Thursday, January 24, 2008

EVENTS >> 11-25-09

Christmas parades are scheduled in area cities

Christmas parade themes and schedules have been announced for many cities. Registration is under way, and deadlines are approaching.


The 52nd Jacksonville Christmas parade will take place on Main Street at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. This year’s theme will be “Christmas in Toyland.”

All parade floats must be decorated for the Christmas season and preferably related to the theme. The entry fee is $10.

Entries may not contain any type of Santa Claus; all vehicles and floats must be decorated.

Candy or other items may not be thrown from floats.

Call 501-982-1511 or e-mail for more information.


Beebe’s Christmas parade will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.

The event is sponsored by the chamber of commerce.

This year’s theme is “Christmas Stories.” The entry fee is $10. Parade floats will be judged at 5:30 p.m.

Awards will be given in four categories: civic, commercial, educational and religious.

Entry forms are due by Monday, Nov. 30.

Participants are asked to make a lighted parade float that is safe for those riding in it as well as for those watching the parade.

Contact the chamber at 501-882-813 for entry forms.


Ward’s Christmas parade will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. Participants will line up at 4 p.m.

After the parade, there will be a tree-lighting ceremony at city hall.

Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served in the city gym with an auction hosted by the Back Alley Youth Center.

Entry applications for the parade are available at the reception office at Ward City Hall.

For more information, call 501-843-7686.


Sherwood’s Christmas parade will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

This year’s theme is “The Stars of Christmas.” The deadline to register is Monday, Nov. 30.

The event is sponsored by the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 501-835-7600.


Cabot’s Christmas parade will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

This year’s theme is “A Red, White and Blue Christmas.” Participants are asked to select an idea or image that best represents their favorite memory or interpretation of this Christmas theme and use it to design their float.

Entry forms, parade rules and route maps will be available at the Veterans Park Community Center, the chamber of commerce office or online at

The deadline to enter is Saturday, Dec. 5.

Completed forms and $10 entry fees should be sent to Cabot Christmas Parade, P.O. Box 1101 Cabot, Ark. 72023.

Businesses, civic groups and churches are encouraged to participate.

Trophies will be awarded in five categories: school or civic group, church, business, animal or equestrian and general or personal.

The parade will march down South Pine Street and Hwy. 89 beginning at Panther Trail and continue north past Knight’s shopping center. It will make a left turn onto Pond Street and end at Central Elementary School.

The awards ceremony will take place immediately following the parade at Knight’s grocery store. For more information about the parade call 501-920-2122 or e-mail


The Jacksonville Museum of Military History, the Major Jacob Gray Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Mt. Tabor Methodist Church in Cabot are collecting Christmas gifts for the Arkansas Veterans Home in Little Rock.

The collection drive will continue through Friday, Dec. 18.

Collection bins are located at Jacksonville Museum of Military History and Mt. Tabor Methodist Church.

Items like underwear, T-shirts, socks, suspenders, pajamas, sweatshirts, pants, slippers, combs, nail clippers, disposable razors, shaving items, bath soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, board games, puzzles, playing cards, books and movies (VHS or DVD) with western themes and sugar-free candy are needed.

For more information call 501-241-1943 or e-mail


The Esther Dewitt Nixon Library in Jacksonville will have a holiday open house from noon until 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5.

There will be cookies, hot cocoa, door prizes and there’s a promise of holiday fun.

Those who attend the open house can view the parade afterwards, which begins at 1 p.m. and proceeds down Main Street.

The library is located at 703 W. Main St.


The Jacksonville Museum of Military History will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving so bring your holiday guests for a tour.

Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for military and seniors, $1 for children ages 6-18, and children under 6 are free.


Cabot City Beautiful will hold its 13th annual Santa Shack at the Cabot Walmart from Friday through Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Children will receive free candy canes.

Photos with Santa will be available from 6 to 8 p.m. on Fridays; from 9 to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m., 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. on Sundays


The Jacksonville Junior Auxiliary is working to brighten Christmas for 100 students in the area through its Christmas Wish program.

The public can show its generosity by buying presents for children in need. People may pledge gifts at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Interior Works and Double R Florist and Gifts. The program will continue through Friday, Dec. 4.


The Book Nook, Lonoke County Literacy Council’s used book store, is holding a fundraiser book sale now through Thursday, Dec. 3. Books of all kinds will be available for just 25 cents each.

The Book Nook is located behind the Lonoke County Courthouse in Lonoke. Call 501-843-7323 or 501-676-7478 for more information.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Jacksonville will distribute free family-happiness packets during the week of Thanksgiving to help strengthen families.

The effort is part of the church’s national family week. Call 501-812-6322 for more information.


Jacksonville’s AARP driver safety courses will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every third Wednesday of the month at St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Dr., beginning Jan. 20.

The courses will no longer be held at First Arkansas Bank and Trust.

The classes cost $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Call 501-982-4891 to register.


CenterStage Playhouse in Cabot will stage a variety show on Saturday featuring musical numbers, comedy skits and more from local talent.

The lineup includes a performance by Darrell Tullos of the Hallelujah Harmony Quartet and a recitation of “The Tales of Rindercella” by Doug Morris.

The show includes a downhome dinner of beans, cornbread and peach cobbler. The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 501-941-2266.

SPORTS >> Cabot boys make it 2 in a row

Leader sportswriter

Cabot head coach Jerry Bridges had made a regular habit of staving off panic attacks until last weekend. The Panthers started out a successful early season campaign, but quickly fell behind in the 7A-Central Conference with three opening losses before two straight wins against Bryant last Friday, and Saturday’s 50-40 decision over Little Rock Central put a quick fade on the panic button.

The Tigers came out swinging during Saturday’s make-up league game at the Cabot gymnasium, but a new defensive look from the Panthers in the second quarter caused a significant decrease in LRC points through the second and third quarters.
“We adjusted our defense,” Bridges said. “We went from a matchup zone to a 1-3-1, and I think that bothered them.”

Central shot well in the first eight minutes, making its first five shots en route to an 18-12 lead at the end of one. The second quarter, however, had a completely different vibe.

Cabot’s 1-3-1 allowed only four Central points in the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Panthers added 10 of their own to bring the game to a 22-22 tie at halftime.

Central’s offensive struggles carried over into the third quarter. This time, the improving Panther defense allowed only three points. That allowed junior guard Adam Sterrenberg and the Cabot offense to not only overtake the Tigers, but to build up a 10-point advantage heading into the final frame, a lead they never surrendered.

Central finally found a way back to the cylinder in the late going, but by that time, the Panthers had all the momentum they needed to take their second conference win in as many days.

“We started out with our backs against the wall,” Bridges said of Cabot’s early league struggles. “But we’re back in the picture now. We get a big win on Friday, and then have a team like Central, who’s in the same boat as us, really, come down here. It was a good win for us at home against a quality team.”

Three early losses are tough, but Bridges says things are still wide open for his team in a conference that doesn’t appear to have an early runaway favorite.

“Anything can still happen,” Bridges said. “Starting out 0-3 is tough, but we’re 2-3 now. We can still get there. The state tournament is what we’re working toward. As long as we don’t panic and keep plugging, we’ll get there.”

Sterrenberg led the Panthers with 24 points. Post player Miles Monroe added 10 points and seven rebounds. Austin Johnson added eight points for Cabot, while Jack Bridges finished with six points. For Little Rock Central, Eric Brooks led offensively with 14 points in the game. The win improved Cabot to 13-6 overall and 2-3 in the 7A-Central Conference.

LR Central girls 63, Cabot 61

The Lady Panthers were looking for revenge at home against Central on Saturday, but the Lady Tigers backed up their RAPA tournament win over Cabot with a 63-61 victory in which they rallied from a large deficit, again.

The Lady Panthers led most of the way, but Central came back to take the lead in the final minute of the game, this time with 7A-Central Conference standings on the line.

Guard Leah Watts led the Lady Panthers with 22 points. South Alabama signee Lauren Walker added 16 points, while post player Shelby Ashcraft finished with 13 points. For Central, Jalisa Montgomery led offensively with 12 points. The loss gives Cabot records of 13-7 overall and 3-2 in conference play, while the Lady Tigers improve to 13-6 and 3-2.

SPORTS >> Falcons fall in shortened game

Leader sports editor

For North Pulaski, it was a game that started well and never actually ended.

The Falcons fell to Greene County Tech, 71-57, on Friday night in a tension-filled road game that was called with 28 seconds left.

“When you go there, sometimes it’s a tough place to play,” said North Pulaski head coach Ray Cooper, who has tried to contact the Arkansas Activities Association about the premature ending of the game, as well as the behavior of some of the Tech fans. “The fans were yelling racial slurs. And this was on Martin Luther King Day. It was a volatile deal. They had to bring a bus around back and get us out the back door.”

The tensions began when the Falcons, down 11 with under two minutes left after six consecutive GCT free throws, began to foul.

“They probably had the game won by then, but we were trying to get the ball back and cut into the lead because point totals matter [for tiebreaks in determining postseason seeding],” Cooper said. “One of their kids swung an elbow at [North Pulaski player] Ridge Williams and the referee stepped in between them. I was asking the referee what happened and their coach started yelling at our bench.”

That’s when the referees decided to call the game with 28 seconds still remaining.

North Pulaski, which along with GCT is 3-1 in the 5A-East, threatened to take any potential drama out of the game early when it raced to a 24-10 lead midway through the second period.

But the Eagles rallied to cut the halftime margin to 26-22. NP still led by four entering the final period, and was up five with four minutes left. But the Eagles rallied again and took a five-point lead, still with plenty of time left.

“They had a player fall down with the ball,” Cooper said. “I asked the referee why that wasn’t traveling and he gave me a technical. I’m not sure why he did that. We fouled them a couple of times and they hit six free throws in a row to go up by 11.”
Cooper said no players threw any punches and that he was proud of his team for maintaining its poise.

“Our guys kind of jumped up when the kid swung his elbow, but we made them sit down,” Cooper explained. “I think they did a good job of not retaliating.”

Aaron Cooper hit five three-pointers to lead the Falcons with 22 points. Daquan Bryant added 16 and Williams seven for NP, which was 10-6 overall heading into last night’s game at Beebe.

GCT girls 57, North Pulaski 41

PARAGOULD — The North Pulaski Lady Falcons keep turning in strong showings, but with little to show for it.

For the second straight game, the North Pulaski girls were right in a game at halftime before fading in the second half.

A week ago Tuesday, it was Batesville who pulled away in the second half for a double-digit lead. Last Friday, the Lady Falcons trailed by only four at intermission, but were outscored 18-4 in the third period by a tough Greene County Tech team in a 57-41 loss.

“We played really well,” said NP head coach Todd Romaine, whose team fell to 2-12 overall and 0-4 in the 5A-East. “They played pretty hard from start to finish. We just couldn’t get any shots to drop.”

Romaine counted five consecutive missed layups in the third period when the Lady Eagles began to pull away. That, and a 34-16 free throw disadvantage, was just too much too overcome.

Quinita Hale led NP with 15 points, while Laura Dortch added 10 and Naishia Ridgeway eight.

“We’re just such a young team and have so many sophomores,” Romaine said. “[Boys head coach Ray Cooper] said to me the other day we tend to play to our competition. We just have to learn to take the lead and go with it. But this was the first game we lost where I thought we played as hard as we could.”

As a result, Romaine was able to take plenty of encouragement away from an otherwise disappointing setback.

“I told the girls that a loss is painful but we can learn from it,” Romain said. “Last year, we were losing games by an average of 28 points. This year, we’ve lost several by two or three points. I’m optimistic that if we can keep this team together, and get some of those girls from Northwood [Middle School], we can build a program here.

“I figured coming into this season that we’d be competitive. How many wins that gets us is a question mark.”

SPORTS >> Jacksonville rolls along

Leader managing editor

Head coach Vic Joyner and assistant coach Jerry Wilson never had any doubt that the young Jacksonville Red Devils were going to be fine, even when things reached a low point after a 3-9 start.

Getting their kids to buy that was another matter entirely.

Apparently, the players are starting to believe. The Red Devils won their fourth straight game with another solid defensive outing in a 47-45 road win over West Memphis last Friday to move to 4-0 in the 6A-East Conference. In improving to 7-9 overall, the Red Devils are allowing just 40 points per game in league play.

“The kids came out of the Red Devil Classic [in December] and rededicated themselves,” Wilson said. “We took the approach that we only had one way to go and that was up.

“The coaches always believed what we were telling them, that when the conference came around, they were going to be OK. They could have got their heads down a little. But they’ve worked hard in practice and it’s paying dividends on the court.”
The Red Devils, who faced a tough Mountain Home team last night after The Leader went to press, are just one-half game behind Jonesboro in the standings. The Hurricane lost much of their team to graduation after winning the state championship last March, but that has hardly slowed them down.

Jacksonville travels to Jonesboro on Friday.

At West Memphis, Deshone McClure made 1 of 2 free throws with seven seconds left to put Jacksonville up by two, and the Red Devils’ defense made one final stop to secure the win over the Blue Devils (8-9, 3-2). McClure led Jacksonville with 11 points.
Antwan Lockhart added eight, while Laquinton Miles and Cortrell Eskridge added six points each.

“That’s a big win,” Wilson said, noting that West Memphis features a front line of 6-10, 6-8 and 6-6. “The kids came out and executed the game plan. They were patient on offense and we limited them to one shot.”

Against a team that had been averaging “four or five dunks a game,” Wilson said the Red Devils mostly kept West Memphis from getting above the rim, and, more importantly, kept them from going on any extended runs.

Wilson said McClure, who hit three three-pointers, opened up the inside for Jacksonville’s vastly improved post game.
“That allowed our post men to really attack the basket,” Wilson said.

The Red Devils, Wilson said, have developed a four-man rotation inside, and an 11-man rotation overall, something the coaches never dreamed of having with such a young team.

Miles made 6 of 7 free throws.

“We think we played a tough non-conference schedule and that may be why our win-loss record is what it is,” Wilson said. “Our kids are growing up a little bit. It was big to go steal one on the road. And we have yet to play our best game.”

W. Memphis girls 67, Jacksonville 28

The Jacksonville girls’ run through a murderers’ row of 6A-East competition took them to West Memphis last Friday and the result wasn’t pretty. The Lady Blue Devils, tied for second in the conference, pounced on the Lady Red Devils early and ran off with a 67-28 victory to drop Jacksonville to 6-10 overall, 1-3 in league play.

Jacksonville faced Mountain Home last night after The Leader went to press. The Lady Bombers were tied with West Memphis for second. The Lady Red Devils must travel to face a much-improved Jonesboro team on Friday before hosting 6A’s top-ranked Searcy Lady Lions next Tuesday. And they’re doing it with a rotation of seven players – five of those sophomores.
“It’s been a tough learning process,” said first-year head coach Katrina Mimms. “I look at it like we’re playing everyone else’s varsity with what should be my junior-varsity team. If we can pick up a couple of wins here and there and make it to the tournament [the top six teams in each conference advance to postseason], that would give us confidence for the future.”
Jessica Lanier led Jackson-ville on Friday with 12 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough against the deep, tall and talented Lady Blue Devils (15-4, 4-1). Mimms said her team scored its four first-quarter points early, then had “the next five or six shots blocked.”

Jacksonville trailed 36-14 at the half.

“I told them at half that we should start like it’s 0-0,” Mimms said. “I knew [West Memphis head coach Sheila Burns] would come back with her starters in the second half. We played them 11-11 in the third quarter. That’s a positive we can take out of it.”

Apollonia Sims, Crystal Washington and Shanita Johnson added four each for Jacksonville.

EDITORIAL>> Huck wrong on job figures

Here’s a shocker: The Washington Post says Mike Huckabee has not been quite truthful about his economic stewardship of Arkansas. Mike Huckabee not truthful? Tell us it ain’t so.

Huckabee tells crowds on the campaign trail and in the presidential debates that he created “a record number of jobs” in his 10 ½ years as governor of Arkansas.

A fact checker at the Post took the trouble to go to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which anyone can access by the Internet. It has recorded the number of new jobs in each state every year since 1976.

Between 1996 and 2006, Huckabee’s years as governor, Arkansas recorded 113,900 new jobs. Between 1986 and 1996, 10 years of Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker in the governor’s office, Arkansas landed 206,100 new jobs.

Between 1976 and 1986, when Clinton, Frank White and David Pryor ran things, the number was 141,400. So Huckabee set a record all right, but for the worst job-creation performance, not the best.

A spokesperson for the Huckabee campaign said that the “record” performance was for one year, 2005, when the state had the highest job growth for one 12-month period since 1976.

That is true, for Arkansas and much of the country, but in several other years prior to that Arkansas actually had a net loss of jobs.

The governor might have boasted reliably that he did set one employment record, and it is one that for which he had a direct hand: new state government jobs. They soared from 43,000 to 53,000 while he was governor, close to 23 percent. They can’t take that record away from him.

EDITORIAL>> Court slams check cashers

The wheels of justice grind slow yet they grind fine. In Arkansas, in fact, it takes precisely nine years. That is how long it took from the time that the legislature and Gov. Mike Huckabee tried to legalize loan sharking until the Arkansas Supreme Court said they could not do it.

Last Thursday, the court delivered what we think ought to be a lethal blow to the payday-lending industry, which set up after Huckabee signed the Check Cashers Act of 1999. The check cashers, or payday lenders, charge interest rates often exceeding 300 percent although the Arkansas Constitution prohibits interest charges greater than 17 percent. But the act does not call the advances loans or the fees interest.

The court’s unanimous decision was a narrow one, as the news accounts and the attorney general’s office described it, but it was nevertheless clear. The lawsuit was over a surety bond for a check-cashing company.

Customers who paid the exorbitant fees on a payday advance from one of the lending companies sought to collect on the surety bond for the company’s usurious charges. The case has bounced around the courts for years; this was its second appearance before the Supreme Court. This time, the justices said that the lending company and the insurance company that provided the surety bond could not hide behind the veil of the Check Cashers Act.

The payday advances were loans and the charges were interest, and they were more than the Constitution allows, the court said.

The state agency that purports to regulate the payday lenders had denied the bond because it said the advances and the charges were legal under the Check Cashers Act and that is all that counted. Circuit Judge Ellen Brantley said the Constitution prevailed over the act, and the Supreme Court agreed.

Another case that directly addresses the constitutionality of the Check Cashers Act will be ripe for a decision soon. Another Pulaski judge, Barry Sims, ruled in that case in 2005 that the act was constitutional. It is hard to imagine that the Supreme Court, after its crystal-clear ruling this week, could conclude anything else but that law is unconstitutional and that the shameful and heartless practices must end.

The late great Justice George Rose Smith, who laid down the law on usury so firmly in 1952 in the landmark Schuck v. Murdock Acceptance Corp., can rest in peace. Justice did grind fine.

OBITUARIES >> 11-25-09


Oleta Putman, 99, of Beebe died Nov. 22.

She was retired from Franklin Electric and was a Baptist.

She was preceded in death by her husband of more than 50 years, Elgie Putman, and three grandsons.

Oleta is survived by five children, Ada Holland, W. C. and his wife Shirley Putman, all of Harrison, Mich.; Martha and her husband Larry Fowler of Des Arc, Barbara and her husband John Kays and Bob Putman, all of Beebe; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; one brother, Fred and his wife Pearl Duke of Beebe; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Butlerville Cemetery.

Arrangements are by West-brook Funeral Home in Beebe.


Ola Mae Clayton, 83, of Cabot began this life in Lonoke on Dec. 20, 1925.

Born into and raised in challenging circumstances, she was generously blessed with a sweet, patient, innocent and willing spirit.

In her early 20s, Ola Mae married William Carel Clayton and together they raised four children: Edith Bache and her husband Bob of High Springs, Fla.; Barbara Ching of the home in Cabot; Sue Isaac and her husband Tim of Cabot; and William Gary Clayton, and his wife Tanya of Little Rock.

Grandma was deeply beloved by her 12 grandchildren, and there were 19 little ones who had sat on the lap of their great-grandma.

Ola Mae Clayton was the sweetest mamma a child could have, the most supportive mother-in-law anyone could hope for, and the dearest and most loving grandma that any child ever had.

As if a reward for this life so well-lived — far above difficult circumstance and despite chronic limitations — Ola Mae Clayton departed this world on Nov. 21 on clouds of love, surrounded by her children, singing their beloved mother to the angels.

The funeral was Nov. 24 at Russell Chapel Church of the Nazarene with Steve Zumalt officiated.

Arrangements were by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Cleo P. Collins of Cabot was surrounded by family and dear friends as she went to be with her Lord and Savior.

She was born Jan. 20, 1921, in Amity to the late Vernon and Mary Ellen Chancellor Partridge. On Oct. 4, 1943, she married Robert Edward Collins in Benton. They were married for 52 years before his death in 1995.

When she was a teenager, her first job was with the Army Corp of Engineers to gauge the depth, flow and flood stage of the Caddo River in Amity.

She retired from Maybelline and was a member of Smokey Lane Apostolic Church in North Little Rock and the Eastern Star.

She was preceded in death by her son Don Collins; her twin brother, Leo Partridge; other brothers, Forrest, Estee and L.V. Partridge.

She influenced many people with her love of Bible stories and sharing her love for the Lord.

Second to her family, she loved to quilt and was proud to claim that she had given each family member a homemade quilt.

She is survived by her children, Bobbie Ann Buck and Billie Joe Henley of Redfield, Edward and his wife Sue Collins of Scott, Jack and his wife Mittie Collins of Romance, Zane Collins of Cabot, and Jennie and her husband Ed Perry of Clinton; two sisters, Delphine Buck of Crossett and Maurice Shephard of Arkadelphia; 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Nov. 24 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Revs. Larry Burton and Billy Merriott officiating. Entombment was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Memorials may be made to Pleasant Springs Fellowship, 199 W. Pleasant Springs Road, Quitman, Ark. 72131.

Arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


James Louis Flynt departed this life Nov. 20. He was the first of seven children. He was born Dec. 5, 1918, to Charles F. Flynt Sr. and Annie Taylor Flynt in the Smyrna Fairview community of Lonoke.

He is survived by his sons: James F. “Jim” and his wife Charlene Flynt of Lonoke; Robby and his wife Sherri Flynt of Little Rock; daughter, Cathy Whaley of Lonoke; 10 grandchildren, Jimbo, John and Matt Flynt, Laura James, Amy Newton, Kaye Autry, Timmy and David Whaley, Kerri Stack and Seth Flynt; 13 great-grandchildren; brother, June and his wife Eula Flynt of Cabot; and sisters Gladys Cates of Lonoke, Anna Lee McGinley of Corvallis, Ore., and Sue Allen of Ferndale.

James was preceded in death by his wife of 44 years, Martha Jean Adams Flynt, and wife of 19 years Doris Flynt, and one son, Larry Joe Flynt.

One of the most diligent, hard working men that has ever lived, James was a farmer for more than 30 years. He built and operated Flynt’s Drive In Dairy Bar for 41 years. He was also a faithful employee for Grand Prairie Water for 21 years and was the Lonoke County rainfall recorder for more than 30 years.

He loved the Razorbacks and attended every game he possibly could.

His funeral was Nov. 23 at Brownsville Baptist Church in Lonoke. Burial followed in Brownsville Cemetery.

A special thanks to Golden Years Nursing Home for outstanding care and concern for our daddy in the last days of his life on earth. Arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.


Jerry David Riley, 75, of El Paso died Nov. 20.

He was born Oct. 21, 1934, in El Paso a son of the late J.R. “Sam” Riley and Bessie Breckenridge Riley.

Jerry touched many lives as a minister for 50 years in the Church of Christ.

He is survived by his wife, Lula Mae Riley; one son, David Riley and his wife Beverly of Vilonia; two daughters, Lou Riley of Jonesboro and Pam Riley Dale of El Paso; three granddaughters, Crystal Almond and her husband Jason, Angel Riley, and Lindsey Woodham and her husband Tony; and three great-grandchildren, Riley Almond, Reece Almond and Allie Woodham.

Survivors also include three brothers, Charles Riley and his wife Alice of Ward, Doug Riley and his wife Kay of El Paso, and Don Riley and his wife Arlena of El Paso.

Jerry was preceded in death by one sister, Jean Riley Hazel, and one brother, Tom Riley.

Funeral services were held Nov. 23 at Mars Hill Church of Christ in Vilonia with David Riley and Thomas Martin officiating.

Burial was in Blasingame Cemetery in El Paso.

The family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Diabetes Association or Mars Hill Church of Christ.

Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.


Jonsey Shawndale Weathers, 22, of Austin went home to be with the Lord and other family members on Nov. 21.

He was born Jan. 4, 1987, to Richard Weathers and Patricia Markham in Peoria, Ill.

He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Claude Weathers and James Bishop; great-grandparents, Bill and Roselyn Connor; uncle, Lester “Bo” Markham, and cousin, Tabatha Markham.

He is survived by his father and stepmother, Rick and Angela Weathers of Ward; mother, Patricia Markham Cummings of Illinois; brother, Michael Markham of Jacksonville; stepsister, Erica Carlisle of Ward; grandmother, Dorothy Bishop of Austin with whom he resided; grandparents, Dayle and Alice Markham of Illinois; aunts, Cindy Whitby and Kathy Markham of Illinois; his special friend, Brittany Odell of California; adopted aunt and uncle, Patricia Ballew and Ray Kimsey of Sherwood; special friends, Steve and Carrie Childers of Austin and very special aunt and uncle, Wayne and Rhonda Childers of Jacksonville as well as a host of family and friends.

Jonsey “Jon Jon” had the most beautiful smile in the world. He touched the hearts of everyone who knew him. He will be deeply and forever missed.

Funeral services were held Nov. 24 at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Cabot.

Arrangements are by Wood Bean Family Memorial Center.

Visit to sign the online condolence book.

Memorials may be made to the charity of your choice.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Huck prays for miracle after losses

“Shucks, I’m a hick, just like you.”

—Mike Huckabee’s swan song in South Carolina.

An obvious sign that his presidential campaign is sinking and out of money, Mike Huckabee is throwing the national media off his plane and bus and will probably soon abandon Florida, placing all his bets on Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.

After winning the endorsement of his hometown paper, it’s been downhill ever since: He did not look well when he conceded to John McCain in South Carolina, but vowed to carry on in Florida and beyond, although he didn’t sound convincing. His uninspired concession speech was a sure signal that he was pulling up stakes, although Fred Thompson’s address to his supporters after his loss sounded as if he couldn’t remember why he was giving his speech. (He quit the race Tuesday.)
Huckabee could still win a couple of southern states, including Arkansas, but his evangelical base is so narrow, he can’t win anywhere but the most conservative states.

South Carolina should have gone into his column, but he blamed Thompson for losing out to McCain, who has never been the most popular candidate there, but considering the alternative, conservative voters are going with him in hopes of picking a winner in November.

Huck’s campaign is sputtering to an end as voters learn about his record in Arkansas: He governed as a liberal Republican but has moved to the right for his national campaign, switching from pro-immigration to anti-immigration, throwing in crackpot proposals for good measure, such as a national sales tax that would cost shoppers at least 30 percent, hitting middle-class families the hardest.

This was the governor who would not cut the grocery tax and instead raised taxes $500 million, yet he still presents himself as a tax cutter, when the opposite is true: Would you buy a car if you had to pay a $6,000 sales tax, on top of local and state taxes? Or furniture or computers? Who could afford them?

He has alienated small-government Republicans and independents, so a victory in the Arkansas primary isn’t certain. His friends know his presidential dreams ended in South Carolina, even if he picks up a southern state or two, but not even Chuck Norris’ martial-arts skills can lift him beyond a mediocre finish.

He’s done well for an untested and underfinanced candidate, but he’s not much of a long-distance runner. His shtick with Chuck Norris grinning broadly behind him has by now bored even their most devoted fans.

There’s still the possible consolation of a VP spot or a run for the Senate, but even those hopes may be deferred.

It wasn’t just Wayne Dumond and the record number of clemencies and commutations that tripped up Huckabee — although Mike Beebe will issue half as many of them — or Huck’s ignorance about foreign policy, but his obvious shortcomings did add up to huge negatives in the primary sweepstakes.

His inflated claims on job creation while he was governor have been exposed as fiction: Many of the gains came about because he hired thousands of bureaucrats for state jobs (see editorial in this issue).

Voters, worried about the economy and the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, are looking for a more mature candidate who can help solve America’s problems in a new decade.

In the Republican primaries, who can doubt that Sen. McCain is far more qualified for the job than Huckabee?

Despite his shortcomings, Mitt Romney is right behind McCain as a credible candidate (Giuliani, like Huckabee, is looking for a graceful exit), which is why the chase for the Republican presidential nomination has become a two-man race.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood wants to win battle over area

Leader staff writer

More people jammed into the gym of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge Monday night than was allowed by law, but no one was asked to leave as about 400 people listened to why Gravel Ridge should become part of Sherwood.

“We are the alternative,” Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman told the relatively quiet, yet unconvinced crowd. “This may not be what you want to hear, but we are giving you an option.”

She explained that Jacksonville initiated the hullabaloo when its council voted to annex the 2,500-acre rural community of about 3,500 residents.

“Once a municipality sets an election for annexation, other municipalities may also apply to annex the same area and that’s why we did it. To give you a choice,” the mayor explained.

Jacksonville has set a Feb. 5 election date on the annexation issue. Registered Jacksonville and Gravel Ridge voters will be able to cast ballots in that election.

Sherwood has countered with a March 11 election for registered Sherwood and Gravel Ridge voters. If both votes come out “yes” for annexation, then just registered Gravel Ridge voters will go to the polls on April 1 to decide between Jacksonville and Sherwood.

Hillman’s explanations didn’t convince Joeryan Montgomery. “Do you really care about us as a people or just want our tax money?” he asked to loud applause.

“It’s not a money-making thing,” the mayor assured him. She explained, as Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim had at a previous meeting, that once the area is annexed into a city, its businesses would have to start collecting city taxes, but neither Sherwood nor Jacksonville would receive any extra state or county money, which makes up the bulk of their revenue, until after a new census and other steps are taken—about five years.

Gravel Ridge resident Gene Acord, who admitted to being thick-headed at times, asked, “If there is no money involved, why do you all want us? We are happy just the way we are.”

“We moved out here to stay out of city limits, and now you are trying to put us in one. I’m very opposed to any kind of annexation,” he added.

One resident, whose family has been in Gravel Ridge since 1909, accused Jacksonville of “stirring the pot,” and no matter what happens, “I’ll lose my hunting privileges,” he said.

Another resident was concerned about clear-cutting. “We moved out here because of the trees and we want to keep the trees,” he said.

Hillman said that Sherwood currently had no ordinance on clear-cutting.

Questions were also asked about abandoned cars in the front of some Gravel Ridge homes, and unsightly yards. Hillman said those residents would be cited. “We have a very good code enforcement officer, and not everyone is pleased with that,” she said.

Sherwood Police Chief Kel Nicholson explained to the concerned residents how the switch from county protection to city protection would take place. He said his patrol units had already received maps of the areas and were studying the street locations.

“Once you become part of Sherwood, it would take about a week for the 911 calls to be switched to Sherwood, but during that time your call would go to the county and it’ll take them just a few seconds to send it to us,” the chief said.

He explained that Gravel Ridge would be designated a patrol district and would have at least five officers assigned.

“They won’t be working all at once, but we would have you covered 24/7,” the chief promised.

He said that Sherwood police would share the sheriff’s substation on Hwy. 107.

Fire Chief Frank Hill also said that the community would not lose its fire station by becoming part of Sherwood.
“We would strengthen it by adding three full-time paid positions out here,” he said.

Hill said he and the Gravel Ridge chief had already met numerous times and felt there would be no problems in the two departments working together.

Gravel Ridge resident Michael Smith said he had lived in both Jacksonville and Sherwood and purposely moved out to Gravel Ridge to live beyond the control of both cities. Smith said he had concerns with both cities, but said past actions of the Sherwood police department really “burns my hide.”

“I’m going to have to do a lot of thinking before picking either city,” he said.

Smith asked Hillman, “Why do you want to represent someone who doesn’t want your representation?” She reiterated that Sherwood was the alternative. “If we didn’t act, you would have to become part of Jacksonville. Now you have a choice.”
She added that Sherwood was a great place and that Gravel Ridge would be a great addition.

Smith admitted there were benefits to being in both cities. “But the benefits of staying like we are outweigh them all,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke officials meet on starting ambulance service

Leader staff writer

Could one ambulance company effectively serve all of Lonoke County? Could that ambulance service be owned by the city and county governments and operated by a commission made up of members from every jurisdiction?

Those are two of the questions that will be asked by a committee made up of representatives appointed by Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman and the six mayors who have met frequently to talk about ways to work together for the benefit of all.
The ambulance service was among three items on the agenda for the Thursday morning mayors’ meeting held in Cabot and attended by Troutman, five mayors, volunteer and paid firefighters and representatives from two of the five ambulance services said to be doing business in Lonoke County, and at times possibly competing for clients.

Also on the agenda was continuing talk about a county animal shelter, which was discussed briefly, and insurance coverage for all employees of the county and the cities.

Except for the subsidy that MEMS requests to continue service in Cabot and Lonoke (the $50,000 that Cabot is paying and the $87,000 that Lonoke cannot pay) the group only hinted at the reasons for investigating the possibility of a county-wide service for all 60,000 or so residents.

Harold Ward, with the Mt. Springs Volunteer Fire Department, said there’s a debate over whose territory it is.

England’s ambulance service is based in Pine Bluff. Since Lonoke can’t pay the subsidy MEMS had asked for, it will likely go with a company from Brinkley.

Ward Mayor Art Brooke told the group that Allied, owned by former Cabot Fire Chief Gary Meadows and his wife Linda, is doing a good job in his area. Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain nodded in agreement.

“I don’t have a problem and I’m sorry some are,” Brooke said. “Maybe they should talk to Gary.”

Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson said his firefighters respond to all emergency calls because taking care of the health of area residents is of the utmost importance.

But they back off if another district already has it covered, he said.

Williams said he is completely satisfied with MEMS for Cabot but he wants all Lonoke County residents to have access to the same level of service.

“I wish the county owned its own ambulance service. I wish it was run by a board of our own people,” he said as he called for a motion to vote for a committee to study the feasibility of such an undertaking.

Williams wanted the mayors and county judge to name two members, preferably from the city councils and the quorum court.
Brooke chose Ward Fire Chief Randy Staley and then with everyone’s permission, Meadows.

“I don’t want to put the fox in the henhouse,” he said, adding that he did, however, want someone who understood the problems.

No recommendation is expected from the committee for several months, and no action is expected from the group of mayors and the county judge before 2009.

Discussion about county-wide animal control centered on the ordinances passed by many jurisdictions banning pit bulls that are being contested in federal court.

Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman said the county had a vicious dog ordinance passed in the early 1990s that was worthless, so about six months ago, they gave the sheriff authority to kill dogs that are running loose and causing trouble and don’t have collars, licenses and up-to-date shots.

The group also authorized Lisa Burgess with Legacy Capital Group to talk to United Healthcare, which provides insurance for Cabot and Lonoke County, about individualized plans for the other cities, which are currently covered by the Municipal League.
Burgess told the group that United would not provide coverage to the county as a whole, but she was certain she would be able to get them affordable coverage that is better than what they have now.

She said they should trust that her good relationship with United would work in their favor.

TOP STORY >> First Electric gives $6.4 million back

Leader senior staff writer

First Electric Cooperative, based in Jacksonville, mailed about 72,000 checks worth about $6.4 million to its members earlier this month, according to Neal Frizzell, vice president of marketing communications.

Of that amount, about $3 million was a distribution of “margin,” the difference between what it cost the co-op to buy, service and deliver the power and the greater amount members were charged on their annual bills. If First Electric were a publicly traded corporation, the margin would have represented profit and might have been returned to shareholders as dividends, he said.

“Historically as part of the electric co-op, we refund capital credits—the members’ share of remaining revenues. That’s refunded to membership on rotating basis. This year, that money was sent to people who were co-op members in 1982-83 and also in 2006.”

The second pool of money was about $3.4 million, and is proportionate refund of overcharges against Entergy, which supplies much of the power on the Arkansas Electric Cooperative service grid.

AEC sued Entergy alleging that company overcharged for its electricity, charges First Electric and Arkansas Electric cooperatives passed on to their customers between July 2004 and September 2006, Frizzell said.

First Electric is one of 17 member cooperatives of Arkansas Electric Cooperative. In all, $31 million was refunded as a result of that suit before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Of that, Entergy was ordered to refund $22 million to Arkansas Electric Cooperative.

Entergy co-owns some power plants with Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, the wholesale power supplier. The suit arose over disagreements over operational charges and expenses.

Members whose overall refund exceeds $10 received a check, he said. Those due less than $10 refunds got a credit to their accounts. Frizell said whether a customer qualifies for one or both refunds, it is lumped into one check per member.

In this area, First Electric serves customers in north Pulaski County, much of Lonoke County, southern White County and western Prairie County, he said.

At at time when energy costs are rising, First Electric has no rate increases on the drawing board, he said.

TOP STORY >> Hospital cuts losses, improves its outlook

Leader managing editor

North Metro Medical Center, recently renamed after five decades as Rebsamen Medical Center, is beginning to take steps toward profit, at least that’s the projection for 2008. The hospital reported a loss of $3 million in 2007 against annual operating costs of $46.9 million, but believes it will cut that loss in half this year.

One of the main reasons for the loss is the amount of charity care the hospital provides. Last year Rebsamen Medical Center provided $8.2 million of uncompensated care.

“The loss of $3 million last year was largely in part to our $8.2 million service to the community in uncompensated care,” North Metro Medical Center spokesperson Kristen James said. “With the new strategic plan, the administrative team forecasts a loss of half that for the next fiscal year.”

The name change became official on Jan. 14, and was the last step of phase one of renovations and improvements for the facility.

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.

Hospital administrators believe with the upgrades and increased ability to better care for the community, that patient count will rise.

“People have just started to hear about (the changes) in the last few days,” James said. “We think when the word gets out and people are able to see how we’ve improved, we’ll see more people coming to us for care.”

The hospital admitted 3,318 patients last year and handled 21,609 emergency room visits. It had 42,942 outpatient visits.
James said charity care has risen each year over the past few years, but all the recent changes signal that North Metro is committed to better serving the area.

“At a $46.9 million annual operating cost, and a rising underinsured population, North Metro is doing all we can to provide care for everyone in our community and still put money back into new technology and facility improvements,” James said. “We feel we are making strides in the right direction.”

TOP STORY >> Road package is passed by city council

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council Monday night took less than five minutes to approve a plan they hope will hold traffic congestion in developing commercial areas to a minimum.

The vote was unanimous to adopt an access management plan for Highway 321 and Highway 5 from Highway 89 to Highway 319.

The plan, drafted by engineers with Metroplan, limits median breaks with traffic signals to quarter-mile intervals and doesn’t allow new driveways to be built closer than 245 to 440 feet apart.

Ron Craig, chairman of the planning commission, told the council that the planning commission approved of the plan after hearing a presentation from Metroplan earlier this month.

“It does work and it is needed,” Craig told the council.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams agreed.

“Hopefully, in 20 years we won’t repeat the same thing we’ve got on Hwy. 89 at the interstate,” Williams said.

The planning commission turned down a developer’s request for a second driveway off Hwy. 321 into his commercial development even though the highway department had approved the road cut.

Members of the planning commission and city council agree that without careful planning, Hwy. 321 could become as congested as Hwy. 89 West.

Richard Magee, deputy director of Metroplan, said earlier that the plans only set the broad parameters under which to manage traffic.

TOP STORY >> Improvements: Cabot's tax dollars at work

Leader staff writer

Black-and-white signs posted on streets where chunks of asphalt have been cut out and the holes filled with gray gravel let the Cabot voters who passed a one-cent sales tax to improve their streets know that the work has finally started.
“Your tax dollars at work; thanks for your patience,” the signs read.

On Greystone Boulevard, where trucks loaded with construction materials have turned the surface of the street into a washboard, White Paving will be paid $146,000 to lay a gravel base where there wasn’t one before, pour new asphalt and improve the drainage so the road lasts longer.

Also coming soon is a sixth lane on Highway 89 West from Rockwood to the freeway at a cost of about $33,000, and a center turn lane from Rockwood to Northport toward Highway 5 for about $144,000. Gene Summers Construction will do that work.
To save money, city street department employees are repairing the bases on Dietrich Lane, which will be overlaid with asphalt, and Locust Street, which will be widened on the left to accommodate a center turn lane.

Jerrel Maxwell, head of public works, said he wanted to publicly thank his workers for their contribution.

“They’ve worked so hard,” he said. “They’ve bent over backwards to get this done.”

No cost estimate for the asphalt is available at this time.

At the end of 2007, more than two years after city voters approved $2 million in bonds supported by a one-cent tax to pay for street improvements, about $1.5 million of those funds still remained. At that time, the city had paid $175,000 for the right-of-way to extend Elm Street and $250,000 to complete S. Rockwood, which connects Hwy. 5 to Wal-Mart.

And since bond money must be spent within three years or it is used to pay down the debt instead, Maxwell and Mayor Eddie Joe Williams say they intend to use all the money and make it go as far as possible.

“Our goal is to make things better in this city,” Maxwell said.

Williams, who this week took reporters on a tour of the work that is already in progress, said a center turn lane off Hwy. 321 between Hwy. 367 and Nalley Road will ease congestion at that intersection. The road will only be re-striped, not widened, he said and the state, not the city will pay for the work.

Also planned for the bond money is the extension of Elm Street between 4th and 5th Streets. The city condemned the right-of-way for that land in March 2006 after owner Larry Nipper refused to sell it for the price the city council was willing to pay. Nipper asked for $85,000. The council offered $66,000. Nipper got an appraisal for the property and then asked $160,000.
Since his property was condemned, Nipper had to sell it, but the circuit court awarded him $175,000, which was $15,000 more than his highest asking price.

Some members of the current city council have referred to the right-of-way acquisition as “The Nightmare on Elm Street.”
The city has also spent about $20,000 around the public housing development on Cleveland and Galloway, where residents complained in September, during a public meeting to discuss the streets, that the potholes in their neighborhood held rainwater for so long that frog eggs had time to grow into tadpoles and then into frogs.

The biggest road project in the city, a railroad overpass that will connect Hwy. 367 to Hwy. 38, is scheduled to open by early summer. That $7.2 million project is not part of the $2 million voters approved for streets. However, it was part of the total $28 million bond issue that is supported by the same one-cent sales tax.

The city’s part of the mostly federally funded project was about $1 million.

TOP STORY >> Did fees put hurt on home building?

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council appointed a committee Monday night to determine whether the impact fee on new construction, which last year added $1,272 to the cost of a 3,000-3,900 square-foot house, has contributed to the slowdown in the residential building industry.

Alderman Terri Miessner, who was against the moratorium on the impact fee that was imposed during the November 2007 council meeting because she said the city needed the money and no one would actually study the issue, was named chairman of the committee.

One thing is clear from the information readily available at public works: residential construction is down, but it started going down before the impact fee went into effect in November 2006. Two years earlier, 2004, was the lazy boom year for home construction in Cabot. Building permits for 500 houses were issued that year, compared to 288 in 2002, 374 in 2003, 419 in 2005, 400 in 2006 and 183 in 2007, which was after the impact fee was passed.

But the numbers for 2007 are deceptive because of the 400 permits issued in 2006, 122 were in November, just before collection of the impact fee was started, for houses that would be built in 2007. If 100 of those permits had been purchased instead in the year the houses were built, then the numbers would show 283 houses for 2007 and 300 for 2006.

But while residential construction has slowed, commercial is on the rise. Nine commercial permits were issued in 2002, 25 in 2003, 20 in 2004 (the boom year for residential), 60 in 2005, 58 in 2006 and 67 in 2007.

The city council passed the resolution appointing the committee to study the impact fee with six votes. Alderman Ken Williams, a developer, abstained from voting and Miesser was absent.

In addition to Miessner, the members of the committee are Alderman Eddie Cook, Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, Bill O’Brien, Cary Hobbs, Dewey Coy, Clint Skiver, Mike Bernardo, Kim Boudry, Larry Biernackie and Ricky Hill.

The committee has until May to determine whether the impact fee is responsible for the decline in residential construction or if other factors such as the economy are to blame.

The moratorium on collecting the fee that the council approved in November 2007 was for six months only.

If the council hadn’t imposed the moratorium, the impact fee would have doubled from $1,272 to $2,196 on a 3,000 – 3,900 square-foot house. The fee is also scheduled to increase in 2008 and 2009. By the third increase, the impact fee on a 3,000 – 3,900 square-foot house would be $4,037.

Council members discussed the impact fee at length before the moratorium was approved two months ago. Alderman Tom Armstrong, who was on the council when the impact fee was passed and voted against it, said the fee is reason builders have left Cabot for Austin and Ward.

Alderman Ed Long, who called for the moratorium, said if the impact fee was responsible for Cabot’s decline in residential construction, a moratorium on the impact fee might slow the boom in Austin and Ward.

Alderman Cook said builders told him they left Cabot because there was no land to build on. But Alderman Becky Lemaster said builders told her they left because of the impact fee.

Norma Naquin, planning coordinator and office manager at the public works department which houses much of the information the committee will likely need such as building and occupancy permits, said Tuesday that no one from the new committee has contacted her yet but the staff at public works is ready to help in anyway they can.

“Whatever they need, we’ll get for them,” Naquin said.

Monday, January 21, 2008

EVENTS >> 01-19-08

PCSSD head to speak on goals for schools

Pulaski County Special School District Supt. James Sharpe will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the North Pulaski High School cafeteria. He will discuss plans for the district with an emphasis on Jacksonville schools.

Sharpe will also be hosting a superintendent’s coffee for parents and the public. His goals are to inform the public about the district’s plans, answer questions, address concerns and encourage parental and community involvement.

Coffees will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 4 at Sylvan Hills High School, April 1 at North Pulaski High School and April 22 at Jacksonville High School, all Tuesday evenings.

Jacksonville Senior Center plans annual roast

First Arkansas Bank and Trust president Larry Wilson will be guest of honor and will be officially roasted at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Jacksonville Senior Center, 100 Victory Circle.

This is the Jacksonville Senior Center’s main fund-raiser of the year. The center serves area seniors through its two centers, one in Jacksonville and a McAlmont satellite, which provide meals, recreational activities and transportation for shopping and doctor’s visits for seniors who need them. For tickets, call 982-7531.

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. this evening at the ASU-Beebe Student Center, 610 Pecan St. Admission is $7. For more information, call Zach at 827-8006.

Jacksonville FOP plans a ‘Night of Laughs’ Feb. 8

The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police Hap Horton Memorial Lodge No. 16 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.
Funds raised will go towards endeavors the lodge is involved with including food baskets for the elderly, Shop with a Cop at Christmas and the Identikid program.

Deadline for Miss Jacksonville pageants is Feb.15

The Miss Jacksonville Pageant and the Miss Jacksonville Outstanding Teen Pageant have been set for Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Jacksonville Community Center. These pageants are preliminaries to the Miss Arkansas and Miss Outstanding Teen Pageants to be held in Hot Springs in July. Candidates must be residents, college students or full-time employees of Pulaski or Lonoke counties for at least the last 6 months to be eligible. Miss contestants must be at least 17 years old on Feb. 23 and no older than 24 as of Sept. 30.

Outstanding Teen contestants must be at least 13 and no older than 17 and not be a senior by Feb. 23.

The winner of the Miss Arkansas title will represent Arkansas in the Miss America Pageant. The winner of the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen will represent Arkansas at the national pageant.

To be held the same day, categories for the younger contestants are: Baby Miss, 12 months and under; Toddler Miss, 13-35 months; Wee Miss, 3-4; Tiny Miss, 5-6; Little Miss 7-9; Petite Miss, 10-12.

These contestants will compete in beauty, with optional areas of competition in talent and photogenic. Deadline for entries is Feb. 15. For more information and applications for all categories, call Sharon Boyd or Martha Boyd at 982-3898 or 982-2222.

Nixon Library plans two adult events this week

The Esther D. Nixon Library in Jacksonville is planning two events next week for adults. The book “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel will be the subject of discussion at 7 p.m. Tuesday. At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Rhonda Stewart, a genealogy and local history specialist, will present What’s Your History? A Guide to Genealogy. The Nixon Library, a part of the Central Arkansas Library System, is located at 308 W. Main in Jacksonville.

World’s smallest gospel singer to perform

The world’s smallest gospel singer will perform in Beebe.

Lowell Mason, an international television and recording artist, will be in concert at the First Christian Church, 205 West Georgia St. in Beebe on at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. A soup super will be served at 5 p.m. and everyone is invited.

Mason has been called The World’s Smallest Gospel Singer because of his unique height of only 46 inches. But it is said that his God given talent and sincere personality bring a respect and dignity to his ministry that only a few are chosen to have. His message and his music bring a blessing to all who hear him.

American Red Cross to hold blood drive in Cabot

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28 at First Baptist Church fellowship hall in Cabot. Donors will receive a T-shirt and refreshments. A donor card or photo ID is required to donate. The church is located at Third and Pine streets in Cabot.

OBITUARIES >> 4-22-09


Mary Ellen Higgins, 96, of Jacksonville died April 20. She was the widow of Leonard Burks and John Higgins.

She is survived by her children, Frances and husband Jim Perdicaris of Jacksonville, Mary and husband Will Deal of Conway, and William and wife Rosemary Burks of Jacksonville; grandchildren, Tressa Laurent of Shreveport, La., Michael Boggs of Nashville, Ga., Kerri Boggs of Nashville, Ga., and James and wife Nikki Perdicaris of Jacksonville; and great-grandchildren, Stephanie and Brittnee Laurent, and Johnathon and Ashley Perdicaris.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 23 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Cliff Hutchins officiating. Interment will follow at Fairplay Cemetery in Benton. Visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 22 at the funeral home. Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


William J. “Bill” Walters, 84, of El Paso passed away April 18 at his home. He was born March 12, 1925, in Hollywood, Calif., to William J. and Zereta Estaver Walters. He grew up in Chicago.

He graduated from the University of Illinois. He proudly served his country in the Navy during World War II, receiving the Purple Heart as well as other medals. He retired from Brown Shoe Co. in 1988 after 32 years. He was an avid golfer and he loved playing cards but his passion was spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also loved his German shepherd, Lady.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Jack Walters.

Survivors include his loving wife of 50 years, Joann Robertson Walters of El Paso; four daughters, Carli Zygowicz and husband Stan of Belvedere, Ill., Nancy Johnson and husband Phil of Reinbeck, Iowa, Cathy Hill and husband J.D. of El Paso, and Pam Howard and husband Jack of Sherwood; one son, Bill Walters and his wife Donna of Cabot; 16 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one niece, and two nephews.

The funeral is at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22 in the chapel of Wood Bean Funeral Home with Rev. LeRoy Wood officiating. A private interment will follow in Rest Hills Memorial Park in North Little Rock. Donations may be made to White County Hospice or the Humane Society of Independence County.


Harry Kenneth Morphew, 82, of Cabot passed away on April 21. He was born Sept. 22, 1926, in Morton to the late Joseph A. and Melissa Morphew. He was preceded in death by his parents and eight brothers and sisters.

Survivors include his wife, Jewell Magdalene Morphew; three children, Joe Dan Ray, Jimmy Ray and Nancy Holman, all of Cabot; one brother, James Morphew of Cabot; one sister, Lura Summers of Memphis, Tenn.; seven grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren, and many other family members and friends.

A time of visitation is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22 at Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 23 at Mt. Springs Baptist Church with interment immediately following at Chapel Hills Cemetery in Jacksonville.


Roy Chudy, 89, of Hickory Plains was called to his heavenly home on April 19. He was born Dec. 27, 1919, in North Little Rock to Joseph and Laura Chudy.

Roy grew up and lived in North Little Rock for most of his life. In 1944, he married his childhood sweetheart, Jean Rush. He served in World War II. He was always proud to have served his country.

Roy retired from Chicopee Manufacturing Company in North Little Rock. He was involved in so many activities. He was a volunteer archery instructor at the North Little Rock Boys Club and he was president of the Archery Association.

Roy was always involved in something, such as hunting, fishing, raising quail, archery tournaments, beekeeping and especially gardening. Roy loved to raise a huge garden and take his produce up to the post office to give it all away. Roy attended Hebron United Methodist church of his community.

Roy was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Jean Rush Chudy; one great-grandson, Noah Madru, and six siblings.

He leaves to cherish his memory one daughter, Lu Madru and husband Tom of Hickory Plains; a grandson, Dustin Chudy and wife Erika of Little Rock; granddaughter, Krystle Hobart and husband David and a great grandson, Elijah Hobart of Mabelvale, as well as many friends and cousins.

The family would like to thank Tina Davidson, his very special caretaker, and Arkansas Hospice of Cabot for all their loving help and care.

A graveside service to celebrate his life was April 21 at Hickory Plains Cemetery. Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.


Albert Ronald Smith of Cabot went to be with the Lord on April 16. He was born July 2, 1921, to the late Emmett Eugene and Lela Grace Carrol Smith. He served as a gunner in the Army Air Corps from 1941 to 1948. He was a 50-year Mason and member of Mt. Pleasant Ward 99, and was retired from the Rock Island Railroad where he was employed for several years as a brakeman.

He was an active member of First Baptist Church of Cabot for 40 years, where he served as a deacon, taught Sunday school class and was a head usher. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. His presence will be greatly missed.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Flota Daniels; his brother, Hudson Smith; his granddaughter, Tiffany Morden; his grandson, Adam Goforth and his son-in-law, Dr. Jerry Chapman.

He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Elsie Reid Smith. Other survivors are three daughters, Reida Robinson and her husband Gary of Las Vegas, Nev., Sandra Goforth and her husband Rickie of North Little Rock, Diane Chapman and her late husband Dr. Jerry Chapman of Cabot; two brothers, E. Eugene Smith and his wife Elwanda of Conway and Doyle B. Smith and his wife Wanda of Little Rock; three granddaughters, Lark Buckingham of Little Rock, Amanda Jones and her husband Scott of Sherwood and Melanye Weir of Cabot; one grandson, Jace Chapman of Houston; six great-grandchildren; six nieces, two nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Funeral was April 20 at First Baptist Church of Cabot. Interment followed at Sylvania Cemetery. Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.


Marvin Edward Stracener, 70, of Cabot passed away on April 18 after a long and courageous battle against cancer.

Marvin was a member of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and he retired from Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America in Searcy.

He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Lottie Stracener of Gravel Hill, and a grandson, Seth Edward Stracener of Kingsport, Tenn.

Marvin is survived by his wife of 48 years, Nell Webb Stracener; three sons, Steve Stracener and hiswife Sheree of Kingsport, Tenn., Scott Stracener of Cabot, and Stan Stracener and his wife Stacy of Cabot; six grandchildren, Stephanie and Spencer Stracener of Kingsport, Tenn., Ashley, Baylee, Cole and Brookly Stracener of Cabot; and one sister, Vela Strayhorn and husband Clarence of McRae.

Memorials may be made to Faith Missionary Baptist Church Building Fund, P. O. Box 1475, Cabot, Ark. 72023 or to the American Cancer Society.

The funeral was April 21 at Faith Missionary Church of Cabot with burial at Romance Cemetery. Arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

EDITORIAL>> Good suits back Huck

Five titans of business gave the Mike Huckabee presidential campaign a badly needed boost in conservative South Carolina on Thursday, two days before its primary, by praising his friendliness to business when he was governor of Arkansas. Like everything about our man’s presidential striving, it was at the same time impressive and strange.

Their statement, released by the Huckabee organization, urged South Carolinians to look past the accusations about the big tax increases in Arkansas while he was governor and the “unwarranted criticism” of his business record and consider what his leadership had done to the “economic and societal fabric” in Arkansas.

“In our support of Governor Huckabee’s truly conservative, small government business outlook and his pragmatic, yet compassionate style of governing,” the corporate executives said, “we invite you to look past the shallow rhetoric of yet another campaign season to see what we have experienced first hand.”

As with all things Huckabee, their implied endorsement would have been more impressive if it been a bit more frank. The five were not exactly disinterested observers. French Hill, the chairman of Delta Trust and Banking Corp. and the spokesman for the group, is Huckabee’s finance chairman and a major Republican Party benefactor.

The other four, all scions of inherited fortunes and businesses, had special reasons to be happy with Huckabee’s tenure. Huckabee had appointed Madison Murphy of El Dorado, former chairman of Murphy Corp., to a 10-year term on the state Highway Commission, the most coveted largesse in a governor’s power. John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods and a Republican fund-raiser, must have appreciated Huckabee’s valiant defense of the poultry industry when the Oklahoma attorney general attempted to get court orders to halt the industry’s pollution of the Illinois River, which drains northwest Arkansas and chokes the downstream reservoirs in Oklahoma with phosphorous from chicken-litter runoff.

Warren Stephens is the head of the Stephens family financial empire, including the largest municipal bond brokerage in this part of the country. Huckabee promoted the greatest use of municipal bonds in Arkansas history, for highways, universities and water projects, exceeding the debt accumulated under all other Arkansas governors in history combined. If you are the pre-eminent bond underwriter, that is real leadership indeed. Stephens also was the largest shareholder in Alltel, whose CEO, Scott Ford, was the other executive signing on to the statement.

They did not directly dispute the accusations about Huckabee’s tax increases because they are a matter of record. But here is the fascinating thing about that. The attacks on Huckabee’s tax record and the huge expansion of government on his watch were paid for by Warren Stephens’ brother, Jackson T. Stephens Jr., a Little Rock businessman who is not part of the Stephens family financial conglomerate. Jackson Stephens has funneled money to the Club for Growth, which has run commercials criticizing Huckabee in the early primary and caucus states.

We would have encouraged a little more frankness about another matter. The businessmen’s statement pointedly praised his “pragmatic yet compassionate style of governing,” an allusion to Huckabee’s famous compassion for Hispanic immigrants when he was governor. Tyson, Stephens and Alltel were the most prominent members of the Arkansas Friendship Coalition, which last year praised the immigrants’ contribution to the Arkansas economy and culture and called on government leaders and the people to show respect and concern rather than hostility for them.

As governor, Huckabee battled the nativists in his party who sought punishment for illegal immigrants and companies like Tyson who employed them. Gov. Huckabee famously said that God had given Americans a second chance to do right by the immigrants after the nation’s terrible treatment of blacks during slavery and segregation.

But Huckabee has changed his tune altogether in recent months and now leads the attacks on immigrants. He now espouses the rapid construction of a wall to seal off Mexico and calls for the instant removal of all undocumented workers and family members from U. S. soil, some 12 million of them. Alone among the candidates from both parties, he has signed a pledge to resist any form of amnesty for any undocumented workers and family members.

Compassion is a value to which everyone subscribes, but we understand why the businessmen preferred not to define it any further for South Carolina Republicans. They can guess for whom Huckabee might have been compassionate when he was governor. White, middle-class Protestants maybe? And if you actually liked what he stood for in 2005 there is always the chance that after the last hurrahs of the mean campaign have subsided President Mike Huckabee could embrace those values again. You never know!

SPORTS >> Second half lifts Falcons

Leader sports editor

Other than a jersey mishap to begin the game and some spotty free-throw shooting throughout, North Pulaski was flawless in a 68-35 dismantling of Batesville on Tuesday night at the NPHS gym.

The Falcons, urged by head coach Ray Cooper to improve their defense after a 1-4 start to their season, limited Batesville to four second-half field goals and forced it into 22 turnovers and a 13-of-43 shooting performance.

“The first half, we didn’t play defense as well as we could have,” said Cooper, whose Falcons have now won nine of ten games to improve to 10-5 overall and 3-0 in the 5A-East. “We thought we had some breakdowns, and our intensity level was down a bit. They came out and responded in the second half. They got down and moved their feet a whole lot better and quit reaching.”

As a result, the Falcons were able to bust open a game they led only 31-24 at the half. Aaron Cooper caught fire after scoring just four points before intermission, knocking down three three pointers as NP outscored Batesville 25-7 in the third period. It didn’t end there, either, as the Falcons scored the first eight points of the final period before the Pioneers (6-8, 1-3) finally ended NP’s 33-7 run with a bucket.

In addition to stepping up their defensive intensity, the Falcons also started crashing the boards to turn a five-rebound deficit at half into a 33-28 overall advantage.

Cooper finished with 18 points, while Daquan Bryant slithered and slashed his way inside for a team-high 19 points.
“Daquan is a unique player because he has such great quickness for his size,” Cooper said. “He’s deceptive because he looks kind of chunky. But he’s really just solid. And he’s extremely quick. In a foot race, he’s the fastest guy on the team. He’s got really soft hands.

“I challenged him before the game that we needed a big game out of him.”

With a short bench – Cooper had just nine players available on Tuesday – and with Aaron Cooper getting limited opportunities in the first half, Bryant responded to his coach’s challenge, scoring off stickbacks and weaves through points.

The game began with a technical foul when NP’s Christian Knight was listed with the wrong jersey number in the scorer’s book. Batesville led 2-0 and 9-6 before Bryant scored twice and Dave White took a feed from Cooper for a fast-break bucket to put NP up for good at 12-11.

Pioneer big man Adam Showalter got two straight buckets to trim NP’s lead to 25-21 late in the first half, but Cooper scored on an 8-foot runner and Cliff Harrison scored inside to extend the lead to eight.

Cooper made all four of his three-point attempts in the second half to contribute to NP’s torrid shooting on the night. The Falcons made 27-of-51 overall and 5-of-9 threes. The only hiccup was a 9-of-18 shooting performance from the line.
Carlos Donley added eight points and six boards. Bryant led NP with nine rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kelvin Parker dished out four assists.

“One thing about us is we don’t give in to who’s scoring the points,” Cooper said of NP’s unselfish play on Tuesday. “We had some problems with that earlier, but I think once we got to 1-4, the guys decided they were going to do whatever it takes. They started changing their mindsets and everything else kind of fell into place.”

Last night, NP faced its sternest conference test yet when it traveled to Greene County Tech in a game that finished after Leader deadlines.

“I started feeling a couple of weeks ago that we were starting to come around,” Cooper said. “I’m just glad we’re playing [GCT] this week and not a couple of weeks ago.”

Batesville girls 52, North Pulaski 44

In the end, it was just too much Marci Moffott for the Lady Falcons to overcome. It wasn’t just her 22 points that did in NP on Tuesday. It was her critical buzzer-beating three pointer to close out the third period. That basket extended Batesville’s lead to 38-34, and it all but took the wind out of NP’s sails.

The Lady Pioneers went on to score the first six points of the final period to extend the lead to 10. Four points by Quanita Hale and a running bank by Naishia Ridgeway kept the Lady Falcons within eight, but Batesville hit 5 of 6 free throws to put it away.
NP scored eight consecutive points to take its biggest lead at 19-13 late in the second period. But Moffott scored six points over the final 2:25 to tie the game at intermission.

Ridgeway, who led NP with 18 points, opened the second half with three-pointer and an off-balance 12-footer on the baseline. Bianca Harper hit a spinning bank to push NP’s lead to 28-23 at the 5:20 mark of the third.

Hale added 14 points for NP, while Harper, Briana Cash and Laura Dortch each added four.

SPORTS >> Devils remain perfect in league

Leader sportswriter

It’s hard to imagine a storied rivalry like Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills coming down to a simple battle of the defensive glass, but that was the reality on Tue-sday night at the SHHS gymnasium. The Red Devils controlled the low block all night, limiting SH shooting opportunites on their way to a 49-39 win in 6A-East Conference action.

Jacksonville began to break the game open in the last four minutes of the second quarter, but had to survive a final gasp from the Bears at the start of the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

“Our big guys are coming on,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said after the game. “They didn’t have the best game tonight, but they have took it upon themselves to battle hard for the third game in a row. That made a pretty big difference for us tonight.”

The game did not have the classic Red Devils-Bears look, something Joyner blamed on lack of intensity from both sides.
“It was just an odd-feeling game,” Joyner said. “You know, there just wasn’t that much intensity from either side, I thought. I want these guys to come out with more intensity, and I know that (SH) coach (Kevin) Davis wanted to see more intensity out of his players. We had intensity in spurts, but it never lasted long enough.”

The SH shooting woes continued on Tuesday, but the Bears began to find their way to the hoop in the fourth quarter. Back-to-back baskets by P.J. Ross and Kai Randolph cut Jacksonville’s lead to 39-33. A walking violation for Jacksonville handed the ball back to the Bears, and Harold Ward took advantage with a quick jumper off an inbounds play from Jacob Clark. That closed what was once an 11-point lead for the Red Devils down to a 39-35 advantage, but junior post Cortrell Eskridge finished the game from there the same way he started out — strong under the boards.

Cortrell was not alone in his quest to out-rebound the Bears. Solid rebounding from Demetrious Harris and Terrell Eskridge went largely unanswered by Sylvan Hills. Randolph led the Bears with six rebounds on the night, while all three JHS big men pulled down seven or more, along with four rebounds each for Antonio Roy and junior post Antwan Lockhart.

The Eskridges combined for two sraight baskets, including a putback for Cortrell at the 3:13 mark that extended the lead back to nine at 43-35. He then added another shot after a Bears timeout to put the Devils back to a double-digit advantage.

Whatever momentum Sylvan Hills found to start the final period quickly evaporated, as the Red Devils kept the ball out of their rivals’ hands for the most part during the final three minutes of play, and hit 5 of 8 free throws down the stretch.

“We had been shooting free throws badly,” Joyner said. “But everybody has been working really hard in practice to raise their percentage. I thought that showed up pretty well tonight."

LaQuentin Miles led the Red Devils with 12 points, including 6 of 8 at the free-throw line. DeShone McClure added 11 points for Jacksonville. For the Bears, Davis led with 12 points, with eight points from Ross.

The win improved Jacksonville to 6-9 overall and 3-0 in the 6A-East Conference. The Bears fell to 5-11 overall and 0-3 in conference with the loss.

Jacksonville girls 65, Sylvan Hills 55

The ladies’ opener was more up to snuff with the rivalry factor, as the Lady Red Devils relied on a solid transition game in the third quarter to down Sylvan Hills 65-55. The Lady Bears’ defense did a great job of containing JHS standout Crystal Washington in the first half, limiting her to a single goal before intermission.

That all changed at the start of the third quarter, as turnovers and solid defensive rebounding inside for Jacksonville, along with an SH press that left too many gaps, led to five fast breaks for the Lady Devils, three of which led to easy shots off the glass by Washington.

Washington and junior forward Tyra Terry put their speed to work for Jacksonville, speed that Sylvan Hills had little answer for.
“They started coming at us with heavy ball pressure,” Lady Red Devils coach Katrina Mimms said. “But Crystal made some good points for us off those layups. We’re not a fast team through and through, but we have a couple of players who can really light it up if the situation is right.”

For Sylvan Hills coach Bee Rodden, it was another disappointment in a season full of near misses for her young squad.
“We beat ourselves, bottom line,” Rodden said. “We let them have three easy transition breaks, and then took two stupid shots, and that was pretty much it for us. We’ve had lack of effort at the post for a few games now, and it’s pretty hard to win if no one’s working the block. Sharonda Sullivan stepped up for us tonight and made some good three-point baskets, but we need more consistency inside.”

Terry and Kita Walker led Jacksonville with 12 points each. Washington and Sherice Randell each had 11 points, and Jessica Lanier rounded out double-digit scorers for the Lady Devils with 10 points.

For Sylvan Hills, Latrina Brandon and Sullivan each had 12 points, with all of Sullivan’s points coming from three-point baskets. Terica Kendrick rounded out high scorers for the Lady Bears with 11 points.

SPORTS >> Cabot gets in win column

Leader sports editor

BRYANT — Jerry Bridges figures that, with the rugged 7A-Central schedule remaining over the next five weeks, he probably won’t be getting much sleep.

But the Cabot head coach no doubt rested well last night after his Panthers found the win column in league play with a 62-51 win over Bryant in a game much, much tighter than the final margin.

“You don’t know how big that is,” said Bridges, whose Panthers improved to 12-6 on the season, 1-3 in conference play. “I don’t know what happened to us coming out of Christmas break. I don’t know if we got too pleased with ourselves, but I don’t think we played with enough energy. Sometimes getting that first win is the hardest one.”

This one was far from easy, especially given the horrific start to the game for the Panthers, who missed nine of their first 11 shots.

Once they got that out of their system, though, they almost couldn’t miss. Cabot followed that bad beginning by missing just five shots over the final three quarters, making 18 of their final 23 field goal attempts to finish a torrid 20 of 34 for the game.
No one reflected the fortunes of his team more than Adam Sterrenberg. The 6-2 junior was held scoreless over the first 9 ½ minutes of the contest before erupting for 24 points the rest of the way.

Before Sterrenberg really got going, the bulk of the offensive production was handled by the 6-7 Miles Monroe, who scored 11 of his 15 points before halftime.

“Those are special players,” Bridges said. “We like our seniors and we like our younger players. We think we have a good mix.”
The game was nip and tuck the entire way. The two teams were tied at the half, and again after three quarters when Jack Bridges hit his second three-pointer of the period to knot the game at 38.

“That’s his role,” Jerry Bridges said. “We were good about finding him. We like to get two or three [three-pointers] out of him every night.”

Chad Knight’s three-pointer staked Bryant (9-8, 2-3) to a brief 45-42 lead. But Austin Johnson banked in an eight-footer, then got a steal and a pass ahead to Sterrenberg, who got the bucket and the free throw to put Cabot up 47-45 at the 4:50 mark. The Panthers never trailed again.

Sterrenberg padded the lead with a rebound and an end-to-end drive. After Bryant narrowed the lead to two, Sterrenberg again answered with a baseline drive and finger roll. Bryant had a chance to draw even, but missed 3 of 5 free throws over a 35-second span.

Meanwhile, the Panthers, who fell to North Little Rock last Friday after making just 11 of 21 from the stripe, were gold at the line. Sterrenberg made 5 of 5 over the final 1:27, and Monroe made both of his attempts. Cabot made 18 of 21 from the line overall.

“We worked on free throws all this week,” Bridges said.

Bryant’s last gasp came on a pair of free throws that narrowed the lead to 55-51 with 33 seconds left, but Sam Bates banked in a 6-footer and Sterrenberg scored inside and made a free throw to seal the deal.

Sterrenberg added six rebounds, four assists and two steals to his impressive line. Monroe collected five rebounds. Johnson added seven points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Bridges had nine points, and Bates had seven points and three assists. Derek Clarkson didn’t score, but handed out four assists.

Of Cabot’s 20 buckets, 17 were assisted.

“I was proud of the kids,” Bridges said. “We fell behind by two points in the fourth quarter and we came back. We showed some toughness tonight. The defense played better and I thought we took good shots.”

Cabot girls 70, Bryant 50

A funny thing happened during the Cabot-Bryant girls’ game on Friday night: A track meet broke out.

The Lady Panthers ran from the beginning and never stopped running until they’d finally secured a runaway victory over the struggling Lady Hornets to improve 13-6 overall and 3-1 in the 7A-Central.

Cabot hardly seemed fazed by the slate of injuries that has left its bench depleted, jumping out to a 20-8 lead after one.
Though Bryant tried to make a game of it by creeping to within eight early in the third period, Lauren Walker ended any suspense by exploding for 12 third-quarter points on her way to a game-high 22.

It was Leah Watts who answered Bryant’s three to open the second half with a three of her own from well beyond the arc, sparking a 19-4 run over the next 4 ½ minutes.

The lead grew to 23 when Alex Mitchell got a mid-court steal and whipped a backhanded pass to Watts for a breakaway basket.

The Lady Panthers made 22 of 42 shots, and 24 of 36 from the line.

They handed out 14 assists, including four by Walker, who also added four steals.

Shelby Ashcraft added 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Watts scored 12 points, grabbed four boards and had three assists.

Stephanie Glover, filling in for her injured sister, Rachel, went inside for 10 points and eight rebounds. Sarah Moore added five points and four rebounds, and Morgan Verkler had a pair of assists and two steals.

Cabot forced 22 turnovers and limited Bryant to 1-of-17 shooting from beyond the arc.

TOP STORY >> Mayor: Making forward strides

Leader staff writer

In introducing his 2008 state of the city report to the council Thursday, Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said that Jacksonville residents have gone through some trying times, but things are looking up.

For the 12th year in a row, Jacksonville’s wastewater treatment plant has had zero permit violations.

For the 10th year in a row, the city’s finance department has been awarded a national certificate of achievement for excellence.

And, Swaim said, Jacksonville residents have shown tremendous patience as the city worked to get a number of projects off the ground.

“This is not the norm for many cities in our state,” the mayor proudly told the city council Thursday night.

He said a number of issues and projects have “tried many of our patience.” Swaim added, “The citizens of Jacksonville are to be commended for their patience.”

He was happy to report that federal money for the long proposed Joint Education Center at Little Rock Air Force Base had been funded. The city is putting up $5 million from a sales-tax fund and the Defense Department is paying $9.8 million.

“The with will certainly be worth the reward. Now plans can proceed for construction of what will equal a community college in Jacksonville,” Swaim said.

The mayor was also pleased with the progress of the new library.

“It is rising from the ground on Main Street in downtown Jacksonville and is an event many of you have waited years to see. Again, the wait has certainly been worth it because we now have a much larger site than originally planned,” Swaim said.

He also said a police and fire training facility has been fully funded through a city sales tax and is in the final planning stages.
“These projects are the results of the residents of Jacksonville’s willingness to support new ideas and efforts to improve the quality of life in our community,” the mayor said. “I am very thankful for everyone’s support.”

Highlights from the mayor’s 36-page report include:

• Jacksonville saw 290 violent crimes in 2007, including five homicides. Arrests have been made in all five of those homicides.Property crimes dropped from 1,828 in 2006 to 1,626 in 2007. The value of property stolen in 2007 was down about $500,000 from the previous year.

• The city’s district court saw a decreased case load during 2007, dealing with 12,720 cases, about 1,200 less than in 2006. The court docket included 6,458 criminal cases, 6,130 traffic cases and 132 DWI cases.

Fines and forfeitures totaled $1.36 million, down about $40,000 from 2006.

• In 2007, the city’s animal shelter handled 2,779 animals. Of those, 440 were returned to their owners, 843 were adopted and 1, 426 were euthanized. Forty-five bites were reported during the year, 11 of those were animal on animal and 34 were animal on human bites.

• Almost $30 million in building permits were issued in 2007 with about half of that in the form of single-family home permits.

• The city suffered nearly $200,000 in fire loss during 2007, but estimated fire savings, based on the quick response of firefighters at just about $1 million.

• The city’s engineering department, in its milling and overlay project, had more than 4,000 tons of asphalt laid and 4,455 square yards milled at a cost of $243,000.

• As work began on the new library, the current city library continued to see increases in usage as more than 135,000 items were checked out, about 1,000 more than in 2006.

• Jacksonville’s ambulance service collection rate for 2007 was about 70 percent, above the collection rate of surrounding cities.

• The Splash Zone, the city’s aquatic park, brought in $163,588 in its third year of operation, averaging more than 300 visitors daily during its 84-day season.

• The city’s beautification department planted more than 6,400 flowers and shrubs in 2007, picked up 1,179 bags of trash and 104 used tires from city rights-of-way and cleared 23.422 linear feet of drainage.

• In 2007, the city hired 25 full time employees and 17 part time employees. Altogether, the city has more than 300 employees.

• Jacksonville’s sanitation department collected more than 1.2 million pounds of recyclables, saving the city $12,415 in landfill fees. The department also collected 7,142 tons of garbage which cost the city $154,477 in landfill fees.

• The senior center home- delivered more than 44,300 meals in 2007.

• More than 500 babies were born at Rebsamen Medical Center, now called North Metro Medical Center.

The hospital recorded more than 21,600 emergency room visits, 1,580 surgeries and 42,940 outpatient visits. The hospital provides around 500 jobs impacting the community with more than $17.3 million in salaries and wages.

• Employees at the city’s garage worked all year keeping more than 250 city vehicles in operation.