Friday, July 19, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe has its best day

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badger football team continued to improve through its last bit of summer competition. The Badgers went to Conway on Wednesday for its second team camp and final action against other teams for the rest of the offseason.

According to head coach John Shannon, the second camp was better than the first, something he hoped to see and expected.

“Well I was pretty pleased with the first one but I thought we faded pretty bad in the last half of it,” said Shannon. “We’d been off for three weeks with the dead period and I kind of expected that. This time we got some conditioning work in during the week and I thought we held up much better. I felt like there was some fatigue showing towards theend, but didn’t fade nearly like we did last week.”

The passing game, something that’s been nearly non-existent at Beebe the last few years, showed signs of improvement since last week, while the running also improved, even though Shannon said he was pleased with it last week.

“We had ok protection and made some good throws last week, but we had a lot of drops,” Shannon said. “This week Gus Wisdom did really well catching the ball and Marcus Burns made one really good catch. Those will probably be our top receivers going into the season.”

Don’t expect an offensive overhaul from Shannon’s base dead T formation. The Badgers will still be a predominantly running team.

“It’s not like we’re going to passing it a whole lot,” Shannon said. “I just feel like with Aaron (Nunez) at quarterback, he gives us a dual threat. He’s not as consistent yet throwing the ball as we’d like him to be, but he’s got a great arm. If he can improve his consistency I think he can be a great dual-threat quarterback for us. We moved him to quarterback last year even though we thought he’d be one of our better running backs, so we know he can run.”

The running game looked very good on Wednesday. The Badgers broke loose for several big gains and very rarely got stopped for no gain or a loss.

“I thought it was probably our best day as far as execution on offense,” Shannon said. “We didn’t keep stats or anything, but we had a lot of good gains running the ball, and at one time we were 4 out 5 in passing situations when we went to our spread.”

The Beebe defense played better as well, but bootleg plays became big gains a few times against the Badgers.

“Conway and Morrilton especially, they beat us on a few bootlegs,” Shannon said. “We hadn’t really worked on that and we didn’t recognize. But I thought the defense did pretty well. We also had two starters we held out just as a precaution, so we had some young kids in there that don’t have much experience. I thought the secondary did a good job covering for the most part too.”

Beebe will spend the next three weeks doing nothing but weight lifting and conditioning. Preseason practice officially begins on Aug. 5.

SPORTS STORY >> Remington wins wild affair over White Hall

Leader sports editor

The Remington Bullets AA team got its second win over vaunted Pine Bluff-Relyance Bank on Tuesday in its final regular-season game before the Zone tournament begins today in Heber Springs. The Lonoke squad won Tuesday’s game in White Hall 12-10, a game in which neither team threw any of its main pitchers.

The Bullets led 12-6 going into the bottom of the ninth inning and managed to stop a White Hall rally at four runs to maintain the win, but they didn’t enjoy that big lead for most of the game.

White Hall held a 4-1 lead after four innings before Josh Mathis took the mound for Remington and held Relyance scoreless over the next three innings. Lonoke then scored two runs in the fifth inning, four in the seventh and three more in the top of the eighth to take a 10-4 lead.

White Hall scored two in the bottom of the eighth off Christian James, but Lonoke answered with the same count in the top of the ninth.

Lane Moore led the way for Lonoke offensively. He went 3 for 5 at the plate with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Blake Gooden went 2 for 4 and reached base four times. Christian James also went 2 for 4.

Madison James drove in the game’s first run in the top of the first inning and the Remington bats went quiet for the next three innings. In the fifth, Mathis drew a leadoff walk in the nine-hole position, and Gooden walked to put two runners on. Lane Moore grounded out to second, but advanced the runners into scoring position. Guy Halbert then doubled down the left-field line to score both runners and pull Lonoke to within 4-3.

Mathis gave up a leadoff double and a walk to start the bottom of the fifth, but got a double play when he struck out the next batter, and Madison James gunned down a would-be base stealer at third.

The failed stolen base attempt proved costly for White Hall, as the next batter singled for what likely would have been an RBI, instead, it left runners at the corners and Mathis got the next batter to fly out to right field to get out of the inning.

Mathis and Gooden again drew back-to-back walks to start the top of the seventh for Lonoke. Moore singled to drive in Josh M and leave runners at first and second. Halbert flew out to left field and Gooden advanced to third. Lonoke then tried a double steal that failed.

Gooden was tagged out at home and Moore advanced to second.

Madison James and Nick Watson then drew walks to load the bases with two outs. Moore and Madison James scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch, and Christian James doubled to centerfield to drive in Watson and give Lonoke a 7-4 lead.

Mathis walked yet again to start the eighth inning, but Gooden failed to reach. Moore singled and Halbert reached on an error at shortstop that scored a run. With two outs, Moore scored on another passed ball before a single by Watson drove in Halbert to make it 10-4.

After two Relyance runs in the bottom of the eighth, Lonoke made it 12-6 before a Moore double scored Mathis and Blake Gooden in the ninth.

Lonoke played Stuttgart last night in the first round of the zone tournament. The top two teams from each zone tournament will advance to the state tournament.

SPORTS STORY >> ASU camp cut short, Devils remain positive

Leader sports editor

Persistent lightning kept the two dozen or so football teams that showed up for the Arkansas State University 7-on-7 and linemen camp, including the Jacksonville Red Devils, pinned underneath the Red Wolves’ Stadium concourse for most of the day Thursday, even though storms didn’t arrive in the Jonesboro area for hours after the event was finally called off.

There was supposed to be four pools of six teams each in 7-on-7. Each pool was scheduled to play a round robin with the top two moving on to an eight-team tournament. Instead, each team played just three games.

Jacksonville’s trouble started earlier, as the team bus had a flat on the way to Jonesboro. The team arrived only minutes before the first-scheduled game at 11:30 a.m., and the first delay was called just as the team took the field. After two hours under the concourse, which is the concession area underneath the home side of the stadium, teams made it back to the field where they rushed through three games.

Despite all the bad luck, Jacksonville coach Rick Russell thought it was a positive experience. His team went 2-1, starting with a 19-2 win over Gibson County of Dyer, Tenn. The Red Devils then lost 23-8 to defending Shootout of the South champion Lake Hamilton.

Jacksonville was leading Mitchell High School, a Memphis school that plays in the largest classification in Tennessee, 17-14 with four minutes left when the second delay was called and teams were ushered back to the concourse. Jacksonville had just stopped Mitchell with a three-and-out series and was moving the ball when the delay began at about 3:45 p.m.

“We didn’t get as much work in as we’d have liked, but we came here to identify things we’re doing well and maybe not so well, and I think we did that to a certain extent,” said Russell. “We saw a few things we need to work on and we saw some things we were pleased with.

“I thought we did a pretty good job on defense most of the day. We had a couple of breakdowns against Lake Hamilton. But holding that team to 21 points is an accomplishment. They generally score a lot more than that. Offensively we just have to be sharper in our execution. The teams like that, that’s been playing this style for a long time, they know and recognize things and you just have to be better.”

The linemen from all the teams were in a separate camp, and Russell wasn’t able to make it over to get a feel for how his players were performing.

“They went fully dressed out and it took them longer to get on the field,” Russell said. “I think they had just barely gotten started when everything got called again.”

Despite getting in far less work than anticipated, the head Red Devil still believes his team had a great summer.

“The whole body of work this summer is going to be such a big positive for us,” Russell said. “Last year we only went to one of these things, this one. This year we did three of them and we went to the meets at Beebe and Cabot. And you can see the confidence the kids have in what we’re doing. “It’s been a great summer.”

TOP STORY >> Officials question expense

Leader staff writer

Members of the Lonoke County Quorum Court spent at least 30 minutes Thursday evening discussing whether County Assessor Jack McNally should be allowed to spend $3,500 for a four-day conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., only to conclude that money for education was in the budget they approved. So, like it or not, they couldn’t stop him.

County Judge Doug Erwin placed the discussion on the agenda saying he had turned down the $1,000 registration fee for the conference because he didn’t know how much the trip would eventually cost.

He said near the end of the discussion, “I denied the claim because I didn’t think they should spend the taxpayers’ money in Grand Rapids, Mich., when there are conferences locally.”

JP Henry Lang spoke about the trip after the meeting saying, “It’s a check and balance thing. The judge has oversight. He has the right to refuse any expenditure that he deems not beneficial to the county.

“It’s a shame that there are people in Lonoke County who have a hard time coming up with $10 for gas to go to work, and he is spending thousands of dollars on a trip to Grand Rapids, especially when you consider that 90 percent of Arkansas counties are not participating and the state offers training for free,” Lang said.

The conference that McNally wants to attend with one of his deputies is the 79th annual conference for the International Association of Assessing Officers.

He told the quorum court the conference is to assessors what the Emmy awards are to actors.

The website for the IAAO says “the annual conference provides educational sessions, networking, special events and exhibits that supply the tools you need to succeed.”

Contacted Friday morning, Debra Asbury, executive director of the Assessment Coordination Department for Arkansas, said her department provides a lot of training for county assessors, but she also encourages assessors to attend the IAAO conferences because it offers information that her department doesn’t.

“For the assessor to be so new and want to learn so much, we encourage that,” Asbury said.

McNally is in his third year as Lonoke County assessor.

Before members of the quorum court decided that they didn’t have authority to disapprove McNally’s trip to Michigan, Erwin said he wanted them to decide the matter because he wanted their involvement. Thirteen heads are better than one, he said.

“If they approve this, you’ve got my blessing,” Erwin told McNally.

“I don’t need your blessing,” McNally responded.

JP Adam Sims made it clear that he was opposed to the trip but said the quorum court had approved money for education in McNally’s budget and couldn’t tell him how to spend it.

He said later, “We have a separation of powers to prevent a dictatorship. This isn’t rules we made up. This is constitutional. It’s not our job to run his office.”

In other business:

 Sims was the only member of the quorum court who voted against the purchase of nine more electronic polling books using a $9,855 grant from the secretary of state. Sims said later that there is nothing wrong with the old method.

 The quorum court approved an ordinance appropriating a state grant for $141,300 to cover most of the cost of installing an elevator in the courthouse.

Erwin said the additional $60,000 needed had been promised by state Sens. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe).

 The quorum court also approved paying $21,477 for digital recording of records in the county clerk’s office. Funding will come from fees collected in that office that may only be used for automation.

 The quorum court passed an ordinance setting a $1,000 fine for anyone who collects a bounty in Lonoke County on beavers trapped outside the county.

The ordinance does not raise bounty on beavers back to the $30 set earlier this year to encourage trapping during the summer months. Erwin lowered the bounty to $20 when he suspected trappers were coming from White and Prairie counties where the bounty was lower.

Neither does it require the geo-tagging that Sims recommended as a way of determining where the beaver is trapped.

 The quorum court appropriated an insurance check for $16,700 to allow Sheriff John Staley to replace the truck he wrecked when he hit two deer on the way to a call.

Staley said he was borrowing vehicles from off-duty deputies and needed to have one of his own. Prosecutor Chuck Graham, who bought the truck for the sheriff’s department with confiscated drug money, joked that if Staley had his lights on when he hit the deer he was spotlighting.

 Erwin announced that Kathy Zasimovich, head of the county’s office of emergency services, resigned July 5 to tend to her elderly mother and that her position would not be filled.

Zasimovich was paid $36,122 plus benefits. Erwin said some of her work would be done by Rita Schmitz, his secretary, who will be paid an additional $4,500 for disaster planning and coordinating county fire service.

Schmitz is the Red Cross coordinator for Lonoke County and is already familiar with the type of work she will be doing, he said.

The balance of the job, which includes flood plain management and tornado shelter inspections, will go to Jimmy Depriest, who did all the work before Zasimovich was hired.

In response to questions from the quorum court, Erwin said Depriest would not be paid more for the additional work.

 Erwin read a proclamation honoring retired Cabot Chamber of Commerce director Billye Everett.

TOP STORY >> Principals named for Cabot schools

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board approved administrative changes for the 2013-14 school year at a meeting Tuesday.

Dawn Peeples will be principal at Middle School North. Assistant principals and instructional facilitators are Andy Sullivan at Ward Central Elementary, Michelle Atherton at Westside Elementary, Teri Duncan at Middle School North, Adam Koehler at Junior High North, Ahna Davis at Junior High South, Mandee Carmical and Meredith Jones, both at Middle School South.

Dean of students will be Kelly Riggs at Magness Creek Elementary and Kelly Spencer at Central Elementary.

In other business:

 The school district recently received the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Safe Sports School Award. Cabot is the first school in the state and 14th in the nation to be awarded the distinction. The award recognizes the care, injury prevention and treatment of student athletes.

Athletic trainer Jason Cates said the sports medicine department saved parents and taxpayers $200,000 for medical services in the past year. The program is able to track reported injuries and work on ways to prevent them and research why they are happening.

 The board recognized the high school’s electric vehicle team. Cabot placed first overall in the Arkansas Electric Vehicle Rally held in May at the State Fairgrounds.

The Electric Cooperative of Arkansas sponsors the rally each year. Pre-engineering program teacher Linda Powell said First Electric Cooperative contacted the school district six years ago and offered a $3,000 grant toward the purchase of a $7,000 go-kart kit.

Cabot beat out the 12 other high schools by an accumulation of points during the rally and by placing second in the quiz bowl and in troubleshooting.

The nine-member team included seniors Ty Stoll, Jonathan Nigus and Morgan Gurke; juniors Amanda Oliver and Justin Mullins and sophomores Daniel Brathwaite, Gene Barbery and Delton Farinelli.

Powell said, “The kids have to learn how to speak, communicating with other adults and team members. It is an application of their physics and math classes, principals of engineering and troubleshooting. The academic part sold me.”

He added, “The kids did it all. I just got the bus and the permission slips.”

 Tammy Tucker, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, spoke about a new summer reading program for elementary school students.

Books were mailed to children who needed additional help with their reading skills during the school year.

“They get to go the mailbox. It is addressed to them. Two books are sent every two weeks. The books are theirs to keep. It is an additional attempt to keep books in the hands of students during the summer,” Tucker said.

She said research shows if a student reads four books during the summer their reading skills will not fall off.

TOP STORY >> City council gets behind wet vote

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said it succinctly at the city council meeting Thursday night: “We have to either raise taxes, cut services or expand our tax base.”

He said he wasn’t about to raise taxes and didn’t want to cut services. “The only logical thing to do is to expand our tax base.”

The council agreed and approved a resolution sponsored by Aldermen Terry Sansing and Aaron Robinson to back efforts to turn the city wet and allow liquor to be sold by the glass.

If enough signatures are gathered, the city will vote on the issue. If residents decide to turn the city completely wet, officials are convinced restaurants and other retailers will come to Jacksonville and bring in more tax revenue.

The council was also introduced to a Jacksonville resident who has jumped into the lead position of getting the 4,400 signatures needed to place the vote on the ballot.

Jennifer Niemeyer, who has worked closely with the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce in its efforts to turn Park Hill wet, told the council, “I’ve got 65 to 70 volunteers ready to go door-to-door.”

Niemeyer has sectioned the affected area, Gray Township, into parts of Jacksonville and Sherwood to make it easier to gather votes. She has produced posters that she is placing throughout the city to make residents aware of the effort.

Jacksonville and Sherwood are hindered economically, according to Fletcher and Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman, because of votes in 1954 and 1956 which turned Gray Township dry.

The township no longer exists, but its dry area does. It encompasses about half of Sherwood and 90 percent of Jacksonville.

In introducing the resolution, Sansing said the city was in the midst of a strong economic effort and the dry areas were hurting the city. “This election gives our residents a choice to decide if they want the majority of the city wet or dry. I’d like the vote to be wet as I think it would be a boon to Jacksonville,” he said.

Both Sansing and the mayor said they were tired of seeing restaurants look at Jacksonville and then locate down the highway because of the liquor restrictions.

Robinson said he doesn’t drink, but his family frequents restaurants in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Sherwood that sell alcohol. “We like the food and I’d like those restaurants here,” he said.

A University of Arkansas study, released earlier this year, said the city is losing $600,000 a year because of the dry issues.

Niemeyer said North Little Rock has about 65 percent of its required signatures and is looking at a possible October vote. She would like Jacksonville to be ready to go by then too, even though it has collected only about 5 percent of the required 4,400 signatures.

Fletcher, at Niemeyer’s request, has set a town hall meeting for Aug. 6 at the community center to discuss the alcohol issue. “I like to have a town-hall meeting every two years or so to let the residents talk about whatever is on their mind,” he said.

Though the main focus will be on the alcohol vote, the mayor said it will be a great time for residents to bring up any concerns. “Residents can even come just to chew the mayor out,” Fletcher said.

In other council business:

• The council opted to table the condemnation of 1610 McArthur after Charlie Jenkins, a code enforcement officer, said the owner had been making satisfactory progress on the repairs and was communicating with his office.

• Aldermen decided to delay passing an ordinance attaching tax liens, totaling $25,000, on six properties until the next meeting. Many of the aldermen received an e-mail from an attorney representing one of the property owners asking for the delay. Even though the city attorney and code enforcement showed that all rules and procedures were followed, the council still felt it would be all right to wait two more weeks. The issue will be taken up again at the council’s Aug. 1 meeting.

• Barbara Daniels with the city’s information technology department asked the council to waive competitive bidding, allowing her to spend up to $26,000 to have a California company upgrade and improve the city’s website.

The council, because of advances made in technology and the growth in the number of web page designers, told her it should go out for bid instead. Daniels had no problems with the decision and pulled the request.

• Police Chief Gary Sipes, in his monthly report, stated that his department responded to 3,967 complaint calls in June and made 272 arrests.

In reviewing the crimes, Sipes said the city had one homicide (the first of the year), four reported sexual assaults, one robbery, 11 felony assaults, 24 burglaries, 89 thefts and seven vehicle thefts in June.

• Code enforcement, now under the police department, had 71 assigned calls and 300 self-initiated calls in June. During the month, code enforcement officers wrote four citations or notices, tagged 14 vehicles for noncompliance, removed 114 improperly posted signs and had 81 lawns mowed because of high grass.

• In his monthly report, Fire Chief Alan Laughy said his department responded to 223 rescue calls, 58 still alarms, 38 general alarms and had 247 ambulance runs during June.

Fire loss for the month was estimated at $60,930 and fire savings, based on quick response, was estimated at $29,970.

• Public Works Director Jimmy Oakley, in his monthly animal shelter report, said the shelter took in 70 dogs and 71 cats in June. Animal control officers were able to return 24 dogs and four cats to their owners, adopt out 26 dogs and 10 cats, but 15 dogs and 67 cats had to be euthanized.

Three bite cases were reported in June. A Shih Tzu bit its owner as she tried to pull it away from another dog. The Shih Tzu was quarantined for 10 days and returned to the owner. A lab killed a yorkie-mix and bit its owner as she tried to pull it off the yorkie-mix that had gotten into the yard. The lab was euthanized.

• In his monthly report, City Engineer Jay Whisker said his department issued 18 building permits and 10 business licenses during June.

Department officials also performed 224 inspections during the month.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial Bank beats 7-Up squad

Leader sportswriter

Cabot and Paragould put on a scoring barrage in the first four innings of Saturday’s American Legion matchup at Burns Park as the two teams scored a combined 22 runs in that time, but neither team could gain the upper hand in extra innings till Cabot pulled through with a run in the top of the 11th to win 14-13 in 11 innings.

The senior Centennial Bank team pounced on Paragould starting pitcher Zack Crisler early with five runs in the first inning to take a 5-0 lead. Cabot starting pitcher Kyle Kaufman held Paragould scoreless for the first two innings, but the 7-Up team responded in a huge way in the bottom of the third.

Cabot (16-13) looked to be in control after scoring again in the top of the third to lead 6-0, but Paragould (24-11) scored nine runs its next at bat off of Kaufman to take a 9-6 lead. However, the Centennial Bank squad didn’t stay down long.

Cabot answered with six runs in the top of the fourth to regain the lead, but Paragould added four more to its side of the board to cut the Panthers’ lead to 12-10 by the end of the inning. After the 22 runs scored in the first four innings, the two teams combined to score just five runs the rest of the game.

Paragould scored the first of the last five runs in the fifth inning to cut Cabot’s lead to one. Logan Reddick led off the inning with an infield single to shortstop.

He beat out Cabot shortstop Conner Vocque’s throw to first, but Vocque’s throw was high and off the mark and as the ball rolled along the right field fence, Reddick ran all the way to third.

The next at bat, leadoff hitter Eric Wilcoxson drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left field, cutting the deficit to 12-11. Cabot responded with a run in the top of the sixth, but Paragould cut the margin back to one its next at bat.

Centennial Bank leadoff hitter, Vocque, was hit by a pitch at the start of the sixth inning.

Bryson Morris walked the next at bat to move Vocque to second and Vocque stole third base before scoring on a ground ball to shortstop by three-hole hitter Casey Vaughan that resulted in an E6.

Paragould cut Cabot’s lead to 13-12 by the end of the sixth with a run scored, and held the Centennial Bank team scoreless its next at bat in the top of the seventh.

The 7-Up team managed to load the bases in the bottom of the seventh and Vaughan, Cabot’s third pitcher of the game, hit Paragould five-hole hitter Gunner Pitts with a pitch with two outs, scoring Wilcoxson to send the game to extra innings.

Morris came in to relieve Vaughan in the 10th inning and pitched the rest of the way. He gave up just one hit and no runs.

Ryan Logan scored the game-winning run in the top of the 11th. Logan walked to lead off the inning, and advanced to second based on a passed ball at the plate.

Two batters later with two outs, Zach Patterson drove Logan in with a clutch stand-up double to left-centerfield to set the final score. Paragould had a chance in the bottom of the 11th to at least tie the game as it had a runner on third base with two outs, but Morris struck out pinch-hitter Logan Murray to seal the win for Cabot.

Morris, Cabot’s fourth pitcher of the game, got the win on the mound and even though the win took more time and energy than expected, Cabot coach Cody Whitworth was glad to at least have the opportunity to throw several pitchers in live action before Zone Tournament play begins on Friday.

“We did use a lot of pitchers, but this game doesn’t mean anything for Zone,” Whitworth said. “I wanted to make sure my pitchers got work anyway. So every pitcher that threw today was basically what I wanted as far as the number of pitches they threw because I’ve got to get all my pitchers in before Wednesday so we can be ready for the Zone Tournament.

“Morris came in and threw 23 pitches there at the end and that’s a good bullpen for him. Paragould swung it well. They swung it extremely well, but we hit the ball well too. I think this is going to get us ready for the Zone Tournament. It was good to come out with a win. To play for a while and come out with a ‘W’ is always good.”

Cabot was outhit 15-11 in the winning effort. Grayson Cole led the way for Cabot offensively with three hits. Patterson and Kason Kimbrell had two each, and Vocque, Morris, Logan and Coleman McAtee had one hit apiece.

Since that win, the senior Centennial squad has picked up two more wins and a loss.

On Saturday, Cabot went to Jonesboro and split a doubleheader, then beat Russellville 13-6 on Monday, with McAtee, who is rarely used on the mound, getting the win with three innings of no-hit ball in relief.

The senior Centennial Bank squad will play Russellville again in the first round of the Zone 3 tournament Friday at Burns Park.

SPORTS STORY >> NLR falls again to Paragould

Leader sportswriter

Earlier this month, North Little Rock’s senior American Legion team lost to Paragould on its way to the Southwest Illinois Firecracker showcase tournament in Alton, Ill., and on Saturday, the 7-Up team beat the Colts for the second time in July with a close 6-4 win, this time at Burns Park.

Paragould (24-11) jumped on Colts starting pitcher Nick Cleveland early and held a 2-0 lead after the first inning. The 7-Up team scored again in the top of the second before North Little Rock (27-4) got on the board.

Dylan Huckaby reached on an error at shortstop to lead off the bottom of the second. Connor Eller then walked, but catcher Gunner Allen struck out swinging the next at bat. Nine-hole hitter Will Hopkins walked the following at bat to load the bases for leadoff hitter L.J. Wallace.

Wallace hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, but Huckaby scored on the play to cut Paragould’s lead to 3-1. However, Paragould scored three more runs in the bottom of the third to push its lead to 6-1.

“The bottom line is I don’t want to take anything away from those guys,” said North Little Rock coach Robert Hopkins of Paragould. “They’re a very good baseball team. I threw a kid today I thought would compete with them – Cleveland. In the first inning he said his back was hurting and they hit him around pretty good and the next inning they hit him around pretty good too.”

Wallace came in to relieve Cleveland in the top of the third after Cleveland gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. Wallace threw the rest of the game and gave up three runs on seven hits, but the Colts’ defense committed four errors with Wallace on the hill.

“L.J., who I’ve only thrown the first week of the season at Texarkana, came in and he did a great job today,” Hopkins said. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance. Our defense was not very good. In fact, it was awful. Our base running wasn’t very good today and consequently we dug a big hole and we couldn’t get out of it.”

North Little Rock scored its second run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to set the final score.

Wallace led off the fourth with a ground-rule double over the fence in right field. He stole third base before scoring on a wild pitch later in the inning.

In the fifth, Huckaby doubled to deep left-centerfield to get on base and two batters later Hopkins walked. With two outs, Wallace hit a stand-up triple off the top of the fence in right-centerfield to score Huckaby and Hopkins to cut Paragould’s lead to 6-4.

Paragould outhit the Colts 13-9. Wallace led the way offensively for North Little Rock.

He was 3 for 3 and a home run shy of the cycle. He also had three RBIs and four stolen bases. Huckaby and Alex Gosser each went 2 for 3 at the plate, while J.D. Miller and Jack Partlow had one hit apiece.

The Colts ended their regular season last night with a game against the Little Rock Express at UALR’s Curran Conway Park.

On Friday, North Little Rock will begin play in the Senior Zone 3 Tournament at Burns Park, and Hopkins is confident his team will be ready to play its best ball by then.

“I’ve got no complaints,” Hopkins said. “We just didn’t play very good today and that’s what happens, but we’ll be ready to go. We’ll be ready to go for Zone.”

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers not rusty after three weeks

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers took part in a team camp at Conway with four other teams last Thursday. The camp was more game-like than 7-on-7, but wasn’t full contact. Linemen were involved as teams dressed out in helmets and shoulder pads, but there was no tackling to the ground.

Given that the Badgers had not seen live competition since its last 7-on-7 meet three weeks earlier, head coach John Shannon was pleased with how his team performed.

“I was afraid we’d be pretty rusty, especially early on, but I was pleased with how we executed after three weeks off,” said Shannon. Offensively we did a very good job of executing in the running game. Defensively it’s hard for me to tell since everything is so fast paced and I’m with the offense, but our defensive coordinator (? Robertson), was pretty pleased with how things went.”

Two newcomers will fill the role in the featured position of Beebe’s dead T offense. Junior Clayton Meur and sophomore Tripp Smith both got positive reviews from Shannon for their performances at fullback.

“They’re both new because Clayton didn’t play last year, but we feel pretty comfortable with both of them,” Shannon said. “They both did really well so we haven’t named a starter. It may be a situation where we split the reps because they both could help us on defense as well. They’re both pretty good athletes.”

For the fullbacks to perform well, the offensive line must also perform well, and Shannon was very pleased with that unit, especially in the running game.

“I felt like the offensive line did a pretty good job,” Shannon said. “We had a few breakdowns when we tried to throw the ball, but running the ball we opened up some really big holes. Even passing the ball I thought we did ok. We haven’t really had a quarterback who could throw it like Aaron (Nunez) can in a while, so we’re working more on pass blocking and we’re learning a lot.

“It’s especially tough in situations like this where everything is so fast paced. Defenses are all trying new things and you’re basically getting the kitchen sink thrown at you. But still, overall I was pleased.”

Nunez, a second-year starter, has shown development as a passer, and it could lead to a more versatile Badger offense this season.

“I felt like Aaron did really well,” Shannon said. “We put in a few plays to put the ball in his hands, and he didn’t look bad throwing it. We didn’t have a lot of completions, but we had a lot of dropped passes. If he keeps throwing it like he did, I’m going to be comfortable with him dropping back at any time. The pass blocking will come along and so will the receiving. It’s a lot different when you have a week to work on one particular team as opposed to playing several teams right in a row, six plays at a time.”

The Badgers will compete in one more team camp at Conway today before ending their summer competition schedule. After that it’s all FAS Badger workouts.

“That stands for functional agility strengthening,” Shannon said. It’s a fast-paced, hour-and-a-half workout that really pushes them to the limit. We got it from Greenwood and started it last summer.”

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney wins zone title

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Chevrolet junior American Legion team is redefining how to win and lose at baseball. Fortunately for the Chevy Boys, their recent bizarre outcomes didn’t completely hamper a run to the Zone 3 championship at Cabot. Tournament host Centennial Bank White (30-9), which has handed Jacksonville two of its three losses this year, fell 8-5 to Jacksonville in the zone tournament championship game Monday, a day after beating the Chevy Boys (25-3) 2-0 in an epic 10-inning standoff.

Gwatney Chevrolet got 21 strikeouts from pitcher Derek St. Clair on Sunday and lost, then committed seven errors in Monday’s championship game and won.

“We are making too many errors but the kids are finding a way to win,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “St. Clair pitched so well, it’s a shame we couldn’t get him some runs, but Cabot’s a fine ball team. Those two pitchers they threw against us Sunday are both very good pitchers, very good. The Tillery kid changes speed on you so well he keeps you off balance. But he doesn’t throw as hard as the other one (Adam Hicks). When he learns how to change speed like that he’s going to be a dandy.”

Cabot pitchers Adam Hicks and Gavin Tillery combined to keep Jacksonville scoreless the entire 10 innings of Sunday’s win, but it was Jacksonville’s pitcher that put on the show. Pitching for the first time this season for Gwatney after being the No. 1 starter for JHS, Derek St. Clair threw all 10 innings, striking out 21 while giving up six hits, three walks, one hit batter and one earned run. He struck out 16 in seven innings of regulation and gave up four hits.

Hicks was also impressive in his seven innings on the mound. He fanned eight while giving up four hits and no walks. Three of those hits came in the second inning with no outs. Greg Jones, Courtland McDonald and Brandon Hickingbotham got consecutive singles to start the innings, but Hicks answered with two strikeouts before getting D.J. Scott to line out to first base and get out of the jam.

Jacksonville scarcely threatened the rest of the way.

Tillery took the mound in the eighth inning and struck out just one in the eighth and ninth innings combined. But after Cabot scored two in the top of the 10th, Tillery struck out the side in the bottom half to earn the win.

The championship game was a comedy of errors for Jacksonville, but Cabot couldn’t capitalize. Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s bats came alive. Cabot pitcher Chris Odom, who turned in his own dominant performance earlier in the tournament with a seven-inning no hitter against Lonoke, gave up 10 hits and six earned runs in seven innings on Monday.

Cabot topped Jacksonville’s output with 11 hits to go with Jacksonville’s seven errors, but Gwatney starting pitcher James Tucker worked his way out of enough jams to earn the complete-game victory.

“Truth is, if I had to do it over I would’ve taken him out after about five innings,” Hickingbotham said of Tucker. “He threw a fine game but he threw way too many pitches, about 50 too many. We didn’t help him much in the field either. We’re getting too many mistakes from the guys that shouldn’t be making them, guys that have been starting for us for a long time.

“Then you got Donte Harris, who hadn’t played much, went out there and had his best game this year out in right field. I’m real proud of him.”

Centennial Bank jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a series of Gwatney mistakes. Two of the first three batters reached on errors by St. Clair, with a sacrifice bunt in between.

Brandon Jones then hit a bloop single that didn’t escape the dirt of the infield, but was far enough into the gap that second baseman Ryan Mallison couldn’t make the throw to first in time.

Odom then scored on a wild pitch by Tucker, and Hicks scored when catcher Greg Jones let a third-out strike three get by, leaving Jonathan Latture safe at first base.

Jacksonville answered in the top of the second by taking advantage of a brief lapse in control by Odom. After two up and two down, Hickingbotham roped a single to centerfield. Odom then walked Scott and hit Harris with the first pitch to load the bases.

Tucker ripped the first pitch he saw down the third base line about two feet foul. After working to a full count, he pulled out another line drive down the line, this time just fair and to the wall for a bases-clearing, three RBI double. Jacksonville never trailed again, but didn’t have the game locked away until the final out.

Cabot got its first two batters on in the bottom of the seventh inning. Null reached on another strike-three passed ball. Dalten Hurst then walked three pitches after Jones dropped an easy pop up in foul territory. The runners moved into scoring position with one out on a sacrifice bunt, but Tucker got the next two batters to fly out to seal the win.

McDonald led the way offensively for Gwatney Chevrolet with three base hits, two runs scored and an RBI double. Odom and Hicks led Cabot wtih two base hits apiece. Cabot will also host the junior state tournament that begins Friday.

EDITORIAL >> Detachment long overdue

If you were born when Jacksonville leaders first began trying to carve their own district from Pulaski County Special School District, you might have grandchildren in the schools now—and still no separate district.

That was in the late 1960s, about the time Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration gave way to that of Richard M. Nixon. Believe it or not, local residents found PCSSD’s board and administrators to be in disarray.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Now the state has declared PCSSD to be in fiscal distress and is in year three of running the district itself without an elected school board.

So although the state Board of Education this month unanimously verified that the current efforts by members of the Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps meet all requirements of state law for a detachment election and forwarded the petition for such to the state attorney general’s office, don’t get too overconfident yet.

Congratulations to the hard-working people folks who got us this far, most recently Daniel Gray, attorney Patrick Wilson and posthumously, Ben Rice, but we’ve been here before.

In 2003, the state Board of Education agreed to call a special election on the issue of Jacksonville’s detachment, but the PCSSD objected in court and Federal Judge Bill Wilson ruled detachment could affect desegregation negatively, ordering the election cancelled.

While the efforts have ebbed and flowed over the decades, the desire of many Jacksonvillians to control the destiny of their community by providing better education and better facilities has never disappeared.

Despite blistering growth and development in neighboring Cabot, Austin and Ward, Jacksonville’s population has remained stagnant at roughly 30,000 for decades, and it’s likely to remain so until the area has its own school district. The issue is not just about educating children, it’s also about economic development. People don’t invest in or move to a troubled district with bad schools and facilities if they can avoid it.

Two impediments in 2003 to the proposed district—opposition by PCSSD and failure to work with the judge overseeing the desegregation agreement before calling the election—are nonissues this time. PCSSD is all in.

Although it is still possible that Federal Judge Price Marshall will rule against a detachment election, proponents argue that a separate district would make it easier for PCSSD and Jacksonville to achieve unitary status.

That’s because the aging Jacksonville/North Pulaski County schools would be repaired or replaced at their own expense — removing the financial burden from PCSSD. Inadequate school facilities are one of the roadblocks to unitary status.

A Jacksonville-area district would have the support of residents with an established sense of community. These are people who have taxed themselves to help pay for a new community college building at Little Rock Air Force Base and with the base have been recipients of the Abilene Trophy for best community support of an Air Mobility Wing in the United States.

It’s reasonable to expect that Jacksonville residents would support an increase in the current school property-tax millage of 40.7 mills in order to build new schools and repair old ones. The most recent of six detachment feasibility studies provided four options and estimates for building some new schools and repairing others, ranging from $63 million to $91 million. No one thinks that’s going to happen without a millage increase.

If the election is held and if those affected by the change approve detachment, there’s a lot of work to be done before the district sets off on its own with an appointed board and new superintendent for the 2014-2015 school year.

But, would the new district be launched already in fiscal distress? “New school district, clean slate, that’s what I would argue if I were superintendent of the new district,” said PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess.

It’s not Guess’ call, but he said he would think the new district would not be in fiscal distress, academic distress or facilities distress.

But that would be for the state to decide.

The unions—which were decertified and had their contracts abrogated when the state took over PCSSD—have not weighed in on this issue. Currently they are in court seeking to have those actions reversed, but their resistance to change has not been helpful.

Detachment seems to us to be a win-win situation.

TOP STORY >> Drought hurting farmers

Leader senior staff writer

“We’re in the middle of a drought,” said Lonoke County Extension Agent Jeff Welch.

Scattered showers in the county dropped as much as an inch in some areas over the weekend, but farmers have started irrigating and barring significant rainfall. They are committed until the end of the growing season.

“It’s more-than-normal dry, increasing the cost of irrigation substantially,” Welch said Monday. “We’re hoping we’re not in a weather pattern (like) last year’s.”

Welch noted that parts of the county have gotten a bit of precipitation this week — up to three-quarters of an inch around Cabot.

He said farmers should be planting soybeans after wheat right now, but that it is too dry for the seed to germinate.

“Farmers will plant later than normal because it will be profitable, but they are facing a reduced yield and the high cost of running irrigation pumps,” Welche explained.

“We’re not set up for an excellent or a very good crop, but a good crop under current prices,” he added.

He said the wheat crop was “really good, with some fields doing 40 to 50 bushels per acre, with many getting 70 to 80 bushels per acre and even 90.

“Corn has silked,” he said. “The silks are turning purple, meaning they’re pollinated. The earlier you plant corn, the better off you are.”

A lot of soybeans were planted in late May, but the yield probably won’t be as good as usual, Welch said.

Given the choice of planting cotton, a very labor-intensive crop, or corn, which has a good price, Lonoke County farmers are down to about 2,600 cotton acres this year.

“It’s the end of an era,” Welch said of cotton production, “and for a lot of farmers, it’s good riddance.

It’s a tough crop requiring a high degree of management.”

Lonoke County no longer has any cotton gins. Cotton must be hauled to Marianna or McGehee.

One positive side effect of the drought-like conditions is that neither corn nor soybean rust have hit the state.

“Under warm to hot, clear days, it doesn’t move or survive,” he said. The ultra-violet rays of the sun destroy it.

Blister beetles are after the soybeans this year, defoliating parts of some fields.

TOP STORY >> Beebe family gets Habitat home

Leader staff writer

Habitat for Humanity of White County presented Krystal Smith of Beebe with the keys to a new home on Sunday in front of her family, church members and volunteers.

“Thank God. If it weren’t for him, this wouldn’t be possible. If there is a will there is a way. It’s been a long hard road. God is definitely good,” Smith said.

Mayor Mike Robertson called it “a wonderful gift of Christian love.”

He thanked the volunteers for helping the Smith family.

White County Judge Michael Lincoln said, “There is nothing more precious than being a homeowner.”

The blue-and-white house at 301 S. Cypress St. is 1,150 square feet. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It is the first house the organization has built in Beebe.

Constructed on a donated lot with the work of volunteers, the house took eight months to build.

Smith, 32, is a single parent raising her daughters, Kyleigh, 5, and Kamauryi, 7. She works at the White County Medical Center South in Searcy as a dietitian assistant. Smith has rented an apartment for six years.

Beebe Middle School principal Brandy Dillin, Smith’s cousin, read an e-mail asking if someone needed a house.

Dillin said, “We didn’t waste any time.”

Rick Eichhorn, director of the Habitat for Humanity of White County, said it is important for Smith’s daughters to live in a home. It provides stability and a quiet place to study after school. Smith can relax and doesn’t have to worry about a big rent, Habitat officials said.

Smith’s house payments are $300 a month, including taxes and insurance. The house was built with energy efficiency and uses concrete siding instead of vinyl.

The electricity bill is estimated to be $80 a month. Smith had to put in 300 hours of “sweat” equity in to the house and also work at the Searcy Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Eichhorn said many volunteers and businesses helped with the project.

Jason Dajuan McNabb was referred to as Beebe’s No. 1 volunteer by Eichhorn.

McNabb said, “Working with Habitat was truly a blessing and fun. I’ve learned so much from volunteering. From framing to coping, I’ve learned it all.”

Smith’s cousin, Mike Williams, is an electrician who wired the house. K and R Plumbing and Absolute Roofing also helped.

Eichhorn thanked Beebe officials for answering building questions and working with him on building codes.

He said, “If it wasn’t for ReStore, we wouldn’t have the funds to build houses.”

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores are nonprofit home- improvement stores and donation centers selling new and gently-used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public. Proceeds are used by Habitat for Humanity for building houses.

The White County ReStore is at 210 W. Mulberry St. in Searcy.

Judge Lincoln asked for donations to support White County Habitat for Humanity.

For more information or to donate, visit or call (501) 268-5589.

TOP STORY >> Area is rezoned for auto dealer

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council voted unanimously Monday night to rezone the hill at the entrance to Sun Terrace subdivision across Hwy. 89 from Walmart to allow Excel Ford to relocate there.

The rezoning passed with an emergency clause to make it effective as soon as the mayor signed off on it Tuesday morning.

The city will gain a little money from the building permit for construction and some tax revenue for building materials.

But the discussion around the council table before the vote made it clear that the hasty rezoning was more about getting the property out of bankruptcy so that three abandoned houses could be torn down.

Tom Harness, general manager of Excel Ford, told the council that tearing down the houses would be a priority, but that he couldn’t do anything until the 4.89 acres were purchased from the Burrow Family Trust.

Alderman Ed Long was the first to ask him to be more specific, saying it was clear the council intended to approve the rezoning and that Sun Terrace residents needed to know when the three condemned houses would be torn down.

Mayor Bill Cypert rephrased the question only slightly when he asked, “If this passes, when are you going to start tearing down the houses?”

Harness had already explained that he had the financing lined up and an engineer had looked at the property. But he couldn’t buy it unless it was rezoned from C-2 to C-3, which would allow for the outside storage of vehicles. The entire project hinged on the rezoning.

“They’re waiting for me to say go. That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I can’t tell you a date. We don’t even own the property yet. I’m sorry I can’t say we’ve got a bulldozer outside waiting on us.”

City Attorney Jim Taylor said in response to questions from Alderman Angie Jones that since the council has already condemned the houses, the city could tear them down and bill the new owner.

Brian Boroughs, head of Cabot Public Works, said the city could have the houses razed for $8,000 to $10,000 each.

“Sounds like a bargain to me,” Harness said, but added that he would rather tear them down at the same time the land is leveled for the new car lot.

John Buerklin and Richard Thiele, longtime residents of Sun Terrace, told the mayor and council that they needed to make sure the roads were improved to allow for increased traffic from the business.

“The business that is being proposed is possibly the best we can have, but traffic concerns need to be addressed,” Buerklin said.

Sun Terrace residents have fought commercial development in the past because of traffic problems at the intersection of Hwy. 89 and Rockwood Road.

In other business, the council:

• Approved an ordinance to annex 40 acres near the fire station on Hwy. 89.

• Approved the purchase of a mini-excavator from Hugg and Haul for $51,698.

• Approved the purchase of a chipper from Vermeer for $26,671. The city’s clearing of land around Exit 16 prompted the purchase.

• Approved a grant application to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to pay 75 percent of the estimated $1.2 million cost of a safe room in the addition to the community center. The capacity would be about 1,000.

• Approved using bond money supported by the recently-passed one-cent sales tax to build the north interchange. The interchange was one of the projects voters supported. The resolution the council approved was a formality.

• Passed an ordinance annexing the Freshour property on Hwy. 5.

The building is expected to be renovated for use as a medical clinic.

• Reappointed Ron Craig to the planning commission and Brian Knowles to the Advertising and Promotion Commission.