Friday, August 26, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Shackled with debt

Sherwood is getting unwelcome national attention for its decades-long hot-check court that has brought the city millions in fines over the years but is now facing a court challenge that will definitely change the way the municipality runs the court.

The court’s future may be in doubt if the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union wins its lawsuit against Sherwood, which stands accused of gouging people accused of writing hot checks and often jailing them for failure to pay up.

The ACLU accuses Sherwood’s court of sending defendants to debtors prison if they don’t pay thousands of dollars in hefty fines above the original checks.

Defendants in addition to Sherwood include District Court Judge Milas (Butch) Hale III and Pulaski County, which uses Sherwood to collect hot checks.

The plaintiffs include four people who were jailed “for their inability to pay court fines and fees in violation of a longstanding law forbidding the incarceration of people for failure to pay debts. Fees collected in addition to hot checks make up 12 percent of Sherwood’s budget.”

The hot-check court generates $2 million a year in revenue for the city. Judge Hale’s father, Milas Hale II, had presided over the court for several years. The younger Hale’s term ends in 2020. The hot-check court’s future remains uncertain if Sherwood can’t make a substantial profit. Otherwise, why bother taking hot-check cases from central Arkansas and beyond?

The lawsuit alleges that “through a labyrinthine and lucrative system, a single check for $15 returned for insufficient funds can be leveraged into many thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, and fees owed to Sherwood and Pulaski County.”

“Upon entering a conviction for a hot check misdemeanor, Judge Hale typically sentences the individual to probation and to pay the following amounts: restitution in at least the amount of the unpaid check, a $165 fine, $100 in court costs, a $25 Prosecuting Attorney Hot Check Fee, a $30 Restitution Fee, a $50 Warrant Fee, a $20 City Jail Fee, and a $20 County Jail Fee. Thus the court costs, fines, and fees associated with a hot check conviction, regardless of the amount of the unpaid check, exceed $400.”

Examples of exorbitant fees and fines have been widely reported, including Nikki Rachelle Petree, 40, of Beebe, who wrote a check for $28.93 that was returned for insufficient funds.

According to the lawsuit, “Over the next six years, Ms. Petree was arrested at least seven times as a result of this returned check, paid Sherwood at least $640 she could not afford to pay to cover court costs, fines and fees and has been jailed for over 25 days.”

Petree was jailed at the Pulaski County Detention Facility because she couldn’t pay $2,656.93 in court costs, fines and still faces thousands of dollars in unpaid costs, fines and fees.

“This debtors’ prison scheme generates huge revenues for the city,” according to the lawsuit. “Revenue from the district court constitutes nearly 12 percent of the city’s budget, second only to city and county sales tax.”

It’s anyone’s guess if the city can successfully defend itself from this lawsuit or if it will voluntarily reduce some of the draconian fines to appease critics. In any event, the lawsuit comes at an awkward time for Sherwood, which is also being sued over a lack of handicap access at public facilities.

Before next year’s budget is determined, Sherwood officials should call an emergency meeting and decide what financial hardships the city faces if the hot-check revenues dry up and what it will cost to make buildings more accessible for the handicapped.

TOP STORY >> More newly discovered Evans music

Leader executive editor

The brilliant jazz pianist Bill Evans passed away at the age of 51 on Sept. 15, 1980, leaving behind an impressive body of recorded work from the mid-1950s until just a couple of weeks before his death.

Several live recordings were made that summer in 1980, including “Turn Out the Stars: The Final Village Vanguard Recordings,” a six-CD boxed set from June 1980 that was recorded at the famous basement jazz club in New York, where exactly 18 years earlier he had made his most famous recording, “Sunday at the Village Vanguard.” The Sunday recording included a two-set matinee at 5 p.m., called “Sunday Afternoon at the Vanguard,” followed by three evening sets that came out later as “Waltz for Debby.”

More unused material from that session, including Evans talking to the audience, was reissued in a three-CD boxed set called “The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings,” which is one of a handful of jazz CDs even a casual listener should own. It gets the top crown rating in the “Penguin Guide to Jazz on CDs,” and it’s stunning.

Evans, who had a substance-abuse problem for much of his life, had taken heroin before the Sunday performance, which may be why those recordings have an ethereal quality. “Sunday Afternoon at the Village Vanguard” was the first LP I bought as a teenager, and I knew nothing about heroin or Evans’ music. He’s the jazz pianist I listen to the most, and he may be the best.

“The Complete at Ronnie Scott’s 1980,” recorded in London less than two months before his passing, is also an important two-CD set, even if the piano is sadly out of tune.

Two eight-CD boxed sets called “The Last Waltz” and “Consecration,” recorded a couple of weeks before Evans died, are also essential. Drug addiction had ravaged his body — he was living on candy at that point — and although the music falters occasionally, Evans still played well even as he knew he was dying. Almost every night he performed “The Theme from M*A*S*H*,” also known as “Suicide Is Painless,” but he knew it wasn’t. 

Other recently issued live recordings include “Waltz for Debby: The Complete 1969 Pescara Festival,” “Live in Buenos Aires,” “The Bill Evans Trio Featuring Stan Getz: But Beautiful” and several concerts before enthusiastic audiences in France and Germany.

Much of the information for this article comes from “Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings” (Yale University Press), a beautifully written biography by Peter Pettinger, a concert pianist who passed away before his book appeared in 1988.

Pettinger loved Evans’ music, and reading the book made me look for Evans recordings I didn’t have in my collection. The book lists more than 160 Evans records as leader and sideman. (You can find online bargains for as little as $5 but beware of ripoff prices.)

Evans made only a couple of mediocre records because of commercial pressures. The rest is never less than good, while much of his music is excellent and some recordings are masterpieces.

Evans produced a unique sound combining jazz with classical music: Evans, who was born in New Jersey on Aug. 16, 1929, had a degree in classical music from South-eastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La., and he had considered a classical music career before he set on an often-precarious life of a jazz artist in New York. He is buried in Baton Rouge.

After a brief, unhappy stint with Miles Davis in the late 1950s, Evans formed his own trio, although he appeared on Davis’ “Kind of Blue” after he left the group, contributing several compositions and adding a moody quality to the all-time best-selling jazz record.

Evans, along with the other supporting players — John Coltrane on tenor saxophone, Cannonball Adderley on alto saxophone, Paul Chambers on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Wynton Kelly on piano on one track — received $150 for their work and no royalties.

Evans’ new group included Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian is the best known. They appear on the Sunday Vanguard session, which was recorded on June 25, 1962. Two weeks later, LaFaro died in a car wreck driving late at night to his parents’ home in upstate New York.

Evans was devastated and did not record for several months. The solo recordings he made after LaFaro’s death are melancholy but beautiful. They are “Solo Sessions Vol. I and Vol. II” and were released gradually over the decades.

Other Evans live recordings at the Vanguard “California, Here I Come,” from 1967, one of his happiest; and from 1973, “Since We Met” and “Re: Person I Know,” an anagram of Orrin Keepnews, the record producer who did Evans’ early Riverside records and lugged the live recording equipment down to the Village Vanguard for the historic Sunday session, the last day of a two-week engagement at Evans’ favorite club.

Keepnews also produced Evans’ other excellent Riverside recordings with LaFaro and Motian: “How My Heart Sings”  and “Explorations.”

The most unusual Van-guard recordings were surreptitiously made by a fan named Mike Harris, who carried a portable tape recorder with him tucked inside a large bag whenever Evans appeared in clubs in New York in the 1960s and 1970s. Harris, a physicist and an amateur pianist, and his wife, Evelyn, sat near Evans over 14 years.

Although the sound is far from perfect, “The Secret Sessions, 1966-75,” which includes more than 100 tunes over eight CDs, is indispensable as it captures Evans and his trio in a typical nightclub setting, pretty much unaware they were being recorded — although Evans must have guessed eventually that his obsessive fans were carrying a tape recorder.

Keepnews, who died last year, cleaned up the sound as much as he could and issued them on the Milestone label. Harris says he has about 80 more hours of unissued recordings and is willing to part with them just for the cost of the tapes if a record company wants to issue them.

Perhaps Resonance Records, an up-and-coming label, might reissue more of Harris’ secret recordings.

Resonance recently issued two newly discovered Evans recordings from the 1960s: “Live at the Top of the Gate,” recorded in October 1968 by George Klabin, who did a jazz radio program at Columbia University, and “Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest,” recorded in June 1968 by German engineer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer.

The sound is superb on both, but the German recording, made in Brunner-Schwer’s home studio, sounds like a Super Audio CD on my stereo. Bassist Eddie Gomez appears on both double CDs. Marty Morell is the drummer at the Top of the Gate, while Jack DeJohnette, making only his second appearance on an Evans record, is the drummer on the German set.

DeJohnette also appears on Evans’ wonderful “Live at Montreaux,” which was recorded five days before the Black Forest session.

The Resonance sets include the usual repertoire of Evans compositions and standards: “You Go to My Head,” “Very Early,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” “I’ll Remember April,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Turn Out the Stars,” “In a Sentimental Mood,” “These Foolish Things,” “Some Other Time,” “Emily,” “Round Midnight,” “Alfie,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” as well as “Someday My Prince Will Come” from Disney’s “Snow White,” a tune Evans helped turn into a jazz standard after recommending it to Miles Davis.

Evans’ solo recordings are often overlooked but are terrific and all of them are now available: Besides the “Solo Sessions,” they are “Alone” and “Alone Again,” along with “Conversations with Myself,” “Further Conversations” and “New Conversations.” The last three are overdubs and, although they may seem gimmicky, they got better as the series progressed.

We’ve been thinking a lot about Evans lately, wondering if his grave survived the flooding in Baton Rouge. We’ll check it out when the water recedes.

TOP STORY >> Base hosts Military Expo

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The free family-friendly Arkansas Military Expo is coming to Little Rock Air Force Base on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Team Little Rock will be opening its gates to welcome the community on the 69th anniversary of the Air Force.

“We are going to bring all facets of our military, our reservists, our citizen soldiers, our Guardsmen, our active duty, our civilians and our contractors and showcase what they bring to the fight on behalf of the state of Arkansas and the nation each and every day,” said Col. Charles Brown, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

The event will include festivities such as aircraft demonstrations, static displays, a C-130J cargo drop demonstration and multiple vendors.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the Vandenberg Gate opening at 9 a.m.



The C-130 is a cargo aircraft capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.

The C-130 can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel.

C-17 Globemaster III 

The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations when required.

T-6 Texan

The T-6 Texan is fully aerobatic and features a pressurized cockpit with an anti-G system, ejection seat and an advanced avionics package with sunlight-readable liquid crystal displays.


Warbirds are retired military aircraft that have been restored to flying condition.

MQ-1B Predator

The MQ-1 Predator drone is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets.

In addition to the wide-array of aircraft on display, there will be other events and activities including bouncy castles and static displays, providing fun for the whole family.

“This surrounding community has built this base,” said Col. Christopher Ben-nett, 19th Airlift Wing vice commander. “Doing things like the Arkansas Military Expo this fall is just one little way we can say thank you and communicate how much we value that partnership just a little bit more.”

TOP STORY >> Shift set for highway lanes

Leader senior staff writer

The years-old traffic nightmare in the southbound lanes of Hwy. 67/167 near Main Street in Jacksonville will not end Tuesday morning when traffic is shifted from the old lanes to two new lanes, and in fact a bottleneck may result as that traffic approaches the southbound entrance ramp from Redmond Road, Jacksonville officials warned Friday.

The southbound traffic on Hwy. 67/167 will be shifted onto the newly constructed pavement from Main Street to south of Redmond Road, according to the state Highway and Transportation Department.

“Alternating lane closures will be utilized to shift traffic starting at 9 p.m. on Monday, August 29, weather permitting,” the department said.

The orange barrels will be moved.

The southbound lanes over the old Main Street bridge were narrow, with unsafe railing structure at too tight a circumference. At least one man died after his pickup truck plunged off the overpass in recent years.

Mayor Gary Fletcher and Administration Director Jim Durham warn that commuters from the Cabot area should be prepared to slow or stop quickly as they approach the Main Street and Redmond Road overpasses.

That’s because southbound traffic on the Hwy. 67/167 entrance ramp from Redmond Road will merge onto two lanes instead of the current three lanes.

Durham says traffic may back up on both the highway and the ramp and he all but guarantees accidents.

“Be very alert coming from Cabot to Jacksonville,” Fletcher warned. “The ramp lanes run out very quickly. It’s going to be dicey.”

Durham said the speed limit in that area may be 55 miles per hour and may be as low of 45 miles per hour.

The southbound lanes won’t be open until the construction in that area is completed in 2017, and the Main Street entrance ramp south won’t open until the work is completed, according to City Engineer Jay Whisker.

Northbound lanes will be shifted during the next phase of construction. The new overpass and ramp will be about five feet taller than the original structures, allowing taller trucks to cross under and keeping the highway above Bayou Meto floodwaters.

While there will be shoulders for emergency parking when the entire project is complete, there won’t be shoulder all along the highway until completion, Whisker said.

“Drivers should exercise caution when approaching and traveling through all highway work zones,” according to a Highway Department spokesman.

SPORTS STORY >> Lions, Bears try to unseat state champ

Leader sports editor

There are two new members of the 5A-Central Conference. Former member North Pulaski no longer exists, and Jacksonville was bumped up to Class 6A because of its AHSAA-alleged merger with NP. That made room for Little Rock Christian Academy and Parkview to join the league, but neither figure to knock Pulaski Academy off its seemingly permanent perch atop the conference.

The Bruins have won the 5A-Central championship undefeated in every year of its current existence, and is the clear favorite to do so again this season. They lose more than half their starters on both sides of the ball, but that’s happened before and they still won.

Besides, superstar quarterback Layne Hatcher is back, and that is the position that makes everything go for PA. Hatcher threw for nearly 5,000 yards last year, and had a 5-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio.

In going 14-0, the Bruins scored 50 points or more in half their games, and only half because it didn’t have to the rest of the time. The Bruins took their foot off the gas at halftime in every win that didn’t see the half-century mark. When pressed by the better teams on the schedule, PA just keeps scoring. That accounted for its 71 points against Warren and 78 against Hope.

But all the sportsmanship shown against the weaker teams was overshadowed by an egregious display of terrible sportsmanship to close a classic state championship game against McClellan. Leading 43-30, with the ball and only seconds remaining, head coach Kevin Kelley elected to throw deep for one more score, giving the Bruins their seventh game of 50 points or more.

That move gave the PA detractors, and there are many, more desire than ever to see the Bruins knocked off. While it’s never a smart bet to go against the team that’s never, ever lost to a current conference opponent, if there has ever been a year where it appears on paper like there could be a chance, it’s 2016.

The aforementioned Lions of McClellan High return almost everyone from last year’s Cinderella squad. McClellan came out of nowhere to become a legitimate title contender last season.

The Lions return 8 starters on offense and nine on defense. Those starters include All-State running back Pierre Strong, who had a career against Sylvan Hills alone, and finished with almost 2,300 yards rushing last year. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and 4.4 speed, he’s also gaining attention from some major colleges.

There’s also the fact that each and every one of those 17 starters, and everyone else present on the sidelines of last year’s state championship game, remember what PA did at the end, and motivation is probably a bigger factor in football than any other sport.

Sylvan Hills lost a hard-fought, high-scoring affair with McClellan last season, and will have to show dramatic improvement in dealing with Strong in order to change that outcome.

Strong carried 20 times for 311 yards and five touchdowns against the Bears last year, and the loss seemed to suck the wind out of the sails of the previously undefeated SHHS squad. It went on to lose its next three games as well, and ended the season with a first-round playoff loss to Little Rock Christian Academy.

Another team that put an L on Sylvan Hills’ ledger late last season was Beebe. The Badgers have been underdogs each of the last two seasons when they met the Bears, and have pulled off exciting victories both times.

This year, that might not be the case. Beebe has to replace every single member of a dynamic backfield it has enjoyed the past two seasons, including school career rushing leader Trip Smith, who became the first Badger ever to rush for more than 5,000 yards.

There is some talent at Beebe, but a lot of it is young talent. Last year’s freshmen team went 9-1, with its only loss to undefeated Little Rock Christian Academy. Several of those players figure heavily into the starting rotations for Beebe.

Fact is, it’s a rebuilding year for Beebe. They’ll be competitive and have a real chance at making the playoffs, but being among the elite of 5A again may have to wait until next year.

The LRCA Warriors are now in the same conference with the Bears and Badgers, but with only four returning starters on the entire roster, and some key players from last year’s undefeated ninth grade team choosing to quit football to focus on other sports, repeating last year’s 12-1 season doesn’t seem likely.

Like McClellan, Beebe and Sylvan Hills, LRCA also lost to PA last year, only it wasn’t as close as the others. The Bruins trounced their private-school rival 42-7 in the semifinals of the 5A playoffs.

LRCA opens tough against Warren. That game could be an indicator of whether the Warriors are a playoff lock like many are predicting, or on the outside looking in, as suggested here.

Another team that no one in the conference would be wise to overlook is Parkview. Though only picked sixth, the Patriots always seem to find a way to surprise someone on their schedule.

Last year it was 7A Catholic High the Patriots shocked 35-7, and it could be anybody this season. Parkview can’t seem to find any consistency, but has the kind of athleticism to be dangerous against anyone when it puts things together. This year’s team has only six returning starters, and it also has a history of losing some games inexplicably as well.

A team much like Parkview is Mills. Not much is expected from the Comets this year, but coaches at Sylvan Hills and Beebe are loath to overlook them. They only won two games last year, and they were against two winless teams, but they played the Bears and Badgers tough.

One of those Comet wins came against J.A. Fair, which hasn’t won a game since 2013. The War Eagles have had only one winning season this century, and that was in 2000. They may only have this year and next to try to turn that around before a rumored merger with McClellan takes place. Merger or no, a streak like that has to end sometime. It’s just not likely to be this year.

SPORTS STORY >> Titan gets medalist honor as golf team finishes third

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville boys’ golf team took part in a three-team match Monday at the Mountain Springs golf course in Cabot, and JHS golfer Dallas Colford was the medalist of the nine-hole match, shooting a low score of 41.

Colford earned medalist honors by two strokes Monday, but despite getting the win, he wasn’t very pleased with his performance, according to Jacksonville golf coach Hank Hawk.

“He shot a 41 and he was disappointed in that,” said Hawk. “He had two bad holes that cost him from breaking 40, and that’s kind of his bar.”

Foster Rash was the second-lowest scorer for Jacksonville on Monday. He finished with a 46. Rash was the team’s low scorer at Jacksonville’s match last week at Cypress Creek. Jordan Wickersham was the next-lowest scorer for JHS, shooting a 55. Caleb Anderson had a score of 70, which rounded out Jacksonville’s point total of 212.

Bald Knob won the match, shooting a total of 198. The Bulldogs had three players score in the 40s and the other two shot in the 50s – the highest score being a 55. Vilonia, the match host, finished second in the team standings with a score of 208. The Eagles’ top four players all shot in the 50s.

Jacksonville only has one girl competing this year, Allison Seats. Seats finished second in the girls’ division, shooting 63. That was one stroke behind the winner, of Bald Knob. Although she didn’t get the win, Seats finished second out of seven participants in the girls’ division.

“She had a couple of holes where she got in trouble early,” Hawk said, “but then you turn around and she’s got a 12-foot putt for birdie on one of the more difficult holes out there.”

Jacksonville’s top players didn’t finish with their best scores Monday, but the difficulties of the course had a lot to do with that.

“I’ve only played that bottom course once or twice,” Hawk said, “and it was tough. I mean, kids, they’re sitting in rocks trying to figure out how they’re going to hit the next shot, and the grass was high. If you missed the fairway, you had to have been looking straight down on a ball to find it, and it was stroke after stroke.”

Jacksonville’s next match will be against Mayflower at the Southern Oaks Country Club on Sept. 6.

SPORTS STORY >> Young Badgers physical with HA

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers showed a few signs of its inexperience in their preseason scrimmage against Harding Academy on Tuesday, but head coach John Shannon was still pleased overall with how his young team performed.

In a non-game type scrimmage at Irwin Stadium, Beebe outscored the Wildcats 36-24. The format featured two halves of each team’s second-string offense going against the other’s second-string defense for 15 plays each, then the first strings doing the same.

“We made some mistakes, but you expect that the first time they go against somebody, especially with as many sophomores as we have out there,” said Shannon. “What I was worried about coming in was how physical we were going to be. You never know with these sophomores, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. I think we’ve clearly been the more physical team. I know they’re 3A, but they’re defending champions and they’re supposed to be really good.”

Mason Walker quarterbacked the Dead-T for most of the first string’s first set of plays, but moved to a spread formation for the last few. The drive moved from the Beebe 25-yard line to the Harding Academy 30 in eight plays.

The first pass attempt fell incomplete, but Walker kept for a first down on the next play. Kahlil Anthony then ran for 10 yards and another apparent first down, but it was called back for holding. That put Beebe behind the chains and it couldn’t convert another first down.

The teams reset at the Beebe 30 with two plays remaining, and sophomore halfback Taylor Boyce scrambled 70 yards, first up the middle before cutting to his left, for a touchdown.

On Harding Academy’s first offensive play for the first string, sophomore cornerback Luke Oakley made a diving interception of a short pass that went through the hands of the intended receiver.

The Wildcats reset back at the 30, and lost 5 yards in the next two plays. On third and 15, they completed an 11-yard pass, and then drew Beebe off sides on fourth and 4.

Three more plays gained just 1 yard for HA, and Oakley came through again on fourth and 9 when he stepped in front of an out route for an interception that he ran back 45 yards for a touchdown.

The Wildcats, which scored twice against Beebe’s second-string defense, finally scored against the first team on its second 15-play possession, but not until after Boyce picked off a pass near midfield and returned it about 20 yards.

Harding Academy’s second-string offense, which consisted largely of starters on defense because the team had only 26 players, hit a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of its second drive, and hit another long touchdown pass later in the same possession.

Beebe’s second first-team possession featured backup quarterback C.J. Cauldwell running from mostly the spread formation. That offense moved the ball well on the ground, but turned it over deep in Harding Academy territory. The Badgers eventually scored when Cauldwell kept for a 5-yard touchdown run.

The Badgers open the regular season in the same place it ended the season last year in the playoffs, at Greenbrier next Friday.

The Panthers were routed in their scrimmage game, losing 42-14 to Sylvan Hills in one half of real-game play.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot wins opener

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School volleyball team began the regular season at home Tuesday against Class 6A Benton, and the host Lady Panthers finished the nonconference match strong, beating the visiting Lady Panthers 3-1.

Cabot won the match by scores of 25-16, 25-17, 14-25 and 25-14. It took a couple of serves before the hosts settled into the first game. Benton’s Maggie Carson served a pair of aces to start the match, but Cabot scored the next three points to take its first lead, the third point coming on a Maddie Brown kill.

The host Lady Panthers led by as much as 18-10 in game one, but Benton answered with four-straight points to cut it to 18-14. Another Brown kill, assisted by fellow senior teammate Regan Campbell, broke serve and made it 19-14, and Benton didn’t threaten the rest of the game.

Game one ended on a Kaelee Simmons serve that Benton failed to return. In game two, Cabot took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish with the score 4-3. The hosts pushed their lead to 16-7 with Campbell serving, and Cabot took a double-digit lead with the score 22-12.

Benton answered with five consecutive points to make it 22-17, but Cabot broke serve after Benton put a kill attempt into the net. Brown then went to the serving line, and served the next two points to end game two and give the hosts a 2-0 match lead.

Game three was all Benton. The visiting Lady Panthers took their first lead of the third game at 3-2, and never relinquished that lead. Nothing went Cabot’s way in that one, and Benton took a double-digit lead at 23-13.

The 6A Lady Panthers scored the next point to push their lead to 11. Cabot scored its final point of game three on the next volley. That final point gave the hosts serving rights, but the next serve was too deep and landed out of bounds, giving Benton the win.

“They just kind of forgot to have fun and took themselves too seriously,” said Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk about game three. “From past experience, when they do that, they’re not as focused. They’re afraid to do what they do best, which is be aggressive and hit and dig the ball.

“After the third game, I was like, ‘You know what? I think we’re forgetting to have fun, because y’all do so well when you play together, you battle together and you’re having fun out there.’ So they came back and they had fun and you saw the difference.”

The difference between the third and fourth game was very noticeable from the start. Cabot scored the first four points of game four, which were served by Leah Gerald.

Benton answered with three-straight kills by Cassidy Brady, but another Brown kill with Campbell getting the assist broke serve, and the hosts separated themselves from there.

Cabot doubled Benton’s point total at 14-7, with that 14th point coming on a Campbell serve. Gerald served the team to its first double-digit lead of game four at 18-8. The closest Benton got to Cabot’s lead the rest of the way was six points, and Hannah Freeman served the final five points to end the game and match in Cabot’s favor.

Brown led all players with 19 kills. Freeman had a match-high 15 assists. Campbell had 14 assists. Simmons was all over the backcourt with a match-high 12 digs. Gerald had eight digs and Freeman five, and Brown, Freeman and Gerald served up two aces apiece.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cats, Mavs top of class in the new 7A-Central

Leader sportswriter

The 7A/6A-East Conference is now a thing of the past. The Cabot Panthers will look to defend their conference championship in the new 7A-Central Conference, which will feature a good balance of 7A teams from last year’s 7A/6A-East, along with other 7A teams from the northwest and central part of the state.

With an SEC-caliber athlete at quarterback, the Panthers should once again compete for the conference championship this season, but with the loss of the projected starter at fullback and with only a handful of returning starters on that side of the ball, there’s a good chance the Panthers will fall short of repeating as conference champs.

1) North Little Rock Charging Wildcats

North Little Rock struggled out of the gate last season with a new head coach and new system in place, but after their four-game skid to start the season, the Charging Wildcats won seven-consecutive games, including a 35-0 rout of Fort Smith Northside in the first round of the playoffs.

The Wildcats lost a seven-point game to Bentonville in the next round, but it was a good sign of what could come this season. With five starters back on offense, including senior All-State running back Alex Day, and six back on defense, NLR is The Leader’s pick to win the 7A-Central crown this season.

2) Southside Mavericks

That’s right, Southside is now the Mavericks, and the name change will likely be all that changes this season for the tradition-rich school. Since 2009, Southside has won at least eight games every season, doing so in the mega-tough 7A-West.

Southside entered last year’s playoffs as the lowest seed from the West, but proved battle-tested when beating previously undefeated Cabot in the second round of the playoffs at Panther Stadium.

With eight starters back on offense and five more returning on defense, expect the Mavericks to be serious contenders for the conference championship.

3) Cabot Panthers

Coming off a 10-1 season with a future SEC athlete quarterbacking the team, it’s hard to think the tradition-rich Panthers could finish as low as third in their own conference. But the Panthers had to replace the bulk of their starters on offense, and now with the loss of fullback Alex Roberts, who tore an ACL in the summer and as a result isn’t expected to return this season, the Panthers have yet another void to fill.

Arkansas Razorbacks commit Jarrod Barnes will do what he’s done the previous two years at quarterback, make plays, but the Panthers return no starting linemen. Cabot does return eight starters on defense, but three of those starters are coming off serious injuries, and one of those three isn’t expected back until week four at the earliest.

Even with all three of those defensive starters at full strength, the team’s lack of experience on the offensive line and having to replace the starting fullback could make things very difficult for the Panthers to win the league crown. Even considering all that, though, Cabot still has plenty of talent and will once again contend for the conference championship.

4) Conway Wampus Cats

Conway finished 6-6 last season and returned eight starters on offense and six more on defense. On offense, though, the Wampus Cats’ two-time All-State quarterback graduated in May and signed with Central Arkansas.

They do, however, return their top rusher, receiver and tackler from a season ago. Those are positives for Conway, but its unproven quarterback will have to catch on quick if the Wampus Cats hope to compete for the conference championship in this league.

5) Bryant Hornets

Similar to Cabot, it’s hard to imagine Bryant, a school that’s won at least seven games a season since 2009, this far down the list. The Hornets won nine games last year, but return only three starters on offense and are replacing a lot at the skill positions.

They do return experience on defense with seven starters back from a season ago, but they’ll need to score points to compete in this stacked league, and it’s unknown whether or not this group of newcomers can do that.

6) Northside Grizzlies

Over the last several years, the Grizzlies haven’t won near as many games as their crosstown rival, but like Southside, Northside is battle-tested, coming from the 7A-West. They are a senior-led team with 31 seniors, one of the largest senior classes the school’s seen in a while.

Northside only won four games last year, but had a brutal schedule. With seven starters back on offense and eight returning on defense, there’s a good chance the Grizzlies can finish higher than sixth, but they’ll need to stay healthy because even though they have 31 seniors, their depth is low for Class 7A.

7) Central Tigers

Central won only three games last season. The Tigers return six starters on each side of the ball and their strength will be at the skill positions. But, they’re inexperienced on the line and that could lead to some trouble for the Tigers this season.

They do have what’s said to be a talented sophomore class, but it’s hard to expect sophomores to make a team a contender at this, or really any, level. Central always has the athletes to give teams fits, but don’t expect that to lead to many wins in 2016.

8) Catholic Rockets

Catholic only won four games last year, but lost a couple of very close games, including an overtime loss to Cabot in week two and a three-point loss to Southside in the first round of the playoffs.

The Rockets return four starters on offense and defense and their strengths will be in the kicking game and on the defensive line, but they lack experience at the running back and linebacker positions, and being the smallest school in Class 7A can’t help their chances of competing for a playoff spot.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers’ tennis rolls over Eagles

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School tennis teams played their first match of the year Monday at the CHS tennis courts, and the Lady Panthers and Panthers dominated, winning every varsity court in singles and doubles competition against Vilonia.

“As of right now we’ve won every court,” said Cabot coach Mary Emily Nash during junior varsity play on Monday. “So we’re very pleased. We have 10 seniors this year, so I have very high expectations.”

In singles competition, Lady Panthers Carly Carpenter and Kelsey David each won their matches by scores of 8-1. Carpenter beat Vilonia’s Lacy McKay, and David beat Lady Eagle Katie Johnson.

The Lady Panthers’ No. 1 singles player, Emily Sumler, had a more competitive match than Carpenter and David, but Sumler’s wasn’t that close. She beat Vilonia’s Brittany Mays by the final score of 8-4.

Both boys’ and girls’ teams have put in a lot of work in the offseason and also competed during the summer, and the hard work paid off on Monday.

“She’s another one that’s put in lots of time in the offseason to get a lot better and ready to play the kind of competition we’re going to see in the conference,” Nash said of Sumler. “So I’ve been very proud of her.”

The CHS girls’ No. 1 doubles team entering Monday, Jessica Vaughan and Julie Hill, edged their opponents by the final score of 8-6. Vaughan played another doubles match Monday, this time with Maggie Gibson, and those two beat the Vilonia team of Katie Johnson and Cassidy Williams by the score of 8-3.

Vaughan’s and Gibson’s win was officially a JV match, but it was an important match for Nash to see how those two gel together as a team.

“She likes to play doubles, but is also a hot doubles commodity,” Nash said of Vaughan. “Everybody wants to play doubles with her because she’s such a powerful player, and she’s a good team player, too.

“We haven’t found out quite yet who we’re going to match up with her, but she’s one who’s going to play well with whoever we put her with.”

The other girls’ doubles match in varsity play was Cabot’s Ally Bevis and Kaitlyn Follett against Vilonia’s Kristen Madden and Olivia Lowe, and the Lady Panther duo dominated that matchup 8-1.

Perhaps the most impressive win of the day for Cabot was in the boys’ singles competition. The Panthers’ returning No. 1 player, Clayton Ellis, beat John Hines 8-0. What made Ellis’ win impressive is that Hines entered Monday’s match having beaten Ellis the past two years.

“The kid he played today has beaten him the past two years, and Clayton won 8-0,” Nash said of Ellis. “He’s our No. 1 singles player, and we played a Searcy tournament a couple of weeks ago and he played two matches and didn’t lose a game.

“He’s been playing a lot of tennis in the offseason. Anybody that Clayton can find to play he’s played against. So it’s been other kids from this area, it’s been the adult men who play in this area. He’s always out at the courts.

“That and he’s reading a lot of tennis books about the mental game of tennis. So that’s brought him a long way, too. It’s definitely changed his whole mindset about how to play the game.”

Max Mathis played the other boys’ varsity singles match, and he beat Vilonia’s Mitchell Longley 8-1. In boys’ doubles competition, the Panthers’ No. 1 team of Bryant Cason and Parker Gibson won their match over the Vilonia team of Caleb and Jacob Baker by the final score of 8-4.

Cason and Gibson are two more Cabot players that return a lot of experience. Cason was one half of the doubles team that made it to the state tournament last year, and Nash is expecting a good year from this team, which has played together before.

“He and Parker actually played together two years ago,” Nash said. “They know each other really well and they’ve played a lot over the spring together to try and get ready for the fall.”

In the other varsity doubles match in boys’ play, the Cabot team of Nathan Ellis and Matt Walters edged Vilonia’s team of Denver Henson and Jace Farrier by the final score of 9-7.

The Cabot JV teams also had a strong showing on Monday. They didn’t win every match they played, but they won most of them, and like the varsity matches, most of those wins were in dominant fashion.

In boys’ doubles play, Nathan Ellis and Jake Goodman beat the Eagles’ team of Farrier and Grant Goers 6-3, and the Cabot team of Easton Usery and Grayson Newton won their doubles match 6-1. Usery and Goodman also paired up for a JV doubles match, and they won that game 8-0.

Usery and Newton also played and won a singles match apiece. Usery won his 6-1, and Newton shut out his opponent 6-0. The Cabot girls’ doubles team of Caroline Franklin and Eme Wylie also won their JV match by the final score of 6-0.

Several Lady Panther singles players won their JV matches by the same 6-0 score, including Ryane Thurman, Emily Belin, Hill and Franklin. Follett won hers by the score of 6-2, and Lady Panther Hannah Ringgold won a close 7-5 matchup.

The Cabot tennis teams play again tomorrow at home in what will be a much tougher test against Hot Springs Lakeside. The varsity players will take the court first and are scheduled to begin play at 3:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears even surprised at dominance of Panthers

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills had a fun time in its preseason scrimmage game at Greenbrier on Monday. The Bears and Panthers played each other two periods of regulation football, and the Bears came away with a 42-14 advantage.

The Bears have worked all summer on the passing game, and head coach Jim Withrow thought it was improving. He saw evidence of that on Monday, but remained hesitant to get too optimistic.

“It’s too early to say right now,” said Withrow. “We don’t know yet if maybe they’re not very good, or if we’re just really good. I just know it wasn’t what I was expecting going up there. Greenbrier has been pretty good for quite a while now, and we had no expectations of going up there and winning that big.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise was holding the Panthers to just 14 points. Greenbrier has given up points in the past, but has developed into one of the premier offensive teams in 5A. The Panthers trailed 42-7 before scoring on a big play to end the game.

“I felt pretty good about our defense,” Withrow said. “I thought our guys covered well. We gave up some yards on their screens plays, and we need to get more of a pass rush than we had, but for the most part it’s hard to get too down when you hold an offense like that to just two scores.”

Sylvan Hills scored three touchdowns each on the ground and through the air. Starting Quarterback Jordan Washington found running back Deon Youngblood for two scores of about 40 yards through the air. Backup quarterback Ryan Lumpkin hit Jamar Lane with a deep ball for another touchdown.

Youngblood also ran for one touchdown while Daelyn Fairrow scored two rushing touchdowns.

Jordan and Lumpkin both threw the ball really well,” Withrow said. “The lineman opened up some good holes and gave us time to throw it. The whole thing went pretty good offensively.”

“Defensively I thought our corner play was great. Curtis Wiggins and Fred Mackie covered really well. Safeties Darius Waddell and Cameron Flippo both played well, too.”

Defensive tackle Brennan Shelton got a rare lineman interception during the game as well.

Sylvan Hills will open the regular season with a home game against Class 7A Catholic High.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot gets best of Wolves

Leader sports editor

PEARCY – A few mistakes put just a slight damper on an otherwise dominant performance for the Cabot football team on Monday. The Panthers traveled to Lake Hamilton for a preseason scrimmage and outscored the Wolves 35-7 in a mostly non-game-like format.

Cabot was the better team on both sides of the ball. Lake Hamilton failed to put together any sustained drives, and the Cabot offense only stopped moving forward when it made mistakes.

Cabot’s first-team defense didn’t give up any points, but did fail on a few occasions to get off the field on third-and-long. The second-team defense only had one mishap, but it resulted in a 60-yard touchdown run by Lake Hamilton backup quarterback Juan Jackson.

Cabot defensive coordinator Randall Black didn’t like the big plays, but was pleased overall.

“One thing I’m definitely pleased with is the effort,” said Black. “They came to play. They were on their toes, moving to the football, and they played well for the most part. I didn’t like the big plays. When we have third and 12 and third and 9, we have to get off the field. We lost the quarterback once on a naked bootleg, and we lost contain on a play we had stopped. That’s why we play these scrimmages, so we can spot things like that and get them corrected.”

Lake Hamilton has a new coach and is running a completely different offense from the one run for so long by longtime coach Jerry Clay. The Wolves have gone from a pass-oriented attack to an option offense run out of a flex alignment.

Black said he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when he arrived for the game.

“We knew they had gone to an option style offense, but we really didn’t know what it was,” Black said. “And we didn’t know it was going to be the flex stuff until today. So you have to take that into account. We had no opportunity to game plan and work on it like we would in a game week. Given all that, I’m pretty happy with how we played.”

Backups took the first two drives for both teams, and went against backup defenses. Cabot’s third string played the first drive, while the second string took the second. Lake Hamilton had just two lineups.

For what was called the first half, drives were 15 consecutive plays no matter what happened. Neither offense scored in the first two drives, but Cabot’s second-string defense scored twice on Lake Hamilton’s second set of plays.

Cody Skinner forced a fumble with a huge hit in the backfield, and Justin Nabors scooped it up and ran 65 yards the other way for a touchdown for the first score of the game.

On the Wolves’ last play of its second drive, Bennett Coats sacked Jackson, forcing another fumble, Collin Thames picked it up and ran 30 yards for a score.

On Cabot’s next possession, sophomore fullback Bradley Morales broke a tackle near the Lake Hamilton sideline and outran the rest of the defense for a 70-yard touchdown run.

The starters then took the field with the home team on offense. Cabot stopped the Wolves on downs on its first four plays.

The Panthers forced another third and long, but slot back Michael Deroche picked up 30 yards on a reverse pitch. On the next set of down, Lake Hamilton converted on fourth and 11 when quarterback Dafavioun Haywood turned a busted play into an 11-yard gain.

With two plays left of its 15, Lake Hamilton went to the air twice, and threw two incomplete passes.

Cabot’s first-team offense didn’t take long to score. Two runs by fullback Braxton Burton picked up 7 yards, and Jarrod Barnes got 73 more and a touchdown on the next play, a simple option play to the right that Barnes ran untouched.

After setting up again at the 30, Cabot picked up two more first downs with halfbacks Adam Flores and Austin Morse sharing the carries. Another option was called and this time the Wolves snuffed it out. Barnes made an ill-advised pitch while being pulled to the ground, and the Panthers lost 8 yards.

On third and 15, Barnes threw an interception that forced Cabot to reset back at the 30 with one play left in the drive. Barnes picked up 33 yards on that play.

The second half was two 15-minute periods with the clock running continuously except for timeouts. Cabot’s offense got the ball first at its own 30-yard line. The Panthers put together an impressive 69-yard drive in 14 plays, but Flores took a hard hit at the goal line and fumbled the ball. Lake Hamilton covered it on its own 4.

Two plays later the Wolves faced third and 12 from their own 2, but Haywood picked up 29 yards on the naked bootleg.

Cabot defensive linemen Dayonte Roberts and Chris Jones got back-to-back tackles in the backfield, but Haywood again got out of the third-and-long situation by scrambling for 21 yards on a busted play.

Another third and long resulted in a sack by Dillon Smith and Lake Hamilton punted from the Cabot 46-yard line.

This time Cabot started from its own 20, and in two plays, was at the Lake Hamilton 29. Burton picked up 30 yards before Flores went 21. Two more Burton carries put Cabot at the LH 2-yard line, and Morse punched it in from there for the final score of the night.

Barnes led Cabot with 131 yards and a touchdown on 4 carries. Burton ran 13 times for 126 yards.

Cabot will open the regular season next Friday when it hosts two-time defending Class 6A state champion Pine Bluff.

EDITORIAL >> Straight talk

Leader staff writer Rick Kron will moderate a town hall meeting on community relations between the Jacksonville Police Department and residents at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 at the community center.

Residents can email questions to The Leader at, submit them to the moderator at the meeting or ask the question themselves from the audience.

A panel including the police chief, the new district judge, one or more aldermen and a city police officer will answer questions from the public.

Police Chief Kenny Boyd asked our reporter to moderate and compile the questions. The police department will have no control over the questions. “If it’s asked, someone on the panel will answer it,” the chief said.

Boyd was inspired to hold the town hall meeting after one of the recent police shootings. “I had emails from two residents asking me what I was doing to prevent Jacksonville police from shooting black people. I told them come on in and talk to me. One did, and it was a very good conversation, and I want to extend that conversation,” the chief said.

EDITORIAL >> Highway plan upsets crowd

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert and Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin stayed calm last week in front of 50 angry residents who are upset about a major road project that would build a four-lane highway from Lewisburg Road down to the future Cabot North Interchange on Hwy. 67/167 near Willie Ray Drive and Ernie Davis Road. Bids will be opened in December for the interchange that will connect to Hwy. 38 in Cabot.

During a town hall meeting at Austin City Hall, Cypert and Erwin did their best to explain how the three-and-a-half mile route will ease traffic on Hwy. 5 and give residents in Greystone and Magness Creek subdivisions and elsewhere an eastern route to Hwy. 67/167.

Drivers in those neighborhoods are forced to take Greystone Boulevard, Magness Creek Drive and Lakeland Drive west to Hwy. 5, which leads to congestion and frequent car wrecks.

The proposed highway is estimated to cost $8 million and will be paid for with an 80-20 federal matching grant if Cabot is awarded the grant when it applies next year. The county would contribute $1 million to the project. Its northern starting point at Lewisburg Road could travel south on Ed Haymes Road and then straighten out and go directly to Hwy. 67/167.

It would cut through ranches and be near some residents, not too many though, whose homes were once in quiet secluded areas.

The route is only conceptual and may be revised to meet property owners’ requests and engineering concerns. Cypert said at the town hall that if there isn’t enough public support for the project, then the plan will be abandoned.

A look at Google Maps shows 20 homes situated along the route. The city and county need to pay landowners handsomely for the rights of way. The residents complained that they’ll loose quality of life, but this isn’t another I-40. It will be less traveled than Hwy. 5.

They also complained that the mayor and county judge hadn’t reached out to them about the plan sooner, but this plan is still in the preliminary phase and it’s plenty early to give feedback.

But more town halls about the project should be held soon, and officials should emphasize what other roads are needed to connect Cabot residents to this proposed highway. Omni Farms Road is little more than a dirt road that isn’t capable of handling high-volume traffic daily. The city and county will have to revamp it and connect it to Greystone Boulevard.

Bailey Road, just north of Greystone, runs into Lewisburg, and needs to connect to Pinehurst Loop, and Magness Creek also needs a route to Lewisburg. We know that’s an expensive to-do list, but the map shows just how penned in those neighborhoods are and how over-reliant they are on Hwy. 5.

The map also shows a potential for billions of dollars in residential development bringing it countless businesses and jobs that could be supported by the growth. The proposed highway could pave the way for several neighborhoods on both sides and in both cities.

Most of the route is in unincorporated areas so it won’t be surprising to see Cabot and Austin moving to annex much of those areas soon.

The highway will benefit both communities economically and improve traffic flow. It makes sense because it will help more people than it inconveniences.

If the two communities can share a top-notch school district, they should be able to work together to improve roads.

TOP STORY >> JNP recruiting crossing guards

Leader staff writer

Kids and cars don’t mix, so over the weekend, the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District put the word out that they need volunteers to don a vest and grab a sign.

Phyllis Stewart, Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District chief of staff, said, “We do need crossing guards for the morning and afternoon shifts.”

Former Jacksonville Mayor James Reid heard the call and decided to sign up.

Besides, his pride in the city and the new school district, Reid said he has personal reasons for volunteering. His wife, Mary Reid, now deceased, taught at Jacksonville Elementary School, then under the Pulaski County Special School District, for years.

“I saw the newspaper ad and wanted to help,” he said.

Stewart said, “Anyone can volunteer. A retired person, a parent, anyone who wants to make a difference.”

“Crossing guards don’t receive special training but need to be brave enough to stop traffic and direct kids for about 30 minutes each shift…Crossing guards need to genuinely care about the kids,” Stewart said.

In addition, she said, “It gives our students a connection to the community,” and it plants the seeds of the importance of volunteerism at a young age.

Crossing guards are sorely needed at the district’s six elementary schools, especially at nearby busy intersections, Stewart said.

The elementary schools include Bayou Meto, Dupree, Pinewood, Taylor and Tolleson elementary schools. At Arnold Drive Elementary, the Air Force base handles crossing guard duties, Stewart said.

Ideally, she said they would like to have about 20 crossing guards. At least, two for each school, as well as a couple extra people so that principals could rotate shifts.

She said volunteers can choose the time and school where they want to work.

“The kids are our No. 1 priority,” and currently, most of the guard positions are being handled by school staff, Stewart said.

Stewart said in past years, Jacksonville police officers served as crossing guards and if they don’t get enough volunteers this school year, then the district will have to hire off-duty police officers.

“People have been willing to step up and help the district. We have had overwhelming support from the community,” and that’s making a difference as the new district tries to get on its feet, Stewart said.

Reid said his volunteering as a crossing guard makes him feel good and helps ensure the school district’s long-term success.

The job doesn’t pay but Stewart said, “Volunteers get a big thank you from the district.”

For more information, or to volunteer for a crossing guard position, call the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District at 501-241-2080.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke looks to bond issue for upgrades

Leader staff writer

The Lonoke City Council may ask for some type of tax increase in the future to support a bond issue.

City Treasurer Phillip Howell floated the idea at last week’s council meeting after the city had paid $160,000 to repair Palm Street, agreed to spend another $170,000 to replace water lines along Barnes Street and for the second year in a row the city’s water and sewer system finished slightly in the red.

He said the council talked about a bond issue a year ago to help with needed water and sewer maintenance and repairs and other needs in the city.

Alderman Pat Howell reminded council members that most of the sewer system is more than 50 years old and that raising water rates only was not going to allow the city to keep up with repairs.

“We need to define it (the bond issue) and let the people know what exactly it would be used for and we need to have it a special election even though that will cost us some money,” Howell said.

Howell suggested a tax with a sunset clause for most of it but keeping a portion of it permanent for water and sewer maintenance.

No formal action was taken on the idea of a bond, but there are plans to discuss it further as Alderman Michael Florence said, “Let’s get it down on paper and take a look at it.”

In other council action:

Jim Ed Ransom with Public Works said the city was becoming a lawn mowing service because it was charging just $50 to mow lawns that had been cited for high grass. “Residents can’t beat that and are taking advantage of us,” he said.

City Attorney Ginger Stuart said the ordinance actually calls for fines of $50 a day up to $350 for properties out of compliance with the grass ordinance. Council members quickly suggested that the city start fining people.

“We do that a few times, and they’ll start taking care of their own yards,” Florence said.

Ray Don Lewis, with the parks department, told the council, “This had been the worst year for mosquitoes in a long time.”

He explained that excessive summer rains are part of the problem. “We’ve laid down ‘larva-cide’ twice and the rains have washed away. We are going to try again, but it needs eight to 10 dry days to be really effective.”

The council approved the fire department’s plan to pay off the recent $220,000 purchase of a fire truck.