Friday, February 08, 2008

TOP STORY > >Businesses react to vote on annexation

Leader managing editor

Among Gravel Ridge business owners, the choice for annexation is almost unanimous. When the choice between Jacksonville and Sherwood is clearly laid out, businesses prefer Sherwood.

The main reason given for choosing Sherwood is the widely held belief that Sherwood would provide better police protection.
Jacksonville held its annexation vote last Tuesday, with that city voting about 2-1 for annexation. Sherwood residents will vote on the issue on March 11. If that vote also goes for annexation, then Gravel Ridge residents will vote alone on April 1 to decide which city to join.

Rob Gregory, owner of Gregory Polaris, a motorcycle and ATV dealership, already has experience with the Sherwood Police Department. His business was hit by robbers who took $48,000 worth of equipment a little over a year ago.

He called the county to ask for extra protection, and also called Sherwood since the dealership’s property nearly reaches Sherwood city limits.

“The county told me they would help us out,” Gregory said. “Their substation is right behind our property so I thought that would be a plus. I also called the city of Sherwood to ask them to be on the lookout for any of these machines. They told me that since my property goes pretty much up to their line, they’d just make our lot a turnaround and give us a presence that way. We got our cameras fixed and in the following month, the county came by twice, and Sherwood came 52 times.”

Gregory estimates the annexation will cost him $500 per year, but says he’ll gladly pay it for the extra protection. The major concern is the increased sales tax for his customers.

“It will be a little less sales tax going with Sherwood,” Gregory said. “At the price of the equipment I sell, that’s a big hit. When you’re talking about a $10,000 Ranger, and that’s a starting point, a 1 percent difference is pretty major. The worry is, there are tons of customers that shop final price. I hope they can understand why things are going up.”

William Hum of Hum Hard-ware has a positive take on the whole ordeal.

“I guess we all love it because it’s coming,” Hum said. “One way or another it’s coming.”
Since it’s coming, Hum would also rather see a Sherwood annexation instead of Jacksonville.

“I really think the fire and police protection will be better from Sherwood. I also think Sherwood will be able to handle the growth in this area better.”

One place that’s never been hit by burglars is Gravel Ridge Small Engine Repair. The main reason is likely because it is just across the street from the north Pulaski sheriff’s substation, but management there also prefers Sherwood because of the increased crime in the area in recent years.

“Sherwood just seems to have such a police presence,” parts manager Linda Langley said. “I’ve been in this community for a long time, over 20 years, and it just seems like Sherwood has police everywhere. You can’t drive anywhere in that community and not see police.”

Langley said most of the other business owners she has talked with would prefer no annexation, but having to choose, they would choose Sherwood. Langley, though, welcomes annexation.

“Whoever we get annexed by, I’ll be all for it,” she said. “A lot of businesses around here have been broken into and we’re looking forward to more police.”

Christy Organ, whose family-owned business Sherwood Marble just moved into Gravel Ridge about three years ago, says their preference is no annexation.

“We would really prefer not to be annexed,” Organ said. “Our customers will have to start paying that extra sales tax, and that’s one of the advantages we had by moving out here when we did.”

Organ knows that annexation is coming, and doesn’t prefer one town over another, she simply wants the city that gets Gravel Ridge to provide the services they’ve promised.

“The extra police protection would be nice,” Organ said. “I don’t really know (which city would be better). We used to be in Sherwood and they patrolled that area pretty well. Either way, the extra protection would be great because we are in sort of a crime area.”

In the three years that Sherwood Marble has been in Gravel Ridge, its trucks have been broken into twice.
“It’s well known that around Hatcher Road and that area, there’s a lot of crystal meth and other drugs, so it’s not surprising that places around here are being hit.”

Rob Gregory believes strongly that Sherwood would address that problem better than Jacksonville.

“Jacksonville already has some slummy areas, and Sherwood does not,” Gregory said. “I think Sherwood’s not going to allow it. And I believe some of the slum areas already in the Gravel Ridge area would be under control pretty quick. I’m fine with Sherwood.”

TOP STORY > >Economy overstocks pawnshops

Leader staff writers

The pawnshop business has a rough reputation for good reason.

Jim’s Pawn Shop in Jacksonville sits next to an abandoned furniture store on a quiet strip along North First Street, but for a few cars and an occasional passing train. Owner Jim Pate suffered a concussion and fractured skull when two teenagers barged into his shop and demanded money and firearms last fall.

He says business has decreased recently with a lot of people looking to sell.

“Pawn business has been up for the past several years, but sales are down,” Pate said. He blamed grocery prices, utility bills and higher gasoline prices for the downturn in buyers.

“Trying to pawn everything,” he said of people who come into his shop needing money. “Jewelry, guns, tools.”

At Jewelry Exchange and Loan in Jacksonville, business is steady. Trish Baskin, an employee at the store, said business is “great.” She said buying and selling was normal, but the shop buys only jewelry and prices them according to market. Pawnshops decide how long a loan can be made and at what interest it will have to be paid back.

Cathy Adams said a daily interest rate of .833% is charged at Jewelry Exchange. Sellers are also charged storage fees, which depends on the amount borrowed. The storage fee for a $100 loan would be $25.

Other area pawnshops repeat a decrease in business.

“It’s been kind of slow,” said Mike Brooks, owner of Mike’s Sports Stop on Hwy. 161 in Jacksonville. January and February are usually better months. “It’s off just a little bit, but not bad,” he said.

Pawnshops advance cash toward customers and hold the item as collateral until the property is reclaimed. Many customers choose to sell the item for immediate cash. Pawnshops take jewelry, guns, electronics, computers, tools, instruments and some take cars and boats as well.

“Most everybody gets 20 percent,” Brooks said about interest rates. He gives a 30-day contract.

“The pawn business is always steady,” Tim Collier president of the Arkansas Pawn Brokers Association said. “Cash flow is good because income taxes are coming back.”

He said more people always want cash right away. Collier said the average pawn nationally is $65-$70, but closer to $50 in Arkansas. There is no interest cap set on loans given in the state.

“People borrow, but people don’t come back and pick merchandise up,” Collier said. “We haven’t seen tremendous downturn.”

Jim’s Pawn Shop no longer takes watches. “We used to take everything, but we’ve had to trim back,” Pate said. Pate has been in the business 32 years and said he appraises an item based on his experience. “I’ve got an idea what I can sell it for, so I go by that,” he said.

“The actual value you can’t compare new to used,” Pate said.

An employee at Jacksonville Pawn and Loan Company on East Main Street said he would give $15 on a watch valued at $300. He said he had watches sitting at the shops for literally years.

Pawnbrokers do not go after sellers like traditional creditors do when the loan is not paid pack. They do have the choice to sell if they want, though. “We don’t chase people back if they don’t pay,” Collier said.

In 2006, Collier’s association opposed a proposed law that capped interest rates on military personnel and their families at 3 percent per month or 36 percent annually.

The law was included as part of the Department of Defense Authorization Act. The association opposed pawn brokers being grouped with predatory lenders.

Pawnshops are regulated by the Truth-in-Lending Law, which requires a statement of interest rates.

Pawnbrokers were only opposed to the law if they were included with refund anticipation brokers and payday lenders. They ended up not being included in the interest fee cap for military personnel, according to Collier.

Other pawn shops say business is stable. Philip Hutchins, manager of Beebe Pawn Shop, said he hasn’t necessarily seen an increase in the customers needing to raise cash, but many who come in say the high price of gas has contributed to their money problems.

“When it gets up to $3 a gallon, everybody who comes in is singing the blues,” Hutchinson said.

“I don’t know why, but jewelry is the first thing they get rid of,” he said. “We’ve got a ton of it.”

But many of his customers have received income tax returns and they come to his shop to either retrieve the jewelry, guns or tools they’ve pawned or they are there looking for a bargain, he said.

In Cabot, Jim Boggs at Cabot Pawn Shop and Chuck Myers at Pro Pawn Shop say they haven’t seen any change.

To prevent theft and to track stolen property, state law requires pawnshops and pawnbroker to record everything sold to them. Detailed records of every transaction must be kept along with identification of who sold them the property. Serial numbers and a description of each pawned item must be kept for three years with the seller’s identifying information.

TOP STORY > >City agrees to add land to battlefield

Leader staff writer

Four more acres of land were added Thursday to the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield off Hwy. 161 when the Jacksonville City Council voted to spend $100,000 to buy the acres.

“We’ve got to grab the green space when we can,” said Tommy Dupree, president of the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society, which operates the battlefield site.

The council agreed to pony up the money after the society don-ated $50,000 worth of battlefield land to the city, along with $50,000 in cash.

“Anytime we can do something like this with matching funds it’s a win-win situation for all sides,” said Alderman Kenny Elliot.
The city will take control of the land, clear all the titles and allow the society to use the acreage through what is called a conversion easement, which lets the society use the land for park purposes.

The four acres bring the total amount of battlefield land owned by the city to about 35 acres. The society also owns or has access, through agreements with private landowners, to about another 120 acres of land in the battlefield area. Studies and surveys have shown that the Civil War battle covered an area of about 412 acres.

The new land includes about 3.5 acres off Hwy. 161, a lot at 105 Lakeshore Drive, and a lot near the intersection of Military Road and Trickey Lane.

So far, 15 acres have been improved or restored for the battlefield park.

Tommy Dupree, with the Reed’s Bridge Historical Society, said long-range plans call for connecting the battlefield to Dupree Park through bike and hiking trails.

The battlefield area abuts the south end of the city park. The Battle of Reed’s Bridge in 1863 was an effort to slow down the Union march and eventual control of Little Rock. Confederate Major Gen. Sterling Price sent two of his top calvary units under the command of Brig. Gen. John Marmaduke and Brig. Gen. Lucius M. Walker out to Reed’s Bridge just south of Jacksonville to slow the Union forces.

On Aug. 26, 1863, the Con-federate calvary and Union forces collided along the Bayou Meto and Reed’s Bridge.

The job of the Confederate troops was to hold out for as long as possible. During the battle, the Confederate troops set fire to the original Reed’s Bridge. As Union troops ran to put out the flames, the Confederate troops opened fire, killing seven, wounding 38 and delaying the Union advance. But the battle was not all glory for the Confederacy.

As they pulled back, closer to Little Rock, Gen. Marmaduke supposedly accused Gen. Walker of cowardice during the Battle at Reed’s Bridge.

The accusations were quickly settled during a duel in which Marmaduke killed Walker.

The site, off Hwy. 161, on the banks of the Bayou Meto, is open daily from dawn to dusk.

In other council business:

Aldermen agreed to spend about $8,000 to replace the phone system at the community center.

The mayor reminded the council that there was a mandatory joint-planning session between the council and the planning commission Tuesday at the community center. “Department heads, the chamber and others are welcome to attend and give their input,” the mayor said.

The engineering department, in its monthly report, showed that 12 building permits and 17 business licenses were issued in January. The department also performed almost 200 inspections during the month and mailed out 100 letters to residents and business owners regarding trash-filled or unkempt yards or property.

TOP STORY > >How they voted on annexing neighbor

Leader staff writer

Seventy five percent of Jacksonville residents who voted Tuesday favored bringing Gravel Ridge into the city.
“We are excited about those numbers,” said Mayor Tommy Swaim.

About 30 percent of the Gravel Ridge residents also voted for the annexation, bringing the totals to 3,319 votes, or 66 percent for the annexation, and 1,733 votes, or 34 percent against annexation.

“Now we’ve got to get to work to convince those other Gravel Ridge voters that we are best for them,” said Alderman Kenny Elliott.

The total includes early voting which had 598 ballots for annexation to 191 against. Absentee ballots also favored annexation, 28 to 16.

The mayor said the election commission told him that there were still a few absentee ballots out that the commission was waiting on before certifying the results.

The election commission said voting went pretty smoothly across the area, but there were complaints from some voters who were not allowed to cast an annexation vote. Also severe storms moving through central Arkansas zapped the power to the election commission offices and vote tallying could not be completed until early Wednesday.

The approval vote does not automatically put Gravel Ridge into Jacksonville city limits, as Sherwood also wants the rural community of about 3,500.

Sherwood has set its vote on the issue for March 11. Only Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents will be allowed to vote in that election on the question of whether or not Gravel Ridge should become part of Sherwood.

If they vote yes as they did in Jacksonville this week, then a third election will be held April 1 for just Gravel Ridge voters. In that election, the residents will have to choose between Jacksonville and Sherwood.

Of the 13 precincts voting on the issue in Tuesday’s election, only three opposed the annexation, but all three of those were in Gravel Ridge.

First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge had the most voters on the annexation issue out of the 13 precincts and was the most adamant against the idea. Of the 935 votes cast, 594, or 63 percent, were against annexation, while 341, or 36 percent, were for it.

At the Kellogg Valley voting site, 195 residents voted on the issue and only 19, or 10 percent, favored the idea of annexation.
At Sylvan Hills Methodist Church, the voting was substantially less, but much closer. Just 21 people voted on the issue, with 11 of them against annexation and 10 for it.

In Jacksonville, First Baptist Church had the most voters, with 686 residents casting ballots. Of those, 561, or 82 percent, were for annexation, while 125, or 18 percent, were against.

The Chapel Hill site had fewer voters, but a slightly higher percentage favored annexation. Of 627 votes cast, 524, or 84 percent, were for annexation, while 103, or 16 percent, were against it.

At the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club, 635 residents cast votes, with 456, or 72 percent, going for annexation, and 179, or 28 percent, against the idea.

Those voting at the St. Jude’s site, favored annexation 360 to 97, or 79 percent to 21 percent.

Just over 490 people voted at the Jacksonville Community Center, with 348, or 71 percent, wanting Gravel Ridge to be part of the city, and 143, or 29 percent, against the idea.

Voters at McArthur Baptist Church went for annexation, 203 to 91, or 69 percent to 31 percent. Berea Baptist voters also approved annexation by nearly a two-to-one vote, 160 to 84.

At Harris Elementary and Indianhead Lakes Baptist Church, the vote totals were much less, but the percentage still favored annexation.

At Harris, 70 residents voted, with 48, or 69 percent, favoring annexation, and 22, or 31 percent, against.
Just 22 votes were cast at Indianhead, with 12 ballots in favor of and 10 against annexation.

TOP STORY > >Base thanks mayor for support

Little Rock Air Force Base last weekend honored its best, presenting awards to a dozen airmen and civilian employees.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim was the recipient of the first Team Little Rock Cornerstone Award for his contribution to base relations. Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, came up with the idea for the award as a way to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the air base.

Swaim was instrumental in getting a penny sales tax passed that will help fund a new education center in front of the air base.
The center is a joint project between the air base and the city and will cost $15 million. The city is contributing $5 million of that amount. Congress recently appropriated $10 million through a Defense Department spending bill. Construction will start next year.

The project is the first of its kind in the nation, forging a unique partnership between the military and the city. The education center will serve the military and civilian students, in effect providing a college campus in Jacksonville.
Maj. Gen. Irving L. Halter, commander of the 19th Air Force, and Schatz presided over the ceremony at the sports and fitness center.

Halter called the winners better than Super Bowl athletes.

“I can guarantee you our team will be back here next year, doing the same thing with the same people as of the same great Air Force, because ‘The Rock’ and the Air Force have made a habit of excellence,” Halter said during the awards presentation.
Senior Airman Hector Villarreal, of the 314th Maintenance Squadron, was named airman of the year.

Tech Sgt. Joseph Croswait, of the 314th Civil Engineering Squadron, was selected noncommissioned officer of the year.
Senior Master Sgt. Brian Stevens of the 314th Maintenance Squadron, was picked senior noncommissioned officer of the year.

Capt. Daniel J. Brown, of the 61st Airlift Squadron, was chosen company grade officer of the year.

Master Sgt. Charles Doan, of the 314th Medical Group, was named first sergeant of the year.

Tech Sgt. Kendal Dismute, of the 314th Civil Engineer Squadron was ceremonial guardsman of the year.

Terry Gardner of the 314th Maintenance Squadron was civilian of the year in category one.

Randall Grimes of the 314th Medical Support Squadron was civilian of the year in category two.

Maighdlin DiMatteo of the 314th Services Squadron, Hangar 1080, was honored in the nonappropriated funds category of the year.

Diandra Crippen of the 314th Services Squadron accounting office, was in category two.

Jerry McCray of the 314th Services Squardon, Razorback Inn, won in category three.
John Heffernan, 314 th Airlift Wing, retiree activities office, was volunteer of the year.
The Tops in Blue musical group provided the entertainment.

Staff Sgt. Beth Orlen of the 314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office contributed to this report.

TOP STORY > >Impact fee still being examined by council

Leader staff writer

The committee appointed to investigate whether or not the impact fee on building in Cabot is making builders leave the city met for the first time Thursday evening. After two hours of mostly venting about the need for money for infrastructure versus imposing a tax on the biggest industry in the city, the group decided to meet again in two weeks after it has collected the data it needs to analyze the situation.

The committee is charged with making a recommendation to the council to either keep or repeal the fee that could add almost $5,000 to the price of a large home when the fourth incremental increase is in place in three years.

Alderman Terri Miessner, the committee chairman, told the committee that if the recommendation is to repeal, the committee needs to also offer an alternative to the impact fee to help pay for the streets and other infrastructure needed because of growth. Building permits for the past year that show a decline in residential construction were available, but the committee wanted to look at other factors that could have contributed to the decline, such as the price and availability of land for building subdivisions.

Kip Boudry, an ap-praiser, said the impact fee priced builders of starter homes out of the market. Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said the biggest deterrent to building houses 1,200 square feet or less is the price developers must pay for land. Unless they can build larger houses with bigger profit margins, they can’t afford to build, Williams said.

Cabot’s biggest draw is the school district, which has helped the city double in size in the past 20 years to its current population of about 22,000.

In 2007, residential construction in Cabot was at the lowest point it has been in five years while in Ward and Austin, which also are in the Cabot School District, building is booming.

Information available at Cabot Public Works shows that 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 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.

However, 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.

Although residential construction has slowed, commercial, which increases the city’s tax base, 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.

In Ward, seven of the newest housing developments have provided homes for the estimated 1,000 new residents who have moved in since the 2000 census. In 2000, Ward’s population was 2,582. Now it is estimated at 3,500.
Austin Mayor Bernie Chamber-lain estimates her city’s population at 1,800, triple the number of the 2000 census.
“Austin is growing,” Chamber-lain said. “People don’t want to live in town, but they want the Cabot School District. Besides, Cabot is running out of room.”

Williams doesn’t completely disagree with that statement, but he says the available land is not as convenient and it costs twice as much as the land in Austin.

In theory, the committee members will know exactly how much land costs in both cities when they meet again Feb. 21.
Williams pointed out during the meeting that home insurance in Austin costs more than in Cabot because of Austin’s higher

ISO rating and that is a recurring cost, not a one-time cost like the impact fee.

He also said water was higher in Austin and that the city doesn’t have enough police protection.

The committee said it would look into the cost of insurance inside Cabot and in the neighboring cities.

Former Cabot Alderman James Moore, one of the biggest builders of starter homes in the city, who now lives and builds in Austin, told the committee that developers control the market and if they have to pay more for land in Cabot and still more for an impact fee, the houses will cost so much more that the military families who buy the starter homes can no longer afford them.

Moore said after the meeting that he believes at least 250 large houses that appeal to the affluent will be built annually in Cabot despite the impact fee.

Eventually, he said, the price of land will go up in Austin and Ward because of the demand.
“I’ll end up in Beebe,” he told the committee.

In addition to Miessner, the mayor and Boudry, the members of the committee are Alderman Eddie Cook, Bill O’Brien, Cary Hobbs, Dewey Coy, Clint Skiver, Mike Bernardo, Larry Biernackie and Ricky Hill.
Skiver and Biernackie did not attend the meeting.

TOP STORY > > Sales tax receipts good

Leader staff writers

The talk about a slowing economy has not caught up with local taxes. Jacksonville and Sherwood are reporting continued upswings in the collection of city and county taxes. Even Pulaski County collections have been solid.

The gas wells that are now pumping in White County have stimulated the economy there and tax collections are up.

Lonoke County is holding steady and in Cabot, where a growing population attracts new businesses almost every month, tax collections for 2007 were up 10 percent over the amount that was budgeted for the year.

“We generally run about three months behind the national curve,” said Mike Hutchens, the county comptroller, which means the area could see a downturn in a month or so. “We know it’s coming, so that’s why we were very conservative computing our tax collections for our 2008 budget,” Hutchens said.

The county collects two taxes—a sales-and-use tax for its use and then another half-cent sales tax, which is distributed, back to the county’s cities by the state.

Hutchens didn’t have figures from the state yet on the half-cent tax, but for the sales and use tax, he said the county collected $900,132 in September 2007, $951,261 in October and $918,028 in November, for a total of about $43,000 more than the same time period in 2006.

For its 2007 budget, Jackson-ville was expecting $500,000 a month from its 8 percent share of the county sales tax, but garnered closer to $510,000. For September, October and November 2007, the city received more than $512,000 a month.
Sherwood, which brought in $3.66 million in 2006 with its one-cent city sales tax, has already collected $3.8 million for 2007 with one month, December, still to come in. Sherwood also receives about six percent of the county sales tax. In 2006, the city’s take was $4.35 million, and in 2007, with a month to go, Sherwood is already at $4.45 million.

Sherwood’s take of the county money for the last three months that have been paid to the city was $382,113 in September; $368,764 in October; and $367,614 in November. That looks like a downturn in taxable sales from September to November, but the same type of drop showed up during the same months in 2006. In September 2006 the city’s share of the county tax was $366,802; in October it was $366,792; and in November it was $353,124—all less than the 2007 figures.

Jacksonville’s finance director Paul Mushrush said the city hasn’t seen a downturn yet, but with its conservative budgeting could weather a drop in collections. “We only went up slightly in our revenue numbers for 2008,” Mushrush said.

The same is true for the county. Hutchens said he increased projected tax revenues by only $150,000 for the 2008 budget, which works out to about an additional $12,500 a month.

White County Treasurer Janet Hibbits reports an increase in the county tax from $3.8 million in 2006 to $4.2 million in 2007. In the last three months of 2006, tax collections were $334,593, $322,759 and $322,848 compared to $394,587, $368,325 and $364,972 in 2007.

In Lonoke County, Treasurer Karol Depriest reports that sales tax revenue in the last three months of the year of $336,986, $215,329 and $209,571 are about the amounts expected.

Cabot Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler said the city budgeted $3.1 million in tax revenue for 2007 and brought in $3.4 million.
Cabot has changed its computer program for financial records and gone from accrual accounting to cash basis, and the numbers have not always been available in 2007. But Mayor Eddie Joe Williams says he is confident that the growth in tax collections has been four or five percent.

The last three months’ collections in 2007 ($283,712 for October, $275,867 for November and $272,150 for December) were as expected considering growth in the commercial sector.

EDITORIAL >>McCain up, Hillary down

A year ago, as this interminable presidential campaign was taking shape, the easy bet was that Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton would battle for the office this fall. Half of that expectation has now been realized, but the other half seems more and more unlikely. Barring a cataclysmic event, McCain will be the Republican nominee, but that cataclysm may already have befallen Sen. Clinton.

Despite her impressive victories Tuesday in Arkansas, New York, California and Massachusetts, her campaign is flagging in the face of a swelling crusade for the young Illinois senator, Barack Obama. If she wins at the convention it may be only because party leaders pulled all the levers required, corralling nearly all the superdelegates — those not chosen by the voters — and seating contested delegations (hers) from Florida and Michigan, which had flouted party rules and held early primaries. It may require all of that for Sen. Clinton to win the nomination although she still leads with delegates going into today’s caucuses in Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington.

Every political observer has been stunned by the upheavals on both sides since last summer, when McCain’s campaign nosedived and Clinton’s was ascendant, but we ought to have seen it coming.

McCain has a long history of pratfalls and recovery. He was a feckless warrior in the Vietnam War, but he stood tall as a prisoner of war by refusing to abandon his comrades when strings were pulled to bring him home. He came home a hero. His congressional career nosedived when his cozy relationship with the biggest savings-and-loan crook embroiled him in scandal. The Senate rebuked McCain and the rest of the “Keating Five” but while the other four senators fell, he survived and rebuilt his Senate career. He was humiliated by George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race, but his steadfast support of the Iraq war cemented his standing with the party’s hawks.

He was a trifle lucky, too, with his opponents in the Republican slugfest: A New York mayor who was left of the Democrats on social issues and who led a ribald personal life and an administration tainted by scandal; a liberal Massachusetts governor who transformed himself into a conservative when he announced for president and whose religion was considered idolatrous by the nation’s evangelicals; a Midwestern senator with a solid conservative pedigree but who put his own cheerleaders to sleep when he spoke; a former Wisconsin governor and Bush cabinet member who could not convince even his wife that he was serious; three terminally boring congressmen; and our own hero, Mike Huckabee, who governed liberally for 10 years but changed his position on everything but abortion and gays when he got a good look at the Republican landscape.

All of their candidacies capsized from those transparent weaknesses — all except Huckabee, who stays in the race to flex his credentials as McCain’s running mate, and Congressman Ron Paul, who stays in the race because he is. . . well, Ron Paul. Huckabee has a chance to win another small primary or two — maybe Louisiana today — but he will continue to make nice over McCain to build his appeal that he is the man who could help McCain win the South. If McCain needs Huckabee to win the South he is in deeper trouble than he imagines.

The media are full of speculation about McCain’s inability to win over the hysterical wings of his party — those who consider it heresy that he would not vote for Bush’s tax cuts until spending was brought under control, that he would not join the crusade against undocumented Mexican immigrants and that he worked to stanch the buying and selling of politicians by limiting political gifts. It is much ado about nothing. The party, including wingnuts like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, will be on board this fall.

Sen. Clinton’s problem is more baffling. How can she eclipse Obama’s rising star without doing herself and the party immense harm? He goes into the conservative western states and record-breaking crowds — all white — throng to hear him and touch his hem. The highly educated and upper-income Democrats vote for him in lopsided numbers. Money flows into his campaign like the biblical flood. In caucus states, where enthusiasm trumps breadth, he wins by landslides. Clinton can make a last stand in the huge blue-collar states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama is high on rhetoric and vague on issues, but he strikes a chord like no politician since — well, since William Jennings Bryan. Are we melodramatic?

Six long months before the conventions, the Republicans need to lengthen this campaign and the Democrats need to shorten it. McCain can continue to build enthusiasm and court attention by beating up on Huckabee and Ron Paul until he finally goes over the top in delegates, but that small suspense will be over this month. If you are a Democrat, you can only hope for a fairly rapid conclusion, one way or the other, so that the mending can begin.

SPORTS >> Cabot’s Tarrant chooses Harding

Leader sportswriter

The college journey will be a short one for Cabot senior L.J. Tarrant. The former Panther defensive lineman signed on Wednesday to attend Harding University in Searcy. Tarrant, who earned All-Conference and All State honors his senior year as a starter for the Panthers football team, secured his spot at the school with a 3.5 GPA and a solid score of 22 on his ACT exams.

His athletic abilities also earned him a spot on this summer’s East All-Star roster for football, and the KATV Power Team lineman of the year award. His study habits earned him Academic All-Conference in both his junior and senior years.

Like many across the nation on Wednesday, Tarrant (6-1, 255 lbs.) signed his letter of intent in front of family, friends and faculty. Members of the CHS athletic department stood behind Tarrant and his family for media photos at the Panther Pavilion gymnasium, followed by the signing of the letter itself.

“The coaches called me nearly every day,” Tarrant said of head coach Ronnie Huckeba and the HU football staff. “When I went there to visit, it actually felt like I was already a part of it.”

Tarrant, who is currently enjoying a successful season on the Panther wrestling team, committed to Harding only days after the end of Cabot’s successful 2007 season. He made key plays that led to wins against North Little Rock and Russellville during the season, as well as being one of the most consistent players on the defensive line.

SPORTS >> Sylvan Hills’ Miller takes offer from Mississippi

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills two-star standout Hunter Miller signed a letter to play football with Ole Miss on Wednesday in the Sylvan Hills High School library.

Miller was an All-State and All-Conference quarterback and free safety for the Bears, rushing for 1,379 yards and throwing for 1,128 more in his senior season.

“He’s one of the best players in the state,” said Sylvan Hills head coach Jim Withrow, who just finished his first season at the school. “I don’t know if he’s not the most versatile player in the state.

“He’s a quarterback, but he can play receiver or he can play tailback.

“He was our free safety and our punter, and he returned punts. I don’t think anybody in the state did as much as Hunter did.”

Withrow figures Ole Miss will use Miller as a defensive back. Miller had a 40-yard-dash speed of 4.51, Withrow said, but thinks he can reduce that to 4.4 in college.

“That 4.5 time was him coming straight out of baseball,” Withrow said. “One of the things you don’t realize about him is just how good an athlete he is. I don’t think I realized it until I saw him get out in space. That’s when he does great stuff.”

Withrow said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Miller play baseball at Ole Miss.

“After the high school season is over, he’ll be able to see where everything stands. I think it’s a definite possibility.

SPORTS >> Devils’ Hood signs with Arkansas Tech

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville senior Cam Hood will go from Red Devil to Wonder Boy this fall when he heads to Arkansas Tech in Russellville as a member of both the Arkansas Tech football and baseball programs.

The full-paid scholarship Hood signed on Wednesday morning in front of family, friends and faculty at the Devil’s Den gymnasium is predominately for football, but Tech will be getting two athletes for the price of one with the addition of the multi-sport standout.

Hood (6-0, 200 lbs.) had offers from UAPB, Tennessee Martin and a list of other area schools, but he says he chose Arkansas Tech because of its close location and the campus environment.

Hood made his name in the Jacksonville area as a member of both the varsity football and baseball programs.

He started several games last fall at quarterback and linebacker for the Red Devils, earning All-Conference honors in both his junior and senior years.

He was also named to the Hootens’ super-state team his senior year. He will be utilized at safety by ATU coach Steve Mullins when he reports for summer camp.

Hood earned All-Conference for the Devil baseball team as a junior, appearing in the Xtra innings classic at UALR over the summer.

He will finish out his tenure at Jacksonville High School this spring as a starting member of the Larry Burrows-coached Jacksonville baseball Red Devils.

SPORTS >> Devils rally to run away from Searcy

For the Leader

The turnaround continues for the Jacksonville Red Devils. After a less than stellar beginning to the season, the Red Devils’ fortunes continued to improve Tuesday night with what turned into an easy 56-34 victory over the struggling Searcy Lions.

The Lions battled to a 24-21 halftime lead on Anthony Harniss’ putback with two seconds left in the second quarter. Searcy, though would get just three more field goals in the game as Jacksonville pulled away in the third quarter.

There was no secret to the Red Devils’ magic, though, according to Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner.

“We struggled early in the season — and started off 3-9,” Joyner said. “We made no big adjustments at halftime. We just remembered what behavior led us to being 3-9 and that was starting to show again in the first half against Searcy. We got that corrected at halftime and we remembered how much we’ve enjoyed the 7-1 record that followed that 3-9.”

The Red Devils turned up the defensive pressure on the Lions, forcing Searcy to up its tempo. Offensively, Jacksonville pushed the ball at Searcy at every opportunity. In the meantime, foul trouble plagued the Lions, with the 6-6 Harniss fouling out early in the final quarter.

By that time, though, Jacksonville had pushed itself to a 45-29 advantage, thanks to having seven different players score in the third period.

Deshone McClure knotted the score at 24 just seconds into the third period, then Terrell Eskridge scored on an offensive rebound. Antwan Lockhart scored inside, Cortrell Eskridge hit two free throws and capped the 10-0 run with a 10-footer that made it 32-24.

Logan English temporarily stopped the bleeding for Searcy with a pair of free throws, but the Red Devils answered again, highlighted by a Darrius Morant three pointer. Jacksonville led 39-29 after three quarters.

“They turned up the pressure and got a little more physical with us,” Searcy coach Jim Summers said afterward. “They sped us up and we lost our composure. We didn’t make plays when we needed to and they did.”

Jacksonville scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter, capped by Cortrell Eskridge’s layup that pushed the score to 49-29 with 5:23 left.

The Red Devils were then content to slow the game down and reserves played much of the final quarter.

Jordan Evans led Searcy with 14 points and Aaron Coleman added 10. Jacksonville had 11 different players score in the game, led by Cortrell Eskridge with 13 and Morant with 12. Lockhart added seven and Terrell Eskridge had five.


The Searcy Lady Lions, one of the top-ranked teams in Class 6A, scored the first 16 points of the game Tuesday night and easily toppled Jacksonville, 51-37.

Searcy guard Kayla Medley scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the opening quarter. Jacksonville did not score until Tanisha Cox sank a free throw with 17 seconds left in the first.

Replacing four starters to begin the second period, the Lady Lions continued to pour it on. An 11-2 run to open the frame put the game out of reach.

Reserve guard Lindsey McGary hit a pair of jumpers to push Searcy to a 27-3 advantage with 2:16 until halftime.

Jacksonville, which was led by Tyra Terry and Ciera Morant, each with 12 points, made the game respectable in the second half. Terry scored seven points in just more than a minute to pull the Lady Red Devils to within 47-37.

Searcy retaliated, though, sending its starters back to score the final four points of the game.
Medley was the only Lady Lion in double figures.

SPORTS >> Cabot boys inch closer

Leader sports editor

The corks haven’t popped yet, but the foil is definitely being peeled away.

The Cabot Panthers all but assured themselves of their first state playoff appearance in 31 years with a come-from-behind 58-56 win over North Little Rock on Wednesday night at the Panther Pavilion.

The victory was the Panthers’ fifth in their past six games after they limped out of the gates at 0-3 in 7A-Central play, and gave them a half-game lead over North Little Rock for third place. Russellville would have to win out and Cabot would have to lose its final four regular season games to miss the state tournament. Cabot’s most recent state tournament appearance was in 1977.

“That was a big win,” said Cabot head coach Jerry Bridges. “That puts us a step closer to one of our main goals, which is to get in the state tournament.”

The Panthers got big games out of Austin Johnson, Miles Monroe and Adam Sterrenberg, as well as three critical plays from reserve Tim Lawrence in climbing back into a game they trailed by as many as nine in the first half. Cabot preserved the win by knocking down 9-of-10 free throws over the final 1:22 of the contest.

“Last year, we lost games like this,” Bridges said. “Maybe that was just youth and inexperience. Maybe we’ve grown up a little and are handling that better. I know one thing: It’s harder on the coach.”

Other than a 4-2 lead in the early going, Cabot trailed until Sterrenberg’s strong post basket to open the final period put Cabot on top, 41-40. Though a North Little Rock rebound basket briefly allowed the Charging Wildcats to reclaim the lead, Monroe’s three-pointer at the 5:30 mark put the Panthers ahead for good, though the outcome wasn’t assured until
Sterrenberg made two free throws with 8.5 seconds remaining.

Monroe’s two free throws with 16 seconds left had put Cabot up by five and appeared to have sealed it. But Tray Allison was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three charities to draw NLR to within 56-54 with 9.9 seconds.

Lawrence, who had made two critical plays in the first half, added a third with 21 seconds left and Cabot leading by just three points. Monroe missed the second of two free throws, and Lawrence ducked underneath to claim the offensive rebound.

“Tim’s going to give you everything he’s got,” Bridges said. “Kids and parents sometimes get caught up in playing time.

“But I try to tell the kids not to get caught up in all that. The main thing is, when you’re out there, make a difference. Tim Lawrence does that.”

It was a replica of the play Lawrence made late in the first half with the Panthers trailing by nine points and reeling. Lawrence claimed an offensive rebound, again off a missed free throw by Monroe.

This time, he dished to Johnson for a three-pointer that pulled Cabot to within six at halftime.

Lawrence also hit a buzzer-beating three at the end of the third period that sent the Panthers into the final period trailing only 40-39.

The win was the second straight narrow victory for the Panthers. Derek Clarkson hit a three pointer in the final minute to beat Catholic last Friday.

While the Panthers would not go away in this one early, they also could never close the gap against a North Little Rock squad that kept matching them bucket for bucket.

Five blocked shots in the first period by 6-7 Wildcat post man Melvin Fisher had Cabot daunted offensively, and the Panthers trailed 9-6 after one quarter. Though the Panthers began to get something going on the offensive end behind seven second-quarter points by Johnson, the Wildcats used dribble penetration to keep pace.

In the third quarter, it was more of the same. Monroe hit a 12-footer in the lane and got a tip-in, but Allison hit a pair of threes and Fisher got inside for a pair of baskets and Cabot still trailed 37-30 at the 2:45 mark.
The Panthers’ 9-3 run to close out the period had them within a point heading into the final quarter.

“Maybe it was a little pride,” Bridges said of his team’s resilience. “I wasn’t too happy at halftime, and I think I got that point across to them. We just weren’t clicking very well. But we kept plugging and that’s the main thing.”
Sterrenberg scored 14 of his 19 points after halftime to lead Cabot.

He also dished out three assists. Monroe added 16 points, four rebounds, three blocks and four assists, while Johnson scored 14 points and grabbed six boards. Sam Bates added four points and nine rebounds.

Cabot made 11-of-17 shots after intermission and 18-of-22 free throws overall. The Panthers also dominated the glass in the second half, enjoying a 16-8 advantage.

North Little Rock (5-4 in league play) made only 12-of-22 from the line and 20-of-44 from the field. The Wildcats were led by Allison’s 14 points.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

TOP STORY >> Harsh weather pummels area, cancels game

No major problems were reported locally as severe thunderstorms moved through central Arkansas, but before the storms arrived they generated a number of tornadoes to the west and north, causing at least three deaths in Atkins.

The statewide storms also disrupted voting in the state’s presidential election and cut the power to Pulaski County’s office building preventing election officials from tabulating the results of the Jacksonville-Gravel Ridge annexation vote.

The storm threat caused Cabot school officials to stop and cancel the high school basketball game being played in Cabot. The girls’ game was stopped at halftime and the boys’ game never started as officials cleared the gym at Cabot High School about 7 p.m.

Dan Daugherty, a spokesman for Entergy Arkansas, said the storms blanked out power for about 43,000 of its customers, including 300 in the Jacksonville area. The Jacksonville Fire Department had one report of a power line down, but was unable to locate it. Cabot police said the city had some trees down, but no major problems.

Severe weather sirens went off twice in Gravel Ridge, sounding at 6:47 p.m. and again at 6:59. Renee Preslar, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said a tornado touched down near highways 324 and 105 in Atkins’ downtown, then stayed on the ground and passed into Conway County to the east.

At least three people were confirmed dead and Preslar said numerous injuries were reported, but communication remained difficult with those on the ground. “Because this tornado has landed and stayed on the ground and continued, we are still bringing in reports,” Preslar said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

TOP STORY > > Storm stalls voting results

By Rick Kron
Leader staff writer

Did Jacksonville vote to annex Gravel Ridge Tuesday evening? As of early Wednesday morning no one knew for sure. Unofficial results are 3,319 for annexation and 1,733 against.

Thunderstorms rolled through central Arkansas Tuesday evening knocking out power to a block or more of office buildings in Little Rock, which included the county office building--the location of the Pulaski County Election Commission.

“We are just sitting here in the dark,” one commission worker said about 9 p.m., almost 90 minutes after early voting and absentee ballots were supposed to be counted and posted on the commission’s website.

Jacksonville voters, who visited the polls earlier in the day drove by yard signs, declaring “Vote for progress, vote for annexation.” Those voting in the Gravel Ridge area saw yard signing asking voters to say no to annexation, and one large billboard near the First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge, a polling site, urging voters to say yes to Sherwood instead of Jacksonville.

Regardless of the official results in the Jacksonville-Gravel Ridge vote, another election on the annexation issue has been set for March 11. That vote, to determine whether or not Sherwood will also annex Gravel Ridge, will be open only to Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents.

If the majority in both elections vote for annexation, meaning both Sherwood and Jacksonville want Gravel Ridge, then just Gravel Ridge residents will vote April 1 to determine the fate of the 2,500-acre rural community of more than 3,500.

Jacksonville tied the annexation vote to the presidential primary elections, saving money and hoping for a large turn out.

Jacksonville passed an ordinance late last year annexing rural community. But when a city goes out and annexes an area, state law requires that the city and the affected area vote on the annexation. If the majority of voters say yes, then the area becomes part of the city. If the majority of voters say no, the area is not annexed.

Once a city announces that it plans to annex an area, other municipalities, which border the affected area, have the right to also annex the area. Sherwood exercised its right, setting up the March 11 vote.

John Hardwick, the new president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, believes the annexation is a good move for both communities.

“It will help us protect Little Rock Air Force Base from any encroachment that could jeopardize the base,” Hardwick said. “It is also a natural growth pattern for us. We have been moving out in that direction for a number of years,” he added.

In an oversize postcard mailed to area residents by the Positive Growth for Gravel Ridge and Jacksonville group, Mayor Tommy Swaim said that Gravel Ridge would benefit from the annexation.

He said the community would have improved public safety with faster response times for police and fire protection. Swaim also said Gravel Ridge would also have improved sanitation services with four times the trash service they now get for $60 less a year.

On the negative side, and not on the mailer, is an increase in sales tax. The tax on prepared food items would go up two cents, and the tax on other items would go up a penny.

EDITORIAL >>Huck seeks spot on ticket

His presidential ambitions if not his campaign terminated by the voters on Super Tuesday’s national primary, Mike Huckabee today begins a more calculating phase of his quest for national power, the Republican nomination for vice president. Some of his closest supporters thought it was his ambition all along.

Now he is positioned better than he must have ever hoped. Although he slipped out of everyone’s sights as a presidential candidate yesterday even while piling up a sizable number of delegates, he has served as a guarantor for Sen. John McCain, who now has a huge lead in the race for nominating delegates. Huckabee can continue to serve McCain’s ends by remaining in the race for another month or so, at least through the big Texas primary on March 4, and splitting the conservative and evangelical votes with Mitt Romney.

The strategy functioned perfectly Tuesday when McCain switched his supporters to Huckabee at the West Virginia state convention, blocking a victory for Romney in that small evangelical constituency. Huckabee walked away with all the state’s 18 delegates, although he trailed Romney in actual support. He also walked away with John McCain’s gratitude.

If gratitude determines McCain’s choice of a running mate, assuming he goes on to win the nomination, then Mike Huckabee will have to be it. McCain has some important endorsements among the dropouts — notably Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, both old friends — but he really owes them little. Their endorsements, like all such endorsements, matter little except for the sense of momentum. Voters care little about guidance from other politicians. They will make up their own minds, thank you.

But McCain will owe Mike Huckabee a considerable debt for splitting the conservative base of the party and staying beyond his own viability to achieve that objective. Huckabee has refused to criticize McCain throughout the long campaign and occasionally he has offered lavish encomiums to the old POW, even when Chuck Norris, Huckabee’s celebrity sidekick, said McCain at 71 was too old to be president.

Many noted that Huckabee was equally charitable to the other moderate, Giuliani, the early front-runner, although their ideas about almost everything could hardly be more divergent. But our man never shrank from mixing it up with the rock-solid conservative candidates — Thompson, Sam Brownback, Romney and the Texas libertarian Ron Paul.

Political debt, however, is never a sound premise for choosing a running mate. You want someone who will help you win, or at least not lose, and someone who, if you win, will be a wise and loyal counsel and an asset in the domestic and global councils where vice presidents are often consigned. Mike Huckabee has not engendered that kind of confidence since his dramatic victory in the Iowa straw poll in August catapulted him to the top rank of candidates.

Yes, he is strong where McCain is weak. Huckabee speaks effortlessly with grace and occasional eloquence, but in a vice presidential candidate that might only serve to emphasize the struggles of the main candidate, who seems earnest but lost without a script. The governor has not been able to expand his vote-getting power beyond conservative evangelicals, and that 15 percent or so of the American electorate will be solidly with the Republican in November with or without Huckabee.

The Baptist preacher also has made a grievous miscalculation in wrapping himself so unctuously in his pastoral garments and casting himself as God’s anointed candidate for president. It has brought him rapturous followers, but most Americans, including those of powerful faith, do not want church and state so closely entwined. He has said too many things that will bring embarrassment to a ticket that must depend upon wide acceptance. He believes that the literal account of creation from Genesis should be taught in the biology classes in every school in America, alongside scientific theories of the evolution of species.

The courts have said over and over that the Constitution absolutely forbids any specific religious instruction in the public schools, but the vice president thinks the courts ought to be defied? None of the major candidates of either party would give voice to such educational heresy. Given his vengeful religious pronouncements and such notions as creationism, to what countries could Vice President Huckabee be dispatched with confidence to conduct sensitive diplomacy for the United States?

We don’t think Huckabee’s real views about the role of government or the proper relationship between the church and state are really far outside the mainstream — he says, for example, that evolution may well be the process that God used for developing species over eons of time and that it didn’t happen in seven days as the Bible recounts — but his clever employment of churches for political fund-raising and his invocation of God as the motivator of his candidacy give people legitimate cause to wonder. Does he want us to be a theocracy? He badly overplayed his advantage among fundamentalist voters. He needed to be inclusive.

In the month remaining, Huckabee needs to unfold those tightly wrapped clerical robes and demonstrate somehow that his remarkable political gifts can be employed for the perfection of this diverse and multicultural democracy. We believe in miracles, too.

TOP STORY >>Landfill gets hearing

Leader staff writer

There are two weeks left to submit public comments on a proposed Jacksonville landfill expansion that would sit between the city and Sherwood along Hwy. 67/167.

Two Pine, the private waste management that operates the site, has altered its original plans with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the state department that monitors landfills and other potential environmental hazards.

The alteration calls for expanding the landfill’s current location, at the junction of the North Belt Freeway (1-440 and Hwy. 167/67 and the Union Pacific Railroad). This is not the first time Two Pines has filed plans to alter the landfill’s original permit.

“What has been applied for is an expansion to the existing landfill. It will exist across from the I-440 inter change,” engineer supervisor Bryan Leamons said. He and his staff have surveyed the landfill for suitability.

Leamons said no comments have been received by ADEQ. He wouldn’t say if the landfill expansion permit would definitely be approved but said a decision will be based on how the public perceives the proposal. “I couldn’t say,” he said. “(It) depends on comments and responses.”

The department issued a decision last month on the draft permit. A final decision will be made after the comment period ends.

Two Pine has worked on expanding the Jacksonville landfill since 1973. The site was created that year as a dumping ground for Little Rock trash. In August 2006, Two Pine submitted plans to ADEQ to begin expanding the landfill across the North Belt.

The landfill now processes about 152,000 tons — or 458,000 cubic yards — of garbage a year and accepts trash from Jacksonville, Sherwood, Cabot, Conway, rural Pulaski County and as far away as Garland County.

The expansion would increase trash at the landfill to 896,000 cubic yards a year. The projected active life for the landfill would be about 24 years. Interested parties can acquire evidence submitted by Two Pine by calling ADEQ at 501-682-0602.

The expansion permit states that no more than 50 acres could be used for disposal. The landfill currently sits on about 239.5 acres.

Two wetland areas near the site will be affected by the expansion, according to the ADEQ’s permit summary.

A drainage channel that is approximately .2 acres and runs northwest between the current area and the cultivated area at the site would also be affected along with a narrow strip of woods that extends south from the Missouri-Pacific Railroad into the proposed area and comprises 4.7 acres of wetland drainage. More than nine acres of bottomland hardwood forest will adjoin the proposed landfill expansion area.

Wetland mitigation would be directed toward 43 acres of property previously cultivated for soybeans that will be restored to bottomland hardwood forest.

Bayou Meto stream is about a half-mile north of the landfill. Two Pine has augmented surface drainage of the landfill site by a series of drainage ways that channel water to the northwest, discharging into Brushy Island Creek and back into Bayou Meto.

More than 100 Sherwood and Jacksonville residents live within two miles of the dump.Any interested person may submit written comments concerning the draft permit decision.

Comments can be mailed to the Solid Waste Management Division; Arkansas Department of Environmental Equality; 5301 Northshore Drive; North Little Rock, Ark., 72218. Comments can be submitted until Feb.19. Only people who submit comments will have legal standing to appeal ADEQ’s final decision.

TOP STORY > >Mayor wants status of state probe

Leader staff writer

Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson has been cautious with the information he has made public since he fired Police Chief Don Inns in August 2007. But now he says he wants to know the status of the State Police investigation into missing funds. And he wants to know now.

“All we expect is answers,” Robertson said Tuesday during an interview that also included the new police chief and assistant chief. “I understand the prosecutor can only prosecute based on evidence. But six months have passed and we’re receiving heat down here. We’re asking the prosecutor to talk to the State Police and let’s get it done.

“We know there are answers but the State Police have not communicated with the Beebe police or my office,” he said. “Six months have passed and we still don’t know where we stand.”

Prosecutor Chris Raff could not be reached for comment. Bill Sadler, spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, said the case is still open.

Although there were other issues that led to Inn’s firing, the mayor now says candidly that he fired Inns because he did not arrest drug dealers.

Robertson said residents complained to him that drug dealers were operating in their neighborhoods and that the police were doing nothing to stop them. But when he asked Inns to try to buy drugs to build cases against the dealers, Inns said no one was selling.

At the same time, he was hearing from Hal Britt, the investigator in the police department, that Inns wouldn’t give him money to try to buy drugs and that no one but Inns was allowed in the evidence room. In fact, no one but Inns was allowed to work narcotics.

So the mayor bypassed Inns and gave Britt money to try to buy drugs and either prove or disprove what Inns had told him. “Hal got with an informant and made three felony buys the first night out,” Robertson said. In five days, Robertson provided $1,460 for drug buys, enough to build 13 felony cases.

Robertson when he talked to Inns and gave him the names of the dealers, Inns still maintained that he couldn’t find anyone selling drugs in Beebe.

At about the same time, then asstistant Police Chief Wayne Ballew became concerned that Inns was releasing too many prisoners who should have either gone to jail or bonded out. Then just by coincidence, Robertson said he learned about an arrest warrant that Inns had not allowed to be served.

All that led to Inns’ dismissal on Aug. 5. Robertson said the doors were locked at that time on the chief’s office, the evidence room and another office that Inns used for storage.

On Aug. 7, with a state auditor present, the doors were unlocked. Ron Lewis, a police officer with considerable experience in narcotics who had just been hired as assistant chief, taped their first look at the rooms.

In a drawer of Inns’ office were handguns with no information to identify if they had been seized. In the evidence room was a bag of prescription drugs that were presumably evidence in a criminal case, but there was no documentation to identify them as such.

Lewis said they found one envelope containing marijuana that was marked as evidence, but it did not have a case number. They also found case files that were supposed to have evidence but that evidence was nowhere to be found.

Asked if Inns could rightfully say that someone could have tampered with the rooms after he left, all three men said they would be willing to take a polygraph test to prove they hadn’t. Robertson asked the council for reimbursement of his drug-buy money last week and the council unanimously agreed to do so.

He told the council that the investigation into Inns activities includes a $3,925 drug fund, $650 in seized funds and a $150 rebate check made out to the city that Inns cashed but did not give to the city clerk.

Robertson said that during former Mayor Donald Ward’s second term in office, control of all the drug-seized money was taken from the former Clerk-Treasurer Paul Hill and given to Inns. In 2004, the balance in the account was as much as $52,000 he said. When Inns was fired, the money from the account that was turned over to Clerk-Treasurer Carol Crump-Westergren was $400.

TOP STORY > >Wilson: Don’t break law on local funding

Leader senior staff writer

State Sen. Gene Jeffress’ attempt to direct $100,000 to the boys and girls clubs in his home district is déjà vu all over again, according to former state Rep. Mike Wilson of Jacksonville.

Wilson Tuesday wouldn’t rule out returning to court if the state Athletic Commission re-scinds its earlier action splitting the money among all 33 boys and girls clubs, and instead directs the money to the two clubs in Jeffress’ home district.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Wilson said.

Saying that lawmakers’ habit of earmarking funds for pet projects, no matter how worthy, amounted to pork-barrel politics and violated the 14th Amendment of the state Constitution, Wilson sued the state and the general assembly in 2005.
In December, 2006, the state Supreme Court upheld Wilson’s contention.

During the last legislative session, Jeffress directed the money to the state Athletic Commission, hoping it would be passed through to the two clubs in his district.

Now Jeffress, a Louann Dem-ocrat, has asked the commission to rescind its action and make the money available to the clubs in El Dorado and Camden.

“It was a roundabout attempt to direct funds to somebody’s local institution,” Wilson said. “The court won’t stand for that.”
Upon learning of Jeffress’ efforts, Wilson fired off a letter to the Athletic Commission advising it to get an attorney general’s opinion before complying with the senator’s wish. Wilson said he also sent a copy of his letter to Gov. Mike Beebe.

Asked about the timetable for an attorney general’s opinion on the matter, spokesman Gabe Holmstrom said, “They have not submitted a request yet,”

The $100,000 Jeffress directed to the state Athletic Commission was part of the $100 million that state legislators directed in projects during the 2007 session.

Of that, about $55 million was for state highway roadwork, $20 million each for the Senate and the House to appropriate and $5 million for use at the governor’s discretion.

Wilson filed his suit after lawmakers directed $52 million worth of general improvement funds to home district projects such as improvements to roads, highways, senior centers and jails.

Locally, the money for projects he challenged included $190,000 toward the new Esther D. Nixon Library; $50,000 for the Jacksonville Senior Center; $10,000 for the Jacksonville Museum of Military History; $10,000 for the Reed’s Bridge (Civil War) Preservation Society and $10,000 toward the Bigelow library.

State Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, was responsible for much of that money. It was eventually disallowed by the state Supreme Court, which agreed with Wilson’s contention that the GIF appropriations constituted “special and local legislation,” a violation of Amendment 14 of the state Constitution.

Wilson said he supported the projects he challenged, noting that his brother-in-law is Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System, to which the Jacksonville library belongs.

TOP STORY > > Lonoke jail splits JPs on paying for 20 bed expansion

Leader senior staff writer

A member of the Lonoke County Building Committee wants to use 8 percent of the county’s share of the countywide penny sales tax to pay for a new jail, but the committee chairman says it won’t generate enough money and has other ideas. Until a couple of weeks ago, the county was poised to build a 20-bed addition to the existing jail, but the low bid was $595,000, 50 percent more than the court and the architects had estimated.

Quorum court member Lynn Clarke says that the county could raise $200,000 a year to finance a jail construction bond by redirecting about $150,000 a year from the County Road and Bridge Fund and $50,000 a year from the Library Fund. She said that could pay off a $4 million to $4.5 million bond to pay for a new jail to hold 100 to 120 prisoners.

JP Larry Odom, who chairs the committee, says that would only raise enough money to pay the interest on the loan without reducing the principal.

On a per-capita basis, the county and the towns within it share the county sales tax, with the county receiving less than half the total revenue.

From a dedicated millage, the Lonoke County library generates about $800,000 a year, much more than it spends, and could easily forego its 2 percent share of the county sales tax—which is a separate revenue stream, according to Clarke.

The Road and Bridge Department receives 75 percent of the county’s share of the sales tax and Clarke said that County Judge Charlie Troutman said he’d be willing to cut that share to 69 percent to help get a new jail.

Clarke said that all Republican justices except Odom favored the plan and that at least one Democrat, Richard Kyzer did as well.

Asked the effect of transferring 5 percent to 6 percent of the county tax from the road and bridge department, Troutman said the department was “real important to me, but I won’t even miss a stroke.”

That’s because the revenue from the tax has been increasing annually. He said he wasn’t sure if the quorum court had the authority to change the distribution of the tax.

Troutman said it would probably take $300,000 a year to pay the interest and also pay the bond issue off in 25 years or so, more than the $200,000 Clarke is currently talking about. “You have to give her credit, she’s working hard (on this),” Troutman said.

Of the jail in Fordyce, he said it had no bells and whistles and someone would have to supervise a group of Act 309 inmates in its construction, but that it was worth investigating.

He said he’s also considering adding on in the middle of the “U” shaped sheriff’s office and jail, which could be done for as little as $100,000.

“I hope someone has some plans together by the (February 21 meeting),” Troutman said.

The quorum court has the authority to change the way in which the county divides its share of the county sales tax money, Clarke said, but all residents in the county would vote on whether or not to pass a bond issue to construct the jail.

“I’m on my fifth go around on the jail, and really we’re no closer to solving it than when we first started,” Odom said.
County residents voted down a sales-tax increase to build a new jail a couple of years ago, he said.

He said that a $4.5 million bond at 5 percent interest would cost $225,000 a year just to pay the interest.

He said the county does have about $450,000 it could put toward the jail, but that basically there was no money to pay off the rest of the principal and that banks would not be inclined to make such loans. “We haven’t done enough number crunching,” he added.

Odom suggested using inmate labor to build a bare-bones facility to house 140 inmates, with some beds reserved for state or federal prisoners to provide a revenue stream of as much as $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

Odom and Troutman visited just such a jail in Fordyce (Dallas County) in the past couple of weeks. That jail cost about $1.3 million to build in 1999.

He suggested that a 140-bed jail could be built in Lonoke for a little more than $2 million. He said the millage rate could be increased for a couple of years from the current level of 3.5 mills to 5 mills to pay off the loan, then dropped back to just over 3.5 mills to help cover the expense of operating a jail. The millage increase would require a majority of the residents who voted on the issue.

Odom had two other concerns about Clarke’s proposal. He said the north end of the county needed road improvements that would be difficult to pay for if the road-and-bridge fund was being “robbed” to pay for a new jail.

Also, he said, the cities should help pay for a new jail, since they keep inmates in the Lonoke County Jail.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

SPORTS > > Struggling North Pulaski routed at Blytheville for fourth loss in five games

Leader sports editor

The flu bug that has made its way through the North Pulaski roster — it has visited several players twice — couldn’t have come at a worse time in the season.

The Falcons began to fall two weeks ago during a critical road game at Greene County Tech, and they haven’t stopped falling yet. The result has been four losses in five games, the latest one coming on Friday night in an 81-51 shellacking at the hands of Blytheville.

The Falcons, who remain in fifth place in the 5A-East, one game behind Nettleton, were victimized by the torrid shooting of Gabriel Osagie, who scored the Chickasaws’ first 16 points, and finished with 25.

“He was hitting shots from everywhere,” said NP coach Ray Cooper, whose Falcons fell to 4-4 in league play, 11-9 overall. “But our problem was mainly us. We didn’t do a good job of identifying where he was or crowding him.

“And we played with a lack of effort and a lack of intensity in a big game. We knew they’d be up for us after beating them at home.”

That came on Jan. 4 on Kelvin Parker’s buzzer-beating game winner.

The only thing dramatic about this one was the reversal of fortunes for each team. Blytheville (5-2 and tied for second with GCT) jumped out to an 18-12 lead after one, which it expanded to 39-23 at halftime.

“We gave up 20 points a quarter in the game,” Cooper said. “We pretty much let them do what they wanted to do.”

The Falcons were playing without big man Carlos Donley, as well as without Kyron Ware. Both had the flu. Three others p layed, despite sufferingfrom the illness that has plagued many Arkansas’ schools over the past several weeks.

NP had reached the top of the standings at 3-0 before suffering a road setback at Greene County Tech on Jan. 18, followed by two home losses in as many days last week.

The Falcons lost on a last-second shot to first-place Wynne on Jan. 29, then were sluggish in a loss to Nettleton at home the following night.

“We’re looking at it now like we have to win out,” Cooper said. “Anything other than that leaves it in other people’s hands. Every game is like a championship game for us from now on. We have to play that way.”
If any good news came out of the Blytheville game, it is that sharp-shooting Aaron Cooper appears to have broken out of a slump.

Cooper scored only five against Wynne and eight against Nettleton. He poured in 21 on Friday.

But he was the only Falcon in double figures. Daquan Bryant scored eight points and T.J. Green seven.

“We’ve got every other team on the schedule except Blytheville left,” Ray Cooper said. “The other teams all play each other so somebody’s got to lose. We can’t control any of that. We know we’ve got to win.

“We’re very young, but we’re going to have to grow up fast.”

The Lady Falcons got 15 points from Quanita Hale, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the NP girls fell to 3-15 overall, 1-7 in league play.

NP played with the Lady Chicks through the first half, trailing by eight points after one and by 10 at intermission.

“We played hard, and we handled their press really well,” said NP head coach Todd Romaine. “We didn’t turn the ball over much at all.”

Romaine was without Brittney Crutchfield, who not only averages 10 points a game, but is a good defensive player, Romaine said.

“We had several kids sick,” he said. “A lot of people got playing time who don’t play that much. The sickness that’s going around really hurts our rotation.”

SPORTS > > Colverts retire after years helping area youth

Leader sports editor

Larry and Sissy Colvert will be living up in northwest Arkansas before long, enjoying retirement and spending time with family.
Why, then, is Sissy stifling a tear and Larry shaking his head wistfully?

Probably because, however much the two are relishing the opportunity to watch their oldest grandson play baseball for Har-ber High and their youngest one play basketball, they are saying good-bye to something they love.

Larry, 65, and his wife Sissy will be honored on Thursday for their many years of service to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas.

“It’s going to be tough,” says Larry, who retired as a Jacksonville fire fighter in 1987 and has worked full-time at the club ever since. “I’m going to try to enjoy it. I’ve got three grandkids I’m going to watch. I’ve got a three-year-oldgranddaughter that we’re probably going to keep for a little while.”

Sissy, 67, a retired Jacksonville elementary school teacher who has worked as programs director at the club for the past seven years, says quitting is the hardest decision either of them has had to make.
“We put it off and put it off,” she says. “But we knew we needed to do it because of our age.”

Larry Colvert first came to the club as a volunteer athletics director while he was still a fire- fighter. He continued on as AD until unit director George Walker retired in 1994. Larry has been unit director at the Jacksonville branch of the Central Arkansas Boys and Girls Club ever since.

“I’ve been here so long that I’ve got parents coming through here now who came through here as kids when I was here,” Larry says.

Terry Brown, who serves as the current athletic director, would have been one of those kids who came through the doors about the time Larry was coming on board. Brown, 33, hails from Alaska, but has lived in Jacksonville since he was 10 years old. He is going to miss the Colverts a great deal, he says.

“Other than my dad and a few coaches I’ve had, Mister Larry has been one of the most influential men I’ve had in my life,” Brown says. “He showed me how to do a job and do it right. Every day he comes in here and does the job right. And I’ve followed in his footsteps and learned.

“Miss Siss, I would call her the mother of the club. She keeps us all straight.”

The Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club averages 25-30 kids between the ages of six and 18 between the time school lets out and basketball practice starts. Then, the numbers swell to 100-120. During the summer, Larry and Sissy say as many as 130 kids will show up, some for the entire day.

Basketball isn’t necessarily the focal point of the boys and girls club anymore. In fact, Sissy admits they don’t necessarily like to put the emphasis on basketball. But it remains a big draw for the club, which holds league and tournament play from January through mid-March.

“To me, it doesn’t matter how you get them in here, as long as you get them in here and feed them the information you want them to have,” Sissy says. “Once you get them in here for basketball, they’re going to get involved in our programs.”

Those programs, many of which have been instituted over the past year, emphasize personal improvement and development, as well as self-discipline.

“We do programs, honey, we do programs,” Sissy says with a laugh.

Those include Smart Moves, Youth for Unity, Career Launch, Triple Play and Goals for Graduation, among others.

But basketball is a big draw to the club, which, having teamed up with the seven other branches of the Central Arkansas Boys and Girls Club, has enjoyed recent success, including state titles the past two seasons for the 12-under team.

Sissy says the personal satisfaction of working days that “sometimes seem like 24 hours” comes from watching kids come around … or coming back to say hello.

“You see kids that are now in the military, who have been over to Iraq, kids you may have wondered at the time, ‘Is that one going to make it or not?’” she says. “And then they do. And that makes you feel very, very good.”

Larry admits that he is the one that has had to play the bad guy at times.

“Some of them may be glad I’m leaving,” he says with a laugh. “Ever since I was here, I’ve always been the meanie on the block. I’ve always had to say, ‘That’s just the way it is.’”
Brown thinks otherwise.

“I believe the kids are going to miss these two because they know these two people care for them,” he says. “Many a night, Mr. Larry has put kids in his car to take them home, or stayed up here for hours waiting for parents to pick up their kids. Miss Sissy’s done the same thing.”

Sissy says that because of the long hours and the demands, it’s a job “you have to love. You have to laugh at the little things they do, notice the little things they do and the big things they do.
“I was telling someone the other day that kids are very smart. They know when someone cares about them. They have this sense if people are interested in them.”

Terry Toney, who serves as chairman of the board at the Jacksonville branch, has been good friends with Larry for some time and has his own young son who plays basketball at the club. Sissy says it’s a real joy to get to watch Toney’s son play, as well as some of the other kids whose parents she and Larry are close to. But the time has come, she insists.

“We’re ready to watch our own grandkids.”

SPORTS > > Late three-pointer lifts Panthers

Leader sportswriter

Every point in the fourth quarter proved valuable on Friday against Catholic, but none more so than Cabot senior Derek Clarkson’s three-pointer with 36 seconds left in the game that erased the Rockets’ only lead of the second half.

Clarkson’s shot from the right wing off an assist from junior Adam Sterrenberg lifted the Panthers to a dramatic 36-35 home win over Catholic High.

It was an exciting win for the Panthers after a brutal defensive struggle, in which both teams combined for nine points in the final quarter. Clarkson’s shot ended up as the only field goal for Cabot in the final eight minutes, with a free throw by Austin Johnson with 5:41 remaining as the only other Panther point in the last frame.

“I’m proud of our defense,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “They were going to their high post before kicking down to the low block in the third quarter, and that helped them build some momentum. We were able to keep the ball out of their posts’ hands in the fourth quarter.”

It was a 1-3-1 matchup zone that did the trick for the Panthers in the fourth quarter, as well as a few costly turnovers by the Rockets. Catholicpost player Garrett Eukman put the Rockets back in the game with excellent play inside during the third quarter. Eukman went on a run of eight straight points from the 6:24 mark of the third quarter to the 3:55 mark, erasing a 28-20 Cabot lead to tie the game.

The Panthers converted only three field goals in the second half. The Rockets had one final shot, but a drive to the basket by Michael Drake in the final 10 seconds resulted in a turnover and a foul on Drake.

Cabot took possession, and the Rockets continued to foul until reaching the bonus. That sent Johnson to the line with 7.7 seconds left. Johnson missed the front end, and John Ukadike pulled down the board for Catholic. Ukadike got it to Drake for a potential winning shot, but Sterrenberg preserved the win for the Panthers with a steal in the final second.

“I’m proud of Adam and Derek both,” Bridges said. “Adam’s first instinct was to drive it in, but he kicked it out to Derek. We kept plugging away, and we were fortunate enough to get some breaks there at the end.”

Strong inside play allowed the Panthers to control most of the first half. Post player Sam Bates was consistent inside, while Miles Monroe was content to try his luck from the outside. Monroe, the 6-7 junior post, scored on a three-point shot at the 3:28 mark of the first quarter to tie the game at 9-9.

The Rockets focused much of their defensive efforts on Sterrenberg, which allowed John-son and Clarkson to enjoy more looks than normal. Johnson had a number of strong drives to the basket in the first half, and Clarkson’s normal role of assist master to Sterrenberg was somewhat of a reverse affair on Friday.

“They did a great job with their defense on Adam,” Bridges said of the CHS defense. “They face-guarded him all night, and kept him out of the lanes.”

Clarkson and Bates led the Panthers with eight points each. Johnson and Sterrenberg both finished the game with six points. For Catholic, Drake led all scorers with 11 points, while Eukman added 10 points. The win gives Cabot records of 16-7 overall and 5-4 in the 7A-Central Conference.


Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder has been waiting for her bench to show signs of offensive life since the start of the conference season, and is happy to finally feel a pulse. Cabot downed Mt. Saint Mary 57-37 on Friday at Panther Pavilion after trailing most of the first half.

“I felt like we had a lot of people come off the bench and contribute tonight,” Crowder said. “They went out and hit the boards hard and made some really good plays. (Mt. Saint Mary) always plays us really close, but we got a lot of hard play out of a lot of different people tonight.”

The difference for the Belles came in the final minute of the first half, when standout senior post player Lauren Ramsey went down with an ankle injury. Ramsey had contributed only four points for MSM up to that point, but her absence on the boards in the second half proved pivotal.

It took the Lady Panthers more than half the third quarter to catch MSM, but once Stephanie Glover took an inbound assist from Shelby Ashcraft for a goal at the 2:49 mark of the third quarter to tie the game at 26-26, it was all Cabot from there. The Lady Panthers outscored MSM 19-8 in the fourth quarter.
Leah Watts led the Lady Panthers with 12 points. Lauren Walker and Ashcraft each added 10 points, while Jenna Bailey scored nine points and Glover finished with eight. The Lady Panthers are now 16-8 overall and 6-3 in the 7A-Central Conference, which ties them for third place in the league standings with Little Rock Central.

Cabot hosted North Little Rock last night after Leader deadlines, and will play at Central on Friday.

SPORTS > > Devils survive chilly shooting

Leader sports editor

They probably won’t want to send a film of this one to the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., but it was a critical, if not-very-pretty win for Jacksonville on Friday night at The Devils Den.

The Red Devils overcame 25 percent shooting with a 15-rebound performance from Cortrell Eskridge and solid free-throw shooting to beat Marion, 47-38, and remain just a game behind Jonesboro in the 6A-East.

Despite limiting the Patriots to 15-of-46 shooting, Jacksonville head coach Vic Joyner was anything but pleased with his team’s defense. “We struggled to contain the ball,” he said. “We didn’t stay down and we didn’t help with recover de-fense. It was a dismal defensive game.”

In the second half, it was a different story, though. Jacksonville held the Patriots to just 6-of-25 shooting, including 2-of-12 from beyond the arc. With the Red Devils making only three second-half field goals, that, along with 16-of-22 free-throw shooting in the second half, proved the difference.

It was Jacksonville’s third game in five days, but Joyner thought player rotation throughout the week kept fatigue from becoming much of a factor. “We kept them pretty fresh,” he said. “We took it easy in practice on Thursday. It helps playing 10 kids a lot this year. Having those kids come off the bench and play three or four or five minutes was the key to victory.
“Darrius Morant came off the bench and played really well. I look for him to increase his minutes.” Morant had two assists, two points and three rebounds.

Eight Red Devils scored in the game, led by LaQuinton Miles and Cortrell Eskridge, who scored 10 apiece. Jacksonville got only 12 points and seven rebounds from its post — a position that had begun to develop over the past several games. Joyner thought it was a result of Marion’s defensive strategy on Friday. “We know people are going to double down on [Antwan] Lockhart and [Antonio] Roy,” he said. “We’ve got to expect that. We have to make adjustments.”

Adding to the difficulty in the post was Jacksonville’s 2-of-16 shooting from three-point range. Sophomore DeShone McClure struggled from the perimeter and finished with seven points.

The game was close throughout, and Jacksonville led only 32-30 after making only 1-of-12 field goals in the third quarter. Fortunately for the Red Devils, they caught fire at the line in the second half, making 15-of-16 at one point. Two free throws eachby Cortrell Eskridge and Lockhart to start the final period extended the Jacksonville lead to six.

After going 8:15 without a field goal, Jacksonville scored twice in 20 seconds — on a Cortrell Eskridge stickback, and on a fast break bucket by Miles with 5:20 left. Four more free throws grew the lead to 44-32 with 4:12 left, and Jacksonville cruised from there to improve to 10-10 overall, 7-1 in conference play. They remain one game behind Jonesboro.

Lockhart added nine points, five rebounds and a block. Terrell Eskridge grabbed seven rebounds and two steals, while handing out two assists. Miles had six boards, two assists and two blocks. Jacksonville finished with a 40-31 edge on the boards, and committed only 12 turnovers.

“These kids are single-minded,” Joyner said of his team, which won for the seventh time in eight games. “They’re playing to have a chance to win a conference title and win a state title. They know they’ve got a target on their back. “You have to be able to take punches and stay on your feet. And we have a lot of inexperienced kids. This is new for them having teams coming after you with all that passion and intensity.”

The Red Devils visited Searcy last night in a game played after Leader deadlines.


The Lady Red Devils couldn’t have played much better in the first half, nor much worse in the second. Jacksonville lost an 18-point second-half lead in falling to 1-7 in league play.

Twenty-two turnovers after intermission — 33 overall — were just too many to overcome a Marion team that heated up after intermission. The Lady Patriots got 20 points from Jerricka Boykins and 11 from Chance Brown.

The loss negated an outstanding first-half performance by the Lady Devils, who took a 34-16 lead into the locker room after making 14-of-24 shots, as well as a 22-point, 11-rebound, three-block performance by Jessica Lanier.

“Marion went to man-to-man after halftime, and we just don’t have the guards to bring it up against that kind of pressure,” said disappointed Jacksonville head coach Katrina Mimms. “If you play me a zone, I’ve got the plays to run against it. Marion did what they had to do to get back in it.”

Which was to get out of the zone and into a halfcourt pressure man defense.

When Kita Walker scored inside 40 seconds into the second half to extend Jacksonville’s lead to 18 points, it seemed like only the final score was left in doubt. But six Lady Devil turnovers over the next three minutes resulted in a 14-2 Marion run.
Lanier’s putback with 24 seconds left in the third still had Jacksonville with a comfortable 41-32 lead. But Boykins hit one of many crazy Lady Patriot shots on the night, fumbling an inbounds pass on the right wing, then heaving in a three-pointer as the gun went off to close the gap to six heading into the final period.

That was the beginning of a 16-0 run that had Marion up 48-41 midway through the final period. Jacksonville got within four on Lanier’s two free throws with 3:24 left, but never any closer.

“I’m disappointed,” Mimms said. “They’re disappointed. Jessica had a good game, but when you can’t get the ball in to her, there’s not much you can do.”

Marion wasn’t exactly efficient with the basketball, either, coughing it up 29 times. Tyra Terry had eight of Jacksonville’s 19 steals, while Shanita Johnson had six.

Crystal Washington scored 11 points, while Terry added eight and Johnson seven. Johnson also dished out four assists.

Monday, February 04, 2008

OBITUARIES >> 4-12-08


Kenneth “Kenny” Reed, 75, of Austin, was born July 20, 1932 at Bald Knob to Clee and Mary Reed, and he died April 10. He was an Army veteran of the Korean War and worked for First Electric, retiring after 33 years. He was a Baptist, and he loved his wife, kids, grandkids and his cows.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Geneva Reed; brother, Freddie Reed, and two grandsons, Kristopher Johnson and Jack Bundy, III.

He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Barbara Reed; three daughters, Debbye Bundy of Austin, Vicki Dillon and Cindy Reed, both of Cabot; six sons, Matthew Reed of Jacksonville, Jason Reed of Austin, Ricky Wilson of Sherwood, Jeff Reed and his wife Vickie of Tyler, Texas, Doug Wilson and his wife, Cindy, of Cabot, and Keith Reed of Austin; one brother, Jerry Reed and his wife Linda of Salt Lake City; two sisters, Cara (Robert) Bolding and her husband Robert of Hot Springs and Marilyn Sites and her husband Steve of Sheridan; 17 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren, and one sister-in-law, Fern Woodworth of North Little Rock.

Family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 13 at McRae First Baptist Church with burial in Lebanon Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to McRae First Baptist Church, 701 E. Second, McRae, Ark. 72102 or Arkansas Hospice Foundation, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204.


E.R. “Buddy” Boyd, Jr., 61, of Vilonia died April 6 in a one-vehicle crash. He was born in Cabot on Nov. 15, 1946 to Elmer R. Boyd, Sr. and Ruby Ray Boyd Hill.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his stepfather Bill T. Hill. Survivors include his wife of 39 years, Valla Wilson Boyd; a son, Nathan Heath Boyd; a daughter, Vanessa Paige Boyd; a sister, Arlene Boyd, and his grand- puppies Foxy and Zippy.
He graduated from Cabot High School, served in Vietnam as an E6 in the Navy Sea Bees, then continued in contruction work for his remaining years.

His wordly body will be cremated.

A memorial and celebration of his life will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, April 13 at Woodrow Church of Christ on Hwy. 319 E. in Vilonia. He would have requested that memorials be made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital or to the Woodrow Church of Christ in Vilonia. Cremation arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.


Sherman Leroy (Cotton) Price, 67, of Beebe passed away April 9. Cotton was a truck driver most of his life and never met a stranger. He was preceded in death by his parents, Haskell and Louise Price and second wife Helen Jo Price.

He is survived by three children, Diana Petray of Austin; Angela Russell of Jacksonville and Dennis Price of Fairview, Okla.; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; two brothers, Bennie Price of Beebe and Jerry Price of Knoxville, Tenn.

Funeral is 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12 at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Weir Cemetery.


Nellie Marie (Melton) Winingar, 98, of Beebe, passed away April 9. Nellie was the oldest of nine children and the only daughter.

She mothered her eight brothers and kept mothering her entire life. She was a great prayer warrior and left her family a legacy of faith. Her greatest joy in life was her Savior Jesus Christ and her family.

She is survived by her three sons, Johnny and wife Ruth Winingar, of Imperial, Mo.; Pastor Glenn and wife Joyce Winingar of Little Rock; Larry and wife Carla Winingar of St. James, Mo.; one daugther, Joyce and husband Pastor Jim Ballew of Lonoke; two brothers Johnny Winingar of Valrico, Fla.; and R.D. and wife Tommie Melton of Imperial, Mo; 14 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, John Arthur Winingar; two daughters, Lavada Winingar and Lavida Miller, and six siblings, Fred, Leslie, Frank, Leroy, Edward and Lewis Melton.

The funeral was April 11 at Beebe First Assembly of God with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe. Memorials may be made in Nellie’s name to Feed the Children,


Mildred Chloe Newby, 87, of Jacksonville passed away April 9 in Jacksonville. She was born July 27, 1920 in England, Ark., to the late Ruben and Tennie Childress Carter. She was employed with Wal-Mart for more than five years before retiring. She was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Little Rock. Newby was preceded in death by four brothers and a sister.

She is survived by two sons and daughters-in-law, Jim and Peggy Duvall of Benton, La., Terry and Linda Duvall of Flower Mound, Texas; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; one great- great-grandson; two sisters, Doris Wooley of Little Rock, Mary Leon of California; and very special friends, Frank and Ann Ghegan of Jacksonville.

Graveside services will be 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12 at Mt. Olive Cemetery in Bauxite with Rev. Jerold Posey officiating. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Betty L. Harvey Lambert, 63 of Jacksonville passed away Tuesday, April 8 in Little Rock after a long battle with cancer.

She was born May 5, 1944 in Hazen to the late Fred and Mirtie Reese Harvey. She was a member of Berea Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Lambert was preceded in death by four sisters, Joy Mathers, Dorothy Kirkpatrick, Ruby Morris, and Geneva McDaniel; three brothers, Steve Harvey, Ronnie Harvey and Johnny Harvey. Betty was a devoted mother, grandmother, sister and friend.

She is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law Stacey and Randy Besancon Jr. of Cabot, Debra and Greg Her-lacher of Jacksonville; son and daughter-in-law, Billy and Teresa Brand of Vilonia; six grandchildren, Averi Besancon, Christopher and Dustin Pannell, Crystal and Billie Jene Brand, Trisha Brand; six great- grandchildren, Ayden Pannell, Autumn Palmer, Brian Denton, Sean Brand, Kristin and Shelby Gideon; four brothers, Bobby Harvey, R.C. Harvey, Gary Harvey and Jerry Harvey.

Graveside services were April 11 at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Shanon Michael Reed, 28, of Beebe was born in Patterson, Calif., to Deborah Tammen and Michael Reed on September 14, 1979, but his daddy brought him to Texas as soon as he could. He departed this Earth on April 7.

Reed was a country boy and a simple, old-fashioned man. He often said that he was born a hundred years too late. He grew up in Texas and was a true Texan in his heart. He was a fantastic carpenter, a good mechanic and a great cook. He loved
fishing, hunting and tinkering with old vehicles.

He was preceded in death by his father, Michael Reed and his stepfather, Stephen Romero.

He is survived by his fiancé of over six years, Monica McDaniel; his children, Cole Reed, Caitlin Reed, Michael Reed, Chassidy Reed and Christian Mangan; as well as his mother, Deborah Reed; sisters, Samantha Bryant and Lindsey Reed; stepbrothers, Jacob and Edward Romero; seven nieces and seven nephews. He will never be forgotten and he will always be loved. Funeral was April 10 at Westbrook Funeral Home.


Samuel Richard Chamberlain, IV, newborn infant of Samuel Chamberlain, III and Kristin Frazier of Cabot, died April 5.

He is survived by his parents; one sister, Kylie Frazier; grandparents, Samuel Chamber-lain, Jr. and wife Bernie of Austin, and James Frazier and wife Janice of Ward; great-grandparents, Samuel Chamberlain, Sr. of Vilonia, Barbara Hartman of Walnut Port, Penn., Frank and Aggie Nemeth of Easton, Penn.; aunts, Shanna Chamberlain of Laredo, Texas, and Tammy Frazier of Cabot.

Funeral services were held April 10 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.


Kenneth Wilson, 63, of Cabot passed away April 5 in North Little Rock. He was born April 10, 1944 in Cabot to the late Shelton and Lillian Carmichael Wilson.

On July 3, 1964, he married Levetta Barker. For six years, he served in the Arkansas National Guard. Before retiring, he worked for Gate’s Petroleum in Jacksonville. He enjoyed hunting and fishing.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Levetta; his children, Sherry Ward, Keith Wilson, Teresa Hunt, Tracy Hillis, Jay Wilson and Amy Ringgold; 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; brothers and sisters, Nancy Scott, Harold “Doc” and wife Judy Wilson, Linda McKay, Evelyn and husband Emmett Yountz, James “Buzzy” and wife Ginger Wilson and Carolyn and husband Rick Graham, and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Shelton Wilson, Jr. and Johnny Wilson.

Funeral services were April 8 at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Interment followed at Sumner Cemetery in Cabot.

Memorials may be made to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commis-sion or Zion Hill Baptist Church. Arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home