Friday, August 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Bullets show more than sportsmanship

Leader sports editor

Life lessons are usually learned the hard way, or at the very least, are hard to learn. The Remington Bullets American Legion baseball team faced one of those lessons during the state tournament last weekend in Harrison, and all indications in the aftermath are they learned it well.

The class and integrity displayed by the Bullets after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in the championship round wasn’t just a sign of a bunch of good boys whose momma’s raised them right. It was the type of grownup, manly behavior that only comes with experience from hard lessons.

Sadly for this team, one of those hard lessons was learned during the tournament when Chris James, father of two Remington players, Christian and Madison James, passed away at the young age of 51.

The Lonoke-based team took the news hard, and without their friends’ presence, but with their friends’ burden heavy on their heart, played itself into the position of being one of only two teams in the state left standing late Monday night.

Lonoke needed to beat the host team, Harrison, twice because of a similar loss to the McDonald’s sponsored team in the finals of the winners’ bracket.

With a 1-0 lead, two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the final inning, Harrison, which had only two base hits in the previous six innings, somehow managed three in a row to score two runs and win the title.

Most players may have called that kind of a loss a tragedy, or may have felt devastated. But the Bullets had just been through real tragedy.

They had just seen the effect that real loss has on people they care about. And they behaved like they learned from it.

There were no thrown gloves or pouting attitudes. There was no one refusing or even hesitant to shake the victor’s hands. There wasn’t even the cursory effort at post-game sportsmanship that usually comes with such a loss.

There were arms around each other and stern faces that sincerely congratulated their opponent.

There were hugs for teammates and condolences for those closest to the James family who had stayed and given everything they had to win this one for their friends.

Underneath it all was the obvious understanding that it was just a game. How could they be upset about losing a game, even a state championship game, in light of such hardship for their teammates?

Some, no doubt, still would have been upset. Some have attached far too great a significance to success in sports. This group of players from Lonoke and Carlisle has not done so. It was evident even before the disappointing ending.

The Bullets made mistakes throughout the game. There were three errors recorded and maybe should have been four. But after each one, there was only encouragement from teammates.

It might be tempting for a reporter who woke up in Cabot, drove to his place of work in Jacksonville and from there gone to cover an event in Bryant, to bemoan finding out there was still a local team alive in the tournament at Harrison, and that it would be playing at approximately 9 p.m.

But the four-hour drive from Saline County to Boone County became worth every tiring mile when it ended around midnight with something better than watching the local team win the title. It ended with watching a beautiful display of friendship, sportsmanship and maturity. It ended in seeing young men learn, grow and take a huge step towards manhood.

It ended with a reporter on his knees in a Harrison hotel giving thanks for being inconvenienced by an unexpected trip that day.

EDITORIAL >> One shooter behind bars

A white business owner fatally shoots a black employee during a business meeting last November in Ward. It briefly becomes a national story because of accusations of racism. But then it fades from the headlines, except for an occasional newspaper report and TV interview with the victim’s mother, who had hoped to turn the tragedy into a national scandal like the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida.

Flash forward eight months: On July 24, Christopher Reynolds, the business owner who shot Ernest Hoskins of Little Rock in Reynolds’ Ward home, entered a guilty plea to manslaughter and received a 10-year-sentence. Reynolds, who ran a business that sold a gadget that supposedly improved gas mileage on vehicles, could have taken his chances and gone to trial, but witnesses would have testified that he kept pointing his .44 magnum Desert Eagle at Hoskins. It didn’t go off at first but then he tried again. When the gun went off, he killed Hoskins.

This is the South, where most of the longtime inhabitants still have guns in their homes and firmly believe it’s their right to have them there. Even if they don’t hunt, they probably treasure some old shotgun or rifle handed down from their dads or grandfathers.

But just as they hold firm to their right to have them, most also are familiar with the truisms handed down from those same dads and grandfathers: Assume all guns are loaded. And never point a gun at someone unless you intend to kill them.

So we wonder what was going on in Reynolds’ mind when he pointed that .44 magnum at Ernest Hoskins’ head and pulled the trigger? And when it didn’t go off, why did he do it again?

A special prosecutor had taken on the case after the victim’s mother questioned Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham’s impartiality. The accusation was unfair, especially since Hoskins’ mother wouldn’t tell us why she thought that.

Instead, she was granting interviews to a young reporter at a Little Rock TV station, whose coverage was reminiscent of CNN’s constantly promoting Trayvon Martin’s family, which was a journalistic coup of sorts but left no doubt where the network’s sympathies lay.

Hoskins mother had retained Martin’s attorney in hopes of drawing a comparison with the Florida case. That strategy didn’t gain any traction. In the end, George Zimmerman, who had fatally shot Martin, went free, while the Arkansas shooter will serve the maximum sentence for manslaughter.

Despite the family’s disappointment in the light sentence in Lonoke County, prosecutors here succeeded in meting out justice while their counterparts in Florida didn’t come close.

Which is one more reason to choose Arkansas over Florida or anyplace else.

TOP STORY >> Run over while bicycling to base

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Struck by a car and left for dead, Senior Master Sgt. Maurice Milstead of Austin was experiencing every cyclist’s nightmare scenario.

On Feb. 14, 2012, the 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight superintendent at Little Rock Air Force Base set off to work like any other morning.

He woke up around 4:30 a.m., made his morning cup of espresso and geared up for a chilly commute on his $4,500 bike, which he built in his home .

The 14-mile ride was one that he had made at least a hundred times. While not without risk, the 45-minute trip from his home to Little Rock Air Force Base could hardly be described as playing in traffic.

“Everything was normal that day,” Milstead said. “It was February, so it was still a little bit cool, and during the winter I layer up, which worked out very well for me.

“I also had two blinking lights on, one on my backpack and one on my bike,” he added. “Then I had my headlight, which is about 450 lumens and is pretty bright. It actually looks like a car coming at you.”

As he approached the five-mile mark of his route, Milstead’s trip had been just like any other morning ride.

“I was heading up a hill on Second Street in Cabot, and there aren’t typically a lot of cars on the road at that time of day,” Milstead said.

“When I ride, I use the lane of traffic like a vehicle would, as allowed by law, and use the shoulder as a safety precaution. You can generally hear vehicles coming, and some will even honk to let you know they’re coming,” he noted.

What happened next sent Milstead on the ride of his life.

“It’s a straight road, and I started going up the hill,” he said. “I don’t remember anybody passing me on the road that morning. The first thing I do remember was hearing this loud noise.

“I don’t remember getting struck, or feeling like I was struck, I just remember losing control and hitting the ground thinking ‘oh man this is crazy.’ It was so loud, and I looked up and the guy just kept going,” he said.

Milstead had been hit, sideswiped by a passing car. The impact was strong enough to send him tumbling out of control and rolling through a wide patch of gravel on the side of the road.

When he finally skidded to a stop, he was nearly 15 feet from where the vehicle had hit him.

“I’m lying there, I look up and it’s just like a daze,” Milstead said. “I’ve broken bones before while riding, and so I did a systems check. Everything moved so I got up and, I thought, I probably shouldn’t be standing up.

“There was nobody around, so I grabbed my phone, which I keep in my backpack, and I called my wife. But she didn’t answer, so I left her a message. It was something like, ‘Hey, I got hit by a car.’ I was very nonchalant about it because I was OK.

“I was sore, but I felt like I had a broken rib. A few cars stopped to see if I needed help, and one woman and her son commented that they pass me every morning, but I’m almost never laying on the ground.”

Milstead’s wife, Kathryn, was concerned, but this was not the first time she’d received a call informing her that her husband had been in an accident.

Nearly two years before, while stationed in England, Milstead had fallen while trail riding and broken his ankle. This time they were both more prepared for the situation.

“I found the voicemail and grabbed the kids out of bed and got them on the bus,” Kathryn said. “I wasn’t sure what to make of it. He sounded more ticked off than hurt. There were definitely a few expletives in there. We were still new to the area, and I wasn’t exactly sure where he was. I was a little worried, but glad that he was coherent.”

His next call was to his office to inform them he’d been in an accident. Shortly after, the police arrived to make a report, and the driver of the car returned to the scene.

Milstead was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which were negative.

After a few days of rest, he was able to resume riding. A return to the scene of the accident provided a few souvenirs. The cover of the car mirror and a bicycle rim were the only traces of the accident, outside of Milstead’s scrapes and bruises.

His bike was a complete loss. He cited the reimbursement and opportunity to build a new bike as the only bright side of the experience.

A meeting with the 19th Airlift Wing safety office revealed that Milstead had made all of the correct safety precautions. This was simply an unfortunate case of an inattentive driver.

“Some of the best advice I can give to other riders is to be seen, be predictable and anticipate what drivers might do,” Milstead said.

“Some other good things you can do,” he continued, “is make sure you tell people your route or where you’ll be riding, wear the appropriate safety gear and have an emergency kit with you.”

The sergeant said, “It’s important to know your limits, stay hydrated, and follow the rules of the road.”

TOP STORY >> Federal grant to pay for sidewalk

Leader staff writer

It may have been the third try that was the charm, or possibly even the fourth, but the federal money that Cabot tried to get for many years to pay for a sidewalk for Magness Creek Elementary has finally been approved.

Mayor Bill Cypert, in an e-mail, announced approval of two grants to pay for the more than $300,000 project and that Brian Boroughs, director of Cabot Public Works, deserves much of the credit for it.

The project has not yet been designed, but Boroughs estimates its length at between 750 and 1,000 feet. It will run from behind the school, through the woods, over a prefabricated truss bridge over Magness Creek and end at Magness Creek North subdivision.

Eddie Cook, head of operations for the city, said that, at the very least, the new sidewalk will keep some parents from having to get onto Hwy. 5 to drop off and pick up their kids.

Boroughs, who has been head of public works since January 2012, said Friday that he had never written grant proposals before so he asked for help from the experts at Central Arkansas Planning and Development in Lonoke.

Together, they went over the old grant proposals and added details they hoped would make a difference in the outcome.

The proposal he turned in last year for a Safe Routes to School grant from the state highway department included more details about connectivity as well as proof that the city already had the needed right of ways which made the project “shovel-ready.”

“We took it step by step,” he said.

Boroughs said he asked for $326,000, but was approved for $98,000.

At the same time he applied for the Safe Routes to School grant, he also applied for a grant from Metroplan, which also administers federal highway money. The project was approved for $215,000.

The city will have to pay a minimum match of $53,750, but, anticipating approval of some grant money, the match was included in the 2013 budget for sidewalks.

Designing the project will likely take three months, Boroughs said. By that time, winter will be near and working in the woods during the cold rainy months could be a problem. So, most likely, the project won’t be put out for bids until the first quarter of 2014, he said.

In addition to the concrete sidewalk and bridge, the project will include trail lighting. The bridge alone is projected to cost $100,000, Boroughs said.

TOP STORY >> Support for new District

Leader staff writer

At Thursday night’s city council meeting, the Pulaski County Special School District superintendent reiterated his support for Jacksonville’s efforts to break away from PCSSD and become its own school district.

Superintendent Jerry Guess told aldermen and guests that it would benefit both Jacksonville and the district.

He explained that in the decades-long desegregation case PCSSD can meet eight of the nine requirements to become unitary or free of federal desegregation monitoring, but the one category it is struggling with is facilities.

While the district has spent more than $8 million last year and plans to spend $4 million this year, it just can’t seem to get its schools, particularly those in Jacksonville, up to an acceptable standard for the federal court.

Guess explained that if Jacksonville can become its own district, under current state formulas, the state will cover 60 to 65 percent of new school construction for Jacksonville.

The state will only cover 5 to 10 percent for PCSSD. The superintendent said breaking away would be the best and quickest way for Jacksonville facilities to become top-of-the-line.

Alderman James Bolden praised Guess for his support of a separate district. “As you know, I was on the school board for a long time, worked with many superintendents, and you are the first to publicly give us support. Thank you.”

The superintendent was at the council meeting at the bequest of Mayor Gary Fletcher, who was not happy with recently released scores on the state mandated 11th grade literacy exams and end-of-course exams in Algebra I, geometry and biology.

The scores showed Jacksonville schools rank near the bottom on most of the test results. According to test results, only 44 percent of juniors at Jacksonville High School scored proficient or advanced, meaning that 56 percent of the students can’t read or write at grade level.

Guess pointed out that tests are improving. If you look at the math scores, they are up by 30 points.

He credited Lourdes Goodnight for the improvement. She was the assistant principal at Jacksonville High School last year and is now the principal at the middle school.

Goodnight told the council last month that she was tired of seeing Jacksonville at the bottom. She announced that play time was over.

Lourdes is the fifth principal at the middle school in six years. The most recent principal and vice principal were suspended earlier this year for unspecified reasons and then they resigned.

Guess applauded the city of its active involvement in its school, but made it clear that more can be done by parents as well as the district. He said there were a lot of variables in a student’s success and a lot of untruths out there.

“Just because a child comes from a poor family doesn’t mean he’ll fail, or, if the child is from a middle-class family, that is no assurance that he’ll succeed. Likewise, rural students don’t always fail and urban children don’t always succeed,” Guess explained.

But he did emphasize that poverty was a major anchor on a child’s success. On average, 70 percent of all students in Jacksonville schools are on the free or reduced lunch program “If the parents are struggling to make ends meet, they often don’t have the time or energy they need to spend with the children and motivate them to do well,” he said.

In that vein, Guess made it clear that the two most important things a parent can do is spend positive time with their children and visit the schools. “An hour a day now will save you days, weeks, months later,” he said.

The superintendent also invited parents to come to the schools. “We want you there, communicating with the principal and teachers and seeing what is going on,” he said.

As an example, Guess said the new principal at Maumelle Middle School had an open house recently and 400 people showed up.

“Your new middle school principal is also having an open house and I’d like to see the same number or more show up for that,” he urged. The Jacksonville Middle School open house is set for 6 to 7 p.m. Aug. 14 for sixth-graders and their families and from 5:30- to 7 p.m., Aug. 15 for seventh- and eighth-graders and their families.

Guess told the council that burden is not all on the parents, that the district has to and is doing things too.

“Jacksonville High School has a $2 million grant to spend on ‘extraordinary measures’ to help students achieve,” the superintendent said, adding that the money will be spent judicially and properly to best help students.

The district is also making all if its middle schools, including Jacksonville, wireless to aid in technology learning. “We have started with the middle schools and will then work at making our high schools wireless,” he said.

Guess said the district is also implementing the new common core standards, which are more rigorous than current standards and are more nationally-based. “This will make our students more competitive nationally and internationally,” the superintendent explained.

The Common Core standards were started in the primary grades, then moved to the middle grades and will start in high school this year.

Guess also said the district and parents need to combine forces to work on attendance. “Our absence rate is too high for students and teachers too. We spent $2 million on substitutes last year and that’s way too much.”

SPORTS STORY >> Former Hog great speaks at PAKT’s Fun Day Bash

Leader sports editor

Former Arkansas Razorback and NFL running back Madre Hill addressed members of the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club on Friday, highlighting a day of fun and games to close the PAKT program’s Fund Day Bash at the club.

Police and Kids Together is a program designed to form positive relationships between police and the community’s children by keeping kids involved in positive activities. Twice a week three police officers visit the club, and each year there is the summer day of fun.

“It’s just our way of giving the kids a final big day before summer ends and school starts,” said Sgt. Richard Betterton, who heads up the program for the Jacksonville Police Department.

Hill is one of Arkansas’ most prolific high-school running backs, at one time holding the state record for career and single-season rushing yards, and career touchdowns. He went on to also break the Arkansas Razorbacks’ single-season rushing record, which he held for 13 years before it was broken by Darren McFadden in 2008..

After tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in both knees and missing two full years of competition, he finished his career as a Razorback in 1999 and went on to a three-year NFL career with the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, where he was on the AFC championship team.

Hill told The Leader that he’s eager to be a part of this kind of program because of his experiences as a member of the Malvern Boys and Girls Club growing up.

“I was blessed with people that gave their time and energy to things like this, so I want to do my part to help when I can as well.”

Hill is now founder and owner of Razor Clean Maids, a janitorial business that services the Jacksonville area. He had a message of self-reliance for Boys and Girls Club members.

“You can be your biggest asset or you can be your own worst enemy,” said Hill. “If you don’t succeed, it’s not your environment. It’s not a person who told you that you couldn’t do it. It’s not your financial situation. It’s you. Only you can hinder your progress by making the wrong decisions. Only you can sabotage yourself.”

Hill warned the mostly elementary and middle-school aged crowd to avoid temptations like partying, getting involved in intimate relationships and skipping school, and urged them to be set their priorities early.

He drew an analogy between life and football, saying each has four quarters. But he warned that the analogy was not exact. The timeline isn’t the same in each.

“You guys are right now in the first quarter of your lives,” Hill said. “By the time you get ready to graduate, it’ll be halftime. You’re building the road map for the rest of your life right now. You don’t think that’s true because you’re so young, but that’s how fast it happens. And you can either go into halftime winning or losing. And unlike in football, in life, there is no overtime.”

Hill also touched on what makes a person successful, and posited a different definition than the one most are likely to assume.

“It’s not about money,” Hill said. “I’ve seen many grown men who went into halftime winning, then got some money and started losing. So instead of judging your success on money, judge it on happiness. Judge it on the joy of life and doing for others. You’ve got a whole lot of successful people lined up here to my right, because they give their time to help people like you. You will find happiness in that.”

Hill stayed for more than an hour after the speech to give away photos from his playing days and sign them for any who wanted.

The Jacksonville Police Department also set up a dunking booth with different officers and club workers taking turns in the booth. There was also kickball and many other activities and the police department grilled burgers and hot dogs for lunch.

SPORTS STORY >> Shooting range seeing progress

Leader sports editor

Rapid progress is finally being made on the new Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex being built on Graham Road in Jacksonville. Heavier and more frequent rain than normal caused a delay in the start of project, but the targeted completion date won’t be missed by much.

The new 14-station range, which is the result of joint effort between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, in partnership with the city of Jacksonville, will likely be finished by the middle of September, says Rep. Mark Perry, who helped spearhead the project.

“The original plan was for the first of September, but that’s only a month away,” said Perry. “I think realistically the middle of September is a good target. They could probably make the original one if they worked seven days and the weather stays perfect, but I think a realistic goal is about the middle of the month.”

The first stage of the project was getting the land above the flood plane. With that accomplished, the storehouse for the trap and skeet is complete, while the frame for the 5,100 square-foot clubhouse is erected.

All 14 trap houses are constructed and in their approximate positions, but have not been put in the ground yet. Concrete has been poured for the middle three ranges, which will be the dual-purpose ranges for trap and skeet, and will be the only lighted ranges.

When finished, it will be one of the largest public shooting ranges in the south.

“People that shoot all over the country know this is going up and are excited about it,” Perry said. “It’s top of the line. We have people wanting them now. There are people that go all over for these competitions. These organizations are interested. I guarantee you it will be crowded.”

Members of the Amateur Trap Association and of the ATA’s youth branch called the AIM, for Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship, are involved in weekly meetings about the project at Jacksonville City Hall.

Trap season doesn’t begin until February, but the range will be open to the public shortly after completion.

“We’d like to have it open for people who duck hunt or compete in these events to come and sharpen their skills.”

The Jacksonville range will replace Remington Gun Club as the host site for the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Progam’s high school and junior high competitions, but there is an AYSSB event planned at Jacksonville before that begins.

“One of the first things we’re going to have out here is a benefit tournament for the AYSSB and the Game and Fish Green Wing program.” Perry said.

The range will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and closed Monday and Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Hatfield restarts JHS golf program

Leader sports editor

After a three-year hiatus, Jacksonville High School is restarting a golf program, which gets its season underway on Monday. Max Hatfield, who has been the head freshman football coach the last three years, is stepping away from football to head up the golf program. Only five players have been working through the summer, but Hatfield believes a few more will be added once school begins.

“Most schools get their teams together in the spring, but we gota late start because we got the final go-ahead right about that time,” Hatfield said. “The kids that have been working each week have really gotten better.

“I don’t know if you should expect a state championship this first year. Golf is a game that takes some time. But we’ve got some kids, if they continue to keep working at it, can be a pretty good team. Maybe the second year we’ll be after a state title.”

Juniors John Herman and Jeremy Wilson, and senior Michael Labron currently make up the boys team. Sophomores Nikole Hardison and Hailey Elmore are the only two girls on the team.

“A lot of them are just learning,” Hatfield said. “Hardison is the most experienced player we’ve got. She moved in last year and had played on the team where she came from. Hailey is taking lessons from a local pro and she’s getting a lot better. Jeremy Wilson has really improved quite a bit just in these last two weeks. I think he had a little breakthrough. Coach (Robbie) Walker from North Pulaski has been very helpful for us. We can get in there and compete and hold our own, but like anything, it’ll take some time and commitment to become a really good team.”

Local golf courses have also been willing to help out. The team practices four days a week at Hickory Creek Golf Course, and on Wednesday’s at Southern Oaks Country Club.

“That’s huge for these local courses to step up and help us out like this,” Hatfield said. “Even Cypress Creek offered to let our kids come out there and play. They all give us range balls and let the kids play for free. It’s just been great, especially Hickory Creek. Rocky Mantooth, (course owner) is a Jacksonville guy and he’s been super nice. He played at Ouachita Baptist and he just said, ‘look, I had to have people help me out along the way, so I’m not going to hesitate to help out now.”

Jacksonville will play its first match against Walker’s team at North Pulaski on Monday at Stone Links in Scott.

SPORTS STORY >> NPHS 12th at world fishing tournament

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski’s fishing program is fast becoming one of the premier fishing programs in the state. For the second time in three years, a North Pulaski team garnered a top-12 finish in The Bass Federation High School World Fishing Finals.

John Ball and Joe Sigler finished 12th in the event at Lake Dardanelle in mid-July. There were 133 teams from all over the country and Canada competing in the week-long event. Two years ago, Ball and now graduated Kendall Long finished fourth for the school’s highest placement to date.

“We just have a blast doing it,” NP fishing coach Robbie Walker said. “The format changed this year and that presented some new challenges, but we adjusted our approach and everything worked out pretty well for us.”

The NP team had to make a late decision to abandon its primary fishing spot when, in the final round, fish weren’t biting.

“We fished until about 11 and had one fish in the boat,” Walker said. I could tell the kids were getting discourage so I said let’s make a move. We turned back about 15 or 20 minutes and got caught in a storm. We went under a boat dock for about 15 minutes until the storm passed because the lightning was really popping out there. After the storm passed we ran up to a place we’d been before, and in the first three or four casts we had two fish in the boat. We had to be in by 2:45, so we kept fishing until right up until we had to leave, and in our last three casts we got two more fish and got our limit.”

The Saturday total for Ball and Sigler was 12.5 pounds.

“They averaged right at about 12 pounds every day of the tournament,” Walker said.

After two days of scouting the lake, North Pulaski settled on the same site it fished last year once competition began on Wednesday. Last year, the spot was all their own. That changed this year, and that’s why Walker believes the spot dried up on Saturday.

“We’ve never seen another team back there because it’s not an easy place to get to,” Walker said. “This year there were three or four other teams that followed us back in there. One team from Texas came in and dropped10 to 15 yards right in front of us. What they did wasn’t really illegal, but it was unethical for tournament fishing.

“The spot is only about a 150-yard stretch of bank, but it’s a deep drop in there and the bait fish will come in there. But it holds a limited number. It’s really good for about one team every other day. The way people were fishing it this year, it just wasn’t that big of a spot.”

This year, instead of accumulating weights each day of preliminaries, weights were zeroed after the second day on Thursday. The North Pulaski team had a great day on Wednesday and needed only to catch one fish on Thursday to qualify for Friday’s second round.

“We just ran around the lake and left our fish alone,” Walker said. “We caught one just playing around and then went back to our spot on Friday to try to get to the finals. I told the kids if we catch 12 pounds, we’ll be really close, but 12 pounds wouldn’t have got us to finals.”
The team again caught 12.5 and squeaked in as the last qualifier for Saturday.

There were 20 qualifiers and one wild card, so 21 teams made it to Saturday. We got 12th out of 133, so that’s a pretty good tournament.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

EDITORIAL >> They should cooperate

After some hesitation, Jacksonville and its chamber of commerce are beginning to join together in an effort to allow liquor sales in town.

The city council approved a resolution last week backing all efforts to get signatures for the election that would allow liquor to be sold by the drink in restaurants and beer and wine sales in grocery stores. Aldermen were pleased an individual stepped forward and offered to help do the job.

At issue is $600,000 a year that Jacksonville is losing in revenue, according to a University of Arkansas study, because 90 percent of the city is in the dry Gray Township.

Sherwood is also dealing with the same issue as 50 percent of it lies inside the dry or no-alcohol township.

Even North Little Rock has the problem in its Park Hill community.

The Sherwood and North Little Rock chambers of commerce are working to get signatures necessary for a vote on whether to stay dry or become completely wet.

Picture this scenario. Jacksonville fails to get the issue on the ballot while North Little Rock, which has about 65 percent of the signatures it needs, and Sherwood both get their elections and the residents say yes to have alcohol sold by the glass, plus beer and wine in grocery stores in all areas.

Supporters of the plan in Jacksonville say that should their effort fail, restaurants that serve alcohol will be calling on Sherwood and North Little Rock. And, sometime in the future, on a Saturday night, Little Rock Air Force Base residents and Jacksonville residents will get in their vehicles, bypass the local fast-food joints and give their money to the other cities. Meaning, instead of losing $600,000 a year, Jacksonville will lose millions.

There are those in Jacksonville who have taken a “laissez-faire” attitude toward getting the 4,400 signatures needed. The chamber so far has placed petitions in only five locations but a citizens group has come forward and is ready to push for a stronger petition drive. Still there are rumblings of opposition from chamber representatives and others.

We say this isn’t the time for squabbling amongst ourselves. This is the time to get on the bandwagon and actively pursue ways to bring income into Jacksonville. The city lost out when Sherwood annexed Gravel Ridge. Let’s actively pursue this stellar opportunity to expand economically.

Even those who are opposed to alcohol consumption should be able to look beyond that and see the economic benefit that could accompany the city going wet.

Let’s face it, when it comes to alcohol, you’re bound to rub some people the wrong way if you’re cheerleading too hard for booze.

One chamber member didn’t want to have petitions in his business because it must maintain a certain image, which is understandable.

Another wasn’t interested because he doesn’t live in Jacksonville anyway. Yet another was peeved because the city director of administration, as a resident who owns office and retail space in the city, donated space for a volunteer to set up shop in an effort to get signatures.

Why didn’t he offer the space to the chamber? It’s obvious. The chamber already has a very nice building and plenty of office space.

We need to get together so the controversy doesn’t split Jacksonville down the middle.

Should the chamber make the first move to shake hands with the mayor or should it be the other way around?

We say it doesn’t make any difference as long as it gets done. Put these squabbles aside and let’s get to work for Jacksonville since the rest of north Pulaski County could go wet and Lonoke and White counties are unlikely to change anytime soon.

Otherwise, North Little Rock and Sherwood could be smiling all the way to the bank.

TOP STORY >> Apply now for free or reduced lunches in PCSSD

Leader staff writer

The food services director for the Pulaski County Special School District urges parents to fill out applications now so that their children can receive free or reduced meals.

Reduced lunches cost 40 cents at both elementary and secondary schools. The regular price, which the district has not had to increase this year, is $2.50 for secondary students and $2.25 for elementary students.

The applications are available at every school and at the district office, 925 E. Dixon Road in Little Rock. “We try to make them available everywhere,” food services director Regina English said.

Most of the schools will send a packet of information home with the students and the applications will be in those too, she continued. Her office also mails some applications.

Eligibility for most is based on family income and size as compared to the poverty level set by the federal government.Families with incomes of 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Families with incomes of 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced meals.

Eligible incomes for free meals range from $14,937 for families with one child to $51,519 for families of eight. Eligible incomes for reduced meals range from $21,257 to $73,319.

Children whose families are members of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps, are categorically eligible for free meals. Students enrolled in Head Start/Even Start programs, the children of migrant workers and homeless children are eligible for the free meal program.

Foster children are eligible for free meals regardless of the incomes of their custodial families.

English explained that students who qualified for the federal program last year have 30 days from the first day of school to enjoy it before they must turn in a new application.

“(After) that is normally when we get them,” she said.

The district receives approximately 13,000 applications each year, English noted.

As for how many qualify, “our biggest year was 8,000 to 9,000,” she said. That is about 57 percent of the typical 18,000 enrolled.

English said she would love for the district to be at 63 percent or higher because it receives $500 in Title 1 funds from the U.S. Department of Education for each student on the free and reduced meal program.

“Students see that money. That goes to special testing and things they need in the classroom,” English explained.

It takes 10 days to process an application, so submitting them before the 30 days is up is highly recommended, she continued.

If a student’s application isn’t processed before then, the student can charge a meal three times. After that limit is reached, the student gets an alternative meal consisting of a grilled cheese sandwich or water, English said.

She noted that lot of parents don’t realize their children qualify for the program or don’t fill out an application because of the perceived stigma.

“It really helps the child to be able to receive a nutritious, healthy, full hot meal. A lot of parents think they don’t qualify, but they would be amazed at the guidelines and how lenient those are. I don’t want one (child) to go hungry. It saddens me,” she said.

English continued, “I had a daddy last year who took one of his kids off it because she was embarrassed.”

But the only people who see whether a student gets free or reduced meals are her staff of five, English said.

She explained that teachers, cafeteria workers, Superintendent Jerry Guess and others don’t have access to the names of students on the free and reduced meals program.

In other food service related news, PCSSD received a $3,000 grant to give students at Pinewood Elementary School, Robinson Middle School and Robinson High School the opportunity to eat breakfast in their classrooms.

The program will start the third week of school.

The $3,000 covers equipment, including a computer the cashier will use and insulated totes to keep meals either hot or cold.

TOP STORY >> Cops, property owners team up

Leader staff writer

To reduce crime at apartments, duplexes and rental houses in Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Police Department is holding training sessions for the Crime Free Multi-Housing program. After completing training, property managers become individually certified.

The program was started in 1992 in Mesa, Ariz. It has three parts. The first is an eight-hour training session for rental property management staff and maintenance workers.

For the second part, police officers to go out to the multifamily units and survey the security and crime prevention measures at the complex.

For the final part, the management holds a social gathering for residents to build community awareness, similar to a neighborhood watch block party.

After completion of the three phases, the property will be certified and property owners can post signs that the complex is part of the Crime Free Multi-Housing program.

Twenty-five rental property office personnel and maintenance workers attended Jacksonville Police’s first session on Thursday.

The group included managers and employees from the Chapel Ridge, Timberwood, Willow Bend, Lakeside Estates, Cross Keys, Eastfield and Jacksonville Housing Authority apartments and landlords who own several rental houses in the city.

Property owner Bart Gray said, “It is a reason that brings all of us together. We have many units here that represent the community. It takes a common approach to make a community. That is good for Jacksonville and our apartment neighbors.”

Lt. Brett Hibbs, who led the class, said Tammie Hester, district manager of Willow Bend Apartments brought the Crime Free Multi-Housing program to the attention of the police department.

“She told me about the program. Hester had rental property certified in Florida and thought it would be a good idea to do it here,” Hibbs said.

The only expense for the police department is the Crime Free Multi-Housing program signs that are placed on the rental properties after they are certified.

LaRhonda Collins, community manager for Willow Bend Apartments, said, “Everybody should be able to live in a community where kids can play outside.”

She noted that the 100-unit complex hires off-duty police officers five days a week.

Collins said Willow Bend’s staff is actively weeding out people who haven’t been paying rent, breaking lease agreements and dealing in illegal drugs.

Jaime Levecchia is agent-in-charge for Timberwood Apartments and oversees 56 units. She said she wants to clean up the crime at the apartment units, but has a hard time getting people out.

Many of the apartment and car break-ins are caused by the guests residents have over, Levecchia noted. “The police department comes by the office almost every week. I want to be pro-active and have a nice area for people to want to live there. I want a calm, crime-free property,” she said.

The Crime Free Multi-Housing program simply means crime will not be tolerated at the units and law-breaking tenants will be evicted.


One way to deter criminal activity at rental property is to stop it before it occurs, according to the program.

Apartment managers can interview the applicants, do a thorough background check, look into the applicants’ rental and criminal history. They can ask for two forms of ID, one with a photo, when people fill out applications and even attach a crime-free addendum to the applications that must be signed. It is easier to turn down applicants during the screening process than to evict them later, according to the program.

Rental property owners can also limit crime by keeping the property cared for. They can repair broken windows, remove graffiti and trim trees and bushes that can create hiding spots for criminals.

Use lighting that is directed and allows for a person to seen 100 feet away, the program states. Install metal fencing instead of wood fencing, which blocks the view and gives criminals a place to hide.

The program states that installing cameras that work, mirrors and closed-circuit TV and limiting access with gates and thorny bushes can increase security.

The program recommends installing peepholes in doors and deadbolt locks that fully extend the bolt into the jamb. The bolt should be at 1-inch. Three-inch screws should be used when installing door striker plates. Door jamb guards can provide extra strength and security. Windows need to have locks, anti-lift and anti-slide devices.

Neighborhood watches, courtesy patrol officers and hiring off-duty officers can deter crime, according to the program. Management can set curfews, require vehicle parking permits and resident ID cards too.

Things managers should watch out for include a chemical or marijuana smell in apartments, residents changing the locks or adding more, closed blinds, covered windows, renters who are reluctant to allow maintenance workers inside, drug residue on counters and tables, large amounts of baking soda, Sudafed, plastic baggies with the corners removed or very small green or blue Ziplock baggies.

The police can make an arrest, but they cannot evict someone. Only the landlord or apartment manager can do that.

TOP STORY >> Alleged killer is ruled fit for trial

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville man who was charged in March 2012 with the first-degree murder of Fire Capt. Donald “Donnie” Jones will be tried on Jan. 28 after a judge confirmed on Monday that he is mentally competent.

Bryce Allen Jr., 47, allegedly drove around emergency vehicles at 8411 S. Hwy. 161 and struck Jones, firefighter Jason Bowmaster and police officer Daniel DiMatteo with his van. The three men were responding to the scene of a single-vehicle accident involving Allen’s mother, Thelma. She struck a gas main and was not hurt.

Jones, a 31-year-veteran of the department, was the first Jacksonville firefighter to be killed in the line of duty.

Allen will appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Sept. 19 at the Pulaski County Circuit Court in Little Rock.

Circuit Court Judge Barry Sims, who ruled that Allen is mentally fit to stand trial, will preside over the hearing and the trial.

Bowmaster has not returned to duty.

Capt. Kenny Boyd of the Jacksonville Police Department said, “The department was glad to hear that progress has been made to hopefully reach a conclusion to this event on behalf of the Jacksonville Fire Department, Jacksonville Police Department and the families of the brave men that were affected by this tragedy.”

He said DiMatteo is back on patrol working the night shift and “the healing continues.”

The officer will probably receive a subpoena to the trial and testify, Boyd said.

Allen has a history of mental illness. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hallucinations and delusions that included paranoia involving the Ku Klux Klan.

According to the police report, Allen made no attempt to brake and even accelerated before hitting the three first responders. He also appeared to be aiming toward them, the report states.

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

Allen, who was an Army corporal from 1983-1986, told the psychologist who examined him in 2010 that he had been hospitalized eight times, mostly at Fort Roots Veterans Hospital in North Little Rock.

He has also been accused of hitting an Ohio police officer with his car in 2011.

The guard, who sustained a minor injury, was an off-duty policeman.

In March, Fire Station Four on Hwy. 161 was dedicated to Jones’ memory.

Construction of a Fallen Heroes Memorial Garden at the new public safety building on Marshall Road is under way.

The building contains the police department in addition to training classrooms and a couple offices for the fire department.

The garden, waterfall and monument will honor the city’s first responders who have died in the line of duty.

Jones’ is the only name on the planned monolithic monument. His uniform is also displayed in a glass case on the fire department’s side of the building. It is in front of the tornado shelter that doubles as an auditorium and training area.

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial White ends great season

Leader sports editor

Centennial Bank’s White junior team suffered an unceremonious end to season, but it was in a game that no other junior team from Cabot had ever qualified for. Cabot lost 15-1 in the semifinals of the Mid-South regional in Bryant, but not before beating Atlanta, Texas in the second round and winning a Centennial Bank record 34 games this season.

The final win came in Saturday’s second round, as southpaw Gavin Tillery tossed shut down Atlanta, giving up just five base hits and one earned run as Centennial Bank won 7-2.

Atlanta scored one run in each of the last two innings, but a huge top of the sixth for Cabot put them in control with a 6-0 lead.

Cabot scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning when leadoff hitter Lee Sullivan drew a one-out walk, and scored on three wild pitches.

In the decisive sixth, Sean Williams led things off by hitting a 3-0 pitch to left field for a double. Jonathan Latture then walked and Sullivan reached on a fielder’s choice in which everyone was safe.

Dylan Bowers then singled to left to score Williams and Chris Odom drove in Latture with a sacrifice fly to left field. Ground balls by Tillery and Brandon Jones led to two outs, but Jones’ drove in the third run of the inning.

Dalton Hurst then scorched a grounder to shortstop, where Atlanta’s Dellion Smith couldn’t handle it, leading to two more runs scored for the Panthers.

Cabot’s final run came in the last inning. Latture got a leadoff hit to centerfield. Sullivan reached on another E6 and Odom walked to load the bases. Tillery then took a pitch off his hip to score Latture and set the final margin.

Tillery and Hicks each finished the season with earned run averages below 2.00. Hicks had a 6-2 season record and a 1.85 ERA. Tillery went 8-3 with a 1.95 ERA. Chris Odom was also solid with a 4-2 record and a 3.68 ERA.

The Panthers also had some solid numbers offensively. Tillery was also the team’s leading hitter, but just by a hair over Hicks. Tillery had a .446 batting average with 41 RBIs, while Hicks hit .440 with 40 runs batted in on a team-high 161 plate appearances.

He also led the team in doubles with 17. Dylan Bowers was just barely under .400 at .398, and Odom wasn’t far behind at .391.

Latture led the team in home runs with two to go along with his .358 average and 28 RBIs.

SPORTS STORY >> Colts lose twice at state tourney

Leader sports editor

The Senior North Little Rock Colts made an earlier-than-expected exit from the state tournament in Mountain Home. After opening with a 9-3 win over the host team, the Colts blew a late lead to Bryant, then was blown out by Jonesboro on Monday.

North Little Rock’s win on Saturday came with the help of four Mountain Home errors. The Colts got the lead in the second inning after Dylan Huckaby singled and stole second base. He scored two batters later when Gunner Allen’s shot to shortstop was mishandled.

North Little Rock added three in the third, starting with a leadoff walk by Justin Wiegle. He stole second and advanced to third when the throw from home sailed into centerfield.

L.J. Wallace then singled to left-centerfield to drive in Weigle. Wallace also stole second, but was picked off and caught in a rundown. He ended up safe at third when the Locker Room team dropped the ball on the tag attempt.

Huckaby then singled to score Wallace. Jack Partlow then singled and Allen ripped a two-RBI base hit up the middle for a 5-0 Colts’ lead.

The host team’s only earned run came in the second on a leadoff single, two sacrifices and a base hit.

Allen and Huckaby added one more RBI apiece, one in the seventh and one in the eighth, and Mountain Home (19-18)gave up another unearned run to set the final margin.

The Colts paid back some of the gifts by giving up two unearned runs on two errors in the seventh.

Connor Eller was dominant on the mound for North Little Rock. He threw seven innings, giving up just four base hits and one earned run while striking out seven, walking three and hitting two batters.

Allen pitched the final two innings and gave up no hits and two walks to earn the save.

Allen and Huckaby combined to go 5 for 10 with five RBIs as the Colts improved to 32-4.

North Little Rock gave up three runs in the sixth inning to fall 5-4 to Bryant on Sunday. The loss on Monday was the worst one of the season for the Colts.

SPORTS STORY >> Bullets fall one strike short in state title game

Leader sports editor

A Lonoke player was heard saying, “that third out is a killer.” And that was the perfect summation Monday of the Remington Bullets’ 2-1 loss to Harrison in the American Legion AA state championship. Lonoke led 1-0 with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh inning against the tournament host. Then suddenly pitcher Blake Gooden’s dominance ended. Harrison reeled off back-to-back doubles to the wall in left field to tie the game, and a blooper just beyond the reach of first baseman Zack Risner drove in the game, and championship-winning run.

The Bullets were playing shorthanded and heavy-hearted. Christian and Madison James were home mourning the loss of their father, who died Saturday. With the starting catcher and starting third baseman gone, the Bullets were down to 10 players, and were playing players in positions they weren’t used to.

“These guys have nothing to hang their heads about and I just couldn’t be more proud of them,” Remington coach Steve Moore said. “To fight through everything they’ve been through and then come out here and play like this and almost win a state championship, there’s no way I could be any prouder of them.”

The Bullets were also the victims of bad luck on a few occasions, not the least of which was the last base hit of the game, which came on a Gooden pitch that completely fooled the batter. A last second decision to fight off the pitch resulted in a late poke at the lower outside corner, and it fell in perfectly for the home team. But there were other instances.

Twice Lonoke (17-10-2) loaded the bases with one out, and twice Gooden hit hard line drives. The first time was in the top of the fifth inning. Gooden pulled a hard grounder down the third baseline, where Harrison was playing him. A quick step onto the bag and a throw home got the double play and ended the inning.

In the seventh inning, Gooden ripped a line drive down the first baseline, but the ball hit teammate Josh Mathis in the ankle for one out, and dribbled towards the line where the first baseman only had to pick it up and touch the bag to get out of the jam.

“That would’ve been at least a double for sure,” Moore said. “It could’ve changed the game, but that’s just baseball. Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes they go against you.”

Gooden had only given up two base hits through six and two-thirds innings before Harrison ripped off the three straight to win it. But there was help from the defense.

Earlier in the game, Lonoke shortstop Gage Johnson made a relay throw from well into left field that hit catcher Shane Pepper right on the baseline corner of the right batters box, halting a Harrison runner in his tracks at third. Lonoke got the next two outs without allowing the run to score.

Lonoke’s one run came in the fifth inning when Lane Moore singled to lead things off. Two batters later with one out, Nick Watson hit a fly ball deep into left field to score Moore on the sacrifice.

Only Moore, Gage Johnson, Pierce Johnson and Risner got base hits for Lonoke.

To get to the championship game, the Bullets needed a superb pitching performance for a first-round win over Pangburn, then a lot of runs to stay in the winners’ bracket. They got both to advance to the semifinals before dropping a game to Harrison on Sunday. That led to the elimination game on Monday.

In game one against Pangburn, Halbert threw six-and-a-third innings, giving up just four hits and one earned run while striking out seven and walking only one. He needed to be just that good as the Lonoke team scored just three runs for a 3-2 victory.

Pangburn’s Johnny Miller also gave up just four hits and one earned run, but Lonoke took advantage of a few Pangburn fielding mistakes and made the most of its opportunities. Miller struck out 12 Lonoke batters while also walking just one.

Lonoke got its first run when Gooden reached second base on an error at shortstop. Pepper moved him to third on a grounder, and Gooden scored on a passed ball during Moore’s at bat.

The Bullets made it 2-0 in the next inning after getting its two leadoff hitters on base. Halbert struck out, but reached first base on a strike-three passed ball. Johnson then walked and Watson advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher. Christian James got the RBI with a sacrifice grounder to third base that scored Halbert.

Pangburn finally scored in the top of the fifth when Miller reached second base on an error, then scored on a Josh Bell single to left field.

No one scored again until the bottom of the sixth when Lonoke added an insurance run it turned out to need.

Moore got a leadoff single and Halbert was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Johnson then singled to load the bases with no outs, but Miller turned up the heat. He struck out the next three batters, but Moore was able to score on a passed ball during Watson’s at bat.

The error proved costly, as Pangburn added a run in the top of the seventh on another infield error. Gooden closed the game, getting the last two batters to strike out and ground out to shortstop.

Saturday’s game was totally different, with the Bullets pounding out 15 base hits in a 12-9 win over Hot Springs Lakeside. The Rams compiled 13 base hits, but also committed three errors that helped the Bullets take the win.

Five Bullets got multiple hits in the second-round game, led by three each by Moore and Halbert. Mathis, Risner and Pepper got two hits apiece while Gooden, Watson and Pierce Johnson got one each.

Moore and Mathis threw for Lonoke. Both have been excellent this season and even dominant of late, but Lakeside had the answer for both on Saturday. All nine Ram runs were earned as Lonoke committed no errors.

Remington scored four runs in the top of the first inning, only to see Lakeside match it in the bottom half of the same frame. Lonoke then scored two more in the second and added three in the third – two feats the Rams couldn’t match as Lonoke took a 9-4 lead into the fourth inning.

They made it 11-4 in the top of the fourth, but Lakeside finally got back on the board with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Lonoke added a run in the top of the sixth before Lakeside put together another four-run inning in the bottom of the sixth.

After watching Mathis struggle in the sixth, he decided to stick with him in the seventh inning, and his gamble paid off. Mathis got a pop up to second base, gave up a double to centerfield, got a fly out to right and clinched the game with a grounder to third.

In the first meeting with Harrison, Lonoke led 4-2 after five innings, but gave up a three-run sixth and lost, despite out-hitting the host team 9-5. Four errors, two of which came in the decisive sixth inning, aided Harrison’s victory.

The Bullets had to beat a familiar foe earlier in the day to advance to the championship nightcap. They beat White Hall for the third time this season 9-5. Just like in the win over Lakeside, both teams had big first innings, scoring three runs each. And just like against Lakeside, Remington began to pull away with runs in the second and third while not allowing any.

Risner led the way offensively in that game, going 3 for 4 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored. Half of Lonoke’s 10 hits were doubles. Halbert hit one for two RBIs while Gooden and Watson added extra base hits.

Mathis got the win on the mound with four and two-thirds of work. He gave up just four hits and one earned run, but struggled at times with control, walking two and hitting four batters.

SPORTS STORY >> Stellar summer finished

Leader sports editor

The season didn’t end with a regional championship, but it was still a phenomenal run made by the Jacksonville Junior American Legion team.

The Gwatney Chevrolet squad closed the season on Monday with an 11-0 loss to regional host and champion Bryant, but won games en route to a district championship, a state runner up and a regional semifinal appearance.

After beating the Texas state champion on the first round of the regional on Friday, Jacksonville lost 2-0 to the Little Rock Cobras to fall to the losers’ bracket. It was the first loss to the Cobras in four meetings this season.

Once in the losers’ bracket, Gwatney faced an even more familiar foe in Cabot-Centennial Bank, and hammered the rival 15-1 as the Panther pitching struggled to throw strikes throughout the game on Sunday.

Things began poorly for the Chevy Boys in Sunday’s match up, as two fielding errors by pitcher Blake Perry led to the first and only run of the game for Cabot.

Perry pitched his way out of the jam in the first inning and got some help from poor base running by Cabot.

Centennial Bank leadoff hitter Lee Sullivan bounced one slowly back to Perry, but he failed to haul it in and wasn’t able to make a throw to first. Dylan Bowers then bunted back to the mound. Perry bobbled it, then his throw to first was wide and sailed into foul territory in right field. That allowed Sullivan to score and left Bowers safe at third base with no outs. Chris Odom hita hard grounder to shortstop and Bowers tried to score on the play. He was thrown out easily by shortstop Derek St. Clair. Gavin Tillery then hit a grounder to short for a 6-4 fielder’s choice, and Jonathan Latture flew out to right field to end the inning.

Centennial never got a hit off Perry, who dominated the rest of the game and threw his third no hitter of the season for the win.

Odom took the mound for Cabot and struggled to find the strike zone. The right-hander has pitched well this season, well enough to earn a few spot appearances for the senior team, but didn’t have it on Sunday.

St. Clair hit a leadoff double of the head of left fielder Austin Null. Odom walked Ryan Mallison and Perry to load the bases for catcher and cleanup hitter Greg Jones. Jones also ripped a double all the way to the wall in left, scoring all three base runners.

Odom finally settled in and didn’t give up another run in the inning, despite having a man at third with no outs. But he ran into trouble quickly again in the second and left the game after just an inning and a third.

Trevor Ransom and Laderrious Perry, Gwatney’s eight and nine hitters, combined to go 5 for 6 with five RBIs, two walks and two runs scored.

They started their tear in the second inning. Ransom led off with a single to left field. Laderrious Perry tried twice to bunt him over, but sent both bunts foul. Way behind in the count, he slapped a 1-2 pitch into the power alley in right-centerfield for an RBI triple.

He scored on a wild pitch during St. Clair’s at bat. The shortstop grounded out to third, but Mallison got another rally going with an infield single on a check swing that worked like a perfect bunt to shortstop.

Odom then walked Blake Perry and was finished for the day. Sullivan took the mound and also struggled, walking the first two batters he faced, the second for an RBI.

After getting Brandon Hickingbotham to fly out to centerfield, he walked James Tucker and gave up another single to Ransom, his second of the inning. He then walked Laderrious Perry, finishing his day with just one out recorded, four walks and one base hit allowed.

Null took the mound and got St. Clair to fly out to left to end the inning with Jacksonville leading 9-1.

Null started the third just like he ended the second, but getting Mallison to fly out to left. But he walked the next two and gave up a single to Courtland McDonald to load the bases.

He then walked Hickingbotham to make it 10-1. Tucker hit into what should have been an inning-ending double play, but the relay throw from second base was wild, allowing one run to score and leaving everyone safe. Ransom then walked and Null’s day was finished.

Tyler Gilbert took the mound and gave up an RBI single to Perry to make it 13-1, but struck out St. Clair and got Mallison to pop up to shortstop to end the inning.

Jacksonville’s last two runs came on four singles in the fourth, once each by Blake Perry, McDonald, Tucker and Ransom, who finished the day 3 for 3 with three RBIs and a run scored.

Laderrious Perry and McDonald got two hits apiece while Blake Perry went 1 for 1 with three walks and scored four runs.

Cabot pitchers walked 11 Jacksonville batters, while the Gwatney team compiled 12 base hits.