Friday, April 25, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Voting rights get reprieve

He chose a legally dubious way to do it, but Circuit Judge Timothy Fox was squarely on the point Thursday when he declared the photo-identification law an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of Arkansas voters.

When people have jumped through all the hoops that are required by the Constitution to register to vote are then forced to produce an official photo identification and other documents before they can actually cast a vote, the legislature has added another requirement for voting, Judge Fox declared. Once a person is legally registered to vote, the Constitution says, neither the legislature nor election officials can erect another hurdle.

The law that is the Arkansas Constitution is exactly that clear. It was that clear a year ago when the legislature narrowly passed Act 595, which erected the photo identification barrier and still more rigmarole to make it harder for many people to vote, particularly the elderly, disabled and poor who do not have driver licenses or international passports.

Opponents, principally Democrats, said the bill was clearly unconstitutional. Governor Beebe vetoed it, noting that it was unquestionably unconstitutional and would simply invite lawsuits that would be costly for the state to litigate. Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted to override his veto, as a simple majority in Arkansas can do, and the lawsuits inevitably followed.

What is a little questionable about Judge Fox’s decision and his injunction against the law’s enforcement in next month’s primaries and judicial election is the venue for the order. It was a lawsuit about Act 595’s confusing requirements for casting and counting absentee ballots. A special election for a state Senate seat in Northeast Arkansas this winter wound up invalidating the ballots of a number of legitimate voters who tried to vote absentee that day. The state Board of Election Commissioners had spelled out a way to interpret Act 595, which members of the Pulaski County Election Commission contended was clearly illegal. Only the legislature can fix the flaws in Act 595, they said.

But Judge Fox concluded after a lengthy hearing that those problems were only incidental. Act 595 itself is unconstitutional in a variety of ways, he said. Since the constitutional issues were not raised and argued directly in the suit, you wonder whether the Arkansas Supreme Court, where the case is headed immediately, will allow the full order to stand or return it to the judge for hearings and briefs on the constitutional issues.

Fortunately, and perhaps significantly, precisely those constitutional issues were raised a week earlier in a second lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Public Law Center and the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four voters who will be encumbered by the act’s new identification requirements. Judge Fox is to hold a hearing next week on the lawyers’ request for a temporary injunction against the law’s enforcement at the May and June primaries and judicial election. A final order and a permanent injunction would then await a trial on all the constitutional issues.

Judge Fox’s order was almost a recitation of the constitutional arguments in the second case. Presumably, his preliminary ruling in that case next week will be the same as Thursday’s.

The authors of the act and the authors of similar voter-ID acts in a number of Southern and Midwestern states are Republicans. In a few instances, they have conceded that the purpose is to drive down Democratic votes at general elections by making it more frustrating or intimidating for some people to vote, particularly minorities.

Rep. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) and other supporters of Act 595 said its purpose was simply to prevent voter fraud and protect the integrity of the vote. Judge Fox wrote that this was indeed a noble purpose, but that Act 595 didn’t achieve it.

Arkansas, indeed, has a history of election fraud—ballot theft, corrupting ballots, misreporting vote totals, manufacturing absentee ballots and outright vote buying, as happened in a recent legislative election in east Arkansas. But Act 595 and other photo ID laws would do nothing to stop any of them or to punish the perpetrators. Those are acts of fraud committed by voting officials and political candidates and their surrogates, not solitary voters. Act 595 wouldn’t touch the perpetrators.

What Act 595 would prevent is one person going to the polls, pretending to be another voter who is not going to the polls that day and marking that person’s ballot. A person who has tried to do that was likely to get caught—he had to match the voter’s signature on the affidavit at the polls and also escape the recognition of the voting judges and clerks. There is just no history of that happening, in Arkansas or anywhere else, at least on a scale that is noticeable. An individual is just not prone to take such personal risks for the sake of casting one vote for his or her favorite candidate.

Those risks are taken by people with much at stake—the candidates and their surrogates and party officials at precincts or the county headquarters who have access to ballot boxes, voting machines and voter lists and who record vote totals. One person can alter scores of votes at a time, and a photo ID would have no effect.

Election fraud persisted down through the years, from Reconstruction forward, from Conway County to Phillips County to Searcy County, because sheriffs and prosecutors simply chose to look the other way—or to participate. We have seen some evidence, finally, of that changing in recent years. That does give us some confidence in the integrity of elections.

Discouraging people who already vote too rarely and reluctantly, as Act 595 does, will not help. When Judge Fox’s order is upheld, as it eventually will be, everyone who is legal and wants to vote can be assured of having his vote counted. That is America.

TOP STORY >> Team collecting funds for trip

Leader staff writer

Sylvan Hills Middle School’s Odyssey of the Mind students hope that people passing a painted porcelain throne will send them to the world finals at Iowa State University in May.

The team’s “the not-so haunted house” skit won first place at the regional competition and second place out of 40 teams in their division at the state competition.

Now the students are using a unique fundraiser to go even further.

Parent volunteer Marla Williamson and others are delivering three decorated toilets to area yards and asking “victims” to pay a $30 ransom to send the one they receive elsewhere. Instructions are left on their front doors.

The team’s fundraising goal is $11,694.

The Pulaski County Special School District will provide $3,000 of that, Williamson said. The team has collected $2,500 from the toilet gag and other fundraisers.

While the pranksters are requesting $30 donations, they will take any or no donation to remove the unsolicited lawn ornament.

“Victims” are encouraged to pass the toilet to their good-humored “dearest friends…or enemies,” according to the instructions.

Williamson said, “People have so much fun with it.”

A tax donation receipt is left in the mailboxes of the “victims” who decide to donate.

So far, the toilet has landed on the lawns of SHMS principal Jo Wilcox, Sherwood Police Chief Jim Bedwell, former city council members Becki Vassar and Butch Davis and council members Marina Brooks, Ken Keplinger, Charles Harmon and Mike Sanders.

For more information about how to participate in the fundraiser, call Williamson at 501-313-8264 or Odyssey coach James Wilson at 501-765-8571.

Another fundraiser for the team will be held on Saturday, May 10 at Tractor Supply Company. The team will sell hot dogs and hamburgers from a booth there.

Sponsored by NASA, the Odyssey of the Mind program aims to teach school-age children problem solving, creative thinking and teamwork. “They have to think around (problems), think outside the box,” Williamson explained.

The students learn to work together too, she continued. “They’re very, very cohesive…(They find out that), if one person bails out, everyone else is left hanging.”

Odyssey teams are given five ideas for skits every year. After that, Williamson said, “Absolutely everything is done by the children.”

During the competitions, coaches and any adults involved are prohibited from helping the teams. They can’t carry the set in or correct the students in any way, she added.

The kids write their scripts, design their costumes, build their sets and create their props.

The SHMS team members are eighth-grader Alisha Henderson, eighth-grader Emily Massey, sixth-grader Khadijah Khalia, eighth-grader Emily Williamson (Marla Williamson’s daughter), sixth-grader Tori Taylor, sixth-grader D’vaunte’ Dubois and seventh-grader Chase Wilson.

They enjoy Odyssey of the Mind for a variety of reasons.

Henderson said she likes meeting students in other grades.

Massey said, “You get to be creative and meet new people.”

Khalia said, “The reason why I love Odyssey of the Mind is because it gives me a chance to open my mind and share ideas, even though many people say I’m crazy, I get to show them how crazy I can be.”

Emily Williamson said, “I love building the sets. You can be as creative as you want to be.” She shared that the team helped her socialize with other age groups, too. “This team is more like a dysfunctional family,” Williamson said.

Taylor said she likes Odyssey of the Mind because “I think acting is really fun, and I’m really creative.”

Dubois said he enjoys being on the team too. “I just like that I get to speak my mind, that it’s basically somewhere I can be me.”

Wilson said he likes making the costumes. “It lets out your creative mindset. You can put it on the costumes or the sets,” he said.

This year, the team’s idea was “the not so haunted house.”

In the skit that will be performed at the world finals, a cousin of Hansel and Gretal visits the gingerbread house after the witch from the fairy tale is killed.

But, instead of an empty abode with food to gather for her family, cousin Freita finds that the witch’s sister and candy people live there now. Taylor stars as Freita, and Khalia is the new witch.

Freita and the witch strike a bargain. Freita claims she can prove the witch is not entirely evil. The witch argues that she will scare Freita. The witch says the girl will never find proof that she has a heart.

Before the end of the timed skit, a mirror lights up to show a spooky face and a closet opens to reveal the (plastic) bones of children the witch has eaten.

If the witch wins the bet, she can cook Freita into a cherry pie using her oven.

The cousin ends up a little crispy before she finds the witch’s heart and turns it from black to red. The witch lets Freita go.

Then the audience finds out that the entire scenario was a candy person’s dream.

In addition to the skits, the competitions include spontaneous hands-on, verbal or a combination of both. The students are given an idea and perform a skit right then and there.

TOP STORY >> Thousands enrolled in counties

Leader senior staff writer

Nearly 70 percent of Arkansans eligible for private option signed up in the first six months, according to Amy Webb, communications director for the state Department of Human Services.

Demographics show most enrollees likely would not have had insurance without new program, she said.

A total of 155,567 of the estimated 225,000 Arkansans who qualify for health insurance through the private option had applied and been determined eligible as of March 31, surpassing expectations of the level of acceptance in the program’s first year.

Most of them – 82 percent – had incomes too low to pay for for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. About 5 percent of the people in central Arkansas counties have qualified for private option, which is a Medicaid program that pays for private insurance.


In Pulaski County, the state’s largest county with 389,000, 20,281 people enrolled, 60 percent of them women, 40 percent men.

Eighteen percent of enrollees were in the 19-24 year age group, with 27 percent bewtween 25 and 34 years old. Twenty-two percent of enrollees were 35 to 44, 20 percent were 45 and 54 and 13 percent of enrollees in Pulaski County were in the 55-64 year age group.

Of enrollees in Pulaski County, 83 percent were at or below the federal poverty level.


In Lonoke County, which has a population of 68,356 in the 2010 census, 2,739 signed up successfully for private option, 63 percent of them women, 37 percent men. Of those, 16 percent were in the 19-24 year age range, 29 percent in the 25-34 age group, 22 percent in the 35-44 age group, 21 percent in the 45-54 age group and 12 percent aged 55-64. Income was 100 percent of the federal poverty level or less for 80 percent of those.

In White County, with about 78,000 people, 3,770 signed up. Women accounted for 61 percent and men, 39 percent.

The 19-24-year-olds ac-counted for 17 percent of enrollees, with those 25 to 34 accounting for 25 percent. Those in the 35-44 age group accounted for 21 percent, those in the 45-54 group 22 percent and those in the 55-64 age range 14 percent. Eighty-one percent of enrollees were at or below the federal poverty level.


Unlike the health insurance marketplace, which has an open-enrollment period that ended March 31, people who are eligible for the private option can apply at any time throughout the year.

“We now know that an overwhelming majority of Arkansans in the program would have likely gone without health insurance had the Legislature not passed the private option,” according to John Selig, director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. “Clearly there was a real need in a lot of these families.”

The private option, signed into law last April and funded in March this year, allows the state to use federal Medicaid funding to pay the private health insurance premiums for those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,105 for a household of one. Arkansas was the first state in the country to place people in private plans rather than expand the traditional Medicaid program. Several other states are now exploring similar options.

Statewide, 61 percent of Arkansans in the program are women and 64 percent are ages 19 to 44 years old, a somewhat younger population than those getting coverage through the federal insurance marketplaces, said Arkansas Medicaid Director Andy Allison.

“The average age and sheer number of people in the private option will have a significant impact on competitiveness and strength of the state’s insurance market moving forward,” Allison said.

Of the 155,567 people enrolled statewide for private-option health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, females accounted for 61 percent. Males were 59 percent.

On the young end of the scale, 18 percent of enrollees were between 19 and 25 years old, with another 25 percent between 26 and 34.

That’s 43 percent in the younger demographic, near the number desired to make the new system work. Those between 35 and 44 accounted for 21 percent of the total, with those between 45 and 54 being another 21 percent.

The oldest category, 55-64, accounted for only 15 percent of the total. Those 65 and older qualify automatically for Medicare.

Those 18 and younger are either on their parents’ plans or are on ARKids First or other Medicaid.

TOP STORY >> Two GOP hopefuls run in Dist. 14

Leader staff writer

A Union Pacific employee and the leader of a nonprofit ministry will face off in the May 20 Republican primary election for the Dist. 14 seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

The winner will run against Democratic candidate Lonoke City Attorney Camille Ben-nett.

Rep. Walls McCrary (D- Lonoke) holds the seat now but is term-limited.

Trent Eilts of Cabot is a locomotive foreman general. For 13 years, he was a product specialist for Eastman Kodak Document Imaging Division for the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Eilts served in the Air Force from 1990 until 1998 as an avionic craftsman.

He is a deacon at McArthur Church and a member of the Cabot American Legion, the Lonoke County Fair and Livestock Association Board and the Lonoke County Coalition for Progress Board.

Buddy Fisher of rural Lonoke County is president of his own nonprofit ministry, Buddy Fisher Industries, Inc.

He has been the pastor of four churches and has spent more than 30 years in ministry.

Both men said their campaigns are going well. Fisher added in his e-mailed response to The Leader that he is proud to have received an endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

“It has proved to voters I am honest about my conservative convictions,” Fisher said.

Eilts said he is running for office to pick up where he left off.

“It’s going to sound corny, but I still believe one man can make a difference,” he added.

Eilts said he helped draft three laws. They require State Police to redact the names of accident victims that are under the age of 18, restored benefits to widows of disabled veterans and allowed couples who get divorced to have joint custody of their children without facing each other in court. There is now a presumption of joint custody, the candidate explained.

Eilts also wrote House Bill 2126, which proposed that school board and general elections be held at the same time. But it was not signed into law.

Fisher said, “I’m running because I believe public service is important. The people of our area deserve a representative who will work with and listen to them and not someone who will be beholden to just one or two special interests. I believe I have a good pulse of what is going on in our community and what voters would like to see in the Capitol.

“My experience of dealing with people and knowing how to serve people certainly is a factor,” he added.

Eilts said, ideologically, he and Fisher are probably the same. But, he noted, “I don’t know of anybody who could remotely match my qualifications.”

Fisher said he would focus on economic development if elected.

“More needs to be done to create a more friendly business environment so we can create new and better jobs,” he explained.

“I will work to lower taxes on small business and working families. I will vote to stop wasteful spending, which leads to more unnecessary regulations.

“I hope to be a voice of common sense and reason. If I can help limit government spending and growth, while protecting traditional values, I will consider my time in the legislature a success,” Fisher concluded.

Eilts told The Leader, “We’ve got to be smart with the money.”

He also said the Affordable Care Act will not help lower the cost of health care or deal with problems related to medical malpractice.

Eilts added that the biggest challenge representatives face is that people don’t believe in the government anymore. He wants to change that.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers clobber Blue Devils

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot soccer teams had little trouble with West Memphis in their 7A/6A East matchups at Panther Stadium on Tuesday. The Lady Panthers scored six first-half goals en route to a 7-0 victory, while the Panthers scored four goals in the first 40 minutes on their way to a 6-0 win.

In the girls’ game, it took the host Lady Panthers a little while to get their offense flowing, but after the first goal was scored, Cabot steadily built on its lead from that point forward.

Junior Lady Panther Braxton Reed scored three goals in the first half alone, getting the hat trick, while freshman teammate Leelee Denton scored two goals in that time, and sophomore Maddie Rice scored one goal, which gave the Lady Panthers their 6-0 lead at halftime.

“We had a couple of really good individual efforts,” said Cabot girls’ coach KerryCastillo. “That was kind of the spark we needed, but then they all turned on and wanted to be the goal-scorers themselves. Our goals weren’t distributed amongst a lot of players, but they were good goals and they were set up nicely. So that’s something we can take from it.”

Since the Lady Panthers (10-3-2, 3-1) were up by six goals at the start of the second half, the time was cut in half to 20 minutes and the clock ran continuously throughout the second half, but Cabot was still able to add another goal to set the final score.

Rice scored her second goal of the game less than two minutes into the second half to give the Lady Panthers the 7-0 cushion, and with the time cut in half and the clock running continuously, it wasn’t long before that game came to an end.

Senior midfielder Trevor Reed gave Cabot a 1-0 lead in the boys’ game with a goal less than five minutes into the first half, but it took some time for the host team to add to its lead. Grant Bell scored Cabot’s second goal of the game at the 17:28 mark of the first half, which made it a 2-0 game. Cabot’s next goal came 16 seconds later.

Reed immediately took possession at midfield following Bell’s goal, and took it the distance to score his second goal of the game and give the Panthers a 3-0 cushion. Bell added Cabot’s final goal of the half from six yards out with 11:36 remaining, which made the score 4-0 at halftime.

Panthers’ coach Steve Porter sat his starters for the majority of the second half, so there wasn’t as much action scoring-wise in the second half, but Cabot took a 5-0 lead with a goal by Adrian Martinez with 14:23 remaining.

Evan Wilson scored the final goal with 6:19 remaining, setting the final score.

“I felt for about 15 to 20 minutes in the first half that we did really well,” said Porter, “and we shared the ball, created a lot of chances. We didn’t finish as well as we’d hoped to, but there were some good signs.”

Even though the Panthers (8-2-1, 4-0) won the game convincingly, Porter thought his team lost some of its focus down the stretch and played more for themselves than for the team.

“We’re happy with the result,” Porter said. “We’re happy with 4-0 in conference, but there are going to be some more challenging games ahead, and we need to play better.”

With the win, the Panthers are still the only undefeated team in 7A/6A East play, while the Lady Panthers are in a three-way tie for first place with Little Rock Central and Searcy with a 3-1 conference record.

The Cabot soccer teams also got a tough pair of nonconference wins at Little Rock Christian on Monday. The Lady Panthers beat the Lady Warriors 1-0, thanks to a goal by Devin Patterson, and the Panthers beat the Warriors 2-1 in the nightcap.

Both Cabot teams played another conference game against North Little Rock last night at home after deadlines, and the Panthers and Lady Panthers will continue 7A/6A East play with a pair of games Tuesday at Jonesboro. The boys’ game will be played first, and that game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> BHS boys split with Nettleton

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers faced off with 5A-East leading Nettleton twice this week, but not in a doubleheader. The Badgers played a regularly-scheduled game against the Raiders on Monday, then traveled to Jonesboro for a makeup of the rained out nightcap on Tuesday.

Beebe dropped game one 2-1, but came back to win the next night8-4, moving to 10-10 overall and 6-4 in league play. The 5A East is nowhere near being settled. Nettleton is now tied with Wynne for the league lead at 8-2.

Beebe and Batesville are 6-4 and Greene County Tech is 4-4. Forrest City is also still mathematically in the running for a playoff spot at 4-6.

Beebe got on the board first in game two with two runs off Raider pitcher Braden Camp. Angus Denton started it off with a base hit and Dawson Burge reached base on an error that also allowed Denton to score. Jonathan Underwood then got a base hit to score Burge and give the Badgers a 2-0 lead.

Nettleton tied the score with two runs in the bottom of the second, only to see Beebe reclaim the lead with a single run in the third. The Raiders then took the lead in the bottom of the third with two more runs off relief pitcher Justin Browning. Kord Simpson started on the mound for the Badgers, but left the game with one out in the second inning.

The two runs off Browning in the third inning were Nettleton’s last, as Browning gave up only three hits while striking out four and walking none through the final four innings.

Meanwhile, Beebe re-claimed the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth, then added a run in the fifth and two more in the seventh to set the final margin.

Denton finished the game going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double, two RBIs, two walks and a run scored. Browning went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.

Despite the eight runs scored, the Badgers missed a few other opportunities to put runs on the board. The team totaled eight base hits, drew six walks and four batters were hit by pitches, but Beebe left 10 base runners stranded over the course of the game.

The Badgers hosted Cabot in a nonconference game on Friday, and gets back to conference play on Thursday with a home doubleheader against Batesville.

SPORTS STORY >> CHS girls breeze to a victory at WMHS

Leader sports editor

The Cabot softball team made the long trip to the state’s eastern border on Tuesday and utterly demoralized West Memphis 28-0. The Lady Panthers already had a 7-0 lead when they went to the plate in the second frame. In that period of play, Cabot sent 21 batters to the plate and scored 17 runs for a 24-0 lead. But since there is no sportmanship rule that allows for a game to mercifully end until three innings are complete, the Lady Panthers had to bat again in the third inning.

Cabot batted around again in scoring the final four runs. Pitcher Lauren McCluskey, who usually doesn’t bat, started and ended the inning.

Cabot got 12 hits, walked 11 times, reached twice on hit batters and seven times on West Memphis errors. Cleanup hitter Kaitlyn Felder compiled three base hits, including a two-run home run in the first inning and a double in the third. She finished with five RBIs.

Heather Hill went 2 for 3 and was hit twice. She also hit a home run during her second at-bat of the second inning, and doubled in the first inning.

Bethany Knowles came off the bench to finish with two base hits and score three runs in place of leadoff hitter Rachel Allgood.

The win keeps Cabot perfect in 7A/6A East Conference play and alone atop the league standings at 10-0.

McCluskey went the distance on the mound without allowing a base hit. She was one walk away from a perfect game while striking out five Lady Blue Devils.

McCluskey also pitched when Cabot hosted 5A powerhouse Paragould in a nonconference game at home on Thursday. The Lady Rams won that matchup 5-1 to drop Cabot’s overall record to 13-7.

Paragould took the lead in the first inning and never trailed. They made it 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning before Cabot added a run in the bottom of the fourth on a solo home run by Brandyn Vines.

McCluskey went the distance, giving up seven hits while striking out four and walking two Lady Rams. Peyton Carter got the win for Paragould, giving up just two hits and striking out 10. Hill had the only other hit for Cabot.

The Lady Panthers hosted Marion on Friday. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader. They will host Jonesboro on Tuesday in continuing conference play.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers second at Sheridan

Leader sports editor

The Beebe boys’ track team put up a season-high in total points Tuesday at the Yellowjacket Relays in Sheridan, but it was only good enough for second place. Camden Fairview won the meet with 163 points while the Badgers piled up 120. Benton finished third with 95 while Parkview and Maumelle finished a distant fourth and fifth with 68 and 61 points.

Sophomores Connor Patrom and Keishaun Davidson were fourth and fifth respectively in the 200-meter dash, an event won by Fairview’s Keyondre Jones. Patrom later won the 400-meter race for the second consecutive meet with a time of 50.69. Patrom has been inching closer to the state qualifying time of 50.56, and has the 5A-East Conference meet still left to achieve that goal. He also finished seventh in the pole vault to add another point to Beebe’s total.

Race Payne won the shot put for the second-straight meet as Beebe racked 17 points in that event. Payne earned 10 points by throwing 48-3.25. Dusty Skinner placed fourth and Dusty Grier took seventh for the Badgers. Payne is less than three inches from a state-qualifying throw.

Jesse Crisco was going for a second-straight win in the discus throw, but had to settle for second after Fairview’s Elliot Jordan tossed 144-8.

The Badgers won the 4x400-meter relay by a little more than a second over Little Rock Hall with a time of 3:36.14. Beebe was fifth in the 4x800 and sixth in the 4x100.

Senior Badger John Diaz took second in the 800m while sophomore Logan Brown was sixth and junior Tyler Childress finished eighth. Childress and Marshall Wooten both cleared 5-foot-4 in the high jump to tie for fifth place.

Three Badgers also placed in the mile, with Allen Kirk and Diaz finishing second and third, and sophomore John Paul Savage finishing fifth.

Benton’s Morgan Reese won the mile and two mile races, while Kirk and Savage took fifth and sixth in the two-mile race.

A pair of seniors scored points for Beebe in the hurdle events. William Peterson took fourth in the 300m hurdles and fifth in the 110m. while Marcus Burns was fifth in the 300m.

The 5A East meet is schedule for May 1 at Beebe.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils pull upset over Bears

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys’ soccer team pulled off a mild upset on Tuesday, beating Sylvan Hills in overtime after the two teams ended regulation at Jan Crow Stadium tied 2-2. The Red Devils won penalty kicks 3-2 to take a 5-4 victory.

Earlier in the evening, the Lady Bears weren’t in upset mode, and easily handled the Lady Red Devils 5-0.

The Sylvan Hills boys won the first meeting with its 5A-East Conference foe 2-0 in Sherwood earlier this season, but Jacksonville coach Adam Thrash felt like his team had improved enough to possibly change that outcome on Tuesday.

“That was our second game,” Thrash said of the first match with the Bears. “I had never coached soccer before. Thirteen of our 16 players have never played soccer before this year, so we all had a lot of room for improvement. I really thought we played with them pretty well the first time, so I thought things might could be different this time.”

Sylvan Hills scored first on a penalty kick in just the third minute of the game. Jack-sonville goalkeeper Jeremy Wilson made a nice save of a close-range shot-on-goal by the Bears, but then threw the ball to a teammate, who caught it with his hands inside the box. That resulted in the penalty kick that gave the Bears the lead.

“Of the 13 who hadn’t played before this season, Jeremy had never played before this game,” Thrash said. “We got him a jersey 30 minutes before the game started. After that first mistake, he played lights out. He made some good saves for us.”

Neither team scored the rest of the half.

Jacksonville’s John Her-mann then tied the game with a sharp-angle goal early in the second half. The two teams remained tied until only 12 minutes remained when the Bears took the lead again.

Shortly after that with five minutes remaining, Jacksonville’s Devin James scored a rebound goal to tie it up.

With two minutes remaining and the likelihood of penalty kicks increasing, Thrash made a strategy decision to put Hermann in goal.

“It’s just that Hermann is our most experienced player, and you can’t substitute once regulation is over. I just felt it gave us our best chance to win to have him in there with it on the line. And he did a great job.”

Both teams missed their first kick before both teams made their next two. Ben Foshi and R.J. Moore put the two kicks in for Jacksonville.

Hermann then scored for Jacksonville and stopped Sylvan Hills’ next kick. Jacksonville missed its final kick and Sylvan Hills had one more chance to tie the match, but the shot sailed high and wide right, giving the Red Devils the victory.

“This is really good for our guys,” Thrash said. “They practice really hard even though they aren’t very experienced. I’ve never coached soccer before, but I’ve gathered that traditionally, we’re not supposed to beat Sylvan Hills at soccer. So this was a good night for these guys – kind of big for us.”

The win lifts Jacksonville to 3-5 overall and in conference play, while Sylvan Hills dropped to 7-7 and 5-3.

Sylvan Hills dominated the girls’ game early, scoring four goals in the first five minutes. Senior Abi Persson scored three of those goals and Rachel Franco scored one. All were from at least 20 yards out.

Sylvan Hills coach Nate Persson then pulled Abi Persson and Franco to defense to extend the game and get his younger players some quality minutes.

“With the new rules, when you get up by six, they cut the remaining time in half, and I really need some of these younger girls to get some experience,” Nate Persson said. “So we just worked on some things and I think they did well.”

The Lady Bears improved to 12-3 overall and 6-2 in league play.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

EDITORIAL >> No bullying in courthouse

A former deputy assessor in Lonoke County told our reporter Sarah Campbell a harrowing tale of bullying by her former boss, Assessor Jack McNally, who has a reputation of harassing employees and being absent from the job most of the time.

In a heartbreaking interview at The Leader on Saturday, the former chief deputy assessor, Therese O’Donnell, said McNally was in his Lonoke or Cabot offices less than 10 hours a week when it wasn’t campaign season.

McNally wasn’t in his office on Friday when The Leader called him for a comment.

O’Donnell’s grievance hearing was canceled four times before she was transferred to Collector Patricia McCallie’s office on March 31. O’Donnell is obviously a knowledgeable county employee who, like all public servants, deserves to be treated with respect. No one, especially in the courthouse, should be yelled at or harassed. She has the documents, along with incriminating text messages, to back up her allegations.

The texts from McNally include compliments such as, “You are the best,” “You are a blessing in my life” and “…please forgive me for relying on you so much.”

One sent on Nov. 18 reads, “Things run well because of you. Things run well in spite of me.”

Even McNally’s wife complained about her husband staying home too much. She texted O’Donnell, “If he’s going to keep this job, he needs to be there and be seen WORKING!!”

O’Donnell said McNally often became upset at work, yelling at her and the other women on his staff. “Jack McNally showed a side of himself that should have never been seen at any point in time. He put a fear in me that I have never experienced before. I felt that he was uncontrollable.”

She said he upset her family when he told The Leader she had been prescribed four kinds of heart medication. She told us a cardiologist gave her a clean bill of health last summer and she has never been prescribed heart medication.

O’Donnell also told Campbell that, even if his comments had been true, McNally violated the HIPPA law that prohibits employers from releasing medical information about their employees.

The former deputy, who has lived in Lonoke County for more than 40 years, began working at the courthouse in 1999, first for Hugh Keller, a former county collector, and then for former Assessor Jerry Adams. She is bright, dedicated and much liked: Just the kind of public servant the people want taking care of their business.

O’Donnell said the assessor has for three years refused to learn how to do the job he was elected to do. Instead, he delegates tasks to the staff, she told the newspaper.

An employee is doing the budget for him, O’Donnell said. She started signing time sheets because he wasn’t in the office and she didn’t want to drive to his house to make him sign them.

O’Donnell said, “I was hoping that he would take responsibility for the job he was elected to do because I was tired of doing the job that the taxpayers pay him to do…I cannot sit by any longer and see him waste the taxpayers’ money for his own gain. He has said many times this is the best job I ever had for not doing anything.”

She accused McNally of making several questionable or unnecessary purchases, including T-shirts promoting the Homestead Credit program and signs and stands for The Wounded Warrior Project. Some of the purchases have been hotly debated during Lonoke County Quorum Court meetings.

She also said she appreciates the several quorum court members who apologized about her having to go through this ordeal, although few public officials wanted the full story to come out in the newspaper.

O’Donnell said McNally cursed at her. Her husband later confronted the assessor, telling the assessor to stop abusing her.

“I don’t need this (expletive),” McNally answered back. She was terminated after her husband spoke with McNally. She said McNally met her at the back door of the courthouse on Feb. 3, asked for her key, told her she was a good employee and that she was fired. The assessor has insisted that she resigned.

O’Donnell said she never turned in a letter of resignation. But the former deputy did say she told McNally she would quit in May if he didn’t start helping her run the office.

A hostile work environment is inexcusable everywhere, but especially in a courthouse that is home to many of our democratic institutions. Public officials must set an example for those around them and treat subordinates with respect and honor the dignity of work.

In his treatment of Therese O’Donnell, Jack McNally showed poor judgment and calls into question his suitability for the job. Voters will have a chance to decide on his qualifications in the May 20 Republican primary.

We think there are more qualified candidates on the ballot.

TOP STORY >> Big birthday bash in Sherwood

Leader staff writer

Those who attended Sher-wood’s 66th birthday shindig on Tuesday learned how the city got its name, and the city’s new logo took center stage.

Darrell Brown, chairman of the Sherwood History and Heritage Committee, spun the short tale for a crowd of about 100 at the Jack Evans Senior Center.

He said a group of men met on Jan. 2, 1948, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Duran to discuss incorporating the area and what it would be called.

One of the men noticed some children playing with bows and arrows in the front yard. They were wearing homemade caps with feathers, reminiscent of Robin Hood in English folklore, Brown said.

The man suggested naming the city Sherwood Forest after the fictional setting in the tale, but others at the meeting thought Sherwood Forest, Ark., was too long. Brown said that is why they shortened it to Sherwood.

The North Hills Jaycees developed the Robin Hood logo in 1975, the chairman continued. It features a man dressed as the hero of the legend aiming a bow and arrow.

The city, the chamber of commerce, several civic groups and several businesses, such as First State Bank of Sherwood, Sherwood Realty and Woody’s Sherwood Forest, used the Robin Hood logo because it wasn’t trademarked.

The logo was featured on the city’s first flag, made by Rosa Cummings, and on the cover of Sherwood’s first history book, written by Ailene Duran in 1976. The new logo is a bow and arrow followed by the city’s name, written horizontally.

Brown said, “No doubt our city’s new logo with its bow and arrow pays homage to our city’s past, while showing the world Sherwood is aiming toward its best and brightest days that are yet to come in its future.”

Chamber Executive Director Marcia Cook agreed. She said the new branding “sends the message that we want to preserve our heritage, but we also wanted to send the message that we’re a great place to live, we’re a great place to do business, and we think we can do that with this logo.”

Then Alderman Marina Brooks announced the city’s new catch phrase, “close to the action, far from the noise.”

Brooks said, “That represents the fact that Sherwood is the best of both worlds.”

Guests received free T-shirts and drink cozies with the new logo and catch phrase.

Centennial Bank provided hot dogs and chips. Cake and cookies were also served.

The Sherwood Fire Department parked its first fire truck, from 1951, and a new engine in front of the center. Department volunteers, with help from local businesses, recently restored the older model to its former glory.

Dignitaries at the event included Mayor Virginia Hill-man, state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), Pulaski County Quorum Court Dist. 12 justice of the peace Democratic candidate Jeff Rollins of Sherwood, state representative Dist. 41 Democratic candidate Danny Knight of Sherwood, Pulaski County judge candidate Barry Hyde of North Little Rock, former Alderman Butch Davis and several city officials.

TOP STORY >> Beebe economic development booming

Leader staff writer

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of articles taking an in-depth look at how area cities are pursuing economic growth.

Jacksonville is staking its economic growth on an outside consultant. Sherwood is doing with an economic developer jointly funded by the city and chamber. In Cabot, the city is the lead entity and has just formed a development committee.

So who’s leading the pack?

Possibly Beebe.

Beebe is in the midst of a commercial building boom.

The new Walmart is in full swing and the city has received plans for a new AutoZone store.

The city has also received site plans for The Shoppes at Beebe. The shopping center will have a Dollar Tree, Hibbett Sports, a Pizza Hut WingStreet restaurant, a fitness center and other businesses. Auto Zone is being built near there.

City Attorney Barrett Rogers is moving his law office to a new business complex on Dewitt Henry Drive. It will be home to the Beebe Flower Shop, Merle Norman cosmetic store and Sunset Breeze sandwich restaurant.

And another shopping center, Shadow Center, near the highway is planned.

That deal has already been closed, said Mayor Mike Robertson.

Why has Beebe become the place to be?

“There’s no magic formula at work here,” he said. “It’s a combination of hitting the magic number of about 10,000 area residents and the fact that we are easy to work with.”

“We are an excellent trade area with the population and access to all the highways,” Robertson said.

“Retail and commercial developers are seeing that it’s beneficial to be here, and we are growing in housing too,” the mayor said, adding that there are about 200 new homes in the works.

The mayor said, “It’s exactly what we want and planned for.”

Kristen Boswell, director of Beebe’s Chamber of Commerce, simply said, “The secret is out.”

She added, “We are a very friendly and warm community.”

Boswell said the chamber works hand-in-hand with the mayor when a developer is “shopping Beebe. We assist and expedite.”

Incorporated in 1875, the central Arkansas community of Beebe was named for Roswell Beebe, a member of a prominent railroad family and an executive with the Cairo and Fulton Railroad.

Beebe and its surrounding environs have been influenced heavily by four major events, according to city officials, in its economic development plan.

The first was the development and location of the railroad in the early 1870s, and then the city’s rejection of it.

Financier Jay Gould proposed the building of a railroad shop in Beebe. A town meeting was called, and it was determined that it would not be in the best interests of the community. So Gould subsequently bought land in Argenta [North Little Rock], and that area quickly saw growth.

The second event, according to the development plan which was last revised about 10 years ago, was the location of highways in the area. Beebe sat at the crossroads of two U.S. highways, 64 and 67/167, as well as a state highway.

Because Beebe was a trade center for surrounding agricultural interests, and because the highway network provided easy access, the commercial sector in the city thrived. Later, when U.S. 67/167 was relocated and designed to interstate standards, residential development was given new life. It became easier for families to work in the bigger cities of central Arkansas while living in the quiet, “small town” environs of Beebe.

The third event was the devastating tornados that swept through the town on Jan. 21, 1999. Besides killing two people and injuring 29, the path of destruction dramatically altered the look and feel of the community.

The school system had to be rebuilt from the ground up. For all practical purposes, the tornados acted as a kind of unwelcome urban renewal, according to the development plan. In a strange twist of fate, the school system suddenly went from average facilities to totally modern, state-of-the art campuses.

That ties in with the fourth major factor: The development of the Beebe’s educational facilities, and, more specifically, the presence of Arkansas State University at Beebe and the Beebe School District. A college campus has long been a part of the city, but the small college town went to the next level when it became affiliated with ASU.

“We are just easy to work with,” the mayor said, noting that developers don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops or get overloaded with a lot of restrictive regulations and zoning issues.

“Developers contact the mayor’s office and, from there, we walk them through whatever they need. There’s no layer of commissions or boards they have to deal with,” Robertson said. “They need us here or there, we’re there. They need an inspection, we are there. But we aren’t like some other cities and have inspectors hovering over a project all the time.”

The mayor said the city works hard to live up to its motto: “Your Dream Hometown.”

TOP STORY >> Huckabee backs Byrd for House

Leader senior staff writer

With House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) term limited, a pair of conservative Republicans will meet in the May 20 primary seeking the Dist. 43 House seat, which represents Cabot and surrounding areas. The winner will be unopposed in the November general election.

Darlene Byrd, 55, a nurse practitioner and longtime health-care advocate, faces Tim Lemons, a civil engineer who has served three terms on the Lonoke County Quorum Court.

“As a nurse practitioner and former teacher, I’ve been an advocate all my professional life,” Byrd said Tuesday.

The owner of APN Healthcare in Cabot, she’s been doing that ever since she became a nurse practitioner and running for office “is the next step as an advocate,” she said. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee endorsed Byrd this week, while the National Rifle Association endorsed Lemons.

“I have always enjoyed solving problems,” said Lemons. “That’s the main reason that I am a professional engineer. My goal with both my profession and in the political field has and will be to find the least expensive solution to a problem.”

“In light of Obamacare and how it’s implemented, healthcare will be a major topic for the next several sessions,” Byrd said.

“Just giving someone a card doesn’t give them access to health care,” she said. “You have to remove regulatory impediments.”

“This is the next step,” she said. “Health-care policies will be a major issue for us. … I have the foundation to address those issues.”

A former math teacher, she said she opposes Common Core, but not high standards or developing critical-thinking skills early in life. She says she doesn’t want to see teachers’ hands tied so they can’t develop individualized lessons and teaching strategies.

Byrd says she is against gay marriage and abortion, will fight for lower taxes and to simplify the tax code and will “push back” against an overreaching federal government.

Lowering taxes is a priority for Lemons in the next session. “We are one of the highest taxed states in the U.S.” He says he’ll fight Obamacare, uphold Second Amendment rights and limit federal government involvement in state government. That’s why he can’t support Common Core curriculum, he said.

Carter was one of the architects and prime movers of the private option health insurance that has now enrolled more than 200,000 people in Arkansas, most of them working poor.

But neither Lemons nor Byrd is committed to maintaining it.

Asked how she would have voted, she said, “I lost a lot of sleep over private option. As it stands, it’s hard to support. It has some things that could hurt access to health care.”

She said she understands it’s already over budget.

“I would have voted against the private option, both in 2013 and 2014,” Lemons said.

The benchmark numbers provided by the Department of Human Services were flawed, he said. Nearly twice as many people qualified for the program as estimated earlier, he said.

“Left unchecked, this program will be a financial burden for the taxpayers of our state.”

“Fortunately, our legislature has the opportunity to review the private option program annually. It is my hope that common sense will be used to get a handle on this in future sessions. It all comes down to whether this program is sound financially,” Lemons said.

“I do have compassion for those who are elderly or disabled and we must provide them with the health care that they deserve. My problem is with the people who abuse the system. Possibly a time limitation would be in order to limit the continued abuse of the system,” Lemons said.


Byrd said she was pleased to get Huckabee’s enthusiastic endorsement.

“I hope it reaches out to people who don’t know me as well, but know and respect him, so they feel more comfortable voting for me,” Byrd said.

Lemons called the endorsement “a non-issue,” saying Huckabee was a friend of his as well, but he did not seek the endorsement of the out-of-state resident.

He said the endorsement he received from the National Rifle Association “is much more relevant,” as are the support he said he’s received from the Arkansas Medical Society and state Board of Realtors.

No shrinking violet on Second Amendment rights, Byrd says she has a concealed- carry permit.


While on the Lonoke County Quorum Court, Lemons has served as chairman of the budget committee and was active on the jail committee that built a new $5.5 million Lonoke County Detention Center in Lonoke.

As for her qualifications for the position, Byrd, who has been appointed to a number of boards, including the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health, says she has the knowledge on which to build.

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right,” she said, “and I have the habit of continuing education.” She has four degrees — three in nursing, one in education.

As she works around the state, filling in for doctors, advanced nurses and nurse practitioners at clinics that have a temporary need, she says mandated electronic medical records are discouraging older doctors and driving some out of the business.

Lemons says his platform is a “Republican for Common Sense Government,” and he best represents the typical Cabot resident.

“I have been married for 31 years to my high school sweetheart. I have been a resident of Cabot for over 20 years, and my children were raised in Cabot and graduated from the Cabot school system.

“I believe that our churches are the foundation of our community,” said Lemons, a member of First Baptist Church for 22 years.

He’s been active in several community groups, such as CASA and Open Arms Shelter, Special Olympics, Race for the Cure and others.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers rally late, pummel Lions

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers got a two-hitter from pitcher Lauren McCluskey and busted open a scoreless game in the fifth inning to pummel hosting Searcy 13-0 on Friday in a 7A/6A East matchup.

Cabot was without a hit through four innings, and had gone two-up and two-down in the top of the fifth when all that suddenly changed.

The Lady Panthers got four-straight base hits, starting with eight-hole hitter Lane Justus. Shauna Attendorn and leadoff hitter Rachel Allgood followed with singles before Erin Eckert doubled to drive in the game’s first two runs. A Searcy error off Heather Hill’s bat scored another run, and Molly Wood singled for two more RBIs and a 5-0 Cabot lead.

Brandyn Vines got a hit to start the sixth inning, but she was thrown out at third later in the inning and two fly outs made it another three-up, three-down inning.

The seventh inning, however, was huge for the Lady Panthers.

Attendorn hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Allgood. Eckert then hit her second double of the game before Hill recorded the first out with a liner to second base. Wood walked before back-to-back errors on ground balls scored two runs and left Macee Abbott and Vines safe.

Kaitlyn Felder then hit a two-RBI double before Justus recorded the second out. Attendorn stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning, and for the second time hit a stand-up double. This one scored Abbott and Vines to make it 11-0 and left her and Felder in scoring position for Allgood, who made good with a two-RBI base hit that set the final margin.

“We finally woke up,” said Cabot coach Chris Cope about his team’s hitting and scoring burst in the fifth inning. “It wasn’t really well-done, but we’ll take it.”

McCluskey went the distance on the mound for Cabot. She gave up one hit in the second and one in the fifth while striking out three and walking no one.

The Lady Panthers improve to 9-0 in conference play and remain alone atop the East standings. They played another conference game at West Memphis on Tuesday and will host Paragould on Thursday. Look for details of those games in Saturday’s Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Hornets win Beebe meet

Leader sports editor

The National Guard Badger Relays were infested by Hornets on Thursday at Irwin Stadium in Beebe. The Beebe boys and girls finished second with each team scoring 62 points, but neither was close to Bryant, the only class 7A school in the event. The Lady Hornets won with 127.67 points while the Hornet boys won by 100 points.

The Jacksonville boys took seventh place with 35 points after what Red Devil coach Rick Russell called “a bad day”.

“We had two drops in relays and still finished seventh,” Russell said. “We’re usually strong in the relays and should’ve finished in at least the top five.”

Beebe sophomore Connor Patrom won the 400-meter race with a time of 50.94, beating Bryant’s Steven Murdock by .33 seconds. His teammate, senior John Diaz, won the 800m with a time of 2:04.00, beating Searcy’s Tucker Windley by .09. Abundant Life sophomore Daniel Carrell came out of nowhere in Heat 1 to finish seventh and score two points with a time of 2:11.32.

Beebe’s Race Payne won the shot put, coming just a half-inch short of 50 feet. North Pulaski’s David Jackson was second and Beebe’s Dusty Grier took fifth. Beebe also got 10 points in the discus, thanks to junior Jesse Crisco’s throw of 129-2.

Beebe took second in the 4x800m relay, third in the 4x400m and fourth in the 4x100. Beebe, who had lost to Jacksonville in the 4x100-meter relay last week at Heber Springs, beat the Red Devils at home. The Badgers’ team took fourth, one spot ahead of Jacksonville’s, Jaylon Tucker, Danial Curley, Tresean Lambert and Damon Thomas.

Jacksonville came back to finish seventh in the 4x400 despite an exchange error.

Curley tied Darian Jarrett of Bryant for first place in the high jump, with each competitor clearing 6 feet.

Sophomores from Jacksonville took third and fourth in the 100-meter dash. Jacksonville’s Jaylon Tucker was third, .25 seconds behind winner Justin Bullard of Mills with an 11.37 time. Jacksonville Lighthouse’s Jordan McNair was fourth with an 11.46. Tucker was also fifth in the 200m while teammate Curley, a senior, was eighth. John Winn of Bryant won that event.

Jacksonville’s Damon Thomas took fifth in the long jump with a 19-9.5 effort while Lambert was eighth, exactly five inches shorter.

Thomas was only eight inches short of second place, but Searcy’s Karonce Higgins won the event by a wide margin with a leap of 23 feet.

Lambert was also fourth in the triple jump at 41-0, just one-foot, nine inches short of first place Mar’Kevius Nelson of Bryant.

The distance races and hurdles were not strong suits for local teams. Beebe’s Kirk Allen scored two points in the 3,200m with a seventh-place finish, and William Peterson took eighth in the 110-meter hurdles.

In the girls’ event, only one local athlete placed in the 100-meter dash, but Jacksonville’s Antrice McCoy won it with a time of 12.85.

Madison Richey won the high jump by clearing 5-1. She also took second behind Bryant’s Jayla Anderson in the 300-meter hurdles, third in the long jump and scored one point in the 100-meter hurdles with an eighth-place finish.

Beebe’s Taylor McGraw took third in the 800-meter race and fifth in the 200m. Lady Badger senior Brenna Johnson was fifth in the mile and two-mile races.

The Beebe girls were strong in the relays, taking second in the 4x800, sixth in the 4x400 and third in the 4x100. The Lady Badgers took third in the 4x100-meter relays behind Bryant and Mills, while Jacksonville’s team finished seventh.

Though they were second in the 4x800, they were 23 seconds behind the dominant Lady Hornets.

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils earn a win over Cabot

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville baseball team got a late-scheduled road win over Cabot Friday, beating the interstate rival 7-2 in a nonconference matchup at Brian Wade Conrade Memorial Field.

Jacksonville pitcher James Tucker threw six innings for the Red Devils. The Panthers got seven base hits off Tucker, including at least one in every inning but the sixth, but failed to take advantage of some prime opportunities.

Tucker, who has made a habit of working out of trouble, did so several times on Friday.

Jacksonville got a leadoff double on the game’s first pitch from Courtland McDonald to start the game, but didn’t scratch again off Cabot pitcher Gavin Tillery until the third inning. Tillery retired seven-straight batters after the opening pitch, but ran into trouble in the third when he began to struggle to throw strikes early in at-bats.

Nine-hole hitter Deaundray Harris got a one-out single to the gap in right-center on a 2-0 pitch. The base hit started a string of five-straight batters getting on base. McDonald followed with another first-pitch single before Brandon Hickingbotham was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kaleb Reeves then singled on a 1-0 pitch for two RBIs and cleanup hitter Greg Jones doubled on a 1-0 pitch to drive in two more runs and give the visiting team a 4-0 lead.

Tillery walked Ryan Mallison with two outs to put runners on the corners, but got Derek St. Clair to fly out to left field to get out of the jam.

The Panthers posted a run in the bottom of the fourth. Tristan Bulice and Coleman McAtee got back-to-back, one-out singles before Tillery hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored Bulice.

Jacksonville then made it 7-1 with a three-run rally in the top of the fifth inning. Reeves started the rally with a single. He stole second base and reached third on a passed ball. With one out, Tucker singled to score Reeves and made it to second on another passed ball. Tillery got Mallison to ground out to shortstop to end his night with two outs in the fifth inning.

Sophomore pitcher Chase Kyzer took the mound for the Panthers and gave up back-to-back singles to St. Clair and Blake Perry that made it 7-1.

Kyzer gave up a leadoff double to McDonald to start the sixth inning, but settled in and retired the next three batters in order.

Cabot appeared to be in business in the bottom of the fifth inning when it loaded the bases with no outs. Denver Mullins and Grayson Cole got singles to start the inning and Tucker walked leadoff hitter Lee Sullivan. Adam Hicks then hit into a 4-6-3 double play that scored Mullins and Riley Knudsen grounded to shortstop for the third out.

Tucker allowed eight hits and two earned runs, recorded only two strikeouts but issued no walks for the win.

Tillery also gave up eight hits in five and two-thirds innings. He gave up six earned runs while walking one, hitting one and striking out none.

Kyzer gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out one in one and a third innings.

Knudsen pitched the last inning for Cabot and struck out the side in order.

The leadoff hitters did most of the damage for both teams. Sullivan led Cabot offensively with two base hits while six others picked up one each.

McDonald went 3 for 4 with two doubles for Jacksonville. Reeves and Perry also got two base hits apiece for the Red Devils.

Cabot traveled to West Memphis for a 7A/6A East matchup on Tuesday. Jacksonville plays host to 5A-Central foe Little Rock Christian Academy on Thursday. Look for details of those important doubleheaders in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORTS >> McDonald camp a big hit

Leader sports editor

Amazing what a Super Bowl championship can do for one’s public profile. The evidence of it was on display Saturday at the second annual Clinton McDonald Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football Camp. McDonald, who in January won the Super Bowl as the starting nose tackle for the Seattle Seahawks, hosted approximately 130 young people from the central Arkansas area at Jacksonville High School’s Jan Crow Stadium.

A number of obstacles and roadblocks hampered the planning of the first McDonald camp that ended up being moved to Dupree Park because of Arkansas High School Activities Association’s prohibitive rules. Only about 20 to 25 kids attended that first camp, but Jan Crow Stadium was buzzing with activities on Saturday.

“It’s just by the grace of God that we have the opportunity to give back to the community like this,” said McDonald. As the campers gathered in the bleachers before lunch and in between morning and afternoon sessions, McDonald and the rest of the camp instructors each took a turn stressing the importance of self-discipline, education and faith.

“All of these men down here are telling you all important lessons on how to go about your lives the right way,” McDonald said. “But the most important thing you can do is walk every day with God and do what you can do to glorify Him. That’s why we’re here today, to try to give back and thank God and give Him the glory for the success we’ve had.”

Like last year, McDonald’s colleagues in the NFL, Michael Johnson and Demetrius Harris, also taught stations at the camp.

Harris is also a graduate of JHS and spent his rookie season last year on the Kansas City Chiefs’ developmental squad – the same way McDonald spent his first season in Cincinnati after being drafted out of Memphis University in the seventh and final round.

Former Arkansas Razorback and Green Bay Packer wide receiver Anthony Lucas also volunteered at the camp, as did McDonald’s older brother Cleyton, who played college ball at Mississippi Valley State and is now an Arkansas state trooper. Clinton McDonald’s former teammate at Memphis and current personal trainer Abraham Holloway was also on hand for the second-straight year. Holloway lost more than 100 pounds after graduating as a 320-pound offensive lineman.

Cleyton McDonald stressed an acronym he practices, W.I.N.

“Y’all all like to win don’t you?” Cleyton asked the campers. “Well let me tell you what else winning means. It means ‘What’s Important Now’. We’ve talked a lot about following your dreams, and some of you have dreams of playing in the NFL. But let me tell you something. None of you are going to be in the NFL in the next few years. That’s just a fact. So what you have to focus on is what’s important now, in order for me to achieve that dream. And that’s listening to your parents, and listening to your teachers and getting that work done and developing good habits at home and in the classroom. Everyone you see here today talking to you has been through college. And you have to do the things that are important now to get to college and be successful to even have a chance to reach that dream.”

After lunch campers went back to the field for more work on running and blocking technique, route running, taught by Lucas and Harris, and learned tips on improving 40-yard dash times.