Saturday, October 08, 2011

SPORTS>>Red zone miscues foil Beebe

Leader sportswriter

Beebe came up short on three separate trips to the red zone and fell to Wynne in a 12-0 shutout at Yellowjacket Stadium on Friday.

The Badgers (4-2, 2-1) had their opportunities during a third quarter in which they dominated time of possession, but the Yellowjackets (5-1, 3-0) did not break after bending on defense most of the second half.

“We played an outstanding game on defense,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “We came in with a great plan on defense and the kids executed that plan. But offense, I don’t know, I mean, we just couldn’t punch it through.

“We had opportunity after opportunity, but we had a penalty here and messed a block up there. You can throw out every excuse in the world, but the bottom line is that we didn’t get the job done.”

The Badgers reached the Wynne 5-yard line on their opening drive of the second half before they eventually stalled on downs. But they forced the ’Jackets to go three and out, and took their next drive all the way to the 3-yard line before a string of penalties backed them up and took them out of scoring position.

Marquez Turner was Wynne’s go-to guy on offense with 12 carries for 59 yards and four receptions for 28 yards, and scored the first of the Yellowjackets’ two touchdowns on a three-yard run with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.

There was no other score until the ’Jackets defense intercepted Beebe senior quarterback Dustin Stallnacker and returned it 20 yards to set the final margin.

Wynne had 164 passing yards and 36 rushing yards, while the Badgers had 177 total yards on 53 team rushes, led by Stallnacker’s 14 carries for 62 yards.

Beebe hosts Blytheville next week.

SPORTS>>Bears turn certain defeat into last-second victory

Leader sportswriter

It was a brutally ugly game with a strange ending, but victory was nonetheless sweet for Sylvan Hills as the Bears scored in the final five seconds of play to overtake winless Crossett 13-12 at Bill Blackwood Field on Friday.

Junior quarterback J.D. Miller connected with senior receiver Anthony Featherstone for a six-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left on the clock to give the Bears their only lead of the game. The miracle drive capped a game riddled with penalties and turnovers for both sides.

The Bears (3-3, 2-1) were out of timeouts and without the ball inside two minutes as the Eagles (0-6, 0-3) kept the ball on the ground trying to protect a 12-7 lead. But Sylvan Hills finally caught a break when Eagles running back Orlando Robinson put the ball on the turf and sophomore cornerback Garrett Barham recovered for the Bears at his own 24-yard line with 1:07 left to play.

The Bears had been inconsistent on offense all night and kept the ball mostly on the ground. But Miller, who had just gotten clearance to throw the football from his doctor earlier Friday afternoon, went 5 for 7 on the final drive for all 76 of the required yards.

Featherstone was the recipient of three of those passes, including the one that mattered most.

“We just keep playing,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “We have a bunch of kids with character – they’re good kids. Some of them may not be great football players, but we’ve got enough talent, Featherstone and some of those other ones, that make great plays. I’ve never been a part of anything like that.”

Featherstone was the Bears’ lifeblood on defense most of the night with a pair of key interceptions that ended significant threats from the Crossett offense, including the Eagles’ opening drive that made its way to the Sylvan Hills’ 33.

“Anthony’s a college guy; there’s no doubt about it,” Withrow said of Featherstone. “He’s a college guy, and he makes plays. That was an unbelievable catch at the end.”

Miller managed the clock well for the Bears down the stretch with a spike following a first down pass to Featherstone that set Sylvan Hills up at the Crossett 28-yard line with 32 seconds to go, and the Bears got further assistance from an unlikely source in the Eagles’ coaching staff, which called two timeouts in the final 22 seconds.

One of those timeouts followed a pass to Jalen West that gave the Bears a first down at the Crossett 12-yard line in the middle of the field with 17 seconds remaining.

“Victory is still sweet,” Withrow said. “We got a break. They turned the ball over. If you play hard, breaks will come your way. We haven’t had any breaks – but we finally got one. I’m proud of the kids for sticking with it, because it paid off.”

The Eagles scored first on a 31-yard run by Robinson with 2:34 left in the first quarter, and Crossett doubled their lead with 10:28 left to play in the first half on a 47-yard pass play from quarterback River Johnson to Jarron Boston. But faulty special teams play for the Eagles that included a missed extra-point attempt following the first score and an incomplete two-point conversion pass following the next touchdown ultimately led to their demise.

Sylvan Hills also cut it close on its score to end the first half when Jaleel Henson punched it in from a yard out with 26 seconds remaining. The drive, as was the case with just about every other possession for each team, was halted, backed up, advanced and backed up again with yellow markers.

But the biggest for Sylvan Hills came on a pass-interference call on a long attempt from Miller to Featherstone that gave the Bears a first down at the Crossett 15-yard line. They caught another break when the Eagles were called offsides on the next play. Demarcus Willis got the ball next to the goal with a seven-yard run followed by a two-yard run before Henson finished it.

Though it was no big deal at the time, sophomore kicker Philip Wood then successfully converted the point-after kick, which eventually became the point that made the difference.

Miller was 9 for 12 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown. Henson led the ground attack for Sylvan Hills with 16 carries for 71 yards. The Bears had 268 yards offense.

For Crossett, Johnson was 12 for 18 passing for 198 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The Eagles finished with 266 total yards.

The Bears will make the brief trip up Highway 107 next week to play another winless team in North Pulaski while Crossett will travel to Mills.

SPORTS>>Wildcats hammer Panthers

Special to The Leader

The Charging Wildcats of North Little Rock started the week talking about living up to its potential after blowing a big lead last week against Conway. They ended the week by finally doing so, and it was bad timing for Cabot. North Little Rock capped off their Homecoming festivities Friday night with 48-0 rout of the Panthers.

After a quiet first quarter in which neither offense could get in the end zone, the Wildcats scored at will the rest of the way.

Cabot (1-5) opened the game with an impressive 12-play drive that took them to the Wildcat 22. But on fourth and two, the Panthers were stopped a yard short and turned the ball over on downs. Unfortunately for the Panthers, this would be a reoccurring theme throughout the game as Cabot finished 1 of 8 on fourth down conversions — all with less than 3 yards to convert.

North Little Rock (4-2) was not only stout on fourth down, they also recovered three fumbles by the Panthers. With the Wildcats leading 6-0 in the second quarter, Cabot once again tried to cap another 12-play drive with some points. But on third and two on the Wildcat 40-yard line, Cabot running back Ian Thompson was stripped of the ball and North Little Rock recovered.

On second and six from their own 36-yard line, Wildcat quarterback Kaylon Cooper found fullback Deon Tidwell for a short pass which Tidwell rambled for 63 yards down to the Panther 1-yard line. Cooper took it in from there, and the successful 2-point conversion made it 14-0 North Little Rock with 1:52 remaining in the first half.

After the ensuing kickoff, Cabot once again lost another turnover, this one on first down. Two plays later, Cooper found tight end Cameron Williams for yet another quick score, and with 1:08 left in the first half, the Wildcats had a commanding 21 point lead.

Cabot kicked off to the Wildcats to open the second half, and the Panther’s Zach Launius tried to get Cabot back in the game by making an impressive strip of the Wildcat return man, giving the Panthers a first down on the Wildcat 25-yard line. But three plays later, on fourth down, Cabot quarterback Zach Craig was intercepted on the Wildcat 7-yard line. North Little Rock then drove 93 yards in 12 plays to make it 28-0 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.

North Little Rock scored on the final three possessions, evoking the mercy rule with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. For the Panthers, their final three drives of the game ended when they failed to convert three fourth down conversions.

Wildcat quarterback Kaylon Cooper was an offensive threat with both his arms and legs, as he was virtually unstoppable the final three quarters of play. Cooper ended the night with 77 yards rushing, and finished an impressive 13 of 16 passing for 243 yards. His four touchdowns included one rushing and three passing.

North Little Rock finished with 536 offensive yards, while holding the Panthers to 216 total yards. For the Wildcats, quarterback Cooper and running back Kendall Williams both had 77 rushing yards to lead the team. North Little Rock ended with 293 yards on the ground.

Deon Tidwell had 121 of the Wildcats 243 passing yards, with two going for scores. The Wildcats travel across town to face Little Rock Catholic next week.

For the Panthers, quarterback Craig had 38 of the Panthers 109 yards rushing, and he added another 77 yards through the air. The Panthers hope to celebrate their homecoming next week as they face off against the Little Rock Central.

SPORTS>>North Pulaski earns big win

Leader sportswriter

Consistent serving was the only advantage North Pulaski had over visiting Beebe, but it was enough for the Lady Falcons to win a vital 5A-Southeast Conference match in four games, 25-23, 25-23, 22-25, 27-25 at the Falcons Nest on Tuesday.

Beebe matched the Lady Falcons pound for pound in sets and spikes, but the Lady Badgers’ struggles at the service line, as well as receiving serves, proved to be their unraveling.

“They made us work hard the last two sets,” North Pulaski coach Ben Belton said. “They’re a scrappy bunch – their players are smart and they are well coached, obviously, but I’m proud of my girls. This was a game we had to win, and we needed to win.”

The Lady Badgers actually edged North Pulaski when it came to blocks and kills with 38 kills, led by hard-hitting junior Stephanie Pollnow with 20, and eight team blocks, including six from senior Emily Epperson. But Beebe gave up 23 aces to the Lady Falcons while coming away with only five of their own for the match.

North Pulaski’s best answer for Pollnow’s dominance at the net was senior Shelby Floyd, who led the Lady Falcons with 12 kills. It was also Floyd’s six aces with four more from Kelsey Locklin that proved to be the difference in the closely-contested matchup.

The Lady Falcons had 30 team kills and three blocks.

“Shelby is by far playing to the best of her ability,” Belton said. “I don’t care where she is or what she is doing, she’s playing as hard as she possibly can. She’s our strength, and we should be building around that.”

The Lady Falcons cruised through game four and built a 20-15 lead before the Lady Badgers showed their resilience and fought back to tie it at 22. A kill by Pollnow gave Beebe a brief 24-23 lead, but North Pulaski ended the threat of a fifth game with a kill by Locklin and a tipped kill by Kelsey Whitmore at match point to put Beebe away.

“When you’re 20-16, you’re supposed to finish,” Belton said. “And you turn around and let them right back in, and have to fight to win. I don’t like that mentality. That frustrates me. I don’t know what to do about it, but it frustrates me.”

Pollnow’s hitting and Epperson’s blocking allowed the Lady Badgers to control the third game most of the way, with solid setting from sophomore Madison Richey and senior Morgan Henry. Liz Wood also got in on the action when it came to setting up Pollnow, who used her superior size efficiently at the net with a number of strikes that the Lady Falcons were unable to defend.

A Lesslie Colbert kill gave the Lady Badgers game point at 24-20, and Pollnow bagged it for Beebe three points later with another kill.

“They didn’t get frustrated and give up,” Belton said. “They didn’t lose all of their confidence. They showed we can still come through adversity and battle back. We have to do the right things the entire time, and not take that break.”

Floyd and Whitmore handled the majority of the hitting duties from the left side for North Pulaski depending on the rotation at the time, while junior Stevie Hughes and Locklin took care of most of the offerings to the middle from Beebe. Emily Long also had a solid night setting, as most of her setups led to Hughes’ six kills. The Lady Falcons also had strong contributions from Casey Mullens and Meagan Chargaulaf.

For Beebe, Richey had eight kills and two aces while Colbert finished with six kills.

With their conference record now at 2-5, the Lady Falcons are a game behind fourth-place CAC, with another matchup between the two teams left to go. As for the Lady Badgers, they will have to win out and have help from other teams’ misfortune in order to reach postseason play.

SPORTS>>Jacksonville comes on late, saves game

Leader sports editor

It’s a tradition at Jacksonville home games for various fireworks and cannons to go off after a Red Devil touchdown. The big cannons were on hand at Jan Crow Stadium for Jacksonville’s homecoming game against Little Rock Hall, but they were virtually silent for the first half. Things finally got louder in the second half, as the Red Devils were able to score three touchdowns and secure a 26-13 victory over the Warriors.

The game wasn’t decided until the very end. Hall led 13-12 late in the fourth quarter and Jacksonville faced fourth down and eight on the Hall 17-yard line.

After a timeout to talk about the play, Red Devil quarterback Tirrell Brown hit receiver Brandon Brockman at the 4-yard line. Brockman took a big hit after the catch, stayed on his feet and waltzed into the end zone to give the Red Devils an 18-13 lead with 4:13 left in the game.

“We had to have that,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “Brandon Brockman made a great play for us. Tirrell Brown got the ball to him. We had to have it and we found a way to make a play.”

Hall got a personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff and started from its own 29. After a false start penalty, two incomplete passes and a high snap, the Warriors faced fourth and 27 from their own 12. The fourth- down pass was also incomplete and Jacksonville took over from there with 2:42 left.

After a delay of game penalty, Brown hit Kevin Richardson at the 2-yard line, then handed off to D’vone McClure for the final touchdown of the game. McClure also converted the two points, setting the final margin with 1:56 on the clock.

The head Devil wasn’t very pleased with the offense in the first half, but got his team’s attention at halftime. Jacksonville took the ball to start the second half and marched 52 yards in four plays to take a 12-7 lead in the game.

“We just talked about execution, holding our blocks and just doing things the right way,” Russell said.

Neither team could get any offense going until Jacksonville finally scored with 1:24 left in the first quarter. In that drive, Jacksonville needed just four plays to go 68 yards, with Brown hitting Jacarius Jordan up the middle for a 44-yard scoring strike.

The bad news; after a great defensive effort, the Red Devils let Hall march down the field and score with 25 seconds to go, and went into intermission trailing 7-6.

Russell bragged on his defense and took the blame for the touchdown at the end of the half.

“I made some bad calls and gave them opportunities to get down the field on us,” Russell said. “Otherwise I thought our defense played really well. I was very proud of their effort tonight.”

Hall took the lead early in the fourth quarter. One play after McClure picked off a Hall pass, Hall’s own Geraud Peoples stepped in front of a Brown pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.

The extra point was no good, giving Hall a 13-12 lead with 11:32 left in the game.

Turnovers played a big role in the game. Hall had four and Jacksonville three, but People’s touchdown was the only turnover that either team was able to turn into points.

Jacksonville junior Aaron Smith intercepted two Warrior passes.

“We saw their quarterback, saw how he played, how he throws the ball. We kind of knew Aaron was going to have a good game,” Russell said. “He’s a great athlete and he made plays defensively for us.”

Overall it was not an impressive offensive game for either team. Dropped passes were the story for Jacksonville, while bad shotgun snaps cost Hall dozens of yards.

“Concentration and execution, that’s what dropped passes are about,” Russell said. “We had some early where we score if we make the catch. Just do things in the proper order.”

The Red Devils compiled 272 total yards while Hall picked up only 139. The Warriors got 48 of their 60 total second-half yards on the final drive when Jacksonville began playing with a soft cushion.

Brown completed 14 of 28 pass attempts for 194 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Junior Kevin Richardson had 106 all purpose yards. He had four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, and four carries for 41 yards. Jordan made three catches for 60 yards and a score.

The Red Devils, now 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play, go on the road next week to face the Searcy Lions. The Lions lost 34-24 on Friday to West Memphis.

Friday, October 07, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Strange bedfellows

Three months before the first test with actual Republican voters in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney has cultivated an air of inevitability although history suggests that it is far, far too early. Republican politicians are climbing on what they hope is a bandwagon, and a few of them are baffling.

Our own congressman, Tim Griffin, and the new lieutenant governor, Mark Darr, announced Wednesday that they were supporting Romney, and Griffin apparently will chair his campaign in Arkansas. Only a few weeks ago, Griffin was touting Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is favored to win the Arkansas primary next spring. Perry’s bumbling performance in the presidential debates, when he made everyone else on stage look like Demosthenes, clearly sapped his momentum, but it is too soon to write him off.

How Griffin and Darr, of all people, could align themselves with Romney must be mystifying to conservative voters. Romney owns the most liberal record of any candidate in the race and the record stretches back over two decades.

Throughout the 1990s, when he was climbing the Massachusetts political ladder, Romney argued forcefully for a woman’s right to have an abortion, defended Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion decision, championed the rights of gays, including civil unions, sympathized with the plight of illegal immigrants (he even hired some of them), favored a ban on some guns, supported minimum-wage laws, fought for higher taxes on corporations and, finally, pushed through a universal health-insurance law in Massachusetts that became the template for the national law that Republicans now loathe.

Of course, Romney began to reverse himself on all those issues in 2006 when he began to prepare for a campaign for president and had to appeal to voters in the South and Midwest. He still defends his health-insurance law, which requires people in Massachusetts to purchase insurance, but says he doesn’t think it is right for the rest of the country. He doesn’t advocate repeal of his law but promises to try to repeal the national version of it.

That has been Romney’s big obstacle, which he has not yet overcome. Republican voters—well, voters of every stripe—wonder who is the real Romney or if he holds any core values at all. We suspect that he still has to close the deal with enough Republican voters to collect his party’s nomination.

If Tim Griffin holds a single view on the issues of the day with the pre-’06 Mitt Romney, we don’t know what it would be. We don’t know Mark Darr’s position on all those questions except health insurance, but we would be surprised if, like Griffin, he shares any ideology with the pre-’06 Romney.

In the same remarks endorsing Romney, Darr condemned the president’s health-insurance law because it requires people without insurance to buy coverage with government help if they earn more than 400 percent of the poverty line. No one pointed out that his man Romney’s signal achievement in public office is a law that does essentially the same thing.

But we think we understand Griffin’s gamble. He faces a difficult re-election in Arkansas next fall. Last year, he rode the widespread unpopularity of Barack Obama to victory. Helped by a tide of commercials from independent groups, he linked his Democratic opponent, a black female state senator, to the president and won. It is risky for Griffin to yoke himself so closely and so early to the man he expects to be the nominee, but it helps him pose as a leading foe of Obama, who may well be elected president but who will not scratch 43 percent in Griffin’s district. Griffin will run against Obama, not whoever the Democrats nominate for Congress.

It may prove to be a shrewd strategy. If Romney implodes from all his internal contradictions, it will not be so good. He will be the man who sided with the Republican who was most like Barack Obama.

Consider Griffin’s statement endorsing Mitt Romney. It begins not with “Mitt Romney. . .” but “President Obama’s policies. . .” Is that a clue about his purpose? Griffin said Obama’s policies had been “categorical failures” and he blamed him for high unemployment, the deficits and the regulatory burden on businesses. And he wasn’t quite truthful about it.

“Our deficits are growing,” he declared. Actually, the deficits are shrinking, although not so much that we should be heartened. But they are NOT growing. The last budget deficit of the George W. Bush administration was $1.41 trillion, slightly more than Bush’s budget office forecast two months before he left office. Some try to blame a little of that on Obama’s stimulus program, but stimulus spending did not really kick in until the new fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2009.

Obama’s first budget, 2010, ended with a deficit of $1.29 trillion. The budget for the year that ended last week was $1.28 trillion in the red. $1.41 trillion to $1.29 trillion to $1.28 trillion—that is not growth but a downward trend, small as it is.

In politics, that is not called an untruth but merely spin. Mitt Romney at least can appreciate his young Arkansas votary’s mastery of the technique.

TOP STORY > >Flu shots available at clinic in Cabot

The Lonoke and Cabot County Health Units will provide seasonal flu shots from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 at the Cabot Veterans Park Community Center, 508 N. Lincoln St. in Cabot.

The Lonoke and Cabot County Health Units are among local health units statewide that are participating in mass flu vaccination clinics beginning the last week of October. The clinic is not limited to residents of Lonoke County, said Milton Garris, administrator of the health units in Cabot and Lonoke in a press release.

The mass flu clinic is a daylong event to immunize as many people as possible. Arkansas Department of Health staff, health professionals and volunteers work as a team to provide the vaccine.

Lonoke County Health Officer Dr. Steve Fiedorek said, “Everyone over the age of 6 months should get flu vaccine. Flu can be a serious illness and we lose roughly 23,600 Americans to complications from flu each year. It’s important for Lonoke County citizens to get their flu vaccine. If you have insurance, the state Health Department will ask your insurance company to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the vaccine will be no charge to you.”

Flu vaccination is not mandatory, but is highly recommended for anyone 6 months and older, he said.

According to the release, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatricians recommend that all children aged 6 months and older receive seasonal flu vaccine every year.

In addition to causing illness, seasonal flu causes children to miss school and their parents to miss work.

Flu is a sickness that infects the nose, throat and lungs and is caused by the influenza virus. If you’re young and healthy, the flu vaccine may be 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness.

Children 8 years and younger who have never received seasonal flu vaccine before will need a second dose of flu vaccine for full protection. Parents will need to contact a local ADH health unit or health care provider, see if vaccine is available and take their children in for a second dose four weeks after the first vaccine.

Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe, according to the release.

All flu vaccines are made the same way. An average of 100 million doses of influenza vaccine have been used in the United States each year, and flu vaccines have an excellent safety record.

Reactions to flu vaccines might include a mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and perhaps a little fever or slight headache. The nasal spray flu vaccine side effects may include runny nose, headache and wheezing. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.

There are very few medical reasons not to get the flu vaccine. They include life threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis to a previous dose of flu vaccine or eggs or Guillain-Barre syndrome. Persons with a non-life threatening egg allergy may be vaccinated, but need to see a doctor specializing in allergies.

Influenza symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose and occasionally stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

The influenza virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

For more information, go to or .

TOP STORY > >Principal is back on job

Leader staff writer

The reinstatement of Lonoke High School’s principal was met with approval from people who knew, but were not told, why he was suspended with pay on Aug. 25.

Officials kept silent until now about the reason for Phynaus Wilson’s suspension pending school board action. But an unconfirmed rumor that circulated in the small town via Facebook proved true.

The rumor was that Superintendent John Tackett asked Wilson to let outside consultants observe classes at the high school and the two disagreed on bringing in those consultants.

The district’s lawyer, Donn Mixon, released a statement Wednesday explaining that Tackett has withdrawn his recommendation to the school board that Wilson be terminated for refusing to cooperate with the district’s school-improvement consultant.

Wilson, who has spent 24 of his 34-year career in education serving the district and worked his way up from coaching to administration, told faculty Wednesday that he was suspended for refusing to work with a consulting firm the superintendent had recommended.

Wilson told the faculty Wed-nesday, “I have greatly admired the strong foundation and positive environment the district provides for the students, parents, employees and community it serves…I was wrong in refusing to work with the consultant as directed by Dr. Tackett.

“These actions were regrettable and I take full responsibility for them. Based on my unqualified commitment to fully implement the policies of the board and Dr. Tackett’s directives to the best of my ability, Dr. Tackett and I have agreed that I will return to Lonoke High School as principal, effective immediately.”

The community was shocked months by Wilson’s suspension. Students protested, demanding his return to the school. Many residents turned to Facebook as an outlet for their reaction to the shake-up.

The info section for a Face-book page titled “Front Street Lonoke” read, “Since the news about Coach Wilson broke, a lot of discussion took place. Some were at church, some were on the telephone, and a great deal happened on a few of the Facebook pages that were started in support of Coach Wilson. It seemed most people were in favor of bringing back Coach Wilson.

“However, when the topic turned to Dr. Tackett, disagreements arose, and pages were either closed, or disagreeing posts (along with their authors) were deleted. That won’t happen here. Feel free to talk about what’s going on in our town. Just try to keep it respectful.”

Responses to his reinstatement posted on the page include, “The problem was that when you work a job, no matter the job, you have to follow directions, period. There is always a higher power, especially around the school house. As I have said many times in the past, these folks need our prayers,” and “Maybe the almighty superintendent wont be so quick in the future to try to fire people just because they don’t agree with him.”

Other posts read, “Yeah! It will be good to have him back!” and “Yay!!!! way to go Wilson.”

The only negative comment said, “Too bad.”

Wilson’s argument against working with the firm was that the school had made improvements in student achievement over the last few years.

The district has been on the state’s school improvement list for four years.

Lonoke’s Bench-mark scores for algebra and biology have dropped significantly over the past five years, while literacy scores have skyrocketed and geometry has stayed the same.

Forty percent of Lonoke students scored proficient or advanced in biology for 2009, but that dropped to 27 percent in 2010 and to 22 percent this year. Algebra was up and down, going from 69 percent scoring advanced or proficient in 2009 to 79 percent in 2010 and 63 percent this year.

Meanwhile, 49 percent scored advanced or proficient in literacy for 2009. That score went up to 64 percent in 2010 and is at 71 percent now.

Advanced and proficient geometry scores were 66 percent in 2009, 70 percent in 2010 and are at 68 percent this year.

The school board held a special meeting for personnel on Aug. 22, days before the suspension was announced. Members went into executive decision, but did not vote on a personnel-related decision.

They voted to move forward with the current school-improvement process. Tackett explained that for the past three years the district has used L&M Educational Consulting of Florida to train administrators and building leaders on how to observe classroom instruction and give productive feedback.

The district is revising its school-improvement plan, which must be turned in to the state Education Department this month, Tackett said.

Posts made on the page after the news of his suspension broke also claimed teachers were told to keep quiet. One response to a reporter asking for someone to go on record with a reason for the action stated, “Under threat of suspension? Hmmmmm... No free speech here.”

Another sentiment echoed online and in the city was frustration at being kept in the dark.

Mixon, the district’s attorney, issued a statement then that read, “I have directed the administration of the district not to share any further information about this matter. The reasons for this action are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act until such time as the school board action is completed.”

The statement also said Wilson had 30 days to request a hearing before the board, which he could have requested be public or private, but any vote by the board would be public information. Neither school board action nor a hearing will be necessary now.

TOP STORY > >Sherwood recycling will start on March 1

Leader staff writer

Sherwood City Council members voted unanimously at a special meeting Thursday to approve an agreement to establish curbside recycling.

Garbage rates will go up by $2.76 a month to cover the city’s cost of participating in the countywide program through an agreement with Pulaski County’s Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District.

Recyclables will be picked up every other week and the tentative start date for the service is March 1.

“Our residents are looking forward to this,” Mayor Virginia Hillman told the council.

When the rate increase was brought up, she explained that Sherwood subsidizes garbage rates. She said the city has the lowest rates in the county right now.

John Roberts, the district’s executive director, and Wayne Rathbun, business director for Waste Management, fielded questions about the agreement for 30 minutes before the vote.

Rathbun said, “People are looking at green communities. This is a huge step toward Sherwood being a green community.”

One alderman asked how much residents would pay into the program. Rathbun said Waste Management is investing $11 million — $5 million in containers, $2 million in automatic trucks and $4 million to renovate its recycling center into a state-of-the-art facility by using asingle-stream process — into the program for Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood, the three cities enrolled in curbside recycling. Waste Management hopes the rate increase will recoup that investment as well as cover operating cost for actually providing the service.

Rathbun said the reduction of trash going to the landfill might be a little less than the 26,000-ton decrease North Little Rock saw after it joined the program because Sherwood has fewer households than North Little Rock.

Once curbside recycling is in place, two 15-year-old sites—one at East Kiehl Avenue and Lois Lane and one across from The Greens at North Hills on Hwy. 107, where recycled material can be dropped off—will be closed immediately after the program is implemented.

One concern voiced was that elderly or disabled residents might not be able to haul the new 65-gallon cans to the curb. The containers can hold 175 pounds of recyclables.

Roberts assured the council that Waste Management workers could come to the resident’s door, get the can, empty it and return it. The city already has a list of people who require that service for their regular trash pick-up, Hillman said, and Sherwood could share that information with the company.

Another point discussed was the incentive program available to residents who recycle. They can go to a website, enter their zip code and get coupons for local stores and restaurants.

The number of coupons unlocked goes up as the tons of recycled goods increases in their area.

Alderman Ken Keplinger was critical of those “Think Green Rewards.” He said, “I understand we have to have a carrot. But I think our residents would like a discount on their rates instead of what they can find in the back of the phone book.”

Hillman said the incentive program has been successful for other cities. That program costs 25 cents per household each month. Waste Management and the district will each pay half to implement “Think Green Rewards.”

Residents will pay nothing into the rewards program and the cost to the company and district totals $250,000.

Keplinger also asked why the seven-year agreement term was so long. Rathbun said the length of the contract keeps rates lower.

One issue discussed was whether this would eliminate the option of recycling for residents living in apartments.

A solution to that was asking apartment complexes to get an on-site recycling bin.

The curbside program accepts all plastics including children’s toys, newsprint, magazines, junk mail, phone books, aluminum and other metals, cardboard and glass.

TOP STORY > >City services in one place

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has moved its street department to`the old Vertac plant property off Marshall Road where a sprawling law-enforcement complex is going up.

The public safety building, plus the training grounds, cost $8.8 million. That doesn’t include what was spent to move the street department into a 40,000-square-foot metal-roofed building that was already located on the property.

In addition, $250,000 was spent completing a road to the new street department building, setting up a parking lot, putting electrical wiring for lighting, furnishing the break room for employees and enclosing about 7,000 feet of the building to house offices and a workshop with heat and air. Much of the work was done inhouse said Public Works director Jimmy Oakley.

The main advantage of the new building over the old one off Odes Street is that it is on a hill, is much larger and offers a covered area to store equipment.

“It (the old building) was smaller. We were outgrowing it,” said street department superintendent Hal Toney, adding that the old department was built in the 1970s.

The old building had several feet of water inside after the last two major floods in the area. But the new building won’t flood because of its high elevation. The floor of the building is level with some other roofs on the property.

Storing equipment undercover, protected from weather conditions, makes it last longer, said street department superintendent Hal Toney.

The old department was too small and equipment had to be left outside unprotected from the elements.

The planned break room for the new facility will be able to hold about 50 people and can be used as a training area for that many too, Oakley said.

A glance from the new street department offers a birds-eye view of where the new public safety facility will be.

The city held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for the building that will house the new police department, 911 center and safe room.

Jacksonville is spending $6 million to construct the 37,000-square-foot public-safety facility.

The construction will be funded through a $3.55 million loan—$1.2 million left over from building the training center, $650,000 federal safe room grant, $400,000 the city had set aside to move the 911 center to the training site and $350,000 the city had to build a climate-controlled evidence room for the police department.

Originally, the city had set aside $4 million to build the training grounds. The bid for construction came in at $2.8 million, leaving $1.2 million to be used on the new public safety building.

The new building will house an evidence room, 911 center, safe room and police department personnel.

The 3,000-square-foot safe room will double as training classrooms through the use of temporary room dividers.

Mayor Gary Fletcher expects construction to take about 15 months.

Some of the new tax revenue generated by the two miles along Hwy. 67/167 North recently annexed into Jacksonville will be used to cover the debt.

That revenue will also be used to install utilities.

The original bid for the construction of the new public-safety building was $6.8 million, said Director of Administration Jim Durham. The city value engineered that down to $5.7 million. Value engineering is a process in which the price of some things can be reduced.

Durham used the example of replacing a state-of-the-art generator with one that is less expensive but still suits the needs of the building.

He said cities are only allowed to value engineer the price down by 20 percent. Jacksonville value engineered $1.1 million out of the bid for the public-safety building.

That resulted in a cost of $5.7 million for the facility, he said.

Because there are unanticipated costs with any project, the city added $300,000 to its loan to cover such expenses, which results in the overall figure of $6 million for the public-safety building project, Durham explained.

The public-safety building, the training grounds and the street department are joining the city’s recycling center at 1300 Marshall Road, which opened in January 2000.

The recycling program was established in the 1990s. It generates $100,000 from the sale of 1.3 million pounds of materials, Oakley said.

The program used to receive about 1 million pounds but it’s grown since the awareness of “going green” has gone up, Oakley said.

The center is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays to accept tires, electronics, large cardboard pieces, motor oil, florescent light bulbs and antifreeze. It accepts other items 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Three employees work for the center, Oakley said. Two process materials and a third is the driver who picks up recyclables left curbside. A broker works for the city to locate the highest prices mills will pay for the unprocessed goods.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

TOP STORY >> Designers snub Civil War buffs

Leader executive editor

Earlier this year, a couple of interior designers from Europe named Simon Davies and Tomas Cederlund came here for an episode of their show “Home Takeover” on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

There was a great deal of excitement when the show’s campy hosts, or the “Lords of Fabulousness,” arrived here in February. But then they disappointed some Civil War buffs who re-enacted the Battle of Reed’s Bridge, which wound up on the cutting room floor.

Davies and Cederlund redid Wanda and Don Cook’s Christmas-themed home in Furlow, which was filled with thousands of Coca-Cola memorabilia. They dubbed their home “50s and Christmas,” where it’s always Dec. 25 and Eisenhower is president.

“I love the Christmas theme and I just love red and green,” Wanda told the decorators, who gave her kitchen a stylish new look in less than a week.

I would have left the place alone and turned it into a museum and built the Cooks a new home. But the show doesn’t have that kind of budget.

Davies and Cederlund are supposed to be Swedish, but they sound British. They remind you of the old BBC cooking show “Two Fat Ladies,” who were much funnier.

“Home Takeover,” which is now on permanent hiatus, didn’t have much of an audience — OWN has one of the smallest ratings on cable television, averaging only about 200,000 viewers on a good day.

Davies and Cederlund made a detour at the Reed’s Bridge Civil War site because Wanda Cook is a member of the American Red Hat Society.

The ladies dressed up and watched a re-enactment, but the scene wasn’t used. (You can see the outtake on OWN’s website.)

Members of the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society aren’t too happy about that since they were asked to put on their uniforms and invited the decorators to join them in the re-enactment on Super Bowl Sunday.

Instead, the segment included lots of trailer jokes about Arkansas, which is surprising since Oprah grew up poor in Mississippi.

Steve Shore of the Reed’s Bridge Society remembers being called to be on “Home Takeover.”

“At first I was excited,” he said recently. “It was very short notice to get a lot of people together on Super Bowl Sunday for a two- or three-hour event.”

Although there was snow on the ground when the TV crew called, Shore continued, “that did not affect their decision to film ‘a re-enactment of a re-enactment’ in the snow, when the battle happened in the heat of August 1863.”

“I put out the word, and as it turns out, four cannons arrived, along with approximately 60 re-enactors.”

“We knew nothing about what they wanted to film, so everyone was asked to bring two uniforms. Maybe we would film all Confederates attacking from one direction......and then change uniforms and have the Yankees attacking in the opposite direction?

“Who knows? When the film crew arrived, we learned that they wanted to dress up the two television personalities of a TV show that was to be on the OWN Network in April.”

Shore helped Davies and Cederlund change into uniforms inside one of the log cabins at the battlefield. The designers goofed around the battlefield and even played dead. But they obviously couldn’t work the scene into the show.

“To make a long story short,” Shore continued, “the show did not come out in April. In fact, it did not come out all summer. Recently, the episode was aired that we were to be in, but we were cut out of it.
One of our local re-enactors found a link of the event on the OWN Network website.”

“I gave these guys musket training, drill and commands,” Shore went on. “They did not want to listen once we were on the field. I gave them a lot of information about the original battle and the importance of the battlefield.

“I don’t know how this will be accepted by the re-enactment community, but I hope we did not harm the overall perception,” Shore said. “I do know I didn’t appreciate them driving up and making the comment, ‘Here’s a bunch of crazies!’”

There’s a lesson here somewhere: Don’t do Civil War re-enactments for guys with British accents and don’t ask them to decorate battlefields, even if they’ll do it for free.

EDITORIAL >> Insurance exchanges

The Arkansas Republican Party, or at least its legislative branch, declared that when the people’s best interests collide with the party’s, the party’s must prevail. Not in exactly those words, but that was the simple message in Republican legislators’ veto of state health-insurance exchanges.

Even the GOP’s reliable ally, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, could not prevail on the lawmakers to give Arkansas businesses and individuals the advantage of buying from Arkansas-run exchanges rather than from the federal government’s. No, they said, you will buy insurance through Washington, not Little Rock, no matter if it is more expensive and troublesome.

There is an unmistakable element of childish spite in the Republican stance. Everyone knows that Republicans opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which they call “Obamacare.” That is fine. Lots of people don’t like insurance reform at all, many dislike certain features of the law and others would have achieved universal coverage some other way, perhaps by expanding Medicare and Medicaid to cover everyone.

But blocking the creation of insurance exchanges in Arkansas will have no effect on whether the law is implemented in Arkansas. Absolutely none. It is simple posturing, another chance to jab an unpopular president and link Arkansas Democrats to him. The GOP lawmakers hope that people won’t catch on that they are not protecting them from the insurance mandate but simply forcing them to go to Washington for insurance under whatever rules and at whatever premiums the federal bureaucrats determine are workable nationally.

The most controversial feature of the law is its requirement that people who do not have health insurance but can afford it with some government help buy a plan from one of the insurance companies or else pay a small penalty. Each state can set up an exchange where insurance companies would offer a range of group plans that are tailored to fit the requirement of the law and that state’s particular needs. If a state chooses not to set up an exchange, individuals and businesses in that state will buy plans from a national exchange.

Businesses pleaded with Gov. Beebe to request a federal grant before last week’s deadline to put together a state exchange. Beebe wanted to do it, but he told them that Republicans had blocked legislation to set up a state exchange in the regular legislative session and he was not going to defy them. Without some expression of bipartisan support he was not going to do it.

Randy Zook, the director of the State Chamber of Commerce, explained why he wanted his Republican friends to get over their pique and support the state exchange and why he was disappointed they repulsed him.

“We just think it would be better to have an exchange governed and managed by folks in Arkansas than be forced to deal with bureaucrats in Washington,” he said.

Rep. John Burris, the Republican leader of the Arkansas House, said the party considered setting up an exchange pointless until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, likely next spring or summer. Never mind that when the court rules it will be too late under the law for Arkansas to start building its exchange.

Three appellate courts have ruled on the act. Two upheld its constitutionality and one upheld all of it except the mandate that people buy insurance or pay a penalty. The third court, in Georgia, ruled, 2 to 1, that the mandate exceeded Congress’ power under the Constitution’s commerce clause. That decision, by the way, was written by a judge whose daughter, a member of Congress, was a leading opponent of the Affordable Care Act. Some people would have recused.

Even if the Supreme Court upholds that court’s decision that the mandate is void, which court observers view as unlikely, the rest of the law will be implemented. That includes the exchanges. Businesses and people would still be able to buy insurance through the exchanges and would have a powerful incentive to do so: cheaper policies than are now available because everyone would be in a group plan much like the plans of large employers, and also government help with the premiums if your income is below 400 percent of the poverty line.

In Arkansas, the Republican Party wants you to deal solely with the hated federal government when that happens. We thought that was contrary to the party’s core philosophy. But let us hazard a guess. When it is all implemented in 2014, the Republican leadership will loudly lament that businesses and individuals have to deal with Washington bureaucrats rather than their friendly neighbors in Little Rock.

TOP STORY >> Celebration marks rise after tornado

Cabot Fest is Saturday in downtown Cabot. The free festival, which began as a way for the community to come together two years after the deadly tornado of 1976, is celebrating its 34th year.

Saturday’s events run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. A carnival which opens at 6 p.m. Friday behind city hall will kick off the festival.

Armbands for unlimited rides are good on Friday. They are $12 in advance at the chamber of commerce office or $15 Friday night.

On Saturday, the fun begins early with the Cabot Lions Club pancake breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church fellowship hall. The Lions Club will be serving all-you-can eat pancakes, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, juice and milk. The cost is $5 for adults and $2 for children 10 years old and younger. All proceeds benefit the Cabot Lions Clubs and the programs they support.

Miss Arkansas Kristen Glover will perform at 10 a.m. during the opening ceremony. She will be followed by Next Generation at 11:30 a.m., the Hallelujah Harmony Quartet at 12:30 p.m., School Boy Humor at 1:30 p.m., Highland Sky at 2:30 p.m., Adam Hambrick at 3:30 p.m. and county musician Tyler Farr will close out at 5 p.m. Farr has a released the single “Camouflage.” He was born and raised in Garden City, Mo.

“Cabot Fest is one of Arkansas’ premier festivals. It is a family friendly atmosphere with great food and entertainment. It brings thousands to the city to celebrate the rebirth of the city. It is the largest event the chamber holds,” chamber director Billye Everett said.

An estimated 160 booths are expected to set up for Cabot Fest, with 10 food vendors offering fair food favorites such as cupcakes and Mexican cuisine.

United Freestyle Stunt Team from Texas will amaze the crowd with BMX freestyle bike, in-line skates and skateboard stunts at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

The cricket-spitting contest will be back this year, so is the rock climbing wall. The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot’s Miss Cabot Fest pageant begins at 9 a.m. in the Cabot Community Theater, 204 N. First St. The Cabot Christian Club car show has expanded to the First Security Bank and Centennial Bank parking lots to allow more room to show vehicles.

The Kids Zone will have four inflatable playgrounds, two more than last year. The chamber will have free face painting and balloon artist Jesse Trimble of Cabot will be entertaining youngster with her talents.

The Cabot Church of Christ is sponsoring a baby changing station at the Kids Zone. The church is providing diapers, wipes and changing station in a private station.

No pets are allowed at Cabot Fest.

Schedule of Events


6 p.m. carnival (behind city hall


6 to 10 a.m. Lions Club pancake breakfast at First Baptist Church

9 a.m. Miss Cabot Fest Pageant

10 a.m. Miss Arkansas performs

11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. United Freestyle Stunt Team

11:30 a.m. Next Generation performs

12:30 p.m. Hallelujah Harmony Quartet

1:30 p.m. School Boy Humor performs

2:30 p.m. Highland Sky performs

3:30 p.m. Adam Hambrick performs

5 p.m. Tyler Farr performs

TOP STORY >> Public safety priority for city

Leader staff writer

About 40 Jacksonville residents and city officials gathered Tuesday afternoon to break ground for a much-anticipated new public-safety building on Marshall Road. The building will house a new police department, 911 center, a FEMA safe room and training classrooms. It will join an already existing police firing range, fire training grounds, the street department and recycling center there.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said of the $6 million, 37,000-square-foot facility, “This is a longtime coming. It is something the community can be proud of.”

The city is spending $3 million it saved and $2.5 million it borrowed to build the police department and fire/police training grounds. FEMA gave the city $500,000 to cover the cost of building a 3,000-square-foot saferoom, which will double as training classrooms with the use of temporary room dividers.

The total project will cost about $6 million. The city hopes the public-safety building will be completed within a year, but that depends on if the area experiences mild or inclement weather, Fletcher said.

The city will use a bond issue to pay off the $2.5 million loan. Some of the new tax revenue generated by the two miles along North Hwy. 67/167 recently annexed into Jacksonville will cover the debt. That revenue will also be used to provide the area with utilities and services.

Those corridor businesses bring in about $100 million a year in sales, which will mean more than $1 million in annual taxes for Jacksonville.

The property already features a new firing range for police, a paved lot for emergency vehicle driving practice, a burn tower for firefighter training, a new street department building and the Jacksonville Recycling Center.

The entire complex is located on the site of the Vertac plant that was shut down in 1987.

Fletcher said he wasn’t concerned about contamination because the 1998 cleanup of the site was done under careful scrutiny. The cleanup was paid for with $150 million from the federal Superfund program, which covered the destruction of thousands of contaminated barrels at the old chemical plant.


Jacksonville police started using the new firing range on the property a few weeks ago.

“It’s (the range) great. It’s so far advanced from what we’re used to. It’s something our officers have that they can be proud of for years to come,” Capt. Kenny Boyd said.

The two-acre range has moving and turning targets as well as a tactical side police can use to simulate what they encounter in the field.

The current police department building is about 60 years old and has had problems, such as a leaking roof, for years, Fletcher said.

One of the key rooms at the new headquarters will be the climate-controlled evidence storage. This will help police preserve what is needed to catch and convict criminals.

The city’s courthouse and jail cells will stay at their current location, 1412 W. Main St.

Operations could be moved into the new building as soon as next fall, Boyd said.

He added that the department purchased two 2011 Dodge Chargers and has some new officers. It usually tries to get five new vehicles, but was only able to afford two this year because of budget cuts.

Three officers recently graduated from the police academy. Three are in field training. Two recently enrolled at the academy. Field training is when academy graduates are paired up with another officer for 12 weeks before they work alone. When officers complete one year of service to a department, they become certified.


The main feature of the training grounds firefighters will use is a 3,004-square-foot burn tower. The department has not set the tower on fire yet, but being able to do so will make training more applicable in real-life situations.

“We didn’t have anything to do realistic training until we got this,” said Captain David Jones, a training/safety officer.

The tower is designed to contain blazes. It is also safe to set on fire because it is equipped with a sprinkler system and temperatures in the building can be monitored through 16 heat sensors.

There are four burn rooms on three floors. The rooms are lines with firebricks, the type of brick that is used to line fireplaces. Firebrick is heat-resistant and inexpensive to replace.

The heat sensors are connected to a temperature panel that tells fire department trainers how hot it is in each part of the building.

The top of the tower simulates a flat roof and a slanted, or pitched, roof. Trainees can also rappel on the side of the tower from a standpipe system similar to what businesses have.

Parking lots on each side were designed to resemble what a firefighter might see at an apartment complex or business.

Trainees can draw water from a large retention pond located near the tower. A small device that looks like a traffic signal displays a red light if they use too much water to put out the flames. The pond will also help the department test pump operations.

The fire department had been conducting training via dry runs on houses condemned by the city council. They couldn’t set those homes on fire because it was unsafe.

In addition to the tower, firefighters will have an area where they can practice putting out vehicle fires, extricating people from cars and rescuing victims from confined spaces.

The department plans to invite firefighters from other cities to the training grounds.

The tower will be dedicated to Kendall Snyder, a retired battalion chief. The plaque the department has ordered says the building is dedicated to him, “in gratitude of your inspiration, motivation, and dedication to the Jacksonville Fire Department. Without your efforts this training facility would not have been possible.”

Trainees have used a smoke machine in the tower. The machine can simulate zero visibility conditions. The smoke is not toxic and is one of several props firefighters will use in training.

The department has hired eight new firefighters since November 2010. Firefighters are certified as level one or two after spending eight weeks training at the Fire Academy in Camden. Then they have to be certified as an emergency medical technician. Then they complete a three-year apprenticeship program that includes driving, leadership and advanced firefighter techniques.

The department also hopes to start using the two new ambulances in the next two or three weeks. The new vehicles, which were ordered about nine months ago, will replace a 1996 model and a 2003 model.

The 2003 model will be used as a back up ambulance. Each ambulance cost about $150,000, a total of $305,000 for both.

TOP STORY >> Murder suspects arrive in Lonoke

Leader staff writer

Four people arrested last month in Longview, Texas, for the Lonoke shooting death of Walter Jones, 28, waved extradition and were brought to the Lonoke County Detention Center around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Lonoke County prosecutor Chuck Graham said Courtney McClain, Kimo McClain and Jeremy Walker, all of Lonoke, and Fantasia Williams of Longview, Texas, are being held with no bond. Their first appearance is Friday morning.

Walker, 24, is charged with second-degree murder and committing a terroristic act.

Courtney McClain, 24, is charged with hindering apprehension.

Kimo McClain, 21, Courtney McClain’s younger brother, is charged with hindering apprehension.

Williams, 26, Kimo McClain’s girlfriend, is charged with hindering apprehension.

The four were arrested after authorities found them hiding out in Williams’ house in Texas.

Jones’ death was the first murder in Lonoke in the past five years. Police found Jones, of 105 Teresa Lane, dead on Sept. 18 near the mailboxes at 101 Plantation Drive.

Jones had a gunshot wound on the left side of his head near the left ear.

A silver revolver with blood was found in the grass next to Jones’ body.

Courtney McClain of 302 Teresa Lane was walking east in the 100 block of Plantation Drive with a possible gunshot wound to his left forearm. Plantation Drive is across the street from Teresa Lane.

McClain told police that he and Jones began to fight. During the fight Jones pulled a silver revolver.

McClain said he attempted to take control of the weapon.

During the struggle, McClain said he was shot in the left forearm and Jones was shot.

The shootings may have been related to a fight that occurred the night before the murder at a nightclub in Scott.

Police do not believe the gun found next to Jones was the weapon used in the shooting.

Lonoke Police Chief Michael Wilson said both Jones and McClain have lived in Lonoke for many years.

In a suspected act of revenge, McClain’s grandmother’s house at 302 Teresa Lane was set on fire hours after the murder.

No one was at the home when the house was torched.

SPORTS >> NPHS after first win at White Hall

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski can’t find that elusive first win, but is still competing hard. The Falcons travel to White Hall this week for a 7 p.m. kickoff against a team that started slow out of the gate but sits 2-0 in conference play and is improving every week.

The Falcons messed up a chance at a huge upset last week when a couple of mistakes turned a tough battle with Watson Chapel into an apparent rout.

The 40-14 final was only an apparent rout because the game was much closer. North Pulaski trailed 20-7 to halftime and got the ball to start the second half. After driving deep into Chapel territory, an interception was returned for a touchdown, marking the turning point in the game. The Wildcats also scored on a second pick six, and a 50-yard Hail Mary pass in the second half.

“That’s just what’s so frustrating about this season,” North Pulaski coach Teodis Ingram said. “We go out, execute, we think we’re going in to score, and then we give up an interception for a touchdown. It’s just giving up big plays after we’ve worked hard and played well for so much of the time.”

North Pulaski marched down the field and scored to open the game against Chapel, then had the Wildcats in third and long near midfield. That’s when the defense suffered its first breakdown of the game.

“We played soft on the corner,” Ingram said. “Their running back made the corner, and we couldn’t chase him down.”

Making things worse for NP last week, as possibly this week, is tailback and leading rusher Derek Hart is hampered with turf toe. He wasn’t able to cut properly last week, and may sit out this week against the Bulldogs.

“That makes it a little tougher,” Ingram said. “We just got our fullback Willie Frazier back from a hamstring injury, and now we lose our tailback. But that’s just part of football. You have to move on and battle through those kinds of things.”

White Hall doesn’t have the same kind of team speed as North Pulaski’s first two conference opponents, Helena-West Helena Central and Watson Chapel. They do have some strengths those teams don’t have.

“What White Hall can do is cause you some problems by having a few more dimensions to their offense,” Ingram said. “They started the season poorly. I still don’t know how Lakeside beat them so convincingly. They look like a team that’s finally finding their identity. They have a lot to prove after their start, and they’re definitely a team that’s starting to execute and play well.”

SPORTS >> Bison set for battle with Lions

Leader sportswriter

The tests get tougher for Carlisle as the season goes deeper into the 6-2A Conference schedule, and this week’s road game at England could be the toughest to date for the undefeated Bison.

The Lions (3-2, 1-1) began conference play with a 56-14 blowout victory over Palestine-Wheatley before losing to Des Arc in a close 34-30 heartbreaker last week. England went 2-1 through its early non-conference schedule, losing to Strong in week one before posting wins against Little Rock Episcopal and Southside Batesville.

The Bison (5-0, 2-0) continued their domination last week with a 60-6 clubbing of Clarendon for their third mercy-ruled victory in five games this season. Carlisle has outscored its opponents 218-49 through the first half of the season, allowing an average 9.8 points per game.

“The good thing about this group is that they know Monday is a new week for us,” Bison coach Scott Waymire said. “We’re going to take one opponent at a time. The seniors have done a great job getting that message across to the younger guys.”

The Lions have hit a resurgence under third-year head coach Brandon Barbaree. England captured its first winning season and subsequent playoff berth in nearly a decade last season, going 6-5.

“They have a lot of big guys up front,” Waymire said. “What they want to do is run the football and keep it out of your hands. Defensively, they’re a lot better than they were last year. They have a lot of speed, and their defensive linemen are strong. It’s going to be a true test; it could be decided on who turns the ball over the most.”

The Lions enjoyed good football tradition throughout the 80s and most of the 90s before the participation numbers began to fall off. Things hit rock bottom in 2008 when England went 1-9 for the season, finishing the year with 16 players in a 35-0 loss to then upstart Riverview.

Waymire credits England’s transformation to Barbaree.

“They’ve got a lot more depth now,” Waymire said. “Coach Barbaree has come in there and turned that thing around. He’s tried to build something, and I think they’re there. The kids have bought into it.”

Braxton Petrus led the Bison’s rushing attack last week with over 100 yards as part of an offensive ground attack that racked up over 500 total yards, including 80-plus rushing yards for senior Ty Vaughn.

“We’ve been real fortunate with our running game,” Waymire said. “A lot of that credit goes to our linemen up front, and the good job they do blocking for those guys every week.”

SPORTS >> Wildcats ready for turnaround

Leader sports editor

Cabot is still searching for its first win of the season as it prepares to make the short trip to North Little Rock this Friday. In the Charging Wildcats, the Panthers get an opponent that just lost a heartbreaker to Conway 20-17, in a game that well summarizes its season of underachievement, at least in the eyes of Wildcat head coach Bobby Bolding.

“Our worst enemy is ourselves,” Bolding told The Leader on Tuesday. “I say that every week. We have a very, very good football team. This is as good of a football team as I’ve every been around. We just have not played like we should be playing.”

Bolding’s theme didn’t alter. When asked about the difficulty of preparing for Cabot and its unique offense. Bolding stayed inwardly focused.

“It’s nothing against Cabot of anybody we’ve played, but our problem is not who we’re playing or what they’re doing. Our problem is how we’re executing.”

After opening the season with a 49-14 loss to Bentonville, North Little Rock reeled off three straight victories before facing Conway last week. In that game, the Wildcats led 17-0 late in the second quarter and if not for a dropped pass in the end zone, would’ve led 24-0. Instead, early in the third quarter, NLR threw a pick six that tied the game at 17-17, then ultimately lost the game when the offense failed to execute in the final two quarters.

“We should’ve beat them, and quite honestly, pretty handily,” Bolding said. “We just gave that game away, just gave it to them.”

The dangerous thing for Cabot is Bolding thinks a few meetings and a very good Monday practice means his team is finally getting its act together.

“I think some people woke up this week,” Bolding said. “We had a very good practice Monday. We had some very good heart to heart meetings, called some folks out that needed to be called out and they responded like you want. We feel like we’re’ ready to play on a different level. It should be a different football team this Friday.”

Bolding doesn’t just believe his team is capable of beating Conway and winning a conference championship. The head Wildcat believes his team has the talent to win state, even in a year that looks to have one of the most dominant teams in state history in Bentonville.

“There is no doubt, absolutely no doubt in my mind this team has the talent to win the state championship,” Bolding said. “We can beat Bentonville. Even without Atlee Tenpenny we ran up over 400 yards in that game. We blew two chances at touchdowns in the first half of that game that would’ve changed things. This team is talented enough to do it, but it won’t ever happen if we don’t come together as a group. Bottom line, ultimately that’s my responsibility and I want to get it fixed. I’ll be interested to see how things go today (Tuesday). How we practice today will tell me a lot about how Friday will go.

SPORTS>>Devils face similar opponent in Warriors

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville didn’t get a win, but may have gained some respect with last week’s performance at Jonesboro. This week the Red Devils face 2-3 Little Rock Hall on homecoming night.

Last Friday, the Red Devils held the Hurricane offense to just seven points until the final minute of the third quarter. That’s the same offense that has averaged 40 points per game in a season that has included opponents like Fayetteville and Conway.

The fourth quarter turned into a wild affair, with Jacksonville still leading 22-21 with about five minutes left. In that time, Jacksonville suffered some key injuries, and Jonesboro’s superior depth took its toll.

Still, Jacksonville showed it can compete, and can beat, the elite teams in 6A.

This week, it faces a perennial also-ran in Little Rock Hall, but there are several reasons why the Red Devils can’t take the Warriors lightly, despite the two weeks of solid football it has turned in since beginning conference play.

First on that list is how Jacksonville played before conference began. As much as the Red Devils have proven with its last two outings, it is still the same team that laid eggs in weeks one and two, and will have to be on guard for those kinds of letdowns the rest of the year.

Secondly, Hall is much better this year than in recent years. With the installation of former Arkansas Razorback fullback Rod Stinson as head coach, numbers have nearly tripled in the Hall program, and the two early wins are sure signs of a program on the rise.

Comparing common opponents still makes Jacksonville look like a heavy favorite. Hall lost 21-0 to Mountain Home last week, the same Mountain Home that Jacksonville beat 27-0 the week before. But scores don’t tell the whole story.

“They moved the ball really well up and down the field on Mountain Home,” said Jacksonville coach Rick Russell, who has seen film of the Warrior-Bomber game. “They just made some mistakes in the red zone. They have some talent, and they’re a better football team.”

Hall has two wins already this season, beating Mills and Arkadelphia. Its losses have come to Mountain Home, and two juggernauts in West Memphis and Lake Hamilton.

“They’ve played a tough schedule, but I’m telling you they do everything better,” Russell said. “They’re going to be very similar to us in that they have some size, not a lot of depth, and some talented kids in the skill positions. We’re going to have to be ready to play because I think this game is going to come down to who does the best job technique-wise and doesn’t turn the ball over.”

Jacksonville used Monday as a chance to heal and rest after a brutally physical game at Jonesboro. Injuries and tired legs began to take their toll in the fourth quarter of that game.

“We’ve had a really tough three weeks,” Russell said. “The kids focused and worked very hard, and last week was a very tough football game. We didn’t take the day off. We watched about twice the film as we usually watch, and we had a very productive session. There were a lot of technique errors we made in that fourth quarter that we need to correct. We were able to get those across to them and we’ll hit the field and start correcting them.”

Defensively Russell says the approach will be similar this week as the last two. Hall, like Mountain Home and Jonesboro, runs the spread with a talented and elusive quarterback at the helm in Quincy Cooper.

“We just have to stay in our coverage, stay in our pass rush,” Russell said. “We can spy (Cooper) with a linebacker who can leave his coverage. We should’ve have any problem being there. We just have to make the play once we’re there.”

SPORTS >> Title chance on the line

Leader sportswriter

The conference implications increase significantly this week when the Beebe Badgers travel to Wynne to face the Yellowjackets in a battle of unbeaten 5A-East Conference teams.

The Yellowjackets (4-1, 2-0) put themselves in the early running for an East title with victories over Blytheville and Greene County Tech. Their only loss came in week one against Marion in a 30-28 decision.

The Badgers (4-1, 2-0) stayed unbeaten in conference play despite a late struggle against a young, talented Forrest City team last Friday. It took a late interception and touchdown return by Dakota Lovston to put the game out of grasp for the Mustangs – one of three costly turnovers by Forrest City in the second half.

“It’s a big ball game, that’s for sure,” Beebe head coach John Shannon said of the road trip to Wynne. “We talked about it to the kids Saturday, that every game from here on out gets bigger and bigger.”

Wynne is enjoying resurgence this season under new coach Chris Hill. The Yellowjackets have not had a winning season since longtime coach Don Campbell retired in 2006, though they did manage to make the Class 5A playoffs in 2008 despite winning just three games. Hill has taken the Yellowjackets away from their traditional power-running game into a Spread program that utilizes screen passes and quick hits.

“They run the Spread now; they want to get their backs in open space,” Shannon said. “They still run the ball a lot. I’d say they still run the ball about 60 percent of the time. They’ve got two running backs that look pretty good.

“Passing is always a concern, but our number-one goal is to stop the run. We feel like you don’t have a chance of winning if you can’t stop the run.”

As the season progresses, the Badgers continue to grow deeper in their running game. Halfbacks Jay Holdway and Michael Kirby came into the 2011 season as already proven backs, and the progress of Rory Moore and Jeremy Van Winkle has allowed Beebe to dispense touches all around.

Add the scrambling and option abilities of quarterback Dustin Stallnacker and the continuing evolution of sophomore fullback Eric Thorn, who continues to developing into a true workhorse for the Badgers, and it comes to an offense that can control the tempo and clock along with an offensive line that has performed well all season.

“I thought our offensive line did a good job,” Shannon said. “(Forrest City) had nine people in the box, and we were still able to open some good holes. Kirby had a good game his first time back – Van Winkle and Rory Moore have done a good job, and Thorn still had a good night even though they were geared to stop the off-tackle run.”

Van Winkle has emerged as a key player on both sides of the ball for Beebe as a running back and defensive back.

“He’s really stepped up this year,” Shannon said. “He’s played well on both sides; it’s been a good surprise for us. He had some good runs, even a touchdown run, and he had some monster hits on defense.”

Defensively, the Badgers have benefited from a hungry group of underclassmen.

“We had five sophomores on the field at times last week,” Shannon said. “Some of the young kids have really come on strong. It’s been a good thing to see.

With only Beebe, Wynne and Batesville left as unbeaten teams in the 5A-East Conference after two weeks of league play, Friday night’s game already has huge implications.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” Shannon said. “Whoever wins will definitely have a big upper hand in conference. Everybody will be chasing the winner for the rest of the year.”