Saturday, June 21, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial Bank Red beats Gwatney

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Red Junior American Legion team picked up another win over Jacksonville on Tuesday, beating Gwatney Chevrolet 5-3 at Dupree Park. Jacksonville had a strong first inning against starting Cabot pitcher Chris Odom, scoring two runs off three base hits, though Odom did strike out the side. Odom fanned the first two Gwatney batters of the game, but Colton Goodman and Tyler Montgomery came through with back-to-back singles before Javan Wakefield drove a two-RBI double to the wall in center field.

Odom then got his third strikeout to end the inning, and did not return to the mound, complaining of soreness in his arm. He yielded to Gino Germer, who turned in a gem the rest of the way.

Jacksonville pitcher Ean Collie held Cabot scoreless in the first inning, giving up one hit to Denver Mullins, but the Centennial Bank team began to touch him in the second inning. That coincided with a sudden loss of the strike zone and a big error in the field that led to three unearned runs in a four-run second for Cabot.

The rally started with a single to center field by Easton Seidl. Collie then walked Jake Slunder and Germer. Nick Belden then hit a hard grounder to first base, where Goodman whiffed on the backhanded attempt, allowing Seidl and Slunder to score.

Nine-hole hitter Michael Shepherd then singled to right-center field to score Germer and leave runners on the corners.

Leadoff hitter Mikey Havard hit a high fly ball to right field that scored Belden. Braden Jarnagin then singled to center field, but Shepherd was thrown out trying to get to third base on an 8-4-5 relay for the second out of the inning.

Goodman took the mound in relief of Collie and got Mullins to pop up to second base to end the inning with Cabot leading 4-2.

Cabot Red made it 5-2 in the top of the third on two walks, a stolen base and a sacrifice grounder by Germer that scored Odom.

Germer held Jacksonville hitless through the second, third and fourth innings. He walked the bases loaded with two outs in the second inning with Goodman coming to bat. Goodman’s base hit in the first inning was his ninth in a row in the last three games, but Germer got him to ground out to shortstop to end his streak and the inning.

The Cabot southpaw retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings and recorded two straight outs in the sixth before Gwatney finally got a base runner.

Goodman doubled to left field and then took advantage of Germer’s failure to look at him during the next at-bat and stole third base.

Montgomery then singled with a slow grounder to shortstop that scored Goodman and set the final margin.

Goodman also did well on the mound. After giving up the base hit to Jarnagin in the second inning, he held Cabot without another base hit the rest of the way.

The game ended on the time limit after six innings. Germer threw the last five and got the win. He gave up just two hits and one earned run while walking four and fanning three.

Goodman gave up one hit and one earned run over four and two-thirds innings, striking out six and walking four.

The win lifted Cabot Red to 11-6 while Gwatney dropped to 10-8.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears split with Vilonia

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills High School summer league team lost for the first time in 10 games in a doubleheader split with Vilonia on Thursday at the Sherwood Sports Complex. After dominating the opener and winning 17-2 in five innings, the Gwatney Buick-GMC squad squandered game two by giving up five unearned runs and losing 5-4.

“Even with all the errors we made, we had a lot more opportunities than they did,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “We just did a poor job of capitalizing. We’re very young and we didn’t have nearly everybody out for this one. We’re learning. Overall I’m pleased. The thing I like about this team is that they’re fighters. They don’t quit trying till the very end.”

Game one was a blowout from the start. Vilonia played mostly junior varsity players and it showed. Leadoff hitter Lucas Burrow singled before River Hunt made the first out. Hunter Heslep was hit and the next three batters all walked. After the second out, Tyler Yoeman and Ryan Lumpkin came through with consecutive doubles to left field to drive in the last of the six runs in the frame.

Vilonia scored one run in each of the first two innings, but Sylvan Hills added four more in the bottom of the second to make it 10-2. Again Burrow started it with a single to right field and Hunt walked. Heslep hit a deep shot to center for the first out and Blake Maddox doubled to drive in both base runners. Mackenzie Seats then singled to put runners on the corners. Maddox scored when a pickoff throw from home sailed into left field. Seats had already stolen second and moved to third on the bad throw. He then scored on a balk.

The Bears started the third inning with two-straight strikeouts at the bottom of the order, but still scored four runs. Burrow got his third single, this time to left field, to start things off. Hunt reached on an error at third base and Heslep singled to center field to score Burrow. Maddox’s grounder to shortstop was flubbed, scoring Hunt. Seats singled to left to drive in Heslep, and Maddox scored from third on a wild pitch.

Yoeman led off the fourth inning with a walk and scored from first on a double to the wall in left field by Lumpkin. With one out, Burrow made it 4 for 4 with a single to left that scored Lumpkin. With two outs, Heslep reached on another error at shortstop and Maddox singled to right field to score Burrow and set the final margin.

Dalton Schuster started on the mound and got the win for Gwatney Buick-GMC. He threw three innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, three strikeouts and three walks. Maddox pitched the last two innings, giving up one hit while striking out three and walking no one.

The Bears took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning in game two with an unearned run. Burrow reached on an error at shortstop and scored four batters later on a single by Seats.

Left-hander Marcus Long took the mound for Sylvan Hills in game two and held Vilonia scoreless with just one hit in the first two innings. The Eagles then scored all five of their runs in the top of the third on three hits and three errors. Long struck out the first batter of the inning before giving up a single. Long then got the infield double-play grounder he needed to get out of the inning, but after fielding the ball and touching second base, Seats’ throw sailed into the home team’s dugout, advancing the runner to second base.

The next batter hit a routine grounder to second base that was flubbed, leaving two runners on. Back-to-back doubles to center field followed, scoring three runs. Long then got a lazy grounder back to him on the mound, but his throw to first was high, allowing the fifth and final run of the inning to cross the plate.

Sylvan Hills loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning and failed to score. They got two runs back in the bottom of the third on two hits, two hit batters and two walks. The Bears loaded the bases with no outs when Carson Sanders was hit to drive in the first run. But from that point, they managed just one more.

“We should’ve done more in that inning,” Tipton said. “You have the bases loaded with no outs and you just get one run in, you have to do better than that. That’s what killed us last year. I don’t know how many times we had situations like that and we didn’t take advantage.”

The Bears went down in order in the fourth inning and did not score in the fifth. They got their first three batters on base in the sixth inning as well but again scored just one run.

Yoeman led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left field. Lumpkin sent a sacrifice bunt down the first baseline, where the Vilonia first baseman fell down while trying to field the ball. It left both runners safe, but Yoeman tried to sneak into third base and was thrown out easily by the pitcher, who had picked up the loose ball.

Burrow then struck out for the second out. Hunt reached on an error at shortstop and Heslep walked to load the bases, but Maddox struck out to end the game.

The two games left Sylvan Hills with a record of 8-1-1 so far this summer.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers win four at camp this week

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot boys’ basketball team had an overall solid showing at its team camp this week at Panther Arena. The Panthers played two games each on Tuesday and Thursday, and won all four.

Cabot beat Russellville and England on Tuesday, and on Thursday, the Panthers beat Bryant 33-17 and dominated Little Rock Catholic en route to a 40-16 win.

The format for the games played at the team camp consisted of two 20-minute halves with a continuous clock, and even though the Panthers competed to win each game played, Cabot coach Jerry Bridges wanted to ultimately use those games as a way to further develop each player on his roster, and find out who can step up and contribute to the varsity squad once fall camp begins.

“We’re getting better, and that’s what this time’s about,” said Bridges. “Any time a score is kept, we want to win, but I want to do it within the framework. I feel good about our first six to seven players.

“We’re developing seven, eight and nine now, so coach (Nathan) Brown and I can get an idea of who’s going to be some of our depth. I think our chemistry is getting there. Earlier, our defense and execution was terrible, but it looked a lot better tonight.”

The Panthers jumped on Bryant at the start of their first game Thursday. Cabot led 9-1, and Bryant was never able to really close the gap. The Panthers took their first double-digit lead at 18-7 on a bucket inside the paint by sophomore guard Jarrod Barnes.

Jared Dixon got the assist on that play, and he earned another assist before the half ended after he connected with fellow junior Hunter Southerland underneath the basket for another easy lay in, which gave Cabot a 20-7 cushion at the end of the first half.

Cabot pushed its lead to as much as 31-12 with 9:18 left to play in the second half after Barnes got a steal and layup at the offensive end. Bryant scored the next four points before Chandler Casteele set Cabot’s point total with an inside bucket that was set up by a pass from the top of the key by Garrett Rowe.

Casteele’s basket came with just under a minute to play, and Bryant added a free throw in the waning seconds to set the final score of that game.

Like they did against Bryant, the Panthers jumped on the visiting Rockets early in Cabot’s second game of the evening. The Panthers led 24-10 at the end of the first half and 11 of Cabot’s points scored in that time came from Rowe, who had the hot hand offensively.

“We found where he needs to be for us offensively,” Bridges said of Rowe. “I think he’s going to be real good before it’s over. He’s just a junior. He’s going to be good for us. Really, him, Dixon and Southerland, those three juniors, I really think they’re going to be something for the next two years for us.”

Cabot pushed its lead to 20 near the seven-minute mark of the second half on a baseline floater by senior Tyler Hill, which put the Panthers up 35-15. Hill’s one of only two seniors on the team along with fellow two-guard Jake Ferguson, who was busy attending the University of Arkansas football camp this week.

“Tyler Hill was the only senior out there tonight,” Bridges said. “He does a lot of that stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. He does a lot of good things. He’s heady for us. He makes those extra passes and he hits those shots when he’s left open. What I like about him is he’s heady and he understands what we want to do.”

Rowe led all scorers in both games Thursday. He scored 12 points against Bryant and 15 against Catholic.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot blanks Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Centennial Bank Senior American Legion team got its second win of the season over Jacksonville and completed a Cabot sweep of Gwatney Chevrolet Tuesday at Dupree Park. After a junior win for the Cabot Red team, Ryan Logan and the senior team shut down the Jacksonville bats en route to a 4-0 victory.

Jacksonville’s starting pitcher, Derek St. Clair, also had a good game, giving up just one infield single and zero earned runs in his six innings of work, but that single was followed by a two-out error at second base and resulted in the only run Cabot needed for the victory.

It came in the third inning when Grayson Cole beat out a slow grounder to shortstop to lead things off. Hayden Vinson then walked before St. Clair got Lee Sullivan to fly out to second base and struck out leadoff hitter Conner Vocque. With two outs, Adam Hicks hit a routine grounder to second base, where Ryan Mallison bobbled the ball after fielding, then tried to rush a throw to shortstop Blake Perry for the out at second, but threw it into left field, allowing Cole to score.

That was the only run of the game until the top of the seventh as St. Clair and Logan dominated the opposition the rest of the way. Cabot had just one more base runner from innings four through six. It was also on an error, this time at third base.

Jacksonville got just three people on base the entire game. Logan walked St. Clair with one out in the second inning. Perry came within a few inches of tying the game with two outs in the fourth when he rifled one off the top of the wall in left field. It resulted in a standup double, but he advanced no further. Jacksonville leadoff hitter Courtland McDonald reached base with one out in the sixth when he beat out a grounder to short. But Logan got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat.

Perry took the mound for Jacksonville in the top of the seventh and struggled mightily to find the strike zone. He walked Cole to start the inning and Vinson sacrificed him to second base. Sullivan then walked and both players advanced a base on a wild pitch.

Another wild pitch scored Cole and left Sullivan at third. Vocque popped up behind the plate for the second out, but Perry issued back-to-back walks to Hicks and Logan before being replaced by James Tucker.

Tucker walked Grant Bell to score Sullivan. Tristan Bulice then hit an RBI single to center field that scored Hicks. Logan also tried to score on the play, but was thrown out at home by McDonald to end the inning.

Jacksonville mounted no threat in the bottom of the seventh. Logan put the four-five-six hitters down in order to preserve the victory.

Logan’s shutout included just two hits, three strikeouts and only one walk. St. Clair gave up one hit while striking out six and walking four.

On Wednesday, Gwatney improved to 2-3 with a 3-1 win over Hot Springs Lakeside at the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic. Tucker went the distance to get the win, giving up just three hits while striking out six and walking three.

Cabot improved to 9-5 with the win over Jacksonville and both teams play today at Sheridan.

Friday, June 20, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Cotton skips tomato festival

The political scientists say the old style of retail politics, where politicians met people in person and made speeches at rallies and regional festivals, is fast becoming passé. What counts now is media messaging, the very costly kind. Tom Cotton, the young candidate for the United States Senate, is putting that notion to the test like no one else.

Here is the shocker. Cotton didn’t show up for the Pink Tomato Festival last week at Warren, the first candidate for major political office in memory to skip it if he wasn’t sick.

It has been an inviolable rule that a politician had to appear at the Pink Tomato Festival, the Gillett Coon Supper, the Mount Nebo Chicken Fry and the serial Fourth of July celebrations in Clay and Greene counties.

Sen. Mark Pryor was at the tomato festival, as he is every year, competing in the tomato-eating contest, a dignity-fouling event where the politician wears a bib to keep from dribbling pink tomato over his clothing. Rep. Cotton, who has represented the district in the House of Representatives for the last year and a half, didn’t show and his campaign office offered no explanation.

Then The Nation magazine came out with a big spread on the Koch brothers (the $100-billion-net-worth industrialists), who had a summer political seminar for 300 of America’s richest men at the palatial St. Regis Monarch Bay resort in southern California (rooms start at $495 a night) on the weekend of the Pink Tomato Festival. Cotton was among three or four Senate candidates backed by the libertarian Koch brothers who were there, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the prospective 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio of Florida and one libertarian House member seeking re-election.

The Nation said each of the invited businessmen was worth at least a billion dollars, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Documents from the gathering indicated they discussed strategy for a Republican takeover of the Senate this November and for blocking global-warming regulations and campaign-finance reform, along with scuttling the Affordable Care Act.

The guests are expected to put up or raise $500 million to elect Cotton and the others who are considered vital to getting a Republican majority in the Senate and to strengthen the Republican cohort in the House.

Cotton has been a favorite of the Kochs and their political funding organizations like Americans for Prosperity since his short stint as a big-business consultant and then as a prospective political candidate.

While Pryor was gulping ripe tomatoes at Warren, Cotton was golfing with a select group of billionaires at the Monarch Bay resort. Then he dined with them at La Casa Pacifica, the former “Western White House” when Richard Nixon was president but now owned by Gavin Herbert, the billionaire founder of a pharmaceutical company and a major donor to Republicans and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which supplies model conservative legislation to libertarian state lawmakers. The dinner fare was “oven-roasted Angus natural filet mignon served in a fresh green peppercorn sauce served with braised fennel with truffle, asparagus tips, vegetable and mint quinoa.”

So which was the shrewdest political step, slurping tomatoes with locals on the Bradley County square or golfing, dining and chewing the fat with some of the world’s richest men?

You’ll get an idea when you see the endless barrage of commercials and circulars attacking Pryor as an Obama clone in the months ahead. The Pink Tomato Festival? Long forgotten. Or that’s the new theory.

EDITORIAL >> John Miller: A little giant

If you needed an icon to demonstrate the worth of seniority and tenure in legislative bodies, you would pick state Rep. John E. Miller of Melbourne.

Miller, who died Wednesday at the age of 85, had a breadth of knowledge and influence that has not been achieved since 1998, when the state’s term-limits law ended his 40-year career in the legislature. He is not apt to ever be rivaled again, and the public is not well served by that reality. A person now can serve no more than six years in the House during his or her lifespan.

When he was elected from the rural mountain district in 1958, Miller set out to understand everything about state government and the municipal, county and school governments that were the state’s subdivisions.

Unlike most lawmakers, who spend a few weeks a year at Little Rock when the legislature or its interim committees are meeting, Miller immersed himself in the government. It would, in time, mean incalculable millions of dollars in savings for the taxpayers and a more efficient government. He helped develop the uniform classification system for state employees that replaced the helter-skelter system where every government agency and its constituency fought for staffing and pay levels for the agency. A secretary in one agency might be paid triple the salary of a secretary in another.

Miller would soon become the most knowledgeable man on the Budget Committee, where he served nearly all his 40 years. He scanned every appropriation for waste or inefficiency, and when he said the Miscellaneous Tax Division of the Department of Finance Administration needed no more than one Accountant I, the committee always went along with him, no matter if the governor’s budget called for three and the director said he needed them.

He chaired the Revenue and Tax Committee and no tax passed without his imprimatur for most of the 40 years. He believed the state was wasting millions of dollars renting space all over Pulaski County for state agencies and that people who needed to see the government about a problem should find it at the Capitol. He finally got the Big Mac completed, which housed major government offices on the Capitol grounds.

John Miller was known as quaint and something of a prude. He didn’t drink, smoke, curse or party. For that matter, he didn’t tolerate lewd displays on government property, once complaining loudly in the Legislative Council about bared breasts and “nekkid women” in paintings at an exhibition of Arkansas artists in the Capitol rotunda. The newspapers ridiculed Miller, but the secretary of state quietly had the art taken down and stuck in a broom closet.

When Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller complained about legislative obstreperousness in 1968 and remarked in the earshot of reporters, “I’ll be glad when those bastards go home,” Miller took the floor of the House to defend his beloved mother against the slur from the state’s chief executive and sobbed. Rockefeller was stunned but realized that while from others it would be a political stunt, John Miller was genuinely hurt by the name-calling.

But he was not a Jason Rapert. He was genial with every legislator, lobbyist or constituent, never uttering a cross or disrespectful word. As much as his knowledge and skill, that might account for his outsized influence in the legislative halls. No one in the legislature comes close to having such knowledge and respect and no one will. You don’t earn it in a few weeks.

TOP STORY >> Guilty plea for heroin

A Cabot resident among eight men implicated in nine heroin overdoses and two deaths pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday to a single count of conspiring to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute between 100 grams, but less than a kilogram of heroin.

Wallando (Wiley) One-zine, of 210 Linden St., Cabot, could have faced a mandatory life sentence had he been found guilty of the original five counts and contributing to the death of two unidentified Cabot area men.

Onezine will serve 10 years in federal prison if U.S. District Judge Price Marshall signs off on the plea agreement.

If not, Onezine will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Also charged with distribution in July 2012, and their ages at the time, are Devon McClain, 19, of Cabot; Justin Pennock, 27, of Ward; Alex Evans, 22, of Cabot; Hunter Gladden, 25, of Ward; Mark Aaron “Zane” Pruitt, 22, of Jacksonville; Landon Cope, 21, of Little Rock; and Keith “Key” Sanders, 25, of Memphis.

In addition to the DEA, other agencies assisting in the investigation were police departments in Cabot, Ward, Austin and Maumelle, plus the sheriff’s offices in Lonoke, Conway and Pulaski Counties, and the Lonoke County prosecutor.

One offender reportedly pled guilty to a lesser penalty, and the others still face trial.

TOP STORY >> Pagan rituals vs. zoning regulations

Leader staff writer

Is it a zoning issue or religious intolerance for a Pagan temple and store at a home in Beebe?

Seekers Temple at 608 E. Dewitt Henry Drive is in the home owned by high priest Bert and his wife, priestess Felicia Dahl.

The Dahls moved to Beebe in March from El Paso, where they had a temple and store for five years. They wanted to be closer to the freeway and many of their members were enrolled at the Arkansas State University-Beebe campus.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Mayor Mike Robertson spoke about Seekers Temple. He told the council that, according to the temple’s website, members will fill the room during the next city council meeting Monday with their Pagan followers until they could be heard.

Dahl wants to have a hearing to have his store and temple at his house.

“It is strictly a zoning issue,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the Dahls came to city hall and were told they could not have a business or a public facility in their residences because they did not conform with zoning or fire codes. Robertson said the Dahls have accused the city of religious persecution.

“I assured them that we had no desire, nor did we care about their worship of their religion. We have no desire to stop them from opening a store. All they had to do was come to the city, get an occupation license and rent a building in the appropriate zone — commercial — to open a store. We could not stop them,” Robertson said.

“(Dahl) asked about a rezone to C-2 commercial, but it will not help him. If he goes to C-2, he cannot live there. It will not work. We have requests every day, and we turn people down every day that want to conduct businesses out of their home,” the mayor said.

Bert Dahl said, “We can’t afford to buy other places (in town) to put the temple and store...We wanted to open and function in peace. We aren’t bothering anybody. We are not able to publicly operate and grow. The mayor wants us to shut down and go away.”

Trouble Brewing

He said his family worked on moving into their Beebe home for nine months. They like the location because it has a workshop. He said the mayor was aware they were buying the home and sold them some furniture from his store. Dahl said they had no problems until they moved in.

According to Dahl, in January, the Seekers Temple planned to hold the 12th annual Arkansas Pagan Pride event. It is usually held at Boyle Park in Little Rock. Dahl saw the city park at the baseball complex and wanted to move the event there.

He spoke to the parks director about renting a pavilion for a day but was quoted the price of $600 to rent the park for the weekend. Dahl asked if knives or selling herbs were allowed in the park for rituals. The price did not come down and Dahl decided against the idea.

He thinks that was when his troubles with the city began.

Code enforcement officer Milton McCullar gave a cease- and-desist notice to Seekers Temple on Feb. 5, before they opened the store.

Seekers Temple was denied a special-use permit for the worship facility and store before Dahl applied for that permit. The letter said Robertson concluded that Beebe zoning codes do not allow the use for the building other than residential.

Dahl pointed out there are two churches across the street, Lighthouse Pentecostal Church and Victory Baptist Church, an apartment complex and a home-repair supply business. On his side of the street are a business that is run out of a barn, a detail shop run out of a garage owned by Alderman Harold Welch and an electrical business.

Another man sells produce out of his house, and a vacant lot is zoned commercial. Dahl said he was told by the mayor that Beebe is zoned for individual properties.

He was told he needed a required number of parking spots, but the Dahls own a large field behind their house to use for parking.

Dahl said the city attorney has not contacted him. He asked Alderman Welch for help for the city to hear his case at the council meeting, but Welch has not gotten back with him.

“The mayor refuses to hear us. We can’t do anything, and we need help,” Dahl said.

What is Pagan

Dahl said they practice ancient paganism, which honors ancient Egyptian, Greek, Celtic and Norse gods. However, Seekers Temple is open to different sects of paganism.

Dahl defines a pagan as someone who honors or worships one or more deities found in pre-Christian or tribal mythology.

Practices can include shamanism, witchcraft, wizardry, sorcery or magical practices.

“We don’t believe in the devil because he is a Christian deity. People believe Paganism is a cult, but Seekers Temple is open. Paganism is not about the magic. It is about the worship of the gods,” Dahl said.

The Pagan Temple

Dahl, a disabled Army veteran, has practiced Paganism for 29 years. He is a stay-at-home dad, raising his two children.

The temple’s meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month in a large room in the house.

“Meetings are like a summit. We talk in peace so we can understand the different paths (of Paganism). Any given meeting is from two to 15 people. The most we had were 32 people.”

Dahl would like to convert the two-car garage into a temple with the shop building as the store.

The Pagan Store

The store helps support the temple. It pays for the cost of its website and traveling expenses to provide worship services for inmates at a state prison near Calico Rock once a month.

Dahl said the closest pagan shop is two hours away. “We are needed here. The mayor can’t stop our Internet sales. We don’t have a storefront or a sign. People can order items online and save on shipping by picking up the items here,” Dahl said.

The store has children’s books, spiritual books, offering bowls, calendars, fortune telling cards, herbs and oils, statues and figurines, clothing and incense.

Dahl said their biggest seller is the witch’s foot or the pentagram pendant necklace.

He said it is protection symbol, a shield the gods wore when they came here.


Dahl alleges his family and Seekers Temple are being harassed by Lighthouse Pentecostal Church across the street. He said, when word began to spread about Seekers Temple, Lighthouse members came over to invite them to their church. He said the Dahls declined, but Lighthouse members still kept coming over. They drop pamphlets in the family’s front yard in the middle of the night.

Dahl said they apparently didn’t notice the Seekers Temple van in the driveway.

The church built a large lighthouse in the front yard. A spinning beacon shines light on the house every five seconds, Dahl said. “It runs all night long,” he said.

The light bothers the family while they sleep. Dahl said he called the church’s pastor, Jason Scheel, who is chairman of the Beebe Planning and Zoning Commission, about the light. The church moved the beam of light higher to hit the trees and light up the Dahls’ house, he claims.

“It feels like a prison searching for escapees,” Dahl said.

Dahl said the police told him Beebe does not have a disturbing the peace law since the trains run through town and there was a race track.

Seekers Temple also receives phone calls with only music playing on the line.

Dahl said the pastor began to ignore his calls and complaints, so he went to the church and asked for a meeting with the elders, but was ignored.

On May 21, Dahl went to the Lighthouse church before services started and asked for the members’ attention. He told them in a loud voice about the problem with the light and church leaders ignored his pleas.

Dahl said, after he went home, three police officers came to his house and told him the family was no longer welcome at the Lighthouse Church and would have to take their complaints to court.

A week later, Dahl said, two officers served a warrant at his house and arrested him for disorderly conduct and harassing communications. Dahl believes the charges were filed by Lighthouse Bishop John Scheel or his son, Pastor Jason.

Dahl said Jason Scheel must have been tipped off, as he was sitting in his car across the street watching Dahl taken into custody. Dahl had to pay $320 to bond out. He enters a plea in court July 9.

Dahl was told by the prosecutor he could face $2,000 in fines and a year in jail.

Lighthouse Pentecostal Church, Jason Scheel and John Scheel filed no-contact orders against Dahl on May 28 in White County District Court Beebe.

The church did not immediately return a call from The Leader.

Dahl said a police officer watches the house for hours, usually on meeting nights.

The Seeker Temple originally opened in El Paso in 2008, where the Dahls also opened a pagan store in 2010.

TOP STORY >> Verdict pleases victim’s mother

Leader senior staff writer

Moments after Circuit Judge Herbert T. Wright found her guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in the ball-bat beating death of James Heath, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, Rene Joyce Rollf whimpered in a tight huddle with her defense team, saying, “I didn’t do it.”

Later, in the momentary embrace of her family, Rollf’s sobs echoed through the halls of the cavernous Pulaski County Courthouse as deputies escorted her from the courtroom back to the Detention Center to await a pre-sentencing report and sentencing Aug. 5.

First-degree murder is punishable by 10 to 40 years or life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving 70 percent of that time. Abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence each is punishable by prison terms of up to six years.

Heath’s mother smiled after the verdict and said she was satisfied.

“Justice was done,” said Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Mariani. “The judge heard the evidence, and I’m just happy the family got a little closure.”

Rollf waived her right to a jury trial, so Wright was both judge and jury in this two-day bench trial.

Mariani said the prosecution had been open to a negotiated plea, but that Rollf never responded.

Before the trial, Rollf underwent a mental evaluation to determine her competency to stand trial and to aid in her defense.

She was found to be malingering, suffering from a personality disorder and to have borderline intellectual functioning, perhaps from long-term drug use, Mariani said Friday morning after being asked about the mental evaluation.

Defense attorney Patrick Benca said the determination on whether or not to appeal the convictions would be made after sentencing.

Two codefendants, both of whom accepted plea bargains in exchange for their testimony, and an eyewitness who was not charged with any crime painted a picture of Rollf, in a methamphetamine-fueled rage, bludgeoning Heath with an aluminum T-ball bat, a wooden cane and her fists and trying to choke and gouge his eyes out while straddling him in the narrow hallway of her trailer in the predawn hours of Sept. 15.

Testifying in a prison jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg chains, John Posey, 37, said that, with Heath on the floor, Rollf then “picks up the bat and swings it down like spitting wood.”

Posey is serving 37 years for second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse.

Posey, Taylor (Fat Boy) Arnold, 22, and Justine Gainey testified that Rollf was angry, that she considered Heath a snitch and that, after he was apparently dead, she directed them and others to move the body and put it in a depression in the ground behind her trailer.

They said she ordered them to clean up the blood and burn Heath’s and their own bloody clothes.

Rollf threatened them, they said, telling them, “This is what happens to snitches.”

All three testified they were afraid of her.

Arnold is free after his testimony. He was not in the Pulaski County Jail on Friday.

Rollf’s attorney attacked the conclusion of state Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Kokes that the cause of death was a blow to the head from a cylindrical object not inconsistent with the bat. It was introduced by Mariani as the murder weapon.

In an attempt to create doubt that Rollf committed the murder, Benca presented evidence apparently intended to deflect blame toward Arnold, a former welding student.

The defense attorney suggesting the actual cause of death was a blow to the head from a welder’s small ballpeen hammer.

Robert Robbins, a Jacksonville resident and a former high school friend of Arnold’s, said Arnold in a panic turned up the car radio and talked about the murder.

Robbins said Arnold might have said the weapon was the hammer and that it was in the back of his red truck.

Robbins said he wasn’t sure Arnold said “ballpeen hammer.”

The defense rested after calling two witnesses, Robbins and Rollf’s mother, Delores Beasley, who testified that the hole Heath was found in was dug years ago for use in a children’s birthday party game.

Benca made impressions in a small ball of Play-doh, trying to get Dr. Kokes to say that the ballpeen hammer could have made the injury that drove the skull into Heath’s brain. But Kokes disagreed.

Citing testimony that Posey’s wife, Jody Posey, stood on Heath’s neck after he appeared to be dead, and reportedly said “I felt him take his last breath,” Benca also suggested that she was responsible for his death.

Both sides had sought to talk further with Jody Posey, but could not find her, they told the judge.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

EDITORIAL >> The wars continue

“It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.”

—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on how long the United States would fight in Iraq.

The men and women from Little Rock Air Force Base have performed heroically for more than a decade, flying hundreds of missions into Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve never tired of the fighting and they’ve never complained: They did as they were told and saved hundreds of lives by delivering thousands of tons of supplies over dangerous terrain. They dodged bullets and roadside bombs, but now, as those countries descend into chaos, they must wonder about the politicians who sent them into harm’s way with no realistic goals or even an exit strategy.

A neophyte George W. Bush took the focus off Afghanistan and shifted his attention on Iraq. They are failed states that have splintered into numerous fiefdoms, thanks in no small part to another neophyte president, Barack Obama, who thought we could withdraw from battle, having planted the seeds of democracy.

The military analyst Edward Luttwak last week called our Iraq adventure a “colossal blunder, but the motive was far from sinister, indeed it was far too noble: to liberate Iraq from cruel dictatorship (done) in the expectation (entirely illusory) that Iraqis once liberated would peacefully collaborate under Western guidance to build a soon-to-be-prosperous democracy.”

While Sunnis and Shiites kill each other as Iraq falls apart and Americans evacuate the U.S. Embassy, the Obama administration is reaching out to the Iranians in hopes of stopping the Sunni advance on Baghdad. The Iranians, who are mostly Shiites, despise the Sunni rebels and might join us in crushing them. But our strange alliance with the Iranians could invite more Sunni militants into the fighting, with peace as elusive as ever.

The news is not all bad from the Middle East: It was announced Tuesday that the U.S. has captured Ahmed abu Khattalah, one of the ringleaders who attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Fighting terrorists should remain our main priority.

We recall a perceptive essay by Brent Scowcroft, a former aide to President George H.W. Bush, in the Wall Street Journal in August 2002 under the headline, “Don’t Attack Saddam.”

Scowcroft, a retired Air Force general, wrote, “The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam’s regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive — with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy — and could as well be bloody.”

The general continued, “If we are to achieve our strategic objectives in Iraq, a military campaign very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation.”

Scowcroft, a national security adviser to the older and younger Bush, as well as Presidents Nixon and Ford — was convinced that the fighting in Iraq would not end well for us. Although he didn’t spell it all out in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, he must have known the true cost of the war: Trillions of dollars to fight endless battles and the deaths of thousands of people — Americans and Iraqis — and the additional cost of treating wounded veterans back home.

Scowcroft supported the war in Afghanistan. He thought that should have been the main focus on the war against terror.

But even Scowcroft might not have guessed that the war in Iraq would draw terrorists from all over the Middle East, Africa and Asia with names like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and al-Sham, who are now executing thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians. These groups are so barbaric — they cut off the arms and legs and heads of their opponents — that al-Qaeda has shunned them.

Scowcroft said a war in Iraq would distract us from fighting terrorists who want to attack the U.S. “If we are truly serious about the war on terrorism, it must remain our top priority,” Scowcroft wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

“But there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks,” the retired general continued. “Indeed Saddam’s goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.”

Unlike the armchair strategists at newspapers and on cable TV, Scowcroft has a first-rate military mind and is a political realist who knew we’d have to stay in Iraq for a long time to keep it from falling apart. He wasn’t the only one who thought that. A former aide to Gen. David Petraeus, when he was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said we’d have to stay for “many, many years to come.” Another Petraeus adviser said, “Perhaps 20 years.”

TOP STORY >> Road widening near Beebe

Leader staff writer

Drivers traveling along Hwy. 64 West near Beebe will see the start of a 3-mile widening project next year.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department held a public meeting about the project last week at Union Valley Baptist Church. About 50 people came out to seek information on the highway improvements, which will cost between $7 million and $10 million.

According to Jon Hetzel, communications manager for Garver Engineering, Hwy. 64 will be widened to four lanes with a paved median from Turner Road to Brock Road.

Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2015 and be completed in two years. “It is to improve safety, in-crease capacity and improve efficiency of the roadway. It is a connection between Beebe and Conway,” Hetzel said.

The project is part of the Connecting Arkansas Program. It is being funding through a voter-approved 10-year half-cent state sales tax to improve highway and infrastructure projects in the state.

The Hwy. 64 project is one of 31 projects in the program.

TOP STORY >> 45-year term in guilty plea

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County resident Dennis Harrington, 42, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of a 35-year-old woman.

Harrington, of 3505 Clayhill Road, appeared before Judge Sandy Huckabee in Lonoke County Circuit Court on Monday. Huckabee sentenced Harrington to 45 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

He must serve at least 31 years before he is eligible for parole. He was facing a capital murder charge.

He also pleaded guilty to abusing a corpse and third-degree domestic battery and no contest to the kidnapping charge.

Harrington’s alleged accomplice, Steven Boulanger, 37, faces hindering apprehension and abuse of a corpse charges. Boulanger’s jury trial starts on July 9.

Harrington was victim Rebecca Lauer’s boyfriend. Lauer’s family reported the 35-year-old resident of the Woodlawn community missing in July 2013.

Harrington was out on parole for aggravated assault and terroristic threatening. Lauer filed a report in April with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, saying Harrington was physically abusing her.

The warrant for Harrington’s arrest included statements from witnesses. Their statements and evidence collected at his home showed Harrington killed Lauer on the night of July 21 and — with the help of a friend — burned her body in a pile of debris and tires behind his home.

According to information in the affidavit, Lauer’s mother, who lives in Texas, reported her missing on July 28 and detectives from the sheriff’s department questioned Harrington three days later.

Harrington said Lauer had left and provided detectives with a note she wrote to him: “I love you DH, Booboo, My Goober…Yours completely, your sweetheart.”

On Aug. 5, Danny Mathis went to the sheriff’s department with information in the missing person case. He said Harrington brought Lauer to his home on July 21 and demanded twice that he have sex with her.

Mathis said Lauer had been beaten. She was in handcuffs that Harrington removed after she asked to use the bathroom and get a drink of water.

Mathis said he refused to have sex with Lauer and the couple followed him to the Exxon service station at the intersection of Hwy. 38 and Hwy. 31, where he intended to buy minutes for his cell phone.

They left, but Harrington texted him later saying his pickup was stuck on Yielding Road.

Mathis said he pulled the pickup out of the mud and left. Lauer was still alive then.

On Sept. 21, Eric Williamson, who had been arrested on outstanding warrants, provided information that led to the discovery of charred human remains in Harrington’s backyard.

Williamson told investigators that he was at the home of Steven Boulanger, 37, on Seaton Road when Harrington came in yelling that he needed Boulanger’s help more than he had ever needed it before.

The door was open on Harrington’s four-door pickup, Williamson said, and he saw a body in the back seat.

Williamson said Boulanger left with Harrington.

Williamson went to Chris Carpenter’s house on Tippett Road and told him about what he had seen. Then he and Carpenter drove to the property adjoining Harrington’s property.

They watched Harrington build a fire in the backyard that he fed with tires and what appeared to be clothes that he carried from inside his home.

On Sept. 23, Boulanger was questioned. At first, he said he knew nothing about the case. Then he said Harrington came to his home on the evening of June 21 and asked for his help.

When he got into Harrington’s pickup, he saw a woman in the back floorboard but didn’t know if she was dead or alive.

They drove to Harrington’s home, Boulanger said, and talked for about an hour about cleaning up his place. Then they went to Carpenter’s home and loaded several tires into Harrington’s pickup.

Back at Harrington’s home, Boulanger said Harrington dropped him off at the front of the house and told him to get newspaper to start a fire.

By the time he got to the back of the property, Harrington already had a pile of trash, debris and tires ready to burn.

Boulanger said he didn’t see Harrington put the body on the fire and that the two never spoke about a body.

Boulanger’s statement was to obtain a search warrant. Harrington’s property was searched on Sept. 24. An evidence team with the FBI found bone fragments large enough to be identified as belonging to someone with a small frame.

Det. Matt Edwards with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department, said in the affidavit for Harrington’s arrest that Boulanger later admitted he knew Lauer was dead and that he helped Harrington pull her from the pickup and put her body on the burn pile.

TOP STORY >> Rezone bid rejected

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council on Monday voted down an ordinance to rezone 1502 Willie Ray Drive from R-1 residential to C-2 commercial after a man threatened to sue over it.

Jacob Henson of 141 Tanglewood Drive said, “I’ve got a statute right here from 1843 stating that you cannot put no business in Briarwood. I would like to know where the city council is getting their authority.”

Linco planned to construct a metal building on the large lot. The company’s staff would have cut countertops from granite and marble at the new location, according to project engineer Tim Lemons.

Planning Commission Chairman James Reid told the council the property faces the freeway and is “very close” to where the north interchange will be built.

That interchange is included in the bonds that are supported by the extension of a one-cent city sales tax approved by voters. The city’s part of the $20 million project is $9 million, and it is set for completion in 2018.

Reid said, “That whole area is going to be the north side of our city. We’ll develop all around this commercial area as we develop as a city and grow in that area.”

That could happen in 10 to 15 years, the commissioner said, but “we’re seeing the same thing now on Pine Street.”

Reid argued that the zoning meets the future land use for the property. The council recently approved those plans.

Henson said, “The only way that you can change (the statute), it can be changed, but you have to get the majority of people out there to sign off.”

Lemons said 51 percent of the nearby property owners had agreed to amend their bills of assurance and allow Linco to move there.

But Henson said, “I went around and talked to several people that Linco went around and had to sign the petition. And they didn’t have a clue what was going on. There was several of them that changed their minds after I showed them pictures of (Linco’s) present condition out behind Mean Pig Barbecue.”

He told the council there was a pile of granite there that was four feet tall and could fill three trucks.

Cypert reminded those in attendance that the C-3 zoning at the current site allows that outside storage, but that would not be tolerated in the requested C-2 zoning.

Henson said he had retained a lawyer because his documentation states residents are entitled to monetary damages if the city puts a business in their neighborhood.

He told the council all he needed to do was file a complaint at the Lonoke County Courthouse.

The mayor asked Henson to stop talking. Cypert told Henson that his lawyer needed to speak with City Attorney Jim Taylor from that point onward.

Taylor, in response to a question, said he thought Henson was reading from a bill of assurance, not a statute.

Alderman Ed Long said before the vote, “My concerns are, if it was down toward the overpass more, it would be more palatable to me. But we’re putting it in the middle, right smack in the middle of residences.”

Reid disagreed, saying the lot is separated from the neighborhood by a creek. He added that access to the public would be from Willie Ray and not a residential street.

But trucks will travel on Briarwood Loop to unload at the back of the building, Reid said in response to a question.

A Tanglewood Drive resident was concerned about the trucks. She said the road was already buckling with the asphalt coming off in chunks.

The resident also said a lot of people who have lived in her neighborhood for 25 to 40 years wouldn’t have the financial means to move.

She pleaded with the council to keep the area from going commercial.

A Briarwood Loop resident said he had not heard of the city’s plans to commercialize the neighborhood. He complained that people are already speeding on Willie Ray, driving 65 to 70 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Cypert clarified that Cabot would not buy residents out. Instead, the expected growth would come from private developers negotiating with the landowners who could choose to sell or not, the mayor said.

TOP STORY >> Chase ends in arrest

Leader staff writer

A Little Rock man was arrested Monday night after allegedly shoplifting from the Cabot Walmart Supercenter, fleeing from police until rolling his Chevy Suburban on the Hwy. 5 off-ramp. Four young children in the vehicle — two of them his own — were transported to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where they are being treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Christopher Carver, 28, of Little Rock was charged with two counts of kidnapping, fleeing, second-degree battery and four counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, all felonies, as well as shoplifting, a misdemeanor. He was cited for reckless driving.

Carver had his first appearance in Lonoke County Circuit Court on Tuesday. He was given $100,000 bond and held at the Lonoke County Detention Center.

According to Cabot police, officers were called to the Walmart Supercenter, 304 S. Rockwood Road at 7:42 p.m. for a shoplifter who was fleeing from a store loss-prevention officer. Carver got into a gold Suburban in the parking lot. He drove north on South Rockwood to Hwy. 89. Police activated their lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the vehicle.

Carver continued on to Hwy. 67/167 South toward Jacksonville with officers in pursuit.

Carver was speeding as he took the Cabot Exit 16 off-ramp, losing control as the Suburban flipped and landed in a ditch at the side of the road.

Police assisted four children out of the SUV and gave them first aid until MEMS arrived. They were transported to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Carver was transported to North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville for his minor injuries. He was released from the hospital and transported to the Cabot Police Department for booking.

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial White falls to Maumelle

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot White Junior American Legion team did what it could to battle with Maumelle early in Monday’s doubleheader at Brian Wade Conrade Memorial Field in Cabot, but the host team came up short in both games, losing the first game 14-7 and the second by the final score of 7-1.

Maumelle hit three-straight triples to start game one, and scored three runs in the first inning to take an early lead. Cabot, however, responded with two runs in the bottom of the second to cut its deficit to 3-2.

The visitors added another run to their side of the board in the top of the third to lead 4-2, and four more their next at-bat to push the lead to 8-2. Cabot answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth to trim Maumelle’s lead to 8-3, and the Centennial Bank squad had its best inning in the fifth.

Cabot was able to get into a groove offensively in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four runs in that inning alone to make it a one-run game at 8-7. Centennial Bank leadoff hitter Ethan Smith started the rally with an infield single to shortstop.

Two-hole hitter Logan Edmondson followed with a stand-up double to deep right-center field, which drove in Smith and made it an 8-4 game. Brandon Jones drove in Edmondson the next at-bat with a single to left field, and cleanup hitter Dalton Hurst followed Jones’ at-bat with a double to right center.

With no outs in the bottom of the fifth, Tyler Fowler drove in both Jones and Hurst with a line-drive single to right field, which cut the Maumelle lead to 8-7. Maumelle changed pitchers at that point, and Cabot couldn’t adjust to the pitching change as their next three batters got out via fly out, strikeout and groundout.

Maumelle answered in the top of the sixth with four more runs to lead 12-7. The visitors held Cabot White scoreless its next at-bat and Maumelle added two more insurance runs to its side of the board in the top of the seventh to set the final score.

“Our guys came out and we hit the ball,” said Cabot White coach Joe Bryant. “We’ve played 12 ball games at this point and our sticks are steadily coming around, and that’s a good sign, but defensively, we’ve got to change it up and really make some adjustments because we’re making way too many errors.

“That’s what’s killing us. I feel like we hit the ball good enough to win tonight. We just didn’t play defense.”

Cabot White totaled nine base hits in game one, but Maumelle finished the game with 16, nine of which went for extra bases. A lot of Maumelle’s extra base hits were the result of poor pursuit angles in the outfield, or just a failure to get in front of the ball as it rolled or bounced near the Cabot outfielders.

SPORTS STORY >> Russellville spoils no-no with late hit

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Senior American Legion team split a doubleheader at Russellville on Saturday, and traveled to Faulkner County Monday night where it beat Conway 7-4 in extra innings.

Saturday’s games were played at the Arkansas Tech baseball field, and Russellville won the first game 5-1. Cabot, however, got a dominant performance from Adam Hicks on the hill in game two, which helped the Centennial Bank team win the second game by the final score of 3-0.

Hicks threw a perfect game through the first six innings of game two, but Russellville got a base hit on the first pitch of the seventh inning to break the chance at a perfect game.

Even though Hicks didn’t get the perfect game, he completed the game on the mound and earned a shutout victory.

“Adam Hicks threw a perfect game going into the seventh inning,” said Cabot coach Chris Gross, “and then somebody talked about it and jinxed it because the first pitch of the inning was a base hit. But we ended up pulling away 3-0.

“He threw 71 pitches – a complete game. He was hitting his spots and he was just having fun, which doesn’t happen a lot with the boys these days. Not all of them have fun anymore, but he did really well.”

In Monday’s win at Conway, the game was tied at 4-4 going into extra innings, but Cabot added its three runs in the top of the eighth while keeping the host team’s bats at bay in the bottom part of the extra inning to leave Faulkner County with a win.

Cabot used three different pitchers in that game. Grayson Cole started the game. He was later relieved by Gavin Tillery, and Ryan Logan finished the game and got the win on the hill as a result.

“We did really well,” Gross said of Monday’s win. “We’re trying to save some of our pitching going into the wood bat tournament (at Sheridan on Thursday). I threw Grayson Cole, who’s not typically one of our starters.

“He gave up a couple of runs and I put in Gavin Tillery, then Ryan Logan came in and shut it down. It was 4-4 going into the eighth, but we ended up pulling away 7-4 in the eighth inning.”

The Cabot Senior American Legion team played at Jacksonville last night after deadlines and will play again tomorrow in the first round of the Sheridan Wood Bat Tournament. Cabot’s first game of the tournament is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot juniors sweep Heber

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Red Junior American Legion team improved its Zone Conference record to 4-0 Saturday with a doubleheader sweep over Heber Springs at Brian Wade Conrade Memorial Field in Cabot. The Centennial Bank team beat the visitors 5-0 in game one, and won the second game by the final score of 4-2.

Cabot got a stellar performance on the mound in game one from Gavin Tillery, who pitched all seven innings of the first game, finishing his complete-game performance with nine strikeouts.

Tillery gave up just two hits and no walks in the winning effort.

Even though Cabot got the win in game one, it took the Red team a while to get comfortable against Heber Springs’ starting pitcher Andrew Bradshaw, who threw three-straight scoreless innings to start the game. Bradshaw struck out eight Cabot batters before being pulled after the fifth inning.

“Pitching definitely ruled the first game,” said Centennial Bank coach Justin Moore. “Both pitchers were cruising. It seemed like it was just flying by – after 30 minutes, I looked up and there’s already five innings that have gone by.

“It was just boom, boom, boom. Luckily, our pitcher was throwing strikes and getting ahead of batters and making quick work of them, which gave us enough time to put some runners across the plate and win a ball game.”

The score was 0-0 after the first three innings, but Cabot finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Cleanup hitter Easton Seidl got on base thanks to a dropped fly ball in right field at the start of the inning.

Tillery then came to the plate and singled to the gap in left field to put two runners on for Centennial Bank. Jonathan Harpole came in to run for Tillery, and three batters later, Michael Harvard drove in both runners with a one-out single to center field.

Cabot added another run its next at-bat. Catcher Chris Odom started the bottom of the fifth with a stand-up triple to left field. Seidl was hit by a pitch the next at-bat, and Odom scored on a 4-6 fielder’s choice hit by Tillery, which gave Cabot a 3-0 cushion.

The host team set the final score in the bottom of the sixth. Leadoff hitter Bobby Duncan reached on an error at shortstop to start the inning. He stole second base before two-hole hitter Braden Jarnagin singled to the left-field gap, which put runners at the corners for the host team.

Jarnagin then successfully stole second base, and on the throw to second, Duncan took off for home plate and scored with ease to make it a 4-0 game. Odom then advanced Jarnagin to third with a single to left field, and Seidl set the final score of game one with an RBI single to the left-field gap, driving in Jarnagin.

The second game was cut to three innings at the request of the visitors, and Heber Springs (2-2) scored two quick runs in the top of the first inning. Cabot, though, answered with four runs in the bottom part of the inning to set the final score.

Right-hander Seth Cummings got the win in game two. He pitched all three innings, and finished the game with three strikeouts.

Odom and Jarnagin led Centennial Bank offensively in game one Saturday. They each finished with two hits in that game. Harpole led the host team at the plate in game two. He was the only player for either team to get multiple hits in the second game. He finished the nightcap 2 for 2 with an RBI and run scored.

Cabot Red (9-5, 4-0) will play at 6 p.m. today at home against Morrilton.

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney wins four straight

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Chevrolet Junior American Legion baseball team picked up a pair of doubleheader sweeps on Saturday and Monday. The Jacksonville squad went on the road for two 6-2 wins over Beebe’s O’Reilly’s Auto Parts team on Saturday. On Monday, the Chevy Boys were back home at Dupree Park for wins of 11-1 and 13-4 over Sylvan Hills.

In game one on Saturday, Jacksonville got two runs in the second and four in the top of the third for a 6-0 lead before Beebe got on the board in the bottom of the third. The O’Reilly team added another run in the fourth to set the final margin.

Jordan Wickershaw and Ean Collie walked to start the two-run second for Gwatney. With one out, leadoff hitter Caleb McMunn doubled to right-center field to drive in the two base runners.

Brandon Hickingbotham got things rolling for Gwatney in the third with a leadoff double. Javan Wakefield then walked and Colton Goodman doubled to right field for two RBIs. Tyler Montgomery followed that with an RBI single to score Goodman.

Montgomery scored three batters later on a two-out base hit by Wesley Williams that made it 6-0.

Beebe blew a prime opportunity for a rally in the bottom of the third, getting its first four batters on base, but only scoring one run. Dawson Burge and Blaine Burge each drew walks to start things off. The runners advanced on a wild pitch, but Dawson Burge was thrown out at home on a grounder to third base by Carson McNeil. Blaine Burge was also thrown out on the base paths, but a double by Jake Majors scored McNeil for Beebe’s first run.

In the fourth inning, Ty Searcy drew a leadoff walk, stole two bases and scored on a wild pitch.

In game two, Jacksonville’s Edward Johnson hit a one-out double in the top of the first inning, and scored on a two-out single by Joseph Cummings. The Gwatney Chevrolet squad made it 2-0 in the top of the second when Quentin Stallard reached on an error at shortstop, and scored after back-to-back singles by Kameron Whitmore and Caleb Smith.

Majors held Jacksonville in check on the mound over the next two innings, and O’Reilly’s tied it up with two runs in the bottom of the third. McNeil hit a leadoff single to center field before Majors flew out deep to right. Ethan Hicks walked and Searcy moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.

With two outs, Dakota Faircloth doubled to the wall in center field to score both runners. But the momentum didn’t last as Jacksonville scored four in the top of the fourth on only two hits.

With one out, Smith got his second single to right before leadoff hitter Jayden Loving grounded out to second base for the second out. Johnson grounded to third, but the throw to first was wild, leaving everyone safe. Jonathan Smith was hit by relief pitcher Hunter Lawrence and Williams – hitting for Cummings – followed that by drawing a bases-loaded walk to score Caleb Smith.

Brandon Hawkins then hit a high, slow bouncer down the first baseline and reached safely, driving in another run. Payton Traywick then hit into another E5 that brought the final two runs home.

Beebe also dropped both ends of a doubleheader against Searcy on Monday, losing 8-2 in game one and 5-3 in game two. The losses drop the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts team to 1-7 overall, but Beebe coach Mike Lawrence is still optimistic about the team.

“Monday was the first game all season that we’ve had our whole team together,” said Lawrence. “It was 2-2 for several innings then they got a couple of critical hits and scored some runs. The second game didn’t count towards conference, so we just tried to get some kids in that haven’t played as much and put people in some different positions to get them some experience. I think we’re seeing steady improvement. There are a lot of fans coming out to our games and the kids thrive on that and it makes them want to get better.”

In Monday’s outing, Jacksonville jumped on Sylvan Hills 4-0 in the first inning with five base hits. McMunn got the rally started with a one-out double to center field, and scored on a single by Goodman. Montgomery walked and Goodman scored on a base hit by Hickingbotham that left runners on the corners.

Hickingbotham’s courtesy runner, Caleb Smith, and Montgomery pulled off a double steal that scored Montgomery. Wakefield then singled to again put runners on first and third. Jackson then sacrificed to second base to score Caleb Smith.

Gwatney added another run in the top of the second on three-straight singles by McMunn, Goodman and Montgomery.

Sylvan Hills scored in the top of the third when Marvin Butler hit a leadoff single to right field and stole second and third base. Tucker Price drew a one-out walk and Sylvan Hills tried its own double steal. The play scored Butler, but got Price caught in a rundown and tagged out by second baseman Tyson Flowers.

Jacksonville added two more in the bottom of the third. Collie hit a one-out single to right before a strikeout preceded a two-out rally that included three-straight singles by Flowers, McMunn and Goodman to make it 7-1.

Hickingbotham struck out the side in order in the fourth inning, setting up Jacksonville’s game-clinching, four-run fifth.

It started with a leadoff single by Hickingbotham, followed by a single by Wakefield. After Sylvan Hills pitcher Cameron Attabough struck out the next two batters, he hit Caden Sample and walked Flowers, with courtesy runner Caleb Smith scoring on a wild pitch in the process. McMunn then got his fourth base hit to score Wakefield, and Goodman followed with his fourth hit to drive in two more runs and end the game on the sportsmanship rule.

Hickingbotham went the distance on the mound, giving up two hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking three.

Sylvan Hills got off to a much better start in game two, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning, but three different Bruin pitchers had trouble finding the strike zone.

The Bruins’ Connor Beeching hit a one-out single to left field off starting pitcher Flowers. Butler was then hit by a pitch. Christian Hendrickson then hit a line-drive single to left field for an RBI. Cummings misplayed the bounce in the outfield, allowing Butler to also score on the play and leaving Hendrickson safe at third. He then scored when Flowers balked to give Sylvan Hills an early but brief 3-0 lead.

Jacksonville answered with six runs in the bottom of the same inning and never trailed again. The Chevy Boys got just two base hits in the inning and only one left the infield. Most of the runs were due to the four walks and three hit batters issued by Sylvan Hills pitching.

Sylvan Hills got one run back in the top of the second, but had an opportunity for more. Jason Neely hit a leadoff single and Dylan Petit was hit by a pitch. Waymond Bryant reached on a bunt that loaded the bases. Gwatney relief pitcher Dillon Morse then struck out the next batter and got Beeching to ground out to shortstop. That scored Neely, but Butler popped up to shortstop to end the threat.

Jacksonville then scored two more runs on two walks, an infield single and a Sylvan Hills error to make it 8-4. Gwatney then added five more in the fourth to set the final margin. Stallard – hitting for Flowers – was hit to start the inning before back-to-back outs were recorded by Butler in relief. Whitmore then singled to right field and Jonathan Smith walked to load the bases. Caleb Smith hit into an E6 that scored one run. Wickershaw then hit into an E8 that cleared the bases and made it 13-4.

Sylvan Hills had two more good opportunities to score, but base running blunders thwarted both threats. In the top of the fourth, Hendrickson sent an 0-2 pitch to the wall for a stand-up double, but failed to tag up when Ray Young hit a routine fly ball to center field and was doubled up at second. It happened again in the top of the fifth when Petit reached to lead things off, only to be thrown out at first after failing to tag on a pop up to shortstop.

The game ended on the time limit in the bottom of the fifth as Jacksonville had loaded the bases again with a single and two walks.

The four wins lift Jacksonville’s record to 10-7 while Sylvan Hills drops to 2-4.