Friday, December 09, 2011

EDITORIAL >> Our lottery falls short

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery matured more quickly than anyone imagined. In only its second year it has reached the point that all lotteries reach, when they must find ways to make more people gamble and gambling people gamble even more.

It was a hostile bunch of state legislators that the acting lottery director, Julie Baldridge, appeared before this week. They wanted her to do something, and fast, to make the lottery produce more revenue. Last year, the lottery’s first, it produced only about $93 million for scholarships, some $10 million below the forecast. The state is doling out tuition aid to students based on the expectations. Baldridge told the Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Commission that this fiscal year the lottery probably would produce only $89 million, although her predecessor, Ernie Passailaigue, had told legislators to expect $103 million. She said she just could not promise any more than $89 million.

State Rep. Barry Hyde of North Little Rock was a little impatient with the lady.

“We want to know what your plan is, and what you are going to do to right the ship and improve the profit a little bit,” he said. “* * *I want to know what your plan is to get back over $100 million. I want to know when we are gong to get there.”

And she had no answer for him. If she did, it would not be what good people want to hear. The lottery—that is, the state government—must promote gambling far more aggressively to get poor people and youngsters to participate more in the state numbers game. Kids’ education depends upon it, you see.

This is the history of lotteries. After a period, many players tire of the lottery when they don’t strike it rich or else realize that the occasional return on scratch-off tickets don’t come close to paying off. The state has quickly come to depend on the revenue, usually for the public schools but in Arkansas’s case, colleges and students.

So states—again, your government—must promote the lottery much more aggressively and perversely, such as with billboards in poor neighborhoods that encourage people to dream of fabulous riches. Or, like South Carolina, they appeal to people to gamble to be good citizens by helping kids. “Big Fun, Bright Futures,” the South Carolina billboards say.

Or else the state introduces games that offer instant gratification and more addictive forms of gambling, such as video lottery terminals where players bet against a computer, Keno and electronic gambling machines. Some people have called these games “video crack” because people quickly get addicted to them. Arkansas was moving into this realm before Passailaigue left this fall.

Otherwise, the options for increasing revenues are limited. The first tack that most states use is to raise the payoff from games, which theoretically encourages people to play more. If enough people play more then the gross take may more than offset the reduced share of the handle that is going to scholarships. But it is a treacherous game. If the increased payout doesn’t lure more gamblers then the state’s take for scholarship goes down even more, and Ms. Baldridge or her successor will face even harsher rebukes from the boss, the legislature.

Most people do not realize that only a small part of the money people wager on the lottery games actually goes to scholarships or the schools—nationally, about 30 percent. The rest goes to prizes for lottery winners, commissions to lottery vendors, franchise payments to the big gaming companies that contract to supply the games and administration of the program.

The state can reap a little more money for students by changing the contract with gaming companies, which now get a flat percentage of gross sales, otherwise known as obscene profits, but that will not solve the problem. Passailaigue said he negotiated those generous contracts in order to get the companies to speed the development of the games so that people could start playing fast and generate money for scholarships a few weeks earlier. And administration costs are going down sharply this year with the departure of the three South Carolinians who were knocking down close to $1 million a year in pay for work that Ms. Baldridge now is performing very well for $105,000.

We hope Ms. Baldridge and whoever succeeds her on a permanent basis deflect the pressures from legislators and the other powers and simply run the most efficient and considerate gambling operation they can, if that is not an oxymoron. The lottery is insidious enough as it is. The state can adjust the scholarship grants to fit the available revenue or supplement it from general funds, which is what it did before the lottery came along.

TOP STORY >> Cabot developers will see new rules

Leader staff writer

Two members of the Cabot Planning Commission proposed an ordinance this week that would require commercial developers to not only landscape their projects but meet standards set by the city.

Currently, developers are required to landscape but that could be as little as planting a bush and a tree somewhere on the perimeter.

The proposed ordinance, requires at a minimum, a 10-foot wide landscaped area consisting of one tree and 10 shrubs every 50 feet along public streets and parking lots with 20 or more parking spaces must have five feet of landscaping for every 100 feet of parking space.

The proposed ordinance also requires screening dumpsters with fencing or evergreen landscaping.

The proposal also is specific about the types of trees, shrubs and grass acceptable for landscaping and requires owners to maintain what they plant or be cited in district court where they could be fined.

James Reid and Dennis Hyland, who drafted the proposed ordinance, excluded the Bradford pear from the list of approved trees.

The commission also cut honeysuckle, dwarf bamboo and pampas grass from the approved list. Honeysuckle and bamboo are invasive, they said.

And pampas grass might be good as a screen, but it also obscures the view of intersections.

The list of approved trees includes loblolly pine, pin oak, sawtooth oak, sugar hackberry, willow oak, American holly, ash, crepe myrtle and river birch.

Approved grass includes zoysia, Bermuda, centipede and St. Augustine.

The proposal includes height requirements to keep landscaping from blocking the view at street and driveway intersections.

Residential developments and duplexes on a single lot are excluded from the proposed landscaping ordinance. But duplex developments and apartment complexes would be included.

Hyland said during the Tuesday night planning commission meeting that Cabot has several parking lots with no interior landscaping.

But he also said that requiring developers to plant is not enough so the proposal also requires the maintenance of the plants to keep them from dying.

The commission will review the proposed ordinance at least one more time before sending it to the city council’s public works committee.

That committee will have to send it to the full city council before it can be approved as city law.

TOP STORY >> More students qualify for free schools meals

Leader staff writer

More students are taking advantage of national school lunch and breakfast programs. Local children are no exception to a 17 percent nationwide increase caused by the slumped economy.

Seth Blomeley, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said 59 percent of Arkansas’ public school students were enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program for the 2010-11 school year. This year’s count is not available yet.

That number is up almost 3 percent from the state’s 2009-10 figure of 56.7 percent.

How do local districts compare? All but one is under the state average.

About 65 percent of the Lonoke School District’s students get free or reduced lunch, said food service director Sue Roedel. According to the numbers provided by Blomeley, that is up 10 percent from the district’s 55 percent in 2010-11.

The Pulaski County Special School District, according to its October figures, is at 55 percent. Of that, 46 percent are eating free meals.

According to the Cabot School District’s November count, 37 percent of its students are enrolled in the program.

For 2010-11, the Carlisle School District had 52 percent, followed by Beebe School District with 49 percent and the Searcy School District with 45 percent.

In the Pulaski County Special and Cabot school districts, 11 schools saw a higher percentage of their students enrolled in the program compared to the 2010-11 school year.

Children receiving free or reduced lunch rose by 8 percent at Sherwood and Oakbrook Elementary schools, according to figures provided by the state Education Department and counts supplied by PCSSD for October 2011.

Tolleson Elementary had the second-largest increase, 7 percent.

Sylvan Hills Elementary saw a jump of 5 percent.

Bayou Meto Elementary experienced a 3 percent increase and Clinton Elementary saw another 2 percent, followed by Cato Elementary, Arnold Drive Elementary, Northwood Middle School and Taylor Elementary with a gain of 1 percent each.

Seven local PCSSD schools — Dupree Elementary, Harris Elementary, Jacksonville Middle, Sylvan Hills Middle, Jacksonville High, Pinewood Elementary and North Pulaski High — saw slight decreases in the percentage of students enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program, with the exception of Harris, which had 7 percent less and Jacksonville Middle with 8 percent less.

In Cabot, according to counts supplied by the district for November 2011, Central Elementary saw a 14 percent hike in students getting free or reduced lunch.

The Academic Center for Excellence had a 13 percent increase.

Both Cabot Junior High South and Eastside Elementary experienced a 5 percent climb, followed by Westside Elementary and Cabot Middle North. Each had a 4 percent increase.

Cabot High, Cabot Junior North and Magness Creek Elementary each saw a 3 percent gain, followed by Northside and Cabot Middle South with 1 percent.

Three schools — Southside Elementary, Ward Central Elementary and Stagecoach Elementary — had percentages that were lower than the 2010-11 figures by two percent or less.

Since 2009-10, half of the Cabot School District’s schools have had a net gain in the percentage of their students receiving free or reduced lunch, while the other half stayed level or had a decrease.

Northside Elementary saw an 11.5 percent increase, followed by Magness Creek with a 10 percent jump.

Half of PCSSD’s local schools have experienced an increase since 2009-10 and half stayed the same or had a decrease.

Tolleson Elementary had the largest spike with a 10 percent increase in receiving free or reduced lunch.

Three of Lonoke’s four schools have seen that percent rise from 2009-10 to 2010-11. Both of Carlisle schools saw an increase, with Carlisle High having a gain of 9 percent.

Five of Beebe’s seven schools also had an increase. Badger Elementary had the highest with a 7 percent spike.

Searcy was the only district to see more schools experience a decrease than an increase, although the highest loss was only 1.5 percent. Four out of its six schools saw a dip in the percentage of their students receiving free or reduced lunch.

Parents or guardians have to fill out a form to see if their child qualifies for free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

At elementary schools, lunch costs $1.75 and $2 at secondary schools. Breakfast is available for $1 at both.

Eligible students can receive those meals free or at a price of 40 cents for lunch and/or 30 cents for breakfast.

The income guidelines are $20,147 annually for a family of one; $27,214 for a family of two; $34,281 for a family of three; $41,348 for a family of four; $48,415 for a family of five; $55,482 for a family of six; $62,549 for a family of seven; $69,619 for a family of eight; and $7,067 for each additional household member if the family has more than seven people.

TOP STORY >> Original owner back at The Hook

Leader staff writer

David Bush, owner of The Hook, formerly known as The Crooked Hook, wants to restore the old Jacksonville hot spot to its former glory, and he’s making good progress toward that goal.

He’s the restaurant’s original owner, and his longtime customers are elated that he’s back.

Bush bought the restaurant at an auction after it closed on Feb. 18. He learned by word of mouth that the owners had filed for bankruptcy.

The restaurant’s doors re-opened on April 16, after six weeks of remodeling. Bush has already invested $50,000 in the venture.

He’s famous for his catfish platters and fries and hush puppies, as well as great hamburgers and more.

Many of his old customers are glad he’s back.

One longtime diner explained why The Hook is one of his favorite restaurants.

“I really like it. It’s locally owned, and it has the best catfish around,” he said. “Five pieces of catfish with hush puppies for $6 is a great deal.”

Bush is relying on advertising and word of mouth to build up The Hook’s reputation. He said he has an advantage in that because he’s been in the area for decades and knows just about everyone.

Major changes to the eatery include the removal of the divider that split the dining room into two sections.

The floor in the kitchen, ceiling tiles, lights and the sign outside were replaced. The building was carpeted and painted inside and out. Some of the cooking appliances will be updated, repaired or replaced.

There are a few new employees, but most of the workers were there under the former owners, Rodney and Carolee Toulson, or were employed by The Crooked Hook when Bush owned it from 1985 to 1997.

When he retired in 1997, the business was sold to the Toulsons, who left thousands of unpaid city taxes and delinquent property taxes in their wake.

Bush said he took over The Hook because he knew its potential and he had “nothing else to do.” He loves reeling in new and former customers.

“A lot of people have said, ‘We’re so glad you’re back.’ We work to create a family atmosphere. I love people, and I love to work,” he continued.

Bush added that one of the things that strikes him about running the place is seeing older couples and groups who frequented it before come in without their companions.

“You get attached to them. It hurts your heart a bit,” Bush said.

His wife passed away two years ago and perhaps that is why he identifies with these special customers.

Bush mentioned another unforgettable experience when he was managing the eatery. He met a winner of the Medal of Honor.

The Hook can serve up to 200 people at a time, and its menu includes catfish, shrimp, oysters, other seafood, steak, sandwiches, chicken and desserts.

Bush said he might have to raise prices on his fish entrees because the costs have gone up to $75 for 15 pounds. It was $30 when he left the business. The price hike will be less than one dollar, and he will not raise the cost of any other dishes, he explained.

Bush emphasized that his goal is to serve delicious food at affordable prices. “I’m all about being fair, not gouging people. We have good food, good service at the best price. That’s the best we can do,” Bush said.

The Hook also offers a banquet room for large parties and he would like to make more people aware of it so they can use it to host their get-togethers.

Some of his biggest crowds are churchgoers who come in on Sundays.

The restaurant, which has served 76,000 customers since April, is doing well, Bush said.

He is confident that The Hook will continue on the road success and regain its former distinction as a go-to place for residents to enjoy tasty, hot food and friendly service.

TOP STORY >> Arkansas bluesman left mark

Leader executive editor

The great Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s longtime guitarist, died last weekend at the age of 80. He’d been in poor health for several years — he carried an oxygen tank with him during performances — but he was a down-to-earth character who grew up in east Arkansas before he headed for Chicago some 60 years ago. The Rolling Stones will pay for his funeral.

His obituaries mentioned he was born in Greenwood, Miss., and grew up in Hughes in St. Francis County, although he told us he was raised on a plantation in Seyypel, just this side of the Mississippi River, some 20 miles from Hughes.

It was at a jukejoint in Seyypel where young Sumlin had first heard Wolf. Sumlin was too young to go inside, so he crawled under the building to listen to Wolf’s east Arkansas musicians, who included Pat Hare and Junior Parker (Elvis later recorded Parker’s “Mystery Train”), and maybe even Joe Willie Wilkins, who was from Mississippi but hung out in east Arkansas. Wilkins was perhaps the greatest post-war Delta guitarist, but he was hardly ever recorded.

Wolf farmed north of Parkin in Cross County during the 1930s and 1940s until he started recording in West Memphis in the late 1940s and then moved to Chicago.

He hired Sumlin soon after and sent him a train ticket to Chicago, where he made a splash as Wolf’s guitarist. They often fought, but they stayed together for more than 20 years, recording such hits as “Red Rooster,” “Spoonful” and others.

Sumlin was often imitated, especially by British rockers, who thought Hubert hung the moon. He was that good.


“Goodbye, Babylon,” from the Dust-to-Digital label, is a six-CD compilation of southern religious music from the 1920s to the 1940s and includes a 200-page book in a small cedar box with cotton around the edges to remind you where the music came from. (Dust-to-Digital is based in Atlanta.)

Included here are 135 songs from 1902-1960 — that’s dating back almost 110 years — by black and white performers, including Thomas A. Dorsey, the Carter Family, Flatt and Scruggs, the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, Blind Willie Johnson, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mahalia Jackson, the Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Bill Monroe (before Bill started recording bluegrass), Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Stanley Brothers, Skip James, Carl Smith, Bukka White, Josh White, Hank Williams.

These are just some of the best-known performers. Dozens of less famous artists are also well represented, from the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers to the Blue Sky Boys to Heavenly Gospel Singers to the Seventh Day Adventist Choir. The sixth disc includes 25 sermons recorded between 1926-1941.

A beautifully illustrated booklet is included. Scholars who contribute to this important anthology include Paul Oliver, David Evans, Tony Russell, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Guido van Rijn and others. Indispensable.

“Goodbye to Babylon” is available for $77 from Amazon and would make a great Christmas present for anyone who loves American spirituals and the sweet sound of music before it was homogenized and commercialized and watered down. This stuff is for real.

This is perhaps the best anthology of American spirituals with outstanding sound restoration. The set, which was released in 2003, is a favorite of rock performers like Neil Young, who gave a copy to Bob Dylan. This is the kind of music that reminds them of their roots and ours. It’s the voice of America, which you can always enjoy and appreciate.


Although he did not record much religious music, Dock Boggs is often mentioned when the subject of old roots music comes up. In the 1920s, he recorded only a dozen songs, along with five alternate takes, which are available on “Country Blues” on the Revenant label.

Boggs sings country songs in a haunting voice, accompanied by his banjo. His music about love and violence is powerful. He might be the greatest white performer you’ll hear on a record.

He was born in Virginia and worked in the coal mines most of his life. His wife told him to quit his music career, and he didn’t record and perform again until the folk revival of the 1960s. He died in 1971 at the age of 73.

“Country Blues” comes with an attractive booklet and additional music by Bill and Hayes Shepherd, his contemporaries. They’re not nearly as good as Boggs, but then no one was.

This CD would also make a good Christmas present, but a better one would be Revenant’s boxed double white vinyl. You can find it online for about $50. It’s worth it.

TOP STORY >> Group seeks help to spread cheer

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Christmas Alliance, once able to hand out two weeks worth of food to hundreds of needy families, is scraping the bottom of the barrel to provide just one holiday meal.

Colleen Caldwell of the Cabot Community Coalition told the 11 members who attended the new coalition’s meeting on Wednesday to spread the word that the group is struggling.

Every year since 1990, the group has received a truckload of groceries for its food boxes, but it won’t get that truck this year. The alliance is a combination of churches, schools, businesses and individuals devoted to helping the less fortunate.

But the organization has done well despite the unexpected hardship, said Cheryl Moore, secretary treasurer of the alliance.

The group originally planned to serve 675 families, but that number has grown to 740. Cash donations this year are estimated at $16,000, twice as much as the $8,000 the alliance usually gets. That was added to the $3,000 carryover from what was collected last year, so the alliance has $19,000 to work with.

“God has truly blessed us this year. When people learned we weren’t getting the truck, the money came rolling in,” Moore said.

Call 501-628-2706 to make arrangements to drop off cash or other donations. Monetary contributions can also be mailed to P.O. Box 821, Cabot, Ark., 72023.

Each food box will contain a small ham, corn, green beans, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, cake mix and frosting, pineapple, marshmallows, a box of Jell-O, apples, oranges and various other foods that were collected.

Those items are subject to change according to supplies and the amount of each item will be determined based on how many people each family has to feed.

Families needing a holiday meal can sign up until Friday. They can also call 628-2706. Moore said, “We try to help everyone who comes in.”

Items for the group’s distribution will be sorted and packed starting at 8 a.m. today. Volunteers will be served lunch at 11 a.m. and Moore expects the work will wrap up around 2 p.m.

Distribution will be held at 8:30 a.m. next Saturday. Volunteers will arrive at the locations — the old Cabot Armory at 103 Commerce Drive off Hwy. 367 in the industrial park, Austin Fire Department and Ward First Baptist Church — at 8 a.m.

The alliance also works in cooperation with Cabot Christmas for Kids, a program that helps students in the Cabot School District get toys so they can have a merry Christmas.

Toys can be dropped off at any school in the district until Friday. They can also be brought to the warehouse at 310 G.P. Murrell Drive in Cabot, Express Printing, the downtown and main location of Community Bank, Fred’s and all Dollar General stores in Cabot and Ward.

To make a monetary donation, send checks to Christmas for Kids, care of Bill Holden, 100 Gunsmoke Drive, Austin, Ark., 72007.

To pick up toys, call Holden at 843-2152 or Rita Stewart at 743-3560.

Those who know of a family in need of food or toys can call Terena Woodruff at 743-3574. For more information, call Randy Holden at 743-6171 or Shelley Montoya at 605-3403.

The program served 1,000 children last year.

The coalition also addressed a few long-term goals at the meeting.

The formation of a food pantry task force was suggested to talk about the vision of having one food pantry serving the whole area and how to accomplish that.

Caldwell asked the group to help compile a list of volunteers willing to help out with physical labor projects, such as building a ramp.

She also informed everyone that the coalition now has a Facebook page they can “like.”

In other business, members announced upcoming events and current concerns.

There has been an upswing in requests for utility assistance. Mary Abshure, a manager at Central Arkansas Development Council, said that her organization’s main program provides home energy assistance in the winter and the summer, but since funds are being cut, it probably won’t be able to help families this summer.

The CADC also offers weatherization of homes to families that have household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Naomi Bratton, a board member of Hope’s Closet, mentioned the importance of grants and told other members that there will be a $25 grant writing class at downtown Little Rock’s First Baptist Church from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday.

The Lonoke Exceptional School is “growing a greenhouse” and needs volunteers to help with the building. Volunteers are getting together from 9 a.m. to noon today at the school, 204 Plaza Blvd. in Cabot.

Cabot United Methodist Church will deliver food on Christmas Day starting at 11 a.m. to Lonoke and as far south as Scott. Those who wish to dine in for the church’s holiday meal can come between noon and 2 p.m.

The coalition’s next meeting is at noon on Jan. 13 at The Diner in Cabot.

TOP STORY >> Arts council paints a rosy future

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville doesn’t quite have an art center yet, but it does have an arts council and a family fundraising event already on the calendar.

The city is trying to work out a lease agreement with the Pulaski County Special School District for the closed Jacksonville Elementary School off Main Street with plans to use some of the buildings for an art center.

Angie Mitchell, the driving force behind the annual Patriotic Spectacular; Roberta Bonham, a well-known local artist; Sue Khoo, with Unique Furniture; Dr. Alan Storeygard, an accomplished musician, and dozens of others are working to make the center a reality.

“It may not be on the school property like we want, but it will be somewhere in the city and soon,” Bonham said at an arts council meeting at city hall Monday night.

At the meeting, about a dozen residents volunteered to be on what the group is calling the Jacksonville Arts Council, and many others volunteered to serve in advisory capacities.

Mitchell was elected chairman of the council, and it was decided that the voting panel would be 15 members strong and include residents with backgrounds in the visual arts, drama, music and literary arts.

The newly formed council isn’t wasting anytime getting the ball rolling. At Monday’s meeting, the panel agreed to have a fundraising entertainment event on Jan. 20. Khoo will be putting a lot of it together, but the council will be putting out a call for volunteers.

The fundraiser, which will be at the community center, will be a two-part activity. Tentative plans call for a bake decorating contest and silent auction set for 5:30 to 7 p.m. and then entertainment from 7 to 8:30 p.m.The cornerstones of the entertainment segment, dubbed an arts and cultural celebration, will be a Chinese acrobat troupe, the Jacksonville High School Jazz Ensemble and choir and Storeygard’s musical group.

Tickets will start at $20, but the council doesn’t plan to charge people coming in just for the silent auction or to see the decorated cakes. There will be a $10 registration fee to enter a cake, and the cakes will be part of the silent auction, along with art-related items and just some fun stuff.

Khoo expects the program to raise about $10,000, which the council can use for what it is calling the Jacksonville Center for the Arts.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said PCSSD is very supportive of the city and the council’s plans but that nothing can be done until the district has the property appraised. The mayor said no date has been given for that appraisal to be completed.

But that didn’t deter the excitement or exuberance of those at the arts council meeting.

The group is also planning a citywide contest to come up with a design for the council logo. “We want to involve as many people as possible,” Mitchell said.

She sees the council and the future arts center as building the foundation for the future and preserving the past.

“If we get the Jacksonville school property it will allow us to use buildings full of memories. Buildings that are pillars of the community,” she said, adding that her husband’s parents attended Jacksonville Elementary.

Mitchell added that everyone is an artist and the council and center will provide opportunities for people to start enjoying the arts at a younger age. But she quickly said that artistic skills have no age boundaries.

“We have a 70 year old on the council who has just started to paint with watercolors.”

Bonham is equally excited about the direction of the council and the proposed center. “It will be a magnet for everyone from Little Rock through Cabot. We will be filling a large void,” she said.

The council will meet again at 6 p.m. Tuesday at city hall and the meeting is open to everyone who has an interest in the arts.

SPORTS >> Cunningham sets commitment bar for Bison football

Leader sportswriter

Don’t tell Carlisle senior lineman Ryleigh Cunningham his generation is lazy. He can prove that theory false in one workout.

And should the Bison hoist the 2A state championship trophy tonight at the conclusion of the championship game against Strong, Cunningham’s hand on the trophy will be a well deserved placement.

Cunningham, a starting left offensive tackle for the Bison, has been a part of the program since his seventh-grade year under coach Scott Waymire. His acceptance into the world of football was not immediate as a pudgy kid in junior high school, but the work ethic instilled in him by parents Richard and Marla Cunningham helped him conquer his conditioning and develop into a leader on the offensive line.

“Ryleigh Cunningham is one of the types of kids that are the reason I’m in this business,” Waymire said. “We’ve got several kids who have been talented since they started in seventh-grade, but Ryleigh Cunningham is a young man who has been in our program for six years, and everything he’s earned he’s worked for.”

Waymire prefers a hard-nosed style of football, and his tightened-up version of the double-wing offensive package fits the bill with players like Cunningham blocking up front. Cunningham and the rest of the offensive line proved just how effective a dominant line can be during last week’s 34-7 rout over East Poinsett County in the semifinals.

The Bison line blew EPC defenders back as much as five yards off the ball, creating huge running gaps that allowed the backs to pick up first downs with ease.

Carlisle’s 13-0 run to the state championship game started back in the summer in the weight room for daily workouts, with seniors required to post anywhere from 18 to 25 workouts to acquire special privileges. Cunningham finished the summer with 60 workouts to his credit.

“That just tells you his hard work and dedication,” Waymire said. “And to see a young man like him succeed because of his hard work – it’s special to me. And I think our players see him, and they respect him, because they know where he came from.”

Cunningham said there was no magic moment or flash of inspiration involved when it came to his decision to develop into a football player, just good parenting.

“Back in seventh-grade, my dad told me to work my tail off, so that’s what I did,” Cunningham said. “My parents told me, ‘If you’re going to do something, give it your all,’ so I pretty much just put my head down and started working.”

Cunningham started working out twice a day, and by ninth-grade, all traces of the little plump seventh-grader were gone, replaced by a muscular freshman intent on developing into a stronger athlete.

His freshman year was also when Cunningham began to see his hard work paying off on the football field. He was able to push defenders back more effectively and was able to run harder.

No one is aware of Cunningham’s blocking prowess more than Carlisle senior quarterback Zac King, who has been the main beneficiary of all that hard work over the years.

“Ryleigh, he’s worked extremely hard,” King said. “He’s in the weight room twice, maybe three times a day during the summer. He’s a good offensive lineman – he’s blocked well for all the backs and for me. He’s just a good person all around.”

Cunningham’s work ethic is not just reserved for football. He has a 3.5 GPA student and is a part-time employee of the local Mayflower grocery store. And when the Bison show up at War Memorial Stadium today, He will have one more day of hard work on the football field, and one more game alongside his longtime friends and teammates with a shot at the state’s biggest prize.

“It’s just exciting,” Cunningham said. “You probably couldn’t have told me during the summer that we would be 13-0 and playing in the state finals. But we set goals to do that, and we’re accomplishing those goals.

“We’re like family – we’ll call it up and say, ‘Family on three.’ We’re just like brothers. We just work hard and try to make everybody better.”

SPORTS >> Depth not where it should be for Devils

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Red Devils showed dominance in the paint through all four quarters as they out-rebounded Bentonville 30-13, winning its first game of the John Stanton Wampus Cat Invitational on Thursday night at Conway High School.

All five starters for Jacksonville looked impressive on both sides of the court, but other role players coming off the bench stepped in as well as the Red Devils’ ran over the Tigers 56-35.

Although some of the role players played well, Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner would like to see other guys contribute.

“My first seven or eight I’ll say are coming on, but we’ve got to get some more depth,” Joyner said. “The 6A is so grueling and so tough that we have to get some more guys stepping up and ready to play.”

Jacksonville got off to a good start as they jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead before Bentonville called a timeout.

Jacksonville’s defense has often been press heavy this season.

Bentonville’s quick, ball-handling guards have shown as of late that they don’t have a problem beating a press defense.

“We didn’t want to press them, and let them break the press,” Joyner said. “I saw on breaking the press they’re pretty good, and we just wanted to play our best man-to-man defense and just challenge them.”

The Red Devils scored the first six points of the second quarter, but after that both sides scored eight points each to make the score 28-16 going into the half.

Red Devil senior post player Tirrell Brown scored eight of his 10 points in the first half, and junior point guard Justin McCleary did a good job of feeding his big men early while getting the offense in rhythm. McCleary finished with nine points and three assists, scoring seven of those points in the first half.

Despite a 39-25 lead after three quarters, Joyner wasn’t comfortable with his team’s play.

“We’ve got a lot of kids not playing focused,” Joyner said. “A lot of the kids are not where we need them to be. They have to catch up. We executed pretty good for the most part, but we have some kids that we’re depending on who are not showing up right now.”

Jacksonville showed a lot of different looks defensively in the fourth while switching various players in and out of the game.

The Tigers did all they could to catch up, but the harder they tried, the more they turned the ball over against Jacksonville’s man defense.

Brown’s 10 points led the Red Devils while three other Jacksonville players scored nine, including McCleary, Aaron Smith and Dewayne Waller, who scored all of his points in the second half.

Post player Nick Smith led the Tigers with 15 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Austin Heard had seven.

Joyner believes his team’s performance over the next several games will say a lot about who is and isn’t ready to step up.

“We’ve got five games to see who’s ready to play before conference starts,” Joyner said.

SPORTS >> Panther Tourney providing good ball

Special to The Leader

The Cabot Panthers and Lady Panthers didn’t take the floor in the Cabot Pre-Holiday Tournament for three days after opening the event on Monday, but there has still been plenty of good basketball at the new Panther Arena.

With three defending state champions in the tournament along with some playoff regulars and contenders, the girls bracket is one of the better tournament lineups in the state.

England, Shiloh Christian and Watson Chapel are each defending champs, while Cabot and Jessieville have made recent runs.

The boys side isn’t quite as loaded, but athletic teams like Watson Chapel, Wynne and England came in looking to compete with bigger schools like Cabot and Benton — the defending 6A-South champ.

Tuesday saw the action take a bit of a hit as Shiloh Christian was unable to make the trip due to road conditions, forfeiting their opening games against Searcy. The late games didn’t disappoint, as the Nettleton Lady Raidersbeat the Watson Chapel Lady Wildcats 47-42, while the Chapel boys beat Wynne 59-54.

Jovione Bailey led Watson Chapel with 26 points after a great first half, where he scored 18 to lead the Wildcats to a big lead.

Wednesday had two games on the schedule, with the England Lady Lions taking down Jessieville 66-61 while the Benton Panthers dispatched England 67-44.

Janeka Watkins was dominant for the Lady Lions in their win with 33 points, while Jessieville was led by Peyton Herrell’s 26 points.

For the boys, Benton’s 6-9 junior Graham Gardner scored 13 points, matched by sophomore teammate Josh Bowling. England was led by Josh Fudge with 15 points.

Thursday night saw two champions go down on the girls side, with Watson Chapel and England both losing.

Jessieville beat Chapel 45-33 behind Herrell’s 16 points, but won’t be able to advance to the consolation game Saturday. Many of the players are taking the ACT test that day, so Watson Chapel will take their place instead.

The Lady Lions couldn’t keep up with the Lady Raiders in double overtime in a 67-60 loss. England had their star twin guards, Janeka and Jameka Watson, foul out in regulation, with Janeka fouling out in the third quarter after scoring 28 points. Aria Dunbar had 20 points for England, but was the only Lady Lion on the court with points in overtime. Nettleton was led by Jennifer Towne’s 19 points, while Lexi Beliew added 18 more — 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The final game Thursday night wasn’t as close as expected with Benton taking control and beating Watson Chapel 52-33.

The game was close through the first quarter until a Zach Stuckey three-pointer near the end of the quarter sparked a 10-0 run in the second quarter.

Thaddeus Caffery scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for Benton, while point guard Nate Griffin led the Panthers with six assists and six rebounds to go with 11 points.

The Cabot Lady Panthers and Panthers both played Searcy on Friday, with the winners advancing to today’s championship.

The girls winner will play Nettleton at 6 p.m., while the boys winner takes on Benton at 7:30 p.m.. The loser of the girls game plays England at 3 p.m. The boys loser plays Watson Chapel at 4:30 p.m.

SPORTS >> Will fifth time be the charm?

Leader sports editor

When Carlisle takes the field at 6:30 p.m. today at War Memorial Stadium to face the Strong Bulldogs in the class 2A state championship, it will have an advantage in one key area, experience. The Bison have been there before. Although none of the current players have played in a state championship game, the tradition of success permeates the program. Carlisle has played in the state title game four times, but hasn’t won one. For Strong, this year marks the first time it has even been to the semifinals. It handled that task well. Strong coach Shane Davis has no qualms calling his team the underdog, but says it’s a role his squad is used to.

“We play in the same conference with Bearden and Junction City, which are both powerhouses every year it seems like. So we’re used to being underdogs. We’ve been underdogs since day one, so it’s no big deal to us. This is the first year a team from our conference not named Bearden or Junction City has ever been to the title game. So we’re fighting for respect.”

Carlisle coach Scott Waymire doesn’t see anyone as an underdog at this point.

“To me there’s no underdog,” Waymire said. “Both of us had to fight hard to get here and both teams are very good. It’s one of those situations where it’s just hard to get here. It’s very hard to get here. It’s a major challenge to get here and we know that. Our kids know that. They’ve seen kids on good football teams not make it here. So we want to enjoy it but we want to take care of business while we’re here because we also know how good Strong must be to have made it here, too.”

Strong (10-3) had an up-and-down regular season. The Bulldogs were 4-3 after seven games and had just lost to Parker’s Chapel, which finished the season 4-6. Chapel, though, beat three other playoff teams besides Strong, including Carlisle rival Des Arc by 21 points.

After the loss to Parker’s Chapel, Davis made some personnel changes, and the Bulldogs have been on a roll. Sophomore Jacoby Heard started the season at quarterback, while Louisiana Tech signee Kenneth Dixon lined up at running back. After the third loss, Dixon took over most quarterback duties while Heard moved to receiver. There are still times when Heard will line up at quarterback though.

“Heard was still learning, and he was making some mistakes,” Davis said. “That falls on me for putting a sophomore in that situation in such a tough conference. We made the change and a couple of others, and we’ve been winning. So we’re hoping it continues.”

Strong lines up in the spread, but keeps it on the ground most of the time. Dixon ran it 43 times last week against Junction City. He has 2,805 rushing yards this season, that’s just 295 short of the state single-season record despite Strong having two open dates this season.

“He’s our horse, there’s no doubt about it,” Davis said. “But we’ve got a number of guys we feel comfortable giving the ball to.”

Lamar Williams, Arriun Gatson, Jamarian Ford and Antonio Green have all had plenty of carries and big runs this season.

The plethora of talented backs is not lost on Waymire.

“They’re loaded with athletes,” Waymire said. “Dixon’s the name guy because he carries the load, but they’ve got runners. They’ve always got runners, and guys that can make you miss in open space.”

Runners aren’t the only thing Strong has. The Bulldogs feature a defensive front that averages about 260 pounds, and most of them can move as well.

“Defensively they are very aggressive,” Waymire said. “They’ve got a defensive end that’s about 6-foot-7. They have size and speed up front. It’s going to be a ball game.”

Davis looks at Carlisle and sees similar strengths to his own team. The Bison don’t have a Kenneth Dixon, but they have several players who can effectively run the ball. They also have decent size and great athleticism on the lines.

“They have a number of guys that tote the football and tote it well,” Davis said. “Defensively the thing that’s impressive is how multiple they are. They’re in a three front one time, then a four front, and then you look out there and they’re in a five. They do it all very well. It’s a very well-coached team.”

Despite a first-round bye, Carlisle had a tough road to the title game, facing defending state runner up Danville in its first playoff game. After winning that game 22-16 with a fourth-quarter drive, the Bison repeated the feat to beat Gurdon 13-12.

In the Bison’s first playoff game as true underdogs, they hammered East Poinsett County 34-7 to get to the title game.

Strong is probably better than all those teams, but Waymire says there is one in particular he finds similar.

“I liken them a lot to Danville,” Waymire said. “They have so much speed, but they have size too. Danville was an outstanding ball club; Gurdon, outstanding ball club; EPC had an outstanding ball club. And we have a heck of a ball club and what makes us special is we are a ball club. All 40 on the team make up our team. There’s no selfishness among this group and that’s special.”

This year’s Carlisle seniors were in seventh-grade when Waymire took over as head coach of the entire Bison football program. That makes this group the first he’s coached all six years of their time at Carlisle. It’s a fact that Waymire takes to heart.

“It does make it more meaningful because you’ve seen guys grow up,” Waymire said. “It’s special because you build bonds. Whether we’re here or we go 0-10, those bonds can’t be replaced. I think of these guys as family and I hope they consider me in the same way.”

Each town is excited as well. Davis has never seen the Strong community so united.

“The whole town is excited,” Davis said. “I don’t know if anyone’s feet have touched the ground yet.”

The Carlisle community is a bit more used to this kind of success, but is once again abuzz after a long stint without a championship shot.

“Twelve years is a long time, and there’s been a lot of good football here in those 12 years,” Waymire said. “This town is always so supportive. They’re excited just like they’re excited every Friday night. It’s been a wonderful place for me and my family since we got here six years ago. Carlisle is a special place with special kids. There are high expectations here, and we like that.”

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville defendant awaits trial

Special to The Leader

Ronald Dean Charles, 33, is expected to be the star witness in August against his former co-defendant, Troy Allen Crook of Jacksonville.

Charles last week pleaded guilty to two murders in Faulkner County and one in Pulaski County in exchange for three concurrent life sentences.

The state is seeking the death penalty when Crook, 32, stands trial on two counts of capital murder in the April 9, 2008, beating deaths of cousins Bobby Don Brock, 45, and Lonnie Franklin Brock, 62, in rural Faulkner County near Vilonia, according to Faulkner County Prosecutor Cody Hiland.

The deaths occurred during a robbery with firearms among the items taken.

Charles, a Cabot resident raised in Jacksonville, pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to first-degree murder of both Brocks and a day later in Pulaski County, to the murder of Sandra Givens. One of the conditions of the plea bargain requires Charles to testify truthfully in Crook’s trial, Hiland said Tuesday.

Charles is in the Pulaski County Detention Center awaiting transfer to the Department of Correction to begin a life sentence, according to Lt. Carl Minden, sheriff’s office spokesman.

In exchange for guilty pleas to reduced first-degree murder charges and his agreement to testify against Crook, Charles avoided a possible death penalty.

Charles had been in the Faulkner County Jail awaiting trial for the deaths of the Brocks when he told investigators about his part in killing Givens, whom he knew only as Cassandra, but whose picture he identified from a photo lineup, according to Pulaski County deputy prosecutor Marianne Satterfield.

Givens, the 32-year-old mother of two from White County, had been missing for about a year when Charles led police to a shallow grave outside Wright’s Cabinet Shop in a wooded area off Corey Drive at the Jacksonville industrial park. She was identified from dental records.

Charles also told investigators of another body in northern Pulaski County off Ann Lane. But the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, aided by cadaver dogs, called off the search after two days.

Charles also told police at the time that he was responsible for killing about 15 other women — prostitutes — in neighboring states over about three years, but no other victims were ever found.

In connection with the deaths of the Brocks, both Charles and Crook were charged in Faulkner County with two counts of capital murder, two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of theft of property and two counts of being felons in possession of firearms.

George Allen Smith had also been charged in connection with Given’s death. But when Charles was temporarily found to be unfit to stand trial by way of mental defect, the charge against Smith was dropped.

Charles’ testimony would have been the only evidence against Smith, according to Satterfield, other than the fact that Smith was one of several Wright Cabinet Shop employees who knew how to get in to the building, where the murder occurred.

Charles said he, Smith and Givens smoked crack before he smashed her head with a pipe wrench.

Charles told police the wrench was hidden in a vat of oil, and Satterfield said officers found it there.

The cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma, Satterfield said.

Charles said he was hearing voices at the time of the murder.

He also told prosecutors and the court that he chopped Givens’ legs and bent them backward so the body would fit in a short, shallow grave.

Hiland couldn’t give much information about the murders of the Brocks, he said Tuesday, since Crook’s trial is still pending.

He did say they were beaten to death with a tractor part or accessory.

Crook is awaiting trial in the Faulkner County Jail, the prosecutor said. “We look forward to an August trial date,” he added.

Both men have prior records, Charles’ stretching back to a 1995 Pulaski County conviction for two counts of commercial burglary and two counts of theft of property. He was 18 at the time and was sentenced to two years in prison.

In 1999, he was sentenced to six years for residential burglary and theft of property.

Crook was convicted in Pulaski County for residential burglary in 2000. His probation was revoked in 2001 and he was convicted in 2006 of fraudulent use of a credit card.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

TOP STORY >> Longtime pastor quits at McArthur Assembly

Leader staff writer

Senior Pastor Larry Burton resigned the Sunday after Thanksgiving from McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville, because he had committed “a momentary, unethical act,” he told the congregation.

Associate Pastor Marc Bateman of Austin will take over until the church hires a new senior pastor. He refused to comment on his colleague’s resignation.

Burton had served at McArthur for 26 years. He is a third-generation Pentecostal and his parents were Rev. Lester and Betty Burton.

In 1972, at the age of 17, he attended the Southwestern Assemblies of God Bible College and then transferred to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He completed his biblical studies through Berean Bible College in Missouri.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he arrived at McArthur “when the church was running a handful of people; there were 17 people in our first service. God has richly blessed our lives here at McArthur. We are blessed to pastor the greatest group of people on the planet. They are more than a church, they are a family. I am also blessed to work with some awesome staff.”

Now, more than 1,100 people attend Sunday morning services at the church.

His first pastor position was at Pinnacle Assembly of God in Roland, where he worked from 1984 to 1986.

EDITORIAL >> Cut taxes for workers

Both parties have pulled ahead and run behind in the yearlong tax-cut derby, but now it is time to end the political machinations and put the national interest first. It is, in fact, urgent.

If Congress does not act before the Christmas break, most Americans, including 1.5 million Arkansas families, will see their paychecks shrink by the average annual sum of $1,000 starting Jan. 1. Payroll taxes, which finance Social Security and part of Medicare, would be restored to the levels that were collected before President Obama took office. At some point they need to be restored, but economists who study these things say that restoring the 6 percent rate now while demand and consumer spending are still weak could tip the country back into recession. It is too big a risk to take.

The Democratic majority in the Senate stood ready to pass a bill to continue the 4 percent tax rate and lower it a trifle further, but they need a super-majority to overcome a Republican filibuster, and they could get only one Republican senator—the redoubtable Susan Collins of Maine—to go along.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is in a worse predicament. Republicans are themselves deeply divided over whether working people should have gotten even the tax break they received in President Obama’s 2009 stimulus program. In a closed caucus where no one could be identified, the arch-conservative wing, mostly congressional newcomers, insisted that Republicans stand firm against continuing the lower tax rates beyond the end of the year.

Whether Arkansas’ Republican congressmen, including our own Tim Griffin, stood with them was not clear, but we fear the worst. Griffin has favored tax cuts for corporations and people with high incomes over lower rates for workers.

The arguments in the caucus apparently were that Republicans could defend their vote by arguing that reduced payroll tax rates impaired the Social Security Trust Fund and moved up the day, now projected to be about 2037, when Social Security would have to reduce benefits. Besides, voting for continuation of the payroll tax cut or an even lower tax rate would hand the Democrats and the president a victory. For that faction, it is all about the 2012 election.

The payroll-tax issue has been particularly troublesome for the Republicans. Cutting taxes has been the party’s mantra for a while; it takes precedence over everything. They have whaled the Democrats as taxers and spenders, and it helped give them the edge in the 2010 midterm elections. But Democrats have seized the advantage on the payroll tax cut. Republicans, they say, want to cut taxes only for the rich and big business, while insisting that relief for working people is a budget buster.

Republicans throughout the last decade and up through last spring said tax cuts should not have to be paid for—that is, offset by spending cuts or tax enhancements elsewhere so that they do not increase the deficit. But when the president wanted to extend the payroll tax cuts for workers, they suddenly had to be paid for. The president and the Democratic leadership propose to offset the loss of payroll tax revenue by a temporary surtax of about 2 percent on people with net incomes of more than $1 million a year.

So far, every Republican in the House and Senate, except for Senator Collins, say they will not vote to raise taxes on millionaires—period. Not a dime, although the effective tax rate on millionaires is now the lowest since before the Great Depression. If the payroll tax cut is extended, Republican leaders in the House want to offset the treasury loss by having government agencies lay off thousands of employees. Increasing the ranks of the unemployed doesn’t sound like a good recession strategy.

The Democrats are having far too much fun deriding the Republican hypocrisy—a little dignified statesmanship might have actually accomplished their purpose—but they do have a point. Putting money into the pockets of people who will actually buy goods and services and create a demand for jobs is the best economic stimulus the government can undertake. Let’s hope our representatives put the national interest ahead of party advantage.

TOP STORY >> Artist combines inspiration, faith

Leader staff writer

 Theresa Cates, a North Little Rock artist, is working on the next mural in a series of outdoor paintings for Keep Jacksonville Beautiful.

Cates is a case manager for the Department of Workforce Services in Jacksonville. She is also a member of the Evangelistic Ministries Church on Elm Street.

For the mural, she is planning to incorporate the soaring bird in the city’s logo, the state flag, and three church women in red, white and blue dresses carrying purses and Bibles.

Art is a way for Cates to find peace and express herself after being abused by her father as a child.

Her mother would draw stick figures on tissue paper, inspiring Cates to take up painting.

“It was a way to go to my happy place,” Cates said.

“In school, I would do the stick figures and add personalities to the women in the drawings, making them happy,” she said.

Many of the women in her paintings wear hats. Cates said for a black woman attending church, wearing a hat is her pride and glory. “It is the icing on the cake. Hats are fun, showing joy and beauty,” Cates said.

The church is another important aspect of Cates’ artwork.

“Church is what built me up and made me a better person. The church is like a hospital. You go in there with something, if you let it go there, you don’t come out with it. It is a medicine,” Cates said.

“The services are very active. It makes me feel better and gives me strength to keep going,” she said.

Some days Cates brings her easel to church and paints during the service. Other times she is working in her studio, either the dining room or garage.

“Music is important to me. I put on worship songs and paint. I’m able to go deep, adding movement and motion to the painting. Listening to the music helps me make the painting talk,” Cates said.

The Bible and angels are other religious themes in her art.

“Sometimes I feel like the ladies in the painting. They are what I am going through in my point in my life,” Cates said.

Cates is a self-taught artist.

“It is something that I sat down and decided to do. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some acrylic paints. It dries fast. I sat down, played around for 30-minutes to see what they would look like,” she said.

Six years later Cates has her works on display and for sale at the Red Door Gallery off JFK Boulevard in the Park Hill area of North Little Rock.

She paints canvases, Christ-mas ornaments, platters and Bible covers.

Cates donates some of her work to the Heart Association and to Children’s Hospital.

“I like to support causes,” she said.

During Christmas she gives her paintings away at her church. She said she likes seeing the happiness in people’s faces.

She has heard others say the paintings take them back to how their aunts, families or church members once worshiped. They are fun, happy, joyful and colorful.

“I have people collect my works,” she said.

Cates said her children, Kevin, 24, Justin, 22, Tyler, 11, Michael, 18, and Hannah, 8, help in naming her paintings.

Next year Cates plans to paint more outside. She would also like to talk to people about painting and doing live painting demonstrations.

TOP STORY >> Eyewitness remembers Pearl Harbor

Leader executive editor

(This column about the late McLyle Zumwalt first appeared here on Dec. 9, 1989, and is reprinted to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He died in 2001.)

Most people think of retired Col. McLyle Zumwalt as one of the organizers of Pathfinders, which trains the developmentally and physically disabled in Jacksonville.

Many people remember him as the commander of Little Rock Air Force Base from 1966 to 1970, when he retired to go into business and helped build Pathfinders into the largest private organization of its kind in the state.

But even those who knew him well probably don’t realize how much he accomplished in the military.

He trained bombing crews and commanded several bases, but it might astonish you to discover that he played a role in the nation’s atomic program.

In 1945, while he was assigned near Albuquerque, N.M., he provided air support for the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

While attached to the Manhattan Project, Zumwalt worked with Gen. Leslie Richard Groves, who headed the atomic program and kept the temperamental scientists in line.

Zumwalt met most of them: J. Robert Oppenheimer, the genius who was torn over the awesome power he was about to unleash; Dr. Edward Teller, the hard-charging Hungarian immigrant who later developed the H-bomb and had no qualms about it (and was the driving force behind Star Wars missile defense shield), and scores of other scientists who rallied around Gen. Groves and got the job done.

America had made its mind up to win the war, and nothing less than unconditional surrender was acceptable. That happened just over three years after America’s humiliation at Pearl Harbor, when the Axis powers seemed invincible.

Zumwalt is a Pearl Harbor survivor, and he spoke at the state Capitol marking the anniversary of that attack when America was caught off guard and yet quickly recovered and marshaled all of its resources to defeat two great totalitarian powers.

Since the Capitol rally was organized by the group Arkansas Peace Through Strength, the Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance had a clear message: America must not leave itself defenseless.

“We were unprepared to go to war at the time,” Zumwalt told us. “We were trying to build a fighting force in the Pacific and in the U.S., and if the Japanese had destroyed our carrier fleet, they would have had control of the Pacific.”

That didn’t happen.

“We were rebuilding as fast as we could come up with the equipment,” Zumwalt said. “Pearl Harbor solidified every American.”

The U.S. was caught off guard, but the devastation that was Pearl Harbor did not please the admiral who had organized the surprise attack.

“He said, ‘I’m afraid we’ve awakened a sleeping giant,’” Zumwalt recalled.

It was just before 8 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, at Hickman Field outside Pearl Harbor when 2nd Lieut. Zumwalt, 22, saw the first Japanese plane approach the airfield and drop torpedo bombs on the flight line below.

More than 360 other planes followed in two waves over a two-hour period. Zumwalt, who had been in his apartment when he noticed the first plane approaching, immediately ran to the air strip and saw airmen dying all around him.

There had been extra guards on duty to prevent sabotage on the ground.

“The thing that made it so devastating is that we had reinforced sabotage alert,” Zumwalt said. “We had more airmen there. The aircraft were parked so we could get maximum security.”

Instead, the planes were sitting ducks as the Japanese continued their ferocious bombing.

“They strafed us from almost plane level, and they left us when they ran out of ammunition,” Zumwalt said. “The base commander was trying to save planes and was caught on the ramp, and the only protection he had was how close he got to the pavement.”

Zumwalt went on, “I was the officer guard for a week prior to Sunday, and I got acquainted with most of the men. Most of the security people were lost in the first attack. I knew most of those boys.

“The flight line was the worst place to be,” Zumwalt continued. “You’re trying to function for two hours moving the airplanes and moving the wounded, but the Japanese kept coming. They were hitting all their targets. They lifted the roof off a large maintenance depot. We lost 188 planes and 63 were damaged. We had 30 planes left.”

Out in the harbor, the destruction was just as terrible. Four battleships were sunk and others damaged. Thousands of servicemen were dead and wounded.

“We only had one B-17 left,” Zumwalt said.

There were a few more of the less sophisticated B-18s left.

“The next day, we took off. I flew out in a B-18, which had three .30-caliber guns you cranked up manually,” he said, giving you an idea how much catching up the country had to do.

Eventually, the fighting forces caught up with the enemy and delivered stunning blows in the Battle of Midway and Wake Island and Guadalcanal, where Zumwalt saw action.

“We had broken the Japanese code,” he said, “and we were able to be alerted that they were approaching. We didn’t know exactly when and where, but we knew they were coming.”

Things had changed since Pearl Harbor, but its lessons are no less valuable than they were in 1941.

Just ask the survivors.

SPORTS >> Carlisle ladies top Glen Rose from outside

Leader sportswriter

Getting fired up for the fifth-place game of the Benton-Harmony Grove invitational basketball tournament was a concern for Carlisle Lady Bison coach Jonathan Buffalo, but the team responded well in a 52-34 defeat of Glen Rose in the final round on Saturday.

The Lady Bison (2-3) scored nearly half of their points from the outside with eight, three-point baskets, as Carlisle broke free from a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter to dominate the final thee periods.

“Both teams played hard,” Buffalo said. “The girls gave great effort and shot the ball well from the outside. Fourth quarter, they came out with a man-to-man defense, and that gave us some good looks inside. We were able to control the game to the end.”

Kelli Petrus led the Lady Bison with 20 points while Ashley Keathley added 10 points. Callie Hillman rounded out high scorers for Carlisle with seven points.

“Defensively, I thought we did a good job of mixing our man to man with our zone defense. We held them to one field goal in the fourth quarter. We also blocked out well. We tried to get them motivated, and for a fifth-place game on a Saturday afternoon, I thought they responded well.” Buffalo said the strong defense that held the Lady Beavers to 34 points was the result of a complete team effort.

Glen Rose matched the defensive intensity of Carlisle through one period as the teams battled to a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Bison got going offensively in the second quarter and built a 21-14 lead at the half.

Carlisle extended its lead slightly at the end of the third quarter, leading 36-25 before outscoring the Lady Beavers 16-9 in the final frame. The Lady Bison held Glen Rose to one field goal in the final eight minutes.

The Bison basketball teams were supposed to begin 2A-6 Conference play this week, but the football Bison dumped those plans when they routed East Poinsett County in the semifinal round of the Class 2A football playoffs last Friday. The victory put the Bison in the state championship game against Strong on Saturday, and pushed back basketball conference play for the Carlisle teams until next Tuesday when they host local rival Hazen.

SPORTS >> Devils pull away from Memphis-Arlington

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils dominated the paint and the boards in winning its Battle of the Border Showcase game against Memphis-Arlington at Hall High School in Little Rock on Saturday.

Jacksonville out-rebounded Arlington High 32-13 and got 30 points from its two starting post players to earn a 60-48 win.

Rebounding has been one of the major points of emphasis during Jacksonville’s practices. Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner liked what he saw Saturday.

“For the most part we did an outstanding job boxing out,” Joyner said. “We don’t want to give people second shots, and we want to crash the boards offensively. It’s good to see the kids taking the coaching. It’s really pleasing to see the fruits of your labor and see the kids responding like they did.”

Both teams got off to a slow start. Jacksonville wasn’t hitting its shot attempts and Arlington could scarcely get any, especially inside.

The Red Devils’ defense limited the Tigers to just three shots from inside the three-point line in the first quarter. Even with the great defense, Jacksonville led just 11-9 at the end of one quarter.

“We thought both teams would take a feeling out process,” Joyner said. “Kind of like a boxing match. They don’t know teams from Arkansas. We don’t know how they play. We figured it would be like that and told the kids in pregame not to panic if that happens. Once that first quarter was over and they got the feel of what they were doing, we settled in and just played the game.”

Jacksonville turned on the pressure to start the second quarter and took control of the game. The Red Devils scored the first eight points of the frame to take an 18-9 lead, forcing Arlington coach Don Deaton to call timeout with 5:39 left in the half.

Post player Tirrell Brown led the way in the first quarter with six points. In the second, 6-foot-6 Dustin House came off the bench to drop in four of the Red Devils eight in the first few minutes.

“We’re going to make a concerted effort to throw the ball in there to the bigs,” Joyner said. “As long as those guys are being effective, we’re going to keep throwing the ball in there. Plus, we’re going to try to take advantage of our strengths and other team’s weaknesses. We felt like we had an advantage inside against that team so we wanted to commit to that.”

Jacksonville never could entirely get rid of the pesky Tigers. After taking a 26-16 lead into halftime, Jacksonville stretched the lead to 36-21 with three minutes left in the third quarter, and appeared to be on its way to running away with the win. But Arlington came back with a 9-2 run to trim the margin to eight points. Dewayne Waller hit a shot just before the buzzer to make it 40-30 at the end of three.

Jacksonville recommitted to going inside in the fourth quarter and kept Arlington from making another serious run. Brown scored half of his game-high 16 points in the final period.

While the Red Devil big men did their job, it took guards to get them the ball. Joyner was pleased with how his perimeter players stuck to the game plan, especially point guard Justin McCleary.

“Justin had his best game so far at point guard,” Joyner said. “He ran his team, got us into our sets. He only scored six points, but he accounted for about 20.”

McCleary finished the game with seven assists and four steals.

Waller finished with 13 and Xavier Huskey scored 10 for Jacksonville, which improved to 3-1. Arlington dropped to 5-2 with the loss.

Anthony Cole and Ryan Townes each scored 14 for the Tigers.

Little Rock earned a sweep over the Memphis schools in the three-game event. Little Rock Hall beat Memphis-East 79-72. Little Rock Parkview hammered Memphis-Mitchell 72-29.

The Red Devils are scheduled to play in the Wampus Cat Invitational in Conway that began last night. Due to some late cancellations, Jacksonville received a first-round bye, and doesn’t play until 5:30 p.m. Friday when it faces the winner between Fayetteville and North Pulaski.

SPORTS >> Bears take sting away from fiery Hornets

Leader sports editor

Maumelle gave it their best shot Friday night hosting Sylvan Hills. The Hornets’ best shot just wasn’t nearly good enough. The Bears overcame an energized Maumelle team at the start to cruise to a 90-53 victory.

“We’re going to get everybody’s best, there’s no doubt about that,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “That’s a position you’d rather be in than not be in, but my guys know they have to be ready for that each night out.”

The Hornets battled hard throughout the first half, even taking a 12-10 lead midway through the first quarter with a 6-0 run. Sylvan Hills closed the quarter with an 8-0 run. Dion Patton and Larry Zeigler each pitched in two buckets off dribble penetration to give the Bears an 18-12 lead.

Sylvan Hills stretched the lead to 41-27 by halftime. Archie Goodwin scored seven points while senior post player Anthony Featherstone came off the bench to provide a lot of energy under the basket. Featherstone missed the previous four games.

“I really think he carried us in the second quarter just with his energy,” Davis said. “He’s been out a while and was really looking forward to getting in there.”

Featherstone scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in the quarter.

Sylvan Hills ran away with it in the third quarter.

After struggling with foul trouble in the first half, post player Devin Pearson came alive to help spark Sylvan Hills’ game-clinching quarter.

Though he hit just one of six field goals, he was seven of eight from the free-throw line and dominated on the glass with five rebounds.

Goodwin also pitched in 13 points in the period and Patton became a one-man distribution center, dishing out five assists. It all added up to a 34-12 advantage for the Bears in the frame, and gave the visiting team a 75-39 lead by the start of the fourth quarter.

Clearing his bench, Davis got everyone in the game early in the fourth. Of the 15 players that got in the game, 13 got on the scoreboard. Goodwin led all scorers with 26 points and also had 11 rebounds and five steals.

Patton scored 11 points to go with his five assists and three steals. Zeigler also scored 11 and Daylon Jones added 10 for the Bears. Outside shooting still hasn’t come around for Sylvan Hills. The team made just three of 20 attempts from beyond the arc.

The Bears also weren’t great from the free-throw line, hitting 17 of 27 attempts, but they did dominate on the glass. Sylvan Hills won the rebounding battle 46-24.

Maumelle was four of 12 from the three-point line and made just eight of 20 free-throw attempts.

Reserve post player Kevin Donnerson led the Hornets with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Darrius Jones scored 10 for Maumelle.

Sylvan Hills (5-1) is off for two weeks due to having met the schedule limit of 18 games and three tournaments.

Sylvan Hills has already played in the Rumble on the Ridge and will play in the Poplar Bluff Showdown over the Christmas break.

They are also schedule to play in the Bass Pro Shop Invitational in Springfield, Mo. in January. The Bears won’t take the floor again until a Dec. 16 home game against White Hall.

SPORTS >> Cabot girls dominate in opening new facility

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers, having the honor of playing the first-ever game on Cabot’s new Panther Arena floor, opened it with a dominant performance Monday. The Lady Panthers beat Harding Academy 66-46 in the opening round of the Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic.

Though not filled to capacity, the arena was loud and the energy level was high.

Harding Academy guard Anna Lowery hit a three pointer late in the opening quarter to cut a nine-point margin to six, but Cabot began the second quarter with a big run that opened up the game.

“We really did start out with a lot of energy,” Cabot coach Carla Crowder said. “They were just so excited to get out here and finally play in this new facility. They really played hard.”

The Lady Panthers’ defense did the damage, harassing the Lady Wildcats into 26 turnovers. Cabot also dominated on the boards, finishing with a rebounding advantage of 33-20.

Reserve players sparked the second-quarter run.

Cabot went on an 11-2 run to start the second quarter. Of the 19 total points scored in the frame, 13 were by players coming off the bench.

Harding Academy didn’t score a basket from the field in the second quarter until 1:32 showing on the clock. That was a transition bucket by freshman point guard Riley Rose, who Crowder was impressed with.

“She was very good,” Crowder said. “She’s going to be an extremely good player.”

Crowder was also pleased with the play of reserve guard Maddie Smith, who scored 10 points off the bench in the first half to help Cabot pull away.

“She did a really good job,” Crowder said.

After going into halftime up 34-18, it appeared that Cabot might invoke the sportsmanship rule by the fourth quarter. The Lady Panthers’ lead reached 28 late in the frame at 51-23, but the lead never reached 30 points.

Harding Academy got hot from the outside in the final frame, hitting three of four three-point attempts to help close the final gap to 20.

Scoring was very balanced for both teams. Reserves led the Lady Panthers. Micah Odom led all scorers with 11 while Smith finished with 10. Elliot Taylor and Sydney Wacker finished with nine points apiece for Cabot. Melissa Wolff led Cabot with seven rebounds, while Wacker and Alexandra VanEnk each grabbed six rebounds.

All five of Harding Academy’s starters scored between six and eight points. Rose led the Lady Wildcats in several categories. She had a team-high, eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Kristen Lester also had six rebounds for HA.

Cabot resumes tournament play in the semifinal round at 7 p.m. Friday against Searcy, which advanced in the winners’ bracket after Shiloh Christian forfeited due to inclement weather.

Other first-round games include defending 2A state champion England facing Jessieville at 6 p.m. tonight. Nettleton battled defending class 5A state champion Watson Chapel last night. The winner of those two games meet at 7 p.m. Thursday.

SPORTS >> Panthers open arena with win

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers opened their new arena in style, smothering and running Paragould ragged en route to a 68-51 victory Monday in the first round of the first-ever Cabot Pre-Holiday Tournament.

The Rams hung tough for a quarter, largely because they dominated at rebounding and scored several second-chance baskets.

Paragould out-rebounded Cabot 9-2 in the first quarter as it built a 14-7 lead with 1:32 left in the opening frame. From that point until halftime, Cabot outscored the Rams 29-7.

It started with a furious 7-0 run to end the first period. Two layups by Arthur West and a three pointer by Clayton Vaught were all assisted by Michael Smith passes as Cabot tied the score at 14.

Once the Panthers committed to rebounding in the second quarter, their relentless defensive pressure wore down the visiting Rams.

“Really, rebounding is something we’ve done pretty well,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “We didn’t do it well in the first quarter tonight, but we got back to it and kept playing hard. After a while I think we started to wear them down.”

Cabot’s depth did begin to wear on the Rams. Paragould played just seven guys a significant amount of time, while Cabot had eight different players score in the second quarter alone. Paragould managed just one field goal in the second period and just seven points. Cabot pulled out to a 36-21 advantage by halftime and the Rams never got within 10 points the rest of the game.

Paragould took its last serious run at the beginning of the third quarter. The Rams got the margin down to 10 at 38-28, but post player Josiah Wymer came off the bench to spark another Cabot run that put the Panthers back in control for good.

Wymer scored six points in the third quarter and grabbed four rebounds. The lead was back to 15 at 53-38 by the end of the third, and only got bigger early in the fourth.

Cabot’s lead hit 20 points twice. The first time at 61-41 halfway through the final quarter. Both teams substituted freely from that point. Paragould hit a three pointer in the waning seconds to set the 17-point final margin.

Two of Cabot’s three leading scorers came off the bench.

“That’s good,” Bridges said. “I said at the beginning of the year that you’re probably going to see eight different guys lead us in scoring at some point this year. We’ve had four games now and three different leading scorers.”

Wymer led all scorers in Monday’s game, finishing with 15 points. West had 14 while Vaught finished with 11.

Chase Garner led Paragould with 10 points, though he only scored two baskets. Bryan Shrum came off the bench to deliver four assists for Cabot.

After the early rebounding struggles, Cabot closed that gap as each team finished with 26 rebounds.

The win lifts the Panthers to 3-0 on the season. They also won a nailbiter on the road last Friday, beating Pine Bluff 52-51.

Cabot will play the semifinal round of the winners’ bracket at 8:30 p.m. Friday against Searcy The Lions advanced in the winners’ bracket when Shiloh Christian had to forfeit due to inclement weather in northwest Arkansas.

Wynne or Watson Chapel in will play at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of tonight’s matchup between Benton and England.