Friday, May 30, 2014

TOP STORY >> Cabot reflects on Memorial Day

Leader staff writer

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock) reflected on the importance of Memorial Day during the Cabot American Legion Post 71’s ceremony Monday at the National Guard Armory.

Griffin said many elected officials who speak at Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies try to say things new and differently.

“The point is not to break new ground. It is to say the same thing over and over again. There is a power in repetition and repeated acknowledgement of the sacrifice of those who served and paid the ultimate price,” Griffin said.

Griffin said his dad is a pastor and he had to sit through sermons when he was growing up. Griffin would tell his dad he didn’t hear anything new. Griffin said, looking back on that, the point was not to hear something new, but the same gospel repeatedly until the pieces are taken to heart.

“The point is not to do a new ceremony. It is to do the same thing we always do. The reason is to thank those who paid the ultimate price — to honor them. We must expand that to those parts of the team who went to fight. That team is the family,” Griffin said.

Griffin said he served in Iraq in 2006 and left his wife behind during that time. He said everyone knows individual stories of hardships that families go through when the families are down range or out to sea.

“Just think how much harder it is to deal with when they never see their loved ones return. That’s what Memorial Day is all about,” Griffin said.

Griffin also talked about the differences between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Veterans Day honors all veterans, he said. Memorial Day is special because it is about the veterans who gave their lives for our freedoms.

“When you think about the impact on families, you have to include them in the reminder. They bear so much of the burden. They are the ones we are faced with when we see them after they’ve lost a loved one, at church or a store. We have an obligation to them to make sure we do whatever we can to help them through that.

“Not just after it occurs, or six months, but year after year. We cannot know what they personally are going through. We must always on Memorial Day include the family and loved ones who are left behind and that sacrifice that they have endured,” Griffin said.

Griffin brought his 4-year-old son, John, to the ceremony. The boy sat next to him on the dais and stood with him during his speech.

“If I don’t tell him what Memorial Day is, how is he going to know? Is he going to be taught at school? Maybe, maybe not. Is he going to get it from pop culture, from the songs he listens to when he gets older? Probably not. TV, probably not,” the congressman said.

Griffin said it is up to the veterans to teach the young folks and teenagers. Most are not going to choose to serve in the military, he noted.

“If we leave it to some magic force to teach them, they may never find out, never know, fully understand. I would encourage folks to take the risks of whether (their children) will behave or not and bring them. I believe it is important to see the reverence given to the flag, the missing and the service of those who serve in uniform and their families. It is important for the families to know that some people care so much about this country that they were willing to give their lives,” Griffin continued.

“If we don’t teach them, no one else will. We can’t always count on the veteran service organizations. I’m not the one they are trying to reach. A lot of these organizations do not have a lot of young people in them,” Griffin said.

He worries about his American Legion Post in Little Rock not existing in 20 years.

“I’m one of the old guys now. When I look around for the 20-somethings, there may be one,” Griffin said.

He said the (service organizations) are obligated to be the ambassadors to those who do not understand. Griffin said they can start with their own families and then the community. “If we don’t pass it on, no one will,” he said.

The Memorial Day ceremony, “is a poignant reminder that this has to be done every year, every day, all the time, lest we take it for granted,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Anniversary of D-Day remembered

Story by RICK KRON

More than 200 people enjoyed a pleasant Saturday at Jacksonville’s Military Museum.

Some came for the free hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks provided by area banks, others because they were related to the bluegrass band providing entertainment and some to see the museum’s new D-Day exhibit.

But most – young and old -- came to visit, recall, remember and honor veterans as an early salute to Memorial Day.

The museum offered free admission and one visitor stopped and eyed the large Arkansas map on the wall that listed all the Arkansans who died in that conflict.

Hanging from the ceiling were their dog tags.

“I dated a boy from Texarkana that died in Vietnam,” a woman told one of the museum guides. “His name was Larry Pool.”

The guide found the name and the dog tag for the teary-eyed visitor.

But the highlight of the event was the official opening of the D-Day exhibit, which included biographies, pictures and personal items of area soldiers who fought in World War II. Many of those soldiers had died in the war.

One of those was Army Pvt. Edsel A. Malone. His sister, Frances Malone, came up from Georgia to add sand from the beaches of Normandy to the exhibit.

Jacksonville resident Robert Houston, who put the display together, provided the sand. He got it on a recent trip to Normandy while doing research for the exhibit.

Francis remembers the day her older brother died.

“I was just 10 years old when the man with the telegram came to our house in Hope. The crying started right then,” she said.

Private Malone, who grew up in Clark County playing baseball, hunting and fishing, landed in the area of Etienville, Normandy. Heavy anti-aircraft fire scattered the allied troops. Slowly, the soldiers found each other in the dark and Malone and his fellow “Red Devils” (50th Parachute Infantry Regiment) fought through D-Day holding down the enemy and allowing other units to advance.

On June 7, 1944, Malone and his friend “Buddy” Webster volunteered to go and retrieve vital supply bundles that contained much-needed ammunition and medical supplies.

In search of those supplies, the two came upon a German machine gun position and didn’t have a chance of surviving the barrage of bullets.

Malone was awarded the Purple Heart and was initially buried in a temporary cemetery in the area. In 1948, his body was properly buried, with full military honors, at the American cemetery in Normandy.

But for the younger ones like Robert Trimble, 13, of Cabot, and Hunter Johannes, 13, of Beebe, attending the all-day event, it was an opportunity to try on uniforms, helmets, sit in an aircraft simulator and check out the replica guns.

“Awesome,” Johannes said.

Trimble echoed those thoughts, “It’s really cool.”

Warren Dupree, collections manager for the museum, called it a very nice alternative event for the Memorial weekend.

“It’s very informal. People are drifting in and out, and they don’t have to fight the holiday crowds,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Beebe chamber honors Goffs

Leader staff writer

The Beebe Chamber of Commerce recognized three community leaders during its annual banquet on Thursday.

• Leroy Goff, 70, received the Lifetime Service Award. He was introduced by his son, Clay. Both were instrumental in the construction of Beebe’s new public library that was named in their honor.

This past year, when the new library was becoming a reality, Leroy Goff donated his time, labor and expertise to design and construct the building.

He was born in 1943 in Antioch, Calif., where his family was living in a labor camp and picking fruit. Leroy Goff, his mother and sister moved back to McRae when he was 45 days old. His father and brother stayed for the remainder of the harvest.

Leroy Goff went to first and second grade in McRae and started attending Beebe Public School in the third grade. As a fourth grader, Goff brought his dog, Old Puppy — a black water spaniel — to school. The dog stayed in the classroom, going out when class went out. Old Puppy became its mascot.

When Leroy Goff was 11 years old, he bought a lawn mower on credit from Powell and Company. By the end of the summer, he had the mower completely paid for, but it was completely worn out.

“Leroy soon realized he had worked all summer for absolutely nothing,” Clay Goff said.

Leroy Goff received a $100 inheritance from his aunt when he was 13. He bought a 1947 Plymouth for $90 and started a paper route in town.

Leroy Goff was rolling the Arkansas Gazette at 4 a.m. He started his route at 5:15 a.m. and was back home by 6:30 a.m.

“If Parrish and Mildred Robbins did not receive their newspaper by 5:30 each morning, Mildred would be calling,” Clay Goff said. The Robbins house was so close to the street that, when Leroy Goff threw the paper over the car, it would land on the porch roof.

He also had to collect the monthly subscription money from customers.“He once went to the Robbins’ home, collecting the monthly dues. He explained why he was there. Mildred Robbins told Leroy his money was up on the roof, right where the newspaper had been six times that month. She then slammed the door,” Clay Goff said.

His dad also worked at Adams Grocery on Center Street. He sacked groceries for $5 each Saturday for 13 hours a day.

Leroy Goff later began working at Dean Billingsley’s Gulf gas station on Dewitt Henry Drive, where Jordan’s Kwik Stop is now located. He worked from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week for $40 a week.

Billingsley decided to sell the gas station for $1,500. Leroy Goff, who was 16 and a junior in high school, convinced his brother to go into a partnership. They bought the business and hired their dad to work for them.

Leroy Goff bought out his brother’s share a year later. His dad worked at the store from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Leroy Goff worked there after school and until closing time.

Leroy Goff and his friend, Donnie Bolding, then bought the closed Palace Theater on East Center Street and re-opened the cinema. They rented the building from R.V. Powell for $50 a month and the equipment for $50. They rented movies at $25 for a three-day rental. The two had fliers printed and hired a projectionist for $2 a night.

Leroy Goff graduated from Beebe High School in 1961. He went to Arkansas State University in Beebe and later transferred to the University of Central Arkansas, earning a degree in history and English while working at the gas station at night and on weekends.

Leroy Goff began his teaching career at age 20. He taught at Jacksonville’s Northside Junior High School. He continued his education by earning a master’s degree in history and political science and returning to school again for a master’s degree in school administration.

Leroy Goff was Northside Junior High vice principal when he became interested in real estate after reading a book. In 1969, he took a correspondence course from the University of Arkansas. Then he passed the state broker’s exam.

Leroy Goff built his first office that summer on Dewitt Henry Drive. He partnered with Lois Famer to form Goff and Famer Real Estate and Insurance Agency. They had different ideas for the business and soon split. Leroy Goff then became the owner of Goff Real Estate and Insurance Agency.

He continued to work at the school, run the real estate office, the service station and was owner of Goff’s Tire and Battery Supply on Main Street.

Goff left his education career in 1974 and devoted his time to the real estate business.

• Clay Goff was honored as the citizen of the year. He was presented the award by his sister, Tessa.

Clay Goff serves on the White County Regional Library Board, where his knowledge in finances helped make funding the new library possible.

“He is compassionate. He has wisdom, dedication, strength, knowledge and willingness. He has a vision for the growth of Beebe. He is ready to devote those traits to fulfill that vision,” Tessa Ashley said.

“One thing you might not know about Clay. He picks up hitchhikers weekly,” she added.

Ashley said Clay Goff has a desire to help people. He sees each opportunity as a chance to witness the Lord, she noted.

Clay Goff is a Beebe High School and Ouachita Baptist University graduate. He has studied stocks since high school.

Clay Goff has a real estate license and has worked for First Security Bank for the past 15 years.

He is a member of the Beebe School Board.

Clay Goff has also served on the Beebe Chamber of Commerce and committees within First Baptist Church.

“His love is serving the public. He displays his service, through countless hours of volunteering,” Ashley noted.

• Beebe Elementary third- grade teacher Kim Cox was recognized with the Educator of the Year Award. Cox is retiring at the end of the school. She has 25 years of experience in education, 16 of those at Beebe.

“Her students truly know how much she cares. She loves all children,” Superintendent Belinda Shook said.

Shook said she never received a single complaint regarding Mrs. Cox. Parents even tried to request that their children be in Cox’s class, she noted.

“She is the ray of sunshine. You always enter the elementary and receive a hug and smile from her,” Shook said.

• Beebe High graduate Caleb Gentry was awarded with the chamber’s $500 FBLA college scholarship.

Gentry plans to attend Drury University in Springfield, Mo., major in accounting and minor in theater.

 The incoming Beebe chamber president is Karen Zaremba.

• Steve Jones, building and sites coordinator for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, spoke on the importance of businesses and communities having Southern charm.

SPORTS STORY >> Jr. Gwatney wins final two at NLR

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville junior American Legion team played one game as a complete unit at the North Little Rock Optimist Club’s annual Memorial Day Tournament at Burns Park over the weekend. After falling short in a comeback bid and losing 7-5 to Benton, the Jacksonville team, which features 25 players this year, split in two and took the place of a no-show the rest of the tournament.

In all, it meant Jacksonville teams played six games in three days, and none will likely count towards the official record.

“They had a team that didn’t have enough players so they came to me and asked if we’d split,” said Gwatney coach Bob Hickingbotham. “I tried to split them up pretty evenly – put some pitchers and some kids that could swing the bat on both teams. We didn’t look very good for the most part, but I didn’t expect us to with all that going on.”

Jacksonville lost its next three after losing to Benton, including losses to Little Rock Christian, Arkadelphia and Texarkana, before closing the tournament with wins over Cabot and Little Rock Central.

“We almost came back and beat Texarkana,” Hickingbotham said. “We lost 7-6, but we were down 7-0.”

The tournament results are less of a concern for the head coach as what he’s going to do with enough players for two junior teams.

“It would be great to split them up and just have two teams, but there’s not enough coaches,” Hickingbotham said. “I’ve got 14 or so on the senior team, too, that I’m going to coach. That group is primarily made up of the Jacksonville High School team, with a couple of others added to it. But with this junior team, I’ve got 13 players that are 15-years-old, eight 16-year olds and the rest are 17. Usually I’m crying and whining this time of year wanting players. This year I’ve got more than I know what to do with. I’ve never cut a kid my entire time coaching this team. I really hate to think about doing it now.”

American Legion baseball has seen statewide growth this year, even though a few longstanding programs won’t be fielding teams this year, including Sylvan Hills and Pine Bluff.

There are six teams in Jacksonville’s Zone 3 Senior Conference, and 12 in the junior conference.

The Gwatney senior team didn’t begin practice until Monday, and will begin the summer season with a trip to Morrilton tonight. The junior team plays at Bryant on Thursday.

Find details of those games in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe big in size, numbers

Leader sports editor

The Beebe football team is enjoying its highest number of participants in spring football practice in coach John Shannon’s tenure as head Badger. There were 72 players reporting on day one and that number has held above 70 for most of spring session, when teams are given three weeks to get in two weeks worth of practice.

Beebe will continue spring drills through this week to complete its allotment of practices before the mandated dead period begins the second week of June.

“I feel like we’re a little ahead of the game from where we were last year because we’re getting a lot of kids some reps,” said Shannon.

The Badgers have 14 starters returning from last year, including eight on offense and six on defense. That’s meant a lot of extra snaps for players with less experience this spring. Coaches are taking the philosophy that having more players than ever isn’t an advantage ifit doesn’t produce quality depth.

“We’ve got so many returning from last year we’re trying to get a lot of reps for our younger players and build up some depth,” Shannon said. “I’m comfortable with the ones we have coming back and we have a few guys that weren’t regular starters that we already know are going to play a much bigger role for us this year. But we’ve also got some younger guys that are going to be pretty good football players. We’re trying to get them up to speed on what we’re doing so we can plug them where we do have gaps to fill and need some more depth.”

The Badgers aren’t just larger in numbers, but will also be larger in stature than most of the teams Shannon has coached. Beebe has a trio of three-year starters returning on the offensive line that go about 300, 280 and 275 pounds. Those three will be joined in the starting rotation by four players Shannon says are all between 245 and 300 pounds.

The offensive line is not the only place Beebe is bigger.

“We’ve got bigger kids than we’ve ever had at inside linebacker right now,” Shannon said. “Reece Anders, Andy Hurt, Quinton Shears and a transfer from Conway, Bo Smith, all four have looked really good at inside linebacker.”

Aaron Nunez returns as the starting quarterback after missing much of last season with an injury. Shannon says he’s the clear-cut starter, with Justin Burleson, a transfer from Mississippi, filling the role of backup.

“He throws the ball exceptionally well but he doesn’t fully grasp the offense yet,” Shannon said. Stephen Hammill is a sophomore who is also trying to learn the position for the first time. He threw a touchdown pass on his only attempt during a short scrimmage on Friday.

The extra snaps for new players doesn’t mean the starters haven’t had their opportunity, and they have been impressive. Fullback Tripp Smith, one of only three 2,000-yard backs in the state last season, has added 15 pounds to his frame, but doesn’t seem to have lost any speed.

“He’s obviously bigger than he was last year and I was a little worried about it,” Shannon said. “But he still ran a 4.55 on our automatic timer so I’m pretty excited about it now. He juked a couple of kids, broke a lot of tackles. He actually carried a kid several yards on one play. I’ve said from the start he has a chance to be pretty special around here and I still believe that.”

The Badgers will be busy over the summer. They will be at the Conway team camp on June 9-10, and at 7-on-7 meets at Cabot on June 11 and 18. Starting on July 9, they will go to Conway team camps every Wednesday of that month.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls collapse in round two

Special to The Leader

Conway – When the Cabot softball team took the field for their first game of the 7A state softball tournament at City of Colleges Park in Conway, the Lady Panthers (15-11) ran upon a Springdale Har-Ber (21-8) team that outhit them 17-9 and outscored them 15-4 to put an end to their season.

The Lady Panthers left nine runners on base, and twice left the bases loaded. Cabot had earned a first round bye as the Central No. 2 seed, and weather delays made for a 5 p.m. Saturday game time. The Har-Ber Lady Wildcats had played Friday and defeated the Mount St. Mary Lady Belles 3-0.

“It was a tough loss,” said Cabot head coach Chris Cope. “Our girls came out and fought every inning. We had every opportunity. We had two innings where we had the bases loaded and didn’t come up with runs, and we had some errors early that hurt us. Give it to Har-Ber, they put the ball in play and made things happen, and we just didn’t. But our girls played hard all the way through, and I can’t fault them for that.”

Har-Ber batted first as the visitors and went down in order. Cabot, on the other hand, got a leadoff double by Brandyn Vines, and a two-out line drive single into right by Hannah Montgomery scored her to give the Lady Panthers the early 1-0 lead. The Lady Wildcats answered back in the top of the second with one run of their own on two hits and an error to tie the game at 1-1.

Cabot did not score in the bottom of the frame, and Har-Ber added two runs in the top of the third as they loaded the bases with no outs, then had two sacrifice flies to score two runners from third.

The Lady Panthers went in order in the bottom of the inning, and the lead was 3-1 for the Lady Wildcats.

The lead increased in the top of inning number four as Har-Ber got five hits after the first two batters were out, and five runs crossed the plate. Montgomery took over the pitching duties from starting pitcher Lauren McCluskey, and got a groundout to end the inning.
Cabot responded with three runs in its half of the inning to narrow the gap to 8-4.

Montgomery led off with a single. Payton Stedman came on to run in her place and was on base as Macee Abbott hit the ball over the fence in left-center field for a two-run home run.

Molly Wood followed with a single. Parker Steadman entered to pinch run, reached second on a grounder to the shortstop, and scored on a dropped throw by the first baseman. Vines and Rachel Allgood walked to load the bases, but after a pitching change, Heather Hill went down on strikes to end the inning.

Neither team scored in the fifth, although Abbott picked up her second hit of the game for Cabot, a double to right-center field.

Har-Ber had its biggest inning in the top of the sixth, adding seven runs on seven hits, one walk, and one hit by pitch to push the lead to the final 15-4 margin.
The Lady Panthers had to score twice in the bottom of the frame for the game to continue. Cabot loaded the bases as Erin Eckert reached on an error, Vines singled, and Hill reached on an infield hit, but with two outs, Montgomery grounded out to the shortstop for the final out.

Abbott led the team in hitting with a home run, a double and a walk, Vines was 2 for 3 and a walk, and Montgomery was 2 for 4.

SPORTS STORY >> Football coaching search should be quick

Leader sports editor

In just one week after posting the opening for the Jacksonville head football coaching position, JHS athletic director Jerry Wilson has received dozens of applications that he began sifting through on Tuesday. The position has to remain posted for at least two weeks, which ends on Friday.

Wilson plans to stop the application process after the minimum required time elapses, and get to work on the hiring process as soon as possible.

“Next week is June,” said Wilson. “I really need someone in place by the end of next week because that’s when school lets out. I want to be able to give these kids a name and a face to identify with before the dead period. So I’m hoping, I’m hoping, by the end of next week we’ll have a football coach.”

Wilson wasn’t able to be specific about the names of applicants so far because of their current positions at other schools. He did say that most of the applicants are currently assistant coaches with a couple of current head coaches in the mix. He also said the geographic range of applicants is broad.

“We’ve got applicants from northwest Arkansas to southeast Texas,” Wilson said. “Right now there are about 20 resumes that have been turned in. And I’ve gotten some phone calls from several other people that are seriously interested. It’s going to be a task. That’s why I want to start on this as soon as possible. We got through state tournaments. We’ve had graduation. We’ve got all that stuff out of the way. Now it’s time to hire a football coach.”

One problem Wilson faces is the lack of teaching positions for the future coach to fill, but he says that will just have to be dealt with.

“That’s a little bit of a snag, but that’s really water under the bridge at this point,” Wilson said. “We’re needing to move forward. Maybe just the right person will rise to the top. If not we’ll have to work something out the best we can.”

Wilson is also working on getting the Red Devils into some summer activities like 7-on-7 meets and team camps before they fill up.

“That’s just something I’m trying to throw together to keep them active and I’ll just hand off what I came up with to the new coach,” Wilson said. “He can tweak it or do what he wants with it at that point.”

Wilson wants to start the interview process early next week.

“I’m trying to get some interviews set up but we can’t do any until the two weeks is up,” Wilson said. “If it all goes well, hopefully next week we’ll make an announcement.”

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers starting to rebuild

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers had their final spring football practice Friday at Panther Stadium, and even though coach Mike Malham said his team has a long way to go to get to where he wants it to be, he added that they’re better than they were at the start of the spring football period.

Cabot is coming off a season that saw great success, as the Panthers won their first 12 games of 2013 and finished the season as the class 7A state runner-up.

Even though some key returning starters are back from last year’s 12-1 team, the Panthers lost 16 starters from a year ago, and Malham and his staff are in the process of finding players to fill the open spots on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Malham. “When you lose 16 starters, you know, you’re rebuilding with a lot of inexperience. We’re better than we were, or I hope we are, but we’ve got a long way to go. But we’ve got some potential.”

Some of the potential Malham spoke of is at quarterback. Sophomore Jarrod Barnes took the majority of the snaps at quarterback this spring, and is expected to be the starter this fall. Barnes brings a level of athleticism to the position that Malham looks forward to seeing the next three years.

“We’re working a sophomore at quarterback that I think’s going to be pretty special,” Malham said of Barnes. “He’s got a lot to learn, but he’s got some natural talent that you can’t coach.

“Sometimes he wants to try to do too much, but I’m looking forward to working with him for the next three years. I think he’s going to be pretty darn good.”

Cabot lost eight starters on offense, and has been working a lot of kids at various positions, according to the head Panther. Left guard Wyatt Talik and left tackle Curtis Crowder return up front for the Panthers, but those are the only returning starters on the offensive line.

Senior Jake Ferguson returns at split end, where he led the Panthers with 354 receiving yards and six touchdown catches last fall. Cabot will have to replace graduated fullback Zach Launius, who led the team with 2,009 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns last season.

Jack Whisker and Colton Eads took the majority of the reps at fullback in the spring, but both are expected to have defensive duties as well. Sophomore Easton Seidl also got some reps at fullback, but like Whisker and Eads, he could be seeing a lot of time on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Jess Reed, Jason Shrunk and Jalen Hemphill took reps at halfback this spring in Malham’s Dead-T offense.

Defensively, the Panthers return six starters, including Ferguson, a two-time All-State safety who was named Arkansas High School Defensive Player of the Year last season, and fellow senior Tristan Bulice, who Malham said might be the best nose guard he’s ever had in his 33 years at Cabot.

“Defensively, we’ve got a very good nucleus back there,” Malham said. “We’ve got three d-backs back, including Jake Ferguson, who of course was Defensive Player of the Year last year in the state of Arkansas and was the Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year.”

Holdyn Barnes and Logan Melder return at corner, and Dylan Smith is expected to see some time at the position as well. Brian Marshall returns at defensive end, and Whisker returns at strong-side linebacker in Malham’s 5-2 formation.

“We’ve got Whisker back at linebacker and three d-backs back, including Jarrod’s brother Holdyn, who played last year as a sophomore, and Logan Melder. Bulice is as good a nose guard as there is in the state. He can play.

“With six back on defense, if we can fill a couple of holes there, I think we’re going to be pretty strong. But we’re not there yet.”