Friday, April 13, 2012

TOP STORY >> Fourth arrest in ‘pot-pourri’ case

Leader staff writer

One more business owner has been arrested after raids last week on tobacco stores in Cabot, Austin and Ward were said to be selling synthetic marijuana and paraphernalia and at least one more arrest warrant is in the works.

But whether the state law passed in 2011 that included synthetic marijuana on the list of Schedule 6 drugs actually made the substance illegal as it intended has not yet been tested in court.

“I think we all know what the stuff is,” Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham said about the arrests and the official charges he will make against the business owners and possibly the store clerks. “We’ve just got to let the system work a little bit. The law is so new.”

“We’ve made the arrests. We’ll make the appropriate charges. We’ll react to whatever claims they make, but to us the law is clear,” he said.

Joseph Alford, owner of the Alford Tobacco Store in Cabot, was arrested for “possession of a Schedule 6 controlled substance with purpose to deliver,” Graham said.

That arrest was preceded by the arrest of three owners of Rock’s Smoke-N-Bait in Ward: Beth Glover, her son Jeremy Reed and his wife Stephanie Reed. Jeremy Reed is a firefighter for North Little Rock and former member of the Austin City Council. Glover, the chief clerk for the district court in Ward under District Judge Joe O’Bryan, is still on the job.

Graham said the Arkansas state police, which served the search warrant on the Austin business Up in Smoke, has not completed the arrest warrant for Doug Wilson, but he expects it soon.

So far all the business owners have turned themselves in when the warrants for their arrests were completed. Graham expects Wilson to do the same.

Synthetic marijuana has been on the market for about six years and attempts to ban it started when the potentially harmful effects become known. Although long-term effects are not known, local law enforcement reports seizures associated with the various products for sale.

Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis said this week that he knows a man who has smoked pot for decades who says Diablo, a synthetic form of his favorite drug, is highly addictive, but too expensive for him to buy as often as he needs it.

The packets cost $20 to $50 each. The store in Ward reportedly made $12 million a year in sales.

Diablo was also the brand that a Cabot-area woman said almost killed her son in late December. She found him unconscious after smoking the drug just once. After he had been stabilized at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the mother called state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams who asked the State Police for help.

Williams said he believes stronger legislation is needed to control the sale of synthetic drugs.

But for now, Graham says he will use the one he has. Act 751 of 2011 added synthetic marijuana to the list of illegal drugs.

Although the formulas for making the drug in its various forms keeps changing, Graham said state law says if a drug is similar in chemical structure to marijuana, it is marijuana and therefore illegal.

The law was passed March 28, 2011, and included an emergency clause that made it affective immediately and also explained the intent: It is found and determined by the General Assembly of the state of Arkansas that new substances that need immediate scheduling are becoming more prevalent; and that this act is immediately necessary because these new substances pose a risk to the public.

TOP STORY >> Driver may have struck Ohio officer

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville man accused of driving a van around emergency vehicles that killed a veteran firefighter and injured two others last month may have hit an Ohio police officer with a different car in October.

Bryce Allen, 47, is a person of interest in a felony assault case in Columbus.

According to the police report, a man matching his description got into an argument with a valet at a hospital. The valet called a security guard. Kenny Boyd of the Jacksonville Police Department said the guard was an off-duty policeman.

According to the report, the guard tried to stop the man while he was in his vehicle. Then the man intentionally struck the guard with the black 2000 Cadillac he was driving.

The guard, who sustained a minor injury, fired his gun at the car, which had Arkansas tags 356RIW.

The Cadillac is or was owned by Allen, according to Jacksonville police.

They are asking that anyone who has information about where the car is to call 982-3191 or text JAXPD and their tip to CRIMES, 274637.

Boyd said the department has been in touch with Ohio investigators since last month’s incident.

He said if the car is found and Allen is arrested for the October felony assault then prosecuting attorneys here and in Ohio would have to work out how to try both cases.

Allen is charged with second-degree murder and criminal attempt to commit murder here.

One of the firefighters he struck, Capt. Donald Jones, 56, a 31-year-veteran of the department, died at the scene.

Firefighter/engineer Jason Bowmaster and police officer Daniel DiMatteo were seriously injured but in stable condition the next day.

Bowmaster was finally taken off a ventilator this week, Capt. David Jones of the fire department said Friday.

“He’s still in guarded condition,” Jones said.

Capt. Kenny Boyd of the police department said, “They are both recovering. They still have a long way to go.”

DiMatteo needs at least one more procedure and then he’ll start rehabilitation, he said.

Thelma Allen, Bryce Allen’s mother, had struck a gas line at 8411 Hwy. 161 between Rixey Road and I-440.

The three victims were working the scene of her accident when Allen arrived. Allen’s mother was not injured.

The police department said their investigation showed that he made no attempt to brake and even accelerated before hitting them. He also appeared to be aiming toward them, the report says.

Allen is being held at the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility on a $750,000 bond. If he pays that, he will be transported to the State Hospital.

An Army veteran, he was arrested in 2009 for second-degree battery of a police officer and terroristic threatening. According to court records, Allen was acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect.

He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hallucinations and delusions. Allen’s evaluation said he did not take medications as prescribed.

Some of the delusions included paranoia involving the Ku Klux Klan. All three Jacksonville victims and the Ohio officer were white men.

Allen told a psychologist who examined him in 2010 that he had been hospitalized eight times, mostly at Fort Roots Veterans Hospital in North Little Rock.

He was arrested again in September for fleeing and reckless driving. Allen was found guilty in Jacksonville District Court in February but appealed the decision to Pulaski County Circuit Court.

He was arrested for a third time last November for aggravated assault, but that charge was reduced to third-degree domestic battery.

TOP STORY >> State to hear PCSSD budget proposals

Leader senior staff writer

With time growing short, state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell wants to hear proposals from the Pulaski County Special School District and its two employee unions by 5 p.m. Monday before deciding what budget cuts to implement to help the financially-troubled district out of fiscal distress.

The district is in fiscal distress for financial mismanagement and declining legal fund balances. The state took it over in July, dissolving the school board and appointing Jerry Guess as superintendent.

Guess is trying to cut $11 million from the 2012-2013 budget, compared to this year’s budget. The district, along with the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and the Pulaski Association of Support Staff, has agreed on at least $7 million worth of cuts. But the unions say the district wants all the rest to come from them, and he wants to change the existing contracts to get that money.

District administrators note that about 80 percent of the budget is salaries, so that’s where the cuts must come from.

“The district needs to reduce expenditures to state minimum standards to survive financially,” according to the narrative in the administration’s proposal. “The union leadership will not agree. This roadblock to realizing and constructing a budget for 2012-2013 that is acceptable to the state and conforms to a state law must be removed,” according to the administrator’s proposed plan.

Negotiations and mediation have ground to a halt.

In a letter Wednesday, Kimbrell asked the unions and the administration for staffing and fiscal practice recommendations to cut $11 million. Kimbrell also asked for recommendations on “building a legal fund balance to safeguard the fiscal integrity of the school district in future years and address district costs associated with attaining unitary status.”

“Arkansas Department of Education staff will take your recommendations into consideration in determining what binding recommendations it should impose upon the Pulaski County Special School District,” Kimbrell wrote.

Kimbrell, citing Arkansas legal code, says the department’s recommendations regarding staffing and fiscal practices “shall be binding upon the school district, the superintendent and the school board of directors.”

Kimbrell said Friday that he would review the proposals by later in the week. The district administration must “build a plan that we can recommend to the state board that can allow its release from the fiscal-distress designation,” he said.

Otherwise, the board has to make other plans for the district, from a range of options that include dissolution, consolidation, reconfiguration and even assignment to management by a charter organization.

Because the district is currently bound by the terms of a desegregation agreement, federal District Judge Brian Miller could have to sign off on some sort of reconfiguration, Kimbrell said.

Also to be settled — probably in court — is whether the state can void parts of the existing contracts between the two unions and the school district.

Negotiations and mediation came to an impasse about a month ago. Kimbrell acted after a final mediation attempt last month failed to make progress.

“If there’s not something that happens to get this into balance by the end of the month, we have concerns about the ability to get out of fiscal distress,” he said.

Changes must be made by May 1, when there is otherwise an automatic renewal of employment in contract terms, according to Guess.

The unions have agreed to forgo raises for the next school year and to pay more of their own health insurance premiums. But they don’t want to open up their current contracts to discuss other issues.

The administration wants to cut the length of employee contracts from 192 days to 190 days, wants to reduce days of leave and tighten up leave policy, stop paying severance pay, revisit nonteaching duties for which PCSSD teachers get additional pay, and also eliminate professional growth credits except for college classes.

The administration will eliminate 77 positions, mostly it hopes, through attrition.

TOP STORY >> City no longer owns hospital

Leader staff writer

“Done, done, done!” Mayor Gary Fletcher jubilantly declared after signing over the city hospital to a Louisiana-based health management firm.

Allegiance Health Management Group, which has managed the North Metro Medical Center for the past three years, signed the paperwork Friday afternoon to officially take over as the owners of the hospital.

“This was three years in the making,” the mayor explained, “and ensures that the city and the air base will have access to high-quality healthcare for years to come.”

Allegiance worked out a $10 million loan with First Arkansas Bank and Trust to buy the hospital and to back the loan the city put up the medical clinic near the hospital as added collateral. The city still owns the medical clinic.

The approximate $10 million price tag would cover the bond the city has on the hospital and other related debts and lines of credit.

Attorney Mike Wilson, chairman of the hospital board, said the sale only includes the hospital building. The city retains ownership of the nearby medical clinic, medical offices at Crestview Plaza and a clinic in Cabot. The city will also have what Wilson called right of first refusal for the next five years in case Allegiance decides to sell the hospital.

But Jay Quebedeaux, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said that was doubtful. “The hospital is celebrating its 50th year here, and we expect to be around with it for the next 50,” Quebedeaux said.

The mayor added that whenthe hospital celebrates its 50th anniversary in a couple of weeks, it will be a look back, but this sale is a new beginning, a solid future for the city. The hospital is a great facility with great equipment and great doctors.”

Quebedeaux said, “We are very excited and proud to be here, writing a new chapter in the North Metro book. The sale aligns us with a hospital chain whose mission is to provide maximum assistance to rural and community health-care facilities.”

“Thank you for your hard work,” Quebedeaux told everyone at the signing.

North Metro has seen renewed services and the addition of more specialized units since Allegiance took over managing the hospital in 2009. Services have increased in areas such as surgery, physical therapy, the wound center, physical rehab, home health, lab and medical imaging. The hospital’s in-patient geriatric psychiatry unit has expanded to 31 beds. Waiting rooms and a wing on the first floor have been renovated.

In August 2011, Allegiance moved its long-term acute care hospital from Little Rock to North Metro.

The Jacksonville City Council actually approved the sale in November 2010 and city leaders thought everything would have been ready almost a year ago. But it has taken longer than expected to secure the financing and get the paperwork in order.

According to the mayor’s 2012 state of the city report, the hospital employs about 400 people and has a $17 million economic impact on Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

SPORTS >> CHS soccer duo to join CBC women

Leader sportswriter

Cabot seniors Allison Lamb and Lexi Lewis signed on to play college soccer for Central Baptist College in Conway. Students and faculty gathered in the Cabot High School media center at noon on Friday to see the pair of standout forwards for the Lady Panthers commit to the next level. Lady Mustangs coach Justin Hawkins, now in his seventh season, was also in attendance.

Lamb boasts a 3.45 GPA and Lewis holds down an even 3.0 GPA.

“Justin gave me a great opportunity, because I didn’t think I was going to get to play college soccer,” Lamb said. “He gave me the opportunity, so that’s why I’m going.”

Lewis has been a starter for the Lady Panthers since her sophomore year, and said she believes the CBC program is a perfect fit for her.

“I had a couple of options, but I love the coach, I’ve known the coach for a long time,” Lewis said. “I really like what their soccer program does, and I like the campus. I just think it’s a good school for me.”

The Lady Panthers started the season off strong. Lamb and Lewis are optimistic when it comes to the upcoming state soccer tournament.

“We’ve done really well considering past years,” Lamb said. “So hopefully, it continues to go as well as it has.”

SPORTS >> Southern Oaks has grown in first year

Leader sports editor

April 1 marked the end of the first year of operation at Southern Oaks Country Club in Jacksonville. Formerly the semi-private Foxwood Country Club, the totally private Southern Oaks has enjoyed a resurgence and is still growing.

Brian Hagewood, Joan Zumwalt, Harold Gwatney, Jon Johnson and Jordan Cooper bought the club and have continued investing in improvements to the entire project.

Several renovations to the clubhouse and course, as well as added amenities for social members, have spurred growth since the investment team, led by Hagewood, bought and reopened the club after it closed because of dwindling memberships and financial struggles.

“People realized when it was closed that it was such a vital asset to the Jacksonville Community,” Hagewood said. “We really needed to keep it open.”

There have been projects going on at Southern Oaks throughout the offseason. Much of the course got new sod and new cart paths and the back nine has a brand new irrigation system that will slightly alter the way the course is played.

“It’s a state-of-the-art irrigation system that no other course around here has,” Hagewood said. “It’s Going to dramatically spur growth and add water to the course where it’s never been.”

Superintendent Bo Brachaus has overseen the course renovations. He and the grounds crew have the course in great condition.

“This year our course, I’m going to say, is in the best condition it’s ever been,” Hagewood said. “Bo has done a great job getting the course in shape. This is not the course people remember playing five years ago. We feel like we have one of the nicest courses in central Arkansas. Prospective members come out here and are just blown away. We have a lot of really neat holes.”

The clubhouse now has a sports bar with flat screen televisions and shuffleboard. The swimming pool is being renovated and will include a 45-foot gazebo.

“We’ve spent over $350,000 on these renovations,” Hage-wood said. “I think that’s why we’ve seen our memberships grow like they have.”

When Foxwood closed, it had just more than 80 members. Southern Oaks had 112 commitments when it opened, and now has 244 golf members as well as 100 social members.

The club is having a membership drive through April in which the $500 initiation fee is waived. Swimming pool only memberships are also available. There is also a membership referral program like no other.

“Our membership referral program is a really good one,” Hagewood said. “Once you’re a member, every member you refer you get 20 percent off your membership dues. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if you sign up five members, your dues are free.”

The current plan of waiving the initiation fee ends April 30, but the membership drive will last through May.

“April and May will be our really big push to gain members,” Hagewood said. “We have some things coming up and we’ll decided how we want to continue the membership drive next month. Our goal is to have about 300 full members and we’d like to see Jacksonville people becoming members.”

Jacksonville residents make up about 80 percent of the memberships, with a few from Cabot, Sherwood and Little Rock. Hagewood wants local members more than anything else.

“We did get some Greystone golfers and North Hills, people that no longer had a course of our quality. My thinking on that is, we don’t need to rely on out-of-town golfers to support our golf course. If we have to do that we’re in trouble. I really believe Jacksonville people need to support this. I think it’s a vital part of our community. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be so invested in it.”

SPORTS >> Another Red Devil signs with UCA

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville senior Tirrell Brown Jr. inked with the University of Central Arkansas on Wednesday during a special signing ceremony at Jacksonville High School.

Friends and family were joined by nearly the entire student body to celebrate the culmination of Browns’ recent rise to become a Division I basketball prospect.

The 6-foot-6 post jumped onto the radar of some larger schools with his play over the summer, and continued to impress throughout the high-school season.

Brown led the Red Devils in scoring this season and rebounding this season, averaging 16.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Jacksonville spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in class 6A and went undefeated against 6A competition until being upset in the semifinals of the state tournament.

It was in one of Jacksonville’s few losses that Brown showed he was worthy of the Division I attention that ultimately landed him at the Conway-based Southland Conference college. The game was played at Conway High School and UCA coach Corliss Williamson was in attendance. Jacksonville faced Fayetteville in the Conway tournament. Fayetteville was the tallest team in the state last season with three players standing 6-9 or taller.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner describes that game.

“They had a 6-9 kid on him and he couldn’t handle him,” Joyner said. “They had to bring down the 6-10 kid to double team him, and T. wore them out. That’s when I knew for sure he had DI ability. Even though he’s only 6-6, we felt like he should’ve been getting some more attention from the SEC schools and teams like that. UCA got a steal.”

SPORTS >> Bears split with Wildcats

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills and Watson Chapel are now tied for second place in the 5A Southeast after a doubleheader split Tuesday at the Sherwood Sports Complex. The Bears and Wildcats entered the game in a four-way tie for first place with Monticello and White Hall. All four teams were 6-0 heading into Tuesday’s games. White Hall swept Monticello to take over sole possession of first place and drop the Billies to fourth.

“We still control our own destiny,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “If someone beats Watson Chapel and we win out, we’ll still win this conference. Of course if we both win out, we’ll tie for the championship but have to settle for the two seed.”

The reason the Bears would have to settle for the two seed in that scenario is that after winning game one 4-1, they lost game two 7-0.

“That’s the disappointing thing,” Tipton said. “We were down 3-0 and at least two runs were unearned. Then we give up a big inning right at the end there. I thought we just lost focus a little bit and that hurt us.”

Chapel left-hander Zack Bradford was outstanding on the mound in game two. He gave up just three hits over seven innings while striking out six and walking just one Sylvan Hills batter. He threw four innings of no-hit ball from the third through the sixth inning before Lance Hunter doubled with two outs in the seventh.

Chapel got all the runs it needed in the bottom of the second game. V.J. Dickson reached with no outs via an error at second base. Jordan Stargile then tripled to the wall in centerfield to score Dickson.

Sylvan Hills pitcher Dylan Boone struck out the next two batters with Stargile still on third base. Stargile should have scored on passed ball with two outs, but failed to touch home plate. He was tagged on appeal while walking to the dugout and the umpire called him out.

A two-out error in the fifth sparked a mini rally by Chapel. Justin Dardene singled to left field where it one-hopped past the fielder and rolled to the fence, leaving Dardene safe at third base. Bradford then singled to center to score Dardene and Reece Huffton doubled to left field to score Bradford’s courtesy runner.

Bradford came through big again in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Stargile led off with a single and stole second, he scored on an errant throw while trying to steal third. Boone walked Cameron Banks and yielded to Hunter who came for relief duties. Hunter struggled with control, walking two more, then giving up a triple to Bradford that scored three more runs.

Boone went five innings, giving up seven hits while fanning three and walking two.

Conner Eller went the distance and got the win in game one. He gave up just two hits over seven innings while striking out six and walking three.

The Bears scored in the bottom of the first when Dalton Freeling walked and Boone drove him in with a double.

They added two more in the second. Hunter reached on an error in centerfield and Jacob White singled to put runners on the corners. T.J. Burrows singled to score Hunter and again leave runners on the corners. Leadoff hitter Brandon Baoni then hit a deep fly ball to center that scored White to make it 3-1.

J.D. Miller got the final run when he scored from third on a passed ball and getting a base hit and advancing on two sacrifice flies.

The Bears are now 16-6 overall and 7-1 in conference play. They will face Little Rock Central on Monday in Little Rock, and will get back to conference play next Thursday at North Pulaski.

SPORTS >> Badgers lead wire to wire against Bison

Leader sportswriter

After trailing Beebe early, Carlisle rallied late, but the Badgers answered with a rally of their own and beat the Bison 8-4 in a competitive non-conference game Thursday at Carlisle.

Freshman Jacob Gordon started on the mound for Carlisle, and struck out seven without walking a single batter in six and one third innings of work, but the middle of Beebe’s lineup was too much for Gordon and the Bison to handle as the 2-5 hitters went for a combined 11 for 16 at the plate.

Beebe was equally effective running the bases as the Badgers tried to steal every base in front of them, and succeeded in doing so more times than not, which is something Beebe coach Mark Crafton likes to see.

“We were smart on the base paths the first half of the game, in the first four innings,” Crafton said. “Then we got lazy, but we took advantage of some of their miscues in the outfield on the base paths. We did hit the ball fairly well -- better than we’ve been hitting it in past games.

“We had some mental mistakes on the base paths late in the game that cost us some more runs, but we were able to push through it, and we got a good pitching performance out of senior Jacob Jones.”

Jones picked up his first win of the season for the Badgers, and did so with a complete game performance, striking out five and walking just two.

Beebe never trailed in the game, and wasted no time scoring by getting a run on the board in the top of the first when Jared Aschbrenner singled to drive in Dakota Lovston after Lovston singled and stole both second and third base.

Beebe scored again after Cody Todd singled to bring home Brandon Stane to put the Badgers up 2-0 after four.

The Badgers (11-8, 7-1) added four more runs in the fifth to take a six-run lead over Carlisle, but the Bison (15-5, 5-1) responded in the bottom part of the inning with three runs.

Carlisle held Beebe scoreless in the sixth, and was able to cut the deficit to two when Josh Mathis hit a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Tommy Inman to tag from the third.

Beebe scored its seventh run of the game after Stane doubled to send Aschbrenner home, and Stane scored from second after Todd, the next batter, singled to make the score 8-4.

“We had a couple of base-running mistakes,” said Carlisle coach B.J. Greene. “Hitting the ball, I can’t say that we hit it well. They did what a good team would do. They fielded the ball when you hit it to them, and that’s what you’re supposed to do.

“We had a senior swinging at the first pitch, when we were in mustard, which is take it till you get a strike, and he swings at the first pitch and pops out. Then we got picked off at first when we didn’t have any signals on. That was another big one.”

Lovston led Beebe, going 4 for 4 with a double and three singles. Stane went 3 for 4. Aschbrenner and Todd each went 2 for 4, while Matt Stillman and Byars Halford had a hit apiece.

Chris Hart and Deric Herring had two hits for Carlisle. Inman, Mathis, Hayden Hoover and Will Smith each had a hit.

Carlisle was able to get a win in non-conference play Tuesday, as the Bison traveled to Lonoke and beat the Jackrabbits 6-4.

Mathis earned the win as the Bison pitcher started strong and helped Carlisle jump out to a 5-0 lead. Lonoke scored the next four runs to make it a one-run game.

Freshman Dylan Brazeal came in to hit with two outs late in the game, and hit a hard double to right center that allowed Connor Fields to score from first. Fields scored the final run after sliding outside of the tag from the Lonoke catcher in a close play at the plate to set the final margin.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TOP STORY >> Sherwood recycling kicks off

Leader staff writer

Sherwood is already enjoying high participation rates in its curbside recycling program, which launched on Monday, according to Brian Galloway, the city’s public works director.

“Just about everyone is doing it,” he said.

David Steinmetz of Waste Management agreed. He said he didn’t have official numbers for the participation rate yet, but it was going well.

“Through the first two days, it’s beyond what anyone had imagined. It’s nuts. Everybody is participating, it seems like. Sherwood is really participating,” he said.

The new program isn’t without hiccups though. Galloway said residents are placing their regular containers and the recycling containers right next to each other on the curb instead of at least three feet apart.

The automatic trucks need that space for the mechanical arm to get the cans. Waste Management is using one truck on most days, and two trucks on a couple of days, to complete the pick up of the recycling containers. Each truck has one driver.

Galloway said city workers have labeled some of the containers to warn residents about the three-foot requirement.

Steinmetz said Waste Management employees are also labeling the cans.

Also, there was some confusion about when the recyclables will be picked up.

Galloway said the city had signs out saying the program started Monday and many residents thought every container in the city would be picked up that day.

In smaller print, the banners say the recycling containers will be picked up every other week on the same day trash is picked up.

So that means only residents who had Monday as their regular trash day got their recycling containers picked up on the first day.

Galloway said, “The vast majority of the feedback has been positive. The majority of the feedback is (that) people are really excited. The negative has been some who don’t want to recycle. They’ve been few and far between.”

Sherwood residents are paying an increase of $2.76 — $14.76 compared to $12 a month — to cover the cost participating in the countywide recycling program. The higher rates will start appearing on their April or May bills.

The city entered into an agreement with Pulaski County’s Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District for the curbside recycling knowing that fees would go up.

Waste Management is investing $11 million — $5 million in containers, $2 million in automatic trucks and $4 million to renovate its recycling center into a state-of-the-art facility by using a single-stream process — into the program for Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood, the three cities enrolled in curbside recycling.

Galloway said the unique thing about the recycling was the single-stream process, which requires no sorting.

Waste Management hopes the rate increase will recoup its investment as well as cover the operating cost for actually providing the service.

The new 65-gallon recycling cans hold up to 175 pounds.

Waste Management workers will come to the door, get the can, empty it and return it for residents who are elderly or disabled and can’t haul the containers to the curb.

Residents who recycle can go to a website, enter their zip code and get coupons for local stores and restaurants. The number of coupons unlocked goes up as the tons of recycled goods increases in their area.

This incentive program, “Think Green Rewards,” costs 25 cents per household each month.

Waste Management and the district will each pay half for the incentive program. Residents will pay nothing into the rewards pro-gram and the cost to the company and district is $250,000.

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

TOP STORY >> You have to admire Jeff Long

Leader Executive Editor

Jeff Long, the Razorbacks’ athletic director, restored Arkansas’ good reputation when he announced Tuesday evening that he had fired the execrable Bobby Petrino as the head football coach.

Like a prosecuting attorney who knows he has a solid case against a defendant, Long called Petrino “reckless, manipulative and deceptive.” Long zeroed in on Petrino’s appalling behavior not only after the fateful motorcycle ride with his girlfriend, Jessica Dorrell, but cited other examples of moral turpitude, including Dorrell’s hiring as an assistant over 150 other applicants without disclosing their relationship and giving her $20,000.

The long list of sins include his abuse of authority, issuing misleading statements, putting the university in a negative light and jeopardizing the football program. Petrino, in short, “engaged in reckless and inappropriate behavior and put himself in the national spotlight” to the team’s detriment.

Often holding back tears as he addressed a group of reporters in Fayetteville, Long said Petrino was “terminated with cause,” meaning there was no reason to buy out his contract, worth $16 million.

It really bothered Long that Petrino waited five days — just minutes before the State Police report came out — to tell him the truth about the motorcycle ride with Dorrell and the attempted coverup involving three state employees.

Petrino’s actions after the accident tell you even more about his character than his decision to take a young subordinate on a motorcycle ride that could have killed both of them.

Petrino risked his life and his assistant’s life when he insisted no one call 911. Alcohol may have cushioned the pain from the crash, but both riders were hurting. The much older Petrino was obviously in worse shape than Dorrell on that April Fool’s ride, but both probably needed an ambulance.

The Good Samaritans who picked them up and the state trooper assigned to Petrino’s security detail — who showed up later in the drama — also refused to call for an ambulance, hoping to avoid a scandal. Petrino could have died or been paralyzed getting into two different vehicles.

Although at least one passing motorist called 911, Petrino, who was badly bruised and bleeding, had convinced the Good Samaritans not to call 911 but to take him and Dorrell to her car several miles up the road.

Petrino called State Police Capt. Lance King to meet them at Dorrell’s car at a restaurant parking lot. Petrino was rushed to a Fayetteville hospital in King’s vehicle, while Dorrell took off in her own car.

Did King violate the law when he, too, failed to call for an ambulance? A State Police report released Monday said King didn’t do anything wrong.

But why were first responders not called? Petrino’s head was a bloody mess, and he had sprained his neck and had a couple of broken vertebrae. What if his vertebral injury was worse and there were other serious internal injuries?

He could have been paralyzed for life when King put him in his car rather than call for emergency help.

King was also good enough to tip off Petrino moments before a State Police report was released with Dorrell’s name as the rider on his Harley Davidson.

That gave Petrino just enough time to call Long to tell him he’d lied all week about riding alone on his Harley.

You have to wonder if Petrino will coach again, but who cares?

Had Petrino stayed on as coach, we would have heard about his ride in the Ozarks and seen his bloodied face and smashed motorcycle on every nationally televised game next year.

Cynics think Arkansas goes overboard when it comes to the Razorbacks. But Long showed Tuesday that winning isn’t everything, that “no single individual is bigger than the team.”

Long made us proud to be Arkansans and gave us reason to cheer for the Hogs again.

Could Gus Malzahn be the next Razorbacks coach?

TOP STORY >> Turnover at charter schools is a concern

Leader staff writer

High teacher turnover that surpasses other schools and frequent changes in leadership could be a factor in the sluggish test scores of Lighthouse charter schools in Jacksonville.

The campus at 251 N. First St. has seen three principals in the three years since it opened in 2009.

Phillis Nichols Anderson, Lighthouse Academies vice president for the southern region, said 14 out of the 25 teachers employed at the Jacksonville Lighthouse Academy campus have been employed for one year or longer. That means 11 — about 44 percent — Lighthouse teachers left the charter school after one year.

“We anticipate less than 5 percent change in our teaching staff for next year and no changes in leadership,” Anderson said.

How does that compare with the Pulaski County Special School District and the Cabot School District?

According Deb Roush, spokeswoman for PCSSD, 24 out of the 391 teachers employed at schools in Jacksonville are leaving this year. That number does not include teachers who are retiring. That’s a shift of about 6 percent.

Dr. Tony Thurman, superintendent for the Cabot School District, said, “We have slightly over 750 certified staff in the district, not considering those who retire each year. I’m estimating based on looking through our personnel information for the past few years that we average eight resignations per year.”

That’s a loss of about 1 percent for the Cabot School District.

“We primarily lose staff for three reasons,” he continued. “A spouse has been transferred to a new location, they have recently had a child and decide to stay home for a few years, or they are getting married and moving to a new location.

“There have been years when we’ve added many more staff, but this is due to increasing enrollment and the hiring of what we consider ‘growth’ or new positions,” Thurman added.

Three of the teachers who stayed at Lighthouse helped found the school and were promoted to principals, Anderson said.

“I would say that relocation is a big part of our turnover. About 90 percent is due to relocation out of the area,” she said.

Anderson said Lighthouse educators have a longer day than other public schools. They work eight-hour shifts and 10 additional days a year.

“This may not be appealing to some educators. But we know that more time on instruction is what our scholars need to move forward, and that’s what we give them. We are constantly looking for educators who share a passion for what we do.

“It’s not a good fit for everyone, but we do provide 160 hours of professional development as opposed to the 60 hours district schools provide and the state requires. Our teachers are well prepared and do have the opportunity to earn merit pay based on student growth each year. We are giving around $18,000 in teacher bonuses this year.

“So, our teachers understand that to accelerate student achievement, they can’t do the same thing that other schools are doing. We have to do more,” she said.

One advantage charter schools have is the ability to hire staff members who have expertise in their fields, but haven’t been certified or don’t have previous experience with teaching. They tend to be younger than public school teachers.

Mike Wilson, a financial supporter of Lighthouse, said, “My observation has been that they’re bright, young highly-interested teachers. They get promoted. Some of them get burned out. Some find out that the rigorous methods don’t suit them. Young teachers just don’t last too long. They may find out that they’re not cut out for it. Lighthouse demands more from their teachers and that could be a reason (for the turnover).”

Most of the charter schools’ Benchmark test scores have gone up since 2010, but not by much, and Lighthouse isn’t doing much better than the Pulaski County Special School District.

If the faculty-turnover rate is too high, students may become distracted from the learning process and test scores can suffer.

In 2011, 86 percent of Lighthouse third-graders scored proficient or advanced in math and 78 percent did so in literacy. That is a 6 percent increase in math and an 8 percent increase in literacy from the previous school year.

While 82 percent of fourth-graders earned proficient or better in math, an increase of 12 percent from 2010, the number of students doing the same in literacy dropped from 72 percent for 2010 to 70 percent in 2011.

For fifth-grade, 77 percent of students made the cut in math and 75 percent scored proficient or advanced in literacy. That’s up from 65 percent for both areas in 2010.

There was a 13 percent drop in how many sixth-graders score proficient or advanced in literacy, from 67 percent in 2010 to 54 percent in 2011.

But 78 percent of sixth-graders scored proficient or advanced in math for 2011, compared to 59 percent in 2010.

In 2011, 83 percent of PCSSD’s third-graders scored proficient or advanced in math and 75 percent did the same in literacy. The charter school’s scores were only higher by 3 percent.

In fourth-grade, 80 percent made the cut in math and 83 percent did so in literacy at PCSSD schools. Lighthouse did 2 percent better in math but had 13 percent fewer students do well in literacy.

Among PCSSD fifth-graders, 73 percent scored well in math and 76 percent the same in literacy. The charter school did better by 4 percent in math, but did 1 percent worse in literacy.

Among PCSSD sixth-graders, 63 percent scored proficient or advanced in math and 59 percent did the same in literacy. Lighthouse had 15 percent more students do well in math, but 5 percent did worse in literacy.

The first principal at the Jacksonville Lighthouse School was Nigena Livingston, who had been the principal of a Lighthouse school in Cleveland, Ohio, before accepting the position at the Jacksonville school.

At the end of the 2009-10 school year, she moved back to Ohio because she was planning to marry and her fiancé lived there.

The second principal was Ryan Dean, a Harvard graduate from a military family. He previously worked at a private school in Virginia and at a charter school in Massachusetts, but had relatives living in Arkansas.

His reason for leaving was not given.

The current principal is Norman Whitfield, a Fort Smith native who worked at Teach for America in Mississippi and was a program director for it in the Mississippi Delta.

He was hired as a first-grade teacher at Lighthouse in the second semester of the 2009-10 school and then promoted to vice principal for the upper academy.

Also, Felicia Kelly of Forrest City was hired last fall to take over as principal at the College Prep Academy, which will open in 2012-13 with the addition of a ninth-grade at the First Street campus.

A new high school building is planned for 2013-14 and the charter school will add one grade level each year until 2016, when it will graduate the first class.

Already, another principal, Chris Carter, has been selected for the position.

Anderson wouldn’t say whether Kelly was fired or quit or why she left.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SPORTS >> Local track teams show well in two large events

Leader sports staff

Local track teams represented the area well at the Badger Relays track meet at Beebe High School on Thursday.

The host Badgers showed the best of local entrances with a fifth-place finish for the boys and a seventh-place finish for the Lady Badgers. The Badger team combined for an overall fifth-place finish with 108 total points.

Of the 32 teams on each side, North Pulaski took home a 15th place for the boys and 18th place for girls, but fell to 20th place in the final overall standings. Carlisle was one of the smallest teams at the event as a Class 2A participant in a meet which featured mostly 5A and 4A schools, but the Bison track group performed strong with 17th and 18th place finishes for the boys and girls teams respectively to finish 22nd overall.

Vilonia took boys, girls and overall victories at the meet with an overall score of 192 points for a runaway win over Mills University Studies, which was a distant second place with only 138 total points.

Sophomore Madison Richey finished in a four-way tie for first place in the high jump by clearing the 4-10 mark, and she finished fifth in the long jump for the Badgers with a distance of 15-5 while junior Jamie Jackson finished sixth in the triple jump with a distance of 32-8.50. A third Badger to convert basketball success onto the track field was senior Alexis Miguel, who ended in a three-way tie for third place in the pole vault event with Harding Academy’s Maggie Cox and Batesville’s Sarah Stalker. The trio reached the 8-foot mark as three of only eight finalists in the event.

In timed track events, Jackson finished fourth in the 300-meter high hurdles with a time of 51.18 and Richie was 10th in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.50.

The Lady Badgers also had top-10 finishes in all three relay events.

On the boys side, Steven Savage finished third in the discus throw with a distance of 116-8. The Badgers and Vilonia dominated the event with three finishers each in the top 10, including Badgers Tyler Love in fifth (115-8) and Jared Gowen in seventh (114-11).

Love was also third in the shot put event with a distance of 36-7. Senior Dayton Scott easily won the high-jump by clearing a height of 8-2, a solid two inches above Vilonia’s Lucas Edwards, and Scott also finished third in the triple jump at 42-0.50.

Jordan Huffstickler tied for fourth and Brandon Lercher finished sixth for Beebe in the pole-vault event, and the Badgers finished top three in two of the relay events, including a win in the 4x800-meter event.

Marcus Burns finished fifth in the 300-meter high hurdles with a time of 45.54 in front of Beebe teammate Dillon Bell in eighth place, while Alan Kirk finished ninth in the 3,200-meter run.

Kirk also finished eighth in the 1,600-meter run just behind teammate Austin Dupio, who finished sixth.

Senior K.J. Maples finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:04.66 while teammate Jake Schlenker finished sixth.

Yasmine Wilson finished sixth in the 400-meter dash for North Pulaski with a time of 1:03.60 and finished seventh in the 200-meter dash with a time of 27.62 while Reagan Lear finished eighth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 6:08.75.

Falcon teammate Jacqueline Moragne was ninth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.47 while Courvoisiea Allen finished 10th in the 100-meter boys dash with a time of 11.88.

For Carlisle, Bo Weddle finished fifth in the boys 200-meter dash with a time of 24.11, and was ninth in the 100-meter event with a time of 11.77.

Erica Reynolds finished third in the discus throw with a toss of 88-2 in one of the more closely contested events of the meet.

Domeneque Brown of Rivercrest barely won the event with a distance 91-11 over Batesville’s Pamela Okolo, whose toss measured in at 91-05. Reynolds took third just in front of Kirby Smith of Des Arc who reached an even 88-0.

On Monday, the Beebe boys team took third place behind Vilonia and Heber Springs. North Pulaski also turned in a good showing, finishing in ninth place.

The Badgers racked up 89 total points.

Dupio took second in the 800 meters with a time of 2:04.88 while Maples placed fourth in the 400 meters.

Jake Schlenker and Alan Kirk got points in the 1,600, finishing third and seventh place. Kirk also took second in the 3,200 meters with a time of 11:04.65.

The most exciting race of the event was the 4x100-meter relay. The top six teams finished within a half second of each other. The Vilonia team won the race with a time of 45.47. North Pulaski finished fifth, coming in at 45.87.

The Beebe boys won the 4x800 relay with a time of 8:32.43, and took third in the 4x400.

Scott won the high jump and triple jump at Batesville as well, and took third in the long jump. He cleared 6-3 in the high jump and went 43 feet in the triple jump. Lercher cleared 11 feet in the pole vault for sixth place.

Jared Gowen and Steven Savage took first and fourth place respectively in the discus throw. Gowen’s winning throw travels 125-2.

For the North Pulaski girls, Wilson and Moragne finished second and fourth respectively in the 100-meter dash.

Beebe’s Madison Richey finished fifth in the same race. The Lady Falcon duo also finished third and fifth in the 200 meters. Wilson also took fifth in the 400.

Richey also took second in the long jump, third in the triple jump and fifth in the high jump.

Lear took fifth in the 1600 and fourth in the 3200 while Miguel was fifth in the pole vault.

Beebe took third in the girls 4x100- and 4x800-meter relays, and fifth in the 4x4oo.

SPORTS >> Panthers struggling to find win in 7A East

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers continue to struggle on the baseball diamond this season. The Panthers fell 5-1 at home to Little Rock Central on Friday to drop to 6-11 overall and 0-6 in conference play.

The game was tied at one after five innings. The Tigers added one run in the sixth inning and three in the seventh after coach Jay Fitch pulled starting pitcher Dustin Morris.

“It’s just kind of the same song, second verse,” Fitch said. “We’re just having trouble scoring runs. We’re hanging in there and we’re competitive in every game, we just can’t seem to get anything going offensively.”

Morris threw a good game, but worked from behind in the count much of the night and his pitch count soared. That forced Fitch to make a change.

“He got a little tired,” Fitch said. “He was up to about 110 pitches so I had to pull him. We put a couple of sophomores out there and they struggled.”

A hit batter was followed by two walks and two base hits in the top of the seventh for Central. The result was three runs for the Tigers to set the final margin.

Though the relief pitching struggled, the main issue remains offensively for Cabot.

“Out pitching has kept us in games,” Fitch said. “I’m very pleased with our two main starters, Ryan Logan and Dustin. The consistent problem has been with the sticks.”

Cabot has just two players with a batting average above .300, seniors Bryson Morris and T.C. Carter. The other senior in the lineup is third baseman Justin Goffe. Like most of the team, he is mired in a batting slump, but Fitch believes he can work his way out of it. Goffe broke the school record for doubles in a season last year while hitting .390.

“We know what he’s capable of when he gets going,” Fitch said. “Hopefully he’ll break out of this little slump and come on for us. We’re really going to have to get things turned around in this second half if we want to get to state.”

Fitch inserted a freshman into the lineup against Central. Tristan Bulice went 2 for 3, so he’s likely to stay if he remains productive.

“He’s got some pop for a young kid,” Fitch said. “Hopefully he’ll give us a little spark, a little pop in the lineup.”

A little spark is all Fitch believes his team needs to turn a crucial corner this season.

“Confidence is down a little bit,” Fitch said. “We just need to put together a complete seven innings and get a win. Getting some offense going and getting a win will do us wonders.”

Cabot traveled to Bryant on Tuesday and will face Van Buren at home on Friday.

SPORTS >> Lady Lions topple Jacksonville

Leader sportswriter

The comeback for Jacksonville faltered in the bottom of the sixth inning when Searcy scored two runs with two outs on the way to a 9-5 victory over the Lady Red Devils at the Fletcher Sullard Sports Complex on Monday.

The 6A East Conference matchup went back and forth as Jacksonville drew first blood in the top of the first inning with a leadoff run and another score to take an early 2-0 lead before a Searcy outburst in the bottom of the third inning gave a 6-3 advantage to the Lady Lions.

Jacksonville eventually cut the lead to within 7-5 and had two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Mecayla Ramer hit a straight shot down the first baseline and just out of the reach of Lady Devil senior Haley Hickingbotham. Ramer scored teammate Diane Parish and then came in herself when the ball was mishandled in the outfield, essentially killing Jacksonville’s late-game momentum.

“I can handle getting beat, and they’re a very well-coached team,” Jacksonville coach Kevin Sullivan said. “I was very impressed with the way they hit the ball. I was very disappointed in our effort. I don’t ask to win or lose, I just want effort.”

Senior second baseman Bailey Mallison was a bright spot in an otherwise inconsistent showing on defense for the Lady Red Devils, who slipped on a number of routine plays that could have made the game much closer against an opponent seemingly equal in talent and depth.

Mallison’s heads-up play got Jacksonville out of pinches in the first, third and especially fourth inning, when she turned a double play with a tag on winning pitcher Mecayla Ramer at second and quick throw to Hickingbotham at first for the out on batter Emma Howard with runners at first and second and one out.

“Boy, she played out of her head,” Sullivan said of Mallison, who did not get to play last year due to injury. “She came back out this year and has been starting at second base for us, and she played a couple of games at shortstop for us. She played, I feel like, the best game I’ve seen her play. I was very proud of her effort, and she hit the ball well, too.”

Mallison’s heroics could not make up for a terrible outing in the bottom of the third, however, as the Lady Lions scored five runs on two hits, two errors and a base-on-balls to go from trailing 3-1 to leading 6-3. Micah Webb smashed an offering from Jacksonville senior pitcher Whitney House into the centerfield wall for a RBI triple that scored Ramer and error beneficiary Heidi Abston to give the Lady Lions a 5-2 lead, and Webb tagged up moments later on a fly to center by Jacqueline Bradley.

“It’s one of those deals where we’ve had a curse with one inning,” Sullivan said. “One inning in every game this year where we feel things have snowballed, and here it is again. Third inning, we give up five. We compound it with an error here or there, or an effort play, things like that. Errors happen, but we’ve got to be mentally tough. Good teams can be embarrassed, and that’s kind of what happened.”

The top of the fifth gave Jacksonville hope as Mallison’s triple to centerfield scored Mailani Walker before Coyja Hood drove in Mallison with a single hopper to left field, cutting the margin to 7-5.

Pinch hitter Bailea Jones started the game with a triple for the Lady Red Devils, and scored on a groundout by Shyrel McKinney. Hickingbotham then walked and made her way to third on passed balls before coming in on a sacrifice fly to right field by Walker to give Jacksonville a 2-0 lead.

Hood was 2 for 3 for Jacksonville while Bradley and Lacey Adcock led Searcy, each going 2 for 3 with a triple to both of their credits.

The Lady Red Devils are now 3-7 overall and 3-4 in the 6A East Conference.

“To put it mildly, I feel like we’re kind of feast or famine,” Sullivan said. “We’re not as mentally tough as I’d like us to be. We could play with most of the teams in the conference – we’ve played with everybody. I just feel like we’re a team that if we come out mentally prepared and ready to fight, we’re tough, but there are too many times where we come out and we’re not mentally prepared.”

SPORTS >> Greystone operating again

Leader sports editor

For the first time in more than eight months, golf was played at Greystone Country Club on Saturday. Mark Forret of Cabot hit the first tee shot at 8 a.m. on the old Mountain Springs course, officially opening play for the first time since Metropolitan National Bank closed it and the Cypress Creek course last August, when membership numbers dropped and the courses began to lose in excess of $40,000 per month.

Jim Cooper of Melbourne bought the Mountain Springs course for $650,000 in March, a week after the bank rejected the highest bid at auction. He also owns Cooper’s Hawk Golf Course in Melbourne, and Greystone members can play that course for a $12.50 trail fee.

The back course, Cypress Creek, was bought by a separate group of investors and is tentatively scheduled to open sometime in July. It was in a much greater state of disrepair and sold for $415,00.

Former Cabot High School athletic director and golf coach Johnny White is the new director of golf at Greystone Country Club. Like most of the new members, White lives in the Greystone community.

“I live out here in this community and I want to see it be successful,” White said. “Everybody realized when we lost this course for eight months how important it was. Everyone is very optimistic and very positive about this.”

The bank that took over the property kept the course in good enough shape for play, but there will be some changes and improvements.

About a half dozen bunkers will be re-filled and the waterfall on the 18th hole will be operating again soon. There are also improvements to other amenities in the works in order to attract more members.

“We’re redoing the swimming pool and we’re going to redo the tennis courts,” White said. “It’s going to be all positive changes. It’s going to be fun.”

A membership drive through April has membership cost set at $195 per month and includes unlimited golf and access to all amenities. Family memberships are on sale through April for $220.

More than 160 people had bought memberships by the end of the opening weekend.

The course will also be fully open to the public and will be open seven days a week. On weekdays, greens fees will be $38 and $48 on weekends.

There are also social memberships available for $65 per month to Greystone residents, and $75 per month to non-residents.

A few corporate outings have already been scheduled and White hopes to start bringing in fundraising tournaments again in the near future.

White worked closely with Greystone when he was golf coach at the high school, and held the school and athletic department fundraisers at the course.

“We hope to bring that back here next year,” White said. “The school administration had to get that scheduled before we could get everything organized here.”

The Cabot golf team will also host matches and tournaments at the course.

“We want to work closely with the school,” White said. “They were always so ready to help us when I was coach and we want to renew that relationship, as well as build others throughout our community.”