Friday, February 18, 2011

EDITORIAL >> After them, it will be us

Nothing is more natural than politicians making hay with the widespread unhappiness over the rising number of dark-skinned people in our communities, many of whom do not have the legal papers that would officially entitle them to pursue the American dream. We have been through this many times the past two centuries, with the Chinese, the Irish, the Italians, Slavs and Germans and the influx of Asians in the 1970s and 1980s. A great political party arose from alarm over the immigration of Irish and German Catholics into the American heartland a century and a half ago. Now it’s people from Latin America who are supposed to be poisoning the well of democracy, taking our jobs and soaking up the public wealth. 

Politicians in Washington, Little Rock and other state capitals are climbing over each other to show voters they are doing battle with the brown hordes, particularly the children. Federal immigration law badly needs reforming, all right, but the spate of legislation that has cropped up in Congress and in the Arkansas legislature will do nothing to address the real problems with the unlawful status of immigrants. Almost without exception, the bills violate our state and federal constitutions as well as the Christian values that we proclaim in so many other venues. The bills have implications far beyond their purpose, which is to make life miserable and dangerous for people who do not have legal documentation to reside on U. S. soil. 

The most brutal is HB 1292 in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which would prohibit anyone who is not a citizen or who does not have legal residency papers from participating in the services of government. If he or she were not a citizen or holding documented legal status, any youngster who grew up in Arkansas and graduated from its schools could not attend college by paying the tuition required of Arkansas students, obtain student loans or any form of assistance to get a college education. A pregnant or nursing mother could receive no nutritional or medical help through the state-federal health programs. People could get emergency help only if it was necessary to save their lives. 

Here’s where you come in. You and your children wouldn’t be able to get any of these services either—college admission at in-state tuition rates, educational assistance of any form, social and health services of any kind—unless you gather the documents and present a notarized affidavit to the government agency certifying that you are a citizen of the United States or else a legal resident. All government agencies would be required to keep records on the citizenship status of people who get services and make regular reports to the legislature.  
This is from people who say they are for a smaller and less intrusive government. 

The premise of the legislation is that unlawful immigrants do not pay taxes (even Sen. Mark Pryor repeats this silly mantra), so they should not receive any of the services of government at any level. But what taxes do they not pay? The sales and excise taxes they pay for groceries, clothing, gas, electricity, cigarettes, gasoline and virtually every commodity or service they buy are not rebated to them because they are immigrants. State and federal income taxes, Social Security, disability and Medicare taxes are withheld from their paychecks and remitted to the state or federal treasuries, although they will never get Social Security or Medicare or disability benefits if they are disabled. 

The bill would serve two purposes—to make life miserable and hopeless for this fresh generation of immigrants and to demonstrate that they are not welcome in our country and our community. 

Isn’t that what Jesus would want? 

The state Medicaid director under Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ray Hanley, sent a letter to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette the other day recalling when the federal government a dozen years ago gave the states the option of providing prenatal care under Medicaid for pregnant women who were considered illegals. The government gave Arkansas and the other states the option of counting a fetus as a citizen, although it would not be until it was born. Huckabee had breakfast with the Catholic bishop and a nun, who said covering the poor women so that they could deliver a healthy baby would follow the word of God. Huckabee, who can demagogue the immigration issue with the best of them sometimes, ordered Hanley on that day to cover the women. It’s the right thing to do, he said. HB 1292 would stop that. 

Speaking of birthrights, our new congressman, Tim Griffin, co-sponsored a bill last week with two other new  congressmen that would end automatic citizenship for people who are born on U.S. soil. The bill will go nowhere—most members of Congress know that you cannot amend the United States Constitution by merely passing a bill—but Griffin can say that he tried to stop all these brown and black babies from becoming citizens and voters. 

 You know the history. In 1868, the U. S. Supreme Court, in the most infamous decision in history, Dred Scott, said that no one with African ancestry could ever become an American citizen. Whether they were born here or not and whether all their forebears were born here, blacks could never be citizens of this great land. So the nation ratified the 14th amendment reaffirming that everyone born in the United States was a citizen if they were “subject to the jurisdiction” of the country. The latter phrase was intended to make an exception for children whose parents were in the United States on diplomatic status from other countries. Griffin’s bill seizes on that language to classify these brown and black babies the same way as children born to parents with diplomatic immunity to U. S. laws.

Maybe the descendants of American slaves could be disenfranchised on the same premise. Their forebears were never proper citizens under Griffin’s theory. 

We knew we were living in retrograde times, but we didn’t expect to return to Dred Scott.

TOP STORY > >Stage helping military

Stage, a clothing store in Jacksonville, is selling patriotic shopping bags to show support for military families. All of the proceeds will go to Operation Homefront, which provides financial assistance and support services to the families of U.S. soldiers.

The reusable bags cost $5 and feature a U.S. flag design with the slogan “Helping Our Military and Environment.” Cus-tomers who purchase the bag will receive a $5 discount on any item $25 or more.

Also, Stage now offers a 15 percent discount program for all active, inactive and retired service members with valid military ID.

“In every home town across our nation, we each know a family member or neighbor who is serving our country in the military. We are proud to show our support for these heroes and we encourage our customers to join us,” said Andy Hall, president and CEO of Stage Stores Inc.

Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit organization that provides military families with grocery-store gift cards, short-term transitional living, vehicles for those who can’t afford one and physical and emotional support for wounded soldiers and their families.

“Generous partners like Stage make it possible for Operation Home-front to provide vital aid to the families of military members and wounded warriors,” said Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Operation Homefront.

TOP STORY > >Lonoke is thriving, mayor reports

Leader staff writer

The city of Lonoke issued building permits worth $16.6 million in 2010, including an $8.4 million Lonoke High School addition, the $5.4 million County Detention Center and the $953,000 St. Vincent’s Medical Clinic, Mayor Wayne McGee said Monday night in his state of the city report.

Outside of that, the new $377,000 county shop building adjacent to the jail, and three new homes were the only projects worth more than $100,000.

The mayor’s report didn’t note the opening of several new businesses in town, including Atwood’s Farm Supply, two telephone-service providers and at least two restaurants.

He said despite new representation in Washington, he still hoped the new Hwy. 89/I-40 interchange on the west side of Lonoke would be built.

He said former state Sen. Bobby Glover, out of public office for the first time since 1964, had written letters of support for the project to the new state senators and representatives from the area, as well as to the state’s new congressional delegation.

The mayor reported that he expected to build a five-foot wide sidewalk along Palm Street from Lincoln Street to South Center Street with a Safe-Ways-to-Schools grant. He said the city also would be repaving School Street and some of College Street when construction of the new high school is finished.

“Be patient,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with what we got. The way the economy is, we’ve been very fortunate. If we stick together and work hard, a lot of good things (will) come.”

Much of the real business of the city is looking after its aging water, sewer and street infrastructure, and public safety.

“We laid new water line to the new jail—275 feet of pipe and another 500 feet of smaller lines costing about $4,000.,” he said.

Doing street repairs and other work, the city used 890 tons of gravel, 254 tons of cold mix, 56 tons of sand and 11 loads of topsoil.

Also last year, the city laid about 2,200 feet of culvert pipe, ranging from 6-inch to 48-inch, the mayor said, at a cost of about $13,890.

The city bought a John Deere backhoe for $54,000.

“We repaired 2,405 square feet of city streets,” McGee said, “and mopped or dug out 49.5 blocks of ditches.”

“We installed new six-gauge waterproof wire for aerators and the sewage lagoons at a cost of $5,068, repaired 359 main and service water line breaks and replaced 80 water meters.”

The water department re-paired 359 main and service water leaks and replaced 80 water meters.

“The year before last, we found out where the flood plain was,” McGee said, and this year the drought resulted in cracked pipes and breaking,” he said.

The city has some expensive work to be done with its water and sewer infrastructure, and the council has begun talking about raising water rates.

Currently, its base monthly residential rate for 1,000 gallons of water is $9.60. Carlisle’s rate is $10.04, but then it’s $12.09 in England, $14.28 in Ward and $14.28 in Beebe.

A $1 monthly increase would raise about $1,700 a month.

Its sewer rate for the first $1,000 is $6.61, which is greater than Ward’s $4, but less than $6.85 in Carlisle, $8.15 in Beebe and $8.53 in England.

“We’re working to get better quality water,” McGee said.

With some guidance from City Attorney Camille Bennett, the council voted unanimously to allow Atwood’s to carry baby chicks, guineas, ducks and turkeys for sale.

The city approved an ordinance a few years ago prohibiting livestock in the city limits, and a stipulation of allowing Atwood’s an exemption was that the store post a notice that such animals could not be kept in the city.

Store manager Keith Jones agreed.

For the city public-works department, the council ap-proved purchase of a “street saw,” for $1,758, plus the cost of some blades for the saw.

It approved advertising for bids to buy the city a new leaf vacuum truck.

Public works supervisor Brian Whitworth reported that the electronic controls on the sewage-discharge pipe valves were fried and that he was looking for new controls.

The council approved putting new valves out for bids, buying 900 feet of forced sewer main, getting bids to fix the failing sewer and tank at the water pump station, repairing the dump-truck transmission and getting bids for fencing and a gate for the new entrance to the city shop.

It authorized Volunteer Fire Department Chief George Rich to buy a new brush fire truck for as much as $25,000.

Lonoke Police Chief Mike Wilson told the council that the state Department of Finance and Administration would pay $7,220 for a new Breathalyzer for the department because the Health Department had ruled that the old model was no longer suitable.

The council authorized Wilson to buy a 2008 Crown Victoria from the Kansas Highway Police for $13,700 and as much as another $3,300 to outfit it with a police package.

The council authorized parks director Roy Lewis to fix the city park gazebo for $4,280, and to spend $5,189 to plant 10 willow oak trees, four to eight inches diameter at the base, and to have them secured with posts and wire and fence on a shadeless ball field at the city park. The job will be done by House Nursery and Landscaping. The trees will be 15 to 20 feet tall, Lewis said.

He said summer baseball and softball registration would be for the next three Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lonoke Community Center.

The council authorized community center director Mike Brown to spend $1,026 on a remote door lock for the gymnasium so it can be controlled from the personnel at the check-in desk, and also spend $1,999 for a rowing machine for the exercise mezzanine.

The Lonoke community blood drive will be at the Community Center from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., Feb. 21.

TOP STORY > >Make your mark on Cabot High

Leader staff writer

Time is running out to have your name etched in stone at Cabot High School’s new HPER (health, physical education and recreation), and cafeteria building.

Monday is the last day to order a personalized brick supporting the Cabot Panther Education Foundation. Donors have two choices when ordering a personalized brick.

One set of bricks will be laid to form the word “Panthers” in the wall beside the entrance of the HPER building. The word “Panthers” is made up of 788 bricks. These bricks will cost $250 each. A second set of personalized bricks will be laid in a sitting bench. The bench will be constructed below the word “Panthers”. The bench will run the length of the “Panthers” sign. The bench seat will have 800 engraved bricks. These bricks are $100 each.

Foundation coordinator Debbie Walters said the deadline for ordering the engraved bricks was moved up to Monday because the brick masons are running ahead of schedule. Brick orders were to continue to the end of the school year.

“Sales have been going well. We started selling them at the first of the school year,” Walters said.

“There are plenty of bricks available,” she said.

The $12.9 million two-story HPER and cafeteria building is scheduled to be completed by fall 2011. The building is 110,064 square feet. The basketball court will have seating for 2,200. The gymnasium will have an upper level concourse, an area of audio and visual production and concession stands. The HPER building will also have a new lobby and restrooms.

The cafeteria will seat 1,000 people. The cafeteria will have a new kitchen and 10 serving areas.

To order a personalized brick contact Debbie Walters at 501-743-3530 or stop by Walters’ office on the third floor of the football field house at 602 N. Lincoln St.

TOP STORY > >City moves forward on a land deal

Leader staff writer

The crowd was small and the objections even smaller at Thurs-day night’s public hearing on Jacksonville’s plan to use its condemnation and eminent-domain powers to take control of about 450 acres near the Hwy. 61 and I-440 interchange.

With no opposition publicly voiced, the city council quickly and unanimously passed a resolution declaring the city’s intent “to exercise eminent domain” on the acreage for “construction and development of economic improvements and creation of additional public facilities to stimulate and encourage the economic growth” of the city.

Jacksonville wants the state fair to relocate there, and is holding off a possible offer from a multi-billion-dollar corporation that would like to use part of the property as the centerpiece of its operations.

Jim Durham, the city’s director of administration, told the council that if that company located on the site, it would stimulate more than $700 million worth of economic growth for the city.

“That means an additional $14 million in taxes to the city every year,” he said.

Durham said the prospect is giving the city some time to see what the state fair plans to do, “but it won’t wait forever.”

But that’s why Durham said the purchase of the property was important to the city.

“No matter what, it’ll be a good investment,” he said.

The 450-acre site is controlled by about 10 owners. Almost half of the acreage belongs to Entergy, which has made it clear it is not interested in selling, giving or trading the land at this time.

The rest of the land is split among the other nine or so owners.

Local attorney Mike Wilson, who heads the development committee that is working out all the arrangements to obtain the site for the city, told the council and the small crowd at the public hearing that eminent domain begins the legal process.

“It allows the land to be put into the city’s hands, and then possibly later to the state fair board,” he explained.

Wilson said the site is in the top four of possible locations for the state fair, but the board won’t narrow it down any further at this point.

He said a feasibility study commissioned by the fair board was supposed to be completed in December but wasn’t and should be finished any day now. “But even that study may not give the fair a recommendation.”

But Wilson said it was clear to him that the Jacksonville site was the best place for the fair. However, if the fair decides on something else, Wilson said the acreage was still hot property.

“It’s the only undeveloped highway intersection in Pulaski County,” he said.

Wilson explained that AP&L, now Entergy, owns six 40-acre lots across the northern half of the rectangular acreage, “and in discussions with them, they have said it’s not for sale.

But that doesn’t mean theyare adversaries to our plan,” the attorney said, adding that the utility can’t play favorites.

Wilson said the eminent- domain process takes time and courts don’t always move fast, so it could be months or more before the city knows exactly how much the land would cost.

“It’s not important that we own it today, but we can’t let a competitor get it,” he said.

The only two concerns came from Rizelle Aaron and William Moses.

Aaron expressed concern about future taxes being needed to fund infrastructure and security for the area and was also concerned about the cost to the city for policing the fair.

Moses said his property abuts the area the city is condemning and wanted to know if his land would be next.

Durham said the city has been approved for a $1.5 million economic-development grant for acquisition and infrastructure for the acreage.

“It just hasn’t been released to us yet because the state doesn’t want to look like it’s helping us get the fair, but the money is ours,” he explained.

No one from the city mentioned anything about potential tax hikes, and members of the development committee said they weren’t looking to grab any more at this time other than the original 450 acreages.

Since 1945, the state fair has operated on 149 acres along Roosevelt Road in south-central Little Rock. Fifty-two acres are unusable because of train tracks that run through the property.

Mayor Gary Fletcher was not at the meeting because he was flying with civic leaders on a C-130.

In other council business:

 Aldermen set a public hearing for 7 p.m. March 3 regarding its efforts to annex the corridor of businesses that are north of the city and fronts Hwy. 67/167. This annexation is voluntary as the city has the required 51 percent or more of the residents saying yes and those residents control 51 percent or more of the property in question.

 In the monthly police department report, Police Chief Gary Sipes stated that the department responded to 3,679 complaint calls during January. Police arrested 274 adults and 25 juveniles.

During January there were no homicides, two sexual assaults, one robbery, 13 felony assaults, 14 burglaries, 77 thefts, five motor-vehicle thefts and no arsons.

 Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, in his monthly report, said the fire department responded to 230 rescue calls, 75 still alarms, 23 general alarms and had 257 ambulance runs. Estimated fire loss was put at $12,200, while fire savings was estimated at $84,800.

 In the monthly animal shelter report, Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the shelter took in 99 dogs and 21 cats during January. Shelter officials were able to return 32 dogs, but no cats, to their owners and adopted out 54 dogs and 15 cats. Nine cats and 22 dogs were euthanized.

There were three bites or attacks reported during January. A resident was playing with a stray cat when the cat’s tooth got caught on the top of his finger.

Another resident was bitten by a stray chow-mix puppy as he was trying to shoo it away, and a bloodhound bit a person who tried to use the dog’s yard as a shortcut. The dog was on a chain.

 City Engineer Jay Whisker, in his monthly report, said the engineering department issued 12 building permits and 13 business licenses during January. The department also performed 124 inspections and sent out 31 property-maintenance letters.

 The council agreed to the low bid of $86,000 from Buddy Taylor Electric to do the electrical work on the new street department building.

 Aldermen approved rezoning 5002 S. Hwy. 161 and 100 Lake Shore Drive from R-6 (mobile homes) to R-1 (single-family homes.)

 After spending more than a month reviewing changes to the city’s employee manual, aldermen approved the new version Thursday night.

SPORTS>>Badgers bear down to outlas Mustangs

Special to The Leader

Beebe was unfazed by Forrest City’s “White Out” night at Mustang Arena Tuesday and was not intimidated by Forrest City’s No. 2 ranking in Class 5A.

Especially not Beebe juniors Dayton Scott and Zack May, who combined to score 31 points in Beebe’s 45-44 victory.

Playing before a Forrest City crowd wearing mostly white in an organized show of support for the Mustangs, Beebe survived a wild finish that included a last-second Mustangs miss on a shot that could have won it.

It was the first regular-season basketball meeting between the schools and was set in place when Beebe moved into the 5A-East Conference last summer.

Beebe moved into a tie for first place with Blytheville and Forrest City, which bounced back with a victory at Paragould on Wednesday.

Beebe will host Forrest City in a rematch Monday.

“It was a tough game, and it was a tough loss, but what else would you expect from two teams who are fighting for first place in the league,” Forrest City coach Dwight Lofton said. “There were a lot of turning points in the game, by each team. It was just one of those games.”

Beebe’s biggest lead was just three points while Forrest City’s was 15-9 early in the second period.

The tone was set before the opening tip when Forrest City drew a technical foul during warmups. Beebe missed both free throws but took a 2-0 lead after hitting a putback in transition.

From that point it was back and forth in a low scoring half that saw the Mustangs take a 12-9 lead to start the second period. The Mustangs held the lead and were up 21-18 at halftime.

Forrest City’s 6-7 freshman Trey Thompson dunked to open the third period for a 23-18 lead. Beebe battled back to go ahead 24-23 when May made two free throws with fewer than six minutes to play.

A putback by Forrest City’s Jordan Chatters kept the Mustangs within 32-31 at the end of the quarter.

Wesley Booker made a transition jumper for Forrest City to give the Mustangs a 37-36 lead with less than five minutes to go in the game, forcing Beebe into taking a quick timeout.

After a miss by Young, Booker struck again to put the Mustangs ahead 39-36 with 3:15 to play.

May, one of three Badger players to finish in double figures, powered his way inside for a layup to cut Forrest City’s lead to 39-38 with 2:45 left. Forrest City senior Davyon McKinney missed a baseline layup, then Scott got a two-handed dunk off an inbounds pass from Young to give Beebe a 40-39 lead with 2:17 left.

Mekyiel Harris’ jumper made it 41-40 Mustangs before May hit a three-pointer to put the Badgers in front 43-41 with 1:18 left. Booker and Chatters misfired for the Mustangs before McKinney gave Forrest City its final lead, 45-43, with a long-range three.

“The Beebe three was huge,” Lofton said. “But we came right back with Sleepy’s three and I thought that was a huge play.”

Thompson blocked a shot by Beebe’s Austin Benton, which started a melee under the Beebe goal, resulting in McKinney picking up his fifth foul with 6.3 seconds left.

Scott hit his first free throw to tie it at 44. After a Forrest City timeout, Scott made his second free throw to give Beebe the 45-44 lead.

The Mustangs had two final chances. Following the second free throw by Scott, Harris hustled down court, drove inside, and drew a blocking foul by Benton with 2.1 seconds to play.

Benton’s foul was just the sixth of the half for Beebe which kept the Mustangs from a 1-and-1 situation and forced a Forrest City inbounds play under its goal.

After another timeout, Harris took the pass from LeCharles Boyd and put up the last-chance shot, hitting the edge of the backboard as time expired.

Chatters led the Mustangs with 12 points while Harris finished with 10 and Booker added eight.

SPORTS>>Jonesboro stump Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

Jonesboro coach Jodi Davis had nothing but respect for Jacksonville’s effort Tuesday night.

But she still didn’t want to become the Lady Red Devils’ first conference victim, and thanks to Whitney Keith’s shooting and Tameka Scott’s ball handling, Davis got her wish as Jonesboro outpaced Jacksonville 49-40 in 6A-East girls action at the Devils Den.

“They have fought and bitten and clawed their way to try to win tonight and they nearly got it from us,” Davis said. “It’s all credit to them.”

Keith scored 25 points, hitting four three-pointers, and Scott withstood Jacksonville’s defensive pressure well enough to earn her coach’s praise.

“She handled the pressure unbelievably,” Davis said. “It looked like she would turn the ball over left and right but when you look at it, the way that she played tonight — two and three people on you —you can’t see, it’s hard to do something with it.

“So most of that credit goes to her for keeping her head and keeping her composure.”

“No 12 is hard to get the ball away from,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “Extremely hard to get the ball away from. We created some, we caused some problems for her, and if you can cause some problems for her, she’s about the best point guard there is.”

Jacksonville, winless in 10 conference games and 7-17 overall, stayed with Jonesboro most of the game and fought back from a 42-32 fourth-quarter deficit to get within 46-40 when sophomore standout Jessica Jackson hit a three-pointer that barely rippled the net with 2:11 left.

But Jonesboro slowed things down and made 3 of 5 free throws over the final 1:17 while Jackson missed two and had a three-point attempt go in and out.

“We’re not taking the shots we need to take,” Mimms said.

“If you’ve got a post player open give it to the post. You get a cutter off of her and maybe you get it back or something. We’re one pass, trying to create on our own instead of using each other.”

Keith paced the Lady Hurricane with 20 first-half points as Jonesboro (14-9, 7-4) took a 24-18 halftime lead.

“We’re getting shots from everywhere and usually that is a position that does it if it’s not inside,” Davis said. “Just running our regular stuff and I give them freedom in our freelance offense. It just gives them the freedom to create.”

Jacksonville kept up the defensive pressure, forcing turnovers and keeping the game within reach.

“I thought our defense played way better than it did last night,” Mimms said, referring to Monday’s 57-27 loss at Little Rock Hall. “We had some life in us.”

Scott gave the Lady Hurricane one of its biggest leads, 40-31, when she made 2 of 3 free throws after Chyna Davis fouled her as Scott attempted a desperation three-pointer from the left corner as time ran out in the third quarter.

Leah Hill improved the lead to 42-31, the biggest of the game, with a short hook shot with 7:15 left, but Jacksonville outscored Jonesboro 9-4 from that point to cut it to 46-40.

Chelsea Tate scored all four points for Jonesboro during the stretch.

Davis made a pair of free throws for Jacksonville, Jackson banked one in and made a free throw and Jennifer Ballard added a basket followed by Jackson’s three-pointer that closed out the run.

With the 46-40 lead, Davis let her players know they didn’t have to shoot, then called two timeouts only to watch in frustration as the Lady Hurricane committed a turnover after the second timeout.

With Jacksonville handing out fouls trying to get Jonesboro to the free-throw line, Scott made one free throw and Tate added two with 3.7 seconds left to cap the scoring.

Tate finished with eight points for Jonesboro while Jackson led Jacksonville with 11.

SPORTS>>Jackson lifts Beebe to victory

Special to The Leader

Beebe’s girls ran Forrest City’s conference losing streak to 24 games, dating to last season, with a 72-56 victory at Mustang Arena on Tuesday.

Beebe’s Jamie Jackson scored 30 points to lead all scorers in the 5A-East Conference game.

Beebe opened a 23-4 lead after one period and led 35-18 at the half.

Despite a scoring run by Forrest City in the third period, Beebe pushed its lead to 52-31 to start the fourth quarter.

After Forrest City’s sophomore point guard Mary Burks hit two free throws, the Lady Badgers closed out the third quarter with an 8-0 run that included two field goals and two free throws by Jackson and one field goal by Whitney Emison.

Shaylyn Young added 11 points for the Lady Badgers while Emison had six.

By the fourth period, Beebe had reserves on the floor and once led by 21 points before settling for the 16-point victory.

Burks led the Lady Mustangs with 18 points while Kaitlyn Peterson added 13. Lakeyda Roper finished with nine points and Marina Ford scored five.

Beebe was playing host to Nettleton on Friday night and then will face Forrest City again on Monday in a makeup game postponed from Jan. 25 by severe winter weather.

SPORTS>>Lonoke eliminated in district tourney

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits’ run of state and regional tournament appearances may have ended, but for coach Nathan Morris, Lonoke’s most important traditions were well represented.

“They did the things we asked of them,” Morris said. “Play hard, act classy and do the right things — and they gave us everything they had. Overall for the program, we’re somewhat disappointed, but I’m disappointed for them, not in them.

“We had a group of kids low in numbers but big on heart. They worked together as a group and they were tight knit. When you’re a small unit, you have to be tight knit just to survive.”

It is the first of Morris’ six seasons the Lady ’Rabbits have not made the 3A or 4A state tournament. It is also the first time in over 10 years they have not qualified for regionals, dating back to former coach Daryl Fimple’s first season in 2000.

“I’m more disappointed for the program than I am my own record,” Morris said. “Everything I’m hurting over is for them.”

This year’s Lady Jackrabbits (15-14) had their share of triumphs, including a 58-52, first-round district tournament victory over Marianna. Senior guard Cara Neighbors led the way with 25 points while Derrika Mays scored 11, Mary Davis scored 10 and Emily Howell had eight.

Lonoke was stellar at the free throw line, going 24 for 28, with Neighbors making 13 of 17. Mays and Howell were each 4 for 4 while Davis was 3 for 3.

“It was a pretty nice night for us at the free-throw line,” Morris said. “They’re an athletic bunch, but if you’re smart with the basketball, you can find shots. Down the stretch, they pressed us into some layups, and got into some fouls that got us to the line.”

Teams in Class 4A previously had to win only one district game to qualify for regionals, but that was changed to two victories this year. Lonoke fell a game short when Stuttgart ended the Lady Jackrabbits’ season in the second round, 54-37.

The Lady Jackrabbits led 22-17 at halftime before the Lady Ricebirds helped themselves with better ball movement in the second half. That allowed them to find more open shots and cash in on second chances that Lonoke denied in the first half.

“We played a 1-3-1, and it took them a little while to figure it out,” Morris said. “Second half, they started attacking our defense and moving the ball around the perimeter more.”

Neighbors led with 15 points while Mays added 10.

It marked the final game for seniors Artice Morris, Patrice Smith, Howell and Neighbors.

Neighbors played on two of Lonoke’s three consecutive state runner-up teams, including her freshman season, and has led the Lady Jackrabbits in scoring since the 2008 state tournament.

“Her and that whole senior group have been a part of two state championship games,” Morris said. “That group of seniors went 69-28; that’s 71 percent. And Cara’s played since the end of her ninth-grade season, and she was 75-30. She’s a tremendous scorer in all three phases of the game.

“She can hit the three pointer, lay-ups and mid-range jumpers, and that’s hard to replace. Not every team has that kind of kid on their team ever.”

The departures leave Davis, Mays, Kaitlyn Tate and Olivia Evans, next year’s seniors, to rebuild with the incoming group of sophomores.

“That group of kids had to improve so much from last summer through today,” Morris said. “They were thrown into the fire. From watching as sophomores to starting and playing a lot of minutes this year, they accepted it.

“Because of that, they will be able to help mold some of the younger players moving up. Our league is losing some great individual players across the board, and this group tied for the conference title in ninth grade. So looking at it that way, we should be good in the league.”

SPORTS>>Panthers wrap three-game stretch

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers are closing in on another Class 7A state tournament bid after a 51-38 victory over Little Rock Central at Panther Pavilion on Tuesday.

The Tigers held off Panthers leading scorer Darin Jones for three quarters, but the senior came to life in the fourth quarter to score all of his seven points and helped Cabot pull away in a 7A-Central Conference game it led 22-21at halftime.

Cabot concluded a strand of make-up games that were forced by multiple postponements because of winter weather. The Panthers played three games in span of four days, beating Conway on Saturday and losing at North Little Rock on Monday before taking their Tuesday victory over the Tigers.

“Honestly, we grinded it out, okay,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “We didn’t play one of our best games; our defensive intensity was not what it needed to be. I’m proud of them for toughing it out. It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it.”

The Tigers kept it close in the first half. Cabot led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter and by one at halftime.

But the Panthers were able to find breathing room by the end of the third quarter, taking a 32-27 lead before opening it up in the final eight minutes.

“Our conditioning really helped us along some,” Bridges said. “We didn’t panic, we did a better job of executing and we had much better shot selection.”

Senior Kai Davis led the Panthers with 21 points while J.D. Brunett added 12 points. Charles Mantione had six points and Clayton Vaught scored four.

The Tigers kept Jones off the scoreboard through the first three quarters, but could not contain Cabot’s dynamic shooting guard in the last period.

Jones scored his seven points in that time, as the Panthers quickly stretched their five-point lead to double digits shortly after the start of the fourth quarter.

Cabot also shot 5 for 5 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers (13-11, 7-4) had five games left and are third in the 7A/6A-Central power ratings with 101 points, seven behind second-place North Little Rock.

“There’s still a lot left to play,” Bridges said. “I think the worst we can do at this point is be the four-seed. But from how our year started, I didn’t think we would be any seed.”

The Lady Panthers kept their momentum going with a 56-47 victory over Little Rock Central on Tuesday.

The Lady Panthers (17-7, 7-4) are third in the 7A/6A-Central power rankings with 80 points, behind unbeaten North Little Rock and Little Rock Hall.

SPORTS>>Weary Red Devils ride out Hurricane

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville ended Jonesboro’s three-game winning streak and beat the Hurricane for the third time this year with a 66-54 victory at the Devils Den on Tuesday night.

Jacksonville’s standout guard Raheem Appleby fought off spells of nausea triggered by fatigue to score a game high 28 points, getting a layup and six free throws over the final 1:31 to help the Red Devils hold off the Hurricane in the 6A-East matchup and move ahead of Jonesboro in the standings.

It was Jacksonville’s second consecutive game after it edged defending 6A state champion Little Rock Hall 62-60 the previous night. Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner used the example of 34-year-old NBA players playing an 82-game schedule with cross-country travel.

“Sixteen-, 17-year-old kids can come out there and gut one out, and they gutted one out,” Joyner said.

Jacksonville (19-3, 7-3) beat Jonesboro (18-6, 7-4) in a pre-conference tournament and completed the regular season sweep Tuesday. But the latest victory wasn’t easy, though it appeared headed that way at first.

The Red Devils jumped to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, which ended with the Red Devils up 18-8.

“They’re going to be tough on any night,” Jonesboro coach Wes Swift said.

But Jonesboro fought back with a 10-1 run to get within 29-28 by halftime.

The Hurricane tied it at 32 on Ayo Ojo’s shot off a spin move with 6:33 left in the third quarter and took its first lead, 35-32, when Kahron Ross hit a three-pointer for his first points with 5:49 left in the period.

There were four ties from that point while Jonesboro’s biggest lead was 39-35 when Jacob Gibson grabbed a tipped ball and put it in with under five minutes left in the third.

Jacksonville went in front to stay when James Aikens made a one-handed jumper for the 46-44 lead with 7:15 left in the game.

“We’re one of the fewer teams that can go a small lineup with them and still kind of execute a little bit,” Joyner said. “If you can’t do that against Jonesboro then their speed and their presses will wear you out if you try to keep two bigs out there with them.”

Jonesboro stayed within six points of the lead until the Red Devils pulled away with a foul-aided, 10-2 run that left Swift fuming.

Swift drew a technical when he griped about the officiating with 35.4 seconds left and Jacksonville leading 58-42. Appleby made both free throws, and Swift was further outraged seconds later when Colby Inboden was whistled for an intentional foul as he tried to stop Appleby on a fastbreak.

Imboden grabbed Appleby with both hands but appeared to be trying to steady him as they went out of bounds on the baseline.

Swift did not comment directly on the officiating after the game.

“All year long, our kids are so resilient,” Swift said. “Any time you think we’re down, we bounce back, and this will be no exception. It’s one of the most unbelievable conferences I’ve ever seen. There’s so much talent in this conference and the key to it is they’re all so well coached.”

Appleby was the only Jacksonville player with 10 or more points, though the Red Devils got key plays from others late in the game.

Terrell Brown made a falling down shot in the lane to make it 54-48 Jacksonville with under two minutes left, Justin McCleary hit a pair of free throws for the 61-52 lead with 32.5 seconds to go and Aikens tacked on a free throw for the final margin.

“We’ve just got some guys we’re challenging to score some points,” Joyner said. “We’re trying to get everybody to score some points. We’re not going to make it very far with just Raheem scoring.”

Ojo led Jonesboro with 12 points, Ross had 11, all in the second half, and Gibson also scored 11.

Given the competitive nature of the 6A-East, the possibility of Jonesboro and Jacksonville meeting a fourth time in the state tournament came up Tuesday.

“We’ll worry about that when we get there,” said Swift, who had to get his team ready for Little Rock Parkview on Friday.

“Who knows? We might mess around, see them and play them a fourth time,” Joyner said. “God forbid.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

EDITORIAL >> Shenanigans at the Ledge

The Revenue and Taxation Committee of the House of Representatives yesterday began the heady process of putting Arkansas into the same fiscal boat with the national government, Texas and a number of other states with ballooning deficits. It endorsed tax cuts that Gov. Beebe has said would wreck the state’s delicately balanced budget. 

What’s wrong, you may ask, with cutting our taxes? But they are not cutting your taxes, unless you are a big manufacturer or expect to make a big profit from the sale of appreciated stock, a business or other investment. 

These are tax cuts for a very few businesses and individuals — those who need them least and who typically are paying lower taxes than you pay. The sponsors, who are most of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, say the tax cuts would cause a big boom in hiring. They say the investors and manufacturers would use the savings to hire people and start new businesses that would hire lots of people. 

It is pure hokum. Not a single bit of evidence supports the claim for either tax cut. 

HB 1052 would further cut the already low sales tax that manufacturers pay for the electricity and gas they use. You pay a state sales tax of 6 percent for the gas and electricity for your home or business. The manufacturers would pay slightly more than 2.6 percent. Their electricity and gas are cheaper, too. Industrial customers get a break over homeowners and small businesses on their energy bills. 

But if the Tyson plants, the steel mills and other manufacturers can increase their profits by saving on their gas and electric bills, they will turn around and hire more employees and increase their production. That was the sponsors’ argument. The steel mills will increase their production and hire the new employees to do it only if they can sell the extra products. If the demand is there and they have the capacity, they will expand with or without the little savings on energy.  

Rep. Ed Garner of Maumelle, the chief sponsor of HB 1002, which would eliminate state income taxes on profits from the sale of Arkansas property, makes the same argument for his bill. The state Tax Division estimated that the tax could would cost the state at least $66 million a year, and possibly much more. Garner claims that it would create so many new jobs and new businesses that the state would gain revenue, not lose. He offered not a shred of evidence to support his claim. 

It’s no wonder. Here’s the record: Arkansas already is one of the few states that tax income from investment profits at lower rates than other kinds of income, like wages and salaries. When Arkansas cut the capital-gains rate — from about 7 percent to roughly 4.9 percent — a few years ago, Arkansas promptly fell into a slump and far from gaining jobs, it lost them. 

Republicans have made the same claims about cutting the federal tax rate on capital gains. It would spur business expansion and new jobs. The record: Between 1976 and 1987, Congress cut the capital-gains rate twice and raised it twice. Unemployment actually increased after both tax cuts and employment actually went up after the tax rates were raised. Congress cut the tax again in 2003. The economy sputtered along for a couple of years and then fell into the deepest and longest recession since the ‘thirties. 

Garner said Arkansas was at a disadvantage with surrounding states that either have no tax on capital gains or a rate lower than Arkansas’. They get jobs and investment that we could get if we only taxed people’s wages and salaries and not profits from stocks, bonds and other property, Garner maintains. 

Let’s see. Tennessee and Texas do not tax capital gains and their unemployment rates are higher than Arkansas’. You may have read that Texas faces a $27 billion budget shortfall and is going to have to decimate public education, universities and other services. Sure, throw us into that briar patch. 

Let’s be practical. No business is going to refuse to invest in jobs and production in Arkansas because of the little capital-gains tax. Unless the tax were 100 percent of the profits from the appreciation, the investor is going to make the same decision regardless of the capital-gains tax.

What businessman would forsake all profits rather than keep only 95 percent of them? 

These tax cuts serve only one purpose. They increase the income of the recipients. In the case of capital gains, people earning more than $250,000 a year take 75 percent of them in Arkansas. If the state is going to offer tax relief, there are plenty of people who should be ahead in the line. 

Gov. Beebe said he might just let the tax cuts become law without his signature and force the sponsors of the bills to designate where to cut the state budget to offset the revenue loss.

But that is dangerous. The sponsors do not have to do it, and they won’t. They will say, just take it out of waste and fraud, and it’s your job, not ours, to find them. Our job is to please our benefactors.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville tries smaller annexation

Leader staff writer

Voters turned down Jacksonville’s efforts to annex about four square miles north of the city last November, but it looks like the city will get about half of that through voluntary annexation.

The city will more than likely pick up the entire business corridor on both sides of Hwy. 67/167 from the northern city limits to the Lonoke County line. For a voluntary or “quiet” annexation to work, at least 51 percent of the residents, representing at least 51 percent of the land, must ask, in writing, to come into the city. There is no public vote.

“Right now we’ve got about 70 percent of the owners representing about 80 percent of the property,” said Jim Durham, the city’s director of administration.

Durham personally visited nearly every one of those owners, and a few who did not sign on in an effort to bring about the annexation.

“Even though there is no vote, we still must have a public hearing before the council is authorized to approve the annexation,” Durham said.

That public hearing is tentatively set for 7 p.m., March 3 at city hall. The city council will lock in that date at its meeting on Thursday.

“Every business will be allowed to come in as they are and owners can sell their businesses to others who can continue to operate them,” Durham said. But for that to happen, the planning commission had to approve new zoning categories for the city, a C-5 and an M-2.

A C-5 zone will be the only place within city limits that a person can operate a retail or wholesale business for packaged liquor. “Those liquor stores along Hwy. 67/167, like Ace Liquor, will come in with a C-5 zoning, even the new liquor store being built next to Ace because it has already been approved by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and at a time the city had limited control in that area.

“Lots of people think that Jacksonville is dry,” said Durham, “but only Gray Township, which is about two-thirds of Jacksonville, is dry. These liquor stores are in the wet area of the county and with the new zoning, will be legal once they come into the city,” he said.

The second zoning recently created by the planning commission is M-2 for adult-oriented businesses. Businesses like Cupid’s and Sensations on the west side of Hwy. 67/167 will come into the city with this zoning. “The only place these type of businesses can operate in are M-2 zones and those will be the only ones besides Austin Ready Mix which will come in tagged M-2, because that’s the only zone that allows cement factories.

The city council could approve the annexation at its meeting following the public hearing. The annexation would also have to be approved by Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, and if all goes according to plan, the northern strip could be part of Jacksonville by May.

And as it becomes part of Jacksonville, the city will benefit from the $1 million in sales those businesses generate.

The proposed annexation is just of the business corridor with the exception of a few properties touching the back of the highway frontage whose owners wanted to be part of the city.

The city lost by about 300 votes Nov. 2 in its effort to annex two sections of land into the city. Both city residents and those in the affected areas voted. One section, to the north along Hwy. 67/167, was about 3.82 square miles, while the other section to the south of the city along Hwy. 161 included 0.38 square mile of land.

The November effort brought about a number of fractious meetings which included one arrest.This time the city expects a much more peaceful, positive result.

TOP STORY >> City eyes state fair land

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville wants to take control of about 450 acres near Wooten Road, off Hwy. 161 and close to I-440 for what city officials call future economic development.

But what appears first in the future is the state fair.

The city council will have a public hearing on the issue at 7 p.m. Thursday at city hall.

Mayor Gary Fletcher won’t be at the hearing because of another commitment, but City Engineer Jay Whisker and Jim Durham, the administration director, will be there to explain what the city’s financial plans are for purchasing the site and why the city wants the site.

City aldermen, who have the final vote on anything the city does related to the site, will be there to listen to the pros and cons.

Durham said Tuesday that the city plans to purchase the area but will not increase any taxes.

“We have most of the money in hand that we need and we have a $1.5 million economic grant that should cover the rest of the purchase and help with road construction and other infrastructure,” Durham explained.

“This is the most viable economic property that we have in the city,” Durham said, adding that city officials have other developers looking at the site too, in case the state fair decides to stay at its Little Rock location or move to a North Little Rock site along I-40.

“We have a number of possibilities besides the state fair. We are not letting any grass grow under our feet on this,” Durham said.

Mayor Gary Fletcher wants the state fair on the property and believes it has the most to offer the state fair.

The fair board has paid for a feasibility study on all the sites it is considering and the report should be done by next month.

If the state fair decides to come out to Jacksonville, the city will donate the land to the fair board, much like the city donated land for Little Rock Air Force Base back in the early 50’s.

Of the three sites the state fair board is looking at, Fletcher believes the Jacksonville acreage is the best site. “We’ve got a blank canvas out there,” the mayor said.

The sheer size of the site would give state fair officials great latitude to plan new facilities, Fletcher said.

“Even if the state fair chooses a North Little Rock site it will still be a boon to this area that we want to purchase,” Durham said.

The Wooten Road property is right off the I-440 Rixey Road exit off Hwy. 161 which is easy to get to from I-40 or Hwy. 67/167.

“It’s all about location, location, location,” Durham said.

The city wants to take the land through the use of eminent domain, meaning it would take the land and then a court would determine the fair market value that the city would have to reimburse the owners.

The 450-acre site is controlled by about 10 owners.

Almost half of the acreage belongs to Entergy and that company has made it clear that it is not interested in selling, donating or trading the land at this time.

The rest of the land is split between the other nine or so owners.

“There are no homes on the acreage,” the mayor said.

Since 1945, the state fair has operated on 149 acres along Roosevelt Road in south-central Little Rock.

Fifty-two acres are unusable because of train tracks that run through the property.

Ralph Shoptaw, the fair’s general manager, has said a study commissioned by the city concluded renovating the current location would cost about $57 million.

State fair officials have had high praise for Jacksonville, in particular for the city’s $5 million gift to the Air Force to construct the University Center, as well as offering to donate the 450-acre fairground site and hire a grant writer to help raise money to fund construction.

TOP STORY >> J.M. Park: He helped build Cabot

Leader staff writer

J.M. Park was born by Cesarean section at Baptist Hospital 80 years ago. He died there early Saturday morning from an abdominal bleed that his body was unable to overcome. He was 80.

Although he was born and died in Little Rock, his life was in Cabot where he was known as a family man, a banker, a community leader, a humanitarian and, to a few, a good friend.

His life was a lot like the plot of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as the town’s residents look back and realize how much good he’d done for the community.

Former Lonoke County Judge Dude Spence, Park’s lifelong friend and hunting and fishing buddy, said Park could have been richer than he was. He could have bought a controlling interest in the Bank of Cabot after Fred Garlington, chief executive officer and a large stockholder, retired. He could have – but he chose not to.

“He could have controlled it but he said ‘no, it’s a community bank. It should belong to the community,’” Spence said. “He helped a lot of people and I was one of them.”

Park’s list of accomplishments is a long one. He was a graduate of the University of Arkansas and a veteran of the Korean War. In addition to working 41 years at the bank, much of that time as president and chairman of the board, he served on the city council and school board.

He served on the board of Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute (CARTI), the Arkansas Student Loan Authority, the Arkansas Independent Bankers Association and the board of Home Bancshares and he was a founding director of the Arkansas Bankers Bank, serving as president of its board at the time of his retirement in 1995.

Friends like Spence knew him as the banker who helped them when they needed it but also as the kid who sold milk from his Jersey cow, the bird hunter who wasn’t a very good shot and the ex-smoker who never completely got over the craving for cigarettes.

“I could smoke a cigarette a foot long,” Spence said Park remarked once from the front of the boat they were in. He didn’t elaborate because he was a man of few words, Spence said. And there was nothing more to say about it.

Spence said he was with his friend the day he lost his Rolex in a bayou.

“We hit a stump, and he fell out of the boat. We didn’t find the watch,” Spence said.

They fished on the Little Red River and at Des Arc, where Park had a trailer. They always went fishing on New Year’s Day regardless of the weather. And if they spent the night away from home, Park made the breakfast eggs because he thought his were the best.

Dearl Dixon, a farmer and another lifelong friend, said they often traveled out of state to hunt quail. Why Park liked to hunt was unclear, Dixon said, because he was never very good at it. Luckily, his favorite dog Bo was.

If Bo got tired of waiting for them to shoot, he’d go in after the birds himself, he said. And everyone knew that if not for that dog, Park would leave empty-handed.

Park was a private man, his friends say. And most of his good deeds will never be public.

Former Cabot Mayor Joe Allman served on the school board with Park 30 years ago and recalls the time the school didn’t have money for payroll.

“We’ll pay the teachers and I’ll cover it through the bank,” Allman said Park told the board.

So the teachers were paid on Friday and then about the middle of the next week, the money the school was expecting from the state repaid the bank.

The obituary written by Park’s family lists among his accomplishments that he was a member of the board for Lonoke County Safe Haven, the shelter for abused women and their children that was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2005.

What it doesn’t say is that Park was the driving force behind it. An article in The Leader made him aware that battered women were sent outside Lonoke County because there was no shelter available nearby. Park called the paper just to be sure that he hadn’t misunderstood and then took action.

He rounded up volunteers to form a board. The Park family hired lawyers to get the paperwork started for incorporation and Park went to the city council to try to get a house near the police station rezoned to allow a shelter to open.

When the council turned him down because of complaints from the neighbors, the shelter opened anyway in a borrowed house in a commercial area on the edge of town while the mayor and city council looked the other way and allowed it to happen.

Brenda Reynolds, shelter director, said Park mowed the large yard there with a push mower.

He also could be counted on as a chauffeur and to pick up supplies.

In 2010, the shelter housed 110 women and children and served 19 outreach clients, Reynolds said. Volunteers and staff also answered 2,500 phone calls.

“If it hadn’t been for him and his family, we wouldn’t have the shelter to help anybody,” she said.

In September 2008, the shelter moved to its current location, a new facility built and furnished by donations.

Park had tears in his eyes when he spoke during the dedication ceremony calling the new shelter a miracle.

“When we started back in ’04, I don’t think anyone thought we would ever get this far,” he told the group of city officials and volunteers who gathered in the large kitchen and dining room.

Then he quoted an old hymn that he said explained how they had been able to do so much in such a short time: “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do if with his love he befriends you.”

Allman, a board member for the shelter, commented on the fact that Park was known to be a little quirky. Sometimes he was talkative and sometimes he would pass acquaintances on the street without speaking.

“So much of the time, he had a lot on his mind,” Allman said. “You had to know J.M. He was one of the finest people you’ll ever meet.”

At about the same time that Park was getting the shelter started, he was also appointed to the newly formed commission that now runs the city’s water and wastewater departments as Cabot WaterWorks.

Bill Cypert, Cabot’s new mayor, was appointed at the same time and resigned in December to take on his new job. Cypert said Park was appointed for all the obvious reasons.

“He was the statesman for the commission,” Cypert said. “But he also had a passion to see Cabot have a reliable source of water.”

As a lifelong Cabot resident, Park had lived through the days when water was collected in cisterns. He knew that white shirts soon became beige from the city’s brown water, and he had seen days when there was not enough water for baths.

Water shortages were alleviated when Cabot built a waterline connecting to Jacksonville water about 20 years ago, and the city’s supply was ensured when a sales tax was approved about 10 years ago to dig six wells and build a new treatment plant.

But groundwater is seen as a temporary fix by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, which permitted the wells and told the city it must eventually get its water from the surface.

Cabot’s surface water will come from Lake Maumelle by way of a connection to Central Arkansas Water.

The water line is completed and waiting for CAW to complete the connection and Cypert said Park was anxious for the water to start flowing.

“He sat down with me many times and talked about that,” Cypert said. “He wanted a big celebration. Our part is done and we could have had the dedication, but we were waiting. He wanted a big celebration, and I wish now that we had had it.”

TOP STORY >> Cities analyze census data as they set plans

Leader staff writer

According to the 2010 census, cities in north Lonoke County have grown, but not as much as some of them had hoped. That means most won’t get as much new money from the state for streets as they expected.

A special census in 2006 showed that Cabot had grown from 15,261 to 22,092. Estimates for 2010 were at least 25,000, but the actual number was 23,775.

But in White County, Beebe estimated its population from the 2010 census lower than the actual count.

Jacksonville lost population and is now smaller than Sherwood.

Cabot jumped 55 percent, Ward moved up 60 percent and Austin more than tripled its population. Beebe is up almost 50 percent, while Lonoke is down slightly at 4,245.

Sherwood gained more than 3,000 people when it annexed Gravel Ridge two years ago.

Jacksonville’s 2010 count of 28,364 is less than it had in 2000 (29,916) and less than its 1990 population of 29,101.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said Friday when he first saw the new total that he believed it was wrong. But by Saturday morning, when he met with the city council to talk about plans for the year, he said he had compared the census count to the number of new water meters and the increase of almost 1,700 was probably correct.

The 2011 Cabot city budget does not include the additional $63 per person that the city will collect for its newer residents, but that doesn’t mean city officials weren’t looking forward to the added revenue for streets which is where most of the new money must be used.

“We need to be very guarded and watchful over our expenditures for the next year,” Cypert said.

Beebe was disappointed with the 2000 census that set the population at 4,930. Mayor Mike Robertson said a year ago that he wouldn’t be surprised if that number grew by 2,000. But the new population signs will read 7,315, which is an increase of 2,385.

Mayor Bernie Chamberlain in Austin was cautious with her estimate a year ago when the census began, saying she expected it to show that her city had grown from 605 to between 2,000 and 2,500. The actual count is 2,038.

Ward Mayor Art Brooke said a year ago that estimates for his city were as much as 5,000. And although the census showed a 60 percent increase in population from 2,580 in 2000 to 4,067 in 2010, the estimate was off by almost 1,000.

Brooke said Tuesday that the city attorney is already working on a request to have the Census Bureau review the count. It is possible, he said, that census workers missed three subdivisions because it may not have been clear at the time that they were inside city limits.

Overall, Jacksonville’s population fell about 5 percent over the past 10 years.

Sherwood’s new count is 29,523, up about 8,000 from its 2000 population count of 21,511, a gain of about 35 percent.

Each person a city counts is worth about $1,000 to $1,500 times 10 years, according to census officials.

For Jacksonville that means a 10-year loss of more than $15 million. On the other hand, Sherwood will see federal funding increase about $80 million over the next decade.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher wants to appeal the census figures.

SPORTS >> LR Hall girls mercy rule Jacksonville

Leader sportswriter

Little Rock Hall’s physical style caused some late foul trouble, but not before the Lady Warriors had secured a big lead on the way to a mercy-ruled, 65-26 victory over Jacksonville in a 6A-East Conference game at Little Rock’s Cirks Arena on Monday.

The Lady Red Devils struggled against a full-court press that led to turnovers and easy baskets for the Lady Warriors. Hall spread its scoring among guards Tyler Scaife and Princess Cole and forward Taryon Coffey.

The Lady Warriors (16-6, 7-3) jumped out to a 14-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and steadily increased the margin while holding Lady Red Devils leading scorer Jessica Jackson without a field goal.

Jackson instead got all of her 10 points at the free-throw line, where she had 14 attempts.

Scaife, Hall’s sophomore guard, led the Lady Warriors with 15 points. She extended the lead further when she made an inside basket and a three-pointer, following a Jacksonville turnover in the backcourt, to make it 19-2 early in the second quarter.

Sophomore post player Jennifer Ballard was the only Lady Red Devil to find the basket in the first half with an inside shot that made it 19-4 with 6:21 left in the second quarter.

Coffey extended the lead to 21-4 with two free throws before Jacksonville’s Coyja Hood made a free throw.

Jasmine Ford then made a three-pointer for Hall that extended the Lady Warriors’ lead to 24-5 with 5:32 left in the first half.

Jackson’s only field goal of the night was waved off when she was called for traveling with 4:52 left in the half. Jackson spent the remainder of the half making repeated trips to the free-throw line.

She made 5 of 8 free throws over the remainder of the half.

Melissa Miller pulled Jacksonville (7-16, 0-9) within 31-12 with a free throw that set the halftime margin.

Things did not get any better for the Lady Red Devils to start the second half.

Scaife took the inbounds pass to start the third quarter and drove straight to the basket for a layup and the 33-12 lead.

Coffey had a chance at a three-point play but missed the free throw following her inside basket with 6:49 left in the third.

Senior Chyna Davis got the biggest shot of the night for the Lady Red Devils when she hit a three-pointer from the right wing with 6:24 left in the third quarter.

That closed the gap to 35-15, and Melissa Miller cut it to 35-17 with an inside shot assisted by Davis.

But Damonique Miller hit a three-point basket for Hall that made it 39-17.

The Lady Warriors dominated the remaining four minutes of the third quarter with a 16-1 run that gave them a 57-22 lead entering the final period.

Jackson had 11 rebounds to go with her 10 points, while Ballard added six points and Davis and Melissa Miller each had four.

Coffee had 13 points and Cole scored 12 for Hall.

SPORTS >> NLR rips Cabot girls to extend big winning streak

Leader sports editor

Cabot coach Carla Crowder has always been a supporter of North Little Rock coach Daryl Fimple.

But on one issue, Crowder is not quite ready to give Fimple her blessing.

North Little Rock ran its winning streak to 54 games with a mercy-ruled, 60-32 victory over Cabot at North Little Rock on Monday night.

Fimple and his defending state champions are closing in on the state record 62 straight victories set by Crowder and her Bryant Lady Hornets from 1987-90.

“Good for them, I hope they do well but I like our mark,” Crowder said.

Crowder, in her eighth year at Cabot, urged Fimple, the former Lonoke coach, to take the North Little Rock job after the 2005 season and Fimple has been a long-time Crowder backer.

“Carla has been a great role model for me in my coaching career,” Fimple said. “She’s part of the reason I’m here. She talked me into applying.”

“I told him it would be a great opportunity for him because he does a good job,” Crowder said.

Fimple and his players don’t shy away from discussing the streak, but it is not the foremost thing on the Lady Charging Wildcats’ agenda, he said.

Cabot entered the night in second place in the 7A-Central, and with the victory, North Little Rock beat back its closest pursuer and unofficially locked up its third straight league championship.

“It’s a great accomplishment for them to know about but that’s not our main focus,” Fimple said of the streak. “When it first started I said ‘Your main focus is to win a conference championship and try to win a state championship’ and that’s how they approached it.”

North Little Rock (23-0, 10-0) never trailed and outscored the Lady Panthers 31-10 in the first half. Anikae Brown made a three-pointer from the top of the key with 6:29 left in the game to give North Little Rock a 53-23 lead and start the clock running continuously under the sportsmanship/timing rule.

Cabot was in the midst of playing its third game in four nights, thanks to recent bad weather forcing postponements and makeup dates. Crowder wasn’t sure, however, if it was fatigue or poor shot selection that doomed the Lady Panthers in the first half.

“If you’re not prepared they’ll eat you alive,” Crowder said. “You’ve got to be able to buck up and play.”

Xena King led North Little Rock with 14 points and Lexus Williams scored 12. Ellliot Taylor scored eight points to lead Cabot (6-4, 15-8)

SPORTS >> New home should fit loyal fans, vice versa

Leader sports editor

I had the pleasure recently of visiting the past and glimpsing the future of Cabot High School basketball.

On Saturday, I moseyed up my street and took in the Panthers’ doubleheader sweep of Conway, which included a 10-point triumph by the girls and the boys’ rollicking, 51-47 upset fueled by the late efforts of guard Darin Jones.

The victories, in games that had to be rescheduled because of recent winter weather, came in the crowded confines of Cabot’s home gym, whose days as the Panthers’ headquarters are now numbered.

A noisy crowd led by the student section — whose members were decked out in alarming pink ensembles for breast cancer awareness night — charged the weekend atmosphere.

It seemed Conway fans didn’t like the students’ key jingling, the chorus of “hey, hey goodbye” and a few other taunts as they headed out the door, and some Wampus Cat supporters lingered to return verbal fire before they were hustled away.

It was the kind of night that recently led Cabot boys coach Jerry Bridges to reflect on how much he will miss playing in the Panthers’ old band box, slated to be replaced by an on-campus facility sometime next fall.

In North Little Rock’s spacious, modern gym on Monday, the Panthers lost yet another weather-related makeup game 61-56 to the Charging Wildcats while the girls were trounced 60-32.

This time I didn’t see the venue having as much impact.

North Little Rock fans lounging among the blue, chair-backed seats had plenty of elbow room and others could lean comfortably on the railing in the upper level concourse that circles the brightly lighted floor.

North Little Rock students did their best to bring the noise, and the loyal Cabot students who made the trip and set up camp in one end zone tried to return fire. But the sounds sometimes seemed swallowed up in the half-empty building.

Now, I’m not saying NLR’s gym is too big or their fans don’t turn out. A recent girls game drew a capacity crowd to watch the Lady Charging Wildcats extend their winning streak, which reached 54 in the victory over Cabot.

And I’m not saying Cabot is making a mistake leaving its old gym to other uses, like junior high games during the weekends.

But what I am saying is that in basketball, cozy is usually better. And Cabot may have figured that out as it moves forward on its project bid at close to $13 million.

The facility includes a cafeteria, amphitheatre and HPER building. The gym itself, Cabot athletic director Johnny White said, is an attempt to combine the best of all possible worlds.

The seating capacity will increase from the 1,600 or so the current gym holds to a “tad under” 2,400, White said.

In planning the structure, Cabot consulted with Conway and North Little Rock to use the elements the schools felt they had gotten right and to jettison the things they felt they had gotten wrong.

The new gym will include dressing rooms for the basketball teams, volleyball and visitors, as well as coach’s offices for each sport. Bleachers will be included in the end zones because, as White noted, the students stand anyway, and chair-back seats will be in the courtside stands.

Most important, given the refreshing enthusiasm of the students and the noise they provide, is the vertical angle of the stands, which not only allows for more storage space underneath but also should make fans in even the upper levels feel like they are on top of the action.

In other words, the Panthers ought to feel at home the first time they take the floor.

“You’ll know they’re there,” White said of the fans.

SPORTS >> Charging Wildcats edge Panthers

Leader sports editor

Cabot passed the gut-check test; it just didn’t get the final score it wanted.

North Little Rock held off Cabot for a 61-56, 7A-Central Conference victory in a Monday night makeup game at North Little Rock.

The Panthers, in the midst of playing three games in four nights, cut it to 52-50 on free throws by Kai Davis with 3:09 left, but the Charging Wildcats scored the next 10 points to pull away with the victory.

Cabot scored a dramatic victory over Conway in a home makeup game Saturday and was set to play Little Rock Central in a regularly scheduled game at Cabot on Tuesday night. Monday’s game was, hopefully, the last of the weather related makeups, but Panthers coach Jerry Bridges didn’t blame the loss on fatigue.

“We ain’t leg weary,” Bridges said. “If you see what I do to them in the fall,we’re in better shape than anybody and that’s the honest to God truth, okay?”

Bridges said the Panthers were the victims of some untimely turnovers, lost rebounds and missed shots down the stretch.

“We had two good open looks on threes from good shooters,” Bridges said.

“If we make those maybe it’s different. Man, we’ve got to rebound better. We didn’t rebound good and that’s probably what hurt us more than anything tonight.”

Davis missed a three-pointer that would have cut it to 56-53 and North Little Rock got the rebound. Kyle Thielemier missed from the left corner leading to a foul by J.D. Brunett, and the Charging Wildcats’ Cody Ware made both free throws for the 58-50 lead with 1:37 to go.

Clayton Vaught missed inside for Cabot, then fouled Tyrees Hollister, who capped North Little Rock’s run with free throws for the 60-50 lead with 1:08 to go.

The Panthers weren’t quite finished, however.

Brunett hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut it to 60-53 and Cabot called timeout with 49.7 seconds left. After a North Little Rock turnover, Vaught made another three-pointer from the right elbow to cut it to 61-56, and Cabot called another timeout with 28.6 seconds left.

“They’ve got great shooters; you just can’t give them a break anywhere,” North Little Rock coach Richard Alexander said. “I thought in the end we picked up the defensive intensity and I think that helped us.”

But with the five-point deficit and the clock against them, Cabot chose not to foul and took the hard-fought loss.

North Little Rock (14-7, 7-3) broke a tie for third in the 7A-Central with Cabot (12-11, 7-4).

“We’re in there, we just need to take care of our business at home,” Alexander said.

Hollister led a balanced North Little Rock attack with 14 points. Ware scored 12 and Gary Vines and Chris Campbell had 10 apiece.

Davis made four three-pointers and led Cabot with 18 points and Darin Jones scored 14.

“Going into this stretch we said ‘Man, if we can get one of these three,’ and heck, we got that one Saturday,” Bridges said of the Panthers’ state tournament chances. “I really think that’s put us in it. Now we’re trying to play for a seed.”

North Little Rock built a 39-26 lead midway through the third quarter and was ahead 44-35 by the end of the period. Cabot fought back to within 49-46 on a driving layup by Jones, and Davis pulled the Panthers within 52-50 with his free throws following a Ware foul.

SPORTS >> Devils bump Warriors

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville squandered two second-half rallies before coming through when it counted during its 62-60 victory over Little Rock Hall at Cirks Arena on Monday.

James Aikens hit the game- winning shot with 14 seconds left and Jacksonville claimed a turnover to lock up the 6A-East Conference matchup and avenge an earlier home loss to Hall.

“We got two proud programs,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said of the series that includes a state final showdown won by Jacksonville in 2009. “A lot of proud kids, a lot of proud fans, and that’s what you get when you get top-of-the-line people out there.

“We may not have the best basketball players, but we have some great kids that compete.”

Senior guard Raheem Appleby tied the game at 60 with a putback in the lane with 1:11 left to play, and when the Warriors tried to stall for a final shot, Jacksonville sophomore Justin McCleary came away with a steal and set up Aikens for his game-winner.

That still gave Hall plenty of time, but Jamison Williams got another Red Devils steal, this one near mid-court, and Jacksonville ran out the remaining eight seconds.

“We just played sloppy,” Joyner said. “But the kids came back. We’ve never played sloppy like that, but two games in a row, we’ve played sloppy with our ball handling.

“But when your team comes back and guts it out like that when they’re playing that bad, coming to Hall to do that, you have to give the kids all kinds of credit.”

Jacksonville had already staged comebacks.

The first pulled the Devils from a 40-34 deficit to within one point before Hall took off again in the middle of the third quarter. Two free throws by Appleby with 6:35 left to play tied the game at 51 after the Warriors led 51-44 entering the final period.

Senior utility player David Rivers and senior post player Myles Taylor led the Warriors with 19 and 14 points respectively, but Appleby stole the show with a game-high 29 points, many coming on hard-nosed drives to the basket.

“Raheem is Raheem, he is going to do what he’s going to do,” Joyner said. “We’re just trying to make sure everybody else gets involved. We want people to know we have more people on this team other than Raheem.

“And everybody else has to keep stepping up to the plate and making big shots.”

While Appleby led the Devils (17-3, 6-3) offensively for the most part, McCleary provided the spark on defense that forced Hall turnovers and other mental errors at critical points.

“He’s been playing for us all year like that for a sophomore,” Joyner said. “He’s got to be ranked as one of the top sophomores around here. He’s been starting since ninth grade, and a lot of people are overlooking him, but he brings so much heart and passion out on the court.”

Taylor made one more run at Jacksonville with an inside basket followed by a transition dunk that gave the Warriors (15-7, 6-4) a 59-55 lead with 3:22 left to play.

But Xavier Huskey rebounded a miss by Dustin House and put it back, then drew a foul and converted the three-point play.

Post player Tee Brown was the lone casualty for the Red Devils when he fouled out with 1:41 left to play and sent Rivers to the free-throw line.

Rivers hit the first free throw but came up short on the second as Appleby pulled down the rebound for Jacksonville.

“I just try to get inside,” Appleby said.

“They’re not that fast, they’re just long, like big in height. They came in at our house and beat us by two earlier, so this was real big.”

McCleary added 14 points while House and Huskey each had five.

“Every last one of them is the same way,” Joyner said of the competitive nature of the 6A-East.

“It never stops in this conference, but that’s wonderful. I love the competition; the kids love the competition also.”

Joyner has praised his team’s effort and work ethic all season after challenging the players’ heart last year.

He said the Red Devils aren’t the type of team to celebrate big victories, like their double-digit triumph over Little Rock Parkview, one of the preseason favorites, at home earlier this year.

The Red Devils and Lady Red Devils played host to Jonesboro in a conference game at the Devils Den on Tuesday night and will play host Marion in conference games on Friday night.