Friday, April 18, 2008

TOP STORY > >Council sees where county tax dollars go

Leader staff writer

Seventy-five cents of every county tax dollar paid by Jacksonville residents goes to the county school system, according to the County Treasurer Debra Buckner.

Buckner told aldermen at Jacksonville’s City Council meeting Thursday night that she was on “a public-information mission.”

“I’m finding when I visit groups and organizations throughout the county they all want to know why we have a county treasurer and where does their tax dollar go,” Buckner said.

She said the county has eight cities, plus the unincorporated area, each with different millage rates. “The taxes are not a cookie-cutter situation,” she said.

For example, Buckner said the amount that goes to public schools varies from about 64 cents to 80 cents out of every tax dollar, depending where in the county someone lives.

In Jacksonville, she said 75.7 percent of every tax dollar goes to public schools. “I know that’s a sensitive issue in Jacksonville,” she added.

Buckner said that 5.4 percent goes to roads, 3.7 percent to the fire and police pension, 4.8 percent to the library system and 1.1 percent to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “It was the county’s indigent hospital before it became Children’s. A lot of people don’t know that,” Buckner said.

Add all that up, she said, and that leaves 9 percent of every county tax dollar from Jacksonville going to county services.

“Things like the coroner, sanitation and the county jail,” Buckner said.

Mayor Tommy Swaim added that no portion of the county tax dollar goes to Jacksonville.

She told the council that as treasurer she serves 350,000 customers. “They are not taxpayers, but customers, and we work hard on our customer service,” she said.

Buckner said she is currently pushing information on two issues: A growing number of 100 percent disabled and the Homestead Credit Act.

She said the county currently has about 2,000 veterans who are 100 percent disabled. “It’s a growing population and they are getting younger,” she said. “What they don’t often realize is that they are tax exempt. It involves a fair amount of paperwork and it’s our goal to help with the paperwork in any way possible. We want to work with these disabled veterans and their families in any way possible.”

“Yes, we are here to collect taxes, but if someone is exempt we want to exempt them,” Buckner added.

She also said more and more residents are turning 65 and the Homestead Credit Act, enacted in 2001, allows residents turning 65 to freeze the value of their homes. “This could save them quite a bit of money,” she said. The same act also gives homeowners a $350 credit on their property tax, but the residents have to ask for it and fill out some paperwork.

In other council business:

Aldermen approved to spend $47,500 for new carpeting for the community center.

The council approved a resolution supporting the parks and recreation department’s efforts to obtain a federal grant for walking trails in Stonewall Park. The city will provide a 20 percent match to whatever amount is received through the federal grant.

“This is a grant we previously applied for,” the mayor said. “We made changes to the grant proposal to correct some drainage problems,” he explained.

TOP STORY > >Mayors suggest ambulance plan

Leader staff writer

When Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams attended the Thursday meeting of the Lonoke County Quorum Court he asked for support for a county-wide ambulance service and got what he asked for.

“Do you think it’s a good idea? Would it benefit the county and would you support the concept?” Williams asked. “If we don’t have the backing of the quorum court, it won’t work.”

Justice of the Peace Mike Dolan from England answered for the group.

“There’s safety in numbers,” Dolan said. “It can’t hurt to look into it. I think we are all in consensus to go ahead.”

Also attending the meeting were Ward Mayor Art Brooke, England Mayor Danny Maynard and Humnoke Mayor Bill Morris.

For now, one ambulance service for the entire county is only a concept that grew out of the mayors’ meetings that Williams asked for shortly after he took office in 2007. Williams told the quorum court that a number of possibilities had been discussed by the mayors.

In Pulaski and Faulkner counties, Metropolitan Emergency Medical Service (MEMS) provides ambulance service.

Cabot also uses MEMS but this year the city must pay a $50,000 subsidy to keep the service. Lonoke used MEMS but could not pay the requested $87,000 subsidy. Now Southern Paramedic Service from Brinkley responds to 911 calls.

England uses Emergency Ambulance Service based in Pine Bluff and when 911 calls go out in Humnoke, an ambulance is sent from England.

Ward uses Allied which also serves Austin and the Mountain Springs and CS&Z fire districts.

The approval from the quorum court was for the mayors to keep looking at ways to consolidate so that even the most rural areas have access to emergency medical care.

Williams said so far the mayors have discussed the possibility of a county-owned ambulance service controlled by a board representing the whole county.

TOP STORY > >Cabot approves sewer contract

Leader staff writer

Over the objections of Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission Wednesday night awarded a Little Rock company a $1.5 million contract for a 36-inch diameter sewer line that will extend from the new treatment plant off Kerr Station Road to Locust Street in the downtown area.

The pipe will replace an eight-inch concrete pipe that has crumbled over time and allows rainwater to get into the sewer system.

Williams attended the meeting to voice his concern that the commission was awarding the contract to a company that did substandard work on a street in the Kensington subdivision now being built inside Greystone. The mayor, however, has no authority over Cabot’s independent water and wastewater commission.

The special meeting of the commission was called to allow Williams and Mike Persons, owner of Kajacs Construction, to address that issue.

The mayor said he was in the subdivision and overheard a truck driver for Rogers Group, the subcontractor laying the asphalt say to another driver, “You’re not going to believe this, but they’re pouring asphalt over mud.”

Kajacs Construction had the contract to lay the streets but had subcontracted the work, Persons said, and asked subcontractor Jeff Smith to explain what had happened.

Smith said that although he could provide documentation that the street had passed compaction tests, when the asphalt trucks started rolling over them, water started coming up.

After the city ordered the paving stopped, the street was ripped out and more drains were added. And it is now ready to be paved again, Smith said.

Persons said his son was part owner in the subdivision and he did the work to help him. Persons told the mayor that his son decided last summer when it was dry that part of the drains could be left out to save money.

“He didn’t consider what would happen with winter rain,” Persons said, adding, “He has a lot to learn.”

Kajacs Construction’s $1.5 million bid was the lowest of five the commission received. The next lowest, $1.6 million, came from S&J Construction of Jacksonville.

Bill Cypert, commission secretary, said in awarding the contract, all the commission had to consider was whether the company would be able to complete the project.

Persons assured the mayor and commission that his company does good work and that they have worked on jobs much larger than the sewer line in Cabot.

“We really try to do a good job and most engineers will tell you we stay longer than we need to to get it done,” he said.

The project will be engineered and overseen by Crist Engineering of Little Rock.

The project will be built with the same bond money that built the $15 million sewer plant that went into operation in December. Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said the city is now inspecting smaller lines in the older part of town to determine which ones will be replaced with the remaining $1 million in bond money.

Joyner said the hope is that 20 percent of the city’s infiltration problems will be remedied by replacing the worst small lines in the collection system and by replacing the eight-inch main line with one 36-inch main.

TOP STORY > >High school damage set at $75,000 from storm

Leader staff writer

Cabot High School sustained $75,000 in tornado damage during the April 3 storms, Superintendent Tony Thurman announced at Tuesday night’s Cabot School Board meeting. Part of the roof was torn off, windows were blown out and some awnings around the high school campus were destroyed.

He and the board expressed their thanks to the district’s custodial and maintenance staff for getting the mess cleaned up in record time.

The district is still working to rebuild Junior High North, which was destroyed by a fire last year. Assistant Superintendent Jim Dalton reported the concrete block work on Junior High North has begun and the red steel continues to go up.

The board also began the first steps in helping fund three future building projects by signing partnership resolutions to have the state help pay some of the construction costs of new science labs at Junior High South, building a permanent charter school facility and installing heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units in 10 campus kitchens.

Beyond construction news, the majority of Tuesday’s Cabot School Board meeting was spent recognizing the achievements of several graduating seniors who have received honors throughout the state.

Five seniors were recognized for earning the University of Arkansas’ top scholarship; math whizzes were recognized for dominating a regional math competition and earning an invitation to the April 26 state competition; and 10 teachers were recognized for being Cabot Panther Education Foundation grant winners.

Seniors David Myers, Seth Williams, Jason Haynes, Jackson Spradley and Laura Neumann were granted the top scholarship U of A awards, a UA Fellowship valued at about $100,000. The Fellowship takes care of full tuition for four years, including study abroad, and has a technology allowance; other scholarships can also be stacked on top of the fellowship.

In the past, only one or two Cabot High School students have earned a U of A Fellowship, but this year, all five that interviewed were granted scholarships, adviser Jana Smith said.

The five also earned the Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship, $10,000 a year for four years, and are also National Merit finalists.

Haynes is also a semi-finalist for a U.S. Presidential Scholar, Cabot High School Principal Zanya Clarkson said. “He and two Central High boys will compete for one selected from Arkansas to go to Washington, D.C. and be recognized by President Bush,” she said.

Spradley is also an Arkansas Times’ Academic All-Star, Clarkson said.

During the March 8 Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics regional competition, Cabot students received 15 of the 21 awards and were invited to the state competition April 26.

The group swept the Algebra II competition, taking every award in the competition; the closest score was the student scoring 23rd place. First place went to Annie Tang, second place was Spencer Sharp, third place was Grace Coggins, and honorable mention went to Whitley Blaeuer, Justin Blankenship, Samantha Hampton and Karston Powers.

In the geometry competition, Katie Vandruff received third place. In the pre-calculus/trigonometry competition, third place went to Heather Yoon and honorable mention went to Daniel Davis, Marissa de la Paz and Lindsey Hoggatt.

In the calculus competition, second place was Aaron Cantrell, third place was Jason Haynes, and honorable mention went to K.C. Thompson.

Out of 35 applications representing every school in the Cabot district, 10 were chosen as recipients of a $1,000 technology grant from the Cabot Panther Education Foundation.

Recipients were Mandee Carmical from CHS, Debra Daugherty from Junior High North, Ahna Davis and Cat Mince from CHS, Mary Emily Gober from both Middle School South and Middle School North, Jamie Layes from Junior High South, Christy Lyons from Stagecoach Elementary, Danita Pitts from MSN, Bethany Rees from MSN, Jill Weir from MSN and Melissa Wilson from Southside Elementary.

The winning applications were chosen based on three criteria - the purpose of the project, the activities to be conducted with the students and the level of student engagement.

In other school board business, the Panther Education Foundation announced it will hold a golf tournament May 5 at Greystone Country Club. Board member Jim Coy said they were still looking for teams of four to play; 25 teams have already signed up but there is room for 33 foursomes.

Cost to play is $100 per person and $400 for a foursome. Proceeds go to help enhance the quality of education within the Cabot district.

TOP STORY > >Cabot council could increase impact fee

Leader staff writer

A special committee will recommend to the Cabot City Council on Monday night that the impact fee on new construction should increase to the next scheduled level. But the committee will also recommend that wastewater’s part of the fee should be taken out and that no other increases should be allowed for 24 months during which the council would have to decide if the impact fee will stay, or if there is a better way to pay for the costs of a growing population.

In November 2007, the city council approved a six-month moratorium on collection of the impact fee to see if it would revive the declining building industry. The fear was that builders were moving to other areas like Ward and Austin which are inside the Cabot School District but don’t have the impact fee.

If the council approves reinstating the impact fee with wastewater included, the fee on a 3,000-3,900-square-foot house will increase from $1,272 to $2,196. Alderman Tom Arm-strong, who was on the council in 2006 and was the only member to vote against the fee, still doesn’t want it. “If we don’t abolish this, we’re cutting our nose off to spite our face,” he said when the council approved the moratorium.

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 Cham-berlain estimates her city’s population at 1,800, triple the number from the 2000 census.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams says the city is still growing. For a time there were hundreds of homes on the market, but that number has dwindled and now more building permits are being issued. Nineteen permits were issued in February and April has seen an average of one a day, he said.

TOP STORY > >Decision frustrates backers of district

Leader senior staff writer

Supporters of a standalone Jacksonville-area school district say they are disappointed but not discouraged that the Pulaski County Special School District Board turned thumbs down Tuesday on a resolution that would have endorsed a Jacksonville district and would have asked the state Education Department to create one. (See editorial, p. 6A)

One Jacksonville school board member, Bill Vasquez, says that a Jacksonville resolution in support of a district could hinge on where Gravel Ridge students, whose community was recently annexed into Sherwood, will go to school.

Vasquez said he suspected that once unitary status was granted, Sherwood would like to have its own school district and that is the impetus behind Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman’s desire to have students from the recently annexed Gravel Ridge area not be included in the attendance zone for a Jacksonville district.

Hillman told the board Tuesday night that those students in the annexed area should attend school in Sherwood. Sherwood schools are part of the Pulaski County Special School District.

“We’re not trying to hinder what they are doing at all,” Hillman said on attempts to make Jacksonville a standalone district. “But one of those schools is 100 feet from our city limits.”

She said the Gravel Ridge area residents need to be asked if they want to attend Jacksonville schools.

As for Sherwood having its own district, she said she knew there had been talk of that in the past, but said, “We’d be wise to observe how (Jacksonville’s detachment) goes.”

Vasquez said he didn’t think the PCSSD Board would vote to let Jacksonville form its own district, but Jacksonville attorney Ben Rice, one of the crafter’s of Tuesday’s resolution, said that if school board president Charlie Wood could be convinced that Gravel Ridge area residents would like to be in a Jacksonville district rather than PCSSD, there would be enough votes to approve a resolution asking the state to create it.

“If the county isn’t going to change and administrate (Jacksonville schools) effectively, they should turn them over to us,” Vasquez said.

By a four-to-two vote, the board rejected the resolution crafted by Rice and Reedie Ray, a Jacksonville alderman.

PCSSD must first be declared unitary, that is, desegregated and to be released from the desegregation agreement and federal court oversight.

Proponents say the district is unitary in student assignment, which they consider the most important factor, and thus should be declared unitary.

Rice’s resolution is a recent de-velopment and its defeat has no bearing on existing efforts toward a Jacksonville district.

In 2003, those wanting to detach Jacksonville-area schools from PCSSD successfully petitioned the state Board of Education to allow a special election on the issue.

PCSSD, in an attempt to block that vote and possible loss of Jacksonville students and money, successfully sued in Federal District Court, saying the PCSSD was not unitary and thus Jacksonville could not have its own school.

Now, PCSSD has petitioned the same judge, Bill Wilson, for a declaration of unitary status. Wilson said he would not rule until the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis settled a similar matter involving Little Rock’s unitary status.

State Rep. Will Bond, like his mother Pat Bond before him, supports a Jacksonville district, and during his tenure had language and legislation approved to study the issue, to require the districts to apply for unitary status, for the state to help pay legal expenses in seeking unitary status and to phase out over several years the $60 million a year the three districts get to implement the desegregation agreement.

“It’s complicated,” representative Will Bond said Thursday. There could be four routes to get a standalone district:

The existing detachment statute would allow creation of a new district from an old one by petition and a vote, which is what proponents tried in 2003 but were sued by PCSSD.

The same statute allows for detachment by agreement of the local school board, which is what Rice and Ray were attempting Tuesday.

Within the desegregation bill approved in 2007 and amended in the special session this year, the state Education Department could itself create a Jacksonville district once the districts are declared unitary. That’s provided that the state can reach a settlement agreement with the North Little Rock and Pulaski County school districts.

Or the state itself, which controls the existence of political subdivisions like school districts, has the inherently recognized power to create the district.

“I think all the factors weigh in our favor. The district will be better off without us … in better shape to address their own facilities’ needs. It’s going to cost money to fix our facilities. How do we best deliver a great educational product to our kids?

PCSSD doesn’t do a very good job on facilities, retention and recruitment. PCSSD includes too many facilities to function efficiently,” Bond said.

Bond said that it was still financially feasible for Jacksonville to support its own district, even if Gravel Ridge’s Cato Elementary and Northwood Middle School remain in PCSSD.

“It’s a technical issue, not a make or break issue,” Bond said.

“I think we’ll see release (from the desegregation agreement) by the end of the year,” said Vasquez, who represents most of

Jacksonville on the school board. “From our perspective, it can’t happen soon enough.

“Jacksonville will have its own district in short order,” he said.

“Citizens of Jacksonville ought to keep their spirits up, come to the meetings, get on the mics and be vocal,” he said.

Vasquez said the administration has not offered any leadership in getting the district declared unitary.

“We’ve been held hostage (to desegregation rulings and agreements) for 30 years,” he said.

“There have been no proposals from the district,” Vasquez said. “We’ve had paralysis by analysis.”

EDITORIAL >>Another Huck PAC

Mike Huckabee is most predictable when he sets out to surprise. The former governor and presidential candidate spawned a small frenzy of speculation when he revealed that he would have a dramatic announcement on Tax Day, April 15. His campaign Web site featured a doomsday clock ticking down to the fateful day.

Would John McCain tap him as his running mate on that day? Would he lead a tax revolt? Would he head a new evangelical movement, host a cable talk show? Bloggers had a field day.

But then came the announcement. Sigh. Mike Huckabee is starting still another political action committee to raise funds to elect conservatives. Nothing could have been more predictable.

It is called the Huck Political Action Committee, or Huck PAC.

Here is the governor’s explanation on the Huck PAC Web site: “Huck PAC is founded on the principles that make America great: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

People are asked to contribute money to the PAC and he will spend it to support Republican candidates around the country who he thinks will advocate tax reform, a strong national defense, border security, life, the family, less government and individual liberty.

One of them will be John McCain.

Does that sound familiar?

In 1994, while he was Arkansas lieutenant governor, Huckabee started Hope for America, which was supposed to support conservative causes. In its 2 ½ year life, Hope for America raised some $65,000, much of it from cigarette companies, and spent it on . . . Mike Huckabee.

In 2006, he formed Hope for America, a political action committee that would support conservative candidates for political office. Almost none of it went to political candidates, unless you count Huckabee himself, who was gearing up to run for president.

Something tells us Huck PAC will be no different.

EDITORIAL >>City needs good news

Jacksonville could use a bit of good news right now after taking a triple whammy in recent weeks: Losing the Gravel Ridge annexation fight to Sherwood, seeing a second landfill about to go up along Hwy. 67/167 and I -440, and taking a battering at Tuesday’s Pulaski County Special County School Board meeting, where a proposed separate Jacksonville school district was voted down after a couple of board members switched sides. Only Bill Vasquez, the sole board member from Jacksonville, and Danny Gilliland voted for the separation.

School board president Charlie Wood of Sherwood, who the week before had told a Jacksonville Cham-ber of Commerce luncheon that he supported a Jacksonville district, flipped on the issue after folks in Sherwood reminded him they didn’t like the idea of Gravel Ridge joining the proposed district since the area is being annexed into Sherwood.

Gravel Ridge was supposed to be part of the Jacksonville-area school district, but now Sherwood insists it would make more sense for Gravel Ridge children to keep attending PCSSD since these two communities have merged.

Jacksonville’s bid to separate from PCSSD is not only facing hostility from the board and skepticism from a federal judiciary that has never been enthusiastic about such an effort, but Sherwood’s entry into the fray could muddy Jacksonville’s chances even further.

The loss of Gravel Ridge complicates plans for a Jacksonville district since that rural community would have brought additional students into the new district and made it more self-sufficient and more likely to win approval from a federal judge, who previously rejected the idea. He still needs a lot of persuading.

Judge Bill Wilson will not decide until after an appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis on PCSSD’s unitary status — on whether it’s been desegregated — which could open the door for a Jacksonville district.

At least three local lawyers are working to establish a Jacksonville district.

Local residents have long felt that the district has ignored their needs — a new school hasn’t been built in the city in 30 years — and you could sense their bitterness when Jacksonville banker Mark Wilson addressed the board after it rejected an independent distict.

He said his son deserved to attend good schools in his home town. “Under the Pulaski County School District, there’s not much chance of that,” he told the board. “You are killing our town slowly, day by day. This district is an ineffective bureaucracy.”

Still, there is some good news in Jacksonville after all: Little Rock Air Force Base is thriving and will get a new private contractor who will rebuild and operate base housing. A new joint education complex will go up next year outside the base with funding from both the city and the military.

The other good news is that Jacksonville was spared serious damage from this month’s storms, which hit Sherwood and Gravel Ridge pretty hard.

So maybe somebody is watching over Jacksonville after all.

SPORTS >>Falcons weather tough week on diamond

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski’s return to Falcon Field at Dupree Park against Greene County Tech on Thursday capped off a trying week for the Falcons’ bid to reach the 5A state playoffs. The week started with 15-4 and 9-1 losses at Paragould on Tuesday, and the Eagles added to the Falcons’ loss column with a pair of 12-2 decisions on Thursday.

A number of Falcon errors allowed defending state champs GCT to control both games. It wasthe first game at the Falcons’ home field in over a month and, according to NP coach Robbie Walker, the lack of practice showed.

“This year, I thought defense would be our strong point,” Walker said. “But we’re making way too many errors. We’ve been giving people six and seven outs an inning, and you can’t win very many games giving people that many chances in an inning.”

The recent storms through the area have been unkind to everyone, but flooding on the Falcons’ field, combined with damage to the auxiliary gymnasium where they normally practice hitting, has limited practice across the board.

“This was the first game we’ve played on our field in over a month,” Walker said. “Yesterday, we finally got to practice on it, so it had been four weeks since we actually got to get out on our field to practice.

“We had a couple of home games that we changed to go on the road, so at least we were able to get some games in.”

Despite the layoff, North Pulaski had moments of strong offense during Game 1 against Paragould on Tuesday.

A three-run home run by senior Jahmal Calvin in the top of the third inning drove in A.J. Allen and Chris Williams. Dustin Terry plated the final run for the Falcons later in the inning after reaching on a single.

The only highlight in the nightcap came on Allen’s RBI that brought home Terry.

Allen was also in the mix offensively on Thursday. The Falcons’ leadoff batter walked in the top of the third inning, and scored off a GCT error on a bunt by Zach Roman. Allen then got the only other RBI for the game, driving home Marshall Shipley in the bottom of the third inning. Shipley reached on a double to set up the second NP score.

The second game featured more of the same. Allen led off the game with a single, and scored when senior Shaun Rase drove him in.

The Falcons added one more run the following inning when Roman singled, and eventually came around to score on Terry’s RBI.

If lack of practice weren’t enough, Walker said that the depth of the 5A-East Conference hasn’t been much kinder to his young squad.

“Our conference is very strong,” Walker said. “It’s probably one of the strongest baseball conferences in the state. Last year, Tech finished fourth in our conference and won state. That just shows how tough our conference is from top to bottom.”

The Falcons are now 5-11 overall, 1-7 in the 5A-East Conference.

SPORTS >>Lady Devils pick up critical sweep of doubleheader

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville made the most of its first 6A-East Conference doubleheader at Forrest City on Tuesday. The Lady Red Devils improved to 5-2 in league play with a sweep of the Lady Mustangs. Jacksonville took Game 1, 8-1, off big hits by Jennifer Bock, Taylor Norsworthy and Paula Burr, and sophomore pitcher Jessica Lanier continued her dominant performance on the mound on the way to a 10-4 win in the nightcap.

Lanier was even better in game one, allowing only two hits while striking out 12. She collected eight more strikeouts in game two, and also surrendered just two hits.

FC’s hurler Marlowe was not as fortunate on the night, giving up 20 total hits and striking out only five on her way to collecting the pair of losses.

Sophomore shortstop Bailee Herlacher was 3 of 3 in the first game, while Bock was 3 of 4 with a game-high three RBI.

Norsworthy also drove home two with her 2 of 4 performance, but it was Burr’s triple and home run in a 2 of 4 showing that highlighted the Lady Devils’ night at the plate. Burr drove in two runs.

Along with taking the win, Lanier added one of the 12 Jacksonville hits in the opener, with another hit coming from starting catcher Alexis Oakley.

Lanier was working on a no-hitter until the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Lady Mustangs collected both of their hits and their only score.

Forrest City took the early advantage in game two courtesy of two Lady Devils’ errors. The Lady Mustangs brought in two runs with some aggressive base running to take the lead in the top of the first, but Jacksonville answered one of those scores in the bottom half to cut the score in half.

It wasn’t until the bottom of the third when the Lady Red Devils were able to tie the game, but the following frame was the decider. They had three hits in the fourth inning, but it was a series of FC errors that allowed them to break the game open.

The Lady Mustangs scored two more off Lanier before game’s end, but it was not enough. Jacksonville protected its lead in the late going to earn the sweep.

Herlacher and Bock each finished 2 of 4, while Lanier was 2 of 3. Burr and Brandi Holder earned the other two hits for the Lady Red Devils.

The Lady Red Devils improved to 7-3 overall for the season.

SPORTS >>Short-handed Panthers fall to Wildcats

Leader sports editor

Shorthanded is the last way you want to take on one of the league’s top teams.

But that’s what Cabot faced on Tuesday afternoon when it hosted North Little Rock. The Panthers, without shortstop and pitcher Matt Evans and top pitcher Sam Bates, hung tough with the Charging Wildcats, but costly errors led to five unearned runs, and North Little Rock prevailed, 6-3.

“You know, it makes you think maybe we’re up 3-2 going into the seventh inning,” said Cabot head coach Jay Fitch, noting the five errors his Panthers (2-4 in the7A Central) committed. “Tonight is a night you’d like to be full strength, but it just didn’t happen that way.”

Evans broke his nose on Monday when a bad-hop grounder hit him in the face, while Bates was away at a funeral on Tuesday.

That sent little-used hurler Chad Bryant to the mound, and he mostly acquitted himself well. He didn’t strike out anyone, but he walked only one and all five of the runs he surrendered were unearned. He allowed nine hits.

“Chad threw strikes and gave us a chance to win,” Fitch said.

But, other than an impressive two-strike, two-out single by Ben Wainright in the third and Trey Rosel’s two-out single in the fourth, the Panthers struggled against NLR ace Kyle Thompson. Cabot managed only five hits, and struck out 12 times against the hard-throwing right-hander.

“He’s really good and my hat’s off to him,” Fitch said of Thompson. “He’s a tough kid, and he’s always around the zone. He’s not going to beat himself, and he has plus-stuff. I don’t know if he’s signed with anyone yet, but he’ll be playing somewhere next year.”

North Little Rock touched Bryant for two runs in the second inning, which is when Wildcat coach Randy Sandefur’s day came to an end. Sandefur was upset over three rulings in the first two innings — one when the home plate umpire ruled umpire interference after he became entangled with catcher Wainright on a wild pitch. The Wildcat runner who appeared to score from third on the play was sent back to third base.

On two different occasions when Wildcat batters were hit with pitches, the same umpire ruled that the hitters had not made an earnest attempt to get out of the way and were not awarded first base. The second of those two instances proved too much for Sandefur and he was tossed from the game.

“Coach Sandefur is a good coach, but he’s been known to get a little heated at times,” Fitch said. “I knew when he came out there the last time that was probably going to be it for him. That call is a little subjective at times and those were borderline. We may have got a break, but that’s the way he interpreted it.”

Bryant looked as though he might escape a leadoff single in the second, but a two-out error kept the inning alive, and a walk and two infield singles staked NLR to a 2-0 lead.

Cabot knotted things with a fine piece of hitting by Wainright in the second. It all began with two outs when Powell Bryant singled and Jeremy Wilson reached on an error. After Drew Burks drew a walk to load the bases, Wainright faced an 0-2 count.

But he was able to send a hard grounder through the hole at short to tie the game.

“That was a clutch hit for us,” Fitch said. “[Wainright has] really been coming on for us defensively and at the plate. I’ve been really proud of him.”

A two-out error in the fourth inning, though, allowed the Wildcats to take the lead for good as three more unearned runs came across. The Panthers got one of those back when Rosel’s two-out single to center brought home Jackson Chism. Another error set up North Little Rock’s sixth run, which came across on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Thompson got better as the game progressed. The only Cabot base runner after the fourth inning came on a wild pitch strikeout in the seventh.

Josh Brown relieved Bryant in the fifth and was masterful. He pitched 2 1/3 innings of hitless ball, striking out one and walking one.

North Little Rock finished with nine hits and one error, while Cabot had five hits and five errors.

Powell Bryant led Cabot with two hits.

“He got off to a great start, and he’s really coming on again,” Fitch said. “He’s just a great athlete. He runs well, he has a good arm and he’s hitting it well. We really needed to get him going.”

Fitch figures the race for the final slots in the state tournament will come down to the end. His teams have missed the playoffs just one time in his nine years at Cabot.

“We knew this year would be a little up and down,” he said. “But we still want to get in — if for nothing else, to build experience for next year. But, hopefully, we’ll get hot in the thing. It’s baseball. Anything can happen.”

SPORTS >>Sylvan Hills splits with Forrest City

For the Leader

Make no mistake, Sylvan Hills has proved to be the best baseball team in the 6A-East Conference, and will more than likely win the outright league championship. The Bears have displayed superhuman tendencies through the first eight conference games, going unbeaten and outscoring their opponents by more than three to one.

But Tuesday at Forrest City, their mortality showed for the first time this season and the Mustangs took full advantage of the suddenly human Bears by going where no other team in the 6A-East has been this season. Forrest City entered Tuesday’s conference varsity doubleheader with visions of winning both ends of the twin bill.

They settled for a split, and for the moment own the title of being the only 6A-East teamwith a victory over the Bears. The Mustangs won the opening game 7-1, before Sylvan Hills regained its league-leading form and took game two by the identical 7-1 score.

The Bears stand at 9-1 in the conference while the Mustangs are 4-4 in the East and 9-7 overall.

The doubleheader had everything a baseball fan could want — a huge pitching performance by one of the smallest players on the field, a one-inning meltdown, a one-inning offensive outburst, a meltdown and ejection of a head coach and enough hit batters to last an entire season.

Forrest City senior Justin Cochran got the start for the Mustangs in the first game and came up big by going the distance to earn the 7-1 victory.

His counterpart, Sylvan Hills pitcher Hunter Miller lasted only 2-1/3 innings, giving up six runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Miller also committed two errors in the crucial third inning, which helped jumpstart the Mustang offensive uprising.

Cochran and Leslie Parker opened the Forrest City third inning with back-to-back singles to bring Cory Deere to the plate.

Miller, trying to pick off Parker at first base, overthrew Bears’ first baseman Blake Evans allowing Cochran to tie the game at 1-1 and leaving Parker standing at third.

Deere’s RBI single scored Parker for a 2-1 Mustang lead before Miller made his second error of the inning, throwing away Barrett Beshears’ sacrifice bunt and sending Deere to third.

Barrett Astin was hit by a Miller pitch, but was forced at second base on Findley Scott Laws’ fielder’s choice play, which scored Deere for a 3-1 lead.

Joey Bonds followed with an RBI single to bring in Beshears for a 4-1 lead which sent Miller from the mound to centerfield in favor of Chris Dalton, who took over the Bears’ pitching duties with one out and two Mustang runners on.

Raymond Patillo greeted Dalton with a single to load the bases for Chance Pearson, who used a fielder’s choice play to get on base which erased Patillo at second and scored Laws for a 5-1 lead.

That brought Cochran back for his second plate appearance of the inning.

Dalton misplayed Cochran’s infield ground ball which allowed Bonds and Pearson to score, pushing the Mustangs’ lead to 7-1.

Parker was hit by a pitch before Deere made the final out of the inning.

Cochran made the 7-1 lead stand up, allowing only two Sylvan Hills base runners over the final four innings, both by walks and leaving both stranded at first base.

Dalton gave up one run on two hits and one walk in his three and 2/3 innings of work.

Sylvan Hills took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Nathan Eller walked, was sacrificed to second by Jake Chambers and moved to third when Jordan Spears reached base using an infield single. Eller scored on a sacrifice flyout by Evans.

Game two began with quite a bang when Sylvan Hills head coach Denny Tipton was ejected in the first inning after arguing a bang-bang call at first base. Tipton’s outburst and ejection woke the Bears from their first-game hibernation, who went on to take the nightcap, 7-1.

Sylvan Hills plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning using two walks, one sacrifice and one hit batter, as Clint Thornton, Miller and Eller all scored.

Sylvan Hills got runs from Eller and Justin Treece in the bottom of the third to push the lead to 5-0 before the Mustangs got on the board in the top of the fourth when Laws singled, went to second on a passed ball and scored when Patillo’s ground ball was misplayed for an error.

The Bears added a pair of runs in the sixth inning when Miller and D.J. Baxendale had consecutive singles and each scored.

That would be all the Mustangs would get in the nightcap as starting junior pitcher Baxendale went the distance, holding the

Mustangs to the one run while scattering five hits with one walk and recording nine strikeouts.

Forrest City sent Astin to the mound for the first four innings before Bonds came on to throw the final two innings.

Astin gave up five Sylvan Hills runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four and hitting four batters.

Bonds went two innings, giving up two runs on four hits and one walk with one hit batter and one strikeout.

The Class 6A state tournament begins May 9 at Texarkana. The 6A-East Conference will send the top six teams to the tournament to face the top six teams from the 6A-South Conference.

SPORTS >>Red Devils take one of two

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows has many reasons to hope that his pitching staff stays solid. According to the head Red Devil,
how the staff is performing pretty much determines how the team does.

That could not have been illustrated any better than Tuesday’s 6A-East Conference split with Searcy. A complete-game, three-hitter from Seth Tomboli in the opener led to a 6-2 win for Jacksonville, while a big first inning at the plate for Searcy in the nightcap led to a 9-4 Red Devil loss.

The Lions first six batters scored in the nightcap, and with their first eight reached safely before senior Jason Regnas came in relief to stop the bleeding for Jacksonville. Regnas allowed only one hit from that point on, but the damage was already done.
Still, Burrows was happy to get at least one win against a traditionally tough team like Searcy.

“It was big for us,” Burrows said. “At Marion, we couldn’t have played much worse than what we did, and we still had our chances there. We needed a strong night pitching, and Tomboli did a good job in that first game. Searcy’s always a tough team, and he did a great job of holding them back.

“It’s been that way for us all year — the way the pitching goes seems to be the way everything else goes for us. If the pitching is good, we hit well and field well. If it’s off, we’re off.”

Caleb Mitchell gave Jacksonville the early lead when he grounded out to drive in the first run of the game in the top of the first inning. Searcy tied the game one inning later, but the Devils added two runs in the top of the third, and never trailed.

The Lions pulled to within one in the bottom of the third, but the top of the order came through for Jacksonville in the top of the sixth inning.

Leadoff batter Terrell Brown reached with a hit, and advanced on Regnas’ walk. Cameron Hood drove in both runners with basehit, and scored on clean-up hitter Patrick Castleberry’s single.

Castleberry finished 3 of 4 with a double and two RBI. Brown was 2 of 4 and scored two runs, while Regnas finished 1 of 1 with three walks. He also scored twice. Hood went 2 of 3 with a double and two RBI.

In the nightcap, Brown, Regnas, Hood, Tomboli and Jacob Abrahamson each had a hit.

Jacksonville moved to 9-10 overall and 2-4 in the 6A-East Conference after the split. The Red Devils will be back in action on Tuesday with a doubleheader at Forrest City.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

OBITUARIES >> 4-8-09


Angelica “Hope” Leipert, 18, of Austin passed away on April 2. She was born on June 1, 1990 in Cullman, Ala., to Glenn and Kristin Leipert.

She was preceded in death by two grandfathers, Leslie James Widmer and Papa “Kyle” Crumbley; one uncle, Wesley Stuart Leipert and one cousin, Destiny.

She leaves many loved ones behind who will forever cherish her memory, her parents Glenn and Kristin Leipert; one sister, Faith Leipert and one brother, Justice Leipert, all of Austin; grandparents, Gary and Wanda Leipert and Joyce and Bobby Saint, all of Alabama, and Dianne and Pat Cobb of South Carolina; great-grandparents, Aspel Leipert of Alabama and Elizabeth Patterson of South Carolina; one uncle, CPL Joshua Widmer and wife Shannon; cousins, Jenna and Gage Widmer, along with many other family members and dear friends.

Visitation is 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 at Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot. Funeral will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Baugh Chapel Church in Austin with Bro. Harold Cole officiating. Acting as pallbearers will be Chief Harold Ward, Andrew Williams, Rob Steinsiek, Sonny Dehart, Charles Hall, Jeff Buck, Captain Bobby Graham and CPL Josh Widmer.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Hope’s name be made to one of these “no kill” animal shelters in Arkansas: Humane Society of Pulaski County in Little Rock, For the Sake of Animals in Mena or Pets Haven Animal Rescue in Fort Smith.


Bruce Anderson, 62, of Romance was born Feb. 16, 1947, in Detroit to Victor Romenser and Catherine Scandley Anderson and passed away April 3. Bruce served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and a member of Hickory Plains United Methodist Church. He loved Nascar and drag racing, but most of all he loved his family and his country.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his loving wife of 42 years, Judy Waters Anderson; two children, Chris Anderson and his wife Julia and Alysia Powell and her husband Marvin; seven grandchildren, Zac and Brennon Powell, Devyn, Brianna, Caleb and C.J. Anderson, and Jessica Warrendorf; two sisters, Karen Mook and Lynette Meeks, and one brother, Brian Anderson.

Memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 8 at Hickory Plains United Methodist Church. Burial will be private. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.


James Dudley Jan Bullard, 68, of Sherwood died April 3 after a prolonged illness.  

He was born Nov. 25, 1940, in Swifton. He was preceded in death by his parents Claude Dudley and Edythe Bullard. He was a science and math teacher for a number of years before he enlisted in the Army as a field hospital medic.

Jan is survived by the love of his life, Marjane Malcolm Bullard, his wife of 47 years.
Also surviving are his siblings Kay Owens and Sjon Bullard; sons Mark Jackson and his wife Anne and their daughter Samantha and Randy Bullard and his wife Nicole.

Memorial Service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock.

Cremation arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Judy Annette Withers, 60, passed away April 06 at her Carlisle home.  She was born July 14, 1948, in Tulsa, Okla., to the late Clarence and Jo Wanda Elkins Lancaster.She was also preceded in death by a brother, Mike Lancaster.  Judy was an avid horseback rider and barrel racer.

Survivors include her husband, Ron Withers; children Amy Hall Workman and her husband Russell of Spring Hill, Tenn., and stepdaughter, Rhonda Withers Rolston and her husband Greg; grandchildren, Bailee Rolston, Blair Rolston, Logan Verbitski, Kie Workman, Hayden Workman and Carter Workman; and sisters, Sarah Lancaster and Elaine Hayes both of Fort Smith.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, April 10 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel.  Visitation will be from  6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, April 9 at the funeral home.  

Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, Inc., 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204.


Dolores Robinson Canfield, 76, passed away April 6 at her home in Conway. She was born Oct. 29, 1932, to the late R.J. and Carrie Robinson in Little Rock.

She was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Conway, a 1951 graduate of Jacksonville High School and a 1955 graduate of Arkansas State Teachers College (now UCA) in Conway.

At JHS, she was president of her class, associate editor of the school paper, the 1950 Chapter Sweetheart of the FFA and vice president of the Pulaski County chapter of the Future Teachers of America.

A polio survivor, she was the 1949 Polio Queen and the 1950 March of Dimes Queen of Pulaski County. Her college teaching internship and her first teaching position were at Vilonia Elementary. She later taught at Baring Cross Elementary in North Little Rock, Lake Arthur Elementary in Lake Arthur, NM, and English at Alamogordo High School in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

She was the founding director of the Head Start program in Alamogordo, and the founding director of the Childhood Education Center at Valley Community Drive-In Church in San Dimas, Calif. After returning to Arkansas, she worked at the Jacksonville News, and Cash Printing in Jacksonville, and the White County Record in Judsonia. In retirement, she enjoyed growing plants, reading, watching videos and playing board and card games with family and friends.

She was preceded in death by three brothers, Walton Robinson, Leonard Robinson and Raymond Robinson, and one sister, Doris Crowell, all of Little Rock.

She is survived by her brother, Carl Robinson of Cabot, her former husband of 37 years and life-partner, Charles Canfield of Conway, two sons, Bryan Canfield of Sherwood and Brad Canfield of Conway, one daughter, Camilla Kay Christman of Prospect, Ohio, one son by choice, Gary Smith of Sherwood, two grandsons, Chad Canfield of Cabot and Kevin Bohn of Ostrander, Ohio, four great-grandchildren, McKenzie Bohn and Dylan Bohn both of Ostrander, Ohio, Caleb McManus and Cayden Canfield both of Cabot. And a host of nieces and nephews.

Friends and family will gather at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 9 followed by a celebration of her life at 2 p.m. and a reception and visitation in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday, April 11 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 2310 E. Oak St. in Conway.


William Richard “Dick” Barnes, 81, of Beebe was born April 13, 1927 in Beebe to Dee and Erma McBride Barnes, Sr. and went to be with our Lord on April 3.

He was a World War II veteran and served in the Asian-Pacific campaign during his enlistment and received three medals for his service to our country.

Dick was preceded in death by his parents, wife, three brothers, one sister and a great-granddaughter.

Dick left behind his affectionate family of five children, Skip Barnes and his wife Becky, Patricia Plummer and her husband Lance, Billie Spence and her husband Clifton, Nancy Kauffeld and her husband David and Janette George; nine grandchildren, Ronnie Barnes and his wife Amy, James Barnes and hid wife Mendy, Bill Kelty and hid wife Julie, Cyndie Coulter and her husband Ralph, Elizabeth Bell and her husband Jim, Amber Kauffeld, Staci Kauffeld, Michael Riba and Virginia Montoya, and 10 great-grandchildren.

His memory will be cherished by his family and all who knew him.

The family wishes to thank Lakewood Nursing and Rehab and Odyssey Hospice for the excellent care provided to Dick.

Funeral was April 6 at West-brook Funeral Home with burial in Beebe Cemetery.


Loretta Faye Bozeman, 73, died April 3 at her home in Jacksonville. She was born May 4, 1935 in Bradford to the late Claude and Ruby Scoggin Black. She was a retired bookkeeper and active in the VFW Auxiliary. She was past post auxiliary president of Post 4548 in Jacksonville.

She is survived by her husband, Everette Bozeman, and a son, Kevin Burrow of Jacksonville.

Graveside services were April 6 at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock. Arrangements by Powell Funeral Home in Searcy.

Nancy Wiggs
Nancy L. Wiggs, 59, of Beebe and formerly of Ashland, Ohio, went unexpectedly to live with our Lord on March 31.
She was a devoted and loving wife, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and friend. She will be missed more than anyone can imagine by all who knew her. She was very special, more than words can say.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Wayne G. Wiggs and her parents, Warren and Maxine Gilbert. Nancy is survived by one son, two sisters, one grandson, three nieces and one very special friend.
Memorial service will be held at Fickes Funeral Home in Jeromesville, Ohio, at a later date.
Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home.
Vickie Kirkpatrick
Vickie Lynn (Williams) Kirkpatrick, 52, left on April 2 to be with her Lord and Savior.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Norma Jean; father, Claude Vic Williams and beloved dog, Lady.
She is survived by her brother, Ken Williams and his wife Helene; niece, Lezah Joseph and her husband Michael and great-nephew, Keenan and a host of family and friends.
Memorial services will be held at a later date. Call 501-920-4490 for more information. Cremation arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

EDITORIAL >>Huge windfall for natural gas

Remember the dire warnings from foes of the natural gas severance tax? The little 5 percent tax on gas from the Fayetteville shale would crimp exploration companies so much that they would go elsewhere in search of gas and leave Arkansas high and dry. The big cash investment, the jobs, the royalties, the economic spin-off would go elsewhere — to Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, somewhere. Arkansas would be left in the backwater again because Gov. Beebe wanted to saddle the good investors with an unfair severance tax.

That was last month before the legislature passed the tax overwhelmingly.

Yesterday, the CEO of one of the largest production companies in the shale play offered a different story. A study by the University of Arkansas College of Business had estimated in March that the economic impact in Arkansas from shale exploration would reach a whopping $18 billion over the next 10 years, even accounting for the dampening effect of a severance tax.

That won’t touch it, said Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. The $18 billion figure is “completely irrelevant,” he said. He expected the companies to spend between $75 billion and $100 billion over the next decade or so. That’s billion, not million. The way the academics calculate economic impact, the cumulative effect would be far greater than $100 billion.

“It really could be transformative,” he said.
We can assume that someone told him that thanks to Beebe and the legislature they would have to pay a tax of 5 percent on the net proceeds from the gas.

The shale, he predicted, would produce 20 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Let’s see. . . At the current market price of gas of about $10 a thousand cubic feet (it’s expected to continue rising), that’s roughly $200 billion in sales. That could mean $6 billion to $8 billion in taxes for Arkansas highways, roads and streets, which is where 95 percent of the severance taxes will go.

Critics of the tax said it would not produce enough money to meet many of the state’s highway needs. You can build a lot of roads for eight billion dollars.

Judging by the photographs of the devastation of roads and bridges from the floods, we may need lots of it right away. We can be thankful that we won’t have to pay higher gasoline taxes to get the work done. Oil hit $114 a barrel this week, and gasoline is headed toward $4 a gallon.

The governor and legislature never looked more providential.

TOP STORY > >City approved landfill expansion in ’99

Leader editor

Jacksonville officials have supported a bigger trash dump at the city’s entrance since 1999, when Mayor Tommy Swaim signed a resolution in support of expanding the landfill, a plan that would make it three times the size it is now.

This disclosure was brought to light at a Monday night meeting in Jacksonville, along with residents’ concerns over a bigger landfill, including allowing trash with asbestos and other contaminants in it, its closeness to homes, the stench, worsened flooding at Dupree Park and the destruction of wetlands.

Waste made from hazardous materials, including asbestos, is already allowed into the landfill. It would continue to be allowed if the landfill is expanded.

“It’s sad the highest manmade structure in the city is a landfill,” Charlie Marsh, who lives in Stonewall, said.

About 50 residents attended the meeting at the community center held by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to discuss the landfill, which would be used for 24 years, but will be visible for much longer.

Trash from Jacksonville, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Beebe, Bald Knob, Sherwood, Faulkner County, Mayflower, Judsonia, unincorporated parts of Pulaski County and commercial and industrial waste is dumped at the site.

ADEQ is considering the permit application that would expand the Waste Management-owned Two Pine site at the intersection of I-440 and Hwy. 67/167.

“We haven’t made a decision on the permit yet,” Bryan Leamons, engineer supervisor at ADEQ, said.

“But we are very close in going down that path,” he added.

If the landfill plans are within legal parameters, ADEQ does not generally deny permits, Leamons said.

The expansion would be about a third of a mile from the nearest home. ADEQ requires the dump be at least 300 feet from a residence, and 100 feet from the property boundary.

The site cannot be within the 100-year flood plain.

Leamons said this site would have a water-runoff diversion unit approved by FEMA.

“Everyone that lives here is familiar with the flooding,” said Joey Price, who lives near the landfill.

“That water backs up into our city’s parks.”

He asked Leamons and Steve Martin, a deputy director at ADEQ, what kind of protection the state would provide.

They promised that water that percolates through the trash will not wind up in local waterways. But Leamons said, “You just can’t prevent certain things in the waste stream.”

Alderman Terry Sansing was surprised to learn Waste Management is using the 1999 resolution as proof of Jacksonville’s support for the site.

“This is nine years later,” he said. “Plans for beautifying Jacksonville should be considered in the permitting process.…You need to understand (it) will be a dominating feature on our skyline.”

Leamons told Sansing that the landfill will be hidden from the highway.

As trees have been cut down to make way for I-440 construction, which dissected the landfill and caused the dump to lose that space, it has also caused the dump to be more obvious to drivers who enter Jacksonville from the south entrance.

Federal law requires the location to be 1,000 feet from the interstate or highway unless there is a landscaping plan for operational screening, as there would be at an expanded landfill.

The dump will be 462 feet above sea level. The expansion would impact 12 acres of wetlands that are bottomland hardwoods, classed as the most protected, according to Leamons.

David Conrad, director of landfill operations at Two Pine, said that 43 acres of wetlands will be cultivated to make up for destruction of the 12 acres.

FROM THE PUBLISHER > >LR lawyer caught in subprime meltdown

Before there was a subprime meltdown, thousands of homes were sold to buyers who couldn’t afford the mortgages that went with them and middlemen lined their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and fraudulent expenses.

Now financial institutions are owed at least a trillion dollars on homes that are almost worthless. The value of these homes was supposed to go up, instead of down, and the lenders couldn’t possibly lose on these deals, but their losses have helped push the U.S. into a recession.

An upcoming federal trial in Little Rock will shed some light on how these homes were sold back and forth as if they were McMansions, when, in fact, many of them were in the poorest inner cities and whose values were overinflated while the realtors and remodelers who sold them made huge profits before the real estate bubble burst.

One such case involves a Little Rock attorney named Alvin Clay, who is built like a defensive tackle — in fact, he is a former football player — but federal prosecutors think they’ll crush him for making fraudulent mortgage applications that made him and his partners more than $100,000 in profit.

He says he’s never seen those profits and he’s a victim of prosecutorial misconduct because he defended drug dealers the feds wanted to send to prison.

A multi-count indictment accuses Clay and his partners of keeping at least half the money they obtained from mortgage companies. If a home was worth just $35,000, they would finance it for $57,000 and sell it to buyers who had almost no income, the prosecution alleges.

A faith-based organization that exposed prosecutorial misconduct in Texas and Louisiana has sent a representative to Arkansas to help Clay fight the charges. They agree he may be the victim of prosecutorial overzealousness because of people he has represented.

Dr. Alan G. Bean, the executive director of Friends of Justice in Arlington, Texas, believes federal prosecutors have indicted Clay because he defended a Pine Bluff man who reneged on a deal with the government to testify against more than 50 alleged drug dealers in Jefferson County.

The man served time for perjury, but prosecutors had to drop charges against some 30 defendants.

Bean, a white Baptist minister, is convinced the feds were furious with Clay, who is black, for defending the former drug informant and for having another client “who was putting the government through unnecessary grief,” as Bean puts it.

Bean points out that thousands of mortgage companies that prepared loan documents for unqualified borrowers have not been prosecuted.

He calls the Clay case “selective prosecution.” The original prosecutor in the case was Robert Govar, who once headed the U.S. attorney’s criminal division in Little Rock. He no longer handles the Clay case.

Govar was demoted last year after making threats to this columnist for suggesting that Govar must have known he was illegally using prison labor on his property in Lonoke.

The prison labor, you recall, was provided by Jay Campbell, the former Lonoke police chief who was sentenced to 40 years in prison on corruption charges. (His wife received a 20-year sentence.)

Govar testified at the Campbells trial that he didn’t know he was breaking the law when he used prison labor, which will probably be Clay’s defense when he goes to trial on May 27.

Govar was taken off the Clay case for allegedly withholding exculpatory evidence from the Little Rock attorney, who faces disbarment if convicted.

Bean has helped free dozens of innocent people accused of selling drugs and committing other crimes.

Bean had a key role in two high-profile drug cases and the protests in Jena, La., over what civil-rights groups considered harsh treatment of black students following a brawl with white students who were accused of displaying a noose in front of their school.

His most famous drug case unfolded in Tulia, Texas, where a rogue undercover agent had falsely accused 46 people of selling him drugs. Charges were dropped after the case against the defendants fell apart, and Gov. Rick Perry later pardoned the defendants – the only pardons he has issued while in office.

Bean also helped free a family in Church Point, La., that was convicted on drug charges with tainted testimony.

“This stuff is happening all over the place,” Bean said. “There’s a real need for what I do. I try to look at it from a moral perspective so people can see connections different from the government, so it’s no longer the government’s narrative.”

Bean has strong words for the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock and Fort Smith. It will be the western district that will prosecute Clay, who should not have been indicted, Bean says.

“The case against Alvin is ill-considered,” the minister says. “They didn’t want him to be a thorn in their side.”

If he’s convicted, Clay faces five years in prison for each count, or up to 25 years, and $250,000, or double the money he allegedly made on the real estate deals.

TOP STORY > >Cabot hires new parks chief

Leader staff writer

The director who pushed to build the new community center and make other improvements at the Cabot Parks Department has been replaced by his assistant.

Carroll Astin, hired as park director about 10 years ago, turned the job over Monday to Larry Tarrant, his second in command for six years.

Tarrant, who is now the interim director, says he hopes to fill the position permanently.

Tarrant said Monday afternoon that he had spent much of the day with Astin, who is staying on long enough to show him parts of the job that he isn’t familiar with.

Much of the day was spent reviewing papers and going over the park budget “looking at ways to save money,” he said.

The parks ran into financial difficulties in 2007 when operating the community center cost more than expected, and then a bookkeeper was arrested for embezzlement. But Mike Brannon, chairman of the parks and recreation commission, said Astin’s departure is voluntary.

“I don’t know that there was any reason except he thought it was time,” Brannon said of Astin’s resignation, reportedly to work for an insurance company.

“I’ve seen the parks before Carroll came and I see them now and there is a huge difference,” he said of Astin’s time as director.

“I hate to see Carroll go, but I know the parks will continue to serve Cabot and the surrounding area.”

In January, Sarah Michelle Rye, a former bookkeeper for the parks department, admitted to embezzling $8063.44 by writing herself duplicate paychecks over a two-year period.

Rye also received a substantial raise during that period. In 2005, 19 duplicate checks totaled $3,987.22. But in 2006, 12 duplicate checks totaled $4,076.22, an increase of $120 a paycheck.

Although the investigation that led to Rye’s arrest was initiated by the Cabot police after they learned about discrepancies in the audit, Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain asked the State Police to take it over to avoid any conflict.

“Without an investigation, I don’t know if there is anything else,” McCastlain said. “If there is something else, city employees may have been witnesses.”

The status of that State Police investigation is unclear.

“I don’t even know if they’ve shown up yet,” Brannon said.

Although the parks commission met at least twice in executive session to discuss personnel after the arrest was made public, Brannon said Friday that after the State Police were called, he never discussed the matter again with Astin.

“But I know the little girl who was at the bottom of all this grew up with Carroll’s children,” Brannon said. “And that would shake anyone.”

He said he had received phone calls from some who think Tarrant should be hired permanently.

“I can’t say that because he’s been there the longest that he’s the frontrunner,” Brannon said.

Astin’s annual salary was $49,100, he said, but the commission has not discussed how much his replacement will be paid.

TOP STORY > >Estimates of storm damage still rising

Leader staff writer

When the tornado hit Cabot two weeks ago, Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said he realized the FEMA-sponsored disaster training he and his department heads had sat through in Jacksonville months before was worth the effort.

“It talked about the level of training we would need to do this job,” Williams said. “We all griped about going and the test wasn’t easy, especially for me. But it worked.”

Since FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has estimated the uninsured damage to public buildings like the skateboard park, a bridge on First Street and roof damage at the school at $225,000 — $60,745 more than the $164,295 threshold — the city should be eligible for reimbursement for repairs and cleaning up.

Williams said he is keeping up with all the costs like fuel and overtime for city workers so he will be ready when the official notice comes in within 60 to 90 days.

The damage threshold is calculated at $3.11 for each county resident. Since the damage to public buildings met the threshold, the federal government should pay 75 percent of the uninsured damage, while the state and city will each pay 12.5 percent.

Within 15 minutes after the storm passed, a temporary command center had been set up at the Tastee Freeze on Hwy. 367.

Within two hours, the residents of homes in the damaged areas had been contacted and it was clear that there were no injuries.

By 4 a.m., the power had been turned off so the roads could be cleared. By mid-morning, crews of city workers and volunteers were hauling debris to the street for pickup. And by midday, Hwy. 367 was crowded with sightseers.

“If we normally have 20,000 people in town, we had 40,000 that day,” said Jerrel Maxwell, head of public works.

So far, 100 dump-truck loads of wood from an estimated 80-90 downed trees have been hauled to the old city dump, where it will be burned.

“I can’t say enough good about the Forestry Service,” the mayor said. “They sent men with chainsaws. And the county judge sent two dump trucks and a backhoe.”

By the time FEMA inspectors made their rounds last week, much of the debris had been hauled away. But Williams said the destruction was still evident and he wasn’t worried that by cleaning, he ran the risk of the city not getting full credit for the damage.

Volunteers and city workers removed downed trees and debris from private property with the owners’ permission, he said. A few residents worried that cleaning would have a negative effect on their insurance claims, but not many.

FEMA has not yet told the city how much damage was done to private property, but the mayor says the amount is in the millions. If the amount of uninsured loss meets or exceeds the $164,295 threshold, residents will be eligible for disaster aid.

Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman said Tuesday that as far as he knew, Cabot was the only city in the county with damage to public property, and like Williams, he said he still had not been given a damage estimate for private property anywhere in the county.

TOP STORY > >Petition for separate district denied

Leader staff writer

The politics of annexation spilled over publicly for the first time Tuesday night into the debate over a stand-alone, Jacksonville-area school district.

By a vote of 4-2, a resolution endorsing the idea of a Jacksonville district and asking the state Education Department to move forward on the issue failed.

Pulaski County Special School District Board president Charlie Wood justified his “no” vote by saying that Gravel Ridge area patrons don’t seem to want to be part of a Jacksonville District.

By a 3-1 margin, Gravel Ridge voters last month chose to annex to Sherwood rather than to Jacksonville.

Under consideration was a resolution crafted by Jacksonville attorney Ben Rice, which read in part: “Be it resolved by the PCSSD board of directors that the Arkansas State Board of Education is hereby authorized and directed to take such steps as might be necessary to allow the creation of a new school district in the Jacksonville area, by detachment from the PCSSD.

“The proposed new school district includes all areas in the attendance zones of Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski High School.”

Just last week, Wood told attendees at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce luncheon that he didn’t think a standalone Jacksonville district was a good idea, but that he would vote to allow residents to decide the issue for themselves.

But Tuesday night, he said many patrons in the Cato Elementary School and Northwood Middle School attendance zones would rather attend Sherwood schools. “I think you do not necessarily speak for the people living out in the county,” Wood said. “If you can prove (they do) then I would endorse that.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman spoke to say that her city wanted those students attending PCSSD schools in Sherwood.

Citing part of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, Bill Vasquez, who represents Jacksonville on the board, made a motion to approve the resolution.

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,) it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government…” he read, adding, “My constituents want to declare independence to ensure happiness and prosperity.”

Danny Gilliland seconded the motion to have a new district.

But Wood, who Jacksonville supporters thought they could count on, dashed their hopes, saying he could vote only to support a district within the Jacksonville city limits.

Joining him in voting down the resolution were Pam Roberts, Mildred Tatum and Shana Chaplin. Board member Gwen Williams didn’t attend.

Rice and Alderman Reedie Ray gathered petitions to require the special meeting. Ray asked the school board to “let my people go.”

Jacksonville businessman Mike Wilson, banker Mark Wilson, parent Wanda Thomen and Jackson-ville Mayor Tommy Swaim spoke before a packed house in favor of the resolution.

Swaim reminded board members that city limits change and are not always a good match for school district attendance zones.

“I see my friends and neighbors here tonight,” Mike Wilson said. “We need to provide the best schools we can for them. We can do that locally, directly and concisely in a fashion you’ll be proud of.”

Mark Wilson, his nephew, said he was representing himself and his one-year-old son, Storm.

“He deserves good schools in his home town. Under Pulaski County Special School District, there’s not much chance of that.

You are killing our town slowly, day by day. This district is an ineffective bureaucracy,” he said.

In 2003, U.S. District Judge Wilson blocked a vote by residents in those zones on the issue, ruling that Jacksonville and PCSSD were still constrained by the 2000 desegregation agreement.

Wilson deferred ruling on petitions from North Little Rock and PCSSD for unitary status, which could end federal oversight and open the door for a Jacksonville district, until the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis rules on an appeal of Little Rock’s declaration of unitary status.

SPORTS >>Norsworthy saves day for Lady Red Devils in Game 2

Leader sports editor

Taylor Norsworthy belted a two-out, two-strike home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils escaped with a critical conference split with West Memphis on Friday at Dupree Park.

The Lady Blue Devils had just rallied from four runs down to tie the game at five before the two-run shot by Norsworthy, back for the first time since an injury last month, gave Jacksonville a 7-5 win.

With a 4-0 loss in the opener, the Lady Red Devils are now 3-2 in 6A-East Conference play.

Jessica Lanier struck out five and allowed sevenhits to pick up the win in Game 2. Lanier also picked up two hits and an RBI in the contest. Paula Burr, Jennifer Bock and Norsworthy each had two hits for the Lady Red Devils as well, as Jacksonville totaled eight hits. Burr tripled twice and drove in two runs.

West Memphis, trailing 5-1 in the last inning, was down to its final out before exploding for four straight hits to tie the game.

Lanier pitched well in the opener, allowing only six hits and one earned run while striking out five. But West Memphis hurler Shelby Jo Fenter struck out eight and allowed just four hits — two to Lanier, and one each to Bock and Norsworthy.

On Monday evening, Jackson-ville improved to 5-3 overall with a 5-1 non-conference win over Arkansas Baptist.

The Lady Eagles took a 1-0 lead after one, and that remained the score until the Lady Devils batted around in the fourth when they scored all five of their runs.

SPORTS >>Panthers beat 18th-ranked Hogs

Leader sports editor

Cabot head coach Jay Fitch knew it wouldn’t be easy. He just didn’t figure it would be this costly.

The Cabot Panthers rallied behind a 10-run fifth inning to knock off top-ranked Texarkana, 15-12, on Monday in Cabot, holding off the nation’s 18th-ranked Razorbacks’ own rally attempt in the seventh inning.

It may have been a non-conference game, but Fitch didn’t deny he wanted a win against the best in the state.

“I told our kids, this is an opportunity to play a nationally ranked team and that doesn’t come along very often,” said Fitch. “It’s been almost 10 years since we’ve played a nationally ranked team. This is as big as it gets.”

It came with a price, however, as shortstop and key rotation pitcher Matt Evans broke his nose on a sharply hit, bad-hop grounder in the third inning. He was unavailable for yesterday’s critical 7A-Conference matchup with North Little Rock.

“Matt has a heart of a lion,” Fitch said, noting that Evans also took a bad-hop ground ball to the chin in an earlier game at North Little Rock. “It’s just been a crazy season all the way around.”

With other top rotation hurler Sam Bates unavailable as well on Tuesday, Fitch was left scrambling for a starter to face the potent Charging Wildcat lineup.

Bates closed out the win against Texarkana on Monday, coming on in relief of the winner, Josh Brown. He appeared to be in for some rare smooth sailing in a game that featured three different Razorback hitters with four hits. After allowing a single around a pair of strikeouts, Bates ran into trouble with a double, a walk and a hit batter.

That loaded the bases and put the tying run on first.

But Will Wagner sliced a shot to third baseman Chad Bryant, who scooped it up and stepped on third to end the nearly three-hour affair.

Though Cabot was guilty of several fielding miscues on Monday, the Panthers made some key defensive plays early that allowed them to stay within reach. Starting pitcher Sean Clarkson allowed a single and a double to start the game, but escaped further damage when Cabot center fielder Jeremy Wilson turned a fly out into a double play after Texarkana’s Tyler Weir tried to take third on the play.

Cabot then began its own hit parade, parlaying a leadoff double by Evans, and singles by Wilson, Drew Burks, Bates and Powell Bryant into a three-run first to take a 3-1 lead.

Texarkana scored two more to tie it in the second, but it, too, might have been a bigger inning. Ryan Nevels stole second and tried to reach third on a wild throw into the outfield, but again Wilson came up throwing and nailed him at third base. Colt
Galloway then popped a bunt back to Clarkson, who fired to Trey Rosel at second for an inning-ending double play.

But the Razorbacks, who banged out 18 hits, erupted for four in the fourth and two in the fifth to lead 9-4. Cabot had scored its fourth run in the fourth on Powell Bryant’s double and Rosel’s two-out single.

Cabot then sent 15 men to the plate in their big fifth inning. The Panthers collected only five hits against three Texarkana pitchers, but used four walks and four Razorback errors to score 10 times and take a 14-9 lead. The big hits in the inning were Powell Bryant’s RBI double, Matt Turner’s two-run single and Drew Burks’ opposite field, two-run single.

The Panthers added insurance in the sixth with Bates’ run-scoring bloop single to make it 15-11.

Texarkana wasn’t the only team smacking the ball on Monday. The Panthers erupted for 14 hits, including three each by Burks,

Bates and Powell Bryant. Burkes and Bates each drove in three runs. Rosel added two hits.

But while Cabot pitchers weren’t exactly fooling the Razorback hitters, they were throwing strikes. Panther hurlers issued only two walks and hit a batter. Texarkana pitchers walked five and hit two more.

“I tell the kids, no one’s figured out how to defense the walk yet,” Fitch said. “They saved their good pitching for later on and we tried to save our top pitchers for league. We figured it would be high scoring.”

Cabot outfielders lost a couple of routine fly balls in the outfield, something Fitch chalked up to continued rust after a springtime of rainouts.

“The sun turned a lot of routine plays into plays that weren’t routine,” Fitch said. “This time of year, the sun is just at the right angle. And we just haven’t been able to work on that. Wednesday, we’re going to give our outfielders a chance to work on that.”

Cabot improved to 11-5 overall and took a 2-3 league record into its battle with North Little Rock yesterday.

“This was a big-time win and a big feather in our caps,” Fitch said. “It was a beautiful day for baseball. You don’t want to tie your hands for conference play in a game like this. Still, it was a game we wanted to win.”

SPORTS >>Cabot boys capture first in Beebe meet

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers boys team rode the individual performance of William Paschal and a perfect showing in the three relays to win the Beebe Badger Relays on Friday.

Paschal won the 100-meter dash and the long jump to lead the Panthers past second-place Lonoke by a wide margin of 28 points.

Paschal recorded a winning time of 11.25 seconds in the 100, and leaped 21 feet, 2.5 inches to win the long jump. Joe Bryant of Cabot won in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.40.

The Cabot boys team of Paschal, Powell Bryant, Joe Bryant and Chris Bayles won the 4x100, while Paschal, Powell Bryant, Joe Bryant and Hunter Hess teamed up to win the 4x400.

Jordan Simpson, James Santiago, Steven Herbert and Jordan Schnebly won the 4x800.

Batesville won the girls competition. North Pulaski and Beebe tied for fifth.

James Anderson of Beebe captured the high jump competition, allowing the Badgers to tie for fifth overall.

Jaksonville got two second-place finishes from Corey Bester — in the 100 and 200 meters.

Tyrone Dobbins of Lonoke earned a second in the high jump, while teammate Eric Graydon was second in the long jump.

SPORTS >>Devils wallop Falcons

For the Leader

Jacksonville’s baseball team trailed North Pulaski early, but not for long Monday afternoon at Dupree Park. The Red Devils scored three in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead, and went on for a 22-2 shellacking of the Falcons in a game that coaches for both teams had contemplated canceling.

“We have a conference doubleheader tomorrow and they have a conference doubleheader tomorrow,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said. “It was just one of those games that happens sometimes when you’re saving your pitching and trying to get people playing time. We thought about not playing it, but we decided we’d rather get them on the field when we had the opportunity because we’ve missed so many games lately.”

NP leadoff hitter A.J. Allen reached on a walk to start the game. He moved to third on a stolen base and a wild pitch. He was then caught in a rundown between third and home on a ground ball. Jacksonville executed the rundown well, getting Allen to run into a tag several feet in front of home plate, but catcher Caleb Mitchell dropped the ball.

Jacksonville took the lead in the bottom of the first when centerfielder Cameron Hood sent one the other way — a two-run home run over the right field fence that scored first baseman Jason Regnas who had reached on a walk.

Three batters later, a Mike Harmon single to left field scored Jeff Tillman, who was running for Mitchell.

A four-run third made it 7-1. Eight- and nine-hole hitters Tyler Wisdom and Jacob Abrahamson singled to lead things off.

Terrell Brown was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Regnas singled to center to score one run. Hood was hit by a pitch to drive in another. Cleanup hitter Patrick Castleberry hit a sacrifice grounder and Mitchell singled to left to drive in the fourth run of the inning.

The Falcons got their second and final run on the first pitch of the third inning. Shaun Rase took a Noah Sanders’ breaking ball deep over the fence in left field to make it 7-2. Sanders fanned the next batter, walked two, then struck out anotherbefore walking the bases loaded, prompting Burrows to call Wisdom to the mound. Wisdom got out of the jam with a ground out.

Sanders gave up no hits in two and two-thirds innings, striking out four and walking five NP batters.

Jacksonville scored fifteen over the next two innings, aided greatly by seven North Pulaski errors.

The Red Devils were patient at the plate as well, drawing six free passes in the final two frames. Brown, Tillman, Regnas, Adrian Rodriguez and Seth Tomboli each got hits in the late rally.

Regnas put together the best overall performance at the plate, finishing 3 for 4 with a walk, two doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored. Hood went 2 for 3 and drove in three runs.

Wisdom gave up two hits in 2 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking no one. He fanned the side to close the game in the top of the fifth inning.

“We needed to get Pee Wee (Wisdom) some work because we’re going to start using him more,” Burrows said. “He did pretty well tonight.”

The win lifted Jacksonville to 8-9 on the year and they remain 1-3 in league play. The Red Devils faced Searcy in a 6A-East doubleheader last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that matchup in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.