Friday, February 24, 2012

TOP STORY >> Representative roasted to help wellness center

Leader staff writer

Could it mean something?

The day state Rep. Mark Perry files for re-election, he gets raked over the coals in public by his dad, younger brother and two best friends.

But the “raking” was in fun and for a good cause as Perry was the honored guest at the Jacksonville Senior Wellness and Activity Center’s 17th annual roast and toast.

More than 200 people spent Thursday night at the center laughing, snickering and smirking as the roasters all took shots at Perry and each other.

The annual event raises money for the center’s many activities, which include transporting seniors, delivering meals and providing health, welfare and social events for the city’s seniors.

The center’s mission is to improve the quality of life for seniors with a primary focus on the prevention and postponement of the requirement for nursing-home care. The center is staffed mostly by volunteers who logged about 6,500 hours of service with the center during 2011.

Other activities provided by the center include blood pressure and sugar testing, hearing testing, diabetic footwear fitting, health and nutrition education, scheduling doctors appointments, computer classes, day trips, holiday celebrations and in-house concerts.

Phillip Carlisle of First Arkansas Bank and Trust and a longtime friend of Perry’s, served as the master of ceremonies and let everyone know that Perry has been a salesman all his life from renting out beach chairs at Panama Beach to hawking T-shirts on the street corner. “I knew it was in his blood when he asked his wife, Valerie, to marry him and offered her a limited lifetime warranty,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle said with Perry there was no middle ground. “You either hate him or despise him. And let me tell you, he doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’, and like most politicians he doesn’t know the meaning of most words.”

Like so many roasts, many of the one-liners don’t bear repeating.

Introducing Bob Johnson, who is an accountant, Carlisle promised the crowd that Johnson’s jokes “would add up.”

Johnson told the crowd that when an accountant is asked what two plus two is, a real accountant will always reply, “what do you want it to be.”

Johnson started out by asking the crowd if they knew why God created politicians. “To make used car salesmen look good.

He also recalled a time he and Perry, who is a sports enthusiast, were out golfing and a hearse drove by. “Mark stopped right there on the tee and put his hat over heart and was solemn as the procession passed by. I told him that was very polite. He said it was the least he could do since it was his grandmother,” Johnson said.

Another time Johnson said he was out fishing with Perry and Perry told him not to worry that he would supply everything. “We got out into the middle of the lake, and I asked where the poles were. He said we didn’t need any poles that he had dynamite. Just throw it in the water and scoop the fish off the top. I told him I thought that was illegal. That’s when he lit the stick I was holding and said are you going to fish or talk.”

Johnson said as a legislator, Perry had a set of rules he always followed. Those rules included “Don’t lie, cheat or steal—unless you have to; if its worth fighting for, its worth fighting dirty; and an honest answer will get you into trouble and show up in the newspaper.”

Perry’s half-brother Scott was referred to by Carlisle as “the other mother’s son.

Scott talked about some of Perry’s work ethic. “He’s a firm believer in pack it, stack it and rack it and his favorite saying is let’s get busy, which means everyone else should get busy racking, packing and stacking.

He told the crowd one of the most important life lessons he learned from his big brother was “not to date two girls at UCA at the same time.” Scott made it clear the incident did not go well for his brother. “Especially when one of the girls was a better athlete than Mark, had a baseball bat and knew how to swing it,” Scott said.

He added that his big brother would often embarrass and cited a time when he was coaching his school team and Mark and Phillip came in whooping and wearing Hog hats. “The problem was, we weren’t the Hogs, we were the Bearcats.”

Perry’s dad, Bud, had a very important question for Mark. “You remember when you borrowed the truck to start your beach chair rental business? When do I get the truck back?”

Bud answered a lot of nagging questions when he told the crowd about Mark’s birth. “It was a bitter cold night in December 1961, and two boys were born that night and the hospital got them mixed up. So the other dad and I decided to flip a coin — I lost and got Mark. The other dad? Well, he got Bill Gates.”

Bud took the time to straighten out Mark on a few things about college. “Just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, you can’t take eight years to get a four-year degree. You don’t have to color your hair orange to get into UCA.

Hell-raising and partying are not credit course and boys aren’t allowed to sleep in the girls dorm.”

Both Perry’s dad and brother referred to a Hall High incident. Perry’s dad asked the crowd if they remembered the song “The Streak?”

“Well, I can tell you Mark didn’t write the song and he didn’t record it or sing it, but I’ll leave it up to you to make the connection.”

Perry had the last word and a chance to get even with his friends for the roasting they gave him.

Of Johnson, he asked the crowd if they knew how an accountant could liven up a party? “By leaving,” he said.

Perry admitted that Scott was his half brother. “That means he got half the brains and half he looks.

“And you don’t want to ‘diss’ your dad too bad, what with the inheritance coming up soon.”

The longtime Jacksonville resident and state representative closed the night saying it was a great honor to serve the people of Jacksonville and to be able to help the senior center.


Campaign filings for local and state began at noon Thursday with several competitive races shaping up in the area.

In Lonoke County, Sheriff Jim Roberson will face Austin Police Chief John Staley in the Republican Party primary.

Second Dist. Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock) and First Dist. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) have filed for re-election.

Dist. 41 Rep. Jim Nickels (D- Sherwood) will face Republican Alan L. Pogue in November.

Sen. Jonathan Dismang is being challenged by Rep. Tiffany Rogers of Stuttgart in Dist. 28.

Primaries will be held May 22. The general election is set for November.

Other area filings include:


Sen. Linda Poindexter Chester-field (D-Little Rock), Dist. 30.

Rep. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), Dist. 34.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R- Cabot), Dist. 29.


Rep. Davy Carter (R-Cabot), Dist. 43.

Rep. Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke), Dist. 14.

Rep. Mark W. Perry (D-Jackson-ville) Dist. 42.

Joe Farrer (R-Austin) Dist. 44.

Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) Dist. 45.


Assessor Janet Troutman Ward (D-North Little Rock).

Circuit Clerk Larry Crane (D-Little Rock).

Sheriff Doc Holladay (D-Little Rock).

Treasurer Debra Buckner (D- North Little Rock).

County Judge Floyd “Buddy” Villines (D-Little Rock).

Justice of the Peace Dist. 11:

Suzette McNeely (D-Jacksonville).

Justice of the Peace Dist. 12:

Jeff Rollins (R-Sherwood).


Judge Phillip Whiteaker of Cabot Court of Appeals associate judge Dist. 1, Pos. 2.

Tjuana Byrd of Sherwood circuit judge, Dist. 6, Div. 11, Subdistrict 6.2

John Hout of Sherwood circuit judge, Dist. 6, Div. 1, Subdistrict 6.2.

District Judge Robert Batton of Jacksonville is opposed by Marshall L. Nash.


Several candidates in Lonoke County arrived at the Lonoke Courthouse Thursday to submit their paperwork.

Most of the races are uncontested.

The following Lonoke County candidates have filed:

County Judge Doug Erwin.

Assessor Jack McNally.

County Collector Patricia McCallie.

County Clerk Dawn Porter-field, who is being challenged by William L. Clarke and Lisa Goodman.

Circuit Clerk Denise Brown

Sheriff Jim Roberson and his opponent John W. Staley.

Carlisle District Court Judge Joseph V. Svoboda.

JP Dist. 2 Barry D. Weathers II.

JP Dist. 3 Joshua McCann.

JP Dist. 4 B.L. “Ernie” Ernst.

JP Dist. 5 Tim Lemons.

JP Dist. 6 Lee Linville.

JP Dist. 7 Adam Sims.

JP Dist. 8 Tate House.

JP Dist. 10 Bill Ryker.

JP Dist. 12 Matt Sanders.

JP Dist. 13 Tim Yarboro.


Butler Township John Timothy Huett Sr.

Carlisle Township Ronald “Ronnie” Thrift.

Lonoke Township Adam Ingle.


Lonoke Position 5, Lloyd Whitaker.

TOP STORY >> Negotiations in PCSSD fail as two sides still far apart

Leader senior staff writer

Unions representing Pulaski County Special School District employees declared an impasse over contract negotiations Friday and asked state and federal mediators for a 10 a.m. Tuesday meeting. But three members of a former PCSSD personnel policy committee then called for election of teachers to a new personnel committee that could be empowered to replace the unions.

“I’m pleased with the unions’ recognition that we need to sit and talk,” state-appointed PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess said late Friday afternoon. “We want to talk about all the issues.

“The union has suggested a meeting date of Tuesday, and though the schedule of our negotiators will not permit that, we are offering to meet on Thursday,” Guess said.

But Marty Nix, president of the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers, and Emry Chesterfield, president of the Pulaski Association of Support Staff, wrote to Guess on Friday afternoon, notifying him of contact with the mediators.

Nix and Chesterfield wrote: “We will address the financial needs that you presented to the state Board of Education and the ways in which PACT and PASS can help, but we will not give up all of our professional negotiated agreements in the process.”

The teachers say the district wants to balance the budget by taking salary and benefits from the employees. The district says that’s where the money is.

PCSSD is so deep in fiscal distress that the state Education Department took it over in May, dissolving the school board, firing Superintendent Charles Hopson and appointing Guess superintendent. Guess and PCSSD chief financial officer Bill Goff want to cut the 2012-13 budget by about $13 million.

About 80 percent of the district’s $170 million budget is salary and benefits, so that attempt has brought the administration and unions into sharp conflict, because nearly all cuts would come out of their pockets.

The first bargaining session between PCSSD and the unions lasted just 30 minutes Wednesday. The teachers wanted to approve salaries (with no increase) and health benefits (with the district’s contribution cut in half), before discussing other policies that could include leave policy, professional growth classes, teacher-evaluation rules and compensation for non-teaching duties.

PCSSD negotiators told the unions that was a nonstarter, that everything was on the table and left the meeting.

“PACT and PASS have said in the media that they had offered to not propose raises for 2012-13 and or fringe benefits,” Guess said Friday. “But not getting a raise is not the same as a cut. Quite simply, that doesn’t help our budgetary situation with no changes to salary or fringe benefits. If I agreed to that I’d have taken off about 80 percent of the budget. When I agree to that, there is not much more to do.”

Guess told the state Board of Education on Feb. 13 that if the unions wouldn’t cooperate, he would act unilaterally, but he wouldn’t cite the authority to do so.

But ceasing recognition of the unions as bargaining agents for the employees and replacing them with personnel policy committees could open up renegotiation of aspects of the existing contract, including but not limited to:

Benefits, compensation, designation of workdays, holidays and non-instructional days, methods of evaluations, extra duties, leave, grievances, dismissal or non-renewal, reduction in force and assignment of teacher aides, according to Ark. Code Ann. §6-17-201(c).

A personnel policy committee would include three administrators and at least five teachers, and if one is to be formed, PACT can be expected to rally its members to fill the teacher positions.

“In light of the recent events in our district — the takeover by the state Board of Education, fiscal distress and renewed negotiations for upcoming contracts — the former personnel policies committee feels it would be wise to form a new committee to represent certified employees,” according to part of a letter sent to all certified PCSSD personnel by three members of the previous personnel policies committee, Robin Dorey, Traci Holland and Lani Moore.

Yesterday afternoon was the deadline for teacher nominations to a new personnel committee, according to the letter.

An entire negotiation represents an opportunity to reexamine any aspect of the contracts, including current policy that allows teachers to chose who evaluates them and a policy that allows teachers to earn more by taking homegrown professional growth classes taught at the district with local teachers paid — even for classes such as teaching Dr. Seuss books, Guess said.

“Professional growth courses are typically those taught at a university,” Guess said. Salary schedule movement is based on graduate-level courses.

“I know of no other district where teachers can advance on the professional growth salary schedule based upon non-college classes taught in the district,” he said.

He said professional growth salary, much of it based on the local classes, costs the district about $2.8 million a year.

The sprawling district, bogged down by a cumbersome desegregation agreement, and its powerful unions have an acrimonious history at least a decade old. It is marked by strikes, legal and illegal efforts by the board to decertify the unions and administrations and boards that ignored court rulings and binding arbitration.

The board was often divided, unions putting up friendly faces to run for board seats and campaigning for them.

PACT responded to neither phone messages, text messages or e-mails by press time.

SPORTS >> Red Devils claw back for victory

Leader sports editor

Maybe there was a motivational disparity, maybe the home team was distracted by senior-night festivities. Whatever the reason, Jacksonville trudged through the first half of its final home game on Tuesday against West Memphis. The Red Devils were able to overcome the big halftime deficit and survive the scare with a 49-43 win over the Blue Devils.

Jacksonville entered the final week of the regular season knowing it had the No. 2 seed locked up in the 6A state tournament regardless of what happened in its last two games.

West Memphis entered the game needing to win one of its last two games in order to qualify for the class 7A state tournament.

Whatever the reason for the slow start and narrow escape from a team it handled easily earlier this season at West Memphis, Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner didn’t bother to speculate.

“Why do teenagers do anything,” Joyner said. “You tell me why teenagers act like they do and we’ll both get rich.”

There was some strategy behind the turnaround and there may be something to the rumor that West Memphis has underachieved this year and was finally playing up to its potential on Tuesday.

Jacksonville (22-4, 11-2)opened the game in man-to-man defense and was beat soundly on the inside by the much taller Blue Devil team. Joyner opted for a 2-3 zone in the second half and that effectively eliminated West Memphis’ inside presence.

Jacksonville is a relatively big high school team and usually dominated on the inside. West Memphis, though, has three starters taller than Jacksonville’s tallest player.

“We had to go zone to take away that inside game,” Joyner said. “We wanted to force them to have to shoot from the perimeter and they didn’t shoot it very well. I think they only made one or two shots from outside the whole second half.”

West Memphis jumped ahead with early dominance inside, but broke the lead into double digits for the first team with its perimeter defense. Guard Latrelle Cunningham got back-to-back steals and layups to give the Blue Devils a 16-5 lead with 1:21 left in the first quarter. Joyner went to his bench for wholesale substitutions and the second five ended the period well, scoring the last five points of the quarter.

Kevin Richardson hit a driving floater and Crushawn Hayes hit a 35-footer at the buzzer to make it 16-10.

Joyner stayed with the second five to start the second quarter and they closed the gap to 18-14 when the starting five re-entered the game with 5:42 left in the half.

From that point, West Memphis outscored Jacksonville 10-3 to take a 28-17 lead into the break.

The Red Devils came out in the zone defense in the third quarter and executed on offense much better. Jacksonville went on an 11-2 that made it 30-28 with 4:10 left in the quarter. West Memphis was able to hold Jacksonville at bay for a little while longer, but once the Red Devils took their first lead with 5:59 left in the game, they never trailed again.

Senior guard Dwayne Waller gave Jacksonville its first lead when he hit two free throws that put Jacksonville up 36-35.

West Memphis tied it at 39 when an out-of-position official got in the way. With Jacksonville in a half court set and leading 39-37, an official got too deep down the sideline, causing Red Devil guard James Aikens to dribble the ball off the referee’s foot. Aikens also couldn’t give chase because the official was in the way, clearing the way for Cunningham to scoop it up and hit an uncontested layup.

Jacksonville overcame the bad luck at the free-throw line. Junior guard Justin McCleary scored Jacksonville’s only field goal of the fourth quarter, while he and his teammates combined to hit 13 of 15 foul shots in the final period. They had made just two of five attempts in the first three quarters.

West Memphis (17-9, 6-7) was also good from the line, making 12 of 14 attempts in the game.

McCleary led Jacksonville with 13 points while Tirrell Brown scored 11. Waller was scoreless in the first half but finished with eight points. Jalen Jackson led West Memphis with 15 points while Willie Atwood added 13.

Jacksonville played Mountain Home to close the regular season on Friday. West Memphis hosted Little Rock Parkview.

SPORTS >> Beebe girls can’t snap Paragould win streak

Leader sportswriter

Paragould’s pursuit of perfection in the 5A-East Conference came under serious fire in the final quarter against Beebe on Tuesday, but a last-second lay up by junior guard Carson Gill lifted the Lady Rams to a narrow 33-31 victory at Badger Sports Arena on Tuesday to close out the regular season.

The Lady Badgers (20-7, 10-4) fell behind 29-19 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 12-2 run down the stretch to tie the game at 31 with 53 seconds left to play. Beebe kept up the defensive pressure on the other side and forced the ball out three different times before the final inbounds play with just under eight seconds remaining led to the backdoor-style shot from Gill.

The Lady Rams (23-4, 14-0) had already wrapped up the East title the week before but came into the hostile environment at Beebe with something still left to prove in preparation for the 5A state tournament at Greene County Tech beginning on Tuesday.

“We kind of expected that coming in,” Lady Rams coach Jay Cook said. “We had one similar to that early in the conference season. They’re second in the conference for a reason – they’re a really good basketball team.”

Savannah Walker gave the Lady Rams their biggest lead of the game when she scored inside to make it 29-19 with 5:46 left to play. Beebe senior guard Sarah White cut the margin back to eight with a pair of free throws at the 5:36 mark, and junior guard Jamie Jackson gave the Lady Badgers a spark when she got a steal and lay up with 4:35 left to play to make it 29-23.

Sophomore Kalela Miller got Beebe to within 29-25 when she drove for a lay up on the right side with 3:49 remaining, and cut it to two with a 10-footer at the 2:49 mark.

Paragould senior Morgan Tripod made two free throws before Jackson came back with a lay up for Beebe to make it 31-29 with 2:04 left to play.

That’s how the score stayed until 53 seconds remained. Miller found Lady Badgers post player Angelina Williams and assisted her for an inside shot that tied it at 31.

“I kept telling them in the timeouts that you need to be state-tournament tough,” Lady Badgers coach Greg Richey said. “This is your test, right here. Now go back out there and see if you can mount a comeback on them. And they did – they just kept making plays and tied it – got close.”

Miller led the Lady Badgers with 12 points while Jackson finished with eight points and Williams had six points. It also marked the final home game for White and fellow starting guard Alexis Miguel, along with classmates Ashley Pursell and Miranda Spriggs.

For Paragould, Rachel Dicus led with 10 points while Morgan Tripod and Savannah Walker each added eight points.

“It’s been a grind,” Cook said of his team’s unbeaten league campaign. “For three years, we’ve been fighting like crazy to get here to this point where we’re a contender. We feel like we have a chance to win every game. Now it’s a different fight – you’re fighting to stay there.”

Paragould will begin 5A state tournament play on Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Mills University Studies, the No. 4 seed out of the 5A Southeast Conference. Beebe will play at the same time the following day against White Hall, the No. 3 Southeast Seed.

SPORTS >> Lonoke left behind by Westside

Leader sportswriter

CAVE CITY – It was a win or go home game for the Lonoke Jackrabbits and Jonesboro-Westside Warriors in the first round of the 4A Regional tournament Thursday night in Cave City. Both teams played on the same level in the first half, but in the second Westside went on a momentum-driven run to pull away and beat Lonoke 48-34 to lock up a spot in the 4A state tournament.

The loss ended Lonoke’s season as the Rabbits had no answer for Westside’s lengthy scoring run in the third quarter. At the end of the first quarter of play, the score was tied at 13. By the end of the second, the score was even at 22 before Westside’s Aaron Price hit a three to give the Warriors a 25-22 lead at the break.

In the third, Westside (18-7) made play after play on both ends of the court. Lonoke (17-11) tried to play its way back into the game, but turnovers and missed opportunities only worked in the Warriors’ favor.

“They made a run and we didn’t answer,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell about the Rabbits second-half collapse. “They made shots and I thought we had opportunities. We missed a lot of easy buckets.

“Granted, they were contested, but we missed a lot of shots within six feet. It wasn’t just in the third quarter. We missed a lot of those in the first half as well, which hurt us.”

Lonoke had its share of missed opportunities throughout the game, but the third quarter was where the Rabbits committed the majority of their 18 turnovers. Westside capitalized on nearly every one, and pushed its lead to 36-26 by the start of the fourth.

The Rabbits cut the Warriors’ lead back to single digits on more than one occasion in the fourth, but Westside had an answer for almost every Lonoke basket. Westside led 46-34 with under a minute to play, and held the ball on its final possession until Lucas Johnston was fouled with 7.1 seconds left. Johnston hit both free throws to set the final score.

Sophomore Blake Mack led Lonoke with 12 points. Senior standout Tarrale Watson finished his high school career with nine points, seven boards and two blocks. Junior Dra Offord finished with eight points and five boards for Lonoke. Point guard Gatlin Hufstedler scored a game-high 15 points. Johnston scored 14.

This year is the first time in a few years that Lonoke will miss the state tournament, but for a young team with only two seniors, this experience could be one for the underclassmen to build on, according to Campbell.

“We shied away from that all year, talking about that,” Campbell said about the team’s youth, “but there were times tonight where we looked inexperienced for a group that had been to state at least the previous two years, won two years ago and in the finals last year.

“You know, kids that have been a part of that and know and understand what it’s like. So hopefully what Tarrale (Watson) and Jackeli (Bryant) have done for us this year, as our only two seniors, will lay down the foundation for our time to be there. Those two guys have done some really good things to push us forward.”

SPORTS >> Good pitching lifts Cabot to season-opening victory

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers opened the season with a win over Lonoke in an Arkansas Activities Association benefit game on Tuesday. The hosting Jackrabbits hung in there with the class 7A Panthers, but couldn’t generate any runs as Cabot won the game 6-0.

“Their first couple of pitchers were pretty good and we had little trouble getting going at the plate,” Cabot coach Jay Fitch said. “They may not have the talent up and down the lineup that your Catholics or Conways or North Little Rocks have, but if you don’t come to play they can beat you. We had some strikeouts at crucial times, but we made decent contact and it was ok for a first outing.”

The Lonoke pitching never gave up a huge inning, but Cabot hitting was able to put at least one run across the plate in five of the seven innings. The only multi-run inning was the fifth, when the Panthers scored two runs.

The best thing about the outing for Fitch was Cabot’s pitching. Fitch threw five different pitchers, all of whom combined to give up one run and strike out 13 batters.

“It would be a tough job of mine to pick which one did the best,” Fitch said. “One of my big question marks going in is that we didn’t have an ace. But they were all throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count and throwing the curveball and changeup for strikes. I was very impressed with that even though we weren’t lighting the radar up.”

Ryan Logan pitched the first two innings for Cabot and got the win. Chipper Morris threw the third and fourth innings and gave up the only hit in the game, a blooper just over second base. Zachary Patters threw the fifth inning and didn’t allow a baserunner.

Kason Kimbrell and Casey Vaughan threw the sixth and seventh innings and didn’t even allow any contact. Each hurler struck out the side to close the game.

Cabot scored one run in the second inning, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and one each in the sixth and seventh innings.

The Panthers, who play the majority of their games away this season because their new campus facility is under construction, have a busy week next week.

On Monday they travel to Little Rock to take on Mills University Studies. They’re at Beebe on Tuesday, Batesville on Friday and begin the Red Devil Classic at Jacksonville on Saturday.

SPORTS >> REGIONAL GLOOM - Carlisle upset in first round

Leader sports editor

MAGNET COVE – The No. 1 seeded Carlisle ladies fought hard to make it close in the second half, but still suffered a first-round exit from the regional tournament with a 57-40 loss to Conway-St. Joseph that marks an end to the season.

Carlisle opened the game in a zone defense to combat St. Joseph’s two six footers, but the Lady Bulldogs countered with dead-eye shooting. CSJ guard Megan Briggler, one of three Brigglers in the starting lineup, hit three consecutive three-point shots to open the first quarter. Conversely, Carlisle couldn’t get anything to fall. The Lady Bison went one for 11 in the first quarter. Their only bucket was a three pointer by Ashley Keathley as CSJ took a 13-4 lead into the second frame.

Carlisle’s Callie Hillman hit a three to start the second quarter that made it 13-7, but St. Joseph scored the next seven straight.

Megan Briggler missed her last three-point attempt of the first quarter, but hit two more in the second. CSJ post player Heather Moix got going in the second as well, scoring seven points as her team took a commanding 28-10 lead into the halftime break.

The Lady Bison came out pressing on defense in the second half and shooting much better on offense. They were successful in making it an up-tempo game and were better than CSJ at it. Hillman, Keathley and Lana McCallieeach hit three pointers in the quarter and sophomore post player Faith Walker began creating openings for herself on the post. The Lady Bison got the game to within nine at 38-29 on Hillman’s three pointer with three minutes left in the third quarter. But Conway-St. Joseph called timeout and got the tempo slowed down, finishing the quarter with an 8-1 run and taking a 46-30 lead into the final frame.

Carlisle had one last run in it. Hillman hit back-to-back three pointers to start the fourth quarter, making it 46-36 with 6:25 remaining, but the Lady Bison went cold again from that point, missing their last 14 attempts from the floor.

“We just dug ourselves too big of a hole to climb out of,” Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo said. “They couldn’t miss and we could hit anything.”

Moix led all scorers and rebounders with 19 points and 10 boards. Briggler added 17 for CSJ. Hillman led Carlisle with 14 points while Walker finished with seven.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

EDITORIAL >> It’s one dig after another

A perfect example of governmental good intentions gone wrong may be Jacksonville’s Graham Road widening project, which seemed a good idea 10 years ago when the project was designed to cross the railroad tracks at Graham and allow traffic to proceed up First Street to heavily trafficked Hwy. 67/167 and Vandenberg Boulevard and on to the air base.

As it happened, the project was stymied, possibly by special interests, but now the project has been declared shovel ready. Federal funding is available through Metroplan, and Graham Road is being rerouted down residential Oak Street in Jacksonville’s Sunnyside addition and on to the Main Street bridge overpass.

The widening will add two lanes to Graham Road between Loop Road and the Oak Street. The low bid for the 1.14-mile-long project was submitted by Township Builders for $3,350,500.

Federal stimulus money is paying for 80 percent of the project, while the city is footing the rest of the bill.

As the widening proceeds, it becomes apparent that the big losers are Sunnyside residents, who not only are losing much of their yards to easement and right-of-way but also their driveway parking spaces.

It seems to be a case of adding blight to an already blighted neighborhood.

Perhaps additional sidewalks will ease some of the burden for pedestrians who number quite a few. But for now, those who dare to walk are often consigned to walking in the street, trying to avoid traffic, piles of mud and dirty water. At night, you’re taking your life in your own hands, what with traffic, mud and poorly lit streets.

Near the railroad tracks at Graham Road, a huge utility project has compromised driveways, torn up parking lots and interrupted sewer and water service. That project could be wrapped up in the next few weeks, but then the widening begins and, weather permitting, that will take at least a year.

A groaning chasm from that utility work on Graham at Oak Street poses safety hazards not only to traffic and pedestrians but also to the contractor’s employees who wear yellow, reflective safety vests but are often on the street without the benefit of orange cones. At night the pit at the edge of the road is ringed with sagging orange netting, which anyone or any vehicle could easily fall through.

In the meantime, parents worry about their children who may be walking on Graham Road to get to their friends or a grandparent’s house or perhaps to the Boys and Girls Club.

Thanks to the prescience of the Pulaski County Special School District, Jacksonville Elementary, the remaining neighborhood school for Sunnyside, closed last June, and there are no longer hordes of school children walking home from school. Foot traffic is mostly confined to pedestrians and a few wheelchair occupants traversing the overpass to make purchases, such as groceries from Knight’s or supplies from Walgreens. Still some children walk home from the middle school and the charter school.

Some brave pedestrians still cross the tracks at Graham, although a large pile of mud makes that difficult and it is also illegal. Those pedestrians, if caught, are ticketed but a few students from the charter school have been known to make the dangerous crossing.

Sunnyside has become something of a Jacksonville suburb largely cut off from commerce. The Korean-owned catfish and fried rice restaurant, 7-Eleven and laundromat, which once served the neighborhood, are long gone since the crossing was closed.

Residents have asked for a timeline and for additional safety measures for themselves and for their children. They want to know when the holes in their yards and big piles of dirt all over the street will be gone.

Says one Graham Road resident, “I live there and for at least three weeks now, and for the third time, there is a huge, deep hole dug beside my fence, and as far as I can tell, no one has done anything there since they dug it out. I would love to be able to find some kind of timeline on the project and maybe even a notice of when they will be moving my fence. I have two dogs in my yard and several times there have been workers in my yard when I have been at work…In the morning when I leave for work, there are kids walking down the middle of Graham Road to avoid the piles of mud, not a great situation on a cold, dark morning.”

In the meantime, city engineer Jay Whisker says he can be contacted about safety issues, cleanup or other concerns. He promised that if he doesn’t know the answer to a question, he will find out. He says he’s ready to hear your complaints. Do call.

TOP STORY >> 314th celebrates 70 years of flying airlift

314th Airlift Wing historian

On March 2, 1942, the 314th Troop Carrier Group was activated at Drew Field, Fla. For the next 70 years, the 314th designation has been synonymous with airlift.

Many of the current squadrons at Little Rock Air Force Base share a common heritage with the 314th Airlift Wing.

The 48th Aerial Squadron and the 62nd AS are the wing’s current flying squadrons, but the 50th AS, 53rd AS and 61st AS all served notably while in the 314th.

Wherever this unit has traveled, its maintainers and support personnel have paved the way for success through unrivaled professionalism.

Over the years, this wing has been directly involved in many of the most noteworthy airlift missions of modern warfare. During World War II, the 314th flew in every major airlift and airdrop mission in the European theater of operations.


During the D-Day operation, paratroops that leapt from our planes made the heroic defense of Hill 30 east of the Merderet River.

Those paratroops fought off a much larger enemy force for two days, protecting the Allied landings at Utah Beach. Many historians have credited the tenacious stand on Hill 30 as a major factor in the overall success of the American landings in Normandy. General James H. Gavin, the “Jumpin’ General” himself, parachuted from a 314th C-47 onto the fields of Normandy.

There is a common phrase, “a bridge too far.” It was a comment made by British paratroop commander Gen. Frederick Browning before Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

That mission required paratroops to drop near and hold six separate bridge crossing for the advancing tank column. Browning liked his chances, but pointed to the last bridge on the map saying, “…but I think we might be going a bridge too far.”

That last bridge crossing was across the Rhine River at Arnhem, Holland. Browning tasked the British 1st Airborne Division and Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade to capture and hold the Rhine crossing. Those units fought heroically, but the advancing tank column failed to reach Arnhem.

The paratrooper’s courage in the face of insurmountable odds was legendary. It was the crews and aircraft from the 314th that dropped those units outside Arnhem.

Although still active after the war, the 314th lived a somewhat shadowy existence. The unit survived mostly on paper and no one was exactly sure where “the box” containing the 314th’s paperwork was stored. Nonetheless, the 314th reappeared, flying out of Panama and the Caribbean Command from 1946-1948.

Berlin Airlift

In 1948, aircraft and crews from the 314th participated in airlift’s greatest success – the Berlin Airlift. Incidentally, the red lightning flash adorned C-54s of one of the current flying squadrons, the 48th AS, became the iconic symbol of the Berlin Airlift.

During the Korean War, the 314th participated in all 10 named campaigns, expanding on their impressive airlift accomplishments. Flying C-119 “Boxcars,” crews from the 314th conducted airdrop missions to surrounded US forces at the Chosin Reservoir.

Chosin was where Gen. Oliver P. Smith reportedly said, “Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating; we’re just advancing in a different direction!”

A large portion of the supplies he needed to get out of Chosin were dropped by the 314th. When Smith’s escape route was cut-off at Kotori, the 314th came to the rescue dropping seven Treadway Bridge sections into a narrow mountain pass.

Many of those trapped soldiers and Marines would have perished were it not for an accurate drop of those bridge sections.

In 1957, crews from the 314th flew the first operational non-training mission in the C-130 Hercules. That mission was an airland operation to bring the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky., to Little Rock AFB during the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

With fixed bayonets, the paratroops, famed for their World War II stand at Bastogne, protected the nine black students integrating Central High and escorted them to their classes.

Vietnam War

Perhaps the greatest accomplishments occurred during the Vietnam War. The 314th AW spent five years, from 1966-1971, stationed in Southeast Asia. During that time C-130 crews from this wing performed heroically at Khe Sanh, Kham Duc, and An Loc just to name a few.

During a seven month stretch in Vietnam, crews from the 314th earned two Air Force Crosses, eight Silver Stars, and 30 Distinguished Flying Crosses.

The wing was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat “V” device for their actions in Vietnam. From 1966 to 1968 the 314th also flew the Bob Hope Christmas troop around Southeast Asia.

Since 1971, the 314th has been stationed at Little Rock AFB and served most of that time as the base host-unit.

The dedicated airmen of this unit built a world-renown C-130 training center and still participated in operations to Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. Airmen continue to deploy in support of Operation Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

On March 16, the 314th AW will celebrate 70 years of continuous airlift operations by hosting an airlifter’s ball. To focus on the brotherhood of airlifters at Little Rock AFB, one of the world’s premier airlifters, (Ret.) Col. Gail Halvorsen, will visit the base.

Halvorsen is better known as the Candy Bomber from the Berlin Airlift. Despite what patch service members may wear, if they’re at Little Rock, they’re in a brotherhood of airlifters that dates back to the early days of World War II.

The base event on March 16 will celebrate the shared heritage that’s the foundation of combat airlift.

TOP STORY >> Sentence for killer: Life with no parole

Leader staff writer

David Derreberry, arrested last April for murdering the owner of a pawn shop and used car business at the edge of Cabot, pleaded guilty to capital murder Tuesday afternoon and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham said he had told Derreberry’s lawyers, who included local attorney Tim Blair and three public defenders, that Derreberry had to plead by Tuesday evening or he would go to trial and ask for the death penalty.

Cabot firefighters discovered the body of Billy Joe Pipkin, 61, on Hwy. 367 on April 4, when they responded to a fire at his pawn shop.

Five days later, Derreberry, 37, was arrested and charged with capital murder, aggravated robbery, arson, theft of a firearm and theft of property more than $2,500.

His wife, Jaclyn Derreberry, 31, pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension, two counts of theft by receiving and criminal use of property or laundering of criminal proceeds.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison with six years suspended.

The couple lived at Greenbrier. Graham said David Derreberry was not employed. The investigation after Pipkin’s murder revealed that he supported his family by stealing.

Investigators with the State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the county sheriff’s department located Derreberry by the car he was driving when he killed Pipkin, a black Volkswagen convertible with chrome wheels.

Billy Joe Pipkin was the son of Abe Pipkin, a Beebe police officer who was found beaten to death with a crowbar 34 years before his son was also murdered.

The elder Pipkin’s murder went unsolved for 25 years until Gary Lee Evans confessed to his girlfriend, who was wearing a recorder, that he had murdered the police officer when he came upon him and others robbing a drugstore.

Evans was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

TOP STORY >> Pros, colleges, others floored by small firm

Leader staff writer

The chairman of a successful floor-finishing company in Jacksonville was recently recognized as a distinguished alumnus by the University of Arkansas College of Engineering.

North Little Rock native Mac Hogan of PoloPlaz, 1 Paradise Road, has been doing business in Jacksonville for more than 40 years. He graduated in 1966 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

PoloPlaz coats 70 percent of the National Basketball Association’s arenas. The company also did the finishing for several Olympic sports courts, the Arkansas Razorbacks and other college-arena floors, Hogan said.

He and two partners, J.C. George and the late Dave Goins, bought National Coatings in 1988 after they invested in real estate and rented space to National Coatings.

The three men became interested in the company because “they weren’t doing real well. It had a lot of prospects for growth. Hardwood flooring is a fad almost,” Hogan said.

National Coatings had one employee when they took over. PoloPlaz was the brand of products it manufactured, but customers began to refer to the company by that name.

In 2006, National Coatings became PoloPlaz, which now employs about 20 people. Goins died recently, and George is no longer involved with the company.

Hogan said, “We’ve done real well. Last year was our biggest year ever, saleswise. It’s a healthy company,” Hogan said.

He said most of PoloPlaz’s business comes from schools that have public funds, and that money is still available despite the hit the private sector has taken during the recession.

An inventor at heart, Hogan attributes the continued success of PoloPlaz to a tradition of innovation.

“There’s a lot of competition. We’ve got innovative products and really responsive service. If someone wants the product, they get it in a hurry. We don’t make ’em wait,” he said.

PoloPlaz’s main competitors are Sweden-based Bona Kemi and American Fortune 500 company Sherwin-Williams.

Hogan’s company is also the only one in the gymnasium/sports courts floor finishing industry to provide graphic-images paint, which acts like a primer. It allows logos, like an Arkansas Razorback or team name, to be sealed in underneath a finished gym floor.

Schools with sports teams don’t have to go to two different companies for both products. PoloPlaz can be their one-stop shop.

The company has a high-market share in gymnasium/sports floors, especially for new construction, and a respectable share of the residential/commercial market, where most of its products are used in the remodeling of older homes.

Finishing floors “is a complicated process, and it allows us to innovate and provide products that satisfy a need,” Hogan explained.

One new item “locks mulch in place,” according to its packaging. Hogan said the coating protects mulch being used in flowerbeds from erosion by water.

PoloPlaz is looking to see how well the new product sells, he said.

One invention that has been very successful, Hogan said, is PoloPlaz’s one-quart bags of finish. He explained that some states don’t allow the sale of finish in gallons.

Before, the company had to sell products in one-quart cans, but the popular bags are much easier to work with.

“Introducing new products is always a challenge. You’ve got to be smart enough, nimble enough, to take a product to an established market and get part of the market share. If you know innovation or have a desirable feature and can communicate it, you can be successful,” Hogan said.

PoloPlaz is developing a new product now and plans to set up an office in Texas, which is where Hogan spends half his time.

About 15 to 20 percent of PoloPlaz’s business is international. It sells products in 10 countries. China buys the most and Canada is also a big customer.

The company does its best business in the Midwest — Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee — Hogan said.

Products are sold on the company’s website, through distributors that provide flooring and directly to construction contractors.

PoloPlaz World Class Finish for sports floors costs $135 for a five-gallon pail and the water base finish is $285. Its floor cleaner is $85 for a five-gallon pail, $40 for a case of six one-quart spray bottles and $80 for a case of four one-gallon bottles.

PoloPlaz tests products on wood flooring, applying them in a four-coat finishing process.

“We can put it on concrete, but principally we do (wood) floors,” Hogan said. “You can’t make something without (testing).”

Hogan started off as an engineer at his now-neighbor AGL, 2202 N. Redmond Road in Jacksonville. AGL supplies construction customers with precision pipe lasers and receivers, depth control systems and other precision control methods.

Hogan bought into AGL and became a junior partner there. He spent 17 years with that company before selling his share in 1985.

In addition to his role in PoloPlaz, Hogan is a partner in Air Tech Coatings.

According to the company’s website, Air Tech was founded in 1981 to introduce polyurethane technology into the aircraft fabric-covering industry.

The technology offered toughness and flexibility, fire resistance, chemical resistance and the polyurethane “wet look” in a large variety of colors, which could be used on metal, fabric, and fiberglass so the entire aircraft would be finished in the same color.

Chad Baker is the president of PoloPlaz and also owns Air Tech.

Hogan said, “We’re glad to be in Jacksonville. We’ve always enjoyed it here.”

SPORTS >> Panther baseball gets started

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers won’t be as young as last year’s team that started three freshmen, but it still has plenty of youth dotting the starting lineup. There also won’t be, at least early, a dominant No. 1 man in the pitching rotation, but there is depth in the rotation and it is quality depth, according to head coach Jay Fitch.

“I won’t have the one dominant guy that I’ve always been used to having,” Fitch said. “What we have is about seven or eight guys that are pretty solid. We don’t have anyone that will blow you out of the box, but we’ve got some guys that can throw strikes and have decent arm strength.”

Starting the season as the leader of the rotation is left-handed junior Ryan Logan. He pitched in all of Cabot’s conference series’ last season and brings the most experience to the staff this year.

“He only averages about 78, 79 miles per hour, but he has phenomenal control,” Fitch said. “We were charting them in the bullpen the other day and out of 70 pitches, he only threw about four balls. He doesn’t walk people. He throws strikes and can usually put it somewhere that keeps it from flying off the bat when they do make contact.”

Also getting a lot of mound time last year, and holding the No. 2 spot in the rotation is junior Dustin Morris, who has grown and gotten stronger since last season. He’s added velocity to his pitches, and Fitch expects him to be better this season.

“He threw a complete-game shutout against North Little Rock last year and, they’re usually pretty talented,” Fitch said. “Both of those guys got their feet wet last year and gave us a lot of good innings. They both got knocked around a little bit at times too last year, but I expect to see less of that this season. They’ve put in a lot of work in the offseason.”

Having a full offseason is something Cabot enjoyed this year that it hadn’t in the past. Fitch had always been an assistant track coach, but last year was able to go baseball only.

“That’s been a big, big help for our program,” Fitch said. “This the first year where we’ve been able to work every day and have a full, focused offseason. The teams in the west have been doing that for years, so this is going to be a tremendous help and I really want to thank Dr. Thurman for working it out where we can do this. We weren’t nearly as far behind when we started in January as we had been in the past.”

Sending signals to the mound and batting third in the lineup will be senior T.C. Carter. Carter hit .476 last season with four home runs.

“We’re expecting a huge year out of him,” Fitch said. “He had an all-state type season last year and he has aspirations to play college ball. So he’s been working really hard and looks to be getting better and better.”

Senior Justin Goff will play third and hit cleanup. Goff came one short of tying the Cabot’s record for doubles in a season last year with 16.

Cole Thomas will start at shortstop and bat in the eight or nine hole.

“He’s really a leadoff-type hitter,” Fitch said. “He’s a contact guy, a speed guy. He’s one of the fastest guys on the team. He has solid hands in the infield and a pretty good arm.”
Dustin Morris and Jordan Castillow will split time at second base. Sophomore Zachary Patterson will start at first base, but has the strongest arm on the team and will be a part of the pitching rotation as well. James McCrany will play first base also.

“People that just watch us play will think Zachary has the best stuff on the mound for us,” Fitch said. “He’s the only one we’ve got that’s bringing it around 85 or 86 miles per hour. And he’s just a sophomore so we hope he keeps getting stronger. He has loads of potential.”

Sophomore Casey Kimbrell, who started several games last year, will start at left field.

Leading off and playing centerfield will be senior Bryson Morris.

“He already looks in midseason form,” Fitch said. “He’s been outstanding in our scrimmages and one of the few that looks really comfortable out there, even this early.”

Junior Casey Vaughn will start in right field.

“He really came on and started hitting really well late in summer American Legion, so we’re hoping he just picks that back up and keeps improving.”

The 7A Central is loaded again this year. The league made up three quarters of the state semifinals last year.

“Everyone thinks the West is better because they won a few state titles in a row for a while, but the West is top heavy,” Fitch said. “It’s pretty average in the middle and there are some teams that aren’t very good at the bottom. It’s not like this league where there’s not a single breather the whole season. This league is tough top to bottom.”

Catholic is the early-season favorite to win the conference. The Rockets have four pitchers that have already signed scholarships.

“There’s no doubt they have the best pitching in the conference,” Fitch said. “And they also have the most experience. They’ll be starting nine seniors so you know they’ll be salty.”

There’s not much dropoff after that either.

“Conway will be Conway and Bryant will be Bryant,” Fitch said. “Say what you want about them losing people, they both have very strong programs and they just reload every year.”

Russellville has several college-level players as well. Central returns three seniors that made up the top of its pitching rotation last year. North Little Rock and Van Buren, like Cabot, were very young but talented last season, and should be improved overall.

“There’s just no weak teams in this conference,” Fitch said. “It’s going to be a dogfight every game.”

Cabot started the season with a benefit game at Lonoke on Tuesday. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader. They will play Beebe next Tuesday.

SPORTS >> Bryant gives Cabot ladies little trouble

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers have impressed all season long, and Friday night’s game against Bryant was no different as the Lady Panthers dominated the Lady Hornets 68-34 at Panther Arena.

From tip off, it was clear who the superior team was on the floor as Cabot scored early and often, while forcing turnovers on defense. Cabot’s full court press was ferocious as Bryant had a hard time matching the Lady Panthers physical style of play, and just getting the ball to half court on offense.

“We’ve played like that all year,” said Cabot coach Carla Crowder about the team’s aggressive play on both ends of the court. “We have a lot of different leading scorers, and that’s what we like about this team. They all play really hard and play well together.”

Cabot scored basket after basket early, and by the end of the first quarter the Lady Panthers led 20-5. The second quarter was more competitive as Cabot narrowly outscored Bryant 10-9 in the quarter to take a 30-14 lead at the break.

The majority of Bryant’s second quarter points came at the free-throw line as Cabot’s physical play on defense led to quick fouls. About two minutes into the second quarter, Cabot was already in the bonus as Bryant had several one-and-one opportunities at the foul line.

“We didn’t want to get in foul trouble and put them on the line, but we did,” Crowder said. “This is the first game this year that’s happened. We don’t like to do that.”

Cabot played its best offensively in the third quarter as the Lady Panthers racked up 24 points in the quarter, primarily through University of Arkansas signee Melissa Wolff and junior post player Elliot Taylor.

Wolff scored the majority of her game-high 16 points in the first half. In the second half Wolff played more of a facilitator role as she drew defenders and made the right pass to the open player that often led to easy baskets. Taylor scored 10 points, all in the second half.

At the 5:41 mark in the fourth quarter, Cabot put the mercy rule in effect, leading 59-29. The majority of the Cabot starters sat the rest of the game, but the Lady Panthers didn’t skip a beat as the role players approached the court with the same aggressiveness on both ends.

Junior guard Logan Beasley helped Cabot double Bryant’s point total with two free throws at the end of the game to set the final score. The Lady Panthers (22-5, 11-1) out-rebounded the Lady Hornets (14-12, 6-6) 25-13 for the game, and finished with 12 turnovers compared to Bryant’s 21.

Cabot was also better at the free throw line and the perimeter as the Lady Panthers shot 64 percent at the line, and 44 percent from beyond the arc. Bryant shot 44 percent at the line and 27 percent at the perimeter.

Wolff and Taylor were the leading scorers for Cabot, but seniors Sydney Wacker and Micah Odom were deep contributors as well. Wacker finished with eight points and four rebounds, while Odom finished with seven points, four steals, and three assists. Logan Davis was the only Bryant player to finish in double figures. She had 11 points.

SPORTS >> Jacksonville defense embarrasses Patriots

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils and Lady Devils picked up a pair of important wins at Marion on Friday. The second-ranked Lady Red Devils did what it was supposed to against the next-to-last team in the league, taking control early and winning easily 61-36.

The top-ranked Red Devils were expected to win, but maybe not as easily as it did. The Jacksonville boys invoked the sportsmanship rule over the Patriots after three quarters and won 68-36. The Red Devils had a much more competitive game against Marion at home in late January, winning that game 74-58.

“Marion’s a pretty decent team,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said. “They did a few things that gave us a little trouble last time. Honestly I was surprised with how well we came out and dominated that game. That’s the kind of effort you look for every night.”

Jacksonville’s lead was just five after the first quarter, but grew to 35-22 by halftime. The third quarter was the difference. The Red Devils outscored Marion 28-10, including 16 in a row at one point, to take a 63-32 lead into the final frame.

“We really came out and amped it up defensively to stop their penetration,” Joyner said. “You could hear their coach at halftime screaming at them to ‘drive the ball, drive the ball’. We had worked on that for a couple of days, cutting off their angles and taking charges. We really came out in the third quarter and executed that really well. It really discouraged them from wanting to drive it in there.”

A trio of seniors led Jacksonville in scoring. Dwayne Waller and Tirrell Brown scored 12 points each while James Aikens added 10.

Jacksonville can’t catch Russellville in the 6A power ratings and will have to settle for the No. 2 seed in the state tournament, regardless of how its last game against West Memphis turns out.

“That’s a flawed system because Russellville hasn’t played one team in our conference,” Joyner said. “We’ve played this grueling schedule and we just have to yield No. 1 to them. But you’re going to have to play somebody good to get there anyway and you need to be hitting on all cylinders no matter who you play. So that’s what we’ll be trying to do.”

The Lady Devils still have an outside shot at catching the Lady Cyclones and getting the No. 2 seed. That hope was kept alive with the big win on Friday.

The Jacksonville ladies held a 37-17 lead at halftime but slumped out of intermission. Marion didn’t make a big dent in Jacksonville’s lead, but did get within 46-31 by the start of the fourth quarter.

The Lady Devils refocused defensively and held the Lady Patriots to just five points in the fourth quarter.

“There’s just in-between with this team,” Lady Devil coach Katrina Mimms said. “You either tell them to go all out or walk it up. They can’t find that happy medium. I didn’t want to slow the game down that much, so in the fourth quarter I just told them to go. Other than the third quarter when we tried some things we don’t normally do, the execution was really good. We applied good pressure on defense and we worked the ball inside on offense.”

Junior guard Jessica Jackson led all scorers with 18 points. Freshman point guard Shakayla Hill added 17 while senior post player Nichole Bennett scored 12.

Parkview is undefeated and will be No. 1. Russellville currently holds 127-104 advantage of Jacksonville in the girls power ratings points system. If Russellville loses both of its last two games against Conway and Cabot, it will earn only four points, two for each 7A team. Jacksonville can earn up to 18 points for a win over West Memphis and 10 points for a win over Mountain Home. If all that plays out, Jacksonville would finish with a 132-131 edge and get the two seed.

SPORTS >> Another state title

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys bowling team made a dramatic rally to win the state championship at Fort Smith last Thursday. The Panthers were 111 pins behind Bentonville after team play, which consists of adding up the combined totals of all six players bowling three games each. Moving into Baker’s format, which is each team’s top five bowlers bowling two frames each of three separate games, Cabot had made up the pin deficit to capture the state title 4,397-4,378.

“We bowled side-by-side with Bentonville, so we knew what they were doing, and they knew what we were doing,” Cabot coach Mike Nash said. “We wanted to get out in front and make them react to us. We wanted to put the pressure on them. They did that and showed some real mental toughness.”

Making it even more dramatic, Cabot lefty Dylan Wilson needed to pick up a 5-7 split in the very last frame to tie Bentonville. He did it to put give the Panthers the championship.

“There’s less room for error for a left-hander than a right-hander, so he really had to roll a good ball to get that. Once he picked it up, all he had to do after that was keep it out of the gutter, and we were going to win.”

After the tournament, Wilson and teammate Adrian Wilson were named to the All-State team.

The girls also turned in a strong showing, but were on the other end of the same scenario. The Lady Panthers led by 20 pins heading into Baker’s, but lost by 35 (3580-3545) pins to Rogers to come in second place.

The bright note for the girls is that Lady Panther junior Shelby Smith broke the state record with a three-game score of 700. In fact, she blasted the old state record of 659 set by Breanna Clark of Siloam Springs in 2006. Smith’s gold medal in the girls division would also have been good enough for silver in the boys division. The boys gold medalist bowled a 706.

“She is absolutely phenomenal,” Nash said of Smith. “She’s wonderful. She supports her teammates. She leads by example obviously. She’s never conceited, just never acted that way. She’s just a great person to have on the team. If you throw the scores out, she’s still a valuable member of the team because of who she is.”

Even with the disappointing finish, the girls team continues to be one of the elite bowling teams in the state. In the last four years, the Cabot ladies have two championships and two runners-up. It is the only team to finish in the top two all four years. Cabot’s score this season was higher than last year’s championship win, and the seventh-highest team score in state history. The Cabot girls have three of the top-10 highest scores in state history.

“This girls team has really worked hard,” Nash said. “They really listen, want to learn and get better. We have a girl, Sabrina Antimo, who had never bowled competitively before and she became a big contributor to the team. She’s just a great example of the how the whole team is great to work with.”

Nash gave much credit to assistant coach Ralph Pridmore.

“Ralph is a very good teacher and does us a great service with everything he’s done for us,” Nash said. “I’ve learned a lot from him the last few years.”

Nash also credited others who have played a key role in the team’s success.

“I want to thank Bill Allen and Allfam for his continued support, our parents and athletic director Steve Roberts for their support as well,” Nash said.

SPORTS >> Sylvan Hills’ early salvo leads to win

Leader sportswriter

Taking Mills’ best shot was not easy, but Sylvan Hills found a way to prevail for a hard-fought 75-69 victory over the Comets at the Sylvan Hills High School gymnasium on Friday.

The Comets got down by as many as 14 points early in the fourth quarter before coming back in the final minutes with a gutsy performance from guard Braylon Spicer, who led all scorers with 37 points. Mills also got a boost when Bears standout Archie Goodwin fouled out with 1:11 left to play.

Jarale Lovelace went to the free-throw line for Mills with eight seconds left to play and the Comets trailing 73-68 with a chance to make it a one-possession game, but he missed the front end before making the second shot. That made it a four-point game, and Bears point guard Deon Patton added a free throw a second later before post player Devin Pearson added one more in the final second.

“You wait, and you know somebody’s going to make a run,” Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis said. “Sometimes, the ebb and flow of a game dictates whether or not you will be able to withstand it. Our bench was able to come in and hold them off.”

Goodwin put up 30 points before his early exit, and battled foul trouble for most of the second half until he was whistled for a charge with 1:11 remaining and the Bears trying to hold on to a 71-58 lead at the time.

“I think sometimes we try and overcompensate and do more than we need to be doing,” Davis said. “We’re not going to be upset over that, because look at how many times he does get to the rim for us. I was a very passive foul, it was just one of the breaks of the game, I thought.”

The main battle for momentum in the second half took place between Spicer and Bears guard Trey Smith, who scored nine of his 12 points in the second half. Smith was silent until the 3:05 mark of the second quarter when he launched the first of four three-point baskets for the senior.

Three-point shooting was only a part of Spicer’s performance that included some hard drives in the lane. He was also key down the stretch for the Comets, hitting a three-point shot immediately after Goodwin’s exit to cut the lead to 71-61. He also came up with a steal and basket with 23 seconds left to play to make it 73-68.

“He’s coming in obviously with a little something to prove,” Davis said. “And we didn’t do a very good job of staying inside of him. He was able to come off some screens and get in the lane, and give him credit – he finished a lot of tough shots in there tonight.”

Smith gave the Bears a 44-30 lead at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter, and when Mills worked that lead down to 48-43 in the final minute of the period, he found his touch from long distance again to bump the lead back up to eight.

Goodwin followed that with a lay up and a free throw to end the quarter, and Smith’s final three at the 7:36 mark of the fourth quarter bumped the lead back up to 57-43.

“Trey really answered the call for us tonight,” Davis said. “When shots were going down for Trey, it gave us a cushion again. They would maybe get it under double digits, and he hits a three and it’s back over double digits. And that was tough for them to overcome.”

The Bears shot 45 percent (26 of 58) from the floor while the Comets were 18 of 55 for 33 percent. Patton added 12 points for the Bears while Pearson had 15 rebounds.

For Mills, Shyheim Barron finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Sylvan Hills hosted Crossett last night after The Leader deadlines.

Monday, February 20, 2012

TOP STORY >> At 102, she lives life fo its fullest

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville resident Rachel Hanlin has been bringing beauty and joy to those around her for more than a century.

That was obvious as people lined up to hug and get a kiss on the cheek during her 102nd birthday celebration Wednesday at the Jacksonville Senior Wellness and Activity Center. Hanlin goes there almost every day.

“She’s the sweetest little thing. Every time I hug her she gives me a kiss. I wrote on her card that I like to kiss too,” said Mary Caruth, another senior enjoying the party.

Hanlin was born on Feb. 15, 1910, in Johnstown, Penn., where she spent her first 99 years.

She now lives with one of her three daughters, Kathy Tilley of Jacksonville.

Hanlin has been writing poetry and doing a variety of art “since grade school.” Her poetry is compiled into a book titled “Rays from Rae.” Rae is Hanlin’s nickname.

She experimented with painting and wood burning but is now working on collages.

Hanlin said, “My mother and daddy would ask where’d you get this and I said ‘in here,’” and she pointed at her heart.

Hanlin’s eldest daughter, Sara Allen, who lives in England, flew in this week to celebrate her mother’s birthday. 

Allen said her mom’s first job was as a seamstress doing hems for a woman who paid her $1 per hem.

Hanlin is the last surviving member of the Johnstown High School class of 1927.

After graduation, she didn’t go to college. It was common to go straight to work and she got started at Bethlehem Steel.

Hanlin held a variety of jobs, but “she’s always been very people-involved,” her daughter said.

The centenarian was a receptionist at a hotel, a senior center and a sanatorium. She worked until age 89.

Hanlin met her husband while she was in her 20s. He owned The Cookie Jar, a small bakery she designed the logo for. The couple was married for 27 years before they divorced.

After that, Hanlin struggled financially, her daughter said. But her spirit stayed strong because of her faith and her passion for art.

“As soon as she gets upset about something she takes out her art supplies. I wish I could block out negativity like she does. That’s the secret,” Allen said.

One time, things were so tough that her mother couldn’t afford car insurance when she was driving in snow and ice every day to work. Hanlin’s brother bought the insurance and the next day she was hit by another car.

“She (Hanlin) said, ‘See, as long as the Lord watched over me I was OK. I was alright, as soon as you bought it, it jinxed me,”’ Allen explained.

Hanlin has three daughters, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She doesn’t take any medication except for vitamins and an occasional Tylenol to help with her knee pain. Her hearing is nearly gone, but Allen said her mother had told her that if anything were going to go then that would be the easiest to deal with.

Hanlin’s mother was one of the first registered nurses in Johnstown. Hanlin had a wonderful relationship with her father, who would give her his last nickel to ride the trolley home. He would walk three miles, but he couldn’t let his little girl do that if he could help it.