Friday, December 09, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Time to winterize

What a coincidence. The coldest weather in almost a year hits the state right in the middle of Winter Weather Awareness Week (Dec. 4-9).

The National Weather Service says “the purpose of this week is to remind people what winter weather can bring, and how to deal with hazardous winter conditions.” The freezing temperatures, patches of light ice and even an errant snowflake or two Thursday and Friday could definitely put an exclamation point on that. So now that your attention is on the weather, lets talk about preparation and planning for winter weather.

Although some winter storms develop quickly and with short notice, most events can be planned for.

At home, the primary concerns are for the potential loss of power, heat and telephone service. Food supplies may also run low if conditions persist for several days. Some items that should be readily available around the home before the onset of winter weather include extra food and water, canned goods, a flashlight with extra batteries, first aid supplies and extra medicine, extra baby items, extra blankets and a battery powered weather radio.

Take this time to get ready and, above all, when winter weather hits, check on neighbors, friends and pets. They’ll be glad you did.

EDITORIAL >> New leader for JNPSD

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board this week picked Bryan Duffie, 46, to lead the district over the next three years, beginning July 1. Duffie, who is now assistant superintendent, was offered the top job by a 6-0 vote with one board member absent.

Five people had applied for the job, but only Duffie and Mansfield District Superintendent Robert Ross met the requirement of working for five years as a superintendent and advancing to the interview phase.

Duffie, who has been a teacher, principal and superintendent, is the right person to succeed Superintendent Tony Wood, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Wood is the fledgling district’s second superintendent, having succeeded interim Superintendent Bobby Lester, who helped midwife JNPSD into existence. Duffie brings a can-do attitude to the job as the district faces numerous challenges, not least of them has followed creation of the new district from Jonesboro and wanted to be involved in the process, he said.

Duffie joined the district July 1 as assistant superintendent for support services and oversees transportation, maintenance, child nutrition, technology, security, health services and finance.

Duffie will be paid about $160,000 a year plus moving expenses from Jonesboro, where he worked as superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District for five years. Duffie’s wife and two sons will move to Jacksonville, although he’s not required to live here.

“Dr. Duffie has been involved in the daily operation of the district and will not require months to get up to speed,” Wood said approvingly of his successor.

He brings an enthusiastic attitude to the job, which includes an ambitious building program and implementing federal-court orders on integrating its teaching staff. U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall this week told the parties in the long-running desegregation case to resolve the unitary staffing issue or prepare for trial in September.

Duffie appears up to the task. “It is just an opportunity to be involved in community-based effort, some of it unprecedented,” he said after accepting his new job. He’s impressed by the community support behind this effort, saying, “You don’t always see that everywhere. The community is coming to us to volunteer.”

“We want this to be one of those school districts of choice,” Duffie said. “We’ll develop programs, students and community as a whole. We’ll build a great program for all the kids.”

He’ll do that by hiring the right person for the right position to have a positive impact. “There’s been so much support among the staff. If we stay on that path, we’ll be alright,” Duffie predicted.

Duffie identified facilities as the biggest thing to tackle including the construction of a new high school and elementary school almost immediately and more new elementary schools in the next decade, which should go a long way toward satisfying Judge Marshall.

The new district has a deep bench, including chief of staff Phyllis Stewart and Jeremy Owoh, the other assistant superintendent. Owoh will be the key person to make academic programs more effective, along with training a more diversified teaching staff and attracting new students who will earn the admiration of parents and Judge Marshall, who will then free the Jacksonville district from decades of court interference and letting it concentrate on education.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville man gets 20-year term

A Jacksonville man who was working as a TSA inspector at the time of his arrest was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography.

Raymond Kinney, 55, was arrested in a January 2015 sting while trying to meet two minors for sex after contacting them on the Internet, according to an announcement Wednesday from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

“Protecting the children of Arkansas is one of our highest priorities, and our office will never stop working to bring child predators like Kinney to justice,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Thyer said.

“Parents must be aware of the dangers children face online and protect them on the Internet just as they would in any other public place, and this case demonstrates exactly why,” he said.

Kinney was arrested at a Russellville motel where he drove to meet two children with whom he planned to have sex, according to online messages. He brought sex toys and children’s clothing with him.

Law-enforcement officers, monitoring a social media website, observed Kinney asking minors for sex.

Kinney sent the officers, who were posing as minors, several pictures and videos of child pornography over the Internet. Then they arranged a meeting with him at the motel.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright imposed the maximum sentence allowed by law. Parole is not offered in the federal prison system.

Kinney was also convicted of attempted rape in state court and received a 20-year sentence, which will run concurrently with his federal sentence.

TOP STORY >> NFL star asks help with events

The charitable foundation of Jacksonville-native and NFL defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is seeking sponsors for its annual springtime events in Jacksonville—a family festival and a youth football and cheerleading camp.

McDonald established the McDonald and Associates Collective Collaboration-Light Into Darkness nonprofit group soon after winning the Super Bowl in 2014 with the Seattle Seahawks. He now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We are seeking sponsorships and donations for the third annual Family and Friends Fun Day and fifth annual Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football and Cheer Camp for ages 7-17 on April 7-8, 2017, in Jacksonville,” said Dominique McGrudder, the foundation’s vice president.

Current NFL and college players, trainers and coaches teach young people at the camp football skills in a safe environment that aims to develop discipline, character and personal growth with emphasis on goal setting, hard work, sportsmanship and commitment in order to achieve success.

“Clinton is passionate about hosting these events in his home state of Arkansas. The camp serves as inspiration for the kids and parents that attend the events,” McGrudder said.

McDonald’s mother, Bonnie McDonald’s, explained how the camp was named. “Clinton and Cleyton, his older brother, were growing up, that was scripture I gave them because they were always so competitive with each other. It took it from being just a competition, and one beating the other one, to the two of them helping to improve each other,” she said.

Donations and sponsorships are needed to keep the events inexpensive. “Assist underprivileged youth in reaching their potential athletically, academically and through all facets of life. Educate parents on the recruiting process, academic requirements and deadlines for potential college-bound athletes,” the announcement said.

For more information or to make a pledge, call McGrudder at 501-773-091, visit and

TOP STORY >> District needs more diversity

Leader senior staff writer

U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall on Wednesday set aside the carrot and broke out the stick for the first time in the ongoing desegregation suit involving Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, Pulaski County Special School District and the Joshua Intervenors.

He told the parties to resolve the unitary staffing issue or prepare for trial and reserved Sept. 11, 2017, on his calendar to begin the trial.


“We are going to make progress, one way or the other,” Marshall said.

By that date, JNPSD will have been through its second round of hiring, enough to get an idea of whether or not its hiring practices comply with the desegregation agreement.

He set the week of Feb. 5, 2018, for an evidentiary hearing for pretrial on both issues—staffing and facilities for PCSSD. He set the September trial date for JNPSD.

“I’ve repeatedly asked for cooperation time after time,” Marshall said.

But lawyers for the Intervenors and JNPSD have expressed different standards of what qualifies for unitary.


John Walker, attorney for the Intervenors for about 30 years, believes staff hiring should closely resemble the percentage of black students in the majority black district, while Scott Richardson, representing JNPSD, says the district is doing all it can and that a good-faith effort is the standard.

In regards to attaining unitary status in facilities, Walker maintains that only all new facilities, and quick, is acceptable.

Richardson responded that the district didn’t have enough money to build, in addition to the new high school to open in August 2019 and a new elementary school to open a year earlier, it is working toward another elementary school to be built in 2022.


Walker said the district should look to sources other than existing millage tax and state partnership money. He proposed another tax increase vote.

Richardson countered that district voters last year passed a 7.6-mill increase, and it now has the second-highest school millage in the state.

“It’s not prudent to make plans on money we can’t predict,” Richardson said.

“Three or four years ago, nothing was planned,” Richardson said. “Now we have an extensive plan.”

He told the judge that about 80 percent of the district’s black students would be in new schools, plus the renovated middle school within seven years—this in a part of the district that hasn’t seen a new school built in more than 50 years.


Walker also said exterior renderings of the new Jacksonville High School look like it’s a jail, not a school, and helps prepare students for jail. He compared it to the Pulaski County Detention Facility on Roosevelt Road in Little Rock.

Walker said it would benefit Jacksonville District to include the Joshua Intervenors in planning for the buildings.

He said JNPSD seems disproportionately interested in basketball courts compared to academic spaces.

The judge said that if these issues weren’t resolved soon, “There needs to be a trial so I can decide for better or for worse and the parties can move on, either to appeal or to other things…”

SPORTS STORY >> Lighthouse ladies dominate Marvell

Leader sports editor

The Jackson-ville Lighthouse girls’ basketball team picked up its first win of the season, and first win in three years Tuesday, beating Marvell 38-19 at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club. The Lighthouse boys followed that with their sixth-straight win in a fast-paced 86-78 victory over the Mustangs.

JLC girls’ coach Chris Collier, who took over the program last year, was especially proud of his team since the win came with three preseason projected starters on the bench.

“We’ve got some injuries and other things that have had us shorthanded, so it was really good for these girls to get a win like this,” Collier said. “It shows them what good team defense and hard work can do.”

Lighthouse went into halftime in an unfamiliar position, holding an eight-point lead. Collier was worried his bunch was celebrating a little too early.

“It was really everybody else, too,” Collier said. “We went into halftime and everybody was applauding, and patting them on the back and saying what a great job they had done. I told them this game is not over and we don’t know how to play with a lead because we’ve never had one. And they got the message. They came out playing just as hard, and won it going away.”

Amaya English led the Lady Wolves with 14 points. Marla Duke added eight points and was also a force on defense.

“She’s easily our best defender,” Collier said of Duke. “If she had one steal she had a half dozen.”

Cieara Ellis pulled down 10 rebounds.

“I haven’t figured it up, but I’m sure she’s averaging double digit rebounds per game,” Collier said. “She had a great ballgame Tuesday.”

The win moved the Lady Wolves to 1-9 overall, but 1-0 in the 2A-4 East Conference. They will play another conference game Tuesday at Hazen.

The boys’ game was back and forth throughout the first half. Marvell led 21-17 by the end of the first quarter, but the Wolves battled back for a 38-36 lead by halftime. That margin was up to nine points by the end of the third, when Lighthouse posted 27 points without a single 3-pointer.

Four different Lighthouse players finished in double digits, led by senior Zack Bobo’s 23. Freshman Gerald Doakes had 20. Senior Chris Mims scored 11 and Eric Childs added 10 for the 9-1 Wolves.

It was just Marvell’s second game, and it fell to 1-1.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers seize control in third

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers weren’t sharp, but still didn’t struggle much with the Catholic Rockets on Wednesday in their first game of the Pre-Holiday Classic at Panther Arena.

The defending Class 7A state champions committed 13 turnovers in the first half, but cruised in the second half to a 61-26 victory.

“We didn’t play very good tonight, especially in the first half,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “Our schedule has been so sporadic we haven’t been able to get into much of a rhythm, but we still have to be better than this. Look (pointing at the championship team portrait hanging in the arena) that’s over with, and we have to understand that. It got better in the second half. We platooned a lot this game trying to find some depth. But we just have to better. I can’t say I’m pleased with this game, offensively.”

Both teams committed three turnovers in the first two minutes and both teams stumbled and fumbled to an 8-2 Cabot lead by the end of first quarter.

The Panthers got things rolling momentarily early in the second quarter. Logan Gilbertson scored four quick points while Matt Stanley and Jarrod Barnes each added a basket as Cabot pulled out to a 16-2 advantage with 5:30 left in the half. But that margin was down to 21-8 by halftime, despite Catholic not scoring a single field goal in the second period. The Rockets only managed one basket the whole first half.

Catholic (0-4) then scored the first four points of the third quarter to get within nine, but Cabot took over from there. Barnes and Jalen Brown got back-to-back transition baskets after steals, and Gilbertson scored on a putback for a 27-12 lead.

Bridges replaced all five starters at the 5:32 mark, but back-to-back turnovers brought the first team back onto the floor.

The lead hit 20 points for the first time on a 3-pointer by point guard Bobby Joe Duncan. After a defensive stop, Duncan made another from long range to put the Panthers in front 37-14 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

Bridges put the second five in again at that point, and they took a 43-20 lead into the fourth quarter.

Duncan’s third 3-pointer made it 49-20 with 6:36 left in the game, and Cabot had seven possessions with a 28- or 29-point lead before it reached the 30-point mercy rule margin. Noah Allgood’s transition layup with 3:19 invoked the mercy rule at 54-23.

Ten different Panthers scored. Duncan led the way with 11 while Stanley scored 10.

Cabot’s defense held Catholic to just 14.3 percent from the floor on 6 of 42 shooting. The Rockets made 12 of 22 free-throw attempts and were 2 for 14 from 3-point range.

The Panthers were 26 of 53 overall, including 5 of 16 from outside. They made 5 of 10 free throws and outrebounded Catholic 33-17.

Cabot (5-1) played Magnolia last night after Leader deadlines, and will play the event’s final game at 6 p.m. tonight against White Hall. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

The Panthers are scheduled to host former rival Jacksonville for the first time in several years on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Technical foul call inspires the Titans

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville got its second sweep of the McClellan Crimson Lions on Tuesday in Little Rock. This time around, the win was easier for the Lady Titans while the boys’ had to battle back from a fourth-quarter deficit, instead of the 20-point win it enjoyed at home a week earlier.

The Jacksonville boys trailed by six with two minutes to go before rallying for a 67-59 victory. Assistant coach Brandon Weems took over for head coach Vic Joyner, who is out with illness. He also went most of the first half without leading scorer Tyree Appleby, who suffered a wrist injury against Vilonia.

“He was ready to go, but we wanted to try to rest him a little bit,” said Weems of Appleby. “He played the whole second half and they did a good job on him in the third quarter. We turned the pressure up in the fourth quarter and were able to get the win.”

Appleby was called for a technical foul halfway through the fourth period. After the free throws and ensuing possession, the Lions led 55-49. Jacksonville then closed the game with an 18-4 run.

“We didn’t want to pressure McClellan early because they want a rat race,” Weems said. “Then in the fourth quarter we got that technical, and I didn’t think he did anything to warrant a technical. But that got the crowd into it and they were coming down on us. We had our backs to the wall and applied the pressure. We got in the passing lanes and got some transition baskets. They just refused to lose.”

Appleby scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 23. DaJuan Ridgeway scored 12 of his 21 total points in the fourth period as well. Senior post Chris Williams added 11 for the Titans, who are now 4-2 overall.

The Jacksonville boys finish play in the Bulldog Invitational at Fayetteville today, and will also play at Cabot next Friday.

In the girls’ game, the Lady Titans, which won 52-29 at home against McClellan on Nov. 29, held the Lady Lions to less than half that total in a 55-11 victory.

The lead was 22-5 at halftime, but Jacksonville exploded for 25 points in the third quarter to put the game away. The Lady Titan defense held McClellan to just 19 total shot attempts, while forcing 39 turnovers. Jacksonville (6-5) scored 40 points off those turnovers.

Freshman Shy Christ-opher led all scorers with 15 points. She also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Seniors Dayzya Jordan and Taylor Toombs scored 10 points each. Martina Knight and Alexis James each had seven, and Shatorria Briggs had six points and five steals.

The Lady Titans play in the Dandra Thomas Invitational today at Conway High School, and will travel to Cabot on Friday.

The Jacksonville boys and girls each lost their respective tournament games on Thursday.

The Lady Titans fell to tournament host Conway 68-37 while the boys lost 72-64 to Harrison in the first round of the Bulldog Invitational.

Appleby suffered a severe ankle sprain in the third quarter of the game. Harrison led 39-31 at halftime before Jacksonville rallied to within 48-46 by the start of the fourth quarter.

Look for information on the boys’ and girls’ weekend tournament games in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke solid over Searcy

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits put together their best outing of the season Tuesday when they rolled over Searcy 68-51 at the Gina Cox Center at LHS. It was the team’s second-straight win after snapping a five-game losing streak last week against Lisa Academy, but Lonoke coach Dean Campbell said Tuesday’s outing was much better than either of the two previous victories.

“This was the first game we played well all four quarters,” said Campbell. “We got the win against Lisa Academy, and we needed that. But we didn’t play well in the fourth quarter and didn’t put them away when we really had an opportunity to. Tonight against an ever better team, we came out strong and never let up on them. Things kind of evened out after the first quarter, but we never allowed them to really get back into it. We kept the intensity up and just really played our first complete game of the year.”

Lonoke opened up a 24-9 lead by the end of the first quarter, and did it from the inside and outside. Center Kylon Branscomb scored six of the team’s first eight points. Haven Hunter hit a 3-pointer and Tony Bryant got an easy layup after a Searcy miss that put the Jackrabbit up 11-4 with 3:50 left in the first quarter. It also forced a Searcy timeout.

The break did little to help the Lions.

The Lions got a basket by Joe-Todd Smith out of the break, but Hunter answered with another 3-pointer for a 14-6 lead. Tyrique Jackson then got a steal and slam dunk to make it 16-6 with 2:35 left in the opening frame.

After another Searcy turnover, Jackson put back a Branscomb miss for a 12-point lead with 2:05 on the clock.

Searcy’s Michael Money made a 3-pointer to make it 18-9, but Lonoke finished the period with a 6-0 run on another pair of 3-pointers by Hunter.

After Hunter’s four 3-pointers in the first quarter, Searcy put a man on him for 94 feet and stuck to him no matter where the ball went. That helped keep the margin from getting any bigger the rest of the half, but Lonoke’s defense also kept Searcy from mounting any sort of rally.

The Lions got within 32-22 with 1:06 left in the half, but Lonoke finished strong. Campbell pulled Hunter after a few minutes of him being hounded and essentially making the team a four-man offense. He re-entered for the last minute of the half, and Searcy failed to take notice.

Brayden Bryant found Hunter open in the corner for his fifth 3-pointer of the half. Then, after a Searcy miss, Hunter got the rebound and went the length of the floor for a layup at the buzzer that gave the Jackrabbits a 37-22 lead.

Hunter scored 17 points in the first half, and despite being held to two points in the second half, still finished as the game’s leading scorer.

“He had a great half, but it was all about team play,” Campbell said. “One reason he was open so often is because we were finishing and scoring when we got the ball to the rim.”

The two teams played evenly throughout the third quarter, and Lonoke took a 50-34 lead into the fourth. The margin stayed between 14 an 16 until Tony Bryant penetrated and lobbed an ally-oop to Jackson for a one-handed dunk and a 60-42 Lonoke lead. The same duo hooked up again to make it 64-44 with 2:39 to play. Both teams cleared the bench at that point.

Even more remarkable is that Lonoke’s dominant victory came in spite of being on the wrong end of a 26-4 free-throw differential. Searcy made 19 of 26 foul shots while Lonoke went 3 for 4.

“That’s pretty one-sided, but I honestly didn’t even notice it during the game,” Campbell said. “I’m sure I would have if it had been close.”

Jackson finished with 16 points for Lonoke, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Branscomb scored 12 and made it a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Lonoke outrebounded Searcy 26-17, and were remarkable from the floor. The Jackrabbits made 30 of 55 (54.5%) shot attempts, including 25 of 36 (71.4%) from inside the 3-point line. That while holding Searcy (2-6) to just 15 of 47 (32%) from the floor, including 2 of 6 from 3-point range.

Lonoke played at Valley Springs on Friday. Look for information on that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader. The Jackrabbits will play at Beebe on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits get sweep against Lisa Academy

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke basketball teams got a pair of wins at home Tuesday, sweeping Lisa Academy in boys’ and girls’ matchups.

The boys took a 59-40 win. The Lonoke girls were scarcely challenged in a 61-9 victory.

Lady Jackrabbits mercifully didn’t score at all in the fourth quarter after building a 61-5 lead through three quarters.

Lonoke girls’ coach Heath Swinney weren’t even trying very hard to score in the last eight minutes.

“I told them only two players were even allowed to shoot,” said Swiney, whose Lady Rabbits improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the combined conference with the win.

The Lonoke boys (2-5, 1-2) were in a close game for one quarter. Tyrique Jackson scored nine of his 15 points in the first period, to lead the Jackrabbits to a 13-11 lead. The only other Lonoke player to score in the first quarter was Kylon Branscomb, but more Jackrabbits got in on the action in the second period as the home team began to pull away.

Branscomb and Haven Hunter each hit 3-pointers to spark a Lonoke run, and the Jackrabbits took a 33-19 lead into halftime.

The margin grew gradually throughout the second half. Branscomb continued to be the go-to man for Lonoke. He scored six in the third while Tyler Spencer, Isaac Toney, TaMarrea Moore and Nick Tate each posted one bucket.

The Jackrabbits took a 47-30 lead into the fourth quarter, and despite making just 2 of 7 free throws in the final frame, was never seriously threatened.

Branscomb finished with 21 points to lead all scorers.

Lonoke’s boys and girls played Tuesday at home against two different Class 6A opponents. The Lady Jackrabbits played Russellville while the boys faced Searcy. Look for information on those games in Saturday’s edition of The Leader. The Jackrabbits and ladies head up Highway 65 on Friday for a doubleheader against Class 3A powerhouse Valley Springs.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot senior wins at Central

Leader sports editor

The wrestling season got underway Saturday as the Cabot Panthers took part in the Little Rock Central Classic. Panther senior Harris Sutton picked up right where he left off as the defending state champion in the 220-pound division. He went 3-0 and won his weight class again on Saturday, but he is the leader of a very young and inexperienced Cabot team this year.

Sutton’s 26 points accounted for all but five of Cabot’s varsity points. C.J. Long went 2-2 for the Panthers’ only other two wins in the varsity tournament.

The junior varsity team, consisting almost entirely of freshmen, as does most of the varsity team, fared better. Mikale Nelson won the 152-pound division in the JV tournament while several other team members won at least one match.

Cabot coach David Payne is taking a patience-first approach to such a young team this season.

“We have a very young team, and although the results don’t show it, they did a very good job,” said Payne. “It was the first time 90 percent of them have wrestled. This group comes to the gym every day eager to learn and works extremely hard. I was proud of the way they competed.”

Sutton received a bye through the first round. In the quarterfinals, he made short work of Little Rock Central’s Jermaine Taylor, pinning Taylor just over a minute into the match. It took slightly longer for Sutton to take care of Benton’s Hunter Lansford. He fell at the 1:56 mark to send Sutton into the championship match against Greenbrier’s Drew McCoy.

SPORTS STORY >> Wolves defeat Power Center and Glen Rose

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville Lighthouse aided central Arkansas’ cause in the annual Battle of the Border event that took place Saturday between teams from central Arkansas and the Memphis area. The Wolves knocked off Power Center Academy of Memphis 72-58 at Hall High School’s Cerk Arena.

Playing in the event’s opening game at 11 a.m., JLC coach Kelvin Parker tried his best to rest his starters as much as possible because of a 5 p.m. game that same day at the Conway Regional Tournament at Conway Christian.

But it didn’t happen. Despite once leading by as much as 24 points, the starters were forced back onto the floor when the margin dwindled to 60-50, and got to as little as 60-55 after the starters re-entered.

“We just didn’t try to play any team defense with these guys,” said Parker. “We haven’t learned to put anybody away yet. We’ve got to do better than this.”

Power Center Academy had not won a game coming into the event, and had lost its most recent game 115-64. JLC was able to expose why early in the first quarter when it took advantage of numerous wild shots and turnovers to race out to a 15-5 lead with three minutes left in the opening period.

Freshman Gerald Doakes had 11 of those, including three-straight 3-pointers.

The Wolves then started playing just as sloppily, and by the 6:50 mark of the second quarter, the Knights had tied the game at 15-15.

Parker called a timeout and said something to recharge his squad. The Wolves came out of the break in a fullcourt press, and went on a 20-4 run over the next six minutes, including an 11-point outburst in 70 seconds.

Zack Bobo made 1 of 2 free throws with 5:55 left in the half for the first JLC points since the three-minute mark of the first quarter. After a turnover, Bobo hit a 3-pointer with 5:38 to go in the second quarter.

Doakes then got a steal and finished the transition with a one-handed slam dunk. Bobo followed suit with his own steal and dunk before another turnover turned into another Doakes 3-pointers. With 4:45 left in the half, JLC led 26-15.

The Knight’s hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to send the game into intermission with JLC leading 35-22.

The lead reached its peak at 59-35 late in the third quarter before Parker pulled all his key players and tried to finish the game with the JV team.

The starters went back into the game at the 5:33 mark with a 60-50 lead. At 5:08 it was 60-55 before the Wolves regained control and finished on a 12-3 run.

Doakes led all scorers and had a phenomenal game from the outside. He finished with 28 points, including six 3-pointers in nine attempts. Bobo turned in a double-double. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds to go with four steals and three assists. Chris Mims added 10 points for the Wolves.

Later that day, The Wolves held off Glen Rose for a 58-55 first-round win in the Conway Regional Tournament. Mims led all players in that game with 19 points while Bobo added 15.

The Wolves (7-1) will host Marvell on Tuesday before returning to the Conway tournament on Thursday.

SPORTS STORY >> Runs aid Titan win at Vilonia

Leader sports editor

In another streaky performance, the Jacksonville Titans finished with a strong one to hand the Vilonia Eagles their first loss of the season Friday at VHS. The whole game was a series of scoring bursts and lulls by Jacksonville. It started with a huge first-quarter run that put the Titans up 20-10. From that point, the game ebbed and flowed to a final of 66-57.

Jacksonville’s DaJuan Ridgeway opened the second half with a 3-pointer that gave the Titans their biggest lead of the game at 41-28. It also kickstarted Vilonia’s best run and Jacksonville’s longest drought of the game.

The Titans’ next five possessions ended in four turnovers and one missed layup as the Eagles pulled to within 41-35 and forced Titan coach Vic Joyner to call timeout with 3:16 left in the third quarter. Joe Phillips scored for Jacksonville after the timeout, and the two teams traded baskets the rest of the period.

Jacksonville led 49-43 going into the fourth quarter, and the Titans tried to burn some clock with the first possession of the period. It didn’t go well.

Jacksonville (4-2) did manage to burn almost two minutes off the clock, but the possession ended when Ridgeway turned it over. He also fouled Vilonia’s Nate Norman as he hit a layup in transition after the steal. Norman made the foul shot to pull the Eagles to within 49-46 with 5:57 left in the game.

Ridgeway, a senior guard, quickly made up for the mistakes. He hit a 3-pointer on Jacksonville’s next possession, then got his own steal and layup to again make it an 8-point game less than a minute later.

Jacksonville’s Christian White then deflected an entry pass before dribbling straight down the middle of the court and finishing with a thunderous two-handed slam that put the Titans up by 10 with 3:56 left in the game.

After another defensive stop, Jacksonville ran almost a minute off the clock before Ridgeway found Brylin Estes under the basket for an easy layup that made it 58-46 with 2:50 remaining.

Jacksonville’s run finally ended at 11-0 after senior guard Tyree Appleby got into the lane for a finger roll lay-in and a 60-46 with 2:25 left in the game.

“We still aren’t doing a good job of playing with a lead,” said Joyner. “We had way too many turnovers, and almost all of them came after we’d get a lead and start losing focus. But I’m not all negative. We beat a solid, undefeated, veteran team on their home floor. Vilonia’s a hell of a team. So we had to have done something right. We just have to keep getting better if we want to take it to the next level.”

Appleby led Jacksonville with 15 points while Ridgeway added 14. White played limited minutes, but scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds as the fifth man off the bench for the Titans. The 6-foot-4 junior is one of the most athletic players on the team, and Joyner is expecting more from him and sophomore Joe Phillips on the inside as the season progresses.

“Christian just has to get his motor revved down a little bit and he can help us,” Joyner said. “Instead of being revved up to 110 like he is ALL the time. He’s always so revved up and he’s out of control. Tonight we got 70 mile-per-hour Christian White, and we can deal with that. He just has to learn to park that Camaro and drive the Subaru.”

Post player C.J. Williford led Vilonia with 15 points while Hayden Patterson came off the bench to score 10 for the Eagles (4-1).

Jacksonville committed 16 turnovers, but none in the fourth quarter. The Titans had a phenomenal shooting night, hitting 20 of 31 2-point attempts and 5 of 12 from 3-point range. They went 11 of 17 from the foul line and outrebounded Vilonia 28-16.

Injuries have severely depleted the Lady Titans and that lack of depth was apparent in their 56-31 loss to Vilonia. Jacksonville coach Marian Kursh only had seven players available for Friday’s game from her roster of 15. The Lady Titans struggled offensively, making just 12 of 51 shot attempts and committing 24 turnovers. They also made just 6 of 18 free-throw attempts and were 1 of 7 from 3-point range.

Senior Dayzya Jordan led Jacksonville with 16 points while freshman Shy Christopher added 10.

EDITORIAL >> Pearl Harbor: Date of Infamy

Dec. 7, 1941.

It was going to be just another Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor, with the rising sun glistening over the ocean’s blue and green oily sheen, a mixture of sweet plumeria and diesel awakening a mix of humanity from the military to civilian pipefitters to the Chinese and old and new Hawaiians, sustaining the prophecies of the ancients who had named the island Oahu “the Gathering Place” – a day like any other Sunday morning.

But that changed just before 8 a.m. when the Japanese Empire attacked Pearl Harbor and the entire island with wave after wave of Zeroes leaving death and destruction everywhere. What was just another Sunday morning became one that would live in infamy.

Even though 2,008 sailors, 218 soldiers and airmen, 109 Marines and 68 civilians were killed in the attack, which dragged us into World War II and thousands more were injured, that Sunday, that day of infamy is closely becoming just another Sunday again.

Today, on the 75th anniversary of the attack, with fewer than 2,000 survivors alive, many Americans have forgotten the true horror of that day. We were harshly reminded on Sept. 11, 2001, of what people bent on killing can do, but even 9/11, when even more men, women and children were killed than at Pearl Harbor, is fading deep in the recesses of most minds.

This can’t happen to Pearl Harbor. Dec. 7 cannot become just another Sunday.

We have to remember how that Sunday morning started and ended: Peaceful, pretty with rolls of clouds over mountains and the sun beginning to warm the day. On the Utah, a retired battleship, the colors were hoisted proudly. The ship was being prepared to be a target vessel, little did anyone realize that within minutes it would truly be a target.

Initially, there were three planes flying low from the south. Many looked, watching, curiously wondering who was flying at that hour. A moment later men on the ship heard explosions on the other side of Pearl Harbor in the midst of the collection of battleships. By then planes were coming in from every direction, so low, one could see the Rising Sun on the wings. The Utah was hit; the abandon-ship order was given. One man sliding down the mooring lines was literally ripped into by Japanese Zero machine gunfire, but hung on for an eternity before falling dead into the oily water below.

Web Edwards, one of Hawaii’s most respected entertainers, was on the radio, repeating, repeating and repeating, “This is no drill. Pearl Harbor is under attack. This is no drill.”

That Sunday, which was supposed to be just another Sunday, became a scene from hell as the water literally burned across Pearl Harbor, mushroom clouds of black putrid smoke bellowed high into the sky permeating with deathly screams from those whom no one could help. The battleships, so strong, so powerful, so invincible the day before were broken, crippled agonies caged in by an inferno of orange flame and ominous black smoke.

When the USS Shaw was hit, eyewitnesses, said it appeared to disintegrate into a million pieces, turning into a great fireball that sent scraps of metal twisting and flying out into the sky, landing as much as an eighth of a mile away.

The attack lasted slightly more than an hour.

The USS Arizona was down and with it most of its men. Some never recovered. The USS Oklahoma had capsized, trapping men inside who were knocking on the outer hull to get out. Acetylene torching couldn’t be used with all the floating gas and oil on and around the ship, so workers had to use air-driven chisels. More than 30 men were pulled out from chiseled openings in the bottom hulls.

But, in the end, 429 USS Oklahoma lives were lost, including the first chaplain death of the war on that Sunday morning.

Just the day before, the local newspaper had announced the winners of the DAR oratory contest. Second place went to Japanese-American youngster Teruo Masatsuga with her speech, “A United America.”

First place and a prize of $15 went to George Akira, 15, who said, in part, “From tropical Hawaii to the rock-bound shores of Maine, to the snow-clad plains of the Dakotas to sunny Texas, let us, Americans all, rally around the Stars and Stripes in the defense of our way of life.”

Little did he know how true those words would ring that Sunday morning. He went on in his speech, “With the love of democracy burning in our hearts and minds, we cannot fail – we must not fail!”

Now, 75 years after that fateful Sunday, we must still heed the words of that plump-cheeked 15-year-old and not fail to forget that Sunday is a day that will and should live in infamy and not become just another Sunday.

“We must not fail.”

TOP STORY >> Pearl Harbor film on Sunday

Leader staff writer

To most World War II movie fans “Tora! Tora! Tora!” is a must-see and is considered the most accurate retelling of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today is the 75th anniversary of that attack.

“Military buffs like that it doesn’t have romance. It’s a war movie, and it’s truly historically correct,” says DannaKay Duggar, Jacksonville Museum of Military History director.

Now, local movie buffs, or anyone interested, have an opportunity to see the 1970 Japanese-American film in its entirety at the military museum’s theater. The museum is located at 100 Veterans Circle.

Before the movie is shown at 1 p.m. Sunday, Duggar says the staff is serving a light lunch.

The plan was to make it easy for Sunday churchgoers who might have to skip their noon meal in order to make the movie. They have also planned an intermission because the movie is two hours and 25 minutes long.

While the military museum isn’t charging for admission, she says they are accepting cash donations, which in turn will be used to support their operation.

Seating is limited to 75, and “we need to know how much to order for lunch,” Duggar says.

So, anyone interested in attending needs to RSVP by Friday morning by calling 501-241-1943 or emailing

In addition to the movie, there are a number of other activities scheduled around central Arkansas in observance of the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, which can be found on the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum website,


“Tora! Tora! Tora!” was nominated for five Academy Awards, including for best art direction, best cinematography, best film editing and best sound, and it won for best special effects.

It was directed by Richard Fleischer, Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku and stars Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotton, Sô Yamamura, E.G. Marshall, James Whitmore and Jason Robards.

In addition to the actual early morning bombing of Pearl Harbor, the directors looked at the actions leading up to that moment, including the United States’ trade embargo of Japan, which influenced the island nation’s rushed decision to side with Germany, escalating political tensions between the U.S. and Japan.

The movie also looks at the U.S. military’s strategic mistakes, such as docking of ships at Pearl Harbor and parking planes on the runway instead of under cover — these made America’s military resources vulnerable to attack.

The movie illustrates how the attack, which killed about 2,500 people, was planned for months.


For some, the Major Jacob Gray Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution’s annual holiday collection drive is about giving but for many of our military veterans, its greatly needed, says Duggar.

So once again, the military museum staff is stepping up and collecting new items that will be donated to Community Living Center units’ patients at Fort Roots VA Hospital.

The units include the Dementia Care, Geriatric Specialty, sub-acute, respite and short- and long-term care units, she says.

The patients need clothing, including white and colored, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, sizes large through XXX large; sweatpants and shirts, sizes medium through 3X; men’s and women’s underwear, sizes medium through XX large; men’s tennis shoes, sizes 9 through 14; and men’s shoes, women’s shoes, non-slip shower shoes, flip flops and house shoes, men’s sizes 11 through 14 and women’s sizes 5 through 10.

Personal care items are also needed, including shampoo, body wash, deodorant, hair oil, hair spray, toothbrushes, holders, toothpaste, denture adhesive, soap dishes and single-edge razors. Most products are needed for men and women.

Other needed items are liquid laundry soap, high-efficiency detergent, magnifying glasses, reading glasses 1 though 2.5, pocket calculators, sugar free candy, large-print puzzle books, gift cards, lap and full-length Americana service blankets, and craft items for men and women, such as models, and leather and needlecraft supplies.

“We also accept cash donations,” but the checks need to be made out to CVAHS Voluntary Services, designated to the Community Living Center, Duggar says.

For anyone interested in making a donation, Duggar says they will be accepting items or cash until Friday, Dec. 30.

Volunteers are also needed at Fort Roots. For a list of opportunities, call 501-257-3288.

TOP STORY >> Funds help honor graves of soldiers

First Arkansas Bank and Trust donated $16,000 to the Wreaths Across America program during a ceremony with Gold Star families on Monday morning at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery on Maryland Avenue in Sherwood.

The Christmas wreaths will be placed on every headstone in the cemetery, approximately 5,000, on Saturday, Dec. 17 by family members of those buried, but the public is welcome to participate.

About 3,400 wreaths had been sold or donated until First Arkansas Bank agreed to purchase 1,600 more wreaths to include all headstones at the cemetery.

Angela Beason is a boardmember with the Arkansas Run for the Fallen, a nonprofit that honors Arkansans who have died in service to the nation and is coordinating the wreaths program locally.

“I am so very, very honored and excited to say that First Arkansas Bank and Trust has made a donation of $16,000 to sponsor wreaths and every veteran’s headstone will receive a wreath this year,” Beason said.

Beason, a math teacher at Cabot High School, first started working with the wreaths program two years ago. But because of the bank’s donation, this will be the first time all of the gravestones will receive wreaths.

First Arkansas Bank and Trust president and CEO Larry Wilson, said, “We are excited to participate in this appreciation of our veterans and to demonstrate that we continue to acknowledge the contributions veterans have made to our community and to our country.”

Wilson and his son, Mark, the bank’s senior vice president and chief credit officer, presented the check, along with other bank executives.

“We have some of the family members represented here today whose sons and husbands and fathers are buried here at this cemetery. We have been a proud supporter of our veterans for many, many years. We began operation on (Little Rock Air Force Base) in 1955 when the base opened. And have been very supportive of the active duty and veterans in the area ever since so it was only right that we try to help the Arkansas Run for the Fallen to make this happen,” Wilson said at the ceremony.

The Gold Star family members attending the ceremony included Vicky Fowler, whose son, Marine Cpl. Justin Fowler of Little Rock, is buried at the cemetery. He died in an accident in Okinawa, Japan, in 2011.

Pam Wassom of Cabot, the mother of Master Sgt. Dan Wassom, 31, was also at the ceremony with other family members. The sergeant, a loadmaster with the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, died protecting his daughters, 5 and 7, with his wife, Suzanne, when a tornado ripped through Vilonia, killing 16 people in April 2014.

The family of Cpl. Loren Miles Buffalo, 20, of Mountain Pine (Garland County) was also represented at the ceremony. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in March 2011.

Relatives of Army Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Kordsmeier, 43, of North Little Rock were also at the cemetery. He died in a rocket attack in Iraq in April 2004.

“We stepped up to make sure that all our veterans are properly honored during this holiday season. We are two days from the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and it really brings us home to think about the sacrifices that have been made for the benefit of us and the freedoms that we enjoy here in our country,” Wilson said.

Roger Sundermeier, marketing director for First Arkansas Bank, said, “This marks the first year that all headstones in the Sherwood cemetery will be provided a wreath, which makes it a huge milestone for the Wreaths Across America and Arkansas Run for the Fallen program.

“As the Military Bank of the Year for the Air Force, and with or roots being in a military town, it makes great sense for First Arkansas Bank and Trust to step up to provide this funding. Beyond that, it’s just the right thing to do,” Sundermeier said.

TOP STORY >> JNPSD hires Duffie as its next top boss

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board on Monday picked Assistant Superintendent Bryan Duffie, 46, to lead the district over the next three years, starting July 1.

He was offered the job by a 6-0 vote, with board secretary Carol Miles absent.

Duffie has followed creation of the new district from Jonesboro and wanted to be involved in the process, he said.

“It is just an opportunity to be involved in this community-based effort, some of it unprecedented,” he said. He’s impressed by the community’s support of the district, he said. “You don’t always see that everywhere. The community is coming to us to volunteer.”

“We want this to be one of those school districts of choice,” Duffie said. “We’ll develop programs, students and the community as a whole. We’ll build a great program for all the kids.”

One key to that? “Hire the right person for the right position to have a positive impact. There’s been so much support among the staff—if we stay on that path we’ll be all right.”


Going forward, Duffie identified facilities as the biggest thing to tackle. He said the other assistant superintendent, Jeremy Owoh, would be the point man to make academic programs more effective by training the teachers.

Duffie said he knew when he took the assistant superintendent’s job in March that Wood would retire at the end of this school year, and he said he hoped to compete for the job for which he was chosen Monday.

He called the uniqueness of the opportunity of being part of molding the brand new system intriguing. “I really thought that if I had an opportunity to be part of that, I would want to do that,” Duffie said.

Some details have yet to be worked out, but Duffie and the board agreed in principle on a contract that pays about $160,000 a year and provides some moving expenses. Duffie’s wife and two sons live in the Jonesboro area, where he worked as superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District for five years.

At the end of this school year his family will join him in Jacksonville, where he’s been house-hunting.


JNPSD doesn’t require the superintendent to live in the district, but Duffie, who says community is the key to a successful school district, said he will move to Jacksonville soon.

Five people applied for the job, but only Duffie and Mansfield District Superintendent Robert Ross met the requirement of working for five years as a superintendent and advancing to the interview phase.

Wood, the current superintendent, said it was obvious since Duffie was hired last spring that he could be a strong candidate for the job when Wood retired.

Wood said, “I felt his eventual hiring (to succeed me) was a possibility. I feel real positive that this district is going to progress down the road at a rapid pace.”

He said he believes Duffie, with whom he has worked closely since March launching the new district, “has the can do, the want to do and the will do,” of a successful leader.

Duffie began work July 1 as assistant superintendent for support services and oversees transportation, maintenance, child nutrition, technology, security, health services and finance, according to the district’s Chief of Staff Phyllis Stewart.

“Dr. Duffie has been involved in the daily operation of the district and will not require months to get up to speed,” Wood said.

“We’ve had the pleasure to see him at work, his résumé is very impressive, we’ve worked with him the first few weeks of the year,” said school board president Daniel Gray. “He’s a communicator and a people person,” Gray said.

The board especially valued the importance of a smooth transition, his tutelage working with Wood and his work building up staff helped smooth the way, Gray said.

Gray said lots of challenges lay ahead for the new superintendent “to get from where we are to where we want to be.”

“The district needs to achieve unitary status; we want to be competitive, academically. We want to be the district of choice, building new schools, attracting new students and pushing them,” Gray said

Duffie was superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District at Jonesboro from 2010-2016. Before that he was middle school and high school principal there since 2005. For a dozen years before that, he worked for North Little Rock High School-East Campus.

Monday, December 05, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside fends off Badgers’ late rally

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears remained undefeated with hard-fought 60-47 win over a vastly improved Beebe boys’ team Tuesday in Sherwood. Sylvan Hills led at the end of every quarter, but didn’t have the win secured until late in the fourth quarter, despite taking a 10-point lead into the final frame.

Bear coach Kevin Davis wanted to see his team close it out better, but still sees steady progress from his largely inexperienced group.

“We’re 4-0, and three of them have been really close,” said Davis. “We beat Lake Hamilton down there and that went to the wire. We beat Morrilton at home and that went to overtime. I thought we had a chance to put this one away a little sooner than we did, but Beebe is a much better team this year than they have been. I don’t want to take anything away from them and how much they’ve improved. But I thought we had a little lapse in focus there in the fourth quarter when they got back in it. Hopefully we’ll learn from that and won’t let that happen again.”

Sylvan Hills led 47-37 at the end of the third quarter, but Beebe scored six-straight to start the fourth to make it a four-point game with five minutes remaining. Senior Badger K.J. O’Neill hit two free throws to start the run. Back-to-back Bear turnovers led to back-to-back penetrating layups by D’Andre Butler that made it 47-43 with 5:05 left.

With 2:38 left in the game, Sylvan Hills’ offense still had made just one basket in the period, but the defense had still preserved a 49-45 lead after a Brad Worthington basket for Beebe.

Badger coach Ryan Marshall called timeout after Worthington’s basket at the 2:38 mark, and it was all Sylvan Hills from that point. Jordan Washington started the run with a 6-footer from inside the lane. After a Beebe turnover, Jacobe Davis hit Zion Butler for an alley-oop layup that made it 53-45. After a Grant Jackson miss on Beebe’s end, Justin Glasco hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:30 remaining that gave the Bears an 11-point lead and all but sealed the win for the home team.

“We took fewer 3-pointers in the second half and we made more, and there’s a good reason for that,” Davis said. “Early on we weren’t taking shots in the rhythm of our offense. This group broke a team record in practice on our outside shooting drills that we do. They scored the highest of any team I’ve ever had. We don’t make them in games because we don’t take the right shots. We did a better job of that in the second half tonight.”

The Bears went 3 for 7 from outside in the second half after going 2 for 18 in the first half.

Beebe (1-3) jumped out to a quick lead with Worthington starting the game red hot from the floor. He made four baskets over a three-minute stretch as Beebe jumped out to a 12-5 lead. Sylvan Hills closed the first quarter with a 7-0 run over the last four minutes to take a 13-12 lead, but Beebe came right back.

Butler scored four-straight, the last two coming on a steal and layup that put the Badgers up 19-14 with 5:35 to go in the first half. But again, the Bears came back to lead 30-26 at halftime.

Washington got into foul trouble and junior Alex Curry took over inside and became a force on the boards. Meanwhile Jacobe Davis and Butler combined for 13 points to put the Bears in front.

Jacobe Davis and Worthington tied for high scoring honors with 19 points apiece. O’Neill added 12 for Beebe while Washington scored 11 for the Bears.

Both teams will be busy next week. The Sylvan Hills boys and girls will host Batesville on Tuesday before entering tournament play in various spots.

The Sylvan Hills boys will play Mountain Home at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Cyclone Classic at Russellville High School.

The Badger boys will face Greenbrier at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Northwestern/Modern Woodmen Classic at Morrilton.