Friday, December 19, 2014

TOP STORY >> Erline Pace marks 100th birthday

Leader staff writer

Erline Pace, a former longtime Jacksonville resident, is celebrating her 100th birthday with a reception Sunday at the First Baptist Church immediately following church services.

Erline has survived battles with colon and breast cancer, having had a mastectomy when she was 94. She modeled in the Runway for a Cause in 2010.

She lives in the Fox Ridge assisted-living community in North Little Rock.

Pace and her late husband, Robert, came to Jacksonville in 1955 and opened Pace’s Department Store on the corner of Hickory and North First Streets. Robert Pace opened Bob’s Men Store in 1960 in the Jacksonville Shopping Center.

They closed the department store in 1979 after both had heart attacks. Bob’s Men Store was sold in 1980.

Erline Pace was born on Dec. 22, 1914 in Fayetteville, where she graduated from high school in 1932. She attended the University of Arkansas, where she was the 1935 Homecoming Queen and president of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in English in 1936 and her master’s degree in 1940. Her father graduated from the U of A in 1878 and was a banker. Her mom was a homemaker, raising Pace’s two sisters.

Erline taught high school English, French and Spanish at Van Buren (Crawford County) and then Marked Tree (Poinsett County) for 15 years.

“I made so many friends in the classroom. I chose the right the thing to do. You didn’t get rich, but the joy I had took care of it,” she said.

Erline was a principal at Marked Tree when she married Robert in 1941. He was a postmaster. They were married for 43 years, until his death in 1984. Their son, Jim, died in 2001.

Erline was an avid reader, according to her granddaughter, Kelly Eichler.

“She was a regular at the Nixon Library and kept a notebook in which she would grade the books she read. Her favorite was ‘A Woman of Substance,’” Eichler said.

“She calls herself a bridge ‘fiend,’ playing regularly with her friends Bodie Whiting, Mayheart Saine, Melda Rice, Mabel Williams and others. She credits bridge for keeping her mind sharp,” Eichler said.

Robert Pace was an active civic leader in Jacksonville. He served as chamber of commerce president in 1959 and was a founding member of Citizens’ National Bank in 1966. He served on the first Rebsamen Hospital commission in 1962 and served on the board for many years. He was a member of the Jacksonville Lions Club for 40 years.

Pace was also on the city’s first baseball commission. Games were played at Bon Lane Field at the corner of Redmond Road and West Main Street. The lights were kept at Pace’s store when not in use.

Erline Pace is long-time member of the Jacksonville First Baptist Church, where Robert was a deacon.

“My grandmother is extraordinary, not because she’s lived to be 100, but because she’s affected and influenced so many in her life. Her students from Marked Tree still include her in reunions, many of whom say she was the best teacher they ever had,” Eichler said.

“Ralph Williams (recently deceased) came to visit her last year. He told me he was ready to quit school and go to work on the farm when she imposed upon him the importance of education and made sure he knew he had potential. He stayed in school, graduated and became very successful,” Eichler said.

Col. Douglas E. Moore, another former student, wrote to her “heartfelt thanks for the help and direction you provided me a long time ago. This poor country boy has enjoyed a great life and moderate success, thanks in great measure to you. You challenged me when I needed it, chastised me when I did less than I was capable of, and perhaps more important, you encouraged me when I needed a boost.”

Moore earned a master’s degree from Baylor University and became a principal writer for many military projects.

Eichler added, “Phillip Anderson, a well-respected attorney and past president of the American Bar Association, told me she was the best teacher he had.

“My ‘Mimi’ has always been a stable force for me and my brother. She has loved us unconditionally, has expected us to live up to our potential and has provided us with the means to attain any goal we set for ourselves,” Eichler continued.

“She taught us that we can accomplish anything if we work hard, act right and treat people with the respect they deserve. She’s lived by these principles and has set an excellent example for a life well-lived. I am forever grateful to have her in my life,” Eichler said.

Erline Pace said, “All in the family aimed to be a good citizen, and I believed we fulfilled that.”

TOP STORY >> Local voters must decide millage rate

Leader senior staff writer

If voters in the Pulaski County Special School District approve a 5.6-mill property tax increase in September, it will not affect patrons of the newly formed Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, PCSSD attorney Allen Roberts said in response to a question from District Judge D. Price Marshall on Thursday.

Jacksonville district patrons will not even vote on that increase, Roberts said.

The Jacksonville district is to have the same tax rate as PCSSD at the time of detachment, and, while it isn’t operating schools yet, the state Board of Education formed the new district on Nov. 13, when the current PCSSD millage was, and continues to be, 40.6 mills.

For there to be a property-tax increase to fund new Jacksonville-area schools, the increase would have to be on the ballot for the Jacksonville school elections, possibly as early as this September.

Marshall said he would rule soon on PCSSD’s $200 million plan to build new schools to replace Mills and Robinson high schools, to renovate those existing high schools into junior high schools and to modernize and expand Sylvan Hills High School.

Marshall declared PCSSD, with agreement by the Joshua Intervenors, unitary in special education. He commended PCSSD and the Joshua Intervenors for working well together on the desegregation front, and PCSSD and the Jacksonville district for their cooperation in moving forward on detachment.

TOP STORY >> 2014 Year in Review

Compiled by RICK KRON

Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series looking back at 2014. The first three articles will look at the major headlines, while the fourth will review the top ten storylines of the year.

Stories about cold weather, cold-hearted murders, deadly weather, cutbacks, ribbon-cuttings, a football champ and government decisions dominated headlines in the first four months of the year.


• Push to preserve downtown Beebe: Resident urges city council to join effort before it’s too late.

• Aerial view of damage by beavers: JP, county judge at odds over bounty payment for beaver tails.

• ‘Polar Vortex’ moves out East: Arctic blast drops temperature into the single digits.

• Ambitious building program for Cabot: Main Street beautification, overlays and roundabouts top agenda.

• Bacteria found in water system: Jacksonville is working hard to make sure water is safe to drink.

• Beaver problems gnaw Lonoke County officials: As flooding continues, so do divisions over how to fix the problem.

• Political season kicks off: Several candidates join governor-hopeful Asa Hutchinson as they announce their campaigns.
 School vote planned for September: Judge lets PCSSD split, ending long-running desegregation suit in county and allowing north Pulaski County to go it alone.

• ‘Our time is now,’ mayor tells council: In report to city, he says city is making progress despite cutbacks and looks forward to new school district.

• JP quits quorum court: Adam Sims turns in resignation, and governor will name person to fill vacancy.

• Award honors Myers’ legacy: High school students will receive $500 to help them with expenses.

• NLR choice for VA site is not final: Jacksonville rejected, Searcy was second choice, but final decision rests with director.

• Jacksonville shooting facility opens Saturday: The $3.2 million complex will host tournaments and draw thousands to the area.

• Wintertime burn bans are issued: About 40 counties under ban, and local officials can’t ever recall one being ordered at this time of the year before.

• School in Cabot gets top ranking: Principal at Cabot Middle School North tells board about unique honor.

• Council decides to settle: Sherwood aldermen unhappy city owed money to insurer, pay out $175,000.

• Two murders in Lonoke County: A pillar of the community shoots and kills wife, while a convicted felon shoots girlfriend then burns her body.

• Trial testimony starts: Bryce Allen Jr. of Jacksonville was accused of running over firefighters and policeman, and killing one of the firefighters.


• Allen convicted on lesser charge: Jury says killing of fireman was not premeditated; parole possible in 17.5 years.

• Essay winner goes to Washington: Beebe High School senior wins trip to State of the Union address with essay judged by U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin.

• Jacksonville district almost assured: State Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell tells chamber that he and PCSSD support city’s efforts to split.

• Ice, frigid cold hits area: Cold wintry mix closes schools causes scattered outages.

• Lawmakers still looking at coverage: Area legislators take sides on private option insurance program.

• Neighborhood could become seniors’ haven: Jacksonville mayor promotes Sunnyside as a retirement village.

• Is out of state consultant working? Jacksonville’s mayor believes economic move will pay off sooner rather than later.

• Two men plead in death of woman: Lonoke County man and his accomplice plead not guilty to killing and burning a woman’s body.

• Agency extends charter school: Lighthouse Academy in Jacksonville gets a three-year renewal.

• Apartments condemned: Cabot officials decide Alpine Village conditions are dangerous and deplorable.

• Top 10 in Cabot: National Merit Finalists: Cabot high School has 10 National Merit Scholarship finalists, double the number from last year.

• Mixed reviews from developer’s clients: Pay differs sharply as cities, including Jacksonville, negotiate with Oklahoma development consultant.

Passing alcohol priority for city: Sherwood economic director is determined to get proposal on the ballot.


• Insanity plea in murder of wife: Former Lonoke County auxiliary officer claims mental defect in shooting death.

• Ex-sheriff wants old job back: Roberson says he’s healthy and challenges Sheriff John Staley and former deputy Steve Finch for top job.

• Residents lose flood suit: Jury says construction of Rockwood Road didn’t cause flooding of Grayhawk Circle homes.

• Ice storm hits hard, moves out: Sleet, ice, snow, thunder, lightning closes area schools, snarls traffic, shuts down government offices.

• Director’s final pick: NLR to get vet home, agency bypasses two Jacksonville sites.

• City focuses on growth: Sherwood’s in-house specialist aims to recruit businesses to area.

• Racial incident ends in murder: A black couple is held in white man’s stabbing after he allegedly used the “n” word.

• Cabot jumps county barrier: City going after Hwy. 5 growth on both sides of the county line.

• Water rate to go up for project: Jacksonville rates upped because of a $48,000 monthly cost to cover the Lonoke-White water project.

• Reserves ready for 10 C-130Js: Mission will expand with new planes and more people.

• Lonoke County agrees to help pay court costs: Lonoke and Carlisle won lawsuit, but had to wait for money owed.

• PCSSD cuts raising ire of parents: Struggling district cuts technology and speech programs as it axes $10 million from its budget.

• Students protest teacher’s firing: More than 70 teachers and students protest the firing of a popular Lonoke High School science teacher for allegedly slapping a student.

• Main Street beautification gets underway: Low bidder accepted for $724,000 streetscape project in downtown Cabot.

• Leader wins 18 awards: Newspaper receives double honors for best advertising design.

• Vote for Jacksonville schools: Sept. 16 set as the date for residents to vote for splitting from Pulaski County special School District and forming its own district.

• Gunfire upsets people nearby: Evening league at new sports shooting complex postponed after complaints from residents.

• Sherwood cop triangle: Termination of police officer, who cursed and threatened a captain after he ended a fling with the captain’s wife, was upheld by the civil service commission.

• Shops spark commercial Beebe boom: AutoZone just one of the many new businesses opening up.

• Super Bowl star in homecoming: Jacksonville High School honors Seattle Seahawk lineman and former graduate Clinton McDonald.

• Stumbaugh runs for Cabot mayor: Former head of the city wanted to run things again.

• Three teens remembered: Scholarship fund preserves memory of three cheerleaders killed 10 years ago in car crash in Cabot.

• Census study shows growth here: Multi-year report states all area cities have lower unemployment than the state average and some have seen population growth.

• Shows still on hold at LRAFB: No open house slated for 2014, but base was hoping for an aerial show in 2015.

• Cabot kicks off major effort to draw industry: Imagine Cabot is the new city-funded effort for community development in cooperation with the chamber and others.


• Pearl Harbor survivor dies: Lonoke County’s Charles Flynt Jr., 91, was one of 200 men on a ship in the harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

• LRAFB seen as home for C-130J fleet: U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor elated Air Force wants to move more new planes to the base.

• PCSSD declared unitary on scholarships: Federal judge wants more clarity about access to special education.

• Council curtails sales of alcohol: Jacksonville won’t allow clubs to sell any liquor after 2 a.m.

• Top area schools ranked by state: Jacksonville High School is most improved; Cabot and Searcy also get high marks.

• Vets appreciate late thank you in Jacksonville: City salutes veterans who served during the Vietnam War.

• Group wants school board to run PCSSD: Sher-wood meeting airs complaints about state running the district and the city having no representation.

• Anonymous gift of land to Jacksonville: Secret donor paid Entergy $750,000 so the city could lay claim to 250 acres near I-440.

• Hospitals see more insured with new law: With private option, preliminary numbers suggest twice as many have coverage.

• Lonoke’s pipes waste 41 percent of water: City’s old infrastructure costing millions of dollars.

• Sherwood grabs a chance to be big player: Area will get new grocer as well as more development.

• Thurman will keep district’s top post: Cabot superintendent withdraws his name from consideration to lead Fayetteville district.

• Base to get new planes, fix old ones: U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor says C-130Js promised and upgrade program funded again.

• A modern library opens in Beebe: State and local funds and volunteers made new facility possible.

• Ex-clerk airs grievance: Lonoke County assessor accused of bullying former employee.

• Super Bowl champ returns home for tribute: Clinton McDonald is toasted in a fundraiser for Boys and Girls Club.

• Firing range hitting target: The $3.2 million facility doing well in first three months of operation.

• Beebe economic development booming: Population growth at 10,000 fuels commercial construction.

• Big birthday bash in Sherwood: City celebrates 66th birthday and is reminded that it was named in honor of Robin Hood.

• Thousands enrolled in counties: Signups still open for private option as 70 percent of eligible already covered.

• Sherwood optimistic on district: Group to issue report that is expected to show city can have its own schools after Jacksonville leaves PCSSD.

• Storm devastates El Paso: Powerful tornado hits northern El Paso community, killing one.

• Youngest victims remembered: Two local boys were among the 11 killed when tornado ripped through Vilonia.

• Deadly storm: Horror of it all: One of the worst twisters hits area, leaving vast destruction.

• Report: Sherwood would do well with new district: Feasibility study says schools will have enough students and the proper ratio.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Raiders run away from Jackrabbits

Leader sports editor

SEARCY – The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of undefeated Riverview on Monday. The Lady Raider full-court pressure wreaked havoc on Lonoke as the home team officially pulled out a 61-33 victory.

That’s the score that will go down in the books, but the actual score was 61-31. Late in the third quarter, Riverview led 56-18 when Kayla Young got her final steal and scored, but the scorekeeper and scoreboard operator gave the basket to Lonoke.

At quarter’s end, Riverview was given credit for the basket, but the one erroneously given to Lonoke was never taken off the board.

It almost helped the Lady Jackrabbits avoid the mercy rule. Despite Riverview coach Ryan Smith continuing to press with his starters until the final minute of the game, the Lady Jackrabbits held their own in the final period. It wasn’t until Lady Raider bench players took the floor that the home team officially went up by 30 with 36 seconds remaining on the final basket of the game. It was Riverview’s 11th mercy-rule win in its 13 games.

“We just ran into a better team than us tonight, that’s all,” said Lonoke coach Nathan Morris. “Although I don’t think they’re really 30 points better than us. We did a lot of things tonight that helped them get that far out in front.”

Lonoke committed 22 turnovers, including 20 in the first three quarters. All but three were Riverview steals, and the lion’s share was by Young.

A key turning point was late in the first quarter. Riverview had stormed out to a 7-0 lead that shortly became 10-2 with 3:52 left in the period. Lonoke stemmed the tide of early turnovers temporarily, but still struggled to score.

Finally, Lonoke junior Jarrelyn McCall hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 left in the quarter that made it 10-5. Lonoke center Eboni Willis then blocked a Riverview shot and grabbed the rebound. Forward Amanda Sexton was fouled at the other end and went to the line with 55 seconds remaining. She missed both foul shots.

Riverview’s Sharika Irvine was then fouled driving to the basket and made both free throws with 42 seconds remaining. She then got a steal and missed a transition bucket, but Riverview got two offensive rebounds and Madison Riley hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the home team a 10-point lead.

“I think this might possibly have been a different game if that sequence is a little different,” Morris said. “They jumped on us pretty good, and we climb back to five with a chance to make it three. Next thing you know we’re down 10. We have to do better at taking advantage of our opportunities.”

Lonoke continued to battle evenly with Riverview for most of the second quarter. The margin was still 10 after Lonoke’s Ashlyn Allen got a putback with 1:40 remaining. But Riverview closed with a 4-0 run. Erykah Johns hit two free throws with 1:32 left to make it 25-13. Lonoke then missed the front end of a one-and-one trip to the line. Allen got the offensive rebound, but Riverview’s Alexis Baker stole the ball and passed to Irvine for a layup at the buzzer.

It didn’t take long for the Lady Raiders to go on another run in the third quarter. The two teams traded two baskets each in the first three minutes of the period to make it 31-17. That’s where Riverview took off. The Lady Raiders got steal after steal for a 15-1 run before Lonoke was given credit for a Riverview basket.

Young led Riverview with 15 points and had eight steals. Riley and Johns added 11 each for the home team. McCall led Lonoke with nine points.

Lonoke hosted North Pulaski on Friday in a nonconference matchup. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Bison bury Des Arc in conference home game

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Bison earned their first win on the hardwood since the 2012-2013 season Monday, and did so by double digits, beating Des Arc 48-37 at Bison Arena.

Carlisle did receive a forfeit win over Brinkley last season, but Monday night’s win over the Eagles was the Bison’s first win on the court since beating Palestine-Wheatley 86-60 in the quarterfinals of the 2A-6 District Tournament at Hughes on Feb. 11, 2013.

“That was definitely huge for our confidence,” said first-year Bison coach Chris Houser. “To get that monkey off our back and break that long losing streak, looking forward, I think it’s going to be real good for us, as far as building momentum when you can build off a win.

“I think we can learn as much off of playing well as we can off of playing bad. So hopefully we can build off of this moving forward, but it’s definitely big for our confidence.”

The Bison (1-8, 1-4) never trailed in Monday’s 2A-6 matchup. They scored the first six points of the game, and led 13-3 at the end of the first quarter with four different Bison players scoring.

Carlisle pushed its lead to 17-3 in the second quarter on four free throws on four attempts by senior post Nick Schafer, and the Bison led 21-8 on a 3-pointer by Drake Adams near the five-minute mark of the second quarter.

Des Arc, though, ended the first half with a 5-1 run that ended with an and-1 by Colton Goodman with 52 seconds left in the half. That set the halftime margin at 22-13.

In the second half, the Bison got their lead back to double digits with a 10-3 run that was capped with a Schafer free throw with 2:29 left in the third quarter. Carlisle led 35-18 at the end of the quarter, with that margin being set on a three by Lewis Bunch with 23 seconds left.

Carlisle led by as much as 18 in the fourth quarter. A steal and transition bucket by Devon Kendrick made the score 41-23 with 5:53 remaining.

It became obvious as the fourth quarter progressed, though, that the Bison weren’t used to playing with a lead, because they kept pushing the ball up the floor and taking quick shots instead of making any attempt to milk the clock once they got the ball past half court, which played into Des Arc’s favor.

As a result of all of the quick shots Carlisle took down the stretch, the Eagles were able to go on a 7-0 run by the midway point of the fourth quarter, which made the score 41-30. It also didn’t help the hosts that Schafer fouled out near the four-minute mark of the fourth.

“That’s something, again, not used to winning, not used to being ahead at the end of the game,” Houser said. “We lost our post player, our go-to guy with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter. They started pressing there towards the end and that sped us up a little bit.

“It took us out of our comfort zone. We’ve been getting pressed since the first game of the year. Everybody we’ve played has pressed us except for them, until the fourth quarter. We’ve seen so much press by now that we should be comfortable with it.

“It’s a little bit different at the end of the game when you’ve got a lead and you’re getting pressed than when you’re down 20 or 30 and getting pressed.”

Des Arc was able to get within 10 of Carlisle’s lead with the score 47-37, but that was as close as the Eagles would get to catching the Bison lead, and in the final minute of play, Kendrick set the final score with a free throw.

Carlisle finished the game 18 of 55 from the floor for 33 percent. Des Arc made 13 of 53 shots for 25 percent. The Eagles outrebounded the Bison 38-31.

Schafer led the Bison with 14 points. Kendrick also scored in double figures Monday. He had 11.

Carlisle played at Hazen last night after deadlines, and will play again next Saturday in the Goldfish Classic at Lonoke.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe earns first victory

Leader sportswriter

It took eight games, but the Beebe girls got their first win of the season Tuesday night at Badger Arena, beating 5A-East Conference member Valley View by the final score of 60-53.

The Lady Badgers (1-7) have played a very tough nonconference schedule thus far, and in Tuesday’s game against the Lady Blazers (3-5), who replaced Beebe in the 5A-East after the Lady Badgers made the move this year to the 5A-Central, the host team led from start to finish.

“I thought defensively in the first half we were as good as we’ve been all year,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “I thought we played good defense – we did for a while and we started losing a little bit there at the end, but it was a solid effort.

“We ran the offense and did things we needed to do to win. It’s a good win for us. They’ll probably be competing for first in the East. I’m really proud of the girls.”

Beebe’s shot selection was also good, as it made 50 percent of its shots in the first half. The Lady Badgers jumped out to a 5-1 lead on a 3-pointer from Kassidy Elam with 6:03 left in the first quarter, and by the end of the quarter, Beebe led 15-5.

The Lady Badgers pushed their lead to 13 at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter on a putback by Ashlyn Johnson after a missed three by point guard Taylor McGraw, which made the score 20-7.

Valley View responded with a 7-0 run to cut the Beebe lead to 20-14, and at halftime, the Lady Badgers led 24-19. A basket by Valley View’s Lauren Hathcock at the start of the second half cut the Lady Badger lead to 24-21, but Beebe answered with a 7-1 run to lead 31-22.

That run was capped with a stellar bounce pass from McGraw at the top of the key that went underneath the basket to wide-open teammate Shea Holland, who got the easy lay-in with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

By the end of the quarter, Beebe led 36-30, and that score was set on a free throw by McGraw with 7.5 seconds left. A pair of Valley View free throws made it a four-point game early in the fourth quarter, but Beebe answered with a 5-0 run to push its lead to 41-32.

Valley View got within 42-37 of Beebe’s lead at the 6:25 mark of the fourth quarter, but the Lady Badgers responded with a 6-0 run that pushed their lead back to double digits, leading 48-37.

Beebe led by as much as 14 late in the fourth quarter. McGraw was fouled with 2:41 to play, and she went to the line for four free throws after Valley View’s Hathcock was given a technical for arguing the call.

McGraw made all four free throws to push the hosts’ lead to 54-40, and the Lady Blazers were able to clean up the score as the game came to a close.

The Lady Badgers made 19 of 37 shots from the floor for 51 percent, and the Lady Blazers made 15 of 38 shots for 39 percent. Beebe also made 20 of 25 free throws for 80 percent. The Beebe girls actually made 21 free throws, but one was waived off because of a lane violation.

Valley View also had 25 attempts from the stripe, and made 14 of them for 56 percent. Valley View outrebounded Beebe 23-19.

Each team had three players score in double figures. Johnson led all scorers with 19 points. McGraw had 17 points, and Elam had 12. For Valley View, Ashleigh Guthrie led the way with 14 points. Harleigh Jones scored 12 points for the Lady Blazers and Hannah White scored 11.

Beebe played Forrest City last night after deadlines, and the Lady Badgers will play again in their own holiday tournament next Saturday.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

TOP STORY >> Felony charges in school fight

Two Cabot Freshman Academy special-education students were charged with felony second-degree battery and disorderly conduct after a fight between them in a classroom turned against teachers and administrators on Tuesday.

Police were called at 1 p.m. to Jennifer Bryant’s special-education classroom for a fight in progress. School teachers, principals and paraprofessionals were attempting to restrain a 14-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy.

The officer reported that the classroom was in disarray. Several chairs were flipped and thrown. A table was turned over. A Christmas tree was thrown and damaged. The floor was littered with books, papers, folders and school supplies.

Student 1 was restrained. Student 2 was resisting the officer’s attempt to restrain him. Student 2 wanted to attack Student 1 and yelled, “Let me just stab him one more time.”

The officer forced Student 2 to the ground and held him there while trying to calm him. Student 2 was allowed to stand up, but tried to break away and attack Student 1.

The officer grabbed Student 2’s left wrist and forced the front of his body to the wall. The officer put his arm around the front of Student 2’s chest. Student 2 screamed, “Just choke me.”

Then the officer heard a loud commotion behind him. Someone screamed that Student 1 was hitting assistant principal Ahna Davis.

The officer let go of Student 2 and went to Student 1. Student 1 had hit Davis’ face twice with his fist, grabbed her hair and forced her to the floor, according to the report.

The officer forced Student 1 to the ground. Student 1 resisted the officer’s attempts to restrain him and dug his fingernails into the officer’s forearm. The officer laid on him to keep Student 1 down.

Student 1 began to calm down and asked for his mom. Student 1 was handcuffed and walked to the nurse’s office. He apologized for hitting Davis.

Student 1 had a bloody mouth from the fight with Student 2.

While the officer was restraining Student 1, Student 2 ran out of the classroom, off campus and was caught by police on the railroad tracks behind the school. Police took control of Student 2 and forced him to the ground to restrain him.

Both students were arrested and taken to the police department.

After the incident, the special-education teacher, told police both students were in her behavior lab class for emotional and psychological issues.

Bryant said she took a Chromebook from one of the students for viewing inappropriate websites. The student said he didn’t like the school and didn’t know why the teachers were so overprotective.

He began to argue with Bryant about his behavior reports from the previous day. Then the student said to a second student, “I’m not going to sit next to an (expletive).”

Bryant, special-education paraprofessionals Angela Fortson and Billi Douglas separated the students, but one of them succeeded in attacking the other student. The ensuing fight took the students to the floor.

Teachers removed the other students from the room. One of the fighting students began to destroy it.

Special-education paraprofessionals Kim Duncan and Cristina Torres tried to help.

One of the fighting students shoved Torres into a wall-mounted pencil sharpener.

He picked up a chair and threw it at Bryant. Torres was able to catch the chair. Duncan said the student pushed her into a wall, punched her in the face, knocked her glasses off and punched her in the back.

Counselor Angie Simon, assistant principals Kevin Floyd and Charlie Donham, and special-education teacher Lindsay Kane responded to the fight and witnessed parts of the incident.

School nurse Susan Covington arrived to assess the injuries on Student 1, who was hit by Student 2. Student 1 shoved Covington backward onto the table and chairs, causing her head to whiplash. No other injuries were reported.

All of the students’ actions are alleged in a report of the incident.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Rabs earn road win over Ricebirds

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits improved to 3-1 in 4A-2 Conference play last week with Friday’s 53-30 win at Stuttgart.

The Lonoke girls (6-3, 3-1) lost to Heber Springs in the first conference game of the season last month, but have since won three straight league games, and they were able togradually pull away from the Lady Ricebirds as Friday’s game progressed.

At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Jackrabbits led 15-9, and by halftime, Lonoke managed to gain a double-digit lead, with the score 31-15.

By the end of the third quarter, Lonoke pushed that lead to 20-plus, leading 43-22, and were able to keep that distance on the scoreboard throughout the fourth en route to the comfortable win.

“We had a pretty big second quarter,” said Lady Jackrabbit coach Nathan Morris. “Eboni Willis had six points in the second quarter and went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line.”

Fellow senior Riely Rowton hit a 3-pointer later in the third quarter that helped Lonoke continue to further its lead, and maintain the momentum in the final quarter of play.

In the last three conference games, Morris said his team is showing gradual improvement, but added there’s still plenty to improve upon.

“We’ve still got some things to work on,” Morris said. “We’re not a tournament team right now. There’s still some work to be done, but we’re improving. We’re improving on things that we needed to get done.

“Our transition defense, we keep harping on that. It’s still not all the way where it needs to be, but it was better last week than it was the week before. Hopefully we can keep building on that, and keep finding the positives in all of the work that we’re doing.”

Willis led the Lonoke girls in scoring Friday. She had 18 points. Amanda Sexton was Lonoke’s next leading scorer with eight points. Callie Whitfield came off the bench to score seven, and Rowton came off the bench to score five.

The Lonoke boys didn’t fare as well Friday against the Ricebirds. It was the Jackrabbits’ first 4A-2 game on the road, and the host team won by the final score of 44-36.

Stuttgart doubled Lonoke’s point total in the first quarter, taking a 10-5 lead into the second. The Jackrabbits did, however, outscore the Ricebirds 15-8 in the second quarter to take a 20-18 lead into halftime.

The hosts came out in the third quarter and outscored Lonoke by a point, 12-11, to cut the Jackrabbits’ lead to 31-30 at the start of the fourth, but Lonoke was outscored 14-5 in the final eight minutes, giving the Ricebirds the eight-point win.

“Our shooting percentage has to get better,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “We’ve been putting in a lot of time in the shooting part of it. From time to time I see the benefits, and then other times it kind of goes away. So it can be frustrating at times for myself and for the guys.

“We played well in spurts, but our decision-making still has to get better. They’re always going to play extremely hard. That’s never a question, but I got a chance to look at the shot chart, and again, we’re getting to places we want to get to, we’re just not finishing.”

Jawaun Bryant led the Rabbits (3-4, 2-2) in scoring Friday with 15 points. Isaac Toney was second on the team in scoring. He had eight points.

The Lonoke boys and girls resumed conference play at Riverview on Monday, and they’ll play host to North Pulaski on Friday in a pair of nonconference games. Friday’s games will tip-off at 6 p.m. with the girls taking the floor first.

SPORTS STORY >> Sluggish final sees Wolves defeat Bears

Leader sports editor

RUSSELLVILLE – The Sylvan Hills Bears suffered a scoring drought at the most inopportune time, resulting in a 35-30 loss to Lake Hamilton in the championship game of the Cyclone Invitational on Saturday at RHS.

In a strangely lethargic atmosphere for a tournament championship, both teams and their sparse fans seemed sluggish throughout. The arena was close to empty for the tournament’s last game, and the energy was lagging. Both teams played most of the game in a 2-3 zone and it fell into a very slow pace throughout. Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis also thought his team’s tournament schedule left it somewhat fatigued by tournament’s end.

“We played back-to-back 8:30 games,” Davis said. “We played the 8:30 game last night then had to drive home, and most of them got up early to go take the ACT this morning. Then we had to come up here and play. So I think we were a little tired, and I think the whole atmosphere in here wasn’t what you’d expect for a championship game. Neither team is from this area and not many people made it up here. I think all that had to do with why I thought both teams looked a little sluggish tonight.”

Sylvan Hills picked its moments to try and infuse some intensity into the game, trapping occasionally out of the zone and briefly switching to full-court pressure after Lake Hamilton extended its lead to seven in the third quarter.

The Wolves, 7-2, scored first after winning the opening tip. Despite not scoring another basket from the floor until the 6:23 mark of the second quarter, the bucket gave them a 9-8 lead. The Wolves missed 13 consecutive shots, but made four free throws while Sylvan Hills struggled with turnovers.

The Bears led 8-6 at the end of the first quarter, but Lake Hamilton’s Samuel Scott hit the three that put his team up early in the second. All but two of the Wolves’ 11 second-quarter points came from beyond the arc, and the 6A-South squad took a 17-12 lead into intermission.

Sylvan Hills committed just two turnovers in the second quarter, but struggled from the floor and the free-throw line. They were only able to get nine shots off, making two of them. But they missed all five free-throw attempts. The Bears only got two more the rest of the game, making one of them to finish 1 for 7 from the line.

The Wolves scored first to start the third quarter, but Sylvan Hills answered with a 7-0 run, the only scoring burst by either team the entire game, and it tied the score with 5:43 left in the third.

Lake Hamilton went inside after a timeout, and post players Jason Burks and Quan Gibson scored eight-straight points for the Wolves. LHHS reclaimed a 27-23 lead before a Sylvan Hills trap forced a turnover that guard Dexter Smith turned into a 3-pointer to make it 27-26 at the start of the fourth quarter. It was the last field goal for Sylvan Hills until only one second remained in the game.

Lake Hamilton got the ball to start the fourth and held it for more than a minute before Scott hit another 3-pointer to make it 30-26. Shortly afterwards, he hit another from deep to make it 33-26, and neither team hit another shot from the floor the rest of the game.

Sylvan Hills, 3-2, struggled to find open shots and didn’t make them once attempted. Lake Hamilton’s bigger post players made sure the Bears got just one shot per possession, and the Wolves’ offense held the ball effectively.

Both teams shot poorly and almost identically from the floor. Sylvan Hills went 7 of 25 from two-point range and 5 of 15 from outside. Lake Hamilton went 7 of 24 and 5 of 14. The difference was at the free-throw line and on the boards. Lake Hamilton made 6 of 9 foul shots and out-rebounded the Bears 27-18.

The Bears and Lady Bears hit the road on Friday to take on Watson Chapel, and won’t return to action until the boys go to Pine Bluff and the girls to Beebe for holiday tournaments.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils too small for ’Dogs

Leader sports editor

CONWAY – The Jacksonville Red Devils fell into a hole early Saturday, and could not climb out, losing 62-49 to Fayetteville in the championship game of the Wampus Cat Invitational.

The Bulldogs started four players as tall as or taller than Jacksonville’s tallest, but it was from outside that Fayetteville did its damage early. The Bulldogs hit four 3-pointers in the opening frame and took a 17-8 lead by quarter’s end.

The Bulldogs hit two more early in the second quarter to extend the lead. Jacksonville began to utilize pressure to try to get back into the game, but the Fayetteville guards handled it well and the post players finished well after the press was broken.

“There wasn’t anything we could do with those big guys inside,” said Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner. “And their guards were solid – good ball handlers. They were bigger than us and could see the floor. They didn’t get rattled. They’re just a well-rounded team and they played well. They’re just a tough matchup for us.”

Fayetteville dominated the rebounding category in the first quarter, but Jacksonville evened that out as the game went on.

Tedrick Wolfe and Maurice Young led the way for Jacksonville in that area, aggressively going after missed shots the rest of the game. It symbolized one aspect of the game that Joyner was proud to see.

“We battled,” Joyner said. “There was plenty of frustration because we just couldn’t do anything with them, but I didn’t see anyone giving up out there. That’s a good sign.”

Jacksonville trailed 31-19 at halftime. Red Devil senior Devin Campbell led a brief charge that got Jacksonville back to within single digits, but the Bulldog big men took over. 6-foot-6 post Josh Breathitt and 6-5 August Carlson combined for 10-straight points for Fayetteville, leading their team to a 47-31 advantage by the end of the third quarter.

Jacksonville was aggressive offensively and got to the line consistently, but was horrible once there. The Red Devils made just 10 of 25 free-throw attempts. Shooting was bad everywhere for the Red Devils on Saturday.

They took more shots than did Fayetteville, but made just 33 percent, hitting 17 of 51 from the floor. They were 5 of 21 from beyond the three-point line.

Jacksonville scraped and clawed to within single digits again in the fourth quarter, but when it had to begin fouling to extend the game, Fayetteville made eight consecutive free throws to seal the win. The Bulldogs made 13 of 18 foul shots for the game. They were 21 of 46 from the floor, including seven of 15 from three-point range.

Campbell led Jacksonville with 16 points while sophomore point guard Tyree Appleby added 11 for the Red Devils, 7-3. Payton Willis led Fayetteville with 18 while Breathitt added 16 for the 8-1 Bulldogs.

To get to the championship game, Jacksonville had to get past a Hot Springs team in the semifinals that beat Jacksonville by 17 earlier this season. It was a struggle, but the Red Devils pulled it off 55-53 on Friday.

The early going looked much like the previous meeting, with the Trojans dominating the action and quickly taking a double-digit lead. A 12-point margin was reduced to 10 by the end of the quarter.

The two teams then battled evenly for most of the second period. After trailing by as much as 17-5, the Red Devils had pulled to within 29-22 by halftime. It was Jacksonville’s turn to dominate early in the third quarter, but Hot Springs, after giving up the lead and falling behind by five, pulled back to within one by the start of the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville managed to take a three-possession lead in the final 90 seconds and Hot Springs had to foul. The Red Devils made 8 of 10 foul shots, including six in a row down the stretch to seal the win.

Wolfe led Jacksonville with 18 points while Appleby added 16 and LaQuawn Smith 12. K.J. Corder led Hot Springs with 14 points. Exavian Christon added 13 and Anthony Tate 11 for the Trojans.

Jacksonville will take the week off for semester tests before coming back for the Red Devil Classic next Monday and Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers take final game into triple-OT

Leader sportswriter

A pair of Panthers put on one great show in the finale of the Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic, but it was the visiting Panthers from Benton that beat the host Panthers 75-72 in triple overtime Saturday at Panther Arena in Cabot.

Cabot jumped out to a four-point lead in the third extra period, but Benton’s Clay Anderson scored seven in a row to put his team in front for good.

The second overtime period ended with the score knotted up at 66-66, and Cabot opened the third OT period with four free-throws that gave it a 70-66 lead.

That’s when Anderson, who led all scorers with 24 points, scored his seven unanswered to give Benton a 73-70 lead with just 18 seconds remaining. Jarrod Barnes answered for Cabot, scoring the home team’s final points on a transition layup with 10 seconds to play, which trimmed the Benton lead to one.

Cabot had to foul, and Benton got the ball to Anderson on the inbound pass, and after he was fouled by Cabot center Jared Dixon, he sank two free throws to make it a three-point game, which also set the final score in the process.

On the game’s final possession, Cabot pushed the ball past half court and got it to Dixon in the corner. Dixon was the only Cabot player with a decent look from the perimeter, and as the final seconds ticked away, the 6-6 center put up a 3-point shot from the corner, but it fell short, giving Benton the hard-fought win.

Benton (6-3) graduated some quality players from last year’s team that won the 2013 Pre-Holiday Tournament, but had three transfers join the team this school year, and that’s helped fill some of the void left from a season ago.

None of those three players, including 6-foot-9 center Jake Scoggins, led the team in scoring Saturday against Cabot (4-2), but all three were deep contributors for Benton, who finished the Classic with a perfect 3-0 record, while Cabot finished 2-1.

“I knew this was going to be a good game,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “They’re a good team, but, you know, they’ve got three new people they didn’t have this summer.

“I think two came from McClellan and one came from Benton Harmony Grove. So maybe I need to coach AAU basketball, too, and recruit me some. I don’t care if you put that in there, because I’m tired of it, but I’m proud of my guys.

“They could’ve quit, laid down at the end of regulation, but they stuck through the extra minutes. Both teams had opportunities in all the overtimes to maybe win it. They shot better free throws than us. We missed a few here and there and we had some other looks that if they fall it would’ve been a little different.

“But, man, it was just a great game. I’m not down on my kids a bit. As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite. I feel better about us after tonight’s game than after last night’s (Friday’s) game.”

The first quarter was back and forth throughout, but Cabot went into the second quarter with a 14-13 lead. The host Panthers opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run to further their lead, but Benton battled back and eventually tied the game at 20-20.

An inside bucket by Hunter Southerland and a 3-pointer by Garrett Rowe, though, gave Cabot a 25-20 lead, and the host team stayed in front for the rest of the half and led 31-25 at halftime.

On the first possession of the second half, Southerland sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to push the hosts’ lead to 34-25, but the visiting Panthers responded in a big way and closed the third quarter with a 19-5 run to lead 44-39 at the start of the fourth.

Cabot, though, outscored Benton 13-8 in the fourth quarter, which led to a 52-52 tie at the end of regulation. Both teams scored seven points apiece in the first overtime period, sending the game to a second OT with the score 59 all.

Cabot finished Saturday’s Classic finale 27 of 48 from the floor for 56 percent. Benton made 24 of 53 total shots for 45 percent. From the free-throw line, Benton made 18 of 26 attempts for 69 percent. Cabot made 11 of 17 attempts from the stripe for 65 percent.

The host Panthers dominated the boards, winning the rebounding battle 28-15, but the visiting Panthers won the turnover category, committing 15 to Cabot’s total of 22.

Rowe led Cabot with 23 points Saturday, and was a board shy of a double-double. Southerland finished with 22 points, and Bobby Joe Duncan had 10.

In Friday night’s game, Cabot beat Little Rock Catholic by the final score of 45-37 to get its second win in the Classic. The score was tied at 16-16 at halftime, but the Panthers outscored the Rockets 29-21 in the second half to secure the victory.

Barnes led all scorers in that game with 13 points. He was the only Panther to finish in double figures scoring.

The Panthers will resume action on Friday and Saturday in the White Hall Classic at Pine Bluff.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers finish 3-0

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls went a perfect 3-0 in the annual Cabot Pre-Holiday Classic at Panther Arena last week. After beating Vilonia on Thursday, the Lady Panthers beat Nemo Vista on Friday by the final score of 45-32, and on Saturday, the hosts closed the Classic with a 49-28 win over Benton.

With Cabot playing without three-year starter Alyssa Hamilton, who was injured in the first game against Vilonia, Friday’s game was close after the first two quarters. The Lady Panthers led Nemo Vista 8-6 at the end of the first quarter, and outscored the visitors 10-9 in the second quarter to lead 18-15 at halftime.

Cabot was able to get some separation on the scoreboard in the third quarter, as the Lady Panthers outscored Nemo Vista 14-6 in that period to increase their lead to 32-21 at the start of the fourth quarter.

In the final eight minutes, Cabot was able to outscore the visitors by five to secure the double-digit victory. Anna Sullivan led the Lady Panthers in scoring Friday. She had 14 points. Teammate Leighton Taylor also scored in double figures Friday. She had 13 points.

On Saturday, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a big lead in the opening quarter. Cabot led 13-2 toward the end of the quarter, but a long buzzer-beating three by Benton’s Braxton Chumley made the score 13-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Chumley drained another trey at the start of the second quarter to make it a five-point game, but the Lady Panthers closed the half with an 8-2 run to lead 21-10 at the break.

Benton got an inside bucket on the first possession of the second half to cut the Lady Panther lead back to single digits, but Sullivan got that lead back to double digits with a pair of free throws at the 6:09 mark of the third quarter.

The visiting Lady Panthers, though, responded with an 8-0 run that cut the Cabot lead to 23-20. Benton made four of its first six shots in the second half, while Cabot was 0 for 2 shooting with four turnovers during that stretch.

Senior guard Danielle McWilliams, who was all over the place throughout the second half, going after tough rebounds, chasing down and diving for loose balls and forcing turnovers with her stifling defense, broke Cabot’s scoreless streak with a 3-pointer that made it a 26-20 game with 2:18 left in the third period.

McWilliams’ three was the spark the host Lady Panthers needed, as they scored the only other bucket of the quarter on a steal and layup by Sullivan.

Sullivan’s basket at the end of the quarter gave Cabot a 28-20 lead entering the fourth quarter, and the host Lady Panthers opened the final quarter of play with an 8-2 run to lead 36-22.

Benton’s next point was a free throw, but Taylor answered the point scored with an and-1 that pushed Cabot’s lead to 39-23 with 3:52 remaining. CoCo Calhoon put Cabot at the 40-point mark with a free throw with 3:13 to play, and from there, the host team outscored the visitors 9-5 to set the final score.

Cabot scored the final two buckets of the night. The first of which came on a left-handed turnaround basket by junior center Sydney Reedy, and the last points of the game were scored on a transition bucket by Emily McCaghren in the waning seconds.

The host Lady Panthers finished Saturday’s game 19 for 34 from the floor for 56 percent, while the visiting Lady Panthers finished the game 11 for 30 for 37 percent. Cabot outrebounded Benton 18-9, and the hosts finished with 19 turnovers, bettering Benton’s 21 turnovers committed.

Benton’s Tia Brazell led all scorers Saturday with 13 points. Calhoon led Cabot with 12 points. Sullivan had 11, and McWilliams and Taylor scored eight points apiece.

Cabot (8-1) plays at home again at 6 p.m. Friday against Class 5A Paragould.

EDITORIAL >> Give judges raises in Lonoke County

Lonoke District Court Judge Teresa Smith wants a $5,000 raise for 2015, but the city council approved her request only as part of a preliminary budget that could easily be changed.

The judge’s $20,000 annual salary is split between the city and the county. Supposedly, the county has locked in its 2015 budget, and the quorum court might be reluctant to raise the salaries of all five district judges.

A state law passed last year allows for increases in judges’ salaries by up to $5,000. Smith is requesting the full amount for the part-time position.

As reporter Rick Kron explained, the council had no qualms about paying its half — $2,500. But the city had to turn in by Oct. 1 expenses the county will pay for next year. Smith’s request could still go through if the quorum court finds $12,500 more for all the judges.

That sort of raise shouldn’t break the county’s budget. It’s one good way to tell hard-working judges that they are appreciated.

They shouldn’t have to beg for a decent salary, even if it’s part time.

EDITORIAL >> District plans on schedule

It seems the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District has a few friends in Little Rock. The state Board of Education recognized the new district soon after area residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of leaving the Pulaski County Special School District.

State Education Commissioner Tony Wood also supports the hiring of former Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Bobby Lester of Jacksonville to lead the new district for the first few months of its existence, pending approval by U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall, who is overseeing the Pulaski County desegregation case. Price will hold a hearing Thursday with the Pulaski County school districts to formalize the split.

Judge Marshall understands that decades of benign neglect made the separation inevitable. He has long supported the formation of a Jacksonville-area school district and has called the county district dysfunctional and worse. In any event, PCSSD will continue to oversee the Jacksonville school district for two more years. A proposed millage increase, if passed, would help the new district get off the ground. After that, PCSSD will shrink and have to fend for itself.

The state Board of Education gave PCSSD and the new Jacksonville district 120 days after receiving the necessary court orders from Marshall to submit to the board:

 A plan for the zoning and election of school board members in September 2015.

 A determination of the millage necessary to operate the new district.

 A plan for distribution of real and personal property, assets, liabilities, including debt, duties and responsibilities.

 A specific plan addressing the procedure to employ licensed and non-licensed staff.

Lester, a native of Rose Bud in White County, has served as Jacksonville High School principal, PCSSD superintendent and even interim superintendent in 2011, when the state took over the failed district, which still remains under state supervision.

Lester said he will recommend the districts work with consultants to settle debts and millage, but that any action is premature until the court order on Thursday.

The new board will soon have to decide on a request made by Col. Stephen Weaver, 19th Mission Support Group commander, to appoint a nonvoting, ex-officio school board member to represent Little Rock Air Force Base.

Once the district gets out from under state and court supervision, it’s important that the air base has a key role in the running of the new school district. Airmen have 1,900 school-age children, with about 1,300 of them in Cabot schools and 500 in PCSSD.

The air base has offered 300 acres to the district for an educational campus, and the Defense Department could pay as much as 75 percent of the cost of replacing the decrepit Arnold Elementary School on the base and money toward turning North Pulaski High School into a junior high.

An Air Force representative on the board “would not be unique,” Weaver said at a recent Jacksonville school board meeting. “There are a number of these kinds of relationships in other communities.”

The Pentagon provides additional aid to military communities, and those funds could go higher in Jacksonville once the district becomes independent. Here’s hoping the new district passes another hurdle in court tomorrow.

TOP STORY >> Excel Health may expand in Cabot

Leader staff writer

Two side-by-side newcomers to the Cabot area, the Excel Health clinic and Advanced Physical Therapy at 2251 Bill Foster Hwy., are doing well and already planning for expansion. Both opened on Nov. 21 and treat all ages.

Excel Health is considering a second location off Main Street, according to owner Jay Cooper. The clinic is also looking at opening on weekends. It is hiring more staff now to do just that.

And Mitzi Gibson of Advanced Physical Therapy said she’d love to knock out some walls for more room.

Excel Health is an urgent care, men’s health and medical weight loss clinic with six exam rooms. It treats patients of all ages, although the staff said most patients are children or seniors.

The clinic offers testosterone therapy for men, a medical weight-loss program for men and women, consultations with an onsite nutritionist, Lipovicine injections and HCG injections.

Excel Health’s wellness side administers biometric screenings, TB screenings, school physicals (ages 12 and up), diabetes screenings, vitamin deficiency screenings, vitamin B12 injections and immunizations/vaccinations for a variety of ailments. The staff plans to offer Department of Transportation physicals and drug testing soon.

The acute-care side treats pink eye, sore throat, sinusitis, URI/bronchitis, skin rash, poison ivy, chickenpox, shingles, minor sprains, wounds, burns, minor GYN problems, abscesses and boils and sexually transmitted diseases. It also offers pregnancy testing and pap smears.

The clinic can handle about 30 patients a day, Cooper said.

“It’s going very well. The clinic has been very successful so far. It’s actually outperformed the one we have in Bryant, by far, actually,” he continued. “I’d say we’ve seen five times more patients in two weeks than we saw in a whole month in Bryant.”

Nurse practitioner Elaine Sherrill added, “They’re so glad we’re here. We’re needed.”

Advanced Physical Therapy treats patients with pregnancy-related conditions, postpartum conditions, pelvic floor weakness, pelvic floor pain, post mastectomy complications and more.

It also provides general orthopedic physical therapy service for joint replacement, back or neck injury, rotator cuff repair, fractures, sprains and strains, arthritis, back and neck pain, bursitis and tendonitis and foot and ankle pain.

Gibson — who co-owns Advanced Physical Therapy with Cooper and his sister, Trisha Cooper — has worked in the field for 20 years. Eight were spent in private practice, and she specializes in prenatal and postpartum care.

Advanced Physical Therapy is open a few days a week, but she hopes it will go full-time soon. In Little Rock, her typical workload would be helping 15 to 20 patients a day.

“When you’re referred for physical therapy, you can go anywhere you want to go. So, I feel certain that a lot of the people here probably see physicians in Little Rock or in North Little Rock, other communities, but they don’t have to go back there for PT,” Gibson continued. “We want people to be able to have physical therapy where they live and not only serve a growing population here but the surrounding communities.”

Along with convenience, Gibson said Advanced Physical Therapy offers quality care and wants the public to know they don’t have to the clinic a doctor refers them to.

Cooper said Excel Health accepts all insurance plans and is undergoing the process necessary for the clinic to serve parents with ARKids First policies.

He also explained how the advantage of urgent care clinics is that they are much less expensive than visits to the emergency room, with a typical clinic visit coming in at about $65, while trips to the emergency room can cost a patient hundreds.

Cooper noted that Cabot was an ideal location for his business because “the closest doctor to this location is quite a ways from here” and the closest emergency room at North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville is “quite a drive.”

Cooper also said, “We wanted to bring really quality medical care to this side of town.”

He and Gibson agreed that the two businesses being neighbors is unique. That symbiotic relationship, Gibson said, is compounded by the gym next door in suite A. Excel Health and Advanced Physical Therapy are in suite B.

Her goal is for patients to graduate from physical therapy to an at-home or gym exercise regiment.

Also, those who may strain a muscle at the gym could be referred to her office and/or the clinic, Gibson noted.

TOP STORY >> Base assists Afghan Air Force

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from Little Rock Air Force Base helped the Afghan armed forces achieve military independence by helping them organize a modern Afghan Air Force. One local airman has led the way toward reaching that goal.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garcia, an airman with the 19th Airlift Wing, was selected to help create an Afghan Air Force with rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

“Essentially, we were to help bring the Afghan Air Force into the 21st century,” Garcia said. “Though I have had five previous deployments, none were similar to my most recent assignment to Kabul.”

Garcia left Little Rock Air Force Base for a one-year deployment in August 2013 with the 538th Air Expeditionary Wing in Kabul.

“When I arrived, the squadron had six C-208 aircraft and zero C-130s. The only two Afghan C-130 pilots and sole flight engineer were still undergoing qualification training abroad,” Garcia said.

Garcia, who ended his tour last summer, was the director of operations for a team of coalition members that made up the 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. The unit had to be creative while working in a combat environment, he said. They succeeded despite personnel cuts, base attacks and adjusting to Afghan culture, Garcia said.

“Against the hurdles, the first two Afghan Air Force C-130s arrived at the end of September 2013,” Garcia said. “Both of the planes were formerly assigned to Little Rock AFB.”

Receiving the C-130s was a huge accomplishment for the Afghans.

“It was the largest and fastest plane in their fleet,” Garcia said. “Afghan news networks and political leaders were there to see the planes land.”

More importantly, the Afghan pilots, who recently graduated their initial training, arrived in Kabul at the same time as the aircraft.

Along with providing complete training for the Afghan pilots, the mission contributed to building better relationships.

“The pilots and I were able to work better after going through similar experiences, such as qualification training,” Garcia said. “I really got to know them.”

For Garcia, a true sense of accomplishment came eight months later.

“Getting the planes was a start, but getting the Afghans to fly them on their own was another hurdle,” he said.

“The pilots and flight engineer had been trained and were very proficient, but we needed to gather the best of their current C-27 loadmasters and train them in Kabul.”

Garcia and his team qualified the loadmasters in Kabul. The hands-on training allowed the Afghan loadmasters to transport passengers and one baggage pallet.

“My proudest moment was when the Afghans accomplished their first mission on their own,” Garcia said. “The quality of the Afghan Air Force crew members allowed us to exceed our goals.”

The fully operable C-130s and Afghan aircrews showed the country’s growing responsibility for and ability to manage its own defense, he noted.

“It was a huge step in vying forward for their country and their people,” Garcia said.

LRAFB airmen were vital in much of the training accomplished with the Afghans.

“Little Rock Air Force Base is the only place in the world where pilots can gain the absolute skill, knowledge and experience in C-130 aviation,” Garcia said.

“We’ve been doing this for years. The facilities and trained instructors at Little Rock make it the perfect place for airmen to master their craft. It allows us to work with international partners while simultaneously meeting multiple standards,” Garcia said.

Though Garcia’s deployment ended in July, the work abroad is ongoing.

“I know that there will be more Afghan pilots, engineers and loadmasters trained for the C-130 platform,” Garcia said.

In addition to getting better-trained aircrews, the Afghan Air Force is also set to have an acquired total of four C-130s by the end of the year.

“Little Rock Air Force Base played a huge part in creating a legacy for the Afghan Air Force,” Garcia said. “Approximately 70 countries in the world fly the C-130, and now Afghanistan is one of them.”

TOP STORY >> Rezonings upset residents

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council on Monday passed one controversial rezoning ordinance and allowed two others to be delayed after hearing from residents, the developer and the projects’ engineer.

The council voted to change a parcel of land on North Rockwood Road from R-1 residential to O-1 office and quiet commercial. An office for David’s Burgers will be built there.

An emergency clause was added, too, which makes the ordinance effective immediately rather than 30 days from when it was passed.

The aldermen also heard the first readings of two ordinances — one to rezone property on the 1400 block of Kerr Station Road from R-1 to a PUD (planned unit development) and the other to rezone 1502 Willie Ray Drive from R-1 residential to C-2 commercial. Ordinances must be read three times before the council can adopt them and they become law.

But aldermen can suspend the additional readings to quicken the process, and doing so is legal, Mayor Bill Cypert said after residents requested that the council allow the process to run its natural course.

Motions to suspend the second and third readings of the two ordinances failed with less than two-thirds of the council supporting them.

Aldermen Eddie Long and Ann Gilliam were holdouts on both. Alderman Angie Jones joined them in casting the third nay vote on the Kerr Station Road ordinance.

The Kerr Station Road developer, Jamie Lefever, spoke about changing his plans after the Cabot Planning Commission rejected them over density concerns.

The first proposal was for 12 two-story, 1,300-square-foot duplexes (six buildings) on nearly 1.5 acres. The new proposal is for 11 detached single-family, 1,500-square-foot homes with two-car garages, small yards and back porches.

Under the current zoning, eight homes could be built, Project Engineer Tim Lemons said.

Lefever wants to sell the houses for $155,000 to $165,000. He said he would rent them if they don’t sell, but that rent would be substantial because the homes will be stone and brick with concrete slab foundations and amenities like granite countertops.

Plans for the development also include a front gate, an iron and brick entrance, a 6-foot treated-wood privacy fence on the sides and back and a private road inside that the development’s Property Owners Association will maintain.

Resident Douglas Meiggs said he was concerned about the development causing his property, which is behind it, to flood. That could affect septic systems, Meiggs argued.

Lemons confirmed that sewer would be installed and that neighbors who pay a connection fee could also use it.

Meiggs asked the council who would be responsible if the development does cause flooding or septic system damages. The mayor said the city’s engineer would be diligent in the site-planning process to make sure damages don’t occur.

Meiggs also said, “It doesn’t fit in our neighborhood,” which features single-family homes on half-acre to 25-acre lots.

Several residents were concerned about additional traffic. Lefever said the development would be set back from the road and the driveway in front of the gate would be long enough to accommodate two cars waiting to get in.

Lemons added that cars from the small development would be a “drop in the bucket” compared to current counts on Kerr Station.

Meiggs was skeptical of the fencing, too. He doesn’t want his trees downed; Lemons said they wouldn’t be. Meiggs asked Lemons how the developer would maintain that fence. The engineer said, “very carefully.”

Then Meiggs asked how the developer would gain access to maintain the fence.

Lefever responded, “I want to be neighborly. I want to work with my neighbors. I don’t want this to be a hostile situation.”

He reiterated, “We did come up first with duplexes, and, obviously, the public spoke up and did not want that. So we changed it, and we were glad to…I joked with (Lemons) the other day it was a good thing the duplexes got turned down because I like this better.”

In other business:

• The 1502 Willie Ray Drive developer, Lee Linville, who is also a Lonoke County Justice of the Peace, spoke about moving Linco Countertops there from 10 Commercial Drive.

This rezoning request was also changed after the planning commission rejected it.

A planned driveway from Tanglewood Road was removed and access will be from Willie Ray.

Linville addressed concerns about the condition of the current location by explaining that the business is renting that building and cannot make structural improvements.

He said he spent several years looking for another property, found that choices were very limited and decided on Willie Ray because the council recently agreed that road should be developed into a commercial corridor when the north terminal interchange is completed in 2018.

Linville said he also collected signatures from more than 51 percent of the landowners, who agreed to amend their bills of assurance — agreements that are between the property owner and developer and not recognized by the city.

One resident asked that the council not allow her neighborhood to go commercial.

Resident Paul Davis said Linville could have placed his business in the industrial area at the end of Second Street. He described Cabot as having a “hodge-podge” of businesses and homes.

Several residents accused the city of not being transparent and of not doing all that is legally required of them.

But Lemons, who is also Linville’s project engineer, argued that he and the developer went through all the proper channels while Cypert said this issue had been discussed in commission and council meetings that were open to the public.

• David’s Burgers, a chain restaurant, will be next door to its planned office on Rockwood. Excel Ford, where excavation is underway, is across the street.

Residents were concerned about additional traffic. They wanted restricted access to the businesses. But the mayor told them that topic would be addressed later in the site-planning process.

There is one way in and out of the neighboring Sun Terrace subdivision, whose residents won a lawsuit against the city when they opposed putting in alternative accesses.