Saturday, November 26, 2011

SPORTS>>2011 not typical year for high school football

Leader sportswriter

A 3-7 season for Cabot was one of the strongest indicators that 2011 was not the typical year for high-school football in the state of Arkansas. Sure, there were those never-ending general constants such as northwest dominance and more parity in the smaller classifications, but many teams akin to tradition and success struggled mightily as some powerhouses of old rose from the dust in a new era of glory.

But there was little glory for the Panthers this year. Even Mike Malham’s 30-plus years running the successful program was not enough to curtail the growing pains of a young squad trying to emerge from the shadows of a wildly productive group that netted Malham three 7A-Central Conference titles and four straight trips to the state playoffs since the 2007 season.

The Panthers did win their final two conference games of the year against Van Buren and Russellville, but did not accumulate enough “power points” to qualify for the playoffs. Maybe the Arkansas Activities Association can team up with the local McDonalds restaurants across the state and develop a program where teams can earn power points based on the amount of French fries they can eat in a week. It sure beats the heck out of a collector’s edition Shrek glass, and I’m pretty sure our Jacksonville Red Devils would prefer that over the current system that put them in the postseason as a lower seed than a team it tied with in the final standings and beat on the field.

The Red Devils proved they could play with just about anyone this year, except for West Memphis. With the exception of what seemed at times to be a revolving door at the quarterback position, Jacksonville displayed its most powerful lineup in years on its way to finishing tied for third in the 6A East Conference.

Many people said entering the 6A playoffs this year was a lot like the gifted and talented program at Cave City where everybody gets in, but the Red Devils punched their ticket the old-fashioned way, by finishing in the top half of their league, despite getting the short end of the screwy system.

Another year of Falcon football at North Pulaski leads to the question: will their head coach return next year? If Teodis Ingram comes back for a second season, it will be the first time since current athletic director Tony Bohannon stepped down following the 2008 season after six years as head coach. Rick Russell, currently head coach at Jacksonville, and Terrod Hatcher, his replacement in 2010, each lasted only one season.

The senior group leaving the Falcons program this year, a sizeable club with talent, strength and speed, had three head coaches in three seasons and went 2-28. Count your blessings, Cabot fans.

Basketball may be the hottest game in town at Sylvan Hills these days, but Bears football coach Jim Withrow is excited about the young talent coming up from the junior-high ranks at Hillside. The Bears fought excessive injuries and other personnel problems this season, and still found a way to have a shot at earning a playoff seed late in the year.

It didn’t pan out this season, but the talent cycles at Sylvan Hills are kind of funny. One group is nothing but baseball players, then the next will be basketball players, and so forth. Baseball had its turn back in 2006-09, now it’s obviously the basketball team that shines, so maybe that means the next group will be the new gridiron gang for the Bears.

The Beebe Badgers got new artificial turf on their field and won their first playoff game since 2008. But that’s nothing – they threw the ball 10 times in one game this year – no kidding. Next year, they may get even crazier and allow the media to watch a game from their press box. Talk about your wild fantasies!

Lonoke went to the playoffs after finishing 3-4 in the 4A-2 Conference, including a win over Newport and a loss to Batesville Southside. Remember the earlier comment about this not being a typical season? File that as further proof.

And finally, for the newest member in our coverage area, Carlisle, let’s just say those Bison have been a thrill to cover in 2011. Driving through the tiny town gives the impression of a community not large enough to support a successful football program, but go to Fred C. Hardke Field on a Friday night in September or October, and that impression will quickly change. That place is wild about football, and wild about their Bison for a reason – they’re really good.

In fact, they were the only team left standing in our area after last week, coming from a 16-0 deficit to beat Danville 22-16.

It’s a busy week ahead with the start of invitational basketball tournaments and the finals for 2A-4A football beginning on Friday, so store up some energy from all that leftover turkey and dressing and go watch some of our local prep athletes doing what they do best.

SPORTS>>Carlisle survives, keeps advancing

Leader sports editor

For the second week in a row, Carlisle found itself trailing in the fourth quarter of a home playoff game. For the second week in a row, the Bison found a way to pull out another victory. This time it was a touchdown and extra point with 2:28 left in the game that lifted Carlisle to a 13-12 victory over Gurdon to advance the Bison to the semifinal round.

The Go Devils took their first lead of the game with 5:20 left when running back Juan Williams took a pitch left 10 yards for a touchdown. Zac King intercepted the two-point conversion attempt and Gurdon led 12-6.

Carlisle took over on its own 34-yard line and quickly faced fourth and two. With junior Chris Hart under center, and usual quarterback King split wide right, Hart hit King down the line of scrimmage. King juked two defenders, broke a tackle and gained 24 yards and a first down. A face mask penalty added another 15 yards to the end of the play, giving Carlisle first down at the Gurdon 19.

After a run for no gain, Carlisle got a break when a Gurdon defender was called for pass interference on a pass from Hart intended for Braxton Petrus. Petrus was open, but was tripped by the defender as the ball sailed over his head.

Two more plays gained no yards, and Carlisle faced third and goal from the 10-yard line. Hart dropped back to pass, and found Deric Herring at the 2-yard line, Herring broke one tackle and found his way to the end zone.

Herring also hit the game-winning extra point, the first and only converted extra point of the night for either team.

“Well we overcame,” Carlisle coach Scott Waymire said. “I don’t think it’s our best game but we made some plays when we had to on both sides of the football. Give Gurdon credit. They made some really big plays. I’m just proud of our guys and the way they competed.”

Gurdon started its last drive at its own 31-yard line. Williams got five yards on first down up the middle. He got the call on second down, but junior linebacker John Reynolds flew into the gap and stuffed the play for a 1-yard loss.

That forced Gurdon to throw, but two passes fell incomplete and Carlisle took over to run out the clock.

“That was a big play,” Way-mire said of Reynolds tackle. “John Reynolds, he’s made some big plays for us. He’s a heck of an athlete. He gives us a different dimension up front because he’s a little more athletic than our bigger guys.”

Carlisle needed someone to step up and make a play on the inside. Ty Vaughn, the team’s leading tackler at inside linebacker, went down for the remainder of the game midway through the third quarter.

Two plays after Vaughn’s injury, Williams went up the gut for 19 yards and Gurdon’s first score of the game.

“Ty’s our best linebacker,” Waymire said. “He got hit, they chopped him. We just had people step up and make plays.”

Carlisle made it look like it was going to be easy on its first drive. The Bison went 64 yards in five plays, with sophomore Bo Weddle scampering 42 yards and the score with 9:24 left in the first quarter.

Austin Reed then picked off an Austin Kirkpatrick pass on Gurdon’s third play, giving Carlisle the ball at its own 33.

Nothing came as easily the rest of the night.

Carlisle’s next possession went three and out. Gurdon threatened on its second possession, but was called for holding on first and goal from the 9. A Weddle sack backed the Devils up to the 25. The second and goal pass was incomplete. On third and goal from the 25, a pass was completed, but lost a yard. The fourth-down pass was incomplete and Carlisle took over at the 26.

Neither team threatened again until Gurdon’s last drive of the half. Starting at their own 6-yard line, the Go Devils drove to the Carlisle 15. The big play was a 39-yard reception by A.J. Brown on third and 12 that made first down at the 25.

The bounces seemed to be going Gurdon’s way. On second down, Austin Reed broke in front of Kirkpatrick’s pass, but the ball skipped off his face mask and into the hands of Gurdon receiver Ed Hood.

Things suddenly bounced Carlisle’s way on the next play. A well placed pass bounced off the hands of the Gurdon receiver and into the arms of Cade Mader at the 12-yard line with seven seconds left in the half.

Carlisle’s first drive of the second half ended on a fourth and one play that gained no yards. That set up a short field for Gurdon’s first score.

“We let ‘em stay around,” Waymire said. “We had some chances. We had that fourth and one. That’s a call I’m going to make all day long, but that time it backfired on me.”

Carlisle had trouble getting the running game going, forcing the change of plan in the second half that moved Hart to quarterback and King to wideout.

“We’ve been able to throw,” Waymire said. “But they were very good up front. Number 54 (JuJuan Marks) is a very good ball player, very strong and he caused us some problems. They took away the toss. They did a good job and we did a bad job. Several times we don’t block back side and they make a play back side on our double handoff. We’re supposed to block down and they just beat us off the ball. So those are things we’re going to have to work on if we’re going to keep playing.”

Weddle finished with 18 carries for 104 yards as the Bison compiled just 217 total yards of offense. Hart completed three of six pass attempts for 59 yards and a touchdown. King had two catches for 49 yards.

Gurdon had 282 total yards

Kirkpatrick threw 16 times, competing nine for 128 yards and two interceptions. Williams had 15 carries for 83 yards and two scores. Brown had three receptions for 78 yards.

The Bison, 12-0, will host East Poinsett County next Friday and Fred Hardke Field. EPC beat Bearden 12-6.

The other semifinal will pit Junction City against conference rival Strong. Junction City upset Magazine 9-3 while Strong beat McCrory 16-14.

SPORTS>>Sylvan Hills dominates New Albany

Leader sports editor

What was supposed to be a classic Thanksgiving Day, Rumble on the Ridge battle of big-time teams turned quickly into a one-sided rout. Sylvan Hills, with Archie Goodwin, the 13th rated recruit in the nation for the class of 2012, pasted New Albany, Miss., 76-51. And the Bears did it despite a terrible shooting night.

It was the season opener for Sylvan Hills while New Albany was playing for the sixth time this season. New Albany, which features Moses Kingsley, the 37th ranked recruit for the class of 2013, returned four starters from last year’s squad that finished 28-5 and advanced to the class 4A semifinals last year in Mississippi.

Bears’ coach Kevin Davis thinks several things might have contributed to the poor shooting performance.

“It was the first real game out for us,” Davis said. “There was no pregame. We came here late because of Thanksgiving. We wanted kids to be with family today. That’s very important for us. But I was a proud of the effort our kids gave. When the outside game isn’t going, you have to find other methods and we were able to do that.”

That other method was relentless defense which forced 30 New Albany turnovers, 21 of those were steals by the Bears. They also dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the Bulldogs 38-27. The turnovers and rebound advantage meant a huge advantage in shot attempts, which helped make for the blowout win despite shooting just 35 percent from the field.

“We were able to get them scrambling some and got in position for loose balls,” Davis said. “We got in the passing lanes and created turnovers. I was very proud of the intensity they came out with. We feel like the shooting will come around.”

Sylvan Hills threatened to run away with it right out of the gate, scoring the first eight points of the game. Things got ragged after that, and New Albany scored the next eight points to tie it.

Davis called timeout with 4:18 left in the first quarter to settle his squad down. After the timeout, the Bears put the game away.

Sylvan Hills led 17-13 at the end of the first quarter, then scored the first 12 points of the second. Goodwin, who had seven points in the first quarter, but just one field goal, scored seven of the points in the 12-0 run. Jarel Lipsey finally scored for the Bulldogs to make it 29-15, but Sylvan Hills then went on a 17-2 to go up 46-17 with 27 seconds left in the half.

Three straight possessions ended in dunks by Sylvan Hills, two by Devin Pearson, one by Goodwin. Pearson then scored three-straight baskets followed by a Goodwin three pointer. New Albany added two free throws just before the buzzer to cut the margin to 27, but the game had been decided.

Goodwin got a steal and a dunk to start the second half, and his night was over. It gave the Bears a 48-19 lead, and gave Goodwin 23 points on the night.

Davis played mostly reserves the rest of the game, but had to insert a few starters again briefly when New Albany got within 19 at 66-47. With 4:44 left in the game, the Bears had committed 12 fouls in the second half, to just one by New Albany.

After the timeout, it wasn’t a starter that sparked the Bears. David Johnson and Daylon Jones combined for 12 straight points that put the Bears back in control.

Kingsley never got on track offensively for New Albany (4-2). The 6-foot-9 teammate of Goodwin’s on the Arkansas Wings AAU team finished with 11 points. He did block five shots, including three of Goodwin’s as the Bears’ Kentucky bound 6-5 guard penetrated into the lane.

6-3 forward Daniel Drum-mond led New Albany with 16 points, all in the second half.

Pearson finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for Sylvan Hills.

The Bears advanced in the winners’ bracket to play Lee High School of Huntsville, Ala. Lee beat Forrest City in the opening round.

Other first round games of the Rumble saw Riverside Academy of Reserve, La., beat Little Rock Hall, and Memphis Southwind survived a furious comeback by Scotlandsville, La.

SPORTS>>Lion legs wear out against Panthers

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers did not get the memo that they were supposed to be lousy rebounders.

Senior Justin McMahan led the way with 13 points and eight rebounds while classmate Sam Howe pulled down another six boards as the Panthers outlasted a stubborn Searcy team 50-39 on Tuesday in what most likely was the final varsity basketball game to be played in Panther Pavilion, the old gym that served the school for nearly 50 years.

The Lions (1-2) did a commendable job of hiding their football legs for the better part of three quarters before Cabot’s quickness and overall deeper bench got the best of them. Senior guard and starting football quarterback Dezmond Stegall led the way for the Lions with 12 points while another football player Cam Woodruff, added 10 points along with Jonathan Powell.

But it was the rebounding statistics that told the story for Cabot.

The Panthers limited Powell, Searcy’s 6-8 post player and by far the largest player on the court, to just three rebounds while Stegall led the way for the Lions on the boards with seven.

“We stress it so much that maybe it sinks in,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “Because before the game, that’s all we talked about was rebound, rebound, rebound. I thought they did a great job of everybody checking their man off the boards and going to the boards. That’s something we have to continue working hard on every day in practice.”

Stegall, Woodruff and sub Antwan Arnold were four days removed from the football field after Searcy’s second-round loss to Pine Bluff in the quarterfinals of the 6A state playoffs.

They started their basketball season the day before with a victory over Vilonia, but their legs could not hold out a final eight minutes against Cabot’s fleet group, led by speedy senior J.D. Brunett.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” Bridges said. “I mean, they’ve had one day of practice going from football to basketball. Fourth quarter, we finally just wore them down. The shots were short, and they started missing shots. We were hoping we would wear them down sooner, but we didn’t.”

Brunett did a little bit of everything for the Panthers, including seven points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. And many of those feats came at key times for Cabot, with the Lions continually threatening to make it a close one until the final few minutes.

“He’s quick,” Bridges said. “J.D. is a wonderful kid, and just gives you everything. And boy, if he’s knocking down shots, he’s that much tougher. But he’s everywhere – he’s like a water bug out there.”

The Panthers maintained a short margin for most of the first half before things got sticky in the third quarter with repeated comebacks by Searcy.

Powell tied the game at 28 with an inside basket at the 6:07 mark, then gave the Lions their only lead with an assist from Stegall a minute later to make it 30-28 Searcy.

Howe answered for Cabot with an assist from Brunett to tie it once again, and senior Arthur West handed the lead back to the Panthers on a three-point basket with 3:48 left to play in the third.

The tradeoff continued until the tie increased to 35-35 when Howe put up a pair of free throws and Adam Rock knocked down a three-point shot to give Cabot a 40-35 lead.

But Searcy got the final word before the end of the frame with a basket and free throw by Woodruff that made it 30-28.

McMahan took over inside late and put the Panthers up 46-39 with a inside jumper off the glass with 4:22 left to play, which allowed Cabot to spread its offense and run off much of the remaining clock.

The Lions will be one of the teams on hand when Cabot opens the doors to its new gymnasium with an invitational tournament beginning Dec. 5.

“I’m telling you, if we play them in a couple of weeks in our tournament, it will be a tough game,” Bridges said. “It will go to the wire this time, because they’ll be in a little bit better basketball shape. Stegall’s just a good athlete. I think we’re a little deeper, but once you get them in shape, you can play seven or eight and be okay.”

SPORTS>>Jacksonville storms past North Pulaski

Special to The Leader

Jacksonville played as if they had something to prove to their crosstown host North Pulaski Tuesday night. The Red Devils played a high-tempo offense and press defense through the first three quarters, starting and finishing strong and beating the Falcons 73-31 for their first win of the season. Jacksonville (1-1) came into the game looking to bounce back from a nail-biting two-point loss to Mills University Studies.

“We got a long way to go,” said Jacksonville Coach Victor Joyner after the game. “We just tried to work on defense. We had a lot of mental breakdowns against Mills. I didn’t think we played solid defense and that’s what we’ve been working on.”

Jacksonville came out hot as the Red Devils scored the first 17 points of the game. North Pulaski finally got on the board when senior post player Courvoisiea Allen was fouled after a made basket. He hit the following free throw to give the Falcons their first three points of the game.

But the Red Devils finished the first quarter with an impressive 23-8 lead.

“Solid defense,” Joyner said, “just defense, defense, and execution, and being focused. That game against Mills kind of opened some eyes for us.”

Jacksonville played just as tough in the second quarter, using its full-court press to cause turnovers, and the Red Devils capitalized on almost all of the Falcons’ offensive mistakes.

North Pulaski finished the game with 24 turnovers, with 15 of those coming in the first half. Jacksonville held a commanding 41-13 lead at halftime, and came out in the second half just as aggressive defensively. The Red Devils continued to press through the majority of the third quarter and held a 62-25 lead going into the fourth.

“I wanted us to be aggressive,” Joyner said of his defense. “I didn’t care what happened earlier in the game. I think the best way to teach a team how to move its feet, and get up and press is to make them run and that’s what we were trying to do.”

Every one of Jacksonville’s starting five looked impressive on both sides of the court. Senior post player Xavier Huskey led the Red Devils with 14 points. He also had six rebounds and a steal.

Junior point guard Justin McCleary finished with 12 points, three steals and an assist. Senior guard Dewayne Waller had 10 points, three steals, two rebounds and one assist.

“I think in the first half the pressure kind of got to us,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson. “They had a good game plan of putting pressure on our guards. We’ve been trying to get our guards ready. They’re kind of inexperienced in their spots. A lot of the guys are getting their first year of playing the many minutes at the varsity level.”

Having to deal with a tough, veteran Jacksonville team, North Pulaski couldn’t get things going offensively.

“We just had a rough second half,” Jackson said. “The times we did break the press, we just couldn’t get a score behind it. They got a good team, veteran team, guys that have been playing a while over there.

“I challenged my guys at halftime, in the second half they came out and they competed hard. That’s what I was looking for. I wasn’t worried about the score. I wondered can we compete, and can we continue to do the things we need to do to get better day-by-day.”

Junior guard Eric Mouton and senior post player Jamalin Nash led the Falcons with 6 points each.

Allen had five points and four rebounds. Senior post player Jeremiah Hollis had four points and seven rebounds.

Friday, November 25, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Shared sacrifice

If there was one thing as predictable as the planetary orbits, it was the ultimate failure of the great congressional deficit-reduction commission, which was supposed to plot a sure path to budget surpluses. But the markets reacted as if the commission’s surrender this week was a shock, and there is no doubt that the mood of the American people soured even more. Can the approval rating of the U. S. Congress sink lower than 9 percent? It surely will.

Still, there are reasons to be not so pessimistic. The deficit picture will improve even with paralysis, that is if the economy continues to improve even at the recent snail’s pace. The second-largest contributor to the deficit was a $500 billion decline (by fiscal 2009) in annual government revenues from the recession and the 2008 financial collapse, and the eventual recovery of the economy and government receipts will cut the deficit by a third. Congressional inaction by the end of next year, which seems likely, also will restore the tax rates of the Clinton era. You may remember the last four years of Clinton for the cumulative $558 billion in budget surpluses, which paid down the government debt, and also for the most furious job growth in U.S. history. Would it be so bad to return to the policies of that halcyon time?

Of course, those taxes will affect most of us at least a little and not merely families earning more than $250,000 a year as President Obama sought. Democrats, for obvious political reasons, want to restrict the restored tax rates to higher incomes and the most profitable corporations. But if we’re serious about eliminating deficits and cutting away at the gigantic national debt, we should all be willing to make some sacrifice. The awful truth about America today is that all of us believe that others, not us, should make the sacrifice.

Both parties must share some blame for the failure of the deficit-reduction panel, which was made up of equal delegations of Democrats and Republicans. But the Republican contingent had a more rigid mandate than did the Democrats, which is what defines the two parties today. Republicans insisted that the deficit had to be eliminated entirely by reduced federal spending, which would mean massive reductions in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which account for about 60 percent of all government spending besides defense and interest payments on the debt. They were solidly against restoring any taxes on higher incomes and corporations. Democrats, following the president’s lead, would cut away at future social security and health-care benefits but only if it was matched by the restoration of some taxes on higher incomes and the closing of corporate tax loopholes.

The rising debt, which will soon hit $15 trillion, counting what we owe ourselves, is indeed daunting to contemplate. While the debt is not as scary as Europe’s—U.S. debt still sells for only 2 percent, a measure of global confidence in America—stabilizing it ought to the government’s No. 1 priority, that is, after getting the economy moving and creating jobs.

It may be helpful to review just how we got here, from the end of the Clinton era and its string of balanced budgets and economic growth. We know that the consecutive rounds of tax cuts between 2001 and 2005 undermined revenues, but what about all the spending growth that accompanied the revenue cuts?

Military spending, counting exploding veterans benefits from the Middle East wars, rose from $350 billion in 2001 to $910 billion in the year just ended. In an admittedly oversimplified accounting, that is some $550 billion of the yearly deficit. If Congress does nothing about deficit reduction, which seems likely until after the 2012 elections, defense spending must be sharply reduced under the terms of the debt-ceiling package that Congress enacted last summer. In the wake of the collapse of the debt-reduction initiative, Republicans are mustering to stop the military cuts. President Obama, too, says reductions of the magnitude that are required by current law would jeopardize global security. But sizable reductions in defense outlays must be a part of a serious debt-reduction program.

Annual Medicare outlays have grown by $277 billion and social security by $316 billion since 2001, owing to the aging of the baby-boom generation and the general spiraling of medical costs. Medicaid, which pays for long-term care of the aged and disabled and for health insurance for children and some poor adults, rose by comparable percentages. The new health-insurance reform law will curtail the growth of Medicare and Medicaid if Congress permits all its initiatives to take effect in 2014 and beyond, but Congress—perhaps a more responsible one after the 2012 elections—must do more to restrain those costs.

Republicans have spent most of the time hammering at other government spending—that associated with business regulation like environmental and consumer protection, financial regulation and workplace safety. But that is not a serious budget issue. All those functions account for a tiny fraction of the budget. All the government’s environmental work, for instance, consumes only two-tenths of one percent of the government’s outlays, although Republican rhetoric would have you believe that it is driving us to bankruptcy. There is a legitimate interest in staying the government’s hand in insuring clean water and air, but it is a philosophical issue, not a budget matter.

So let us not panic about the deficit but resolve to hold our congressional members accountable for their political posturing in the next election and hope that the rest of the country does, too.

TOP STORY > >Economy skyrockets hunger demands

Special to The Leader

Going without meat at suppertime may become a new reality for the working poor, who are just above the poverty level but cannot qualify for food stamps.

“We haven’t been able to give out any meat items for the past six weeks,” said Dewey Sims of Fishnet Missions, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization based in Jacksonville.

“Food and monetary donations are down right now, and meat items are nonexistent. In all of my 17 years here, this is the tightest I’ve ever seen it. The demand is up at least by 30 percent and we are in need of the public’s help,” he said.

Times are so tough that Sims’ only hope is to rely on deer hunters’ generosity and Hogg’s Meat Market in North Little Rock, owned by Mike and Peggy Hogg. The shop will process donated deer meat and take it to Fishnet.

“At our doorstep on each Tuesday and Thursday, we are having in the excess of 500 families show up,” Sims said. “And this does not include all the senior citizens and shut-ins and the seven churches we furnish food to.”

In October, Fishnet volunteers gave out more than 39 tons of food. Sims hopes hunters will donate for families in need this winter. For months now, long lines of people — the newly unemployed, the homeless, families and unemployed people whose benefits have been exhausted but are still without work — form along Swift Street just off Marshall Road in Jacksonville to receive free food from volunteers who stay extremely busy sacking up one bag after another as fast as they can.

“It’s a little scary. I’m hustling every day just trying to keep up with the demand brought on,” Sims said.

Saturday mornings, volunteers provide food, socks, blankets and other items to homeless people living under a bridge near the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock.

“We average about 150 people there each Saturday,” Sims said.

One would think that Fishnet Missions may be stretched to the limit, but Sims is driven to do more. The organization also supports three soup kitchens. The group provides food to area churches’ soup kitchens as well as its own soup kitchen. Fishnet gives a free hot meal to anyone showing up at 6 p.m. Tuesdays.

“There’s no qualifying, no restrictions, and you don’t even have to have any identification,” Sims said.

And with Christmas just around the corner, Fishnet has scheduled a visit from Santa Claus for the children caught up in the “drastic downturned economy,” Sims said.

The event will begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. As in the past, children will receive a toy of their choice.

“Last year, we gave out about 1,700 toys, and I expect to see an increase in toys that we’ll be giving out this year,” Sims said. “And we’re really in need of new toys.”

TOP STORY > >Business is healthy for clinic

Leader staff writer

Six months after it opened in the old health department building in Cabot, the nonprofit medical clinic ARcare is operating a booming business with 30 to 40 patients visiting daily.

Not to be confused with a free clinic, the nonprofit charges for its services. But patients aren’t turned away because they don’t have insurance like they are at some clinics. Instead, they pay on a sliding scale based on income and household size. Some patients pay as little as $20 for visits, including treatment, lab and X-rays.

And unlike most free clinics, ARcare is open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The clinic got its start 30 years ago in Augusta as White River Rural Health, when Dr. Steven Collier decided he wanted to move back home after medical school. Today, in addition to the relatively new clinic in Cabot, ARcare has clinics in 26 cities in 12 counties including Searcy, Carlisle, England, Augusta, Heber Springs, Jonesboro, Lake City, Parkin, Wynne, Batesville, Newport, Swifton, Brinkley, Des Arc, Hazen, Bald Knob, Kensett, Cotton Plant and McCrory.

Collier said this week that opening a nonprofit clinic wasreally his only option since he wanted to practice in the rural area where he grew up and he knew there was no way some of the people who lived there would be able to pay full price for medical care.

“To practice the style of medicine I wanted to practice, that was the vehicle for that,” he said.

Collier said besides being able to bring healthcare to areas with no clinics, what appealed to him was that he could help to create a system of healthcare. He couldn’t do that in urban areas, he said.

Eventually, the work progressed into activism. It wasn’t enough to simply provide healthcare in areas without any, he said. He and his associates now work to improve economic conditions in areas where their clinics are located by organizing education centers for the very young.

Collier said they are usually welcomed because they move in where people are suffering.

“We’re looking at populations that nobody else wants,” he said. “We don’t usually have any competition.”

Collier spoke to The Leader when he returned from a trip to Kentucky where he was helping to open the first Kentuckycare clinic. The ARcare vision, according to its website, is to become the “largest primary care provider in Arkansas, the provider of first choice in our communities, and a national leader of community health centers.”

Joey Miller, chief operating officer for ARcare, said the bottom line drives businesses, including many clinics. Some clinics don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid because those insurances pay set amounts. And the concern with self-pay patients is that there will be no pay for the clinics. Because ARcare gets federal grants to operate as a community health center, no one is turned away. All insurances are accepted and those without insurance pay on a sliding scale.

Miller said the move to Cabot came at the request of then Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, now a state senator, who said Cabot people needed it. And the city had a building that needed a new owner.

City records show ARcare has paid $100,000 toward the $150,000 purchase price with the last of three payments due in October 2012.

Williams said this week that he knew immediately when he inspected the old health department building after it was vacated for the new one that it would be a shame to use it for anything but a clinic.

It was set up with exam rooms and a waiting room, he said, so a clinic was its logical use.

He thought of ARcare, he said, because many Cabot residents had no access to healthcare.

“No matter what community you live in, you have people who are down on their luck,” Williams said.

For example, he said, a single mother of three might be able to get state insurance for her children, but have no insurance of her own.

He pointed out some doctors feel they can’t afford to take patients without private insurance.

“I was talking to a doctor in town who said he had 10 Medicaid patients and he couldn’t take anymore.”

Asked how he thinks the new clinic is performing, Williams said, “On a scale of one to 10, I’d give them an 11. I say that sincerely.”

He said he was amazed at how fast the old health department was renovated for the new occupants. They painted and replaced the carpet and moved in, Williams said, adding that he thinks that keeping overhead low by using existing buildings is one way ARcare is able to provide its services even to those who can’t afford them.

And considering that the new clinic in the old building once owned by the city is able to serve residents across northern Lonoke County, “I think we both got a bargain,” Williams said.

TOP STORY > >First look at $19.7M budget

Leader staff writer

“Right now, our 2012 proposed budget is balanced,” Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman said. “But we may still do some tweaking to it.”

That’s why the $19.7 million budget will be presented to the city council at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, but it won’t be voted on.

The council will also take a look at the 2012 street fund and wastewater budgets. “Those are pretty much set, but we’ll wait on voting on those, too,” the mayor explained.

The budget committee met last week and trimmed about $1 million to bring expenses even with projected revenues.

“We are still purchasing five new marked police cars, an automated trash truck and a knuckle boom truck. Those are some of our big ticket items,” she said, adding that the police department originally wanted eight new police cars.

The police cars are expected to cost about $26,000 each, while the garbage truck will cost around $200,000 and the knuckle boom, about $125,000.

Revenues for 2012 are expected to be $19.7 million, up about $600,000 from this year on the strength of higher income from the countywide sales tax.

Breaking down the $19.7 million general budget, the administrativedepartment is expecting to spend $4.4 million, down about $100,000 from this year. The police department is slated to spend $5.9 million, also down about $100,000 from this year. The hot check department is looking at a budget of $243,224, down about $4,000. The municipal court is looking at spending $671,744, down about $19,000 from this year. The senior center is looking at giving up $3,000.

Departments and areas with higher expenses this year include sanitation with a budget of $2.2 million, up almost $400,000 from this year. Parks and recreation is looking to spend $3.6 million, up about $80,000. Engineering and planning is coming in at $659,657, up $150,000 from this year. Public works is looking at spending $911,177, up $280,000 from this year. Human resources expects to spend $120,696, up almost $8,000. Computer services plans a budget of $320,800, up about $10,000 from this year. The senior center is looking at a $3,000 increase, asking for a budget of $248,435, and animal services will have a budget of $329,758, up about $17,000 from this year.

The big increase in the public works budget is an additional $250,000 added to the street-improvement funds so the city can make more repairs and overlays.

The 2012 street budget is slated at $1.8 million, up about $70,000 from this year. The wastewater utility has budgeted $1.4 million for 2012, down about $30,000 from this year, and the wastewater sales tax fund has a proposed 2012 budget of $5.3 million, up about $800,000 from this year.

Also on the council agenda:

 An ordinance to update rules for collecting and enforcing the city’s two-cent advertising and promotion tax.

 An ordinance adopting the advertising and promotion commission’s 2012 budget of $630,000.

 An ordinance requesting the city add an additional lieutenant and a logistics-support technician in the police department, while removing a sergeant’s position.

 An ordinance rezoning 11 acres of land, generally west of Brantley Ave. and north of 54th Street, from R-1 (single family homes) to R-4 (manufactured homes).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

EVENTS >> 11-23-11


The Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Grace Fellowship Church at 601 S. Elm St., behind the Bank of the Ozarks downtown.

The meal is free and open to anyone. Carryout and delivery are available. For more information or to request meal delivery, call 501-259-3799.

 Beebe First United Methodist Church will hold its free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. RSVP by calling 501-882-6427 or call Bill Palmisano at 501-882-9565, though reservations are not required. Take out and local delivery are available. Transportation can be arranged if needed in the Beebe area.

The church is located at 302 N. Main St.

 The Salvation Army in Jacksonville, 209 S. Oak St., will serve Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m Thanksgiving Day. Anyone can attend the dinner.

 First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville, 308 W. Main St., offers free meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday in the family life center behind the sanctuary on Hickory Street. Everyone is welcome.


The Beebe Chamber of Commerce will hold its second-annual Small Business Saturday this weekend to support small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. The chamber encourages residents to shop local, independent businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and build communities.


Cabot’s Santa Shack will open Friday and continue until Dec. 18 at Walmart. The event is sponsored by Cabot City Beautiful.

Santa Claus will be available for photos with the kids, who will all receive free candy canes.

Santa’s Shack will be open until Dec. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays; from 9 to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m., 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, and from 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Sundays. From Dec. 19 to Dec. 23, Santa’s Shack will be open from 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.


The Jacksonville Senior Center will be renamed the Jacksonville Senior Wellness and Activity Center during a grand re-opening ceremony at 2 p.m. next Wednesday.


The Cabot Animal Shelter is holding its first push-up competition to see who can do the most push-ups in 60 seconds.

The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Veterans Park Community Center fitness room.

The cost to enter is $10 or $15 on the day of the event. Proceeds will benefit the shelter. The competition will have four divisions: men 20 years old and older, women 20 years old and older, young men 15- to 19-years-old and young women 15- to 19-years-old.

Winners of each division will receive medals. Each division will have participation prizes. For more information, call 501-843-2021.


This month, the Sherwood Animal Shelter is holding its $5 feline drive to help alleviate an over-abundance of cats. The shelter wants to find its cats good homes and offers rock-bottom prices.

The shelter is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

SPORTS >> Beebe takes easy sweep of Rams

Leader sportswriter

Hot Springs Lakeside was able to answer Beebe’s first-half scoring run, but ran into a stifling Badgers defense in the second half that allowed only six points by the visiting team. Beebe rolled to a 65-26 mercy-rule victory in its season opener at Badger Sports Arena on Monday.

The Badgers had key offensive performances from different players at different times, most notably seniors Braden Jones and Zach May, who propelled Beebe to big leads in the first and second halves respectively.

But it was the strong defensive play, with the added help of rushed shots by Lakeside, which helped the Badgers to a dominant second-half showing.

“We challenged them at the half a little bit,” Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said. “And the goal was to keep them to 10 in a quarter. So, we felt good with that, we just turned the ball over in the middle of the first quarter there. And they were a scrappy bunch early; they kept hanging around.”

May was scoreless through the first half, but came alive at the 5:31 mark of the second quarter with an inside basket that gave the Badgers a 31-20 lead. He then hit three straight unanswered three-point baskets, and grabbed a defensive rebound he took the length of the floor to the basket and drew a foul. He hit both ends to cap off his game-high 13 points in a matter of 2:57.

“I’m hoping that’s the way we’re going to be night-in, night-out,” Marshall said. “I feel like we’ve got anywhere from six to eight guys who are going to lead us in scoring on any given night.

“Braden did a good job of finishing and establishing early, and May, we told him at half that he would get going, and boy, he just busted it wide open there. And you have to give credit to his teammates for getting him the ball.”

Jones was the early spark plug for Beebe with six of his total seven points in just over a minute mid-way through the first quarter. Jones scored inside and drew a foul with 4:09 remaining in the first half. He converted the foul shot and took an assist from Dayton Scott on Beebe’s next drive to give the Badgers a 12-3 lead. His next basket at the 3:07 mark upped the advantage to 14-3 and forced the Rams to take a timeout and regroup.

Scott finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for Beebe, and put his athleticism on display with a number of high leaps for rebounds as well as the most crowd-pleasing moment of the night, when he jumped from outside the left side of the lane for a dunk to give the Badgers a 44-22 lead with 2:01 left to play in the third quarter.

Lakeside battled back from the early deficit and got to within 22-20 when Mickey Jones laid it in off the glass with 2:48 remaining in the first half. Beebe responded with a basket by Scott and two free throws from Austin Burroughs. Scott tacked on two more free throws, but his big jam at the first-half buzzer was waved off by the officials to keep Beebe’s halftime lead at 28-20.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Marshall said. “There’s a lot of things we need to get better. But it was the first ballgame – I was a little worried about how anxious they would be because they have a lot of momentum carried over from last year, and they were ready to get out and get a new year started.”

Burroughs finished with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals for Beebe. For Lakeside, Chris Airigs led the way with 10 points.

The Lady Badgers were also victorious against the Lady Rams 49-30 in the first varsity game of the night to improve their season record to 2-2. Senior guard Jamie Jackson led the way with 18 points and went 8 for 8 from the free-throw line. Kalela Miller also had a strong night from the foul line, going 6 of 7 for just over half of her 12 total points. Angelina Williams added eight points for Beebe. Keri Manning led Lakeside with 11 points while Sarah Hamilton had 10 points.

The Badgers and Lady Badgers will play next Tuesday at Sylvan Hills.

SPORTS >> Jacksonville ladies earn tourney title

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils picked up two more wins over the weekend, moving their record to 4-0 so far in the early portion of the season. On Friday night the Lady Devils cruised past Mills 64-46 in their home opener. On Saturday morning they took the floor in the finals of the Pine Bluff Invitational and beat Dumas 61-42.

The two wins marks the first 4-0 start for head coach Katrina Mimms since arriving at Jacksonville in 2006. Saturday’s win was also the Jacksonville girls first tournament championship since the 2001-2002 season.

“It’s been a pretty good first week,” Mimms said. “There’s still lots of things we could do better and are going to have to do better. Our conference is very strong, and we’re going to have to get better. But for this early, I’m pretty pleased with how we’re playing.”

Friday’s game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. Jacksonville completely dominated from the opening tip, and the game was decided midway through the first quarter. By quarter’s end, Jacksonville led 26-2 and Mimms began subbing freely the rest of the way.

She sat all her starters for the whole second quarter and Mills outscored Jacksonville 13-8. That made it 34-15 at halftime, so Mimms adjusted her substitution process in the second half.

“I still wanted to use everybody, but I mixed the subs and starters more,” Mimms said. “I wanted to keep a ball handler on the floor.”

One of the things Mimms didn’t like about the opener against Marianna was how her squad allowed Marianna’s best scorer to get to the bucket and rack up over 30 points. Mills’ Jasmine Perkins got 20 points on Friday, but Mimms was much more pleased with how her squad handled Perkins.

“She got her 20, but she didn’t score at all in the first quarter when we were going all out,” Mimms said.

Sophomore guard Tiffany Smith led a balanced Jacksonville attack with 13 points. Junior guard and returning leading scorer Jessica Jackson scored 12 points in her first start of the season. Sacha Richardson added 11 and Coyja Hood added 10 for the Lady Devils.

Against Dumas, Jacksonville led just 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, but still jumped out to a big lead. It wasn’t until starters Shakayla Hill and Jackson got into foul trouble that the Lady Bobcats were able to come back to keep it close.

The Lady Red Devils got back on track to start the second quarter. Jacksonville outscored Dumas 35-13 over the next two periods to head into the fourth quarter in control of the game.

“The thing I liked most in both games was the way we came out,” Mimms said. “One of the things that disappointed me most in the first two games was that we didn’t come out with much intensity. We really picked that up and were ready to play from the start in the last two.”

Smith again led Jacksonville in scoring. She hit five three pointers in the game and finished with 17 points. Finding more scorers is one of the things Mimms was looking for. Last year teams focused on Jackson. She hopes her team continues to develop and eliminates that as a strategy for opposing teams.

“Getting three or four in double figures a night is what we’re looking for,” Mimms said. “We don’t want to just look for Jessica. People know she can score. We’ve made adjustments, and that’s what we want. We just have to keep working hard and keep improving.”

SPORTS >> Bison hope to stop Gurdon

Leader sportswriter

What started two weeks ago as a field of 44 has been condensed to just eight teams as the quarterfinal round of the 2A state playoffs are set for Friday, and things do not appear to get any easier for local No. 1 seed Carlisle as the Bison prepare to face Gurdon, the top seed in the 2A-7 Conference.

The Bison (11-0) survived a big first-half scare against a determined Danville team last week. The Little Johns surprised Carlisle with blazing speed, two early touchdowns and a field goal to go up 16-0 before the Bison, who did not play in week 11 after receiving a first-round playoff bye, were able to shake off the rust and finally claim a 22-16 victory.

The Go Devils (10-2) have been dominant since the start of postseason play with a 37-6 victory over Cross County in the first round and a 35-7 win against Spring Hill in the second round last week.

“Number one, they’re an undefeated football team,” Gurdon coach John Pace said of Carlisle. “Number two, they’re a physical bunch. That’s what we see a lot of on film. They have a good average on offense and defense, and they have good running backs.

“Then, to complicate things further, they can change quarterbacks and spread it and throw on you, so they give you multiple things to be prepared for.”

Bo Weddle led the rushing attack for the Bison last week against Danville with 161 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in the final two minutes. Braxton Petrus rushed for 70 yards and Ty Vaughn carried eight times for 60 yards in what has been a balanced rushing attack all season for Carlisle.

The Go Devils are primarily a spread/wishbone team that formerly used the double-wing formation, which happens to be Carlisle’s main offensive scheme.

“We haven’t played against it any this year, but we use to run it,” Pace said. “So we’re not totally blind to it. We do have a basis of approach defensively.”

The Go Devils earned their conference title on the field, but almost lost it due to a violation by the 2A-7 co-champion. Mineral Springs used an ineligible player in its win over Mt. Ida in week five. Mt. Ida beat Gurdon in week 10. The week before the playoffs, the Arkansas Activities Association ruled that Mineral Springs did not have to forfeit its game to Mt. Ida. If it did have to forfeit, it would have been a three-way tie, and Mt. Ida would have been the No. 1 seed.

Gurdon has a mixed bag of experience in its offensive backfield, led by sophomore quarterback Austin Kirkpatrick, who has 900 rushing yards and more than 900 yards passing. Senior running back A.J. Brown has enhanced the rushing attack for the Go Devils with close to 700 yards, while another senior running back, Kedreas Norvell, is flirting with the 1,000 rushing-yards mark.

“They’re a good ball club,” Carlisle coach Scott Waymire said. “And they’ve won some big ballgames. Offensively, they run a lot of power sets. Their quarterback – he’s a sophomore – is a tough kid. He’s a winner. He gets the job done for them. They play very hard on defense, and they’ll get after you.”

Gurdon also has a rare luxury among 2A teams of having few players work on both sides of the ball. Waymire, who does have to use several of his players both ways, said heart can be the best determining factor late.

“We’re not real loaded,” Waymire said. “We ask a lot of guys to go both ways. We’ve been pleased with the conditioning of our guys to be able to do that. We’ve had some young guys who have been able to step in and give breaks. But when it comes down to the third and fourth quarters, it has a lot to do with character, and we have a lot of kids with character.”

EDITORIAL >> Amendment not needed

For every complex human problem, H. L. Mencken said, there is always one grand answer that is neat, plausible and wrong.

The current grand design is the balanced-budget amendment, but luckily we will not have to yet again endure the fulfillment of Mencken’s axiom. The U. S. House of Representatives failed last week to adopt the amendment and send it to the Senate.

All four Arkansas congressmen voted for the amendment, then immediately put out statements trumpeting their courage and denouncing the perfidy of the Democrats (and handful of Republicans) who voted to deny the American people this great solution to their travails.

Rep. Mike Ross, the South Arkansas Democrat, was “very disappointed” and noted that he had signed as a sponsor of the amendment in every session since he arrived in Washington a decade ago. Indeed he has.

Rep. Steve Womack of the mountain district was “disappointed that this Congress missed a watershed moment.”

Our own Rep. Tim Griffin was “incredibly disappointed” that Democrats chose to play politics and defeat the amendment. (He didn’t mention the Republicans who voted against it or explain how it is playing politics to vote against a crowd-pleaser like the balanced-budget amendment.)

Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro put out a statement calling the vote “disappointing” as well as irresponsible and shameful.

But not one of them could really have been disappointed. They were secretly ecstatic, as has been every thinking member of Congress for three decades who has voted for the amendment or signed on as a sponsor. They get to register a pleasing vote and not have to worry about having contributed to the country’s ruin.

The vote on a balanced-budget amendment was just good theater, a chance to tell people back home, “Look, I voted to solve this debt problem so my hands are clean. Don’t blame me for the deficits or any calamity that follows from this standoff over the budget.”

Politicians have been doing this for years. Some 35 years ago, there was a drive to get state legislatures to petition Congress to propose a balanced-budget amendment. Both houses of the Arkansas legislature whooped it through without a debate, pausing only to get a roll call vote so that they could show they voted to balance the federal budget. It was a meaningless vote, substantively. Only one lawmaker voted against it. Rep. J. Gayle Windsor of Little Rock, probably the most conservative member of the House and counsel for the Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries, wanted his vote recorded as no. He did not want his friends and family to think that he would vote so casually for a politically pleasing resolution that would be so destructive to his country on the unlikely chance that if it were ever to be enacted.

People love to point out that Thomas Jefferson favored amending the Constitution to prohibit the federal government from borrowing. He did, but then he was grateful for his lack of success for it would have prohibited the United States in 1803 from borrowing much of the $15 million with which he bought the Louisiana Territory. Otherwise, we might be colonies of the French or Spaniards today.

Ronald Reagan loved the theory, but if it had been in place he could not have borrowed the trillion dollars or so that he spent to pull the country out of the deepest recession since the ’30s.

A rigid balanced-budget law would be fine were the nation never to experience wars or domestic cataclysms or if the political system could be expected to put aside political grasping and vote in lopsided numbers in the national interest when such a crisis does occur. We know the answer to that.

What Griffin and the others say is that Congress—by that, he means Democrats—cannot be relied upon to balance the budget so you have to force them by the Constitution. But remember that the last time the Democrats were in charge—the 1990s—they passed the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which shrank the mammoth Reagan-Bush deficits and then produced four straight years of balanced budgets—no, four years of surpluses. It was extremely unpopular, leading to the defeat of many Democrats in both houses who voted for it, a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994 and deep drop in the popularity of the president who pushed it.

Who was playing politics then?

TOP STORY >> For Air Guard, doing more on a small budget

Leader executive editor

The Air National Guard at Little Rock Air Force Base is hiring, even though it’s facing possible budget cuts like the rest of the military.

Because of the failure of a congressional super-committee to reach an agreement this week on spending cuts and tax increases, the defense department could face up to 50 percent of mandatory reductions in its $170 billion budget starting in 2013.

But Col. Steve Eggensperger, commander of the 189th Airlift Wing, said Monday that the Air National Guard has continued to do more with less. With only 6 percent of the Air Force budget, the Air National Guard carries out more than a third of the Air Force mission.

“Yes, defense budget cuts will affect all components of the Department of Defense to include the National Guard,” he said. “The Air National Guard uses approximately 6 percent of the USAF budget but provides approximately 35 percent of the capability of the USAF. So you can see that the citizen airmen of the Air Guard are a great value for America particularly in these fiscally challenging times. Hopefully, this fact will be taken into consideration when budget decisions are made.”

He heads the most decorated Guard unit in the nation.

“The Guard has been in central Arkansas since 1923,” he points out.

Eggensperger still hopes to fill 37 key positions that are open at one of the busiest training centers in the Air Force. Another 60 positions will open up through attrition and retirement.

He prefers people with Air Force experience, but he’ll hire high school graduates with enthusiasm. The Guard will give them a signing bonus and put them through college.

The 189th trains crews from around the world on older C-130s. Almost half the trainers are full-time Guard members. Like Eggensperger, many of them joined the active-duty Air Force before moving to the Guard.

“One of the keys to our success is we have all that experience. The average instructor pilot has 4,000 flying hours. The average maintainer has 17 years experience.

“When people separate from the Air Force, we at Little Rock Air Force Base can keep that experience,” the commander said. “Some stay till they’re 60.”

The Guard here, Eggensperger says, trains more advanced crews than the Reserve command: “We’ll train the trainers,” he explains.

He has nine C-130s, all of them 25 years old, under his command. Last year, the wing graduated 369 flying instructors.

Work starts at 4:30 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. “It’s a busy place,” the colonel says.

Despite budget cutbacks, the wing has several key openings, including:

 Command post controller

 Aircrew flight-equipment specialist

 Aircraft mechanic

 Vehicle operations manager

 Computer specialist

 Security-forces defender

 Paralegal assistant

 Chaplain assistant

 Public health officer

 Family physician

Aircraft-propulsion mechanic

 Personnel craftsman

 Aerospace medical craftsman.

“Because our flying mission involves teaching the C-130 instructor school curriculum, the aviators we hire must be experienced C-130 instructors — pilots, navigators, flight engineers, and loadmasters — and we typically hire these instructors from the active-duty Air Force. Any time we can hire a trained and experienced airman from the Air Force, it saves the training cost to the Air Guard,” Eggensperger says.

“However, sometimes we can’t hire a trained individual, so we hire high school or college graduates, and then we send them to basic training and technical school to provide them with the training to become qualified in their chosen career field. And, of course, our new recruits are eligible for some great educational benefits to help them continue their education.

“Because the 189th Airlift Wing does the full-time C-130 training mission, a larger percentage of our force is full-time,” Eggensperger explained.

“But about 57 percent of our members are drill-status Guardsmen. These DSGs work approximately one weekend a month and do at least 15 days of military duty at some time during the year.

“In addition, our aviators must complete some additional flight training periods each month so they work on average a couple days more per month than a non-flyer.”

Eggensperger was born in Fayetteville and grew up in Conway and now lives in Cabot. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas.

He started as a pilot instructor with the 50th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base in 1990 and then joined the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing before moving on to the Air National Guard at the base.

Eggensperger is the former 189th Operations Group commander. Before that, he was 154th Training Squadron commander.

He became commander of the 189th Airlift Wing last May, succeeding Col. Jim Summers.

TOP STORY >> Reserves taking off

Leader executive editor

Col. Edsel A. (Archie) Frye, who heads the new Air Force Reserve Command at Little Rock Air Force Base, showed a visitor around the base last week and introduced his small but growing group that will eventually reach more than 700 reservists and support staff in the next three years.

Frye has the enthusiasm of a motivational speaker and the organizational skills of a business school graduate. He’s building from the ground up — there are still unopened boxes in some of the offices where his staff is settling in.

Frye, who was named commander in February, has so far recruited some 70 reservists and support staff, who are spread out over several buildings around the base.

He says several times, “We’re going to make this the best unit in Air Force history.”

Although the air base has announced cuts in civilian jobs and is reducing the numbers of young officers, and more cuts are likely, both the Reserves and Air National Guard are hiring. (See related story on this page.)

Frye says he’s reaching out across the country to fill the open positions, but, he adds, “We’re recruiting 250 people from Arkansas.”

Barring possible budget cuts, half the jobs will be full time. Some will make $70,000 a year, the colonel says.

Their slogan is “Stationed locally — serving globally.”

Frye says the Reserves can stretch a dollar further because they have many part-timers.

The unit — called Detachment 1, which is part of the 22nd Air Force — will replace active-duty missions and train flight crews on 10 old C-130s. The maintainers, who are already at work on the flight line with five experienced pilots, will make sure the planes are in top shape.

“When they’re this old, you have to give them tender-loving care,” says Maj. Claude Smith, who with several years of experience under his belt in the Air Force, commands the maintenance team.

He’s standing with Sgt. Ralph Babcock, another maintainer and an Air Force veteran. Babcock says all their planes will be vintage 1960s through 1980s.

The group goes into another room with a U.S. flag for a re-enlistment ceremony for Babcock led by Smith.

“They have 50 years experience,” Frye says of Smith and Babcock. “One of the keys to our success is we have all that experience.”

Frye was born in West Virginia and grew up in Duncan, S.C., where, he said, “We’re taught to win. The attitude is we can do anything.”

The little town of 3,100 has produced football players and an engineer who laid out the new power grid in Iraq, Frye says.

He sounds like the general manager of a new sports franchise who can’t wait to build his team and get to the Super Bowl.

The colonel says he’s hired “one of the best quarterbacks,” Lt. Joe Janik, a pilot, as one of his top commanders.

Maj. Rick Rogers, another pilot, joined the Reserves after a career in the Air Force and as a commercial pilot.

Rogers says he flew into Iraq and Afghanistan for a contractor, but called it quits so he could spend more time with his wife and children, who live outside Montgomery, Ala.

Rogers parks a Cessna at the Carlisle airport and flies home most weekends.

Lt. Col. Amy Boehle, the personnel director, has six people working in her office. Their job is to fill some 600 positions, including pilots, navigators, maintainers, loadmasters and a public-affairs specialist.

Boehle has hired a doctor and a dentist and advertises open positions online at A military background is needed for most of the civilian jobs.

Plans call for a $2 million headquarters building. The command’s annual budget is $16 million, says Barry Seidel, a former master sergeant, now a civilian, who heads the finance department.

Frye was previously commander of the 931st Air Refueling Group at McConnell Air Force Base, where he also stressed the importance of a team effort.

He drew inspiration from a Will Ferrell movie, “Semi-Pro,” about a struggling basketball team owned by Ferrell, who strives for excellence even as he tries to keep the franchise going.

Frye, who started his career 35 years ago as an enlisted man, won several awards at McConnell for leadership.

His wife, Col. Tammy Hatcher-Frye, is National Guard staff director at Camp Robinson.

Little Rock Air Force Base is his last assignment, he says. It will take him four years to get the command up and running.

“This place is full of opportunity. Keep your eyes on this unit,” he says. “We’re going to build a dream team.”

His office is in a small building that once housed the state headquarters of the Arkansas National Guard.

Across the street is the headquarters building of the Air National Guard, where the 189th Airlift Wing, commanded by Col. Steve Eggensperger, is cooperating with the reserve command. The 189th will be the lead wing for both units.

The reservists will augment the Guard’s training mission. They will both train on older C-130s, while the other training unit on base, the 314th Airlift Wing, will have all-new, advanced C-130Js.

Frye points to a huge hangar across the street from his temporary quarters. The base is spending $350,000 to remodel the upper sections for the Reserve’s offices.

“If you can’t stand prosperity, don’t join this unit,” he tells recruits.

“What an incredible blessing to bring in people who are hungry and promote them,” Frye says. “We’re trying to build an outstanding team. We have to do more with less.

“We have a lot of blue-chip employees,” Frye says. “I’m lucky to have this job. I couldn’t have scripted it better.”