Friday, May 13, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Cut defense waste

Second District Congressman

In February, I led my colleagues in eliminating a redundant and wasteful government program that would save taxpayers nearly $3 billion. Along with 232 of my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, I voted to eliminate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter alternate-engine program.

This program was started by Congress in 1995 and created an artificial competition between Pratt & Whitney and General Electric to provide an engine for the F-35 JSF. I say artificial because the Department of Defense was paying for the development of both engines, and once developed, held an annual competition to see which engine outperformed. This program has already cost the American taxpayer over $2.5 billion and is expected to cost up to $2.9 billion more.

As a member of the armed forces, I do not take cutting defense programs lightly. I know that the brave men and women in our military put their lives on the line, and it is my responsibility as a member of Congress to see that they are properly equipped. After closely examining the rationale for continuing this competition, however, I came to the conclusion that this effort does nothing to ensure the safety of our troops or increase our national security. Worse, the alternate-engine program diverts essential funding from critical military projects that keep our troops on the ground, and this nation safe from attack.

There are almost 30 U.S. military aircraft that operate with an engine manufactured by a single provider. In fact, the F-16 is the only aircraft in the history of U.S. military aviation with two simultaneous engine manufacturers. The bottom line is that we just cannot afford to waste money on developing two engines—one primary and one alternate—for one plane.

I am not the only one against subsidizing this wasteful alternate-engine competition. Each year since 2006, DoD has proposed the elimination of the alternate-engine program. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have opposed it, and our military leaders have stated that a single engine manufacturer is suitable for the F-35 JSF. We must respect the taxpayers and their hard-earned dollars, and terminating the alternate-engine program is a step in the right direction.

As of today, our national debt is over $14 trillion and rising. If we are going to tackle our debt, we must reduce spending further. I believe that we must look at all federal agencies to identify waste and what programs we can cut or eliminate outright. No agency is exempt from the budget process, and I am determined to get our fiscal house in order.

I am pleased that the elimination of this program was included in the FY 2011 continuing-resolution agreement and that the Pentagon recently ordered the cancellation of the alternate-engine program.

Some in Washington are now talking about reinstating this wasteful program—not if I can help it. I will continue to monitor this issue for the taxpayer and ensure that the alternate engine remains cancelled.

EDITORIAL >>Media star Huckabee

Rep. Ron Paul and former Speaker Newt Gingrich are in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2012. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is the frontrunner, will make an announcement tonight about his presidential plans.

Speculation is that Huckabee will not run. He is a popular television personality who is making a lot of money at Fox News and marketing books and instructional videos for children. It’s a media empire that he cannot afford to give up, especially with two big mortgages and a large extended family to support.

Also weighing on his decision whether to run is his terrible record of commuting the sentences of scores of violent criminals while he was governor.

Although his clemencies, commutations and pardons were an issue in the 2008 presidential race, his most notorious parolee, Maurice Clemmons, didn’t make national headlines until 2009, when he murdered four Seattle police officers and then killed himself before he could be arrested.

Contrast Huckabee’s record with Gov. Beebe, who has commuted the sentence of just one violent criminal since he took office in 2007. He usually pardons hot-check artists, pot dealers and jaywalkers (just kidding about the last one).

Huckabee had commuted the sentences of hundreds of violent offenders, many of whom got into trouble again. Prosecutors were outraged and mounted a publicity campaign that finally forced Huckabee to stop, but not before he set a record for commutations.

Huckabee had planned to release several killers, including Glen Green, who kidnapped an Air Force sergeant and tortured and murdered her on Graham Road near Jacksonville. It was only after a public outcry — and a crusade in this newspaper — that Huckabee decided not to free Green.

Then there’s the notorious case of Wayne Dumond, the east Arkansas rapist who got out of prison because of Huckabee’s intervention. Dumond later raped and killed two Missouri women and died there in prison.

Mitt Romney brought up Huckabee’s commutations in the last presidential contest. Romney has also portrayed Huckabee as a big spender while he was governor. Maybe Huckabee had hoped that was all ancient history, but he or his advisers must know better: Apart from having to answer his opponents and a critical media, there are the victims’ families who would not remain silent if he ran for president.

Huckabee will likely stay out of the presidential contest. Life is good, and so is the money. Why give that up for a slugfest in 2012? It’s live from New York...

TOP STORY > >Griffin sees bin Laden’s slain body

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) this week visited CIA headquarters, where he viewed photos of the body of Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces during a raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1.

“I was shown a number of photos of Osama bin Laden, taken immediately after he was shot and killed, as he was being cleaned and prepared for burial at sea, and after he was wrapped and prepared for burial,” Griffin said.

“The photographs clearly and indisputably show a dead Osama bin Laden with a gunshot wound to his head, most of his head intact and clearly recognizable. The photos confirm what I already knew: He’s dead.”

The photos have not been released to the public.

“Out of concern for the safety of our troops, I agree with the decision not to release the pictures of Osama bin Laden,” Griffin said.

TOP STORY > >Colonel to assume command

Col. Harold S. Eggensperger of Cabot will assume command of the 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard at 2 p.m. Sunday at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The change-of-command ceremony will be held in the aircraft hangar.

Col. James Sum-mers, who has commanded the unit since 2007, will relinquish command of the unit and hand over responsibility to Eggensperger.

Summers will transfer command to Brig. Gen. Dwight Balch, the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard, who will in turn hand the new responsibility of command to Eggensperger.

Eggensperger is the commander of the 189th Operations Group and is responsible for the training, administration and employment of forces and conducts initial, mission and instructor-qualification aircrew training for the Department of Defense and more than 20 allied nations.

Eggensperger was born in Fayetteville and graduated from high school in Conway in 1979. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1983 with a bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering and earned a master’s of science degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas in 1989.

He attended undergraduate pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., and is a command pilot with more than 6,600 flying hours in the C-130, T-38 and T-37 aircraft.

Summers, who is retiring after 32 years, is a command pilot with more than 9,700 flying hours.

TOP STORY > >Boot Camp theme of business expo

Leader managing editor

Boot Camp — a military training camp for new recruits with strict discipline. Boot Camp, the Jacksonville Chamber of Com-merce’s concept for Thursday’s Business Expo 2011.

Billed as Jacksonville’s premier business-building event by the chamber’s events manager Lance Branscum, last year’s expo drew more than 2,500 people who visited 90 trade and taste booths, savoring the information as well as the food.

The chamber’s boot camp promises lots of important information for new business owners as well as for their established counterparts. There will be a wealth of information on local businesses, new and established, and a look at many of the innovations these businesses have put in place since the beginning of the digital age.

The expo will be just that, a training camp for new business recruits and hopefuls but also a refresher camp for seasoned business types.

In keeping with this year’s theme, participating businesses and sponsors are decorating with an armed-forces theme.

Visitors to the Boot Camp Expo will see an array of Air Force blues, Army greens and Navy whites as booth holders vie for creativity and spirit awards.

Visitors will also register at business booths for an assortment of prizes and many businesses will give away items to those who attend. Mugs, tape measures, pens, key rings, memo pads, jump drives, oversized paperclips, reusable shopping bags, miniflashlights and plastic cups were among items given away in years past.

There is also an abundance of informative brochures from expo participants on services they offer and on more general items such as home safety, eldercare, banking and finance, insurance, education and energy efficiency.

A la Boot Camp — the information is there for those who want and need it.

But it’s not all work. There’s lots of play and there’s lots of fun to be had including a $1,000 grand prize which visitors can register to win. The public can also register to win individual prizes at business booths and many booths feature games with prizes.

Yes, Boot Camp can be fun and there will be no MREs here. There will be lots of food vendors including Western Sizzlin’, Papa Murphy’s, BBQ Shack, Little Caesar’s, Spring Roll, Original Fried Pie Shop, Hunan, Golden Corral and Cayenne’s Cajun Cuisine.

The food vendors will trade off shifts from 8 a.m. to 11 and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. so food will be available throughout the event. Visitors to the expo can purchase Expo Bucks to exchange for food from the tasting booths or they can be placed into the drawing for the $1,000 grand prize.

Sponsors for the event in-clude gold sponsors Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Century Link, Cool 104.7, First Arkansas Bank and Trust, Jacksonville Patriot, Gwatney Chevrolet, Comcast, Valhalla Enterprises and the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department.

The Leader is also one of this year’s gold sponsors and is providing the free expo tabloid with a map of exhibitors and information on the sponsors.

Silver sponsors are First Electric Cooperative, North Metro Medical Center, Ashland Performance Specialties, Com-fort Inn, Best Western Inn and Super 8.

Bronze sponsors include Arkansas State University at Little Rock Air Force Base, Greenbriar Retirement Center, Centennial Bank, Century 21 Prestige Realty, Arvest Bank, Woodland Hills Health and Rehab, Branscum and Co., Inc., and Entergy.

Other trade booths are Mobilized/Verizon Wireless, Pulaski Technical College, ADT Security Services, Whit Davis Lumber Co., Families Inc. Counseling Services, Scentsy, Chopsticks International Cen-ter, State Farm Insurance, Allfam Bowling, U.S. Small Busi-ness Administration, Access Media, Jacksonville Senior Center, Jacksonville Museum of Military History, Arbonne International, Jacksonville Com-munity Development, Arkansas Department of Workforce Ser-vices, St. Vincent Family Clinic, Direct Buy, Arkansas Insurance Department, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and U.S. Bank.

TOP STORY > >Legislative audit slams PCSSD

Special to the Leader

State legislators remained skeptical Friday that officials with the Pulaski County Special School District have cut out unnecessary spending or worked hard enough to recoup more than $200,000 owed to the district.

In a two-hour meeting before members of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee, PCSSD Superintendent Charles Hopson and school board president Bill Vasquez alternately apologized for mistakes and promised that improvements had been made and that more were coming.

More often than not, lawmakers’ questions were critical and their comments scathing. Their resentment appeared to stem from widely reported incidents such as thousands of dollars spent on retreats and conferences, and new computers for board members while many students didn’t have textbooks to take home.

Sen. Bill Pritchard, R-Elkins (Washington County), co-chairman of the audit committee, noted that various PCSSD officials have appeared before lawmakers and state auditors twice before. “We’re getting answers of ‘We’re gonna do, we’re gonna do,’ and it hasn’t happened,” Pritchard said.

Rep. Tim Summers, R-Bentonville, the committee’s other co-chairman, said he’d be “embarrassed” to be a member of a school board that “can’t get books to kids but sends people out of state to conferences.”

Halfway through the meeting, lawmakers said Hopson and Vasquez can expect to appear before the audit committee next month. Rep. Ann Clemmer, R-Benton, criticized PCSSD board members who didn’t attend Friday’s meeting.

The audit hearing came just 72 hours before another meeting that will be key to the future of the district. On Monday, the state Board of Education will debate whether to put the district on its list of financially distressed districts.

Hopson and Vasquez said the district will fight hard against being saddled with the label. “Our financial distress doesn’t come from our bank accounts; it comes from the dysfunction of our board,” Vasquez said, adding that most schools on the state’s fiscally distressed list are virtually bankrupt.

After the meeting, Hopson said he believed the board was acting functionally and efficiently, at least in its relations with him, and was working hard to ensure the district’s future, possibly with a bond issue soon.

“If we don’t improve our facilities and make them safe and attractive, the district cannot grow,” Hopson said.

Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, questioned why the district reported that it spent $700,000 on buses while the check was for $900,000. Neither Hopson nor Vasquez appeared to answer that question directly, but Hopson told reporters later that the sale was indeed for $700,000, but that he would have to research later why the check was for $900,000.

Hopson also characterized lawmakers’ comments as “stinging” but understandable, saying many of them represent districts where schools have been consolidated or are under the threat of consolidation.

Since auditors filed their most recent report on April 1, Hopson has repaid the district $2,179 for expenses not allowed. He still owes $2,288 for health and dental insurance premiums improperly paid by the district on his behalf, according to the audit.

The district also has collected $2,700 in reimbursement from a private vendor that once provided meals and snacks before and after school. The vendor still owes the district $19,091, however, and lawmakers questioned whether school officials are working hard enough to collect on the debt.

Hopson said the district won a court judgment against the vendor earlier this month. The fact that the vendor is the daughter of an assistant PCSSD superintendent has nothing to do with the failure to collect full repayment, he said.

SPORTS>>Badgers eye trophy once again

Leader sportswriter

Beebe coach Mark Crafton has all the tools necessary to help the Badgers repeat as 5A state baseball champs, including most of the personnel from the 2010 title-winning team and a deep pitching staff.

The Badgers beat Harrison 17-5 in the first round Friday.

It’s staff includes senior Griffin Glaude, last year’s state tournament MVP. The Badgers (23-4) also have momentum from their run through the 5A-East Conference.

Beebe went 13-1 on its way to claiming the school’s first conference championship in baseball.

But for Crafton, there’s one intangible that remains to be seen.

“Along with our play, we have to have a little bit of luck on our side,” Crafton said. “With a lot of the guys from our team last year back from playing in the state championship last year, hopefully that will carry over for us.

“We think our chances are good, but a lot will have to fall into place for us.”

The luck factor will come into play well before the championship is decided.

Beebe was stuck in the tough lower half of the 5A state tournament bracket held at Rogers High School. Provided the Badgers got by first-round opponent Harrison, the No. 4 seed out of the 5A West, on Friday, they will face the winner of Friday’s game between Southwest No. 2 seed Arkadelphia and Southeast No. 3 seed Sylvan Hills.

The second-round game is scheduled for noon.

“The second round will be a tough opponent if we are lucky enough to get through the first game,” Crafton said. “Arkadelphia has a stud pitcher/hitter, and Sylvan Hills has got tradition.”

The Badgers were unbeaten in conference until their East finale against Greene County Tech. With the No. 1 seed already clinched, Beebe experienced a letdown in the first game of the doubleheader and lost, but recovered to run rule the Eagles in the second game.

Beebe finished second to Monticello in the 5A-Southeast standings last year before getting revenge against the Billies in the championship.

But the top-heavy Southeast Conference has fewer challenging opponents compared to the East, which also features Batesville, Greene County Tech and Nettleton.

“I think the East from top to bottom is a tougher conference,” Crafton said. “There are a lot of good, quality teams, whereas in the Southeast, there were four strong teams at the top and four weak teams at the bottom.

“On average, the top seven teams are pretty good in the East. We had some blowout conference games last year. This year, there were a lot of two-, three-run games. It was usually a lot closer.”

Glaude leads the pitching staff, which has a mix of experience and young talent. Directly behind Glaude is senior left-hander Bryson Scott. Sophomore Brandon Staine is the youngest of the Badger pitchers, followed by senior Dillon Lindsey and junior lefty Jacob Jones.

Glaude also leads the Badgers with a .467 batting average but Crafton said the hitting overall has been sporadic. The leadoff through No. 5 spots are solid, and he said there is the occasional hit from the bottom of the order.

SPORTS>>Baxendale named to Team USA roster

Special to The Leader

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn didn’t pick DJ Baxendale, but other coaches and Team USA selectors did.

So Baxendale, the Hogs’ ace, will continue pitching for Van Horn after the college baseball season concludes.

Van Horn is a Team USA assistant coach, and Baxendale, the sophomore right-hander from Sylvan Hills, was named Tuesday to Team USA, a team of 22 all-star college players who will play international teams on a three-week U.S. tour this summer.

Van Horn would have selected Baxendale (7-1, 1.58 ERA and two saves) if he could, but he wasn’t allowed to vote for his own players.

“DJ’s name was already on the list,” Van Horn said. “But I am off the call. Whenever they put his name in to select and vote, I am done. I got a call later saying they selected him.

“Like coach Rob Walton of Oral Roberts is our pitching coach. He has a guy or two whose name is on and then he gets off the call. We may have a player or two more on the list.”

Though he couldn’t make the call on Baxendale, Van Horn said he was “not surprised at all” that others did.

Even when he went 0-2 last year, Baxendale captured attention with seven saves and a superb 6 1/3-inning relief performance during the Razorbacks’ 7-5 12-inning, NCAA Super Regional loss to top-ranked Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz.

“Last year he pitched in his role which was out of the pen for the most part,” Van Horn said. “You think of his last outing last year against Arizona State; big stage on national TV. If we lose we’re done.

“He gave us six, seven, eight innings in the middle of the game and took us into extra innings and pitched great against one of the best teams, at the time the No. 1-ranked team at their place. He showed what his future is all about. His numbers back it up. Him making the national team is well deserved.”

Deserving and humbling.

“It’s a real honor to be selected for the team and to able to represent the University of Arkansas on Team USA,” said Baxendale, coming off a complete-game victory over nationally ranked Florida.

“I’m looking forward to playing some tough competition this summer and representing my country on the baseball field.”

Where will Baxendale fit in Team USA’s pitching plans?

“His role on the national team is going to be out of the bullpen,” Van Horn said. “Whether it is in the middle or closing games, and we have also left it open for him to be a spot starter if he hasn’t thrown for a couple of days.

“It’s a short summer with the national team, only three weeks instead of five or six. We are staying on the East Coast until we play Japan the last two games in Omaha.”

With only Baxendale and junior lefty Geoffrey Davenport back as experienced pitchers, Van Horn originally decided that instead of starting Baxendale as the traditional first-night SEC series ace, he would pitch him out of the bullpen twice a series.

However with Davenport lost for the season with an injury, and freshmen Barrett Astin and Nolan Sanburn and sophomores Trent Daniel and Cade Lynch — now the third-game SEC starter — emerging in the bullpen, Van Horn and Hogs pitching coach Dave Jorn started using their ace like an ace to start the SEC weekends.

“When Davenport went down that threw us into a little tailspin in how we were going to handle it,” Van Horn said.

“To have those freshmen step up and do a great job in the bullpen and whether Cade Lynch was in the bullpen or as a starter, we mixed and matched.”

Though struggling lately, Sanburn got a lot of well-deserved attention with his team-leading eight saves. And Forrest City’s Astin has been on a roll, striking out 10 in a 3 1/3-inning stint against Mississippi State and throwing a perfect three innings to save Randall Fant’s victory over Florida last weekend.

Don’t overlook Daniel, Van Horn emphasized. The lefty from Bryant who transferred from Arkansas-Forth Smith is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a save while pitching in middle, long and short relief.

“One of the big keys is Daniel,” Van Horn said.

“He’s having a tremendous season whether he is a guy that comes in the fifth and finishes it up and gets you to the ninth, it has been big. It has allowed us to say, ‘Hey let’s go out there and turn it over to these guys for six or seven innings and they can hold it.’ ”

SPORTS>>Lady Red Devils seize momentum

Leader sportswriter

Taylor Ruple made the most of what little daylight she saw during Jacksonville’s 2-1 victory over Little Rock Parkview at Jan Crow Field on Tuesday.

The victory secured the 6A-East Conference No. 4 seed in the state tournament for the Lady Red Devils.

Ruple scored two first-half goals before Parkview took her out of the mix in the second half by surrounding the junior forward with defenders. The Lady Patriots also controlled the ball for most of the second half, but found strikes against junior goalkeeper J’Quia Alexander difficult.

Alexander had nine saves, including two during Parkview’s furious comeback attempt in the closing minutes. The Lady Patriots managed to slip one in on Alexander with a high shot from the right side in the 37th minute.

“This is a game they’ve been looking forward to playing,” said Jacksonville coach Addie Sereal, who coaches with her husband Quentin. “They are now going to state, so they are very proud of that.”

Ruple gave Jacksonville the lead just 30 seconds in with a 10-yarder that was made easy when Parkview’s goalie came out of the box to defend. The early goal was key for Jacksonville, as Parkview kept two defenders on Ruple at all times, and sometimes as many as four on throw-ins.

But the Lady Red Devils found their spots and countered the Lady Patriots with some gadgetry on a penalty kick granted to junior midfielder Katie Lawrence in the final minute of the first half.

Lawrence lined up for the 30-yard attempt with Ruple standing in the background. Lawrence lightly tapped the ball to put it in play before Ruple blasted it into the top left corner of the goal to give Jacksonville a 2-0 halftime lead.

“It’s something we go over in practice,” Jacksonville coach Quentin Sereal said. “We’ve played it over and over in practice probably 100 times. We do have some plays in there where we switch between the two of them.”

Parkview tried to earn penalty kicks in the second half with players falling down on the field at the slightest of incidental contact. Bumping shoulders at times resulted in complete somersaults, while parents and even Parkview players screamed at officials.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, so hats off to Parkview,” Quentin Sereal said. “They did a real good job. They played pretty much a box on one of our best players to take her out of the game.

“We had to do some things to switch and get her some free shots, so that’s what we did.”

The extra pressure on Ruple allowed freshman Courtney Moody to work effectively against Parkview’s defense.

Though she did not score, Moody kept possession on Jacksonville’s side of the field for much of the first half, and had two shots during that time.

The brackets were still being filled in following Jacksonville’s conference finale against Parkview.

The Lady Devils appeared headed for the No. 5 seed with a matchup against Benton in the first round, but when the dust settled, they were No. 4 with a first-round matchup against Sheridan, the No. 5 seed out of the 6A South, on Friday.

“Wherever we are at, we are going to be out there and give it our best effort and give 110 percent,” Quentin Sereal said.

Parkview beat Jacksonville 2-0 in the boys game.

SPORTS>>Panthers commence play

Leader sports editor

Even in a “meaningless” game, it’s all about pitching.

Cabot beat Vilonia 9-5 on Tuesday in the Panthers’ non-conference, regular-season finale.

By agreement among the coaches and umpires, Cabot granted Vilonia an extra half-inning, the bottom of the seventh, so Vilonia could get a look at pitcher Drew Knowles, who gave up two walks, a hit and struck out one while allowing no runs.

Cabot used the opportunity to work out four pitchers in a tune-up for the state tournament, which started Friday at Arkansas-Fort Smith. The Panthers played Springdale Har-Ber in Friday’s first round.

Cabot coach Jay Fitch had no problem extending the game and letting Knowles get some work for Vilonia to prepare for the 5A State Tournament.

“I said ‘Hey, if Blue doesn’t care I don’t care,’ ” Fitch said.

Fitch was planning to start senior ace Cole Nicholson against Har-Ber and cross his fingers for a quick game. Graduation ceremonies were Friday night and Nicholson and his classmates were planning to play their early home to put on their caps and gowns.

“Hopefully if we win, we’re spending the night, so hopefully they’ll be coming back,” Fitch said. “So it’s going to be a busy day.”

Should Cabot advance it would play top seed and Central Conference champion Bryant at noon today with sophomore lefty Ryan Logan on the mound.

“It’s about getting a little work on the mound because like I told the kids, Nicholson can’t do it all himself,” Fitch said of Tuesday’s game.

Cabot is the No. 5 seed from the 7A-Central and Har-Ber, which thumped Cabot in an early season tournament game, is the No. 4 seed from the West.

“We played them early in the year in the Benton tournament,” Fitch said. “And we had 14 walks and three hit batters so you can imagine how that went. So they probably don’t think we’re very good.

“We’ll have Cole on the mound this time and we feel good about our chances when he’s on the mound.”

The Panthers offense appeared ready for tournament play Tuesday. Cabot scored in every inning but the unnecessary last one, with Bryson Morris, Tyler Carter, Brandon Surdam, Josh Goff and Tyler Cole all having multi-hit games.

Starter Chipper Morris left after two innings with Vilonia leading 3-2. Cabot scored twice in the third with help from an error and never trailed again to make a winner out of Jeffrey Brown, who worked three innings and held Vilonia scoreless while striking out four, walking three and giving up one hit.

Kyle Kaufman gave up two runs on three Vilonia hits in the sixth and Casey Vaughn worked around an infield hit and two walks to pitch a scoreless seventh.

“Chipper Morris was all right, he’s throwing a little bit better,” Fitch said. “Then we brought in some other young guys that have kind of struggled a little bit but our senior Brown, came in and did a good job.

“He pounded the zone pretty good and that made me feel good as far as the depth or our pitching.”

Morris was 3 for 4 with a run and two RBI; Carter was 3 for 5 with three runs; Surdam was 3 for 3 with two walks, two RBI and two steals, including a steal of home in the two-run third; Goff was 2 for 3 with two RBI and Cole was 2 for 5 with an infield hit on a sacrifice bunt attempt and an RBI single.

SPORTS>>Voskamp leads Cabot into Meet of Champs

Leader sportswriter

Five individuals and two long-distance relay teams from Cabot qualified for today’s Meet of Champs at Lake Hamilton High School.

Senior Ariel Voskamp will kick off a big weekend in three different events. Voskamp won the 7A state pole vault event, and also qualified for the 300-meter hurdles and 100-meter high hurdles.

Voskamp will sign a track scholarship with the University of Arkansas on Tuesday morning, a day before she takes part in her third heptathlon event at Cabot High School. Voskamp finished seventh in last year’s meet.

“Ariel’s leading the state in the pole vault,” coach Leon White said. “She went 12-5, and that’s the highest vault, but she will have some competition. There’s another girl who’s gone 12 who will be there.

“She’s one of the top hurdlers in the state, too. She should be in the top three or so in each hurdle race.”

The Meet of Champs is the state-level, all-star meet for track and field. Winners of events in each classification, and the next five best performances in all classes, make up the field of 12 invited to compete in each event.

The boys 3,200-meter relay team enters the day fresh off a victory in the 7A state meet last week in Conway. Zach White, Jacob Luckett, Phillip Treat and Chris Dunbar will go up against the state’s best long-distance relay teams, and Treat will also join Max Carroll, Nick Boris and Clint Cates in the 1,600-meter relay event.

Luckett is also planning a college track career and will sign with Central Arkansas on Tuesday.

“The boys two-mile relay team has kind of changed throughout the season because of injuries,” White said. “At the state meet, Colton Johnson was subbing for Zach White. Zach is well now and back in his spot. This is the original team that would have run at the state meet.

“We’re hoping it will be as good or maybe a little faster.”

Treat will also compete in the 800-meter run while Dunbar will run in the 3,200-meter individual.

The 1,600-meter relay event gives Treat a berth in three separate events at the Meet of Champs.

“The mile relay, that’s the team we’ve been running most of the year right there,” White said.

“They were fifth in the state meet for 7A. We feel like those four have a chance to finish maybe in the top four or five at the Meet of Champs.”

Voskamp will not be the only Lady Panthers athlete competing in the pole vault. Teammate Julia Gairhan finished third in the state meet, qualifying her for the Meet of Champs.

“She went 10-2 at the state meet, and that was her best for the year,” White said. “So she’s hoping to do better than that and improve a little bit.”

Junior Emily Meyers will get plenty of running time at the Meet of Champs, as she will be competing in both the 3,200-meter and 1,600-meter events.

Meyers qualified for the Meet of Champs last year as a sophomore, finishing second in the 3,200-meter with a time of 11:14.

“Emkay is one of the top distance runners in the state,” White said.

“She’s always right up there in the top two or three in the mile and two mile. Her goal is to try and break 11 minutes in the two-mile.

“We don’t know if she’s ready to do that, but I know that’s what she’ll be trying to do.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

SPORTS >> This time Travelers fall short

Leader sports editor

The victories stopped but the ninth-inning rallies kept on coming.

The Arkansas Travelers rallied in the ninth for the third consecutive game but saw their three-game winning streak come to an end as Springfield held them off for a 5-4 victory in 11 innings at Hammons Field on Monday.

Travelers first baseman Jay Brossman hit a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth but Cardinals designated hitter Jermaine Curtis followed a Brossman error with an RBI single in the 11th to win it.

Brossman made it 4-4 in the ninth when, with two out, he lined reliever Matt Frevert’s 0-2 fastball over the left-field wall. But Brossman dropped Eric Duncan’s hard liner in the 11th for Arkansas’ first error in six games and Alan Ahmady followed with a single that advanced Duncan to third when the throw in from the outfield was off line.

Curtis, pinch hitting for Chris Swaguer, followed with his game-winning hit.

Mike Trout hit a leadoff home run in the Arkansas first to make it 1-0 and Springfield’s Matt Adams tied it with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

Arkansas’ Dillon Baird hit his first Class AA home run, a two-run drive, that made it 3-1 in the Travelers third.

Swaguer tied it 3-3 with a two-run home run in the fourth and Springfield took the 4-3 lead when Adams led off the sixth with his 10th home run of the year and second of the series.

Travelers closer Ryan Brasier (0-1) worked 2 1/3 innings and was charged with the loss thanks to the unearned run in the 11th. Richard Castillo (1-1) pitched a perfect 11th to get the victory.

On Sunday, Arkansas scored eight runs in the ninth and beat Springfield 10-6 to win its third straight after dropping four.

Arkansas sent 10 to the plate in the big inning with Brossman hitting a grand slam and Trout, the Los Angeles Angels top prospect, also hitting a home run.

The Travs had a season high 15 hits with Ryan Mount getting three.

Reliever Daniel Sattler worked 1 2/3 innings and gave up three runs in getting the victory and Chris Scholl pitched a perfect ninth for the save. Cards reliever Brett Sawacki, roughed up in the ninth, took the loss.

Arkansas started its run of ninth-inning heroics Saturday when Mount crushed a three-run homer with two out in the inning to lift the Travelers to a 5-4 victory. Mount lined Frevert’s 1-1 fastball over the fence in center to break out of a 1-for-15 slump.

Eddie McKiernan (1-3) pitched four relief innings to get the victory as Arkansas rallied from an early, 3-0 deficit. Matt Adams hit a two-run homer and Ryan Jackson also hit a home run, with both drives coming against Arkansas starter Andrew Taylor.

Trout drove in a run when he hit into a fielder’s choice in the fifth and Clay Fuller had an RBI groundout to cut it to 3-2 in the seventh. Nick Derba homered off McKiernan in the Cardinals seventh to make it 4-2.

Frevert hit Trout and walked Darwin Perez to set up Mount’s big home run and McKiernan survived a Cards base runner in the ninth to close it out.

The Travelers ended their four-game skid 11-3 at Tulsa.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

EDITORIAL >> The general in the picture

For more than a week, we’ve wondered about the Air Force general near the center of the picture that was taken in the White House Situation Room on the night of May 1 as Navy SEALs dispatched Osama bin Laden into another world.

His name is Brig. Gen. Marshall B. Webb, who is the assistant commanding general of Joint Operations Command at the Pentagon. He’s the least worried person in the room. He seems to be running the computer that brings instant news to an anxious President Obama and his team, including an apprehensive Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose hand is covering her mouth.

The general is a helicopter pilot by training and doesn’t appear to have passed through Little Rock Air Force Base. But several previous LRAFB commanders have moved up to the Pentagon and have taken key positions involving secret worldwide operations.

Col. Greg Otey, the previous commander at the air base, was assigned to Air Force headquarters as senior planner with the joint chiefs of staff.

A couple of years ago, Brig. Gen. Rowayne A. Schatz Jr., the air base commander before Otey, was named deputy director for global operations with the joint chiefs. He’s close to Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief who served at Little Rock Air Force Base and is a veteran of Air Force Special Operations.

Schatz is responsible to the chairman of the joint chiefs — that’s Admiral Mike Mullen standing on the left — “for oversight and coordination of worldwide operational matters,” according to his Air Force biography. Responsibilities include “joint-force readiness, strategic and reconnaissance operations, command system operations, information operations, space and missile defense, psychological operations, special technical operations and management of the National Military Command System.”

We can only speculate about the details of the successful operation. One day we’ll know more about the raid that eliminated the world’s No. 1 terrorist. But we do know it took dozens, perhaps hundreds, of intelligence and combat professionals to remove bin Laden from the world’s stage.

Many of those professionals were in the Situation Room on May 1. They had made the right call, and we were done with bin Laden. He even had a proper Muslim burial: His body was wiped clean before he was dumped into the sea facing Mecca.

Toward the end, he was careless and stupid: Our intelligence spotted him months ago pacing the courtyard inside his compound. It wasn’t much of a hiding place. It was just a matter of time: He didn’t bother with tunnels or a basement or an escape plan. When the Americans showed up, he couldn’t even jump out the upstairs window.

Bin Laden was said to be 54, but in one of his last videos where he was watching himself on TV, he looked much older. He put brown shoe-polish in his hair and beard, desperately trying to appear young.

A terrorist on the run will grow old pretty fast.

Ayman al-Zawahir, bin Laden’s No. 2, is said to have taken over the leadership of al-Qaida. Navy SEALs or a powerful bomb will find him sooner or later. There will be another gathering in the Situation Room like the one above and, we hope, more celebrations.

TOP STORY >> Cabot schools get state grant

Leader staff writer

Arkansas Department of Education commissioner Tom Kimbrell of Cabot and Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Thompson were at the Veterans Park Community Center in Cabot on Tuesday to encourage school districts across the state to apply for the Arkansas Department of Education joint-use agreement grants.

The Cabot School District was awarded $35,000 in February — the first in the nation — to be used in collaboration between the schools and the city to encourage healthy communities and public exercise in the schools after hours.

Kimbrell and Thompson were joined by Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert, Cabot School Superintendent Tony Thurman and Cabot School District Health and Fitness Coordinator Kelly Spencer in celebration of the partnership between the school district and Cabot Parks and Recreation.

Arkansas is the first state in the U.S. to provide state funding for the joint-use agreements.

Funding for the grants is provided by the Arkansas tobacco excise tax.

The grant allows school facilities to be open to the public during non-school hours to provide a safe place for physical activity and sports. The grant money will be used to pay for utilities, supervision, wear and tear and upgrades to school facilities.

The school gyms in the Cabot School District are available for Cabot Parks and Recreation events. The gyms are also available for the First Baptist Church Upward program.

Upward is a basketball and cheerleading program for youngsters in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The program has different leagues for boys and girls. Each player gets equal playing time.

On the other hand, the Parks and Recreations Department lets the school swim team use the indoor pool at Veterans Park Community Center.

The soccer and baseball fields are available when the district’s sports teams need to use additional venues.

“We did these things before as a work in progress. The funding will allow an expanded effort,” Thurman said.

“It doesn’t make sense to lock our doors at 4 p.m. when we have these gyms and buildings, but it costs money to keep them open,” Thurman said.

The grant provides funding to allow the district to keep the school open after hours.

“It pulls not only the community but the parents into the school in a different environment than they’re used to,” Kimbrell said. Having the school gym open allows parents to visit the school in a non-threatening environment.

“What is happening in Cabot is the diamond on top of the crown in the state,” Thompson said.

Spencer said the grant money also provided each elementary school with three adjustable, portable basketball goals and 20 basketballs at each school for use in the school gyms and Cabot Parks and Recreation gyms.

The Beebe School District also applied for and was recently awarded an $11,000 joint-use agreement grant from the Department of Education for the city and school district to work together to allow peewee football teams to use the high school football field.

TOP STORY >> Officials work on reducing flooding

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville officials are hoping to avoid a repetition of last week’s devastating floods.

Damage has not been assessed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency yet, Mayor Gary Fletcher said. Fletcher called Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) on Thursday and asked him to visit the city to help in any way he could. Griffin was shown the Eastview area Friday afternoon and expressed his dismay at the damage. He said he has contacted the Army Corps of Engineers.

The city is authorized to take care of issues caused by drainage inadequacies but has to wait for FEMA to address flooding caused by other factors. The city also needs help, in the form of grants, to deal with drainage problems.

“We don’t have the resources or ability to fix drainage,” Fletcher said. “It’s not going to be an easy fix.”

Griffin said, “My heart goes out to those affected by the flooding. It was helpful to view the flooded areas with Mayor Fletcher and meet the folks who are personally dealing with this difficult situation. I am talking with the Army Corps of Engineers and looking at potential solutions that may help avoid this in the future.”

Director of Administration Jim Durham said officials are waiting for FEMA to approve and provide public assistance, which will reimburse the costs incurred while worked during the disaster, doing tasks such as helping clean up Hwy. 67/167. Those costs were paid from the city’s unbudgeted funds, Durham said.

Right now, residents are asked to report damage to city hall. They are encouraged to apply for individual assistance from FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Fletcher said residents could also help by removing debris from drainage ditches instead of waiting for the city to come do it.

“We don’t have the manpower to be everywhere at all times,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us to make this a better situation.”

When it rains, water in the city drains into Bayou Meto, which carves a 104-mile, curvy path to the Arkansas River. When it rains excessively, Jacksonville receives backflow because water can’t go to the river fast enough and gets backed up.

The debris in ditches causes blockages that further exacerbate or cause flooding.

Officials are also setting up meetings with the Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis to discuss how to prevent future flooding.

Durham said one of the ways the mayor is helping make flooding less disastrous in the city is approving subdivisions that are elevated above the flood plain. He’s requiring that streets also be elevated, which had not been required by mayors in the past.

Durham said some of the peripheral actions the city has learned to take after this disaster is to concentrate on deterring vehicles, especially 18-wheelers, from going around barricades indicating road closures. He said at least two $500 tickets were issued and that one way to deter this would be to station police officers at the barricades.

The city was pummeled by six more inches of rain than it received in December 2009, surpassing the 100-year floodplain and forcing officials to drag out the 500-year floodplain. Fletcher said the flooding was a regional, rather than a local, problem.

Fletcher said the flood was caused by too much water, although the expansion of the landfill and the railroad acting as a dam in some locations could have been “contributing factors.” The flow line of the river is also higher than the city, which geographically sits in a bowl.

Durham said most of the homes that did flood were required to have flood insurance. Backflow is the main way that the city floods.

City Engineer Jay Whisker said there were flash floods in Stonewall and on Piñon Lane, while other areas, such as Eastview apartments, received backflow flooding.

He said holes could be put under the railroad tracks to provide additional space for water to go and that three or four additional ditches could help relieve flash flooding.

Whisker said about 20,000 cars were rerouted from Hwy. 67/167, Hwy. 161 South, West Main Street and other areas during the flood.

He said the city had received a $130,000 grant it had requested after the 2009 flood. The grant from Central Arkansas Planning and Development District was for improvement to the drainage at the Piñon Lane area, and that project should be completed late this summer.

He added that there is a 1 percent chance of the city receiving enough rain to reach the 100-year floodplain, which occurred in 2009, and there is a 0.002 percent chance for the city to receive enough rain to reach the 500-year-flood plain, which came last week.

Officials on the first day of the heavy rainfall were knocking on doors to let residents know about the pending disaster and providing at-risk homes with sandbags. About 200 sandbags were distributed, Fletcher said.

“We’re as prepared as we could be for disasters,” Fletcher said.

One measure taken after the 2009 flood was the construction of an emergency road for the Tara Mount subdivision. In the 2009 flood, residents were stranded.

A truck was parked in front of the small dirt road built to prevent Tara Mount residents from getting cut off from Main Street. Police woke up the owners of the vehicle, who lived nearby, at 3 or 3:30 in the morning on the first day of rainfall to remove the vehicle.

Two residents, Dana and Fran Browning, sent Fletcher and his staff a thank-you card, which reads, “We are really thankful to be able to get out to Jacksonville Cut-Off and to Walmart.”

TOP STORY >> Advanced studies stressed

Leader staff writer

With a push from the Department of Defense and First Lady Michelle Obama, North Pulaski High School is one of 23 “military” high schools that will see an extra push on advanced placement and pre-AP classes next year.

Tommie Sue Anthony, president of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science, and a former Jacksonville High School teacher, told the Pulaski County Special School Board on Tuesday that the military was tired of its students going from schools with high offerings of advanced-placement classes to those that had none or just a few.

“They pushed for us to move into North Pulaski,” she said.

Her group is already in schools across the state, including the district’s Mills High School.

Jacksonville High School may also be a part of the AIMMS program if funding gets approved before the next school year.

AIMMS is adding a number of schools, such as North Pulaski, to its program through a $13.2 million grant.

Anthony said her nonprofit group is charged with replicating in schools across the state the advanced-placement program that has been successful in Texas for 19 years.

She said it requires a strong commitment from teachers, students and the schools. The teachers receive intensive training and students have to set aside a certain number of Saturdays during the school year for study sessions and the school has to agree to do whatever it takes to get more students into advanced classes and then have them come out with higher test scores.

Children of active duty, National Guard and reserve military personnel in public schools in the U.S. are eligible for the program.

Anthony said the advanced- placement program is in 31 schools and told the board that it works.

“We started out in 10 schools for the 2008-2010 school years. During that time the United States saw AP student classes increase 13.6 percent. In Arkansas, it was just 10.5 percent, but in our 10 schools it was 68.9 percent,” she said.

Among minorities—Hispanics and African Americans—the country saw a 27.7 percent increase in students taking advanced-placement classes. In Arkansas, it was 31 percent, and in the schools in the program it was 202.4 percent, Anthony pointed out.

She added that it was not just about taking classes, but that it was also about scoring high, a three or better, on the advanced-placement tests. She said through last year, 64 percent of all the state students scoring a three or better on the tests came from one of the 24 schools the program was in.

School board president Bill Vasquez was all for the program expanding into North Pulaski and Jacksonville high schools and reminded the board that there were “more AP English students in China than the total of all students in America.”

He added, “If we don’t get moving on this, we will be the people they used to talk about.”

He also said it was great that AIMMS and other groups were putting money in the top, but “we need to double and triple our efforts at the bottom. It starts in kindergarten. If they can’t function at that high level because we left them behind, it’s our fault.”

AIMMS is an arm of the National Math and Science Initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces initiative to support military families.

SPORTS >> Seniors relish swan song

Leader sportswriter

Cabot coach Becky Steward had no problem going with what she had against Van Buren in the 7A-Central Conference finale at Conrade Field Monday.

A senior-laden Lady Panthers team demolished the Pointerettes in a 15-5, run-ruled victory that lasted six innings.

But Steward will not have quite as much to go with when the Lady Panthers take the field in the first round of the 7A state tournament at Bentonville High School. Cabot, the No. 3 seed from the 7A-Central, plays at 1:45 p.m. on Friday.

In an inconvenient twist, Cabot’s graduation takes place Friday, the same day as the Lady Panthers’ first-round game. For Steward, that means major contributors like Kristi Flesher, Brooke Taylor and Jenny Evans will not make the trip to the northwest.

“The freshmen and sophomores are going to have to grow up, because we will not have our seniors,” Steward said. “I hate it for them, but I’m not going to make them make a choice. They’ve worked all year, so we’ll give them a shot — see what happens.”

The senior-heavy lineup Cabot (12-13, 7-7) used on Monday also included Hannah Yocum in left field, Tracie French at first base and Ashley Springer at third.

The game was close through3 1/2 innings before the Lady Panthers opened up their offense in the bottom of the fourth. Cabot broke a 3-3 tie with five runs in the inning. They scored five more in the fifth and got the final two runs needed to activate the 10-run rule in the bottom of the sixth.

“Usually, it’s the other way around; the other team opens it up on us,” Steward said. “We’ve got to put together a good ballgame before Friday. For the seniors, it was a win at home.”

French led off the fourth by reaching on an error at second base by Van Buren’s Kenzie Williams. French advanced on a single to center by Springer, and a walk to Flesher with one out loaded the bases.

The bases cleared faster than they filled when Brandon Vines sent a fly ball to the left-centerfield wall for a standup triple. Taylor then got the home crowd energized with an inside-the-park home run that increased Cabot’s lead to 8-3.

The Pointerettes tried to halt Cabot’s momentum by relieving starter Hunter Wuton with Austin Deer following Springer’s single, but Deer gave up Vines’ triple and Taylor’s home run, and Wuton returned to the circle before the end of Cabot’s at-bat.

Van Buren made up a run in the top of the fifth, but Cabot posted another rally in the bottom half. Yocum singled to left and advanced when French made it to first on another Pointerettes error, this one by third baseman Destiny Moses.

Taylor Anderson drew a walk to load the bases, and Yocum scored from third to make it 9-4 when catcher Lauren Tipton was slow to retrieve a ball that got away from her.

Vines loaded the bases again with another walk, and Taylor drove French and Anderson in with a single to left.

Evans then cleared the bases with a triple to deep left field, which prompted another Van Buren pitching change.

“We’ve not hit like that in the last three ballgames,” Steward said. “And they finally put back-to-back hits together, and they just had to be patient at the plate. And we knew the second pitcher was going to be low and inside, and then we waited on it.

“And then the first pitcher, she’s a little faster, but she throws it right down the middle.”

The Lady Panthers scored quickly in the bottom of the first.

Anderson led off with a walk and advanced on Flesher’s single to left.

Taylor bunted down the third-base line for a single that loaded the bases, and Anderson and Flesher scored when Evans hit back to Wuton and Wuton botched the throw to first.

Yocum and French combined to end the game in the bottom of the sixth. Yocum got an infield hit to shortstop and French reached on an error for the third time, scoring Yocum.

Anderson singled and Flesher walked and French scored from third on a passed ball.

Taylor was 3 for 3 with a home run and three RBI. Yocum was 2 for 4 with two runs and French scored three runs with an RBI.

SPORTS >> Pointers frustrate Panthers with sweep

Leader sportswriter

Tyler Spoon and Dylan Reese teamed up to give Cabot fits on Friday’s senior night doubleheader at Conrade Field.

Spoon, Van Buren’s senior ace and Arkansas signee, threw a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory in Game 1 and Reese capped it off with a complete game in the nightcap as Van Buren completed the sweep with a 3-2 victory.

The 7A-Central Conference losses dropped the Panthers to the No. 5 seed for the 7A state tournament at Fort Smith starting Friday.

Van Buren led 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh when Reese hit Cabot senior and Game 2 starter Cole Nicholson in the helmet.

Nicholson, frustrated by the Game 1 loss and a number of errors behind him in Game 2, threw his bat and took a couple steps toward Reese. Umpires stepped in and defused the situation, and the hit batsman led to the first of Cabot’s two runs.

“I told him that there was no way that kid did that on purpose,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said. “He didn’t hit well in the first game, and, of course, that carried over into the second game. If you look at those runs, I think all three were unearned — I know two of them were.

“He’s playing with a young defense. He’s done a great job all year of keeping his composure.”

Errors at shortstop set up all of Van Buren’s scoring opportunities in the second game. Nicholson starts at short when he’s not on the mound, leaving a hole to fill on defense when he gets a start.

Game 2 shortstop Cole Thomas, a sophomore, missed a grounder by Zack Wilhite that scored Spoon in the top of the third inning to make it 1-0. Hayden Vinson, a freshman, took Thomas’ place in the top of the fourth, and committed an error that allowed Quenten Ray to reach.

Ray scored two batters later on a one-out single by No. 9 hitter Paul Schneider.

Vinson had another mishap in the top of the seventh on a grounder by Spoon that led to Van Buren’s winning run.

“Both of them are good athletes,” Fitch said of Thomas and Vincent. “But we’ve got to get that figured out before Friday. We’ve got to find somebody who can make the routine play at shortstop when Cole’s pitching.

“I don’t know if we’ll change anything or not, but we can’t give up runs like that.”

Reese began to tire in the seventh. He hit Nicholson and then walked Jarred Wilson to put runners at first and second.

Tyler Cole drove in the first with a single to the right field corner and Daniel Fox scored Wilson with a sacrifice bunt. With two out and no runners on, Reese finished the game by getting leadoff hitter Bryson Morris to ground out to short.

Ray was 2 for 2 with a run for Van Buren while Spoon was 2 for 3 with a run and Brant Ramsey was 2 for 4. For Cabot, Tyler Carter was 2 for 3 with a double.

The opportunities were even fewer for the Panthers in the first game, as Spoon dominated the last five innings after recovering from a sluggish start.

In the bottom of the second Spoon walked Brandon Surdam, hit Nicholson and gave up another walk to Cole with one out.

But the Pointers recovered when Spoon fielded Casey Vaughan’s dribbler back to the mound and threw to catcher Cameron Bambridge to get Surdam at the plate. Nicholson overran third and Bambridge made a quick throw to the third baseman Ray, who tagged Nicholson to retire the side.

“There wasn’t any reason to round third like that,” Fitch said. “I was pointing at the bag when he got there; I don’t know if he didn’t see me or what really happened, but their catcher made a heads-up play. They made us pay for that.

“One hit and we could have scored. That was frustrating.”

Despite giving up four walks and hitting one batter, Spoon was still holding on to a no-hitter until the bottom of the sixth, when Morris worked the count full before singling to left. Justin Goff got Cabot’s other hit with a hopper to shortstop he beat out for an infield single in the seventh.

“We’ve seen him the last couple of years,” Fitch said of Spoon. “He’s good — not just an overpowering fastball, but he got plenty from his curveball. He kept us off balance.”

Ryan Logan started for Cabot and Dustin Morris relieved him in the sixth.

SPORTS >> Derby injury ends Archarcharch’s career

Leader sports editor

It was a disappointing Kentucky Derby for the locally-owned Archarcharch.

But the colt is going to at least have a comfortable retirement.

Archarcharch, the Arkansas Derby winner, suffered a fracture to his left front leg during the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday and finished 15th in the 19-horse field.

Archarcharch had surgery Sunday and will remain in Kentucky for at least a month, owner Bob Yagos said.

“He’s doing great; I just talked to the clinic,” Yagos said Monday from the auto salvage yard he operates in Jacksonville.

“He’s putting pressure on all four. He walked his stall and he’s eating up everything.”

Yagos said Archarcharch would stay at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital at Lexington, Ky., for another day or two at least, then he would be transported back to Churchill Downs and spend at least a month with trainer Jinks Fires.

After that, Archarcharch will be put out to stud, and Yagos said based on the colt’s reputation and conformation, he has offers from 18 stud farms in Florida, California and Kentucky.

Archarcharch, who had two screws inserted in his ankle, could race again, but not at the same level and would therefore have more value as a stud.

“He’s got a good future still,” Yagos said.

Animal Kingdom, in his first race on dirt and with an unfamiliar jockey, took the lead with 1/16th of a mile to go and edged Nehro by 2 3/4 lengths to win the $2 million race.

Archarcharch, owned by Yagos and his wife Val, was in the difficult No. 1 post position and was bumped coming out of the starting gate, then jockey Jon Court’s saddle slipped and Archarcharch was bumped again.

He remained near the back of the pack for most of the race, though he passed a couple of tiring horses before he hit the wire at the finish. But Courtwas already pulling him up in the final yards to avoid more serious injury.

“In the final sixteenth of a mile he was just gimping a bit,” Court said. “He was walking on it but he just wasn’t comfortable.”

An ambulance was brought onto the track immediately after the Derby ended and Archarcharch walked up the ramp on his own, leading observers to comment at the time that his injury did not appear life threatening.

“They got a splint on it and he walked onto the ambulance under his own power,” said track veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlage, who performed Archarcharch’s surgery Sunday.

X-rays taken at Archarcharch’s barn following the Derby revealed the fracture.

“It looks like he’ll have a complete recovery,” Bob Yagos said.

The horses undergo extensive pre-race physicals before being cleared to run.

“You can turn your ankle in a football game,” Bramlage said. “He didn’t show any lameness until after he started running.”

Archarcharch beat Nehro, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby, by a neck in the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Odds had Aracharcharch anywhere from a 10-1 to 13-1 shot before he went off at 9-1 as one of only five horses in the entire Derby field that had single-digit odds.

But Archarcharch drew the difficult rail spot. A dozen horses have fought out of the inside position to win before, but not since Ferdinand in 1986.

“We could see he wasn’t stretching out,” Yagos said. “So we could tell something was wrong.”

Animal Kingdom, who had run once on turf and three times on a synthetic surface, won in 2:02.04. Mucho Macho Man was third.

SPORTS >> Race notebook full of history

Leader sports writer

Arkansas Derby winners have fared better in more recent runnings of the Kentucky Derby.

Archarcharch’s disappointing 15th place finish on Saturday aside, nine winners of Oaklawn Park’s crown-jewel event have gone on to finish in the money at Churchill Downs since the Arkansas Derby began in 1936.

Smarty Jones, the 2004 Arkansas Derby winner, and Sunny’s Halo, the 1983 winner, stand as the only two thoroughbreds to have won both events. There have been three Arkansas Derby winners to place in the Kentucky Derby since No Le Hace in 1972, and four to show since Ruhe in 1951.

Ruhe placed third behind Count Turf and Royal Mustang after winning the Arkansas Derby, then known as the Oaklawn Handicap. Ruhe was owned by Emil Denemark and trained by Robert McGarvey, and was ridden to victory in Hot Springs and third in Louisville by Utah native Job Dean Jessop.

No other Arkansas Derby winner placed at Churchill Downs for over two decades until 1971, when jockey Phil Rubbicco rode No Le Hace to victory at Oaklawn and to a second-place finish behind Riva Ridge in the Kentucky Derby field of 16.

No Le Hace, owned by Joseph W. Strauss and trained by Homer Pardue, stood as the highest finishing Arkansas Derby winner at Churchill Downs until Sunny’s Halo was victorious in both races 11 years later.

Elocutionist finished third at the Kentucky Derby in 1976, as did Golden Act in 1979.

Elocutionist, owned by Eugene C. Cashman and trained by Paul T.Adwell, was best known as the winner of the 1976 Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

A persistent leg injury prevented Elocutionist from attempting to finish in the money in all three Triple Crown events.

The horse did not enter the Belmont Stakes, was retired to stud duty and died in 1995.


Archarcharch trainer Jinks Fires, a native of Lexington, Ky., and his son-in-law Jon Court were making their first appearances as competitors at the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Fires, 70, and Court, 50, have been a tandem for almost two decades, and became family in 1998 when Court married Fires’ daughter Krystal.

They have had successful careers, but always fell short of making the field for the most prestigious event in their sport.

“There were times in my career when I gave up hope of ever racing in the Kentucky Derby,” Court said.

But Archarcharch’s late charge in the last quarter-mile of the Arkansas Derby last month gave Court one of the biggest victories of his career, giving himself, Archarcharch, Fires and owners Bob and Val Yagos of Jacksonville their first trip to the Kentucky Derby as competitors.


Dialed In was the oddsmakers’ favorite in the Kentucky Derby after another of the early favorites, Uncle Mo, was withdrawn late Friday when doctors discovered a gastrointestinal infection.

But there was only one favorite as far as many fans were concerned — 23-year-old jockey Rosie Napravnik.

Napravnik, a native of New Jersey, was only the sixth female jockey in the Kentucky Derby, and was the first to finish in the top ten with a ninth-place run aboard Pants on Fire.

Napravnik has over 1,000 victories in her six-year career, which puts her on pace to become the most successful female jockey in horse racing, though she still has a way to surpass the 3,704 victories Julie Krone earned in her 20-year career.


Saturday’s Kentucky Derby was the first since the retirement of longtime announcer Tom Durkin, who cited stress as a leading factor for his exit.

That made way for Larry Collmus, 44, who got his start as a teenager calling horse races in his native Maryland.

Collmus crept into the national spotlight late last summer with a brilliant play on names during a race at Monmouth Park, with a bit of fate and luck interjected.

Two of the horses, one named Mywifeknowseverything and another named Mywifedoesntknow, both made late-race moves and battled side by side to the finish line. Collmus began alternately calling the horses’ names.

“They’re 1-2 — of course they are,” Collmus said at one point.

A clip from the race made the Internet rounds and the unknown Collmus became a household name in racing circles.