Wednesday, June 26, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Human trafficking

I’ve never given much thought to human trafficking. To me it was a plot for TV shows like Law and Order but little more. Then Gus, my grandson, signed up for a 5-K race on June 8 to raise money for Rush Hour Traffic, an organization that has been working for about two years to bring awareness about the problem and new laws to fight it. 

Gus finished eighth out of about 500 runners, in a race that included Little Rock’s Big Dam Bridge and was uphill for half the way and downhill for the balance. He was pleased with his accomplishment and amused by the name of the bridge as would be expected from a 14-year-old boy. And I got bragging rights as well as a reason to write about what I have learned is a growing problem across the country, even in Arkansas.

Estimates of human trafficking which includes sex trafficking victims in the United States are as high as 300,000. But the extent of the problem isn’t really known. How could it be when the victims are young, often from other countries or runaways and enslaved?

But it is large enough that organizations are forming to help the victims and the state legislature just passed laws with stiffer penalties for those who force others into prostitution and also for those who patronize the victims.

And speaking of bragging rights, U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer just recently successfully prosecuted the first federal case of sex trafficking in Arkansas’ Eastern District.

A federal jury found Lamon Roy, 22, of Little Rock guilty of one count of sex trafficking by use of force, fraud, or coercion, which is how it’s usually done, my Internet research has shown. Roy hasn’t been sentenced, but he’s facing at least 15 years in prison.

“Today’s guilty verdict is the first conviction resulting from the work of our Denied Innocence Task Force, a partnership between my office and the Little Rock, North Little Rock, Benton, Bryant, and Conway Police Departments, the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Marshal’s Service,”  FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall C. Coleman said in a press release about the conviction. “Working together, we will continue to aggressively investigate those who participate in sex trafficking.”

I like the name of the task force — Denied Innocence. It explains in two words why the rest of us should care.

Emily Boedeker started Rush Hour Traffic in April 2011. The organization works with law enforcement and legislators. And it tries to get help for victims, Boedeker said. Most of the victims she has encountered are from Central and South America and have been forced into prostitution. But others are used as domestics or field workers and might be sent out as prostitutes during the evening.

The plight of the victims has gotten the attention of the country’s truck drivers who apparently see the problem more than anyone else. Through a series of sting operations, the FBI has identified truck stops and rest areas as places where women and children who have been forced into prostitution are frequently found. Truckers look for some telltale signs like women who don’t speak and are ushered in and out of vehicles.

Loral Parr of Little Rock, the director of the 5-K that piqued my interest, said she heard about human trafficking in church and felt compelled to do something about it. 

“They feel like they’re helpless and they are,” Parr said. “As a state, as a community, we have to help them.”

She wasn’t really a runner, she said, but she knew God expected her to help. She has now held two One Step 5-K races. After expenses from the last one, she was able to give Rush Hour Traffic, $4,000.

She told me she was trying to raise money and awareness. Seems to me, she did both.

— Joan McCoy

TOP STORY >> FestiVille to return next year

Leader staff writer

Even though the crowd was sparse, vendors lost money and an unexpected Saturday afternoon thunderstorm caused most of the Jacksonville FestiVille at Dupree Park to shut down, the parks and recreation department met with the mayor and others Tuesday to start planning next year’s event.

The festival was a first-time effort from the parks and recreation department, which picked up the idea after the chamber decided to stop sponsoring the city’s popular Wing Ding Festival because of the long hours and expense.

Very few people visited the festival Friday afternoon, but the headline entertainment, Luke Williams from Beebe, drew a good crowd, according to Mayor Gary Fletcher, who invited Williams to play again next year.

“The crowd could have been bigger, but it was more than the entertainment at the last couple of Wing Ding (festivals) brought in,” the mayor said.

He admitted the weather was not ideal for the festival, going from very hot on Friday to heavy rain, lightning and thunder on Saturday. “But it was all set up for people to have a good time,” Fletcher said, adding that the parks and recreation department, along with a number of volunteers, “poured their hearts into it.”

Kevin House, the parks and recreation director, said he was proud of the work his staff did on the festival. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work as well as what people saw out there at the festival.”

He squashed the rumor that parks and recreation employees were making overtime pay of $20 an hour working the festival. “We had some overtime just as we would for a major tournament. But most of the workers had adjusted their schedules or were salary workers or volunteers, so they were not getting paid extra,” he said.

Overall, House called the effort a success. “We were trying to do something for the community and I think we succeeded.” He also admitted that he and his staff learned a lot from their first effort.

Very few of the dozen or so vendors at the festival made any money. One did manage to eke out $38, while another didn’t sell much, but did keep running into old friends and had plenty of time to reminisce because of the lack of visitors.

Even though the Saturday afternoon storm caused nearly all the vendors to pack it in, once the sun broke back out so did the volleyball tournament and a number of bands. But Saturday night’s main attraction, the Buffalo Wild Wings karaoke finals, was cancelled.

TOP STORY >> Area gearing up for July 4th celebrations

Leader staff writer

Local cities are firing up for Fourth of July celebrations next week.

The Jacksonville Museum of Military History and Sherwood are sharing an act, the Army’s Adventure Simulators.

Curious about what it is like to drive a tank or to fly a helicopter?

Residents will have the opportunity to find out on Thursday and Friday, July 4-5.

The Army group will offer free simulators for driving a M1A1 Abrams tank, flying an Apache helicopter, a timed shooting event with a marksmanship trainer and a bomb squad exercise using an electronic ordnance disposal robotic arm from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the museum, 100 Veterans Circle.

There is no charge for admission to the museum that day.

The group will be also be stopping by Sherwood’s event from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave., in a 70-by-25-foot semi truck.

Events coordinator Sarah Coulter said, “We’re pretty excited that is something new at the event.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman said the city is expecting a better turnout at its annual celebration this year compared to last year, when the drought and a burn ban canceled the planned fireworks display.

Aside from the simulators, another new attraction planned for the city’s event is a Kid Zone with a bounce house.

Alderman Marina Brooks, chairwoman of the Advertising and Promotion Commission, said, “It will just be a family fun-filled evening. This year we are hoping to do better than ever before.”

The annual budget for the event is $15,000.

The city will provide free hot dogs, water, chips and giveaways while supplies last.

The Sherwood Sharks swim team will be selling additional items.

Entertainment will include Patriotic Pamy, Paul Morphis, Fragile Elite and Top of the Rock Chorus.

Top of the Rock will be inside the building while the other musical acts will be outside on a second stage.

Fireworks begin at 9 p.m.

Coulter added that shuttles would be available from Sylvan Hills High School.

Cabot is planning a Fourth of July celebration starting at 6 p.m at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 163 Mount Carmel Road.

There will be patriotic music.

Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be for sale.

A bounce house, slides and an obstacle course will be set up for children. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m.

Jacksonville will not have its Patriotic Spectacular this year.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said organizer Angie Mitchell did not apply for funding through the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

“I don’t know if it will happen next year. I’m not saying it won’t. Sometimes it’s hard to compete with the fireworks in Little Rock,” he noted.

The A&P Commission will look at funding requests at the end of the year. Someone may or may not step forward to ask for the money to have the Patriotic  Spectacular in 2014, the mayor explained. It’s too early to tell, he said.

Beebe will host a Fourth of July celebration beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Beebe City Park baseball fields with a fireworks show at dusk. 

The evening will feature two musical performances by Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers and Wine and Roses.

Free hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, water and slush puppies will be served.

Face painting and temporary tattoos will also be offered.

The swimming pool will be open at no charge and lifeguards will be on duty.

Ward’s annual Fourth of July celebration starts at 4:30 p.m. when the vendors open for business and the car and motorcycle show begins.

The opening ceremony at 5 p.m. will feature the Little Rock Air Force base honor guard almost immediately followed by what can be loosely described as a tractor pull.

There are no big farm tractors in the competition. Instead, contestants drive lawn mowers and lawn tractors.

Mayor Art Brooke, last year’s winner, brags that he will carry the title home again this year.

The River Rats, a bluegrass band from Mountain View, will perform until 8:30 p.m. following the opening ceremony.

Vendors will have funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade for sale but the city will give away hamburgers and bottled water.

Dancers from Carla’s Dance of Ward will perform at 6:30 p.m. and the firework show will start at 9:15 or dark.

South Bend Fire Rescue will have a fireworks show at 4144   Hwy. 294, Military Road, on Thursday, July 4, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. supper.

Sonny’s Auto Salvage is sponsoring the event.

Austin does not have an Independence Day celebration but residents are allowed to shoot their own fireworks on July 3 until 10 p.m. and on July 4 until 11 p.m.

Lonoke doesn’t have a celebration, but dealers are allowed to sell fireworks from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. July 2-4. Residents are allowed to shoot fireworks from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. July 2 and 3 and from 10 a.m. until midnight July 4.

TOP STORY >> Signatures needed to bring in alcohol

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville and Sherwood could become “wet” as early as this fall, which would allow restaurants to serve alcohol without having to go through the rigors of applying for a private club license.

The holdup will be collecting signatures on a petition to set a special election for residents in Gray Township, which encompasses a large portion of both cities.

The difficulty will not be in collecting signatures, but in the number required by a new state law. Most special elections need only 15 percent of the voters from the last election, but to take an area from dry to wet requires a petition with 38 percent of the registered voters.

The proposed elections would allow restaurants to sell alcohol, but would not allow any liquor stores into the newly created wet areas.

These were just some of the facts pointed out at meetings Monday and Tuesday evenings in Sherwood and Jacksonville sponsored by their chambers of commerce.

Kelly Coughlin, Sherwood’s economic development director, and Amy Mattison, chief executive officer for the Jacksonville chamber, led the meeting, informing about three dozen city leaders and residents. Mattison had another meeting Tuesday evening at the Jacksonville Community Center, where some residents voiced concerns. Mattison said the city is losing about $600,000 a year in liquor sales.

Coughlin has set Aug. 15 as the date to turn in the required Sherwood signatures to have an early September vote. Mattison hasn’t set a projected date, saying that Jacksonville is also looking to set a vote for a separate school district.

“We don’t want to entangle the two,” she said.

About 90 percent of what is now Jacksonville became dry in December 1954, while more than half of Sherwood became dry in 1956, meaning no liquor stores and no restaurants or other venues could sell alcohol.

Sherwood Alderman Ken Keplinger, attending Monday’s meeting, said one of the reasons residents in Gray Township (Jacksonville) voted themselves dry was because of the plans for the new air base. “They didn’t want airmen going into town and getting drunk,” he said.

What is not clear is how the township expanded into Sherwood and had another vote in 1956 to make that area dry also.

Both Coughlin and Mattison said the records are very convoluted, but to make sure both cities are in the right when the vote occurs, they have divided the old Gray Township into two sections based upon the 1954 and 1956 elections. Some of Sherwood is in the 1954 section and some of Jacksonville is in the 1956 section.

For ease of understanding, Coughlin called the 1956 section “Sherwood” and the 1954 section Jacksonville. Coughlin is running point to gather signatures in the Sherwood section and Mattison is heading the drive for the Jacksonville section. Both drives will need about 4,400 signatures from residents within the affected areas in order to have a vote on the issue.

So why is this vote even needed since Gray Township doesn’t even exist anymore? That political entity may be gone, but the laws voted on remain in effect.
Mattison said the chambers are using Arkadelphia as an example of how to go from dry to wet.

Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), who attended both meetings, and Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville), who was at Tuesday’s meeting, pushed a bill through the 2013 legislative session giving residents in defunct townships a chance to decide on the issue of being wet or dry—allowing liquor or not.

English said the bill came at the urging of North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville chambers of commerce.

The bill covers four areas in Pulaski County, including Gray Township. According to Coughlin, all of Arkansas was wet once prohibition ended, but in 1935 the state legislature voted in a process allowing individual areas to become dry.

“It’s much easier to go from wet to dry, then dry to wet,” Coughlin told the sparse crowd.
In the 1950’s, Pulaski County was made up of 16 townships or separate sections. Four of those — Gray, Hill, Bayou Meto and Union — designated themselves dry.

But most of the townships are no longer recognized as political entities by the county or state, so township residents have no way to reverse earlier decisions.

The boundaries of Gray Township were readjusted in February 1956 due to some annexations made at the time by Jacksonville. Residents in the newly aligned township voted on Nov. 6, 1956 to go dry by a vote of 421 against alcohol and 219 for alcohol.

In Sherwood, Gray Township is pretty much everything north of the east-and-west-running Maryland Avenue, with the Bayou Meto forming the eastern boundary, Maryland Avenue on the south, Batesville Pike on the west and the county line to the north.

In Jacksonville, the dry area encompasses some of the most desirable land that national restaurant chains are looking at, according to Mayor Gary Fletcher. It is roughly bordered by Maddox Road to the north, the county line to the east, the Bayou Meto to the west and Wooten Road to the south.

Fletcher has said that going wet would allow Jacksonville to benefit from the economic impact of more family restaurants like Chili’s, which consistently brings in around $4 million a year in sales.

“With the air base here and its $780 million impact, Jacksonville ought to be home to every name-brand restaurant around. But we are not because of the alcohol restrictions,” the mayor said.

Coughlin said Sherwood is losing out on about $10 million a year in local sales because of the dry section in the city. She called the move to get the signatures for the elections an economic one.

“It’s the only way we are going to get nicer, higher end restaurants,” she said, adding that restaurants do bring in jobs. She said more than 200 jobs were added to the local economy when Wild Buffalo Wings opened last year in Sherwood.

Mattison also sees it as a vote for safety. “We don’t want military members or anyone having to drive to drink and then drive back.”

SPORTS STORY >> CHS too good for Goodwin to pass up

Leader sports editor

Cabot baseball coach Ronnie Goodwin, who was just hired on Thursday to replace former coach Jay Fitch, comes to Cabot with one year of head-coaching experience, but his considerable experience working with Cabot players made him a natural fit to be the first new leader of the Panther program in 15 years.

Goodwin is a former college coach, spending eight years as an assistant at the University of Central Arkansas. He left coaching for two years and worked at Ball and Strikes instructional program in Sherwood before accepting the job at Little Rock Central last June. The Tigers went 19-11 overall and 9-5 in conference play last year under Goodwin’s direction.

But it was his time in the private sector that he became familiar with Cabot baseball.

“I would say probably half the kids I worked with during that time were Cabot kids,” Goodwin said. “I got to know a lot of the parents as a private instructor and I got to see what kind of talent Cabot has, not just in the players that are here now, but the young kids coming up that are just now starting travel ball. I think Cabot is a sleeping giant about to be awakened.”

Despite his awareness of the talent in Cabot, Goodwin wasn’t extremely eager to apply for the job. His Tigers had enjoyed a successful season and had offensive and pitching talent returning.

He had also developed close relationships in Little Rock, and wasn’t planning on applying in Cabot until parents who got to know him at Balls and Strikes reached out to him and acted as mediators with the school district.

“When it first came open I didn’t throw my name in the hat because I was really, really happy where I was at,” Goodwin said. “We’d had a good season. I liked the players we had coming back and I got to know the coaches, some of whom have become my closest friends. The motivation to apply at Cabot was later when the people I had relationships with started reaching out to me.”

Goodwin decided to apply at Cabot before he had decided he would take the job if offered. After interviewing and visiting the Cabot campus and all its new baseball facilities, he says he thought Cabot could become a big-time program, but still wasn’t sure if he wanted to leave the Tigers.

“Once I met coach Roberts (Cabot athletic director Steve Roberts), I was wowed by the type of person he is and the quality leadership they have,” Goodwin said. “They have brand new, quality facilities and it was very enticing. I knew I had a big decision to make.”

Roberts offered Goodwin the job on Thursday, and Goodwin asked for the weekend to make his decision.

“I took about four days to gather up as much guidance and advice as I could from my family and friends that I trust,” Goodwin said. “It came down to just being an opportunity too good to pass up. This is the kind of opportunity that might not come around again for a long time. I think Cabot could be a great, great baseball town. Football always comes to mind when people think about Cabot, and rightfully so. But now, with all the resources and effort they’ve just put into the program, and some of the talent that I’ve seen myself, I think we can build a top program here.”

SPORTS STORY >> Colts hold off Cabot

Leader sportswriter

North Little Rock is embarking on a second win streak, and made it three in a row on Monday with a 4-2 victory over Cabot-Centennial Bank in a senior American Legion matchup at Burns Park.

The Colts dropped their first game of the year 7-5 in game one of a doubleheader split at Hot Springs Lakeside last Thursday. Since then they’ve beaten Lakeside 12-4 and Conway 4-2 on Saturday.

Cabot racked up more base hits than its host on Monday, but couldn’t get one at the right moment.

Cabot (9-10) took the lead in the top of the first inning. Kason Kimbrell and Ryan Logan got back-to-back singles to put two runners on with no outs. Conner Vocque moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice grounder, and Bryson Morris drove them in with a single to right-centerfield. From there, Cabot went three up, three down in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, but missed a golden opportunity to score some runs in the fifth. North Little Rock (20-1) quickly tied the game in the bottom of the third. Logan gave up no hits in the first two innings on the mound for Cabot, but the first two North Little Rock batters to get a base hit scored.

Nine-hole hitter Will Hopkins got a leadoff single to start the inning. He moved to second on a slow grounder to shortstop by Justin Weigle. Logan struck out Dylan Huckaby, but North Little Rock pitcher Dylan Boone singled to put runners on the corners. Catcher Alex Gosser then tripled to the wall in right-centerfield to score Hopkins and Boone and tie the game.

In the top of the fifth, Cabot failed to score after putting the first two batters on base, and it proved costly in the bottom of the same frame.

Zachary Patterson got a leadoff double and Logan singled to start the inning, but Patterson couldn’t advance on the play. Vocque popped up to third base and Morris bunted the runners into scoring position. Casey Vaughan then popped up to the pitcher’s mound to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Hopkins got things started again for the Colts with another leadoff single to left field. Weigle walked and Huckaby bunted the runners into scoring position. Boone grounded to second base to score Hopkins, and Gosser then got his third RBI of the game with a single to centerfield.

Boone got the win on the mound, going the distance for the Colts. He gave up seven hits and two earned runs while striking out four and issuing no walks.

Logan took the loss for Cabot. He gave up just five hits in five innings, walking one and fanning four NLR Colt batters.

Cabot plays at 6 p.m. tonight at Russellville and begins play in the Jacksonville tournament on Thursday. North Little Rock opens play in the Jacksonville tournament at 5 p.m. today.

SPORTS STORY >> Local players shine in last prep matchup

Leader sportswriter

CONWAY – Five local athletes took part in Friday’s highly-competitive Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star football game, which ended in dramatic fashion as the West team came from behind to beat the East 16-13 at the University of Central Arkansas’ Estes Stadium.

The East had the opportunity to put the game away late leading 13-9 with the ball at the West 2-yard line on third down. However, running back Martin Stafford of Jonesboro was stopped at the 1-yard line on third down and a botched snap on fourth down resulted in an 11-yard loss that gave the ball back to the West with 3:17 remaining.

The West then went 89 yards in 12 plays that ended with Lucas Reed of El Dorado connecting with Vincent Love of Hope on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining. The extra point set the final score.

The East team had an opportunity to tie the game on a last-second 52-yard field goal attempt by Lane Campbell of Jonesboro Westside, but the kick was short and wide left to give the West team the victory.

Clayton Fields of Carlisle started the game at left guard for the East team and was pleased to take part in one more high-school football game before next season, where he will continue his football career at Harding University.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Fields said. “Like the coaches said, there’s 40,000 Arkansas high-school football players and there’s 90 here that are pretty much all going to play in college. It’s a great opportunity and we’re all having fun with it.”

Fields was the only local athlete to start on the offensive side of the ball for the East team. On the defensive side, North Little Rock’s Gary Vines started at the safety position and Gerald Watson, also of North Little Rock, started at defensive tackle.

Vines and Watson both made an impact on the game early, but Watson made the most of his time in the first quarter as he forced a fumble that resulted in a turnover while also adding two sacks to the stat column.

“It felt great,” Watson said about the experience. “This was just an exhibition, but everybody out here was trying to bring it and win this game.”

Watson, who will play college football at Ouachita Baptist University in the fall, finished with two sacks and four tackles. His teammate, Vines, finished the game with five tackles.

“I missed football,” Vines said. “It was fun because everyone up here is good and there isn’t anyone that you’re just better than. So it was fun to learn stuff from people that play different positions, not just your position. It’s been fun for me as I get ready to go off to college.”

Vines will play his college ball at Henderson State University while fellow East and former NLR teammate Deonte Pearson plans to play at Missouri State University. Pearson saw the field at his defensive tackle position for the first time in the second quarter of Friday’s contest, but his play during that time allowed him more playing time throughout the second half.

In the second quarter, Pearson recovered a costly West fumble that gave the East squad excellent field position. Pearson dove on the ball as it hit the unorthodox purple and gray turf, but said he initially wanted to scoop it up and try and score.

“At first I was thinking scoop and score because I’ve been telling coach all week if I see it I’m going to scoop and score,” Pearson said. “But in that certain situation there was too many people that were too close and I didn’t want to risk it. So I just jumped on it and I was glad I got it because it was a big turnaround in our comeback.”

Chris Hart of Carlisle mostly saw the field in the second quarter at the cornerback position, but played all four quarters on special teams. Instead of football, Hart will play baseball at the next level for Arkansas Baptist University, but said it was nice to put on the pads one last time.

“It’s been a great experience,” Hart said. “To get to play with some of the players from North Little Rock and 7A has been awesome. It’s been fun all week meeting these guys and playing with them.”

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke’s AA team outlasts its juniors

Leader sports editor

Lonoke’s two American Legion teams met up with each other on Monday, with the AA Remington Bullets beating the junior division Banking Center team 12-7 in seven innings.

The AA squad kept the junior team in the game by committing six errors in the field, but pounded out 15 base hits to overcome an early 3-0 deficit. Errors have become a problem for the Bullets in recent games, but they aren’t yet a major concern for head coach Steve Moore.

“The last few games we’ve had more than we usually do, but we’ve been pretty shorthanded in some of those games,” Moore said. “Plus tonight I think the guys were pretty relaxed. It was the older guys against our younger ones and I think they were playing around a little bit. But six is a lot no matter what. That’s too many. We’re not going to win a lot of games committing that many errors, but I think once we’re back to full strength and getting everybody in their normal positions, we’ll get the errors back down to where they were a few games ago.”

The Banking Center team scored all three runs in the first inning with two outs. Deron Ricks started the rally by drawing a two-out walk. He then stole second base and moved to third on an error at shortstop off the bat of Josh Mathis. Ricks scored the first of three runs on an RBI single by Zack Risner. Mathis and Risner scored on a double to centerfield by Jacob Gordon.

Remington scored one in the bottom of the first, but Banking Center added one in the top of the second to push the lead back to three runs at 4-1.

Remington took its first lead with five runs in the bottom of the second, but the game stayed close until the bottom of the fifth.

Each team scored one run between the second and fifth innings. The older team went to bat in the bottom of the fifth with a 7-6 lead, and scored four runs to take command of the game.

The first three Bullet batters reached base safely, starting with a leadoff double by Madison James. Nick Watson singled and Christian James walked to load the bases.

Cody Martin then struck out, but Madison James scored on a passed ball during the at bat.

Pierce Johnson then hit a two-RBI double to right field to score Watson and Christian James to make it 10-6. Johnson then scored on an error at second base to put the Bullets up by five runs.

Banking Center added an unearned run on two Remington errors in the top of the sixth. The Bullets’ last run came on a leadoff home run to centerfield by Blake Gooden.

Lane Moore led the offensive attack for Remington, going 4 for 4 with two RBIs. Gooden went 2 for 4 with three runs scored and two RBIs.

Shane Pepper went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Johnson went 2 for 2 with two RBIs. Christian James also got two base hits while Guy Halbert, Watson, Martin, and Mikey Shinn got one hit apiece.

Risner led the Banking Center junior team with two hits, two RBIs and one run scored in three at bats. Ricks went 1 for 2 with two walks and two runs scored. Essick Shepherd, Gordon and Chase Von Houten each got one base hit for Banking Center.

“They actually hit the ball pretty well against us,” Moore said of the Banking Center team. “Our pitchers struggled a little bit throwing strikes. When you do that you kind of have to just put over the middle. I don’t know if they got a whole lot of base hits, but they drew some walks and they put the ball in play a lot, and we didn’t do a good job of fielding. They gave us a good game.”

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney juniors on a roll

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s junior American Legion team won three more games in recent days while the senior team dropped its fourth-straight zone game on Monday. The junior squad (17-2) swept a doubleheader with Sheridan on Saturday, and beat Benton 3-1 on Monday.

The senior squad, which consists largely of junior players, fell 8-3 to Russellville on Sunday.

Jacksonville did most of its damage in one inning of each game at Sheridan. In a 10-9 victory in game one, The Yellowjackets took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Jacksonville scored two in the top of the second and seven in the third to take a 9-3 lead.

The Chevy Boys scored eight in the first inning of game two’s 9-5 victory.

“Our pitching has been pretty good,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham. “We’ve walked a few too many but we’re not giving up a whole lot of base hits. Our fielding has fallen off. We’re committing too many errors and that’s got to change. We’ve got too many good ball players out there to be making that many mistakes.”

In game one, Jacksonville pitcher Brandon Hickingbotham got off to a rocky start by hitting two batters, walking one and giving up a single and three runs before recording an out, but he made up for two of those runs with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the second inning.

Sheridan began to struggle to find the strike zone in the third. Three walks combined with two base hits and an error led to Gwatney’s big inning. DeAundrey Harris and Trevor Ransom accounted for the hits, with Harris’ shot driving in one run and Ransom’s bringing home two.

Jacksonville booted the ball around the infield in giving up three unearned runs in the bottom of the third. Middle infield errors on three-straight Sheridan at bats sparked the rally and made the score 9-6.

A leadoff single by Tyson Flowers and a two-out single by Hickingbotham produced Jacksonville’s final run in the top of the sixth inning, but Sheridan made a strong run in the bottom of the last inning to make it interesting.

Two walks and an error led to Sheridan’s first two runs of the inning. James Bradford then hit an RBI single with two outs, but Zack Watkins struck out the last batter of the game to seal the win and earn the save.

Jacksonville got its first four batters of game two on base without touching the ball. Two walks were followed by two hit batters before Flowers drilled a three-RBI double. After one out, the free bases were again issued four more times in a row. Three walks and a hit batter put two more runs across the plate. Dante Harris drove in the last run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Sheridan scored three in the bottom of the first, but could never make it as close as game one. Brandon Hawkins started on the mound and got the win with Ransom earning the save.

Ransom also got two RBIs while Courtland McDonald added one to drive in the three runs against Benton on Monday.

Watkins faced all but one batter in earning the win. He ran into some trouble with two walks to start the last inning, but LaDerrious Perry came in with the bases loaded and two outs to strike out the only batter he faced and earn the save.

The senior team fell to 1-4 in zone play and 5-7 overall with the loss to Russellville. The elder Chevy Boys will begin play in the Jacksonville Classic at 5 p.m. today against North Little Rock.

Monday, June 24, 2013

TOP STORY >> New from Mosaic: Coleman Hawkins

Leader editor

For 30 years, Mosaic Records has reissued beautifully packaged box sets of important jazz and blues on CDs and vinyl. The series, usually limited to 5,000 copies per set, comes in distinctive pizza-size black boxes with a large photographs on the front and silver lettering on the spine. Each Mosaic set has an oversized booklet with stunning black-and-white photos and scholarly liner notes.

The superbly remastered recordings include many of the most important 20th Century artists going back 90 years, from Albert Ammons to John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Larry Young and much more.

Among our favorites is Sam Rivers’ “Complete Blue Note Recordings” from the 1960s. Rivers grew up in North Little Rock and was inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2006, when he was in his 80s. He played lovely music on his saxophone and flute during his induction with an oxygen tank at his side.

The Mosaic series is the musical equivalent of the Library of America, whose uniform editions of classic authors with their distinctive black book jackets, from Sherwood Anderson to Edmund Wilson, look similar to the Mosaic sets. They both celebrate the creative genius of the American spirit and belong on everyone’s bookshelf and record collection.

You could start your Library of America collection with the first two volumes of the five-volume William Faulkner collection. As for the Mosaics, check out the just-issued “Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947,” with eight astonishing CDs — half the history of jazz is here — and liner notes by Loren Schoenberg, the artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, plus the usual great photos, except this booklet is on glossier paper than the older sets.

The Mosaic series now includes a new generation of music scholars, such as producer Scott Wenzell. Wenzell produced the monumental Hawkins set, which has some of the earliest music in the series, starting with Mamie Smith and Her Jazz Hounds from December 1922, then on to the Dixie Stompers and Chocolate Dandies and Fletcher Henderson.

The Hawkins set, which includes his big band and small group recordings, is a history of early jazz and the evolution toward modern jazz, when the music wasn’t just for dancing but turned into an art form and became America’s classical music and our gift to the world.

Hawkins helped invent modern saxophone and influenced such future stars as Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Hawkins, who was born in St. Joseph, Mo., in 1904, had a stately presence who moved from vaudeville to modern jazz in 20 years. Some of the most important music here includes Benny Carter, Chu Berry, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian, Milton Hinton and Max Roach. The sound is pristine, as if the music were recorded much later.

The set has several surprises: Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Fats Navarro, Buck Clayton and Teddy Wilson show up, as do Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney from the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Nate King Cole, June Christy and Frank Sinatra appear toward the end of this encyclopedic collection.

Hawkins often appears just for a few minutes on some of the recordings, but this is historic material and it’s good to have it available.

Michael Cuscuna, the critic and producer, co-founded Mosaic with the late Charlie Lourie in 1983. The first Mosaic set was released 40 years ago this month: “The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk (Cuscuna’s favorite), followed by “The Complete Gerry Mulligan Quartet and Tentette with Chet Baker” and “The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis.” (The boogie-woogie pianists Ammons and Lewis were the first artists recorded on Blue Note Records in 1939.)

Many of the Mosaics were first issued by Blue Note, now owned by EMI, which also owns half of Mosaic.

Cuscuna, who produces most of the Mosaic series, has discovered unissued recordings by Monk, Herbie Nichols, Count Basie, Andrew Hill and others and restored their work with care and erudition. He has issued single LPs of traditional jazz recordings from Blue Note’s vaults dating back to the Second World War, particularly New Orleans pioneers such as Sidney Bechet and Edmond Hall and small-group swingtets with Lionel Hampton and others.

Mosaic sets, along with a smaller line of Mosaic Selects, are available by mail order at

There’s a thriving secondary market on eBay and elsewhere, but be careful: Prices are often inflated. The used sets are worth at least their original cost, but some sellers often ask hundreds of dollars for them.

You can find some of the old ones online at nonprofit thrift stores that received them as gifts from collectors. You should own at least one of these box sets.

TOP STORY >> Kid not abducted, but still reminder

Cabot Police investigators say  a June 13 incident at the Richie Road baseball fields wasn’t an attempted child abduction, but people still need to be cautious about their children’s safety this summer.

The mother of a boy reported that around 4 p.m., a blonde woman approached her son’s baseball team’s coach. The woman told the coach the boy was her son and that the mother and her husband had kidnapped him from her.

The woman told the coach she would be back the next day at 7 p.m. with the sheriff’s office to get her son back.

The woman was described as having dirty blonde hair. She wore a blue tank top with jeans. She was seen in a white Isuzu Trooper with a man wearing an LSU hat. No license-plate number was recorded.

The mother requested  police be present at the ballpark the next day.

Sgt. Keith Graham said the woman who threatened to kidnap the boy could have been intoxicated or under the influence of something.

He said it is believed the woman spoke to the child, but the child did not respond, and the coach dealt with the situation.

Graham offered tips for parents concerned about their children’s safety.

“Don’t just drop your kids off and have the coaches be responsible for watching them. People need to watch their kids closely. There are all types of people out there. Make sure your child knows not to leave with a stranger. If you see something happening, call the police department immediately, don’t wait. Better to be safe than sorry,” Graham said.

TOP STORY >> Elevator grant for courthouse

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin announced during the Thursday night quorum court meeting that he has secured funding to build a three-story elevator in the 85-year-old county courthouse.

Erwin, in his third year as county judge, said he had tried unsuccessfully since he took office to get grants to add an elevator. But he tried again and this time, he got $141,300 from the Historic Preservation Program that is part of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. But since the elevator is estimated at $200,000, Erwin said Senators Eddie Joe Williams and Jonathan Dismang have promised $30,000 each.

Williams explained Friday morning that the money will come from the state’s general improvement fund. It will be distributed through Central Arkansas Planning and Development District in Lonoke and that the county will have to apply with CAPDD to get it. However, he said, approval is almost certain because of the matching money the county is getting through the grant from Historic Preservation and because it is a good project.

“This is a project that benefits the entire county, not just a few people,” the senator said.
The antiquated chair lift kept the county in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act, he said, but it was far from adequate.

Erwin said Cabot architect Bob Schelle has done the preliminary work on the elevator. It will be built into the rear of the existing building and will take some space from the county clerk and prosecuting attorney. But he said neither official will oppose the construction because the elevator is needed.

Last month, the quorum court approved, at Erwin’s request, spending $140,000 to replace the mortar on the brick courthouse which leaks when it rains and is beginning to crumble.

Erwin received a $45,000 grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage to re-mortar a six foot strip around the top of the third floor of the building and Mid-Continental Restoration of Fort Scott, Kansas, which did that work will continue, possibly within a month with replacing the mortar on the rest of the building.

“It’s been a goal of mine to restore it,” he said.

The quorum court also voted to allow the judge to advertise for sale to be moved a yellow house owned by the county. The house is one of three houses adjacent to the old jail behind the courthouse. The other two are not worth moving and will be torn down, the judge said. The vacant lots will be used for a parking lot.

“On the days we have jury duty, you can’t find a parking space within a block of the courthouse,” the judge said. “We have parking for 50 and 150 show up.”

The quorum court vote was really a courtesy because the judge asked for it. As JP Bill Ryker pointed out, county property is the judge’s domain. He didn’t need their permission.
In other business:

The quorum court voted to pay legal fees to Rainwater, Holt and Sexton. The court approved $500 for advice to stop collecting the voluntary tax for non-profits and $4,315 for the lawsuit filed by an employee in the circuit clerk’s office who said she was not paid for the hours she worked.

The quorum court also voted to pay $4,474 for legal services when the city of Lonoke sued the county in circuit court after the county cut back on the amount it paid to help run the district courts located in the cities. The county lost that case but has appealed so the legal fees will continue to grow.

Erwin read a letter from JP Charles Evans who had surgery almost two weeks ago after tests showed he had a fast growing tumor in his head.

TOP STORY >> Cabot puts off renaming park

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Parks Commission on Tuesday evening postponed a decision on renaming the skateboard park on the community-center grounds after a teenager who died in April when the SUV he was riding in spun out of control and hit a tree.

The problem with responding to the request, commission members said, is that they have no criteria on which to make a decision.

Furthermore, the skateboard park, like the community center, is part of Cabot Veterans’ Memorial Park, and Mayor Bill Cypert said from the audience that the veterans have sued the city before to protect their interests in the park and a name change, even for a small part of the park, might not be to their liking.

The request was made by Don and Sharon Wood on behalf of the parents and friends of Jaden Cain Herlacher, who used the park frequently until he was killed on April 3. He was 15 years old.

“We believe that renaming the skate park in honor of Jaden Herlacher will provide an even more special meaning and place where the youth and children of the city of Cabot can meet, plan and enjoy their childhood as Jaden did,” the Woods said in the written request to the parks commission.

The commissioners said they were concerned about setting precedence, but Don Wood pointed out that it had already been done when a ball field was named for Dakota Hawkins, a Cabot teenager who died from cancer.

What were the criteria back then, he asked. But the commissioners said they didn’t know. They weren’t on the commission when it happened and had no record of it.

Though not attached to the proposal in the commissioners’ packets for the meeting, the Woods gathered 1,500 signatures to support their request. They also brought Herlacher’s family and several of his friends to the meeting.

The commission agreed to research the matter and have an answer in three months or so. In the meantime, they said they would not object to a monument in the skate park in Herlacher’s honor.

In other business:

• It took a lot of persuasion and two tries, but all members present for the meeting voted unanimously to ask the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission to spend about $18,000 for new scoreboards for the football field. The first vote was 3-2, but that wasn’t enough of a majority for it to pass. Chairwoman Maggie Cope and Dawn Beckley wanted to spend $4,200 from the parks budget to repair the old ones, wait two years until soda contracts are renewed and ask the winning company to pay for them. They changed their minds after more debate from Commissioners John C. Thompson, Ken Kincade and Eric Park and members of the football association.

• The commission voted to postpone the purchase of a house on a 3/4-acre lot at 408 Polk St. that will likely be needed for parking after the community center is expanded using bond money supported by the recently-extended one-cent sales tax. Mayor Cypert said if the money isn’t available from bonds for the parks, the city would likely help with the $60,000 purchase.

• Parks Director John Crow reported that work has started on the 726,000 renovation of the community center. The therapy pool is closed. The swimming pool will close July 1, followed by the fitness area on Aug. 1 and the gym on Sept. 1. If work progresses as expected, the pool should reopen on Oct. 1.

• The commission said it would not entertain the possibility of moving the second entrance to the planned baseball and water park from the northern end of the property where it will be built off Kerr Station Road to the southern end as the owners have asked. Engineers for the project estimate the relocation would add about $320,000 to the cost of the project. Moving the road would provide access to land owned by two members of the family that is selling the 50-acre site to the city for $750,000.

• During a public-comment meeting before regular business was discussed, the commission heard requests for the addition of a bike trail and dog park to the city’s parks. Crow said the purpose of the public meeting was to determine what is needed. But holding the meetings also increases the odds of being approved for grants, he said.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke pummels Relyance

Leader sports editor

The Remington Bullets AA American Legion team picked up a solid zone win Thursday at the Lonoke City Park, beating White Hall 10-4 with only nine players available for the game. Many players were out of position and it showed in the final stats, as the Bullets committed four errors, but three good pitching performances and strong hitting led to a Remington victory.

Nick Watson got the start and the win on the mound, and Lonoke coach Steve Moore said he was just about the only player in a position he was used to.

“He’s a pitcher so he’s actually stood there before,” said Moore of Watson. “I guarantee you everybody else we got out there is playing a position they don’t usually play.”

Remington jumped on the Relyance Bank team early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning and five more in the second to take command of the game.

Leadoff hitter Shane Pepper, who played catcher in place of Madison James, started the first-inning rally with a grounder to shortstop that was scooped up and dropped.

“We let him catch three innings the other night because we knew we’d be without Madison (James),” Moore said. “Other than that, he hasn’t been back there in years. And he did a pretty good job. He’s just an athlete. He’s one of those guys who could do just about anything you asked him. He got off to a little bit of a shaky start, but he settled in and did a good job.”

Lane Moore, playing second base, doubled to left field with one out to score Pepper from first. Zack Risner singled to right field with two outs and Christian James drove both runners in with a base hit to right field.

White Hall got two back in the top of the second thanks to an error and a two-out, third-strike passed ball that kept an inning alive.

White Hall pitcher Daniel Gray reached on an error at third base with one out. Nine-hole hitter Dillon Bradshaw later doubled with two outs to put runners on second and third.

Watson then struck out leadoff hitter Aaron Johnston with a breaking ball, but it got by Pepper and Johnston reached first base before Pepper could retrieve the ball and throw him out. Dylan Quickel then singled to left field to drive in both runners and make it 3-2.

The Bullets knocked the cover off the ball in the bottom of the second, getting six base hits, including five in a row off Gray, who never left the game.

Pierce Johnson started the rally with a single to centerfield and nine-hole hitter Mikey Shinn moved him to second with a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first baseline. Starting at the top of the lineup, Lonoke got five-straight hits, including a triple to right field by Watson and a two-run home run to straightaway centerfield by cleanup hitter Guy Halbert that made it 8-2.

“Hitting the ball has never been a problem for us,” Steve Moore said. “We’ve hit the ball well all season. We’ve had some problems on defense, but not hitting.”

White Hall scored another unearned run in the top of the third, but Remington added two in the bottom of the fourth. Lane Moore was hit by a pitch and scored after back-to-back base hits by Risner and James. With runners on the corners, Cody Martin hit a sacrifice grounder that scored Risner to cap the Bullets run production.

Halbert gave up a single in his third inning of relief in the sixth, then walked the next two to load the bases with no outs. Lane Moore inherited the situation and struck out cleanup hitter Turner Sparks for the first out. B.J. Pullaman then reached and a run scored when Halbert, who usually plays centerfield, mishandled a ground ball at shortstop. Moore then struck out Daniel Sprinkle and got Gray to fly out to right field to minimize the damage.

Moore and Risner got three hits each to make up half of the Bullets’ 12 base hits. James got two hits while Pepper, Watson, Halbert and Johnson got one hit each.

Watson gave up just four hits in his three innings of work and Halbert gave up two. Moore finished with four strikeouts in his two innings.

The Bullets (8-4-1) are back in action on Tuesday in a doubleheader at Sylvan Hills.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot hires LR Central’s Goodwin as new coach

Leader sports editor

Cabot High School on Thursday hired Little Rock Central’s Ronnie Goodwin as the new head baseball coach.

Goodwin spent just one year at the helm of the Tigers’ baseball program and takes over a Cabot program that just finished its first year in brand-new accommodations that include a new baseball field and an indoor practice facility.

Goodwin replaces longtime Cabot coach Jay Fitch, who won more than 200 games and suffered just two losing seasons in his 14 years as head Panther.

Goodwin inherits a Cabot program on the rise. It bounced back from a disappointing season in 2012 to win more than 20 games and finish in the top-five in total wins in one season in school history.

Goodwin is a former college coach, spending eight years as an assistant at the University of Central Arkansas. He left coaching for two years before accepting the job at Little Rock Central last June. The Tigers went 19-11 overall and 9-5 in conference play last year under Goodwin’s direction.

Cabot’s season turned around midway last year, largely on a sweep of the Tigers in a conference doubleheader in April at Cabot’s new field.

Goodwin is a 1997 graduate of North Little Rock High School, and played three seasons of college baseball at Ole Miss after spending one year at Westark Community College, now called UA-Fort Smith.

SPORTS STORY >> NFL players at Dupree

Leader sports editor

Three NFL players spent Wednesday morning with about 20 local youths at Clinton McDonald’s first Iron Sharpens Iron youth football camp at Dupree Park. The camp was deemed a success by the camp host McDonald, a Jacksonville High School graduate and current nose guard for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, despite the low turnout.

“There wasn’t much time for advertisement once we got all the details finally worked out,” said McDonald. “But whether it’s a few kids or many, we’re here to help them learn some fundamentals of football and life. We want to teach discipline and what it takes to achieve.”

The original site and dates had to be changed late in the process due to an Arkansas Activities Association rule that prohibits athletes from stepping onto campus during a two-week period in the summer. The camp, when first planned, was to be held at Jacksonville High School’s Jan Crow Stadium and was to be a two-day event. And besides the AAA rule, the Pulaski County Special School District wanted to charge McDonald for the use of the JHS facility.

“There were some obstacles to overcome to get this first camp going,” McDonald said. “It’s a learning process. We’ll have a better idea of what we’re doing next year, we’ll get started earlier, get things set and start getting the word out a lot sooner than we were able to this time. But we’re definitely going to do this again next year.”

Joining McDonald and helping lead the camp was Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. McDonald and Johnson were drafted in the same year by the Bengals, and became fast friends. McDonald has been helping Johnson, who played college football at Georgia Tech, at his camp in Selma, Ala., for the past few years, and he was eager to help McDonald this week.

“We came into the league together and ever since we first met, it’s been like brothers,” Johnson said of his relationship with McDonald. “He came from a small town just like I did. He went to college in a big city just like I did. That’s something we both had to adjust to. He comes from a great family and has a strong faith, just like me. The more we talked, the more it was like our stories were parallel. So we really understood each other.”

Their similarities appeared in how they gave the exact same response in separate interviews to the question regarding their motivation for putting on such events for the kids in their hometowns.

“To him much is given much will be required,” both answered without hesitation, quoting from chapter 12 of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament.

The camp’s name is also from Scripture. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” is from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. McDonald’s mother gave him and his older brother Cleyton that scripture when she saw how competitive they were with each other as young children.

“When Cleyton and Clinton were growing up, that was the scripture I gave them because they were always so competitive with each other,” Bonnie McDonald told The Leader in May. “It took it from being just a competition and one beating the other one, to the two of them helping to improve each other.”

Joining McDonald and Johnson was NFL newcomer Demetrius Harris, who also graduated from JHS. Harris just signed as a rookie free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs and hasn’t yet played an NFL game, but was more than happy to oblige when McDonald called and asked him for the favor.

“I love being here and helping with stuff like this,” Harris said. “I never got to meet any professional athletes growing up. To come out here and meet these guys, and hear them telling them those important things, it means something. They’re going to go back home and see these guys on TV, and those things they heard today are going come back. Teaching these kids about staying focused, and hard work, and then seeing them on TV and successful, that’s important. That means something. So I love being here and helping to give back and being one of those guys they can look to as an example.”

Also on hand, and doing most of the coaching, was McDonald’s personal trainer and former teammate at Memphis University, Abraham Holloway. Holloway led the early portion of camp, which consisted of warm up stretches, calistinics and a few conditioning drills. He also manned the running backs and footwork stations during rotating station work. Holloway, who is now 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, was 340 pounds when he arrived at Memphis and played offensive line at 325 pounds for most of his career.

While Holloway ran most of the drills, McDonald played the role of head coach, checking in on each station periodically. Johnson ran his own station and quickly became a camp favorite, engaging kids many times on their level and sharing laughs while instructing.

The camp closed with about 20 minutes of touch football with camp coaches playing quarterback and kids going out for passes.

For their $25 registration fee, all campers received lunch, award certificates and camp T-shirts in the style of the Seattle Seahawks white road jerseys, with the camp logo “Iron Sharpens Iron” on the front. 

SPORTS STORY >> Post 71 seniors get past Gwatney

Leader sportswriter

The combination of Cabot’s timely hits and Bryson Morris’ stellar pitching helped the Panthers senior American Legion team beat Jacksonville 6-2 in seven innings on Wednesday at the Cabot City Park.

Morris pitched six and two-thirds innings for the win and struck out seven Jacksonville batters, walked just one, and the two base runners that scored reached base on infield errors late in the game.

“These guys have been playing two games every night,” said Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham of his team. “We’re struggling right now. We’ve played a whole bunch of ball games in a few days. So we just have to get a chance where we can give them a little break.”

The game was scoreless after an inning of play, but Cabot got on the board in the second. Adam Hicks, the Panthers’ five-hole hitter, walked to start the inning and later scored on a ground ball to shortstop to give the home team an early 1-0 lead. 

That was the score until the fourth inning when Cabot added another run to its total. Kyle Kaufman was hit by a pitch at the start of the inning, and he scored five batters later on a hard-hit single to left field by three-hole hitter Casey Vaughan.

Cabot all but put the game away in the fifth inning with four runs that made it a 6-0 game. Cleanup hitter Ryan Logan doubled to start the inning. Two batters later, Grayson Cole hit a one-out, two-run home run over the fence in left field to put the Panthers up by four runs.
Kaufman singled the next at bat and reached second base on a passed ball at home plate. Hayden Vinson later reached on an E4, which allowed Kaufman to score, and the Panthers scored their final run on a bases-loaded walk by Vaughan.

Cabot outhit Jacksonville 8-4, and Hickingbotham attributes most of that to Morris’ performance on the mound.

“Bryson is a good pitcher,” Hickingbotham said of Morris. “When we get to see that kind of pitching it’s only going to make us better and better – and, basically, that’s what we’re trying to do. But we’ve got a bunch that’s just plum worn out. We still ask them to do it, to just go and go and go, and they’re having a hard time.”  

Jacksonville was able to find a little bit of momentum in the top of the seventh and final inning thanks to a couple of infield errors with two outs. Wesley Williams and D.J. Scott both reached base on a pair of back-to-back E4s, and LaDerrious Perry walked the next at bat to load the bases for leadoff hitter Derek St. Clair. 

St. Clair singled to the gap in left field to drive in Williams. Scott held at third and Morris hit catcher Troy Allen for the third time in the game the following at bat, which allowed Scott to cross home plate and set the final score.

Vaughan came in to relieve Morris after Allen’s at bat, and forced three-hole hitter Blake Perry to fly-out to end the game. Only two batters for either team had multiple hits. Cole led Cabot with a 2 for 3 showing at the plate, and St. Clair finished the game 2 for 4.

After starting the season 0-6, the Panthers have won seven of their last eight games to bring their current record to 7-7.

SPORTS STORY >> Anderson, Watkins earn MVPs

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock basketball standout Dayshawn Watkins and Cabot softball catcher Taylor Anderson earned Most Valuable Player awards for their performances.

The East boys basketball team provided the bulk of the highlights, but several local athletes turned in strong performances in the first three days of competition at the 2013 Arkansas High School All-Star week.

The top graduated seniors from all around the state in every sport were selected to spend a week at the University of Central Arkansas and compete in East-West All-Star games, which began with baseball and softball on Tuesday.

Thursday’s boys basketball game stole the show, at least for half the state. The East squad, led by MVP Watkins, routed the West 98-50 in the most lopsided final score in the 57-year history of the event.

Watkins’ former teammate at North Little Rock High School, Thomas Alexander, was named the East’s Outstanding Player. The Wildcat duo were the only two players to score in double figures.

Watkins dropped in 18, with 16 coming in the first quarter to blow open a briefly close game. He hit four three pointers, including three in a row that turned an 8-8 game into 17-8. Alexander added 13.

Jacksonville’s Justin McCleary added two three pointers to the East’s long-range barrage and finished with six points.

Anderson went 2 for 3 at the plate with two runs batted in during her time on the field in the doubleheader split.

The West won game one 8-1, but the East bounced back for a 10-8 win in game two. Anderson’s base hit in game two tied the game at 4-4, and started a five-run rally that only ended because of an All-Star game rule that only allow up to five runs per inning.

Beebe’s Jamie Jackson scored four points to help the East win the girls basketball game, which was the opposite of the fast-paced highlight reel the boys game was.

The East and West girls battled evenly throughout a defensive struggle until the East girls pulled away late in the fifth period for a 57-47 win.

Fort Smith Southside guard Callie White was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for a game-high 10 points for the East squad. Three East players added six points and two scored five in the evenly-scored game for the East.

The girls soccer game gave fans the most exciting finish, with the West girls winning 4-3 on penalty kicks. Sylvan Hills Naomi Gregory stood in goal for the East early in the game and gave up nothing before yielding to a teammate for the duration of regulation. She was brought back in to defend the penalty kick round when regulation ended in a 0-0 tie. Gregory made three impressive saves, but many of the East’s penalty kicks were off their mark as the West girls sneaked away with the win.

The boys soccer game also came down to penalty kicks, but this time the East won by a score of 3-1. North Little Rock’s Jack Fleming didn’t score a goal for the East squad, but did earn the title of team captain during preparation for the game early in the week.

North Pulaski’s Ulises Arias also played considerable minutes during regulation that ended in a 3-3 tie.

East goalkeeper Jared Theike was named the game’s MVP for saving all but one of the West’s penalty kicks.

North Little Rock’s Mykeedra Johnson played well for the overmatched East squad in the All-Star volleyball game on Wednesday. The West won two routes over the much smaller East lineup.

Other local athletes to participate included North Little Rock’s Katie Van Pelt (soccer) and Alex Gosser (baseball). Lonoke’s Hannah Murray and Sylvan Hills Jeana Canady took part in the softball doubleheader.