Friday, June 10, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> SH still perfect with Lake Hamilton win

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills’ extended summer junior varsity baseball team was down two runs after 2 1/2 innings against Lake Hamilton on Wednesday, but the JV Bears tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third inning, and reeled off three more in the fourth to beat the Wolves’ varsity team 5-2 at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood.

The game was scoreless after an inning of play, but Lake Hamilton scored a run in the top of the second to lead 1-0, and the Wolves scored again in the third to lead 2-0. Sylvan Hills responded, though, in the bottom half of the inning.

Bears’ left fielder Connor Young led off the bottom of the third with a ground ball to shortstop. The ball was fielded cleanly, but the throw to first was low, and Young advanced to second base on the play.

Catcher Chaz Poppy reached on another error at shortstop two batters later, and Young moved to third on that play to put runners at the corners with one out. Connor Beeching flew out to right field the following at-bat, but the hit was deep enough to score Young from third and give the Bears their first run of the day.

Jason Neeley tied the game the next at-bat with a two-out single up the middle, making it 2-2 after three. Sylvan Hills righthander Ray Young took to the mound for the first time at the start of the fourth. He entered the game in relief of left hander Cole Miller, who threw the first three innings.

Ray Young and the Bears’ defense kept the Wolves off the board in the top of the fourth, and Sylvan Hills took its first lead in the bottom half of the inning with its most productive inning of the day.

Gage Taylor drew a one-out walk and stole second base with Jacob Galiano at the plate. Taylor then advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball on ball four. Galiano alertly hustled to first base on the passed ball four, and took second while the Lake Hamilton catcher retrieved the ball.

Shortly after, Galiano stole third base before being driven home on a one-out single to center field off the bat of Payton Terry. Terry’s RBI made it 4-2 Bears. Terry stole second base before scoring on a one-out standup double to deep right center by Ray Young, which made the score 5-2.

Lake Hamilton’s lone base runner in the top of the fifth came via walk, and the Bears ended the game with a pair of 5-3 groundouts, sealing the win in five innings.

It was a good win over a Lake Hamilton team that consisted mostly of varsity players, but the JV Bears had five errors in the five-inning game, something that Sylvan Hills summer league coach Matt Presson wasn’t very pleased with.

“We started out slow and we gave them outs in the beginning,” said Presson. “In the second inning we had at least four outs we gave them. You can’t give teams extra outs. You’ve got to make the routine play. You’ve got two pitchers throwing their butts off. We’re just not making plays. We make those plays it’s 5-0.

“We started off slow with the bats. But, we came through when we needed to, so that was nice.”

With Wednesday’s win, the JV Bears improved their summer record to 5-0. Ray Young got the win on the mound. He struck out two, walked two and gave up no hits in his two innings of work. Miller also struck out two and walked two and allowed only two hits in his three innings on the hill.

Sylvan Hills totaled four hits Wednesday, with Neeley, Taylor, Terry and Ray Young accounting for those hits.

SPORTS STORY >> Lexi Weeks wins NCAA

EUGENE, Ore. – Pole vaulter Lexi Weeks put a fitting end to an unprecedented college season on Thursday, adding an NCAA Outdoor National Championship to her ledger of accomplishments. Weeks had already become the first freshman to ever win an NCAA title when she won the Indoor championship earlier this year. She also became the first freshman in Women’s NCAA track and field history to clear 15-feet, and is now the first freshman to win an Outdoor title and sweep the Indoor and Outdoor championships.

Also, along with senior distance runner Dominique Scott winning the 10,000-meter race, Weeks became half of 26-year Razorback Women’s coach Lance Harter’s first duo to win NCAA individual championships.

Harter’s No. 1 ranked Razorbacks enter today’s final day of the championships with 26 points, 10 ahead of second-place Texas A&M. All 26 points came within a 15-minute stretch of the eight-hour day of competition.

Weeks won the pole vault while the 10,000-meters was in progress, and Taliyah Brooks finished third in the long jump shortly after Scott won her race at the University of Oregon’s Heyward Field.

“In a 15-minute span Lexi (Weeks) won the vault, the 10,000 was en route, Taliyah (Brooks) is long jumping and grabs third,” Harter said. “The 26 points from those three events positions us extremely well heading into the rest of competition. We have some great scoring opportunities on Saturday between all of today’s qualifiers and the heptathlon. We plan on using our rest day wisely and will be ready to go on that last day.”

Other than the opening of the two-day heptathlon on Friday, the remainder of the Women’s Outdoor will be conducted today.

In 26 years coaching the Arkansas Women, coach Harter had never produced more than one individual champion at the NCAA Outdoor until senior Scott easily won Thursday’s 10,000-meter run in 32:35.6, 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Alice Wright of New Mexico.

Weeks, the freshman phenom from Cabot, won the NCAA Outdoor pole vault by clearing 14-9 to go with the NCAA Indoor title she won last March in Birmingham, Ala.

Scott guns for another one Saturday night in the 5,000 as the Arkansas Women seek their first NCAA Outdoor team title to go with their only national championship in the women’s program history when they won the 2015 Indoor in Fayetteville.

Senior Taylor Ellis-Watson, the 2016 NCAA Indoor 400-meter runner-up, advanced to today’s finals by winning her heat with a time of 51.55. She also anchored Arkansas’ 4x400 relay of Brianna Swinton, Daina Harper and Monisa Dobbins, which ran a 3:28.76, second in their heat to advance to today’s final.

Also on Thursday, senior Jessica Kamilos, 9:55.35, and freshman Devin Clark, 9:58.26, advanced to the final in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

To go along with all who advanced in Thursday’s prelims to Saturday’s finals, the Razorbacks will have heptathletes Brooks, Payton Stumbaugh, Alex Gochenour and Leigha Brown competing for top eight scoring spots Friday and Saturday.

SPORTS STORY >> Gwatney, Sheridan split

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Chevrolet Senior American Legion team salvaged a split Tuesday night in a doubleheader with Sheridan at Dupree Park. The Yellowjackets held on for a 6-5 win in game one, but the Chevy Boys bounced back for a 9-7 victory in the late nightcap.

In game two, Jacksonville fell behind again right away, giving up two runs in the top of the first inning, but made a strong defensive play that helped end the Sheridan rally.

Hunter Hicks drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a bunt by Nathan Kirkpatrick. Nick Whitley then doubled to right-center field to drive in a run. Evan Thompson also doubled to make it 2-0, but he tried to stretch it to a triple. Instead, he was thrown out at third for the second out, and the next batter grounded out to shortstop to end the frame.

Jacksonville got its four batters on base in the bottom of the first, but only scored one run. Tyson Flowers hit a leadoff single but was caught stealing.

Mike Havard doubled and scored on a base hit by Caleb McMunn. Brandon Hickingbotham drew a walk before Javan Wakefield struck out. Kameron Whitmore singled to load the bases, but Joe Cummings’ grounder to third ended the inning.

After holding Sheridan scoreless in the second inning, the Chevy Boys exploded for the rest of their runs in the second.

Jayden Loving started the rally with a one-out base hit to center field. Flowers, Havard and McMunn each hit consecutive singles, and another run scored when Hickingbotham’s fly ball to left field was mishandled.

Wakefield then hammered a three-run home run over the fence in center field that put Gwatney Chevrolet up 6-0.

After a groundout by Whitmore, Cummings walked before Quentin Stallard, Loving and Flowers got three-straight base hits to put Jacksonville up 9-2.

Thompson pulled the Yellowjackets to within five runs with a two-run home run in the third. Three walks and a base hit made it 9-6 in the fourth and Sheridan added one more run on one hit and one walk in the fifth to set the final margin.

Jacksonville held the early lead in game one after scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Flowers and Havard started the game with back-to-back base hits.

McMunn grounded out to third to score Flowers before Hickingbotham walked and Caden Sample was hit to load the bases. Havard then scored on an error at second base off the bat of Whitmore.

Sheridan scored one run on two walks and a base hit in the third inning, and then posted four more in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead.

The rally started when McMunn hit Hicks with the first pitch of the inning. Three base hits and two more walks followed to put Sheridan in the lead.

Jacksonville answered with two in the fourth, but a base running mistake cost it at least one more run. Wakefield started the rally with a one-out double off the wall in straightaway center field, but he was picked off during the next at-bat. Three-straight walks followed before a two-RBI double by Hickingbotham made the score 5-4.

A walk and two Jacksonville errors put Sheridan on top 6-4 going into the bottom of the sixth. The Chevy Boys got back to within one run on a leadoff walk by Whitmore and another double to the centerfield wall by Wakefield with two outs.

Jacksonville got the tying run on base with no outs in the bottom of the seventh when Trent Toney drew a walk, but Jordan Wickersham hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice before Peyton Traywick and Wakefield struck out to end the game.

The doubleheader results leaves the Gwatney Chevrolet Senior team with a 2-1 record. They take the rest of the week off as the Junior team takes part in the Sheridan Junior Invitational. The Senior squad plays in the Sheridan Wood Bat Classic next week.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears knock off Wolves

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills’ extended high school summer varsity team made quick work of Lake Hamilton’s varsity team Wednesday afternoon at Mike Bromley Field in Sherwood, as the Bears took the lead early and coasted to a 9-2 win over the Wolves, improving their summer record to 3-1.

The varsity Bears routed Pulaski Academy 10-0 in five innings on Monday, and dominated Wednesday’s game as well. Sylvan Hills scored three of its runs in the bottom of the first inning against the Class 6A Wolves, and took a 4-0 lead with a run scored in the bottom of the third.

In the third, left fielder Ryan Lumpkin got things started with a one-out standup double to left center, and starting pitcher Nick Fakouri drove in the Bears’ fourth run with a line-drive single to right field.

Lumpkin took to the mound for the Bears at the start of the fourth, and after a 1-2-3 inning by the Wolves, Sylvan Hills added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Ray Young led off the inning with a walk, and Jason Neeley was hit by a pitch two batters later to put runners at first and second with one out. With Kyle Clayton at the plate, the runners took second and third on a double steal.

The throw to third from behind the plate was off, and as the ball rolled into shallow left field, Young scored for the Bears’ fifth run of the afternoon. Clayton followed with a single to right field, driving in Neeley for a 6-0 Bear lead.

Leadoff hitter Spencer Zilkey hit into a fielder’s choice at second base the next at-bat. With shortstop Michael Coven at the plate, Zilkey stole second, then third before scoring the final run of the inning on Coven’s third hit of the day, which put the Bears up 7-0.

Lake Hamilton threatened in the top of the fifth. The Wolves had runners at first and second, but a strikeout and 6-3 groundout got the Bears out of the jam. Sylvan Hills scored again in the bottom of the fifth.

Fakouri was hit by a pitch at the start of it. Payton Terry entered as his courtesy runner, and Zach Douglas followed with a standup double to left field. Chaz Poppy popped out to short for the first out, but Young followed with a sac fly to center field, scoring Terry for an 8-0 Sylvan Hills lead.

Lake Hamilton scored its two runs in the top of the sixth, but the Bears added the final run of the game in the bottom half of that inning. With two outs, Zilkey hit a triple and made a wide turn on third base. Zilkey got caught in a rundown, but sped by the catcher after the Wolves bit on his half step back to third and made the throw in that direction. The throw back to the plate wasn’t in time, and Zilkey’s run set the final score.

Lefty Garret Davis took to the hill in the top of the seventh and struck out the side to preserve the 9-2 win. The Bears did a good job of putting the bat on the ball and being successfully aggressive on the base paths Wednesday, and they also did a good job of taking advantage of Lake Hamilton’s mistakes, which stood out to their coach.

“We hit the ball,” said Sylvan Hills summer league coach Matt Presson. “We were aggressive on the base paths. We were smart at the plate and took advantage of their mistakes. When you can take advantage of people’s mistakes it just kills the momentum for them. So it’s good to be able take advantage of mistakes, do your job and get guys in when you need to.”

EDITORIAL >> The sun also rises

At the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board meeting Monday night, the board finalized the sale of $15.3 million in bonds to build a new high school.

The new high school is the buzz of Jacksonville. Set to rise from the closed, soon-to-be-dust middle school, and be seen by tens of thousands of people daily driving along Hwy. 67/167, it will be the “jewel” of the new district.

But will the “jewel,” with all the up-to-date-technology infrastructure, solar energy saving design and new school smell be enough to turn the district around? We’d like to think so.

Even so, the $60 million Maumelle High School, open now for five years, has seen no improvement in discipline and about 30 percent of its juniors still can’t read or write on grade level according to state testing.

The annual state test scores at the new Sylvan Hills Middle School, opened in 2011, have been just as poor as before it opened. This past year about 40 percent of its eighth graders scored Level 1, the lowest level of state testing.

So as nice as it will be to have the new high school, only the machinery (the teachers and staff) inside can produce outstanding students and citizens, with lots of help from their parents.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, the district also hired 80 teachers and staff employees for the new district. Each, much cheaper than the planned high school, but collectively, about 75 percent of the district’s total budget.

Take a look at Warren Dupree Elementary, a school with partition walls and a ceiling that was falling down, yet it produces winning stock-market competition teams year after year and has had more national and state essay winners than almost any other school in the state, despite the quality of its brick and mortar.

Pinewood Elementary, which has no interior walls, has an outstanding junior honors society that certainly isn’t due to the facilities fine features.

And Arnold Drive Elementary on Little Rock Air Force Base has been a Blue Ribbon School, named that for its achievement, not for that fact that as a temporary building it is still standing nearly 50 years later.

In fact, according to the RAND Corporation think tank, “When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities and even leadership.”

The Coleman Report, written 50 years ago, and still cited today, said, “The quality of teachers shows a stronger relationship (than school facilities and curricula) to pupil achievement. Furthermore, it is progressively greater at higher grades, indicating a cumulative impact of the qualities of teachers in a school on the pupil’s achievements. Again, teacher quality seems more important to minority achievement than to that of the majority.”

The conclusion that “teacher quality is one of the few school characteristics that significantly affects student performance” is quite consistent with more recent research.

Don’t let this lessen the excitement about the new high school and a planned new elementary school, combining Tolleson and Arnold Drive. But when the new school opens in three years there will still be a lot of work to be done.

As the new JNP district hires each new employee and takes bids for new projects, it brings us closer to improving schools in Jacksonville.

Good teachers and good facilities go hand in hand. Jacksonville will eventually get rid of its dilapidated schools and finance new campuses all over town. They will be as impressive as the Lighthouse Charter School and those in Cabot and other nearby cities.

Jacksonville’s time has come after a 30-year-long battle to split from the Pulaski County Special School District. Sadly, many of the people who fought for a new district are no longer with us, but their children and grandchildren will soon see the fruits of that long struggle — and perhaps a plaque commemorating their success.

District officials are trying hard to hire the best teachers on a limited budget. Financially, no one can argue with that business philosophy, but let’s hope, pray even, that it works educationally.

Dare we say it? Better days are ahead.

TOP STORY >> At 97, still bowling strikes

Leader staff writer

It is not every day you see a 97-year-old man bowling, just on Mondays at Allfam Bowling in Cabot.

Robert Hall of Jacksonville continues to live an active lifestyle. He can be found knocking down pins while taking advantage of the special senior rate from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays when games are $1.49 each instead of the regular rate $3.29 per game before 4 p.m.

Hall began bowling in his 70s. He and his wife Doris, who is 89, often play with Geoff Rushton, 91, also of Jacksonville. The three met 20 years ago while playing at the Sherwood bowling alley until it closed. They play for fun and are not in a league.

“We like the sociability of the group and the exercise,” Hall said.

Hall was born in 1918 in Thessolon, Ontario, Canada, near Michigan. His father was a lumber scaler who bought lumber for furniture factories in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Hall grew up in Mancelona, Mich. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1941 from the University of Central Michigan, majoring in math and science. His first wife had family in Arkansas. During summers he went to summer school at the University of Arkansas, where he earned a master’s in education administration.

He had a 30-year career in education in Michigan. He was a classroom teacher for two years, a high school principal for three years and a school superintendent for 25 years.

Hall taught for one year until the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, when he soon volunteered for the Army during the Second World War.

He was selected to officer candidate school. After graduating as a first lieutenant he was sent to the Pine Bluff Arsenal as a shift officer in munitions production.

Hall was later reassigned to the chemical warfare research lab in Edgewood, N.J.

“I worked on flame throwers and fuels. The object was to increase the oxygen consumption of the fuel of the flame thrower,” Hall said.

He said his unit worked on developing a cart that could be used by two people to sneak into caves. It could hold more fuel than a backpack unit and was more maneuverable than one installed on a tank. The flamethrowers were used in the Asian theater.

“The Japanese would use caves as bunkers. The flamethrowers worked efficiently burning up the oxygen and they would suffocate,” he said.

Hall served four years in the Army staying in the United States for the entire war.

After the war, Hall returned to Michigan as an educator. He took a brief time out from his education career and got into politics. He ran for Congress in 1958 as a Democrat in a district in Michigan.

“I won in the primary, but lost in the general election. It was an interesting experience,” Hall said.

Hall was involved with the state legislature as a superintendent lobbing for adequate funding for the Cement City School District.

“With my frequent contact with the state legislature, the local Democratic Party asked if I would consider running. I thought they were talking about the state legislature, but they explained it was for the federal House,” Hall said.

Hall said he met President Harry Truman and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

“I got a kick out of meeting Truman. He gave me advice on campaigning techniques. He told me to put pamphlets under the windshield wipers of cars,” Hall said.

After losing the election he returned to the Cement City School District, where he said mixing politics and school business did not set well. If there was an issue, people would split along party lines.

He resigned and went to work as a superintendent of the St. Charles School District. Hall retired in 1971 at age 56.

Hall’s connection to Jacksonville started when he visited his daughter, Vicki. She was a personnel director for Redmond Industry in Michigan. The small electric motor manufacturing company moved to Jacksonville and Vicki Hall relocated. The company was later known as Franklin Electric.

In 1983, Robert and Doris Hall bought a trailer in north Pulaski County. They spent six months in Arkansas and six months in Michigan.

They moved permanently to Jacksonville in 2000 when they bought a new house.

TOP STORY >> Other cities also work to control skeeters’ spread

Leader staff writer

In other areas of Pulaski and Lonoke counties, cities are paying attention to the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.

For instance, Randy McKenzie, Austin office manager, says while it’s expensive to spray for mosquitoes and adult flyers, it’s a must-do for cities.

It costs Austin as much as $6,000 a year to keep bugs at bay, he says.

Public works employees spray the entire town Monday and Thursday evenings, starting after 6:30 p.m.

“Spraying takes about three and a half hours,” McKenzie says.

He says they are already spraying and operators try to stay away from people and food sources, such as beehives, when working.

McKenzie says the city is aware of the Zika virus and is talking with its insecticide supplier about best practices, as well about possible federal money available for mosquito abatement.

According to Sherwood Public Works Department director Brian Galloway, the city sprays for mosquitoes during the peak seasons.

“We started early this year, in April,” Galloway says.

Operators cover about 160 road miles in Sherwood and spray weekly.

They use mosquito sprays and schedule their spray times to minimize any contact with children or animals that may be outside. Also, standing water is treated with larvacide to reduce future mosquito populations.

Lonoke also sprays for mosquitoes, and operators work seven nights a week, spraying every other street. Mosquito abatement is also done by air and larvacides are used.

Ward is also treating with larvacides, and once the temperatures rise, Mayor Art Brooke says the city will start spraying with insecticides.

Beebe Mayor Mike Robert-son says the city has already started its mosquito abatement program and covers its approximately four-square-mile radius three times a week.

Currently, he says, “We’re spraying three nights a week, and using pods (larvacides) in standing water.”

Karen Knebel, Cabot street superintendent, says the city has “a good program.”

She says the mosquito abatement program is at least 10 years old, and she attends classes to stay current.

“We take it seriously,” Knebel says.

The city operator works from 7 until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and the city started spraying in May. Of course, if the wind is blowing or it’s raining, spraying is canceled.

In addition to insecticides, the city uses larvacides.

Knebel says annual abatement costs run between $12,000 and $20,000. The figure depends on the length of the spraying season, she said.

TOP STORY >> City crews out spraying

Leader staff writer

Keith Pichon and Hal Toney know every street in Jacksonville, every “Beware of Dog” sign, every couple that spends their summer evenings playing with their kids on the front lawn, every pothole and the woman who jogs after a long day at the office.

They know every overgrown, water-filled ditch serving as the perfect mosquito hatchery.

It’s their job.

There are six large ditches in Jacksonville and countless smaller ones, Toney adds.

Both men work for the city’s Public Works Department. Pichon is an operator who has been on the job for five years, and Toney is street department supervisor who has logged 35 years with the department.

And after their regular day shift, the two men spend a couple evenings a week through the hot summer months on mosquito abatement duty. The department divided the city into six sections, and usually has two drivers spraying somewhere in the city Monday through Wednesday for three to four hours each evening starting around dusk.

“We try to stay on schedule,” Toney says.

Operators are familiar with chemicals like chlorpyrifos and malathion and the precise measurements needed to be kill mosquitoes. The chemicals are switched at times throughout the season so the mosquitoes don’t become immune to a particular chemical or its chemical family.

Their applications aren’t dangerous to the public, but Public Works Director Jimmy Oakley says they turn off the sprayer, which is attached to the back of a city pickup truck, when people are around.

Toney says, “We’re very mindful of the public.”

Employees also work to keep ditches mowed, and free of debris and weeds. Oakley says about the city’s abatement program, “It’s our biggest line of defense,” and it keeps mosquitoes from taking over the town.


Pichon often listens to a ball game or music as he cruises up and down Jacksonville streets at about 15 mph.

“You can’t get in a hurry,” he says. If they run the sprayer trucks too fast, the insecticide application isn’t effective because the wind will carry it up and away.

A light breeze is perfect for application, and, he says they must hit the mosquito with spray in order to kill it.

Their routes aren’t haphazard but carefully planned and within a three-day period, two trucks, working between three and four hours a night, are able to spray the entire city, or about 135 residential road miles.

This includes neighborhoods and other city attractions like playgrounds and ball parks. Of course, not while the kids are playing.

The city sets aside about $25,000 annually to pay for the insecticides and other materials needed for the abatement program. The operators’ salary are absorbed through the street department, Oakley says.

Employees are also trained in the latest practices.

Toney says, “We send them to mosquito abatement class throughout the year.”

Spraying for mosquitoes usually starts as the temperatures soar into the 90s—or when Oakley spots the first mosquito of the season in his backyard—and continues until the temperatures drop in late September or early October.

Like trash pickup, it’s not a glamorous job, but it’s got to be done, Oakley says. And like the garbage piling up at the curb, it’s obvious when mosquito abatement isn’t done, because insect populations grow.

When that happens, there’s the possibility of more mosquito-borne illnesses, especially in the South, where there’s a growing list of diseases, such as malaria, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fevers, encephalitis, West Nile virus, as well as heartworms in dogs, and eastern and western equine encephalitis in horses.

Oakley says the West Nile virus continues to be a concern because the state Health Department has reported a number of cases in central Arkansas.


Now the Zika virus, labeled as an “emerging virus” by U.S. health officials, is on Oakley’s radar.

In less than a year, Zika has been detected in more than 40 countries and U.S. territories, including the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Americas.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Preven-tion reports there have been about 618 cases of Zika in the U.S., all are travel-related. So far there have been no mosquito transmitted cases in the U.S., the CDC says.

But those numbers and disease transmission changes drastically in U.S. Territories, with the CDC reporting 1,110 locally acquired cases.

Zika is now knocking on the United States’ southern door, and no fence at the border will be able to keep the virus from spreading from Mexico into the U.S. The aedes mosquito, both the aegypti and albopictus varieties that are known to spread the virus, already call the region home.

And this year, with the worry of the Zika virus and the birth defects, the city’s vigilance is critical to possibly prevent a local outbreak if the virus makes its way to Arkansas, Oakley says.

In newborns, the virus can cause microcephaly, which is characterized by small head size.

Oakley says Jacksonville is paying attention to the latest from the Health Department and the CDC concerning possible mosquito infestation with the Zika virus.

He says his department follows the Arkansas Health Department’s lead and recommendations on vector control.

According to the Health Department, the aedes mosquitoes are active during daylight hours and are aggressive feeders. So it’s possible dusk spraying times may not be as effective but at this time, Oakley says, “we have had no direction from the Health Department to do anything different.”

Oakley is asking residents to look around their own yards and empty or dispose of all containers — even bottle caps — that can hold water.

Change pets’ water bowls at least twice a week, treat water features with larvacides to prevent mosquito eggs from maturing, cover rain barrels with a mesh designed to keep insects out and empty any standing water.

Try to eliminate any and all mosquito-breeding areas, he says.

Most mosquitoes travel only 100 or 150 feet from their birthplace, so the ones that are ruining a backyard cookout or birthday party probably hatched only a few feet away, he says.


It’s an opportunity to do a little cleanup and potentially protect the health of the next generation, says Jacksonville code-enforcement officer Charles Jenkins.

He was referring to an announcement by the Arkansas Health Department and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality about the free waste and tire collection service offered by Bridgestone Americas.

ADEQ Director Becky Keogh said in the news release, “Arkansas has a Waste Tire Collection and Management Program to advance recycling and proper disposal. However, there are still abandoned tires causing problems across our state.”

While not a major problem in Jacksonville, Jenkins describes discarded tires as a “significant” one and is a risk to the health of the city’s citizens.

Old tires act as excellent nurseries for aedes mosquitoes. Both aedes species are found in Arkansas.

“We’re very concerned and we’re trying to be proactive,” Jenkins says. In addition to the removal of old tires, he recommends draining old wading pools, unused birdbaths—anything that could hold water and serve as a mosquito breeding ground.

Mirivel says Bridgestone Americas’ free waste and tire collection service is called call TIRES4WARD, and she encourages residents to take advantage of the program.

“Bridgestone will accept any brand of tires from cars and light trucks, as well as commercial truck and bus tires that are separated from their rims…The tires should be clean and free of soil and debris,” she says.

Also, the TIRES4WARD initiative offers free collection of old tires recovered from organized cleanups of public lands, rivers, streams and lakes.

Residents involved in volunteer cleanups can request this service at


19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

NORMANDY, France – In commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, airmen from the 48th Airlift Squadron and 62nd Airlift Squadron of the 314th Airlift Wing from Little Rock Air Force Base on Sunday transported more than 60 paratroopers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 173rd Airborne Brigade from Vicenza, Italy, over the “Iron Mike” Monument and La Fiere Drop Zone in Normandy, France.

The airdrops of paratroopers symbolized the role the 314th Troop Carrier Group — the 314th AW’s predecessor — played during the Normandy invasion in June 1944.

This was the first time the 314th AW participated in the D-Day commemorative events.

During the invasion, the 314th Troop Carrier Group delivered paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division over Normandy, France.

This year, festivities were held in local communities surrounding St. Mere-Eglise, one of the first French towns liberated by the Allies during World War II.

These events, which began June 1 and continued up to the grand commemoration on Monday, highlighted the importance of remembering what happened 72 years ago.

Local residents and thousands of tourists came together to touch a piece of history and to see the legacy continued by today’s military.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel Stewart, a C-130J loadmaster with the 314th Operations Group, said, “Seeing so many people come together and appreciate what we do makes me appreciate what I do even more. It also makes me realize the impact of our roles, not just on an Air Force level, but on a global level.”

The 48th AS will be deactivated in September, making their participation in this year’s commemorative events especially poignant.

“It’s a big year for the 314th AW,” said Air Force Maj. Bryan Lucas, a C-130J pilot with the 314th OG. “Participating in the anniversary is bittersweet. The 62nd AS is transitioning from the C-130H to the C-130J, while the 48th is standing down.

“It’s wonderful to see these two squadrons who flew over Normandy in 1944 can fly one more time here,” he added.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Libertarians a third party

The Arkansas Libertarian Party is fielding several candidates in local and statewide races, including the U.S. Senate and Congress. Libertarians are also competing for two state Senate seats, nine state House seats and seven county positions across Arkansas.

The national Libertarian Party last week nominated two strong candidates for president and vice president: Gary Johnson, the nominee for president, served two terms as governor of New Mexico, and his running mate, Bill Weld, was a two-term governor in Massachusetts.

The party’s slogan is “Maximum Freedom,” which should appeal to frustrated voters who are neither Democrats nor Republicans. Libertarian candidates may win the most votes in a generation as more Republicans become disenchanted with Donald Trump and many Democrats who are unenthusiastic with Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate.

Frank Gilbert, of Grant County, who is running on the Libertarian Party ticket against Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Democrat Conner Eldridge, feels good about the party’s chances in Arkansas and the nation in November.

“The Libertarian Party in Arkansas and nationwide is in a unique position to take advantage of the old parties’ divisions and the fact that both appear ready to nominate candidates with credibility problems and high negatives,” Gilbert said.

“By contrast, the national Libertarian Party has nominated candidates who are eminently qualified to serve as president and vice president, and the Arkansas Libertarian Party has nominated more candidates for federal office than the Democrats in 2016,” Gilbert told us.

“The presumptive nominees of both old parties are unlikely to be able to find running mates that will give their pairing as much executive experience as the Libertarian ticket,” Gilbert said.

Both men were Republican governors in deep blue states that had Democratic majorities in the state legislature, Gilbert points out.

“The presumptive nominees of both old parties are unlikely to be able to find running mates that will give their pairing as much executive experience as the Libertarian ticket,” Gilbert said.

Both men were Republican governors in deep blue states that had Democrat majorities in the state legislature.

Libertarians seem to perform very well under those circumstances. Their message of individual liberty and fiscal responsibility allows them to work with conservatives on financial issues like balanced budgets and with liberals when the issues involve government intervention in our private lives.

Gilbert says his Republican opponent has not served Arkansas well.

“John Boozman and the GOP leadership are every bit as much a part of the spending problem in Washington as our lame-duck president,” he said. “Boozman lacks the leadership and courage to say ‘no’ to the president and his party leadership. He may have come to congress as a conservative all those years ago, but he has now sold out taxpayers.”

Gilbert knows Libertarians have an uphill battle even under the best of circumstances. But if their presidential candidate wins 3 percent of the vote in Arkansas, the party will qualify to be on the ballot next time without a petition drive to qualify.

“It is certainly within the realm of possibility that one or more Libertarians may pull off a win,” Gilbert said. “It is certain that every vote cast for them is a strong message to the old parties that voters are demanding something very different this year.”

TOP STORY >> PCSSD official resigns

Leader staff writer

The deputy superintendent for the Pulaski County Special School District has resigned from the district to take the position of headmaster of the Baptist Prep School System in Little Rock.

Dr. Laura Bednar has served six years with the district, three as deputy superintendent and three as the language-arts coordinator for the district with stints as the Stuttgart superintendent and state deputy commissioner of education in between. She said in her resignation letter that she was “at a point in my career where I needed to make some changes.”

She continued, “I’m realizing how fragile each day is, and how short life really is. I also have a three-month-old grandson I rarely get to see in person and that has to change!”

Bednar, whose last day is the end of June, continues to work, especially at helping to make the separation of PCCSD and Jacksonville run as smooth as possible.

“I’ve always got my yellow pad out and wake up often in the middle of the night to jot down something else that needs to be done,” she said, adding that she is very optimistic that years from now people will look back and see that both districts are stronger and succeeding because of the separation.

She said someone recently told her that she would be glad come July 1, the official separation date. “Oh, the work won’t all be done by then,” she answered back. “Since this has never been done before, we are finding hurdles and issues that weren’t even thought of, and will work through them well past the separation date.”

She said what will make the separation work is the continued cooperation between the districts and their leadership, the support of the teachers and open communication to keep parents and students informed.

In her resignation letter to the district, Bednar wrote, “As we close this school year, I want to thank you for the way that you have each dealt with all of the issues related to the ‘transition’ we are working through. You have handled tough situations in such a professional manner at all times. It has truly been a pleasure to work with each of you.”

She also wrote, “We truly never know what a day is going to bring and certainly need to make the most of each and every day we are given.”

She said that heading up the Baptist system would certainly be a change. “They have a student population of about 700 and two campuses compared to our 30-plus campuses.”

TOP STORY >> Saluting our four-legged heroes

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Animal Shelter held a dedication on Saturday at the Military Working Dog Memorial.

Cabot Animal Shelter director Mike Wheeler said while traveling, he noticed there were war memorials but few recognizing military working dogs.

“I did not find one dedicated to military working dogs. What better place than at the animal shelter where people and dogs can bond every day?” Wheeler said.

The monument, flag pole, concrete and fence were paid for with $5,000 raised in donations specifically for the memorial.

Little Rock Air Force Base commander Col. Charles Brown with the 19th Airlift Wing said, “There is a true bond between military working dogs, combat airlift and what defenders do.”

Staff Sgt. Tommy Duncan is a military working dog handler with the 19th Security Forces. Brown said he was at the Dallas Fort Worth airport traveling when he met Duncan, who was in uniform. Brown had just been named commander of LRAFB.

Brown learned that Duncan was delayed. Duncan explained that if he has to spend the night, he has to find a kennel that will take a military working dog and fill out paperwork.

He does a kennel check every four hours to make sure his dog Ricsi has water and food. Duncan then has to fill out paperwork to get the dog out of kennel service and transport the dog to the airport.

“(Duncan) wasn’t able to do anything without putting his military working dog first, and in combat Ricsi wouldn’t do anything without putting Tommy first. This bond lasts forever,” Brown said.

Duncan was deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, where there were no C-130Js stationed. He was working with 250 military personnel and Ricsi.

The kennel had been decertified. The dogs were living in substandard conditions.

“(Duncan) quickly became recognized as the leading instructor over there,” Brown said.

The sergeant stayed behind after his six-month deployment with his know-how and expertise to ensure the base built the right kennel for the right price for the dogs to execute the mission, Brown said.

“It is undeniable there is a special bond between humans and dogs. Many of us have pets of our own. For a canine handler, dogs are more than pets. We are partners. We have to trust each other in order to be an effective dog team,” Duncan said.

“The bond between a military working dog and his handler grows while being deployed,” the sergeant continued. “We are hardly ever separated. When I had days off, I felt I needed to go in and spend time with him so he wasn’t sitting in a kennel all day. We played and threw the Kong (dog toy) and just let them be a dog,” Duncan said.

Duncan said soon Ricsi will be retired and the sergeant will bring Ricsi home to be a part of his family.

“That is the greatest part I’m looking forward to — letting him relax and have a life as a dog and do what he wants,” Duncan said.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville is ready for its renaissance

Leader staff writer

This is the second story in a three-part series about revitalizing downtown Jacksonville.

It’s nothing more than a strip of brick buildings, others badly painted, running north to south under Main Street’s viaduct.

The area is largely a drive-by as First Street, also known as state Hwy. 161, cuts close to the pre-1970s storefronts with metal awnings, charming but in need of repair.

A few old signs from various business reincarnations remain—Angel’s Place, boasting of great food and good times, the Knights of Columbus and Jim’s Pawn Shop.

Most of the large windows are papered or curtains pulled tight.

About the only thing the block of nearly vacant buildings has going for it, well, there’s plenty of parking, an unending cool breeze that sweeps from under the viaduct and an excellent view of the train tracks.

Oh yes, there’s the recently rehabbed “old jail” across the tracks.

While most residents speed by, taking little note, and despite its warts and chipped paint, Jacksonville Alderman Barbara Mashburn sees a Jacksonville art district, peppered with eateries, coffee and other shops.

Instead of just dreaming, she set about doing the extensive legwork and paperwork needed to document the area from north Hickory to Mulberry Street, including 19 buildings, a vacant lot and the spot where the Missouri Pacific Railroad depot had been.

She also wrote about its history and significance in order to make a plea for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Her research took about six months, and her ad hoc group applied for the historic designation in 2014. Mashburn says she has uncovered a colorful history and believes the structures are worth saving.

Mashburn’s efforts paid off and the buildings can now be found on the National Register and officially make up a large portion of the Jacksonville Historic District. The area is already zoned commercial and is ready for investment and developers, she says.

It’s the oldest area in the city, dating back to about 1872 with the construction of the Cairo and Fulton rail line.

Ralph Wilcox, National Register and Survey Coordi-nator for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, says the district earned the coveted status because it’s an excellent example of the commercial growth that started in the mid-1920s and continued until the early 1960s.

First Street was originally Front Street and several businesses sprang up with the railroad’s construction.

Like many other Arkansas towns, rail gave birth to Jacksonville and continued as its bloodline—carrying freight and passengers in and out—until the widespread use of trucks and passenger cars after post-World War II.

Now, it’s a one-of-a-kind, walkable neighborhood that pre-dates the urban sprawl created by the automobile, Wilcox says.

The ultimate goal is to save a number of the district’s old homes and businesses “that are in disrepair and to keep them from falling down,” Mashburn says.


While technically not inside the Historic District, Mashburn recently scheduled a cleanup day at the city’s original jail at 408 E. Center St. (now Spring Street), but it was rained out.

Nonetheless, about a dozen members of the Jacksonville Police Department answered her call. By day’s end, the officers had not only cleared out decades of debris but had painted the jail inside and out.

Besides being used to working in all types of weather, Police Chief Kenny Boyd says the group was happy to help and felt it only fitting to be part of the old jail’s makeover.

In fact, Boyd supports the renovation of the entire downtown area, especially with the coming of the new Jacksonville High School near the Hwy. 67/167 Main Street exit.

“It’s a matter of community pride,” he says.

Wilcox says the jail is also eligible for placement on the National Register.


The Jacksonville Historical District Board, made up of 15 members, is working hand-in-hand with the city on development of the district, and now, with the National Register status, it is eligible for federal and state grants that the district otherwise would not have been able to obtain.

Next on her list is to raise the money to build a replica of the original train depot from an old picture she found. It will cost about $100,000, she estimates, and will be built on the original depot’s spot on Spring Street.

But for now, she hopes to host some activities in the Historic District this summer, perhaps live music and food trucks.

At 118 First St., Roberta McGrath operates a hair salon/art gallery. McGrath is a member of the Jacksonville Historic District Board who supports Mashburn’s vision.

She has also developed her own ideas and features a hand-drawn blueprint of the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in her art gallery. It includes art and music schools and a performance hall and museum and would take up several buildings along First Street.

She says, “We need this in Jacksonville.”

Mashburn said that tourism was one of the reasons for revamping the district and there are people around the country who seek out National Register listings to visit.

She hopes they’ll stop in Jacksonville.

Mayor Gary Fletcher believes the rehabilitation of the Historic District will complement the redevelopment of the downtown area.

“The Historic District would tie together Jacksonville’s past to its future,” he says.

Instead of whizzing by, Fletcher says with a little development “people will have a reason to get out of their cars and stay awhile.”

Don’t ask businessman and developer Tommy Dupree about tourism’s potential in Jacksonville unless you have a couple hours.

The former Keep America Beautiful chairman and a Jacksonville Museum of Military History board member comes armed with aerial maps, booklets, both printed locally and by the state, a decade old master plan, and he doesn’t mince words.

“The area is rundown looking,” he says.


The Main Street area lacks “ambience and a charm factor,” and he asks, “Who’s going to want to be around without that?”

And like others, he sees the construction of a new high school and the widening of Hwy. 67/167 as an opportunity.

Within the downtown district, Dupree wants to see an overlapping tourist district that includes the museum, its aircraft and other buildings, as well as the Historic District and perhaps there would be opportunity to develop more attractions nearby.

Like the mayor, Dupree would like to see a “beautification effort,” perhaps more trees and pots brimming with colorful flowers, sidewalks and public art.

He feels there’s a need for an events and conference center and upscale hotels. In turn, this would attract shops and restaurants, he says.

Dupree touts the benefits of developing a master plan, which he says would create excitement and give people a vision.

Fletcher also wants the city to control what’s built and have neatly developed districts for shopping, dining, arts, instead of a hodgepodge of poorly designed strip malls.

But Cary Bradburn says that may not be possible when it comes to investors. Bradburn is an Arkansas historian, author who wrote for the North Little Rock Times before and after the rebirth of Argenta. He now works for the North Little Rock History Commission.

He says a master plan offers people direction, but that he would draw the features in pencil instead of permanent ink.

“Investors will have their own ideas,” and money talks, he says.

So keep an eraser handy, he advises.

“Embrace and highlight your own history and make those buildings relevant to revitalization. I believe Jacksonville has an opportunity to make positive changes,” he says.

That’s exactly what Dupree wants to do.


There’s an old saying that Arkansans didn’t know when the Great Depression began and got no relief when it ended, so it’s no surprise that folks traveled from around the state to work at the Arkansas Ordnance Plant when it opened in 1942.

Employees and their families lived in tents and other makeshift shelters, but it put food in their bellies at a time when work was scarce.

“The Arkansas Ordnance Plant was a big, big deal,” Dupree says.

DannaKay Dugger, the military museum’s director, say that without the ordnance plant, Jacksonville probably wouldn’t exist today.

“The population jumped from 400 to 42,000 overnight,” Duggar says. Workers brought their entire families, and of the 13,000 people who worked at the plant, perhaps 75 percent were women — so it’s not surprising that Rosie the Riveter posters are for sale at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History.

Duggar says they have Rosie the Riveter action figures for sale, too.

“Women get overlooked for their efforts during (World War II),” Dupree says.

It’s a fact that the museum highlights. Since opening 10 years ago and not counting this year’s numbers, Duggar says they’ve had about 39,000 museum visitors.

Many of those signing the museum’s guest book come from out of town.

Like Dupree, she feels the city and state are missing an opportunity to “tap into the Civil War and World War II history. It’s not being developed like it should be.”

Recently, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he wants to focus more on tourism, and according to the Arkansas Hospitality Association, tourism tax collections at the state level were up again in 2015 by 7 percent.

The Hospitality Assoc-iation’s executive director Montine McNulty says tourism is leading the state’s economy in growth.

It rates as the state’s number two moneymaker, behind agriculture.

The military remains a strong presence in Jacksonville — the Air Force base is worth about $800 million to the local economy.

Nearby Camp Robinson has the Arkansas National Guard Museum and often the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in downtown Little Rock features art from the World War II Japanese-American internments camps at Rohwer and Jerome. Both museums are easy drives for those interested in military history.

Closer to home, there’s the Reed’s Bridge Civil War Battlefield on Hwy. 161, which is recognized as part of the Trail of Tears, Dupree says. “The military is a big part of our story.”

As a matter of fact, the Jacksonville area has been involved in a number of war efforts, like manufacturing Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and housing the Titan missiles during the Cold War, Fletcher says.

While not exactly military, there’s the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Foundation Shooting Sports Complex on Graham Road.

According to city Parks Director Kevin House, the first year the complex was opened, they threw 1 million clay pigeons and last year, they threw about 1.2 million.

It’s drawing individuals and competitors from around the state and the country, he expects to beat their 2015 number this year.

Still, Dupree says the city is missing a great opportunity to take advantage of “free advertisement” when it comes to its tourist attractions. There are state-printed brochures that could be made available around town and state websites that could be linked to the city’s website.

In addition, there are a number of Jacksonville sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Jacksonville Historic District, the Jacksonville Commercial District, Reed’s Bridge on Bayou Meto, Arkansas Ordnance Plant Guard House and McCraw Cemetery that could be used to entice more visitors.

Highway signs would help, too, he says. “It’s free advertisement. We need to take advantage of these,” he says.

Dupree says, “The city has a story that needs to be told.”

Next: A look at various ways to aid in the financing of the development of downtown Jacksonville.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears rout Pulaski Academy twice

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills summer baseball teams are off to a good start, especially the Junior American Legion/junior varsity extended summer team. The Bears certified for both since the American Legion Baseball national committee voted to allow dual certification for the first time.

On Monday, in a V/JV extended high school doubleheader, the Bears swept Pulaski Academy 10-0 and 10-1 at Sherwood Sports Complex.

There was no score in the varsity game until the fourth inning when Nick Fakouri got a five-run inning started with a two-run home run. Sylvan Hills added five more in the fifth to put an early end to the game.

Tucker Price went the distance on the mound and threw a three-hit shutout.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” said Sylvan Hills summer league coach Matt Presson. “Nick hit that home run and that really got us going. We started really hitting the ball well from that point, and Tucker pitched a great game for us.”

It was just the American Legion Senior/Varsity team’s second game after opening the summer season last week with a loss to Conway in another extended high school game. It has yet to play its American Legion opener.

The Junior team is 4-0 overall and 3-0 in American Legion play. Jacob Galiano went the distance in the 10-1 win over PA on Monday. The Bruins threw four different pitchers in five innings and had trouble finding the strike zone, while the Bears were aggressive once they got on the base paths.

“We did a good job of putting a lot of pressure on them being very aggressive when we got on base,” Presson said.

Galiano gave up five hits and no earned runs in earning the win in game two.

The Junior team played an American Legion doubleheader on Sunday and swept the Little Rock Diamondbacks. The Bears won easily in the first game 16-7, and pulled out a 6-4 victory in game two.

Connor Young got the win in game one while Connor Beeching pitched in game two.

“Again, some of it was a case of getting a lot of walks and being very aggressive once on base,” Presson said. “But we also did a good job of getting good swings when it mattered. We got a lot of timely base hits. We’re playing pretty well right now.

The Bears play another home V/JV doubleheader beginning at 4:30 p.m. today against Lake Hamilton. They will host Morrilton in the same format beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville’s Junior team holds off CAC

Leader sports editor

The Gwatney Chevrolet Junior American Legion team picked up its third win of the season Monday, holding off CAC for an 8-7 victory at Dupree Park’s Hickingbotham Field.

The Chevy Boys jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first two innings before control problems helped the Mustangs climb back into the game.

CAC actually scored first in the top of the first inning on two hits and a walk, but the lead didn’t last long.

Jacksonville catcher Kameron Whitmore was hit by CAC’s first pitch and he stole second base. Jayden Loving then doubled down the line in left field to drive in Gwatney’s first run.

Loving moved to third base when CAC threw home to try to get Whitmore, and Caden Sample’s grounderto shortstop scored the run from third base.

After another groundout to third base by Foster Rash, it was CAC that struggled with control. Axton Ramick, Joe Cummings and Braelyn Preston drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Ramick and Cummings then scored on a wild pitch and a passed ball for a 4-1 lead.

Loving got a pop-up and a strikeout to start the top of the second inning on the mound before hitting the CAC leadoff hitter. One wild pitch and one passed ball advanced the runner to third. Loving got the next batter to drill a pitch into the dirt right in front of home plate, where Whitmore fielded it and tagged the runner trying to score for the final out.

Gwatney nine-hole hitter Jonathan Smith drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the second inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Whitmore. Loving and Sample then hit back-to-back singles, with Sample’s shot to left field scoring Smith from second base and leaving runners on the corners.

Sample stole second without a throw, and Rash’s grounder to short scored Loving and left Sample at third.

Ramick then hit an RBI single and Sample scored to put Gwatney up 7-1.

CAC scored twice in the top of the third, and Jacksonville was fortunate it wasn’t more. The Mustangs got their first five batters on base, starting with a leadoff walk. The next batter singled to put runners on the corners, but the trail runner was thrown out by Whitmore trying to steal second base.

Loving hit the next batter, and that was followed by an error at shortstop that scored the runner from third and left another in scoring position.

That run scored on a single, but Loving got the next two batters to fly out to right field and go down swinging to get out of the jam.

Jacksonville went down in order in the bottom of the third, and CAC added another run in the top of the fourth off relief pitcher Isaiah Cain.

The Gwatney reliever was in good shape after getting the first two batters to ground out, but two singles sandwiched a walk to cut Gwatney’s lead to 7-4.

Another error at shortstop put two runners in scoring position, but Jacksonville got out of the jam when Whitmore chased down a wild pitch and threw to Cain for the out at home when CAC attempted to score.

Jacksonville added what turned out to be a very important run in the bottom of the fourth. Whitmore was again hit by the first pitch of the inning. Cain then laid down a perfect bunt towards first base.

He beat the throw for a single, and the throw was way off the mark and sailed into right field, allowing Whitmore to score all the way from first base.

But after Sample walked to put two runners on with no outs, the next three batters all struck out, leaving Gwatney with an 8-4 advantage.

Cain struck out the first batter of the fifth inning, and then lost command of his pitches. He walked four of the next five and gave up a single that pulled CAC to within 8-6. Rash replaced him on the mound with one out and the bases loaded, and walked in another run. He then got a grounder to short where Smith threw home for the force. Rash then ended the game with a strikeout after time expired.

The win makes Junior Chevy Boys 3-4 overall and 2-0 in district play.

SPORTS STORY >> SH assistant taking over Jackrabbits

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits have hired a new head baseball coach, and it’s a familiar name in the area. Sylvan Hills assistant coach Chris Foor takes over as head Jackrabbit, and does so after three state championship appearances in 10 years with the Bears.

He played college ball at Southwest Oklahoma and has been coaching for 16 years. He saw the sudden opportunity at Lonoke as a good time to take over a program for the first time.

“I used to give instruction at an indoor batting cage out there,” said Foor. “I got to know some people in the community. I coached a Prospects team a few years ago that had a couple of kids who are now seniors at Lonoke, so I have a little knowledge of what they have. All that, given its proximity to Sherwood, it just seemed like the perfect fit.”

Foor has been an assistant for three of Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton’s five state championship appearances. Prior to joining Tipton’s staff, he coached at Jacksonville Junior High for six years.

“I owe coach Tipton a lot,” Foor said. “When I came in I had a good working knowledge of the intricacies of the game, the fundamentals. What I really learned at Sylvan Hills was how to manage a game. I feel like I’ve grown quite a bit in that aspect.”

The head baseball position came open at Lonoke in the middle of the season this year when former coach Darrick Lowery resigned several days after being suspended pending an investigation into inappropriate text messages to at least one student.

The team, which was undefeated in conference at the time, lost its first game after Lowery’s resignation, but rebounded to win the rest of its league games. The Jackrabbits finished second at district and third in regionals before losing to Hamburg in the first round of the state tournament in Ashdown.

Nick Smith, Lowery’s assistant, led the team through last season on an interim basis. He was made the head junior high football coach last week. Either Smith, or his football assistant Tyler Shaw, will be Foor’s assistant on the baseball staff.

Foor will also help out on the junior high football team, and teach history and economics at LHS. He also has experience in football at that level. He was the head ninth-grade football coach at Sylvan Hills for four years.

Only two seniors graduated from last year’s team, and a lot of talent is returning, including Arkansas Razorback signee Casey Martin.

“Casey and Hunter Haven are the two guys I coached in Prospects ball,” Foor said. “I’m pretty lucky the opportunity arose when it did. The other ones I’m getting to know and hearing good things about.

“Like I said, it was just a perfect fit. Everything they needed, I had experience in and had some success. There’s talent there. The community is passionate about sports and supports it well. I feel like it’s the right time and I’m excited to get started.”

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe Legion splits twinbill with Hornets

Leader sportswriter

Beebe’s Post 91-O’Reilly Auto Parts Junior American Legion team fell behind early in the first game of its doubleheader against Maumelle before losing 15-5 in seven innings.

Beebe bounced back in the nightcap, though, racking up 13-consecutive runs en route to a 13-2 win Monday night at Gillam Fields.

In game one, the score was tied 2-2 after two innings of play, but Maumelle (2-3) exploded for six runs in the top of the third to take an 8-2 lead into the fourth inning. Beebe (3-2) was unable to recover from Maumelle’s six-run third inning, and trailed by as much 15-2 after 6 1/2 innings.

Beebe did score three runs in the bottom of the seventh to set the final score, and the O’Reilly Auto Parts team carried that momentum into game two. Playing as the visiting team in game two, Beebe scored four of its 13 runs in the top of the first inning.

Beebe’s Post 91-O’Reilly Auto Parts Junior American Legion team fell behind early in the first game of its doubleheader against Maumelle before losing 15-5 in seven innings.

Beebe bounced back in the nightcap, though, racking up 13-consecutive runs en route to a 13-2 win Monday night at Gillam Fields.

In game one, the score was tied 2-2 after two innings of play, but Maumelle (2-3) exploded for six runs in the top of the third to take an 8-2 lead into the fourth inning. Beebe (3-2) was unable to recover from Maumelle’s six-run third inning, and trailed by as much 15-2 after 6 1/2 innings.

Beebe did score three runs in the bottom of the seventh to set the final score, and the O’Reilly Auto Parts team carried that momentum into game two. Playing as the visiting team in game two, Beebe scored four of its 13 runs in the top of the first inning.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot sweeps Bryant

Leader sports editor

The Cabot AA and Junior American Legion teams picked up their first wins of the season, and they were impressive road wins over the typically dominant Bryant Black Sox on Monday.

The junior team trailed 7-3 before rallying for an exciting 13-12 victory that lasted three hours.

The AA team pulled off a 6-5 win over Bryant’s AA squad.

In the game one marathon, Bryant got on the board first with a single run in the bottom of the opening inning, but Cabot took the lead with three in the top of the second. Bryant then put together a six-run second frame to take its four-run lead.

The visiting Centennial Bank squad then exploded for 10 runs in the top of the third by combining timely base hits with the Black Sox’ inability to find the strike zone or cleanly field ground balls.

Eugene Germer highlighted the inning for Cabot with a two-RBI base hit, and Centennial Bank led 13-7 at the end of the frame. Cabot didn’t score again in the final four innings, and held off the rallying home team.

Jack Broyles, who took the mound with one out in the bottom of the second inning, held Bryant scoreless in the bottom of the third, but the Black Sox posted four runs in the fourth.

After a scoreless fifth inning, Bryant added another run in the bottom of the sixth to pull within one run. Jacob Caswell took the mound for the visiting team and kept the Black Sox off the board to save the win for Cabot.

Centennial Bank’s 13 runs came on nine hits, seven walks, two hit batters and four Bryant errors.

Germer went 3 for 4 with three RBIs to lead Cabot offensively. Broyles and Logan Edmondson added two base hits apiece for the visiting team.

Broyles picked up the win on the mound for his 3 2/3 innings of work in middle relief.

In the nightcap, Cabot again stopped Bryant one run short on a rally after taking a three-run lead in the fifth.

The AA Centennial Bank team scored two in the top of the first inning, but Bryant tied it in the bottom half of the same frame. The Black Sox then took the lead with a single run in the bottom of the third, but Cabot regained the advantage with two in the top of the fourth. It added to its lead with two more in the top of the fifth, but Bryant mounted a comeback early in the bottom of the fifth.

The Black Sox scored two runs off starting pitcher Germer, before coach Casey Vaughan replaced him on the mound with Gavin Tillery. The reliever stopped Bryant in its tracks the rest of the way, saving the game and preserving the win on the mound for Germer.

Germer threw 4 2/3, giving up four hits, five runs including four earned. Tillery finished out the final 2 1/3, allowing just one hit and no runs. Blake Buffalo showed some stamina and grit by catching both lengthy games for Centennial Bank.

Cabot scored its six runs on six hits and three Bryant errors. Dillon Thomas led Centennial Bank with two hits while Buffalo and Brandon Jones drove in one run apiece for the visitors.

Centennial Bank resumes league play tonight with a Junior/AA doubleheader against Conway. The first pitch of game one is scheduled for 6 p.m. It will be Cabot’s home opener in the Cabot Sports Complex and Water Park after two previous attempts at christening the new park were rained out.