably the taxpayers, all suffer, while the Carabettas continue to make money as they contract new jobs with cities and redevelopment agencies.

As one Air Force wife at LRAFB pointed out recently, military families have a right to know and they have a right to a better lifestyle. “Not all military families live in beautiful homes with breathtaking views that you see in ‘Army Wives’ or ‘The Unit.’
“My husband deploys quite often and we must live in (Little Rock) base housing to accommodate the deployments, finances, schooling and my medical condition,” she said in an online newsletter, but when she moved in, her home on the base was overrun with roaches, water damage, rust and other problems.

“The government has failed the military families in providing this project to the said contractors and not taking their history into account,” she said.

We don’t know if the Carabettas are unscrupulous, incompetent or some third alternative we’ve been unable to think of, but we’ve read their history and we’ve read that the Carabettas held oceanfront redevelopment in rundown Asbury Park, N.J.—Bruce Springsteen’s home haunts—hostage for a decade after they bought some important properties, promising the sky but delivering nothing.

They have consistently ignored telephone and email requests for answers to questions. The public-relations firm the Carabettas hired to deal with this mess has now deferred to a law firm without answering a single question.

Someone needs to hold these folks accountable and someone needs to step into the breach and provide decent housing for the military families at Little Rock Air Force Base.

TOP STORY >>Ward prepares for private club

Leader staff writer

The Ward City Council on Monday approved the first reading of an ordinance that will regulate private clubs that might move into town.

The council, while meeting as a committee on a proposed sales tax for local projects, also continued to discuss whether or not a tax is needed and if residents would approve a half-cent or one-cent sales tax.

The city is preparing itself for a planned private, alcohol-serving club by introducing an ordinance with rules and regulations on where the dispensing, not selling, of alcohol can take place.

After months of work, a three-member committee introduced the ordinance that would allow private clubs to be located only in areas zoned C1, town-centered commercial property, or C2, highway commercial property.

“We’re not restricting them to C1 only but to C1 or C2 with feet restrictions,” said Alderman Charles Gastineau, the committee chair.

“I think we’re okay on that because it falls into the adult industry,” he said, adding there are places within the city that meet the criteria.

Ordinance 0-2007-05, modeled after Jonesboro’s private-club ordinance, has been approved by the city attorney and the Municipal League and had its first reading Monday night. It will come before the council in November for a second reading.
Work for this new ordinance was generated after Winthrop Ray Knight, owner of Dude’s Place, applied for an Alcohol Beverage Commission private club liquor license in January for an establishment he hoped to bring to Ward residents.

ABC denied his liquor license application, but Knight has the right to appeal the decision, although he not done that yet.
By law, only private clubs are allowed to serve alcohol in a dry area, which is why Knight applied for an ABC license for his family-oriented, sit-down restaurant where patrons would have the option of having an alcoholic beverage with their meal, much like Chili’s in Jacksonville.

As for a proposed sales tax to pay for fire code enforcement and an animal shelter, Gastineau, who was not present at the first committee meeting, echoed Alderman Ginger Tarno’s negative sentiments on the matter.

“Do we want it? Why? How will it (a tax) create progress? Sell it to me?” he asked fellow members.

Alderman Don Howard, the committee chair, said the council would not pass a tax without going to the residents first.

“We need to give them more information than just asking for it right out,” Howard said. Ward water customers might soon see a questionnaire with their bill to collect their thoughts on a sales tax and see if they would be receptive to it.

Mayor Art Brooke will meet with the city’s auditor later this month and will ask him to determine where the city’s financial shortfalls are and where any income generated from a sales tax, whether it is a half-cent or a one-cent tax, should be used.
The committee will continue to meet monthly on the issue until it is resolved.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Emails out, but in-laws still pay up

It was nice of Ron Quillin’s in-laws to mortgage their home so he could repay Pulaski County more than $42,000 he stole while he was the county comptroller, but after they saw the infamous emails he sent to his girlfriend printed in the papers, they must wonder if the bum is worth keeping as a son-in-law.

Surely they will decide he doesn’t deserve any more financial help after what he’s done to their daughter for all the world to see. Quillin, who’ll serve 12 years in prison for theft, still owes $12,000 for phony travel expenses he charged to the county to see Cheryl Zeier, his mistress, in St. Louis and elsewhere.

Somebody — maybe his wife — should tell his in-laws to stop giving him any more money and instead let him serve a couple more years behind bars.

There’s no word if Zeier has offered to help Quillin repay the rest of the money he owes the county by returning any of the expensive gifts.

Read the 400 emails the pair sent each other while they were at work and you realize why productivity, at least in the public sector, lags behind our foreign competitors.

Reporters, who’ve been watching soap operas too long, describe the Quillin-Zeier emails as “steamy,” and maybe there’s some entertainment value here for voyeurs, but what’s revealing about the emails — besides confirming our suspicion that employees waste a lot of time on the job — is the low-level of intelligence that produced the emails: Evidently, you don’t have to be very bright to get a job as Pulaski County comptroller or work as a computer software salesperson and do business with the county. That’s what Zeier does for a living, and that’s how the pair met (her company has done $1 million worth of business with the county), but Judge Buddy Villines and his legal adviser Carla Burnett fought hard to suppress the emails because they cast the county in a poor light.

Pulaski County released the emails only after the state Supreme Court ordered them released after chewing them over for several months.

Villines and Burnett appealed and stalled as long as they could, but the state’s Freedom of Information Act left them nowhere to hide, seriously wounding the county’s reputation in the meanwhile.

Although they had bought some time when the Supreme Court at first was hesitant to release graphic parts of the emails, common sense finally prevailed, and the court last week finally ordered their release, weighing the public’s right to know against privacy concerns.

But public employees should have little privacy while they’re on the people’s payroll, especially when they’re stealing our money. Sure, the emails are as dumb as they are boring, but the public’s right to know is paramount, even if they have embarrassed Quillin, Zeier, Villines, Burnett et al.

Cities and counties should put up signs in offices saying, “Warning: All emails may be used against you while you’re clocked in.”

It would be interesting to see the Villines-Burnett emails while they tried to hide Quillin’s. They might not be steamy, but they could be revealing.

TOP STORY >>Cabot could ease impact fees

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council might take action this month to keep home builders’ impact fees from doubling in November as scheduled.

Norma Naquin, with public works, told the council’s public works committee Monday that 79 fewer houses were built in 2007 than in 2006 and that the matter should be investigated before the fees are increased.

“Is this an anomaly or is it a trend? We simply don’t have any information,” said Alderman Ed Long, chairman of the committee, who said the matter deserved a closer look.

In August 2006, the council passed an ordinance to phase in over three years an impact fee that would add $3,435 to the cost of the average new home.

The ordinance, sponsored by then Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, approved a fee scale that added $1,075 to the cost of the average home in November 2006, $1,863 in November 2007, $2,648 in November 2008 and $3,435 in November 2009.
The city has collected about $78,000 from the impact fee so far, mostly for various city departments, but a small amount, less than $1,400 for the library.

Alderman Terri Miessner said she didn’t think the council should rush into freezing impact fees at the current level. If the housing boom is slowing down, the city will need the extra money from the houses that are being built, she said.

But Long pointed out that the impact fees are to pay for projects that are needed because of growth. If there is no growth, there is no legitimate need.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, who sat in the audience during the meeting, said the council should at least look into a redistribution of the funds because part of the money collected goes to Cabot WaterWorks.

WaterWorks doesn’t need the money, the mayor said.

However, the city does need a new fire station. Since the study for the impact fee was completed, control of the city’s water and wastewater departments has been given to a commission and voters have approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for a new wastewater treatment plant. No impact fee is collected for water, but since it was implemented, wastewater has collected about $36,000. Whether the money can legally be redistributed is a question that City Attorney Jim Taylor will have to answer.

Although the committee discussed city business for about two hours no legislation was recommended to go before the full council because the committee did not have a quorum.

However, Long said after a presentation from Bill Cypert, secretary of the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission, that he could take his request for blanket authority to condemn easements for waterline to CAW to the full council without a committee recommendation. Miessner said last month that residents should have a chance to come before the city council to argue against the waterline going through their property, so she preferred the council looking at the easement condemnations rather than giving the commission blanket authority to deal with acquiring easements.

But Cypert told the committee this week that several property owners voluntarily changed their minds about not selling last month after the commission had already prepared a condemnation ordinance for the council to consider. The constant changes will make the process more cumbersome, Cypert told the committee, adding that if the council hears protests, its members would also likely be subpoenaed to tell their positions when the condemnations go to circuit court, which is inevitable.

Taylor agreed, saying it would be simpler to give the commission authority to acquire the easements. Long also agreed. “We don’t need to sit up here as judge and jury,” he said.

TOP STORY >>Water line to area will be done in three years

Leader staff writer

The $59 million Northbelt Transmission Water Project that will bring water from Lake Maumelle and Lake Winona to Cabot, Jacksonville and North Pulaski Waterworks is on schedule for completion by June 2010. And since Cabot has been granted an increase in the water it can take from its well field, the cost of the 30-inch line that will bring the water from Gravel Ridge, where the Northbelt line ends, to Cabot by the end of 2010 will be paid in cash.

The Northbelt project was proposed by Central Arkansas Water about six years ago after that relatively new entity was formed with the merging of the water departments in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Bill Cypert, secretary of Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission, which runs the city utilities, told city council members during a recent committee meeting that the water department has already saved $8 million toward the cost of the Gravel Ridge line and will be able to save a total of $11.3 million. That’s important, he said, because it means water rates won’t have to be raised to pay for the line. In fact, no rate increase is expected for eight to 10 years.

Jim Ferguson, director of engineering with Central Arkansas Water, said the cost of providing water through a 42-inch line from an upgraded treatment plant at Cantrell Road and I-430 in Little Rock to Gravel Ridge 17.7 miles away is $43,150,000. From there the participants, who share in that cost based upon the amount of water they will buy, will build their own lines to serve their customers. CAW will pay $13.4 million, while Cabot and Jacksonville will pay $14.1 million and North Pulaski Waterworks will pay $1.5 million.

Cabot’s line from Gravel Ridge to its distribution system is estimated at $11.3 million. Gravel Ridge is essentially the beginning of the distribution systems for Jacksonville and north Pulaski, so their large expenditures are over when the 42-inch line is completed.

Until July, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (formerly Soil and Water) limited to 3 million gallons the amount of water Cabot could draw daily from its well field. Since Cabot WaterWorks customers often use 4 million gallons a day, the additional water was purchased from Jacksonville. On July 31, the staff at ANRC recommended that Cabot be allowed to draw 6 million gallons a day until the Northbelt project is completed and then 3 million gallons a day until 2023.

That decision was appealed by a farmer in the area of the well field just days after it was announced and Cabot went back to pumping only 3 million gallons a day. Then on Sept. 19, the ANRC upheld the staff’s decision.

Cypert told city council members that those who oppose Cabot pumping the additional water may sue Cabot WaterWorks and the ANRC, but the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission will deal with those problems as they arise.

Cypert also asked the council members to give the commission he represents blanket authority to condemn property for waterline easements.

Aldermen Teri Miessner and Becky Lemaster have been opposed to giving the commission that authority saying it would prevent property owners from speaking out against the easements. But Cypert and Alderman Ed Long, said they would get to speak in court, which is where condemnation issues are usually settled.

Cypert said 60 of the 120 easements are already signed and recorded. Of the 60 still needed, 59 are outside Cabot city limits. A council vote is needed to give the commission authority to condemn property for easements.

Cypert told the council members that the commission has the property appraised then offers 25 percent of the appraised value for the easements.

The property owners retain ownership and the only limitation placed on them is that they can’t build over the 20-foot-wide easement. All the easements are on streets or the edge or back of the property, he said. No permanent structures are affected.

Cypert said some of the 60 property owners are opposed to the easements because they don’t want anyone else using property or they don’t understand that once the line is in place, they won’t be able to tell that it’s there.

Others simply want more than the 25 percent of the value for the use of their property.

TOP STORY >>City sees far fewer break-ins this year

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville burglaries are down through the first seven months of the year and crime solving is up.
“It’s double good news,” said Police Chief Robert Baker.

Through August, the city has had 222 burglaries and has solved 31.5 percent. During the same period in 2006, Jacksonville had 282 burglaries with a 23.4 percent clearance rate. The current clearance rate is more than double the national average of 13 percent.

“We feel that we are doing very well in our efforts to solve burglaries,” the chief said. “It would be great if we could prevent or solve every burglary, but that just isn’t realistic, given the nature of the crime.

“But that doesn’t deter our efforts,” Baker said.

Baker applauds four crime-prevention tools his department is using in the battle against burglaries and other crimes.
“First, our officers are very vigilant in their efforts to prevent crime and when that can’t be accomplished, work very hard as a reactionary force to the crime committed,” he said.

He also complimented the detectives. “They work hard obtaining probable cause needed to identify the suspect and make an arrest that leads to a conviction in court,” Baker said.

The department has also developed a blended unit suppression team (BUST) that concentrates its efforts in higher crime areas.

“And our residents are an extremely important tool,” Baker said. “Vigilant neighbors, willing to contact the police when they observe a suspicious vehicle or person in their area or neighborhood, are invaluable,” he added.
Baker said residents could help deter burglaries by following these tips:

Keep house windows and doors locked.

Install deadbolts on all exterior doors.

Don’t leave a spare key under the doormat, in the mailbox or any other outside location.

If there is a peephole in the front door, use it.

Install secondary locks on sliding doors.

When out of town make sure the house doesn’t look vacant.

Keep an inventory of all valuables and record all serial and model numbers of valuables.

Take photos or a video of all jewelry and other valuables.

TOP STORY >>Snyder: Fund center now

Leader senior staff writer

Congress may still authorize $9.8 million for the Jacksonville/Little Rock Air Force Base Joint Education Center when the defense authorization bill moves into the joint conference committee, Second Dist. Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., told Jacksonville Rotarians on Monday.

Both Snyder and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., are on that committee, and Snyder said he was “cautiously optimistic” about restoring the funds.

Money for the Air Force’s share of the project is included in the House version of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, approved in June, but not the Senate version. Jacksonville residents voted in 2003 to tax themselves, so the city has its $5 million share literally in the bank.


The existing joint education center, located on the base, is affiliated with six schools, including ASU-Beebe, which offers an associates degree. Currently, ASU-Beebe’s LRAFB branch, directed by Nancy Shefflette, has the largest presence.

Addressing another local concern, Snyder said he doesn’t have a good answer for the problems the air base is experiencing with its housing-privatization contractor, who has walked away from the job with only a fraction of the work completed.
“The privatization contract has gone awry,” said Snyder. “We need to find a solution and get back on track…with a different developer.”


Snyder said that no matter what a person’s perspective on the war in Iraq or on the Bush Administration, “This country and the world are at a real crossroads.”

“This is a pivotal time in our nation’s history,” he said.

“Some may say, and I agree, that big holes have been dug the past six years,” and the problems aren’t going to go away quickly.

He said the next president and Congress would have “a built-in challenge,” not the least of which is the war in Iraq.
Replacing a retiring congressman in July, Snyder has become chairman of the newly reconstituted House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Under House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the subcommittee was disbanded about 12 years ago, leaving no one to oversee and investigate problems and potential problems in the military.


Snyder invited generals and think-tank wonks of every stripe to discuss the Iraq imbroglio and surprisingly, all seemed to concur that the problem has become so complex and so challenging and so interwoven not only for the military, but also for national security, that there is no easy way out.

But both Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.), who authored the surge strategy, and Maj. Gen. John Batiste (Ret.), who opposes it, had one point of agreement—“We don’t have a diplomatic (plan) for Iraq.”

Five years into the war, the agreement was the military was doing a good job, but the diplomatic corps is not doing the job.
“Unless we really look at a diplomatic plan and put resources behind it, we may as well pull out now,” Gen. Wesley Clark testified.

Snyder said that for all the public concern over Iraq, Iran and health care, that in the halls of Congress, trade issues are the most divisive.”


“These are bread-and-butter issues for American families,” the congressman said. “Trade is scarier than hell,” and it’s just one of the challenges we face as a nation.

Snyder said he was very disappointed that President Bush vetoed the popular State Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide continued health care for the poorest children and extend coverage to the children of the working poor, especially since the bill only authorized the plan for five years and paid for it by increasing tobacco taxes.

“What we have control over, we need to take control over,” he said.

Snyder said he wasn’t sure Congress is doing justice for the American people but that in a divided House and Senate, law-making is a messy business.

Pat Teague asked Snyder what happened to the idea that paying for troops and reconstructing Iraq would be paid for by sales of Iraqi oil. Snyder said Iraq’s oil production hadn’t recovered from the 1979 war, that the oil industry is still struggling from old technology, the flight of able oil producers from the country and violence.


He told Marshall Smith that there was pretty good evidence that Iran had some sort of nuclear program, but that a nuclear weapons program, even one that could threaten Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, would ultimately make Iran less safe, not more safe.
He said a diplomatic solution must be worked out.

Shefflette told Snyder she was worried about the capability of U.S. forces in an environment where military personnel is declining.

Snyder said both the Army and the Marines had begun increasing the size of their forces and that the Air Force and Navy have belatedly realized they need to grow so they can move and supply a growing army of fighters.

“Technology’s just not enough,” said Shefflette. Snyder said he worried about a military force so reduced in size that it must rely upon contractors—who must be paid overtime.

Snyder, citing General Gregory Schumacher, said that with reduced forces, the U.S. could win a war on a second front, but it would take longer and be more costly. Bishop James Bolden III, retired from 24 years in the Air Force, asked if there was a draft in the country’s future.

“There is no support,” Snyder replied.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot takes early lead, holds

Leader sportswriter

A high snap on an extra point attempt by North Little Rock with 5:02 left in the third quarter would be the end of the road for the Wildcats’ playoff hopes, as Cabot just held on for a 21-20 win Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.

The Panthers had a dominant first half on the heels of sophomore fullback Michael James, who scored all three Cabot touchdowns in the first two quarters on his way to 157 yards rushing at intermission. The Panthers led 21-7 at the half, but the going in the second half would not be nearly as smooth.

The comeback would be on for the Wildcats in the second half, who made adjustments on both sides of the ball. The NLR defense had number 14 in their sights in the third quarter, determined to control the line of scrimmage after giving up 192 yards to the Panthers in the first two quarters.

The offense also came out with more intensity, with two scores in the third quarter that threatened to make the North Little Rock homecoming game an amazing come-from-behind tale. The Charging Wildcats also needed a win to simply stay alive for a shot at the playoffs, but it was not to be, as a late drive into the Cabot red zone was thwarted with a big stop by Spencer Neumann on third and two at the 9-yard line. The Wildcats chose to go for it on fourth and three with 6:36 left in the game instead of trying a short field goal.

That move would prove costly, as Ramon Stewart fumbled the pitch from NLR quarterback David Hope for a 17-yard loss. The Panthers took over on downs, and proceeded to run the clock down to 1:40 before a pass to junior tight end Les McGregor in the end zone on fourth and four at the Wildcats’ 10-yard line.

North Little Rock would have one more shot, but had to go 90 yards in a minute and 40 seconds with only one time out remaining, which would prove to be too tall an order.

The Wildcats drove to the Cabot 47, but with only two seconds left, they would only have one more try. Hope found favorite target Deshaun Thomas 30 yards downfield, but Cabot sophomore Joe Bryant made contact with Thomas just as the ball got to him, causing it to fall to the ground to a collective sigh of relief from the Cabot faithful.

“We hung on when we had to,” Panthers coach Mike Malham said. “Their intensity looked a lot better in the second half; ours didn’t look so good. We made some offensive miscues in the second half; people going the wrong way on routes, miscues in the huddle and everything else. They got a little life and momentum on their side and came out and played a great half. If they hadn’t missed the field goal, then it’s overtime.”

Malham, like many people in regards to the NLR drive mid-way in the fourth quarter, was surprised that there was no field goal attempt.

“I kind of thought they would try one,” Malham said. “That would have given them the lead, but evidently they didn’t have confidence in their field-goal kicker, so I’m glad it worked the way it did. We have a lot of sophomores and juniors and not many seniors, so we’re still a pretty young team too. Hopefully we can get better and learn how to finish these things.”

North Little Rock struggled offensively in the first half, but all the Panthers needed were 19 carries from James in the first 24 minutes to acquire just enough points to last the remainder of the contest.

His first run would come on Cabot’s second play from scrimmage at the Panther 44-yard line. James took the handoff from QB Seth Bloomberg on the right side and broke through the line, leaving the NLR defenders behind on a 56-yard touchdown run with 9:25 left in the first quarter. Josh Luna added the extra point to put the Panthers up 7-0 early.

Cabot’s next drive stalled out at its own 45-yard line. The Panthers lined up to punt, but snapped to James, who was in the up back position. James took the ball and cut right once again, this time collecting 35 yards to set up a first and 10 at the North Little Rock 20-yard line.

Bloomberg converted the next first down with an option keep on fourth and two at the 11-yard line. His cut to the middle from the right was good for three yards, and would set up James for the score three plays later from two yards out. Another Luna PAT gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead with 45 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Cabot’s only major mistake of the first half would come on its next offensive drive, after the Wildcats punted for the third time in the game to give the Panthers possession at their own 5-yard line.

Junior halfback Wesley Sowell took the first down give from Bloomberg and found room on the right side, only to be yanked down from behind by his jersey. The awkward takedown caused Sowell to drop the ball, and The Wildcats were there to recover for their first break in the game with a first down at the Cabot 12.

They would take advantage of the good field position, with a brief four-play drive that ended on a one-yard keep by backup quarterback Corbin McCuien on third and goal. Jaison Sterling added the point after attempt for North Little Rock to cut the Cabot lead to one score at 14-7.

The Panthers then went on what is best described as a classic Cabot drive, going 67 yards in 18 plays for what would turn out to be their final score of the night. Most importantly, the drive ate up 7:35 off the clock before James completed his hat trick, bulldozing his way in to the end zone from two yards out with 1:19 left in the half.

The Wildcats tried to score before the end of the first half, and came very close. NLR went into hurry-up mode, taking the ball all the way from its own 38 to the Cabot 4-yard line when time expired. With only seven seconds left until the half, Hope connected with McCuien for a 22-yard pass play, but the Wildcats had already spent all of their timeouts. The NLR scoreboard mysteriously stopped with one second left before the officials signaled a first down, much to the dismay of Malham. The Wildcats quickly lined up and tried to get another play off before the referees blew the clock live once again, but a pass to Thomas in the end zone was disallowed, which then sent the North Little Rock crowd into an uproar to end the half on an awkward note.

Marcus Fields pulled the Wildcats to within one score at the 8:07 mark of the third quarter on a three-yard touchdown run. Sterling’s extra point made it a seven-point game.

The next Cabot drive stalled after three plays, when Bloomberg was stuffed for a loss on third down and seven. The momentum that seemed to carry Cabot in the first half was absent in all facets, as punter Sowell barely beat the play clock on to the field for the kick.

Stewart would then come away with the Wildcats’ biggest offensive play of the game moments later on a 49-yard touchdown run after breaking through the line of scrimmage to find tons of daylight to the right. Stewart beat the Cabot secondary to the goal line, and then got a freebee when the officials did not see him spike the football in the end zone.

North Little Rock only needed one more extra point from Sterling to make it an even game once again, but the snap to McCuien was high, and the Panthers rushed in to dismantle the play before North Little Rock could recover. That would make the score 21-20 with 5:02 left in the third quarter.

James led the Panthers with 34 carries for 229 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers finished with 280 total offensive yards. Cabot is now 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the 7A-Central Conference, and will host Little Rock Central next week for homecoming at CHS.

SPORTS >>Beebe gets biggest victory

Wynne Progress

The Beebe Badgers controlled the first half of play at Yellowjacket Stadium Friday night and used some long second-half passing plays to remain perfect in conference play with a 34-22 homecoming-spoiling win.

The victory, Beebe’s first against Wynne, sets up a huge 5A-East match-up next Friday as the Badgers (6-0, 3-0 5A-East) welcome the Blytheville Chickasaws.

Beebe head coach John Shannon said Friday’s win at Wynne (1-5, 1-2 5A-East) was the team’s first major step toward a conference title.

“I’m proud of our kids. We tried to get them focused all week long and told them how big of a ball- game tonight was. This was a big conference win because you have got to take care of the ones at home and try to win the ones on the road. They are tough on the road,” Shannon said. “I was real proud of how we came out in the first half and were able to move the football. We got some big plays in the passing game, but I was a little disappointed in the second half because I didn’t think that we played with the same intensity.”

The Badger offense looked nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring on three of its four possessions including a 49-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Spakes to Josh Turner with just 51.2 second left in the first half that gave the Badgers a 21-0 halftime lead. The Badgers also scored on a nine-play, 53-yard game opening drive and on a later 43-yard touchdown reception by Turner.

The Wynne offense answered back on the first possession of the second half as Okie Oring capped off a 66-yard scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. After the 2-point conversion, Beebe held a 21-8 lead.

The Badgers responded in kind with their third touchdown pass of the evening as Spakes found Brandon Pursell wide open up the middle for a 53-yard touchdown. The score pushed the Badger lead to 28-8 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.

The Wynne offense, which was held scoreless in the first half, drove right down the field converting on a fourth-and-one from the Beebe 29. The Jackets later scored on an Oring 1-yard run. A failed 2-point conversion set the Badger lead at 28-14.

After the Wynne defense forced a turnover on downs with 7:09 left to play, the Jackets scored their final touchdown of the evening on another Oring 1-yard run. With just 2:54 left in the game, Wynne pulled to within 28-22.

On the ensuing onsides kick, Turner fielded the skipping pigskin easily, and as the Badgers were trying to run out the clock on their third conference win, Sammy Williams broke a 25-yard touchdown run to set the final score. Williams finished with 25 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.

“This was the best offensive line that we have seen all year long, and they proved it in the second half. They were playing our type of football, but we were just fortunate enough to get a couple of big plays in the passing game, or it could have been a whole different ball game,” Shannon said about the Wynne second-half offense.

Spakes went 3-for-3 passing with three touchdowns and 145 yards. Turner had two of those TD receptions for 92 yards. The Badgers also outgained the Jackets 336 to 237.

With history made against Wynne, Shannon’s team will now focus on the Blytheville Chickasaws, who also sport an unbeaten conference mark.

“We have got to sure up our defense for sure,” Shannon said about what the Badgers will work on this week. “We are in position to win the conference so we have got to go to work Monday afternoon to get ready to play the ball game of our life.”

SPORTS >>Sylvan Hills hammers JHS

Leader sports editor

Call it a coming out party for Sylvan Hills. The Bears went into what was supposed to be an evenly contested game as a slight underdog, and left with a big win in impressive fashion, beating the Jacksonville Red Devils 35-13 at Jan Crow Stadium in Jacksonville.

“I thought if we played well we’d really have a chance to win,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “I knew the breaks could go either way and things like that, but I thought if we played well we’d win.”

The Bears did play well. They played so well, that when they scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, it put them up 35-0 and enacted the mercy rule.

Sophomore running back Juliean Broner scored the team’s final touchdown on a two-yard run with 11:56 left in the game. Sophomore place kicker Stephan Kettle nailed his fifth extra point to put the clock in motion.

The Bears’ final touchdown also capped a 24-yard drive, one of several short ones, as Sylvan Hills enjoyed a short field for most of the game. The Bears had only one scoring drive start in their own territory.

“Our defense I thought played their guts out,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “We just didn’t help our defense. They were on the field all night. Offensively we’ve got to give them some help. If we don’t do that, it’s going to be awfully hard for our defense.”

Jacksonville did get on the board with two big plays by tailback Patrick Geans. The first scoring drive was set up by a long kickoff return by Stanley Appleby to the Bear 49. Three plays by Geans picked up the whole 49. The first was a 18-yard reception, the second a 16-yard run and the third a 15-yard run for the score.

Sylvan Hills got the ball back and the second string drove six plays and punted. Jacksonville took over on its own 39. After two incomplete passes, Geans ran for four yards and Jacksonville called timeout to stop the clock for one last play. It was another screen to Geans, and went 57 yards for a touchdown on the final play.

After an eventless first quarter, the second quarter belonged to the Bears. Sylvan Hills was driving when the first quarter came to a close. The Bears took over on the Jacksonville 36 after a Patrick Geans fumble. They faced a fourth down and three on the Jacksonville 4-yard line two plays into the second. Quarterback Hunter Miller rolled right looking for a receiver, but found running room instead. After dodging Jacksonville linebacker Jeffrey Tillman at the 5, he trotted into the end zone for the first score of the game.

Stephan Kettle added the extra point to put the Bears up 7-0 with 10:45 left in the first half.

Jacksonville finally got its first first down on the first play of its next drive, but was forced to punt three plays later.

The punt by Cameron Hood was a good one, pinning the Bears on their own 7-yard line, but it only set up one of Sylvan Hills best drives of the season.

The drive took 11 plays, and ended when Miller hit Clint Thornton over the middle. Thornton broke one tackle after the catch and raced the final 20 yards to complete the 42-yard scoring hookup.

Early in the drive, Sylvan Hills converted a drive-saving third and 11 when Lawrence Hodges picked up 15 yards on a screen pass to give his team first down at the 33.

Thornton’s touchdown came with 2:55 left in the half and capped the 7-minute drive. Kettle’s extra point made it 14-0.

Jacksonville took over at its own 20, and finally got a drive going. The Red Devils got some luck on their side on a third and 9 play from midfield. A Thomas Blade pass was tipped high up in the air about 20 yards downfield, but it came down square onto the numbers of receiver Demetris Harris, who had fallen and was lying on his back. It was a 22-yard reception and gave Jacksonville a first down at the Bear 27, but the Devils went backwards from there, way backwards.

The drive ended back at midfield after an incomplete pass, a screen pass completion for negative eight yards, a sack by Michael Robinson for a loss of five, and a sack by Thornton for a loss of 10 that ended the half.

Sylvan Hills took the ball to start the second half on its own 40, and drove all the way to the Jacksonville 1-yard line, only to come up empty. Miller fumbled the snap on fourth and inches and Tillman covered it at the 2 for the Red Devils.

Although the Sylvan Hills offense didn’t get it in, the defense did. On Jacksonville’s very first snap, Cameron Hood went under center for a quarterback keeper designed just to get the ball off the goal line. Instead, Hood was stood up by one defender, and leveled by another, forcing a fumble that Thornton covered in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game.
That made it 21-0 with 8:40 left in the third quarter.

Jacksonville again got some offense going briefly, but again ended up going backwards. On fourth down from the Sylvan Hills 30, Blade was sacked again, this time for an 18-yard loss. He was also called for intentional grounding, which gave the Bears possession on Jacksonville’s 47-yard line.

Sylvan Hills made this drive look easy, going 47 yards in five plays, with Miller scrambling up the middle for the final 20 with 4:52 remaining in the third.

Hodges led the Bears with 98 yards on 19 carried. Hunter Miller finished with 80 yards on 14 totes and threw for 87 yards and a touchdown on 6 of 10 passing.

Geans led all yardage gainers. The Red Devil tailback actually finished with one more total yard than the Jacksonville offense. He carried 10 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 76 yards and a score, giving him 150 all purpose yards.

Jacksonville finished with 149 total yards as a team, with 110 coming on the last two drives.

Sylvan Hills finished with 289 total yards.

The Bears will be back at home against Forrest City next week. The Mustangs beat Marion 42-28 last night. Jacksonville will travel to Searcy, who suffered a 51-0 loss to West Memphis.

EDITORIALS>>Conveniency in Sherwood

Former Vice President Al Gore has his inconvenient truths and Sherwood politicians have their convenient truths.

It’s convenient for the Sherwood aldermen to be for saving the green space and hugging trees when it’s about getting the golf course.

But it’s also been convenient for city leaders to turn a deaf ear on complaints about late-night construction work and blasting on the Wal-Mart construction site. Wal-Mart is following all city requirements has been the pat answer to residents, and you can’t stop progress, as they say, but nearby residents deserve better.

When it comes to the golf course, it’s convenient for the city to say it would have to spend $2 million to support a development, but it was convenient for the city to ask Wal-Mart to widen Maryland Avenue and reconfigure the traffic signals. Couldn’t they conveniently ask Ron Campbell, who wants to develop the golf course into a residential area, to pay for some or all of those $2 million in needed improvements?

It has been convenient to place a moratorium on a developer, causing him possible loss of income, all in the name of the golf course.

It’s convenient for the leaders to call the golf course the jewel of the city, but what about the long standing, closed, abandoned, decrepit empty storefront across from that jewel? How about spreading more green around Sherwood and in all of our communities?

EDITORIALS>>Immigration divides GOP

If Democrats are tied in knots by the war, which is hated by a vast majority of Democratic voters, Republicans have immigration. Republican voters are supposed to be galvanized by illegal immigration, but the party is at loggerheads about what to do about it.

A few congressional Republicans sided with President Bush’s soft and gentle approach to the issue — courting Hispanic votes was a central tactic for the Bush-Rove strategy for a permanent Republican majority — but most of the party wanted a strong and punitive program to turn back and deport illegals. John McCain’s presidential campaign imploded when he voted for and stoutly defended Bush’s immigration reform.

It turns out that the schizophrenia of the Arkansas Republican Party over immigration has not healed either. Gov. Mike Huckabee went far beyond Bush in his compassion for illegal immigrants. Huckabee was already at odds with conservative Republicans from northwest Arkansas on other issues like taxation, but his temperate stance on immigration made them implacable foes. He tried to make the children of illegals eligible for state-funded college scholarships and he urged humanitarian concern for the plight of families who had come to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity.

Huckabee the presidential candidate has had his troubles on the national stump. He has repeated his mantra about Christian compassion in a few narrow venues but he quickly recognized that the base does not want to hear such pabulum. He has joined Tom Tancredo and the hotspurs demanding a wall and harsh action against illegals. He still sounds more rational and humane than all the other Republican candidates except McCain, whose campaign now seems unrecoverable, but he knows that it is not a ticket to the nomination.

The fissure in the state GOP has not closed with Huckabee’s departure for loftier climes. The other day, someone leaked to a blog and then the media an email written by Karen Ray, the new director of the Arkansas Republican Party. Writing to a Republican state legislator who was pushing for aggressive legislation restricting services to illegal immigrants, she said the legislation could be viewed as racist. Also, she said, it could drive business away from the state contrary to a central mission of the party.

“Passing fair policies that make it easier for businesses to locate in Arkansas should be our priority, not passing feel-good legislation that is unconstitutional and runs the risk of making our party look racist,” she wrote. “I’m sorry if that sounds harsh.”

Some Huckabee critics thought Huckabee was not guided by Christian charity so much as he was catering to big businesses that prosper by hiring low-paid illegal immigrants. The party’s new hired hand will get the same judgment, maybe her benediction since she did not apologize or claim that she was misunderstood. Her longevity in the position will be instructive.

The issue does not lend itself to much persuasion or even reason. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation did a comprehensive study, which showed that if illegal immigrants were driven out of the state, as a new Oklahoma law proposes to do there, it would cost Arkansas companies about $1.4 billion a year in lost production and raise costs by $95 million through higher wages. So treacherous is the issue that when the normally intrepid Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce was asked to testify at a legislative hearing on illegal immigration it mutely offered the Rockefeller report. If the chamber has an opening, we know of a qualified hire with political experience who may be available soon.

OBITUARIES >> 10-06-07

Alfred Henry

Alfred James Henry, 92, of Jacksonville passed away Oct. 3 at his home. He was born May 8, 1915 to the late Mr. and Mrs. Warren S. Parker Henry in Humnoke.

He was also preceded in death by four brothers, two sisters and a granddaughter, Janice Mitchell.

He was a retired mechanic for the Arkansas Foundry and he loved hunting and fishing as well as working in his garden.
Survivors include his loving wife of 72 years, Juanita J. Tipton Henry of Jacksonville; daughters, Mary Mitchell and husband Paul and Janie Poindexter, all of Jacksonville; one sister, Bessie Antonio of North Little Rock; grandchildren, Patricia Carlisle and husband Joplin, Karen Mims and husband Robert and Shawn Poindexter and wife Christine; as well as seven great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with burial at Arkansas Memorial Gardens.

Rickie Wallace

Rickie Lee Wallace of North Little Rock passed away Oct. 2.

He was born Sept. 20, 1956 in Columbus, Ohio.

He was preceded in death by his father, Kendall W. Wallace.

He is survived by his mother, Thelma Trent Wallace of Jacksonville; a sister, Vickie Lynn Weaver and husband Steve of Rogers; two brothers, Ken Wallace and wife Angela of North Little Rock and Terry Wallace of Jacksonville; nephew, Derrick Weaver and niece, Stacie Weaver.

Private services will be at a later date under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Kay Roberts

Kay Roberts, 69, of Jacksonville went to be with her Lord and savior after a long, hard battle with cancer, Sept. 30.
She was born Dec. 9, 1937 to the late Kenneth and Mildred Stanley of North Little Rock.

One sister, Jean Anahalt, also preceded Kay in death.

She is survived by her loving husband of over 52 years, Thomas J. Roberts; one son, Darrell and wife Alesia Roberts of Ward; her four cherished grandchildren who she adored, Jonathan, Jason, Jesse, and Darla Roberts; two brothers, James and wife Hannah Stanley and David Stanley; three sisters, Linda and husband Gene Oliver, Phyllis and husband Bill Mellas and Sally and husband Richard Robinson. She is also survived by many other relatives and a host of friends.

She was a devout Christian and member of First Assembly of God Church of North Little Rock from the time of Brother Gotcher till the present pastor, Rod Loy.

Funeral services were Oct. 4 at Griffin Leggett-Rest Hills Funeral Home with a private family burial that followed.

TOP STORY >>New parks possible for west side of town

Leader staff writer

Plans are in the works to add about 34 acres of new parks to Jacksonville—all on the west side of town.

Alderman Gary Fletcher told the council at its meeting Thursday night that the parks department had worked out plans for the parks with the developers of the 160-acre Southridge subdivision.

The planned subdivision is south and north of Main Street and west of the Penn Pointe and Tara Mount subdivisions.
Fletcher wants the city to consider using some of the $200,000 it is receiving in one-time turn-back money to develop the parks. “Without putting money into the parks, it’ll just be empty land,” he said.

“We are concerned about building an image to draw young families and lots of neighborhood parks will help,” Fletcher explained.

Mayor Tommy Swaim said he had no problems with some of the money going into the parks, but suggested a better way to fund the parks would be through the new two-cent hamburger tax, which the city started collecting last week.

That tax, which is projected to garner about $450,000 a year, goes to the city’s advertising and promotion commission which must spend at least half of it on the parks and recreation department.

“People don’t realize that once you buy or develop a park, you’ve got to have enough money for annual upkeep and extra personnel,” the mayor explained.

The mayor added that he lived quite a distance from a park. “Well, you give me these parks this year, and I’ll give you one next year,” Fletcher joked.

Plans for the Southridge Subdivision, which is in Fletcher’s ward, call for two one-acre pocket parks north of Main Street, and a two-acre and a 30-acre park on the south side. The 30-acre park, about the size of Excel Park, could become home to baseball and soccer fields, according to Parks and Recreation Director George Biggs.
In other council business:

Aldermen approved an ordinance rezoning 28 acres adjacent to Foxwood from R-0 (single-family homes) to R-1 (single family homes with smaller lots). This allows developer Jack Wilson to proceed with his plans for a subdivision of about 100 homes on the acreage.

The approval caps months of raucous and packed planning commission meetings where the residents put up numerous objections to the plans. Concerns included excessive amount of traffic, safety of the children, speeding and falling property values.

The council approved the final plat of the Jacksonville Shopping Center, Tract 2—the green space between Wendy’s and Mike Wilson’s law office. City Administrator Jay Whisker said the developer had no plans yet for the property, but was just making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Zaxby’s, a new regional chicken restaurant coming to Jacksonville, which could have built on the acreage, has turned in plans to tear down the car wash near New China on Marshall Road and build the restaurant there.

The council also approved a resolution allowing the city to destroy paper records. Some of the records are more than 40 years old. Most are from the early to the mid-90s. “State requires us to keep some records into perpetuity, while others we only need to keep for a certain amount of time,” the mayor explained. All the records listed in the resolution are beyond the required time.

“Many are redundant and take up needed space,” Swaim said.

In its monthly report, the engineering department stated it had issued 19 building permits and 10 business licenses during September. The department also performed more than 300 inspections and issued more than 400 warning letters to residents or business for unsightly or unsanitary property.

Previously, Public Works Director Jim Oakley had released the animal shelter’s August report. That month, the shelter took in 144 dogs and 120 cats. It adopted out 55 dogs and 18 cats, while 33 dogs and two cats were returned to their owners. The shelter euthanized 81 dogs and 88 cats in August.

Three dog bites were reported to animal control officials in August. Two were from a stray lab and the bites occurred at the animal shelter. The third was a pit bull bite. The dog was euthanized.

TOP STORY >>Ward could seek ’08 sales tax vote

Leader staff writer

Ward city officials are considering asking voters for a sales tax increase in November 2008 to help pay for city services.

Several members of the city council and the mayor met Wednesday afternoon to begin talking about raising the city sales tax. A second meeting will be held Monday following the regular city council meeting.

Alderman Ginger Tarno said the “homework” of the five who attended the Wednesday meeting was to decide how much the tax should be increased and how it would be spent. But her first statement as the meeting began was almost a showstopper.
“I’m not for taxes,” she said. “I know we’ve lost some from the grocery tax (which is now 3 percent instead of 6 percent) but I don’t see putting it back on the people. We’re 74 percent low income.”

Alderman Marrice Jackson disagreed. “How do you think we’re ever going to get anywhere if we don’t?” he asked Tarno. Two or three dollars a week, is there anyone who can’t afford that?”

Alderman Don Howard, chairman of the committee, pointed out that Ward doesn’t have a grocery store, only a couple of businesses that sell grocery items in addition to other products.

“I would think anybody worrying about how much they spend on groceries would go to Beebe or Cabot,” Howard said.

Ward currently collects about $3,200 a month from a one-cent tax that is divided between the police department and the fire department.

If voters approve a second one-cent tax, that amount would more than double, because two new businesses are moving in, a pizza restaurant and a Subway.

Although the group discussed possibly asking for a two-cent tax, they agreed that Ward residents might not pass one cent, so asking for two would almost certainly fail.

“I think all taxes are evil myself, but you can’t live without them,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to have animal control and we’ve got to have police protection.”

If the council decides to ask voters for a tax and if it is approved, the money could be distributed among police, fire, streets, animal control, parks and code enforcement. Who would get how much will be discussed during the next committee meeting.
Mayor Art Brooke told the council members that the city general fund contributes only $9,000 a year to parks and recreation.
Jackson said police and animal control need to be a priority.

“I’ve talked to several people and they do want more police protection and they do want these dogs off the street,” he said.
Even though city councils have the authority to levy a special prepared food tax (hamburger tax) without taking it to the voters, all those present for the committee meeting said they were opposed to doing so.

They also were opposed to holding a special election in part because of low voter turnout but also because they said a special election would cost $5,000 to $6,000, about twice the amount the existing tax brings in every month.

TOP STORY >>School bid for Cabot at $11.6M

Leader staff writer

Although no commitments were made, Cabot school officials now have a feel for how much rebuilding Cabot Junior High North, lost to a fire last August, will actually cost after nearly 20 bids were opened Thursday afternoon.

According to assistant superintendent Jim Dalton, the total cost for the new 134,000 square-foot campus was bid about $7 million less than the state’s projected cost of $18.5 million.

“With the dirt work, architect fees, soil testing and foundation work, everything except what is moveable – like the student desksand overhead projectors, the lowest bid came in at $11.6 million, which is $86.84 a square-foot,” Dalton said.

“It went very good,” he said of opening the 18 bids. “It far exceeded my expectations,” he said.

Using the state’s projected cost of $18.5 million, the estimated cost for the district to build would be about $3 million. That’s after applying the $10 million they received in January from Great American Insurance Company of Ohio, the district’s insurance company, and a projected $5.2 million (maximum amount) in catastrophic funding received through the state’s Facilities Division.

But with the lowest bid being $6.9 million less, the Cabot district won’t be seeing as high of costs on their end.

“The first $10 million for construction will come from the insurance settlement and we will use the state’s partnership funding for the remainder,” Dalton said.

That means Cabot’s share of the build will be closer to $640,000, rather than $3 million.

“We were extremely pleased with the lower bids because we get out cheaper,” Dalton said, “plus the state will not have to pay as much either.”

In the partnership funding, any costs above $10 million are shared between the state and school district in a 60/40 split, with the state paying the bill for 60 percent.

Now that all the bids have been opened and tallied, the district’s architect, Steve Elliott, of Lewis, Elliott and Studer, Inc., of Little Rock, will review the bids and make his recommendation.

“He’ll make sure the bid bond (5 percent of the company’s total bid) is in order and that all the products listed for use meet the specifications as outlined in the building specs,” Dalton said.

Once Elliott’s recommendation is made, construction on the two-story structure should begin within a month. Dirt work, at a bid of $336,000, has been ongoing for the last couple of months.

The cost of asphalt, curbs and gutters for the parking lots, as well as landscaping, will be bid out at a later date, Dalton said. The landscaping bid will not be bid out until three or four months before construction is complete, he said.

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

The design utilizes current parking and buildings. The vocational building, multi-purpose building and physical education building were left intact after last August’s electrical fire destroyed the rest of the 8-year-old school.

TOP STORY >>Drivers often fail to yield to buses

Story by Leader staff writer Heather Hartsell

Yellow flashing caution lights on school buses alert other drivers that the bus is preparing to stop and children will soon be loading or offloading. Or at least that is what the lights are meant to do.

But one concerned Cabot parent living on Lewisburg Road says she is scared that an accident will occur due to other drivers’ lack of attention.

“Just this morning a vehicle ran past the bus when the caution lights were on. He threw up his hands as if saying ‘I’m sorry,’” the parent said. “In my opinion he had time to stop if he was paying attention,” she said, adding, “this type of thing has happened before and it scares me to death.”

Her two children, 6- and 8-years-old, ride the bus to Magness Creek Elementary when she is not working at the school and know to wait for the bus stop sign to come out and for traffic to stop before they hurry onto the bus and sit down.

“I reinforce it every morning though until I am sure they can do it themselves,” the mother said.

To prepare herself for an accident, she drives her children to the bus stop at the end of their driveway and always has her cell phone with her.
“I pray to God each day an accident doesn’t happen,” she said. “We all know the reputation of Lewisburg Road. My family has lived on this road for four years, and at least four people have been killed in that time,” she said, adding that her family witnessed an accident last February and were on the scene before the ambulance and others were.

Cabot Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman said the district agrees it is a very dangerous situation.

“We receive complaints from bus drivers on a regular basis,” Thurman said, “It’s not uncommon for vehicles to pass stopped buses.” Thurman placed a call to Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson and asked him to increase patrols on Lewisburg Road in the mornings and afternoons.

“Sheriff Roberson is always willing to support the school district,” Thurman said. “He has even gone so far as to put deputies on school buses to ride with a patrolman following. The deputy on the bus can watch for violators and radio the trailing unit.”
Charlie Donham, Cabot school’s transportation director, has had a handful of concerned parents and drivers tell him of incidents this year where motorists didn’t heed the lights of a school bus.

He said at least 15 reports were filed last school year when drivers failed to stop for a bus or passed a bus with its yellow lights on.

“I ask all the (drivers) to have more patience,” Donham said. “It’s not a question of where an accident might happen if this keeps on, but of when,” he said.

“The thought of someone running over someone else…people need to have patience,” he reiterated. “You can’t argue the fact that these kids are our pride and joy. I wish people would be careful,” Donham said.

Small percentage

He believes there are probably a small percentage of motorists who truly don’t see the flashing lights because of their minds being elsewhere, but “how do you miss something lit up like a Christmas tree?” he asked.

“We carry precious cargo on our buses,” Donham said, “Our number one goal is to make sure no one is ever hurt or killed while getting on or off, or while riding.”

And with extended learning opportunities (ELO) classes beginning Monday at some Cabot schools, motorists should prepare to see buses later in the evening.

Cabot’s ELO classes end nightly at 5 p.m., putting school buses full of third- through sixth-grade students on the road later than usual.

The classes will be held at both middle schools and at Ward Central, Westside, Northside and Central Elementary schools where buses will be out at night taking students home as quickly as possible. Some buses might still be on the road after it gets dark, Donham said.

By law, when a school bus stops to drop off or pick up students, motorists must stop too.

The buses give other motorists plenty of warning that a stop is about to occur. The yellow flashing caution lights are turned on 250 feet from the bus stop to alert drivers of an impending stop and put them on caution to slow down.

When the bus is completely stopped, the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended; both directions of traffic are required to stop at this point. If at a four-way intersection, all four directions of traffic must stop too.

Illegally passing a stopped school bus with red lights flashing is commonly known as a “stop-arm violation,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which refers to the stop-sign shaped “arm” that extends from the left side of the bus when the red lights are activated.

The penalty for breaking the law by passing a school bus with its lights on varies by occurrence.

According to Sgt. Brent Lucas with the Cabot Police Department, the penalty for the first occurrence can vary.

“They can be fined anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for passing a stopped school bus; they could be sentenced to no more than 90 days in jail; or a combination of both,” Lucas said. “They might also face up to 400 hours of community service or have their driver’s license suspended from 21 days up to one year,” he said.

If a student is hit and killed by a motorist that failed to stop for the school bus, that person would face manslaughter or negligent homicide charges, depending on the situation, Lucas said.

“Drivers just need to remember to watch out for the kids because sometimes they (the children) don’t watch out for themselves,” he added.

Arkansas law has become more strict on drivers who do not stop for school buses, requiring bus drivers to submit information about the vehicle, such as color, make and license plate number, to the school district’s administrative office.

According to Act 718 of the Arkansas 86th General Assembly, school bus drivers who observe motorists violating code 27-51-1004, passing when stopped prohibited, or code 27-51-1005, operation on multiple lane or divided highways, must report the license plate number, issuing state if not Arkansas, and a brief description of the vehicle to the superintendent of the school district within two hours after the end of the driver’s shift for that period of the day.

The superintendent in turn has 48 hours from the observation to provide the information to the local prosecuting attorney’s office.

“It really helps in prosecuting a motorist if the bus driver has witnesses to back up what happened,” Donham added.
Bus facts

According to NHTSA, school buses are one of the safest motor vehicles on the highways.

In fact, they are nearly eight times safer than passenger vehicles.

However, the most dangerous part of the school bus ride is getting on and off the bus.

An average of 31 pedestrians are killed each year while getting on or off school buses, 23 were struck by the school bus and eight were struck by another vehicle, the NHTSA reported.

Half of the pedestrian fatalities in school bus related crashes are children between 5 and 7 years of age. They are hit in the danger zone around the bus, either by a passing vehicle or by the school bus itself.

The danger zone is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit.

Children should stay 10- to 20-feet away from the bus (or as far away as they can) and never go behind it.

They should also take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing so they can be seen by the bus driver.

The NHTSA also reported that an average of 10 passengers are killed each year in school bus crashes; most of the school bus passenger fatalities were in non-survivable situations.

Education is key

School officials want to stress safety to parents, children and motorists about the do’s and don’ts of bus safety, especially with National School Bus Safety Week being observed the week of Oct. 22-26.

Children must follow the rules to protect themselves, and parents must play a vital part in educating their children on what they should and should not do. It’s also important for other drivers to obey the rules of the road and watch for buses with signal lights on.

TIPS FOR Children

Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb and line up away from the street.

Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.

If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you can cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.

Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.

Never walk behind the bus.

Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.

If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

TIPS for Drivers

When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school but may not be thinking of getting there safely.

Slow down. Watch out for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

Learn and obey the school bus laws – learn the flashing signal light system: yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children; red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

TOP STORY >>County tries to keep its employees

Leader senior staff writer

Some officials say Pulaski County can pay one-time bonuses and also create a wellness center to show appreciation for under-compensated employees in the competitive local job market.

They would like to split $800,000—about three-quarters—of the 2007 budget money accumulating from salaries for positions authorized but not filled, County Treasurer Deborah Bucker told the quorum court recently.

An ordinance authorizing that is on the agenda for the October quorum court meeting, sponsored by quorum court members Patricia Dicker and Alan Kerr, according to Comptroller Mike Hutchens.

“We hope to distribute (the money) in November,” Hutchens said. The bill is slated to go to committee next Tuesday night.

It’s been three or more years since county employees received even cost-of-living raises and that’s the kind of thing that affects not only their pocket books but also their morale and the likelihood that experienced, trained workers would leave for better-paying jobs.

Based on last year’s budget and information he’s received so far, Hutchens expects the 2008 budget to come in at about $52 million, about 27 percent for law enforcement, running the jail and medical costs of the inmates.

“We’ve had very favorable comments about the ordinance,” Buckner said. “(Quorum Court members) appreciate employees that are still hanging in, people doing more with less.”

As currently written, the one-time bonus would be 3 percent across the board, according to Hutchens. For an $18,000 a year employee, that would be $540, but the money is likely to be paid half in November and half next year.

“Doc (Sheriff Doc Holladay) is losing so many deputies, (employees have gone) a couple of years without raises, people moved on,” Buckner said. “They’ve had no raise and no indication of anything to come.”

Buckner said there is support on the quorum court, including JP Patricia Dicker, who said early this year that there ought to be some way to get some kind of recognition.

“You can’t run a county without people and we’ve lost some good people,” Buckner said.

Hutchens says it is not a raise, doesn’t create a new floor for compensation and thus doesn’t obligate the county to any increase for the 2008 budget currently being decided.

Buckner and Hutchens say there is general support among some quorum court members also to convert space in the old Bale Chevrolet building into a wellness center, which could pay for itself in time with reduced medical costs.

Prosecutor Larry Jegley’s office recently moved from that building into new quarters and it’s being remodeled to accommodate quorum court chambers and offices.

Buckner said it wouldn’t cost much more to section off a space for a wellness center and wire and plumb it, all with workers from the county’s services department.

Employees are self-insured with the county, meaning the county collects the premiums and pays the authorized medical costs.

If regular exercise and perhaps smoking cessation classes led to fewer claims related to obesity, diabetes, hearts and lungs, for instance, it could offset the costs of remodeling and also buying some cardiovascular equipments such as treadmills.

Buckner said the county could save money by financing wellness instead of sick leave. “We are trying to cut our own costs by creating a place where people can go. Not everybody can afford a gym.”