Friday, February 19, 2016

TOP STORY >> Portrait of Griffin unveiled

Leader staff writer

Roberta (R.B.) McGrath’s painting of Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin was unveiled Thursday at her gallery, 118 S. First St. in Jacksonville.

Griffin, state Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville), Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher, Director of Administration Jim Durham, Joan Zumwalt, Alan Storeygard, Jacksonville Police Lt. Jason Garcia, Dean Elliott with the lieutenant governor’s staff and Griffin’s wife attended the event.

The lieutenant governor didn’t commission the portrait. He said, with a smile, that he couldn’t afford to do so. But Griffin did ask that his image hang by the mayor’s portrait, which will be its home for now, as it’s part of McGrath’s permanent collection. She is still working to bring an arts center to the city and hopes that one day the piece will hang in a museum that is part of such a center.

The painting, titled “Reaching Out, the Honorable Tim Griffin, Lieutenant Governor, Arkansas,” shows Griffin standing outside his office at the Capitol, with the state flag on his left and light from a window outside the frame shining on his right.

He said, while standing in front of it, “She makes you look better than you actually do. See here...She gave me some hair, a little bit of hair, better looking suit.”
Griffin also told The Leader, “Like all the other paintings here, incredible. She is so unbelievably talented.” He calls the artist an “Arkansas treasure.”

McGrath said she wanted to paint the lieutenant governor as part of her “High Achiever” series on people who have “managed to rise through the ranks, climb the ladder through their own determination and their own set of morals, are able to rise above everything and achieve levels most of us can only dream of.” She added, “But also their contributions to society will be felt for generations to come, for decades to come.

McGrath said she painted Griffin “because of his ability to lend a helping hand to his constituents and reach out to the citizens of Arkansas, I was inspired.” The artist said she called Griffin’s office and “begged” him to let her paint the masterpiece.

Then the lieutenant governor’s staff graciously arranged for McGrath to take photos of him at the Capitol because she knew he wouldn’t be able to sit five or six hours for the portrait. “And I’m hyperactive,” Griffin quipped.

The artist spent two months on the endeavor.

Griffin explained that he first met McGrath in 2013, when he learned that one of her paintings had been pirated and was being sold worldwide by Chinese manufacturers.

McGrath said, “It was his congressional office in Washington that went to bat for me...And it’s still an ongoing process because they’re still doing it.” She added that California filmmaker Keith Hudson is producing a movie on that situation.

He saw her work, and two of McGrath’s paintings are on loan, hanging at his Capitol office.

TOP STORY >> Cost of business to go up

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council approved higher privilege license fees Thursday.

They go into effect 30 days from Thursday, and those businesses that don’t pay within 60 days of that date will be considered delinquent on the annual bill, according to Director of Administration Jim Durham.

Alderman James Bolden commented, “We had a very good committee that met out here, and we went over this with the business leaders. It was very positive ... (and) very productive.”

Alderman Terry Sansing said, before the unanimous vote, “It has always been my full understanding that a business license’s primary job is to identify the businesses that are operating in the city so that the city can know which businesses are within the city limits. I’ve never been big on businesses licenses being a revenue producer. However, this looks quite a bit better, quite a bit more reasonable than what we saw the other time. I think they’ve done a good job.”

Hospitality businesses, private clubs, bars, restaurants, retail stores and wholesale companies that sell alcohol will be charged based on square footage. The rates are $500 for up to 2,000 square feet, $525 for 2,001-3,000; $550 for 3,001-4,000; $575 for 4,001-5,000; $600 for 5,001-6,000; $700 for 6,001-9,999 and $825 plus 0.025 cents per square foot over 10,000 square feet.

Bakeries and restaurants that don’t sell alcohol, business/retail, hospitals, nursing/care facilities, sales, flea markets, antique shops, pawn shops and consignment shops will be charged $100 for up to 2,000 square feet, $125 for 2,001-3,000; $150 for 3,001-4,000; $175 for 4,001-5,000; $200 for 5,001-6,000; $300 for 6,001-9,999 and $425 plus 0.025 cents per square foot over 10,000 square feet.

Banks, per location, will have to pay $400.

Beauty salons, barbershops and nail salons will be charged $100 plus $10 per booth.

The rate for billboards – poster or bulletin – per face, contractors, specialty trade companies, home-based businesses, automatic and self-service car washes and detail service providers is $100.

Day care centers will have to pay $75 plus $1 per child in the Department of Human Services maximum.

Funeral homes will be charged $300.

The fee for hotels and motels is $200 plus $2 per room.

Landfill/waste facilities will be charged $500 plus $0.03 cents per ton collected.

The rate for licensed professionals – appraisers, accountants, architects, attorneys, auditors, chiropractors, dentists, engineers, optometrists, opticians, physicians, psychologists, veterinarians and others – is $150.

Non-licensed professionals, such as unlicensed accountants, tax preparation service providers and others, will have to pay $75.

Lumber/hardware stores will be charged $500 for up to 50,000 square feet, $1,000 for 50,001-99,999 and $1,500 plus 0.025 cents per square foot over 10,000.

Manufacturing/production and warehouse companies will have to pay $500 for less than 50 employees, $625 for 50-100 and $750 for 101 and above.

The fee for mobile food vendors that do not sell alcohol and vending kiosks/machine operators is $50.

The rate for mobile home parks is $100 plus $40 per acre.

Dealers who sell new vehicles will be charged $750, while used car lots will have to spend $250.

Gas stations will have to pay $200 plus $15 per pumping station.

The following will be charged $150: paint and body shops, parts supply (retail and wholesale) and repair shops.

Repair and tire shops, and towing services/wreckers will have to pay another $50, a total fee of $200.

The rate for salvage yards is $300 plus $10 per acre.

Transportation services will be charged $100 plus $25 per vehicle.

The rate for real estate sales/management companies is $100 plus $50 per licensed agent or $75 per licensed broker.

Any business not listed will be charged $100.

In other business:

• The council approved a resolution expressing the willingness of the city to utilize federal aid monies for participation in the Transportation Alternatives Program.

Public Works Director Jim Oakley explained that the resolution was needed so he could apply for a grant to help fund and estimated $500,000 worth of sidewalks along Military (Hwy. 294) and Loop roads and bike trails on Stonewall, Oneida and Northlake drives.

Mayor Gary Fletcher pointed out that paint would be used to designate a lane on the roads for bike riders.

The grant would require a 20 percent match from the city. If the project costs the estimated $500,000, that match would be $100,000.

• Aldermen passed — with little discussion — the first reading, but not the second reading, of an ordinance amending the ordinance allowing pass-through water rate increases. Ordinances must be read three times, or have readings suspended, before they can be approved and become law.

The measure will be before the council again next month.

• A resident announced that volunteers are being sought to drive seniors to the Kroger or Walmart because Knight’s is closed. The building is being renovated and will re-open as an Edwards Cash Saver in a few weeks. He also said his group was trying to start a neighborhood watch but didn’t offer any further details.

TOP STORY >> Tussling at polling sites

Four days into early voting, and there’s already been some tussling and jostling outside and inside polling places.

Supporters with signs at the ReNew Church voting site in Cabot were told to keep themselves and their signs off church property, and some argued with church officials.

Chuck Eick, the Lonoke County Election Com-missioner, said state law prevents electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, plus bans signs from private property if the owners do not want them. He said the church has a no-sign policy.

Also, Lonoke deputies voting on their lunch hour at the Lonoke Courthouse annex were told they had to cover up their uniforms to vote. Sheriff John Staley said the misunderstanding was worked out quickly.

“I can’t come in and vote in uniform as that could be advertising to vote for me. But the guys didn’t have any Staley decals or patches on them,” Staley said.

Pulaski County election officials say they are averaging about 1,500 voters a day.

Through Friday, Jacksonville had recorded more than 550 voters at the community center, and Sherwood had seen about 475 voters come through the senior center.

Lonoke County has seen about 1,200 voters with about 1,000 of those in Cabot alone, according to Eick.

Early voting in Jacksonville runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at the community center.

Early voting also runs the same hours in Sherwood at the Jack Evans Senior Center.

Early voting in Lonoke County for the primary runs through Feb. 29 at ReNew Church, 1122 S. Second St., and the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex, 210 N. Center St. in Lonoke.

The times are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 29.

There will also be early voting, from Feb. 22-27, at the Ward Municipal Complex, 405 Hickory St.; Carlisle Civic Center, 215 S. Court St.; and England District Court, 110 N.W. Second St. The times are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

In related news, several Election Day polling locations have been changed. Those sites will be open 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on March 1.

Those who would have cast their Election Day ballots at Russell Chapel will do so at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church instead because there is more room there and an opportunity to provide greater privacy during voting.

The Lonoke Depot and American Legion Hut sites were combined into one Election Day polling place at the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex.

The Ward Chamber of Commerce voters will now cast ballots at the Ward Municipal Complex because there is more space at the new site. It is also an early voting and Election Day voting location.

And Grace Fellowship voters will be going to ReNew Church.

All voters are assigned polling sites for Election Day that appears on registration cards sent to them.

SPORTS STORY >> SH ladies end streak by Beebe

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe girls’ 5A-Central winning streak ended at 11 games Tuesday night at home, as Sylvan Hills came into Badger Arena and handed the hosts their first loss of 2016 with a narrow 52-49 upset victory.

Sylvan Hills led 4-1 early in the game, but Beebe tied the game with a Taylor McGraw three and the hosts took a 12-10 lead into the second quarter. The Lady Bears outscored the hosts 16-7 in the second quarter, which gave Sylvan Hills a 26-19 lead at halftime.

Beebe began the second half with a 10-0 run to retake the lead at 29-26, but the Lady Badgers couldn’t further their lead as the third quarter progressed, and by the end of the quarter, Beebe only led 36-35.

Sylvan Hills took its first lead of the fourth quarter on a driving, contested layup by sophomore post Alana Canady with 5:02 remaining, which put the Lady Bears up 39-38. Beebe answered, though, with a Katie Turner basket on the following possession, which put the hosts back up one at 40-39.

With 4:15 remaining, Canady sank a pair of one-and-one free throws to give SHHS a 41-40 lead, but McGraw answered with a 3-pointer with 3:57 left, putting the Lady Badgers back up 43-41.

Beebe was already down a starter coming into the game, and Turner fouled out on the possession following McGraw’s go-ahead three. Canady tied the game at 43-43 with a steal and transition layup with 3:16 to play, and Sylvan Hills took a 45-43 lead with a contested layup by Da’Bria Thompson with 2:35 left.

Beebe starting center Gracie Anders fouled out on that Thompson basket, and Beebe trailed the rest of the game, but didn’t go down without a fight.

With 55.9 seconds left, Canady made two more free throws to up the Lady Bears’ lead to 49-43, but McGraw answered with a corner three on the following possession to make it a three-point game.

Beebe coach Greg Richey called timeout immediately after, and Beebe tried to force a turnover on the ensuing possession, but couldn’t, and had to foul with 27 seconds left.

The foul put Sylvan Hills guard Lainie Ballard on the line and she made both free throws to up the Lady Bears’ lead to 51-46. Thompson got a steal on the next possession, and got the ball to Canady, who was fouled with 13.1 seconds left.

Canady made 1 of 2 free throws for a 52-46 Lady Bear lead, but McGraw rushed the ball up court and put in a three from just past half court, which made it 52-49 with 4.2 seconds left.

Beebe’s Hannah McGhee then stole the inbound pass and dished to McGraw, who made another long three, but McGhee was fouled just before she made the pass to McGraw. Beebe then inbounded the ball to McGraw, but McGraw was well-guarded by Thompson, and McGraw had the ball knocked away by Thompson as she tried to get a shot up, and time expired as the ball bounced away, sealing the win for Sylvan Hills.

“I told them at halftime, it’s going to be a battle and it is going to come down to the last second, I guarantee,” said Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis. “I felt like our youth showed right there in the second half and it really scared me at first because Beebe’s mature and they’ve been there. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know how we’d respond.”

Beebe made double the shots Sylvan Hills did from the floor in the second half Tuesday. The Lady Badgers made 12 shots in the last two quarters, four of which were threes, and Sylvan Hills made just six shots in the second half with no threes. But, the difference for the Lady Bears was at the free-throw line.

In the second half alone, Sylvan Hills made 14 of 17 shots from the line, including 9 of 11 in the fourth quarter. Beebe didn’t attempt a free throw in the fourth quarter, and went just 2 for 4 from the line in the third.

“That’s huge,” Davis said. “I don’t know what you do to make a kid realize how crucial those are going to be at the end of games. That’s an improvement for us because the last two games we were struggling from the free-throw line.”

“We couldn’t get to the foul line,” said Richey, “and that’s mostly our fault. We did get the ball inside sometimes during the second half and we didn’t convert our opportunities. I didn’t think we got fouled, but we just didn’t convert our opportunities we had underneath the basket.

“They (Sylvan Hills) made shots when they needed to make shots and we didn’t make shots when we needed to, but I’d rather it happen now than two weeks from now.”

Despite the loss, nothing changed for either team as far as their projected playoff seeding and Beebe’s outright conference championship hopes. Beebe (20-5, 11-1) still holds a one-game lead and the tiebreaker over second-place Pulaski Academy (19-6, 10-2), and Sylvan Hills (15-7, 9-3) remains in sole possession of third place.

It was the Lady Badgers’ first loss since losing to undefeated defending Class 4A state champion Riverview in the finals of the Beebe Holiday Classic in late December.

“We hadn’t lost in a while,” Richey said. “We may have gotten complacent a little bit. We were 11-0 coming into the conference game tonight and we’ve pretty much got it wrapped up if we can win our last two games and we won those games pretty easily the first time.

“So you would think that we would come through and win those last two games. We just could’ve clinched it tonight with a win, but we didn’t.”

Richey hopes his team can learn from the loss and use it as a way to improve in certain areas before the playoffs begin, especially doing a better job of not getting into foul trouble down low.

“I hope that my post players learn tonight to stay out of foul trouble a little bit better,” Richey said. “They’ve been getting in foul trouble a lot lately, spending too much time on the bench.

“They spend a lot of time on the bench during the game at critical times, and whether or not they’re scoring a lot, they draw a lot of attention and it takes attention off of other people and when they’re not out there that attention’s not drawn, so they go out to our guards a little bit more and they don’t pay attention to the inside as much.

“We’ve just got to do better. We’ve got to practice and try to get better at that before the state tournament happens and hopefully that won’t happen to us again when we get there.”

For the game, Beebe made 19 of 51 shots from the floor for 37 percent. Sylvan Hills made 16 of 30 shots from the floor for 53 percent. From the free-throw line, SHHS made 16 of 22 attempts and Beebe made 4 of 8. From the 3-point range, the Lady Badgers made 7 of 18 attempts and the Lady Bears made 4 of 7. McGraw made all seven of Beebe’s threes.

Sylvan Hills narrowly outrebounded Beebe 22-21, but the Lady Bears had 20 turnovers to Beebe’s 16. Canady and McGraw led the scoring with 21 points each. McGraw’s came on her seven threes and Canady scored 15 of her 21 in the second half. Turner also scored in double figures for Beebe with 12 points. Thompson had 13 points for SHHS and teammate Reigen Thomas added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils knock Lions out

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys’ basketball team eliminated McClellan from the 5A-Central playoff race and took one step closer to locking up its own spot in the state tournament on Tuesday.

The Red Devils overcame a Lion team that was red hot early to win 80-65 at the Devils’ Den.

McClellan’s Raymond Harris picked up right where he left off from his 38-point performance last month in the Crimson Lions’ 72-70 win over the Red Devils while Jacksonville couldn’t even get a shot up in the first two minutes. The Red Devils’ first three possessions ended in turnovers before Chris Williams finally hit two free throws.

Harris then added his fourth-straight made basket, a 17-footer while being double-teamed, that put the Lions up 10-2 with five minutes left in the first quarter.

McClellan’s defensive game plan was to deny top scorers Tyree Appleby and LaQuawn Smith. It worked well in the first half, but it opened things up for other players. Williams and Bralyn James took advantage.

James scored six-straight to pull Jacksonville within 10-8, but Karson Hayes answered with five-straight for McClellan, forcing Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner to call his second timeout with 2:20 left in the opening frame.

The rapid tempo slowed dramatically after the break. McClellan added one more basket while Jacksonville went scoreless, making the score 17-8 going into the second quarter.

Harris scored seconds into the second period to cap a 9-0 run and give the Lions their biggest lead. The game got back to frenetic pace in the second quarter. Though the Lions’ triangle and two defense was still keeping Appleby and Smith in check, the Red Devils got a huge boost from the bench in the second quarter.

Dajuan Ridgeway and Kavion Waller each came off the bench to score eight points in the second, including two 3-pointers apiece. Appleby got open in the corner and hit a fifth 3-pointer in the quarter. Waller’s first 3-pointer tied the game for the first time since the opening tip at 28-28. His second one gave the Red Devils their first lead at 33-30. It didn’t last long. Just 12 seconds later Harris made a 3-pointer that tied it, and McClellan took a 35-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Harris had 22 of McClellan’s 35 points at the break, and he was the sole focus of Joyner’s halftime adjustments.

“We were going to stop 11 if it mean somebody else got 40,” said Joyner. “I just got sick and tired of watching that dude drive to the basket and make everything he threw up in the air. So we were just going to put two on him, and close the lane. We just left (number) one unguarded. I didn’t care. He (Harris) wasn’t looking to pass anyway. Why would he, as many points as he’s scored on us this year? That’s all we changed at halftime.”

The strategy worked. Harris only managed three points in the third quarter and the Lions only scored six.

Jacksonville (16-8, 8-4) continued to get good production from Williams and Ridgeway, who led the Red Devils’ 17-point quarter that gave them a 51-41 lead going into the fourth.

McClellan’s deficit forced it to come out of its planned defense to apply pressure, and Appleby exploded for 17.

“We’re not really a pressing team,” said McClellan coach Charles Threatt. “We have struggle playing from behind this year. We had to try something to close the gap, but it’s just not our strength and they took advantage of it. Their guards are very good.”

After Jacksonville adjusted to the perimeter-heavy defense by McClellan, (10-14, 5-7) it got several open looks from close range, and its final statistics showed it.

The Red Devils shot 57 percent from the floor, including 27 of 42 (64 percent) from two-point range. They were 5 of 14 from outside and hit 11 of 18 free throws.

By himself, Harris shot more free throws than Jacksonville, hitting 13 of 22. As a team, the Lions made just 18 of 35 foul shots. They were 21 of 50 from the floor, including 4 for 14 from 3-point range.

Both teams had 21 rebounds.

Harris led all scorers with 35 while Karson Hayes added 13 for McClellan.

Appleby finished with 23 to lead five Red Devils in double figures. Ridgeway finished with 15, Williams had 14 while Waller and James each scored 10.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Devils step up for McClellan

Leader sports editor

The Lady Red Devils were without their leading scorer Tuesday night, but still played well enough to earn a 44-34 victory over McClellan in a 5A-Central matchup in Jacksonville.

McClellan’s towering and athletic center, Ketrunia Gamble, didn’t start and Jacksonville jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead.

When Gamble entered the game, she proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Lady Red Devils, but the home team still scrapped hard inside and managed to frustrate the Lion center much of the game.

With the absence of the team’s leading scorer, Jacksonville got a huge boost from reserve guard Emily Lovercheck, who scored a season high 15 points to lead the Lady Red Devils.

“She seems to play well against McClellan,” said Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott. “She got the start and she did well. She took good shots for the most part, and didn’t rush.”

Scott also saw a good game by reserve point guard Josie Starr, who was out for almost a month with injury and played less than Scott planned at the beginning of the season.

“I thought Josie had one of her best games of the season,” Scott said. “She got us up the floor and into our offense, and she passed the ball very well and created open shots for us. McClellan didn’t press us like they did last game because that’s when we pulled away from them. Josie did a good job in our halfcourt sets and providing a little extra leadership on the floor.”

Jacksonville led 12-5 in the first quarter when Gamble entered the game. The 6-foot-2 center scored six-straight to pull the Lady Crimson Lions to within one by the end of the opening period.

Jacksonville’s defense began to turn things around in the second quarter. With Jacksonville leading 19-16, Taylor Toombs sparked a 6-0 run with steals on back-to-back McClellan possessions, and she forced a throwaway on a third. The Lady Red Devils responded to each turnover with baskets – two by Asiah Williams and one by Lovercheck – for a 25-16 lead with 3:05 left in the half.

McClellan’s Shawntay Casey hit her second 3-pointer to and Jacksonville responded with a basket by Tarnesha Womack to make it 27-19 with 2:36 remaining. Jacksonville got a defensive stop and took possession with 2:06 on the clock and the action stopped.

Red Devil point guard Alexis James held the ball a few feet beyond the top of the key and McClellan (5-14, 3-9) hung back in a packed in 2-3 zone. James held it for the rest of the half. Jacksonville attempted to run a play with a few seconds left but failed to score.

The pace slowed in the second half. Williams scored to start the half to give Jacksonville a 10-point lead, and the two teams stalled for several minutes. Jacksonville led 33-21 with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter before McClellan closed with an 8-2 run that made it 35-29 going into the fourth.

McClellan’s Brandi Patterson scored to start the final frame and pull the Lady Lions to within four, but Jacksonville increased its defensive aggression and went on a 9-0 run to take control of the game.

The Lady Red Devils (14-13, 8-4) also found a way to deal with Gamble – fouling. Jacksonville contested every shot Gamble took in the fourth quarter and fouled her five times, and she missed 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch.

Leading 42-33, Jacksonville committed two turnovers after offensive rebounds. Once it was called for traveling and another time for stepping out of bounds, but appeared to be shoved on both occasions. That drew protests from Scott, but Williams negated the calls by get a steal and layup that made it an 11-point game with 1:54 left.

Gamble hit a free throw on McClellan’s next possession to pull her team to within 10, but the Lady Lions conceded the rest of the game, allowing Jacksonville to dribble out the remaining 1:36 to seal the victory.

Lovercheck’s 15 led Jacksonville while Williams posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“That kind of surprised but only because Asiah is not as focused as she needs to be,” Scott said. “In my opinion, she should have a double-double every night. She’s capable of it. She has that kind of talent.”

Gamble also posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and added six blocked shots. Casey scored 12 for McClellan.

SPORTS STORY >> CHS bowlers keep racking up state titles

Leader sports editor

Cabot’s first-year bowling coach Clark Bing didn’t want to use the word, but the Panther bowling teams are indeed becoming a dynasty. On Wednesday at the All-Fam Bowling Center in Cabot, the Panther boys’ and girls’ teams each won their fifth state championship.

For the boys, it was the fifth title in a row, while the girls won their fifth in the last nine years while winning back-to-back state titles for the first time. Each year in the last nine that the Lady Panthers didn’t win the championship, they finished as runners-up.

Each team had to replace two of its best bowlers from last year, making this year’s titles even more impressive. The Cabot boys lost their conference tournament last week to Benton after falling behind early. In the state tournament, however, Cabot started well and held about a 200-pin lead after bowling a first-game total of 1,276.

Cabot’s Cole Stillman bowled a tournament total of 709 and was the boys’ gold medalist. He said the team was confident coming into state despite losing the conference tournament.

“There was some doubt at first (about being able to win a fifth-straight championship) but after conference we figured out what we were doing wrong,” said Stillman. “We weren’t really focused as a team. We were competing against each other instead of competing as a team. We talked about that and were ale to finish strong and do what we had to do.”

Bing was disappointed in his boys’ effort at Benton, but also knew they still had a great chance to win state.

“What we took from last week was that we got beat, but we didn’t bowl our best efforts,” said Bing. “And that’s what we took into this week. You know, if we get beat and give it our best, we’ll live with it. But our best is good enough to win. We jumped out, got off to a good start and everybody was chasing us. That’s a good feeling to have. We you get a lead; other teams are to have all the pressure on them. They’re going to have to pick their game up and hope we a down once, and we just never had a down one – boys or girls. The girls got out to a lead, too.”

Senior Micah Perry won the girls’ gold medal with a three-game total of 685. She bowled a 216, 224 and 185. The Lady Panthers’ third game was by far their worst, but the lead was too large for competition to overcome. Cabot’s girls started with 1,086, then 1,034 and finished with a 915. Baker game scores were 201, 175, 138 and 175 again for a total of 3,724.

“It’s pretty great,” said Perry. “It feels amazing since it’s a great way to send me out with a bang. We needed two girls to step up to replace our two lost starters, and we got that.”

The boys’ scores also went down each time, from the opening 1,276 to a 1,209 to a 1,164, but Stillman’s last two games were phenomenal. He started with a 194 before bowling a 269 and finishing with a 246. Baker’s scores were 225, 183, 184 and 206 for a tournament total of 4,447.

Josh Imhoff and Lauren Bunting, both gold medalists in last week’s conference tournament, were silver medalists at state.

Bunting said the girls’ team believed all year it could become the first Cabot girls’ team to repeat as champs, and thinks they can do it again.

“We’ve been talking about it all year,” said Bunting. “I think it’s pretty cool we won it back to back, especially since we worked so hard as a team. I think we’ll have the capability to three-peat even though we’re losing two of our star players. I think we have a couple people coming in who are going to be really good.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

EVENTS >> 2-17-16


The Miss Greater Jacksonville Scholarship Pageant and the Miss Greater Jacksonville’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will be held Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Jacksonville Community Center. The pageants are preliminaries for the Miss Arkansas and Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageants to be held in Hot Springs in July.

The deadline to enter is Friday.

Participants must be residents, students or full-time employees in Faulkner, Grant, Lonoke, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski or Saline counties for at least the last six months.

Miss contestants must be 17-24 years old. Entry forms are available online at and at

Outstanding Teen contestants must be at least 12-17 years old. Outstanding Teen entry forms are online at

The Miss Greater Jacksonville Junior Pageant will also be held on Feb. 27. Contestants will compete in beauty, with optional areas of competition in talent or photogenic.

Junior age groups are Baby Miss, 18 months and under; Toddler Miss, 19-35 months; Wee Miss, 3-4; Tiny Miss, 5-6; Little Miss, 7-9, and Petite Miss, 10-12. Entry forms for junior categories are available by contacting Sharon Boyd.

For more information, call Boyd at 501-982-3898 or email


The Mountain Springs Cemetery will hold its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the fellowship hall of the Mountain Springs Baptist Church, 15669 Hwy. 5 in Cabot. The agenda includes electing a new board member and determining next year’s business.

For more information, call 501-843-8348.


The Austin Community Auxiliary will hold an all-you-can-eat chili supper from 5 until 7 p.m. Saturday at the Austin Fire Department. Firefighters will have a chili cookoff that will start at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, children 10 and under are $3 and kids under 2 are free with a paying adult.

Proceeds will go to the Austin Volunteer Fire Department.


The Lonoke Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its 47th annual banquet at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Gina Cox Center. The theme is “Building a Foundation,” and David Bazzel will speak.

Tickets are $35 each or $250 for a table of eight.


The Verandah Garden Club will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Harper-Alexander House, 18 Olen Lane at Hwy. 70 East in North Little Rock. For more information, call 501-533-7708.


The Cabot AARP will hold a candidates forum during its monthly meeting and potluck at 6 p.m. Monday at the Cabot Senior Center, 600 N. Grant St.

All Cabot-area candidates who are on the March 1 ballot are invited to briefly address the audience.

For more information, call 501-492-1456.


Hope Baptist Church in Sherwood will hold special services at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28 to celebrate its sixth anniversary.

David Sorenson, an author and pastor of North Star Baptist Church in Duluth, Minn., will speak.

Special music will be provided by the church choir and orchestra, and a film about the church’s history will be shown. There will also be a luncheon after the morning service.

The public is invited to attend. The church is at 139 Shadow Oaks Drive.

For more information, call Pastor Terry Coomer at 501-983-4403 or visit


The Butlerville Volunteer Fire Department will hold an all-you-can-eat fundraiser catfish dinner from 5 until 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, and it’s free for children under 10. Tax-deductible donations will also be accepted.


Bridge and canasta players are needed Wednesdays at the Sheperd’s Center at Beebe Methodist Church. Canasta games start at 10 a.m. and bridge is at 1 p.m. Beginners are welcome.

For more information, call 501-843-2930.



The Jacksonville NAACP will hold its monthly meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28 in the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church’s Johnson Education Center at 1013 Ray Road.


The Beebe Kiwanis Club will hold its annual pancake supper Friday in the Beebe High School 9-10 cafeteria from 5 until 7 p.m. in conjunction with the last basketball game. The new cafeteria is behind the arena.

Tickets are $5, and children 4 and under are free for the all-you-can-eat meal of pancakes, sausage and a drink.

Tickets may be purchased from any Kiwanis member, Beebe High School Key Club members, at the Beebe Schools Central Office, Simmons First Bank, First Security Bank in Beebe or at the door.

Proceeds will help fund scholarships to Beebe High School seniors, donations to a local food pantry, Angel Tree and also the Key Club. Most recently, the Kiwanis donated funds to the Beebe High School Key Club to help with expenses to the MO-ARK Key Club District Leadership Convention, which will be in Springfield, Mo. this spring.

The Beebe Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Thursday in the ASU-Beebe Student Center’s Stephens Room.

The Kiwanis Club is a volunteer organization that helps the community’s young people. For more information, call 501-230-2890 or 501-288-2446.


The Cabot American Legion Post 71 will hold a Four Chaplains Memorial Service at 2 p.m. Sunday at 116 N. First St.

The event is open to the public.

The ceremony honors the “four Army chaplains who gave up their life jackets and prayed together when their transport ship, the U.S.A.T Dorchester, was torpedoed 80 miles south of Greenland on Feb. 3, 1943. The chaplains came from different faiths and backgrounds.

“John P. Washington was a Catholic Priest from Kearny, N.J. Rabbi Alexander D. Goode was a native of York, Penn. Clark V. Poling was a minister in the Reformed Church in America at the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, N.Y. George L. Fox, a decorated World War I veteran, was a Methodist minister in Gilman, Vt.,” according to an announcement from the Cabot American Legion.



The Cabot Classroom Teacher Association has begun its annual effort to honor the district’s outstanding educators.

Through March 2, parents, colleagues, principals, students and members of the public can nominate the community’s teachers for the annual Cabot CTA Teachers with Heart Award.

This year, 14 teachers (seven elementary school finalists at pre-K through sixth-grade campuses and seven secondary finalists at seventh- through 12th-grade campuses) will be selected as finalists. All finalists will be recognized at the end-of-year district meeting in May. Two outstanding teachers (one elementary school teacher and one secondary school teacher) will be presented the award and $300.

Nomination forms are available online through the district’s website at

They can be dropped off at any school campus in a sealed envelope or mailed to Pam Sowell at Eastside Elementary School, 17 Bellamy St., Cabot, Ark. 72023.


First Electric Cooperative will host an American Red Cross blood drive from noon until 4 p.m. Tuesday at 1000 S. J.P. Wright Loop Road in Jacksonville. To schedule an appointment, visit and enter code FECJ. Walk-ins are also welcome.


South Bend Fire and Rescue will hold a meet-the-candidates forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26 at the fire station, 4414 Hwy. 294.


Beebe High School’s Project Graduation, which offers a chaperoned, drug-free and alcohol-free party on the night of graduation, will hold a fundraiser Color Run on Saturday, March 19.

The run, which has no time limit and is open to runners, joggers and walkers, will start at the high school and will offer a 5K and one-mile route. During the race, participants will be doused with colored powder at various points, including at the finish line.

Check-in will be from 7:30 until 8 a.m. with race start time at 8:30 a.m. Registration is $40 until March 4.

The fee for the competitive 5K is $40. T-shirts for the event will cost $20.

Registration and donations can be submitted online at

People who register before March 4 will receive an individual color packet, a race bib and a T-shirt. But registrations will be accepted until 8 a.m. on the day of the event. Extra color packets can be purchased for $4 each.

Volunteers are needed to work the registration table, water and refreshment stations, color stations, the finish line and vendor area.

OBITUARIES >> 2-17-16


Cameron Bryce Benford, 15, of Cabot left this earthly world to be with his heavenly Father on Feb. 13.

He was born Oct. 5, 2000, in Sherwood at St. Vincent North to Angela Waddell-Quattlebum and Brian Benford.

Cameron joins his paternal grandfather, Dover Bond Benford; his maternal great-grandfather, Lossie Mack Hicks; his maternal great-grandparents, Tom and Jewell Waddell, and a sister, Danielle Brianna Benford.

He leaves behind to forever cherish his memory his mother, Angela Quattlebum, of Cabot; his father, Brian Dover Benford, of Ward; four sisters, Shelby Jewell Benford, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Quattlebum, both of Cabot, Dakota Quattlebum of Redmond, Ore., and Dawn Benford of Ward; two brothers, Dylan Brock Benford, of Redmond, Ore., and Kameron Caplinger of Ward; his maternal great-grandmother, Mary Hicks, of Cabot; maternal grandparents, Dorothy Waddell of Cabot, and Tommy Waddell (Steven Threlkeld) of Benton; his paternal grandmother, Carolyn Benford, of Ward; his aunts, Mandy Walker and her husband Grant of Cabot, Michelle Ward and her husband Rick of Ward, Tammy Bank, and Sharon Whittle; his uncles, Marcus Threlkeld and his wife Brittany, John Threlkeld and Michael Threlkeld; his cousins, Miranda and Carson Walker, and Kelsey and Caleb Ward, along with many other great aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family, as well as a host of friends.

Cameron attended Cabot Freshman Academy as a ninth grader. He enjoyed playing soccer, drawing, building, music and video games. He loved fishing and deer hunting. He especially loved duck hunting with his dad on their land in Monroe. Cameron even tried out for the baseball team this year just for his mammaw.

Visitation will be held 6 until 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Austin Station Baptist Church in Austin. The funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 at Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Cabot. Interment will immediately following at Oak Grove Cemetery in Austin.

The family requests potted plants, or in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Cameron’s Gofundme account or to ARORA 1701 Aldersgate Road 4, Little Rock, Ark. 72205.

“His heart can’t beat for him but, it’s beating for someone else.”


Marvin Lee Taylor, 75, died on Feb. 13.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Lois Taylor, and his siblings, Imogene and Buddy Taylor.

Survivors include his brothers, William (Dub) Taylor and his wife Patsy, and Wayne Taylor, both of Cabot, Edward and his wife Marilyn Taylor of Lonoke, and Bobby Taylor of Oregon, and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.

The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 in the chapel of Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Burial will follow in Pleasant Hill Cemetery.


Margaret Phillips, 80, of Little Rock and formerly of Beebe, was born Nov. 12, 1935, at Beebe to Orville and Pauline Pickard Thompson, and she went to be with the Lord on Feb. 14 to join her beloved husband and son.

She loved Jesus, her family and her cats, Sheba and Tom, and she enjoyed gardening, reading, puzzles and chocolate.

Margaret was always available to lend a helping hand to her friends at Brookdale Senior Living, where she resided for 4 and a half years. They will miss her greatly.

Margaret is survived by her daughters, Micki Smith of Roland, and Julie Werme of Massachusetts; a sister, Willie Nemec, of Fayetteville; two brothers, Hays Thompson and his wife Julia of Cabot, and Bob Thompson and his wife Barbara of California, six grandsons, and her awesome caregiver and friend, Gabrelle Young.

She was preceded in death by the love of her life, her husband, Jim Phillips; her only son, Richard Smith, and her parents.

Memorials may be made to National Multiple Scleroisis Society.

The family will receive friends beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 at Smith-Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe, with the funeral to follow at 2 p.m. Burial will be in Antioch Cemetery.


Margaret June Stigall Campbell of Scott passed away on Feb. 15 while surrounded by her family.

June was born Oct. 26, 1938, in Carlisle. She was a member of the Carlisle High School Class of 1956.

Charles Campbell and June married on July 25, 1956.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Emmett and Nora Stigall; her father- and mother-in-law, Andy and Ola Campbell; her sisters-in-law, Polly and Emma, and brother-in-laws, Robert and Dub.

June is survived by her husband of 59 and a half years, Charles (C.H.); her children, Dennis and his wife Phyllis, Randy and his wife Karen, Dianne and her husband Michael, Mike and his wife Deann, and Jenny and her husband Fred; a sister, Emma Jean Montgomery; her grandchildren, April and her Jody, Chasity and her husband Ben, Jake and his wife Sarah, Chase and his wife Amanda, and Brian and his wife Candace; her great-grandchildren, Shane, Anna, Audrey, Katherine, Hailey, Maddie, Jace and Emerson; her special nieces, Debbie and her husband Harold, Terri Ann and her husband Louis, and Brenda; a special nephew, Ronnie; a great-niece, Dana and her husband Dusty, and many other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Charles and June were members of Lynch View Baptist Church for more than 35 years.

June was a loving wife and mother. She worked at Herb’s Dairy Freeze and later at Dunn’s Pharmacy. She enjoyed both jobs tremendously and loved her co-workers like children. Mom’s house and yard were always the gathering place for all of the neighborhood kids. She entertained, fed and, if needed, set them straight.

The family wishes to thank her friends, church family and extended family for all of the love and support extended to us.

The family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 in the funeral home chapel.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hamilton Cemetery Fund, Attn: Blanche Bowlan at 4042 Snake Island Road, Carlisle, Ark. 72024, or North View Baptist Church, 6801 JFK Blvd., North Little Rock, Ark.


Anthony Sheaffer Mayfield, 27, of Perryville passed away on Feb. 10.

He was born on Jan. 24, 1989, to Diana Lynn Mayfield in Little Rock.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Paul S. Mayfield.

Anthony was an avid outdoorsman, who loved life and loved his dog, Boss, more than anything. He was a member of the Bow Fishers of Arkansas Association and Ducks Unlimited.

Anthony was of the Baptist faith and enjoyed playing the drums at his church. He also played drums in high school, attended three years of college and was a welder.

Anthony is survived by his mother, Diana Lynn Mayfield of Greenbrier; a brother, Justin Hunter Wooten; a sister, Lindsey Dawn Wooten; his grandmother, Anna Lee Mayfield of Beebe; an uncle, Bucky Mayfield of Searcy, and an aunt, LeeAnna Disotell and her husband Danny of Cabot.

A private memorial service will be held at a later date. A Natural State Funeral Service in Jacksonville is handling cremation arrangements.


Maudie Edith (Amber) Brinsfield, 67, died on Feb. 13.

She was preceded in death by her parents, F.A. Estes and Burton Brinsfield.

Survivors include her daughters, Scarlett Hopkins and Dianne (Jackie) Vermil-lion; her siblings, Connie Brinsfield, Robert and his wife Linda Brinsfield, Gary Brinsfield and Ricky and his wife Sharlene Brinsfield; her grandchildren, Erika and her husband Mac Harris, Gregory Stricklen, Haven White and Jace Papineau, and her great-grandchildren, Amyla Childers, Chloe Childers, Kira Childers, Rhianna Stricklen, Gage Sanderson and Olivia Taylor.

The funeral was held Feb. 17 at Harvest Fellowship Church. Burial was in Brownsville Cemetery.

Arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.


Linda Diane Boyd, 64, of Jacksonville passed away on Feb. 13.

She was born July 30, 1951, in Niles, Mich., to the late William and Eva Bittle.

She will always be remembered as a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

She is survived by her son, Jeff Ballard, one grandchild, one great-grandchild and four sisters and two brothers.

Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home and Crematory.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Telling it like it is (sort of)

News by its nature is mostly distressing, but you still have to pity poor Asa Hutchinson, who gets a double or triple dose of bad tidings each morning when he snatches up the public prints from the Mansion porch. The paper is full of stories about legislative races around the state, each one detailing how one or sometimes both Republican candidates for a legislative seat are denouncing “the private option” and promising to kill it if the voters will only install them in office next year.

They would be voting to wreck the Hutchinson administration in its promising infancy. Yesterday, with several beleaguered legislative supporters of the private option around him (including our own embattled Eddie Joe Williams and Jane English), the governor finally, flatly said exactly that.

Republicans, you know, are the governor’s political party, too. The big money groups like Americans for Prosperity, which have invested heavily in the Republican legislature the past six years, denounce the governor’s program in ads, statements and mailers and call on the candidates whom they finance to defeat it. They call Hutchinson a stooge for the despised Barack Obama or insinuate it. He must, in defense, express his own disdain for the president. It’s survival.

The Republican primary will be in two weeks and then the legislature’s 2016 fiscal session, where all the state budgets for the 2016–17 fiscal year will be adopted, will follow six weeks later. The new crop of legislators won’t take office until January, but the election results will shape what happens on the appropriation for the “private option,” which Hutchinson has renamed “Arkansas Works” to remove the odium that has attached to the private option because it is part of the Affordable Care Act, odiously known as Obamacare.

The daily stories must raise the governor’s anxiety level because he passed the appropriation for the private option last spring without a vote to spare in each house, and things have gone downhill since then. Arkansas is the only state in the union that requires a three-fourths vote in each house to authorize spending each nickel of state and federal money. (Actually, there are potential options to the extraordinary vote, but no one yet wants to give them credence.)

If the private option—OK, make that Arkansas Works—ends, either at the end of this fiscal year on June 30 or next year, the state budget collapses, too. So does Governor Hutchinson’s vaunted no-tax highway plan. So, too, does the governor’s plan to provide relief for the stressed prison and parole systems, and the adequacy status of Arkansas public schools. Everything is built upon the huge infusion of funds into the state treasury and the Arkansas economy from the Affordable Care Act—both private option/Arkansas Works and the rest of its insurance coverage—and the law’s redemption of scores of millions of dollars annually of state funds that previously were spent on categories of Medicaid help.

When the legislature, Governor Mike Beebe and then Governor Hutchinson got wind of the bonanza that fell into the state’s lap when it took advantage of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion to poor working adults in 2013, they took the popular step of cutting taxes, in 2013, again in 2014 and again in 2015. Why not? Obamacare was saving the treasury all that money and then sending more on top of it to provide health coverage for 300,000 of the state’s neediest for the first time. Obamacare made it possible for them to tell voters back home, “Look, I cut your taxes.” Naturally, they don’t credit the federal health law, or Obama.

What the governor discovered, even before he took office, was that he faced a daunting problem: overwhelming ignorance of the health law that became totally associated with the hated Obama. While the Republican-led legislature in 2013 jiggered with the Medicaid half of Obamacare and renamed it “the private option” to conceal its association with the federal law and the unpopular president, the rebranding didn’t take in many quarters. The party’s right wing still called it Obamacare.

So here is what Hutchinson said yesterday to give a lift to the beset Republican legislators who are still standing with him on the private option (strike that: Arkansas Works):

“If we do not work to get the truth out to Arkansas voters, then we’re not going to make that three-fourths vote margin because legislators listen to the voters. But I have confidence that if we debunk the erroneous arguments that are out there, if we get the truth out, and there’s a good understanding of the impact on our state budget, then absolutely we’re going to get the three-fourths vote, we’re going to get the support we need to have our budget balanced, we’re going to have a good state highway program and Medicaid reform.”

Hutchinson said he still hated Obamacare and wished that it would be repealed, but that “Arkansas Works” was NOT OBAMACARE!!

If he could afford to be totally honest, the governor would also say that Obamacare did not take Medicare away but expanded it, didn’t cause people to lose their doctors, didn’t take away people’s health insurance, didn’t sentence old people to death, didn’t raise people’s insurance premiums (annual premium increases have actually slackened), reduced the share of uninsured Americans to historic lows (another 300,000 Arkansans are now insured), reduced the federal budget deficit, didn’t cost millions or even thousands of people their jobs but dramatically reduced the jobless rolls from 8 percent when the law took effect to 4.9 percent.

That sort of candor would get him ridden out of the Capitol on a rail, or worse. Instead, we will take such honesty as he can spare. — Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> ASU-Beebe chief follows visionary

Leader staff writer

Arkansas State University-Beebe is under new leadership.

Karla Fisher became university chancellor in January. She succeeded Eugene McKay, who retired after 21 years as chancellor and nearly 50 years of service at ASU-Beebe.

Fisher said McKay “laid down the wonderful foundation at this institution. Anywhere we go, it is because he got us there first.”

She had served as vice president of academics at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan., since 2010 and as interim president at Butler for seven months in 2013.

Fisher’s salary as ASU-Beebe chancellor is $183,000.

She said Beebe reminds of her Enid, Okla., where she grew up, and the small towns in Kansas where she worked.

“ASU-Beebe is remarkably like the college in Kansas where I came from, four campuses about the same distances apart,” Fisher said.

ASU-Beebe has campuses at Heber Springs, Little Rock Air Force Base and Searcy. ASU-Beebe had 5,870 students enrolled last fall.

She said ASU-Beebe is a smaller school with a thousand fewer students than Butler Community College. It is the only two-year college in the state with dormitories. ASU-Beebe has 411 employees on all four campuses.

“I was attracted to come here because I feel I have the skill set built there that can help here. We have some interesting challenges. Across the state, we are seeing declining enrollment at most schools.

TOP STORY >> Trustee grew up in area

Leader senior staff writer

When Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Kelly M. Pace Eichler last week to the powerful University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees, at least one old Jacksonville friend says she wasn’t at all surprised.

“She was a great leader and a great friend,” said Kim Crook, chief financial officer for First Arkansas Bank and Trust.

“We’ve known each other all our lives,” said Crook, who was in the Jacksonville High School class of 1982. “We’re probably the oldest of friends.”

Eichler, who was appointed to a series of important jobs by Republican governors Huckabee and then Hutchinson, was “always very smart, very funny and fun to be around,” according to Crook.


“I always knew she would do well. She was a very good student and a strong leader.”

Crook and Eichler were on the Red Devils cheerleading squad. Eichler was the captain and became a University of Arkansas cheerleader.

Growing up, she was involved in church and was on student council in school.

She also went to Girls’ State.

“I have so many good memories,” Crook said. “She was a lot of fun, outgoing and I always enjoyed being around her. I’m very proud of her.”

Jacksonville attorney Mike Wilson says he’s known Eichler’s family for decades.

“She’s bright as a new penny,” he said.

Eichler replaces Mary Rogers of Little Rock on the board.


Meanwhile, Eichler won’t give up her day job as director of policy for Hutchinson.

She agrees that the job is demanding, “but I love it.”

“I had a great life in Jacksonville,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade growing up there for anything.”

She said she grew up living in one of the first houses in Foxwood.

The year she graduated, the Red Devils football team was 14-0.

While she now lives in Little Rock with her husband, Brad, and two sons, she said she stays in touch with old friends like Crook.

One son is a 17-year-old senior at Catholic High and the other, 13, attends Episcopal.

Of her appointment to the U of A board, she said, “This is more than a meet and eat. It’s a governing board.” She said the U of A system has several campuses and is a big business. She’ll be sworn in March 1, but said it would take a while to get a good base of knowledge.


Eichler is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she was a Razorback cheerleader and member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, which was founded by her aunt, Mary Campbell Gregory. She earned her juris doctorate from the UALR Bowen School of Law in 1991.

Eichler has served as a law clerk at the Arkansas Court of Appeals, as a Pulaski County deputy prosecutor, a partner in private practice and special judge in circuit and juvenile courts. She began working for the state during the Huckabee administration.

Eichler served two years on the Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic violence and was a criminal justice adviser to Huckabee, who then appointed her to a seven-year term on the state Board of Corrections. At end of that term, she returned to serve as his legal counsel.

In the 2014 Republican primary, Donnie Copeland defeated Eichler for the House Dist. 38 seat.

She also serves on the Centers for Youth and Families foundation board.


Eichler’s ties to the University of Arkansas System run deep, starting with her great-grandfather, Sy Campbell, who graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1910.

Her grandmother, Erline Campbell Pace, was president of Pi Beta Phi and crowned Razorback Homecoming Queen. She graduated in 1936. Her father and brother, Jim Pace, are also alumni.

In addition, her husband is a graduate of UALR and currently serves on the foundation board. He was recently named a distinguished alumnus and member of Beta Gamma Sigma, a business school honors society.

TOP STORY >> Governor: Don’t call it Obamacare

Leader staff writer

With key local legislators behind him, Gov. Asa Hutchinson at a press conference Tuesday insisted that supporting his Arkansas Works plan for Medicaid expansion, which could succeed the private option if it receives a three-fourths vote, is not the same as supporting Obamacare.

Hutchinson alluded to untruthful attacks, saying they came from both the left and right. The governor described them as the “worst of politics.”

His talk was mostly an explanation as to why, while he opposes Obamacare, Arkansas is accepting federal funds for Medicaid expansion.

Hutchinson said, “It would only be punishing Arkansas to turn down federal money that 30-plus states are accepting. It is perfectly consistent. It is perfectly conservative and logical to oppose Obamacare as a federal policy and yet to accept federal dollars under the Medicaid program in Arkansas. It is a logical decision. It is an Arkansas-oriented decision, and it does not embrace the federal policy that is the framework of Obamacare.”

His reasons include that, if the funds are refused, there would be a “$100 million plus gap in our state budget,” Hutchinson said. He argued that such a deficit would mean cuts across the board — to the highway fund, education and public safety — to balance the budget. “We should not be asked to turn down federal money because we want to make a political point, and that is all that would be.”

The governor said he also supports acceptance of the funds because improved health outcomes and access to care have been a positive result, and “it makes no sense to me to say we’re not going to take taxpayer dollar subsidies for the poorest on the income scale for health care when we’re going to continue to accept those federal dollars for those in the middle income category.”

Arkansas Works, he said, advocates for work opportunities and personal responsibility. Hutchinson has been working for more flexibility in the state’s plan for Medicaid.

The governor said he would speak on that at tomorrow’s Heath Reform Legislative Task Force meeting. Hutchinson also, in response to a question, said he’d support a new program to take care of the over 200,000 Arkansans included in the expanded Medicaid program, if the federal government gives maximum flexibility to states and takes a block-grant approach.

Sens. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and Jane English (R-North Little Rock) have been targeted in the attack ads Hutchinson alluded to. State Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) was the architect of private option when it first passed in the Senate.

After the conference, Williams and English agreed they couldn’t say they support Arkansas Works or how they would vote on it because the plan has not been formulated into written legislation. Not reading it first would be a disservice to constituents, Williams noted.

Hutchinson refused to name the attack groups, saying he didn’t want to get into political campaigns. But Williams didn’t mind commenting on them.

Williams told The Leader they go by several names — Conduit for Commerce, Conduit for Communication, Conduit for Action and others.

He says the groups are being funding by multimillionaires in northwest Arkansas who are trying to buy three seats, including his and English’s.

Just this week, he noted, the group had to retract an ad in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that contained “blatant lies” about personal friends of his, that stated his supporters own liquor stores.

Williams also said their assertions that he voted for Obamacare and Common Core aren’t true.

The organizations are violating ethics laws that prohibit them from being directly involved in campaigns, the senator continued. He explained that they’re supposed to advocate for a position. But, Williams noted, he isn’t in a position to file an ethics complaint as he is repeating what he’s been told.

The senator added, “That is a new low. You know we talk about dark money on the national level. It’s in Arkansas now.”

English agreed. She also said, “We’ve never seen this kind of stuff before in Arkansas...It is strange, and it’s really sad and I think it actually is, it should be scary, whether you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, that there are people who are really trying to control the Arkansas Senate and the House.”

The senator also wanted to deny some ads claiming she experienced personal financial gain as a result of voting to reauthorize private option funding under then-Gov. Mike Beebe.

Hutchinson reminded those gathered at the conference that he opposed Obamacare when campaigning for in 2010 and said he still wants it repealed, changed or replaced because the individual and employer mandates are contrary to freedom.

Hutchinson called the mandates “unconscionable” and a “federal intrusion.” He noted that he pressed for them to be challenged in court. The Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.

“We also have to deal in the real world, and the real world is that over 30 states have adopted that form of Medicaid expansion, and, whenever the Supreme Court affirmed all of the mandates, but left it to the discretion of the states in terms of Medicaid expansion, we all sat there on pins and needles and said it’s going to collapse. Well, it didn’t collapse,” the governor continued. “It’s important in Arkansas that we make decisions that are right for Arkansas.”

He pointed out that Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. State legislators did not vote on it but had to “pick up the pieces.”

Hutchinson argued that the state couldn’t punish Arkansans by denying coverage or Medicaid reform just because it’s frustrated with federal overreach.

The governor also said the legislators who attended the conference were there to listen and be realistic. He is confident that, once the truth is out there to constituents, they will listen to constituents and support Arkansas Works.

He acknowledged that federal policy could change next year with a new president, but said the state needed to base its actions on what it is in place now.

Lawmakers have voted to end private option at the end of this year, so any replacement — Arkansas Works — would have to be approved by January.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville handles Badgers

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville started the first and second halves hot from the perimeter in Friday night’s 5A-Central Conference game against Beebe, and the more talented Red Devils steadily pulled away from the Badgers as the game progressed, and left the Devils’ Den with a 66-46 victory.

Beebe (3-16, 1-10) led 3-2 at the start of the game, but Jacksonville (16-7, 7-4) responded with an 18-2 run, reeling off six-consecutive 3-pointers on six attempts to lead 20-5. Tyree Appleby, LaQuawn Smith and DaJuan Ridgeway each made a pair of threes during that stretch, with Appleby adding the last one that forced a Badger timeout with 3:23 left in the opening quarter.

“Some of these kids don’t have the work ethic that it takes,” said Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner of his team, “but here lately, they’ve been putting in a little bit more time on shooting and it shows, and I’ve been trying to tell them that. They’ve been shooting a lot more lately.

“We shoot in practice, but to be a shooter, you’ve got find time within your schedule to shoot, and some of them have been doing that.”

Joyner said last Tuesday’s loss at Mills, which put the Red Devils two games behind first place in the conference standings, was a wake-up call to his players that they needed to put more time into working on their game.

“After the Mills game, they realized they’re not putting enough time into their game,” Joyner said. “This team, they don’t always take stuff serious. They play hard and I love all of them, but they don’t take things serious – not the way the coaching staff wants them to.

“They’ll turn it up when they need to, but you’ve got to be turned up all the time. If you want to get to that next level, and that second season and have a chance at a state title, it has to be turned up and this team doesn’t keep it turned up all the time.”

Smith added another basket after Appleby’s second three to up the Red Devils’ lead to 22-5, but Beebe closed the first quarter with a 6-0 run to cut the Jacksonville lead to 22-11.

The Red Devils maintained their double-digit lead until Beebe’s Tyler Bradberry drained back-to-back threes, which made it 28-21 with 5:53 left until halftime. That was as close as Beebe would get to Jacksonville’s lead the remainder of the game, and by halftime, the hosts pushed their lead back to double digits, leading 35-25.

Jacksonville made its first four shots of the second half, two of which were threes, to up its lead to 45-29. The Red Devils’ first miss of the second half was a transition layup by Appleby.

The Red Devils were a perfect 3 for 3 from 3-point range in the third quarter, with Appleby putting in the last one with 1:52 left in the period. That basket made the score 53-31, and after that, JHS closed the third quarter with a 6-2 run to lead 59-33 after three.

The fourth quarter was mostly an uneventful one and both teams spent a good portion of the final eight minutes at the free-throw line. In that quarter, each team had only one basket made from the floor until late in the game, and Jacksonville’s Antoine Davis scored the final points of the night on a contested layup with 10 seconds remaining, setting the 20-point margin.

Jacksonville finished the game 22 of 39 from the floor for 56 percent. Beebe made 13 of 37 shots for 35 percent. From 3-point range, the Red Devils made 10 of 17 attempts and the Badgers made 7 of 17 for the game, but made just 1 of 7 in the second half.

From the free-throw line, JHS made 12 of 21 attempts and BHS made 13 of 22. Beebe outrebounded Jacksonville 22-17, but the Red Devils had fewer turnovers, committing 14 to Beebe’s 16.

Ridgeway led all scorers with 17 points. Three other Red Devils scored in double figures Friday. Appleby scored 14 points, Bralyn James scored 13 and Smith added 11. Bradberry was the only Badger that scored in double figures. He had 12 points.

SPORTS STORY >> Panther defense comes through to avenge defeat

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panther defense smothered West Memphis Friday en route to a 54-36 victory at Panther Arena. The win avenges Cabot’s only 7A conference loss of the season, with one left to play. West Memphis beat Cabot 53-44 on Jan. 15, but the Panthers (15-7, 6-4) now have the inside track on a No. 1 seed in the state tournament it will host the first week of March.

“I thought we played better than we have been – we defended better than the last couple games,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. His team had given up 66 and 63 points in its last two games, but West Memphis not only had trouble scoring, but had trouble even getting shots up.

Cabot’s Garrett Rowe scored quickly after the tip-off, and Cabot’s defense set the tone quickly. The Panthers defended for 90 seconds without giving up a shot attempt, and then forced a turnover when a skip pass sailed high and out of bounds.

“I felt like after that first (defensive) possession that maybe we were going to be OK tonight,” Bridges said. “We weren’t in the passing lanes. Our game plan was to let them catch it and close up the lanes. They like to get inside on you with the dribble and we did a great job of keeping them from doing that. We made a couple mistakes here and there and they made us pay for it, but for the most part we stuck to the game plan and did a good job.”

Cabot didn’t shoot well in the first half, making just 6 of 20 shot attempts, but the defense gave up just two field goals, one in each quarter, the entire first half.

West Memphis (12-8, 6-4) got just five field-goal attempts in each of the first two quarters, hitting one 2-pointer in the first quarter and one 3-pointer in the second. The other six points came at the line. The Panthers did not get to the line the entire first half.

The Panthers opened the second half with a 5-0 run, all by Rowe. His first bucket came on a penetrate-and-dish from point guard Bobby Joe Duncan. His second shot was a 3-pointer after an assist by forward Hunter Southerland.

Zachary Byrd answered for West Memphis to make it 24-13, but Cabot’s Jalen Brown hit a 3-pointer 20 seconds later to make it 27-13 and force West Memphis coach Larry Bray to call a timeout.

After the break, West Memphis put together a 7-2 run with all seven points coming from Byrd, who single-handedly kept the Blue Devils in the game. Byrd came off the bench to score 14 of his team’s 20 points through three quarters. He finished with game highs in points (17) and rebounds (10).

Cabot scored first in the fourth quarter, but Ahmere Albert hit a 3-pointer to make it 31-23. Cabot took over from there. Rowe got three steals to spark an 11-0 run that put the game out of reach for the Blue Devils.

The Panthers had shot only three free throws through three quarters, but went to the line frequently in the fourth when West Memphis was forced to foul to extend the game. Cabot was deadly from the line, hitting 13 of 15 over the last four minutes after missing their first two of the period.

The Panthers shot 50 percent from the floor, hitting 17 of 34 attempts, including 6 of 12 from 3-point range. They finished 14 of 20 from the free-throw line.

West Memphis outrebounded Cabot 20-13, but hit just 9 of 38 shot attempts and went 16 of 24 from the free-throw line.

Duncan and Rowe each scored 14 points to lead Cabot. Duncan also had six assists.

The win guarantees Cabot a spot in the 7A playoffs.

“We’re in for sure,” Bridges said. “We still have a chance at a one seed even with two (7A) losses if some things break our way. And this win takes some of the pressure off going into Little Rock Central.”

SPORTS STORY >> Devils’ Den gets heated in Beebe win

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe girls kept their perfect 5A-Central Conference record intact Friday night in Jacksonville with a 49-32 win over the Lady Red Devils, completing the season sweep over JHS.

Jacksonville (12-13, 6-5) swept Beebe (20-4, 11-0) last season, the Lady Badgers’ first in the 5A-Central. Beebe beat Jacksonville 52-35 last month at Badger Arena, and the Lady Badgers got off to a good start in that January meeting.

Friday’s game, which was Jacksonville’s homecoming night, took more than a quarter for Beebe to get much separation on the scoreboard, as the Lady Badgers held just a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“I told them that’s their homecoming, they’re going to come out hard,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “They’re going to play their best in the first quarter, let’s just try to come out and play our game, just try to hold serve, so to speak, and just let the adrenaline rush go down.

“Then in the second quarter, I said I think if we’ll execute we can start pulling away, and it kind of played out that way. I thought we played pretty well in the second quarter and were able to distance ourselves.”

Beebe played Friday’s game without starting forward Katie Turner, who was out with the stomach flu.

“We were missing one of our key starters for the game,” Richey said. “She had the stomach flu and anytime you don’t have your normal starting five it throws you out of sync a little bit.

“That’s not an excuse because we’ve got a good bench and we’ve got some good players that can come in and play, but any team would probably say it disrupts you a little bit when one of your players isn’t there.”

Beebe found some separation on the scoreboard in the second quarter, and did so with defensive pressure that led to several Jacksonville turnovers. The Lady Red Devils went cold from the floor in the second quarter, making just one field goal in that eight-minute span, and that basket didn’t come until there were just four seconds left until halftime.

That basket was scored by guard Desiree Williams. It was also the last points of the half, which made the score 29-16 Beebe at halftime. Beebe senior point guard Taylor McGraw sank her fourth 3-pointer of the game 27 seconds into the second half and junior forward Hannah McGhee, who got the start for Turner, put in a transition layup on the next Beebe possession that upped the BHS lead to 34-16.

Jacksonville coach Crystal Scott called timeout after McGhee’s layup, and the Lady Red Devils answered with an Alexis James 3-pointer near the top of the key, which made the score 34-19 Beebe with 5:40 left in the third. The Lady Badgers’ lead stayed at 15 at the end of the quarter, with the score 40-25.

Beebe pushed its lead to 17, 44-27, on a putback by senior center Gracie Anders with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Twenty-five seconds later, a fight broke out between Williams and Beebe starter Kassidy Elam.

The two seniors were battling for position on an inbound pass when things escalated. Williams threw the first punch and Elam went after her in retaliation, but was restrained before she could get ahold of her. As a result, both players were ejected and by AAA rule had to sit out last night’s conference games.

“Unfortunately for Kassidy and that other girl they’re going to have to sit out the next game,” Richey said. “That’s the triple-A rules and you have to go by them. It’s like I told the official, she (Elam) got hit and she never got to hit back, but she’s going to have to serve the same penalty and that’s the rules.

“That’s the triple-A rules and the officials don’t have a choice in the matter and we don’t have a choice in the matter. It’s just like I tell the girls, things can happen and you can’t retaliate no matter how bad you want to. But that’s easier said than done when you get punched in the mouth.

“Your natural reaction always is you’re going to fight back. I don’t want my girls to get pushed around and shoved around, and Kassidy wasn’t going to let that happen. She’s not going to get pushed around by somebody. She’s going to stand up for herself and she did.”

Scott said Williams was reacting to a forearm shove from Elam, but didn’t condone her player’s reaction.

“My player threw the first closed-fist punch - that’s true,” said Scott. “She reacted poorly. I tell them all the time, ‘I’m going to defend you, but I need you to be right.’ She took a forearm, but she wasn’t right in how she handled the situation.”

Scott also believes the officials share some of the responsibility for tempers escalating by not gaining control of an increasingly intense atmosphere on the floor.

“Coach (Tirrell) Brown and I were both telling the referees they needed to start calling more fouls to get this under control. You could tell it was getting intense. There were some hard fouls on both ends and no fouls being called. A couple possessions before the altercation they took Desiree to the ground on a layup, and no call. Girls were getting frustrated on both sides. You could see it escalating.”

Given the situation, Richey thought his players and staff as well as the JHS coaching staff did the best they could to keep the rest of the game under control.

“We have discussed all that,” Richey said. “So my players knew not to leave the bench. They know what the rules are. If the players leave the bench then they’re ejected also. My players didn’t do that. They stayed on the bench and Jacksonville’s players stayed on the bench.

“I thought their coach (Scott) did a good job of keeping her players under control after that happened. Other than the one that got out of control and punched her, which you can’t do anything about that because you’re not out there on the floor to stop her, but she did a good job of keeping her players under control and finishing the game with no other incidents happening the rest of the way, and that’s a testament to her for keeping her players under control, too.”

Each team scored five points the rest of the game, setting the final score. Beebe finished the game 18 of 40 from the floor for 45 percent. Jacksonville was 10 of 34 from the floor for 29 percent. From 3-point range, the Lady Badgers were 5 for 14 and the Lady Red Devils were 2 for 4.

From the free-throw line, Beebe was 8 for 10 and JHS was 10 for 23. Beebe dominated the boards, outrebounding JHS 30-14, but the Lady Red Devils had one fewer turnover, finishing with 21 to Beebe’s 22.

McGraw led all scorers with 17 points. Anders added 13 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Libbie Hill scored eight points and had seven rebounds and four assists. McGhee and Hannah Camp scored four points each for Beebe and Kierston Miller had three points and six rebounds.

James and Asiah Williams led Jacksonville with eight points apiece, and senior center Tatianna Lacy added seven points. The next highest scorer for JHS was Josie Starr, who scored three points.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot gets big victory

Leader sports editor

Cabot girls’ basketball coach Carla Crowder reached a milestone Friday when her team gave her the 800th win of her career, and it came at a most opportune time. The Lady Panthers had to beat West Memphis at home to have any chance of making the playoffs, and they did so decisively, 59-38.

Cabot played most of the game in a 1-3-1 zone with senior guard CoCo Calhoon at the top guarding the ball, and she frustrated the West Memphis ball handlers from the outset.

“CoCo played extremely well tonight,” said Crowder. “She’s a smart player and she’s aggressive. She played well defensively and offensively. It was a great effort by everyone. We had to have that one and we played like it. I’m very proud of them.”

The win puts Cabot (16-10, 6-4) in a tie with West Memphis for the third playoff spot from the East Conference, and gives Cabot the tiebreaker in case they remain tied. West Memphis beat Cabot by just two points last month at WMHS.

Cabot is finished with its 7A conference schedule. West Memphis (16-7, 6-4) can still earn the playoff spot, but will have to beat North Little Rock at home on Friday. NLR beat West Memphis 85-80 last month at NLRHS.

The Lady Panthers didn’t shoot well early. Despite forcing 10 turnovers in the first quarter, Cabot only led 14-12 at the end of one period. Calhoon and senior point guard Leighton Taylor each got two steals in the frame, but combined to go 1 for 5 from the floor after the turnovers.

With 50 seconds left in the opening period and the score tied 9-9, Anna Sullivan drove the lane for a layup that also drew a crucial foul. West Memphis’ 6-foot-5 center Lashala Saine picked up her second foul and sat the rest of the half.

The forced turnovers by West Memphis continued to mount in the second period, but Cabot’s shooting got better and the lead grew, albeit slowly at first.

Neither team scored a basket for more than half the period. With 3:30 left in the half, West Memphis coach Sheila Burns called timeout with Cabot leading 21-12. The Lady Panthers had made 7 of 8 free throws while Burns’ Lady Blue Devils had gone 0 for 4 from the floor, 0 for 2 from the line and committed five turnovers.

Right out of the break, Calhoon got her fourth steal, missed a layup, got her own rebound and put it back in for a 23-12 Cabot lead. The Lady Blue Devils threw the ball away again on the inbound pass and Burns called another timeout. The visitors rushed a shot after that break and Calhoon scored at the other end to make it 25-12 with 2:42 left in the first half.

West Memphis got its first points of the quarter with 2:23 remaining when Anquenetta Higgs hit a bucket while being fouled. She missed the free throw, but Cabot turned it over and Niyah Townsend hit a 3-pointer to quickly pull the Lady Blue Devils to within 25-17 with two minutes left.

Cabot closed the half with an 8-2 run that saw Calhoon score the last six in a row. She hit two free throws after the buzzer to give the Lady Panthers a 33-19 lead at the break.

West Memphis extended its man defense to three-quarter court to start the second half, but Cabot sliced through it and extended its lead.

Much like it ended the first half, Cabot opened the second half with an 11-3 run. Taylor hit a 3-pointer with 2:41 left in the third quarter that gave the Lady Panthers a 44-22 lead, but West Memphis made one more run.

The Lady Blue Devils outscored Cabot 8-0 from that point to the end of the quarter to make it 44-30 going into the fourth.

Cabot’s Josie Vanoss put a quick end to any West Memphis hope. After a free throw by Calhoon, Vanoss scored six-straight points on back-to-back three-point plays to put Cabot back up by 21 at 51-30 just two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Calhoon led all scorers with 23 points and also had six steals and six rebounds. Taylor and Sullivan each finished with 11 points.

Sable Greer led West Memphis with 13 points.

Cabot was outstanding from the free-throw line, hitting 26 of 32, and was 19 of 21 going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Panthers were 16 of 47 from the floor, and just 1 for 5 from 3-point range.

West Memphis outrebounded Cabot 32-21, but only made 4 of 14 free throws and went 15 of 50 from the floor (4 of 8 3-pointers).

Cabot assistant coach Charles Ruple congratulated Crowder on win 800, and gave her credit for the victory.

“I missed three practices this week and she had them ready to play,” Ruple said. “She did a great job preparing the team from top to bottom. We won the junior varsity game pretty handily, too, and that’s because of how well Carla prepared them.”