Friday, January 27, 2017

TOP STORY >> Edwards will open in Beebe

Edwards Cash Saver at 1701 W. Dewitt Henry Drive in Beebe will have its grand opening with a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the old Knight’s Super Foods location.

The 50,000-square-foot store has been completely remodeled and the parking lot has been repaved.

“It is a good regional store that will pull in customers from several towns. We look forward to open ing on Wednesday,” owner Steve Edwards said.

During the grand opening, Edwards is giving away silver dollars to the first 300 customers and a free bag of Best Choice grocery items to the first 100 customers.

Shoppers can register to win a 35-quart Yeti cooler.

The Edwards stores have become known as “the Meat People,” and the Beebe store will include a large meat department. It will include the finest meats at great prices featuring certified Angus beef.

“We’re looking forward to serving the community,” meat department manager Johnny Garcia said.

Although the store will not include a full-service deli, it will have a large smoker making hot smoked ribs, chickens, pork, brisket and other meat items available daily.

The store will also have a large fresh produce department, along with a full selection of name brand and private-label grocery items.

Because this is a Cost Plus supermarket similar to the Edwards Cash Saver stores in Jacksonville and North Little Rock, all of this will be available at the store’s cost plus 10 percent at checkout.

Edwards entered the central Arkansas market in 2009 after operating in east Arkansas for five decades.

In addition to Beebe and Jacksonville, Edwards has supermarkets in Forrest City, Harrisburg, Marianna and four locations in Little Rock, one in North Little Rock and Bryant and convenience stores in McCrory and Augusta.

Gary Proffitt of Cabot, Edwards’ vice president of operations, supervises stores in central Arkansas.

He oversaw the remodeling of the old Knight’s stores in Beebe and Jacksonville.

The Jacksonville store opened in April.

Proffitt began working for Knight’s while he was still in high school.

He gained extensive management experience while working for the Megamarket and Food 4 Less chains and later as a retail counselor for Fleming Foods.

TOP STORY >> Women tell of Brooke’s demands

Leader staff writer

Ward District Court probation officer Mark Brooke allegedly exchanged sex for community service hours with two female probationers according to a search warrant affidavit issued in Lonoke County Circuit Court.

Brooke, 53, who’s married, was arrested last week by the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly soliciting prostitution from an undercover officer posing as one of his probationers. He was charged with sexual solicitation and theft of services for improper use of a city-issued cell phone. Both are misdemeanors, but the case is being handled in circuit court.

Brooke has plea and arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 6 at the Lonoke County Courthouse.

He is the son of Mayor Art Brooke and a pastor at Cornerstone Assembly church. The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office set up a sting after receiving complaints about Mark Brooke’s conduct.


According to the arrest affidavit, the sheriff’s office received a report last June from a woman being held at the Lonoke County Detention Center. She alleged that she had sex with Brooke on several occasions while she was on probation through Ward District Court. The sex was in exchange for compensation for her probation and/or community service.

She said Brooke took her to different motels in Pulaski and Lonoke counties, where they had sex. She said one motel in North Little Rock near I-40 had a swimming pool. The woman said she heard of other probationers who had similar encounters with Brooke.


On Jan. 3, a second female probationer reported to the sheriff’s office alleging sex in exchange for community service hours with Brooke. The woman said she was on probation in Ward District Court. She told detectives she was scared to deny sex to Brooke. He told her about different women on probation with him who made allegations against him. He said he had them arrested for violating their probation.

According to the woman the first day she reported to Brooke’s office for community service he took her during business hours to a hotel off I-40 near the JFK Exit. Brooke told her that he was taking her to the “Hot Tub.”

She told investigators she did not have sex with him then. Brooke had her remove her clothes and get into a hot tub with him, who was also nude.

The woman said she would receive hours of community service for the time spent with him at the hotel. She said they met multiple times during the summer of 2016.

The woman provided investigators the hotel location and a room key card for the hotel from one of the times they met.

She said she met with Brooke and did what he asked for fear of going to jail.

Detectives confirmed the information with the hotel in North Little Rock. They obtained documents through a subpoena that showed Brooke renting a room in June, July and August 2016. One of the rooms was the same room number on the key card provided by the woman.


On Jan. 17, the sheriff’s office had a female deputy go undercover to investigate the allegations made against Brooke. The deputy went to Ward District Court on a made up charge and was sentenced to probation. She met with Brooke that evening.

According to the affidavit, Brooke almost immediately had an inappropriate conversation with her. They talked about her job as a stripper at the Paper Moon Club in Little Rock. Brooke talked about private shows and how he liked performing a sex act. The comments were made while he was advising the woman about her probation and when to contact him and when to come to his office.

The next day the undercover deputy received a call from Brooke. He said he wanted to meet up the same day for a “lap dance.” Brooke made several other calls to the deputy.

Investigators reported that Brooke’s conversations were clearly soliciting the woman for sex.

A meeting was set up and Brooke was taken into custody for sexual solicitation.

During an interview with detectives, Brooke confirmed he had a sexual relationship with one of the female probationers who reported the activities to the sheriff’s office and said he had taken her to hotels in North Little Rock.

He denied that it was in connection with her probation, claiming it was on a “personal level.”

Detectives believe there may be other women who have been or are currently on probation that Brooke had sex with and are continuing their investigation.

TOP STORY >> Magistrate skeptical of lawsuit

Leader staff writer

A lawsuit filed against Sherwood, Pulaski County and Judge Milas Hale by the ACLU on behalf of five individuals claiming Sherwood’s hot check court is nothing but “a debt enforcement and collection scheme” has been recommended for dismissal.

Filed last August, the suit said that the hot check court denied “due process for a steady stream of local citizens.”

The suit claimed Sherwood “through a labyrinth – and lucrative – system, can have a single check for $15 returned for insufficient funds that can be leveraged into many thousands of dollars in court costs, fines and fees.”

But Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe didn’t see it that way and has recommended that the case be dismissed. The American Civil Liberties Union has 12 days left to object, and they plan to do so.

“We respectfully disagree with the magistrate’s recommendation. We will continue to fight for the rights of our clients and others subject to abusive debtors’ prison practices,” said Rita Sklar, ACLU executive director.

Volpe looked at the merits of the case at the request of U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr., who will make the final decision in the case.

Attorney Michael Mosley, who is representing both the city and Judge Hale, said he was very pleased with the recommendation. “It shows that we had a very sound and accurate argument.”

Sherwood City Attorney Steve Cobb echoed Mosley’s thoughts, “We are very encouraged by this decision.”

“A state may not punish an individual just because he or she is poor,” was the opening statement in the 58-page, 11-count suit filed by four individuals, Charles Dade, Nakita Lewis, Nikki Petree and Lee Robertson, that have been tied up in Sherwood’s hot check court for years.

A fifth individual, Philip Axelroth, listed as a plaintiff, has never been prosecuted under Sherwood’s hot check laws, yet, according to Volpe’s eight-pages of findings, argues that “defendants are misusing and misapplying public funds received from taxes paid by arresting and incarcerating individuals” through the hot check court.

Shortly after Judge Hale was served with the lawsuit, he said that he had nothing to hide. “I have a seat to the right of me for the press to come in anytime and see what we are doing,”

The lawsuit pushed the issue of “threat and the reality of incarceration to trap their poorest citizens in a never-ending spiral of repetitive court proceedings and ever increasing debt.”

In his recommendation for dismissal, Volpe judged the merits of the case against the Younger Abstention Doctrine, and the ACLU suit did not meet the needed requirements.

“I do not recommend dismissal lightly,” the judge said in his report. “However, after careful consideration of the pleadings, I find dismissal appropriate.”

Volpe believes that the plaintiffs have plenty of other avenues to voice their concerns and complaints in the normal court proceeding and appeals. “The Plaintiffs’ unwillingness to pursue any relief in state court fails to support showing of ‘great immediate’ irreparable injury,” Volpe said in his findings.

“The arguments put forth by the defendants in the case seek to insulate government actions from review,” Sklar said. “The recommendations of the magistrate did not touch the merits of our clients’ claims and instead are based on procedural/jurisdictional matters. We are heartened that the magistrate judge denied all the defendants’ arguments except for this narrow issue,” she said.

The original lawsuit made a number of claims that seemed to have been exaggerated.

The suit claimed that the hot check division generated about 12 percent of the city’s $21 million general fund, but, according to an analysis by The Leader, the hot check division, by itself, covers only about 4 percent of the budget.

The ACLU suit also contended that the plaintiffs had “not a single advocate to whom to turn to understand and assert their rights.”

The suit alleged that the court has no recordings or transcripts of the proceedings and holds no hearing on the closure of the criminal proceedings. “The secrecy shrouding proceedings … also ensures violations of hot check defendants’ constitutional rights, as alleged in this complaint, go unchecked and unchallenged,” the suit states.

According to the suit, the Sherwood court has about 49,000 active hot check cases (based on 2011 figures) and issues, on average, “96 warrants a day, 365 days a year.”

Records show the hot-check division brought in $798,690 in 2014, $708,448 in 2015 and around $700,000 in 2016.

Mosley said it was not unusual for a federal judge to assign certain aspects of a case to a magistrate or lower-level judge. Federal judges are appointed to life terms, while magistrates are 10-year positions.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers put Grizzlies out in the fourth

Leader sports editor

A second half collapse cost the Panthers their first conference loss last week, so they made sure it didn’t happen again on Tuesday. That’s when the defending Class 7A state champions came from behind in the second half to defeat Fort Smith Northside 65-50 at Panther Arena.

Northside held a 27-24 lead at halftime, but the home team dominated the last two quarters of play, especially the fourth. The Panthers took a 43-40 lead into the final frame and led 46-44 with six minutes to go, and it was all Cabot from that point.

The Panthers (14-2, 4-1 in 7A-Central) closed the game with a 19-6 run, holding the Grizzlies to just eight points total in the final frame.

The run started with Logan Gilbertson making a short jumper for a 48-44 Cabot lead. After a defensive stop, Jalen Brown drained a long 3-pointer to make it a seven-point game with four minutes left.

Kourtland Mondier responded with a basket for Northside with just under three minutes remaining that made the score 51-46. Cabot post player Matt Stanley then scored inside, and Mondier made 1 of 2 free throws to make it a 53-47 game.

Jarrod Barnes then scored for Cabot, and the two teams traded possessions until just more than two minutes remained.

Cabot point guard Bobby Joe Duncan broke the short scoreless period with four-consecutive free throws after a foul on Razorback signee Isaiah Joe was followed by a technical foul on Northside coach Eric Burnett.

Those four free throws put Cabot up 59-47. On the ensuing possession, Barnes got in the lane for a short jumper and a 61-47 lead, which all but secured the victory with less than two minutes to go.

Mondier was the only Grizzly in double figures with 20 points. Northside (9-6, 4-2), which relies heavily on high-percentage outside shooting, only made 3 of 20 3-point attempts against Cabot’s man defense.

Four Panthers finished in double figures. Duncan led the team with 18 points and added six assists. Barnes scored 15. Matt Stanley had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Brown scored 10.

The Lady Panthers (12-6, 1-4) took Northside (10-8, 3-2) beyond the wire, but ultimately fell 45-42 in overtime.

Cabot’s boys and girls played at North Little Rock on Friday. Look for details of those games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> SH girls survive Titans

Leader sports editor

It took a little longer to wrap up than head coach Shelley Davis would have liked, but the Sylvan Hills ladies held off the Jacksonville Lady Titans 47-41 Tuesday in a 5A/6A-Central matchup.

“I don’t know what it is but we’re not closing games out,” said Davis. “We did the same thing and got beat by Christian. We’re up eight with two minutes left and just go crazy. I thought we were playing really well in the second half up until the very end. We’ve got to do better at keeping our composure.”

Sylvan Hills’ biggest lead was 42-30 and came with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter. The Lady Bears had led 36-30 with six minutes left, and then held Jacksonville scoreless for almost four minutes.

But after the lead reached 42-30 on a Mallory Kimble layup, that margin was down to six points in just 45 seconds. Jacksonville freshman Shy Christopher converted a 3-point play and Allison Seats got a steal after the free throw.

Seats passed to Christopher who missed a layup, but was fouled and made one of two foul shots with 2:04 left. Christopher then got her own steal and converted a layup that made it 42-36 with 1:55 remaining in the game.

Jacksonville then suffered a couple of its own concentration lapses. The Lady Bears (12-7, 4-3) pulled the ball out to try to run some clock, but Kimble spotted Jayla Bell alone under the basket for an easy layup.

Seats then missed a 3-pointer for Jacksonville, and the Lady Titans all failed to get back on defense. Sylvan Hills’ Diamond Flanders took a court-length pass from Alana Canady for a wide-open layup that made the score 46-36 with 1:10 remaining.

Christopher scored for Jacksonville, and Sylvan Hills then threw away the ball in the backcourt. Alexis James then made a 3-pointer from the left corner to pull the home team to within 46-41 with 28 seconds to go.

The Lady Bears then sealed the win at the free-throw line, or more precisely, by rebounding missed free throws.

Jacksonville (10-14, 2-5) sent Kimble to the line with 22 seconds left, where she missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Canady got the rebound. She passed to Flanders, who was fouled with 12 seconds to go. Flanders got two free throws and missed both of them, but Canady also got that rebound and was fouled with nine seconds remaining.

She missed the first free throw and made the second to set the final margin.

The Lady Bears led the entire game. They pulled out to a 16-7 lead about halfway through the second quarter, but Jacksonville answered with a 10-2 run that made it 18-17 with 2:30 left in the half. A basket by Andrea Dolphin was the only points the rest of the half, and Sylvan Hills took a 20-17 lead into the locker room.

Sylvan Hills then scored the first six points of the second half, and maintained a lead between six and 12 points until Jacksonville got within five late in the fourth.

Christopher led all scorers with 19 points, and made it a double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds. James added 15 for the Lady Titans.

Canady led Sylvan Hills with 17 points and added eight rebounds. Bell had a double-double, scoring 15 and grabbing 12 boards.

Both teams were poor from the foul line. Sylvan Hills made 9 of 20 while Jacksonville made 5 of 13.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke ladies topple eStem

Leader sports editor

The Lady Jack-rabbits picked up an important win on Tuesday at the Gina Cox Center. In what was technically a road game, the Lonoke ladies put themselves alone in second place in the 4A-2 Conference with a 47-42 victory over eStem Charter.

ECS doesn’t have its own gymnasium, and couldn’t secure one for the makeup date of their matchup with Lonoke that was canceled on Jan. 6 because of snow.

So playing at home in road uniforms, the Lady Jackrabbits started fast, and held on for a big win.

“I sure thought it was big,” said Lonoke coach Heath Swiney. “We came out focused and that was important against a team like that. They’re so long, and so quick and so athletic, they can make it hard on you if you’re not playing your best.”

Lonoke (15-5, 10-1) opened the game in a 2-2-1 defense that extended to midcourt. That troubled the eStem ball handlers and Lonoke was able to force several turnovers early. The Lady Jackrabbits held an 11-4 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

“We didn’t steal it a whole lot, we just got them to make mistakes with it,” Swiney said. “They handled it better and we backed off it a little bit in the second quarter, but I still thought we were playing really well at halftime.”

Lonoke’s lead extended to 26-15 by intermission, and the officiating grew tight in the second half. Lonoke went back to its pressure and eStem also applied some in the second half.

The result was a defensive struggle and a lot of free throws. That’s where the Lady Jackrabbits maintained control of the game.

Even though eStem (16-9, 8-3) shot 21 foul shots to 14 for Lonoke, the Lady Mets only made one more. They were 12 of 21 while Lonoke was 11 of 14.

“That’s another sign that we were focused,” Swiney said. “I knew they were going to make a run. They’re too good not to. We just had to weather it, stay under control and make our free throws. They forced us into a few turnovers and got some rebounds we should’ve had, but for the most part we did what we needed to do.”

Lonoke junior Keiunna Walker led all scorers with 27 points.

The win set up last night’s big matchup with No. 1 ranked Central Arkansas Christian. The Lady Mustangs entered that game 18-2 overall and 10-0 in league play. Lonoke took them to overtime at CAC on Dec. 20 before falling 44-38. That was the last game the Lady Jackrabbits lost. They have won eight-straight since then.

Look for details of Friday’s game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

The Lonoke boys (9-12, 4-7) lost their game to the Mets 83-73.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville overcomes gutsy Bears

Leader sports editor

Seven point margins don’t often fall into the “wild ending” category, but that’s what happened Tuesday at Jacksonville High School, where the host Titans escaped archrival Sylvan Hills 68-61. Several times the Titans appeared on their way to a sizeable margin of victory, but a persistent Sylvan Hills team just wouldn’t go away.

The Bears went from down seven to down three twice in the last 80 seconds and had an opportunity to get closer. But Jacksonville’s Tyree Appleby got a key steal with 30 seconds left to help lead the Titans to an eventual outcome.

Sylvan Hills trailed 59-52 with 1:37 remaining when Jacksonville’s DaJuan Ridgeway found Antoine Davis under the basket with one of his eight assists. After a Bear free throw made it 59-53, Jacksonville missed at the other end. Sylvan Hills’ Jacobé Davis’ shot was blocked by Joe Phillips, and the Titans made their first big mistake that helped make the game exciting down the stretch.

Jacksonville ran its offense perfectly for Appleby to lob an alley-oop pass for a wide-open post player. But Phillips and teammate Christian White thought the lob was intended for them, and collided going up for the dunk.

Davis then hit a 3-pointer with 1:02 to play to make the score 59-56.

Appleby then made two free throws before a Davis miss. Ridgeway then made two free throws for a 63-56 Jacksonville lead with 47 seconds to go.

Sylvan Hills’ Jamal Johnson then drove down the middle of the lane for an easy layup. White then threw the inbound pass directly to Davis, who hit a short jumper that made it 63-60 with 35 seconds remaining.

The Bears quickly fouled Appleby and he missed the front end of a one-and-one trip to the line. But he made up for the error by stealing the ball at midcourt. He was fouled hardby Zion Butler going for the layup. He missed the shot, but the foul was ruled intentional, giving Jacksonville two free throws and the ball back with 25 seconds left.

Appleby made 1 of 2, but Harderrious Martin again threw the inbound pass to the wrong team. Justin Glasco stole the pass and went to the line with 20 seconds to go.

He made 1 of 2, and that was the Bears’ last gasp. They quickly fouled Ridgeway, who made both of his free throws. Sylvan Hills then missed from long range and Appleby got the rebound. He hit Phillips at midcourt behind the Bears’ defense for a runout layup that set the final margin.

“We had two people throwing the ball inbounds that know they’re not supposed to throw the ball inbounds,” said Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner of the two costly turnovers. “The first one happened so fast. I just had enough time to think, what is he doing?’ before he threw it away. The second one was after the free throw. HD (Martin) knows he’s not supposed to do that, but they handed him the ball before I noticed. I wanted to call timeout but I only had one left.”

There were other moments in the game when it appeared the Titans might be on their way to an easy win, but the Bears stayed in the game with good defense and even better outside shooting.

Joyner admitted that Sylvan Hills’ hybrid zone defense gave his guards some trouble.

“(SH coach) Kevin Davis is an old, wily veteran coach,” Joyner said. “That 2-3 zone, or 3-2, whatever it is – nobody flares that defense that far out like they do. You just never see that. I saw that on tape and I knew our bigs were going to have play well and score. They collapsed back in a little bit in the second half and we stopped going inside to them. They had a good game plan.”

Jacksonville’s post players did indeed play well. White had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Phillips had a game-high 15 points and added seven rebounds. Chris Williams scored nine points and had 15 rebounds. Jacksonville dramatically outrebounded Sylvan Hills, 43-20.

Part of the reason for the Titans’ huge rebounding dominance was due to the Bears’ starting center, Jordan Washington, only playing about eight total minutes because of foul trouble.

“That was a little bit of it, for sure,” said Kevin Davis. “But they outworked us on the boards. There’s no doubt about that.”

Sylvan Hills players were dejected after the game, but Kevin Davis put it in perspective.

“It’s a rivalry and these two teams really want to beat each other,” said Davis. “It counts on our conference record, but it doesn’t count for our conference tournament seeding. We’re still in pretty good shape there because of these blended conferences we’re all in. The only 5A team to beat us is Parkview, so we’re sitting No. 2 after one round through the conference. So we’ll get back in the gym and get back to work.”

No one for Sylvan Hills scored in double figures, but seven different players scored at least six points.

Jacobé Davis and Washington scored nine. Daylon Raynor, Butler and J.D. Smith had eight. Johnson scored seven and Alex Curry six.

Sylvan Hills made 10 of 21 3-point attempts, but just 5 of 11 free throws.

Appleby scored 12 points for Jacksonville while Ridgeway added 11. The Titans were 3 for 11 from outside and 17 of 22 from the foul line.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers knocked off perch at Bryant

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers suffered their first defeat in conference play on Friday, losing a fourth quarter lead and a 50-40 decision at Bryant. The Panthers led almost the whole game, but suffered a four-minute scoring drought in the final frame as the Hornets mounted their comeback.

Cabot point guard Bobby Joe Duncan made a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, and it gave the Panthers a 33-26 lead. It was the last point Cabot would score until only three minutes remained in the game.

Bryant got four second-chance points – a layup and two free throws – and another set of free throws after a charge call on Jarrod Barnes. That had the home team within 33-32 with 5:17 to go.

Cabot then turned the ball over, and Romen Martin hit a 3-pointer to give the Hornets their first lead of the game at 35-33. Cabot post player Matt Stanley didn’t get a call on the ensuing possession when his shot drew apparent contact. Stanley then missed a 3-pointer and Bryant got the rebound.

On the Hornets next possession, another offensive rebound led to another second-chance bucket and a 39-33 Bryant lead that forced Cabot coach Jerry Bridges to call timeout with 3:47 remaining.

Stanley scored out of the break, but the Panthers were never within four points the rest of the game. Trailing by six with 1:10 to play, Cabot drew a charging call on Martin, but another official overruled that call. To the vehement protest of Bridges, the call was reversed to a blocking foul, and Martin went to the line for two free throws and an 8-point Hornet lead.

Bryant then spread the floor and forced Cabot to foul, and made their free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

Cabot had led 30-22 with 3:30 left in the third quarter. From that point until Stanley’s bucket with three minutes left in the fourth, Bryant outscored Cabot 17-3.

The Hornets (14-3, 3-1) were 22 of 28 from the free-throw line, including 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter. Cabot (13-2, 3-1) attempted only seven free throws, and made only three.

Cabot’s loss, coupled with North Little Rock’s defeat of Fort Smith Northside, creates a four-way tie among those four teams atop the 7A-Central standings. Bryant’s loss was a 72-70 overtime home loss to Little Rock Central, which is 2-2 in league play.

Senior guard Jarrod Barnes was the only Panther to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Martin led Bryant with 17 points while Lowell Washington scored 12.

While the Cabot boys were losing for the first time, the Lady Panthers picked up their first 7A-Central victory, hammering the Lady Hornets 57-32.

The Lady Panthers blasted out to a big early lead and never looked back. Cabot led 17-2 by the end of the first quarter. Though that margin was only 24-8 at halftime, the home team never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Cabot made it 36-15 by the end of third quarter before pouring in 21 points in the fourth.

Senior Jose VanOss led Cabot (12-5, 1-3) with 14 points while Holly Allen added 10. Bryant (1-13, 0-4) was led by Kelly Williams’ 10 points.

Cabot hosted Fort Smith Northside on Tuesday, and will play at North Little Rock on Friday. Look for details of Tuesday’s matchups in Saturday’s Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Wolves blow by two league foes

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Light-house boys have gotten back to its winning ways since dropping back-to-back conference road games. Last Friday at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club, the Wolves hammered Hazen 76-39, and then beat Abundant Life 73-61 on Monday in a makeup game from Jan. 6.

Monday’s game was also JLCS’ homecoming, and it wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate.

The first half was played at a blistering pace, and that’s just how Lighthouse coach Kelvin Parker likes it. The Wolves poured in 31 points in the first quarter and took a 15-point lead into the second. Many of those points came in transition, as the Owls struggled to break the Wolves’ full- and half-court pressure. When they did get through the press, the Owls shot the ball well. But the home team took a lot more shots.

Freshman guard Devontae Davis was the beneficiary of many of the A.L. turnovers. He scored 10 points in the opening quarter, almost all of which were layups.

The second quarter slowed down slightly, but the Lighthouse got hot from outside. Jakalon Simuel came off the bench and made four 3-pointers in the second period. Senior forward Zack Bobo also sank one from outside, and finished the first half with 17 points.

Lighthouse’s lead was up to 58-33 by halftime, and Parker took his foot off thegas in the second half.

The two teams played to an 11-11 tie in the third quarter, and Abundant Life came to life from outside in the fourth. The Owls (12-13, 4-6) outscored the Wolves 17-4 in the fourth quarter, hitting four 3-pointers.

Bobo did not play in the second half, but still led the Wolves (18-5, 8-2) with 17 points. Davis finished with 13, including 12 in the first half. Simuel scored all 12 of his points in the second quarter. Freshman Gerald Doakes also finished with 12 points, five in the first half and seven in the second.

Dequion Noel led Abundant Life with 17 points.

Parker called off the dogs in the fourth quarter against Hazen last Friday as well. The Wolves led 69-33 after three quarters, even though Parker wasn’t pleased with his team’s defense in the first period.

The Wolves outscored Hazen 28-16 in the opening frame. The winless Hornets made six field goals in that period, but just four more the rest of the game, and none in the fourth quarter.

Davis led Lighthouse with 21 points on Friday while Bobo and Doakes scored 10 apiece.

Grant Shelman led Hazen (0-16, 0-9) with 16 points.

SPORTS STORY >> Titans salvage subpar outing

Leader sports editor

Although the Jacksonville Titans beat Pulaski Academy 59-48 at home on Friday, it didn’t feel much like a win for Jacksonville assistant coach Brandon Weems, who was in charge in place of Vic Joyner, who is suffering his second bout of pneumonia this season.

The Titans executed very little offense in the first half against Pulaski Academy’s packed in zone defense. They also shot the ball awfully for three quarters. That left the home team facing a fourth-quarter deficit against the 3-10, 0-6 Bruins.

“Honestly, it feels like a loss,” said Weems. “We didn’t do anything we set out to do with our game plan. I said it a hundred times today. I said it a hundred times in pregame. Get it into the lane – paint touches – paint touches. What do we do? We stand around and shoot 22 threes. It’s disappointing as a coach to not reach the kids. Obviously I didn’t reach them because they did what they wanted.”

Jacksonville has not enjoyed a size advantage in many games this year, but did have a considerable one on Friday. The Bruins have suffered unusual struggles this season because of their lack of size and depth. They played a packed zone in an attempt to keep the game slowed down against more athletic teams, and Weems felt the way to counter that zone was to attack it.

“They have no shot blockers or anybody that can protect the rim, so they have to collapse if you just get it in there,” Weems said. “I don’t care how you do it. You can throw it to the bigs, penetrate. I didn’t care how they did it; just get the ball to the paint. They either collapse and leave two or three guys open, or they don’t and we get to the rim. They don’t have anybody that can stop an (Tyree) Appleby. But we just stand back and shoot from 25 feet.”

Jacksonville trailed 15-11 with 90 seconds left in the first half when it went on a 10-0 run to take a 21-15 lead into the locker room. Before making their last four shot attempts of the half, the Titans were 3 of 25 from the floor.

PA then opened the second half with a 10-1 run to take a 25-22 lead with 5:35 left in the third. The two teams traded spare baskets until Jacksonville led 32-31 going into the final period of play.

Jacksonville was 2 for 16 from 3-point range through three quarters, but made 4 of 6 in the fourth to pull away.

PA scored the first five points of the fourth quarter for a 36-32 lead with 6:20 remaining.

Jacksonville’s DaJuan Ridgeway broke the short run with a 3-pointer, and the two teams stayed even up to 40-40 with 4:20 to go.

Appleby then made a long 3-pointer for a 43-40 Jacksonville lead. After a PA miss, Appleby made another deep 3-pointer to make it 46-40 and force a Bruin timeout with 3:41 left in the game.

The Bruins scored out of the break, but Ridgeway found Chris Williams open for a layup that made it 48-52 with 2:50 to play. The Bruins then began to turn the ball over and the Titans pulled away.

After PA threw the ball out of bounds, Harderrious Martin missed a 3-pointer from the left corner and PA’s Zach Fisher got the rebound. Ridgeway then stole it from Fisher and passed to Appleby. Appleby got the lane and kicked back out to Ridgeway for a 3-pointer that made it 51-42 with two minutes left, and all but sealed the victory.

Appleby led Jacksonville with 21 points, six steals and five assists. He had four steals in the fourth quarter.

Ridgeway had 12 points, four steals and three assists. Junior post player Christian White contributed a double-double. He finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Jacksonville (13-9, 3-3) hosted nearby rival Sylvan Hills on Tuesday. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader. The Titans will play the second half of the 5A/6A Central round robin at J.A. Fair on Friday.

The Lady Titans struggled with Pulaski Academy’s fullcourt pressure in a 62-42 loss. Jacksonville committed 27 turnovers, including 10 in the decisive third quarter.

That’s when Pulaski Academy (18-1, 6-0) turned a 31-17 halftime lead into a 51-26 advantage going into the final frame.

Jacksonville (10-13, 2-4)also forced a lot of turnovers, but struggled from the floor and foul line. the Lady Titans only made 18 of 50 shot attempts, and just 3 of 13 free throws.

TOP STORY >> Science winners impress judges

Leader staff writer

The fifth-grade science fair winner, who also won first place honors as a third grader and a fourth grader, so impressed one of the judges, an engineer from First Electric, that he offered the 11-year-old a summer internship.

That was an added bonus for Madison Holmes to go with the blue ribbon, a $15 gift card and a chance to compete in the regional science fair at the University of Arkansas Little Rock come Feb. 24.

In fact, all the fourth- and fifth-grade winners from the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District’s first science fair will advance to regionals.

Nearly 90 science fair projects, the best from each of the district’s elementary schools, filled two meeting rooms in the Jacksonville Community Center on Thursday. Students test the size of bubble-gum bubbles, the taste of bubble gum, stained teeth, the effects of music on memory, rainbow colors, candy canes, the amount of iron in cereal and delved into what in taco sauce makes it such a good penny cleaner.

The young student scientists stood by their projects that morning as judges came by, rated the experiments, the presentations and peppered the students with questions, testing their science knowledge and vocabulary.

Later that evening the winners were announced in front of a crowd of parents, students and well-wishers.

So what was this project by fifth-grader Madison that impressed the judges so much? It was called “The Heat Beneath Our Feet” and tested the distribution and power of energy. Madison said she came by the idea through the Internet. “I found a website that gave you a survey and then matched up science projects based on what you like,” she said. Her answers gave her a number of choices. “This is the one I liked the best.”

Her question that she was seeking an answer to was about how energy was affected by the number of holes or outlets in the foil cover of her energy generator. “I was surprised by the amount of power there was with just one hole. When she placed her geothermal plant on top of it, it took two friends to hold it down.”

When not winning science awards, the honor roll student enjoys art and music. “I like a mix of music,” she said.

The top fourth-grade project also came from Bayou Meto, which netted seven awards in the contest. Fourth-grader Payton Nicholson looked at plant food. “I wanted to see what did best, store-bought food, homemade food or no food at all,” said the young softball player. It turned out the store-bought beat out the homemade concoctions and no plant food at all did not blossom into a good method.

The winners were:

At the kindergarten level, first place went to Lisa Nash’s Arnold Drive Elementary class. Second place went to Paige Dearie’s Pinewood Elementary class.

In first grade, the blue ribbon went to Jamie Platt’s Murrell Taylor Elementary class and the red ribbon went to Kylee Robinson’s Arnold Drive class.

The first place prize in second grade went to the team of Sierra McChristian, Leo Brandt and Cylan Bryles from Bayou Meto Elementary.

Another Bayou Meto team – Annabel Dove, Jackson Hall, Maddison Johnson and Lionel Haynes won second. Both had Rhonda Pool as their teacher.

At the third-grade level, Delores Meadows from Warren Dupree placed first. Delancy Wilkins from Bayou Meto took second. Mariah Gipson from Tolleson garnered third, and Carson Schmeizer from Bayou Meto took home an honorable mention.

Among the fourth-grade competitors, Payton Nicholson from Bayou Meto garnered the top prize. Ethan Dixon from Pinewood was second, Savannah Minor from Tolleson was third and Averill O’Neal also from Tolleson received honorable mention.

The top prize in fifth grade went to Madison Holmes from Bayou Meto. Lanna Rogers from Arnold Drive took second place. Amelia James from Bayou Meto was third, and Devin Skelton from Warren Dupree received an honorable mention.

TOP STORY >> Fallen fireman honored

Leader staff writer

On the one-year anniversary of his death, the Sherwood Fire Department on Sunday honored fallen firefighter Lt. Jason Adams with a memorial plaque on Rescue One, his assigned vehicle.

Adams, 29, was with the fire department for five years. He was on duty for the East Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department when he was shot and killed by Mark Pruitt after being mistaken for an intruder while responding to assist with a medical call at 5 a.m. at Pruitt’s home on the 200 block of Dortch Loop in North Little Rock.

Pruitt, who has seizures, told investigators that someone came into his home without a uniform and did not identify himself.

Pruitt, 48, has a jury trial scheduled for April 11 at Pulaski County Courthouse. He pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter, a felony in Jan. 29, 1916.

Sherwood Fire Chief David Teague said Adams had a total commitment to the fire department.

Battalion Chief J.P. Sawyer said at the ceremony, “We are dedicating Rescue One to the memory of Jason. There will be firefighters 10 to 15 years from now who are going to know who Jason was. They’ll know him from the stories and that this was his rescue (truck). They’re going to know they’re not guaranteed to go home every day. It’s a dangerous job.”

Battalion Chief Jodie Hartman said, “Jason was a fire nut. He lived and breathed anything and everything that dealt with the fire service.”

Hartman said that after Adams beat cancer twice as a child, he joined the East Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department. Adams had a burning desire to learn more about firefighting and rescue. He attended classes and was willing to teach others.

Adams was hired as an entry-level firefighter in 2010 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2015. He was also a lieutenant and a training officer for the East Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department.

Mayor Virginia Young proclaimed the day as Jason Adams Day in the city and presented the proclamation to his fiancée, Sherwood firefighter Lt. Jeannie DeMeyere.

TOP STORY >> Ward arrest sheds light on nepotism

Leader senior staff writer

Two sons and a granddaughter of longtime Ward Mayor Art Brooke work or worked in some fashion for the city, Brooke confirmed Tuesday, but there is no state law against it, according to Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League.

The question arose after the mayor’s son, Mark Brooke, the Ward probation officer, was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly soliciting prostitution from an undercover officer posing as one of his probationers.


He has worked for the city for 13 years and has been its probation officer for nine years. Before that he worked two years in parks and recreation and two years in the street department.

Mark Brooke is on paid leave and may be reassigned to another city department, the mayor said last week.

As a probation officer, Mark Brooke, 53, was paid $12.35 an hour and earned $25,688 in 2015. He said he helped probationers find work with local employers such as Goodwill in Cabot.

Another son, Casey Brooke, works for the Ward Water and Sewer Department. The mayor said Casey, a military retiree, was hired by the department director.

The mayor’s granddaughter, Ricci Brooke, worked for the parks department, a job she got after working there in a student program, he said.

The mayor said he didn’t believe any of the three family members working for the city violated any city ordinance or any law he knew of.


“Generally, nepotism is not prohibited by state law or municipal law,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a matter of local control. The smaller the city, the more likely the mayor is to have relatives on the payroll. Sometimes it works out great, other times it’s abused.”

According to a Ward ordinance, “Relatives of a person employed by the city of Ward may be hired only if they will not be working directly for or supervised by a relative.”

“They worked for different department heads,” Art Brooke said. “As mayor, I approve or disapprove of their hiring choices.”


District Court Judge Clint McGue said Tuesday that Ward Deputy Court Clerk Justin McCoy would become the probation officer, but having been in office less than a month, McGue said he wasn’t certain who does the actual hiring.

McCoy is already a city employee.

According to the 2011 Ward Municipal Code, “The Judge of the Ward District Court shall, with the approval of the City Council, appoint a probation officer(s) to serve as such on either a part-time or full-time basis.

“The judge was (Mark Brooke’s) boss,” Mayor Art Brooke said, but as mayor, “I signed the paycheck.”

McGue said the mayor would have been the probation officer’s supervisor, but the mayor said McGue would have been supervisor.

The mayor said his son was hired by the previous judge, Joe O’Bryan, who lost to McGue in November.