Friday, July 24, 2009

TOP STORY > >Shelter stunned as abuse leaves dog paralyzed

Leader staff writer

Arkansas became the 46th state to enact a felony animal- cruelty law in February. But the threat of harsher punishments apparently didn’t deter whoever shot a male, shorthaired chihuahua, found riddled with pellets on July 10 on East Valentine Road in Jacksonville, according to Hedy Limke, Jacksonville Animal Shelter supervisor.

Now, those found guilty of cruel acts against a dog, cat or horse face up to an 11-year sentence and a $10,000 fine under the new felony law.

“He was shot with a pellet gun under the armpit, along his side and on top of his head,” shelter kennel attendant Kelly Henderson said. She has watched over the dog — aptly named Bullet — since his arrival at the shelter.

Wendy Willits of Jacksonville agreed to adopt the pup almost immediately.

Shortly after she agreed, however, Bullet’s hind legs became paralyzed. X-rays revealed a large needle lodged through his upper spinal cord and that several pellets remain in his body.

Veterinarians expect that the dog’s paralysis is the result of a herniated disk in his spinal cord. For a week now, Bullet has been given steroid pills and steroid injections in an attempt to reduce inflammation in order to enable the dog to regain bowel and bladder control.

“We have to take him out and hold him a certain way periodically to see if he needs to go… I don’t know many people who would be willing to adopt a dog who needs this much help,” Henderson said.

She believes that Willits is still intent on adoption “as long as he isn’t in pain.”

Paying for the dog’s mounting medical expenses will be a task that Willits cannot complete without assistance, Henderson says.

A wheelchair for the dog will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400, and if Bullet doesn’t naturally regain control of his bowel and bladder, a $3,000 procedure might be necessary.

The staff shelter has improvised a wheelchair in the meantime. “He can travel short distances in the device, but then he tips over, it’s just a temporary makeshift thing,” Henderson said.

Those interested in donating to assist Willits with Bullet’s medical expenses can drop donations off at the animal shelter, 217 S. Redmond Road in Jacksonville, or send their donations to Pet Angels, Inc., P.O. Box 273 Jacksonville, Ark. 72078.

“We don’t have any way of telling who did this,” Henderson says. The dog was not wearing identifying tags when he was found and no owner has surfaced to reclaim him.

Those with any information about potential suspects, should contact the shelter at 501-982-2916.

TOP STORY > >Planned sign saluting Allen is unveiled in Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s Kris Allen committee unveiled plans Friday morning for the city’s proposed sign declaring Jacksonville “Boyhood Home of Kris Allen.”

The sign will replace the current “Welcome to Jacksonville” sign near the Hwy. 67/167 Main Street exit.

Allen’s grandfather, Charlie Wood, unveiled the sign.

“I’m just a proud granddaddy,” Wood said after the unveiling. “When he got into the top four, I told my friends I think he’s got it.”

Wood said he plans to attend tonight’s concert at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. “I have backstage privileges.”

“Jacksonville is where Kris was born and raised,” said committee member Roger Sundermeier Jr., vice president of marketing at First Arkansas Bank and Trust. “He’s one of a lot of great people who have come out of Jacksonville.”

Sundermeier handed the spotlight to Mayor Gary Fletcher, who took office July 1.

“I’m excited that I’m a new mayor and Kris is a new American Idol,” Fletcher said. “It’s a reminder that this is a new beginning … for Kris’ life.”

The mayor, who has known the Allen family for years, talked about Kris.

“He’s a man of character, a man I’ve known and watched grow up, too,” Fletcher said. “He’s a godly man.”

Fletcher said it “always feels good to see a good guy come out on top. He’s made us all proud.”

Fletcher said the city has a lot of projects in the future, including a new fire and police training center, adding that Jacksonville is “going to be a great city as we grow.”

Alderman Marshall Smith, an Allen family friend, said most of Allen’s family members were unable to attend Friday’s event because of scheduling conflicts.

“It is my privilege to represent the Allen family,” Smith said. “They are so happy that we’re doing this.”

Smith was Allen’s choir director when the Allen family attended First Freewill Baptist Church (now Crossroads Baptist) in Jacksonville.

TOP STORY > >Sherwood woodworker plies trade

Leader senior staff writer

Lewis Neidhardt’s life is not about the hundreds or thousands of cutting boards he’s made and sold over the years, but his workshop sure is.

A former machinist, Neidhardt, 60, came from California to visit his brother in 1973 and never really achieved escape velocity.

With a heavy-duty tablesaw and planer wedged into all available spaces in the garage behind his Sherwood home, Neidhardt and his assistants mass produce the cutting boards he sells on Saturdays at the Farmers’ Market at the River Market and through his Web site,

His walnut, cherry and maple cutting boards are handsome and well crafted with double tongue-and-grove joints along the glue lines.

The smaller cheese board is $30 and the larger utility boards are $40. Wood moves around, he said. “The forces are hydraulic and powerful and they’ll just tear things up, but that’s not a defect, it’s a difference.”

He appreciates the close tolerances of metal work — to .00002 of an inch — and he went to work for Timex in North Little Rock, where he repaired machinery. From there he went into business as a knife maker. At the end of about two years, he had subsidized that business “as much as he could” and had to get a paying job.

“My wife (the former Sherry Kittle of North Little Rock) got pregnant and I went and got a job at the Graduate Institute of Technology.”

“I ran a machine shop and did a lot of research,” he remembers. “We had to build the stuff to do research — like a laser, Doppler velocity meter and biomechanical things for studying human stress,” he said.

He began cobbling together computers in about 1978, after about 10 years full time in the machine shop.

Later, he began programming computers and also teaching subjects such as Lotus 1-2-3 and beginning database.

He was promoted out of the machine shop to do computer support and teaching.

Later, he got a contract to write recycling software for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

He did that until 1999, when he came down with throat cancer.

“For two years I was a sick puppy,” he says, stroking a long, unruly beard. “I didn’t eat by mouth while I had chemotherapy and radiation.

“I couldn’t work and lost everything,” he remembers. “Thankfully, my wife was employed.”

She died about two years ago, he said.

He generally has someone helping in the shop, learning the skills he has.

Neidhardt does custom work for folks — a walnut countertop, period furniture like triangular end tables or bow-front tables, and for $3,000 he’ll make you a copy of the $25,000 rocking chair designed by studio furniture maker Sam Maloof. “He’s the bomb,” Neidhardt says. He aspires to that sort of design and craftsmanship, but having started woodworking relatively late in life, he says he has more realistic expectations.

“I don’t aspire to anything other than making some pretty things I’d like to put my stamp on,” he said.

Neidhardt is taking a furniture design class this fall at UALR, however.

He says Maloof and George Nakashima are “my two muses. I like their philosophies and their work.”

TOP STORY > >District future hotly debated at Bayou Meto

Leader senior staff writer

Outraged Bayou Meto-area residents complained Thursday that they are fed up with the Pulaski County Special School District.

But some of them don’t want to send their children to Jacksonville schools.

They expressed their frustration at a community meeting to discuss the fate of the students in north Pulaski County if and when a new district is formed in the area.

Lisa Otey, wife of Little Rock Air Force Base commander Col. Gregory Otey, told school officials and others that she had pulled two of her three children out of the Pulaski County Special School District since the family arrived in January, calling the facilities “no better than schools in eastern Europe — in East Germany before the wall fell down.”

Otey was one of about 20 people who took advantage of a town meeting to tell district officials their thoughts on whether or not those in that attendance zone would prefer to continue their affiliation with PCSSD, to affiliate with the proposed — but not inevitable — Jacksonville district, or to split that affiliation down the length of state Hwy. 107.

The back gate of LRAFB is in the Bayou Meto Elementary attendance zone.

More than 150 people squeezed into the Bayou Meto cafeteria, with many of them filling out questionnaires to express their thoughts before they left.

Interim Supt. Rob McGill told them that last September the board had voted in favor of a standalone Jacksonville-area district, but that many steps would be required. Setting boundaries was one important step.

“We’re here to get information about what you’re wanting to do,” he said.

District boundaries are pretty well agreed-upon with the exception of the Bayou Meto attendance zone.

The board will meet in special session at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the results, although it is not clear whether or not they will formalize boundaries of the proposed new district — including or excluding the Bayou Meto area students — at that time.

The town meeting, moderated by former state Rep. Sandra Prater, revealed a strong sense of community in the area, strong passions, people operating on misinformation and a lot of thoughtful questions.

Some expressed concern that Northwood Middle School, where area students had traditionally gone to school, had been ceded by Jacksonville to PCSSD to appease Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman and those who want Sherwood’s boundaries to correspond with its attendance zones.
Otey, the commander’s wife, said, “I come as a concerned mother and the representative of our families on the Air Force base.”

While the Oteys sent two of their children to school in North Little Rock, she keeps the youngest on the base at Arnold Drive.

“I would like to let you know that the families of our military have children who are at risk. Their families are fighting the war on terror,” she said.

“I have never seen schools in this state of disrepair and lack of money and lack of support. And I personally do not wish for my children and the children of the military families that we have to attend schools in these types of situations,” Otey said.

“I have spent a lot of time in the last several months with the leadership of Jacksonville, the people of Jacksonville, and I can tell you they are very passionate about LRAFB, about all of the schools that would be in this new district.And just because you are out here on this far northern side, I want you to know that they have felt this hurt and this pain for as long as you have and they only want what is best for their children as well. And if we all come together, then we can make this happen.

“I cannot give you an official representation of the base, but I can tell you as a parent of a military child that I would really like your support on this,” she added.

Nancy Albott said she wanted to stay with PCSSD because she understood that her children would have to leave the area and go to school at Sylvan Hills schools.

Shawn Wren said Northwood Middle School needed to remain with North Pulaski High School because they share such programs as band and other music facilities.

Philip Tougas said he had a child going into second grade at Bayou Meto. “I love this school. Why would we want to be part of your school problems? I don’t want my students to be part of your program,” he said.

Board member Gwen Williams warned that a Jacksonville district would have to raise taxes to operate. But financial consultant Don Stewart said that wasn’t true and that no taxes could be raised without first electing a new school board. That board would then have to vote to put a bond issue before the people, and then the patrons would have to vote in favor of it.

Susan Jeffers, an area resident, said no new bond issues had been approved for about 30 years, because they trusted former Superintendent Bobby Lester, but didn’t trust current and former board members who keep running off superintendents by buying out their contracts.

“If you get a Jacksonville district, you need to take Cato (Elementary) and Northwood (Middle School) with it.”

Among those who addressed the assembly, board member Charlie Wood told them he thought they should stay with PCSSD and that they had no guarantees that taxes wouldn’t be raised in a Jacksonville district.

He said Jacksonville just wanted them in the district because their benchmark scores are so high and to make the proposed district “whiter.”

Among other officials who spoke were McGill; board member Bill Vasquez, who represents Jacksonville; board president Tim Clark, who represents Maumelle, and board member Gwen Williams, who represents McAlmont and Scott, as well as Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher, Daniel Gray of the Jacksonville Education Foundation, and Donald Stewart, the consultant hired by the foundation to assess the fiscal feasibility of both a Jacksonville district and also PCSSD in the absence of the
Jacksonville district residents and the real estate.

Fletcher told the group that because of old, poor schools all but ignored by the PCSSD, neighbor Cabot had grown 54 percent over the past 10 years, while Jacksonville had grown a paltry 5 percent.

“I’m on the tail end of something that started 30 years ago,” he said.

“There’s no question that we can support a district,” he said. “The question is, do you want to join us?”
“I believe you ought to have the opportunity to determine what you want to do,” said Wood. “That doesn’t’ mean I don’t have a preference. I want you to stay with our district.”

“Jacksonville needs you because you have the highest test scores. You’ll be carrying more than your weight. And Jacksonville needs more white kids.”

“Jacksonville has the lowest wealth index,” Wood said. “Your wealth index is needed to run their district.”

Gray responded that Jackson-ville’s low wealth index was a blessing because it means that the state would pay 65 percent of the cost of approved new buildings, while in Pulaski County the state pays almost nothing.

Gray also said that while the patrons of Bayou Meto now have one board member, who also represents two other areas, it is likely it would have its own board member in a Jacksonville district, one of seven, all of whom would represent areas of the relatively compact (compared to PCSSD) school district.

Danny Gililland, who represents the area now, was out of town on a family vacation planned long before the town meeting was set 10 days ago.

LeeAnn Fortson asked how much the taxes on a $200,000 house would be in a Jacksonville district. Exactly the same as in PCSSD, Stewart told her.

Peggy Kestler asked if affiliating with a Jacksonville district would be the first step in Jacksonville annexing the area.

Kem Phillips said PCSSD officials seemed defensive and probably should since ceilings at Bayou Meto have fallen in, the hot water has been turned off to save money and the administration is operating without air conditioning. “I don’t want my child promoted into PCSSD,” she said.

Patricia Goodman said, “When I have to ask myself the question about where my community is, my community is not Sylvan Hills. When I go shopping, I go to the base or Walmart in Jacksonville. I go to church in Jacksonville. Everything I do, I do in Jacksonville, not Vilonia, Conway or Sylvan Hills.

“Now we have nothing to compare to when we compare the Pulaski County Special School District for what it is and the Jacksonville district for what it might be, because we don’t know what it might be.

“I will have a very strong hand in that because I am part of that community. I have no say whatso- ever in the Pulaski County Special School District,” she continued.

“Whatever the Jacksonville district could be — that could be completely up to me and everyone in this room. It’s not the people who live across the river. I work for the Little Rock school system. I would rather work for the Jacksonville School District but I won’t work for Pulaski County,” Goodman said.

EDITORIAL >>Dog days

It’s time for some cheers.

Not the hip-hip-hooray type of cheer, but time for watermelon cheers. The first watermelon cheer goes to...the Sherwood City Council for spending money like it is the federal government. The main difference is that the feds can print up more, Sherwood can’t. This year, the council has voted to spend $300,000 to revitalize the North Hills golf course, just over $100,000 for salaries for the golf superintendent and four other course employees, on top of $200,000 that was stolen from city funds.

All this money was taken from the city’s $2 million reserve fund. That still looks like there’s a lot left for emergencies, but a big downturn in taxes or lawsuit settlement, and poof, it’s all gone.

The second watermelon cheer goes to...the Jackson-ville’s City Council. In Gary Fletcher’s first council meeting as mayor, the council quickly shoved through a motion to put John Ferrell into Fletcher’s vacant council seat. The motion and second came so quickly, Fletcher didn’t even have time to look up a date on the calendar that he was going to suggest for voting on his council replacement.

What was the rush?

Ferrell didn’t even show up at the next council meeting after his appointment. He was locked into vacation plans that couldn’t be changed. So why did he have to be appointed right away — when the item was on the agenda for discussion only, and five other residents had sent in letters of interest and resumes?

In keeping with this paper’s policy of fairness, Alderman Terry Sansing did vote against Ferrell’s appointment as if it were an emergency.

Ah, the dog days of summer.

SPORTS>>Petrino placing greater stress on special teams

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE — You wouldn’t expect a University of Arkansas football coach to say something more significant at a contrived fan event in Fayetteville than at SEC Media Days.

Yet Bobby Petrino did just that. At last week’s kickoff to the “100 years of Razorbacks Celebration” that commemorated coach Hugo Bezdek’s change of mascot from the Arkansas Cardinals to the Arkansas Razorbacks, Petrino began by sounding like every football coach at a July gathering.

“We will be very exciting and wide open on offense and very aggressive, and very hard-nosed and aggressive on defense,” Petrino said.

Can you ever recall a coach promising a boring, stodgy offense and guaranteeing a weak-kneed, pacifist defense?

But it was Petrino’s comment about the kicking game, a topic many coaches consider too nuts-and-bolts dull for a rah-rah fan setting, that prompted interest here.

Petrino promised the Hogs would be “much more sound and experienced in the kicking game.”

The fact is, the Hogs won’t be as experienced in the punting game after Jeremy Davis graduated and left brand new junior college transfer Briton Forester as the punter in waiting, with Ryan Mallett in reserve.

On the placekicking side, Alex Tejada, the junior from Springdale, has much to prove.

Yet there’s a lot more to the kicking game than kicking.

That’s why Petrino matter-of-factly predicts a better kicking game.

From protecting the punter to covering the punts and kickoffs and returning punts and kickoffs, Petrino sees so many of the rookies he had to use last year now knowing what it takes to become special on special teams.

So any true freshman wanting to play on this season’s special teams will have to display truly special ability in the forthcoming August preseason.

The Hogs played 14 true freshmen in 2008. Most were rookie regulars on special teams.

There’s a new emphasis on special teams that wasn’t necessarily there in 2008.

Kirk Botkin, last year’s special teams coach, is a good coach and good guy with good credentials. He not only has college special teams coaching experience but was an NFL special-teamer and tight end after being the Razorbacks’ tight end from 1990-93. He was Arkansas’ first-ever first-team All-SEC selection in the UA’s 1992 maiden SEC season and repeated as All-SEC in ‘93.

But Botkin, in his second year as coach of Razorbacks defensive ends, was a D-line coach first and special teams coach second last year. Also, he had never previously worked under Petrino and didn’t know exactly what Petrino wanted.

John L. Smith, hired last spring as special teams coordinator, hadn’t worked for Petrino, either.

Petrino worked for him. Smith was the head coach when Petrino was an assistant at Utah State and Louisville.

While serving on defensive coordinator Willy Robinson’s staff, Smith is coaching just one position — outside linebacker. When Smith has additional special teams concerns, that one linebacker spot can always get additional supervision from linebackers coach Reggie Johnson, as was the case last year.

So Smith most definitely will coach special teams first and defense second.

“I think he will be a tremendous asset to us,” Petrino told media at SEC Media Days. “John L.’s the kind of a guy that raised me in this profession, taught me a lot about coaching. When I had an opportunity to hire him back as our special teams coordinator, it didn’t take long to figure out that would be the right thing to do.

“He’s brought a lot of experience to our staff. I know that he’ll help me a lot as the head football coach.”

SPORTS>>Local golfers thrilled by Watson’s magic, disappointed by his collapse in playoff

Leader sports editor

It was nearly one for the ages … and for the aging as well.

Last Sunday, Tom Watson came within a nine-foot putt on the 72nd hole of the British Open of becoming the oldest player — by an astonishing 11 years — to win a major.

But that nine-foot putt might as well have been nine miles for the frightened, tenuous stroke the 59-year-old, five-time British Open winner offered at it. It was the beginning of a stunningly disappointing and anticlimactic conclusion to a miracle-in-the-making and a sports story that likely would have rated among the top five of all time.

The putt on 18 was so bad that Watson himself was unable to suppress a smirk and he soon found he had absolutely nothing left for the four-hole playoff. Stewart Cink won the Claret Jug by six shots over those four holes while an emotionally and physically drained Watson floundered to the end.

Shortly after it was over, I began to wonder just what impact Watson’s remarkable week at Turnberry might have had on older golfers in the area who remember him in his prime, and I sat down with a couple of Greystone Country Club members who both bear the name Ron Stewart. The two play together at Greystone and live on the same street. The younger of the two goes by the name R.G. The elder Stewart is 79 years old and carries a 12 handicap, while 53-year-old R.G. plays to a seven.

“I’m not a big Watson fan, but I was pulling immensely for him because of the accomplishment that would have been,” Ron said. “But I also think he made a bad choice of clubs on his third shot. And that putt wasn’t even close. Then I said that if he got to a playoff, he’d be done. He’d be emotionally spent. And that’s exactly what happened.”

Watson came into the 72nd hole needing only par but flew his approach shot over the green onto the back fringe. Rather than chip the ball from some 35 feet, Watson elected to putt it.

“I think he should have taken a lofted club and tried to impart some spin on the ball,” Ron said. “He just had to hit that putt so hard.”

Ron admitted that growing up, he was a big Arnold Palmer fan and found both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson to be arrogant.

Ron said he was particularly upset with the way Watson handled his divorce 10 years ago. And yet, he still was pulling for him last Sunday and praised Watson for his honesty after the heartbreaking collapse.

“He was top notch,” Ron said. “He laid the blame on himself. And he was honest about being disappointed. He wasn’t going to say, ‘Oh, I had a great tournament.’

“It’s still a great story. But the way it ended really hurts.”

R.G. was also a Palmer fan first and foremost back in the day, but liked Watson a whole lot more than his buddy Ron. R.G. said most of his golf partners at Greystone were pulling for Watson.

“And it’s because we all relate to that — I mean a senior playing under that kind of pressure and that kind of spotlight and microscope,” R.G. said. “You couldn’t help but pull for him. It was a feel-good story. It would have been the No. 1 story of the year.”

R.G. said that the way it all ended — Watson’s woeful putt on 18 followed by bogey-par-double bogey-bogey — didn’t take away from Watson’s remarkable performance over the four days, but it still left him feeling a little hollow.

“It really diminishes the story,” he said. “I was real disappointed he wasn’t able to pull it off. I guess it’s because we are close to the same age and I would have just seen that as a tremendous accomplishment to have beaten all those flat-bellies.

“To be able to compete with all the young guys and do it well and almost pull it off.”

Ron also expressed his empathy with Cink, whose victory he thinks might be relegated to a footnote, like at the 1968 Masters when Bob Goalby won after actual victor Roberto Di Vincenzo signed an incorrect scorecard.

“That Masters is known as the one that Di Vincenzo lost,” Ron said. “And I’m afraid this one is going to be known as the one that Tom Watson lost. It will be a trivia question, ‘Well, who won?’”

Neither Ron nor R.G. think, as some critics have complained, that a 59-year-old competing for a major championship diminishes the reputation of the sport. Ron said those people don’t understand that it is all the changes in the game and in technology that make such a feat possible — from golf equipment to physical fitness to hip replacements.

“Fifty-nine is the new thirty-nine,” Ron insisted. “They didn’t have hip replacements 35 years ago. Plus the fact that (Turnberry) is not a long course. He wouldn’t do that on a long course.”

R.G. said the disappointment of Watson’s inability to seal the deal last Sunday was compounded by the once-in-a-lifetime nature of it.

“I kind of see it like Rocco (Mediate) and Tiger in the U.S. Open last year,” he said of Mediate’s and Woods’ phenomenal playoff duel. “I don’t see Rocco being able to duplicate that feat. And I think that’s probably true for Watson.

“I’d love to see it, and not just necessarily for Watson. Any of the other seniors, I don’t care who it was. If there was a senior competing in there on the last day of any major, they’d be my sentimental favorite. Everybody loves a long shot.”

SPORTS>>Triple play dooms Centennial Bank

Leader sports editor

Cabot has been here before and survived.

In fact, it was just last weekend that the Centennial Bank Legion seniors began zone tournament play with a loss before battling back to earn one of two berths to the state tournament.

But this climb figures to be a lot steeper after Cabot fell 9-3 to Jonesboro in the opening round of the American Legion senior state tournament at Burns Park on Friday evening.

Cabot (16-11) faces Fayette-ville today at 10 a.m. in an elimination game.

The tale of Friday’s game can be told in the eighth inning when Cabot had everything set up and came away empty before Jonesboro turned a ho-hum start to its half of the inning into five unearned runs to put the game away.

Trailing just 4-3 in the eighth inning, Centennial Bank loaded the bases with no one out after Ben Wainwright was hit with a pitch, Powell Bryant singled and Chase Thompson was safe on a bunt single when no one covered first.

Joe Bryant stepped in against relief pitcher Brendan Camp and hit a rocket, but right at second baseman James Day, who began and completed that rarest of all baseball plays: the unassisted triple play. Day stepped on second to double up Powell Bryant and tagged out Thompson running from first to squash an enormous opportunity.

But with the heart of the order coming up in the ninth, Centennial Bank was far from out of it and, despite a one-out error in the bottom of the eighth, it looked like Cabot would remain within a single run after Dustin Jones grounded into the second out of the inning.

Then, it all came unraveled over the next three batters. A single, another error and a grand slam by Kameron Walker made it 8-3. Three more singles added another run and put the game out of reach.

The contest featured 40 base runners — 23 by the Ricemen — but only 12 scored. Jonesboro had two runners thrown out at the plate and another cut down by catcher Wainwright trying to steal. On top of that, the Ricemen also stranded 10 runners.

But Cabot missed out on nearly as many opportunities, stranding 11 — including eight over the first four innings.

The biggest lost chance — other than the one the triple play ended in the eighth — came an inning earlier when a single by Joe Bryant, a walk to Reynolds and Steele’s RBI single to center narrowed the Jonesboro lead to 4-2 and put Cabot in business with two on, no one out and hot-hitting Sam Bates at the plate.

Bates hit the ball hard, but right to Day at second, who turned a 4-6-3 double play. Cabot did close the gap further when Reynolds came in on an errant throw on Drew Burks’ grounder to short.

Cole Nicholson allowed 18 hits over 7 2/3 innings, but only four earned runs. Nicholson fanned three, walked one and hit two others. He left for C.J. Jacoby in the never-ending eighth. Jacoby ended the inning with a ground out, retiring the only batter he faced.

Jonesboro starter Cade Lynch, an all-state hurler for Valley View High, was tough on the red-hot Cabot hitters, especially early on.

But two walks and a hit batter gave Centennial Bank a chance to strike first in the opening frame. Lynch, though, was able to strike out Matt Turner, and Jonesboro responded with three in the bottom of the first. It began with a misplayed triple to center. An infield single, a hit batter and two more singles produced the three runs, but a shortstop-to-second-to-first double play kept things from getting out of hand.

Bates got Cabot’s first hit off Lynch when he rocketed a double to left center with two outs in the third. Burks was hit with a pitch, but Turner flied out to center as Cabot came up empty again.

Wainwright belted a leadoff home run to straightaway center in the fourth. A walk to Powell Bryant and a bunt single by Thompson put two on with no one out. But Lynch got the next three batters as Cabot stranded their seventh and eighth runners.

A two-out double got Jones-boro its three-run lead back in the fifth. Lynch settled down to retire the side in the fifth and the sixth, retiring nine in a row before Joe Bryant’s leadoff single started Cabot’s two-run seventh.

Centennial Bank managed only seven hits — two by Thompson.

Lynch struck out seven, but walked five and hit three.

SPORTS>>Revamped Rhinos host Jaguars

Leader sports editor

Oscar Malone is hoping that with a week of practice in their new scheme, the Arkansas Rhinos will finally get their offense untracked.

So far it’s been a real struggle, with last week’s 16-6 loss to St. Louis as the low point. The Rhinos, who fell to 2-1, managed only 166 yards in the loss. Malone, the Rhinos’ owner and new offensive coordinator, said he hopes the mistakes from last Saturday — missed blocking assignments, fumbles, interceptions — will keep to the sidelines when the Rhinos host the Arkansas Jaguars tonight at 7:30 at Jacksonville Middle School’s Bob Hill Memorial Field.

“We put in a lot of changes and a lot of new blocking schemes and we were a little confused over that,” Malone said of his team’s sluggish showing last weekend. “And then if we did execute the plays that were called and got our blocking and our schemes right, we didn’t take care of the football.”

The Rhinos trailed 3-0 with four minutes to go, and answered a late St. Louis touchdown with one of their own. St. Louis scored on a last-minute breakaway to set the final margin.

Malone said it is time for the Rhinos to enter the modern era offensively and took over control of the offense after it produced only 29 points in its first two games.

“We’ve pretty much gone away from the tight end and will run two backs and three receivers,” he said. “We want to stop being conservative and have more flashy plays and deep balls. We want to be more upscale.”

Meanwhile, the Rhino defense continues to shine, limiting St. Louis to a mere 133 yards. Arkansas had allowed only 30 points through three games.

“That’s the Rhino trademark is our defense,” Malone said. “We’ve just begun to become more of an offensive team the past four years.”

Last week, quarterback Jer-emiah Crouch struggled to a 6-of-18, 105-yard performance, while the running game didn’t fare much better. Leading rusher Jerald Marshall was held to 16 yards, while Brendan Medcalf managed 38. Stewart Franks had a big game with 93 yards on four catches.

Malone said his team is loaded with athletes, which should make for a successful transition to the more wide-open offense.

And though Crouch has been spotty on occasion, Malone said he has plenty of confidence in him, especially his experience and understanding of the offense.

“If you have a good running back, a good receiver and a good quarterback, you can run any offense,” he said. “We have athletes across the board. We have two of each.”

Malone said the big four are Marshall, Medcalf, Franks and wide receiver Tim Mason. Mason played at the University of Central Arkansas as well as the Arkansas Razorbacks, while Franks was a starter at UAPB.

Tickets for tonight’s game are $6. For more information visit the team’s Web site at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

EDITORIAL >> How to get lottery jobs

Buyer’s remorse has set in with the Arkansas lottery in the wake of exorbitant hiring practices of the “independent” lottery commission and its director, but it is the nature of remorse to be late and fruitless.

Legislators one after the other have said they are shocked by the huge salaries paid to the new public employees at the lottery and that they never intended for the lottery to become such an extravagant playpen.

The speaker of the House of Representatives and the chief sponsor of the lottery’s enabling law last winter, Rep. Robbie Wills of Conway, said he went along with the $324,000 (plus perks) for Ernie Passailaigue, the South Carolina politician hired to run the lottery, but not all the other six-figure salaries. Gov. Mike Beebe was the first to detect rising public choler over the salaries and to say he didn’t like them.

One by one, the lawmakers who were picked by the legislature’s presiding officers to oversee the lottery’s operations (they can tut-tut or amen, but they are powerless to really do anything) said they didn’t expect the high salaries when they endorsed Passailaigue’s first pay schedule. But what did they expect when the maximums were so high? Actually, all the hires so far have been a little below the maximums the legislators endorsed, except for the sheriff of Grant County, whose $115,000 was the ceiling for the man who would look after security in the lottery offices.

Sen. David Johnson of Little Rock, an impressive young man who was elected to the upper chamber last year, was one of the overseers who expressed his dismay this week. He said the legislature, which will reassemble in January, should take another look at the lottery operations and reduce the big salaries. But it is not at all clear that the legislature can legally enforce any economies. The legislature’s power over compensation and other spending in government agencies lies in appropriations. One of the little-noticed provisos in the constitutional amendment authorizing the lottery that voters approved in November said the legislature could never appropriate any of the funds that the lottery raises. (Until the lottery starts, the lottery salaries are paid from the state’s general funds, which are your income taxes.) The lottery is supposed to be free to spend money however it wishes without restraints imposed by either the executive or legislative branches. That is in the Constitution now.

One man in the legislature and one on the lottery commission are not having any second thoughts. Ray Thornton, the commission’s chairman, and Sen. Bob Johnson, the president pro tempore of the Senate, who appointed Thornton to the commission, said all the hires were just fine and that there was nothing to regret.

John Brummett, the Stephens Media columnist who has blown hot and cold on the lottery business, suggested yesterday why no one should be surprised at the coincidence. When Thornton was a congressman from the Second District, Johnson was on his staff. Also on Thornton’s staff were Julie Baldridge, who had been an aide when he was president of the University of Arkansas, and Bridgette Frazier. When Johnson went to the legislature and became speaker of the House he hired Frazier, who had gotten a law degree, as the House’s “counsel.” The House had never had a lawyer on its staff before and some questioned whether it ever needed one. As presiding officer of the House and then the Senate, he borrowed Baldridge from the law school at Little Rock, where she had gone to work, to help him during legislative sessions.

As Brummett recounted it, Johnson asked Baldridge to help in developing the lottery legislation last winter and she made contact with Passailaigue in South Carolina to get advice. They got on good terms. Johnson appointed Thornton to the lottery commission and the others elected him chairman. Thornton called Passailaigue and got him to accept the Arkansas job for $324,000. Passailaigue’s first hire at Little Rock was Baldridge, who got a raise of $30,000. Next he created the job of lottery counsel and hired. . . . Who else but Bridgette Frazier? The security director, now the highest law enforcement official in Arkansas history, was the sheriff in Thornton’s home town.

Remember when all the lottery advocates, including Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, said it was important to go out of state and get a professional to run the lottery because it would be free of politics and cronyism. How did that turn out?

TOP STORY >> Ernie P. says we’ll find out he’s the best

Leader editor-in-chief

The Arkansas Lottery Commission is an embarrassment. Most Arkansans are furious over the salaries the lottery commission has lavished on the new director and his staff.

But lottery director Ernie Passailaigue told the Political Animals Club in Little Rock yesterday that he’s going to make a lot of people happy when the lottery kicks off in October.

“There will be a bunch of smiling people,” Passailaigue said, talking about lottery players who’ll get rich and thousands of kids who’ll receive college scholarships.

As far as he’s concerned, he and his two sidekicks from South Carolina are worth the $774,000-a-year salary we’re paying them.

Wait a minute: Sam Walton didn’t pay himself that kind of a salary when he was building his empire. But it’s nothing compared to the Arkansas lottery.

Ernie P. has a pretty high opinion of himself. He’s making $324,000 a year, or $6,230 a week. No wonder he’s smiling.

You get the impression if you offered him $1 million a year, he’d take it because he knows he’s that good.

A lot of people think Gov. Mike Beebe and the legislature should rein in the commission, reduce staff salaries and even start all over, even if it means putting off the lottery until next year.

Especially if it means delaying it a year or more. If you read newspaper editorials and drink coffee with friends, people will tell you this is Arkansas’ worst scandal since the highway commission shenanigans more than half a century ago.

We may be a bunch of rubes when it comes to lotteries, the argument goes, but the new director, his staff and the commission shouldn’t have picked our pockets.

Everyone’s mad at them, so why not let them go? Give the staff a modest severance pay and let a couple of hungry young lawyers run the show for a fraction of what Ernie and Co. are paid.

But that won’t happen. Ernie’s allies are dug in, and he can take the criticism. He’s an old pol from South Carolina, and some grumpy old editorial writers won’t scare him away.

Passailaigue has lost a lot of credibility with Arkansans, and so has Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, the Manchurian candidate who helped create this monster. He made his name pushing for the lottery and hoped to succeed Beebe one day. But, really, both their reputations are tarnished.

Legislative oversight is needed more than ever. House Speaker Rob Wills (D-Conway) and Sen. Bob Johnson (D-Bigelow), the president pro tempore of the Senate, are part of the team that brought Ernie P. to Arkansas.

Now they say they want to approve all salaries above $80,000. Other legislators also want to put the brakes on this runaway train.

“The governor has been concerned about the astronomical salaries,” said state Sen. Bobby Glover, (D-Carlisle.) “Apparently they’ve given the director free rein. He’s said if they aren’t going to let him run it, he’s ready to go back to South Carolina.”

Glover said that while the lottery commission is independent of state government, Beebe, Johnson and Wills each made appointments to the commission.

Sen. Mary Anne Salmon (D-North Little Rock) says if she had it to do over again, she’d set the top and bottom salaries. Salmon is on the legislative oversight committee for the lottery.

“We probably should have emphasized that the pay scale has a bottom and a top and we’d like to get most of the people in the middle,” Salmon said.

But she said all three top hires had opportunities to go somewhere else. “We needed them here,” she insisted.

Salmon said the lottery will be a multimillion-dollar business and it is necessary to pay a competitive rate to get experienced people to come in and run it.

“We’re eager to get it off the ground and get some scholarships going,” Salmon said.

“I’m pleased that the commission has said it wanted to approve any future salaries over $80,000.”

Well, sure. Ernie P. called the Hogs yesterday at the Political Animals Club, and it looks he’ll stay a while. He’ll also hire more Arkies, but for a lot less dough.

Pig Sooie.

TOP STORY >> Test says students do better with math

Leader staff writer

Arnold Drive fourth-graders at Little Rock Air Force Base scored better than 87 percent of the fourth-graders across the nation in math, and the school’s third- and fifth-graders beat out about 80 percent of the nation’s fifth-graders in math, according to recently released test scores.

Cabot fifth-graders at Magness Creek and Stagecoach, along with those at Searcy’s Westside Elementary, also beat out about 80 percent of their grade-level competition across the country in math.

On the other hand, nearly 80 percent of the nation’s seventh- graders can read better than those at the Jacksonville Middle School boys’ campus, based on the SAT-10 scores.

Also, about 80 percent of the nation’s third-graders have better language skills than the third-grades at Jacksonville or Harris elementary schools.

Along with the recently benchmark scores, the Arkansas Department of Education also released the Stanford Achievement Test (tenth series) scores, which compares Arkansas students to other students across the nation.

The benchmark and the SAT -10 are combined in one testing packet called the Augmented Benchmark Exam. About 209,000 students, grade three through grade eight, took the augmented or combined exams in April.

Some of the exam questions are scored for the benchmark, while others are scored for the SAT-10 and some questions are used for both.

The benchmark portion of the augmented exam measures how well students have learned or have been taught the state frameworks for his or her grade. The benchmark is used by the state to see how well schools are or aren’t performing.

The SAT-10 compares state students to all other students across the country that have taken a similar test.

While students are given a score of advanced, proficient, basic or below basic on the benchmark, on the SAT-10 the student is given a percentile ranking that shows where he or she stands nationally.

For example, if a fourth-grade student is in the 60th percentile, it means the student scored better than 59 percent of the fourth- graders across the country, but 39 percent scored better.

Overall, area students are strongest in math, with many schools scoring above the 50th percentile, and weakest in language skills, with most schools scoring below the 50th percentile.


In Beebe, third-graders scored in the 49th percentile in reading, the 65th percentile in math and the 39th percentile in language.

In Cabot, Central Elementary students were in the 45th percentile in reading, the 61st in math and the 34th in language.

Westside students scored in the 43rd percentile in reading, the 56th percentile in math and the 36th band in language. At Stagecoach, students were in the 58th percentile in reading, the 76th band in math and the 52nd percentile in language.

Students at Cabot’s Southside scored in the 50th percentile in reading, the 68th percentile in math and the 44th band in language. Northside students were in the 46th percentile in reading, the 65th band in math and the 39th percentile in language. At Eastside, students scored in the 54th percentile in reading, the 68th percentile in math and the 46th band in language.

Magness Creek students were in the 57th percentile in reading, the 79th band in math and the 55th percentile in language.

Ward Central third-graders were in the 39th percentile for reading, the 52nd band in math and the 28th in language.

At Lonoke, third graders scored in the 41st percentile in reading, the 54th percentile in math and the 33rd band in language.

In Pulaski County, Arnold Drive students were in the 71st percentile in reading, the 81st band in math and the 67th in language. Tolleson students scored in the 50th percentile in reading, the 59th percentile in math and the 38th band in language. Harris Elementary students were in the 25th percentile in reading, the 36th band in math and the 17th percentile in language.

At Bayou Meto Elementary, the third-graders scored in the 39th percentile in reading, the 61st percentile in math and the 29th band in language. Cato Elementary students were in the 31st percentile in reading, the 58th band in math and the 29th percentile in language.

Jacksonville Elementary third-graders scored in the 24th band in reading, the 38th percentile in math and the 19th in language. Pinewood students scored in the 26th percentile in reading, the 46th band in math and the 23rd percentile in language. Students at Warren Dupree were in the 31st percentile in reading, the 36th percentile in math and the 26th band in language.

In Sherwood, Clinton Elementary students scored in the 39th percentile in reading, the 44th band in math and 32nd in language. Oakbrook students were in the 38th percentile in reading, the 55th percentile in math and the 37th band in language. Sylvan Hills’ third-graders scored in the 34th percentile in reading, the 55th band in math and the 28th percentile in language.

Sherwood Elementary students were in the 37th percentile in reading, the 48th percentile in math and the 39th band in language.

In Searcy, Sidney Deener third-graders scored in the 61st percentile in reading, the 71st band in math and the 60th percentile in language. McRae Elementary students were in the 47th percentile in reading, the 58th band in math and the 37th percentile in language. Westside students scored in the 64th band in reading, the 72nd percentile in math and the 58th in language.


In Beebe, fourth-graders were at the 69th percentile in reading, the 76th percentile in math and the 39th percentile in language.

At Cabot’s Central Elementary, the students score in the 72nd percentile in reading and math and in the 45 percentile in language. Southside students were in the 70th percentile in reading, the 76th percentile in math and the 45th band in language. At Ward Central, the fourth-graders scored in the 64th percentile in reading, 68th percentile in math and down to the 39th percentile in language.

Cabot Northside students scored in the 70th percentile in reading, the 74th percentile in math and the 43rd percentile in language. Stagecoach students were in the 74th percentile for reading, the 81st for math and the 43rd in language. Fourth-graders at Magness Creek scored in the 74 percentile in reading, the 81st percentile in math and the 50th percentile in language.

At Cabot’s Eastside Elementary, students scored in the 70th percentile in reading, the 72nd band in math and the 45th percentile in language.

Lonoke fourth graders scored in the 67th percentile in reading, the 69th percentile in math and the 39th band in language.

In the Pulaski County, Arnold Drive beat those averages, scoring in the 77th percentile in reading, the 88th percentile in math and the 62nd percentile in language. Tolleson students scored in the 60th percentile in reading, the 68th percentile in math and the 42nd percentile in language. At Dupree Elementary, students scored in the 59th percentile in reading, the 70th band in math and in the 38th percentile in language.

Bayou Meto students scored in the 70th percentile in reading, the 76th percentile in math and the 47th band in language. At Cato, students scored in the 63rd percentile in reading, the 64th band in math and the 38th in language.

Sherwood Elementary students scored in the 59th percentile in reading, the 65th percentile in math and the 34th band in language. Oakbrooke students scored in the 59th percentile in reading, the 65th band in math and the 29th percentile in language. At Sylvan Hills, students scored in the 57th percentile in reading, the 65th in math and the 27th band in language.

Clinton Elementary students scored in the 61st percentile in reading, the 72nd band in math and the 30th percentile in language.

At Pinewood, students scored in the 52nd percentile in reading, the 63rd percentile in math and the 24th band in language.

Jacksonville Elementary fourth-graders scored in the 40th percentile in reading, the 51st percentile in math and the 20th percentile in language.

At Searcy’s Westside Elementary, the fourth-graders scored in the 74th percentile in reading, the 81st percentile in math and the 54th percentile in language. McRae students scored in the 64th percentile in reading, the 71st band in math and the 42nd in language. At Sidney Deener, the fourth graders scored in the 68th percentile in reading, the 71st band in math and the 43rd percentile in language.


Fifth-graders in Beebe scored in the 54th percentile in reading, the 61st percentile in math and the 47th percentile in language.

At Cabot Middle School South, students scored in the 65th percentile in reading, the 66th percentile in math and the 53rd in language. At Cabot Middle School North, students scored in the 66th percentile in reading, the 68th percentile in math and the 51st band in language.

In Pulaski County, the Arnold Drive students scored in the 79th percentile in reading, the 82nd band in math and the 61st percentile in language. At Tolleson, the students scored in the 58th percentile in reading and math and in the 49th percentile in language. Bayou Meto students were in the 59th percentile in reading, the 63rd band in math and the 43rd percentile in language. At Cato Elementary, students scored in the 49th percentile in reading, the 47th percentile in math and the 35th band in language.

At Warren Dupree, fifth-graders scored in the 44 percentile in reading, the 58th percentile in math and the 42nd percentile in language. Murrell Taylor students scored in the 28th percentile in reading, the 38th percentile in math and the 29th percentile in language.

At Jacksonville Elementary, students were in the 27th percentile in reading, the 33rd percentile in math and the 28th percentile in language. Pinewood students scored in the 50th percentile in reading, the 55th percentile in math and the 43rd band in language.

Students at Harris Elementary scored in the 28th percentile in reading, the 41st percentile in math and the 26th percentile in language.

At Oakbrooke Elementary in Sherwood, students scored in the 56th percentile in reading, the 59th percentile in math and the 44th band in language. Sherwood Elementary students were in the 47th band in reading, the 57th in math and the 43rd percentile in language. Clinton Elementary students scored in the 47th percentile in reading, the 49th in math and the 41st band in language.

In Searcy, fifth-grade students scored in the 71st percentile in reading, the 72nd percentile in math and the 62nd band in language.

Editor’s note: Sixth, seventh and eighth-grade scores will appear in Saturday’s Leader.

TOP STORY >> More smokers quit habit in Arkansas

Leader staff writer

It is too early to tell whether or not the new state and federal tobacco taxes will have a great effect on the number of smokers statewide, but more Arkansans are quitting the habit.

At least one business says higher taxes are cutting into sales.

A clerk at a discount tobacco shop in Jacksonville says that although she’s not sure of the numbers, “you can definitely see a difference” in tobacco sales.

A supermarket branch manager says that the tax is “hurting us a lot.”

A Walgreens clerk in Jacksonville says, “A lot of people have switched to rolling their own cigarettes” instead of quitting altogether.

According to statistics released earlier this month from the Arkansas Department of Health, there are nearly 100,000 fewer adult smokers in Arkansas than there were in 2002, when the Health Department instituted its Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.

In 2003, a quarter --of the state’s adults were smokers, as compared to 23 percent nationally. Now, the statistic has dropped to approximately 21 percent.

Health Department spokesman Ed Barham expects new statewide data to show a continued downward trend because of the new tax hike on tobacco products.

With both taxes piled on, a pack of cigarettes in Arkansas now costs $1.15 more than it did five months ago.

Though the July-released statistics do not reflect the months during which the taxes have been in effect, they should provide a point of reference when the same survey is conducted two years from now.

“We should be able to have some idea of whether or not the tax has had a substantial effect sometime next year,” Barham said, when the Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducts its annual behavioral risk factor surveillance system survey.

National statistics suggest that “for every 10 cents that the price is raised, you see a decrease in smoking of about 4 percent,” Barham said.

So if Arkansans follow suit, he predicts that “we should see a substantial drop to a certain point. We hope in a few years to get closer to 15 percent, but the decrease will slow before then.”

However, the economic hassle does not yet seem to have convinced the average addict to quit.

Despite the sluggish economy and increased taxes, it seems that the primary catalyst to quit might still be health concerns.

Smoking remains a leading cause of death in America. It triples the risk of dying from heart disease among middle-aged men and women and exposure to secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,000 nonsmoker deaths every year, according to the American Cancer Society.

If you are one of the estimated 32.6 million Americans who wish to quit, consider the American Cancer Society’s tips to help you quit:

Consider using medication to help you quit. There are prescription and over-the-counter medications that can help with withdrawal symptoms or even help to reduce the urge to smoke.

Get help or ask for help from your health care provider.

Don't keep your intention to quit a secret. Include your friends and family in your quitting process; they can offer much-needed support.

Clear the places where you usually smoke of anything that reminds you of cigarettes – like lighters, ashtrays or matches. Tell other smokers not to smoke around you, and clean your house and car thoroughly to remove the smell of cigarettes.

Avoid places where smokers gather. Go to the movies, museums, or other places where smoking is not allowed.

Calm the nervous energy you may feel with physical and mental activities. Take long strolls and deep breaths of fresh air and find things to keep your hands busy, like crossword puzzles or gardening.

When the urge to smoke strikes, do something else. Call a supportive friend or exercise.

TOP STORY >> Memories of liberating Europe

Leader news editor

Russell Hoggard had just turned 22 when he took part in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Hoggard, 87, witnessed one of the largest invasions in history as a staff sergeant gunner with the 746th Tank Battalion.

Hoggard, who lives in rural Jacksonville, believes he is the only surviving member of the battalion.

He said that its members would reunite once a year until recently. All of his old friends from his military days have passed away over the years.

“I guess that I’m the only one left in my company. I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said.

World War II veterans are becoming scarce, making their stories even more important and cherished.

“There aren’t many of them who are able to get around anymore,” Hoggard said.

Each serviceman’s story is historically important, and Hoggard understands that. He feels obligated to share his experiences, and they’re compelling to hear.

Hoggard puts a human side to a part of American history that is becoming too distant, too quickly.

He recounts his war stories from 65 years ago with a clarity that gives listeners an understanding of the effect that the war had on his life.

His story is similar to other young men’s of his generation who made it through the Great Depression by joining the Civilian Conservation Corps and later survived the battlefields of Europe.

“The night before the invasion, they told us plainly (that we were going to invade.) First, they put us in a big compound in England. They gave us maps of the terrain over there. They sewed American flags to our clothes and removed all signs of our ranks,” said Hoggard, a White County native.

“Our first objective was to capture a little town called St. Mere Eglise,” he explained. The Germans had occupied the French town for about four years.

Nearly half a million men from Allied forces landed at Normandy to liberate Europe from fascism.

“I hit the beach about 9:30 or 10 o’clock in the morning,” just behind the first wave, he said.

Hoggard remembers seeing the sky filled with airplanes, paratroopers and piloted gliders carrying ammunition. He was awed by the magnitude of the invasion. The Allies’ military might was set to conquer Hitler’s Europe.

“If it hadn’t been for the united effort, the Germans would still be goose stepping,” he said.

It wasn’t always easy for Hoggard to talk about his experiences during the war. Over the years, he began to share his stories with his wife and children.

His memory may have been jogged when he came across a few World War II photographs up for auction in Rose Bud about five years ago. He even fought in one of the villages in the photographs.

Hoggard bid for the pictures, but he lost. When he explained to the winning bidder that he had helped liberate that village, she was so moved that she gave him the photos.

“I wonder if he made it,” he said about a soldier shown resting in the war-torn village. The chances of survival were not high.
In many ways, the photographs may be his most prized wartime memorabilia. He earned the others on the battlefield.

Hoggard was injured twice during the war, which earned him the Purple Heart and an Oak Leaf Cluster for his sacrifice.

He fought in five battles: Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium (six months after D-Day) as well as the campaigns for northern France, the Rhineland and central Europe.

“I got shelled. I lost two tanks, and our outfit lost 44 tanks in just one month,” he said.

Hoggard remembers when a fellow soldier was shot by a sniper after he raised his head out of the tank scouting for enemy positions. The soldier was shot through the neck.

Hoggard and the other men got the soldier to a medic. Hoggard’s clothing was covered in the soldier’s blood. He’s not sure how long it was before he got a fresh change of clothes.

After the soldier recovered, he was sent back to the front lines, where he died just a few days later.

Life was hard along the battle lines. The bitter cold deepened the misery of the war.

The men would sleep in holes they dug that were lined with ponchos and blankets. Two or three men shared the makeshift beds just to keep warm.

Back home, his wife Marthell was working at the ordnance plant in Jacksonville. “I worked out there from the time he went overseas until July 1945,” she said.

Marthell remembers hearing the plant’s manager announce over the intercom that Japan had surrendered and that the plant would close immediately.

Although separated by thousands of miles, the couple was helping to fight the same enemy.

“I think the Lord was keeping him for someone,” she said about her husband’s survival after so many bloody battles.

The couple was married in 1942, soon after Hoggard returned from working in a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Oregon.
C.C.C. camps were set up for the thousands of young and jobless men during the Great Depression.

One day in 1939, he was working on his family’s small dairy farm near Vilonia, where he was born, when a C.C.C. recruiter asked him if he wanted to join. Hoggard couldn’t turn down an opportunity that would make life easier for him and his parents. It was a chance to earn a solid income.

“I earned $30 a month in the C.C.C. I kept $8 and sent $22 back home to help my family,” he said.

When he got back to Vilonia, to his surprise, his father had saved all of the money that he had sent.

“The C.C.C. was one of the best things to happen. Franklin D. Roosevelt was like a king. That was one of the best things that happened,” he said.

During his time in the C.C.C., Hoggard worked as a night guard. He was responsible for waking up the men in the work camp and giving them fresh coal rations each morning.

The program gave him food and clothing, and training that would help him the rest of his life. It also prepared him for the Army.

After the war, Hoggard farmed from 1946-50. Then he worked in the engineering department of the Veterans Hospital in Little Rock for the next 25 years.

He and Marthell have four children, three sons and one daughter. Two of their sons fought in Vietnam.

“If I was a young man now, I’d go straight into the service,” he said.

TOP STORY >> How sweet it was

Berlin Airlift ‘Candy Bomber’ is Air Force icon

Story and photos by Jeffrey Smith, Leader staff writer

McCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, WASH. – There are many colonels at the air rodeo competition this week at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., but one of them with the sweetest history is 88-year-old Col. Gail Halvorsen.

Halvorsen became known as the Candy Bomber of the Berlin Airlift after the Soviets had blockaded West Berlin from June 1948 until May 1949.

The Soviets ended the blockade after the Americans airlifted thousands of tons of food and supplies into West Berlin.

Col. Charles K. Hyde, commander of the 314 Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, said, “Halvorsen is an air mobility icon.

He symbolizes Operation Vittles, the Berlin Airlift. He made a connection with a strategic impact airlift to a human element.”

“It was a strategic victory of the West that stopped the Soviet expansion. Halvorsen represents that victory, the success of the airlift. He put a human face on the conflict by showing there were people whose freedom, livelihood and families were at risk,” Hyde said.

The Berlin Airlift was a tremendous effort — cargo planes made their drops every 90 seconds. The Soviets were shocked to see that the U.S. could feed thousands of hungry Berliners from the air.

Embarrassed, the Soviets ended the blockade after less than a year. Halvorsen, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, earned his pilot’s license in September 1941. He flew in the Civil Air Patrol and the Army Air Corps. He finished military flight training as a fighter pilot. He was transferred back to the Army Air Corps when trans port pilots were needed to fly cargo planes during the Second World War.

He flew many planes, including the C-47 and the C-54. The colonel stayed with the Air Force for 31 years until retiring in 1974.

Halvorsen explained how the Berlin Airlift just kept going.

“We kept flying to Berlin after the blockade was lifted on May 12 to stockpile food supplies for West Berlin,” Halvorsen said.

He continued, “When doing that, I met some children at Tempelhof airfield in the American sector of West Berlin. One of the children asked me for chocolate. They had no chocolate for months.”

“The children in other countries would beg for American chocolate, even though the children had chocolate in their own county. The children in Berlin had no chocolate and did not ask for any. The reason they didn’t ask for any was they were so grateful to remain free. They would not beg for more than freedom. Freedom was the ultimate,” Halvorsen said.

“Because they did not beg, I gave them two sticks of gum for 30 kids. They were so excited. I told them when I came in to land, I would drop enough gum and chocolate if they would share. So they said they would share.”

Halvorsen said, “The next day I dropped chocolate and gum. Other children heard about it and gathered by the airfield.

Because of that, over the next 14 months, my buddies and I dropped over 20 tons of chocolate from the sky — only because they didn’t beg. They were grateful.”

According to news accounts, Halvorsen told the children he would wiggle his wings so the youngsters would know he’d be dropping the sweets. Candy companies in the U.S. donated tons of chocolate to support the effort.

Halvorsen was named commander of Templehof airbase in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he and his wife Alta went to the Soviet Union as Mormon missionaries.

The Air Force award for outstanding air transportation support in logistics readiness is named the Colonel Gail Halvorsen Award.

SPORTS >> Chevy Boys fail to hold leads as season ends

Leader sportswriter

There was no real need for Patrick Castleberry’s three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, but the assembled Jacksonville fans were delighted just the same when he delivered.

Gwatney Chevrolet already held a 9-1 lead over Sylvan Hills heading into the final frame, and the booming shot over the wall in left helped the Chevy Boys close out the first night of the American Legion senior Zone 3 tournament at DeSalvo Stadium with a 12-1 rout to advance in the winner’s bracket.

But Gwatney’s season came to a disappointing end when it lost a five-run lead to Cabot on Sunday, then left the bases loaded in the ninth in an 11-10 loss.

Jacksonville starting pitcher Michael Harmon shut down the Bruins with a complete-game, three-hitter through nine innings, striking out 13 batters while scattering six walks along the way.

A leadoff double by Sylvan Hills centerfielder Ty Van Schoyck, a single by Jordan Spears in the bottom of the sixth inning and a single by Nathan Eller to load the bases an inning later were the only hits the Bruins could muster against Harmon.

Gwatney jumped out to a 1-0 lead after two innings and extended its advantage to 4-0 in the fourth before four runs in the top of the seventh broke the game wide open. Terrell Brown scored on a sacrifice fly by Jared Toney in the eighth to make it 9-1 before Castleberry’s shot in the ninth.

The decisive seventh inning began with a walk to Castleberry from starting Bruins pitcher Hunter Miller, who gave up six hits, six walks and fanned six more through seven innings before being relieved on the hill.

An error allowed Seth Tomboli to reach before Castleberry scored on a double to left by Toney. Jason Regnas doubled and A.J.

Allen’s bunt scored Tomboli. A double by Tyler Wisdom plated Regnas to give Gwatney Chevrolet an 8-0 lead.

Allen scored the first run of the night for Jacksonville in the top of the second inning, reaching after being hit with a pitch and coming home on Brown’s RBI single.

Walks to Caleb Mitchell and Tyler Wisdom set up the next two scores for Gwatney in the top of the fourth inning. Devon
McClure reached on an error to load the bases with only one out.

Brown hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Mitchell, and a single by Castleberry scored Wisdom. McClure came in on the play after an error in the outfield to put Jacksonville up 4-0.

The Optimist Bruins avoided a shut out in the bottom of the seventh inning when Miller hit a fielder’s choice at third to score Michael Maddox.
Gwatney’s only miscue defensively came in the ninth inning, but Harmon finished things off with a strikeout.

Brown was 2 of 4 for Gwatney Chevrolet with two RBI and two runs scored. Castleberry was 2 of 5 with three RBI.

In addition to giving up the large lead to Cabot, Gwatney also surrendered a 7-3 lead in the sixth inning to Russellville, which went on to beat the Chevy Boys 8-7. Russellville belted two home runs in its winning rally. A.J. Allen had a home run for Gwatney.

Gwatney staved off elimination with an 18-8 win over Maumelle after putting up nine runs in the first inning.

Against Centennial Bank on Sunday, Gwatney led 7-2 in the fourth inning, and still held on to an 8-6 lead in the eighth. But errors, walks and doubles by Ty Steele and Sam Bates allowed Cabot to score five runs and take an 11-8 lead into the final inning.

Gwatney scored two to cut the lead to one and had the bases loaded with two outs. But the game — and the Chevy Boys’ season — came to an end on a pop to second.

SPORTS >> Bates leading Cabot mash unit

Leader sports editor

Sam Bates went 8 of 9 on Saturday with four doubles, a home run and seven RBI. On Sunday, with his Cabot Centennial Bank team up against the wall in two elimination games at the Zone 3 American Legion tournament at Burns Park, Bates fell off to a 5-of-9 clip with five RBI.

Cabot head coach Jay Darr figures that if his power-hitting, run-producing second baseman can keep it up at that clip, he’ll do more than land himself a Division I scholarship; he may help Centennial Bank land a state title as well.

“He is just on target with his bat,” said Darr, whose team three times escaped with wins in elimination games last weekend and opened state tournament play against Jonesboro last night. “I updated my stat book (after the Russellville game on Sunday) and he was up to .541 with an .861 slugging percentage. He’s just mashing the ball.”

Cabot junior Legion coach Andy Runyan contacted several Division I coaches in the area and Darr said UALR was there to watch Bates’ show. The Trojans are suddenly very interested.

“Sam has kind of flown under the radar a little,” Darr said. “But he hit .371 at Crowder last year with six home runs.”

First things first, though. Cabot has reached its first-ever senior state tournament just one year after the junior team accomplished the same feat. Centennial Bank is hitting the ball as well as anyone coming into the tournament at Burns Park, with Bates just happening to be the hottest among them.

Through the first five games of the tournament (Cabot fell 7-4 in the second game to North Little Rock last night and settled for a No. 2 seed), Bates belted .667 (14 of 21) with a remarkable 15 RBI and nine runs. Not far behind was catcher Ben Wainwright, who went 11 of 24 over that same span with 11 RBI and five runs.

Ty Steele was 9 of 21 with eight runs and five RBI.

Centennial Bank scored 50 runs in the tournament, and that was with two of its top hitters — Drew Burks and Matt Turner — combining to go just 7 of 35 with five RBI.

“During the dead period (when coaches are not allowed to have contact with their players), I went out to watch the guys play and their bats just really came alive,” Darr said. “It seemed like the hotter the weather got, the hotter their bats got. They’re hitting the ball better than they have all season.”

Which, as it turned out, was a good thing, given that the normally solid pitching got knocked around pretty good last weekend, surrendering 41 runs.

“The last couple of games, Cole (Nicholson) has been hit,” Darr said of his ace. “Cole for the most part this year has been dominant and he’s going to find it. The other guys have done about as well as expected. Everybody gets their bats going this time of year. And these teams are going to hit it in the state tournament.”

Darr listed Fayetteville and Jonesboro as the teams to beat. Joining them and Cabot this week at Burns Park will be Paragould, North Little Rock, Fort Smith, defending champion Bryant and Texarkana.

Darr is preaching patience this weekend.

“The thing about nine-inning games is you can’t panic if you get down early,” he said. “These are long games and there are going to be a couple of big innings.”

If his club didn’t believe him before, they probably do now after twice rallying from five-run deficits in elimination games at the zone tourney last weekend. Darr said it will likely come down to the bullpen and defense if Cabot is to reach the title game.

“I like our lineup,” he said. “The thing about our squad is, one through nine, there’s not a whole lot of a break (for opposing pitchers). But every one of these teams will be strong one through nine.

“The key will be our pitchers throwing strikes, but our defense and our bullpen will be the wild cards.”

SPORTS >> Battling Centennial Bank reaches state

Leader sports editor

From the moment the Cabot Centennial Bank seniors opened the Zone 3 American Legion tournament with a loss last Saturday, they were tiptoeing through a minefield that could have sent their state tournament hopes up in smoke.

But they made it through to the other side, and qualified for their first-ever state tournament with a 14-7 win over Russellville on Sunday. Cabot (16-10) needed to win two games against North Little Rock on Monday at Burns Park to earn the No. 1 seed.

It won the opener 12-2 to send the championship to a second game. But Cabot fell 7-4 in the nightcap and will open state tournament play — also at Burns Park — Friday at 4 p.m, likely against Jonesboro.

Cabot lost 5-3 in the opener on Saturday and faced elimination over the following three games. Rallies from five-run deficits against Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville kept Centennial Bank alive and put it one game away from qualifying for state. Cabot got three hits from Joe Bryant and a home run from Powell Bryant, and scored eight runs in the fifth inning to beat Russellville and reach the zone championship games.

Tyler Erickson picked up the win.

“That’s the thing about playing nine innings,” said Cabot coach Jay Darr. “We’re not like major league clubs with eight or nine pitchers so you can usually count on a couple of big innings (in tournaments like this). Really early on, I talked to the guys about not panicking if you get down early. These are long games.”

That victory over Russellville lacked the drama of the two previous wins. Cabot trailed Sylvan Hills Optimist Club 6-1 in the second inning in an elimination game on Saturday, but scored seven in the third to prevail 16-10. Centennial Bank dialed up the power in the win, getting home runs from Ty Steele, Sam Bates and Matt Turner. Bates was 5 of 6 with five RBI. Steele and Ben Wainwright added three more hits each as Cabot totaled 20.

Cole Nicholson had a shaky outing but held on for the victory.

Hunter Miller had two singles and two doubles and Geno Jameson a single and a home run for Optimist Club, whose season ended with the loss.

Centennial Bank found itself in the same situation on Sunday when it trailed Gwatney Chevrolet 7-2 before scoring one in the fourth and three in the fifth to get back in it.

Gwatney took an 8-6 lead into the eighth when Cabot erupted for five runs to take an 11-8 lead. Doubles by Steele and Bates provided the punch. Still, it took a harrowing save from C.J. Jacoby to secure the win as Gwatney scored two in the ninth and had the bases loaded with two outs. Jacoby got a pop to second to end it as Gwatney’s season came to a disappointing end.

Chase Beasley pitched 5 1/3 solid innings to keep Cabot in the -game and pick up the win. Bates had three hits and four RBI, while Tyler Erickson added three hits and three RBI.

With both North Little Rock and Cabot deep into their pitching rotations, Monday evening’s game figured to be an offensive affair. It was — for Cabot anyway. Jacoby got the start for Centennial Bank and it looked early on as though his night would be a short one after the Colts stung him for three solid hits and two runs in the first. A double play helped avert further damage but Cabot found itself in a 2-0 hole.

But the Centennial Bank bats, which had put up 44 runs in the previous four tournament games, went right to work on NLR starter Zach Ketchum. Andrew Reynolds and Steele singled and Bates was hit with a pitch. Burks grounded into a force at the plate, but Ben Wainwright came through with a two-out, bases clearing three-run double to put Centennial Bank ahead for good.

Jacoby allowed only three hits after the shaky first inning, tossing a six-hitter while walking two and striking out two over seven innings.

Centennial Bank added to its lead in the third on Burks’ double and Wainwright’s single. Wainwright went 3 of 4 with four RBI.

In the fourth, Steele lined a two-out double to right-center to score Brandon Surdam, then came home on Burks’ single to make it 6-2.

Colt reliever Cody Gill set down seven of the first eight batters he faced, but Cabot got to him in the seventh to score six unearned runs and end the game early.

Wainwright doubled with one out and Powell Bryant reached on an error. With two outs, Surdam was safe on another error as Wainwright scored. Bryant reached on an infield single to load the bases. Reynolds doubled in two runs and Steele singled in another to make it 11-2.

With two outs, Bates laid off a 2-2 pitch that just missed the inside corner, then ripped the next pitch into the gap in left to score Steele and end the game on the 10-run rule.

Centennial Bank pounded 14 hits, three each by Reynolds, Steele and Wainwright. Steele scored three times and drove in two.

The other teams in the state tournament will be Bryant, Texarkana, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Joneboro and Pargould.

SPORTS >> Sharks shine again

Leader sports editor

Led by Delaney Haralson’s and Thomas Heye’s six first-place finishes, the Sherwood Sharks edged Maumelle 458.5 to 312 to capture the Meet of Champs on Saturday at UALR.

The Cabot Piranhas got three firsts from Megan Owens and two each from John Santiago and Emily Grigsby to finish fifth, while the Lonoke SharkRockets came in seventh.

Haralson won the titles in the 9-10-year-old freestyle, backstroke, individual medley, breaststroke and butterfly and also anchored the winning relay team.

Heye earned victories in the 9-10-year-old freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, individual medley and butterfly. Heye was the anchor on the winning relay team as well.

Joseph Potts also helped the Sharks’ cause with wins in the 7-8-year-old butterfly and freestyle and the 8-under individual medley.

Connor McNulty picked up three individual wins — in the 11-12-year-old individual medley, breaststroke and free style — and a victory on the relay team.

Owens led Cabot with wins in the 15-18-year-old freestyle and breaststroke and as the anchor on the relay team.

Other multiple winners for Cabot include Frances McFadden (13-14 IM and butterfly), John Santiago (13-14 IM and breaststroke) and Grigsby (15-18 butterfly and relay).
Sherwood multiple winners also include Tori Newton (11-12 IM, breastroke and relay), Cordell Taylor (11-12 backstroke and butterfly), Lauren Underwood (15-18 IM and butterfly) and Sam Scott (13-14 butterfly and freestyle).

Monday, July 20, 2009

TOP STORY >> Most juniors fail literacy test in PCSSD, Lonoke

Leader staff writer

Less than half of the Lonoke and Pulaski County Special School Districts’ high school juniors have the necessary skills to pass the grade 11 literacy exam.

The numbers are even worse for Sherwood and Jacksonville students.

This is not good news for interim Superintendent Rob McGill, whose contract was just extended.

Based on recently released scores, only 37 percent of Jacksonville High School juniors are proficient or better in literacy. Only one other high school in PCSSD scored worse and that was Mills University Studies High School at 36 percent.

The state average is 57 percent, which Beebe, Cabot and Searcy school districts beat.

The literacy exam tests students’ writing, reading and grammar skills and is a collection of what a student should know by their junior year of high school.

The test is not tied directly to specific frameworks or curriculum like the benchmark exams and that makes it more challenging for the students.

Challenging or not, all juniors are expected to score proficient or advanced by the end of the 2013-14 school year.

All 44 students at Ahlf Junior High School in Searcy who took the Algebra I scored advanced.All 30 students at Lonoke Middle School taking the test were proficient or better.

All 206 junior high students in Cabot taking the geometry exam scored proficient or better.

The literacy results, along with Algebra I and geometry end-of-course exams and the benchmark scores for grades third through eighth are used to determine school-improvement status for schools under the federal No Child Left Behind laws.

Most students across the state take the Algebra I and geometry end-of-course exams in April. Some take the exams in January, depending on when they are finishing the respective course.

At the state level, more than 60 percent scoring at or above proficient on the mathematics tests and 57 percent at or above proficient on the literacy exam.

Beginning next school year, the Algebra I exam will be used as the state’s first “high stakes exam” as students will have to obtain a passing score on it before they are allowed to pass the course.

The passing grade is set lower than the bar for scoring “proficient.” If a student does not pass the Algebra I exam the first time, the student undergoes remediation and has two subsequent attempts to pass the exam. If a student still has not passed, an alternative method of instruction and an alternative form of assessment are administered, providing four opportunities to pass the exam.

Thompson said the literacy exam will become a “high stakes exam” around 2014, and possibly moved down to the end of the sophomore year to give students who fail the test sufficient time for remedial instruction.

This April, the biology end-of-course exam was given for the second time and 41 percent of biology students statewide scored proficient or advanced on the spring test, which the majority of students take. Some take the test in January.

Biology scores are not used to determine school-improvement status.


Statewide, 57 percent of juniors scored proficient or advanced on the end-of-grade level literacy exam.

At Beebe High School, 192 students took the test and 64 percent scored proficient or better.

At Cabot High School, 561 students took the exam and 69 scored proficient or better, but at Cabot’s Academic Center for Excellence it was a different story. Only 49 students took the test and 33 percent passed it.

At Carlisle High School, 42 juniors took the test and only 38 percent scored proficient. None scored advanced.

At England High School, 39 students took the test and just 38 percent scored proficient; none were advanced.

At Lonoke High School, 126 juniors took the literacy exam and 49 percent scored proficient or advanced.

In PCSSD, 187 Jacksonville High School juniors took the exam and just 37 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced. At Sylvan Hills High School, 204 students took the test and 53 percent scored proficient. None were advanced. At North Pulaski High School, 200 juniors took the test and 54 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At Searcy High School, 255 students took the test and 79 percent scored proficient or advanced, one of the better scores in the state.


Algebra I end-of-course exams are given in January and April to students who are completing the course at that time. Most students take the April test. Across the state, 70 percent score proficient or better on the April Algebra I exam.

At Beebe High School, 86 students took the exam and 38 percent scored proficient or better, while 183 Beebe Junior High School students took the test and 82 percent made the cut.

In Cabot, 272 students at Cabot Junior High South took the exam and 86 percent scored proficient or advanced. At Cabot Junior High North, 329 students took the exam and 87 percent were proficient or better.

At the high school, just 13 students took the exam and 46 percent of them made the grade and at the Academic Center for Excellence, 19 students took the test and 58 percent scored proficient or better.

At Carlisle High School, 57 students took the test and 70 percent scored proficient or better.

At England High School, 60 students took the exam with 65 percent passing the test.

In Lonoke, 30 students at Lonoke Middle School took the test and 100 percent scored proficient or better. At the high school, 79 students took the exam and 69 percent made the cut.

In Pulaski County, 195 students from Jacksonville High School took the exam and 36 percent scored proficient or advanced. At Jacksonville Middle School-Boys, 33 students took the test and 88 percent passed, while at the girls’ campus, 18 students took the exam and 94 percent scored proficient or better.

At North Pulaski High School, 157 students took the test and 48 percent scored proficient or advanced, and of the 68 Northwood Middle School students taking the test, 93 percent made the cut. At Sylvan Hills High School, 137 students took the test and 45 percent scored proficient or better. At the middle school, 46 students took the exam and 89 percent were proficient or advanced.

In Searcy, of the 44 students at Ahlf Junior High School taking the exam, 100 percent were advanced and out of 201 students tested at Searcy High School, 94 percent were proficient or better.


The statewide average of students scoring proficient or advanced on the spring geometry test was 66 percent.

At Beebe High School, 220 students took the test and 73 percent scored proficient or advanced.

In Cabot, 514 students took the test at the high school and 71 percent scored proficient or better. Of the 109 students taking the test at Cabot Junior High North, 100 scored proficient or better and likewise for the 97 students at Cabot Junior High South. Of the 32 students at the Academic Center for Excellence taking the test, 44 percent passed.

At Carlisle High School, 65 students took the exam and 70 percent scored proficient or better.

At England High School, 64 students took the exam and 62 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At Lonoke High School, 129 students took the test and 66 percent scored proficient or better.

In Pulaski County, 264 students took the test at Jacksonville High School and just 36 percent scored proficient or advanced. At North Pulaski High School, 207 students were tested and 47 percent made the grade, while out of 261 students tested at Sylvan Hills High School, 57 percent were proficient or better.

At Searcy High School, 243 students took the geometry exam and 95 percent scored proficient or advanced.


Statewide, 41 percent of students scored proficient or ad-vanced on the April biology end-of-course exam.

At Beebe High School, 198 students took the test and 49 percent scored proficient or better.

At Cabot High School, 617 students took the test and 63 percent scored proficient or advanced. Of the 29 students at the Academic Center for Excellence taking the test, 14 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced.

At England High School, 70 students took the test and just 11 percent scored proficient and none scored advanced.

In Pulaski County, 253 students took the test at Jacksonville High School and 13 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At North Pulaski High School, 227 students took the test and 31 percent scored proficient or advanced. At Sylvan Hills High School, 224 students took the test and 26 percent made the grade.

At Searcy High School, 259 students took the test and 69 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At Lonoke High School, 109 students took the test and 44 percent made the cut.