Friday, July 18, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville golf set for season two

Leader sports editor

With the high school golf season rapidly approaching, Jacksonville is ready to begin its second year of competition, and will do so with one returning player who qualified for the state tournament last year.

Senior Jeremy Wilson tops the list of three returners and one newcomer to the Red Devil boys golf team. Wilson had very little experience when Jacksonville was an upstart program last season, but head coach Max Hatfield said he was the team’s most improved player from beginning of the season to the end.

“Jeremy worked on it and ended up finishing high enough in conference to qualify for state,” Hatfield said. “He’s been taking lessons and he’s been playing in tournaments. He’s been working hard. He wants to be good and he works at it. And he will be if he keeps working. He just got such a late start at the game he’s got a lot of ground to try to make up.”

Senior John Hermann and sophomore Tyler Cox also return for their second year, while sophomore Cody Anderson joined the team this summer.

“John has a good swing but he’s spent a lot of his summer at football camps and things like that,” Hatfield said. “He’s the kicker and he’s pretty good at that. Cody just joined us so I don’t really have a really good idea of where he’s at right now.”

Junior Haley Elmore is the only female player on the team right now. Hatfield lost his top female golfer, Nicole Hardison, who moved to Highland. Hardison just barely missed qualifying for state last season, but Hatfield said a few rounds with Elmore this summer show a marked improvement from her form last year.

“Haley has taken some lessons from the same guy Jeremy has, Tommy Rutherford,” Hatfield said. “She’s played in some tournaments over the summer, too. I’ve played with her a few times and there’s a noticeable improvement. She’s hitting the driver really well. It’s huge to play in those summer tournaments to get that experience in real competition.”

The season begins on Aug. 4 in a six-team match at Hickory Creek Golf Course outside Jacksonville. Sylvan Hills, North Pulaski, Robinson, Mills and England will compete.

The rosters are not set and more interested students are encouraged to sign up, he said.

“Hopefully we’ll get some more interest once school starts and a few more will come out,” Hatfield said. “If anyone is interested they need to call the high school and they will get them in touch with me. They take the top four scores in boys and the top three in girls for team competition, but you can enter as many as you want into an event, so everyone will get to play.”

SPORTS STORY >> Youth coach’s suspension upheld

Leader staff writer

Against the advice of the city attorney, the Cabot Parks and Recreation commission on Tuesday upheld its one-year suspension of a youth baseball coach and denied his request to appeal until 60 days.

Last month, the commission affirmed the baseball advisory board’s decision to ban John Elizandro from coaching for a year because he allowed someone to play in the wrong age division to give the child a chance to adjust to the game and enjoy himself on the field, he said.

In a letter to the commission, Elizandro said he did not believe the older player gave his team an advantage, or he would not have played him.

Elizandro did not attend the June meeting and requested the commission hear his appeal.

City Attorney Jim Taylor, arguing that the parks commission should leave disciplinary matters up to the parks director, advised the commission not to get involved in the suspension and send it back to the parks director for a decision.

He also recommended that the commission’s by-laws be changed so that it can no longer hear appeals, effectively getting the commission out of the punishment business and helping the city to avoid lawsuits.

Chairman Maggie Cope said the by-laws give the commission the final say in any sports league decision, and it should hear the appeal.

Taylor said if they did hear appeals, the commission is exposing itself to lawsuits and its members could even be sued personally. In that case, Taylor said the Municipal League and the city attorney’s office will not represent commission members.

“You are going to get into highly intense situations athletics carry with them. It is something, in my opinion, you should not be doing,” Taylor said.

He said the commission is delving into the day-to-day operations of the parks and recreation department. In his view, the commission’s job is to simply set and follow up on the parks’ budget. Hearing appeals is the job of the park director, Taylor recommended.

Commission member Nick Whitaker said, “I have really big trouble after last month’s meeting, you (Taylor) did not say a word. The next morning, a man went to the mayor’s office, and we start getting e-mails from you saying we shouldn’t have done it.”

Taylor said he knew nothing about the meeting, until e-mails were sent out. He said at the time he did not know the position the commission would be put in.

“I, nor my office, are no way involved in any kind of political things of nature in this town, and never will be,” Taylor said.

After the meeting adjourned, Whitaker continued to have words with Taylor, angrily pointing at him.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Red’s season ends in semifinals

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Red Junior American Legion team’s season came to an end Tuesday in the semifinals of the Junior American Legion state tournament at North Little Rock’s Burns Park, where it lost a close 2-1 decision to the Sheridan Yellowjackets.

Sheridan (22-5) scored the game’s first run in the top of the first inning, and held Cabot scoreless through the first four innings.

The Centennial Bank team knotted up the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth, but the Yellowjackets scored the game’s final run their next at-bat in the top of the sixth and kept the Cabot bats at bay for the remainder of the game to move on to the finals.

Other than getting timely hits when needed, Cabot played an overall solid game, but so did Sheridan. Both teams totaled seven hits in the game, and Centennial Bank didn’t commit a single error in the field and didn’t have a single strikeout at the plate in the seven innings played.

Sheridan committed two errors at shortstop in the first inning alone, but didn’t have an error the rest of the way, which is what ultimately kept Cabot from putting together any sort of rally. For the game, Cabot left a total of 10 runners stranded on base – four more than Sheridan’s six.

“They’re a good, solid team, but you expect that at this level,” said Cabot Red assistant coach David Smith, who took over head-coaching duties Tuesday in head coach Justin Moore’s absence. “One thing you know when you play a Sheridan team is they’re going to play the game the right way. They’re going to play fundamentally sound, and that’s what they were.

“Defensively, I thought we did an excellent job. We made the plays when we had to make the plays. Offensively, I couldn’t have asked for anything else. They hit the ball hard – right at them a lot of times. It was just that timely hit that eluded us.

“One thing I was telling the guys, we were in the fifth inning, I said, ‘guys, we’ve had a runner at third every inning. We’re just waiting to bust one open.’ In that inning we finally got that clutch hit, that timely hit, we just didn’t have enough of them.”

Sheridan leadoff hitter David Vilches hit a double to start the game, and two-hole hitter Lathan Wylie drove him in the next at-bat with a single to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead. The score remained 1-0 till the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Cabot Red leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen doubled to right field to start the inning, and he advanced to third base on a 6-3 groundout by starting pitcher Chris Odom.

That brought three-hole hitter Jacob Slunder to the plate, and he drove in McCutchen with a one-out single to right field, tying the game at 1-1. However, Sheridan responded with a run in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good.

Yellowjacket cleanup hitter Evan Thompson hit a stand-up double to the wall in center field to lead off the inning, and he advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by teammate Dustin Reid.

That brought Brady Bibb to the plate, and he sent the go-ahead run across the plate with a sac fly to left field. Odom then struck out designated hitter Isiah Quintanilla to end the top part of the sixth inning.

In the last inning, Cabot was able to get runners at first and second base with two outs after Slunder hit a double to left field and cleanup hitter Easton Seidl was intentionally walked, but Reid, who came in to relieve starting pitcher Zach Glidden the next at-bat, got Cabot’s Gavin Tillery to fly out to shallow center field to end the game in the Jackets’ favor.

Even though Cabot lost the game, it was still an excellent year for the Centennial Bank Red team. In addition to advancing all the way to the semifinals of the Junior American Legion state tournament, the Centennial Bank Red team qualified for the state tournament by winning the Zone 3 tournament championship last week in Heber Springs.

The Cabot Red team finished the summer with an overall record of 24-9.

“It was a good year with this group of guys,” Smith said. “They went out there and they fought. They faced some adversity and I thought they did well. Today, they just came up a bit short.”

Odom threw all seven innings for Cabot. He recorded a game-high three strikeouts and allowed just one walk in his time on the hill.

Offensively, Slunder led all batters, going 3 for 3 with an RBI, while teammates McCutchen, Tanner Wilkie, Bobby Duncan and Mike Havard totaled one hit apiece. For Sheridan, Vilches, Wylie and Reid each had two hits, while Thompson had one hit.

SPORTS STORY >> New head coach at CHS

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panther volleyball program just completed its annual summer camp, and the 2014 camp was the first under new program leader Kham Chanthaphasouk, who takes over as Cabot head volleyball coach after former coach DeAnna Campbell stepped down after three years at the helm.

Campbell took over the program in 2011 after the 30-plus year career of Terry Williams.

Chanthaphasouk applied for the Cabot job when Campbell got it, but CHS athletic director Steve Roberts was impressed enough with the France-raised former Sheridan coach to call him and ask him to apply this time around.

Chanthaphasouk coached at Sheridan for eight years, the last three as head coach, and took the Lady Yellowjackets to the state quarterfinals each of those years. Since 2009, he has been a teacher at Benton High School, and has continued to coach in Little Rock’s junior Olympic volleyball program.

Born in Laos, Chanthaphasouk’s family moved to France when he was very young, where he became in involved in competitive volleyball. He had to temporarily give it up when he came to Little Rock Central as an exchange student and found that Arkansas didn’t offer boys’ high school volleyball.

He stayed in Arkansas after graduation and attended UALR and later the University of Arkansas, neither of which have a men’s volleyball program. But he did compete; joining the U.S. Open national team and winning a regional championship at the A level. He competed on the national scene from 1993 to 1998.

He was also a volunteer coach for the UA women before planting roots in central Arkansas as a Sheridan and JO coach, and winning one national championship as coach of a level B team.

The Lady Panthers didn’t begin summer practices until July 7, so Chanthaphasouk hasn’t had much time with the team, but he likes what he’s seen so far.

“There’s a lot of talent on this team,” Chanthaphasouk said. “There’s not a lot of experience, though. I think most of the starters and key players last year were seniors, but I see a lot of potential in this group. I think this is the perfect place to start lifting volleyball in central Arkansas up to the level it’s at in the northwest part of the state.

“For so many years it was just Jonesboro and Fort Smith because they had those strong year-round programs. Now the northwest is becoming very strong and Conway is building a really strong program. I see no reason why Cabot shouldn’t be among programs. Coach Campbell obviously did a great job of getting that started and I hope to keep making it better and better.”

Campbell had a core group of sophomores her first year that remained the core group of starters all three years. They won just one conference game their sophomore year. They made the playoffs but lost in the first round their junior season, then made state and advanced to the quarterfinals last season.

“This is a program that’s headed in the right direction and I’m very happy to be here and have the opportunity to continue to help it grow,” Chanthaphasouk said.

TOP STORY >> Quorum court honors lifesaver

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County contractor Barry Weathers and his wife, Patti, the county treasurer, were honored with plaques at Thursday’s Lonoke Quorum Court meeting for their role in saving the life of a young boy.

Both Weathers were given the plaques by Sheriff John Staley. Barry Weathers was also honored with a special resolution from the quorum court. He received a standing ovation from everyone at the meeting.

Weathers downplayed the incident, saying he just happened to be the first one there, and it was the sheriff’s department that calmed the chaos of the event and directed the medical helicopter in.

According to the resolution, Weathers was being honored for his “quick action, performance during an emergency and skill in saving the life of a drowning victim on July 4 in rural Lonoke County.”

At an Independence Day celebration, a 3-year-old child was found floating in a residential swimming pool. The proclamation said the “unresponsive child was brought out of the water, hands and lips blue, with no heartbeat or breathing. Upon hearing the cries for help, Barry immediately ran to the pool area, took charge of a very dire, chaotic situation and began CPR.”

Weathers said he performed CPR for the nine minutes it took the ambulance to get there. “It took about seven minutes for the child to actually take a breath,” he said.

After the incident, Weathers’ brother, Larry, told Barry, “I saw what you were doing and didn’t want to interfere, so I just prayed hard.”

Weathers said that praying contributed to the boy’s recovery as much as his CPR efforts.

The boy, taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, was released the next day “with an excellent prognosis for a full recovery with no adverse effects and will go on to lead a normal, healthy childhood,” according to the resolution.

Weathers’ son, JP B.J. Weathers, introduced the resolution. “Proudly, in my dad’s honor, I make the motion to approve this resolution,” he said. It was unanimously approved.

Patti Weathers was given a plaque for her efforts to get the sheriff’s department and others on the scene with updated information.

Staley said, “I know 911 was bombarded with calls, but Patti called me directly and made sure I was exactly aware of the severity of the situation and made sure that I had the helicopter coming in. She saved precious moments for that child, and I’m sure it made the difference.”

Weathers downplayed his role, but did admit that his phone had been jammed up with positive and congratulatory messages, especially from the boy’s family.

In other quorum court business:

• It took more than 30 minutes of debate, but the court did vote to dissolve the Grand Prairie/Bayou Two water board in favor of a water authority that had already been established through state law to oversee the water entity. The ordinance was tabled last month after it was brought to the court with no notice and the JPs wanted time to research exactly what was in it.

Switching from a water board to a water authority, by state law, gives Grand Prairie/Bayou Two more ability to raise money and issue bonds, more power to set rates and to condemn property.

JP Larry Odom said the old board made the water entity grow without using any condemnation powers or raising rates.

The vote was not unanimous as JP Mike Verkler still wasn’t happy with the whole affair after all the debating.

Nearly all the JPs were upset that the water entity basically went behind the quorum court’s back to form the new governing body and then, as their last action, moved for the dissolution of the old water board.

Verkler was upset that the water group never came before the council with its bylaws, which state that the new authority board members get to replace successor board members instead of the ratepayers.

The attorney for the water entity said it would discuss changing the bylaw to allow ratepayers to elect board members, but that the court couldn’t force the issue.

At this point, the changeover means very little in the day-to-day operations of the water entity.

But Grand Prairie/Bayou Two is moving into the wastewater/sewer end of the business and charging customers a minimum of $40 a month, which is higher than most surrounding areas.

TOP STORY >> Cabot middle school kids do well on test

Leader staff writer

Cabot middle school students tested smarter than almost 70 percent of the middle school students across the country in math on the recently released Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

On the other hand, nearly 70 percent of the students across the country outscored Jacksonville students.

The norm-referenced test is given as part of the annual Benchmark exam but is pulled out and scored separately. It is not used to determine whether a school is failing or not, but as a tool for teachers to see how well students are doing on basic skills.

Being a norm-referenced exam, it does not have cut scores and students do not “pass” or “fail.”

Sixth graders at Cabot Middle School South scored the best in math in the local area. Students were in the 69th percentile in math, followed by CMS North students at 66 percent, meaning they did better than almost seven out of 10 sixth graders across the country.

On the other hand, sixth graders at Jacksonville Middle School were in the 32nd percentile in math, meaning seven out of 10 students across the country are doing better than them.

Kimberly Friedman, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Education, said, “Unlike the Arkansas Benchmark, ITBS is a norm-referenced exam that provides data in math, literacy and science for Arkansas students as compared with other students in the nation. This feedback is at the individual, school and district levels.

“The only other national assessment is the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), which uses a sample size of Arkansas students. With NAEP, neither the school nor the students receive feedback regarding the national sample given for literacy and math in grades 4, 8 and 12,” she said.

The deputy superintendent for the Pulaski County Special School District, Dr. Laura Bednar, said, “It is one more indicator of where each student is at, and we also looked at it to make grade-level improvements.”

About 35,000 fifth graders statewide were tested in April and the scores were released last week. Out of 35,000 students, they were in the 54th percentile in math, 47th in reading and 50th in language — basically average.

Here is a closer look at the scores from fifth through eighth grades:


Beebe Middle School students scored in the 50th percentile in math, 49th in reading and 47th in language.

In Searcy, fifth graders at Southwest Middle School were in the 61st percentile in math, 57th in reading and 63rd in language.

Lonoke fifth graders were in the 45th percentile in math, 46th in reading and 49th in language.

In England, the students were in the 47th percentile in math, 32nd in reading and 40th in language.

Carlisle fifth graders were in the 63rd percentile in math, 55th in reading and 64th in language.

Students at Cabot Middle School South were in the 69th percentile in math, 60th in reading and 58th in language

Cabot Middle School North students were 66th in math, 56th in reading and 54th in language.

In PCSSD, Bayou Meto was in the 50th percentile in math, 47th in reading and 46th in language. Clinton Elementary was 52nd in math, 49th in reading and 54th in language. Warren Dupree was 42nd in math, 35th in reading and 44th in language. Harris Elementary was 25th in math, 19th in reading and 26th in language.

Tolleson was in the 56th percentile in math, 49th in reading and also 49th in language. Sherwood Elementary was 51st in math, 41st in reading and 62nd in language. Sylvan Hills Elementary was 50th in math, 43rd in reading and 49th in language. Cato was in the 56th percentile in math, 52nd in reading and also 52nd in language. Pinewood was 35th in math, 42nd in reading and 43rd in language.

PCSSD’s Arnold Drive was in the 51st percentile in math, 57th in reading and 54th in language. Oakbrooke was 51st in math, 48th in reading and 51st in language. Murrell Taylor was 35th in math, 31st in reading and 36th in language.

Lisa Academy North was in the 48th percentile in math, 46th percentile in reading and 47th in language.

Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle School was in the 38th percentile in math, 30th in reading and 36th in language. The charter school’s Flightline Upper Academy was 52nd in math, 52nd in reading and 57th in language.


Beebe sixth-grade students scored right in the middle at the 50th percentile in math, 50th percentile in reading and 45th percentile in language.

Searcy students at Southwest Middle School were in the 61st percentile in math, 58th in reading and 59th in language.

Lonoke Middle School sixth graders were 48th in math, 43rd in reading and 46th in language. England sixth graders were in the 42nd percentile in math, 34th in reading and 30th in language. Carlisle students were 53rd in math, 48th in reading and 50th in language.

Cabot Middle School South students were in the 69th percentile in math, 53rd in reading and 53rd in language. CMS North students were 66th in math, 55th in reading and 55th in language.

In PCSSD, Jacksonville Middle School sixth graders were in the 32nd percentile in math, 28th in reading and 32nd in language. Sylvan Hills sixth graders were 48th in math, 39th in reading and 42nd in language.

Lisa Academy North was in the 54th percentile in math, 49th in reading and 58th in language.

Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle School students were in the 47th percentile in math, 37th in reading and 42nd in language. Lighthouse’s Flightline Academy was 62nd in math, 57th in reading and 63rd in language.


Beebe Junior High seventh graders scored in the 55th percentile in math, 60th percentile in reading and 46th percentile in language.

Seventh graders at Searcy’s Ahlf Junior High scored in the 60th percentile in math, 58th in reading and 55th in language.

Lonoke students were 53rd in math, 42nd in reading and 41st in language. England seventh graders were 40th in math, 39th in reading and 36th in language. Carlisle students scored in the 44th percentile in math, 39th in the reading and 39th in language.

Cabot Junior High South students were in the 56th percentile in math, 54th in reading and 49th in language. CHJ North finished in the 60th percentile in math, 58th in reading and 49th in language.

Jacksonville Middle School seventh graders were in the 40th percentile in math, 33rd in reading and 33rd in language.

Sylvan Hills students were 47th in math, 43rd in reading and 43rd in language.

Lisa Academy North finished in the 58th percentile in math, 62nd in reading and 53rd in language.

Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle School was in the 43rd percentile in math, 37th in reading and 43rd in language. At the Upper Academy, students were 55th in math, 55th in reading and 52nd in language.


Beebe eighth graders scored in the 54th percentile in math, 55th in reading and 48th in language.

Ahlf Junior High students in Searcy were in the 57th percentile in math, 65th in reading and 58th in language.

Lonoke eighth graders were 53rd in math, 52nd in reading and 46th in language. England students were in the 40th percentile in math, 40th in

TOP STORY >> Big firm looks to bring in 400 jobs

Leader staff writer

There is a good chance that Sherwood will see more than the 250 jobs TeleTech is already working to fill, senior vice president for global operations Todd Baxter said during a grand-opening celebration Wednesday afternoon.

According to a news release announcing the company’s intention to open a second Arkansas site in Jonesboro, Sherwood’s site at 2402 Wildwood Ave. could see another 150 jobs created — a total of 400 — when all is said and done.

TeleTech is an inbound customer service call center for health-insurance providers, according to Sherwood economic development director Barry Sellers.

The Jonesboro office will open in August with a staff of 150 and the ability to later employ up to 600, according to the release.

It states that both the Jonesboro and Sherwood sites could expand to employ a total of 1,000 Arkansans.

Baxter hinted during the grand opening in Sherwood at the Wildwood Centre and Medical Tower that the announcement of the second site was hours or days away.

He said then, “All in all, we’re going to have capacity to expand here and expand in that location in the state of Arkansas significantly over the next several months.”

Baxter compared Sherwood to the company’s office in Melbourne, Fla., which created 250 jobs at first.

“We’ve made the decision to double in size there. Actually, we’ll be closer to 600 jobs. We doubled our footprint, and we made that decision in less than 18 months,” Baxter said. “That was a great market for us, and I think we have a real opportunity to do the same thing here.”

Sherwood was one of 30 markets the company considered for its first Arkansas location, Baxter told the crowd of about 40 attending TeleTech’s grand opening.

“In a market like Sherwood, one of the things that’s so important to us is to be able to go in and have it be of a size where we can attract the type of employees we need but also have it be small enough where we know who to pick up the phone and call when we have an issue, and we can get the creative help we need,” he continued.

Baxter said, “The first time I pulled up, one of the most pleasant surprises was that this building is part of a medical center. Somehow, that didn’t make it on the data sheet before I got to town. So I thought ‘well, this might be meant to be’ and it turns out that it was.”

He noted, “We’re fortunate to be a company that has had a tremendous amount of growth in the last two years. In fact, we’ve opened several sites around the country.”

TeleTech opened a location in Ennis, Texas, two years ago that has grown to a staff of 800, Baxter said.

In Hopkinsville, Ky., 400 jobs became 700 while 150 jobs became 556 at TeleTech’s Paducah, Ky., site, Baxter noted.

“We’ve done a nice job keeping up with this pace,” he said.

Baxter also praised Sher-wood’s economic development director, Barry Sellers, for being the “linchpin” in TeleTech moving to the city.

He added, “We often find that colleges are great partners with us, not just in the beginning, but long term in terms of sourcing employees and finding a place to continue education.”

Bentley Wallace of Pulaski Technical College, the largest two-year college in the state, was one of three speakers at the grand opening. He said he was happy to help as PTC is committed to providing world-class workforce training and helping launch new enterprise.

Wallace noted that he was invited to an April 2013 Arkansas Economic Development Commission training session in Sherwood on attracting and retaining good jobs.

During that session, “I realized that the passion and desire to bring good jobs to Sherwood and retain good jobs in Sherwood was there among that group,” he said. “I’m so pleased today to see the fruits of that labor and that passion playing out.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman also spoke at the grand opening.

She said, “We are very excited that TeleTech has chosen Sherwood to be a part of their family. It’s going to be a great partnership between the two entities and, not only for Sherwood, but for central Arkansas. So we’re excited about the jobs and the potential it has for us.

“No success is gained alone. None of us are successful by ourselves. This has been a very huge team effort,” Hillman said.

She named Sellers, state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), the Metro Little Rock Alliance, Pulaski Technical College, Gov. Mike Beebe and his staff, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and local elected officials as essential players in the deal to bring TeleTech here.

Baxter said TeleTech’s global public health insurance operation is serving Fortune 500 companies with 41,000 employees on nearly every continent.

Sellers said some of those who apply for open positions at TeleTech will be trained as licensed health-care agents.

To view open positions and apply, visit

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot seniors sweep Benton

Leader sports editor

The Cabot-Centennial Bank Senior American Legion team pulled off a doubleheader sweep of Benton on Saturday in Saline County. Cabot won by scores of 8-1 and 7-5 to improve to 13-9 on the season and head into the Zone 3 tournament with some momentum.

In game one, left-handed pitcher Ryan Logan scattered seven hits over seven innings, striking out six and walking no one in getting the win. Cabot got just two more hits than Benton. Sportshop starting pitcher Andrew Swaim gave up just three hits in three innings of work, but struggled with control. Swaim walked five Cabot batters while the home team’s defense committed three errors behind him. Most of that came in the second inning when Cabot scored three of its runs.

Grayson Cole started the second-inning rally by drawing a leadoff walk. After an out, Dylan Bowers reached on a fielder’s choice that also left Cole safe at second. Grant Bell then hit a single to load the bases and Conner Vocque singled to score a run. After another out, Logan and Adam Hicks drew RBI walks to make it 3-0.

That’s how it stayed over the next four innings before Centennial Bank blew it open in the seventh.

Tristan Bulice started the rally with one out when he took a pitch to the hip. Cole and Lee Sullivan hit back-to-back singles to load the bases. Two runs then scored when Hayden Vinson hit into an error in left field. Vinson became the second out when he was thrown out on a fielder’s choice by Bell. Sullivan also scored on the play, leaving just Bell at first. Vocque’s grounder to second base was mishandled, leaving both runners safe. Kason Kimbrell walked to load the bases. Logan then singled to left to score Bell and Vocque, but Kimbrell was thrown out at third from centerfield to end the inning.

Benton finally got on the board with a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt and two more base hits, but could not manage a serious rally.

Game two took on a very different route to Cabot’s victory. The Centennial Bank squad fell into a 5-0 hole after three innings, but cleaned up its defense and took advantage of a Benton pitching change to come away with the victory.

Zachary Patterson started on the mound for Cabot and threw three and two-thirds innings. He gave up four of Benton’s five hits while walking five and striking out eight of the 11 outs he recorded, but the defense fell apart behind him, committing five errors that helped the host team, though Cabot was home team on the scoreboard for game two, to a 5-0 lead by the middle of the fourth.

Benton starting pitcher Wesley Ramsey held Cabot hitless in his three innings of work, but Centennial Bank pounced on reliever Tyler Hamilton in the fourth. Cabot scored three runs on one hit and three Benton errors to make it 5-3.

Cabot got another run back in the fifth when Vocque reached second base on an error in right field, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a wild pitch.

Cabot took the lead and set the final margin in the bottom of the sixth, starting with a Bowers leadoff double. Bell walked and Sullivan bunted the runners into scoring position for the first out.

Vocque then singled to center field to drive in both base runners, and advanced to second when Ramsey misplayed the hop. Kimbrell then singled to right-center field to score Vocque and set the final margin.

Cabot begins play in the Zone 3 tournament at Hendrix College at 4:30 p.m. Friday against Bentonville.

SPORTS STORY >> Eight Bears qualify for nationwide track meets

Leader sports editor

Eight Sylvan Hills Middle School and High School athletes have qualified for Junior Olympic track meets in Iowa, Missouri and Texas this summer. Sylvan Hills girls’ track coach Grover Garrison took several athletes to the USATF Regional meet at Hendrix College that took place last Thursday through Saturday. Seven girls and one boy qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa, and six girls qualified for the United States Amateur Track and Field Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas.

“It’s very exciting,” said Garrison. “Four going into high school and three in middle school qualified. It certainly looks like things are going in the right direction.”

Sprinter O’Shayla Muldrow, who is entering eighth grade, qualified for both national meets in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. She took second place in the 100m with a time of 13.56 and second in the 200 with a 27.42. She was also second in the 400m with a time of 1:03.31.

She can compete in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in Iowa, and the 400-meter race in Texas. Her classmate Katelyn Burnett qualified for both events in the middle distance races, garnering a top-5 finish in the 800m and winning the 1,500-meter race with a time of 5:34.93.

Jordan Sanders, who is entering seventh grade at SHMS, will join Muldrow on 4x400 relay and could also run in the AAU 400-meter race.

At the high-school level, senior-to-be Justis Jakes qualified for both nationals in the 800-meter race. Junior Kristal McLennan qualified to throw discus at both national meets with a 74-feet, three-inch throw and fourth-place finish, and also qualified for the USATF in the shot put by finishing in fifth place.

The quarter-mile distance appears to be a real strength for Lady Bear runners, as a pair of ninth-graders qualified in the 400 as well.

Erykah Sanders will run in the AAU 400 and 4x400, while classmate Chanel Miller will also run in the AAU 4x400, and also qualified for the USATF nationals in the triple jump.

Freshman Malik Strong qualified for the AAU meet in Joplin, Mo., with a top-4 finish in the triple jump.

The meets run almost simultaneously, with the USATF meet running from July 21-27, and the AAU meet going from July 27 to Aug. 2. Garrison did not indicate which athletes will compete at which event.

Garrison is also starting a cross country program for Sylvan Hills athletics as well. The roster and schedules are not yet set, but the season begins on Sept. 4.

Jacksonville coach Hank Hawk and North Pulaski coach Todd Romaine are also starting cross country programs, giving the 5A-Central four teams with the addition of Beebe, who has a longstanding and competitive XC program, to the conference for the next two years.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot Red still alive after win over Mt. Home

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Red-Centennial Bank Junior American Legion team stayed alive after three days of play in the Junior American Legion state tournament at Burns Park in North Little Rock. Cabot opened the tournament with a minor upset, handing Paragould’s 29-7 Glen Sain-Ford team a 4-2 loss. That put them into a winners’ bracket semifinal game against defending state champion Bryant, where the Blacksox prevailed 2-1.

Facing elimination on Monday, Cabot beat Mountain Home 7-4 to keep state championship hopes alive.

“Someone said after we lost like we did up there to Heber last week, that Heber woke us up,” said Cabot assistant David Smith, who took the reigns Monday in head coach Justin Moore’s absence. “We’ve played really good baseball since then. We got three more big wins up there, and we’ve two more here. We lost to Bryant, who’s really probably the best team in this tournament. Gavin Tillery pitched a great game against them, they got a couple of big hits late in the game that made the difference. We had two errors today, but overall we’ve played really solid baseball since that loss. You have to be pleased with that.”

In Monday’s win, Cabot scored two runs in the top of the first and four in the second to take a 6-0 lead. Mountain Home’s Hooper Environmental Services team, 18-10, chipped away slowly at the lead, pulling to within 6-4 after six innings. HES scored one in the third, one in the fourth and two in the sixth, but Cabot pitcher Mike Havard got out of each jam with timely strikeouts and good defense behind him.

In the seventh inning, Havard walked Brody Ninemire to start the inning. But Luke Kinder hit a hardgrounder to third base, where Braden Jarnagin made the play, threw to second base where Bobby Duncan relayed to first for the 5-4-3 double play. Havard then walked Ethan Roark, but got seven-hole hitter Ryan Czanstkowski looking at a vicious curve ball to end the game.

Cabot took the lead quickly in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen singled to left field. Catcher Denver Mullins then singled with one out and both runners scored when cleanup hitter Easton Seidl singled to right field.

In the top of the second, Cabot’s first four batters reached base and all four scored. Tillery hit a leadoff single before Duncan was hit by a pitch.

Havard then singled, followed by another hit by McCutchen that made it 3-0. After two consecutive outs, Seidl’s grounder to third base was mishandled, allowing McCutchen to score and make it 6-0.

Cabot’s final run came in the last inning. Jarnagin hit a leadoff single to left field. With one out, Seidl hit a one-hop double off the base of the wall in left field to score Jarnagin and set the final margin.

McCutchen and Seidl each got two hits to lead the Centennial Bank squad, which finished with nine total base hits.

Havard went the distance for the win, scattering nine base hits while walking and striking out four.

Cabot, 19-11, was scheduled to play another elimination game at 5 p.m. Tuesday after The Leader deadlines. Look for details of that or any subsequent state tournament game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Public must be informed

Editor’s note: This editorial from Dec. 21, 2013, won the Arkansas Press Association’s newspaper contest for editorial writing on Saturday. The Jacksonville Police Department is meeting today to reconsider its policy of not notifying the public about armed robberies when no one is hurt or only a small amount of money is stolen. The suspect in the case will go on trial next month.

The Jacksonville Police Department kept residents in the dark about a string of armed robberies at ATM machines — which ended in the shooting death of a 23-year-old man — under the premise that they were investigating those cases. Meanwhile, people continued to be victimized while using cash machines at night.

Perhaps if police would have thought to alert the public to be more vigilant at ATMs after dark, Jacksonville might not be closing out 2013 with a fourth murder.

“If you see something, say something” clearly did not apply to Jacksonville police officers when it came to notifying the public.

The police reports were hidden from the media, so the public didn’t know there was a dangerous serial ATM robber on the loose in their community. It took more than three weeks before the police made an arrest, although last weekend’s fatal shooting clearly put pressure on the police department to make an arrest.

Law-enforcement officials often withhold crime reports from the public — including this newspaper — to ensure they don’t disclose something that could later compromise their chances of getting a conviction in court. But, oftentimes when reports are concealed, it appears the motivation is to hide from view crimes that will reflect poorly on police departments and the community.

When the FBI releases its annual crime statistics, rape cases are almost always reported, even though they were not previously released by local police departments. That smacks of a public-relations effort rather than solid police work.

Police are not the owners of public information; they are merely temporary custodians of it.

In defense of keeping the robberies quiet, Capt. Kenny Boyd, spokesman for the Jacksonville Police Department, said, “We don’t want to give all of our clues out so quickly.”

That implies officers were following up on clues that would lead to an arrest. But incident reports should be released immediately, without tipping off a criminal to what the police know about him. In this case, investigators were not aggressive enough in tracking down a suspect who carried out his crimes on a bicycle while armed with a semi-automatic pistol.

Lerome Deshawn Kelley, 19, a homeless youth, admitted to officers that he shot Marcus Israel on Dec. 13 as he was withdrawing $20 from the ATM at First Arkansas Bank on Main Street. Israel fled from his alleged killer instead of handing over the money. Kelley has pleaded not guilty, but the police department said he admitted to robbing customers at Bank of America on Nov. 28 and Nov. 30. He also confessed to holding up an employee at Sonic on the day of the murder.

Residents who generously financed a new $6 million state-of-the-art police department on Marshall Road deserve to be informed when they are at risk of being victimized. Otherwise, they are easy prey for criminals.

We don’t expect police officers to get it right all the time, but public safety should always come first. In this tragic series of ATM robberies, the public’s need to know was sadly ignored.

TOP STORY >> Museums focus on World War I

The Lonoke County Museum and Cabot’s Museum of American History are seeking local artifacts from World War I to preserve and display in exhibits commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the Great War in three years.

The museums hope to collect as much of this history as possible in the next few months to preserve it before it is lost forever. The staffs of the museums are asking that people who have diaries, letters, documents, photos or stories of relatives who served in the war and would like to share them with others to contact the museums.

The museums especially want items from Lonoke County soldiers, but all World War I items are sought.

“We are hoping that people will donate the original items to the museum,” said Mike Polston, director of the Museum of American History. “That way they can be cared for and preserved for future generations. If donation is not an option, the museum would like to preserve copies of the material.

“Diaries and letters would be transcribed and photos copied and returned to the original owners. The copies would then be preserved in the museum collections for future research,” he continued.

The items will be added to the museums’ First World War current exhibits as well as future ones.

It is hoped that several exhibits can be developed from the new materials collected. One proposed exhibit will concentrate on just Lonoke County. A photo exhibit will be developed on the role of Lonoke County in the war.

The exhibit will consist of photos of individual soldiers, Eberts Field in Lonoke, where pilots and air crew trained, and any other war activities conducted throughout the county.

Lonoke County Museum director Sherryl Miller, said, “We have not seen any photos of county patriotic activities, such as bond rallies or parades, but we are sure they must exist.”

Once completed, the photo exhibits will be displayed at each museum and perhaps at different locations around the county.

Polston said, “This is a countywide project and will only be successful if people throughout the county will share their family’s history with all of us. Don’t let history fade away into a memory. Become proactive and help preserve it.”

To contribute World War I memorabilia, call Polston at 501-286-9665 or Miller at 501-676-6750.

TOP STORY >> Top news, editorial prizes go to Leader

The Leader garnered 29 awards, including first-place awards for hard-nose reporting and tell-it-like-it-is editorials, at the annual Arkansas Press Association meeting.

Overall, the newspaper and its staff were honored with five first-place awards, five second-place awards, six third-place awards and 10 honorable mentions.

The newspaper also placed second for general excellence in the large weekly division.

Staff writer Rick Kron took first-place honors in investigative reporting about North Metro’s financial problems and in-depth series reporting about the wet-dry issue.

The judges — reporters, editors and publishers from Tennessee — said about his hospital article, “Kron sounds a clear warning to the community in this well-written piece. Love the details about broken clocks, unfilled hand sanitizers. Stay with this story.”

Kron, along with Sarah Campbell and Joan McCoy, took first in education coverage.

“Excellent writing, coverage and initiative. Best example of seeking out news stories rather than simply reprinting school press releases. Good use of art, as well,” the judges, wrote.

Creative Editor Christy Hendricks and Editor Jonathan Feldman won first-place honors for best front page. According to the judges, the page was a “clean, inviting design with effective layering. Clear page hierarchy guided the reader through this page.”

Feldman also took first place in editorial writing with his piece on the “Public must be informed.” (See Editorial column at left)

Campbell took home a second-place award in feature writing with her story, “Young witness tells of evils in Nazi Germany.” The judges said it was “an interesting read with very good, detailed, gripping quotes.”

Campbell also took second place in investigative reporting with her report on Pulaski County Special School District’s discipline rates.

Sports editor Ray Benton and sports writer Graham Powell took second for Best Sports Page. The judges liked the photography and variety of articles.

Campbell, Kron, writers Jeffrey Smith and John Hofheimer, as a group, took second in coverage of health and medical. The judges called the collection of articles “well written.”

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro’s story on a detailed look at raising an autistic daughter took second in the freelance category.

Campbell took third in the news story category with her article “Amidst fears, firearms sales spike.” Benton took third in sports column writing for “Red Devils, Panthers look strong.”

Publisher Garrick Feldman took third in the news/political column division with his “Waiting for Big Brother” piece. Editorial writer Ernie Dumas took third for “Ignorance no excuse.”

Photographer David Scolli took third in the single sports feature photograph competition.

Hofheimer, Smith, Campbell and Kron took third-place honors in the business/agricultural coverage competition.

Hendricks and Lisa Tigue took third for best website.

Honorable mention awards went to Hofheimer in the news story competition and Managing Editor Eileen Feldman for her “For a Pledge of Allegiance” editorial. Benton took two honorable mentions in the sports news story category.

Campbell and Kron both received honorable mentions for beat reporting. Scolli received three honorable-mention awards for his sports photography.

The newspaper also received honorable-mention awards for its high school football and graduation special sections.

TOP STORY >> Reserve unit is soaring to new heights

Leader staff writer

The Air Force Reserve Command’s 913th Airlift Group was activated at Little Rock Air Force Base with the presentation of the unit’s new guidon during a ceremony on Sunday.

Sitting outside the hangar was a C-130 with the 913th Tail Flash as each of 913th units’ guidons were unfurled.

The 913th AG takes the place of the 22nd Air Force, Detachment 1, which was activated in March 2011 with two people. It has since grown to more than 500 reservists and is authorized to grow to more than 800 people. The group has an annual budget of $20 million.

Maj. Gen. Mark A. Kyle, commander of 22nd Air Force, presented the unit’s new guidon to Col. Edsel A. (Archie) Frye Jr., the group’s commander, who organized the unit from its beginning.

Frye said the activation gives the 913th airmen a tremendous sense of pride.

“It is the equivalent of an American gaining their citizenship for over the past three and half years,” Frye said.

Frye said the activation gives the 913th an identity in the mission of combat tactical airlift. It helps with recruiting. It gives a sense of permanence and credibility.

“It allows us to build a legacy. When people see our patch, they’ll say that’s a great unit,” Frye said.

The 913th has 10 C-130 H-models and will increase to 12. The 913th shares aircraft and facilities with the 50th Airlift Squadron of the 19th Airlift Wing to use their resources more efficiently.

The planes assigned to the new group increases the number of C-130s at Little Rock to 95, with 41 of them C-130Js and about 50 more the older C-130H models.

Frye explained the 913th patch. The falcon swiftly moves when called. The globe is the scale of reach being anywhere with C-130s. The “Omnes Prosperant” motto means “everyone prospers.” If the airmen work hard to succeed, leadership will be a mentor and offer a roadmap to success, he said.

Most of the 913th civilian airmen serve parttime and work locally. They have drill one weekend a month and two weeks each year.

The 913th consists of a headquarters unit, the 327th Airlift Squadron, the 913th Operation Support Squadron, the 913th Maintenance Squadron, the 96th Aerial Port Squadron, the 913th Force Support Flight and the 913th Aerospace Medical Squadron.

Approximately 28 percent of the Reservists work fulltime as Air Reserve technicians and civil servants, while the rest are traditional Reservists.

Their slogan is “Stationed locally — serving globally.”
Some make $70,000 a year.

Frye previously commanded the 931st Air Refueling Group at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan.

The unit’s new designation is a reactivation of the 913th, a Reserve unit of the 22nd Air Force that was deactivated in September 2007 at its home station of Willow Grove, Penn.

The 913th has its own headquarters on base and has worked alongside the 314th Airlift Wing and 189th Airlift Wing for nearly three years as part of the formal training unit mission at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The unit began transitioning to a combat mission last October and is integrated with the 19th Airlift Wing’s 50th Airlift Squadron and their aircraft maintenance unit.