Friday, August 19, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Rare birds spotted at Lonoke hatchery


LONOKE – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery has been buzzing in the last week from a few sightings of rare shorebirds finding their way to The Natural State. The latest sighting is of the sharp-tailed sandpiper, an Asian species that is rarely seen in the U.S., spotted Monday evening.

According to JJ Gladden, AGFC hatchery biologist, people have been coming in to view an interior least tern and piping plover in the last week, both of which are endangered species. But the real gem has been a rare glimpse at the Asian traveler.

“We had about 15 people come in from all over the state within an hour of the first sighting, and people came out Tuesday morning in the pouring rain with giant cameras to try and get a picture of the bird.”

If accepted, this will be the first recorded sighting of the sharp-tailed sandpiper in Arkansas. According to Karen Rowe, ornithologist for the AGFC, it’s unclear how the bird found its way from its normal migration route.

“This species usually travels from Siberia to Australia,” Rowe said. “Since the 1960s there are approximately 30 reports on the West Coast, maybe an additional 20 on the East Coast and a dozen or so sightings in the interior states of the U.S., so this is very exciting for Arkansas birders.”

Arkansans aren’t the only ones traveling to get a chance at witnessing the bird. According to Gladden, an ornithologist from Georgia and a couple of avid birders from Arizona have stopped at the hatchery to look for the lineup of rare species.

Dick Baxter, AGFC assistant chief of wildlife management, says the sighting is even more special because the bird found at Lonoke is an adult.

“Most sightings of this species in the U.S. have been juveniles,” Baxter said. “You just don’t see that very often anywhere.”

Kenny and LaDonna Nichols of Cabot were the first to identify the bird Monday evening while scanning the mudflats left after a hatchery pond had been lowered.

“I’ve been birdwatching for probably 25 years or more,” Nichols said. “It’s really hard to describe, but for me this is just like a hunter getting that 12-point he’s been after or a fisherman catching a big bass.”

While Nichols says he never thought he’d see one in Arkansas, a friend’s experience 30 years ago did give him enough hope to file away the species in the back of his mind.

“One of my friends spotted one in Memphis before I ever started birdwatching,” Nichols said. “So it’s always been a species I’d hoped to see one day.”

Rowe says shorebirds generally are not as prevalent in Arkansas as in decades past, largely because different land use patterns no longer provide the mudflats the birds use to feed.

Mudflats provide crustaceans, insects and other macroinvertebrates these species depend upon for energy and protein during their migration, which can be the longest of any bird species.

“Some may even travel all the way from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of South America in late summer and early fall, and fly back in spring,” Rowe said. “Habitat in Arkansas is critical to providing a refueling stop for the birds during their travel route.”

The AGFC has tried to improve habitat conditions for migrating shorebirds on many waterfowl-oriented wildlife management areas. Rowe says some waterfowl impoundments which are flooded for early teal season also hold promise for these birds during their journey.

Most shorebirds begin their southern migration to wintering grounds in late July and early August, well before most waterfowl hunters pursue on Arkansas WMAs, so these open impoundments can be temporarily flooded and drained to offer some habitat without impacting hunting activities on the WMA.

Hatcheries, such as Joe Hogan and the Charlie “C.B.”Craig Fish Hatchery in Centerton, offer excellent mudflats when the ponds begin to be drawn down in late summer and fall. All AGFC hatcheries are open to the public for bird-watching activities, but people should be aware that fish-rearing activities occur throughout the day.

“We welcome anyone to come out and enjoy the wildlife-watching that occurs as a side benefit to our work,” Gladden said. “We get to see some great wildlife out here when we drain the ponds and the animals take advantage of the exposed mud flats. Just be sure to park at the visitor center of the hatcheries and walk from there on a self-guided hike.”

SPORTS STORY >> Razorbacks establish O-line

Special to The Leader

Tuesday’s latest Arkansas Razorbacks offensive line alignment vaulted redshirt freshman Jalen Merrick from pressing Jake Raulerson at first-team right tackle to first-team right guard, with center Frank Ragnow, left guard Hjalte Froholdt, left tackle Dan Skipper and Raulerson staying put.

Tuesday’s second offensive line had sophomore Zach Rogers, the first-team right guard in last Saturday’s scrimmage, at center with junior college transfer Deion Malone at right guard and Johnny Gibson of Dumas at left guard, Brian Wallace at right tackle and redshirt freshman Colton Jackson of Conway at left tackle.

Senior Skipper, a 4-year starter was asked after Tuesday’s practice about Merrick’s promotion from Coach Bret Bielema and line coach Kurt Anderson.

“Jalen played really well in the scrimmage at tackle,” Skipper said. “We thought that moving him inside to play guard would be a really good move for him. He’s so big (6-4, 322) and strong, any time you can get a guy like that in the middle, it’s a huge asset for our line. The biggest thing with him is just making sure he knows where he’s going at guard and the footwork. Guard is actually a lot more technical for us than tackle.”

Skipper knows. He started at guard as a 2013 freshman then left tackle as a sophomore and right tackle last year.

Merrick says he’s practiced at every offensive line position since redshirting last year out of Oak Hill, Fla.

“Just wherever they put me, that’s where I’m going to play,” Merrick said. “Just come out to practice and do whatever I am told to do.”
How does he like right guard?

“ I like it,” Merrick said. “Pretty much anything on the right side is my cup of tea.”

Tea now with no sugar.

“I was pretty heavy pushing about 350 when I first reported here (last year),” Merrick said. “Slimming down a lot has really helped me move and get lighter on my feet. When I was heavy I would just get tired and out of energy and never really looked good after the first couple of plays.”

Fourth-year junior quarterback Austin Allen noticed Merrick’s weight loss and performance gain.

“He’s probably in the best shape that I have ever seen him in,” Allen said. “I really feel like he can help us.”

Allen approves through all the offensively personnel shifting that junior Frank Ragnow, the starting right guard last year and backup center in 2014, had just a day or two at guard this August and otherwise has been first-team center.

“Frank has pretty well been at center the whole fall camp and we have great chemistry,” Allen said. “He’s kind of the point guard out there for the offensive line getting all the calls right.”

Despite all the offensive personnel switching at guard and tackle and the acknowledged prowess of Arkansas’ defensive line, the makeshift O-line in last Saturday’s scrimmage sprung running backs Rawleigh Williams, the sophomore proving healed from last fall’s broken neck, for 67 yards and 14 carries and a touchdown against the first-defense. Freshman Devwah Whaley netted 97 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries behind both the first and second lines against the first and second defense.

The shifting line’s steady blocking didn’t surprise Williams.

“The reason they are shifting is because we have so many athletes at the O-line,”

Williams said. “All those guys can play and we are trying to find the best group. I have confidence in all of them. Every day I look at the lineup and kind of laugh because it’s always something different. But they always have a good day and always open holes.”

Certainly with senior Kody Walker, 4 carries for 27 yards before re-injuring his foot, Williams and Whaley excelling, Allen acknowledged all the running backs questions seem answered despite thousand-yard rushers Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams both turning pro after last season.

“We have got a stable of backs back there,” Allen said. “You saw Devwah on Saturday. He’s the real deal. Rawleigh ran hard. He’s the real deal also. All those guys really. They all have got something special and they are all capable.”

Senior receiver Keon Hatcher was rested Tuesday with what he called a minor shoulder injury while the Hogs likely will be minus senior receiver Dominique Reed of Camden for two weeks off after spraining an ankle last Saturday.

The receiving corps, with freshman Jordan Jones of Smackover back since Monday after missing two practices and the scrimmage with illness last week, pressed on Tuesday, Allen said.

“It kind of gives other guys opportunities,” Allen said. “Cody Hollister has been a beast all camp running great routes and catching everything that’s thrown to him. And Jordan Jones has flashed all camp long also. He is making one-handed catches and looks like an older vet guy out there running great routes. He came back Monday and hasn’t missed a beat.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot off in preseason outing

Leader sports editor

The Cabot volleyball team got its first taste of competition this season with a preseason benefit jamboree at Conway High School on Thursday. The matches didn’t count, but it gave Lady Panther coach Kham Chanthaphasouk a chance to spot some trouble areas going into the first official game next Tuesday.

“We were missing one of our outside hitters, so that was one thing that wasn’t quite right,” said Chanthaphasouk. “But really, it kind of seemed like everything was a little off. Even without Taylor Bell, though, the hitting was fine when we were able to get a good pass and set, but we made a lot of errors in those two areas.”

The jamboree featured a unique structure in which teams played one full set and one partial set against two different teams. Cabot lost both of its full sets, falling 25-17 to Conway and 25-23 to Vilonia.

It was the full set against Vilonia that had the head coach the most perplexed.

“We had a lot of unforced errors, missed serves,” Chanthaphasouk said. “We just gave them a lot of points. I think that if we had eliminated the unforced errors, we would’ve been just fine.”

When preseason officially began at the beginning of August, Chanthaphasouk was excited about the team’s play in camps over the summer. Despite the off night on Thursday, he’s still optimistic about the season.

“We know the potential is there and we know they can do a lot better,” the coach said. They’re a much better team than they showed last night. The focus wasn’t there for some reason. The key thing was a lack of communication. It just wasn’t them. There’s no doubt they’re a much better team than they showed in the jamboree.”

The Lady Panthers will have a few days to practice before they host 6A power Benton on Tuesday. The focus in those practices will likely be on the teamwork aspect of the game, rather than individual skills.

“We have a lot of individual talent, there’s no doubt about that,” Chanthaphasouk said. “It’s just getting them together. We have to learn to battle together. We’re going to fine tune those things in practice, work on being more vocal and communicating more.

“That’s what these jamborees are for, so you can spot things you need to work on that maybe you haven’t seen because you’ve only been going against each other for so long. We have a good core group of seniors. I think last night was just kind of an off night, and they’ll pick up from here and move forward.”

Cabot will also host Batesville at 6 p.m. Thursday at Panther Arena.

EDITORIAL >> Remarkable school year

We wish a successful new school year to all area students, teachers and the school administrators who support them. May they focus their efforts on education, not politics, and be ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

Classes began Monday, so enrollment numbers are preliminary, but they provide a clear indication of where area school districts rank in quantity and may hint at quality issues as well.

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District reports that 3,800 to 4,000 students attended classes this week. It’s the first school year the new district is completely in control of its affairs after breaking away from the troubled Pulaski County Special School District.

Growth is possible even if Jacksonville’s enrollment is comparable to Beebe and Lonoke rather than Cabot’s whopping 10,257 enrollment. Beebe has 3,256 students, and Lonoke has 1,755.

Many parents want small, but high-quality schools. It could be a way to lure young families to Jacksonville.

Believing its student body will double, the JNPSD administration is moving quickly to build three new campuses. Symbolically, on the first day of classes, district officials began demolition on the old middle school site near Main Street, where a new $60 million high school will open in August 2019.

It will be a modern building with first-rate athletics facilities that will attract students. Drivers on Hwy. 67/167 will see it on their daily commute, making a powerful declaration that Jacksonville is determined to compete educationally and economically with the best communities in central Arkansas.

JNPSD is preparing to build two elementary schools. One will be near the air base to replace Arnold Drive and Tolleson. Another, for which a location hasn’t been chosen yet, will probably consolidate Pinewood and Warren Dupree.

The old North Pulaski High campus has been converted to the district’s only middle school.

The new schools will be paid for with a property-tax increase that was narrowly approved by voters in February. We know the district and students will prove their critics wrong by working hard to show that the money will be well spent.

Improved test scores and good grades will quiet all the critics.

It’s not just the schools that have a tough haul ahead. The long-closed Jacksonville Elementary by East Main Street between Spring and Oak streets needs to be razed. It’s an unsightly, abandoned campus that can never be salvaged. The city should bulldoze it fast because there will be more empty schools left behind as new ones are built.

Jacksonville officials need to find a way to develop the sites of the old schools that will be shuttered soon.

When the new high school opens, its old campus could be a golden opportunity for redevelopment, which could incorporate the adjacent old-Walmart shopping center.

Jacksonville should relish this new beginning. There’s a lot of work to be done, but the city can enjoy setting goals and uniting as a community to achieve them.

That wasn’t possible under PCSSD.

Several churches have already given away school supplies and backpacks to hundreds of pupils to get the new school year off to a new start.

One such back-to-school event is going on now: Free backpacks and school supplies will be given away from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce parking lot, 200 Dupree Drive. The event is sponsored by Vision Ministry and Beyond-4-Church-Walls Ministry.

Cabot United Methodist Church recently held its annual community back-to-school fair, where more than 300 students received free clothing, shoes, toiletries, backpacks and school supplies, haircuts, eye exams and eyeglasses and a pancake breakfast. More than 70 volunteers pitched in.

Several others, including Jacksonville’s First Baptist and Second Baptist churches, gave away hundreds of backpacks and other school supplies, as did Victory Praise and Worship Church in Jacksonville during its annual Back to School Bash.

Jacksonville Alderman Tara Smith is encouraging people to volunteer by reading to kids in the new Jacksonville school district by joining the AR Kids Read program. This will be the third year Smith has mentored two students for half an hour a week. She and the pupils will take turns reading, and sometimes she’ll help them with spelling and math.

“I love to do this…When they see me coming, their little eyes light up and it’s so rewarding,” Smith told The Leader this week.

We look forward to highlighting more volunteer work throughout the school year.

TOP STORY >> One man, three wars, four services

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Earl “Sam” Puckett served in three wars. After the Second World War, Puckett took part in the Berlin Airlift conducted by aircraft similar to the C-47 pictured above on base.

9th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Few Americans can say they served in three major wars. Fewer still can say they were a member of four different branches of the military. Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Earl “Sam” Puckett, 89, of Bono (Craighead County) has achieved both.

His journey began in 1943, as a 17-year-old Arkansan who enlisted in the Navy. Little did Puckett know, Uncle Sam had different plans for him. Before he could begin training at naval boot camp, he was chosen as a volunteer to enlist into the Marines instead.

“I remember leaving for the (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) Parris Island in South Carolina,” Puckett said. “I don’t think I heard a kind word my entire time there.”

Upon graduating, Puckett made the journey across the U.S. and Pacific Ocean to Saipan, Japan. Within a year of enlisting, Puckett fought in World War II as a member of the 2nd Marine Division.

Fighting became brutal and prolonged. Japanese soldiers launched a massive banzai infantry charge and routine tasks made the difference between life and death.

“I first fought in Saipan as a beach bastion,” Puckett said. “We had to get to the beach by jumping off our main vessel into a smaller boat. I carried a bazooka, a clip, two canteens and two days’ rations. If you didn’t make it onto the boat, you didn’t make it at all.”

Following Saipan, Puckett fought on Iwo Jima and then Okinawa.

After his extensive tour in Japan, Puckett’s enlistment with the Marine Corps came to an end. But he returned home as a different person.

“I didn’t want to be around people,” Puckett said. “I was only comfortable around other military folks.”

After only five months as a civilian, Puckett decided to join the military again. This time, he enlisted into the Army and was assigned to the 759th Military Police Battalion in Berlin.

“In 1948, the Russians blocked the roads and railways into parts of Berlin,” Puckett said. “But the U.S. Air Force provided rations to the Germans in need. There’s no telling how many missions U.S. troops flew to help the citizens of Berlin.”

On the first day of the Berlin Airlift, or Operation Vittles, approximately 100 Air Force C-47s made 32 flights into Berlin with 80 tons of cargo, mainly powdered milk, flour and medicine.

Soon after his tour in Germany, Puckett returned home and left the Army. He then joined the Air Force, which became a separate military service branch from the Army in 1947.

In the Air Force, Puckett returned to Germany and briefly fought in Korea on combat search-and-rescue helicopters, such as the Sikorsky H-19 “Chickasaw.”

Upon returning home and working at several bases, Puckett soon left for Asia. This time, he arrived to fight in the Vietnam War.

“Throughout the early 1960s, I fought in the Vietnam War, but I spent the majority of my time in Laos and Cambodia,” Puckett said.

Puckett worked in communications during the Vietnam War. As American involvement in the conflict increased, so did the support for information transmission systems, such as radar.

“I was lucky to make it home,” Puckett said. “I’ll never forget how awful the weather was and the friends I lost.”

After serving more than 27 years, Puckett retired as a master sergeant at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Soon after retiring, Puckett obtained a bachelor’s degree in education and became a history teacher.

Puckett now works as a substitute teacher and spends his time with his two children and wife of more than 60 years.

“If I had the option of doing it all over again, I would,” Puckett said.

An inspiration for current and future generations, Puckett’s story still inspires others today. His grand-nephew serves at Little Rock Air Force Base, and his great- grandchildren listen to his recollections in awe.

“Opportunities to hear stories from the Greatest Generation are fleeting,” said his great-nephew, Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Puckett, 714th Training Squadron commander at Little Rock Air Force Base. “Some of my greatest moments are listening to my grandpa and great uncle talk about why they served and their willingness to serve.”

TOP STORY >> New director of CALS talks library futures, construction

Leader staff writer

Nate Coulter uses words like “lawyering” in an engaging Southern drawl and in jest and talks about growing up in Nashville in Howard County. His words are punctuated with a smile. He’s disarming in a country boy kind of way, tall, lanky and perhaps those around him are fooled, but not for long — Coulter is Harvard educated, twice, and he’s a quick study.

Despite success as an attorney, he took down his shingle to take a job as Arkansas’ top librarian.

The Central Arkansas Library System, the state’s largest, is headquartered at the Main Library in downtown Little Rock. The system has an annual operating budget of about $17.5 million and more than 300 employees.

CALS is a public corporation created by inter-local agreement among Pulaski and Perry counties, and it has libraries in Jacksonville, Sherwood, Little Rock, Wrightsville, Maumelle and Perryville. It serves about 403,000, but through its Gateway Project, CALS serves another million patrons.

In 2015, there were more than 2 million visits to CALS libraries, and users checked out more than 2.7 million items.

Last December, the CALS Board of Directors named Coulter executive director. He succeeded the beloved and respected Bobby Roberts, who retired in March.


Coulter has one of the best views in all of downtown Little Rock, from his west and south facing, third-story windows a portion of the River Market is visible, the Historic Arkansas Museum’s grounds and buildings, the 300 Third Tower and more.

It’s one of the best views in downtown Little Rock, and before Coulter, it belonged to Roberts.

Perhaps Roberts is best known for his decision to build the Main Library in downtown Little Rock, which during the 1990s was not at all like the bustling area it is today.

There were more vacant buildings than occupied ones and more broken windows than not.

The area was scary during the day and even more so after dark. The River Market opened in 1996 to rumors of the possibility of a Clinton Presidential Library.

It was a slow start to the resurgence of downtown; nonetheless, Roberts wanted the library there.

He had doubters.

The decision to build in downtown Little Rock would earn Roberts accolades that extended to the farthest reaches of Pulaski and Perry counties for his vision and perseverance.

In 1997, he was named Librarian of the Year by Library Journal, in part because of his efforts to repeal a statewide cap on public library tax rates and to build the Central Arkansas Library System’s main branch.

That was the same year the downtown library opened.

Under Roberts’ watch, libraries were built, computers installed, e-books readied for download and patron numbers rose. He readied the CALS libraries for the 21st Century so finding the right person to replace him was daunting.

According to CALS board member Annette Herrington, “Many central Arkansas residents do not realize that CALS is nationally ranked as one of the top library systems in America. Bobby Roberts has been a visionary and the library board realized that he was a very tough act to follow.”


Coulter’s not new to the party. He served on the CALS Board of Trustees for six years and their Foundation Board from 2013 until 2015. In all, he’s volunteered about 15 years of his life to its success.

Last year, he served as finance chair for the library system’s millage campaign.

It was successful and raised money for expansions at the Thompson, Dee Brown and Fletcher libraries, and a partial renovation of the Main Library.

Board member Frederick S. Ursery says Coulter was chosen for the job for a number of reasons, including his education and library service.

“He had been active with CALS in the past and had served on numerous committees. Therefore, he was thoroughly familiar with the organization and its people,” Ursery says.

Herrington says, “In Nate Coulter we found a unique candidate. Nate has national credentials, and he brings a fresh perspective to the entire organization.”

The board believed because he was familiar with central Arkansas and the library system’s unique mission Coulter could lead CALS in the tradition that Roberts established.

Coulter says, “Libraries are so much more than a reference desk. It’s more than bricks and mortar or digital content, libraries are valuable to a lot of people across the community.”

“In Nate, we really got the best of both worlds,” Herrington says.

Ursery says, “In his first six months on the job he has performed well and the board looks forward to a bright future with Nate at the helm of our organization.”

Herrington says, “Nate has already introduced podcasting of Radio CALS and a new ‘Primary Sources’ program that features accomplished, interesting Arkansans.”

As CALS executive director, Coulter oversees construction projects, the entire system’s operation, budget, fundraising and programming.

He says it’s a challenge he relishes.

Before Roberts retired, he introduced Coulter to Jackson-ville Mayor Gary Fletcher.

“Bobby Roberts did a tremendous job,” but Fletcher says he has faith in Coulter’s abilities.

“I look forward to working with him,” Fletcher says.


Actually, Coulter was on the CALS board that approved the new Jacksonville library that was built on Main Street in 2009, and he remembers attending a number of city council meetings prior to its construction.

Prior to construction he also talked with Cindy Powell, a librarian at Esther D. Nixon Library, about what they would like to see at the new facility.

Coulter says, “I remember she said they needed more desktop computers, more meeting rooms.”

Powell, too, remembers those meetings, and she describes Coulter as having a “great sense of humor and very approachable.”

When he took over as executive director, she says she was impressed that he contacted “all the staff, telling them, ‘I’m here.’” He welcomed their input on what worked and what didn’t, she says.

The Nixon Library opened with about 12,000 books, but now has five times that number, plus DVDs and other items.


Fletcher envisions a renaissance of downtown Jacksonville with the library and the new high school serving as Main Street anchors.

The 13,500-square-foot Esther DeWitt Nixon library, at 703 W. Main St., is only about seven years old.

“It’s nice that the high school will be so close to the library,” Fletcher says.

The area along Main Street between the two institutions could be redeveloped with more restaurants and shops. Fletcher and others hope for the same kind of impetus the main library provided downtown Little Rock.

A proposed Jacksonville downtown revitalization might include more green areas like the arbor on the northeast corner of the library’s property.

“It’s inviting,” the mayor says, and helps create spaces people want to visit.

The mayor said that the library is like the town’s courthouse and a vital component of the area.

Coulter says he is pleased the Nixon Library is playing such an important role in Jacksonville, and he believes the new high school and library can be great partners.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Coulter says.

Powell says already the library is attracting teenagers with free WiFi and activities like an anime club, and she expects to see more teenagers in the library once the new high school opens.

She says to keep up in the fast-changing world, “Nate’s doing everything he can to spot trends and to keep CALS relevant.”


While studying the latest architectural drawings with excitement, Ginann Swindle, manager of the Amy Sanders Library, says she’s a big fan of Coulter’s.

She describes him as smart, focused and aware of the niches each CALS library fills in the communities they serve.

For instance, the Sherwood branch goes to great lengths to engage its patrons, through educational — and sometimes with just good old-fashioned fun — classes for kids and adults.

Computers are important to many of their patrons, Swindle says.

Coulter says individual libraries’ offerings are patron-driven and education throughout the system is big.

For instance, Sherwood has higher than expected usage because of Air Force Base personnel, and the library tries to serve their needs, he says.

Construction of a new Amy Sanders Library in Sherwood is one of the latest projects undertaken by CALS, and the construction will be overseen by Coulter.

Building a library isn’t an easy task. He describes the Sherwood library as “an outlier,” and says a new facility is long overdue.

But he believes the city supports the decision, because voters recently passed a millage increase. Funds for the new library are coming from about $6 million in bonds, which will be paid off by a 1.3-mill property tax.

Already the architectural plans are complete, the soil samples taken and the site survey is complete, and the construction manager should be on the payroll by the end of August, says Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman Young.

Coulter says building a library is like birthing an elephant. The gestation period for an elephant is about two years.

It has taken dozens and dozens of meetings to get the project to this point, and the mayor says the groundbreaking should happen by mid-September.

She also has high praise for Coulter and his approach and the interest he has shown during this process.

Amy Sanders, for whom the library is named, agrees and for her, it’s completion can’t come soon enough.

Herrington says, “Nate is deeply interested in budgeting CALS resources and completing current and planned construction projects. He’s set to ensure that the new Sanders Library will be the best library for the community that it can be.”

Young says moreover, the new CALS library “could set the tone for future buildings being built in Sherwood.”

Although not yet built, she adds, “We’re very proud of it.”

Coulter says, “The architect rendered a fabulous blueprint, as good as in any in our system.” It was designed by Taggart Architects of North Little Rock.

As libraries continue to evolve, Swindle says she’s optimistic about Coulter’s leadership.

“He gets it,” she says. He’s willing to listen to others, including library leaders around the country, as well the CALS staff—like the guy manning the reference desk.

“He is proactive and approachable…I see great things ahead for our library system under his leadership,” Swindle says.


Coulter has two degrees from Harvard University at Cambridge, Mass., including an undergraduate degree in history and a law degree.

After clerking for U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele and serving as assistant legal counsel to Bill Clinton when he was governor, Coulter practiced law in Arkansas for more than 25 years.

He was a partner with the law firms Wright, Lindsey & Jennings and with Wilson, Engstrom, Corum and Coulter, both in Little Rock.

During that time he was selected as a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and served as chairman of the Arkansas Bar Association’s Board of Governors in 2005 and 2006. In 2012, he was appointed to the faculty of the University of Arkansas School of Law for two years as the law school’s first Distinguished Practitioner in Residence.

In 1993, Coulter was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Arkansas in a special election after Clinton was elected President.

Coulter was a charter member of Our House Shelter’s board and the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, and now serves on the Downtown Little Rock Partnership Board and is a member of the Downtown Little Rock Rotary Club.

Coulter has three children, Caroline, Nathan and Tom, who all graduated from Little Rock Central High and have attended or are attending universities at North Carolina, Arkansas and Missouri.

TOP STORY >> Census shows mixed results

Leader staff writer

The population news presented at the Lonoke County Quorum Court during its Thursday meeting was mixed. Lonoke County’s overall population grew less than 1 percent from 2010 to 2015, and two of its four cities saw declines.

According to an Aug. 2 Metroplan report, Austin experienced the greatest percentage in growth, up 33.9 from 2010 through 2015, while Cabot grew by 2,111 residents during the same period. Cabot was listed as one of central Arkansas’ top cities experiencing an increase.

Austin grew by 691 people.

JP Henry Lang, a lifelong Cabot resident, said he’s seen the city’s population go from less than 2,000 in 1965 to its present population of about 25,887.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the Metroplan report. In fact, he said he predicts the growth will continue because of the proximity of the Air Force base at Jacksonville, and he said many Cabot residents work in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

“It’s a nice area,” he said.

Ward came in second in percentage growth, up by 20.9 percent or by 852 residents, while Lonoke’s population rose by only .8 percent, or by 32 people.

JP Bill Ryker of Lonoke is pleased and encouraged with his city’s growth.

Although small, he said it reverses past trends. In 2009, Lonoke had about 4,677 residents, but the population dropped until 2010 when it bottomed at 4,253 residents.

It’s now at 4,277.

Carlisle’s population fell by 16 and England’s by 53.

He said he hopes the new I-40 interchange and programs like Kick Start Lonoke will foster more growth.

Overall, Lonoke County grew by .9 percent during 2010 and 2015, and at a slower rate than between 1990 and 2010. The northern portion of the county is growing at a faster pace than the southern half, which remains an agricultural area, Ryker said.

Lonoke County Treasurer Patti Weathers presented the information from Metroplan to the justices of the peace.


Deborah Swayne Moore, Lonoke County Library System director, reported that most of its numbers increased since 2015. So far this year, she said circulation is up 30 percent over the same period last year.

She said the system’s four libraries are issuing more cards and renewing old ones at record rates so far this year. That number is up 50 percent over the same period in 2015, she said.

Also, she said 12,229 patrons participated in their 2016 Summer Reading Program at the Cabot Public Library, and that overall computer usage and total library visits climbed higher with each quarter in 2015.

For example, during the first quarter of 2015, about 38,112 visited the county’s libraries, while that number rose to 46,656 during the last quarter. Computer usage by patrons during the same period went from 6,623 to 7,649 log-ons.

The system has libraries in Lonoke, Carlisle, Cabot and England.

“The role of the library is changing, and we’re trying to let people know where we are and what services we offer,” Moore said. In particular, she said they are trying to engage more elementary age children through school field trips and other programs.

Moore also requested and received $25,000 from the quorum court to develop a five-year strategic plan for the library system that will run through 2022. The current plan expires at the end of 2017.

“We just started the process last week,” she said. It will include looking at various statistics such as “population growth and population trends, and where people live versus where they work and how that influences library usage.”

“It will not be a cookie-cutter plan, but we will look at the needs of each library,” she said.

“We want it to be unbiased,” so they will hire an outside firm to oversee the research and develop a comprehensive plan, Moore said.


The quorum court decided to begin the process of filling the vacancy left by JP Matt Sanders, who moved out of the county earlier this summer.

Resolution 2016-10 will allow Gov. Asa Hutchinson to appoint a replacement to fill the District 12 seat through the end of the year.

In November, Lonoke County voters will decide who will fill the seat for the next two years.

In other business:

JPs unanimously approved $10,000 for ammo and weapons for the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.

JP Tim Odom was absent from the meeting Thursday.

The next Lonoke County Quorum Court meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex at 210 N. Center St.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Couple leave lasting mark

There’s so much bad news these days, it’s nice to report something heartwarming for a change. Trustees of the Ethel Hope (Kirk) Carter Trust announced last week the final distribution of the trust worth more than $633,000, which will benefit a Beebe church and cemetery, a church in Cleburne County and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Carter was a Beebe High School graduate, attended Williams College in Walnut Ridge and received her degree from Eastern Michigan College. Carter, along with her husband, Emitt, taught in Michigan public schools. When they retired, they moved to Heber Springs, and after her husband’s death, Mrs. Carter moved back to the Beebe area.

Her love for children and her desire for all children to receive a good education prompted Mrs. Carter to bequeath several gifts to local charities, according to Norma Kirk and Kathy Roe, the trustees.

The trust recipients are:

$211, 553 to Union Valley Church in Beebe. Her wishes were that these funds be used in the children’s program of the church and for scholarships for deserving graduating seniors entering the education field.

$211,553 to Tumbling Shoals Baptist Church. She and her husband helped establish this church, and the funds will be used for mission work. An equipped and fenced playground, dedicated to the Carters, has been built adjacent to the church to help keep its children safe along the busy highway.

$211,553 to Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation. The Carters’ only child, Jimmy, was a patient there during his childhood. These funds will be used to help keep children at grade-level while they are in the hospital.

A gift was also made to Stoney Point Cemetery Trust Perpetual Care Fund for upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery where Mrs. Carter’s parents and other family members are buried. The rest of the estate was distributed to relatives.

While they were alive, the Carters made their mark on their community as educators. Their generous trust leaves a permanent legacy after their passing.

EDITORIAL >> Henderson honors Mom

We salute our two outstanding Olympians in Rio de Janeiro, gold-medal winner Jeff Henderson of McAlmont and Lexi Weeks, Cabot’s own pole vaulter who did not make it to the finals this week but who will likely return to future Olympics in the years ahead.

Henderson achieved his dream of becoming an Olympic champion Saturday when he won the men’s long jump. He burst onto the international scene after coming under 1984 Olympic champion Al Joyner’s tutelage three years ago, and we have followed his career ever since.

Henderson won the Olympic long jump by one centimeter Saturday over South African silver medalist Luvo Manyonga. He also beat defending Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain, who took bronze, and Arkansas Razorback NCAA champion Jarrion Lawson.

After his victory, Henderson paid tribute to his supporters and ailing mother, and gave us permission to print it here, word for word.

“This journey has been a long one but well worth it. I can’t say thank you enough to all of my family and friends for the ongoing support. Thank you for walking, running, jumping, and praying with me as I defied the odds and brought home the Gold.

“I have to thank you Dad, Laverne Henderson, for always pushing me and giving me that extra amount to get over any obstacles that may have been in my way. I have to thank my brothers and sisters Junior Henderson, Andrea Henderson-Johnson, Shana Henderson, Shawnelle Henderson, Kristina Henderson, Dominique Tillman and Bryan Bare Tillman for all of the long and inspirational conversations – not only during this great time but any and every time I needed them.

“Thank you and I love you. And to the woman, the Queen, the mother that birthed me, Debra Henderson, regardless of what doctors have said, I know without a doubt that you cheered, rooted, gave me your all, and sent special requests and prayers to the Most High for this to be possible.

“Momma, I told you I was going to bring you and the family the Gold home and I did it. Thank you for loving me and instilling the drive to never give up. I love you, Momma.

“And to all of my family and friends, once again, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you for all the support. I love you all.”

TOP STORY >> Council candidates file for election

Leader staff writer

The deadline for city council candidates filing for the November election is Friday.


For Ward 1, Position 1: Lee McLane is running for a seat on the council. She is the editor and publisher of The Beebe News. Alderman David Pruitt is undecided in seeking re-election. Pruitt pleaded guilty on Aug. 2 in White County Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of violating state election law for voting twice during the primary election.

Ward 2, Position 2: Alderman Linda Anthony is seeking re-election.

Ward 2, Position 1: Derrek Goff is running for city council. Alderman Becky Short is not seeking re-election. Goff is a Cabot High School social studies teacher.

Ward 2, Position 2: Alderman Tracy Lightfoot is seeking re-election. He is challenged by Donald Lewis.

Ward 3, Position 1: Alderman Matt Dugger is seeking re-election. He is being challenged by Joe Morgan.

Ward 3, Position 2: Alderman Dale Bass is seeking re-election.


Cabot aldermen seeking re-election are Kevin Davis, Ward 1, Position 1; Doug Warner, Ward 2, Position 1; Jon Moore, Ward 2, Position 2; Rick Prentice, Ward 3, Position 2; Ann Gilliam, Ward 4, Position 1, and Ron Waymack, Ward 4 Position 2.

Alderman Doyle Tullos is seeking re-election for Ward 3, Position 1. He is being challenged by Norma Naquin who is the Cabot Public Works office manager, planning coordinator and building official.


Seeking re-election are Aldermen William Moon, Ward 1, Position 1; James Weir, Ward 1, Position 2; Gary Matheny, Ward 2, Position 1; Jeff Shaver, Ward 2, Position 2; Ron Bissett, Ward 3, Position 1, and Don Howard, Ward 3, Position 2.


Seeking re-election for Austin City Council are Alder-men Matthew Sheets, Ward 1, Position 6; Phillip Whiting, Ward 2, Position 2; Rusty Eisenhower, Ward 3, Position 1 and Randy Ryan, Ward 3, Position 4.


Seeking re-election are Aldermen Michael Florence, Position 7 and Koy Butler, Position 8.

TOP STORY >> District pushes reading

Leader staff writer

It’s hard to miss the buzz around Jacksonville—it’s not just the start of a new school year, but Monday was the first day of a new school district.

Jacksonville City Council Alderman Tara L. Smith says the excitement about the opening of the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is obvious wherever she goes.

“It’s just a different feeling, and I can feel this community coming together in a new way,” she says.

But Smith says the district “desperately” needs AR Kids Read volunteers.

“I’m encouraging people to sign up for the program,” she says.

Smith’s more than just talk. For the past two years, she’s served as an AR Kids Read volunteer at Tolleson and Pinewood elementary schools, working with third grade students.

Each year, she worked with two students for 30 minutes once a week, and she’s signing up for a third year.

“We mostly read for fun,” she says. Most of the time, the student selects a book from the school’s library and reads it out loud to Smith, but occasionally she will help the student with spelling words or on math problems, if requested by the teacher.

Smith says, “I love to do this…When they see me coming, their little eyes light up and it’s so rewarding.”

Phyllis Stewart, Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District’s chief of staff, says the district staff is talking with AR Kids Read and looking forward to a partnership with the program.

Matthew DeSalvo, the program’s community relations director says the AR Kids Read program “recruits, trains, and mobilizes reading tutors from various sectors of the community to work with struggling readers in first, second and third grades.”

Stewart says, “The importance of reading in education is foundational, and the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District recognizes that sometimes our students need additional help. We have employed a reading specialist for each of our six elementary schools.”

She also believes that volunteers can provide students with additional reading practice that many need.

“It’s vital to our students’ development, especially those who are not at grade-level reading. Just having that mentor, that adult, helps them feel important to school, their family and their community,” Stewart says about the program.

DeSalvo says, “As Jacksonville transitions to a brand new school district, the program is part of their new reading initiative.”

DeSalvo says “AR Kids Read is entering its fourth full year serving Pulaski County elementary schools,” and during this time, it has experienced tremendous growth.

In early 2012, the program began in eight schools and recruited tutors from 13 partner organizations. Now, it works with 48 schools around the state and has more than 75 partner organizations.

“AR Kids Read is a great way to bridge the gap between the community and the schools, and allows community members to serve students who need help improving their reading skills,” DeSalvo says.

Smith says, “These students are the future leaders of our community, and we need to start them out on the right foot.”

In addition, she says more than just taking pride in the new Jacksonville North Pulaski School District, she encourages people to get involved in AR Kids Read.

Smith says, “It’s a meaningful way to support the district and rally around its students.

Tutoring dates and times will be posted on the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District website Aug. 31, and anyone interested in volunteering for AR Kids Read can sign up then.

TOP STORY >> Record rain in August

Leader staff writer

With record rains hitting the area Tuesday, this August is on its way to becoming one of the 10 wettest Augusts in history.

Through Tuesday evening, Little Rock Air Force Base, according to the National Weather Service, had seen 5.59 inches of rain for the month, making it the 12th wettest since base records began in 1956 – and there are still two weeks to go in the month.

The wettest August for the base occurred in 1966 when the area was bombarded by 8.95 inches of rain.

The heavy rains have caused localized flooding on Hwy. 67/167, hydroplaning vehicles, and some power outages.

Little Rock, with 6.41 inches of rain, including almost two inches Tuesday, is the 15th wettest August on record since 1874, but the area only needs 0.37 of an inch more rain to break into the top ten.

North Little Rock, which has been keeping its own records since 1975 has this August as its fifth wettest so far at 6.27 inches.

The average August rainfall is less than two inches and hits the area over a five or six day period. But so far it has rained 12 out of the first 16 days of the month.

The wet August follows a wet July.

With 7.37 inches of rain, this July was the 11th wettest on record, more than three inches above the average amount for the month.

July also ran about three degrees higher than normal with an average high temperature of 95.3 degrees, the high July average in four years and the 10th warmest on record.

The average low temperature for July at 76.3 degrees was also about three degrees above normal, the highest low temperature average since 1998 and the second warmest month of all time in terms of average low temperature.

Seven records were broken for warmest low temperature during July and one day, July 22, it hit a high of 105 degrees, tying the record set back in 1943.

Besides the rain and the heat, July brought some all-time high winds to central Arkansas. On July 14, a wind gust of 68 mph blew trough Little Rock Adams Field, setting a new wind gust record for the month of July.

The forecast for the rest of August calls for heat, humidity and rain including a 50 percent chance of precipitation through Sunday.

For the year, central Arkansas is close to 10 inches above normal average of rainfall.

The near-constant rainfall through August has played havoc with area sports activities, but Sherwood’s first Community Wellness Expo on Saturday was deemed a success. Chamber director Marcia Cook said the expo saw lots of visitors.

“There was a completely full room of a nice variety of vendors, and we had strong attendance from the public. We heard lots of valuable information, saw some demonstrations, got health screenings, and even participated in some fitness activities,” Cook said.

SPORTS STORY >> Lawson dispute is total rubbish

Leader sports editor

Razorback fans can be weird, and that was never more evident than in the way many of them cried foul for Jarrion Lawson’s losing jump in the Olympic long jump competition last Saturday. By rule, Lawson’s final jump wasn’t good enough to earn a medal, much less a gold. The replay made it abundantly clear that he dragged his hand in the sand far behind where his feet landed.

So there was no controversy, except in the minds of Lawson, Hog fans and much of Arkansas media.

What makes it weird in this case is that Lawson is a Texan who happens to go to college at the University of Arkansas, while the man who beat him is a native Arkansan.

It’s as if attending college at Fayetteville makes one more of an Arkansan than being from Arkansas. People don’t readily admit it, but many sports fans identify so much with their favorite teams, they feel as if the athletes’ accomplishments are their own. So much so, that when a guy who plays for their favorite team is up against their neighbor, they root for their team.

Jeff Henderson grew up in McAlmont and graduated from Sylvan Hills in 2007.

His standardized test scores weren’t high enough in high school to qualify for a scholarship to the SEC schools that were recruiting him, but he’s a proud Arkansan and has always represented the Natural State in a way that should make everyone else proud as well.

Lawson complained that he thought his jump should’ve counted from where his feet landed, which appeared to be a few centimeters beyond Henderson’s gold-medal distance. But that’s not how the long jump has ever been measured.

It’s measured by the nearest mark left in the sand to the front edge of the jump board, and Lawson’s hand drag made a clear depression in the pit well behind his feet.

Later in another interview, Lawson said he didn’t think he dragged his hand.


Henderson, 27, expressed regret for his friend and competitor, saying, “That happens in the long jump when the hand goes back. I’m sad that it happened to him, but he’s a great competitor. He’ll come back.”

The other thing Razorback fans, and most of the Arkansas media, doesn’t seem to remember, or possibly even know, is that Henderson also had a jump that, from start to finish, would have beaten his own Gold medal jump.

Earlier in the competition, Henderson’s best jump was launched from far behind the blue fault line. NBC was showing close-ups of each jumpers foot as it hit the launch board, and giving precise measurements in centimeters of how far from the blue line each jump launched from.

Henderson’s third jump was from so far behind the blue line, it was not even on the white board, and NBC’s technology couldn’t measure it. It was a terrible mistake on Henderson’s part, but he didn’t argue for a rule change that measured jumps from launch point to landing. He knew what the rules were, and he accepted that he’d made a mistake.

Lawson’s jump just happened to occur on the final jump of the competition and he and his coach protested the measurement.

There is no controversy except in the minds of Razorback fans and Arkansas media.

Maybe someday, with the technology NBC used in its coverage, the long jump could be measured from wherever the athlete launches, but he’d still have to execute properly, and not drag his hand.

SPORTS STORY >> Weeks just short at Rio

By RAY BENTON Leader sports editor

This year has been a dream year for Lexi Weeks, and it finally ended Tuesday morning in Rio de Janeiro. That’s when Weeks failed to qualify for Friday’s finals in the women’s Olympic pole vault competition.

Weeks advanced past the first three heights in the qualifying round. A height of 4.6 meters meant an automatic qualification, and it turned out that 4.55 meters was good enough to advance. The top 12 out of 38 competitors go on to compete for Olympic medals Friday evening.

But that’s the height that Weeks failed to clear in three tries. She went out at 4.45 meters, which was still better than 15 other competitors, but not as high as she has gone in the past.

Weeks cleared 4.7 meters to finish third at the U.S. Trials behind legendary vaulter Jenn Suhr and former Razorback Sandi Morris. That height beat her previous personal best by five inches, and shocked the nation when it made her the youngest American pole-vaulter to ever qualify for the Olympics.

But Tuesday wasn’t her day. She skipped the opening height of 4.15 meters, and entered at 4.3. She cleared that height easily on her first try, but missed on her first attempt at 4.45. Her second attempt was another easy jump, clearing the bar by a large margin.

Weeks’ first attempt at 4.55 saw her get plenty of height, but fail to get the depth necessary to propel over the bar.

Something went wrong on her second attempt and she bailed on the jump before even rising to the bar. Her third attempt was similar to the first, and the dreams of an Olympic medal were over.

It was still a remarkable year for the 2015 Cabot High School graduate. She went to compete for the University of Arkansas track team where she set several SEC and national records.

She won the SEC Indoor and Outdoor conference championships, and went on to win the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor national championships as well, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to do any of that.

Then came the U.S. Trials in Eugene, Ore. Weeks wasn’t a favorite to make the Olympic squad. Her personal best was barely over 15 feet, and there were three competitors that had cleared 16 feet. One of them, however, failed to duplicate that height, while Weeks cleared the personal best 4.7 meters (15-feet, 5-inches).

She had the opportunity to keep going and try to improve on that height, but elected to shut it down since she had already made the Olympic team.

Seven competitors in Rio on Tuesday met the automatic qualifying height. Nine more cleared 4.55, but only five move on to the finals for clearing the height on their first attempt. Seven more, including Weeks, cleared 4.45. Officially, her final position was 19th out of 38.

The other two Americans both qualified. Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece qualified first for clearing the automatic height on her first attempt. Suhr was second while Germany’s Lisa Ryzih, Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw, Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney and Germany’s Martina Strutz all cleared 4.6 meters.

Canada’s Kelsie Ahbe, Morris, Alana Boyd of Australia, Slovenia’s Tina Sutej and Switzerland’s Nicole Buchler are the other finalists.

The biggest shock of the event was European silver medalist Femke Pluim of The Netherlands failed to qualify.

SPORTS STORY >> Henderson brings home Gold

By RAY BENTONLeader sports editor

Olympic Gold had been the goal for three years, and Jeff Henderson was one jump away from letting it slip away Saturday evening in Rio de Janeiro. But Henderson, a McAlmont native and U.S. champion, did what champions do. He breathed deep, visualized the winning jump and executed it, beating South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga by one centimeter with a leap of 8.38 meters, and becoming the first American men’s long jump champion since 2004.

There was a long delay between the previous jump and Henderson’s final one, so he added a little something to his usual pre-jump routine. He stood with his back straight, eyes closed, and twirled his hands forward as he visualized landing somewhere beyond 8.37 meters.

He then crouched and rocked back and forth three times; tapping his right foot on the ground twice each time as he moved his right leg back and forth in front and behind him. On his forward leans, he’d shake the tension out through the tips of the fingers, before finally leaning way back and taking off towards the pit and Olympic glory.

He appeared to know he had beaten Manyonga’s distance, even if only by a centimeter. When he saw the distance officially posted, he sprinted about 100 meters in celebration before calming down to watch the last two jumpers of the evening. And there, even more drama took place.

NCAA champion and Arkansas Razorback Jarrion Lawson’s feet appeared to land a few inches beyond Henderson’s mark, but officials spotted what replay confirmed. Lawson dragged his hand in the sand almost two feet behind where his feet landed. Long jump rules are to measure the nearest distance from the launch stripe that any part of the body touches down in the sand.

When Lawson saw his official distance posted, he and his coach protested the spot, but to no avail.

Henderson’s coach, the famed 1984 Olympic triple jump champion Al Joyner, employed some special motivational tactics for Henderson at the Olympics. He gave his long jumper his own Gold medal, and told him not to give it back until he had his own.

Henderson, ever confident despite his very quiet demeanor, gave it back before the finals.

The relationship with Joyner helped propel Henderson onto the international scene. Joyner noticed him as an independent in an event in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2013, and thought he saw something special.

Henderson won the U.S. championships in 2014, and the Pan Am Games in 2015. He had a disappointing World Championships after the Pan Am Games, but the goal was always the Olympics.

He became an Olympic favorite after winning an unprecedented U.S. Trials in July, beating out six other competitors who all jumped far enough to have won Olympic Gold in 2012.

At Rio, Henderson didn’t match his jump at trials, which was 8.6 meters, but didn’t need to. He took the lead with his very first jump of 8.20 meters, but failed to improve on that with three successive jumps.

Meanwhile, the lead changed hands five times as Lawson, defending Olympic champion Greg Rutherford and Manyonga traded it back and forth.

Henderson was in fourth place as he prepared for his fifth jump. With it, he moved into bronze position by tying Lawson’s mark of 8.22. Since Henderson had the earliest next-best jump of the two, he would’ve received bronze if nothing else changed.

Manyonga overtook Rutherford’s leading mark of 8.28 with a jump of 8.32 on his fifth jump, then extended that lead with an 8.37 on his final jump.

All he could do was watch as Henderson beat that mark.

Henderson’s Gold medal was number 999 in Olympic history for the United States team. The women’s 4x400-meter relay swim team won number 1,000 about a half hour later.

Henderson’s long jumping career could be over. At 27 years old, he has only been a part-time jumper this year, splitting jump training with visiting NFL camps as a potential wide receiver. He is also an elite sprinter, finishing with the fifth-fastest time in the U.S. Indoor 60-meter championship this year, and has had a lifelong dream of being a professional football player.

Henderson received two callbacks from the Kansas City Chiefs for private workouts this year, and has told The Leader before the Olympics that he will likely report again sometime after Rio.