Saturday, January 12, 2008

SPORTS >> Abundant Life teams post sweep

Leader sportswriter

It wasn’t bad enough for Barton that Abundant Life forward Dane Lottner single-handedly outscored the Bears’ entire game effort in the first half alone, but a scrappy Owls junior varsity squad added to the humiliation in the second half by allowing only one basket from Barton. The result was a 68-22 win on Tuesday night at the Abundant Life Schools gymnasium.
Lottner scored 28 points to lead all scorers.

The win improved Abundant Life to 21-5 overall and 4-2 in the 2-3A Conference. Barton fell to 5-6 and 2-5.

It didn’t take long for the Owls to establish complete dominance in the game. Three straight dunks for Lottner in heavy traffic over a one-minute span of the first quarter put Abundant Life up by nine, and the rest was a simple formality for the Owls.
AL coach Tim Ballard said he thinks the impressive run in a Texas tournament over the holidays still has his team pumped full of confidence and enthusiasm.

“We’re still riding that momentum,” Ballard said. “We need to be playing our best ball right now, especially with Rose Bud waiting in the wings.”

Lottner was the only Owl to score against Barton in the opening quarter with the exception of a putback from Nelson Boren at the 5:27 mark that put the Owls up 5-0. The rest was all Lottner, as senior guard Colby Woolverton played assist master. Woolverton set Lottner up for dunks, open looks from the arc, and backdoor plays that led to 16 points for the junior standout.

The score stood at 40-18 at halftime, and the Bears’ offensive woes were still ahead of them.

The Owls’ starting offense displayed its normal proficiency against Barton in the first half, but the AL second team may have outperformed the starters defensively. Ballard says the vast improvement of the JV team could mean the difference in seeding when the district tournament rolls around in a few weeks.

“We have a lot of sophomores and juniors who seem to get better every time they touch the court,” Ballard said. “Depth is something I felt hurt us in the first of the season, but the way these guys have been playing lately, our depth is getting stronger. That is something that could really help us out in this last push through the conference.”

Woolverton put up 10 points in the second quarter, and hit two consecutive three pointers to start the second half. Lottner then added four more points to his total with a basket and a pair of free throws, prompting Ballard to pull the varsity out with a 52-18 lead at the 4:43 mark of the second period. Andrew Chandler, Robert Perry, Britt Bowren and Dillon Eberle took over from there.

Bowren drove inside for a pair of baskets to end the third quarter, and a number of Owls found their way to the goal in the final eight minutes, including Cameron Slayton, Perry, Tristan ‘T-dub’ Williford, George Herring and Kevin Martin.

In addition to Lottner’s 28, Woolverton added 16. Boren finished with six points, and Williford added four points.

Abundant Life 72, Barton Girls 42

Lady Bears guard Candice Cantwell gave Abundant Life fits in the first half with 19 points, including a 5-for-6 performance from three-point land. Despite that, the Lady Owls were still able to build up a 35-30 lead at halftime and cruise to their first conference win of the season.

The Lady Owls sealed off Cantwell with a trap in the second half, while Brittany Sharp and Hannah Pastor took it to the Lady Bears offensively. Sharp ran the exact same baseline drive play for nearly half of her 24 points in the game, and Pastor drove the paint for the majority of her points.

Candice Eudy had a solid night from the outside for Abundant Life, while post player Amy Daniel dominated the glass as the Lady Owls easily won the rebounding battle.

“We’ve been through murderers’ row,” Lady Owls coach Justin Moseley said. “We came close against some really good teams, so it’s nice to come out here and finally close one. We had to slow (Cantwell) down after all the shots she made on us from the outside in the first half. We don’t really like to use the box-and-one, because it doesn’t fall into our normal strategy, but sometimes you have to do whatever you can to slow them down.”

Moseley was also happy with his team’s offensive efforts.

“We had a really good second half,” Moseley said. “We got aggressive when we needed to. Andrea Venus got us off to a good start with some layups, and I thought Candice had a good night outside. She’s capable of doing really good things from the outside, if we could get that kind of performance most nights, we would be tough to beat.”

Sharp led the Lady Owls with 24 points. Pastor added 22 points for Abundant Life, and Eudy finished with 15.

The win gives the Lady Owls a record of 9-14 overall and 1-5 in the 2-3A Conference. Barton fell to 3-11 and 0-6 with the loss.

SPORTS >> Lady Panthers hold off Mount St. Mary despite injury bug

Leader sportswriter

The Belles won the free-throw shooting contest late, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome Cabot on Tuesday night at the MSM gymnasium. The Lady Panthers dominated the inside to take a 57-53 win, improving their 7A-Central Conference record to 2-0.

Momentum from their win a few days earlier against preseason favorite Conway helped carry the Lady Panthers, but that win was not without a tremendous sacrifice. Cabot had to face the Belles without the services of senior post Rachel Glover, who went down with a knee injury late during the win over Conway.

The prognosis was a torn knee ligament, meaning the Lady Panthers’ best defender and solid rebounder will have to sit out the rest of the season. It marked the seventh season-ending injury for Cabot — all seniors.

“It’s a very unusual situation,” Lady Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “I’ve never seen that many players go down like that, especially considering they’re all seniors. Rachel has been very consistent for us defensively, and one of our better rebounders.

“She had to play big a lot; she had to take on other teams’ big girls and defend them, and always performed well. Her sister Stephanie did a good job of filling in for her, and we had a couple of others come off the bench and play strong.”

Two subs that have seen plenty of playing time throughout the early season, Morgan Verkler and Sara Moore, will now be on the court even more, according to Ruple.

“Morgan played one of her best games on Tuesday,” Ruple said of the senior’s eight-point performance. “And Sara has been playing a lot better. We’ve had other coaches come up and comment how much better Sara looks over last year when she was a freshman.”

The biggest inside performance came from junior post player Shelby Ashcraft, who dominated the offensive block for 20 points against the Belles. The strong inside play from Glover and Ashcraft led to a 25-18 lead for Cabot.

The Lady Panthers looked poised to pull away late, building a 43-30 lead at the end of the third quarter, but MSM was far from ready to concede.

“Free throw shooting is what kept them in the game,” Ruple said. “We didn’t shoot very well from the line ourselves. We had just come out of a game where we went 15 of 16 from the line, but we didn’t come close to that on Tuesday.”

Along with 20 points from Ashcraft, senior guard Leah Watts scored 13 points, while South Alabama signee Lauren Walker added 12. Verkler rounded out high scorers with eight points. The win improves the Lady Panthers’ record to 12-5 overall and 2-0 in the 7A-Central Conference.

The Panthers matched Catholic for two-and-a-half quarters, but late defensive woes allowed the Rockets to pull away for a 61-50 on Tuesday. It was still a close contest at the end of the third quarter, with Catholic holding a slim 44-40 lead, but the Rockets dominated the final eight minutes on their way to handing Cabot an early 0-2 league record.

Panthers coach Jerry Bridges says the start to their 7A-Central campaign is a little disappointing, but that there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.

“We’re going to get there,” Bridges said. “We just need to stop having these defensive breakdowns. You have to step up your defense when you get down to the last minutes, and carry that intensity for the whole game. You can’t let up in 7A basketball; you have to go the whole 32 minutes.”

Miles Monroe led the Panthers with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Adam Sterrenberg added 11 points, and senior post Sam Bates finished with six points. The loss drops the Panthers’ record to 10-5 overall and 0-2 in the 7A-Central Conference.

The Cabot teams played at North Little Rock last night, and will take Tuesday off for semester testing before resuming play Friday at Bryant.

SPORTS >> Devils roll over Mustangs

Leader sports editor

Lots of new faces. Same old Forrest City-Jacksonville intensity.

At least for the first three periods. After that, it was all Red Devils, who went on to post a 67-43 win over last year’s state runner-up Mustangs on Friday night at the Devils Den.

“For us this game is huge, because of how the preseason went,” said Jacksonville head coach Vic Joyner, whose team limped out of the gates with a 3-9 record. “Everybody is trying to learn their places. We’re making adjustments after our rough preseason. I thought everyone played within themselves tonight.”

The clearest sign that the Red Devils are beginning to understand the system and their roles in it was the 15 assists in 25 field goals against the Mustangs. Cortrell Eskridge handed out five, brother Terrell dished out four and Laquinton Miles added three more.

“Before, we weren’t being patient and we were forcing shots,” Joyner said. “We lost games we should have won because of decision making. They finally look like they’re buying in.”

The Red Devils, who improved to 2-0 in 6A-East play and 5-9 overall, couldn’t have gotten off to a faster start on Friday, making six of their first eight shots and dominating the glass to surge to a 25-14 led after one period. Though Forrest City closed the overall rebounding gap, Jacksonville lead 14-5 on the boards after one period.

Three straight buckets by Miles, including a jam, a runner in the lane and a layup off a great feed from DesShone McClure extended the lead to 15 late in the half, and Jacksonville led 37-22 at the half. The Devils committed only two turnovers before intermission and went inside to connect on 16 of 28 field goals.

But Forrest City was hardly done for the night and, though Miles got another slam dunk to open the third period, the Mustangs began to make their run. Junior guard Jesse Mitchell scored three straight baskets, then added a three pointer and a 16-footer along the baseline to narrow the gap to 45-40 with 1:30 left in the period.

Off the bench came Demetrius Harris, who take a long pass from Miles and banked in a 30-footer at the buzzer to extend the lead to eight heading into the final period.

That launched a 16-1 Jacksonville run that pushed the lead to 20 with just under two minutes remaining.

By then, Jacksonville had put the clamps on Mitchell, thanks mostly to the defense of Cortrell Eskridge, who blocked two of Mitchell’s shots and shut him out in the final period. In fact, the Mustangs managed only three points in the fourth quarter.

“[Mitchell] is the real deal,” Joyner said. “That mid-range jump shot is a lost art. We wanted to get some length on him. Cortrell blocked a couple of shots and altered a couple of others.”

Jacksonville made 25-of-42 shots and committed only eight turnovers. What had Joyner extra pleased was the inside play of Antonio Roy and Antwan Lockhart.

“Antonio came off the bench and stepped up,” said Joyner of the 6-3 junior who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. “He’s another one just learning and accepting his role. We weren’t getting post scoring early. Now we’re being more effective in the post and taking pressure of the guards.”

Lockhart added 10 points and four rebounds. Cortrell Eskridge led the way with 13 points, while Miles added 12 points and seven rebounds. McClure was the fifth Red Devil in double figures with 10 points.

“To these kids’ credit, as young as they are, it would have been easy to fold their tents,” Joyner said. “They might have had some doubts the way the season started. But they kept coming to practice hungry to learn. I really have to give them credit for that.”

Jacksonville outrebounded Forrest City 32-25 and limited the Mustangs to 18-of-51 shooting.
The Red Devils head to Sylvan Hills on Tuesday.

Forrest City 59, Jacksonville Girls 34

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils hung with an ever-improving Forrest City team for one period. Then the turnovers began to mount and so did the Lady Mustangs’ lead.

Jacksonville fell to 5-9 overall and 0-2 in the 6A-East Conference after 27 turnovers led to a 59-34 loss at the Devils’ Den.
About the only good thing head coach Katrina Mimms could take from this one was a draw on the boards with the Lady Mustangs.

“If we’d have handled the ball a little better, I thought our inside could handle their inside,” she said.

The Lady Devils got nine boards from and six points from Kita Walker, and seven rebounds from guard Tyra Terry. But that wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the miscues. Jacksonville had 17 turnovers at intermission. Despite eight turnovers in the first quarter, the Lady Devils trailed only 11-8.

But Forrest City point guard Sherika Stewart became a ball hawk from the second period on and turned a slew of steals into 16 points. Post player Cassandra Jackson went inside for 19 more.

Jessica Lanier led Jacksonville with eight points. She also had four rebounds and two blocks. Brittany Smith came off the bench to score five points. Terry and Shanita Johnson each handed out three assists.

EVENTS >> 01-12-08

Jacksonville to host Gravel Ridge meeting

A meeting about Jacksonville annexing Gravel Ridge is set for 6 p.m. Monday at the Jacksonville Community Center.

It is the second meeting Jacksonville has sponsored to explain the annexation issue. The first meeting was Monday in Gravel Ridge. About 300 people attended the meeting and made it clear to Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim that the community wanted to be left alone.

Jacksonville has scheduled the annexation vote for Feb. 5. Sherwood, which also wants the community, has scheduled its annexation vote for March 11.

Cabot chamber seeks auction items for banquet

The Cabot chamber is seeking 10 quality items for the first live auction to be held at the annual chamber banquet Friday, Jan. 18. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation, contact Angie at 501-843-2136.

The speaker for this year’s banquet will be Gov. Mike Beebe. Tickets are available at the Cabot Chamber of Commerce and are $30 a person or $240 for a table of eight.

Fraternal Order of Police seeks event sponsors

The Jacksonville FOP (Hap Horton Memorial Lodge #16) will hold a “Night of Laughs” comedy show at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8 at Jacksonville High School. Area businesses and residents are being called for sponsorships and ticket sales. The funds raised will go toward the many worthwhile endeavors the lodge has sponsored.

ASU-Beebe will hold double-feature music night

Baptist Collegiate Ministry will hold a double feature featuring Cabot band After the Tragedy and Kingsdown with special guests Another Day’s Journey, Karniam and The Weeping Gate beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 at the ASU Beebe Student Center, 610 Pecan St. Admission is $7. For more information, call Zach at 827-8006.

Parade honoring Confederate general is in Cabot

General Robert E. Lee’s birthday is a state holiday. A parade will be in Cabot on Saturday, Jan. 19 to honor his 201st birthday. Everyone is invited to come and honor one of America’s great generals.

The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. and the parade will start at 1 p.m. at 1113 S. Second St. (367 South) and end at 401 S. Second St. (367 South) in downtown Cabot.

For more information, call Col. E.J. Hart at 501-743-8315.

Jacksonville chamber to hold dinner and auction

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual dinner and silent auction at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the Jacksonville Community Center.

Reservations are due before Saturday, Jan. 19. Call 982-1511 or e-mail to RSVP or to donate to the silent auction. Proceeds benefit the chamber’s year-round programs.

Jacksonville Teen Council meets Monday evening

The Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Teen Council will have its monthly meeting at the Martin Street Youth Center, 201 Martin Street, at 5 p.m. Monday. Teen Council is open to all youth ages 15-18 who are enrolled in school. For more information, please contact Dana Rozenski at 982-0818.

Volunteer juvenile probation officers needed

Pulaski County Juvenile Court is now recruiting individuals to be trained as volunteer probation officers. These volunteers work with first time offenders to provide one-on-one supervision in an effort to redirect youth at risk.

Any person who is over the age 21, has no criminal history or involvement in the Juvenile Court System, and is interested in helping youth may volunteer. Time commitment can be as little at one hour a week or as much time as wanted.

The next training session will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26 and participation in a mock trial will be 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 for a total of 12 hours. Call 340-6676 for an application.

Jacksonville HS holds financial-aid workshop

Jacksonville High School Guidance Counselors’ office will hold their annual college financial aid workshop at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13 in the high school media center. The yearly meetings are always full of valuable information for the parents and students planning to continue their education.

Experts will be on hand to discuss many sources of financial aid, including the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students, parents and other interested parties are welcome at the Jacksonville High School media center, 2400 Linda Lane.

EDITORIAL>>Vote bashes big media

Election nights are refreshing even when they are personally disappointing because they keep reassuring us about who ultimately is in charge. It is not the cacophonous media but the voters.

Until election night we are never sure. The media — and we mean all of it from the big round-the-clock news networks, the nattering commentators, pollsters and analysts, the bloggers and the well-financed independent groups that spoil for a piece of the fight — seem to take over the election process exponentially every season. It is one reason that the polls show that most Americans are already worn out on the 2008 presidential race and it has barely begun.

The people of New Hampshire nevertheless went to the polls Tuesday in record numbers and gave the media a collective raspberry. Republicans picked John McCain, who was long ago written off because he wouldn’t patronize the party’s right-wing cliques and told everyone in the party what they didn’t want to hear. They picked him over slick Mitt Romney and the Republican flavor-of-the-month, Mike Huckabee, who netted only 11 percent of the GOP vote.

But Democrats and independents gave the chattering class the biggest Bronx cheer by handing Sen. Hillary Clinton an impressive plurality. It may have been a very purposeful rebuff. Women voters who had found appeal in Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, returned to Clinton in astounding numbers, perhaps because they resented the harsh treatment of a sister who dared to run for president.

The big-media bias against Clinton was never so evident as in the week between Obama’s Iowa victory and the New Hampshire primary. The announcers and commentators on Fox, CNN and MSNBC and the big-city papers trumpeted polls showing Obama climbing to a double-digit lead in New Hampshire. There was a celebratory mood. A Washington paper announced on its front page, “The fall of the House of Clinton.”

Rush Limbaugh, who has savaged Clinton relentlessly for years, expressed amazement this week that the “mainstream media” like the networks and The New York Times had kicked her around worse than he had.

There was the “crying” incident, where her eyes glistened and she had a catch in her voice while answering a question from an Obama supporter at a town-hall meeting. It was the biggest single event of the season and the most thoroughly analyzed, along with that hearty belly laugh back in the fall.

Was it contrived? Or were the moist eyes genuine, in which case was she too weak to lead the nation in time of crisis (the judgment, by the way, of the woman who asked the question)? Mitt Romney’s frequent emotional moments when he finds it hard to go on do not merit the same attention.

(We would note that strong presidents have been known to cry. Abraham Lincoln, who led the nation in the time of its greatest peril, cried inconsolably at times, most poignantly when word came that relatives of his wife who were fighting for the Confederacy had been killed and again when he learned that a mother had lost all her sons in combat for the Union. He sat down and wrote her one of the most moving letters ever written. You will never detect a tear in the eye of George W. Bush. No pantywaist, this president.)

Inside of two weeks, the Republican field has turned upside down. The celebrated front-runners — Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson — are suddenly at the bottom and the front-runners are McCain and the biggest long shot in 50 years, Mike Huckabee.

Lots of Republicans have decided that there are worse things than apostasy (i.e., immigration, taxes and election-spending reform) if it is accompanied by sober frankness. So for the moment McCain is in remission. And they like a guy with a beautiful smile who says he is just like them, that is, an ordinary person.
That is Mike Huckabee.

New Englanders did not care much for Huckabee’s religious opportunism, but his appeal has spread beyond the conservative evangelicals and fair-taxers who organized his victory in Iowa. He is easily the coolest candidate of either party on television, now widely compared to Ronald Reagan.

He compares in another way to Reagan, the Teflon president. Nothing his opponents and critics belatedly throw at Huckabee sticks: the Wayne DuMond scandal, his frequent tax increases, spending frenzy and government largesse, the softheartedness for aliens, or his insatiable hunger for loot when he was governor.

Huckabee will get a big boost, if not outright victories, the next two weeks from South Carolina and Michigan. He understands and compels the media better than does any of its denizens. And it turns out that everyone was wrong. He doesn’t need money to win. He suddenly has the best name recognition of the GOP candidates.

The only person who can stop Mike Huckabee before the nomination is Mike Huckabee. But we remember that the bad Huckabee can be formidable.

OBITUARIES >> 4-29-09


Iola Silas Hawkins, 72, of Jacksonville was born Oct. 22, 1936, in Shaw, Miss., to the late John Silas and Artie M. Morton. On Nov. 9, 1952, she was united in holy matrimony to Elijah J. Hawkins. She confessed a faith in Christ at an early age, when her pastor was the late Rev. E. J. Shead.

Mother Hawkins went to be with the Lord on April 23. Preceding her in death were her husband; her youngest son, Earnest R. Hawkins, and a brother, Robert Silas
She was a devoted member of Evangelistic Ministries Church in Jacksonville where she participated as a prayer warrior, a spiritual adviser to many and she served on the mothers’ board.

She leaves behind to cherish her memory her children, Larry J. Hawkins, Odell Williams, Minister Otis L. Williams, Bobby Sutton, Minister Darlene Cherry and her husband Eugene, Ricky Hawkins and his wife Monica, Darryl Hawkins and his wife Betty and Artie M. Hawkins; a brother, John Silas Jr.; sisters, Emma J. Stewart and Barbara Williamson; grandchildren, Jimond Applegate, Shandrica Hawkins, Andrea Hawkins, Vantia Hawkins, Larry Hawkins Jr., Jamaal Hawkins, Colvin Williams, Alexandria Wil-liams, Otis Williams Jr., Brandon Williams, Deon Mitchell, Tiffany Cherry, Eugene Cherry Jr., Marcus Butts, Natasha Beadle and husband Brandon, Ricky Hawkins Jr., Brittaney Hawkins, Tiarra Alexander, Crystal Alexander, Angela Cherry and Joseph Felton; great-grandchildren, Bianca Mitch-ell, Uriah Williams, Noah Williams and Jordan Beadle, as well as a godson, James Ball; a god-baby, Nikyjay Toney, and a host of other relatives and friends.

A service of remembrance will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 2 at Evangelistic Ministries Church in Jacksonville with Bishop James Bolden officiating. Interment will follow in Serenity Gardens Cemetery. Arrangements are by Wood-Bean Funeral Home.


Virginia Irene Ray, 50, of Jacksonville died April 26. She was born Jan. 22, 1959 in Little Rock. She was the daughter of the late Virginia and Jackie Jackson. Mrs. Ray was a member of Victory Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Mrs. Ray is survived by her husband, Joel Paul Ray, and 11 children, Robert Everett of North Little Rock, Jacquelyn Fisher of Sherwood, Penny Sparks and Benny Brannon, both of Toneyville, Nick Ray, Joel Ray, Virginia Ann Ray and Linda Ray, all of Jacksonville, Edna Thompson and Kelley Ray, both of Furlow, and Angel Cordell Ray of Little Rock. She is also survived by five brothers, Jackie Jackson, James Jackson, Mike Brannen, William Brannen and George Jackson, all of Jacksonville, as well as seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 3 p.m. Friday, May 1 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with burial in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 30 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Zelphia L. Reese, 72, of Jacksonville passed away April 23. She was born July 2, 1936, to Toncie Callahan and the late Rue L. Ford. She was a member of Church of Christ and an avid quilter.

She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. Her father; a brother, Junior Ford, and a sister, Ena Hicks, preceded her in death.

Mrs. Reese is survived by her loving husband, Douglas M. Reese; daughter, Lisa Varney and her husband Donald of Jacksonville, and sons, Ronnie Wethington of Campbellsville, Ky., and Donnie Wethington of Cabot.

She is also survived by her siblings, Shirley James of Central, Ind., Lana Ford of Campbellsville, Ky., Gary Ford of Elkhorn, Ky., Eric Ford of Campbellsville, Ky., Daniel Ford of Florida, Ray Ford and Carl Ford, both of Louisville, Ky., Wilma Combs of Casey County, Ky., Anita Elmore of Central, Ind., Marsha Cox, Gelois Cochran and Ina Humphress, all of Elkhorn, Ky., and Ruby McDonald of Louisville, Ky., as well as one grandson, Donavon Lee Varney.

The funeral was April 27 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Dennis Carrow officiating. Interment was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.


Gary L. Cook, 58, of Jacksonville passed away April 23. He was a warehouse manager for the Department of Human Services, former employee of Aegon Insurance Co. and a member of Levy Baptist Church.

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Cathy Weeks Cook; two daughters, Carie Cook and Kimberly Warner and her husband James, all of Jacksonville; mother, Helen Cook; brother, Pat Cook and his wife, Carolyn, all of Hazen, and three nieces.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, 901 N. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72207 or Levy Baptist Church, 3501 Pike Ave., North Little Rock, Ark. 72118.
The funeral was April 28. Arrangements were by North Little Rock Funeral Home.

TOP STORY >> Cabot seeks $2.5M more from state

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School District has asked the state for half of the $5 million budget gap needed to rebuild Cabot Junior High North.
The district appealed to the Department of Education and asked it to reconsider assisting with funds to rebuild the junior high after it was destroyed in a fire in 2006. The total cost of the new building will be $12.5 million, of which insurance has reimbursed $10 million.

The $5 million budget gap is a combined $2.5 million shortfall in construction cost and a $2.5 million gap in the district’s operating fund. The cost of operating temporary facilities for JHN put a significant dent in the district’s budget.

“The temporary facilities for JH North will have cost the district $2.5 million once the school is rebuilt,” Superintendent Tony Thurman said.

“We are requesting that the state consider assisting with the $2.5 million that has been taken from the operating fund for the operation of the temporary facilities,” Thurman said.  

He expects the district’s attempt to be difficult but maintains it should receive insurance funds allowed at the time the school was destroyed in 2006. Thurman believes a millage increase is necessary for the district to afford construction of Cabot JHN, along with other facility needs in the district.

The school board is expected to approve 10-year facility plan Tuesday. It will then go to the state for approval.

Thurman and Assistant Superintendent Jim Dalton presented the 10-year facility plan Friday at a public meeting. The plan must be presented to the public before the board approves it.

Projects that have received state approval include construction of a new health, physical education and recreation center and cafeteria at the high school; a new elementary school; four classrooms and a new parking lot at Westside Elementary; HVAC units in PE facilities on eight campuses and remodeling of the cafeteria and amphitheater at the high school.

The Cabot School District’s 10-year facility plan consists of $50.5 million in projects. Of that total, $27.7 million is expected from the state and Cabot would have to pay $22.8 million.

Cabot will vote March 11 on whether to approve a 3.9 millage increase, which Thurman says is needed to finance planned capital projects. Under the proposed millage increase, a homeowner would pay $78 a year on a home valued at $100,000 and $156 a year on a home valued at $200,000.

Thurman will visit civic groups in the coming weeks to discuss the millage increase.

The state currently finances district projects based on how much wealth is generated in a district.

“Some districts have more local wealth and don’t get as much money from the state,” Dalton said, adding that Cabot can be considered among the poorest in the state considering how little revenue is generated locally.

Other proposed capital projects on the 10-year facilities plan that have not yet been submitted for state approval include new restrooms, a concession stand and bleachers at the stadium to make them ADA compliant; HVAC units for 10 kitchens, none of which now have air-conditioning; auditorium renovation at the high school; new science labs at Junior High South; renovation of the science building at the high school, a 15-year-old building and construction of a charter school facility.
Forty classrooms would be added to the high school pending board and state approval. Dalton said if ninth graders are added to the school, then space will be needed to accommodate them.

“We want to make sure we put ninth graders where we can best serve them,” he said.

The district has also proposed construction of a pre-kindergarten building. The state does not currently help finance any pre-K education buildings.

The state will not offer financing for the purchase of land for a new elementary school, a new Eastside Elementary roof or paving Stagecoach Road, school district officials said.

TOP STORY >> Officials prepare machines for voting

Leader staff writers

With the start of early voting for the Feb. 5 presidential primary less than three weeks away, election officials in Pulaski, Lonoke and White counties say they have faith in the electronic voting equipment used to record and tally those votes.
Arkansas will be one of 24 states holding presidential primaries on that day.

All three counties will use only the touch-screen IvoTronic voting machines during early voting for the presidential primary, which runs for five days beginning Jan. 29, and also for early voting for the usual May 20 primaries, which run 13 weekdays, beginning May 5 and ending May 19.

“Everyone in Pulaski County should feel secure with the process,” said Susan Inman, county election director. “Each machine is tested. Each has a paper trail.”

“Pulaski County has been using touch machines for early voting since 2000,” Inman said. “It’s not new to us.”

Pulaski County doesn’t contract with ES and S to program the voting machines and scanners like some counties. “We have taken ownership of our own process, we’re not reliant on someone in Omaha to do our programming,” Inman continued.

“We understand how they actually work and what it involves setting them up,” said Inman. “We keep them in secure areas.”
Inman said the county would start training poll workers Saturday. “Election officials need to know what to do.”

After early voting, Pulaski County keeps one optical scanner at each regular polling place and one toach screen IvoTronic at each, she said. Each of the nine early voting sites will have five touch-screen voting machines.

Except for absentee voters, who will cast their ballots on paper, all White and Lonoke County voters also will vote for their presidential choice on touch-screen machines on Feb. 5 and also on the machines for the May 20 preferential primary. Not so in Pulaski County, where there are only about 140 electronic voting machines for 118 polling places. For the actual primaries and later for the general election, Pulaski County will have one touch-screen voting machine at each polling place for use by handicapped voters. Everyone else will vote a paper ballot.

The nine Pulaski County early voting sites include Jacksonville City Hall in Jacksonville, the Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center in Sherwood and the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock.

“We’re going to do logic and accuracy checks the day after we (the programs) back from ES and S,” said Larry Clarke, the commissioner who heads up Lonoke County’s elections.

“We have 101 of these things now,” said Clarke of the touch screens.

In the 2004 elections, counting was held up for more than a day because the optical scanner didn’t recognize votes in one of the aldermanic races in Lonoke, he said, leading to confusion about the accuracy of the other race results for a while.

Also, the thermal printer, which provides a paper trail for each of the touch-screen machines, jammed up pretty easily. It seemed like it jammed when it got three-fourths of the way through a roll of paper, which resembles cash register tape. Clarke says the paper feeding through the voting machine changes its sound as it nears jamming and that poll workers would listen for the warning sounds.

Clarke said Lonoke County couldn’t afford to buy the ES and S programming software, so “I build the files, we send our devices to them, they program and send me back screen shots for approval. They also print our ballots and do the layouts.”
Clarke said the number of polling sites for the presidential primary has been reduced to 26 because in part because “we lost poll workers.”

Those who previously voted at Toltec Mounds State Park will now vote at Keo and those who previously voted at Hamilton Church will vote at the Humnoke School Economic Building.

All early voting for the Feb. 5 presidential primary will be at the Lonoke County Courthouse, he said. Early voting for the May preferential primary will also be held at Cabot.

Clarke said four trainings for poll workers would be held.

Because it has 101 touch-screen voting machines for fewer than 28 precincts, each polling place will have between two and five of them, depending upon the number of anticipated voters.

Clarke said the machines are apportioned at the rate of one per each 200 voters, based on a 56 percent turnout.

In White County, the election commission reduced the number of polling places in 2006 from 89 to 32 to make it easier for commissioners to monitor the elections. That decision was contested in court and upheld by Circuit Judge Bill Mills.
White County has 165 machines which are distributed based on the number of voters expected.

Leslie Bellamy, White County election coordinator, said sites where heavy voting is expected could have as many as 10.
Voter turnout is usually lower for primaries than for November elections, Bellamy said, but having two candidates from Arkansas is certain to generate interest in the presidential primary.

On the other hand, the state has never had a February primary for president and that could have a negative impact on turnout, she said.

TOP STORY >> Rebsamen renames itself, introduces improvements

Leader managing editor

Rebsamen Medical Center officially becomes North Metro Medical Center on Monday, although new signs went up Friday. The facility name change is the last step of phase one of a two-phase overhaul of the 50-year old hospital.

“We had made so many changes with the hospital over two years, and so many planned, we wanted to do something to alert the community that we are really improving,” North Metro marketing coordinator Kristen James said. “We want the community to know that we are better prepared and better equipped to serve.”

The two-year process has included many facility and equipment upgrades, but the main focus of the overhaul has been customer service. All of the staff has taken classes on better customer relations and care over the past two years. There have been more than 50 hands-on workshops and monthly department meetings to prepare and equip the staff to provide better care.

“Our biggest focus has been improving our customer service,” James said. “We want to make sure that everyone that comes in not only gets great care, but that all the staff is friendly and helpful. All the changes were centered around providing the best experience possible for the people who are here. When you walk down our hallways, there is a completely different spirit.”

The facility upgrades over the past two years of phase one have included a new mammography suite and renovations of the surgery suite and all of the public waiting areas. There is also a new doctor’s lounge and dictation area.

Phase two begins in the spring with groundbreaking for a new 1,000 square-foot emergency room. Already one of the few hospitals in the area with private patient rooms, all 40 of those will also undergo renovation upgrades. There will also be a new nurses station.

Equipment is now better as well. Some of the state-of-the-art technology now on hand at North Metro includes a 40-slice CT scanner, a Philips Ultrasound and the Depuy total-knee-replacement instrument.

North Metro’s new CEO Scott Landrum, who came to Jacksonville from Weatherford, Tex., in May, believes the name change is symbolic of the tangible changes throughout the entire facility.

“The name change is completely supported by all of the staff throughout the hospital,” Landrum said in a statement released last month. “They have seen the changes we’ve undergone and know that an identity change will help people see who we’re becoming. If you are in the Jacksonville area over the next year, stop by and visit us. You will see some exciting changes in our hospital.”

TOP STORY >> Blackjacks stand down

Leader managing editor

The end of 14 years of Arkansas military history took place Friday afternoon at Little Rock Air Force Base when the 53rd Airlift Squadron was officially inactivated during ceremonies in which Lt. Col. Thomas Gilster relinquished command of his squadron — known as the Blackjacks — that had been based to LRAFB since Oct. 1, 1993.

Since that time, the 53rd has operated as an Air Education and Training Command C-130 training squadron under the 314th Operations Group. In four months, it will be reactivated as 463rd Airlift Group, an Air Mobility Command operational C-130 airlift squadron based at LRAFB, providing direct support to war fighters.

Some Blackjacks have already transferred to the 62nd AS, the only remaining C-130E formal training unit, and will continue their training mission there.

Presiding over Friday’s ceremony was Col. Rudolph Byrne, who cited military efficiency, cuts and assignments as the main reasons for the inactivation.

Gilster, who will soon transfer to Stuttgart, Germany, praised those under his command.

“I have never been with a more dedicated and integrated group of commanders,” Gilster said just before giving up command of the 53rd. “You are all absolutely awesome.”

Afterwards, Gilster spoke in more detail about those he mentioned in his speech.

“The makeup of this squadron comes from all over the Air Force throughout the country,” Gilster said. “It’s been amazing how much those different styles and techniques have come together for one mission and been so successful.”

The men and women who have made up the 53 Airlift squadron, have successful since being posted at LRAFB.

The squadron has trained nearly 7,400 military men and women under the squadron, logging 121,000 flying hours. It has participated in every major operation, contingency and relief effort over the past 14 years, and has maintained a 98-percent on-time graduation rate of trainees.

Gilster again credits the supervisors and commanders for that success.

“They’re absolutely fantastic,” Gilster said. “The skill sets and maturity of the supervisors was excellent for the airmen who arrived here ready to train.”

That mission grew more difficult with manpower decreasing since July when the inactivation process actually began.

“The last six months has especially shown the dedication of this squadron,” Gilster said. “The manning has been cut, and those left were willing to put in the longer days and more flying hours to maintain that 98-percent on-time graduation rate.”

The 53rd Airlift Squadron was first activated on June 1, 1942 and has been stationed at 20 different sites in eight different countries. During its long history it has received three Distinguished Unit Citations, nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and was the Military Aircraft Command Outstanding Strategic Airlift Squadron of the Year in 1982 and 1985.

TOP STORY >> Pulaski sheriff is pleading for more jail cells

Leader senior staff writer

Pulaski County needs to double its jail capacity, but that can’t happen without residents footing the bill, directly or indirectly, Sheriff Doc Holladay said Thursday.

Holladay and County Treasurer Debra Buckner had hoped to solve at least part of the problem by putting a new roof on the old, abandoned part of the jail for about $1 million and asked residents to chip in, but a study released this week by Garver Engineers placed the cost of rehabbing that facility at $5.7 million.

“I’m not inclined to spend $5.7 million to repair a 30-year-old facility,” he added.

Donations generated about $19,744, which the sheriff said would now be devoted to an eventual new jail.
It would cost $1 million or more to tear down the unused jail, according to the Garver report, but Holladay said not only does the old jail serve as a hallway between the sheriff’s office and the new jail, but also that if he had access to the $1 million, he’d rather put it toward a new jail addition.

In Holladay’s first year as sheriff, the average daily jail population was 945, 65 more inmates than the existing jail is built to house, and 49 more inmates daily than the preceding year. Despite the overcrowding, the jail is still accredited with the state Jail Standards Board.

Holladay said a jail addition to increase capacity from 880 inmates to 1,700 or more would either require the passage of a new bond issue by voters or else require Pulaski County and the cities within it to greatly increase the amounts of money they contribute to the jail.

In the wake of the failed dedicated jail tax spurned decisively by voters in September 2006, Holladay said he doesn’t expect another attempt anytime soon.

“We will do more with less into 2008,” Holladay said. “We will work with what we have. I can tell you what the problems are, whether or not we can fix them.

“The staff will lock up violent felons and as many others as possible,” he said. “I’m committed to fill this jail and over fill it as long as we can control the inmates.”

“But even overfilled, this jail is not sufficient, we have to look forward to the immediate future and begin to plan for an expansion of the facilities.”

The 250-bed work center currently holds 160 inmates, he said, but the jail budget doesn’t include money to hire staff, buy food and provide medical attention for the other 90. Now with the Garver study in hand, Holladay said, “I’ll be in discussion with (County Judge Buddy) Villines and (Comptroller Mike) Hutchens.”

Holladay said the county is understaffed with jailers, who are overworked and overstressed and that he was pleased that they received raises this year and one-time bonuses. He said the attrition rate had been about 35 percent and he hoped the additional money would slow that.

Currently the county is 20 jailers short, but a new class will soon graduate, providing some relief.

TOP STORY >> Housing project stalled

Leader senior staff writer

A team working to complete the sale of the failed housing-privatization contract at Little Rock Air Force Base and three other bases must still resolve “several outstanding issues,” according to Staff Sgt. Katherine Garcia.

She said rumors that talks had broken down and stopped were not true.

LRAFB officials had hoped for selection of a new developer from among two bidding on purchase of the contract as early as last Monday, Garcia said, but the failed owner of the projects wants all issues completely resolved.

“It’s safe to say it’s probably not going to be this month,” she added.

Meantime, the Air Force is scheduling town hall meetings at each base to talk about “where we are at and the way ahead,” according to Garcia.

Several banks pulled the plug on construction at LRAFB by American Eagle Communities, which had completed only 25 of the 486 new housing units promised and made scant progress on remodeling an additional 732 units.

When the job was shut down, the company was two-years behind on a project only three years old, according to Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz. Forest City Enterprises, of Cleveland, Ohio, one of the two potential developers, recently bought a 3,000-unit Navy privatization contract from American Eagle Communities LLC at Puget Sound.

“We don’t comment on transactions until they are final,” said Forest City spokesman Jeff Linton. “We can’t provide status updates on negotiations that may or may not be taking place.”

Two other developers—Pinnacle and Hughes—have joined to bid on the projects. The team working out details includes representatives of American Eagle Communities, four Air Force bases, the Air Force construction contract wing and the banks, Garcia said.
One scenario would group all four privatization contracts, while the other scenario would split out the Moody Air Force Base contract in Georgia. The other two bases left in the lurch are Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

Carabetta Enterprises, which is the managing partner in American Eagle, says the Air Force misrepresented the occupancy rates at the time the contracts were originally awarded, leaving them without sufficient cash flow.

Senators Mark Pryor and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia have asked for an investigation into how a formerly bankrupt company like Carabetta with a long track record of stiffing subcontractors and litigation could have been chosen in the first place.

The two lawmakers also have passed legislation—currently in limbo in the vetoed Defense Authorization Bill—requiring stricter vetting of companies doing business with the military and greater oversight.

Some local contractors have begun getting money owed them a year or more.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

SPORTS >> Lonoke girls hand BK first loss of season

Leader sportswriter

The Lady Jackrabbits played giant killers on Friday, handing Bald Knob its first loss of the season. Man-to-man defensive pressure on the Lady Bulldogs turned out to be the key in a 38-27 win for Lonoke at the LHS gym. The win not only gave BK the first blemish on its record, it also propelled the Lady Jackrabbits into sole possession of first place in the 2-4A Conference standings. According to Lonoke coach Nathan Morris, the prospect of ending someone’s perfect record was a big motivator for the defending league champs.

“I can’t say that wasn’t talked about leading up to the game,” Morris said. “I told the kids that we still have a team that can win the conference title, but we weren’t getting any respect. Call it a chip on our shoulder or whatever, but the girls were focused. You can’t lose at home in this conference and expect to have a chance at the title.”

BK guard Phagon Altom was the primary focus of the Lady ’Rabbits’ defense. Altom managed 17 points to lead all scorers, but little offensive support from the remaining Lady Bulldogs kept Lonoke out front from the opening quarter on.

Lonoke needed an inspired offensive attack of their own, and found it inside. Sophomore post Asiah Scribner has proved to be the go-to player so far this season, and Friday was no different. The only difference this time is that she got plenty of scoring help inside from senior post Carrie Mitchell. Mitchell’s primary tasks have been defense and rebounding this year, but she got in the scoring mix against the Lady Bulldogs.

Things took a turn for the worse for Lonoke in the first quarter when guards Ashley Hempstedt and Michaela Brown both got in foul trouble while guarding the explosive BK shooting guard. Lauren Harper came off the bench to give an outstanding defensive performance, keeping a hand in Altom’s face to limit her looks.

Lonoke rushed out to an 11-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, mostly on the inside play of Scribner and Mitchell. Senior guard Hayley O’Cain warmed up toward the end of the frame, hitting the first of four buckets from behind the arc. O’Cain’s efforts from the outside made her the highest scorer for the Lady ’Rabbits with 12 points on the night.

The Lady Bulldogs played a little bit of catch up in the second quarter, but still trailed 21-15 at halftime. The third quarter was another defensive conquest for Lonoke, as it once again held BK to a single basket, while extending its lead to 30-17 heading into the final eight minutes.

O’Cain led the Lady Jackrabbits with 12 points. Brown added 10 points in a perfect offensive performance, going 6 for 6 at the foul line, and 2 for 2 from the field. Scribner and Mitchell each added seven points from the inside for the Lady Jackrabbits.

The win improves Lonoke’s record to 14-4 overall and 7-0 in the 3A-2 Conference. The loss gives the Lady Bulldogs records of 15-1 and 7-1.

Lonoke boys 61, BK 29

The Jackrabbits (13-5, 5-2) got back on track with a 61-29 win over the Bulldogs in Friday’s finale. They were coming off two straight league losses to Newport and Stuttgart, and needed a win to keep themselves in the hunt. A 13-point performance by Tony Jackson off the bench to lead all scorers may not have been Lonoke’s most impressive offensive performance of the season, but proved to be more than enough to down the rebuilding Bulldogs.

“We didn’t play well, no matter what the score says,” Jackrabbits coach Wes Swift said. “Honestly, it wasn’t that good, but we did get to play a lot of people, which was one good things that came out of it.”

The loss to Newport was somewhat surprising after the ’Rabbits stomped the Greyhounds during the finals of the Beebe tourney, but Swift believes the consistency needed to contend for the league title is still eluding his team.

“We’ve been trying all year to be great,” Swift said. “But in order to be in the running, you have to be great at the little things, and we’re not so good at those. We just go in and try to outscore everyone in the fourth quarter, but on the road, you’re going to have to play some defense at some point.”

SPORTS >>’Rabbits avenge early loss to SHS

Leader sports editor

Sometimes when you play not to lose, you don’t.

Lonoke survived a brutal battle in the middle of a brutal 2-4A Conference race on Tuesday night, holding on for a 54-50 win over Stuttgart.

The victory avenged one of the Jackrabbits’ two conference losses, and improved them to 6-2, right in the thick of a bunched-up conference.

“Sometimes you have to play not to lose and win games like that,” Lonoke head coach Wes Swift said. “Sometimes you have to find a way to win one like that to get confidence to start believing you can win close games.

“[The Ricebirds] are a very good ball team. They’re playing as good as they’ve played all year. And we’re not playing very good right now.”

This one appeared to be in the bag several times down the stretch, but the improved Ricebirds would not go away. Lonoke led 46-41 with just over three minutes remaining, but Stuttgart stormed back to tie it with 2:31 left.

Tyrone Dobbins grabbed an offensive rebound and got a stickback with 2:05 left, then knocked down a pair of free throws 15 seconds later to put Lonoke back in front 50-46 with 1:46 left in the contest.

Two free throws by Bradley Spencer with 49 seconds left had the Jackrabbits in front by five again, but Stuttgart’s Philip Sykes, who led all scorers with 21 points, went end to end for a layup and a free throw.

Though Sykes missed the charity try, Lonoke turned it over with 19 seconds, and committed a foul on the play. The Ricebirds made one of two free throws to close the gap to 52-50, then grabbed the offensive rebound with 16.5 seconds left. The Ricebirds called timeout to set up a play, but a travel call with 10.2 seconds left gave the ball back to Lonoke.

Spencer made two more free throws with two seconds left to ice it.

“In the two conference games we lost at Stuttgart and at Newport, we didn’t get stops late,” Swift said. “I told them, let’s get a stop. We finally got one when we needed one. And Bradley Spencer, our senior, stepped up and went 4-of-4 down the stretch.”

In fact, Lonoke was gold from the line all night, making 16-of-20, including 9-of-10 in the final period.

Stuttgart fell to 6-3 with the loss, still right in the thick of the five-team race which includes first-place Marianna, Mountain View, Newport and Lonoke.

Lonoke began the game pounding the ball inside to freshman Myles Taylor, who collected six of his 10 points over the first four minutes of the opening period.

After an early second-half basket on a nice feed from Spencer, Taylor hardly touched the ball at all.

“I don’t know if it was a matter of we could not get him the ball, or that we just quit trying,” Swift said. “In the first quarter, we had good ball reversal. Then we went back to one-on-one play.”

Other than a 2-0 lead off the opening tip and a 4-3 lead at the 5:40 mark of the opening period, the Ricebirds trailed throughout much of the game. They took their next lead at 35-34 on putback basket with 4:46 left in the third period. The Ricebirds led 39-36 before Tony Jackson’s three from the right wing sent the two teams into the final period tied at 39.

Lonoke never trailed again.

The Jackrabbits won despite making only 2-of-17 from beyond the arc. Stuttgart missed all eight of their three-point attempts.

Lonoke featured fine scoring balance with five players scoring eight or more points. Dobbins led the way with 12. Michael Howard added 11, Taylor 10, Spencer nine and Clarence Harris eight. Taylor had six rebounds and a block.

“There are nights when the offense is going to struggle,” Swift said. “But you can get big stops when you need them. I thought we did that tonight. Our defense played poorly in man. When we switched to the zone in the fourth quarter, it really slowed them down.

“But we’re good enough we should have been able to guard them in man.”

Lonoke hosts Heber Springs on Friday.

Lonoke girls 40, Stuttgart 24

For the second straight game, the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits put on a first-half defensive clinic.

Just four days after handing Bald Knob its first loss of the season with a stifling defensive performance, Lonoke limited Stuttgart to 1-of-20 shooting in the first half and ran off with a 40-24 win.

“Our guards do such a tremendous job staying with the other teams’ guards,” said Lonoke head coach Nathan Morris, whose Lady ’Rabbits improved to 8-0 in the 2-4A and 15-4 overall. “We’re not trying to score 60 points. Our goal is to keep people in the 30s. If we can do that we can win.”

Lonoke has surrendered just 51 points over its past two games.

Still, Morris wasn’t completely happy with the victory, primarily because the Lady Ricebirds were able to get their offense going after intermission. After holding Stuttgart to five points at halftime, Lonoke allowed the Lady Ricebirds to score 11 points in the third quarter, as well as the final eight points of the game.

“We’re always happy with a win, make no mistake about that,” Morris said. “But I thought we went a little flat offensively and defensively. We need to finish every game out. There are definitely some things we can work on.”

Lonoke got a big night from Asiah Scribner, who posted an impressive line. The sophomore post player scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds and three steals, handed out five assists and blocked four shots.

“She missed a couple of chip shots or she could have had 20,” Morris said. “She’s only going to get better. She works tremendously hard.”

Scribner and Carrie Mitchell played the high-low to near perfection at times on Tuesday. Mitchell finished with nine points and six boards. She also had three blocks.

“They’re two of our better players,” Morris said. “We try to get the high low working with them every time.”

Mitchell and Scribner scored the first nine points for Lonoke, and Hayley O’Cain’s three pointer to close out the first period gave Lonoke a 12-2 lead. It was 22-5 at the half. The lead grew to as much as 38-12 before Stuttgart closed out the game by scoring 12 of the final 14 points.

Ashley Himstedt scored eight points and dished out three assists. Her defense, along with that of sophomore guard Michaela Brown, kept Stuttgart out of sync all night.

“Ashley is probably our best on-ball defender,” Morris said. “And Michaela’s best days are ahead of her.”

O’Cain added six points on a pair of three pointers.

Lonoke finished 17-of-38 from the field, while Stuttgart warmed up to make 10-of-42.

The Lady Jackrabbits host Heber Springs on Friday.

SPORTS >> Red Devils open strong

Leader news editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils got off to a good start in reversing their pre-conference fortunes last Friday night. After struggling to a 3-9 record through the first six weeks of the season, the Red Devils beat Marion 45-35 on the road to start 6A-East play on a positive note.

Jacksonville got out to an early lead and stretched it to as much as 15 points in the second half before slowing the game down and holding on for the victory.

“We’re just trying to manufacture some wins,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “We lost some games late because of decision making. The way that game was starting to turn, the way it was being officiated, we thought the best thing to do was slow it down. I think we did a good job of that. We didn’t let the tide turn on us too much. The kids kept their poise and made good basketball decisions.”

Although an uncommon tactic by Joyner, it worked well from the beginning. Joyner called the all-out stall game with just less than five minutes left in the game. His team kept that possession, and more importantly the ball away from the Patriots, for more than two-and-a-half minutes.

“It’s all been about basketball decisions from day one,” Joyner said. “The biggest difference this time is that we made the right ones for the most part. We had some guys step up that didn’t necessarily score a lot, but made smart decisions down the stretch.”

The Red Devils also put together their best performance of the season down low. Junior post player Cortrell Eskridge led the team with 16 points to mark the first time this year a post player has led the team in scoring.

“We’ve been doing a pretty decent job of getting the ball to those guys all year,” Joyner said. “It’s been a matter of those guys not finishing when they get it. We got a little more active, got some strong rebounds on the offensive end. That’s something that those guys have got to understand. If they don’t get it off the pass, they have to go up strong and get it off the boards. They did a lot better, took a good step forward in this game.”

With juniors Antonio Roy and Antwan Lockhart combining for 10 points, it also marked the first time this season that well over half of Jacksonville’s total points came from the post.

Joyner said his guards played well also. The team’s leading scorer, junior LaQuentin Miles, only scored four points, but still drew praises from Joyner.

“He just played smart,” Joyner said. “He didn’t force anything and took care of the ball when that’s all we were trying to do.”
Sophomore DeShone McClure, who seems to be the second-leading scorer in every game, continued his consistent play with 11 points for the Red Devils.

“McClure and Terrell Eskridge have been the two most consistent guys,” Joyner said. “They still have their share of mistakes, but those are two guys we don’t worry about too much.”

The win lifted the Red Devils to 4-9 overall, and 1-0 in conference play. The latter record, Joyner says, is the only one that matters.

“At this point that is all that matters,” Joyner said. “Nothing we did before Friday has anything to do with winning a conference or state championship.”

The Lady Devils led the Lady Patriots most of the game, but went south when sophomore post player Jessica Lanier fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

The 6-foot-1Lanier helped neutralize Marion’s overall height advantage, but with her on the bench, the Lady Patriots rallied for a 61-56 win.

That dropped Jacksonville to 4-8 overall and 0-1 in league play.

EDITORIAL >>Whose tax cuts?

We tire of pointing it out, but someone needs to keep the record straight. Mike Huckabee, in his exuberance to claim the mantle of fierce tax cutter, said in the final New Hampshire debate Monday for what must have been the hundredth time that he drove the first broad-based tax cut in Arkansas history through the heavily Democratic Arkansas legislature.

Sometimes he has been bolder about it, suggesting that he forced a Democratic-driven legislature to accept tax cuts when its mindset was raising taxes.

But here is what happened with that tax cut, which was passed in 1997. With a huge surplus building in the state treasury, Gov. Jim Guy Tucker constructed a multi-pronged reduction in state personal income taxes in 1996. He gave it to the interim tax committee of the legislature to perfect by the next legislative session. But he was forced to resign in July, and Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee became governor. He said he would like to cut taxes, too, and proposed sending everybody a $25 government check.

The legislature — 88 percent Democratic — said Huckabee’s plan was silly and 83 Democratic House members, led by Speaker Bobby Hogue of Jonesboro, introduced Tucker’s bill with some modification. The Democratic members of the legislature made Tucker’s tax cut its top priority for the session. The bill passed both houses easily.

Huckabee had nothing to do with the bill’s drafting and he had nothing to do with its passage. One former lawmaker who helped draft and sponsor the bill said the governor never communicated anything to legislators about the bill, but he did sign it when it reached his desk. That was inconsequential because legislators would have passed it over his veto.

But in the election of 1998, running against a friend of Speaker Hogue, Huckabee claimed the tax law as his own monumental achievement. Lawmakers were amazed.

He has bragged ever since about forcing a tax cut through a hostile legislature or else suggested the tax-cut victory as evidence of his unique ability to get things done in a partisan atmosphere.

None of his Republican opponents stop him, though everyone’s opposition research must have produced the truth. Perhaps they don’t want to be caught giving credit to Democrats for cutting taxes. If Huckabee is on the Republican ticket this fall, Democrats we imagine won’t be so reticent.

– Ernie Dumas

EDITORIAL >> Requiring photo IDs

Arkansas has a sad but improving history of voting fraud, but the solution is not less democracy as a few Republicans lawmakers advocate.

The Arkansas Legislature last year scotched a bill that would have required everyone to present an official identification card with a photo of themselves before being allowed to vote. Merely being legally registered to vote would not be enough. You would have to have a current driver’s license or a passport to prove that you were the person who was registered.

Lawmakers figured out pretty easily why that was a bad idea. Lots of people, for reasons of age, disability or economics, do not drive and have no cause to get a passport. They would be disfranchised unless they went to extraordinary efforts to get a photo ID.

There has been a surge of interest in requiring photo identifications to vote. Perhaps only coincidentally, it occurred after the success that Republican operatives had in the 2004 election turning back voters from the polls by asking people lining up to vote to produce a photo ID. Again, perhaps coincidentally, they asked for the IDs in precincts with high percentages of black voters. They are more apt not to have driver’s licenses or passports.

Again, perhaps only coincidentally, blacks tend to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans. So the Republican legislature in Indiana passed a photo ID law. The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments about the law’s constitutionality today.

Meantime, Rep. Dan Greenberg, R-Little Rock, the chief sponsor of the failed voter ID bill in Arkansas, said he was encouraged to try again when the legislature reconvenes because a study of the Indiana law by the University of Missouri had concluded that the photo requirement had not dampened black voting in the 2006 elections. Greenberg will introduce the bill if the Supreme Court concludes that the photo-identity requirement does not violate the Constitution. The current Supreme Court has shown that it is not averse to basing constitutional doctrines on what is best for one political party or another.

We can’t vouch for the authenticity of the Missouri study that Greenberg cited. But the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law commissioned a study that found that nearly 22 percent of black Indiana voters did not have access to a photo ID, compared with fewer than 6 percent of white voters. We have no trouble believing the statistic. What earthly reason is there to disqualify either group from participating in this great experiment of self-government?

Arkansas does not have much history of people voting for another registered voter. Indiana had never prosecuted a single case of voter impersonation before it passed its law. In any case, poll officials in Arkansas ask for some form of identification — a checkbook, government document, utility bill or something with the person’s name and address on it — before voting, and that would seem to be ample enough protection.

For millions of Americans, voting already is hard enough because of the simple ordeal of getting off work or getting to the polls. If a party wants to gain an advantage at the polls, let it do so by changing the hearts and minds of voters.

OBITUARIES >> 1-9-08


Anna Bell Wood, 94, was born March 16, 1913 and went to be with her Lord on Jan. 7. 

Ms. Wood was a lifelong resident of Jacksonville until recent years when she resided in Cabot with her daughter.  

She was a member of Landmark Baptist Church in Jacksonville.  She worked at the Jacksonville Ordnance Plant in the 40’s.  
She retired from Franklin Electric and also retired from Jacksonville Senior Center.

Ms. Wood was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond T. Wood and two granddaughters.  She is survived by one son, Jimmy Wood (Jean) of Jacksonville; one daughter Margaret Shillcutt of Cabot; two grandsons, Mike Shillcutt of North Little Rock and Danny Shillcott (Tammy) of Cabot; two granddaughters; two great-grandsons, Peyton and Jace Shillcutt of Cabot.  

She is also survived by two sisters, Elizabeth Teel (Arnold) of Conway and Clara Mihaila of Vallejo, Calif.  

Her beloved pet, Roxie, who brought much joy to Ann in the past few years will miss her.  

There will be an empty place in the hearts and lives of many other friends and family members who were fortunate enough to have been a part of her life.

Funeral services will be 2 p.m. in the Chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home on Wednesday, Jan. 9, with Bro. Ben Leonard officiating.  Burial will be at Bayou Meto Cemetery in Jacksonville.   

Arrangements by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


David Lee George, born Oct. 2, 1950, passed away Jan. 6, at the age of 57 after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was preceded in death by his father, Eddie George and previous wife, Brenda Bevill George.

He is survived by his wife Janette and son Michael; mother Betty George; sister Julie (CC) Hays; nephew Jimmy (Amanda); and great-nephew, Jimmy, Jr. He leaves behind a host of family and friends.

Family received friends Tuesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Graveside service will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Donations may be made to American Cancer Society, 901 N. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72203 or CARTI Foundation, P.O. Box 55011, Little Rock, Ark. 72215.


James Thomas Smith, 66, of Smithville, Oklahoma, and formerly of McRae, Arkansas, died Jan. 6 of lung cancer.

He was born Feb. 13, 1941, at Searcy to Murray and Ada Lackey Smith.

From McRae High School he entered the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, serving for nine years.

From 1968 to 1982, he lived and worked as a pipefitter/welder in LaPorte, Texas, and was a member of the Local 211 Pipefitter’s Union.

He was also a newspaper publisher and started the White County Shopper in 1975.

He was a political activist always striving for change at both the national and local levels of government and consistently published materials regarding current issues up until the time of his death.

Smith was preceded in death by his parents, and his eldest brother, Billy Murray Smith. He is survived by his daughter, Chris Ferguson (Joseph); four grandchildren, Rachel, Elizabeth, Andrew and Laura; a sister Helen Liles and brother Robert Smith, both of McRae, and a sister Mary McClure of Texas.

The family expresses gratitude to the caring staffs of both Arkansas Hospice at St. Vincent Doctors’ Hospital and the VA Hospital Oncology unit.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Graveside service will be 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 at Lebanon Cemetery.


Richard Wayne “Dick” Turner of Jacksonville passed away on Jan. 4. He was born in Hodge, La., on Sep. 5, 1943 to the late Earl and Etta Turner.

Dick is survived by his loving wife, Betty Turner of Jacksonville, and his daughter, Connie “Baby Girl” (Billy) of the home, and many close friends. He was preceded in death by his parents. He was retired from Ridout Lumber of Cabot.

Funeral was Jan. 7 at North Little Rock Funeral Home Chapel.

Burial was at Arkansas Memorial Gardens.


Ethel Elizabeth Terry, 86, of Jacksonville passed away Jan. 6. She was born July 18, 1921 in Oswego, N.Y., to the late Syndey and Ethel Tucker.

Ethel moved from Long Island, N.Y., in 1991 to Jacksonville.

She was a long-standing member of the Church of the Resurrection in Oswego, N.Y.  

Her husband Robert B. Terry preceded her in death in 1988.  

She is survived by her nephew, Wally Tucker and his wife Peg of Jacksonville and her niece, Connie Toska-Tucker of Wilmington, N.C., three great nieces, one great nephew and eight great-great nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10 at Riverside Cemetery Chapel in Oswego, N.Y.


George Edward Mitchell, Jr., 38, of Jacksonville, passed away Jan. 3.

He was born Sept. 10, 1969 in Little Rock to the late George Edward Mitchell, Sr. and Shirley Cox Mitchell.

He was preceded in death by his father, George Edward Mitchell, Sr.; and his maternal and paternal grandparents.

Survivors include three children, Justin Mitchell of Jacksonville, Jessica Williams of Kensett and Kelly Mitchell of Jacksonville; his mother, Shirley Cox Mitchell of Jacksonville; one sister, Shannon Brewer (Chris) of Cabot; a half-sister, Karen Bragg (Jerry) of Benton; along with several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, other family members and friends.

Visitation was Jan. 7. Graveside Services were Jan. 8 at Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.


Raymond Larry Hutton, 61, of Jacksonville passed away Jan. 5 after a long battle with cancer. He was born Oct. 17, 1946 in Little Rock to the late Raymond and Margaret Parker Hutton.

He was a member of the Second Baptist Church, served in the Army National Guard and worked in the banking business.
He is survived by his sister, Lynda Chinn, and her husband Bobby, of Jacksonville, nieces and a nephew; Cathy Dougherty, and her husband Butch, of Jacksonville, Roger Chinn, and his wife Janis, of Sherwood, Kim Hill, and her husband Mark, of North Little Rock and Kelli Johnston, and her husband Alan, of Sherwood as well as a host of great-nieces, great-nephews and friends.

The family would like to thank Peggy Soules and Charles Castile of Arkansas Hospice and Dr. Brendan Stack at UAMS for their wonderful care.

Funeral was Monday at Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville with Brother Steve Walter officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Second Baptist Church, Arkansas Hospice or the American Cancer Society. Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Francis James “Tony” Ray, 32, died Jan. 5 of injuries from a car accident.

He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Carol and Gerald Williams of Lonoke; brothers, Lynn Williams, Billy Ray and Jimmy Williams of Cabot and David Williams of Lonoke; sisters, Patricia Pipkins of Beebe, Judy Williams of England, Belinda Glover of Delaware, Patty Meredith of Cabot and Rose Williams of North Little Rock; his grandfather, Francis Levigne of Dover and numerous other relatives.

Visitation was Jan. 7 at the funeral home and funeral services were Jan. 8 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke with interment in New Hope Cemetery.


Kelly Renee Holland-Suntken, 30, of Cabot passed away Jan. 4.

She was born Feb. 17, 1977 in Little Rock to David A. Burris III and Katherine Lea Raines.

She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents.

Survivors include her husband, William Lee “Bill” Suntken of Cabot; one daughter, Emily Holland of Springdale; two step-sons, Nicholas Suntken of North Carolina and Thomas Suntken of Cabot; father and stepmother, David A. Burris III and Lizz Burris of Beebe; mother and stepfather, Katherine and Wes Raines of Bigelow; brother ,David A Burris IV; grandparents, David A. Burris, Jr. and Peggy Burris of Beebe; step-grandmother Joycene Harvell of Beebe; several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews along with many other family members and friends.

Memorial services were Jan. 8 at Crosspoint Ministries in Beebe with Bro. Bo Hines officiating.

Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

TOP STORY>>Golf course development put on hold again

Leader Staff Writer

Sewer, crime, sidewalks, green space, insanity and even fire ants were all voiced as reasons to delay plans to turn the North Hills Country Club into a 203-home subdivision.

Plus, Sherwood city engineer Mike Clayton’s announced resignation gave the planning commission the extra ammunition they needed to table any residential or commercial development of the golf course for at least a couple of months.

The commission unanimously agreed Tuesday to hold up any actions on the golf course until the city hires a new engineer or the city council agrees to hire an outside engineer to look at the proposed developments.

“I had no idea they would do that,” said Clayton who had tendered his resignation, effective Feb. 1, about a week ago. “I just wanted a change of scenery and a chance to do private consulting,” he explained. “It’s something I’ve thought about for awhile and the timing was right.”

Mayor Virginia Hillman said early Monday that the city would start advertising for a new city engineer next week but she had no timetable for hiring one.

A number of people in the packed chambers spoke against the plans to turn 92 acres of the 106-acre North Hills Country Club into a 203-home subdivision, but leading the charge was planning commissioner Wayne Smith.

First, he questioned the legality of the owners trying to develop the land without having all the covenants.

Then, his biggest concern was sewer capacity. Smith said a 12-inch line ran through the golf course and it was insufficient to hold what would be coming from 203 homes. “It’s not large enough to handle what we have now,” he said, “and I’ve got pictures of the manhole in my own backyard.”

Showing the pictures of a spewing manhole, Smith quipped, “Makes a beautiful fountain.”

He was adamant that the city should not have to pay to upgrade the sewers for this or any other developer.

Smith also had concerns about the roadways. He said Country Club was designed to handle 5,000 cars a day and the traffic count was already up to 16,000. “Likewise for Club Road,” he added.

Smith was also concerned about green space. With 203 homes there’ll be lots of kids playing in the streets because there is not a single park identified on the plan, he said.

Smith also wants any development to include sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Resident Linda Gunn submitted a letter to commissioners voiceing her objection over the residential plans as well as the request to rezone 14 acres to C-3 (general commercial).

She said any development would strain the sewer system, additional commercial development would bring more crime and how would the developers control the fire ants that have made the golf course their home, she wanted to know.

Ken Caplinger, another nearby resident said, he was a proponent for keeping the area a golf course. “I cherish my peace and will object to any changes in the area.”

Lucy Barnes, another resident, said the green space needs to remain a green space. We have an abundance of commercial property across the street from the golf course and an abundance or residential areas across the city,” she insisted.
Another resident asked the rhetorical question, “Who in their right mind would want to destroy green space just to make a few people rich?”

Biff Grant said the development plan had a lot of problems. “I’m going to get people to stop this thing.”

By tabling any action on the subdivision plan, the commissioners were compelled to table a public hearing on Club Properties’ request to rezone 14 acres of the golf course property bordering Highway 107 from R-1 (residential) and C-2 (shopping center) to C-3 (general commercial). The vote cut off any chance of any more of the 100-plus people from voicing their opinions at this time.

Commissioners agreed with Smith that the acreage needed to be considered as a whole and not in two parts since it is one tract of land. Smith also questioned whether Club Properties properly notified all the area residents.
The current owners of the golf course, Club Properties, led by James Rodgers, initially turned in plans for 174 homes for their North Hills Estate subdivision, but after a number of meetings with the city engineer and city planner Drew Pattison over concerns, the group submitted a new plan, this time for 203 homes.

“We needed to do something,” Rodgers explained back in December, “rather than just sit here.”

Since the building moratorium expired in October, there has been a lot of interest in the property. “We’ve got lots of interested parties, but no one has come forth, so we decided to go forward.”

Even with development plans turned in, Rodgers said, “We are still looking to sell the property, but if no one comes forward with a reasonable offer, then we’ll move forward.”

Sherwood has expressed interest in buying the property and maintaining it as a golf course or some form of green space, but Rodgers said there are currently “no active conversations with the city.”

The Sherwood City Council passed an ordinance late last year giving the city attorney permission to start negotiations to buy the golf course land.

At the time, Alderman Becki Vassar said, “The ordinance will allow our attorney to talk to the property owner’s attorney. It’s a communication tool. It’s to show that we are serious about this property and that it is far too valuable as a greenbelt in the heart of the city not to make a good-faith effort to buy the property.”

The value of the property has been a variable in the many proposed deals for the acreage. A city-funded feasibility study suggested that Sherwood buy the property for $1.5 million, while a city-funded appraisal puts the property at $2.22 million, the county’s tax appraisal of the property puts it at $3.1 million and before the building moratorium went into effect, there was a $5.1 million offer on the property by businessman Ray Campbell and his company.

Campbell had submitted plans to build a high-end gated community of 200 homes on the property. The homes would have sold in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.

The city’s moratorium thwarted Campbell’s efforts to finance the deal.

Club Properties has maintained that the city had no right to place restrictions on the property, prompting the group to file a lawsuit back in June. That suit is still pending.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Central book is suddenly more timely

Ralph Brodie dropped in at the Jacksonville Rotary Club on Monday to talk about his book, “Central in Our Lives: Voices from Little Rock Central High School, 1957-59.”

His cousin Thad Gray had invited Brodie to speak about those historic days. Also in the audience was Jacksonville Alderman Reedie Ray, whose cousin Gloria Ray was one of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High, back when the Rays couldn’t have sat in a restaurant with whites.

Now, 50 years later, a black man is cruising toward the Democratic presidential nomination. In many ways, the showdown at Central High made it possible for Barack Obama to run for president a half a century later.

That message of reconciliation is what makes Brodie’s book special: Despite the ugliness, he reminds his readers and listeners that most people of all ages acted honorably and tried to keep Central open, even though Orval Faubus and his goons later succeeded in closing down the most famous high school in the world.

But that didn’t happen till the fall of 1958, and Brodie, who was student council president, track star and backup quarterback for what was thought to be the best high school football team in the nation, graduated earlier that year, with Ernest Green, the first black student to get a diploma at Central.

Both men became successful adults: Brodie a tax lawyer and estate planner, Green an investment banker and an assistant secretary of labor in the Carter administration.

“I was so embarrassed by what the governor did,” Brodie told the Rotarians. He defied the law not just once, but repeatedly.”

Brodie, who attended the University of Arkansas, where he was a great runner, earned a law degree and has had a successful career, but, at the age of 67, he wanted to tell the story of Central High School from the inside: About how almost all of the 2,000 students attended classes, did not cause trouble and made something of their lives.

“Central in Our Lives” includes the voices of bright young people who welcomed nine outsiders to Central even while other students harassed them and mobs screamed outside and Gov. Faubus defied the law.

“When the year was over, despite all the distractions by the governor, the National Guard, the media and the federal courts, we survived without a major injury. Most of us did more than just survive. We did succeed in a way that would make most schools envious.”

He’s talking about the dozens of National Merit semifinalists during those troubled years, the state football championships, the great basketball teams, the athletes like himself who went on to the university and excelled there as well.

He has written an important book about the crisis as seen from the inside.

We’ve written about Brodie’s book before — it was published last fall to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the crisis — but “Central in Our Lives” is even more important as we watch an African American run for president: Central paved the way for Obama.

Somebody should send him a copy of this fine book.

TOP STORY>> Irate residents: No sewer plant

Leader staff writer

Residents of the area about two miles southeast of Cabot where a private sewer treatment plant could be built to serve a development of up to 1,100 houses told representatives of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on Monday night that they don’t want it.

They don’t want the sewer plant because they fear it will cause Wattensaw Bayou to flood. They also are concerned about noise, odor, mosquitoes, devaluation of their property and problems with their septic tanks if the ground becomes saturated from water discharged from the plant.

Wattensaw Bayou, the receiving stream for the plant doesn’t run, they said. The water backs up.

The meeting was run by ADEQ Director Teresa Marks and engineers familiar with the proposed project.

In addition to about 100 residents, the meeting was attended by state officials, Rep. Susan Schulte, Rep. Lenville Evans and Sen. Bobby Glover; Cabot officials, Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, City Attorney Jim Taylor, four council members and four members of the water and wastewater commission; Lonoke County officials, County Judge Charlie Troutman and two quorum court members.

In a nutshell, ADEQ officials said that although they have the authority to grant or deny the permit for the sewer-treatment plant, they can’t deny it if the plans for the plant meet all their department’s specifications, which it does.

“Unless there is a sound reason based in science…or a legal reason to deny this permit we can’t do that,” Marks said.

By submitting written comments by Friday Jan. 11, or speaking for the record during the official public hearing portion of the meeting, residents ensured that they would be able to appeal the ADEQ’s decision if the permit is granted.

Sen. Glover was the only guest who walked to the front of the room at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, where the meeting was held and took the microphone during the question-and-answer portion of the meeting. If the developer meets the ADEQ requirements, the permit for his sewer-treatment plant will be granted, Glover told the group.

“I have not been contacted by a single person (among about 30) who was in favor of this project,” he said, and reminded them that an appeal to the ADEQ is not the last step. They can appeal to circuit court.

Although the opposition to the sewer plant was very vocal, Eutaw Horton, the developer who wants to build the subdivision and the sewer treatment plant, did not speak during the meeting. Afterwards, he said no one in the group who opposes his proposal had contacted him.

If they had, he would have told them that it will likely take 10 years to build 550 houses and those houses won’t be as small as they have heard.

There won’t be any 1,000 or 1,200-square-foot houses, and 1,500-square-foot houses aren’t small, Horton said.

He might also have told them that he plans to build a 12-acre lake on his 258.5 acres and surround that lake with houses 2,500 square feet or larger.

As for the proposed sewer treatment plant that residents fear, Horton said it won’t stink, it won’t flood anyone’s home and it won’t devalue anyone’s property.

“This is a state of the art sewer treatment plant,” he said. “It’s not like the old ones.” Asked if he would consider running a sewer line into Cabot instead of building a sewer treatment plant, Horton said no.

“It costs too much to run a line to Cabot,” he said, adding that Cabot has problems with overflowing manholes, so it isn’t taking care of its own problems.

Asked if he will build his streets to Cabot’s standards, Horton said he didn’t think he has to because his subdivision was approved two years ago and he doesn’t intend to make it part of Cabot.

Mayor Williams said Tuesday that he thinks Horton does have to comply with city standards.

“We’re sending him notice this week that we will implement our planning jurisdiction because (his subdivision) is so close to our city limits,” Williams said.

TOP STORY>>Soldier says he’s ready for second deployment

Leader Staff Writer

Spc. George Hendricks of Searcy, a member of the 39th Infantry Brigade, was among those deploying in recent days for training in Mississippi before going to Iraq.

This will be the second tour for Hendricks, who is this reporter’s brother.

“I really didn’t expect it to be as violent as it was,” Spc. George Hendricks recalls of his first deployment. “I have a better appreciation for my home country now.”

In January 2003, 21-year-old Hendricks enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard. Just over a year later, he began his first deployment as a filler for Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade. The battalion was stationed at Ft. Apache in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad. Charlie Company was responsible for patrols, raids and observation points.

During combat operations on Nov. 20, 2004, one day after turning 23, Hendricks was struck in the leg by shrapnel. Last January, Hendricks was presented with a Purple Heart for those injuries. He has also received several unit and individual awards and merits.

On March 19, 2005, members of the 39th Infantry Brigade arrived back in the U.S. at Ft. Sill, Okla., where family and friends waited to greet them. Hendricks returned home with the rank of specialist.

“Places with crowds, and having a lot of people around would make me nervous,” he said when he first came home. He also said that adjusting to driving here again was hard “because of the way you had to drive there.”

Monday morning, Hendricks was one of many soldiers who boarded a bus leaving Forrest City for Camp Shelby, Miss. Soldiers will spend the next several weeks training before departing for Iraq.

“I’m more relaxed about this deployment than the last,” he says. “I was ready. I expected it, I guess.”

Hendricks will be returning with a handful of fellow veterans from his first deployment.

“I wouldn’t feel right about them going without me,” he says.

Hendricks transferred from his original company, Headquarters Company out of Searcy, to Charlie Company based in Brinkley and Forrest City, so that he could continue to serve with those he deployed with to Iraq.

Hendricks says “being too far from family” is the hardest part of being deployed, but joining the Guard was the best decision he has made for himself.

Since his first deployment, Hendricks has earned an EMT certification. He plans on finishing paramedic school when he returns from his current deployment.

TOP STORY>> Cabot company deploys

Leader managing editor

Cabot’s Army National Guard F. Company, 39th Brigade Support Battalion, left Cabot Sunday evening bound for Camp Shelby, Miss., for two more months of training before reporting for dutyfor Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.

Proud fathers waved with both hands while grandkids sat on their shoulders waving U.S. flags as sons and daughters, dads and moms pulled away from the Cabot armory on three Army buses bound for Camp Shelby.

The Cabot battalion was the largest of three that were deployed on Sunday. Troops lined up in front of the temporary armory in the Cabot industrial park with relatives and friends seeing them off.

Detachment 1, Company F out of Beebe, and Detachment 1 Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry out of Wynne joined Cabot’s F Company as they filled three buses and left from the Cabot National Guard office on the northern tip of town.

The three companies totaled about 130 soldiers of the 3,200 Arkansas Guard members that were federally mobilized at the first of the month. A total of 33 troop departures took place across the state starting Saturday and concluding Monday.
Searcy-based Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team left at 8 a.m. Monday as part of the final departures.

The Cabot troops will complete the final two months of five months of training at Camp Shelby. In March, the group will leave for Iraq, where they will support Operation Iraqi Freedom, primarily on security missions.

Members of the three companies will be spread throughout Iraq helping secure different areas for troops on the ground.
“It is primarily a security mission,” Capt. Craig Heathscott said. “We will be spread all over Iraq doing convoy security, force protection and things like that.”

The federal mobilization orders, which were received last Wednesday, noted a 400-day deployment. The group has been training for the mission since receiving state orders in October, but was allowed to train in Arkansas to limit the soldiers’ time away from their families.

“That last deployment did its entire training at Camp Shelby, all five months,” Heatchscott said. “This allowed them to go home at night and spend more time with wives and kids.”

The combined companies were exceptional in preparing for the mission. Commander Capt. Isaac Shields noted that exceptional preparation during departure ceremonies on Sunday.

He told the soldiers under his command that they were the first to reach 90 percent mission ready, as well as the first to reach 100 percent ready before leaving for Mississippi.

“Order comes down where they want us to be at a certain point by a certain time, and this group was the first to achieve those goals,” Shields said.

The Cabot Guard will get a permanent armory with the recent $8 million funding as part of a $555 billion omnibus spending bill that recently passed through both houses of Congress.

TOP STORY>> Air base housing still lacks contract

Leader staff writer

No developer has yet been named to take over the failed effort to privatize, build, rehabilitate and manage hundreds of homes at Little Rock Air Force Base, but the developers have finally begun paying some of the local contractors who have claimed they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

American Eagle Communities LLC, the previous developer, has settled with 25 of 33 unpaid contractors and has released funds to 18 of those who have signed release forms and will settle without litigation, according to Michael Teague, a spokesman for Sen. Mark Pryor. Teague said 14 of those 18 subcontractors had been sent checks and two more are being processed.

JR Construction of Cabot, which says it’s owed $136,000, is not among those that have settled, according to Teague.
“They are tied up in pretty difficult litigation,” he said.

“Obviously, we would like for each participant to be made whole and we’ll assist in any way we can,” Teague said. “We know that some may not be satisfied and a resolution may require litigation, but we feel like we got the ball rolling and some payments are being made.”

The LRAFB project was closed down May 7 after it became clear American Eagle would be unable to make good on its end of the ambitious 50-year deal.

The company had completed only 25 of the more than 400 new homes it had promised to build and a sea of slabs padlocked behind a chain-link fence awaits further development.

American Eagle also quit or was locked out of similar projects it had won at Moody, Hanscom and Patrick Air Force bases.

At the end of November, on the same day Pryor and Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia announced that they were calling for an investigation into the awarding of the American Eagle contracts and more controls for future contracts, American Eagle Communities LLC suddenly announced that it would pay about $778,000 of the $2.4 million the company allegedly owes contractors and suppliers for its now-abandoned housing-privatization contract at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“I’ll believe it when I see the check,” said Jack Sullivan, an officer iof JR Construction of Cabot, one of the contractors awaiting back pay.

American Eagle Communities, and their principals—Carabetta Enterprises and Shaw Infrastructures—defaulted on privatization projects of thousands of homes on the four air force bases, including about 1,200 at Little Rock and the Air Force, the Bondholders and American Eagle representatives have been meeting for months trying to sell a smaller version of the project to other developers.

The Leader first broke this story in April, when reports surfaced that Carabetta Enterprises, which was managing partner of American Eagle Communities, LRAFB Family Housing, owed contractors perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Work on building 468 new housing units and remodeling 732 existing units at LRAB stopped May 7 when the lenders pulled the plug on funding the project, already two years behind schedule.

Work has ceased as well at Magnolia Family Housing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida and at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

Lenders, the Air Force and American Eagle are negotiating with two companies to take over scaled-down projects from the Carabettas at all four bases.

Now, the Air Force and American Eagle have decided to part ways and are looking for new bidders on a four-base project that has shrunk from nearly 3,000 to 1,767 homes, according to a recent article in Air Force Times.

American Eagle has sold its interest in nearly 3,000 Puget Sound, Wash., Navy homes to the Forest City Company of Cleveland. Forest is one of two developers currently negotiating to take over the four failed Air Force jobs, according to Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz.

The other is Pinnacle and Hughes.

A new contract to revitalize the project could be signed by mid January, according to the general.

One contractor reported that an expected deal for a new developer to take over had fallen through, but representatives of Little Rock Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force, Sen. Mark Pryor’s office and Cong. Vic Snyder’s office all say they haven’t heard that.

The new contractor was to have been announced Tuesday, according to Staff Sgt. Kati Garcia, a public affairs specialist for Little Rock Air Force Base, and could be announced Thursday.

“It’s our understanding that the Air Force has been working to sign a new contract soon,” said a congressional aide Tuesday afternoon, “but we are not privy to the negotiations. We are checking to see if a breakdown has occurred, but can’t confirm that at this time.”

Pryor said Tuesday morning that he believes a new developer would be named by the end of the month or beginning of February.

Snyder’s office said Snyder expected a new contract to be awarded soon.

Schatz said that even if a new developer were signed soon, it would probably be the summer of 2009 before work restarted in earnest.