Friday, May 03, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Those cuts on air base

More than 600 civilian employees at Little Rock Air Force Base are hoping the Pentagon and Congress will find a way to avoid furloughs that could reduce salaries by about 20 percent, probably starting sometime this month.

The furloughs were to have started March 1, but the Pentagon delayed implementation to study the impact of sequestration on personnel.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is reportedly planning to ask Congress for permission to move millions of dollars in the military budget that would allow about 800,000 civilians who work for the military to work full-time. If an agreement is reached, it would be similar to a deal that allowed the Federal Aviation Administration to end furloughs for air-traffic controllers, which created delays at airports.

The furloughs and other cutbacks in the military budget were triggered by the inability of Congress to reach a budget agreement, costing the Defense Department an estimated $46 billion for the fiscal year. The Pentagon had previously agreed to reduce spending an additional $50 billion a year. The military is taking the biggest hits in the latest round of budget cuts.

According to The Leader’s John Hofheimer, sequestration cuts at the air base include reorganizing the four wings to increase savings through efficiency, according to Brig. Gen. (Select) Brian Robinson, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

The 19th Airlift Wing is cutting flying hours by 35 percent. The Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard have collaborated to reduce active duty C-130s by 28 and both of the 19th Airlift Wing’s C-130H squadrons were proposed for reduction in fiscal year 2014. Increases in the Air Guard and Reserve airframes at the base add eight planes.

LRAFB will continue to receive new C-130Js as originally scheduled, but officials have said the base will probably have fewer old C-130s. Currently six C-130Js and 10 C-130-J variants are included in the proposed 2014 defense budget. The crews and maintainers for those planes will be trained at the base’s C-130J schoolhouse.

The Air Force will continue making cuts in nonessential flying and travel, curtail or stop minor purchases such as furniture and defer non-emergency facility maintenance. A freeze in new civilian hiring is in place. But the hard-working civilians at Little Rock Air Force Base deserve full pay for a full week’s pay. Here’s hoping the Pentagon and Congress will soon find the funds for those 650 civilians on our base.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville’s Relay for Life is Friday

 Laurie Howard, owner of Wicked Salon in Sherwood, shows off the munchkin land portion of a painted tapestry that will be displayed in her Relay for Life team’s tent on Friday at the Jacksonville Community Center.

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Community Center track isn’t yellow or made of brick, but the owner and staff of Wicked Salon in Sherwood will be strolling along it at 6 p.m. Friday to raise money for cancer research.

The theme for this year’s Relay for Life is movies. The salon at 8204 Hwy. 107 plans to emulate “Wizard of Oz” because it shares the name of a Broadway musical about the witch in the classic film. The team’s name is “The Wicked of Oz.”

Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that promotes awareness of all types of cancer and brings survivors of the disease together.

Wicked owner Laurie Howard said, “We are the only Sherwood team. I just want to raise as much money as we can. I want to blow every other team out of the water.”

She blushed, concerned about sounding like an overly competitive first-timer.

Howard team, which was in the lead on Friday with $1,802, is one of 23 teams participating in Relay for Life this year. The salon’s fundraising goal is $5,000.

But her enthusiasm can only be described as inspiring.

Howard said someone asked her what prize she wants to win and she responded, “I want to win the satisfaction of knowing that I did my best.”

Three of her grandparents and several other relatives have died from cancer so this cause is close to her heart.

“I’m just wanting to make a difference,” Howard said.

She had never heard of Relay until the organizers of this year’s event contacted the salon after it held a cut-a-thon on Oct. 10. Wicked partnered with Sexy Hair products to raise money for Look Good Feel Better, a nonprofit that helps more than 50,000 women undergoing cancer treatments each year to cope with appearance-related side effects that can be devastating to their self-esteem.

Howard recruited 20 to 25 members for the salon’s team, she said, but just six of them have been active in preparing for the event.

The Wicked tent will be selling soaps, punch, pulled pork “monkey meat” sandwiches, cookies called “Toto’s treats,” cotton candy “tornados” and chocolate sheet cake squares that Howard is considering naming “melted witch.”

The salon has built several props and decorative items, including a tin man, the house that fell on the wicked witch, a munchkin land/scary forest/emerald city tapestry with red balloons as the coma-enducing poppies, metal tornado sculpture coming out of the tent, faux yellow brick road leading visitors into the tent, and rainbow balloon arch on one side of the tent.

Howard said she wants to give the tent a 3-D look and the props will help with that.

“It’s really going to be awesome,” she said.

Howard added that her team would be wearing costumes, too.

The salon owner is thankful to McDonald’s for donating sweet tea, Jaw Fabrication of Sherwood for donating the tornado sculpture, Sherwin Williams of North Little Rock for donating paint and Ad Sum Balloons of Sherwood for donating the balloon arch.

Howard is looking forward to “meeting all the people” at the event.

“I hope a lot of Sherwood people come out, eat and fellowship. We’re going to have things for kids and everyone,” she continued.

Howard is also excited about seeing the luminaria ceremony when candles in decorated paper bags are lighted to commemorate cancer victims who have died from the disease.

To donate, dedicate a luminaria to the team or to join it, visit

For more information, call the salon at 501-834-1145 or find the Wicked Salon and Boutique page on Facebook.

TOP STORY >> Prisoner sought after he escapes

Leader staff writer

The Lonoke County Sheriff is looking for a Butlerville man who walked away from a hospital April 30 wearing an ankle monitoring device.

The escape is the second for Roy Moore, 41, who was arrested April 11 for residential burglary and theft of property in his mother’s Butlerville neighborhood.

Sheriff John Staley said a doctor who takes care of patients at the jail said when Moore was arrested that he was ill so he was released without bond to go to the hospital.

Staley said a hospital bill of $10,000 to $15,000 could wipe out his budget for health care, so releasing prisoners so they can get medical help is common.

Moore ran and they caught him and took him back to the jail where the doctor told them he was gravely ill with a possible blood clot above his heart.

“The reason we had to take him back to the hospital was because the doctor said he could die,” the sheriff said.

A jailer stayed with him at Springhill Baptist for about three days. But when it appeared Moore would be temporarily incapacitated during tests, the ankle monitor was put on, the jailer left and so did Moore.

Staley said he walked past a security guard on the way out.

“We believe he may have stolen a car down there,” he said. “There was one missing from the area.”

Staley said Moore obviously removed the tracking device shortly after he left the hospital but that he probably had to wear the bracelet for a while because they are very hard to remove.

He apparently spent at least one night in the woods before going to a relative’s home.

The sheriff said prisoners accused of violent crimes are not released with ankle monitors. But Moore isn’t violent. “He’s a drug abuser who’s trying to feed a habit,” the sheriff said.

Ankle monitors are a good way to prevent overcrowding problems and medical expenses, but Moore won’t be released with one again, he said.

The sheriff said he has leads about Moore’s whereabouts.

“We’ll have him back in a couple of days,” he said.

Anyone with information should call the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office at 501-676-3000 or local law enforcement agencies.

TOP STORY >> Mom recalls son’s fight for life

Leader staff writer

Dakota Hawkins of Cabot was 15 years old when he died March 2, 2006, after a four-year-battle with leukemia.

The story of his fight, aided by his little brother Riley, who donated his bone marrow twice, was chronicled in The Leader and now it is told in a book about eight young people whose wishes were granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation called “Once Upon a Wish.”

Author Rachelle Sparks interviewed 50 families before selecting the ones to be in her first book.

“Though Dakota is gone, his spirit is still very much alive, and that is the reason I chose his story for my book,” Sparks said Friday afternoon in an e-mail. “I wanted to capture that spirit and share its inevitable hope and inspiration. So much can be gained by reading Dakota’s story — the family’s faith and determination throughout his difficult journey has the power to change lives. Dakota’s outlook on life while battling cancer can provide a new outlook for us all.”

Dakota’s fulfilled wish was the John Deere Gator that he was using when he killed his first buck, his mother Sharon Hawkins said. The family still uses it and his mother says she realizes now that he planned it that way.

Here is Sharon Hawkins’ story:

About two years ago, I was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation asking if my family and I would be willing to share our son and brother, Dakota Hawkins’ unique wish, a John Deere Gator all-terrain vehicle and the details of how his wish become a reality. For us, sharing his wish would mean to share a part of his heart and the spiritual journey that shaped it.

A few months passed and I was contacted by author Rachelle Sparks from San Diego, Calif. We began planning her trip to Arkansas to interview our family. Finally, we would get to meet the lady who was traveling all over the United States to interview not only our family, but seven other families whose children were also recipients of a remarkable wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Mrs. Sparks would witness early on the amazing commonality these children share in their fearless abilities to fight, inspire and strengthen all of us while fighting a life-threatening disease.

On a Friday afternoon, Mrs. Sparks drove up after making the long flight from her California home. Our family greeted her outside, where she returned the greetings with a handshake and a warm smile.

I noticed instantly her eyes showed kindness, sympathy and respect. I would soon realize she not only was trustworthy to share our greatest joys and deepest pain but would witness her spirit of encouragement.

As we gathered at the dinner table to share a traditional Friday night meal that Henry had grilled, we held hands while Henry blessed the food and our time of sharing. After dinner, we invited our guest into the living room and got comfortable. With laptop in hand, Mrs. Sparks lead the way in attempting to capture the personality of the little boy we loved so much. About an hour had passed and it was obvious she was grasping Dakota’s personality, character, his incredible will to live and to fight and his faith.

My greatest concern was Riley, whose pain was evident in his voice and on his face, yet often broken by laughter from a fond childhood memory he would recall. One example was all those John Wayne movies where they would dress the part, pretend and film the scene where Riley (little brother) was the sidekick and Dakota always had to be the John Wayne, the last one standing.

Riley had always chosen to handle his grief privately. I silently prayed the prayer I had uttered for months that this experience would be therapeutic. We had all come to a consensus that we wanted Dakota’s story in written form and to continue to share his character as a testimony, but it was evident the pain would wear on all of us as we shared.

Before we knew it, it was midnight, and we were all spent emotionally and physically. Henry and Riley bid us goodnight and Mrs. Sparks and I had quiet conversation until the wee hours of morning.

I even shared a part of my personal endeavor with her about the chapters I had penned over the years and set aside. She listened attentively, gave me some good advice and encouraged me to pick up where I had left off.

In the year following our interview, we conversed many times on the phone, refining the story, confirming dates, fine-tuning details, while I attempted to teach a city girl how to understand the life of a deer hunter, the purpose of a deer stand, crossing creeks in an ATV and the passion our son had for nature. We exchanged e-mails regularly, and the editing process took over a year and often became emotionally taxing.

Last August, the collection of stories went to the publisher at BenBella Books in Dallas, having captured successfully Dakota’s spirit. The book, “Once Upon A Wish,” debuted in bookstores in early March.

The book can be purchased locally at Spiritual Gifts in Cabot, in stores where books are sold, downloaded on Kindle or on Amazon at

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot upsets powerful Searcy

Leader sportswriter

When Cabot’s Jack Whisker goes for redemption, he goes all out.

That was evident by the sophomore goalkeeper’s performance in the overtime penalty-kick period of Cabot’s 3-1 upset victory over Searcy at Panther Stadium on Tuesday. Whisker, who committed a costly error that prevented a victory at Pulaski Academy four days earlier, shut out the Lions on all four attempts during the PK period to secure the victory for Cabot, handing Searcy its first and only 7A/6A East Conference loss in the process.

The Panthers (6-3-4, 4-3) had more to play for entering the contest as the Lions (13-3, 6-1) had already secured the No. 1 seed for the upcoming 6A state tournament, but that did not make Whisker’s job any easier in the final 13 minutes of regulation, when Searcy went on the attack in an attempt to break a 1-1 tie and avoid overtime.

Junior Trevor Reed tied the game for Cabot in the 12th minute of the second half with a perfect strike from 30 yards out, and the Panthers kept on the attack until Searcy closed out regulation by dominating time of possession with seven shots on goal in the final 12:35, all of which were saved.

“They were hitting hard,” Whisker said. “And I told the defense that we just needed to stay calm and keep playing through the game. I was ready for it, I just had to stay on my toes the whole time.”

A.J. Mazon was the first Searcy player to come up against Whisker in overtime, and found his shot aimed at the lower left corner rejected with a body block by Whisker after Cabot senior Daniel Silva found the football crossbar on the first attempt for the Panthers, leaving the score 1-1 after one round. Blakelin Devore put one through for Cabot during the second round of penalty kicks, while Whisker denied Cody Redman with a similar block to his first stop.

Kyle Edgar gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead when he was successful on a shot to the right side of the goal on Cabot’s third attempt while Whisker went 3-0 in overtime, this time against Connor McClellan. Adrian Martinez was unsuccessful on Cabot’s final attempt, making Whisker’s final face off against Searcy team captain Evan Scarborough a must-stop situation, and Whisker came through with another hand block.

Teammates tackled Whisker in a dog pile in front of the goal before lifting him up over their heads in a spirited celebration.

“That was insane,” Whisker said. “I’ve done something like that before, a couple of years ago, and it was only two. I was just reading the guys and hoping I could get it. I didn’t think I would be able to do that.”

The Lions took a 1-0 lead at halftime when wing Tanner Scarborough scored with 26 seconds remaining before intermission, and had several promising second-half drives that went high, wide or got denied by Whisker and the Cabot defense.

“I thought their keeper played real well,” Searcy coach Bronco King said. “As a matter of fact, I thought he was the difference in the ballgame. We had some opportunities to score in the first half and didn’t capitalize on those. We had some in the second half, but he really kept us out of it, he sure did.”

The win still did not assure the Panthers a berth in the 7A state tournament. The 7A conferences will not be decided until early next week, leaving Cabot in limbo as to its potential postseason plans, but that did not hamper the celebration.

“It was a good win, and it was a must win for us,” Cabot coach Steve Porter said. “It’s vindication for how well the boys have played all year. Not our best performance overall as far as the chances we created, but Searcy is an excellent team, I don’t think they’ve lost many games if any. We played with them and matched them. Physically, we can’t do that, but from an effort standpoint and a technical standpoint, we can.

“We really don’t like PK shootouts around here since we’ve lost two, but it was a great showing, and Jack’s performance on-goal was brilliant.”

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats finally fall, still first in league

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock suffered its first conference loss on Tuesday, but bounced back to earn a split with rival Little Rock Central at Buddy Coleman Field in Little Rock. North Little Rock dropped game one 5-1 but won game two 3-0.

Despite the loss, the Wildcats need just one win in today’s makeup doubleheader with Jonesboro to earn a No. 1 seed in the state tournament that begins next Thursday in Rogers.

“We’d love to win both of them,” said North Little Rock coach Randy Sandefur. “But let me put it this way, we’re going to do everything we can to win that first one, and we’ll see what that leaves us with.”

Pitching was good on Tuesday, even in game one, but the Wildcats couldn’t solve the puzzle that Central lefty Noah Burks was throwing at them. North Little Rock wasn’t precise in the field either, committing six errors.

“We went to sleep with our gloves,” Sandefur said. “You get down 5-0 to a guy who’s carving you up, it makes it tough. It could very easily have been a 2-1 or 3-2 game. We left seven on base, but that guy on the mound had a lot to do with that. He threw a really crafty game. He kept us off balance, changed speeds. He just did a really good job. I’m glad he’s a senior.”

North Little Rock didn’t have nearly as much trouble with Central’s ace, Joey Abraham. Abraham is a junior with several Division I offers and has verbally committed to Vanderbilt. But he was outshined by North Little Rock starter Dillon Howell, who gave up just two hits in seven innings of work. He struck out four and only threw 87 pitches.

“It’s unheard of to have 87 pitches in seven innings,” Sandefur said. “He told me after game one, he said ‘coach don’t worry, I’m going to pick us up’, and boy he did. He was really masterful.”

North Little Rock scattered eight hits against Abraham, who Sandefur believes can become dominant with some more experience.

“We had some really good at bats and got the pitch count up on him,” Sandefur said of Abraham. “But here’s the deal with him. When he learns to pitch; he’s a thrower right now, but whenever he learns to pitch, it’s Katie bar the door with that kid. He’s got the stuff to be totally dominant.”

North Little Rock (22-4, 11-1) hosts Jonesboro at noon today at Burns Park.

SPORTS STORY >> JHS gets split, will settle for four seed

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils split a 5A Central doubleheader with Pulaski Academy on Tuesday. Jacksonville hammered the Bruins 11-2 in game one, but a bad first inning was the difference in a 5-1 loss in the nightcap in west Little Rock.

Jacksonville finishes conference play 10-4 and will settle for the No. 4 seed in the state tournament that’s scheduled to begin next Friday in Nettleton. Little Rock Christian finished 12-2 and will be the one seed. Pulaski Academy and Sylvan Hills tied at 11-3, but the Bruins will get the three seed because they swept the Bears last week.

The only difference be-tween Jacksonville and the other three is that the Red Devils were the only team in the top four not to sweep at least one of the other top four.

“That’s just a maturity thing,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said. “I don’t mean we’re immature. I mean we’re just young and inexperienced. To stay focused for that long, through two full games, against really good teams, and get a sweep, that’s a sign of an experienced, veteran ball club. We just haven’t gotten there yet. We beat Christian and PA in game one, but just didn’t keep it together through game two and that was the only difference. I’m not complaining about it. I’m satisfied with how my kids have performed this year. I think they’ve done great. We’re much better than when the season started and we’re playing pretty good right now. We have a chance to make some noise.”

Little Rock Christian was the only team not to be swept. The Warriors split with Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville, and swept PA. Jacksonville was swept by Sylvan Hills.

On Tuesday, the Bruins took a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but Red Devil pitcher Derek St. Clair shut them down over the next five innings.

Jacksonville scored three in the top of the second, one in the fifth and six in the sixth inning to take a 10-1 lead. Each team scored one run in the seventh to set the final margin.

Jacksonville only had five RBIs in the game off its 10 base hits, but putting the ball in play put pressure on the Bruins that it didn’t handle well. The Red Devils scored on several passed balls and wild pitches. Kaleb Reeves, Greg Jones and Ryan Mallison each finished with two base hits. Mallison added two RBIs to lead the way offensively for the Red Devils.

St. Clair went the distance, giving up just four hits while striking out and walking three apiece.

James Tucker started on the mound in game two. After a rough opening inning, he settled down and held the Bruins scoreless in the second, third and fourth innings.

Pulaski Academy scored four in the first off three hits, two hit batters and a walk. Jacksonville had opportunities to get back into the game. The Red Devils loaded the bases with two outs in the third and fifth innings, but luck wasn’t on their side. Both scoring opportunities ended with line drive outs to right field.

“We hit it pretty good both times, just bad breaks,” Burrows said. “We got two runners on in the sixth and just couldn’t bring them around. We only struck out four times against their best pitcher. We just couldn’t get them down for hits. But we put the ball in play and that’s what I ask of them.” Jacksonville also got just four base hits, two by St. Clair and one each from Jones and Mallison. Jacksonville will play a nonconference game against Little Rock Christian on Monday in Little Rock.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers in state with win

Leader sportswriter

The Searcy Lions handed Cabot a 7-2 loss in the first game of the 7A/6A East Conference doubleheader finale on Tuesday, but the Panthers responded in game two with a 4-2 win at the Searcy baseball field, which put them in good position to make a return to the class 7A state playoffs.

“We have to see how things play out, but I think eight wins will put us out of reach to get in,” said Cabot coach Jay Fitch. “I don’t know what seed we’ll be. It’ll be four, five or six.”

Searcy (8-14, 5-8) jumped on Cabot left-hander Ryan Logan early in the first game, and held on down the stretch to get the 7-2 win. The Lions started the second game much like they did the first, scoring two runs in the first inning to take an early lead.

“I tell you what, the report on Searcy, everybody I’ve talked to said they’re kind of so-so on their sticks, but they swung the bats tonight,” Fitch said.

Cabot (16-11, 8-6) had its chances to capitalize, as it had the bases loaded at some point in each of the first three innings, but could only manage one run. The Panthers left a total of seven runners stranded during that time.

“In this game we left the bases loaded in the first, second and third inning, and got one run out of all that,” Fitch said. “I mean we’re one or two hits away from blowing this game smooth open, but could not get the timely hit. That’s frustrating, but we did enough to pull it out.”

The Panthers took the lead for the first time in the fourth inning with two runs on a two-out rally. Leadoff hitter Conner Vocque walked with one out in the inning and stole second base with Logan at the plate. Logan flew out his at bat for the second out of the inning, and three-hole hitter Casey Vaughan followed with a walk.

Cleanup hitter Riley Knudsen came through for Cabot the next at bat with a single to left centerfield, his second of the game. Vocque scored with ease and Vaughan crossed the plate on a single to left field by first baseman Kason Kimbrell, which gave the Panthers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Cabot scored its final run in the sixth inning. Vocque led off the inning with an infield single to shortstop, and advanced all the way to third base on the play after consecutive throwing errors by the Searcy infield.

The poor play continued for Searcy as Vocque scored two-pitches later on a passed ball at home late. The Lions made it interesting in the seventh inning as they had runners on first and second base with two outs.

Searcy cleanup hitter Zach Anderson was at the plate with a full count, but Cabot closer Chipper Morris struck him out swinging to secure the win for the Panthers. Morris relieved winning pitcher Zach Patterson in the seventh inning. Patterson gave up two runs, two walks and recorded nine strike outs in his six innings of work.

“Fortunately our big junior, Zach Patterson, I’m so proud of him tonight,” Fitch said. “He threw a great game. He ended up getting around 100 pitches and I knew we were coming through their lineup again, so I wanted to give them a different look. That was big for us getting Dustin (Chipper) Morris back.

“At the beginning of the season he was probably our No. 1 (pitcher), and we didn’t have him all conference, but we’ve got him back now. He can come in and throw strikes and get outs.”

Cabot outhit Searcy 10-7 in game two. Vocque and Knudsen had two hits apiece, while Logan, Kimbrell, Gray-son Cole, Coleman McAtee, Brent Dean and Cole Thomas each had a hit.

SPORTS STORY >> Weather hampers 7A meet

Leader sports editor

Conditions were not ideal for anyone at the 7A state track meet in Bentonville on Thursday as local teams North Little Rock and Cabot battled through rainy conditions, a cold 42 degree temperature and winds around 15 miles per hour.

The North Little Rock boys took third place with 68 points behind winner Rogers Heritage, whose 108 points barely beat out meet host Bentonville’s 106.

The Cabot girls turned in a fourth-place performance with 50 points, behind 7A West teams Bentonville, Fayetteville and Springdale Har-Ber.

“It was the most challenging conditions I’ve ever seen kids have to deal with in track and field,” Cabot assistant coach Chris Beavert said. “But having said that, our kids braved the conditions very well. I thought they stepped up to compete as good or better than any team there.”

The Lady Panthers had several meets together with Bryant this year and never outscored the Lady Hornets until Thursday. They also finished second to Fort Smith Southside at the conference meet a week ago, but beat out the Lady Rebels at state.

“It was a very rewarding experience for us as coaches to see those kids push themselves and each other to compete, regardless of uncontrollable variables that presented themselves,” Beavert said.

Tori Weeks was the big winner for the Lady Panthers with a win in the pole vault, though she and twin sister Lexi had an even 12-0 height. Tori Weeks was also third in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 50.10, while Lexi Weeks was fourth in the long jump with a distance of 17-3.

The Weeks twins were also on the two Cabot relay teams to place at the event. The 4x100-meter relay team that also included Rochelle Mallory and Ladasha Evans took third with a time of 51.50, and the 4x400-meter relay team comprised of the same four finished fourth in the event with a 4:29.03 time.

Marlene Sheehan and Megan Duncan also recorded top-ten finishes for Cabot in the 3,200-meter run.

Anthony Louden finished second for North Little Rock in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.48, while teammates Brad Agee and Martavious Strozier finished fifth and sixth respectively in the 110-meter high hurdles. Martinez Butler took third in the 300-meter high hurdles with a time of 41.75.

Butler also finished right behind teammate Charleston Bonds in the long jump. Bonds was fifth with a distance of 21-00 while Butler was sixth with a 20-7.25, and Butler took second in the triple jump with a distance of 45-4.75.

Marcus Lindsey won the discus throw with a distance of 157-00, and was sixth in the shot put with a distance of 47-10.50. Deon Tidwell was sixth in the discus event with a 132-6 toss.

On the girls’ side, Malica Monk was seventh in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.72, while Lagradia Nelson took third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.16. Monk was also second in the long jump with a distance of 17-4.75.

The Cabot boys recorded most of their points through strong performances in the relay events, though Hadyen Richey did manage a seventh-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.2.

The team of Dylan Ball, Clay Killingsworth, John Sowden and Riley Hillegas finished seventh in the 4x800-meter relay with an 8:55.24 time, while the team of Richey, Sowden, Seth Hoggard and Mark Odom took sixth in the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 3:47.14.

Cabot head coach Leon White said the worst thing about the conditions was how it will effect next week’s Meet of Champions in Hot Springs.

“The teams that had their meets down here or earlier in the week got to compete in much better weather,” White said. “It really effected the competitors and hurt our times and distances. They take the winners of each event from all the classes, but then just take the next five best times, so it’s almost not even fair.”

Bentonville High School asked the Arkansas High School Activities Association if the meet could be postponed until Wednesday, but the request was denied.

“I’ll give you a perfect example,” White said. “Our girls 4x400 relay team ran a 4:09 at conference last week. They ran their hearts out up there at Bentonville with that wind and rain driving down on them, and came in at 4:29. It was a meet like I’ve never seen before where if you weren’t competing, you were huddled up under a tent, or on the bus or with your parents in the car just waiting for your call. It was miserable and it’s going to hurt a lot of good athletes and their chances to make the meet of champs.”

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Expansion set to kick off

As local legislators looked on, Gov. Mike Beebe last week signed into law health-insurance coverage for about 250,000 working poor Arkansans.

The private-option is part of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion plan that received 75 percent approval in the legislature thanks to the efforts of House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) and Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy). The plan will move thousands of Arkansans off Medicaid and into private programs such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the premiums for three years and 90 percent afterward, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now comes the hard part: Signing up eligible recipients before the program kicks off next January.

Those who qualify for the private option will have annual incomes below 138 percent of the poverty level. For a family of four, they would qualify if annual income is $32,499 or less.

When the private option beings in January, it will include everything from preventative care and doctor’s visits to hospital visits. Some things will require co-pays, helping ensure some personal responsibility.

Most of the signup will be through health exchanges on line and at county DHS offices.

According to Amy Webb, communications director for the Department of Human Services, the open enrollment period begins in October.

The state has about 776,000 people on its Medicaid rolls—children, disabled people, some pregnant women and some elderly, particularly in long-term care. Some of those people will move to the private option, saving the state money. Arkansas pays 30 percent of their costs, most of which will be shifted to the federal government.

The Insurance Department will put out guidance to prospective insurance carriers so they can design plans, Webb told The Leader’s John Hofheimer last week. “That needs to happen in the next few weeks. “We couldn’t move forward until private option passed.” This will include public hearings, she said.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield is among insurers working on new products to meet the requirements of the federal mandates. The private option will not only help the sick but add to the bottom line of Arkansas’ insurance companies.

TOP STORY >> Farmers markets start Saturday

Leader staff writers

Even though the weather might not seem to agree, spring is here and that means farmers markets are open with locally-grown produce, homemade soaps, baked goods, jams, jellies, pickles and crafts.

The Cabot market will start its sixth year on Saturday. Matt Webber from Cabot City Beautiful, which runs the market, says he expects all the usual vendors this year and more.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Webber said about the increased interest in this year’s market.

It’s possible that the vendors could outnumber the available parking spaces at First Security Bank on Second Street, where the market has been located for several years. If that happens, Webber is talking to Centennial Bank about using the grassy area between the two banks for vendors who don’t need to sell out of trucks, he said.

Entertainers scheduled so far include a dulcimer player and a gospel quartet. But the bluegrass band he is talking with has not committed to performing there yet, Webber said.

The Argenta Farmers Market at Sixth and Main streets in North Little Rock opened the first Saturday in April.

Barnhill Orchards of Cabot is one producer who sells at both. “All of the produce we bring to the markets is picked fresh,” Ekko Barnhill said.

This year, Barnhill’s offerings include kohlrabi, kale and baby bok choy. “We’re trying to grow produce that is new to the community,” she said.

Barnhill Orchards will have strawberries, spinach, collard greens and lettuce this month. Blackberries and peaches will be ready in June.

Throughout the season, the farm brings staples like okra, squash, zucchini,
sweet corn, purple hull peas, potatoes, cucumbers, Vidalia onions and honey
dew melons to the markets.

“We like to think that anything that is at the store you can buy
fresh from us,” she said. “Our prices are competitive. We try to encourage people to buy

Kelly Carney of North Pulaski Farms in Jacksonville also sells at the Argenta Farmers Market. But starting in mid-May he will be taking his produce to the Jacksonville Farmers Market.

Carney said he sells at producer-only markets. Some markets allow “peddlers” who buy vegetables and fruits wholesale, Carney explained. But he doesn’t go to those markets.

“Direct channel sales are 75 percent of my sales,” he said. “Not only (that), I get to talk to people. I like to talk to people about growing food.”

The advantage of buying from a farmer is, “there is a large variety of seasonal produce,” Carney noted.

This year, look for broccolini, a sprouting broccoli that is purple and very sweet and can’t be found in local stores, he said.

The Jacksonville Farmers Market in front of the community center opens Saturday morning, but it will also be open on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m.

Recreation coordinator Dana Rozenski said the market is still accepting vendors and is hoping for more crafters. So far she expects to see handmade wooden chimes, birdhouses and cedar chests. The fresh produce will include greens, cabbage, snap peas, beans, corn, squash, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes and herbs, she said.

The Sherwood Farmers Market will be open on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. beginning May 9 at the corner of North Hills Boulevard and Country Club Road.

The market will be open through June 27, but it closes in July and August because of the summer heat.

Keep Sherwood Beautiful is organizing the market again this year. Executive Director Betty Barnhardt said it could also be open in the fall, weather permitting, but that has yet to be decided.

At least five vendors who participated in the market last year are expected to return.

The vendors she has heard from include Barnhill Orchard of Cabot, KB Honey of Sherwood, North Pulaski Farms, Whole Harvest Farms and Tommy Sue’s Critters, which offers homemade soaps and lotions.

Frosty Treats may attend the market as well, Barnhardt said.

The animal shelter will be there with the goal of adopting out some of its cats
and dogs. And, like the organizers of the Cabot market, Barnhardt is looking for entertainers.

The oldest market in the area, the Beebe flea market that was once part of the livestock sale barn on Hwy. 367, has so many different types of vendors that it is sometimes overlooked. But owner Sue Blakemore says make no mistake about it, it’s a farmers market too.

Yes, the market has livestock, caged birds, crafts, homemade baked goods and many food vendors, but it also has fresh produce all year. When spring arrives and local gardens start producing, it has locally grown fresh produce.

There are also vendors who sell plants for anyone who wants to grow their own garden. Other vendors offer tools and antiques. A man from Illinois who sells chainsaw carvings is expected to be there this year.

The Beebe flea market was started by accident 48 years ago by Blakemore’s mother, Mrs. Sid Guyot, who likes to be called Mrs. Sid.

Blakemore said an elderly couple from Kensett set up a stand in front of the livestock sale barn and started selling axe and other types of wooden handles. Eventually, their stand became so popular that it was blocking access to the barn. So Mrs. Sid moved it out of the way a little and another seller set up a stand. Another and another followed.

Today, as many as 230 vendors are open for business on Saturdays when the weather cooperates.

The livestock barn changed hands a couple of times and is now a trucking company. But the flea market is going strong despite some problems with the city, which annexed it about seven years ago. When no parking signs went up on the highway beside the flea market, Blakemore and her brother turned 15 acres between the flea market and the railroad tracks into a parking lot.

Now, the unlicensed food vendors have licenses from the health department and the women selling baked goods have a copy of the relatively new law that allows them to sell what they bake at home.

TOP STORY >> Cruelest Month

Leader editor

The FBI is hoping it can recover from two fumbles in April — letting the two Chechen terrorists out of its sight in Boston and apparently fingering the wrong man in the Mississippi ricin case.

The characters in both cases have a lot in common: The suspects were underemployed men who lived on the margins of society. The Tsarnaev brothers, after immigrating to the U.S., found the American dream elusive and may have survived on drug dealing and shoplifting.

The older of the two, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, is believed to have been a serious dealer and should have been arrested years ago.

He appears drugged in the videos released at the Boston Marathon. It may also explain the rampage after the bombing — killing a police officer, wounding another and carjacking an SUV and its driver, who escaped before Tsarnaev could shoot him.

His kid brother, Dzhokhar, 19, is said to be a dedicated pothead. He ran over his wounded brother in a police ambush. Tamerlan died later that night, while Dzhokhar was apprehended the next evening hiding out in a boat.

Tamerlan’s autopsy report might shed some light on his drug habits, as should blood samples from Dzhokhar while he recovers in his jail cell.

Selling drugs and shoplifting kept the brothers afloat. They were college dropouts, unlike the young Chinese graduate student they blew up at the marathon and the young Chinese-American entrepreneur they kidnapped in his SUV.

No one would mistake the Tsarnaevs for hardworking immigrants like those Korean shop owners, Thai restaurateurs and Hispanic workers who landscape, work in restaurants and drive food trucks all week long.

The ricin case was another embarrassment for the FBI, which arrested an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis of Tupelo, Miss., who was accused of sending poisonous mail to President Obama and others.

He was released a few days after his arrest when no evidence was found against him. He claimed he was framed by a local rival named Everett Dutschke, who was arrested over the weekend.

A tip to the FBI: Elvis impersonators can be eccentric but are harmless. Curtis did have an obsession with body parts at the local hospital, which he said was harvesting them for profit.

Dutschke, who ran an unsuccessful Taekwondo studio, refused to publicize Curtis’ accusations in a local newsletter Dutschke published. It’s a very southern story right out of Flannery O’Connor.

The FBI now says Dutschke framed Curtis by signing the poisonous letters to look like Curtis’ online postings: “I am KC and I approved this message.” But if using your enemy’s initials is enough to get one arrested in this country, law-enforcement has some explaining to do, along with the failure to catch the Tsarnaevs before it was too late.

TOP STORY >> No shows talk of Lincoln dinner

Leader staff writer

It’s an off-election year.

That was clear at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Lonoke on Saturday where the normal Republican crowd was down about 25 percent and three of the guest speakers were no shows.

Plans called for a four-member panel discussion on how things went for the Republicans in the latest legislative session, but Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot), Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) and House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) didn’t make the event.

Only Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R- Searcy) made it, so the panel discussion was rather short and one-sided.

Speculation at the dinner was that Carter was preparing to announce for governor. Carter told The Leader on Tuesday that he hasn’t decided to yet.

Justice of the Peace Tim Lemons announced his run for the Dist. 43 House seat held by Carter, who is term limited.

What made the no-shows even more glaring was that two of them were honored Saturday night. The Lonoke Republicans recognized Williams for all the outstanding work he had done and the Republican Man of the Year was Farrer, but neither was there. Previous engagements, the audience of about 250 was told.

Rita Schmitz was honored as the county’s Republican Woman of the Year. She was presented the award by her sister, Lonoke County Treasurer Patti Weathers.

Dismang reminded the partisan crowd that before the last election the district lines were redrawn by the Democratic-controlled legislature “for me not to return. Glad you messed up their plans and sent me back.”

He told the crowd that the Legislature has changed greatly. “There is a new conservative tone and all the debating we did was a good thing. Five years ago when I first came to the Legislature, everything was done behind closed doors. There was no debate, no discussion — the herd was directed on how to vote, and they did.”

He said the debates helped keep things more transparent than in the past.

Dismang also praised the Legislature for the work it accomplished. “We strengthened the state’s pro-life stance with stronger anti-abortion laws, made it clear we are a pro-Second Amendment rights state and strengthening the integrity of our elections with the voter identification law and we approved $770 million in tax cuts,” the senator said.

Dismang explained to the crowd why the state had to approve the private-option alternative to the Affordable Care Act. “It would have cost us $35 million in penalties if we did nothing. Plus it brings insurers in the state which means more competition and hopefully will drive down the cost of insurance.” He said at least four new insurers were looking at entering the Arkansas market.

Dismang cautioned that every possible safeguard was placed in the private-option law. “If there is one disagreement from the federal government, then the deal is off, the program won’t start.”

State Republican chairman Doyle Webb was there to help rally the troops and emphasize the highlights of the legislative session, which had ended just days before.

Webb told the crowd that Republicans were more than the state party; they were also the party of cities, counties and people. “We reflect the views of everyday Arkansans.”

He admitted there was bickering or disagreeing within the party “but I agree with the party more often than I agree with my own family,” he quipped. “Besides, find me a Democrat that believes in all we believe in.”

The party chairman predicted that the Republicans would sweep the constitutional offices in the next election. “And we are going to send Mark Pryor into early retirement,” he predicted.

Even though it is an off-election year, some statewide candidates were at the annual dinner. Republican candidate for attorney general David Sterling was there as was Kim Yang of Benton, who is running for state auditor.

Both Republican candidates for governor, Curtis Coleman and Asa Hutchinson, had representatives at the events. The spokesmen said the candidates would be visiting Lonoke County often in the coming year.

Republican Denise Brown told the crowd she was running to regain her position as Lonoke County circuit court clerk. She lost the position to former Democrat Deborah Oglesby, who crossed over to the Republican side and beat out Brown in the 2012 primary.

Two Republican candidates for the Dist. 14 representative seat, Rep. Trent Eilts and Buddy Fisher, were there.

They will try to unseat Rep. Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke) next year.

TOP STORY >> Sequestration looms over air base

Leader senior staff writer

Civilian employees at Little Rock Air Force Base still don’t know when their furloughs will kick in, according to John Arlo Taylor, a base spokesman. Taylor should know — he’s one of those civilians, whose hours and pay will both be reduced by about 20 percent, probably starting sometime this month.

About 800,000 civilians work for the military, with about 650 at the base.

The furloughs were to have started around March 1, but the Pentagon delayed the implementation to study the impact and implementation.

The furloughs were triggered by the inability of Congress to come to a budget agreement, and it will cost the Defense Department an estimated $46 billion for the fiscal year.

Since sequestration became law, Congress has allowed certain areas, such as the military, to shift funds around.

Sequestration cuts at the base include reorganizing the four wings at the base to increase savings through efficiency in organizing and training the airmen, according to Brig. Gen. (Select) Brian Robinson, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

As commander of the premier C-130 base in the world, Robinson is responsible for the personnel who operate and maintain more than 90 C-130 aircraft, while providing for the health and welfare of more than 12,000 personnel and families at the base.

The base will continue “to act and operate in a fiscally responsible manner while maintaining a high level of readiness and excellence,” Robinson said.

The base has curtailed non-readiness or non-mission-essential flying and travel, curtailed or stopped minor purchases such as furniture and information technology upgrades, implemented a civilian hiring freeze and decreased temporary-duty aircrew travel, according to Lt. Mallory Glass, chief of communications for the wing.

The 19th Airlift Wing is cutting flying hours by 35 percent.

The Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard have collaborated to reduce active-duty C-130s by 28, and both of the 19th Airlift Wing’s C-130H squadrons were proposed for reduction in fiscal year 2014.

But increases in the Air Guard and Reserve airframes at the base add eight planes.

The air base will continue to receive new C-130Js as originally scheduled, according Glass.

Officials have said the base will probably have fewer old C-130s, but Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) has said he hopes procurement of state-of-the-art C-130Js will continue as planned.

Currently six C-130Js and 10 C-130-J variants are included in the proposed 2014 defense budget.

There is no indication in the budget how many if any of those are destined for Little Rock Air Force Base, but the crews and maintainers for those planes will be trained at the base’s C-130J school house.

Throughout the Air Force, actions will include curtailing non-readiness or mission essential flying and travel, curtailing or stopping minor purchases such as furniture and computers, deferring non-emergency facility maintenance, restoration and modernization, implementing a civilian hiring freeze for all non-mission positions and releasing non-mission temporary and term employees at the end of their term for term employees, according to the statement.

SPORTS STORY >> Pitch Panthers tie, ladies fall to PA

Leader sportswriter

It was mixed results for the Cabot soccer teams as the Panthers visited Pulaski Academy for a pair of nonconference matches on Friday. The Lady Panthers found the Lady Bruins tougher than their 7A/6A opponents in a 7-3 loss for only their second loss of the season, while the Panthers fought back from a first-half deficit to tie the Bruins 1-1.

Contrasting styles made for an interesting matchup between the Panthers and Bruins as Pulaski Academy went direct with a counter-attack game based on compact defensive organization and limiting individual mistakes, while Cabot was more possession oriented based on ball retention and creating space.

The Bruins struck first in the opening 40 minutes when Cabot goalkeeper Jack Whisker came out to collect a ball and allowed it to get past him. Pulaski Academy was there with a forward to push the ball into the empty net to make it 1-0.

The Panthers created chances in the first half and led in time of possession, but were not able to score until the second half. Their possession game continued to wear down Pulaski Academy in the second half, making the Bruins’ sporadic attacks less frequent.

“I thought the first half they implemented their strategy better than we did,” Panthers coach Steve Porter said. “Not only because they were able to take advantage of a poor goalkeeping error, but because they did a good job of making play predictable. The second half saw us improve in our play - switch the ball with greater speed and frequency, and as a result fatigue began to set in for PA. By the end of the game their players could barely run anymore. Our finishing once again prevented us from earning the win, but our overall play in the second half was excellent.”

Cabot finally scored on a possession that started deep in its own territory and culminated with an interchange that put senior forward Daniel Silva on goal with a one-on-one matchup against Pulaski Academy’s goalkeeper. Silva won the battle with a low, driving blast into the net that tied the game.

“I thought it was a really interesting game in terms of contrasting styles,” Porter said. “We were hoping to keep the ball well, spread the field and wear them down. They were hoping to stay compact, play good defense and counter attack at speed. Each team’s style plays into the other ones, and it became a very interesting tactical battle.

“ They were happy for us to have the ball and attempt to take advantage of our wide spacing and any mistakes we made by counter attacking quickly; while we were happy to keep the ball and make them chase defensively, hoping to take advantage of a lapse in concentration or plain tiredness on their part.”

The Panthers and Lady Panthers wrapped up 7A/6A East Conference play last night as host to Searcy with a girls’ matchup to decide the league champion outright while the Panthers looked to upset the unbeaten Lions, who wrapped up the No. 1 seed last week.

SPORTS STORY >> ’Rabbits avenge loss, win district

Leader sports editor

A pair of wins on Monday means a No. 1 seed in the regional tournament for the Lonoke baseball team. The Jackrabbits beat Clinton 4-2 in the semifinals then got revenge on rival Stuttgart in the 4A-2 district championship with an 8-5 victory in Heber Springs.

The Ricebirds and Lonoke were conference co-champs in the 4A-2 and Stuttgart gave Lonoke its only conference loss of the season. The head-to-head win meant Stuttgart got the top seed in the district tournament, but that will belong to the Jackrabbits when the two teams return to Heber Springs on Friday to begin regional play.

The Jackrabbits celebrated between the pitcher’s mound and second base after the district championship win. Lonoke coach Darrick Lowery understood the postgame emotions.

“This is a big deal for them,” Lowery said. “Anytime we get to match up with Stuttgart we know we have to play a pretty good game to win. That was our only conference loss this year so they wanted this one pretty bad.”

Lonoke was hitting the ball hard from the very first inning, but weren’t getting many breaks with placement. The Jackrabbits took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but a little bad luck cut the rally shorter than it could’ve been.

Leading 2-0 and the bases loaded with one out, Nick Watson hit a hard line drive down the third baseline that, instead of being a bases-clearing double, was caught for an unassisted double play. It was a good example of the kind of day Watson would have, until he finally found a gap later in the game, and it was at the perfect time for Lonoke.

Stuttgart (16-7) tied it up in the bottom of the same inning and added one run in each of the third and fourth innings for a 4-2 lead. Lonoke continued hitting the ball hard, but couldn’t get on the board again until a big fifth inning.

The first two Jackrabbits to bat went down in order, but hard shots finally started finding empty spaces in the Stuttgart defense. Once the pressure mounted, Stuttgart also began making mistakes uncharacteristic of a conference champ.

“We’d been hitting the ball hard all day,” Lowery said. “We knew eventually if we keep at it things would eventually break for us. Nick had been smoking it and he finally got a huge one for us.”

Zack Risner started the rally with a single to centerfield. Christian James then drew a walk. That brought Watson up for his third at bat of the game. This time he sent a high drive down the power alley in left-centerfield. It hit the wall on one bounce and both base runners scored to tie the game at 4. That was it for starting pitcher Jacob Clawson, who yielded to Regan Counce, but Counce only lasted three batters. Garrett Spears, Nick Graves and Shane Pepper got consecutive singles for two more runs and a 6-4 Lonoke lead.

The Ricebirds came right back with a single run in the bottom of the fifth, an unearned run off relief pitcher Christian James in an inning that could have been much worse for Lonoke than it turned out to be. Clawson hit a routine grounder to shortstop to start the inning, but the throw was off the mark.

More luck went Stuttgart’s way when Carter Ward took a full swing, but the ball acted like a perfect bunt, rolling slowly down the third baseline for an infield single. Jay McGee then put down the perfect bunt for another single that loaded the bases with no outs. Counce then hit a deep fly ball to left field that scored Clawson. James then struck out Gere Elam and got Dontrell Brown to fly out to left field, though Shane Pepper had to put his heels to the fence to make the catch.

Lonoke added a couple of insurance runs in the top of the sixth. Gooden led off with a single on a 0-2 pitch to right-centerfield, and stole second base. Guy Halbert then hit one to the clouds in left field, where it bounced off the arm of John Curtis and rolled rapidly away from him. By the time he retrieved the ball, Gooden scored easily and Halbert was safe at third. Madison James then hit a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to score Halbert and set the final margin.

Christian James then struck out two of three in the bottom of the sixth. Gooden took the mound for the seventh, striking out Clawson and Ward, and getting McGee to ground out to second base to end the game.

Spears started the game and pitched four innings for the no decision. Christian James got the win, giving up two hits and no earned runs while striking out three and walking none.

Lonoke’s semifinal win over Clinton wasn’t without drama. The Yellowjackets had the bases loaded with two outs and trailing 4-2 in the last inning when controversy struck. A short hopper to the right of the pitcher’s mound was fielded by Gooden. He threw to first in time for the out, but the runner ran into Risner just after he made the catch and caused him to drop the ball. The umpire signaled out when the catch was made, but then changed the call and signaled safe, meanwhile two Clinton runners crossed the plate, seemingly tying the game. Lowery protested that the out was made before the ball was caught. After a meeting between the three umpires at the pitcher’s mound, the runner was ruled out and the game was over.

The Jackrabbits will play Cave City at 4 p.m. Friday at Heber Springs. The Cavemen are the No. 4 seed from the 4A-3 Conference.

SPORTS STORY >> Hornets win epic one with Carlisle

Leader sportswriter

DES ARC – An untimely Carlisle error in the bottom of the eighth inning finally gave Hazen the score it needed to defeat its local rival in the 2A-6 District Championship as the Hornets earned the No. 1 seed for the upcoming East Regional tournament with a hard-fought 3-2 win on Monday.

The Bison (15-5) took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning that was short lived before the Hornets (14-4) answered with two runs in the bottom half. Jacob Gordon tied the score for Carlisle in the top of the second inning with a solo home run that made it 2-2.

And then the scoring stopped for a while.

Hazen’s chance to retake the lead in the bottom of the fifth fell short, and another chance for the Hornets in the final inning of regulation was thwarted when Brad Elder fielded Hunter Ingle’s pop fly between centerfield and right field.

The play gave Hazen two outs, but it came with a price for Carlisle as Elder collided with centerfielder Tyler Young, resulting in Young being knocked unconscious for a number of minutes before being taken off the field by local paramedics. Young was conscious and walking after the incident, but was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

Colby Rollins put the winning run on when he led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single up the middle and advanced on a Carlisle error on a grounder to third by Cody Kee.

Carlisle third baseman Deron Ricks made up for the slip on the next play when Kelby Martin’s dribbler back to relief pitcher Chris Hart resulted in a double play from Hart to Ricks to first baseman Josh Mathis.

That put substitute batter Drake Ingle at the plate with two outs and a runner at second. Ingle’s pop up to shallow left looked like another routine out, but Nick Schafer anticipated the ball too far in and was out of position to make the play when it finally returned.

For Hazen, Gage Johnson earned the win on the mound with a complete eight innings of work.

“Here’s the deal,” Carlisle coach William Rountree said. “A lot of times, we talk about what we do wrong, and that’s the coach’s job. Gage Johnson pitched a great game. I’ll tell you what kind of pitcher Gage is – our better hitters in the lineup weren’t hitting the ball hard. They were getting a bat on the ball, but they weren’t hitting it hard. As we went down, we had a lot of strikeouts. That’s a tribute to him, he mixes speeds real well, he’s a good pitcher.

“We missed some plays. You could probably break it down and say we should have won that game 2-1, but by the same token, you can’t really factor in the double play we turned, Elder makes a great catch out there in right field, and I thought both of our pitchers threw well.”

Mathis started on the mound for Carlisle and gave up two singles to start the game. He then struck out Ingle and forced a groundout to second by cleanup hitter Colton Felts that scored Johnson, the leadoff batter. Rollins singled after that and drove in Chase Van Houten to give the Hornets a 2-2 lead.

After that, Mathis held off the Hornets at the plate until they started to get to him in the fifth. Felts singled and Rollins doubled with two outs to put runners at second and third, but the Bison avoided disaster when Kee got only a piece of the ball that resulted in an easy pop-up out back to Mathis.

Carlisle got the initial lead in the top of the first when Hart singled with a grounder to second and beat the throw to first, and finally scored three batters later when Dylan Brazeal singled to left field.

Gordon’s home run to lead off the second inning came on Johnson’s third offering and easily cleared the left-field wall to tie the game.

“This is our best all-around game we’ve played all year,” Hazen coach Nathaniel Bradow said. “We played some defense, played some offense, and just kept pressing. You tell them to put the ball in play, and you leave it up to them to make the plays, and they’ll fold before we do. Luckily, they made one more error than we did, but we got the win.”

Schafer was 2 for 3 for Carlisle while Van Houten and Rollins were both 3 for 4 for Hazen.

With the No. 1 seed, Hazen is projected to take on Cutter-Morning Star in the first round of the East Regional at 5 p.m. Friday, while Carlisle will most likely face tourney host Poyen at 2:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Former Devil signs with Chiefs

Leader sports editor

For top-level high-school athletes who worry they have to pick just the right college in order to maximize their chances of going pro, stop worrying.

Former Jacksonville Red Devil star safety Demetrius Harris proves you don’t even have to be playing the right sport. If you’ve got the talent, people will take notice.

Harris, who spent the last four years playing college basketball because his football dreams were, or so he thought, shot down by a low ACT score, just signed a three-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League.

Harris’ journey to the NFL was far from typical. When the Chiefs’ new general manager John Dorsey reached out to him while he was on spring break from classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Harris admitted he was shocked.

“I always felt like I was a more natural football player than basketball,” said Harris, who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 237 pounds. “But I couldn’t believe the NFL was looking at me. I didn’t know they knew about me.”

Dorsey found out about Harris two years ago while a scout for the Green Bay Packers. Someone gave him a tip while at an Arkansas high school all-star game about a player who fell through the cracks a couple years before and who was playing college basketball in the Green Bay area.

“I put him on my Franklin day calendar to explore this guy two years down the road,” Dorsey told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week. “That’s what I did and there he is.”

The Chiefs see Harris as a potential tight end. Harris is fine with that, but he thinks he has the speed to be a slot receiver if necessary.

Dorsey sent Chiefs’ scout Ryan Kessenich to Milwaukee to evaluate a personal workout and interview Harris on April 5, giving him one week to prepare.

“I’d been on spring break, basketball was over and I hadn’t worked out in more than two weeks,” Harris told The Leader on Monday; shortly after signing the NFL contract. “I did a lot of work that week to get ready.”

Harris dazzled in everything but strength drills. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, the second fastest of all tight ends this year. He displayed a 36 1/2 vertical leap and did a 10-2 broad jump, which were both in the upper ranks of his projected position.

His shuttle runs and cone drills were equally impressive. The NFL’s standard strength test is number of reps of a 225-pound bench press.

This year’s average for tight end prospects was 19. Harris only did it twice, but he’s had little weight training his entire career.

“I never lifted weights at all until I got to Milwaukee,” Harris said. “The training is different for football and basketball. I have no doubt when I get into a real football training regimen I’ll get a lot stronger.”

The NFL agrees. The shortcoming in strength is one of the easier things to remedy. That’s why the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and super bowl champion Baltimore Ravens all wanted private workouts with Harris. Scouts or coaches from nine other teams came to his pro-day workout on April 13.

His high-school defensive coordinator, Rick Russell, who is now head coach at Jacksonville, isn’t surprised to hear about Harris’ opportunity.

“We’ve always felt like he had that kind of talent,” Russell said. “So that’s not surprising at all. We were only surprised from the standpoint that he left it behind and went and played basketball. He was an amazing safety. Coach Burrows (JHS secondary coach Larry Burrows) just about cried when he graduated. We have a rope that we’d give to the defensive player who was at the top of the defensive chart after each game. Demetrius pretty much just kept it in his locker.”

Harris had 149 tackles and four interceptions his senior year on defense. He also had 748 yards receiving and four touchdowns on offense.

“That was the other thing about him that was so impressive,” Russell said. “He never left the field. But I bet if you asked him he’d say he loves hitting people more than he loves catching touchdown passes.”

Harris laughed when the question was passed along, but admitted that Russell was right.

“I did love playing safety more than anything,” Harris said. “I would have played football in junior college, but the only school that wanted me wanted to make me a defensive end, and I didn’t want to play that. So I just went on and signed with the basketball school.”

Harris signed with Mineral Area Community College in Missouri. Even after two years away from football, there were still football teams that came calling when his two years of JUCO hoops was up.

“I had everybody looking at me,” Harris said. “University of Arkansas, Arkansas State, Texas Tech, Tennessee. I just thought since I’ve been playing basketball, I’d just stick with that.”

He broke into the starting lineup his first year at Milwaukee, and started 28 of 32 games his senior season. He averaged nine points and five rebounds per game in his career at UMW.

He knew there was little chance of a pro basketball career, so he decided to focus on finishing his Bachelor of Science degree in information technology and begin looking for a job. Then came the spring break surprise. Now his focus is on getting ready for May 9, the day he reports to Kansas City for off-season training.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Harris said. “I really feel like if I had played football in college and been working on those skills and strengths, I’d be one of the higher draft picks. So now my goal is to make something out of this. I want to be successful and make some noise, become a key player in this league.”