Saturday, October 31, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Bielema is on right track, Dan Hampton says

By NATE ALLENSpecial to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – One of the Arkansas Razorbacks’ two NFL Hall of Famers endorsed Bret Bielema’s operation of the Razorbacks football program.

Dan Hampton, the Jacksonville native and All-American defensive tackle from 1975-78 for the Arkansas Razorbacks, played under Frank Broyles for two years and Lou Holtz the last two. Hampton and Lance Alworth are the two Razorbacks enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The starting defensive tackle for the Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears addressed Wednesday’s meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club at Mermaid’s Restaurant.

Hampton criticized Bielema for this year’s 1-3 start, saying the head Hog got away from the physical style that made him successful for seven years at Wisconsin, and led to the success the Razorbacks enjoyed at the end of last season. But he added that Bielema has always had the team on the right track since coming in and rebuilding from the scandalous end to the Bobby Petrino regime and the chaotic 2012 season that followed under interim coach John L. Smith.

Hampton asserted what the UA most needs and said Bielema supplies it.

“First and foremost, it has to have direction and a foundation,” Hampton said. “After all the crazy years and the Petrino nonsense and all that, you need someone you can trust and count on to be there. And guess what? This is what coach Bielema has given us. We’re going to make steady progress and we’re going to get better. We’re here, and next year we’re going to be there. You get kids buying in, the next thing you know you can jump a couple of rungs on the ladder pretty quick.”

Hampton credited his years at Arkansas for much of the foundation for his NFL stardom, but said it truly all began with Bill Reed, his high school coach at Jacksonville.

The biggest in his fifth grade class, “I think I weighed 180 pounds, then,” Hampton recalled. He was a farm boy that took to football until falling 40 feet out of a tree while in seventh grade. He spent six months in a wheelchair and was advised not to play football again. So he started playing the saxophone in the band.

Reed encouraged him to give football a try, and Hampton did once he was medically cleared.

Hampton explained that Jacksonville, so dominated by its Air Force Base that caused constant student and team turnover, didn’t know recent football success in the 1960s and 70s until Reed.

“The team was horrible,” Hampton said. “We hadn’t won a game in five years. Bill Reed built the program from grass roots. I agreed to come out and how lucky was I that he persevered. Even though I wasn’t very good, my first year we won a couple and my senior year we went 7-4. The next six years, Bill Reed won three state championships because he built a foundation.”

By his senior year, Hampton was big-time college recruited, including from Arkansas. It set his future apart from his teammates, though he didn’t know it until told by a coach after his last high school game.

“My last game in high school all my teammates were crying,” Hampton said. “And I thought, ‘Well, I guess I need to cry.’ So I started acting like I am crying. My offensive line coach said, ‘Don’t you cry! Them other kids they have a reason to cry because they may never get to put on pads again. You are going to have a great chance to go on and play in college and who knows? Those other kids, they have the right to cry because they paid the price just like you did, but you get to go on and they don’t. So they are crying for a reason.’”

That Jacksonville senior high school moment hit home to Hampton at his Hall of Fame induction.

“As I stood on that stage in Canton,” Hampton said, “I thought of those other kids. My coach was right. Everybody on the team pays the same price.”

SPORTS STORY >> Devils dominate Mills

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville got its second 5A-Central Conference win of the season in a big way Friday night in Little Rock, as the Red Devils dominated Mills University Studies from the start, beating the Comets 46-7.

Last night’s win was the first for the Red Devils since beating J.A. Fair on Sept. 25. Jacksonville (2-6, 2-3) and Mills (1-7, 0-5) entered Friday’s conference game having already been eliminated from playoff contention, but finishing the season on a high note is something the JHS coaches and players are focusing on.

“It’s been a long process,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “A lot of kids playing hard. I don’t want to say it’s been bad luck, but we just haven’t had any good things happen to us. We really needed this tonight and I’m happy for the kids and the coaches – happy for our seniors.”

Jacksonville’s offense played the whole game in the Double Wing formation, switching from their usual Spread attack to the more run-oriented and misdirection-style offense. It was highly effective.

“We’re beat up so bad, injury-wise,” Hickingbotham said. “Both quarterbacks are out. We just tried to find something that kind of fit our kids and personnel. We’ve lost two running backs. We’ve lost linemen. We had two weeks (bye week last week) and it gave us a chance to work on a few things.

“Coach (Jim) Stanley did a great job of getting them ready. The kids bought in and that’s the thing.”

The Red Devils turned it over on a fumbled snap deep into Mills territory on the first offensive series of the game, but the Red Devil defense recovered a Comet fumble on Mills’ first series.

Jacksonville’s offense took over at the Comets’ 21, and running back Danny Smith found the end zone on the third play of that drive. Smith took a double handoff in for the score from 5 yards out, which gave the Red Devils a 6-0 lead with 8:16 left in the first quarter.

The Devil defense forced another turnover on Mills’ next possession, and the JHS offense took over at the Comet 37. Three plays later, quarterback HarDerrious Martin connected with the big man, Bradley Brown, who normally plays tackle but lined up at tight end Friday, for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 6:26 to go in the opening quarter.

The PAT was no good, leaving it 12-0 Jacksonville. The Red Devil defense covered their third Mills fumble of the game on the Comets’ next offensive series, and the Jacksonville offense capitalized.

Starting from their own 20, the Red Devils capped an 8-play drive with an 8-yard scoring run by Smith with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. The extra point was good, and that pushed Jacksonville’s lead to 19-0.

Jacksonville scored on its final three drives of the half. With 6:47 to play in the half, Avery Wells capped a six-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, and the PAT made it 26-0 Devils.

On Jacksonville’s next possession, the Red Devils scored on the first play. It was a 49-yard run by Smith on a double handoff with 5:25 left until halftime, and Smith added his fourth and final touchdown of the night on another double handoff.

On that score, Martin took the snap and handed to Deboious Cobbs who then handed to Smith who ran for the 3-yard score. The extra point made it 39-0 with 2:11 left in the half.

Mills’ offense ended the half with what looked to be a promising drive, but the Jacksonville defense held, and on fourth down, Comet quarterback James Harris was intercepted by Nate Robbins with 10 seconds remaining, which put an end to the scoring threat.

Leading 39-0 at halftime, the clock ran continuously throughout the second half because of the 35-point sportsmanship rule. Mills scored its lone touchdown of the night at the end of the third quarter on a 5-yard run by Brandon Bunting.

The extra point made it 39-7. The Red Devils’ last score came on a Dameion Smith punt return.

Dameion Smith wasn’t even the one set to receive the punt, but while getting in position to block on the return, he recognized the punt was shallow and ran up and caught it, then dashed to the visitors’ sideline, where he got a couple of key blocks that allowed him to score with 4:44 to play.

The extra point set the final margin.

Jacksonville finished the game with 369 yards of offense. Mills had 236 yards total. Danny Smith, in his first game since week one, led the way with 10 carries for 95 yards and four touchdowns. Robbie Knowlin had six carries for 91 yards and Martin had five carries for 79 yards. Martin was also 1-1 passing for 23 yards and a touchdown.

Jacksonville will try and play the spoiler role in the regular-season finale next Thursday night at Jan Crow Stadium. The Red Devils host McClellan (6-2, 4-1), who is currently the No. 2 playoff seed out of the 5A-Central. Kickoff next Thursday is at 7 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers fight off collapse to ’Canes

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers got two non-offensive touchdowns and just enough defensive stops to win a wild game 62-53 over Jonesboro at Cooksey-Johns Stadium on Friday.

The Cabot Panthers only thought they had the game under control when the fourth quarter began. At that point, Cabot held a 55-31 lead over the Jonesboro Hurricanes, but five minutes into the quarter the home team had pulled to within 55-53.

Jonesboro conjured up nightmarish images of Pulaski Academy for the Cabot coaching staff when it scored three touchdowns without the Panthers touching the ball in the fourth quarter.

Cabot finally covered the third-consecutive onside kick attempt when it put all skill players on the field. The Panthers took possession at their own 46 with 7:02 remaining in the game, and gave the Hurricanes a heavy dose of fullback Kolton Eads. The senior two-way player took the ball 22 yards on the first play of the drive and 24 more on the last play, setting the final margin with 4:40 remaining.

Jonesboro got the ball one more time, starting on its own 30 and driving to the Cabot 39 where the Panther defense held. Jonesboro faced third and 1, and failed twice to get that yard, giving Cabot possession with 2:53 left.

Jonesboro was out of timeouts, and after one first down, the Panthers were in victory formation.

The teams didn’t begin lighting up the scoreboard right away. Cabot was forced to punt on the game’s opening drive, and held Jonesboro to a field goal with 7:00 minutes left in the first quarter.

The Panthers took over on their own 30 and went 70 yards in nine plays. The play of the drive was the first of three lucky bounces. A fumble by Jarrod Barnes bounced directly into the arms of Austin Morse, who took it 39 yards to the Jonesboro 10-yard line.

Three Eads runs later, the Panthers held a 7-3 lead with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter.

Hurricane quarterback A.J. Aycock converted 6 of 7 passes and finished with a 7-yard pass to Howie Sheeran for a 10-7 Jonesboro lead with 1:40 left in the quarter. That lead didn’t last long.

Cabot’s Holdyn Barnes took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards, untouched for the score and Caleb Shutle’s extra point gave Cabot a 14-10 lead.

Jonesboro punted on its next possession and Cabot made it 21-10 with a 10-play, 78-yard drive. Fullback Alex Roberts had a 27-yard gain on first and 5 that moved the ball to the Jonesboro 20, and capped the drive with a 3-yard run with 7:51 left in the half.

Jonesboro dropped a touchdown pass on fourth and 5 and Cabot took over on its own 21. This time it only took six plays; with quarterback Jarrod Barnes going 62 yards on a busted play when the shotgun snap rolled to him. That made it 28-10 with 2:07 left in the half, but Jonesboro went 54 yards in three plays to cut into that margin before halftime. Aycock hit Jonathan Adams from 17 yards out to make it 28-17 with a minute left in the half.

Controversy arose when Jonesboro scored on fourth down on the first drive of the second half. Cabot coach Mike Malham argued that Aycock was well across the line of scrimmage when he delivered a short pass to Kylon Tate that went 45 yards for the score. The play stood, and it was 28-24 just 30 seconds into the third.

Cabot answered in just four plays when Roberts took a handoff 49 yards for a touchdown. Holdyn Barnes then scooped up a Jonesboro fumble on the first play of the ensuing drive, and took it 20 yards for a 41-24 Cabot lead with 9:40 remaining in the third.

Cabot’s defense forced a punt, and the offense went 67 yards in seven plays. That last 18 on a read option by Jarrod Barnes that made it 48-24 with 4:52 left in the third.

Jonesboro answered right away. Tate took an inside handoff 80 yards straight up the middle to make it 48-31 with 4:39 on the clock.

Eads answered for Cabot when he capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown run on the last play of the third quarter for a 55-31 lead. Thus began the furious Jonesboro comeback.

Jonesboro outgained Cabot 540-512. Jarrod Barnes led Cabot with 12 carries for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Eads had 17 carries for 132 yards and three scores. Roberts had 10 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe boys take first in Central XC

Leader sports editor

The very first cross-country meet ever held at the Greens at North Hills in Sherwood was also Badger Gus McCoy’s first-ever conference championship. The junior Badger led a foursome of Beebe runners across the finish line to win the 5A-Central Conference meet, and help the Badger boys earn the team title on Thursday.

On a perfect day of sunshine and temperature in the upper 60s, McCoy didn’t run the race he had planned on, but was still more than 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field when he crossed the finish line in 17:27.33.

“This race was a lot different,” said McCoy. “A lot of races I’m packed in. I planned on hanging back because I knew a lot of the other teams like to be in front. So I decided to lay back and set my pace and eventually I was going to try to win it. But I was loose by the half-mile mark, so this was a lot different.

“It feels amazing. Last year I got runner-up a few times in cross country and track. So it feels great to finally be No. 1.”

Following McCoy in the second through fourth spots were his teammates Dayton McClean, John Paul Savage and Sean Langley. Cole Evans also medaled for the Badgers; finishing ninth to aid Beebe’s dominant team win.

Beebe finished with 19 points. Pulaski Academy’s Brad Switzer and Robert Crain were fifth and sixth, but the Jacksonville Red Devils edged out the Bruins for second place in the team standings.

Jacksonville finished with 54 points, led by Malcolm Nelson’s and Colton Barker’s seventh and eighth place finishes, to Pulaski Academy’s 56 points.

PA won the girls’ event with Beebe finishing second. The Lady Bruins swept the top three spots with Beebe taking the next three.

PA and Beebe swept the entire top-10 medalists, each team placing five runners in the medal field.

Emily Leding won the race with a time of 19:45.02. Beebe’s Taylor McGraw, Allison Strayhorn and Annmarie Covington finished fourth, fifth and sixth. Natalie Childress was eighth for the Lady Badgers and Marianna Richey finished 10th.

“They exceeded my expectations,” said Beebe coach Cari Rector. “I thought we may have a chance at winning (the boys’ race) but I did not expect 1, 2, 3, 4. They’re great kids. Dayton McClean especially came out of nowhere and decided he was going to really show out and run.”

Sylvan Hills took third in the girls’ race with Gabriella Marquez and Dallyn Stubbs finishing 12th and 13th.

In the boys’ race, Sylvan Hills Deuntrae Clingmon finished seventh and Jacksonville’s Wesley Williams was the final medalist with a 10th place finish.

The state meet will be held next Saturday, Nov. 7 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. McCoy’s time is well off the fastest times this year, run mostly by athletes in the 5A-West, but Rector believes the Beebe boys can make some noise in the meet.

“Harrison is running really fast times and so is Little Rock Christian and Vilonia,” Rector said. “I think we can run some PRs (personal records). They have progressed throughout the year, and I don’t think they’ve peaked yet. I’m expecting that from a lot of them next week.”

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers upset Sylvan Hills

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills answered Beebe’s opening touchdown drive and the game was tied 7-7 with 5:33 left in the first quarter, but the turnovers and penalties that have plagued the Bears in recent weeks began to appear, and the Badgers scored three unanswered touchdowns the rest of the half.

The Bears tried to climb their way back in the second half, but the hole was too deep and the Badgers prevailed 35-28 on senior night at Bro Erwin Stadium.

“Oh man, these kids are so resilient it’s unbelievable,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “They could’ve got down and started feeling sorry for themselves, but they come to work every day and keep working.”

The Badgers have been without four starters since the fourth game of the week, including its quarterback and a 1,000-yard rusher from last year, but the ground game was effective on Friday.

The Badgers tried just one pass and all their 373 yards of offense was on the ground. The Badgers’ all-time leading rusher, Trip Smith, carried 43 times for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Halfback Connor Patrom had 12 carries for 74 yards and two scores and quarterback Bo Smith kept the ball on the option six times and picked up 47 yards. Three of Bo Smith’s carries converted fourth downs.

“It’s just something I had to get more comfortable with,” Shannon said about letting his fourth-string quarterback run the option. “We had some success with it against Mills and we ran it pretty well a couple of times at J.A. Fair. Bo’s done a great job and I just felt like we could do it.”

Beebe scored three touchdowns in the final 4:16 of the first half to turn a tie game into a 27-7 halftime lead, but Sylvan Hills wasn’t ready to fold.

The Bears scored on the first play of the second half when quarterback Jordan Washington kept up the middle for 70 yards.

On the ensuing drive, a holding penalty negated a 12-yard option keep by Bo Smith on third and 12, and the Badgers were forced to punt. Sylvan Hills needed nine plays to go 64 yards for its second touchdown of the quarter. Washington gained 28 yards on the first play and six more on the last one to make it 27-21 with 4:17 still remaining in the third period.

All the momentum swung to the Bears when a promising Beebe drive stalled after nine plays when a fumble gave Sylvan Hills the ball at its own 14. But the visitors couldn’t capitalize.

After one first down, Sylvan Hills faced third and 5 at the 33-yard line and was called for holding on a play for no gain. That made it third and 15, and Garrett Grier and Isaac Curry sacked Washington for another 5-yard loss. Before they could get the punt away, the Bears were then called for delay of game and ended up punting from their own 14-yard line.

Beebe got good field position on its own 49 with 8:33 remaining, and chewed up almost seven more minutes before scoring on a 3-yard run by Trip Smith. It was the 15th play of the drive that saw two fourth-down conversions. It also forced Sylvan Hills to use all of its timeouts, which became crucial later.

Sylvan Hills answered with a 51-yard drive. Washington completed to Deion Youngblood for 26 yards, and later hit Cameron Sharp for 19 yards and the score with 51 seconds remaining.

With no timeouts left, when Sylvan Hills failed to cover an onside kick, all Beebe had to do was kneel on the ball to preserve the victory.

The Badgers opened the game by doing just what Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said his team couldn’t afford to allow, they marched down the field on a 10-play, 58-yard drive and scored. It started with a 14-yard run by Trip Smith, and ended with a 6-yard counter to Connor Patrom.

The Bears answered with their own 51-yard drive, but most of it came on two plays. On third and 5, Washington hit Sharp for a 20-yard gain to the Beebe 24. After an incomplete pass and a holding penalty, Washington scrambled for 23 yards and a touchdown, dodging several would-be tacklers along the way.

Trip Smith returned the kickoff 60 yards to the Sylvan Hills 21, but it was called back. Later in the drive, a 41-yard touchdown run by Patrom was also called back and the Badgers were forced to punt.

Sylvan Hills took possession on its own 19 and two plays later were at the Badger 32. Washington kept for 5 yards, and then 32 more. But the first turnovers came on the next play. Washington went deep for Sharp, but Patrom picked it off at the 9-yard line.

Beebe (5-4, 4-2) then put together a massive drive, going 91 yards in 18 plays. The drive began with 48 seconds left in the first quarter, and ended with 4:16 left in the half. The Badgers converted fourth down twice along the way, including a 2-yard run by quarterback Bo Smith for the touchdown.

The extra point was no good, leaving it 13-7.

Sylvan Hills was moving again, going 23 yards in four plays, but Bo Smith came through with a big hit of Sylvan Hills’ Deion Youngblood, forcing a fumble that Reese Anders covered for the Badgers at the Beebe 48.

This time it took just one play. After going off tackle the whole game, Trip Smith took a handoff around the left end 52 yards for the touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 19-7.

Penalties did the Bears in on their next drive. An illegal shift on the first play negated a 22-yard pass to Youngblood. After a run for no gain, a hold negated a 7-yard scramble by Washington and pinned the Bears back on the Beebe 13. From second and 33, Brandon Bracely got 28 of it back in two carries, but was stopped for a 2-yard loss on fourth and 5 and Beebe took over at the Sylvan Hills 37.

After the Bears lined up off sides, they still couldn’t get the right personnel on the field and had to call timeout. It didn’t matter. Patrom took a counter handoff around the left side 32 yards for Beebe’s third touchdown three and a half minutes. Trip Smith converted the two points for a 27-7 lead with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.

Patrom intercepted another pass to end the half for Beebe.

Sylvan Hills (7-2, 4-2) finished with 354 yards of offense. Washington had 15 carries for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

EDITORIAL >> Areas revisit wet-dry laws

The Lonoke County Quorum Court and Jacksonville officials in separate undertakings are hoping to do away with local alcohol restrictions that prohibit sales in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, except with a private-club license. And liquor stores are banned entirely.

As with all prohibitions, the aim is to prevent or reduce use of a certain product, but what usually happens is that the demand remains and the providers operate elsewhere.

Jacksonville and Cabot residents routinely dine in North Little Rock to enjoy drinks with their meals. They can’t buy beer or wine at their grocery store either, so they have to stop at the liquor stores near the Pulaski County line.

Officials may not be concerned with the inconvenience of residents, but they know millions of dollars are pouring out of their communities and would like to keep some of that money to spend on roads and parks and create new service and constructions jobs when the major-name restaurants come to town.

We’ve said before that it’s time to do away with dry laws. Voters in 2014 rejected a ballot amendment — backed by Walmart — that would have ended alcohol laws across the state. It was close, with 57 percent against.

The alcohol amendment was even closer locally with 10,822 voting for it and 8,533 against it in Lonoke County. Even Pulaski County, where alcohol sales are allowed, except in Jacksonville and some of Sherwood, voters were closely divided with 477,877 supporting it and 354,446 against.

Many voters were swayed by the argument that alcohol laws should be decided locally, as some communities have established prohibitions on firearms or other issues.

In the run-up to the statewide vote last year, organizers in Jacksonville and Sherwood were collecting signatures to get a local election on expanding liquor sales into restaurants, grocery and convenience stores.

They now want to revive those efforts. Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville) has asked the attorney general if the signatures collected last year can be carried over to another round of petitioning. The law has changed since those were collected, lowering the percentage of names required from 35 percent to 15 percent. But that comes at a cost. The ensuing vote will now be only on allowing alcohol sales for on-premise consumption at restaurants and hotels.

Sherwood organizers have been less active recently but remain interested in allowing liquor sales all over town.

The Lonoke County Quorum Court unanimously requested that the University of Arkansas Extension Service do a study on the economic benefits of doing away with the county’s dry laws. It will almost certainly say that drunk driving and alcoholism rates will stay at current rates and cities and the county can generate millions in revenue every year.

Since the study will come from a trusted agency that’s known for its good work supporting farmers and rural communities for decades, the results will then be used to make the case with voters. They’ll be asked to pass it in the name of supporting local businesses that will create new jobs.

North Little Rock’s restaurant row is saturated with just about every franchise name in the industry, but others will want open in Jacksonville and Cabot when liquor laws are finally changed.

TOP STORY >> Farmers hoping they’ll cut losses

Leader senior staff writer

“At best, this is a break-even year for our farmers,” Lonoke Extension Service Chief Agent Jeff Welch said Friday. “Several will retire or go out of business starting next year. The profits just weren’t there.”

On top of that, he said, some bought new machinery during better times, and the note is another financial stress.

The soybean and rice harvests are winding down, and the cotton’s picked but not all out of the fields yet, Welch said.

“We had an excellent soybean harvest,” he said, but the rice harvest was down 10 percent to 15 percent. Farmers couldn’t plant early enough because of wet fields, followed by drought.

A couple of inches of rain over the past few days is delaying wheat planting, and Welch said he thought there would only be about 5,000 acres of winter wheat planted in Lonoke County this year.

“The price isn’t enough to take the risk,” he said.

Welch also said there was some damage to winter vegetables, including strawberries, kale and lettuce. Most of that is grown at Barnhill farms in the Cabot area. He said a few days of sunshine could correct that.

Thanks to this weeks rain, no Arkansas counties are currently under a burn ban, a dramatic change from about a week ago when about two-thirds were.

TOP STORY >> 3 seek ASU-Beebe chancellor job

Dr. Charles L. Welch, Arkansas State University System president, said Friday that three candidates have been invited to the ASU-Beebe campus to interview for the position of chancellor.

The three candidates are:

• Dr. Michael L. DeLong, executive vice president and provost at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, who will visit Nov. 9-10.

• Dr. Karla Fisher, vice president of academics at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan., who will visit Nov. 16-17.

• Dr. Ted A. Lewis, vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn., who will visit Nov. 11-12.

The invitations to formally interview on campus come after recent meetings Welch conducted with the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee. The advisory committee, consisting of 14 members representing faculty, staff, students and community representatives, has reviewed 57 applications for the position.

The candidates will meet with the advisory committee, faculty, staff, students and community members.

Individuals attending the interviews will have an opportunity to submit feedback to the committee.

Following the final interview, the committee will meet to discuss the candidates and provide feedback to Welch.

Welch has indicated a desire to have a new chancellor named prior to Jan. 1. The new chancellor will succeed Dr. Eugene McKay, who announced in May that he would retire in January after almost 50 years of service to ASU-Beebe, including the past 21 years as chancellor.

DeLong, has served in his current position since 2012. He was vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Ozarka College in Melbourne (Izard County) from 2006-2012 and held various administrative and teaching roles at Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City from 1994-2006.

Fisher has been at her current post since 2010. She was interim president of Butler for six months in 2013. She has been an associate of the Center for Community College Student Engagement since 2007 and was director of institutional marketing at Salt Lake Community College from 2001-2007.

Lewis has served in his current position since 2012. He was the founding dean of instruction at Lone Star College-CyFair near Houston from 2003-2012 and was department chair in political science at Collin County Community College near Dallas from 1995-2003.

TOP STORY >> Kerr Station Rd. shut 60 days for drainage work

Leader staff writer

A portion of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 in Cabot is closed for 60 days for the completion of a drainage improvement project.

Public Works director Brian Boroughs explained to The Leader on Friday that the city was awarded an $811,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. Work on funding to enhance the Diamond Creek drainage basin began under former Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ administration. There had been flooding, and it is one of the main drainage basins in the city.

The grant funds had to be used before 2016. The city had already requested extensions. The only option was to close a section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 from Oct. 27 to Dec. 31.

Boroughs said the original drainage improvement plan was to concrete the ditch from Hwy. 89 north of Knight’s Super Foods down to the community park on Campground and Kerr Station roads. The plan was approved by engineers in 2012, but, during 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t approve the designs due to environmental concerns. The plan had to be redesigned and was approved in 2014.

The project had three parts: To improve the culvert sections at Campground and Kerr Station roads from April 1 to June 1, the Kerr Station Road floodway from June 1 to Aug. 7 and the drainage basin west of South Haven between Panther Trail and Hwy. 321 after Aug. 8.

The rains during the spring pushed the project back.

The city coordinated with the school district to work on the roads used as bus routes first because they could not be closed. Summer was the only time to work on those portions because school was out.

The closed section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 is not used by buses for it is mostly morning and afternoon school traffic to Middle School South. The police and fire departments are using alternate routes. It is one of the most used city roads in Cabot.

School Superintendent Tony Thurman said, “The closure has significantly increased the amount of traffic on Panther Trail, but that is to be expected since it is the primary detour route.”

He continued, “It has not had any impact on bus routes, since we were notified well in advance and made adjustments at that time.”

Boroughs said, “We communicated as well as we could, warning about the upcoming closure 30 days before. We had a few complaints. We realize it is an inconvenience. (Mayor Bill Cypert’s) goal is to solve the drainage problems in the city and we’re delighted to be able to do that.”

Drivers will notice the wider shoulders, with guard rails crossing over the flood basin. That will allow for expansion to three lanes in the future, and bridges will not have to be added. A bonus of the drainage project was adding a right-turn lane from Campground Road onto Kerr Station Road.

“Drainage improvements are not glamorous, but are some of the most important infrastructure projects. We are trying to keep from having people’s houses flooding, and that would be a success,” Boroughs said.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, Badgers in big game

Leader sports editor

This year’s week nine matchup between Beebe and Sylvan Hills doesn’t appear to carry the same weight as last year’s meeting. Neither team is undefeated and key injuries have depleted a Beebe roster that had high hopes and expectations coming into the season. But this Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Beebe’s Bro Irwin Stadium still means a lot to both teams who have already punched their tickets to the playoffs.

What’s not settled is seeding. Sylvan Hills (7-1, 4-1) can still share a conference championship if it wins its last two games. After Beebe, the Bears close at home against Pulaski Academy. If the Badgers (4-4, 3-2) beat Sylvan Hills, they could finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how the other three 5A-Central playoff teams, which includes Sylvan Hills, PA and McClellan, finish.

It’s the last regular season game for Beebe, who was scheduled to play North Pulaski in week 10, so it will be waiting to see what happens to those three teams to see where it will land in the postseason bracket.

Friday’s game is an intriguing one. Beebe has pieced together a competitive team despite season-ending injuries to four starters, including a 1,000-yard rusher, the starting quarterback and two starters in the secondary who were also the second- and third-string quarterbacks.

That’s left the Badgers with senior Bo Smith under center. Smith was the starting inside linebacker, and still plays about half the snaps on defense. He had some experience at quarterback before this year. He had to step in at quarterback against Vilonia last year because of injuries that weren’t quite as serious as the ones this season.

“He’s the one that’s stabilized us back there, so we’re going to keep going with what we got,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “We’ve got two other guys we’ve been getting ready, but we feel like he gives us the best chance to compete.”

Sophomore Stephen Hamil, who has been the junior varsity quarterback this season, and junior Nathan Clifton, who played quarterback in junior high, are currently working as backups to Smith.

“Bo was only our fourth string just because we didn’t want to take him off defense,” Shannon said. “I probably felt as comfortable with him all along as any of our backups, but he’s also a three-year starter at linebacker. He still plays about 50 percent of the time on defense because he’s that valuable to us. The good thing is, it’s late in the season. He’s in good shape. It’s gotten cooler so playing both ways isn’t quite as hard this time of year as it is early on.”

Sylvan Hills enters the game fresh off its first loss of the season, a 44-32 defeat to McClellan. When sizing up this week’s opponent, Bear coach Jim Withrow had high praise for the man standing across the field from him.

“Everybody talks about (PA coach) Kevin Kelley, and I think he’s as good a coach in the state as we have, but people overlook guys like John (Shannon). They’ve had so many injuries last year and this year. And the way he’s just been able to patch, and patch and patch, and still have that ship afloat, it’s amazing to me how he does it.”

As for his own team, Withrow is still working on correcting recent mistakes that his team wasn’t making early in the season. Turnovers, miscues and penalties began to appear as far back as the J.A. Fair game. They peaked in a 17-penalty, six-turnover game against Jacksonville three weeks ago. The Bears still managed to win that one, largely because of 20 penalties against the Red Devils. But they couldn’t overcome 12 flags against a vastly improved McClellan squad.

“This game is huge, and we need to get back on track,” Withrow said. “Let’s win this game here and give ourselves a chance to share a conference championship.”

The Bears are also hoping to shed the mental demons that come along after the way last season ended. Sylvan Hills was 8-0 going into this game last year and lost a wild, high-scoring affair at home. The Bears then lost its regular-season finale to PA, and its first-round playoff game at Wynne.

Another loss this week could be damaging to morale.

“”It’s huge also because if you win this, you feel like we’re a different team and it’s not going to be like last year,” Withrow said.

It starts with possessions. Beebe wants the ball, and wants to keep it.

“The key is going to be us having good, long drives and keeping their offense on the sidelines,” Shannon said. “I think we’ve come a long way with our offense, piecing it together. Right now we feel like we can move the ball. We just need to hang onto it and not shoot ourselves in the foot.

“Our defense has been solid all year long, but I just don’t know if we can slow them down, to be honest with you. With the possible exception of PA, it’s the biggest test we’ve faced all year long. And I think they’re more athletic than PA on offense. One false step, and just about anybody they give the ball to is gone to the house. So we have to limit their possessions.”

Withrow has the exact same take.

“John wants 3 yards every play,” Withrow said. “If he gets fourth and short, he’s going for it and you have to expect that. We can’t allow them to take up a whole quarter with one drive. If we can get a turnover or a quick three and out, and then capitalize on those things, we’ll be in good shape. And we have to take better care of the ball ourselves.”

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers face fierce, powerful Hurricanes

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers play another mathematically meaningless game on Friday, but it probably won’t be an easy one. The Panthers travel to Jonesboro to take on the Class 6A Hurricanes in a game that counts towards the conference record, but means nothing as far as playoffs are concerned. What makes it meaningful is the test the Hurricane offense will present for Cabot’s defense.

“They say offense wins games and defense wins championships, well we’re going to find out if we might have a championship level defense this week,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham.

On paper, the game has the potential to be a long one with a lot of points scored. Jonesboro (6-2) managed just 17 points in a two-touchdown loss to Conway in week two of the season. Since then, its lowest total is 36 points the following week against Batesville.

In five conference games so far, the Hurricanes have averaged 57.4 points per game. On the other hand, they are giving up an averaged of 42 points per game in those same five games.

Sophomore Tyler Darr and junior Tyson Williams trade time at quarterback for Jonesboro. Darr has made most of the big throws, and both have several other weapons to get the ball to. Senior running back Kylon Tate has been the key big-play man, but Jakaylen Jackson has had his share of long runs as well.

Two 4.5 receivers split wide for Jonesboro. Ke’Dren Brunson had almost 700 yards receiving last year, and this year is joined by Jonathan Adams Jr., son of former Arkansas rushing leader Jonathan Adams of Osceola, who also went on to become a 1,000-yard rusher for Arkansas State in the late 1990s.

“There’s no shortage of playmakers to keep up with, that’s for sure,” Malham said of Jonesboro. “They’ve got them all over the field. I think it’s probably going to be the toughest test for our defense all year.

“The good thing is they’ve given up a whole lot of points, too. We’ve had some big-play capability this year we don’t usually have. So hopefully we can keep scoring and get enough stops to pull it out. But Jonesboro’s a dangerous team.”


The Jacksonville Red Devils’ most disappointing week of the season was their bye week. While sitting out last Friday for its scheduled game against North Pulaski, the Red Devils were eliminated from playoff contention. Despite 1-3 league records, Jacksonville and Mills still had hopes of making the playoffs by closing the season with back-to-back wins. But those hopes were predicated on forcing a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots.

McClellan’s win over Sylvan Hills last Friday ended any hopes of forcing that tie, making this week’s 7 p.m. game at Mills about pride.

“We’re out,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “We exp-lained the situation to them before Friday’s games. So they understood as soon as they found out who won (the McClellan-Sylvan Hills game). Now you try to focus on ending strong, sending the seniors out on a positive note and building up some momentum for next year.”

Jacksonville enters the game without either of its two starting quarterbacks. Senior Brandon Hickingbotham and junior Rowdy Weathers both suffered season-ending shoulder injuries in recent games.

Sophomore Har’Derrious Martin will take over that spot for the final two games, and that could mean less focus on the passing game.

“It’ll be senior night for Mills, so they’ll have that motivation working for them,” Hickingbotham said. “We’re going to see how this works out for us with a new quarterback and doing some different things.

“We had some opportunities and weren’t able to take advantage of them. And we had some bad breaks, a lot of bad breaks. We were able to go back and look at the chances we had. When you don’t seize those opportunities, you don’t get to move on. That’s real life, too, so hopefully this is a learning opportunity.”


Lonoke (3-5, 1-4) hosts Stuttgart Friday to face one of the league leaders, but in the wacky world of the 4A-2 Conference, nothing is certain. The Ricebirds (5-3, 4-1) suffered its only conference loss of the season last week at Helena-West Helena Central, 22-21, the same place Lonoke got its only conference win the week before, 26-16.


Carlisle (3-5, 3-3) will be favored in its 2A-6 Conference road game at Clarendon this Friday. The Bison can clinch a playoff spot with a win, and even though the Lions are just 1-7, a Bison victory is not guaranteed.

Clarendon has been shut out twice this year by DeWitt and McCrory, but has scored at least two touchdowns in every other game. Carlisle scored 14 points on DeWitt, but gave up more points than did Clarendon.

The Lions also scored more than Carlisle did against Brinkley, while the Bison outscored the Lions against the other four common opponents.

Carlisle is the heavy favorite, but its defense has been suspect enough to make this game a little less than a sure thing.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe girls advance to round two

Leader sportswriter

JONESBORO – The Beebe High School volleyball team made school history Tuesday by winning its first ever state tournament match with a 3-1 win over Greenbrier in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.

The Lady Badgers won the first-round match over the Lady Panthers by scores of 25-18, 21-25, 25-16 and 25-17.

“It’s great,” said Beebe coach Ashley Camp. “It’s awesome because I’ve had some of these girls for five years. To watch them grow up in the program and continue to improve on and off the court, it’s just exciting to watch. I’m proud of them for sure.

“They’ve won conference their last two years. This group is a special group to begin with, but to win one in the state tournament just adds to it.”

The first game was tight in the early going, but Beebe, the No. 1 seed from the Central, began to separate itself from Greenbrier, the No. 4 seed from the West, near the midway point of that first set.

Beebe took a 10-8 lead on a kill by senior Jerra Malone, and later pushed that lead to 18-11 on an ace serve by fellow senior Sarah Clark. The Lady Badgers’ largest lead of game one was at nine, with the score 21-12.

Greenbrier closed the gap to 22-17, but Beebe senior Gracie Rymel got a kill on the next volley to push the lead to six. The Lady Panthers scored the next point, but Beebe scored the next two to end game one, with the final point coming on a Lani Wolfe kill.

Greenbrier led for almost all of game two. The Lady Panthers held their largest lead of that game at 17-8, and led 21-13 before Beebe made its comeback attempt.

The Lady Badgers closed the gap to 24-21, with Beebe’s final point coming on a Malone kill. Greenbrier’s Katherine Jeane scored the final point of that game on a well-placed two-handed tip that found an open spot in the middle of the back court on Beebe’s side of the net.

Beebe regrouped and took command in game three, jumping out to a 10-5 lead and later pushing that lead to 20-12 on a kill from the corner of the net by Malone. Greenbrier scored the next two points to cut its deficit to six, with the score 20-14, but Beebe scored again on another Rymel kill, making it 21-14.

Greenbrier scored the next point before Malone added another kill to make it 22-15. Malone then went to the service line and served the next two points, the second coming on an ace.

Malone’s ace made it 24-15. Greenbrier scored again before Beebe ended game three on a kill by Wolfe. Clark picked up the assist on that play and Malone got a crucial dig early in the volley to keep the ball in play.

Beebe jumped out to a 7-1 lead in game four before Greenbrier came back and tied it up at 12-12. Beebe scored the next point, though, and led the rest of the way. The Lady Badgers’ lead grew to 23-15 on an ace by Abby Smith.

Greenbrier added the next two points before Malone scored match point with a kill from the corner of the net. Malone’s clutch kill gave Beebe serving rights and senior Tori Lovelady served an ace to end the game and match in the Lady Badgers’ favor.

Malone led all players with 19 kills. She also had three aces and eight digs.

Senior libero Paige Smith had a match-high 20 digs. Clark had four aces and easily the match high in assists with 40.

Abby Smith had 18 kills and a match-high six blocks. Rymel added 11 kills. Wolfe had four kills and Emma Kuykendall had three.

The Lady Badgers play old conference foe and East No. 3 seed Batesville in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at 2 p.m. today at Valley View High School.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot falls in controversy

Leader sports editor

CONWAY – The Lady Panther volleyball team overcame a series of bad calls to force a game five, and rallied from a sizeable deficit to take the tiebreaker game to extra points.

In the end, though, Rogers Heritage got back-to-back kills by Elleson Dunigan for game, set and match and advance to the second round of the Class 7A state tournament.

Scores for Heritage High were 25-20, 23-25, 25-13, 23-25 and 16-14.

Cabot (12-12) was called for double-hits 12 times on sets, and four line calls were highly questionable. After game three, Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk tried to get the up-referee’s attention but was ignored. So he appealed to Nick Lasker, who was in the stands. Lasker is the associate executive director of the Arkansas High School Activities Association, and rules interpreter and head of officials for volleyball.

“I tried to talk to them and they wouldn’t even talk to me,” said Chanthaphasouk. “So I went and asked Nick if there’s a procedure to get an official removed. He went and talked to them but I don’t know what was said. I just know that it was not called evenly. All the double hits just weren’t right. Just because it spins doesn’t mean it’s two hits. It just was so one-sided and it was affecting my players.”

Game one was the only game in which the team that scored first didn’t win. Cabot’s Kristen Walker got a kill on Rogers Heritage’s first serve, but the Lady War Eagles broke back. The third point of the match was the first double-hit call, and gave RHHS a lead it would not relinquish.

Lady Panther Abbie Lippincott served two aces to start game two. Rogers Heritage (16-10-1) tied it at 4-4, but Tori Barnhill served three-straight points for a 9-5 Cabot lead. The lead stayed between three and five up to 23-19. After an unforced error by Cabot, an RHHS hit that was clearly out right in front of Cabot’s bench was called in, making the score 23-21 and drawing Chanthaphasouk’s first major protest.

He called timeout and assistant coach Anna Robertson run the huddle. He tried to talk to the official, who would not engage him.

Right after the timeout, Cabot was called for another double hit to make the score 23-22, but finally caught a break. A miss-timed swing by Walker floated over the net and landed untouched amid the War Eagle defense. An unforced error by Cabot made it a one-point game, but a big swing by Dunigan went long to end the game and tie the match.

Heritage’s Erika Reaser served six-straight points to start game three.

Cabot started well. Walker blocked two big hits on the first point, but Heritage kept the ball in play and Cabot was eventually called for another double-hit. The sixth point was another double-hit against Cabot before Reaser finally served short of the net.

Chanthaphasouk got a call to go his way as Cabot pulled to within 8-10. A long point was allowed to continue after an apparent four-hit possession. After Heritage won the point, the officials discussed the incident and reversed the call, awarding the Lady Panthers the point.

But Cabot disintegrated after 13-11. Heritage junior Jocelyn Galvan, who only entered the match to serve, served all the way 22-11. Twice Cabot made excellent saves with the second hit, only to have the easy free ball go out of bounds. An ace fell between to Lady Panthers, either of which could have easily received the serve, and Dunigan and Hope Von Gremp combined for four kills during the run.

The Lady Panthers answered their coach’s intensity in game four, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on Lippincott’s serve. The lead grew to as much as 18-10 before Heritage put together a furious rally to tie the game at 23-23. Taylor Bell then got a huge kill from the right side for Cabot to send Tori Barnhill to the service line. Bell then ended the match with an almost identical kill, forcing a fifth game.

Heritage had the match in hand with a 13-9 lead, but Walker got a tip and a kill inside the Heritage attack line to make it 13-11. Heritage called timeout, and Von Gremp got her ninth kill for a 14-11 lead. Heritage was then called for a double-hit.

On the next point, Barnhill and Faith Garvin blocked Dunigan twice and Maddie Brown got the kill for Cabot. Brown got another kill to tie it at 14-14, but Dunigan’s 24th and 25th kills ended the match and Cabot’s season.

“The girls never stopped fighting,” Chanthaphasouk said of his team. “They had a lot of going against them and a lot of chances to quit, but they never did. I’m very proud of them for that.”

Dunigan’s 25 kills led all players. Brown led Cabot with nine kills. Barnhill had eight and Walker had seven kills and six blocks.

EDITORIAL >> State needing organ donors

Kristy and Rodney Cotillier of Cabot got to listen to their son’s heart earlier this month. Their 16-year-old son was an organ donor, and his heart has given new life to a 20-year-old in Iowa.

Even though Evan Cotillier suffered from epilepsy, his death was as unexpected as any 16-year-old’s. A month before his death, he impressed upon his parents to make sure his organs were donated.

“It was the easier decision we made during his death,” the parents said.

Now they are pushing for others, of all ages, to make sure they are organ donors.

“We know Evan’s heart, kidneys and liver saved people,” Kristy Cotillier said. “His eyes and tissue were also donated.”

About 1.2 million Arkansans (about 57 percent of the state) are signed up as organ donors, yet ARORA (Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency) recovered only 123 organs in 2014.

And, at any given time in Arkansas, there are at least 300 patients on the waiting list for new organs. Why the disparity?

Audrey Coleman, director of communications for ARORA, said that’s because only 1 percent of donors die in a manner to be eligible to donate their organs. “You have to die in the hospital, and your death usually has to be a brain death. That greatly narrows down the possibilities, but should not stop anyone from signing up to donate,” she said.

That’s one of the many reasons the Cotilliers are pushing for more people to sign up. Research also shows that many people are reluctant to register as donors because of myths floating out there.

Below are some of the most common myths, along with the facts, according to ARORA:

Myth: If emergency room doctors know you’re an organ donor, they won’t work as hard to save you.

Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the No. 1 priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician. Also, your treating physician is not the doctor who would perform the organ recovery.

Myth: The “rich and famous” receive priority on the organ waiting list.

Fact: When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type and other important medical information.

Myth: Your family members can block your decision to become an organ or tissue donor, even if you are in the donor registry.

Fact: In Arkansas, your family cannot revoke your decision to register as a donor. However, it’s important to talk to your family about your decision to donate so they are aware of your wishes and will feel comfortable honoring them.

Myth: Only hearts, livers and kidneys can be transplanted.

Fact: Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.

Myth: I’m too old to be a donor.

Fact: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.

Myth: Organ donation is expensive.

Fact: There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for organ and tissue donation.

Myth: Organ donation disfigures the body and it’s not possible to have an open-casket funeral.

Fact: Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Donation does not change the appearance of the body for the funeral service.

Myth: My religion doesn’t allow organ donation.

Fact: Almost all major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it an act of charity.

For more details on donating organs, call ARORA at 501-907-9150.

“At 16, my son was still a boy, but his decision to donate showed me he was a better man than I was, and I love him for that,” Rodney Cottilier said. “I will always look up to him.”

TOP STORY >> Still looking to fix bad street repair

Leader staff writer

Four blocks of Palm Street, which is used by Lonoke school buses and students, is literally breaking apart and has been for some time now.

“No one is offering to do anything,” Mayor Wayne McGee said Friday. “It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. No one is accepting blame, and no one wants to help defray the $200,000 cost to repair the road.”

The Lonoke City Council recently authorized the mayor to initiate any action against or with the state Highway Department and/or the contractor, the Rogers Group, to fix a quarter-mile stretch of Palm Street, rendered impassible since shortly after it was resurfaced.

The mayor is still waiting to hear about options from City Attorney Ginger Stuart.

Something needs to be done, as portions of the street have been closed because it is so spongy that vehicles are bottoming out, he noted.

Most of the overlay work the Rogers Group did in the city is fine, but, on Palm Street, the company had to mill down the road, build it back up and then asphalt it.

They cut the asphalt too low, to the gravel, the mayor said.

McGee said the state claims it was only administrating the funds for the statewide street fund.

He said the state, through a highway tax, had about $250,000 for milling and asphalting streets in Lonoke.

“The Highway Department came out, looked at our suggested street list, made the decision, hired the contractor and had inspectors out. Once they picked the streets, we had no say in the matter,” McGee explained.

The paving contractors say they did what they were paid to do, according to the mayor.

While the city seeks help in repairing the road properly, McGee says it will cost the Lonoke School District money. “They need to build a gate and a culvert to be able to use a different route until repairs are made,” he said. “It will be a costly hardship.”

Alderman Pat Howell, at the council meetings, said Palm Street has been there for 65 years and never closed, “but it failed three months after Rogers repaired it.”

“With this rain, it will definitely become a mess,” the mayor said. “It’s one place where dry weather has been a plus. I just hate that it’s taxpayers’ money that has been wasted. I want our street fixed, and I don’t want it happening to anyone else.”

The whole project, several city blocks, was done for $275,000, according to Howell, and now contractors want $200,000 to repair a fraction of that.

The mayor said the city going in and tearing out four blocks of asphalt to do it right would cost between $180,000 and $200,000. “That would be our paving budget for the next two to three years,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Library bonds sold in 2 hours

Leader staff writer

It only took two hours Monday for financial representatives for Sherwood to sell $6 million worth of bonds to cover the cost of the new library.

“We started at 10 and were finished by noon,” said Paul Phillips, the senior marketing director for Crews and Associates, “and we got good rates.”

The bonds, sold in segments, carry interest rates from 1.75 to 3.25 percent.

Phillips said the overall rate was 2.65 percent.

The 1.3-mill property tax voters approved for the library in November 2014 is expected to bringing in just under $600,000 per year, and the average annual payment on bonds from 2016 to 2030 is less than $300,000. There are two $1 million payments at the end of the bond period, in 2033 and 2036.

“Still, the revenues would allow the city to pay off the bonds six to seven years early,” Phillips said.

Taking off administrative costs, the city has $5.8 million to buy land, build and furnish the library.

The council approved the ordinance Monday night that provides for the issuance and sale, lists the due dues, interest rates and principal amounts.

The aldermen, in a unanimous decision at their September meeting, voted to build the new library on Johnson Drive near Sylvan Hills Middle School.

The site is a 14-acre tract priced at $960,000 — slightly under the $1 million budget for that part of the project.

The property is behind the Mapco gas station on Hwy. 107.

A committee that includes Mayor Virginia Young, City Attorney Steve Cobb, attorney Bill Spivey and Alderman Beverly Williams are negotiating the final price.

“I’m pleased to report that we will probably get the property for less than the original price,” Williams told the council Monday night, meaning more funds will be available for the construction and furnishing of the library.

The negotiations are expected to be completed soon.

Mayor Young said the next step is to see architectural drawings for the library. “There have been some generic drawings, but now the architect firm can come up with a design specific to the terrain and other characteristics for the property,” she said.

General plans call for the library to be about 14,500 square feet, have state-of-the-art technology and meeting rooms.

Originally, a 21-acre site surrounding by neighborhoods was recommended for the library, but residents in the area objected. After more meetings with the site selection committee and others, the council voted in September on the Johnson Drive site off Highway 107.

Aldermen Tim McMinn, Williams, Charlie Harmon, Mike Sanders and Marina Brooks said the Johnson Drive site was their first choice.

“I think that’s the best area for it, the best location, because of access to the school, traffic,” McMinn said then.

Williams said in September that the city’s branch manager had told her the location was a good option because the staff had been working to bring pre-teens and teenagers into the library.

Alderman Mary Jo Heye was not a fan of the library site.

She doesn’t like the fact that a gas station would be in front of the new library and, on Woodruff Avenue, the “showpiece” would have been “tucked away.”

In other council business:

Alderman approved an ordinance that allows Pulaski County to collect the 1.3-mill library tax as part of the real and personal property levy for the 2015 tax year.

Alderman Charlie Harmon told the council that a legal case in Gilbert, Ariz., killed all the work his committee had done over the past six months on the city’s sign ordinance. The court decision, he explained, has negated city sign ordinances across the country.

Harmon said the Inter-national Municipal Lawyers Association was working on a model ordinance that complied with the new law. “We are going to wait until that comes out and then adjust it to our needs,” he said.

The mayor reminded the council and those attending the meeting that the city’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade is set for 2 p.m. Sunday and would follow the same route as the Christmas Parade.

She also said the city’s Halloween Carnival is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and the Sherwood Youth Council’s haunted house would be open Friday and Saturday at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave.

Aldermen Tim McMinn reminded everyone that the first-ever Sherwood Kids Olympics was slated for 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 7 at Sylvan Hills Community Church.

He said the entry fee to participate was canned food, boxes of cereal or other non-perishable food items to help Sherwood’s hungry.

Mary Ann Modern was appointed to fill the unexpired term of former Alderman Steve Fender on the Senior Citizens Committee.

TOP STORY >> Scariest Halloween

Leader staff writer

Visit the Necromansion at 9905 Hwy. 5 in Cabot for a scary good time and to help homeless pets, as a portion of the haunted house’s proceeds will benefit the city’s animal shelter.

Tickets are $12. It’s open from 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Owner Rocky Gray said, “What you see here you won’t see anywhere in the state, guaranteed,” as his brother and co-owner, Jeremiah Gray, explained how the Necromansion’s unique set design sets it apart.

“It has more movie-quality stuff than your average haunted house,” Jeremiah noted.

Rocky agreed, saying, “This is the closest we can get to having us and other people inside a movie.”

The Necromansion is the home of 1930s and ’40s artist Vincent Greymore, who was born Aug. 27, 1906, in Salem, Ark.

He was known for beautiful, but demented, paintings and sculptures, according to the haunted house’s Facebook page.

The page reads that Vincent moved into the Southern Victorian home with his wife, two sons and two daughters after attaining success and the wealth that came with it.

But there was no happily ever after waiting there.

Vincent’s mental health took a turn for the worse. He began to believe spirits that manifested in his works haunted what later became known as the Necromansion.

The artist tried to communicate with them, holding séances using the supposedly fictional book of the dead – the “Necronomicon.” Vincent claimed renowned author H.P. Lovecraft gave it to him.

The entry on Vincent reads, “Some say, in a psychotic break from reality, he began building upon their home and creating secret rooms for some sort of twisted exhibits, much like the hidden torture rooms of America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes.”

Rumors also have it that spirits possessed the artist, who then took to stealing human remains from a cemetery for his art. Some believe his stock of ghastly materials grew when Vincent murdered his own family.

But all that is speculative. It is known that the artist was committed to the Arkansas State Hospital 1951 but escaped in 1957, after which he and his family were never heard from again.

Perhaps visitors to the Necromansion will find out what happened as they travel through maze-like hallways and eight rooms filled with unimaginable horrors.

The artist is there, but haunted house owner Rocky warns that customers “won’t see him for very long.”

The house offers a mix of life-like animatronics and an all-volunteer cast of actors. Up to nine of them torment those who dare enter on any given evening.

Although the Grays and their brother-in-law, Derrick Moore, all of Cabot, have put on free “yard haunts” before — including an event for the Department of Human Services office in Lonoke — the Necromansion is their first professional attraction and new to the area this year.

It’s certainly a family affair as the Grays’ sister and Moore’s wife, Jessica, is one of the house’s many actors.

The brothers and brother-in-law also own Spookhouse Productions, which makes props, sets, masks, costumes, animatronics and more for haunted attractions. “Whatever you need, we can do it,” Jeremiah noted.

Rocky commented that plans are for their haunted house to return next year. He hopes to have a bigger budget and start putting it together sooner, though.