Friday, April 22, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Huckabee vs. Beck

We hate it when friends or family fall out in a public way and ask everyone else to take sides. Political breeches are just as unsettling.

It was unseemly this week when Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee, a couple of conservative stars of the Fox News commentariat, went after each other like grade-school brats. Beck from time to time had spoken well of Huckabee, and only a few days ago Huckabee had stoutly defended Beck, who was losing his job at Fox, apparently because advertisers were pulling out. Beck’s conspiracies had got zanier and zanier.

Then, on his widely heard syndicated radio show, Beck called Huckabee a “progressive.” A progressive! Most people throughout American history would be honored to be called a progressive. The word was applied to, among others, the Republican presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.

But in Beck’s lexicon, as Huckabee reminded us this week in a statement on Huckpac, his online fund-raising forum, progressivism is equated with cancer and Nazis. Beck didn’t compare Huckabee to Hitler or cancer, but he often talks about progressives in those terms, and our beloved former governor got the message. Beck said Huckabee had raised taxes repeatedly as governor of Arkansas, turned Arkansas into a mommy state on health care and connived with John McCain in 2008 to destroy Mitt Romney in the presidential race (Beck defends Romney, a fellow Mormon), and if Huckabee were elected president, he would do nothing to attack big government.

So Huckabee Thursday unloaded on Beck, calling him ridiculous, full of foolish conspiracies and either ignorant or malicious for attacking him. Huckabee’s prepared statement was ungrammatical and awkward—he must really have been steamed or else his ghostwriter was not on hand—but we have to side with our Florida friend on this one, on just about every count. 

Beck had ridiculed Huckabee for supporting First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity and the diabetes epidemic. Huckabee had invited her on his show to talk about the obesity campaign. As everyone knows, Huckabee lost a lot of weight in his last years as governor and made a lot of money by publishing a little diet book.

Of Beck and the first lady, Huckabee wrote: “I’m no fan of her husband’s policies for sure, but I have appreciated her efforts that Beck misrepresented—either out of ignorance or out of a deliberate attempt to distort them to create another ‘boogey man’ hiding in the closet that he and only he can see.* * * He seems to fancy himself a prophet of sorts for his linking so many people and events together to describe a massive global conspiracy for pretty much everything. Sadly, he seems equally inept at recognizing the obvious fact that children are increasingly obese and that we now see clinical evidence of diseases in children that as recent as 20 years ago were found only in adults, such as Type 2 diabetes. The costs to our nation are staggering in increase health-care expenses, but it even effects (sic) national security with now 75% of young men between the ages of 17 and 24 are (sic) unfit for military service primarily due to obesity!”

That followed by a day Huckabee’s attack on another conservative Republican group, the Club for Growth, the millionaire boys’ club that has been attacking Huckabee since 2007 as a big-government, tax-and-spend liberal. The Club for Growth had criticized Donald Trump, the latest Republican presidential candidate (actually, he’s just testing the waters like Huckabee at this point), for Trump’s progressive stances (he once praised President Obama and favors a woman’s right to have an abortion).

The Club for Growth had run TV ads saying: “There once was a governor from Hope, Arkansas, who raised taxes like there was no tomorrow. Higher sales taxes, gas taxes, grocery taxes, even higher taxes on nursing home beds. Raised spending by 50 percent, too. Who is that liberal tax and spend Arkansas governor? Bill Clinton? No, It’s Mike Huckabee.”

“Under their criteria,” Huckabee said this week, “the things that Ronald Reagan had to do as governor and as president probably would have made him a tax-loving socialist unfit for the White House as well.”

Huckabee is right. Although Reagan is famous for cutting taxes dramatically for high-income people in his first year as president, he raised taxes 11 times, nearly all of it directed at lower-income earners. He did it to try to bring under control the giant deficit that he had created with the big tax cut. Reagan got by with the practicality—he is now celebrated as a tax cutter and crusader for small government and the tax increases are forgotten—but Glenn Beck and the Club for Growth are not going to let Huckabee get away with the same kind of pragmatism.

But Huckabee may know something they don’t. The polls this week show Huckabee with a far better approval rating among Republicans than any of the fire-breathing candidates who vow they will never allow a rich man’s taxes to go up or the government to do much of anything but fight wars. Huckabee still insists that he raised all those taxes to please Democrats—he didn’t; he often pushed Democratic legislators and the voters to pass them—but you can ask too much candor of a politician.

This week, we’ll take Mike Huckabee. If Glenn Beck and the Club for Growth are on his case, he’s been doing something right.

TOP STORY > >School-staff raises on hold

Leader senior staff writer

The Lonoke School Board has approved the existing salary schedule, but won’t know about any salary increase–other than step increases—until the state Education Department announces the amount of minimal foundation aid for the 2011-2012 school year, according to Superintendent John Tackett.

Tackett said the actual amount of any increase to the salary grid would be approved probably at the August meeting. The current teacher-salary schedule, including the $500 increase last year, is $32,700, he said.

The superintendent’s pay is listed as $104,100, the assistant superintendent at $75,000 and the Junior ROTC program director at $81,945.

The board authorized Tackett to have the decrepit bus barn torn down, to make the better-suited maintenance building into the new bus barn, and move the maintenance operations to the continuing-education building at the old Carver Middle School.


The board approved the purchase of two new school buses for the low bid of $86,260 from Central States.

They also authorized the purchase of 199 new Dell computers for the high school, with stimulus funds. Some of the better, older computers will be reassigned to the library and for other uses.

The board approved a consulting contract with JBHM Consulting to observe in the classrooms of the three schools in school improvement—the primary, elementary and high schools, to satisfy the intervention requirement of the state Education Department.

The consultants will work 40 days in each of those schools. Tackett said he expects the cost of the consultants to be $1,500 per day, times the 120 days agreed upon. Tackett told the board that if they were dissatisfied with JBHM’s work, the contract could be terminated at any time.


Several Lonoke High School Future Business Leaders of America students were recognized at Monday’s school board meeting for outstanding showings at the FBLA Leadership Conference earlier this month.

Those finishing first were: John Pennington–accounting, Hunter Spence–digital design and promotion, Allison James–Future Business Leader, Debby Lee–local chapter annual report, and John Hobbs–marketing. Hobbs’ feat was all the more exceptional because the school does not offer marketing and he had to teach himself.

Pennington was installed as new state vice president for District V, replacing James.

In all, 32 students competed and participated in workshops.

Eight qualified for national competition at the National Conference in Orlando.

Pennington and Emily Daniel-sen placed second in American- enterprise project; Savannah Holman and Jeni Rooney, second in business-financial plan and James in partnership with business project.

Reagan Pack and Kaleigh Huff finished third in business plan; Sadie Pasley and Hannah Stewmon, fourth in community- service project; Amber Schafer, fifth in electronic-career portfolio, and Hassan Nadeem, fifth in personal finance. Lee, Danielsen, Ariel Hooper, Samantha Gann and Brandon Russell were in the top eight in parliamentary procedure.

Taylor Summerville was in the top 10 in public speaking I.

James was named to Who’s Who in FBLA and she and Heather Stocks won FBLA scholarships.

TOP STORY > >Lonoke alderman sworn in

Leader senior staff writer

After a decade or more on the Lonoke City Council, Phillip Howell stepped down last week and Mayor Wayne McGee swore in Coy Butler to take his place until a special election can be held.

Howell said he had moved into a new house, not in the zone he has represented.

He also stepped down recently from the Lonoke Community Center Board, upon which he has served since before the city-owned structure was built.

In other action, the council heard a proposal from Ron Page, of Crystal Broadband Networks of Chicago, to put a wireless transmitter atop the Lonoke water tower, which would provide high-speed broadband service for the area at what he said were “competitive rates.” Page’s company got a grant to make wireless broadband service available in the rural southeast quarter of Arkansas. He estimated the rates at $19, $29 and $39 a month depending on the speed the business or resident elected. City Attorney Camille Bennett will review the contract.

Currently, Page is working with Carlisle.

In addition to Lonoke, the broadband network will extend through the following counties: Saline, Prairie, Monroe, Arkansas, Lincoln, Drew, Ashley, Bradley, Dallas, Hot Springs, Grant and Garland.

Residents within five miles of the Lonoke water tower should be able to receive services, Page said.

The city has now condemned and torn down or caused to be torn down 11 derelict houses and the old Lonoke hotel.

Only one of the houses was successfully rebuilt, McGee said.

The council chose five more buildings for condemnation, and ordered letters sent to the owners, with an opportunity for appeal. Including those, they city has 32 houses left that must be torn down or rebuilt.

City Services Director Brian Whitworth announced that the city’s new leaf vac had arrived and was in service.

He said the gear reducer was back on at the water plant, meaning the clarifier was working, and work on the pressure filters continued. McGee said the town would soon have the cleanest, best tasting water around.

The city will rebid the fence and gate for the new entrance to the city shop, off Center Street near the Sonic Restaurant. The company came up 25 feet short on the fence, having used the new gate to account for 25 feet of the total. The new amount will be $6,050.

The new pumps at two sewer pumping stations are being rewired from 240-volt to the heavier-duty 480 volt, at a total additional cost of $17,480.

The council appropriated $1,330 for track hoe parts for the street department and will let bids for hot-patch asphalt equipment, which could run as high as $20,000.

The council approved $3,980 for new door lifts. The old ones were worn out and not sufficiently heavy duty.

The council also authorized City Parks Director Roy Lewis to buy two loads of red rock for the ballfields. Lewis said about 48 teams would participate in a tournament when the ballpark opens this weekend.

Community Center Director Mike Brown announced the beginning of spring soccer, with nine teams and 90 players. He told the council that beginning in January he would like to put some end-of-the-year profit into a building fund.

TOP STORY > >PCSSD defends deseg funding

Leader senior staff writer

Only about 58 percent of $105.6 million in desegregation funds provided by the state to the Pulaski County Special School District since 2006 was apparently used for desegregation-related expenses, according to an audit report commissioned by the state Attorney General’s Office and released Thursday.

Superintendent Charles Hopson and the district’s attorney, Sam Jones, said Thursday that the three districts party to the desegregation agreement have never been required to use those funds specifically for desegregation-related purposes.

The timing could hardly be worse for the district, which is trying to escape a fiscal-distress finding by the state and thus begin an ambitious school-building program.

Jones said he didn’t know what, if any, effect the Navigant audit would have on the district’s attempt to be declared unitary by Federal District Judge Brian Miller, or in the state’s determination of whether or not the district is in fiscal distress.

The auditor, Navigant, found North Little Rock School District’s books in such bad shape that they couldn’t track which, if any, monies were dedicated to desegregation, according to the report, and a similar report on the Little Rock School District is not yet completed, they said.


Navigant’s analysis revealed that the PCSSD’s recording of the

receipt of the funding improved over time. For example, for 2010, 100 percent of the desegregation funding received by PCSSD was recorded with the appropriate desegregation codes, which was in contrast to 2006 where the entire funding received by PCSSD was improperly recorded…with an unrestricted general-operating-fund code.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel hired Navigant to review the districts’ desegregation spending in order to provide transparency and more accountability in the use of the funds. In addition, McDaniel said he hopes the districts use Navigant’s reports to ensure that they are achieving and maintaining unitary status and to prepare a “wind-down” plan for when the desegregation funding eventually ceases.


Navigant found that the North Little Rock School District and Pulaski County Special School District received millions of dollars in desegregation funding that they have used for other purposes over the past five years.

“Of $105.6 million in desegregation funds received by the Pulaski County Special School District since 2006, Navigant found that only $61.5 million, or about 58 percent, has been recorded as spent on desegregation purposes,” according to McDaniels.

About $35 million during that time was transferred to non-desegregation, general, unrestricted accounts, according to Navigant, so “it is unclear as to whether these funds were expended for desegregation purposes.”

Neither does the state Department of Education track these monies, according to the report.

“The North Little Rock School District has received $45.1 million over the same time period,” according to McDaniels. The Navigant report said it “is largely impossible to determine what portion of the [North Little Rock] Desegregation Funding, if any, was actually used for desegregation related purposes.”

The state provides about $70 million annually to the three Pulaski County school districts to satisfy court orders that were designed to assist in desegregation efforts. To date, the state has provided more than $1 billion in desegregation payments to the three districts.

“Until now, there has been no clear-cut accounting of how the school districts spend these tax dollars,” McDaniel said.


Both PCSSD and North Little Rock School District are facing fiscal-distress findings from the state Education Department and the secretary of state said he believed the reports should be available as state education officials review the districts’ fiscal status.

Navigant said the districts’ policies and procedures may have allowed fraud, waste, mismanagement or abuse of funding.

Many of its concerns were identified last fall by the state Legislative Audit and have been addressed by the PCSSD board and administration, according to PCSSD communications director Deborah Roush.

“There appears to be poor tone at the top and a high degree of nepotism demonstrated by the superintendent, board members and senior level employees, particularly in the hiring of consultants,” according to Navigant. Hopson’s brother is an assistant principal.


The report made several recommended separating reporting of desegregation funding, training employees on proper use of desegregation funding, retaining an independent monitor, conducting annual desegregation funding audits, implementing policies and procedures, establishing a good control environment at the top, totating the financial-statement auditor every five years.

The PCSSD board will meet Tuesday to discuss the Navigant findings, according to Roush.

TOP STORY > >State to get last word on school plans

Leader senior staff writer

The future of Pulaski County Special School District’s ambitious seven-school building plan is now in the hands of the state Board of Education.

The PCSSD board Tuesday approved $8 million in budget cuts—including money saved by closing Jacksonville Elementary School—to service the annual payment on the proposed sale of $104 million in construction bonds, according to Derek Scott, the district’s chief operations officer.

The state Board of Education has informed the district that based on the Legislative Audit Report released last fall, PCSSD is facing a fiscal-distress designation. The district has made great strides in correcting the problems identified by that audit, and officials are optimistic that the state board will approve the district’s appeal.

If not, the fiscal distress designation could derail the proposed bond sale, and thus plans to build a new Jacksonville Middle School, new Jacksonville Elementary School, and a new school to serve students who otherwise would go to Tolleson and Arnold Drive elementary schools, as well as to do extreme makeovers of Harris, Scott and College Station elementary schools and Robinson Middle School.

“We’re on target and hopeful the state’s going to let us build the schools,” Scott said. “If the state approves us to move forward and sell bonds, we’ll be rocking and rolling.

“We believe we’ve answered all of their concerns,” he said.


One change is in the works. Scott said plans to build the new elementary school to replace Arnold Drive and Tolleson had been tentatively changed to a new location. The Air Force had offered 20 acres on Little Rock Air Force Base, but Scott said that land is now believed to be unsuitable, so the new school may be constructed on land adjacent to Tolleson, and it may be built and occupied in stages.

An audit and press release by the state attorney general could also hurt the district in its efforts to stay out of fiscal distress and to move on with needed new and rehabilitated buildings.

The district has hired architects and builders to do the preliminary work, and so far they are telling Scott that his cost estimates are right on target.


“The operating estimates I came up with three and a half months are right on target,” Scot said.

He had estimated the cost of building the new Jacksonville middle/elementary school complex at $43.5 million and the architects are telling him they estimate the cost at $44 million.

Scott did similar work for the Air Force, from which he retired as a colonel.

Scott said the plan is to start demolition and site preparation work as early as July on all the projects and to have them all completed by August of the 2013-2014 school year.


Of the $8 million in cuts approved Tuesday with a lone dissenting vote, $2.6 million would be from academic-accountability division; $209,100 from equity and pupil services; $1.5 million from operations; $1.2 million from business; $5,000 from communications; $100,000 from the superintendent’s office; $100,000 from human resources; $100,000 from information technology, and $2.23 million from systemic changes.

The $2.6 million from the academic-accountability division would be derived from reducing the number of employees and redefining and transferring other positions so they are not paid out of funds that can be used to pay debt service. It includes $600,000 annual savings from cutting six assistant principals, $500,000 from eliminating five of 36 speech pathologists and eliminating two special-education coordinators to save $200,000.

About $720,000 in savings would come from closing Jacksonville Elementary at the end of this school year.

SPORTS>>Frisco gets perfect five from Perez

Leader sports editor

Martin Perez stormed through five innings against the Arkansas Travelers on Tuesday night.

Then it really stormed.

Perez, the Frisco RoughRiders left-hander, pitched a five-inning perfect game as Frisco beat Arkansas 1-0 on a stormy night at Dickey-Stephens Park. The Texas Rangers’ top prospect, Perez struck out three and threw seven groundball outs and induced three flyouts.

“I think in my mind ‘Just throw the ball for a strike,’ and the other guys make the outs,” said Perez, who threw 68 pitches. “It’s easy when the pitcher throws a strike, a strike, a strike; it’s easy for the other guys to stay with you.”

Perez and the RoughRiders were sailing along, but when the expected bad weather hit at the start of the sixth inning, umpires immediately waved the teams off the field as the grounds crew began to unroll the tarp.

The delay began at 8:27 p.m. and ended 35 minutes later, but it was clear the game, which became official after 4 ½ innings, would not resume.

“Unfortunately he did a great job and it’s over now,” Arkansas manager Bill Mosiello said of Perez. I have to tip my hat to him. That was good stuff.”

While Perez spoke to reporters in the hallway outside the clubhouses, members of both teams and the umpiring crew gathered at the double doors to watch the storm and ooh and ah over the lightning display.

Even if the teams had gone back onto the field, Perez, already cooled down, would have been done for the night because of the delay.

“I wanted to throw more,” Perez said, but agreed it was unlikely he would have gotten back on the mound.

Perez’s weather-shortened gem followed an outing against Springfield in which he struck out nine, gave up four hits and held the Cardinals scoreless through five innings but got no decision in an eventual 9-4 Springfield victory.

“I think what’s most pleasing to me is he’s coming off an outing where he was probably more dominant as far as his stuff,” Frisco manager Steve Buechele said. “But he came right out tonight again and threw everything for strikes and it was very impressive.

“Very nice to see him bounce back the way he did.”

Buechele said Perez, who got his first victory and helped the RoughRiders end a three-game losing streak, was not as overpowering as in his previous start but was very accurate.

“He was throwing a little bit of everything tonight,” Buechele said. “He wasn’t throwing as hard as he was the other night — yet he still had good velocity tonight — he threw curveballs for strikes and threw some real good changes too, good fastballs in on right-handed hitters. Very good.”

It was a bad night to run into Perez for Arkansas starter Trevor Reckling (0-2), who made a fine appearance of his own but gave up Tommy Mendonca’s RBI hit in the first and took the loss despite striking out five, throwing eight groundball outs and walking none.

“He was fantastic, a double and a bloop hit in the first inning were his only blemish,” Mosiello said.

SPORTS>>Red Devils football players earning accolades

Leader sports editor

The answer is in the number of tackles.

The question is what was it that got Jacksonville lineman Rhakeem James named the school’s Brandon Burlsworth award winner?

It isn’t the number of tackles themselves, though that was an impressive 68, 43 assisted.

It was the fact that James, who at 195 pounds is light for an interior lineman, had to fly from his spot in the middle to bring down the ball carriers who were trying to run anywhere but at him last season.

The effort stands as an example of how James approaches everything, whether it’s bookwork, football or life itself and explains why he is the Devils’ Burlsworth honoree.

“This kid has just been, you hate to say somebody is perfect but he’s been as perfect a student athlete as you could possibly have,” coach Rick Russell said.

The Burlsworth Award is named in honor of former Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who walked on and then forged himself into an All-American and Indianapolis Colts draft pick, only to be killed in an auto accident before he could begin his NFL career.

The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, formed after his death in 1999, honors a player from each Arkansas high school.

The criteria for selection include drive, diligence to a player’s school and team and moral character.

James, 5-10, has all that and more, Russell said.

“He has one speed and that’s full out,” Russell said. “He’s very coachable and I don’t think he’s ever had a referral in the classroom.”

James was all-conference and all-state and was in the running for the 6A-East Conference’s top lineman honor after helping Jacksonville to the state playoffs last year.

“Pure desire,” Russell said. “No defensive tackle should make that many tackles on the season unless they’re running right at him, and they didn’t.”

James had six sacks, four tackles for loss and blocked a punt last year. On offense, he graded at 88 percent as a blocker with 17 pancake blocks and four knockdowns.

James, also a deep snapper, has signed to play football with Arkansas-Monticello.

SPORTS>>Red Devils football players earning accolades

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville linebacker Michael Thornabar is making up for lost time, and then some.

The Red Devils junior, who missed the past football season with a shoulder injury, appears to be back in top form after earning defensive MVP honors in the central Arkansas combine, held in conjunction with at North Little Rock High School.

Thornabar went through a series of drills and exercises that included bench pressing 225 pounds 15 times, running the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, posting a 30-inch vertical jump, broad jumping 8 feet, 3 inches and completing the shuttle run in 4.6 seconds.

“He got that plaque and we’re so proud of him,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said of Thornabar’s award. “He’s worked extremely hard. He was injured last football season.

“He’s working hard in the offseason getting bigger, stronger and faster.”

Thornabar injured his shoulder, requiring surgery, while making contact in spring practice before last season.

While the Devils, in their first year with Russell as head coach, were reaching the 6A playoffs and taking a first-round victory over Sheridan, Thornabar was anxiously sitting out the most important college recruiting year for a high school football player.

“It was very hard,” Thornabar said. “There were some moments where I just wanted to give up because I wasn’t playing and I saw my team losing. Our first game we played Cabot and it was at War Memorial and we lost and I felt very bad because I wanted to support my team.

“I was there spiritually, but I wasn’t there physically to help them go on to victory.”

And of course Thornabar missed the chance to strut his stuff for college scouts.

Once his shoulder healed, he attacked his offseason conditioning, telling his coach he was trying to cram two seasons into one. The Red Devils’ offseason weightlifting sessions, at under an hour, clearly haven’t been long enough for Thornabar.

“He’s probably lived in the weight room,” Russell said.

Since scouts didn’t get to see him in pads last year, Thornabar knows the combines are his best chance to jump start his recruiting chances until he can suit up for his senior season with the Red Devils this fall.

“I fee like I have gotten back on track because I performed great and I worked hard,” Thornabar said.

“I feel like I work hard and I can even work harder to get myself to the next level and hopefully college recruiters will see what I did at the combine and start sending letters and emails and such.”

Russell said he and the coaching staff will do their part to help promote Thornabar and any other potential recruits.

So far NCAA Division II Harding University has shown the most interest in Thornabar, 5-10, 240 pounds. He said he would rule out no school if there were interest shown, but is hoping he can make up enough lost ground to get offers from major college programs.

“I’ve always been told by my elders to set your goals up high and set them at the top,” Thornabar said.

SPORTS>>Cooper departing NP to coach Mills

Leader sportswriter

Raymond Cooper’s tour of the 5A-Southeast Conference is almost halfway completed.

After six seasons as North Pulaski’s boys basketball coach, Cooper is leaving to take over the program at conference member Mills. The switch comes with the resignation of Mills coach Leo Olberts, who is remaining on the Mills staff as a teacher.

Cooper, a graduate of 5A-Southeast member Sylvan Hills, began making his exit in mid-March, just after the conclusion of the state basketball tournaments, and was confirmed by Pulaski County Special School District officials April 15.

Cooper will work closer to his home in the Little Rock area and also said the possible merger of North Pulaski and Jacksonville schools was a factor in his decision.

“For one, it’s a little closer to home,” Cooper said. “And I know that at some point, the district here will probably combine. There was that uncertainty, and Mills is a good school that has some good tradition. They have a deep basketball tradition.”

Cooper went 101-69 in his six seasons at North Pulaski, leading the Falcons to the postseason four times with a state finals appearance in 2009.

The Falcons lost an ugly title game to Greene County Tech, 37-34, as they shot less than 20 percent. With seniors such as Kyron Ware, Daquan Bryant and Cooper’s son Aaron, North Pulaski was expected to return to the championship game in 2010, but Wynne stunned the Falcons in the semifinals with a buzzer-beating three pointer to win 55-54.

Cooper did not let rebuilding stop him from making another state-tournament run last season. The Falcons went 18-12 and reached the quarterfinal round before falling to host Alma 66-64.

In a twist, the Airedales went on to win the 5A state championship with a decisive victory over North Pulaski’s 5A-Southeast Conference rival Sylvan Hills, which defeated the Falcons in two close games during the regular season.

That included the second meeting at Sylvan Hills, which ended dramatically and with some controversy in overtime.

Cooper’s only losing season at North Pulaski was his first. The Falcons went 2-21, with one of the two victories coming as the result of an early-season tournament forfeit.

Their only on-court victory that year came against Pulaski Oak Grove on senior night.

Cooper and the Falcons also missed the postseason in 2007-08, his third season, despite going 16-11.

“It was one of the most rewarding things I have gone through in my career in sports,” Cooper said of his tenure at North Pulaski.

“We started out with some hard times, and made them better. It’s a great place to be, and I have a lot of good memories, and coached a lot of good kids.”

Cooper helped send a number of players to the college basketball ranks, most notably his sons. Quinn Cooper, who played in his father’s first two seasons at North Pulaski, will graduate from Lyon College next month after playing for the Scots under longtime coach Kevin Jenkins.

Aaron Cooper just finished his freshman season at Missouri State under coach Paul Lusk.

The Falcons showed promise last season with standout sophomore point guard Dayshawn Watkins, junior center Jeremiah Hollis and two-sport standout Shyhiem Barron.

“That’s the main thing, is that I’m leaving behind some great kids,” Cooper said. “You develop relationships with players, and you get in a comfort level when you’re somewhere long enough. There were a lot of mixed emotions in this.

“I’m excited, but there’s also the fact that you get attached to the place you’ve been at.”

Cooper was a standout himself as a player at Sylvan Hills in the mid 1980’s, which added some spice to the conference rivalry between North Pulaski and his alma mater. Now that he is moving to Mills, Cooper will have been affiliated with three of the eight teams currently in the 5A-Southeast.

“I thought about that,” Cooper said. “Somebody asked me where I went to school, and I told them Sylvan Hills, so I said, ‘Well, I’m making my way all over the conference.’ That’s the thing, I know this conference pretty well, so there’s not a lot of research I will have to do on other teams.

“And the kids at Mills, they already know the kind of style of basketball I like to play. They already know what they’ll be getting into.”

SPORTS>>Cabot’s Hidalgo St. Louis-bound

Leader sportswriter

Central Arkansas has produced its share of high-profile college recruits the last two years.

The state watched two years ago as Little Rock Christian running back Michael Dyer signed with Auburn, and the recruiting circus surrounding Sylvan Hills guard Archie Goodwin is ongoing on the basketball side of things.

Now, meet William Hidalgo, local soccer’s version of a big-time collegiate recruit.

Hidalgo, a senior midfielder for the Cabot Panthers, recently signed with St. Louis University. The Catholic school may not be a household name to football and basketball fans, but the Billikens’ soccer program is traditionally regarded as one of the best in the country after winning 10 NCAA national championships from 1959-73.

Hidalgo became the first athlete from Arkansas to sign with the USL program.

“From when I was younger, I always wanted to play for SLU, because it was such a renowned program,” Hidalgo said. “As I grew up and started talking to them, there wasn’t much interest until I started developing this last year.”

Hidalgo has enjoyed success with Cabot since starting his sophomore season, but it is his affiliation with the Little Rock Futbol Club that opened doors nationally and internationally.

LRFC has dominated classic soccer in Arkansas for nearly a decade, and Hidalgo was selected last summer to represent the state in regional all-star play. He was one of 18 players tapped to represent the U.S. in Argentina.

Hidalgo was named captain of his all-region team and scored his first international goal over the summer, sparking interest from many of the nation’s top college programs, including Clemson and Wake Forest.

But once the letter from SLU arrived at the Hidalgo residence last fall, the search was over.

“As soon as I came back, I started getting calls from multiple colleges,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo is one of only two NCAA Division I recruits in the state. Vilonia’s Kyle Moore signed with UCA.

Hidalgo’s numbers with Cabot this season are solid. He had five goals and three assists through 11 games before a torn hamstring suffered at Van Buren two weeks ago took him out of commission.

But his LRFC stats give the full impression of Hidalgo’s talents. Through 26 games last season, Hidalgo scored 39 goals.

“My game is all about trickery,” Hidalgo said. “I love trickery. I love fooling players on the field. Jukes, head fakes, to where they think I’m going one way, but I’m actually going the other way.”

Hidalgo has a 4.0 grade-point average and first-year Panthers coach Steve Porter said Hidalgo’s strong work ethic and attention to detail, as well as his natural soccer talent, helped his recruiting profile.

“William is a hugely talented player,” Porter said. “I’ve been really impressed with not only his technical ability, but more so with how he handles himself as a person. He’s got to where he is right now with just a good work ethic and a dedication to the sport.

“He’s a great role model for others.”

SPORTS>>Archarcharch preps for Derby

Leader sports editor

Archarcharch has already proven he likes to run.

The challenge between now and the Kentucky Derby on May 7 will be holding him back.

The colt, owned by Jacksonville’s Bob and Val Yagos, beat Nehro by a neck in last week’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.

The victory vaulted Archarcharch, who went off at 25-1, into the Kentucky Derby at Louisville’s Churchill Downs next month. He was shipped to Louisville early in the week to prepare for the race, the first leg of the Triple Crown, but Yagos promised that trainer Jinks Fires, of Hot Springs, wasn’t going to overdo the training.

“He’s in top condition,” Yagos said. “We just need to keep him there.”

While reporters in Louisville were clamoring for a workout to give them material, Yagos said Fires would stick to a regimen of daily distances at 1 ½-2 miles at minimum speed.

Archarcharch will most likely extend himself in midweek, half-mile runs, weather permitting.

Archarcharch would probably like more work than that, Yagos said, but the goal is to have him fresh for Derby day.

“This horse does not like to be kept in a barn,” Yagos said.

In a sport like horse racing, in which colorful names are the norm, Archarcharch still stands as something of a mouthful.

But Yagos said he wanted a name that was distinct and also paid tribute to the colt’s sire, Arch.

“We just tried to pick a name that people would remember and the announcers would have fun with, just something catchy that people wouldn’t forget,” Yagos said.

Horse owners have to submit the names of their animals to the Jockey Club for final approval.

“You have to send in four or five names and they pick which one you get,” Yagos said. “Quite a little bit of thought goes into it.”

Archarcharch has made a name for himself as a fast closer who likes to run off the pace. The colt won the Southwestern Stakes, and Yagos was surprised he went off at 25-1 in the Arkansas Derby, though his troubles in the gate that cost him in the Rebel Stakes may have had something to do with it.

“The oddsmakers, they look at these California horses and these Florida horses and they get so much more respect than these local horses,” Yagos said. “Local horses get overlooked.”

After getting out of the gate badly in the Rebel Stakes, Archarcharch wanted to go hard after The Factor, which is not his style, and jockey Jon Court had to fight him some to hold him back.

At the Arkansas Derby, The Factor, the oddsmakers’ favorite, finished out of the money while Archarcharch made his push in the final 16th to close on Dance City and Sway Away.

“There was so much money bet on The Factor to win and that kind of played with the odds on everybody else,” Yagos said.

Kentucky Derby odds haven’t been posted yet, but Yagos expects Archarcharch to be between 6-1 and 8-1.

“We’ll probably be a third or fourth choice,” he said.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

EDITORIAL >> Bad start for Martin

When two of your top aides resign, each accompanied by a whiff of scandal, it has not been a good week for a public official. That happened last week to Secretary of State Mark Martin, who already had more than his share of trouble since taking office three months ago. 

First, Princella Smith, his director of education (we didn’t know the secretary of state had, or needed, a director of education), resigned after she was arrested at Wynne, her home, for driving without a vehicle license or insurance and driving with a suspended driver’s license. Smith, who also has a political consulting firm and teaches at a community college at Wynne, resigned because she said she had cast Martin’s office in a negative light. It was a commendable, thoughtful thing to do. We have no idea whether Martin suggested it. Anyway, it ought to cast no reflections on Martin that an aide was a driving scofflaw. 

But the resignation of Teresa Belew, Martin’s executive assistant, is another matter. She resigned because she said she was being directed to violate the law by skirting a request for documents that are supposed to be available under the Freedom of Information Act. Her letter of resignation said Alice Stewart, Martin’s deputy and a former aide to Mike Huckabee, told her that a controversial email would be shredded rather than turned over to Max Brantley, a newspaper editor who had requested the documents. Another top aide told her not to shred the document but that the material would not be given to Brantley until the legislature had approved the office’s budgets. The law says public documents must be turned over in a timely manner. 

Martin, Stewart and other top aides denied to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Monday that they wanted to bypass the law in any way and they said Ms. Belew just misunderstood everyone. For her part, Belew refused to talk to the media. She said her letter of resignation and an email to Martin’s top deputy, Doug Matayo, were all that she ever intended to say about the matter. The email to Matayo expressed concerns “about personnel, FOIA, Mark’s stress level and what I perceived to be an environment of disrespect, fear and mistrust.” 

Belew formerly was executive director of the Arkansas chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Here is the irony. The documents in question related to a contract that Martin negotiated in his first days in office with friends at John Brown University at Siloam Springs to throw a retreat for him and his top staff at Greystone Estate at Rogers and teach them how to operate the secretary of state’s office in an ethical manner. The group at the university is called the Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics. The state is paying $54,000 for the retreat and training. Brantley had heard about the contract and sought details, including correspondence about it inside the secretary of state’s office. Belew seemed to think one piece of correspondence would be controversial and asked about it, which caused the brouhaha. 

We have to presume that the consultants had not reached the point in the training where they explain the ethical handling of requests to follow the freedom of information law. If they missed the point, Teresa Belew has made it quite effectively.

TOP STORY >> Power lines fall, repairs continue

Leader senior staff writer

“Every one of them fell like dominoes,” Dick Bransford said Tuesday of the high-voltage transmission towers down in eight of his fields after Thursday’s storms.

More storms swept across the area Tuesday night, knocking down trees and disrupting power to many homes.

The lines are down for about 11 miles from the Bill Sandage Farm east of Keo on to Carlisle in southern Lonoke County, according to Jeff Welch, Lonoke County Chief Extension agent.

The downed transmission lines and towers will probably impact several thousand acres, Welch said.

Bransford said the old Pettus gin, which shut down three cotton seasons ago, was the staging area for IRBY construction, which is building and raising new towers for Entergy.

The downed lines do not supply electricity—directly, at least—to those living in the area.

Bransford said 50 or 53 towers were down. The old ones are being lifted out by helicopter.

“They said they’d have them back in 14 weeks,” he said. Meanwhile, he’ll have to leave some fields fallow and change planting plans for others.

He had planned cotton, rice and even pumpkins for various fields, but now he’s looking at a later start—a shorter growing season, as large towers and heavy-duty equipment bisect those fields.

“It’s going to be too late to plant rice,” said Welch. If they were going to plant cotton, they’ll probably have to go to soybeans.

Other farmers suffered some hail damage during the storm, he said. The farmers are out checking the damage to their wheat and cornfields. Some may have to be disked under and replanted. “I haven’t heard of farmers who really got hurt on that.”

TOP STORY >> Cabot Farmers Market prepares to open

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Farmers Market is about to start its fourth year, and organizers say it is shaping up to be the best one so far.

The market is affiliated with Cabot City Beautiful, Inc. A meeting for prospective vendors is set for 6 p.m. Sunday at the city community center.

“We had a fairly successful first year, great second year, a fantastic third and we’re looking forward to a bigger market this coming year,” Matt Webber, CCB president, said in recent press release. “Many growers, crafters, and artisans, right here in our area, have contacted me. They want to be a part of this great opportunity, for them to showcase and sell their products.”

The market will be open Saturdays in the parking lot of First Security Bank across from city hall from 8 a.m. until noon from May 7 until Oct. 29.

Webber said during an interview this week that the parking lot has room for about 20 vendors but the average last year was 10-11. What they want in vendors to fill those spaces is variety, he said: fresh produce, crafts and art. Musicians would also be a welcome addition.

A change in state law now makes it legal to sell home-made foods such as baked goods, jams and jellies at farmers markets, fundraisers and festivals providing they are labeled with ingredients and the name of the producer.

The new law does not exempt products with high-water content such as pickles and salsa or foods such as cream pies which can spoil without refrigeration from the ban on selling homemade foods, said Teresa Bulloch with the Arkansas Department of Health.

“A farmers market contributes to the social and economic welfare of a town and helps produce a strong sense of community identity together,” Webber said in his press release. “The farmers’ market will stand as a common ground were people can interact with local farmers and fellow residents of the community, as well as a local source of fresh produce.”

Although the intent of the market is to sell locally grown fruits and vegetables, Webber said May is a little early for most local produce. Vendors are allowed to sell produce from out of state as long as they make it clear to their customers that it is not local.

Eggs are allowed but only if the vendor has a refrigerator to keep them fresh, not an ice chest.

All vendors must be approved. If what you have to sell isn’t produce, some home-prepared foods, art or crafts, it’s not right for the farmers market, Webber said.

“(The First Security Bank) location provides great visibility and allows farmers and vendors to sell right off the back of their trucks, just like the days of yester-year,” Webber’s press release said.

“We are working to integrate many new ideas and giveaways into this year’s market. We want an atmosphere that is friendly and inviting.”

Anyone interested in participating should contact Webber at 501-920-2122.

TOP STORY >> Sad to see old bridge torn down

Leader executive editor

Scott Fryer took his family Saturday to inspect Fryer’s Ford Bridge, which had served the rural community near Solgohachia in Conway County since 1890.

Fryer, who lives in rural Jacksonville behind the air base, saw the twisted, rusted metal barely hanging on to the sides of the bridge and the base made of wood split like a V.

He climbed down near the bridge and saw the elaborate rockwork on both sides of the creek. The rocks are about 20 feet high and helped hold up the bridge for more than 120 years.

“The metal is twisted like a pretzel,” Fryer said later. “The main girders broke in half.”

Built just 25 years after the Civil War for about $4,000, it was the oldest bridge still in use in Arkansas. But no more.

About 10 miles north of Morrilton down a dirt road, the old bridge over Point Remove Creek, which is near where Fryer’s great-grandfather farmed, will soon come down—a victim of progress. It was damaged beyond repair last week by a truck driver who was looking for a short cut delivering water for natural-gas drillers.

Fryer suspects heavy trucks often crossed the bridge, but it was the driver’s carelessness that finally brought the structure down.

The driver was fired, but that won’t bring the bridge back. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Fryer thinks the bridge snapped when Jason Burris, the driver, hit part of the girders, jerked the truck out of the tangled mess and made it across just as the bridge started to fall. Then a tree fell on top of it.

“He felt it buckling and stepped on the gas,” says Fryer, who works in the income-tax division of the state Department of Finance and Administration.

The truck was several times over the weight limit, which is just three tons — about the weight of an SUV. What brought the bridge down was probably the damage to the sides that supported the structure for more than a century.

Fryer says the county is hoping to put up a new bridge nearby for $1.5 million. The trucking company, Sweet H2O, has promised to do all it can to replace the bridge.

“The truck company wants to make things right,” says Fryer.

“The driver was fired,” he says, “but the boss who told them to drive across the bridge wasn’t fired.”

Much has changed since Fryer’s great-grandfather farmed there: Some of the most productive gas wells are in the area. Shiny pipelines course through there, distributing cheap energy, but at a price: A piece of history spanning three centuries is gone.

Fryer’s family started farming near Solgohachia back in the 1840s. They left around the turn of the century after several members of Fryer’s family, including his great-grandfather, were murdered.

No point in romanticizing the past: There was a lot of violence on the frontier, but people got by and built sturdy bridges for a few thousand dollars that lasted almost forever.

Sadly, the landmark will soon be gone.

TOP STORY >> Boozman: Keep cutting more

Leader staff writer

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) had lunch in Cabot on Tuesday with chamber of commerce members from Cabot and Jacksonville, telling them that being there together showed their commitment to the ideal of regionalism.

“What’s good for one community is good for another. It just makes sense to work together,” said Boozman.

Then with an anecdote about being sworn in with the Bible his dad carried in World War II, the senator led into what he said is the greatest crisis the country has faced since that war—the national debt and the need for a law that will require a balanced budget much like the one in Arkansas.

It might not be easy, the senator said, but now a rating service has questioned the nation’s ability to pay the debt on its bonds.

The large budget deficit was one of the reasons given by Standard & Poor on Monday for downgrading the nation’s credit outlook to negative.

Right now, the national debt is $14.3 trillion but interest on that debt is low. Just like with home-mortgage loans, bad credit leads to higher interest rates. And raising interest on the nation’s debt by just 1 percent will increase the debt by $140 billion a year, Boozman said.

“We’re at the tipping point. It’s got to be done,” he said of cutting spending and balancing the budget.

And if that wasn’t clear, he reiterated that it’s time to “answer the call…make the tough call…rise to the occasion…do what we’ve got to do.”

The most pressing issue is for Congress to pass a law allowing the secretary of the treasury to raise the debt ceiling so the government can continue to operate and pay its debts, Boozman told the group. Not doing it would cause the government to default on bonds and other debt.

But he said in a brief interview after the meeting that he won’t vote for such a law unless it is accompanied with a law to balance the budget over time.

Boozman did not elaborate during his speech about how the budget could be cut.

Asked later what he would cut, the senator said many government programs have too many layers of bureaucracy that duplicate administrative services. Some of those could certainly be cut, he said.

Not raising the debt by July 8 could also cause the government to default on Social Security payments, experts say.

His comments were in line with recent reports that the Republicans realize they have no choice about raising the federal debt ceiling from the current $14.3 trillion to prevent economic disaster, but they won’t do it without legislation to curb spending and rein in future deficits.

In addition to costing more to borrow money because bonds go into default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, experts say that devalued Treasury securities would harm individuals and pension funds, and interest rates would rise on other forms of debt: mortgages, credit cards and state and local borrowing.

Raising the ceiling is non-partisan, Boozman said. “It has to be done.”

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert was part of Boozman’s audience in the dining room of First Baptist Church.

In addition to wanting to hear what the senator had to say about the national debt, the mayor said he was there for an update on the $1.1 million federal appropriation to begin engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the north interchange that has been talked about for a decade.

Cypert learned when he took office in January that the money was appropriated, but not for Cabot. Instead, it was mistakenly set aside for the Chalk Bluff Road project in Clay County.

Boozman, a former Third District congressman who was elected to the Senate in November, said he also learned about the clerical mistake when he took office. The problem can be remedied, the senator said.

Clay County knows it doesn’t get to keep the appropriation, but giving it to Cabot will require adding it to an appropriate bill, he said.

SPORTS >> Travelers top ’Riders in fifteenth

Leader sports editor

The kids were out of school by the time the Arkansas Travelers wrapped up their school-day special on Monday.

Luis Jimenez hit a one-out RBI single in the 15th inning to lift Arkansas to a 4-3 victory, their fourth consecutive, over the Frisco RoughRiders at Dickey-Stephens Park.

In one of the Travelers’ more enduring promotions, the game began at 11 a.m. before a crowd of 8,779 most of them area schoolchildren who were on hand for the traditional kids day game.

But most of the kids were back in class by the time regulation play ended in a 2-2 tie, and the kids were no doubt home or on their way home when Jimenez delivered his game-winning hit 4 hours and 24 minutes after first pitch.

“I think that’s the longest one I’ve ever played,” Jimenez said.

Frisco took a 3-2 lead when catcher Robbie Diaz hit a two-out, bloop single to right to score Davis Stoneburner in the top of the 13th inning.

Arkansas center fielder Mike Trout tied it again when he led off the bottom of the inning with a home run over the left-field fence, hitting the base of the scoreboard.

Travs reliever Chris Scholl pitched three innings of scoreless relief, giving up two hits and striking out two without a walk. Matt Meyer (1-1) picked up the victory, pitching two scoreless innings while striking out two.

Trout went 3 for 6 with two runs and an RBI and Jimenez went 2 for 6 with his game-winning RBI. Frisco’s Engel Beltre went 3 for 7.

Adam Younger, who came in to play first base when Jay Brossman tweaked a hamstring in the third inning, led off the Travelers 15th with a double to left field.

Trout sacrificed Younger to third for the first out and Frisco reliever Justin Miller intentionally walked shortstop Darwin Perez looking for a double play. But Perez stole second, forcing the RoughRiders’ infield to play in and then Jimenez sliced the game-winner to left off losing pitcher Justin Miller.

“That was kind of like a sinker that tried to cut a little bit,” Jimenez said. “All I said was ‘Well, I’m going to put the ball in play, try to get it out of the infield,’ because the infield was in.”

The RoughRiders got to Arkansas starter Garrett Richards in the top of the first when Beltre singled to center. Richards retired the next two Riders on fly outs to center, but gave up consecutive singles to Tommy Mendonca and Diaz, the last one scoring Beltre for the first run.

The Travs got on the scoreboard in the third inning when Brossman hit a two-out infield single and Trout doubled to left, moving Brossman to third.

Perez scored the two runners with a double to right field to put Arkansas up 2-1.

Frisco tied it in the top of the fourth when left fielder Jonathan Greene led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout to second, and scored when Beltre hit an RBI single to center.

Beltre was caught stealing to end the inning.

The Travs went eight innings without a hit, getting its first since the third inning from catcher Orlando Mercado when he hit a one-out double in the 12th. The Travs couldn’t capitalize when Angel Castillo grounded out to third and Younger flied out to right.

Arkansas improved to 6-5 and is above .500 for the first time after opening the season 0-4.

“We have a good team. I think we can go with the competition,” Jimenez said.

On Tuesday, before playing Frisco in the series and homestand finale, Arkansas announced catcher Alberto Rosario (lower back strain) and Brossman (right hamstring strain) have been placed on the disabled list.

The parent Los Angeles Angels promoted Dillon Baird and Ikko Sumi from Class A Inland Empire, in the California League.

The left-handed hitting Baird is batting .372 with three home runs and 13 RBI and has played first, third and designated hitter.

Sumi, a catcher, is hitless in 12 at-bats.

Rosario is hitting .294 in five games and will be available to return April 24. Brossman is hitting .257 in 11 games and should be able to return on April 27.

Both injured players spent time at Arkansas last season.

SPORTS >> Beebe bats best Cabot in a breeze

Leader sportswriter

Gilliam Field looked more like Chicago’s Wrigley Field as host Beebe beat Cabot 11-6 in a wind-blown non-conference game Friday.

Beebe (15-3) overcame a one-run deficit with an eight-run fifth, taking advantage of six Cabot walks to take command.

Wind gusts of over 35 miles per hour made the early evening game rough on players and spectators alike.

Many Badger fans left the high stands behind home plate during the second inning and some watched from their vehicles parked behind the first-base fence while the visiting Cabot fans toughed out the conditions better suited for the Windy City.

The heavy gusts also set the stage for some big hits, as Cabot hit three home runs while Beebe senior shortstop Griffin Glaude put his team ahead for good with a three-run shot to center in the big fifth to give the defending 5A state champions a 6-4 lead.

Cabot jumped to an early lead with a three-run home run by right fielder Daniel Fox in the top of the second, and a solo shot to right by first baseman Bryson Morris in the top of the third gave the Panthers a 4-1 lead.

“They changed pitchers, and we started taking better at-bats,” Beebe coach Mark Crafton said. “We kind of came up with some big hits, and played good defense.”

Beebe’s Jared Ashbrenner earned the victory on the mound for the Badgers.

Cabot used the non-conference game to work out a pair of underclassmen pitchers among the four the Panthers used. Sophomore Dustin Morris, known as “Chipper” for his likeness to the Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones, worked the first three innings until senior center fielder Brandon Surdam took over in the fourth.

“He did a great job,” Fitch said of Morris. “What happens is, these non-conference games, you certainly want to win them, but you want certain guys to stay sharp for that next big conference game.

“We did that. I had it in my mind who I wanted to get work, and we got both of them in there.”

Senior Zach White pitched until Panthers coach Jay Fitch called on freshman Kason Kimbrell for the final inning.

Ashbrenner got things going for Beebe in the decisive fifth when he reached on an error at second by Jordan Castillow.

Brandon Stain walked and both runners scored when Glaude, a UCA signee, sent a Surdam pitch into the jet stream for a three-run home run over the wall in center field.

Tanner Ball then walked, Zach May reached on an error and Dakota Loveston walked to load the bases. Dillon Byrd sent Ball and May in with a single to right, and Vann Kersey loaded the bases again with another walk.

That returned Beebe to the top of the order, where Ashbrenner hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Loveston but forced Byrd at third for the second out.

Stain loaded the bases for Beebe again with a single, and Glaude and Ball drew walks to drive in the final two runs.

Cabot junior catcher Tyler Carter also hit a home run to center to lead off the top of the fifth inning. Cabot scored its final run in the seventh when Morris singled and scored on an RBI single by Carter.

Cleanup batter Tanner Ball scored Beebe’s first run in the bottom of the second when he singled to left and took second and third on passed balls. May, the senior third baseman, drove him in with a fielder’s choice grounder to second.

Glaude led off the fourth with a double to left and Ball tripled to drive him in. May drove in Ball to pull the Badgers within 4-3.

Byrd was 2 for 2 with two RBI while Ball was 2 for 2 with two runs scored. Glaude was 2 for 3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs.

For Cabot, Carter was 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI while Morris was 2 for 4 with a home run and two runs.

The Badgers are 6-0 in 5A-Southeast Conference play, and talk of a return trip to Baum Stadium in Fayetteville to defend the state championship is picking up.

“We’re doing pretty well,” Crafton said.

“We lost a couple early that we thought we should have won in our minds, but it was also a wake-up call of what we needed to be doing, and the kids have been responding.”

SPORTS >> Appleby, Young chosen as all-stars

Leader sports editor

Two area basketball players earned Arkansas Activities Association All-State honors for their efforts this season.

Jacksonville senior guard Raheem Appleby and Beebe senior guard Devonte Young were selected to the East team coached by West Fork’s David Ferrell.

Appleby, 6-3, The Leader boys player of the year, averaged 19.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists a game and helped lead Jacksonville to its second 6A state final appearance in three years.

Little Rock Parkview beat Jacksonville 50-44 in this year’s championship at Hot Springs Summit Arena.

It was the third meeting between the teams and gave Parkview a 2-1 edge in their season series.

Appleby was a sophomore when Jacksonville beat Little Rock Hall to take the championship in 2009. He suffered an ankle injury late in this year’s state tournament run but still scored a game-high 19 points in the final.

Young, 6-2, was a first-team All-Leader pick under first-year coach Ryan Marshall and helped Beebe to the 5A state tournament where the Badgers took a first-round loss to Siloam Springs, 64-56.

Young averaged 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals a game.

Appleby and Young join an all-star team of high-profile college recruits.

The East squad features Texas-El Paso signee Hooper Vint, 6-11, of Van Buren; Arkansas Razorback recruits Ky Madden, 6-5, of East Poinsett Co.; Hunter Mickelson, 6-11, of Jonesboro-Westside, and Aaron Ross, 6-8, of Parkview.

There were no area selections to the girls teams or girls coaching staffs.

The all-star festivities are set for Fayetteville’s Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus on June 22.

SPORTS >> Glaude tidings at Beebe

Leader sportswriter

It’s hard for Griffin Glaude’s reputation not to precede him at this point.

Such was the case Friday when Beebe’s senior ace and last year’s 5A state championship Most Valuable Player was sought out for photos and an interview before the Badgers’ non-conference home game against Cabot.

Nearby, Cabot coach Jay Fitch and Beebe coach Mark Crafton stood outside the visitors’ dugout chatting while their teams warmed up.

“The first question you need to ask him is why the heck he didn’t move to Cabot, we could have used him,” Fitch said as Glaude walked by.

“Take it easy on us out there today, kid,” Fitch said to Glaude.

No such luck, coach.

Though Glaude, a senior who recently signed to play for the University of Central Arkansas, did not pitch during the Badgers’ 11-6 comeback victory, he was instrumental offensively as he hit the go-ahead, three-run home run over the center-field wall in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Throw in a solid defensive effort at shortstop and it’s clear why Glaude’s name has reached neighboring towns, even those not within the Badgers’ conference.

Things have been a little different for Glaude and the Badgers (15-3, 6-0) after moving from their former home in the 5A-Southeast Conference into the 5A-East this season, but the results have been promising nonetheless.

That’s thanks in large part to Glaude, who carries an 0.94 ERA and .466 batting average.

“He’s going to be missed,” Crafton said of Glaude, his three-year starter. “Not only is he a good player, he’s also a good kid. He’s one of those kids who leads by his actions on the field.”

The Badgers went into the 5A state tournament last year as a No. 2 seed after losing two conference games to the Monticello Billies, who happened to wind up as their opponents for the championship game at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

Glaude got the start and captured the state’s attention by pitching five shutout innings and hitting the game-winning RBI as the Badgers earned their first baseball state championship.

“Every game, you go out, and you have a target on your back,” Glaude said of the defending state champion status. “We had real good support from the community. A lot of people helped raise money to buy the rings. All the other athletic teams were proud of us.”

Glaude, who throws right and bats left, said there is little difference between Beebe’s two conferences the past two seasons, though he said there may be slightly more depth in the 5A-East, which features Batesville, Wynne, Green Co. Tech and Forrest City.

If any doubt persisted as to whether or not Glaude’s MVP performance in Fayetteville was a fluke, he has extinguished it this season with a 5-0 start and his miserly ERA.

“Everyone ups their game when he’s on the mound,” Crafton said. “But they also try to ride him sometimes. We get a couple of runs, and everyone kind of levels out. It’s like, ‘Okay, we got Griff two runs — we’re all right.’

“We don’t have that put-it-away mentality, but the kids do play with a better confidence level when he’s out there.”

There was plenty of interest in Glaude at the collegiate level. He attracted Arkansas State, the University of Louisiana Monroe and UALR and got a walk-on invitation from the University of Arkansas.

But Glaude chose UCA under first-year head coach Allen Gum, who coached at Southern Arkansas University the previous five years and had four players in last year’s Major League draft.

That included No. 16 overall draft pick Hayden Simpson, a right-hander from Magnolia.

Two other Muleriders also went to the professional ranks as free agents for a total of six from Gum’s team.

“Coach Gum, I really liked him,” Glaude said. “I just think that’s the best place for me. I figured it was the best place for me to go and get drafted.”

Many say Beebe’s chances of making it back to Baum are good, but for Glaude, the pressure remains.

“We have confidence,” he said.

“But yeah, there’s always pressure when you’re out there, and you’re down a couple of runs early.”

SPORTS >> Archarcharch triumphant, Kentucky bound

Leader sports editor

Fifteen minutes is a short time, longer than most horse races, but still a short time.

So it’s good for Jacksonville’s Bob and Val Yagos that 15 minutes wasn’t long enough for them to complete the proposed sale of their horse Archarcharch in February. Otherwise the colt wouldn’t have pulled off his upset victory in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on Saturday to earn a place in the field for the Kentucky Derby in May.

Archarcharch, with last year’s winning jockey Jon Court in the saddle, went off at 25-1 but displayed a powerful final kick at the mile marker, closing on Dance City and Sway Away in the final 16th and holding off Nehro by a neck to finish in 1:49.34 and win the $1 million race. Favored The Factor finished out of the money at the Hot Springs track.

It was the first Grade 1 victory for the Yagoses and trainer Jinks Fires, of Hot Springs.

“We had talked it over with the trainer and the jockey and everything,” Bob Yagos said. “We had talked it over before the race. We knew we had a good enough horse to win. It wasn’t a question.”

The victory justified the Yagos’ change of heart after they initially put Archarcharch up for sale to an interest from the United Kingdom who was willing to pay seven figures to acquire the colt and run him in 3-year-old events in Dubai.

But time worked against the sale and, as it turned out in favor of Yagos. The contract was signed 15 minutes too late to be legal and the rest is now horse- racing history.

“There was a difference in time zones and all that type of stuff,” Yagos said. “And we couldn’t get the contracts exchanged and in between my wife had a change of heart and we decided to keep him.”

Now Archarcharch will run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 7 in one of horse racing’s most storied events.

Yagos shipped Archarcharch, who they originally purchased at auction, to Kentucky late Monday, so Fires and the colt could begin preparation for the Kentucky Derby.

Yagos said he was planning to attend the Kentucky Derby anyway, but to have a horse running in the first leg of the Triple Crown is obviously more exciting.

“I think we’ve got a good shot. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t go,” said Yagos, who owns and operates JB’s Auto Salvage in Jacksonville. “I don’t want to go just as an also-ran and get at the bottom of the earnings list.

“Just to get there wouldn’t be fair to the horse because there’s plenty of other races he can get in and be competitive.”

And Yagos knows firsthand how competitive Archarcharch is.

“He’s wanting to go to the track,” Yagos said. “He’s that type of horse. He’s mad if he doesn’t get to go to the track. We normally give him two days off after a race and walk him for two days or so and he wants to go to the track the next day.”

With that in mind, Yagos, Fires and Court settled on Archarcharch’s late-breaking strategy.

“We knew his best effort would be coming off the pace,” Yagos said. “He has a big, long stride. He has a great foot going around the turns and he gains a lot of ground going around the turns when a lot of horses lose ground.

“We just decided to let the speed go.”

His stretch run made Archarcharch the first horse to win both the Southwest Stakes and Arkansas Derby since Lawyer Ron in 2006.

The victory also made Court, Fires’ son-in-law, the first jockey win consecutive runnings of the Arkansas Derby since Garrett Gomez rode Concern and Dazzling Falls to victory in 1994 and 1995.

Yagos said the team likes to use Court whenever he is available, and while Archarcharch has had different riders, they were happy Court was available for Saturday’s race.

“I have the utmost confidence in Jon,” Yagos said. “He makes good decisions. He’s a smart jockey. He’ll stay out of trouble and he won’t put the horse in harm’s way.”

The fact that Court is part of Fires’ family helps the trust factor, Yagos said.

“This business is like everything else, there are people out there you can trust,” Yagos said. “You feel comfortable with them and that’s the whole thing. You start spending the kind of money you do in this business you need somebody there you know is looking out for your best interests and the best interests of the horse.

“And that’s what it’s all about, the horse.”