Friday, August 19, 2011

EDITORIAL >>The three go free

The saga of the West Memphis Three is finally over, or has it only reached a new and uncertain stage, a sort of purgatory where there are no satisfactory answers and no prospect of serenity about the future? The sudden ending in the circuit court at Jonesboro on Friday served no one’s ends except that of the criminal justice system — certainly not the families of the three little boys who were murdered so wantonly in a drainage ditch in West Memphis 18 years ago nor perhaps even the three teenage boys, now nearing middle age, who were convicted of the crimes and have spent the salad days of youth and beyond in confinement. They are free at last but they will pursue life, or perhaps just existence, under a cloud that may never evaporate and perhaps puts them in considerable peril.

Damien W. Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. were removed from prison and taken to a courtroom in Jonesboro, where they were allowed to both plead guilty and assert their innocence in exchange for a judicial determination that they had served their punishment. Echols was under a death sentence and the other two life in prison.

It was all done under an obscure doctrine called “the Alford plea,” in which they essentially plead nolo contendere — I will not contest the charges — in exchange for a lighter sentence. It came about from a murder case in North Carolina that reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970. A man named Alford, accused of murdering a man with whom he had argued, insisted that he was not guilty, but he acknowledged strong circumstantial evidence against him. If he were convicted of the original charge, the death penalty was automatic in that state. The state had a weak case and plea agreement was its surest course.

Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley have insisted upon their innocence, but there was a strong compulsion for them and for the legatees of the prosecution, including the current prosecutor and the attorney general, to reach just such a conclusion as the Alford plea. The case against the young men had come to pieces over the years, so that all that remained was some weak circumstantial evidence. The DNA evidence from the crime scene, when it finally could be screened, demonstrated no connection to any of the three young men. The evidence supporting the police’s central theory — that the boys might have been carrying out some sort of satanic ritual (Echols was a punk kid who was known to have read some weird stuff, including Shakespeare) — seemed to dissolve, too. An expert who examined photographs and other evidence said all the scratches on the boys were not the work of a ritual torture but probably the scavenging of wild animals after the boys’ deaths.

So the Arkansas Supreme Court, which had upheld the convictions of the West Memphis Three, ordered the circuit court to conduct a fresh evidentiary hearing to determine whether the convictions should be set aside for lack of evidence and a new trial ordered. One crucial bit of evidence that was produced recently was gross misconduct by one of the jurors, who poisoned the secret deliberations by telling the other jurors, several of whom doubted the boys’ guilt, of an induced confession from Misskelley that was barred from the trial. Prosecutors concluded that at a hearing in December the judge was likely to set aside the convictions and order a new trial. They had little evidence with which to go forward for a new trial, but there was a great need in the community for resolution of the case—some assurance that the guilty had indeed been caught and punished. So both the prosecutors and the young men, who still faced the possibility if not the certainty of perpetual prison, were impelled to reach the unsatisfactory settlement of an Alford plea.

Baldwin, who had blurted “yes, I didn’t do it” in 1994 when the judge asked the boys after the jury’s guilty verdict if they had anything to say before their sentencing, was unrepentant Friday. He said he had not wanted to enter a guilty plea even now but that he did it to get his friend Damien off death row.

This was the most famous murder case in Arkansas history, or at least going back to 1888, when the assassination of the Republican candidate for Congress at a rooming house in Plumerville set off an international outcry and a national investigation (the crime went unsolved although the plotters and killers were commonly known).

The notoriety of the West Memphis crime helped convict the three youngsters and then helped free them. Their freedom became a cause celebré around the world. Films and books about the case attracted an international following. Film and rock stars joined the cause and raised money for their defense. That produced the DNA evidence and investigations that undermined the case and pushed it back into court.

The criminal justice system, which has taken a battering in this case and so many others in the past dozen years, earned a small measure of absolution in the Jonesboro court, even if the result left nearly everyone, especially the families of the slain boys, jaded if not grieving.

Infamy most often leads to miscarriage of justice. It is nigh unavoidable. The community and the state were aroused to near fever pitch by the needlessly brutal killing of three 8-year-old boys whose beaming photographs, so widely reprinted, spoke of promise and happiness. Woe to anyone who first comes under suspicion in such circumstances. The police, the prosecution, the court and finally the jury were under irresistible pressure to solve the crime and bring finality to the ordeal. They all did, or thought they did. But the nightmare only changed character.

All that is left is for all of us to hope that justice was indeed done, that the three young men did it and that all the angst over the convictions was not in vain—or else that new evidence will surface and produce the real killers. Neither is cause for celebration.

TOP STORY > >Beebe hears Griffin’s jobs plan

Leader staff writer

Second District Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) discussed his plans to create jobs for Americans during a visit to Arkansas State University at Beebe on Wednesday.

The congressman said one way to create jobs is by reducing regulations on corporations and small businesses during his Jump-Starting Jobs tour.

Another way Griffin proposed job growth is by lowering corporate tax rates and reforming tax codes to make the U. S. more competitive with other foreign countries for manufacturers.

The congressman encouraged entrepreneurship. He said the patent application office has over 700,000 applications in backlog.

“That is where innovations come from and where jobs are created,” Griffin said.

Griffin wants to increase oil and energy production. He said the problem with wind and solar energy is that, “it’s not going to replace fossil fuels in my lifetime.” He said solar and wind energy is less powerful than fossil fuels.

He wants to expand off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Griffin said there are one million jobs in the drilling industry. He said if the U.S. doesn’t produce oil, someone else will, and oil companies will move operations overseas.

Although Griffin has been criticized for discouraging critical comments at his town-hall meetings, he was open to questions from everyone in the audience.

A woman asked the congressman how many $7-a-hour-jobs will be created with changes in regulations. She said 60 people applied for a part-time clerk position at a gas station in Ward.

“Where are people going to get jobs in White, Lonoke and Pulaski counties?” she asked.

Griffin said businesses create jobs and he is against burdensome regulations.

“We need to create an environment where people want to invest in our country,” Griffin said.

The congressman has been criticized for granting tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas.

TOP STORY > >Gospel concerts set in Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

Melodious Praise, an Arkan-sas-based ensemble of Christian singers, began with two preachers’ kids singing a duet at a wedding. The group and its main artist, Vickie Woodard of England, will perform this evening and next Saturday at churches in Jacksonville.

Evangelistic Ministries Church, 101 Elm St., will host the group’s “intimate worship concert” at 6:30 p.m. today. The concert is free and open to the public.

Melodious Praise will also be performing at the All About You Big Hat Affair at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive. The event will feature brunch, motivational speakers, a fashion show and more. There is a $10 minimum donation for the event, which will honor Loretha Maxwell, the wife of the pastor at Center Ridge Baptist church.

Melodious Praise’s music is “new traditional” — rooted in traditional gospel with new lyrics and harmonies — and Woodard’s passionate songwriting is the ensemble’s heartbeat.

Woodard and Marquita Dedner established the grassroots group after Woodard’s father commented that the harmony of the two friends was very nice when they sang at a mutual friend’s wedding.

“It (gospel tunes) was a natural thing for us because of her upbringing and my upbringing in the church,” Woodard said. “It’s (being in the group) a condition of the heart and a conviction of the heart.”

She added that friends and friends of those friends came together to sing for Melodious Praise. Dedner left for personal reasons, but Woodard has been gracing the stage for 15 years.

The group has released four CDs with her original songwriting, a skill she’s been honing since she was a shy 13-year-old.

“I’m a songwriter by heart. There’s this calling on my life to do it. It was a way to get the expression in me out,” Woodard explained.

Woodard’s father passed away about a year after Melodious Praise took off. Woodard shared that the commitment the ensemble required weighed heavily on her as she took on the responsibility of helping take care of his affairs.

She said doing the music was therapeutic for the most part but “for a few minutes, it was the job that never ends.”

Woodard keeps Melodious Praise alive because she knows it comforts people and helps them trust in their faith.

“When people tell you how blessed they were by your songs…those stories they share about how the music helped them, it’s the uplift we need to continue (with Melodious Praise),” she said.

Many of her songs are about the questions she had concerning her personal journey with Christ. Her lyrics reflect her personal experiences and biblical research.

“I learned how to believe in myself and in what God gives to me. Just because you’re on the microphone doesn’t make you the star of the show. God is the star,” she said.

Woodard, when she’s not performing or rehearsing, teaches music at Daisy Bates and College Station elementary schools. Melodious Praise released its latest CD, “Bigger,” this week and it’s about how God is bigger, greater and able to do more than we can ask or think.

TOP STORY > >A big salute to rodeo winners

Leader executive editor

When Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing commander, introduced several members of his world-champion air rodeo team, they received a standing ovation Wednesday at the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council luncheon.

“This was not a one-wing effort. It was the entire community,” Czelusta told community council members at their quarterly luncheon at the Jacksonville Community Center. “We’re proud to call central Arkansas home. This is home to us.”

Czelusta and his team won six first-place trophies at last month’s international air rodeo competition, taking home the Gen. Joe W. Kelly Trophy for best C-130 team at the Air Mobility Command rodeo at McChord Airfield on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The 314th Airlift Wing, flying the oldest C-130E in the rodeo, won five other awards:

 Best C-130 Team

 Best C-130 Airdrop

 Best C-130 Aircrew Award

 Best C-130 Maintenance Skills Team

 Best C-130 Maintenance Team and

 Best Overall Maintenance Skills Team

Czelusta thanked the council for its support and for opening the skies of Arkansas to C-130 trainers from all over the world. He said the base couldn’t function without community support and thanked the council for its financial support of the rodeo.

Several other commanders spoke to the community council and discussed the avionics modernization program and the addition of a new Air Force Reserve Command that will include hundreds of reservists and civilian employees, adding millions of dollars into the local economy.

AMPs installed
on older planes

Col. Steve Eggensberger, commander of the 189th Air National Guard Wing, told the council that three C-130s have arrived at the base with the new avionics. The first class of students has graduated after training on the modified planes.

The 189th will primarily train students in the C-130H-AMP variants — C-130s upgraded by Boeing’s avionic modernization program, which includes the installation of a modern digital glass cockpit similar to those on commercial Boeing airliners.

The AMPs cost about $7 million each to install, or about one tenth the cost of a new C-130J. Boeing is modifying some 500 airplanes, which could fly for another 30 years.

The upgrade includes all-new cockpits with new front windows, night-vision imaging and a new navigation system, which eliminates the navigator and other crew members.

Several flight simulators are being installed to train crews on many of the C-130s outfitted with the new AMPs.

Eggensberger said the Guard received nine C-130s from other bases as part of the base realignment and closure program.

Reserve Command
Put in place 

Col. Edsel (Archie) Fry, commander of the new Air Force Reserve Command, told the community council that plans are well under way for the unit to start training reservists on older C-130H models.

The training mission will include about 700 reservists and support staff. The Reserves will primarily handle training in the older models that haven’t been modified.

The reserve unit, which is to be activated as a group, will include 18 full-time crews and 18 part-time crews, all of them instructor-qualified.
Many of those jobs will pay more than $70,000 a year, Frye said.
Air Force Reserve Command will eventually have 10 C-130Hs, while the 189th will have nine planes.

As older C-130E models are retired, a fleet of newer C-130Hs is arriving at the base for Guard and Reserve training. Those units will be the only ones with older C-130s on base.

Active-duty units with the 19th and the 314th Airlift Wings will consist entirely of the new C130Js.

The new Reserve unit will be associated with ANG’s 189th Airlift Wing. In 2013, when the Reserve unit is at or near full strength, the 314th will “hand the baton” to the 189th as the lead wing for the older C-130 training mission, alongside the Reserve unit.

The 314th AW will still have a hand in training the older aircrews at the wing’s 714th Training Squadron for classroom instruction and simulator training.

Capt. Joe Knable of Little Rock Air Force Base contributed to this report.

SPORTS>>Beebe just wants some consistency

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers sports teams are awaiting an appeal to the Arkansas Activities Association to see if they will change conferences for the third time in as many alignment cycles.

Classifications and conferences are realigned every two years to account for school population changes. Those realignments have bounced Beebe around at every turn since football coach John Shannon took over five years ago.

Beebe was part of the 5A East when Shannon started and had been since entering the 5A classification three years prior to his arrival.

In his second year the team was moved to the 5A Southeast. Two years after that, it was back to the East for the Badgers. The new alignment that begins next year, has Beebe remaining in the East, but it is awaiting an appeal by West Helena to find out if it will have to change again.

West Helena, who was put in the new 5A Central conference, has appealed to the AAA board to swap it and Beebe, putting West Helena in the East and Beebe in the Central. Geographically, the appeal makes sense, but Shannon would like to see some stability for his program.

“It would be nice to be in the Central where you don’t have to travel as much, but my main thinking is I just want to get somewhere and stay put,” Shannon said. “Our kids aren’t getting the chance to build any rivalries with anybody or establish any traditions. I just want to get somewhere and stay.”

Shannon likes playing in the East. He feels some good relationships and rivalries have developed, especially with Batesville and Blytheville, but it’s hard to ignore the huge difference in travel, and therefore expenses, involved between the two conferences.

West Helena’s travel will be reduced by almost 20 percent by moving to the East. Beebe’s would be reduced by more than 50 percent.

If Beebe stayed in the East, it’s conference opponents would be Batesville, Blytheville, Forrest City, Greene County Tech, Nettleton, Paragould and Wynne.

If West Helena’s appeal was granted, it would move to the East and Beebe to the Central, where its opponents would be Jacksonville, Little Rock Christian, Little Rock McClellan, Mills, North Pulaski, Pulaski Academy and Sylvan Hills.

That appears to be a slam-dunk appeal for West Helena, but as Shannon and other Badger coaches know, the AAA’s decisions aren’t always based on what seems to make the most sense.

“I really don’t know what their criteria is for moving teams around,” Shannon said. “When they swapped us with Helena and moved us to the Southeast, it seemed to make sense because it was a little less travel, but the next time around they swapped us right back. So I don’t know how it’s going to play out. I like being in the East, we’ve got good relationships there. I can see how it’s a lot less travel and expenses to go to the Central. I’d be ok with that if we could just get somewhere and stay put. Our main thing is finding some stability.”

The decision regarding West Helena’s proposal to switch conferences with Beebe is scheduled to be handed down in October.

SPORTS>>Kicking game takes focus for Falcons

Leader sportswriter

Special teams play has been a major focus for the North Pulaski Falcons during the third week of August football camp. First-year coach Theodis Ingram and his staff now have less than a week to get the team ready for its scrimmage at Hot Springs Lakeside High School this coming Thursday, but the head Falcon is more interested in effort than execution for the benefit game against the Rams.

“I don’t believe you can ever judge a team by a scrimmage game,” Ingram said. “Mainly, you want to see effort and execution, but if the execution is off, that can always be corrected. We’re not sure exactly where we’re at offensively and defensively, and I’m sure we’ll make some mistakes.”

Ingram’s philosophy that strong defense and special teams play can keep a team in any ballgame is starting to take root on the practice field.

The Falcons have gone through a number of special-teams drills throughout the week while still pushing ahead with offense and defense.

“We’re trying to get a system in place,” Ingram said. “I think defense and special teams are most important, and we can help ourselves out if we can eliminate mistakes. We’ve been working to get the right personnel in place, and we feel like that will be a benefit for us in the long run.”

The numbers remain low for North Pulaski at around 35 to 38 players. But everyone has stayed healthy through the first three weeks, a promising sign for Ingram.

“If we can stay healthy, I think the kids can cover it all,” Ingram said. “As long as we don’t have any season-ending injuries or a situation where someone has to sit out 3-4 weeks, based on what I’ve seen us do so far, the kids will be able to make adjustments.”

Although they could be spread somewhat thin in spots, the Falcons will boast an experienced and fleet offensive backfield once they finally take to the field against Searcy on Sept. 2 to start the season. Ingram has been impressed with the efforts of senior running backs Derrick Hart and Willie Frazier. He also said running back Nick Dunn has been steady since the first day of practice.

On the quarterback front, Ingram said a final decision has not been made, but at this point, senior Shyheim Barron has a slight edge on Marvin Davis. Both players will also play a defensive role as safeties.

“He was the starter last year, and at this point, he probably has the most consideration,” Ingram said of Barron. “But he’s also going to be on the other side of the football, so we may start out with two quarterbacks. Marvin Davis played a little quarterback last year. He’s a little raw right now, but we’ve seen a lot of improvement out of him.”

When it comes to specifics, Ingram will have an eye on important fundamentals at Lakeside on Thursday.

“Defensively, we want to play tough and we want to tackle the right way,” he said. “Offensively, we want to sustain blocks and get in position for the right plays. Technique-wise, we’re not quite there yet.”

SPORTS>>Youthful Cabot preparing

Leader sportswriter

There are plenty of new wrinkles with this year’s Cabot volleyball team. The sophomore-heavy roster and a new head coach are ready to test themselves in a game on their brand new state-of-the-art gymnasium.

New coach DeAnna Campbell brings nine years of coaching experience to the Lady Panthers program. She became only the second head volleyball coach in Cabot history when Terry Williams stepped down afte more than three decades on the job. That experience will be needed with a group of primarily underclassmen.

Campbell will have some leadership on the court with three seniors, including Kori Malloy, one of only two players returning with any varsity game time. Malloy and junior Brylee Staten are the only experienced players, but Campbell also expects junior Sam Mantione to be a contributor. Sophomores will also get in on the starting action, most notably Lakin Best and Hannah Montgomery, who Campbell believes will be a key setter for the Lady Panthers.

“We’ve got a lot of new,” Campbell said. “New and progress have been the key words for us. I’m guessing they had a lot of their players graduate last year, because there’s not many seniors with this group.

“It’s a first for me, and a first for the kids, but they’ve done a fantastic job so far. The main area we’re going to focus on is learning from game experience.”

Campbell got her start in coaching with a successful two-year run at Central Arkansas Christian a decade ago.

Through the 2001-02 seasons, Campbell led the Lady Mustangs to a 39-5 record, a conference championship and a quarterfinals appearance in the 2002 state volleyball tournament.

She also has coaching experience in the college ranks from her time at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, and is married to Lonoke senior boys basketball coach Dean Campbell.

Campbell replaces longtime coach Terry Williams, who took over the volleyball program at its inception in 1977.

“Coach Williams did a great job of walking me through everything before she left,” Campbell said. “It made for a smooth transition.”

The Lady Panthers have spent considerable time going over rotations and floor coverage for game situations as Tuesday’s tri-match with Lonoke and Morrilton quickly approaches.

“We’re ready to start playing for real,” Campbell said. “We want to see how the kids play all the way through a match – if they can maintain a high level of play. That’s the test, to get them all together.” A handful of Campbell’s players were already familiar with their new coach from having her as a teacher last year at Cabot High School, which has also aided in the adjustment process.

While the number of juniors and seniors is relatively low, sophomores fill in the gaps nicely with 11 players on the roster.

“I think one of the advantages of our lineup is that we have youth,” Campbell said. “It’s a whole new beginning for all of us. There’s a lot of sophomores.

Still, things aren’t that much different for the juniors – they were only in here for a year. There hasn’t been a lot of ‘well, we really haven’t done that before.’”

SPORTS>>Beebe drivers try for $40,000 prize

Leader sportswriter

Several competitors in the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series based in Beebe will take part in the 19th annual Comp Cams Topless 100 in Batesville this weekend.

Time trials and heat races for the $40,000-to-win, $200-to-start event were held Friday night, while the B-mains and 100-lap A-main feature will run tonight at the three-eights mile, high-banked oval in Locust Grove. The event takes its name from the requirement for competitors to remove the roofs of their racecars, giving fans a better view of the drivers.

Among the competitors expected at the annual crown-jewel late-model event are the top three in the points standings, Jon “Catman” Mitchell of Texarkana, Tex., Kyle Beard of Trumann and Floral’s Brandon Smith. Mitchell qualified for last year’s feature race while Beard made the field back in 2008.

Hall of famer Billy Moyer Sr. of Batesville looked strong in practice. Moyer holds the distinction of being the only driver to have won the event four times. Tennessee racer and fellow legend Scott Bloomquist has been to victory lane three times at the Topless 100.

The Topless 100 is considered to be one of the premiere late-model events in the country since its inception in 1993. Freddy Smith took the victory in the inaugural event, while the late Tony Cardin of Greenbrier won the following year. Moyer picked up the first of his four wins in the 1995 Topless.

Last year’s points champion Bill Frye of Greenbrier won the event back in 1996, while Benton native Jared Landers won last year’s Topless in thrilling fashion by passing Florida’s Earl Pearson junior coming out of the final turn.

Other series drivers expected to compete will be teammates Jon Kirby and Dewaine Hottinger of Russellville, Vilonia driver and former Beebe Speedway regular Curtis “Hollywood” Cook and his car owner Keith Lawson of Houston, Walnut Ridge veteran Jeff Floyd and Batesville’s Billy Moyer Jr.

SPORTS>>Every 6A football team will make playoffs

Leader sports editor

All 6A teams will be in the football playoffs this season. A new ruling of an appeal to the Arkansas Activities Association was granted Thursday with several changes to the class 6A points system used to determine playoff seeds. The biggest change is that all 16 6A teams will be in the playoffs this year. In basketball, all 16 teams have been going to the playoffs since last year.

When the AAA released its new conference alignments for the next two-year cycle, which begins in the 2012-13 school year, there were a few things many schools in the state did not like, and several appeals were filed. Two of those appeals directly relate to two schools in the area.

Jacksonville and Beebe are directly involved in different appeals to the AAA. The appeal involving Jacksonville was settled Thursday afternoon, Beebe waits until October to find out which conference it will be in for the next two years.

The new 6A points system also gives greater rewards to 6A schools playing conference games against 7A schools, and takes strength of schedule into account.

When the current realignment was announced, it had several 6A schools playing in mostly 7A conferences and vice versa.

It tried to take into account that fact when determining how points would be gained over the course of the season. Instead of the traditional points system, where a team gained points based on margin of victory, up to 13 points, a new system was put into place in which a 6A team got 10 points for a victory, plus one point for a 7A conference opponent. So if the 6A team lost to a 7A team in a game that counts as a conference game, and thereby has playoff implications, it still got one point. If the 6A team won the game, it got its 10 points, plus the one, for 11 points.

The only change, that is effective immediately, is that 6A teams now get two points for playing a 7A school.

How this could impact the 6A playoffs involves Russellville and Van Buren. Those two teams are part of the 6A East playoff race. They play five conference games each against the 7A Central. That’s an automatic 10 points, which equals one win for the 6A East teams that only play 7A West Memphis and Little Rock Hall.

Basically it means this. The five 6A teams that are playing for a 6A East playoff spot in the 6A East will start the season with four points, while the two 6A teams playing in the 7A Central will start the season with 10 points.

There is also a one-point bonus given to teams for every win by opponents they beat. For example, if Jacksonville were to beat an undefeated West Memphis team in week nine, (game six of conference play) that win would be worth 17 points, 10 for the win, two for playing a 7A team, and five more for the five wins West Memphis had before the game.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TOP STORY >> Enrollment in PCSSD is continuing to decline

Leader staff writer

The Pulaski County Special School District had a first day total of 16,403 students Monday, almost 200 less than it educated two years ago. But enrollment in several Sherwood schools was hundreds more than that of their Jacksonville counterparts.

The district didn’t do a first-day count last year because of online-school issues, said Deborah Roush, PCSSD director of communications. The count for the 2009-10 school year was 16,631.

The principals of each school submitted the first-day counts.

PCSSD elementary schools welcomed 8,956 students on the first day. There were 713 attending Clinton Elementary School, followed by 529 at Oakbrook, 430 at Pinewood, 419 at Murrell Taylor, 396 at Warren Dupree, 384 at Sylvan Hills, 383 at Tolleson, 338 at Sherwood, 321 at Bayou Meto, 308 at Cato, 269 at Arnold Drive, 193 at Harris and 144 at Adkins.

PCSSD secondary schools had 7,447 students for the first day.

Sylvan Hills Middle School welcomed 745, followed by Jacksonville Middle with 462 and Northwood with 438.

Sylvan Hills High School saw 778, followed by Jacksonville with 673 and North Pulaski with 652.


Aside from the state takeover, PCSSD schools saw another change this year as Jacksonville Elementary School closed down and its students were shipped to four other nearby elementary schools — Tolleson, Murrell Taylor, Pinewood and Warren Dupree.

The former principal of the closed school, Sonja Whitfield, took over as principal at Tolleson. She said the transition for students, teachers and staff has gone well.

“We’re trying to be forward-thinking to accommodate the children,” she said. Whitfield added that parents involved with Jacksonville Elementary’s parent-student organization were split up into different schools when it closed. Tolleson’s parent-teacher association has been very supportive throughout the transition, she said.

Samantha Runyon, now a media specialist for Jacksonville Middle School, said she and another teacher founded Jacksonville Elementary’s PTO but were unsuccessful at getting parents actively involved. She added she hopes that the new school will have involved parents.

She said transportation problems have been typical compared to previous school years. Many parents drive their children to school for the first week and then have them take the bus later, so dismissal is a common issue schools have to work through on the first few weeks of classes.

“We still have a few kinks to work out,” Whitfield said. “As challenges arrive, we make plans.”

Several students walked to Jacksonville Elementary School, but she said she hadn’t heard about any problems with parents getting alternative transportation.

Pinewood Principal Denise Rankin agreed with Whitfield. “Everything has meshed beautifully,” she said.

Rankin added that the school was happy to have the additional students, especially because they had anticipated a significant decrease in enrollment caused by students transferring to charter schools.

She said Pinewood got about 40 students from the closed elementary and was up in student enrollment.

Taylor Elementary Principal Jackie Smith said the children have adjusted well to the move, although some of the students expected haven’t arrived at Taylor yet and transportation is something that needs work.
Carlisle enrollment

Carlisle School District added 12 students, and new Superintendent Jason Clark, to its ranks and saw the completion of three construction projects of the 2011-12 school year.

The district renovated a former science facility into a pre-kindergarten facility. New bathrooms were installed at Carlisle Elementary and a machinery room was added to Carlisle High School’s agriculture shop. The room will house equipment, such as the tools used when the students learn welding. All the construction was completed over the summer months, Clark said.

Clark began working for the district in July. He had been superintendent of the Mount Vernon-Enola School District.

New at Carlisle High School are teacher Alicia Williams, who will also serve at the elementary school; teacher Bradley Corbit, cafeteria manager Sheree Chandler, cafeteria worker Shirley Bryant, librarian Barbara Bush, teacher and coach Mark Lewis and teacher Yvette Green.

Carlisle Elementary School added kindergarten aide Rebecca St. Clair, teacher Carla Hanks and teacher Wendy Lewis. Jennifer Wolfe was also hired as a preschool aide.

Preliminary enrollment in Carlisle schools is 390 for the elementary school and 360 for the high school, Clark said.

EDITORIAL >> Boozman key player

Sometimes Sen. John Boozman talks like the reasonable and sensible man that he seems to be in manner and personal conversation. Take his remarks this week about taxes and deficits.

Boozman acknowledged that the massive U. S. budget deficits cannot be closed by cutting spending alone but that the solution must include some revenues. That is what President Obama has insisted all along, but except for a few meek senators Republicans have said the budget had to be balanced entirely by cutting spending, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The proof is in the numbers. Go to the Treasury or Office of Management and Budget websites, try your hand at eliminating $1.5 trillion from the fiscal 2011 budgets and see what you have left.

It is heartening to hear our newest senator show some flexibility, if only a little, when that has been so sorely missing in Washington. He said Congress needed to close some tax loopholes, which would bring some fairness to the tax code and bring many billions of dollars into the treasury to close the deficit.

“It shouldn’t be that a company like GE makes billions of dollars in profit and doesn’t pay anything (in taxes),” Boozman said, reciting a familiar refrain of the president. Let us be specific where he was not. General Electric made $26 billion in profits over the past five years but claimed a negative tax liability of $4.1 billion. In other words, the government was paying GE to operate.

But the Republicans in the debt-ceiling negotiations unanimously refused to consider eliminating the loopholes that allowed such travesties. A few more: Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009, but got a $156 million credit from the government against future taxes. Bank of America made $4.4 billion last year and got a refund and a bailout. Chevron made $10 billion in profits and Citigroup $4 billion, but they paid no taxes. Goldman Sachs in 2008 paid only 1.1 percent of its net income in taxes, though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received $800 million from the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department.

All the major oil companies made spectacular profits the past three or four years but paid little or no taxes owing to the many special tax breaks they receive. When it comes down to that, we doubt that Sen. Boozman will vote to eliminate any of the oil industry’s special tax privileges, but we perhaps should take him at his word that he is serious about ending the tax breaks. He said that eliminating tax loopholes is not raising taxes, a no-no for Republicans. Everyone should grant him and any other member of Congress the privilege of rebranding such measures as “not tax increases.”

A reporter asked Boozman about an essay in The New York Times by Warren Buffett, the multibillionaire investor, who said America’s richest people were escaping taxes and leaving all the sacrifice to the middle class and the country’s workers. A significant raise in income tax rates for the richest people ought to be a big part of the formula for closing the deficits, he said.

Boozman did not answer yes or no, but said you couldn’t raise much money by raising taxes on the “super wealthy.” He did not want to see taxes raised even slightly for small businessmen who were in the category of those making more than $250,000 a year, which is the threshold for higher taxes mentioned repeatedly by Obama.

But Boozman is wrong about there being no significant money from taxing very, very rich people. Buffett said income taxes should be raised immediately and significantly for him and the other 236,882 people who had net incomes last year greater than $1 million and still higher rates on people like him who earned more than $10 million a year, most often by not working but merely investing. Most of those people do not pay payroll taxes like working people, so they pay a smaller percentage of their incomes in federal taxes than nearly all working people in the country. Buffett said his salaried employees paid a greater share of their incomes to Washington than he does.

“My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” Buffett wrote. “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” In 2007, Buffett said millionaires like him paid a smaller share of their incomes in taxes than their secretaries, and he offered $1 million to anyone who could prove him wrong. He went unchallenged.

One proposal, which is less than what Buffett suggests, is to impose a flat 5.4 percent surtax on the current taxes of people with net incomes greater than $1 million a year — a class that surely is not hurting. That would raise in excess of $50 billion next year, which would do more to close the deficit that year than anything the budget-cutting Republicans have proposed.

What we started out to say is that Sen. Boozman shows promise of being a player in the big debt struggle and he ought to be encouraged. Sen. Mark Pryor has said a little more, that there needed to be a real balance between spending cuts and revenue increases. As for the Arkansas delegation in the House of Representatives, it is rather hopeless.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke jail welcomes visitors to new facility

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County officials, civic leaders and residents went inside the new $6.2 million Lonoke County Sheriff Detention Center without being arrested first during a ribbon-cutting and tour of the facility Tuesday.

The sheriff’s office will move 70 inmates into the state-of-the art, highly secure detention center today. Circuit Court Judge Sandy Huckabee will be the first judge to hold a court appearance at the center’s new courtroom Friday.

The facility, at the end of Dee Dee Lane, has 136 beds, replacing the old jail built to hold 68. Planning for the new jail began 16 years ago in 1995. The new jail was constructed and paid for from the start with a one-cent, county-wide sales tax collected for only one year. The detention center was built for future expansion to hold an additional 120 inmates.

Building the detention center took 18 months. The center was built with 20 concrete modular units built by Fibrebond of Minden, La. Each unit weighs 50,000-pounds and contains two jail cells that were assembled with plumbing installed and finished in five days at the Louisiana plant. The units arrived at the detention center site on a flat-bed truck. The detention center has 22 miles of concrete and 29 miles of steel.

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin thanked the citizens of Lonoke County for funding the facility.

Austin Police Chief John Staley said, “We will now have a place to put people we arrest, because no fault to the sheriff before, but they were at capacity. It was old and dilapidated. We were having to take inmates to White County and Faulkner County. Now this opens a place for us in our county.”

Ward Police Chief Steve Benton was very impressed with the facility and said it is a great benefit for law enforcement in Lonoke County.

Patrol Sgt. Dennis Sanderson with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office said the new detention center provides additional jobs and has more space.

Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson said, “It is a good day for the county. The detention center is able to hold more inmates. It is safer for the jail staff. It turned out well.”

Lonoke Circuit Court Judge Barbara Elmore thought having a courtroom at the detention center was a good plan. She said deputies will no longer have to transport inmates in high-profile cases to the Lonoke County Courthouse. Elmore said it lessen the danger as emotions can run high during court proceedings. She said there is less risk of escape and less chance of contraband being passed to an inmate through the courtroom.

Staying at the jail will cost $36 a day for agencies outside of Lonoke County and for cities in Lonoke County holding inmates with misdemeanors or waiting for a first appearance.

Improvements over the old county jail include a medical exam room staffed with a nurse. A kitchen was built to save on food cost of feeding inmates. The kitchen has a commercial oven to bake breads, cookies and cakes from scratch.

The jail has an ice maker can make 100 pounds of ice in an hour. The county spent $80 a week for ice from retailers for inmates at the old jail. The kitchen will be staffed with four or five state work-release inmates. The state pays the county to hold Arkansas Department of Correction inmates in the Lonoke detention center.

The center will have 19 jailers; four on duty during day and three at night, along with a sergeant, two administrators and two transport officers. Jailer will work 12-hours shifts; four hours at the book-in area, four hours at the master control and four hours roaming the detention center.

The jail has working room for seven detectives 13 offices for the sheriff and staff, and four evidence rooms.

TOP STORY >> Cabot district sees gain of 200 students

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School District’s first day of school went smoothly as students returned to classes Monday. Enrollment is projected to increase over the next week as more students go back to school.

The school district has 10,260 students enrolled this year, an increase of 200. Last year, 10,068 students were enrolled at the end of the first quarter of the school year.

“There were very few issues the first day of school. Our objective on the first day is to focus on routines with all of our students including how they are going to be dismissed at the end of the day. Bus transportation is always a challenge, but all of our buses were clear of students by 5:25 p.m. on Monday afternoon,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman.

“We typically release the first wave of buses from CHS at 3:25 p.m. each day, but due to it being the first day, the first wave didn’t depart until 3:45 p.m. which causes a ripple effect with every other bus in the district. Overall, it was a great day thanks to our administrators, faculty and staff for doing a good job of preparing for the first day well in advance,” Thurman said.

Thurman said some parents were frustrated with the amount of time it took to pick up their children from school. He said it takes time to teach children the routine for dismissal, but said the district is not going to sacrifice a child’s safety for time. After students learn the routine of the next few days, the wait to pick up their children will lessen. Thurman said there is no need for parents in the afternoon to line up and wait outside the schools an hour early. The district is not going to dismiss school any earlier.

Adjusting start times back five minutes at the middle schools, junior highs and high school seemed to help with traffic.

“We believe that it will make a difference but difficult to know the impact this early in the school year. Many more parents than usual bring students to school for the first few days so there is an increase in traffic around schools. Though traffic on the first day was extremely congested at many of our sites, there was a considerable amount of difference on the second day,” Thurman said.

The first day of school had 9,981 students show up for classes, down 13 students from 9,904 on the first day of school in 2010. However, on the second day of school, Tuesday, enrollment increased 66 students to 9,957 and was up two students from the same day last year.

“We were down on the first day but suspect that the early start of school may have an impact on initial enrollment,” Thurman said.

He said almost every child in kindergarten through fourth grade showed up, but the district is missing a lot of junior high and high school kids. Thurman expects enrollment numbers to increase in the next two weeks. Some parents keep their children out of school until Labor Day.

Thurman said fifth grade has the largest number of students in the district with 838 students. Kindergarten had 705 students in class on the first day of school, down 65 students from 770 students the first school day last year.

The school district has 260 Pre-K students but those students are not included in the district enrollment numbers, as the Pre-K program receives funding from different federal and state programs.

As of Tuesday, there were 3,866 elementary school students. Eastside has 431 students. Central has 321 students. Magness Creek has 375 students. Westside has 404 students. Southside has 482 students. Northside has 387 students. Ward Central has 543 students. Stagecoach has 485 students. Mountain Springs has 438 students.

The two middle schools have 1,618 students. Middle School South has 773 students and Middle School North has 845 students. The two junior high schools have 2,329 students. Junior High South has 1,094 students. Junior High North has 1,235 students. Cabot High School has 1,985 students.

The Academic Center of Excellence, a conversion charter school has 131 students in seventh through 12th grades. The behavioral schools, the Alternative Learning Environment has 19 students in eighth through 12th grades and the Cabot Learning Academy has nine students in first through seventh grades.

SPORTS >> Roller derby in Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

Roller derby, mostly known for its reputation of tough women, fights and fishnets, may be the fastest growing sport around. As of Tuesday morning, there are 1,017 amateur roller derby leagues in the world, according to Jacksonville happens to be home to one of those leagues, Girls Rollin’ in the South.

Saturday, the G.R.I.T.S. will hold an exhibition bout at Skateworld on Loop Road in Jacksonville, mixing up teams with the East Texas Bombers, based in Jacksonville, Texas. The two teams will combine players and test their skills against each other. Doors open at 4 p.m., with the first whistle at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 at the door, $6 with military ID.

The organization wants to draw interest in roller derby as a sport and encourage the community to get involved, including holding raffles at each bout to raise funds for various area charities.

Nick “Coach Fever” Fitzpatrick, of Cabot, coaches the Breakneck Brawlers, G.R.I.T.S. team of MST qualified skaters. Skaters must pass a set of minimum skills in order to compete.

“We hold practices twice a week and highly encourage our skaters to workout on their own time also,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s an intense sport and requires endurance and strength.”

Practices are held from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Skateworld.

The league was officially formed in March 2010 and put on its first exhibition bout in December of that year.

“Our goal is to continue growing and eventually obtain WFTDA status,” Fitzpatrick.

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association is the sanctioning body for modern roller derby. The WFTDA sets the guidelines for leagues to follow.

The sport, founded by Leo Seltzer in 1935, began as Transcontinental Roller Derby, an endurance race on a raised track and evolved into its current forms of teams skating on banked track and flat track roller derby.

The original version of roller derby was a co-ed competition. While there are still men’s leagues, the popularity and attraction seems to focus more on women.

The modern roller derby revival began at the turn of the century with the Texas Rollergirls in Austin, Texas. Leagues are formed as businesses and are operated by the skaters and league members. Roller girls come from all walks of life, including stay-at-home moms to hard working single moms, recent high school graduates to career women.

Girls Rollin’ in the South is always recruiting skaters, referees and non-skating officials. Visit the league’s Facebook for more information.

The league also has a website,

SPORTS >> Senior hitting leads progress for Beebe girls

Leader sports writer

Attacking fast is the strategy for the Beebe Lady Badgers under new coach Ashley Camp.

Camp is trying to instill a killer instinct into her club, and with a mix of sophomores and seniors that is nearly split down the middle, the results have been as expected.

“Overall, I’m seeing progress,” Camp said. “We’ve been doing some conditioning, and we’re getting past the soreness. The girls are adjusting and working hard. They’re putting out the effort. We want them to hustle and be aggressive.”

Camp has been impressed with the hitting from seniors Leslie Colbert and Madison Ward, as well as junior hitter Stephanie Pollnow.

“She’s worked well with the setters,” Camp said of Pollnow. “She will be a key hitter for us this year.”

The Lady Badgers have also picked up a key transfer in sophomore Madison Richey. Richey moved from Paragould where she came up in the junior-high system at Greene County Tech schools, and Camp has plans to use her in a utility capacity.

Injuries have also been a factor for the Beebe volleyball team in August camp. A pair of ankle injuries, including one to Morgan Henry, has been a minor setback, but nothing that should change the course of the Lady Badgers’ season.

“It’s nothing major,” Camp said. “It was due to a little overuse and some old injuries reoccurring. They’ve just needed a little rest - and some ice.”

Camp is confident in her seniors, but said most of the underclassmen will have to pay their dues in the junior-varsity ranks. Still, she said that with the makeup of this group, some of the sophomores will have to contribute early on.

“Right now, we’re still working on some of the fundamentals,” Camp said. “We’ll have to play with it some, but with not as many seniors, some of the younger girls will have to prove themselves. But they want to be out there.”

To start the season, Camp plans on playing it safe with a conservative 4-2 offense. But she hopes as the girls gain experience, she can move to a more aggressive 5-1 set, with the libero handling much of the defensive chores.

“We don’t want to have them running from the back to the front line to set it,” she said.

Camp is happy with the hitting, but would like to see more consistency in the setting. She has stressed using hands effectively in order to keep the game up tempo.

The Lady Badgers will start their season on the road with a benefit game against Marianna next Tuesday. From there, the junior-varsity squad will host Vilonia the following day before a match against Little Rock Christian Academy. The varsity girls will not host a home game until Batesville visits Badger Sports Arena on Aug. 30 to open 5A-East Conference play.

“We’re seeing a lot of good effort,” Camp said. “We hope we can take this group of individuals and lead them into becoming a team.”

SPORTS >> Underclassmen and increasing depth helping Hillside football

Leader sports writer

Physical bodies and overactive minds have led to mixed results for the Sylvan Hills Bears halfway through fall football camp.

The Bears are abundant with young talent, and with the addition of a few late arrivals with the start of the school year on Monday, a core of potential depth is forming for head coach Jim Withrow and his staff.

“We had a really good scrimmage on Friday,” Withrow said. “It was physical, people getting to the football, we felt really good about it. I think we’ve come a long way. It’s about time to scrimmage somebody.”

The Bears will have one more intra-squad scrimmage on Friday before a benefit game at Fountain Lake on Monday.

Upperclassmen anchor the offensive and defensive lines up front, buy many of the skill positions feature sophomores and juniors. The talent is there, according to Withrow, though the lack of experience and maturity may lead to the Bears taking their lumps early.

“One of the problems we’ve got is that we’re so young,” Withrow said. “Part of being young is thinking too much. There’s been time they’ve thought too much. On the other hand, it seems like they’re picking itup. The team camps have really helped.”

Sylvan Hills, despite a down 3-7 showing last year, is considered by many to be a yearly contender in the top-heavy 5A-Southeast Conference. League foes such as White Hall, Monticello and Watson Chapel are loaded with talent every season, while other schools in the conference such as Crossett and North Pulaski struggle to fill out a roster in some cases.

The Bears’ early season opponents have changed in recent years. Gone are the huge 7A programs such as Cabot and North Little Rock from the non-conference schedule, but with 5A powerhouses such as Vilonia and Little Rock Christian Academy now on tap for the first two weeks, the level of competition has not diminished.

The Bears will conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule by hosting revamped 6A school Little Rock Parkview on Sept. 16.

“In the past, man, we played the big schools,” Withrow said. “And now, we’ve kind of added some good ones to it with Vilonia and Little Rock Christian and Parkview. But our problem is now, we’re so young. In the long run, I think it’s going to help us, because those are all well-coached teams.”

Junior quarterback J.D. Miller continues to impress Withrow early. Miller had a strong showing in the Friday scrimmage, as did the defensive secondary.

“They’ve really come around,” Withrow said. “And our defensive line has gotten a lot better.”

As far as who to watch for in the 5A Southeast this year, Withrow leans toward the usual suspects of Monticello, White Hall and Watson Chapel. But he also believes that the 2011 season will be a warm up for the following year, in which he projects the league to be one of the strongest in the state.

“I think we’re going to get better as we go along,” Withrow said. “And it’s all young guys – it’s not old guys. So, I’m pretty excited about that.”

SPORTS >> Cabot hosting BMX finals

Leader sports editor

It’s only two years old, but the Cabot BMX Complex has become one of the most popular bicycle tracks in the country. The track hosts races every Tuesday and Saturday night throughout the year, and has become so popular, it has been selected to host the 2011 Arkansas State Championship Finals in October. On Tuesday, the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission approved $58,000 to add parking and bleachers for the upcoming state championships.

Track director and creator Shawn Basinger was able to build the track on Willie Ray Road on a shoestring budget, and it has become a huge attraction for the city.

“It’s very popular and people are having a great time out there,” Basinger said. “We have riders of all ages and we’re having a blast.”

The Cabot track has already gained enough reputation to host the Arkansas sate Championship Finals on October 1 and 2.

Every track in the state hosts a qualifier. The qualifiers then move on to state finals.

There are currently other tracks in Maumelle, North Little Rock, Fayetteville and Lowell, which is between Springdale and Rogers.

BMX motocross bicycle racing is similar to its motorcycle counterpart. Courses are set up with steep turns and jumps. Riders compete in three different races, or motos, with a winner for each moto along with an overall winner. The overall winner is the rider with the best finishing average of the three events.

Basinger’s son Jaggar is currently the American Bicycle Association’s BMX 15-year old boys division points leader in Arkansas with 39 points. He’s leading fellow racers Garrett Douglas and Dylan Moseley by two points.

Fellow Cabot racers Trevor Stone and Brandon Rutherford also lead their respective divisions in the state’s points race.

Rutherford has a commanding points lead in the 16-year old division, leading his closest competitor by 22 points.

Stone’s 38 points leads Jason Ellinger by just one in the 17-18-year old division.

But it’s not just for the experts. All age groups and skill levels are welcome and do participate.

Basinger says the youngest rider is four years old, and the oldest is 65.

“It’s all ages and skill levels,” Basinger said. “We take those two things into consideration and we place them in the events base on that. So it’s fair and it’s a lot of fun for everyone.”

Anyone interested in BMX racing or the Cabot track in particular can visit the tracks website at Fans can also keep track of the points races at

SPORTS >> In the light of Halcyon Days


The hardships of three deployments have given way to happier times for longtime Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway

You have to travel through the valleys to stand on the mountain tops. It’s an old adage, but it well describes veteran coach and teacher Harold Treadway. Now in his 14th year as head volleyball coach at Sylvan Hills. It was a fairly average career for the first several years, but the most eventful, successful and tumultuous part of his journey was in the last half of his now 30-year career.

Major life changes began when he stepped into a ready-made family in 1995, marrying wife Debbie, who had two children, Rachael and Randy.

The tumult began when he was sent overseas for the first time to serve in the war in Afghanistan. It was only one of three deployments that took the friendly and talkative family man a long way from his comfort zone.

Treadway started teaching by chance when the drivers’ education teacher at Vilonia quit mid-year in 1981. A friend asked him if he knew anyone certified. It just so happened that Treadway, a 1980 graduate of Henderson State University, was certified, and unemployed, and got the job.

After another full year at Vilonia, Treadway began working in the Pulaski County Special School District, where he’s been at various schools within the district for the last 29 years. He has coached various sports at various schools before giving it up in 1995 when he married Debbie, and gained a whole family.

“She had two kids when we married, and coaching takes a lot of your time, so I gave it up,” Treadway said.

He was then coaching boys basketball at Jacksonville Junior High. The first year away from sports was easy.

The first year I didn’t miss it,” Treadway said. “I don’t think I even went to a game. But the second year I started to miss it.”

Treadway’s hankering to get back into coaching coincided with an opening at Sylvan Hills. I got a call telling me there was an opening for the high-school head volleyball position. I went to talk to them about it, and 10 minutes into it they said I had the job.”

Treadway had coached junior high volleyball, but was no expert on the sport. And there was little time for preparation.

“I told them the next morning after the interview, it was on a Friday, that I’d take the job,” Treadway said. “They said, ‘good, practice starts Monday.’”

Treadway brought his junior high practice plan with him to the first practice, and quickly realized that high school was not the same.

“About halfway through the first practice, I pulled my junior-high schedule out of my pocket and threw it away. I knew I had to get a little more advanced.”

Treadway’s first season was made easier by a quality team that worked very well together and was easy to coach.

“I had a really good team, but particularly a really good group of sophomores that year, and they were very patient with me and we had a pretty good first year together,” Treadway said.

Pretty good, though, wasn’t good enough. The team failed to make the state playoffs by one game, and Treadway vowed to make sure that never happened again.

“We’ve almost done it too,” Treadway said. “After coming so close that first season, I said that would never happen again. And 12 of the 14 years since then we’ve made the state tournament.”

That same year, Treadway was asked to step in as assistant boys basketball coach, which he accepted. The next year, he also took on the head girls track position.

The best volleyball run came in the early 2000s when the Lady Bears won four of five conference championships.

“We won two, and then there was a break, and then we won two more,” Treadway said.

It was around this time that things got a little tougher for Treadway, his family and the Lady Bears.

A longtime member of the Air National Guard, in 2004, Treadway was sent overseas for the first of three deployments for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He served a year in Afghanistan from January 2004 to January 2005. Just over a year later, he was called up again, this time to Qatar. Then in 2009, he was sent to Iraq for his third deployment.

Treadway’s job duties didn’t put him in direct lines of fire, but there was always danger.

“It was a little stressful at times,” Treadway said. “When you have to carry your weapon to the shower, or to sit down and eat, there’s a real reason for stuff like that and you have to be prepared.”

Treadway, though, feels the brunt of the stress from his deployment fell to his wife.

“Both my parents were senior citizens and not in the best health,” Treadway said. “She was taking care of all of that, and everything else that you’re just used to having help with. She had a lot on her plate and I couldn’t say enough about how much she’s done for me and sacrificed over the years.”

Back in the full swing of coaching in 2010, the Lady Bears suffered one of those non-state tournament seasons last year. So Treadway made another commitment. He began coaching junior Olympic volleyball.

“I had asked the girls to do that during the summer,” Treadway said. “I started thinking about it, and I just thought if I was going to ask them to make that commitment, then maybe I should make that commitment too.”

Treadway called UALR coach Van Compton, who runs the J.O. program, and said he wanted to coach a team. It was a very productive summer for Treadway.

“I learned a lot from this summer,” Treadway said.

“I really learned a lot about how to help develop the players and help make the ones that want to and have the ability to be prepared for the next level.”

The new conference realignment has the Lady Bears in a very tough league, but Treadway believes he has the team to start another run of state tournament appearances.

The recent struggles of multiple deployments, far away lands, sick parents and an overburdened wife are over, and things are now going really well for Treadway.

He and his wife moved from Cabot to Sherwood, so he’s closer to work when at home and closer to home when at work. There’s no more threat of deployment. He teaches in the same school he coaches for the first time, and he’s now a proud granddad of four-year old Braylon and four-month old Kobe.

Treadway again credits the family for accompanying and supporting him in everything from stints in war-torn lands to the smoothness of the present Halcyon Days.

“When you coach, you put a lot of time into it,” Treadway said. “When you deploy, you’re gone altogether. I’ve missed a lot of family time. My wife and my two children have been really supportive, and I know sometimes it’s been tough. But they’ve done a lot for me and I appreciate them and the time they’ve given me to work with young people. Things are going really well for me now and it’s mostly because of them.”