Thursday, December 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils suffer first loss with road trip to WMHS

Special to The Leader

WEST MEMPHIS – The last time they faced West Memphis, the Jacksonville Red Devils had no trouble building a 25-point first-half lead. On Tuesday night at Lehr Arena, they couldn’t even come close to that.

West Memphis avenged a 68-65 loss to the Red Devils on Nov. 15 by shooting 55.2 percent from the field and outrebounding Jacksonville 35-21 for a 70-57 win.
Although Jacksonville (4-1) had three brief leads, once the Blue Devils got hot toward the end of the second quarter it seemed there was nothing the visitors could do to curtail the roll.

“Right now we’ve just lost some mental focus,” said Jacksonville head coach Vic Joyner. “We’ve got a lot of moody folks right now, and they’re thinking about themselves only.”

Jacksonville came out of the gate strong enough, taking a 16-15 lead early in the second quarter on a rebound basket by LaQuan Smith.

The Red Devils’ last lead was 31-26 with two minutes left before halftime. And it looked like Jacksonville had West Memphis (5-2) trapped in a corner as three of its top rebounders had already collected their third fouls.

With Blue Devil big men Jevon Bernard, Vakeyemus Davis and Divontia Hyland parked on the bench with foul trouble, West Memphis took off anyway on a 24-4 run that stretched into the third quarter.

West Memphis scored the final nine points of the first half to take a 35-31 lead into halftime. Then it went on a 15-4 run to start the third quarter to take a 50-35 lead with 2:22 left in the stanza.

“West Memphis played well, and I tip my hat to them, but they weren’t our enemy tonight,” Joyner said. “Right now we’re our own worst enemy. It’s something we have to correct in-house.”

West Memphis head coach Larry Bray responded to foul trouble on his big men by going with a smaller lineup and it paid dividends.

“I was so happy with how we played with that smaller lineup that I decided to stay with it,” said Bray. “Basketball’s a game of momentum, and I decided to keep doing what got us the lead.”

The Blue Devils owned two 16-point leads in the fourth quarter, but Jacksonville was able to chop it down to 11 points with 1:35 left after a three-pointer by Devin Campbell, who led all scorers with 19 points.

But the Blue Devils got a dunk on the other end from reserve Dyone Lunzy with 1:03 left to make it 68-55.

Jacksonville shot only 10 of 26 (38.4 percent) in the second half, although it committed only nine turnovers for the game and forced 16 West Memphis miscues.
Tedrick Wolfe added nine points for Jacksonville while Kerry Knight pumped in eight.

Despite the early foul trouble, West Memphis was still able to get 18 points from Hyland while junior Gary Henderson and Bernard each scored 15.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke escapes Mayflower

Leader sportswriter

CONWAY – Lonoke got a scare from class 3A Mayflower at the end of Wednesday’s semifinal round of the St. Joseph Classic, but the Jackrabbits made just enough plays down the stretch to stay undefeated and win 63-58 and advance to the tournament championship game.

Lonoke (3-0) led by 13 points in the fourth quarter, but Mayflower (4-2) didn’t give in, and steadily chipped away at the Jackrabbits’ lead.

Back-to-back baskets by senior guard/forward Blake Mack put the Rabbits up 51-38 with 5:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, but by the 4:50 mark of the period, the Eagles trimmed Lonoke’s lead to 51-44 on back-to-back three-pointers by juniors Hayden Long and Drew Duncan.

Later in the quarter, in the game’s final minutes, Mayflower managed to cut the deficit to four on two separate occasions. But Lonoke senior shooting guard Darian Young answered with three-pointers on each ensuing possession to push the Jackrabbits’ lead back to seven each time.

Mayflower though, followed Young’s second three of that span with a 5-0 run to make it a two-point game, with Lonoke leading 57-55 with 1:30 to play. A loose ball foul near the one-minute mark put Mack on the free-throw line for a one-and-one opportunity, and Mack calmly drained both free throws to push the Rabbits’ lead to 59-55.

The Eagles failed to score on their next possession, and had to foul. That sent senior guard Tykel Gray to the line, and Gray made both free throws to make it 61-55 Lonoke with 16.8 seconds remaining.

Mayflower scored its final points less than seven seconds later on a baseline three-pointer by Duncan to make it a three-point game. The Jackrabbits successfully inbounded the ball to Gray, and in the waning seconds, Gray sealed the game and set the final score with two more clutch free throws.

“They made a good run,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “We made some mental mistakes. We weren’t very disciplined at times and that cost us. And (Mayflower) shot it well.”

Campbell obviously would have liked to have seen his team put Mayflower away much sooner and in less dramatic fashion. But even with Wednesday’s game being as close as it was, Lonoke is still unbeaten, and has managed to win its first three games despite not being together very long as a complete team with the school’s playoff run in football, and the recent Thanksgiving break cutting back on valuable practice time.

“You can only do so much in practice,” Campbell said. “We’ve had these guys about a week and a half, but it hasn’t been a straight week and a half of practice with the break and Thanksgiving. So we’re still learning on the go and we’re still trying to get some things fixed.”

Lonoke narrowly outpointed Mayflower 12-11 in the first quarter, but had a productive run in the second to go into halftime with a 33-21 lead. The Jackrabbits grabbed their largest lead at the 5:57 mark of the third quarter on Young’s first three-pointer of the second half, which put Lonoke up 36-19.

By the end of the quarter though, the Eagles cut the Rabbit lead to nine, with the score 45-36. Senior point guard Jamel Rankin put Lonoke back up double digits at the start of the fourth with a driving acrobatic layup. Mack followed Rankin’s bucket with his back-to-back baskets to make it 51-38 in Lonoke’s favor.

Lonoke got the win despite being outrebounded 27-21 by Mayflower. The Jackrabbits did win the turnover battle, as they forced 20 Eagle turnovers, 11 of which were takeaways. Lonoke finished with 13 turnovers.

The two teams were nearly identical at the free-throw and three-point lines, percentage-wise. Lonoke finished the game 9 of 15 from the charity stripe for 60 percent, and 6 of 16 from three-point range for 38 percent. Mayflower was 11 of 18 from the line for 61 percent, and 7 of 18 from beyond the arc for 39 percent.

Long led all scorers with 25 points, but Mack finished with a team-high 24 points. He also had seven rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Rankin finished with 15 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals. Young scored 13, 11 of which came in the second half. Gray added eight.

The Jackrabbits advanced to the semifinal round of the invitational tournament by defeating class 5A Vilonia 59-43 on Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Arkansas women defeat Kansas on road

Arkansas Communications

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Keira Peak tied her season-high with 20 points to lead four Razorbacks in double-digit scoring, as the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (9-0) earned a 64-53 road win over Kansas (4-4) inside Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday.

Hitting a key three-pointer late in the game and adding clutch free throws to close it out, freshman Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville scored 15 points, junior Calli Berna of Fayetteville poured in 14 points and Wichita, Kan., native junior Jhasmin Bowen added 10 points in the win. The group marked the fifth time in nine games this season in which four Razorbacks reached double digits.

“We’ve had a lot of quizzes and we aced all the quizzes. This was our first test,” head coach Tom Collen said. “I wouldn’t say we got an A-plus, but I would say we might have gotten an A or an A-minus. I think we made some mistakes, but we survived, fought them off and made free throws when we needed them. I couldn’t be more pleased with them in their first test.”

Kansas cut the Arkansas lead to 52-47 with 3:23 left to play, but it was Jackson with a late three-pointer that brought the Jayhawks faithful back down into their seats, extending the Razorback lead back to 57-51 with just under two minutes to play. Jackson and Berna added key free throws late to preserve the win and keep the Razorbacks unbeaten.
Arkansas opened the night with a 9-5 lead by the first media timeout.

Peak led all scorers early with five points, including a nice drive to the basket with contact for the and-one bucket. Bowen and Jackson chipped in with two points each, as the Razorbacks began on 44 percent shooting from the floor.

The top-ranked defense in the country went to work early, as the Razorbacks held the Jayhawks to just 18 percent (2-for-11) shooting and five turnovers over the first eight minutes. Kansas natives Kelsey Brooks and Bowen each recorded an early steal, as the Jayhawks were held to just 14 points over the first 15 minutes and UA opened up a 21-14 lead.

Whether it was coming up with steals on defense, drawing charges or just scoring the basketball, Peak carried the Razorbacks on the road in the first half.

The lone senior finished the first frame with 11 points on 55 percent (5-9 FG) shooting, adding in two rebounds, a block and a steal.

Trailing since holding the early 3-2 lead, an offensive resurgence from the Jayhawks helped them regain the lead with 17 seconds left in the half. Berna responded by drawing a foul and hitting a pair of free throws with four seconds to go, giving the Razorbacks a 31-30 lead at the break. Berna (5 pts), Bowen (5) and Jackson (7) combined for 17 points in the first half.

Kansas took a 37-36 lead with 15:07 to play, as CeCe Harper was up to 13 points on 55 percent shooting, adding four rebounds and four assists. The Jayhawks received a boost from their bench, outscoring the Razorback reserves 10-0. Turnovers evened up as well, with both teams committing 12 mistakes.

Veterans Peak and Berna took over in the second half, as the two combined for 11 of the Razorbacks’ 14 points out of halftime and helped boost UA’s lead to 45-41 with 11:56 left. Berna was a perfect 2-for-2 with two second-half assists, while Peak was 3-for-4 and hauled down two rebounds.

After the Razorbacks had built up a nine-point lead, a mini 6-2 run from the Jayhawks helped tighten the game back up at 52-47 with 3:23 to play. Berna, Jackson and Peak came up with key plays down the stretch to finish things off late, as the Razorbacks fended off a late Jayhawk rally and came out with the road victory. Arkansas finished the game on a 10-0 run to secure the victory.

Having played three straight road games in six days, Arkansas returns home for a five-game homestand to close out its nonconference schedule, beginning with Northwestern State (4-2) at 7 p.m. today at Walton Arena.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills dominates Beebe

Leader sports editor

One thing Sylvan Hills and Beebe proved on Tuesday night was that comparing scores in high school basketball gets you nowhere. Both teams opened their seasons against Vilonia. Beebe beat the Eagles at home while Sylvan Hills lost to them on the road, but that meant nothing on Tuesday.

The Bears hounded and hassled the Badgers into a terrible shooting performance, while executing their own offense with precision. The result was a 70-36 mercy-rule whipping of the Badgers in Sherwood.

“I was not a happy coach this week in practice,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “We just went out there at Vilonia and played comfortable and never really showed any intensity. This game and that game were light and dark. I was very pleased with our defensive intensity, very pleased with our execution. We attacked the boards well. Just a much better effort. Still got a long ways to go though.”

The game began with the two teams trading baskets and defensive stops. Much like the last two meetings between the future conference mates, the first quarter looked like the beginning of a game that would go down to the wire.

The Badgers actually led 15-13 at the end of the first period, but senior point guard Tanner Chapman picked up his third foul with 2.2 seconds left in the quarter. His absence in the second quarter was highlighted by Sylvan Hills’ decision to put pressure on the basketball for the length of the court, and often times trapping out of the half-court set.

Davis said the defensive switch wasn’t because of the point guard’s foul trouble.

“No, that was something we were going to do regardless,” Davis said. “It probably took a little more of a toll on them not having (Chapman) in there. But I think we continued to pull away from them even after he came back in the game.”

With guard play compromised, Beebe tried to attack the inside with center Zach Baker, and the 6-foot-5 senior was effective. What wasn’t effective was Beebe’s outside shooting. Tyler Childress made the team’s first attempt from three-point range of the night, and the Badgers missed all the rest of their 14 subsequent attempts.

The Bears shot well from everywhere. They were 5 of 12 from three-point range, and got several layups off penetrations, transition and offensive rebounds.

Sylvan Hills outrebounded Beebe 35-20. Only four Badgers got a rebound, with Baker’s 10 and Reggie Blackmon’s six accounting for 80 percent of them.

Davis started the game with both of his point guards on the floor, and the combination was more than Beebe could handle. Sophomores Cordy Winston and Sam Williams scored 17 and 16 points respectively.

Winston got 12 of his in the third quarter, including three-consecutive three pointers, while Williams did most of his damage by driving by defenders and getting open shots from close range.

“That’s why I put him in there and moved him over to the two,” Davis said of Williams. “He’s grown a lot. He’s playing much tougher than he used to. We knew he had the ability, and we’ve been waiting to see things start to come together. He could be a real threat for us.”

The Bears also got 15 points and seven rebounds from forward Aumonie Armond, who also scored in a variety of ways, but mostly off dishes by penetrating guards. He even got a pair of buckets off good interior passing by senior post player David Johnson.

Johnson scored four points and led the Bears with 10 rebounds.

Beebe’s Baker led all scorers with 19 points and added 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.

Beebe was 32 percent from the field on 15 of 47 shooting, and was 5 of 13 from the foul line.

Sylvan Hills shot 47 percent on 26 of 55 shooting from the floor, and made 11 of 16 free throws.

The Bears will play at Malvern on Tuesday while the Badgers will take part in the Modern Woodmen Classic in Morrilton that begins on Monday.

EDITORIAL >> Remembering Pearl Harbor

There are fewer and fewer people alive today who personally witnessed the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, but two live locally — James Atkinson, 87, and Charlie Flynt, 91.

Yes, the attack was 72 years ago today, but it is one event in our history that should not be forgotten nor diminished.

The early Sunday morning Japanese attack on our Navy and other military forces on the island of Oahu claimed thousands of lives. Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, Kaneohe Naval Air Station, Bellows Field and Ewa Marine Corps Air Station were all bombed.

Reports put the military toll at 2,402 dead and 1,247 injured, including 1,177 who died when the USS Arizona went down.

But the damage was not restricted to just military sites. The attack also took about 70 civilian lives.

Newspaper reports from that fateful day made it clear that no one was safe anywhere on Oahu that morning.

One shell fell near Washington Place, the residence of Territorial Gov. Joseph Poindexter. An entire family of eight or nine people was reportedly killed “by a bomb” on the streets in Honolulu. A wood frame house was “split in half” at Fort and School streets. Five other people died in an explosion in another Honolulu neighborhood and shrapnel ripped through numerous apartment buildings.

Atkinson was a lively and spry 16-year-old living east of Pearl Harbor. He heard the explosions and saw the planes. “I saw puffs of smoke. Pearl Harbor was a mile and a half away. My Knees were shaking.

Atkinson remembers the Japanese bombing a store where the Navy could get hardware to repair the ships and bakery truck being used to deliver blood supplies and bandages to city hall.

Charlie Flynt, 90, of Cabot was a boatswain’s mate first class on the USS Ramsay.

The morning of the Day of Infamy, Flynt was a 19-year-old cleaning up the mess hall before the noon meal.

“We were sitting across the channel from the Utah, in Pearl City, the northwest part of Pearl Harbor. They came in there and dumped two to three torpedoes and hit the Utah. When I heard them, I thought our ship was hit. It seemed like we jumped 10 feet out of the water — Whoomp! The vibration was great. Something was going on here. I got the cobwebs out of my brain. I glimpsed up and saw a plane with an orange ball. I knew it was the Japanese,” Flynt said.

“The officer on deck rang up on several quarters and we ran for the gun. I got off six to eight rounds really quick,” he told The Leader last year.

He said it was hard to tell if he hit any of the Japanese planes, they were coming in from all sides.

“We got hit by a shell, places were hit all around us, (we were) very fortunate,” Flynt said.

The sudden, violent demise of roughly 60 noncombatant bystanders would have triggered major headlines if they had not been overshadowed by military losses a staggering 40 times higher.

Popular broadcaster Webley Edwards was the first to interrupt normal Sunday radio programming, urgently saying, “Pearl Harbor is under attack. This is no drill!”

Those words need to stay with us as the survivors of the attack succumb to old age, and we get to carry on — only because of their bravery and dedication.

A heartfelt thanks to each of them.

TOP STORY >> Cabot man saluted by Taco Bell

Cabot resident Todd Mills, 41, who passed away on Thanksgiving after a battle with brain cancer, is being remembered around the country for helping to make Doritos tacos at Taco Bell a huge success.

Those tacos have sold more than $1 billion worldwide since it was introduced last year.

Taco Bell donated $1,000 toward Mills’ medical expenses.

Mills was known for founding the Facebook page “Taco Shells from Doritos Movement” to raise support to get Taco Bell and Frito-Lay to collaborate and create the Doritos Locos Taco. He had originally pitched the idea to Frito-Lay in 2009, but the company rejected the idea.

Frito Lay flew him to California, where he toured the Dorito plant.

A release on about Mills’ contribution to the Dorito taco says, “We know this is a tragic time for Todd’s family. He was a huge Taco Bell fan. He was passionate about the Doritos Locos Taco, and although he did not invent it, he founded a Facebook page to drum up support. In light of his passion, we invited him to be one of the first to try it. He became a true friend of the brand, so when we learned of his ill health, we made a $1,000 donation towards his medical expenses. We will miss Todd very much and our hearts are with his family and friends in this difficult time.”

Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed in March called the Dorito-Loco Taco, which has a near-fanatical following among Taco Bell customers, “the biggest launch in Taco Bell history.”

Mills’ supporters took to the “Taco Shells from Doritos Movement” page to express disappointment in the corporations involved in making the Doritos Loco Tacos.

A follower named Niz Judy posted, “So, Taco Bell made billions and Todd made zero? I will never buy another taco until I hear that family was compensated. A few million will not hurt your wallet, think of his girls!”

Another, Diane L. Loberger posted “To the family of Todd Mills our thoughts and prayers are with you. We thank Todd for his wonderful idea of the Doritos taco shell. Taco Bell and Frito Lay need to step up and do the right thing by admitting this was Todd’s creation. The greed of these companies is outrageous. They owe Todd so much. I do hope they will share some of the billions they made from Todd’s creation with your family. A $1,000 come on Taco Bell and Frito Lay be generous and show your integrity please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Mills was the vice president of communications and marketing at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Although his life was brief, Mills lived a full life. He graduated high school in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1990 and joined the Air Force in 1992.

In the Air Force, he was a K-9 policeman and trained dogs in Panama for a year. While stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, he was President Clinton’s personal escort whenever he traveled to Arkansas. Todd and his dog Henry worked the Atlanta Olympics bombing case in 1996.

Todd was an accomplished bass player and played in a band.

He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in industrial writing. He loved working on computers. He also loved fishing and golfing.

He married Ginger Hickey in 1998 and they enjoyed 15 years together.

TOP STORY >> District looks to unitary status

Leader senior staff writer

Even as the parties to the 1989 desegregation agreement stand on the brink of a historic end to its terms and requirements, the Pulaski County Special School District and the Joshua Intervenors are in the process of crafting a new plan to ensure completion of unitary status throughout the district.

PCSSD, the North Little Rock and Little Rock school districts, the Joshua Intervenors, the Knight Intervenors and the state Education Department have agreed on a plan to wind down that agreement. U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. has approved that settlement, pending the results of a Jan. 13 fairness hearing in his court.

That settlement would allow Jacksonville-area residents to move forward with forming their own school district, would phase out inter-district majority-to-minority transfers and magnet schools, and would relieve the state of its obligation to pay the three districts a total of $67 million a year after the 2017-2018 school year.

If and when Jacksonville/north Pulaski County detaches from PCSSD, the unitary — that’s desegregation — requirements will apply to the new district as well.

“This is nothing ominous or of concern,” PCSSD interim Superintendent Jerry Guess said Thursday. “It does not affect the other thing (tentative desegregation agreement settlement). They are separate and apart.”

“We hope to get a magistrate to tell us how to proceed,” he said.

“Whether or not PCSSD is unitary is not an issue in the fairness hearing,” said Allen Roberts, an attorney representing the district.

“The district and Joshua are on a path likely to lead to unitary status in a reasonable amount of time,” Roberts added.

Both the Little Rock and North Little Rock districts already have been declared unitary, so if Marshall approves the desegregation settlement agreement, they will be free and clear.

PCSSD and the Joshua Interveners were to have begin sorting out the areas in which the district was and was not unitary with a series of hearing beginning in August 2013, but that and some subsequent hearings were postponed to accommodate medical problems of John Walker, who represents the interveners.

The next hearing was to have been earlier this week, but Walker and Roberts realized they needed more time, Roberts said Thursday.

Roberts said he believes that Marshall will appoint a magistrate to referee the unitary issues between PCSSD and the interveners.

There are nine areas in which PCSSD has not been declared unitary, and “We’ve got a stipulation that there are five areas ripe for settlement,” according to Whitney Moore, an Fuqua Campbell attorney who works with Roberts on school issues.

“The goal is to get three of them agreed to prior to referring six others to a magistrate,” she said Thursday.

The “ripe” areas include equity in one-race classrooms, staffing, special education, talented and gifted/AP programs, and monitoring.”

The four others include facilities, which could take a decade, scholarship, discipline and student achievement, Moore said.

In the mid-’90s, PCSSD was declared unitary in four areas, including elementary gifted and talented and counseling, she said.

Guess explained it like this: “There are two different issues—one is inter-district, the other is intra-district.”

The inter-district issue is the subject of tentative the desegregation agreement settlement likely to be settled by Marshall after the mid-January fairness hearing.

The intra-district issue involves PCSSD and the Joshua Interveners and focuses on whether or not the district is unitary in a host of areas.

“If we can’t come up with a solution, we’ll ask Marshall to appoint a magistrate,” Guess said.

TOP STORY >> Weather whips area

Leader staff writer

With the winter storm, tracked by area meteorologists for almost a week, rushing into central Arkansas Thursday afternoon, Jacksonville city officials were hurrying to gather up cots from Little Rock Air Force Base for a warming center.

Jim Durham, the city’s director of administration, said residents in need of warmth could come to the community center. “That’s where we are setting up everything. But if the power goes out, we will move everything to the safe room at the new public-safety building off Marshall Road.”

Durham said the backup generator that keeps the city’s 911 operations afloat during power outages could power the safe room lights and heat.

The city’s other safe room, in the senior center in Sunnyside, does not have back-up power and will not be opened.

In Cabot, the Veterans Park Community Center, located across from the High School on Lincoln Street, will open as a warming center for those without power, according to Brandi Clyburn, administrative assistant to the mayor.

The storm brought in frigidly cold air, dropping temperatures into the teens at times, meaning the wind chill was in single digits.

The storm, which is predicted to linger over most of the state through the weekend, dropped cold rain, sleet and ice and light snow on central Arkansas, causing most public schools and a number of scheduled events to close or cancel Friday and Saturday.

Little Rock Air Force Base initiated its “essential personnel only” policy for Friday.

It did not feel like winter ahead of the front. On Wednesday, it was 79 degrees at Monticello, 78 degrees at Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and 77 degrees locally.

But in less than 24 hours, temperatures hovered in the low 40s and 30s.

A cold drizzle started late Thursday afternoon and turned to freezing rain and sleet as Friday dawned. The ice continued through Friday and eventually brought in a few flurries.

Up to a half-inch of ice fell in some local areas making roads treacherous and limited travel.

Icy buildup on power lines caused some outages.

As the storm was entering the local area, officials at Entergy, the state’s largest electrical provider, said, “We are positioning crews in centrally-located areas close to where they will be needed to restore power. Entergy crews and contractors are prepared to work long hours after the storm passes, restoring service to customers as quickly and as safely as possible.

“We can restore power faster in areas with less damage. Some of the hardest-hit areas could take longer. We will know more after the storm passes and we are able to fully assess damages,” Entergy said.

First Electric serves more than 88,000 member accounts throughout 17 counties in central and southeast Arkansas. The cooperative is headquartered in Jacksonville, and co-op officials said crews and contractors are staged throughout their system and ready to restore power in the event of widespread outages.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle hits road to face powerhouse in semifinal

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Bison are back to the class 2A state semifinals for the fourth time in the last eight years, but will face their toughest test to date Friday when they travel to the Arkansas/Louisiana border to face the defending state champion Junction City Dragons. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Junction City (11-0), the No. 1 team in class 2A, has won three of the past five state championships, and has the talent and experience to win its fourth 2A championship since 2008.

The undefeated Dragons have had little resistance thus far in their quest for another state title, as they beat Gurdon 25-6 in the second round of the playoffs, and dominated Hector in last week’s quarterfinal matchup 51-7.

“There’s no doubt they’re probably the most talented team we’ll see all year by far, and they have the tradition to go along with it,” said Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree. “They have the playmakers. They have a running back who’s unbelievable in the Dancy kid.

“Their quarterback does a really good job of making throws. They used to not be able to throw it like they can now. Several years ago when Carlisle played them and Byran Jones (University of Arkansas) was there and all of those guys, they were a power-running team. Now they operate a lot out of the Spread, so it gives them a different dynamic.”

Even though the Dragons can and will throw it with junior quarterback Randall Holyfield, who has passed for 1,400 yards and 23 touchdowns this fall with just four interceptions, Barbaree said the defending state champs will run the ball between 60 and 65percent of the time out of the Spread.

One of Holyfield’s favorite targets is a big one in tight end Jamario Bell (6-6, 225; 4.9 speed), who’s been offered a scholarship by the U of A.

Pacing the Dragons’ backfield is national recruit Jaqwis Dancy (5-11, 182; 4.5 speed), who ran for 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago. This season, Dancy has 1,331 yards. Another playmaker the Bison will need to try and contain at all times is versatile junior Keandre Evans.

Last week against Hector, Evans scored touchdowns on a 75-yard kickoff return, a 5-yard run, and a 65-yard interception return. Junction City is 2-0 all-time against the Bison. The two tradition-rich schools last met in the 2008 semifinals. The Dragons won that meeting 29-7.

Other than the Spread formation, Barbaree said this Junction City team will also line up in the I-formation from time-to-time in short-yardage situations, and on rare occasions will line up in the Wishbone, which was one of the Dragons’ main offenses from several years ago.

On defense, Barbaree said he’s seen Junction City line up in a 5-2 and four-man front on film, but expects to see even more linemen stacked in the box come Friday in an attempt to try and stop his team’s potent rushing attack.

“We’ll see a bunch of people in that box no matter what,” Barbaree said. “We’re going to expect both of them, just from the offense we run, and hopefully we’ll be able to move some bodies up there.”

The Dragon defense, led by senior end Robert Armstrong and junior tackle Taylor Mason (6-3, 280), held Hector to a minimal 176 yards last week. Armstrong has racked up more than 60 tackles this season, and junior linebacker Josh Armstrong has made plays throughout the year as well.

Even though it’s going to be a tough task for the Bison (12-1) to leave south Arkansas with a win Friday, Carlisle’s style of offense and strong defensive play could be the formula to beat the favored defending champs.

Last week against Rison, who lost to Junction City 40-24 in week two of the regular season, the Bison ran for 336 yards. According to Barbaree, Rison was able to move the football on the Junction City defense with their smashmouth style of play.

Senior standout running back DeRon Ricks (6-0, 240) ran for 198 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries in last week’s 30-19 win over the Wildcats. Ricks leads the Bison rushing attack this season with 1,778 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Fellow senior standout Bo Weddle has had similar success running the ball this season, as he’s totaled 1,200 yards and 21 touchdowns. Last week against Rison, he carried 17 times for 123 yards. Weddle also leads the Bison defense from his inside linebacker position with 115 tackles this season, including 13 last week.

Ricks, also an inside linebacker on defense, had 12 tackles last week. Another senior linebacker, Jordan Sheets, played his best defensive game against Rison as he finished with 11 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.

Friday’s forecast has as high as a 70 percent chance of rain, but Barbaree doesn’t believe the weather will have too much of an effect on the outcome of the game.

“They of course have the special runner, Dancy,” Barbaree said. “You watch him, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a wet field. We saw him against Gurdon on a wet field, and he can still make all the cuts. We saw him against Hector and he was great. We saw him against Bearden. He’s going to sign D-I somewhere.

“You’ve got the big tight end, Jamario Bell, who’s already been offered by Arkansas. The Holyfield kid at quarterback – they’ve got all these athletes that are pretty fundamentally sound as well, which is the scary part. Up front, they’ve got seniors that can move bodies.

“Just all over the field they’ve got athletes and they’ve got size and strength. So we’ve got a pretty tough task ahead of us.”

SPORTS STORY >> Seniors living up to expectations

Leader sportswriter

The fact that the 2013 Cabot Panthers are undefeated and playing for the class 7A state championship may come as a surprise to most around the state, even to those within the Cabot community. But it’s no surprise at all to longtime Cabot coach Mike Malham, whose team will vie for its third state title under his lead Friday night against Bentonville at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Malham’s reasoning for such high expectations has everything to do with the talent, cohesiveness and discipline of his players, especially those in the veteran 2014 senior class.

The Panthers returned 13 starters from last year’s team that went 7-5 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the 2012 playoffs.

The majority of those starters from a year ago are now seniors – seniors that have experienced significant team success since competing at the junior high level. A good chunk of the Cabot seniors were a part of the Cabot Junior High South teams that went undefeated in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

That kind of success left Malham eager to see what he could get from that group by the time he finished with them, and the chance to put the icing on the cake, so to speak, will come Friday against the tradition-rich Tigers from the northwest part of the state.

“The South team went 10-0 and I think North was about .500 that year,” said Malham of the 2010 junior-high teams. “Between the two, when you put them together – of course, a lot of these seniors played when they were sophomores. And we took our lumps two years ago. We won three games that year, but we got better as the year went on.

“Ten-to-12 sophomores that year, even if they didn’t start, they got a lot of playing time. Then last year we won more than twice as many games, won seven, made it to the quarterfinals, got a big win against Bryant in the playoffs. Last time we felt like we really had a chance was in 2009.

“This crew was the one that we pointed to that we thought had a chance, and so far they haven’t been a disappointment. They’ve really taken care of business. Really, last week was the first time we’ve really had a real, real close barnburner, because everybody else we’ve beaten by more than 13 points.”

In the preseason, the coaches within the 7A/6A East picked North Little Rock to win the conference, but Cabot beat the Charging Wildcats 48-32 in the conference opener. Then last week in the semifinals, the Panthers escaped their rivals with a nail-biting, one-point, double-overtime victory to advance to Friday’s championship game.

Cabot was picked to finish second in the preseason conference standings, and part of that might have had to do with the fact that the Panthers were going to play the 2013 season without two returning starters on the offensive line.

Despite the loss of those two returning starters on the line, Malham said he believed this year’s Panther team could compete with any other team in the state.

“We really entered the season thinking we could compete with anybody,” Malham said. “We didn’t know if we could beat everybody, but we knew we could compete, and that was our goal. They know what it’s like to win.

“They may not have the height, weight and speed that colleges want, but they’re good high-school players. They play hard and they play smart. You play like that then you got a chance.”

Several of the Panther seniors are witnessing their hard work and dedication to the team paying off, and expressed many of the same sentiments as their head coach.

Senior twins Heath and Keith Pledger have been in the Cabot football program from the start, and were members of the South teams that went undefeated in 2009 and 2010.

“The town’s been behind us, and this is the year we’re supposed to go all the way,” said Keith Pledger, who starts at tight end and also plays defensive tackle. “We’ve got three-year starters and we’ve got experience under our belts. We’ve seen a lot, and we just train every day and do our best.”

Heath Pledger is the starting right guard for the Panthers. He also plays defensive tackle, and said he’s thrilled to be playing in the last game of year and seeing the team’s hard work result in something special.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Heath Pledger. “It just shows what you can do with all the coaching, and the coaches push us pretty dang far – five and a half, six years of going through it, and it finally paying off feels pretty good.”

Senior fullback Zach Launius became the first Panther back in the last several years to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing, and has done so in a big way as he’s approaching the 2,000-yard milestone.

Launius is Cabot’s most potent weapon on offense, but he gave all the credit to his offensive linemen and fellow running backs for his success this season.

“It’s not all just me,” said Launius. “I think a good 90 percent of my yards are solely based off of offensive linemen, and offensive backs blocking. I wouldn’t give myself much credit. Maybe there have been a couple of missed tackles here and there, but it’s mainly just our offense.”

Launius, who was also a part of the decorated South teams in ’09 and ’10, went on to say that even in that time, their class shared a unique bond with the rival North Junior High team of that era.

“Even playing our rivals in junior high that year, which was North, even then we knew who they were and we were still good friends with them since first grade and kindergarten. We’ve always been brothers since then. It’s never been about us. It’s always been about the team.”

Senior defensive tackle Aaron Henry had similar things to say about growing up with his teammates, and the bond they all share.

“It’s been great growing up with all these boys,” said Henry. “I’ve enjoyed it and have had fun with them. Seeing us all grow together, we’re a bunch of brothers, having fun playing our game of football.”

With the loss of two starters on the offensive line before the season even started, senior center Blake Gibson said it was up to the upperclassmen to help the new starters up front get integrated into the team’s blocking assignments and schemes, and to lead by example for the juniors and sophomores.

“We knew we had two new guys coming in at left guard and left tackle, and we started running this new offense,” said Gibson. “So we knew on the O-line we had to step up and lead by example in the chutes, come out in practice every day. It started in offseason in the weight room. We came out and just worked hard, and showed those other guys what it meant to work hard.”

In addition, senior running back Chris Henry expressed how important it was for this senior class to stick together in order for the Panthers to put themselves in position to reach the ultimate team goal.

“I thought it was very important for us all to stay together,” said Chris Henry. “We know each other, and it’s good to know each other when you’re playing on the field. You know where everybody’s going to be at the right time, and it’s key to know where everybody’s at.”

Senior quarterback Kason Kimbrell, like every other player quoted, was part of the highly-successful South teams in 2009 and 2010, and made it very clear how he and this senior class want to finish their playing days in Panther uniforms.

“This is the last game I’m going to play as a Cabot Panther,” said Kimbrell. “That’s pretty big. There are a lot of seniors on this team that want to go out with a ring. For four years we’ve worked hard in the offseason, during the season. This is the year that everybody’s been waiting for, and we want to bring a state championship back to the Central and back to Cabot.”

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers battle Tigers for state title

Leader sports editor

Two of the most successful coaches in Arkansas scholastic sports meet once again with everything on the line when the Cabot Panthers take on the Bentonville Tigers for the class 7A football state championship.

When Cabot coach Mike Malham and Bentonville coach Barry Lunney Sr. shake hands at War Memorial Stadium before Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff, it will be the third time they’ve done so in this situation.

The coaches met when Lunney was at Fort Smith Southside in the 1998 and 2000 state championship games. Lunney won the former, Malham the latter.

Last week, Malham said it’s been “way too long” since his Panthers have been to the state championship game. That championship year, when they went 14-0 was the last time.

That year marked the third time in four years Cabot made it to the title game, and the first time in those three years it won it all.

Since then, Lunney has won four more state championships, including one at Fort Smith Southside and three at Bentonville.

The Tigers have played in each of the last three state championship games, and played in four of the last five. They won state championships in 2008 and 2010, and lost in 2011 and 2012 to Fayetteville.

Both coaches believe Bentonville’s experience in championships will be a minor advantage, at least for a while.

“They’ve made a habit of getting here,” Malham said. “I think their seniors have been here three times so they’d be a little more comfortable in the environment. But I don’t know, I think once the ball is kicked off and the first blow is in, everything evens out after that.”

“I think our staff and our support people that come here, and the players that have done it, it certainly takes some of the edge off,” said Lunney. “Whether that’s an advantage or not, I don’t know. It hasn’t worked out for us the last couple of years. But I think the familiarity is good.”

Cabot, 12-0, boasts a better record than Bentonville, 10-2, but hasn’t played quite the same schedule. The Tigers’ two losses were to Euless Trinity, Texas 21-10 and Broken Arrow, Okla. 24-17, in weeks two and three. Those two teams have gone a combined 19-1 since then and are still alive in their respective state playoffs.

Bentonville has built a reputation over the years as a passing team, with Barry Lunney Jr. as the offensive coordinator. Lunney Jr. is now the tight ends coach at the University of Arkansas, and the Tigers have pounded teams on the ground with much success this year.

“I think reputations sometimes are a little misleading,” Lunney said. “I think if you look back you’d see that we were a very balanced offense. But we’re more run this year than pass. We have a sophomore quarterback and some good running backs. So we’re trying to get it done more with the run.”

The sophomore quarterback, Kasey Ford, stands 6-foot-5 and tips the scales at 220 pounds. Despite the rushing attack, Bentonville has enjoyed a lot of success in the passing game. The head Tiger thinks his quarterback needs more time to develop but has nearly limitless potential.

“He’s very talented. I think in time, he’s going to be a very highly-recruited player from the state of Arkansas.”

Ford has no shortage of talent to throw to either. His favorite target, senior tight end Jack Kraus, is 6-6, 234 and has already signed with Arkansas. And there’s a good stable of wideouts that help compliment Bentonville’s dominant running game. Most prominent among them is 6-2, 175-pound senior Jimmy Jackson, who is the Tigers’ main deep threat. Jackson has averaged more than a touchdown per game, including six touchdown receptions of 50 yards or more.

“They’ve beat people over the top a lot this year,” Malham said. “You have to cover the whole field. You squeeze in there to stop that big ole running back; they’ll hit a big one on you. It’s going to be a big challenge for our defense to slow them down.”

Bentonville actually has two big running backs, and both are juniors. Dylan Smith is 5-9, 190 and Hekili Keliiliki is 6-0, 190. Smith is the full-time tailback while Keliiliki has played both ways this season. Starting linebacker Clay Wallace had missed four games before the semifinals, one for a disciplinary suspension, and three with illness, but he returned last week. In his absence, Keliiliki filled in so well, they kept him at linebacker last week, except for a few plays on offense.

Cabot has its own outstanding running back in senior fullback Zach Launius. He’s not as impressive in stature as the Tiger crew, but at 5-6, 165, he has run for 1,801 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.

The undersized fullback runs behind a slightly undersized line that averages about 237 pounds. Bentonville’s defensive line is slightly bigger, averaging about 245.

Conversely, the Bentonville offensive line averages about 250, while the Cabot defensive line averages 224.

“They’re bigger than us,” Malham said. “They just have bigger kids. But we’ve seen that all year. We’re just going to have to draw up and play hard-nosed football. If they knock us off the ball they’re going to move the ball. We have to play strong and square, and if we can stop the run we have a chance. I hope they have to throw it. That’s the big challenge is to slow them down running it because nobody really has.”

Lunney sees the exact same challenge for his defense.

“There’s no doubt preparing for Cabot is difficult,” Lunney said. “You don’t play a Monday night B game against them, and there’s no one that we play that comes anywhere close. We play Rogers who runs a bone, but that’s a whole different animal than what Mike does. So it puts a great burden on your kids and your staff.”

Lunney stumbled trying to pinpoint a single key to teaching players that have never played against the Dead T how to do it.

“There’s a whole bunch of stuff you have to try to do a little differently,” Lunney said. “We talked about it yesterday as a staff, and we decided we don’t want to over-complicate it. We didn’t want to say, ‘hey you got to stay low, and you got to read this guy and you got to read this guy,’ because then all of a sudden, you take a little bit of the instinct of a guy from being a player away from him with too much analysis.

“It just is what it is. They’re going to go hard downhill. They’re going to run the belly. We just have to find a way, which nobody else has done obviously in 12 or 13 weeks, to neutralize the line of scrimmage and not let them into our side so much.

“Until they get out there on the field and experience it themselves, it’s difficult to get across. Hopefully it won’t take very long to adjust and start making some plays.”

All the great players combined with excellent execution is what Malham believes makes Bentonville a dangerous team. He expects a well-played championship game if both teams stick to what got them this far.

“They’re just awfully good,” Malham said. “They don’t make mistakes. You’ve got to beat them. They’re not going to beat themselves. But we think of ourselves the same way. You have to beat us. Hopefully we can avoid mistakes and make it a great game.”

EDITORIAL >> GOP sheds light on FOI

The Arkansas Republican Party’s lawsuit to gain access to Gov. Mike Beebe’s patronage mail is easy to dismiss as more political grandstanding, which it is, but let’s not dismiss it. The state will be better—at least we hope it will be—if the Arkansas Supreme Court finally settles what part of the immense trove of documents in the governor’s office that people are allowed to see.

We’ve been through all this before when Michael Dale Huckabee was governor. Everyone remembers the frustrations of finding out what was happening in the government when the governor tucked government documents under his wing—gubernatorial “working papers”—and declared them off limits.

A Huckabee appointee to the state Parole Board who had racial and sexual jokes and photos on his state computer, refused to release his papers and Huckabee shielded them as his working papers when a Freedom of Information request was made. He lost a suit on the matter but still refused to release them. Gov. Beebe released the papers when he became governor. Then there was the crushing of the hard drives of computers in the governor’s office when Huckabee left office so that there would be no trace of many documents under his control.

It was not just Huckabee. Gov. Bill Clinton interpreted the working-papers exception in the Freedom of Information Act as broadly as possible to protect sensitive (to him) documents from prying eyes.

The immediate reason that the Republican executive director made the FOI request of Beebe and then sued when he refused is simple retaliation for all the FOI requests and litigation over papers and emails in the offices of two Republican officeholders, Lt. Gov. Mike Darr and Secretary of State Mark Martin. But tit for tat does not make the Republican lawsuit unwarranted.

Megan Tollett, the GOP operative, wants to see all the records in Beebe’s office relating to people seeking appointments to state boards and commissions since January 1, 2012, and those recommending people for those positions, as well as any correspondence from the governor or his staff about them. They will number many hundreds, perhaps thousands. Obviously, she hopes to find some embarrassing nexus between a job applicant or two and fund raising for Democratic political candidates. Tell us that never happens!

Beebe says correspondence in the governor’s office is clearly exempt from disclosure under the FOI law. He may be right but, no matter what her motive may be, the GOP operative should be allowed to make her case for public necessity that the letters be publicized and that the working-papers exemption is too broadly used by the government to stymie the public interest.

The Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 1967 and the Supreme Court, in a ringing landmark opinion, said its provisions were always to be given the broadest interpretation with the public interest in mind. The law, the justices said unanimously, “was passed wholly in the public interest and is to be liberally interpreted to the end that its praiseworthy purposes may be achieved.”

It is to be interpreted liberally for the public, not for the public official. Let the lawsuit proceed.

TOP STORY >> For Cash, debut in the Rock

Leader editor

“You thought you’d left it all behind
You thought you’d up and gone
But all you did was figure out
How to take the long way home.”
— “The Long Way Home”
Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash made her Little Rock debut at a soldout show Nov. 23 at South on Main Restaurant, which is bringing world-class performers to the southern end of downtown in the space where Juanita’s used to be. (Two weeks earlier, the brilliant jazz pianist Marcus Roberts performed there in another soldout concert.)

It was standing-room only on a cold Saturday night as fans started arriving early hoping to hear her hits going back 30 years.

They were not disappointed. She reprised her many hits and performed a generous sample from her CDs and introduced her newest songs.

Cash also reminisced about her famous dad, Johnny Cash, who never forgot his Arkansas roots.

An engaging performer with a ready smile, Rosanne Cash was accompanied by her husband, John Leventhal, in an acoustic program that lasted about 75 minutes, including an encore.

She’s down-to-earth, much like her father, who taught her 100 important country songs, which she calls “The List” — the title of her last CD. Think of it as “Songs My Daddy Taught Me,” an updated version of the Everly Brothers’ “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” LP from 1958.

“The List” is a terrific CD from 2009 with 13 songs, including duets with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Tweedy. A second CD is promised and, perhaps, there will be many more.

At the concert, her husband accompanied her on several songs from “The List,” including a bluesy “Motherless Children” and a bouncy “Heartaches by the Number,” pairing the couple on guitars for much of the program.

She also sang a generous portion from her upcoming CD, “The River and the Thread,” coming in January from Blue Note Records, which marks its 75th anniversary next month. (For many decades, it was exclusively a jazz label — still considered the coolest by critics and fans — but it has expanded into soul and pop music with Aaron Neville, Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, and now, we’re glad to hear, Rosanne Cash.)

All the songs on “The River and the Thread” are original compositions: “Etta’s Tune,” “The Sunken Lands,” “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” “Tell Heaven,” “Money Road,” “50,000 Watts” and more.

She talked fondly about Marshall and Etta Grant. Marshall was her father’s longtime bassist. Every morning for 65 years, Marshall would ask his wife, Etta, “What’s the temperature, darlin’?” “Etta’s Tune” might move you to tears. So will Rosanne’s love for her dad.

She said she was nominated for a Grammy in 1984 and lost. Driving around afterward, she composed “Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” which won her a Grammy the next year.

Her Little Rock show was a fundraiser for Oxford American magazine, whose current issue is devoted to Tennessee music and features her dad on the cover. Her article about her family is the best piece in the magazine.

Johnny Cash, who was born in 1932 in Kingsland in Cleveland County and grew up in Dyess in Mississippi County, spent most of his life in Memphis (where his four daughters were born during his first marriage to Vivian Liberto) and near Nashville.

In between, she reminisced about her father’s Arkansas roots: He grew up in a federally subsidized colony, where hundreds of poor white families received a small house and a mule on 40 acres of land.

Rosanne said Dyess Colony, her dad’s boyhood home from the age of 3, was the brainchild of Eleanor Roosevelt. The colony helped 500 desperately poor families by giving them land, a house, a mule and seed for planting. After the Mississippi flood, the ground at Dyess turned into what she called “gumbo soil.” It was a share-cropping settlement where the family farmed cotton. Johnny’s grandmother took in laundry so Johnny could have singing lessons.

His voice teacher told his mother he was too good for lessons. “This boy’s got something special. I don’t want to mess it up,” the teacher said.

It was obvious Cash was glad to be back in Arkansas, and she promised to be back.

In benefit concerts at ASU-Jonesboro, she’s helped raise funds to restore her father’s boyhood home in Dyess.

Cash called Oxford American an amazing literary magazine. It does a yearly music issue with at least one CD inside. The current issue has two CDs of music recorded in Tennessee. Many of the performers have Arkansas connections, including Johnny and Rosanne, Billy Joe Riley, Charlie Rich, Al Green, Sylvan Hills High School graduate Marc Franklin, the trumpet player with the Bo Keys and others.

Cash talked of driving down Hwy. 61 in Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans on a musical tour with her husband: “It doesn’t get better than this,” she said.

The trip took them from the Faulkner House in Oxford, Miss., to Dockery Farms near Cleveland, Miss. (where the blues probably started in the early 20th Century), to Robert Johnson’s grave near Greenwood, Miss., and the Tallahatchie Bridge.

“Money Road” tells the story of Emmett Till, a black Chicago teenager who was beaten to death for allegedly acting smart with a young white woman in Money, Miss. His body was tossed into the Tallahachie River. Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” made the river famous 15 years later. Mississippian John Hurt lived almost all of his life just up the road in Avalon.

As she pointed out, that’s a lot of musical history in one small place. Johnny and Rosanne Cash have a major role in it.

TOP STORY >> Council switches to tablets

Leader staff writer

Cabot City Council members on Monday night learned how to use the electronic notepads that will replace their paper agendas for monthly meetings.

Eddie Cook, the city’s director of operations, said it will take about two years for the $3,000 price of the Samsung Galaxy notepads to equal the cost of the paper packets, which cost about $15 each. But, since the notepads are expected to last three to five years, they will save the city money in the long run.

Roger Self, the city’s director of information technology, had downloaded all of the information that council members considered during the meeting and talked them through operation of the new equipment.

Alderman Ed Long, who had been using his own notepad during council meetings for several months, assured the others, “It’s not as hard as it looks.”

Included in the downloaded materials was the Second Street corridor plan submitted by the city’s planning commission.

Commission Chairman James Reid told council members that the north end of Second Street should develop because of the north interchange that will be coming soon.

“This corridor will see a lot of traffic as we grow, and it will grow with the north interchange,” Reid said.

That interchange is included in the bonds that are supported by the extension of the one-cent city sales tax approved by voters in April. The city’s part of the $20 million project is $9 million.

Reid also talked about a fourth Cabot interchange in the vicinity of Richie Road and the expansion of Second Street to four lanes. But those projects are likely 20 to 30 years out, he said.

All seven alderman who attended the meeting voted to send the corridor plan to the Dec. 16 council meeting for approval. Alderman Rick Prentice was absent.

The aldermen also looked briefly at a proposed master street plan. Reid presented the plan and requested that it be sent back to the planning commission for public hearings. After the hearings, the plan will go back to the council for adoption.

In other business, the aldermen voted to put the reappointment of lawyer Clint McGue to the Cabot Housing Authority Board on the council agenda.

They also voted to place on the agenda the purchase of a MAKO System Compressor, which filters air and refills the tanks firefighters the tanks used for diving. The system will cost $30,350.

TOP STORY >> Pearl Harbor remembered

Leader staff writer

It has been 72 years since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

For Jacksonville resident James Atkinson, he can remember that morning like it happened yesterday.

Atkinson, 87, was a 16-year-old living with his family in the Manoa Valley of Honolulu, east of Pearl Harbor. Although he could not see Pearl Harbor from where they lived, Atkinson could tell something bad was happening.

“My dad and I were going to church. As we were waiting for the bus, I saw the planes go by. We heard this big boom. That was the (USS) Arizona blowing up,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson remembered his Latin teacher was in front of the church, and he asked the teacher what he was doing there. Atkinson heard a big gong going off and was told Pearl Harbor was being attacked.

“I saw puffs of smoke. Pearl Harbor was a mile and a half away. My knees were shaking,” Atkinson said.

“We saw the planes go by, torpedo bombers. They dropped bombs on a Japanese store. I think they were misinformed,” he said.

He remembered the Japanese also bombed a store where the Navy could get hardware to repair ships.

“The Japanese Zeros were excellent planes. They dropped 500-pound bombs, trying to get the governor’s home,” Atkinson recalled.

He said Hawaii went under martial law. After church, he and his dad went to lunch.

“Dad and I went over to city hall. The Army-Navy was not prepared for what happened,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said people in Hawaii thought the Japanese would attack from the sea.

He said city hall had big bunkers. Atkinson saw a bakery truck delivering blood supplies and bandages. The local taxi service was picking up sailors from the Army-Navy YMCA and took them to Pearl Harbor.

Atkinson had a brief military career. During the Second World War, he served in the Army in a field artillery battalion from 1944 to 1945. He re-enlisted into service from 1949 to 1951 in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance crew chief.

Atkinson was born in Hawaii and lived most of his life there. He worked as a cab driver and security guard.

In 1999, when he was 72, he wanted a change. He saw an ad for Arkansas in a Hawaiian newspaper. It was either here or Florida.

Atkinson liked what he saw when he visited the state and chose Jacksonville. He knew several people in the area and members of the Jacksonville VFW post.

Atkinson and his family plan to move back to Hawaii next year.