Saturday, November 03, 2007

SPORTS >>Lonoke hounded, pounded

Leader sportswriter

NEWPORT — Halloween has come and gone, but the orange and black attack was still in full force Friday night at Greyhound Field, as Newport kept its unbeaten record intact with a dominant 48-6 win over Lonoke to claim outright possession of the 4A-2 Conference championship. The theme of the game was a simple one; the Lonoke defense giving chase to Newport running backs Nico Cox and Chris Crite. Cox blistered the Jackrabbits with 16 carries for 165 yards and four rushing touchdowns, along with one reception for 24 yards and another touchdown.

Crite actually generated more yardage than Cox in the game with 20 carries for 183 yards and a touchdown, but it was the senior Cox that made the most of the big plays for the Greyhounds.

The Greyhounds took little time getting on the scoreboard with a three-play, 60-yard drive during the first possession of the game. Cox found plenty of room down the right side on the first Newport drive, taking the first play from scrimmage 29 yards into Lonoke territory.

Cox found the end zone for the first time two plays later with a 19-yard touchdown run on a pitch from quarterback Edward Pruitt with 11:15 left in the first quarter.

The Jackrabbits would not come up completely empty handed in the first quarter. Lonoke quarterback Jacob Taylor found Daniel Smith for an 80-yard touchdown pass down the right side. Smith caught the lob in coverage by Donell Swanson, and zig-zagged across the right side to avoid the tackle to go in untouched for the score.

Smith also lined up to kick the extra point, but the Jackrabbits tried the fumble-rooskie for two points. Smith picked up the ball and found a hole, but the Greyhound defense stopped him just short of the line. That would keep the score at 7-6, but only for a short period of time.

Cox’s next score came with 55 seconds left in the opening quarter when Pruitt found him on an in route to the end zone. Cox beat the coverage to the throw, and only had to step over the goal line after the reception for the second Newport touchdown of the night. An offsides penalty moved the ball close to the 1-yard line for the extra-point try, and Newport took advantage by running in the two-point conversion with a keeper by Pruitt to make it 15-6 Newport.

What few Lonoke pass plays survived the Greyhounds’ monstrous blitz could not get past the equally impressive secondary for Newport.

Taylor spent most of his time in the early going suffering the abuse of Newport linebackers Clyde Dean and Donell Swanson. The pair sliced through the Lonoke offensive line on a number of pass plays to deny Taylor of a good look downfield.

The Jackrabbits did manage to catch a break in the opening moments of the second quarter. Newport drove down to Lonoke’s 23-yard line with the threat of a third score, but Pruitt fumbled on a keep, and Alvin Farmer was there to cover for the Jackrabbits, giving them the ball at their own 13-yard line.

Lonoke was forced to punt after an incomplete pass to Smith on third and two, and Cox put the Greyhounds up by three scores moments later with another touchdown run to the left side, this time from 24 yards out for the score with 7:34 left in the first half.

Cox put one more touchdown on the board for the Greyhounds before the intermission with a six-yard run at the 2:25 mark of the second quarter to give Newport a 28-6 lead at the half.

Lonoke got the ball to start the second half, and got one first down before three straight incompletions stalled the drive at the Jackrabbit 20-yard line. The ensuing punt gave Newport good field position at the Lonoke 43-yard line, setting up yet another TD scramble by Cox. This one would come from 30 yards out, and a three-yard touchdown run by Crite later in the period with 2:55 left in the third would activate the mercy rule against the Jackrabbits for the first time all season.

For whatever reason, the Greyhounds decided to add insult to injury in the fourth quarter with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Dean that was set up by an interception by Swanson.

Newport finished with 460 yards of total offense, compared to 196 yards for Lonoke. Smith led the Jackrabbits with three receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. Newport finished the regular season with a perfect record of 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the 4A-2 Conference. Lonoke’s record fell to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in conference.

SPORTS >>Red Devils fall to Patriots

IN SHORT: Jacksonville lost the game and its hopes for a playoff berth Friday in a 20-18 decision.

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils closed the regular season much the same way they’ve played most of it. The offense moved the ball well but failed to capitalize. The defense played tough and held as long as it could.

In the end, Marion escaped Jacksonville Friday night with a 20-18 victory, and with it a spot in the playoffs. The loss finalizes Jacksonville’s season at 3-7 overall and without a win in four home games.

Trailing 20-10 and starting on their own 20 with four minutes left in the game, the Red Devils executed their offense more beautifully than they have all season. Jacksonville needed just seven plays and a minute and eight seconds to cover the distance. Quarterback Thomas Blade was five of six for 74 yards and ran the final six for the score with 2:52 left in the game.

Blade then found Demetrius Harris in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion to make it a two-point game.

The Red Devils failed to cover an on-side kick, and Marion took over on its own 43. Two runs left third and six, but the Patriots converted the first down when quarterback Brandon Hampton kept on an option left for seven yards.

Jacksonville still had two timeouts left, and had one more opportunity to stop Marion’s offense. After fullback Justin Blackwood got just one yard, Jacksonville used one of those timeouts. On second and nine, tailback Deoppolis Smith picked up eight yards and the Red Devils used their final timeout. On third down, fullback Bubba Cooper bulled his way forward for three yards and what was left was victory formation for two snaps to secure the Marion victory.

Jacksonville got on the board first on its second drive. The Red Devil defense stopped Marion’s first two drives, once when Marion missed a 45-yard field goal attempt, and once when Jacksonville stuffed the run on a fourth-and-four conversion attempt.

After the fourth-down stop, Blade hit Harris for 17 yards to move the ball to the Jacksonville 38. On the next play, tailback Patrick Geans got loose for a 43-yard gain to the Marion 19. Two plays later Jacksonville faced third and 11, but converted when Blade hit Cameron Hood on a screen pass for 19 yards to the 1-yard line. On the next play, Hood went under center and kept for the score. The extra point put Jacksonville up 7-0 with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter.

Marion came right back with an 11-play, 74-yard drive to tie the game. The big play of the drive came on first and 21 after a holding penalty. That’s when Hampton, who stepped in at quarterback when starter Jonathan Miliken went down on the first drive, broke loose for a 36-yard gain to the Red Devil 29.

Brayden Murray then sacked Hampton for a three yard loss. Marion got 11 of it back in the next two plays, but still faced fourth and two. On fourth down, Blackwood got seven yards to the Jacksonville 14. Hampton was sacked again for minus four yards, but two Smith runs got the first down at the 2, and Blackwood did the rest on first and goal. The extra point tied the game with 8:48 left in the half.

Jacksonville put together another good drive, going 64 yards in 12 plays. Facing fourth and goal at the 1-yard line, Jacksonville opted for a field goal, which was hit by Price Eubanks to put the Red Devils in front 10-7 with 3:29 left in the half.
Marion got a good return to the 43, and needed just four plays to score and take a lead into the break.

The big play came on third and five when Hampton found Cooper for a 45-yard pass and catch to the 7-yard line. Blackwood got the rest on the next play. Jacksonville jumped off sides and Marion decided to go for two from the 1, but failed to get in, leaving it 13-10 with 1:34 left.

Jacksonville picked up 17 yards on three running plays, but let the clock run out with two timeouts on the board.

The Jacksonville defense was strong in the second half, but had two big mistakes that proved costly. On Marion’s second drive of the half, the Red Devils were called for pass interference on third and 11 to keep Marion’s only scoring drive of the half alive. Marion faced another third and long just two plays later, but junior Azell Marshall broke three tackles and raced 29 yards for the score to put Marion up by 10 with 4:03 left in the third.

Jacksonville put together another long drive from its own 20 to the Marion 28, but it came up empty when Marquis Simpkins dropped a pass on third and 10, and Appleby was tackled after picking up just four yards on fourth and 15.

Jacksonville got it right back when junior Terrell Brown picked off a Hampton pass for the only turnover of the night.

Jacksonville got one first down to the Marion 37, but went backwards from there, completing two passes for negative yardage and throwing an incompletion.

Marion started picking up big yardage on its next drive, but the Red Devil defense put the clamps on and forced another long field goal attempt. This time it was from 33 yards out, and again it was no good. That gave Jacksonville the ball to start its final scoring drive.

Jacksonville finished with 323 total yards to 318 for Marion.

Smith led the Patriots in rushing with 56 yards on 17 carries. Geans led all rushers with 120 yards on 22 carries. Blade completed 16 of 30 pass attempts for 170 yards.

SPORTS >>Season's last play clinches playoffs

IN SHORT: Cabot scored as time expired to qualify for the postseason Thursday night in a wild 55-42 win over Russellville.

Leader sports editor

Every single play matters. Let no one say differently lest he be reminded of what took place on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007 at Russellville High School. That was the setting for perhaps the most exciting, bizarre and miraculous playoff qualification in football history.

That was the time and place at which the Panthers, who needed to win by at least 12 points to have a chance at a spot in the playoffs, beat the Cyclones 55-42, and didn’t lead by the necessary 12 points until the very last play of the game.

In a game that saw more second half twists and turns than Watkins-Glen, Cabot had four seconds and one snap to go five yards. The win was well in hand. The Panthers led 48-42 with the ball on RHS’s 5 with four seconds to go. But a six-point win would have been like a knife to the gut, especially after leading 42-21 with seven minutes left to play. Cabot had to win by 12, so they called a special play—96G. Special in that it’s the fullback up the middle, which Cabot runs about 30 times a game. It got just enough, as the line judge raised his hands skyward, awarding sophomore fullback Michael James a touchdown just as the horn sounded to signal the end of the game.

Senior halfback Jordan Car-lisle, who had a monster game of his own, saw the hole from the start, and carried out his fake to the outside with fists pumping into the air celebrating what he was certain would be a score.

“I saw it right off,” Carlisle said. “They had been stacking up trying to stop the fullback, but they didn’t that time. I saw that and I saw the hole open up and I knew he was going to score.”

It wasn’t quite as easy as all that. James did get hit before reaching the goal line, but as was the case for much of the night, his strength and the strength of the offensive line got him the yardage he needed after contact.

Wes Lamb’s extra point with no time left set the final margin. A few minutes later, news reached the field that Bryant had beaten Little Rock Central, and Cabot coach Mike Malham told his players they wouldn’t be turning in gear on Monday, and the celebration began.

The almost-miraculous ending had the head Panther asking the question after the game.

“Have you ever seen anything like that?” Malham said. “What did the final score end up being? I don’t think we’ve scored 55 points, maybe ever.”

It could have been even more, but seven fumbles, including three that were lost, thwarted a few drives. Russellville never came close to stopping Cabot’s offense, but the Cyclones had some offensive magic of their own.

Cabot’s defense played well through the third quarter, but the offense gave the high-powered Russellville team the ball too many times.

After the first turnover of the second half, Cabot’s defense held. After the second, on the very next drive, Russellville went 74 yards in two plays with the help of one Cabot penalty to make it 42-28 with 7:07 left in the game.

The Cyclones then covered an on-side kick and scored just three plays later to make it 42-35 with 6:32 left.

RHS kicked it away this time, and Cabot’s offense answered. The Panthers took three minutes and 11 seconds to go 70 yards, with Carlisle breaking loose for the final 44 and the touchdown. The extra point was no good, leaving the Panthers with a 13-point cushion.

Russellville, which for the entire game needed nothing more than for it to be third and long, answered right back, scoring with 1:40 remaining to make it a six-point game.

Cabot was now feeling the heat, needing not just to win, but win by 12 or more. An on-side kick was coming, so covering it would leave a short field.

Not only did Jake Davis cover, he caught it on the fly as the RHS hands team ran right by him. Davis, a defensive lineman and reserve fullback, ran it all the way to the 24 before being dragged down by the kicker with 1:37 left in the game.

Three plays gave Cabot first and goal at the 10, but from there things went from great hope to deep despair.

A bad pitch on first down made it second and goal from the 17.

Carlisle caught a throw-back pass for a 12-yard gain on second down, but was stopped after just one yard on third down. On fourth and goal from the 4, another pitch was fumbled and Russellville covered on the 5-yard line with 43 seconds left in the game. The Cyclones got it out to the 30 when Davis got a sack for a 9-yard loss. Russellville got 11 yards on second down to set up third and eight.

Up to that point, the Cyclones had converted several third downs in the second half, but not this time.

Senior defensive back Jordan Sperry spotted a trend in the Russellville package, saw the play develop and stepped in front of an out pass and raced down to the 5-yard line before being tackled by Humphrey with four seconds remaining.

“They were running the curl and the out every time on my side,” Sperry said. “I figured they would do it again. They threw the out and I just stepped up and made a play when my team needed. It’s all a team effort though. We did this together.”

The end of the first half was about as exciting as the end of a half can be, and turned out to be just a teaser for the end of the game.

Russellville scored first and third to take a 14-7 lead when Cabot took over the game and scored 14 straight. The Panthers took a 21-14 lead with just 2:07 remaining in the half, but that was plenty of time for Russellville to get back on track.

The Cyclones capped their last drive of the half with a 15-yard pass from Humphrey to Owens. The extra point tied the game at 21 apiece with 20 seconds to go.

Cabot returned the kickoff to the 25, and Malham dusted off an old playbook, took out an old play, modified it to fit new rules, and Cabot’s Spencer Neumann scored on the new fumble-rooskie end around, the modern version of the old fumble rooskie guard around, to send Cabot into the break with a 28-21 advantage.

“The guard is illegal now,” Malham said. “It has to be an eligible ball carrier to pick it up. We put Neumann out there at tight end and he ran it in for us.”

Cabot took the ball to start the second half and scored again. On third and one, Cabot faked the handoff and Wilson found tight end Blake Carter behind the Russellville defense for a 24-yard scoring strike. After a Russellville three and out, Cabot went up 42-21 when it drove 62 yards in just six plays with James finishing it off from one yard out.

The two teams combined for over 1,000 yards of offense. Russellville finished with 464 while Cabot totaled 564.

Humphrey completed 29 of 43 passes for 315 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He also ran 12 times for 96 yards, but was sacked four times for negative 31 yards. His 65 rushing yards was still tops on the team. Owens caught 14 of those passes for 199 yards.

Cabot got 527 of its yards on the ground, led by James, who ran 28 times for 218 yards and four touchdowns.

Carlisle carried 18 times for 166 yards and two scores. Neumann was third with 75 yards on one carry and a score. Wesley Sowell carried seven times for 32 yards, and Wilson was three of four passing for 37 yards and a touchdown.

The win lifted the Panthers to 7-3 overall and earned them a first-round playoff game against Har-Ber High School next Friday in Springdale.

SPORTS >>Big runs, pick six lead to Bear win

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills got several big plays and an interception return for a score to clobber Jonesboro 35-7 and end the season with six straight wins.

Leader sports editor

It mattered little how well Sylvan Hills played, or even whether or not it won, but the Bears won their regular-season finale easily, beating Jonesboro 35-7 and enacting the mercy rule about halfway through the third quarter.

Sylvan Hills dominated the Hurricane in every facet of the game. Two turnovers kept the score from being worse, but it was still an easy night for the Bears, who will begin preparation this week for El Dorado, which visits Blackwood Field in Sherwood for the first round of the class 6A playoffs.

Bears quarterback Hunter Miller had a hand in all five touchdowns. He threw for three scores, ran one in and returned an interception for another.

Sylvan Hills put together a nice drive on its first possession. The Bears drove steadily to the Jonesboro 1-yard line, but coughed it up and lost the ball going into the end zone.

The first quarter ended with no score, but Sylvan Hills changed that quickly.

After another defensive stop, the Bear offense went backwards nine yards on the first two plays. On third and 19, Miller hooked up with Jacob Clark for a 42-yard scoring pass and Stephan Kettle hit the extra point to make it 7-0 with 9:50 left in the half.

Jonesboro fumbled on its next possession and Sylvan Hills covered near midfield. Miller then ran 50 yards to the 1-yard line, and snuck in on first goal to put the Bears up by two scores with seven minutes left in the half.

A blitz of interceptions ensued over the next three drives.

Jonesboro put together a nice drive, but it ended when Julien Broner stepped in front of a Carter Callahan pass at the Bear 2-yard line and returned the pick 73 yards to the Jonesboro 25. On the very next play, Sylvan Hills gave it right back when Miller was picked off.

Two plays later, Miller atoned for his mistake, intercepting a Callahan pass and returning it 39 yards for the score. Kettle’s extra point made it 21-0 with 50 seconds left in the half.

The Bears took the momentum into the break and carried it onto the field in the third quarter. Sylvan Hills got the ball to start the second half, and went 58 yards in four plays. Miller had runs of 16 and 30 on the drive, and he scored from five yards out to make it 28-0 with 9:50 left in the third quarter.

Bear defender Casey Cerrato then got Sylvan Hills’ third pick of the game deep in Jonesboro territory. A few plays later, Miller scampered 23 yards for the score. Kettle’s fifth extra point made it a 35-point game and enacted the mercy rule with 5:30 left in the third.

Jonesboro finally got on the board with four minutes left in the game when Montello Thomas ran nine yards for the score.
The win was the sixth straight for Sylvan Hills and lifted the Bears to 6-4 overall and 6-1 in league play. They will take their No. 2 seed from the 6A-East into next week’s playoff game against the Wildcats, the third seed from the 6A-South Conference.

SPORTS >>Badger rally turns to heartbreak

IN SHORT: Beebe came back from 14 points down in the fourth quarter, but lost on a late kick.

Leader football writer

The Beebe Badgers almost did it again.

With a number two seed in the Class 5A state playoffs on the line, the Badgers watched as Batesville’s Nick Reynolds booted a 25-yard field goal with five seconds left, lifting the Pioneers past Beebe, 23-20, Friday night here at Bro Erwin Stadium.

Reynolds’ kick sends the Badgers on the road to begin the playoffs as Beebe, now a number three seed, will travel to meet Greenwood, the number two seed from the 5A-West.

Batesville, whose only conference loss came to league champ Blytheville (22-21), will host Siloam Springs in a first-round matchup next Friday.

Just as they did several times early in the season, the Badgers fought back from a deficit to turn what could have been a blowout into a thriller.

Trailing 14-0 at the half, Beebe battled back to tie the game at 20, setting up Reynolds’ game-winner.

“Great teams make great plays when they have to,” Beebe coach John Shannon said afterward. “Batesville is a great team. They proved that tonight when they made the great plays to get the field goal at the end.”

Trailing 20-6 late in the third quarter, Beebe set out on a journey that would take more than nine minutes off the clock before cutting into the Pioneers’ lead. A rare Batesville mistake – a fumble by tailback Tim Hughes – was recovered by defensive end Ethan Quick, setting the Badgers up at their own 49. A 13-yard pass from quarterback Charlie Spakes to a sliding Brandon Pursell and, three plays later, a three-yard James Anderson run, kept Beebe in business in Batesville territory.

The Badgers converted three consecutive third-down situations and used nearly an entire quarter before Sammy Williams bulled his way over from a yard out. Roger Glaude’s PAT cut the lead to 20-13 with 6:29 left in the game.

“That was a big drive for us right then … and that’s usually how our drives are,” Shannon said. “We needed to speed it up a little, but we did a good job moving the ball and avoiding mistakes on that drive.”

The momentum stayed on Beebe’s side when senior defensive back Josh Turner stepped in front of a Nick Palese pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 5:31 left. Holder Ryan Williams got a high snap down on the PAT and Glaude tied the game at 20 with 5:31 to play.

The Badgers, though, wouldn’t see the ball again, save for a desperation kickoff return.

The Pioneers, who relied primarily on the hard-running Hughes in the first half, turned to the right arm of Palese, a senior, on the game’s final drive.

Starting at the Batesville 35, Palese hit Brandon Owens for 13 yards on third-and-8 from the 37, then moments later connected with Reynolds for four yards on fourth-and-three from the Badgers’ 43-yard line.

With 1:20 left, Palese hit Owens again, this time for seven yards on third-and-seven from the Beebe 36. Another pass from Palese to Owens, this time for 9 yards, and a two-yard run by Hughes with 10 seconds left, set up Reynolds’ game-winning field goal.

Shannon and the Badgers attempted to ice the senior kicker by using both of their remaining timeouts but to no avail. With five ticks left, Reynolds calmly knocked it through to send the Badgers to Greenwood.

“Beebe has a great group of kids and they played hard,” Batesville coach Dave King said. “I’m proud of our kids and the way they fought back, too, though. They really bounced back when we had to have it.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Pioneers made Beebe pay for a mistake early in the second quarter.

A botched handoff attempt gave Batesville the ball at the Beebe 19 and Palese connected with Ethan McBride for a TD strike on the first play for a 7-0 lead.

The Badgers attempted to respond, using a 27-yard pass from Spakes to Turner to drive to the Batesville 30. On second-and-13, though, Spakes’ pass was picked off by the Pioneers’ Darius Davis. Batesville used nine plays to set up Hughes’ three-yard TD run that pushed the lead to 14-0 with 53 seconds left until the half.

With hopes of hosting a first-round playoff game fading, though, the Badgers fought back to open the second half. On Beebe’s second play, James Anderson burst through a hole on the right side of the line and sprinted 63 yards to cut the lead to 14-6.

The glory was short-lived though, as Hughes ran four times in a five-play drive that covered 69 yards. Hughes’ 17-yard scoring run pushed the lead back to 14 points at 20-6 with 9:13 left in the third quarter.

Hughes had 116 yards in the first half and finished with 187 on 29 carries. Palese completed 13-of-18 passes for 111 yards.
Williams got most of the calls for the Badgers’ offense. The junior carried 26 times for 105 hard-fought yards. Anderson finished with 71 yards on seven carries. Spakes was 3-of-6 passing for 58 yards.

Shannon, a former assistant at Class 7A Cabot High School, will be taking his first crack at the 5A playoffs.
“I haven’t been in 5A before this year, so I haven’t seen Greenwood,” Shannon said. “All I know about them is the reputation. We’ve played well on the road all season, though.”

TOP STORY >>Free flu shots being offered in cities next week

IN SHORT: Both Jacksonville and Cabot hold clinics, while Cabot will also have an emergency excercise.

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville and Cabot will host free flu shot clinics next week, and Cabot will take the opportunity to rehearse dispensing medication to a high number of people in case of an emergency.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams asked the state to consider having the clinic in Cabot because he said there is a need to practice mass-medication dispensing in a crisis.

“We are fortunate to be able to implement a system and see what we need to do that day in case of an emergency and see where the plan might need to mature,” Williams said.

He will be volunteering at the clinic on Friday and will be getting his own flu shot then.

If a disaster happened, the Health Department, county governments and emergency management would mobilize and activate their emergency response plans. The mass flu shot clinic will allow them to monitor the effectiveness of these plans. The Health Department has 2,000 vaccines prepared to dispense in Cabot.

The Arkansas Department of Health is holding clinics across the state in 81 county offices. It wants Arkansans to get vaccines now before flu season arrives.

Flu vaccinations are given in one shot that can take up to two weeks to take effect.

Cabot’s flu clinic will be at the Veterans Park Community Center at 508 N. Lincoln St. from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The Jacksonville Health Unit will hold a flu clinic from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at its office at 3000 N. First Street.

“It is our first year doing the free clinic,” said Patricia Henderson, an administrator at the health unit. “Anyone can come.”
She said Air Force base personnel have volunteered to direct traffic because a large number of people are expected to receive flu shots.

Counties will offer flu shots for $20 at later dates. Health units accept Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.
The flu is a virus that cannot be treated with antibiotics.

It is spread through coughing, sneezing or touching the nose or mouth after touching a hard surface with the virus on it. The best protection from the flu is the vaccination.

“The flu shot contains a small amount of dead virus that is just enough to get your body’s immune system ready to fight off the real flu when it comes around this winter,” according to Dr. James Phillips, chief at the infectious disease branch chief at ADH.

“If you’re young and healthy, the flu vaccine may be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness,” Phillips said.
For older adults who are at high risk, a flu shot can reduce hospitalizations by 70 percent and deaths by 85 percent.

Vaccinations are recommended for children 6 months to 5 years old, everyone over 50, nursing home residents, pregnant women, anyone with a compromised immune system (including people with HIV or diabetes), children who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy, people with chronic pulmonary problems such as asthma, renal, hepatic or hematological disorders, patients with compromised respiratory function (such as cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders or other neuromuscular disorders).

Employees of assisted-living facilities, caregivers to the elderly and children or other family members who live with people with compromised immune systems should also receive flu vaccinations.

TOP STORY >>Businesses booming in Cabot area

IN SHORT: Lonoke County issues more commerical-use licenses as its population grows.

Leader staff writer

It’s not just Cabot’s population that’s growing these days.

During October, Cabot issued a total of 16 business licenses, five for brick-and-mortar businesses and 11 for in-home offices or changes in ownership.

The city also issued six commercial building permits in October.

From May to September, 85 business licenses were issued, 38 of which were for actual businesses and not in-home offices or short-term contractors.

The business boom isn’t limited to Cabot however, as Austin and Ward have also seen new businesses come their way.
The newest business to open its doors in Cabot is First Community Bank, 3084 Bill Foster Memorial Hwy. They’ll hold their grand opening today with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. with festivities to follow.

Cabot also has an additional six businesses under construction, said Karen Knebel of Cabot Public Works.

That includes a Metropolitan National Bank location that will call the new strip mall area along Hwys. 5 and 89 home. There is also a gas station and a men’s clothing warehouse coming to that location.

Further out Hwy. 5 across from Greystone, a new business strip has been built. It is already home to a Larry’s Pizza carryout or delivery-only location and a coffee shop.

Community Bank recently announced plans for a new location in that same area, too.

“We realized our Hwy. 5 customers needed a more convenient location and feel this new branch will allow our customers, as well as others with financial needs, a much easier banking option closer to home,” said Tracy French, president and chief executive officer of Community Bank.

Scheduled for completion next March, the new branch will feature expanded drive-through lanes to accommodate larger vehicles, a double-sided electronic marquee sign and custom exterior stonework.

Public Works also reports a handful of new businesses hope to eventually call Cabot home, including Starbucks and possibly Chick-fil-A and CiCi’s Pizza.

Up the road in Austin and Ward, businesses are moving in, too.

In Austin, First Arkansas Bank and Trust is expanding its services with a new branch location at the four-way intersection of Hwys. 367 and 305, across from Chamberlain’s store.

According to Larry Wilson, president and CEO of First Arkansas Bank and Trust, it will take five months to build the branch.
A ground-breaking ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Monday; the anticipated opening date will be in April or May.
“It will be a nice addition to downtown Austin,” Wilson said.

“We had looked at the growth in the area — the number of new homes and the amount of lots still available, along with the area’s traffic patterns — and it appears that intersection will be quite active and a good location for us for years to come,” he said.

Austin is hoping to see more of a business boom with the completion of the overpass connecting Hwy. 367 to Hwy. 38 and eventually connecting with Hwy. 5.

Two daycares, Lenny Penny’s and Little Hunny’s, as well as House of Bargains and Faught Flooring and Design, Inc. are also open for business in Austin.

In Ward, a Subway restaurant has opened in the Hwy. 367 shopping center across from Dollar General.

There is also a pawn shop in the same location and a pizzeria that is currently moving in, too.

And if you’ve missed mom’s home cooking, head less than a mile up the road where Mom’s Family Restaurant has opened its doors, serving up home-style meals just like mom made when you were a kid.

And according to Mayor Art Brooke, two Mexican restaurants are looking at Ward for a new location, each contingent on the other’s decision (if one says no, the other will come).

Near Dude’s Place on Hwy. 38, an Italian restaurant has also made plans to open in the restaurant area connected to Dude’s, Brooke said.

TOP STORY >>Aging guardrails take a pounding

IN SHORT: Workers repair overpass for the third time this year as a new onramp opens on T.P. White Drive.

Leader senior staff writer

For at least the third time in the past 20 months, state Highway and Transportation Department workers are replacing missing and damaged guardrail and supports on the southbound lane of Hwy. 67/167 on the Main Street overpass at Jacksonville.

The guardrail on the overpass, built to outdated standards, is all that keeps errant vehicles from plunging to Main Street below—and it’s not always enough.

In February 2006, a loaded gravel truck driven by Donald Ray Watkins, then 36, of Ward, slammed into a line of stopped traffic on the overpass, driving two vehicles through the guardrail and landing among them on the street below.
Jerry Justice, 34, of Ward, was killed in that accident and four others were hospitalized.

From January 2003 through December 2006, the State Police worked 118 accidents on the overpass or within a quarter mile, according to data supplied by the state.

In addition to that one fatality, 71 people were injured as a result of those accidents.
Despite the large number of accidents over that time, including those actually on the overpass and some destroying the guard- rail, no redesign or reconstruction are planned for the near future, according to David Nellis, a Highway Department spokesman.

The overpasses are expected to be replaced eventually when Hwy. 67/167 is widened to three lanes in both directions between Jacksonville and Cabot.

Because the north and southbound overpasses and approaches are separated, most accidents are described as “rear end” or “single vehicle” crashes.

The most recent accident damaged about nine of the concrete posts that support the guardrail. The job was expected to be completed by the end of the week.

In other Jacksonville area highway developments, the new, $2 million northbound Vandenberg entrance to Hwy. 67/167 opened this week.

That was constructed by Rogers Inc. of Nashville, Tenn., replacing the short, inefficient and risky entrance across from Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.

Replacement of that ramp was on the wish list of Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim presented to state highway commissioners several years ago.

Also locally, Weaver-Bailey Contractors of El Paso (White County) is building a wider, 850-foot-long northbound bridge on Hwy. 67/167 over Bayou Meto, between Hwy. 440 and the Redmond Road exit.

That overpass, necessary to span the bayou and its flood plain is a major contributor to the $13 million cost of creaing four lanes on the 1.5 mile northbound segment of the highway, according to Highway Department spokesman Glenn Bolick.
The four-lane bridge will replace the existing 175-foot-long two-lane bridge.

At one time, it was thought the new bridge would need to be about 1,200 feet long and cost about $16 million, but the new design, which complies with FEMA floodplain and backwater requirements, was estimated to cost about $10 million.

The three through lanes and the interchange merge lane from Hwy. 440 to Redmond Road all will cross the new bridge.
The current bridge is wide enough for only the existing two lanes.

Work on the southbound lanes is slated for 2009, about the time work is completed on the northbound segment, Bolick said.
The missing link in widening both the north and southbound parts of Hwy. 67/167 to three lanes from I-40 to Redmond Road will then be a 1.5 mile segment from Kiehl Avenue to the Hwy. 440 overpass, according to Bolick.

TOP STORY >>Bayou Meto does well on tests

IN SHORT: Parents, teachers and administration work to make school excel in county district.

Leader staff writer

Even as Pulaski County Special School District has seen a steady decline in test scores among its total student body the last two years, Bayou Meto Elementary’s have accelerated.

“The staff is very committed and has strong expectations,” Principal Karen Sullards said, noting the “strong community support” the school enjoys. It’s tucked away on an isolated stretch of Highway 107 in one of the last rural refuges Jacksonville has left to offer.

Student testing this spring showed Bayou Meto ahead of the district’s overall scores. In math, 76 percent of fifth-graders, 79 percent of fourth-graders and 86 percent of third-graders scored at or above proficiency. In English, 75 percent of fifth-graders, 74 percent of fourth-graders and 75 percent of third-graders scored at or above proficiency on the Arkansas Comprehensive Testing, Assessment and Accountability Program (ACTAAP) exams.

Test scores are not the only benchmarks in which Bayou Meto has accelerated. “It is the last community school in the district,” said Bill Smith, a fifth-grade teacher who has taught at Bayou Meto for 13 years.

Children who live in the surrounding neighborhood mostly attend the school.

Bayou Meto is exempt from federal desegregation requirements that the Pulaski County Special School District is under. Students are not bused in from other parts of the district to meet desegregation requirements because it is in an isolated part of the county, according to Sullards.

All of the children in the school live in the attendance zone, Sullards said.

“You have a lot of poor whites and they want their kids to do better than they have done,” Smith explained. “They tell you that all the time.”

Smith said he talks to 50 to 60 parents a week. He said most of them are noticeably involved at the school. “All the parents are always welcomed there,” he said.

Parents are required by the state to meet twice a year with their children’s teachers. Smith said at the most recent conferences, 22 parents of his 26 students were at the conferences. He said he held the conferences for the other children over the phone.

During an honors assembly, he said typically 150 parents will arrive at the school to support their children. Smith said that during graduation, cars have to park on Hwy. 107 because the school’s parking lot becomes full. Smith credits the relationships between parents, teachers and administration that he said exists at Bayou Meto.

Sullards, who has spent 35 years in education, said in the three years she has been principal at Bayou Meto, she has implemented professional learning communities, when teachers can plan their classes together and discuss teaching methods and their students.

Smith said the school’s Parent Teacher Association is heavily involved in the school.

Public funding alone is not adequate. The PTA held a fundraiser last week to raise money to buy new technology for the school.

“The reason everything is working is because people want it to work,” Smith said.

TOP STORY >>Air base assigned expanded training

IN SHORT: Gen. Schatz is pleased LRAFB has been given more duties to prepare flight crews on both the C-130J and C-130H models, adding at least six more planes and 200 more personnel in the next three years here.

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base will add more feathers to its training hat as the 314th Airlift Wing will begin training crews on the C-130H model and will also expand its J-model training to include training international partners, Air Force officials announced Wednesday.

These expansions, expected to begin in 2010, will increase the numbers at the C-130 Airlift Center of Excellence by an expected nine aircraft and about 200 additional airmen over the next three years.

Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, 314th AW commander, said the partnership made sense for the future of the Air Force.

“Our combat airlifters are known throughout the world for their excellence,” Schatz said. “Expanding our operations is the next logical step in allowing us to share our expertise with airlift communities in the U.S. and across the globe.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley announced three other proposed initiatives concerning C-130 Hercules tactical airlift that affect Guard and Reserve units in Tennessee, New York and Georgia. Each initiative furthers the service’s vision for “a seamless total force” among the Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components.

The 314th AW’s Air Education and Training Command (AETC) currently trains with the E and J models and will be the unit tasked with the H model training.

According to Lt. Col. Alexander Blanton, 314th AW chief of plans, Little Rock already trains a significant portion of the H model students.

“From a training perspective, the C-130H is similar to the C-130E, so H model training will occur on the 62nd Airlift Squadron’s E models at Little Rock,” Blanton said.

The base’s 463rd Airlift Group, part of Air Mobility Command, uses the base’s only H models, a total of 14, as some of its primary aircraft. H models have been in service since the 1970s.

The 62nd AS will add three C-130 Es to train all C-130 E and H model students within the Air Force.

“The idea when H model training was started at Dobbins (Air Reserve Base, Ga.) several years ago was a smoother transition for students that would end up in an H model squadron,” Blanton said.

“Students that train in an E model and then transition to an H model have to go through a short upgrade program at their unit. But it has been determined that it is more cost-effective to conduct all H model training on E models at Little Rock and then perform an in-unit H model upgrade,” he said.

The Air Force Reserve’s 94th AW at Dobbins ARB was the C-130H training unit. It will now convert from a formal training unit to a combat unit, transitioning its C-130 crews into the air expeditionary force rotation, meaning they will now provide airlift support overseas during deployments.

Blanton compared the conversion from E to H model as learning to drive a car with an automatic transition and then transitioning to a newer car with a manual transmission.

“You already knew how to drive, but some additional training is required,” he said.

The E models, often called the battle-tested workhorses of combat airlift, have been around since the 60s. Little Rock has been the C-130E training center for international partners (air forces from other nations) for years, but with the J model training expansion, it will also become home to foreign student training on the new J models.

The 48th Airlift Squadron, the J model school, will grow by three aircraft to allow for this training.

Adding six C-130s at Little Rock means a required manpower increase of about 150 people, but it’s still not clear where those people will come from.

“It’s hard to tell at the moment if these will be new personnel to the base or a reshuffling of personnel currently at Little Rock,” Blanton said.

It was also announced that, as directed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 118th Airlift Wing will acquire WC-130Hs – Herks used for weather reconnaissance missions – for their new training mission. Their current C-130Hs will be sent elsewhere.

Moseley also announced that the New York Air National Guard’s 107th Air Refueling Wing will partner with the Air Force Reserve Command’s 914th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, as directed by BRAC.

The 914th AW will continue to have primary responsibility for the unit’s C-130H airlifters, but will partner with the 107th ARW airmen in using the aircraft.

“Because today’s strategic landscape is dynamic and threatening, we have to ensure that, as a total Air Force, we continuously search for and find innovative ways to leverage the limited resources we have available to increase our combat and homeland defense capabilities,” Moseley said.

“These initiatives will strengthen an already powerful partnership, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of our collective efforts.” 

OBITUARIES >> 11-3-07

L.D. Holt
L.D. Holt, 89, of North Little Rock passed away Oct. 31.

He was born Dec. 19, 1917 to the late Vender and Ethel Bland Holt.

He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, a Second World War Air Force veteran, and a Mason.
He retired from Sun Oil Company, D-X Division, after 32 years of service and was an avid fisherman.

He is survived by two daughters, DeeAnn Holt of Maumelle and Mada Holt Stanley of North Little Rock; two grandchildren, Jonathan Stanley of Bentonville and Ashley Stanley Block and husband Shaun of North Little Rock; two sisters, Nyna Holt Lee of North Little Rock and Catherine Holt Johnston of Sherwood.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Margueritte Brown Holt; son-in-law, William Stanley; step-mother, Ica White Holt and brother, Edward “Bill” Holt.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th Street, Little Rock, Ark. 72204 or First United Methodist Church, 723 Center Street, Little Rock, Ark. 72201.

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at North Little Rock Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Michael Mattox officiating. Burial will be in Edgewood Memorial Park in North Little Rock. The family will be at 36 Sugarloaf Loop, Maumelle.

Roy Hoyle
Roy Lee Hoyle, Jr. “Heavy Metal”, 37, of El Paso died Oct. 31 as a result of a motor vehicle accident. He was born April 17, 1970, to Roy Lee, Sr. and Robbie Lee Starrett Hoyle.

A 1988 honor graduate of Vilonia High School and a 1991 graduate of Southern Tech College with a degree in electrical engineering, he was employed at United Rentals of Little Rock.

He was an Eagle Scout. He served with the Army and Army National Guard from 1988 to 1994. He was a five-year member of Boozefighters Chapter 66 and served as its sergeant-at-arms and secretary for the last two years.

He enjoyed spending time with his wife and sons and also riding his Harley.

He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Lisa Loewen Hoyle; two sons, Michael Darren and Eric Richard Hoyle; and a nephew, Johnathan Wall all of the home; his father and mother, Roy Lee, Sr. and Robbie Lee Starrett Hoyle; grandparents, Robert J. Hoyle of North Little Rock and Dorothy Delno Johnson of Bradford; in-laws, Ron and Cindy Wood of Conway.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Roy and Bannie Carr Starrett.

Family will receive friends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with funeral following at 2 p.m. A memorial fund has been established at First Security Bank, P.O. Box 1290, Cabot, Ark. 72023. M & M Stop-n-Shop is accepting donations.

Mattie Burris
Mattie Odean Welch Burris, 90, formerly of Lonoke, died Nov. 2.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Johnny; son, Leon and granddaughter Kim.

Survivors include children, Shirley Jane Burris Bush of Jacksonville, Joyce Levon Burris Bean of Henderson, Texas, Connie Fay Burris Tarvin of Benton and Johnny Dale Burris of North Little Rock; eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren; numerous cousins and other relatives.

The family will receive friends Sunday, Nov. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5 at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Brownsville Cemetery.

EDITORIALS>>Huck distorts DuMond Fiasco

Alas, Mike Huckabee did not learn the most salient political lesson of the last 50 years, one that Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton grasped too late: Confronted with an embarrassing lapse in judgment or behavior, tell the unvarnished truth right away and put it behind you. Lies are apt to be exposed and prolong the agony.

Huckabee had to know from the outset that the Wayne Dumond Affair would follow him on the presidential campaign. Every governor who runs for higher office fears the Willie Horton in his past, and nearly every chief executive has one if he has ever exercised his clemency power. Horton was the convict furloughed by the state of Massachusetts who went on to commit fresh crimes. Republican commercials on Horton helped defeat Gov. Michael Dukakis and elevate the first George Bush to the presidency in 1988.

Dumond, the rapist whom Huckabee fought to release from prison and who then went on to murder in Missouri, need not have hurt Huckabee much. The former governor could say, as he at least implied on an occasion or two, that he was deeply saddened by the mistake and the horror it caused. All governors exercise some mercy from time to time, and few there are whose judgment have been unerring.

For a year into his long-shot presidential campaign, Huckabee was given a bye by the media and the other candidates. He was free to make what he could of his 10-year record as governor because he would not be challenged and no one but locals cared to test his claims against the truth of his record. His climb in the polls and the sudden ardor for his candidacy by media commentators changed that.

Last week, they began to ask him about Dumond and he took the course of Nixon and Clinton and so many others. He stretched the truth and then flat-out lied. This week, as the issue gained momentum, he blamed his predecessors, Jim Guy Tucker and Bill Clinton. Yes, Bill Clinton, who became the object of a right-wing furor because he would not commute Dumond’s sentence. They said he wouldn’t do it because Dumond’s victim was a distant cousin of Clinton.

When Tucker became acting governor, he did reduce Dumond’s sentence but made no effort to free him. Even before he became governor, Huckabee publicly took up Dumond’s cause and promised the rapist’s wife that one of his first acts would be to see justice done for the poor man. He doubted Dumond’s guilt but felt anyway that he had been punished enough.

Then this week he blamed Dumond’s release and his crime spree in Missouri on Bill Clinton! He went on Fox News to lay out the story. Governors don’t parole people, he explained, but parole boards do. “The people who made that decision were all appointees of Jim Guy Tucker and Bill Clinton, who, in fact, commuted his sentence and made him eligible for parole.”

He admitted this week that he had met with the parole board — an unprecedented occurrence — but he did not remember what he or they said. Two parole board members said Huckabee pressured them to parole Dumond. He gave one of the board members a big state job.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Huckabee acknowledged having once favored Dumond’s release but said — this is astonishing — that when he found out that Dumond would not be supervised on parole he changed his mind, opposed his release and tried to stop it by refusing to further commute the sentence.

Never tell a story in public when your own written words put the lie to it.

On the day of Dumond’s parole in 1997, Gov. Huckabee issued this statement: “I concur with the board’s action and hope the lives of all those involved can move forward. The action of the board accomplishes what I sought to do in considering an earlier request for commutation ....”

He was opposed to parole?

Huckabee also sent this letter to Dumond, which became public: “Dear Wayne, I have reviewed your applications for executive clemency, specifically a commutation and/or pardon.... My desire is that you be released from prison. I feel now that parole is the best way for your reintegration into society .... Therefore, after careful consideration ... I have denied your applications.”

Now he seeks to use the denial of commutation as evidence that he opposed Dumond’s release when the fact was that he had achieved the goal in another way, by persuading the state board to parole him.

Once more: Do not run from your record or the truth, governor. There is much good in that record, and people will not hold the bad against you if you are honest about it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies ousted from state by Har-Ber

Leader sportswriter

The Har-Ber Lady Wildcats proved to be the most impressive five-seed ever witnessed Tuesday afternoon during the first round of the 7A state volleyball tournament at the Cabot High School gymnasium. Har-Ber downed the host Lady Panthers in straight games, 25-14, 31-29 and 25-23 to advance to today’s quarterfinals against No. 1 seed Fort Smith Southside.

The Lady Panthers had more experience on the court, but the overall size advantage of the younger Har-Ber team would be enough to make up for the lesser experience on its side of the court. Cabot actually carried the momentum for most of the second game, but the Lady Wildcats captured the final two points of the game with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Holly Huffman and a net error by the Lady Panthers to close out the long frame.

The third game would also be led by the Lady Panthers most of the way. Cabot looked to be in good shape to avoid the shutout in game three, building up a comfortable 17-12 lead. Har-Ber had some struggles catching back up, but would finally catch the Lady Panthers to tie the score at 23 before closing the match with a block by Martha Swearington to reach 25.

The Lady Panthers rushed out to an early lead in game one, but it would not last past the fifth point. Kailey Bain served out to start the match for Har-Ber, giving the Lady Panthers the lead. An ace for senior defender Ashton Seidl put Cabot up by two, and Katie Mantione followed that with the first kill of the match for a 3-0 lead for the Lady Panthers early.

For a squad that features eight sophomores, two seniors and only one junior, the Lady Wildcats possessed a staggering amount of talent and discipline. The Lady Panthers, who played solidly themselves with the exception of a few miscues at the net, could only make adjustments throughout the match to try and compensate for the size disadvantage.

Cabot ended up with looks that it had not tried throughout much of the regular season, including the move of senior hitter Morgan Young into the libero position for much of game two, and the biggest surprise was the leading scorer for the Lady Panthers in the final game.

Senior Janell Reando made her mark over the last three years as the Lady Panthers’ assist leader, but she would walk out of the CHS gym after her final match as the top scorer for Cabot in the last half of the match. Reando, the second smallest of the Cabot starters at 5’8”, seemed to be the only Lady Panther who could get under the ruthless blocking of the Har-Ber front line. Young and fellow senior Katie Mantione had productive outings at the net, but the Lady Wildcat blocking duo of Crystal Bain and Swearington sent away numerous kill attempts by Cabot.

Har-Ber went on the offensive for the rest of game one after capturing the lead at 6-5, shutting down Cabot scoring opportunities at the net. Kirsti Hesseltine scored a tip, a kill and a block within a matter of six points to start the swing of momentum heavily in the Lady Wildcats’ favor.

The intensity in game two proved to make the lack of excitement in the first game a non-issue. The lead would change hands six times, causing the score to go far beyond the standard 25 points to claim a win. Instead, an out on Har-Ber tied the score at 24 all instead of handing the win to the Lady Wildcats, and Cabot would take the lead with a kill by Sarah Fuller that was assisted by Bianca Reando. Mantione would play a part in the point as well, faking a set up for a kill on the left side while Reando prepared to set. The Har-Ber defense adjusted in anticipation of a big strike from Mantione, but instead found themselves completely out of position when Reando’s short pass to Fuller was immediately drilled into the floor over the middle of the net. This would give the Lady Panthers a 25-24 lead, but a kill by Swearington tied the game yet again.

Har-Ber ended up with the lead again, but a block by Seidl tied it at 29 all. Huffman got perhaps the most vital point of the game on a kill that went out, but was tipped by Cabot to give the Lady Wildcats game point.

Mantione led the Panthers with eight kills, three blocks and one tip. Young added five kills, one block and three aces, and Janell Reando finished with six kills and two tips. For Har-Ber, Swearington led with seven kills, two tips, two blocks and two aces. Courtney Bell added six kills and an ace, while Hesseltine finished with four blocks, three kills and a tip.

The Lady Wildcats advance to today’s semifinal round at CHS, with a noon match with Fort Smith Southside, the No. 1 seed out of the 7A-West. The Lady Panthers finished out the season with a record of 14-10.

SPORTS >>Devils, Pats battle for state

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils have a second season on the line when they host the Marion Patriots this Friday night at Jan Crow Stadium. In fact, both teams do. With the first three playoff spots from the 6A-East Conference already taken, and three teams already eliminated from playoff contention, Jacksonville and Marion stand, left to battle it out for the right to advance to the playoffs. The winner plays next Friday, the loser turns in gear on Monday. In that sense, this is week one of the playoffs for these two teams.

Jacksonville lost to West Memphis last week by a score of 36-8, but it wasn’t that bad. The Blue Devils led just 8-0 at halftime, and 22-8 at the end of the third quarter when depth and superior size finally wore the Red Devils down.

It was toughest battle any team in the conference had given West Memphis all season, and the most points scored by a conference team against the vaunted Blue Devil defense which has shut out five of its seven league opponents.

Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley believes the same kind of effort this week should spell good news for his squad.

“If we get the same effort and improve our execution, we can live to play another week,” Whatley said. “Our effort was there. I thought the defense played its guts out. This team had been mercy-ruling people by halftime and we held ‘em to eight points. They finally worse us down and once again, we missed some opportunities here and there that could have been game changers that just didn’t finish. If we can finish those, we’ll be alright.”

Jacksonville’s offensive line also did an outstanding job, holding the ferocious Blue Devil pass rush without a sack the entire game.

Still Whatley would like to see some things improve within the passing game.

“The line did a great job for us,” Whatley said. “We still had some pass sort of sail on us. We dropped a few, didn’t finish some routes. The execution just has to get better. I don’t question the effort. When we can get that kind of effort to go along with execution we ought to do pretty well. There wasn’t one thing to point to, we shared in the wealth and the famine.”

Marion has been inconsistent this season as well. They are coming off a big win over Jonesboro and should bring some momentum into Pulaski County. Running back ?? has stepped up of late and become a major weapon for the Mark Uhiren coached Patriots.

“He’s one of those cats that gets in the crease, then he’s got that other gear he’ll shoot right on by you,” Whatley said.
“They’re going to do a lot of blocking down, kicking out to get that back in the creases and let him roll. We’re going to have to contain him if we’re going to have a chance.”

While containing ?? is a big key, Whatley isn’t as concerned with the defense.

“They’ve played their guts out,” Whatley said. “To me they’ve played above their heads and given us opportunities to win ball games. They’re buying into technique and doing what coach (defensive coordinator Rick) Russell asks them to do, the front four especially are doing a tremendous job.”

SPORTS >>Beebe fighting to stay at home

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers and Batesville Pioneers can’t win a conference championship, but their matchup this Friday night at Bro Irwin Stadium is about as big as a regular-season closer can be without a league title on the line.

The two teams are 5-1 in league play, each with a close loss to undefeated Blytheville. That means that Friday’s game is for second place, and more importantly, a home game for the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.

Beebe coach John Shannon was glad to see his team improve its game last week in a 28-6 win over Nettleton, but knows that Batesville is the best team his squad has faced other than Blytheville.

The Pioneers lost a one-point thriller to the Chickasaws two weeks ago, and have clobbered all other league opponents.
Their weapons are numerous, and their schemes are complex.

“They are big, got some speed and they’re very well coached,” Shannon said of the Pioneers. “That’s the thing that stands out most to me is how well coached they are.”

Shannon and his staff recognized on film that Batesville does a few things his team will have to be able to recognize before the ball is snapped.

“They don’t run a lot of different plays, but they line up in a lot of different formations,” Shannon said. “They try to get you to line up wrong and then they have the angle on you. Their running back (Tim Hughes) is one of those shifty kids that seems to give us some trouble, so we’d better be able to recognize formations and get in the right spot to stop ‘em.”

Conversely, Batesville coach Dave King is impressed with how physical the Badgers play football. Beebe’s offensive and defensive lines stand out to the head Pioneer.

“I would say up front Beebe is about as good as anyone we’ve seen,” King said. “Offensively and defensively the front line is one of their biggest strengths. They come off that ball low and hard. If you’re not ready to step up and get ready to get in someone’s mustache, you’re going to get lost in the clouds against Beebe because that’s what they do. That’s something I hope our guys will be ready for. We’re trying to make sure they know it, but you never know until they get out there.”

King’s own offensive line has improved by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year. The Pioneers struggled to beat Searcy, and managed just seven points against Newport in an early-season loss. Since then, the offensive numbers have increased dramatically, and Batesville has blown out its last several conquered foes.

“They’re getting better,” King said of his offensive line. “None of them started last year, so they were all new to it, but they’ve gotten better. Slowly but surely they’ve improved all year long.”

Shannon lost a starting offensive lineman last week, but was pleased with Jason Smith, who stepped in for ?? Wooten and did a good job at guard. Overall, Shannon was pleased with the improvement his team showed since a lackluster effort against Greene County Tech a week earlier.

“It was a lot better,” Shannon said. “I feel like we moved the ball extremely well. We should have had two more touchdowns in the second half. We dropped the ball a couple of times and that cost us, but overall offensive execution was pretty good.”
Shannon was also pleased with the defense.

“The defense got back to playing like they had earlier,” Shannon said. “Nettleton was rolling. They’d been putting up 400 yards or more and over 40 points a game, and we held them to less than 200, so that was good to see.”

Shannon’s praise for King’s system was reciprocated. The head Pioneer expects a very tough game this Friday.

“They’re very well coached and look to be very excited about the position they are in,” King said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence. It should be a battle.”

EDITORIALS>>Agency watch

The Bush administration makes you wonder sometimes who the government is looking out for, the victim or the perpetrator. Nancy A. Nord, the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, sent Congress what can only be described as shocking letters last week. She opposed reform legislation by Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii that seeks to strengthen the moribund agency’s ability to protect Americans from unsafe products from abroad and home.

The White House, which put Ms. Nord in charge of consumer safety, intends to send an even more forceful letter to Congress about the bill. The public already enjoys too much protection from the bullied manufacturers from China, India and elsewhere, the White House seems to think.

A mere shadow of what it was a quarter-century ago, the agency can’t keep up with all the products, from toys to tools, that flood the market. Its budget has been shrinking sharply for years and it has few employees left to conduct safety tests on products — about half the number it had in the 1980s. The product market since then has exploded to $614 billion a year. Even with the commission’s weak staff, in the past two months alone more than 13 million toys were recalled after tests showed lead levels nearly 200 times the safety limit, a good measure of the problem. Pryor’s bill would ban lead from toys, which Nord opposed.

Pryor, chairman of the consumer affairs subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, wants to restore the agency’s watchdog authority by doubling its tiny budget to $141 million, expanding its inspection capacity, toughening the penalties for violating safety standards and strengthening protections for whistleblowers in industry.

None of that is needed, Nord said, and she strongly objected to the legislation. Some business groups and manufacturers have opposed some of the reforms, but the agency director went well beyond their objections. Pryor was mystified. The agency wanted more money, he observed, but no more authority to do anything with it.

But who, really, should be surprised. President Bush and Vice President Cheney populated all these regulatory agencies in the Commerce and Interior departments with people from the industries that they regulated, often lobbyists for offending industries. In Nord’s case, she was an official at the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, which opposes significant government regulation of manufacturers, and a lawyer for Eastman Kodak.

When you put the fox in charge of the hen house, don’t expect. . . Well, you know how it goes.

EDITORIALS>>Texas pushes FOI envelope

Ordinarily, we do not look to Texas for either wise jurisprudence or ethical example, but we hope other venues, including the Arkansas Supreme Court, will ponder a ruling by a state district judge at Dallas. She said that the city government must release emails, including those written on a personal computer, if they relate to the government’s business.

Regardless of the platform used to conduct the government’s business, whether it is a government computer or someone’s personal computer or cell phone, it is still government business and the public has a right to examine them, Judge Gena Slaughter ruled.

Twenty-two months ago, The Dallas Morning News requested emails from city officials’ personal email accounts when it spotted holes in official correspondence about a $6.3 million tax abatement for a downtown corporate headquarters that the city handed Hunt Consolidated. Texas, like other states (Arkansas among them), is giving away the store to companies that say they will build a facility in the city or else threaten to leave and go elsewhere if they are not given subsidies or heavy tax benefits. Government officials and the companies don’t like people prying for the details.

City economic development officials released only the “public” documents about the deal under the state’s freedom of information act and asserted that messages about the transactions on an official’s BlackBerry and private email account were her private business and off limits to the press or the public. The judge said no and struck a blow for transparency in government business.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has suddenly turned squeamish about the public’s right to know. It ruled 4 to 3 this summer that even messages on government computers and email accounts might be kept secret if the government official was merely taking care of some untidy personal affairs — let’s say an illicit sexual affair with an official who was doing business with the county government. The court said a trial judge needed to examine the disputed personal emails in that or any other case to see if any of them could actually affect the public’s business.

The judge in that case, Mary Ann McGowan, looked at the steamy messages and said, yes, nearly every one of them affected public business in some way by the very fact that they were done on taxpayers’ equipment and time and the exchanges were between partners in government transactions. But the Supreme Court’s incongruous precedent still stands.
For once, we should look to Texas for ethical guidance.

OBITUARIES >> 10-31-07

Lois Price, 101

Lois Glover Price, 101, died Oct. 26.

She was born in Lonoke County Aug. 26, 1906, the daughter of the late Maude and Charlie Fawcett.

She grew up in the Bethlehem community north of Lonoke and was a member of the Bethlehem Methodist Church for most of her life.

She had been a resident of Golden Years Manor in Lonoke for the past six years.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Roy H. Glover, Sr.

Also preceding her in death were three brothers, Otis, C.A., and Benny Fawcett and one sister, Leola Kea; as well as, Otto Price to whom she was married for 10 years.

Survivors include two sons, Roy H. Glover, Jr. and wife Rosemary of North Little Rock and Robert L. “Bobby” Glover and wife Willie of Lonoke; seven grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren; two sisters, Opal Wilken of Clearwater, Fla., and Dorothy Olmstead of Tupelo, Miss.

She had a 30-year-plus working career including Gus Blass Department Store, Kempner’s Department Store, manager of Mexico Chiquita on Prothro Junction and Hank’s Dog House Oyster Bar in Little Rock. She and Roy owned and operated the ESSO service station on Prothro Junction in North Little Rock for 12 years.

Her favorite pastime was fishing for crappie with her family. Family was the most important thing to her. She loved to cook and taught her family to cook. She loved to work in her garden and with her flowers. She loved to travel.

Funeral services were Oct. 29 at Lonoke First United Methodist Church by Pastor Steve Brizzi and Jerry Nipper, pastor of the Bethlehem Methodist Church. Burial was in Salem Cemetery in Lonoke County.

Memorial donations can be made to Bethlehem Methodist Church, 2540 Bethlehem Road, Lonoke, Ark. 72086 or First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 152, Lonoke, Ark. 72086.

Mamie Anderson

Mamie Sue Anderson, 65, of Cabot died Sunday, Oct. 28.  

She was born Oct. 28, 1942 in Lonoke to the late Edward and Willie Johnson.  

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by four siblings: E.L. Johnson, J.B. Johnson, Pat Johnson and Freddie Johnson.  

She was a member of AFL-CIO and of the Pentecostal faith.  She loved bowling and playing bingo.  

She is survived by her husband, James Anderson of Cabot; children, Ray Anderson and wife Christy of North Little Rock and Pam Hudson and husband Robert of Russellville; brothers, Larry Johnson of Klamath Falls, Oregon and Johnny Johnson of San Dimas, Calif.; six grandchildren, Amber Fletcher, Blair Anderson, Melissa Hudson, Heather Anderson, Nick Hudson and Ryan Anderson; and two great-grandchildren, Hailey and David Fletcher.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 in the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.  Burial will follow in Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cabot.

Margurene Jones

Margurene “Marge” Jones, 89, of Hot Springs died Oct. 27.

She was born Nov. 26, 1917 at Butlerville to Homer and Lucy Glover Baldwin.

She was preceded in death by her husband Floyd Jones; her parents and a brother, Daniel Baldwin.

She is survived by two sons, Robert Jones and wife Marilyn of Mabank, Texas, David Jones and wife Melissa of Cabot; granddaughter, Kristie Jones of Lubbock, Texas and brother, Oris Baldwin of Fort Worth, Texas.

Family will receive friends from 10 a.m. until noon Monday, Nov. 5 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with graveside service to follow at 2 p.m. in Hebron Cemetery at Carlisle.

George Dodd

George Dodd, 79, of Cabot went to be with the Lord Oct. 27.

He was born Aug. 16, 1928, in Cabot to Ed and Josie Bazzel Dodd.

He was retired from the Little Rock Air Force Base Civil Service as Roads and Grounds Superintendent and served his country in the Marine Corps.

He was a member of Campground Union Church, where he served as Sunday school teacher for many years.

He was preceded in death by a son, Mike Dodd.

He is survived by his wife, Patsy Dodd; son, John Dodd and wife Coby of Cabot; daughter, Loretta Johnson and husband Steve of Florida; six grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; two brothers, Calvin Dodd and Frank Dodd, both of Cabot; three sisters, Ella Mae Pennington of Ward, Louise Rhodes of St. Charles, Mo. and Rose Eads of Oklahoma.

Funeral was Oct. 30 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Hicks Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 3022 Hwy. 367 S., Cabot, Ark. 72023.

TOP STORY >>Cabot looks at ’08 budget

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams presented council members Monday night with an $8.2 million proposed budget for 2008 that includes a $4,000 salary increase for uniformed employees to keep them from leaving for better paying jobs and a 5 percent increase for non-uniformed employees.

The proposed spending plan also includes $150,000 for five new patrol cars, to enlarge the fleet by two and replace the three that no longer run.

Of the expected $8.2 million income, which is essentially the same as 2007, the mayor expects to spend $7.7 million. The balance of $500,000 would be broken down to revenue investment, $300,000; vehicle and equipment savings $60,000; and carryover to 2009, $169,000.

The mayor passed out copies of his budget to council members at the end of a three-and-a- half hour meeting in which the council agreed upon a new city insurance carrier and also passed an ordinance redistributing the city’s property tax revenue to find the $50,000 needed in 2008 to subsidize MEMS, which provides ambulance service to the city.

He declined to comment about his budget until after the council members meet in a budget committee next week to discuss it. However, the attached forward talked about where the city was when he took office in January and where he hopes to take it in the next three years.

“The city faced tremendous financial challenges in 2007,” the mayor wrote. “The cash balances report showed the city to have $57,170. The outstanding invoices from 2006 totaled near $500,000. Because of deficit spending … each department head was instructed to reduce their budget by 10 percent. Capital expenditures were paid using a loan for which we’ll be making payments for the next five years. This will not happen again using our improved methods of managing city money.

“Through deducing the budget and the department heads and employees’ watchful eyes on expenditures, the city will carry over $400,000 from 2007 and also saved $700,000 in the general fund and $164,000 in the street fund for a total of $864,000.”

Williams also wrote in the forward to his budget that public works will set aside $120,000 in 2008 that could be used either for street overlay or to bring sanitation services in house. And he announced that he wants to give raises to department heads based on merit and asked the council to approve a pot of money for that purpose not to exceed the equivalent of a 5 percent increase for department heads, about $10,000.

“I will distribute that money …based on performance reviews,” the mayor wrote.

The mayor did say that he met extensively with his department heads during the budget-making process and their letters of recommendation were attached to the proposal that the council members received.

Fire Chief Phil Robinson said he was “especially appreciative of the mayor’s plan to increase the pay of police officers and firefighters.”

Police Chief Jackie Davis said he appreciated the proposed salary increases and the new patrol cars.

“I know that you realize that most of the officers who are leaving are seeking higher pay elsewhere,” Davis wrote to the mayor. “As I have stated before, I would rather keep well-qualified officers versus simply more numbers and turnover.”

TOP STORY >>Filing helps separation

Leader senior staff writer

Jacksonville-area residents could be one step closer to realizing the goal of a separate school district.

With a day to spare, the Pulaski County Special School District on Monday filed a motion seeking unitary school status in time to qualify for as much as $250,000 in legal-fee reimbursement.

District Judge Bill Wilson ruled previously that Jacksonville could not have its own district until PCSSD was unitary—that is, in compliance with its existing desegregation agreements.

The goal of the desegregation agreements was to create school districts with racially balanced enrollment at each school and with equal opportunity as evidenced by diverse representation among teachers, employees, sports teams, discipline and academic achievement.

The motion, filed for PCSSD by Sam Jones in U.S. District Court at Little Rock, states that the district “has complied with or is in substantial compliance with” the 2000 desegregation plan and should be declared unitary and released from federal court supervision.

It was state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, who drafted and championed legislation encouraging the North Little Rock School District and PCSSD to seek unitary status after 25 years by dangling the carrot of reimbursement of legal fees and by promising continuation of the state’s large desegregation contribution for as long as seven years.

Wilson ruled that the Little Rock District was unitary in February and the North Little Rock District, already ruled partially unitary, filed for release in September.

“I think it’s time,” Bond said Tuesday. “We feel that with Little Rock already granted unitary status and North Little Rock already filed and Pulaski requesting—now is an opportunity for the court to end this case or put it on track in the very near future.”

Bond’s bill also states that districts must be ruled unitary by Wilson on or before June 14 to qualify for the money, but state law doesn’t have the authority to make Wilson rule by that date, Jones said.

“He is absolutely not bound by the legislature,” said Jones of Wilson. “I’m trying to harmonize the legislature with the prerogatives of the court,” he added.

“The legislature’s been pretty aggressive over the past couple years to (encourage districts to seek) unitary status,” Bond said.

Over the past 25 years, the state has spent more than $750 million on the three districts—money no other districts in the state receive, Bond said.

“Right now, the state contributes about $60 million a year toward desegregation (of the three districts),” he said.
Jones said the district, which voted in August to seek full unitary status, is essentially in compliance in all areas mentioned in Plan 2000, although his motion cites only three.

Jones said he talked recently with civil rights lawyer John Walker, who “has not indicated that he will support the filing.”

Walker is the lawyer representing the Joshua Interveners—parents of black students in the districts. He has regularly opposed settlements or findings of unitary status.

Currently Walker has asked the U.S. Justice Department to intervene in the matter of discipline, which he says seems to target black male students in the district without sufficient remedy from PCSSD.

Jones said Wilson had the authority to bypass or ignore the Justice Department’s investigation in making his ruling, but could just as easily ask for a report from the department or yield to it.

Plan 2000 states that the ideal racial composition for interdistrict schools would be close to 50 percent black, 50 percent white and that the districts would recruit students, teachers and administrators to seek racial balance.

Jones and PCSSD say the district has done this.

District resources are to be allocated equitably among the schools.

“Federal judicial supervision over the facets of the operation of a school system was never intended to extend beyond the time required to remedy the effects of past intentional discrimination,” Jones argues in his brief to the court.

Jones says the district is unitary in student assignment to schools.

“Only four of the school district’s elementary schools feature a black-student enrollment outside (the 20 percent to 51 percent) range,” he wrote.

Only Mills High School, among the district’s secondary schools, fails to fit in the targeted racial range, meaning that altogether, only five of the district’s 36 schools are out of compliance with enrollment guidelines.

The district argues that it hasn’t altered attendance zones and that any change in the racial composition of a school is because of “private decisions” of district patrons.

Jones argues that because of the influx of money and state guidance for school facilities caused by the Lake View decision, all school facilities are being upgraded.

“Once a school district is declared unitary and in compliance with the Constitution, the jurisdiction of the federal district court is ended,” Jones wrote.

He said the district had made a good-faith effort and was in “substantial compliance” with its own Plan 2000.
Jones said it is now up to Wilson to set the court calendar for various hearings, motions and arguments.

TOP STORY >>Sidewalks still out of compliance

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s public buildings meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but in many cases the sidewalks around them don’t and there was no plan to remedy that situation until now.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said since the city was visited three months ago by six representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice, he and members of his staff have developed a five-year plan to bring city sidewalks into compliance.

Not only were the city sidewalks not cut and ramped for wheelchair access or painted and textured for the visually impaired, in many cases sidewalks are non-existent. So the plan for the next five years is to build ramps where needed, repair some sidewalks and build sidewalks where needed so that residents who want to walk have sidewalk access to such buildings as city hall, the community center, post office, library and senior citizens center.

Williams said the city will spend $15,000 this year to build a sidewalk from Locust Street to the new community center.

The city council voted last year to build that sidewalk, but there was no money in the general fund to do so. Next year the plan is to spend about $25,000 to install about 20 handicap sidewalk accesses.

Williams told a committee of council members recently that sticking to the plan is essential to eventually making the city ADA compliant.

He said his office will always listen to residents’ complaints and make notes about areas that need work. But if, for example, an area is scheduled for work in the third year of the five-year plan, that work won’t be done ahead of schedule regardless of complaints.

TOP STORY >>Sheriff makes plea for jail beds

Leader senior staff writer

After Pulaski County’s three failed attempts to pass a dedicated quarter-cent sales tax to fix and run the jail, two county officials have decided to pass the hat instead.

If the 12,088 people who voted for the tax increase in September 2006 each donated $10.91 to a sequestered public safety fund, the county could fix the roof and mechanical systems at the old jail, moving one step closer to increasing capacity to 1,130 prisoners, as it was a few years ago, Sheriff Doc Holladay and Treasurer Debra Buckner said.

In announcing a new “First Step” program to reporters Tuesday in a decrepit part of the old jail, they said donations would be tax deductible.

Even if the building were fixed, it would require an annual appropriation of about $3 million to staff the increased capacity and feed and care for the inmates, Holladay said.

The goal for the fund is $988,503, Buckner said, but the county already has $856,575 in the fund, leaving a balance of $131,928. Or, Holladay said, if 1,000 people each donated $131.93, the goal could be reached.

“That’s (equivalent) to one trip to (the mega toy store),” Buckner said.

The two officials said they hoped to raise the money by the end of this year. Each put a check for $131.93 into a blue envelope designated for the account, along with $5,000 from a business owner who asked not to be identified.

“First Step is very proactive,” Buckner said.

County residents have voted down three attempts in recent years to raise taxes to expand the jail—or even to increase its capacity to what it once was.

“After three turndowns, we need to do what we can,” said Holladay.

Buckner said the money would be placed into a sequestered account, where it could be used only for jail improvements.
She noted that one finding of the UALR study concerning the jail and the county was that residents don’t have great faith in officials.

“I’m a career banker, you can trust me,” she said.

“We need a dedicated sales tax,” Buckner added, “but we’re not waiting.”

She said even people who didn’t think prisoners deserved a decent place to live should consider that it is also the workplace for jailers.

She said just as some people “support the troops even though they don’t support the war,” taxpayers should donate to support the deputies if not the inmates.

To get a blue envelope to make a donation, people can go by the treasurer’s office at 201 S. Broadway or the sheriff’s office on Woodrow Street at the detention center in Little Rock.

The public can also request envelopes by calling the sheriff’s office at 340-7055 or the treasurer’s office at 340-8345.

TOP STORY >>Air base: We'll get housing finished

Leader senior staff writer

A new contractor could restart construction by next summer on the stalled housing-privatization project at Little Rock Air Force Base, Brig. General Rowayne Schatz told nearly 100 base residents at a Monday night town meeting.

Schatz said the new project would likely be less ambitious than the original, aiming at 659 new and remodeled homes instead of the 1,200 new and remodeled homes specified in the contract won by Carabetta Enterprises and Shaw Infrastructure in August 2004.

American Eagle Communities LLC—a Carabetta-Shaw company managed by Carabetta—should have completed 125 new homes by now, according to the general, but only 25 were finished when the bondholders on the $127 million project shut the job down in May.

They refused to release any more funds on a project behind schedule with cost overruns of perhaps 50 percent, Schatz said.
He said four potential developers, representatives of Shaw Infrastructure, the base and the bondholders toured the project last Thursday.

Carabetta Enterprises, the managing partner for the failed privatization efforts at LRAFB, Patrick, Hansom and Moody Air Force bases, is trying to sell the projects, the general said.

Carabetta sent no company representative to that tour, deferring to Shaw Infrastructure, its partner.

Schatz said that two of the four developers interested in bidding on the job had been successful with other privatization projects.

He said the optimum timeline would see a new deal concluded by the end of November, with construction ready to start next summer.


Of occupancy of new structures, he suggested, “not tomorrow, not at Christmas, not next summer, but the summer after that.”

Monday night’s town meeting was intended to update interested base housing residents and also served as an opportunity for them to air gripes about bad conditions in the current base housing.

Schatz said that although American Eagle Communities owns the development, maintenance and management contract for the next 50 years, it is the bondholders who are driving the process.

The Air Force has input, but not a lot of control in the process at this point, he said.

This is not just another contract, where the base has leverage over the developers, Schatz said.

American Eagle works for the investors—the bondholders—and the lease agreement, not the wing commander, drives the project.

Some of the unpaid subcontractors have suggested that the Air Force needs to step in and pay them, but the Air Force is not a party to the agreement between the developer and the contractors, the general said.

He said that it was a misconception that American Eagle is getting nearly $1 million a month in rents. He said the money goes into a “lockbox” controlled by the bondholders.

The existing homes were conveyed to American Eagle. The Air Force owns the property, but not the houses built upon it.
“By law, no government funds may be spent on their operation, maintenance or construction,” he said.

Schatz did seem to promise some intervention where families were living in dangerous or questionable situations.


Many of the occupants voiced complaints about various problems in the housing, which is 50 years old, ranging from insect infestations to exposed wiring and continually leaking or breaking pipes.

For now, American Eagle Com-munities still manages the onbase housing.

Dennis LaPorte was brought in last week as the new project manager, and he told residents to call him or his maintenance manager with any problems.

Angela Weaver, the wife of a National Guardsman just returned from Kuwait, complained about exposed wiring, mold, water damage and termite and other insect infestation.

Members and families of the National Guard and of retirees are allowed to rent homes on base from American Eagle because there are more houses than families wanting to live in them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SPORTS >>Jackrabbit defense too much for ’Birds

Leader sportswriter

A goal-line stand by the Lonoke defense late in the third quarter kept the Jackrabbits in the hunt for the 4A-2 Conference title, as the Jackrabbits held off Stuttgart 24-19 Friday night at James B. Abraham Field.

A score by the Ricebirds at that point would have put them up by two scores, but the ’Rabbits’ defense stood tall on fourth and inches at their own goal line. Stuttgart senior quarterback Seth Allison, who had proved to be tough for Lonoke to contain all night, tried a sneak for the score, but was met at the line by a swarm of purple jerseys to keep the Jackrabbits within one point at 19-18.

A blocked punt by Lance Jackson in the middle of the fourth quarter set up Lonoke with good field position on what would become the winning drive. Sophomore quarterback Jacob Taylor found Clarence Harris for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 6:24 left in the game to put the Jackrabbits back on top after losing the lead early on in the second half.

The Lonoke defense would have to contain the Ricebirds two more times, but it was up to the task.

The Jackrabbits forced a fourth down and 6 at the Stuttgart 47, and the Ricebirds lined up to punt. Instead of going to punter Nick Konecny, the ball was snapped to running back Tim Reams, who was in the up back position. Reams had several strong runs on the night, but this would not be one of them, as Brandon Smith and Kiefer Vaughn met him behind the line, forcing a turnover on downs.

Stuttgart had one final chance in the final 2:34 of the game, but couldn’t generate enough passing to steal the win. The Ricebirds took their final shot on fourth and 10 at the Lonoke 42-yard line, but Tad Hearington knocked Allison’s pass out of the air to secure the win for the Jackrabbits.

“We knew all week long that the defense would have to step up and be the difference in the game,” Lonoke coach Jeff Jones said. “We let them out on a few plays with some missed tackles and missed assignments that shouldn’t have happened in the first half. We challenged them at halftime and they came out and did an outstanding job for us.”

The big story on the night offensively for Lonoke was the on-field prowess of sophomore QB Taylor, who was playing in what was easily the biggest game of his life. He finished the game with 11 completions on 14 pass attempts for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Jones was not surprised by Taylor’s performance, or his confidence back in the pocket.

“That’s just Jacob’s nature,” Jones said. “He’s a laid back kid by nature. Last week against Marianna, we just stuck him in there, and he showed a lot of promise, but the pressure wasn’t really on us. We felt like we had something there, but we weren’t too sure. That’s why we went with Clarence early; we were trying to settle him down. He came off the bench and had a great game.”

Harris went under center during the Jackrabbits opening drive in the first quarter, and led the Lonoke offense into Stuttgart territory quickly. A 13-yard scramble by Harris put the ball at the Stuttgart 25-yard line. Harris then found Daniel Smith on a 24-yard pass play that gave the Jackrabbits first and goal at the 1. Smith’s grab was a spectacular one, keeping the tips of his toes just inside the line beside the right pylon to pull the ball in just before going out of bounds. Harris plowed into the end zone behind the Lonoke offensive line to put the ‘Rabbits on the board first with 6:20 left in the first quarter. Smith’s extra point attempt was too low, and the score would remain 6-0.

Stuttgart answered quickly, with a 40-yard touchdown run by Reams with 4:23 left in the opening quarter. Allison was stopped on a keep for the two-point try by Jackson and Terrance Miller to keep the score tied at 6 all.

Taylor began to see the field on his second drive at quarterback, connecting on three passes, one to Michael Howard and two to Smith, including a nine-yard touchdown toss on fourth and goal at the Stuttgart 9-yard line with 8:42 left in the first half. The score was set up with an earlier connection from Taylor to Smith good for 21 yards and a first down at the Ricebirds’ 8-yard line. A false start penalty pushed Lonoke back on its two-point attempt, and the ‘Rabbits were not able to convert.

Stuttgart would grab the lead in the middle of the second quarter on an 18-yard touchdown keeper from Allison. Konecny added the extra point, putting the Ricebirds up 13-12.

Lonoke would not go into the locker room trailing. The Jackrabbits took possession at their own 35-yard line, and a pair of runs by Harris took the ball to the 43. A holding call pushed the ball back 10 yards, but Lonoke got the yardage back on the following play. Taylor found Smith up the middle for a 15 yard pass play, to give the ‘Rabbits a first and 10 at the Lonoke 48.

Howard handled things from there, pulling in a 52-yard touchdown pass from Taylor on the following play when Stuttgart defender Reams fell as the ball was delivered. Howard pulled in the pass and strolled the rest of the way in for the score to make the halftime score 18-13 Lonoke.

Stuttgart’s final score of the night came on a 16-yard touchdown pass by Allison with 4:39 left in the third quarter. Allison put the Ricebirds in winning position on the next Lonoke drive when he intercepted a Taylor pass to give Stuttgart first and 10 at the Lonoke 22-yard line.

Allison would then put the ball in the red zone on a 15-yard scramble, but the Jackrabbit defense stood tall, stopping the Ricebirds QB just inches short of a score.

Harris’ 28-yard catch for the winning score was simply par for the course for the all-purpose junior standout, who had scores as both quarterback and receiver during the game.

Harris finished the game with 18 carries for 87 yards and one touchdown. He also had four receptions for 53 yards and another touchdown. Brandon Smith carried 10 times for 43 yards. Daniel Smith had six receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown and one fumble turnover. Howard finished with four receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown. The Jackrabbits finished with 358 total offensive yards. For Stuttgart, Allison had 16 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown, along with 8 of 17 pass completions for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Lonoke is now 7-2 overall and 6-0 in the 4A-2 Conference. They will play Newport, a winner over Heber Springs Friday night for the league title. Stuttgart fell to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in conference.