Friday, March 17, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears second at Morrilton

By RAY BENTON Leader sports editor

Two girls’ teams dominated the rest of the field at the Devil Dog Relays in Morrilton on Thursday, and it may have been a preview of a showdown for the 5A state championship.

On Thursday, it was Vilonia that edged out Sylvan Hills for the team victory, but only by a scant 3.5 points – 190.5 to 187.

Magnolia is the three-time defending state champion, and so can’t be overlooked.

Joe T. Robinson finished a distant third with 104. Greenbrier was fourth with 48.5 and Maumelle took fifth with 47.5.

Sylvan Hills coach Grover Garrison is excited about this team’s potential, and particularly excited about the relay team’s performance on Thursday. The 4x400 team ran the fastest time in the state this season for any classification, and the 4x100 team ran the second fastest time.

“It’s too early, but I think we can break the state record in both of those events,” said Garrison. “If the conditions and mental focus are there.”

The 4x400-meter relay team of Aliyah Hatton, Alexis Lee, O’Shayla Muldrow and Jordan Sanders ran a 4:12.10. That beat Vilonia by more than 15 seconds, but was still more than 12 seconds off the 5A state record pace – a 3:59.28 set by Crossett almost 30 years ago in 1988. The overall state record was set by Fayetteville in 2014 with a 3:56.66.

Crossett’s 1988 team also holds the 5A 4x100 record with a 48.03. Pine Bluff’s 1984 team holds the overall record with a 47.24.

Sylvan Hills ran it in 50.04 on Thursday, beating Maumelle by exactly two seconds.

Dallyn Stubbs led a trio of Lady Bears to score in the 800-meter race. Stubbs won the event by running a 2:34.72, while Ashley Jefferson was second with a 2:36.57. Daviunia Jones finished fourth with a 2:37.78.

The Lady Bears placed three in the points in the high jump. Robinson’s Asia Anderson won the event with a leap of 5-feet. Sylvan Hills’ Makaila Murphy and Dasia Harris finished second and third by clearing 4-10, while Daviunia Jones was sixth with a 4-6.

Anderson, who was the meet’s high-point winner, won the long jump as well, but three Lady Bears made up the rest of the top four. Mia Heard jumped 16-9.5. Lee jumped 16-3 and Jordan Sanders went 16-2.

Erykah Sanders and Smith were second and third behind Anderson in the 300-meter hurdles.

Heard took second in the 100-meter dash behind CAC’s Amalie Gunn, who won with a 13.00. Heard record a 13.17 and Ayana Harris tied for fourth with a 13.37.

It was more of the same in the triple jump, with Anderson winning and three Lady Bears right behind. Heard again finished second with a jump of 35.6.50. Makayla Smith took third going 33 even, and Erykah Sanders finishing fourth by bounding 32-11.75.

Makayla Smith took third in the 100-meter hurdles behind Anderson and Kristen Madden of Vilonia.

Anderson also nudged out Heard in the 200-meter dash, running a 26.62 while Heard posted a 26.80. Lee and Muldrow were fourth and fifth in that event.

Sierra Towles finished third and Jayla Bell fifth in the shot put, heaving the shot 90-8 and 81-11 respectively. Smith and Bell finished sixth and seventh in the discus throw.

Dasia Harris was also second in the pole vault, though heights at the meet weren’t state level. Harris cleared 7-6.

Allysia Marbley finish fourth and Stubbs sixth in the 1,600 meters. None of the members of the 4x400 team ran in the 400-meter dash, but Sylvan Hills’ Dadreuna Clingmon finished sixth for three team points.

The Sylvan Hills 4x800 team picked up six points for a third-place finish, but there were only three teams in the event.

SPORTS STORY >> Panther girls pound MSMA

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers jumped all over Mount St. Mary in the 7A-Central opener on Tuesday, hammering the Belles 12-1 at home before going on the road on Thursday and pummeling Fort Smith Southside 18-1.

In Tuesday’s win, Cabot (7-1, 2-0) blew the game open with a nine-run second inning to take a 10-0 lead.

The game’s opening run was in the bottom of the first when Aubrey Lee hit an RBI single that scored Grace Neal.

The big rally in the bottom of the second started with a lot of help from the Belles. Pitches hit Rylie Hamilton and Anna Beth Duncan, and Hamilton scored when Leah Gerald reached on an error at first base.

Riley Walthall then singled to load the bases, and Bethany Knowles drove one run in with a shot to left field. Neal then hit a line drive to left that ate up the fielder, and all three base runners scored on the error for a 6-0 Cabot lead.

Hannah Montgomery then hit an infield single, but Neal held at third base to leave runners on the corners and still no outs. But she was then picked off, and it proved a costly base-running error. Lee singled and McCluskey walked to load the bases again with one out. After Kenzie Howard took pitcher McCluskey’s spot on first base, Hamilton walked to drive in Montgomery.

Duncan then doubled to score two more runs, and Gerald got the final RBI of the inning with an infield single to shortstop.

MSM (2-3, 0-1) got its one run in the top of the third with a brief two-out rally. Back-to-back singles were followed by an error at shortstop to make the score 10-1.

In the bottom of the same inning, Lee hit a one-out single before McCluskey flew out to center. With two outs, Lee moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Hamilton to make it 11-1.

Duncan then walked and Gerald got her second RBI hit with a single to center field that scored Hamilton to set the final margin.

Cabot totaled 13 base hits with Lee leading the way. She went 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Gerald went 2 for 2 with three RBIs and scored a run. Neal went 2 for 3 with two RBIs while Hamilton and Duncan also drove in a pair of runs each.

McCluskey pitched five innings, giving up just three hits and zero earned runs while striking out six and issuing just one walk.

On Thursday, the Lady Panthers scored in every inning against the Lady Mavericks (0-8, 0-2), putting the game away with eight runs in the top the of the sixth.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot controls Catholic

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team got a huge early win in 7A-Central play on Tuesday, beating the pitching-loaded Catholic Rockets 6-2 at Conrade Field.

The game was particularly important after the Panthers suffered a terrible outing in a 10-0 loss to Oxford, Miss., the previous Friday.

On Tuesday, Cabot scored all six runs in the first inning, running Noah Fowler, one of the state’s top pitching prospects, off the mound after just one inning of work.

Those runs were more than Cabot pitcher Logan Gilbertson needed. The 6-foot-6 UCA signee threw all seven innings for the Panthers, giving up just four hits and one earned run while striking out nine and walking just two. Despite giving up just four hits, Gilbertson had to work through some trouble because of the five fielding errors committed by the home team.

One of the four hits came in the top of the first inning, but Cameron Tissue grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, three-up-three-down.

Cabot (6-3, 1-0) then went to work at the plate. Blake McCutchen hit a leadoff single, and worked his way around the bases during Clayton Gray’s nine-pitch at-bat. Gray finally singled to score McCutchen for a 1-0 Cabot lead.

Denver Mullins then grounded to shortstop for a fielder’s choice, but the throw to second was off the mark, allowing Gray to advance to third. Dillon Thomas then hit an RBI single to left field for a 2-0 Cabot lead.

Houston King smacked the fourth single of the inning to load the bases and still no outs. Logan Edmondson made it three hits in a row, and drove in two more runs with his hard shot to left field. Caleb Harpole hit a grounder to short, where Tissue made another error that allowed King to score and moving Edmondson to third base.

Conner Linton recorded the first out of the inning, but Edmondson scored on a passed ball during Kyler Franks’ at-bat to cap Cabot’s scoring for the night. Fowler then hit Franks at the bottom of the lineup, but then got McCutchen and Gray to fly out to finally end the inning.

J. Matt Rogers took the mound of Catholic (4-3, 0-1) in the second inning, and shut things down in that frame. Linton doubled with two outs in the third, and Franks walked, but Rogers got out of the jam by striking out McCutchen.

Catholic got its leadoff hitter on base in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but never advanced him beyond second base. Gilbertson hit Jordan McCuin to start the third before getting a pop up and a strikeout. An error put runners on first and second, but E Hiatt lined out to second base to end that threat.

Thomas misplayed a ball at third base to start the fourth inning, but Gilbertson then fanned the next three batters on just 12 pitches.

An error in left started things off for Catholic in the top of the fifth, but E Fowler hit into a 4-6-3 double play, and Gilbertson struck out Henry Coppens to end that inning.

The Rockets finally got on the board in the sixth. Catholic had two outs in just three pitches, but Gilbertson then walked C Hogg and Luke Wewers singled to left field. William Plafcan then singled to score King to make the score 6-1.

Cabot got two quick outs in the seventh inning as well, but back-to-back errors led to the Rockets’ final run. Gilbertson closed the game by striking out Hiatt.

Gray was the only player with multiple hits, going 2 for 4 with one run scored and one RBI.

TOP STORY >> Different helmets, same mission

By Airman 1st Class Codie Collins 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Engines, tool boxes and water tanks — if one ceased to exist, a fire truck would not be able to serve its purpose. Just as fire trucks have different tools to accomplish a task, the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department has different elements, both military and civilian personnel, to ensure seamless operations.

The fire department has 51 personnel — seven civilians and 44 service members.

The 19th CES Fire Department staff protects life, property and the environment at Little Rock Air Force Base, provide fire suppression forces, highly-capable rescue crews and aggressive fire prevention and education programs to protect the lives and property of the members on the installation. They are also tasked with preserving the installation’s ability to deliver unrivaled tactical airlift by responding to flightline emergencies.

“Any task, whether within the department or assigned from our leadership outside of the department, cannot be accomplished without the team effort of our military and civilian firefighters working together,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Mark Johnson, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief.

The fire department responded to 646 emergencies on and around Little Rock Air Force Base in 2016.

“Under our mutual aid agreements with our local partners, 19th CES Fire Department can be requested to respond off base to any nature of emergency,” said James Farrell, 19th CES civilian assistant chief. “The personnel and skills we bring can be a tremendous asset to many of our partners.”

The civilian firefighters provide the department continuity with their knowledge and experience.

“Civilians exist to impart their knowledge and experiences on their younger troops,” Farrell said.

“They work side by side, teaching the military the things they have learned over many years at the same installation. Conversely, our military teaches many of our civilians’ new techniques and skills they learned at other bases, things our civilians would not have otherwise been exposed. It is a two way street. Both components of the total force contribute to the other,” Farrell said.

Service members work alongside civilian firefighters as one team to accomplish missions and conduct training exercises. Though the civilians make up a small portion of the fire department, they have a large impact.

“Our civilians hold a wide range of positions from the installation fire chief down to our lead firefighters working with the operations section,” Johnson said.

“Three of our civilians hold key leadership positions within the department: The assistant chief of training, the assistant chief of fire prevention and one of two assistant chief of operations. Each one is just as important as our non-commissioned officers with regard to training and mentoring our young airmen and firefighters,” Johnson said.

Training exercises are conducted to ensure safety and efficiency during real-world emergency situations. By preparing for what could happen, the fire department personnel are more knowledgeable in high stress situations. In 2016, the department conducted 314 training sessions, averaging about 26 training sessions a month.

“We would absolutely not be able to complete the mission without the partnership with civilians,” Johnson said.

“Although our department has only a small number of civilians, their knowledge and experience are vital to the department. Military members are constantly moving in and out of Little Rock Air Force Base due to moving bases or deployments. The steady state of our civilians is essential in maintaining continuity throughout the department,” he said.

TOP STORY >> More students get tuition breaks

Leader senior staff writer

Two new laws make it easier and cheaper for Arkansas Guardsmen and some other Arkansas residents to attend state-supported college, community college or trade school if otherwise qualified.

Newly passed Act 316 — “The Arkansas Future Grant” — will provide two years of tuition-free education to students to attend state-supported institution of higher education in high-demand science and technology-related fields and some specialty fields, such as welding and nursing.

Tuition will be waived for eligible students working toward certification or an associate’s degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, including computer science in those high demand fields.

The other law, Act 471, addresses the state’s disadvantage in recruiting National Guardsmen compared to neighboring states, which waive tuition for their guardsmen, according to Arkansas National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Joel Lynch.

Arkansas, alone among contiguous states, is having trouble with personnel retention, he said.

“We want to provide for a college education for our young Arkansans, but this will also serve as a recruiting tool for our Army and Air National Guard units around the state,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Monday. “This investment in education for those who serve our country is small compared to the tremendous long-term benefits it will have for the state of Arkansas.”


The Arkansas Future Grant Program pays two years of tuition to attend a two-year or four-year state-supported college or university, a state-supported technical institute or an approved state-supported school of nursing with its primary headquarters located in the state that prepares students as registered nurses and meets other criteria, according to the bill.

To be eligible, a student would be an Arkansas resident who has graduated from an Arkansas public, private or home school or has a GED or who graduated out of state and has resided in the state for three years immediately preceding application. Also eligible is a student already enrolled at an approved higher-education institution in a program leading to an associate degree or a certification in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, including computer science or a regional high-demand field and has submitted applications for federal student aid or similar aid.


A student may continue until receiving the grant for five academic semesters, obtaining an associate degree or failing to make satisfactory academic progress.

There are also mentoring and community service requirements. Fifteen hours of community service must be completed each semester.

The grant will be paid directly to the approved institution.

The tuition recipient, upon graduation or certification, must begin working within six months and work in that field in Arkansas for three years.

The new grant replaces the Arkansas Workforce Improvement Grant.


By limiting participation under both laws to state funded or partially state funded institutions, it seems to ignore private institutions such as Harding University, Hendrix and Lyon, some historically black schools, such as Philander Smith and Arkansas Baptist College and private trade schools such as the Arkansas Welding Academy in Jacksonville.

It may be particularly convenient and helpful to students who attend the Jacksonville-Little Rock Air Force Base Joint Education Center at Vandenberg Boulevard and John Harden Road, according to Nancy Shefflette, director of the ASU-Beebe branch at LRAFB.

“A full-tuition waiver would probably encourage more enrollment,” she said. “The tuition held could tip the scales for some of those students to get back in the game. I think we will see a bit of a bump.”


The Arkansas National Guard is already fielding calls—including some from out of state—from would-be soldiers and airmen attracted by a new law that waives tuition at state supported institutions of higher learning, according to Lynch, the Guard’s spokesman.

He said the state’s National Guard has the lowest retention rate in the region.

Most have recruited with better education incentives, until now, Lynch said. “Our retention now is about 90 percent. We’ve had the largest manpower loss among neighboring states.”

While Arkansas lost about 12 percent since 2005, Mississippi has gained 15 percent.

The state has lost several armories and lost out on a cyber battalion for lack of personnel, he said.


Among the rationale cited in the bill, the state lost a cavalry squadron to Pennsylvania and a transportation company to Missouri and repurposed Guard facilities in Berryville, Blytheville, Brinkley, Crossett, Magnolia, Monticello, Rector, Wynne and Helena-west Helena, resulting in loss of $33.9 million to local economies and a loss of $37.2 million to the state’s economy.

“People will look at the Guard now who may not have been considering the military,” according to Lynch. But now with an opportunity get their tuition waived, it may be a more attractive option to enlist or reenlist.

The Arkansas National Guard is authorized for 7,000 soldiers and 2,000 airmen he said.

The Army and Air Guard recruit differently, Lynch said. All Air Guardsmen are assigned to the 188th National Guard Unit at Ft. Smith or to the 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base.


While the numbers are currently depressed, Lynch said the Guard was ready to meet any weather or similar emergency affecting Arkansas residents.

The Act allows a Guard members to attend a state-supported institution of higher education tuition-free if they are an Arkansas resident, has completed initial active- duty training, is in good standing with the Guard, has been accepted to and is enrolled in a state-supported institution of higher education, has applied for federal and state grants and scholarships for which they are eligible and is enrolled in a program leading to an undergraduate degree.

The state will pay tuition at the state schools for up to 120 hours toward an undergraduate degree.

Payments for the tuition-free benefit will be made directly to the institution.

Earlier in the legislative session, the governor signed a bill exempting military retirees—including the National Guard—from state income tax on their military benefits.

TOP STORY >> Judge orders both sides fix school issues

Leader senior staff writer

Unless all sides in the sprawling desegregation case can reach an agreement on unitary status for facilities and staffing with the help of Magistrate Jerome Kearney in April, the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District and the Joshua Intervenors will go to trial next February, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall said at the desegregation status hearing this week.

In addition to facilities and staffing, JNPSD also has failed to achieve desegregation in the areas of academics, discipline and monitoring.

As far as achieving unitary status in staffing, John Walker, attorney for the Joshua Inter-venors, says JNPSD hasn’t done enough. In terms of facilities, Walker says the planned new $61 million high school looks like a jail and the black students will suffer because the new district isn’t building new schools fast enough.

He told Marshall that he believed the Pulaski County Special School District would satisfy the Intervenors’ before a trial—particularly regarding staffing—but not JNPSD.

Elementary school teachers at JNPSD, which is more than half black, account for between 19 percent and 22 percent in most schools, and as low as 13 percent in one.

Walker maintains efforts to recruit and retain black teachers at every level is insufficient, according to Scott Richardson, attorney for JNPSD.


Half of all principals and assistant principals are black, Richardson said.

The district will begin construction of the new high school and a single new elementary school to replace Tolleson and Arnold Drive elementary schools. A second new elementary school, probably to replace Pinewood and Dupree is possible by 2021, but Walker has said Jacksonville’s plan to build new schools stretches out to 2035.

The fledgling district already has an ambitious building plan in place and 76 percent of all JNPSD students and 80 percent of black students would be in new or newly renovated schools within seven years, Richardson said Thursday.

The district will spend about $101 million over the next two years to build the first schools, two new multipurpose buildings for other elementary schools and to rehabilitate the former North Pulaski High School as the district’s one junior high.

“The judge said the district needs a plan for replacing all the elementary schools,” Richardson said. “We’ve got that in place, but it’s going to take a long time. Building schools is expensive, takes time.”

As fast as the district finances will support building new schools, JNPSD will build them, Richardson said. “If Walker has an idea for funding new schools, we’re all ears.”

Wood concurs, “I don’t know how we’d pay for anything else. We’ve made good efforts, have a solid plan and the resources to pay for the commitments we’ve made.”

Wood, who will retire June 30, was attending his last regularly scheduled status hearing Wednesday, and Marshall took the opportunity to thank Wood for his excellent leadership.


Walker has suggested that the district increase property taxes again to build schools faster, but in February 2016, district residents narrowly approved the 7.6-mill property tax increase that’s helping fund the building program.

That’s “the biggest millage increase since I’ve been in office,” said Pulaski County Treasurer Debra Buckner, who has been treasurer for about 17 years.

That’s enough to secure about $46 million in construction loans.

JNPSD’s wealth index, being posted today to the state facilities and transportation department website, is .47015 (Wood had estimated .47) according to Brad Montgomery, the director. That means that the state will pay 47 percent of the cost of qualifying academic space.


Pulaski County Special School District is working to meet its facilities needs to achieve unitary status, funding construction of a new Robinson Middle School, Mills High School and refurbishing the existing high school as the new Fuller Middle School.

Now the new school board and Superintendent Jerry Guess will ask voters, who overwhelmingly rejected a 5.6-mill property tax increase in November to extend the existing millage rate for another 13 years at a May 9 election.

That would raise $65 million to expand the existing Sylvan Hills High School to accommodate a rapidly growing enrollment.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Sound walls on highway

The state Highway Department is considering placing sound barriers in front of several residential areas along Hwy. 67/167 in Jacksonville as part of a $200 million widening project going toward Cabot. The proposed walls could go up near the freeway between Bart Gray Realty and City Motors, in front of the Pine Meadow trailer park near the air base and elsewhere.

The city council is expected to ask for a 60-day comment period when it meets on Thursday. City officials don’t want unsightly barriers going up along the highway as they’re seeking new businesses to move into vacant areas.

Residents are being polled about the barriers, but retailers have been told there will be no walls going up near them that could impede access to their businesses.

Widening of the highway to six lanes and reconfiguring its access roads to one way are  seen as giving Jacksonville an opportunity to attract new businesses and revitalize old ones as much as improving traffic and drivers’ safety.

City officials hope the highway work will help bring in big-name restaurants and perhaps some new hotels.

Highway Department officials met last Thursday at the Jacksonville Community Center with residents and business owners who live and work along Hwy. 67/167 to discuss the proposed noise walls. The Monday prior, the governor signed a bill that would allow Jacksonville and Sherwood to hold a special election to let voters decide if restaurants should be allowed to sell liquor by the glass.

The noise walls, if installed, should not hide from view the community center and the $60 million Jacksonville High School, which will be built behind Crain Ford at the old middle school site on Main Street.

The new high school site was chosen for its visibility from Hwy. 67/167 that would make a statement to drivers about the community’s commitment to education and its belief in the future. Any barriers should be kept to a minimum and only placed in neighborhoods that want them.

The noise walls could do a lot to protect the quality of life of thousands of Jacksonville residents whose homes are near the highway. Their concerns should be considered before dismissing them as hindering economic activity. 

There are ways to install the noise walls that will spur economic growth and reduce noise pollution with lower walls that aren’t unsightly but achieve the same goal: Improving the quality of life without building a hideous wall that would make Jacksonville look like a border region.

TOP STORY >> Mormon women mark 175 years of relief group

March 17 marks the 175th anniversary of the organization of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the world with six million members in more than 170 nations.

“The Relief Society was organized on the principle of service when some women in Nauvoo, Ill., in 1842, noted that many of the people in that area were destitute. Those 20 concerned women were formally organized into a relief society. By working towards their common goal of service, they were able to alleviate the clothing, food, and shelter needs of their community members,” according to an announcement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Jacksonville.

“Relief Society sisters have been giving help to distressed people all over the world with clothing, food, fuel, education, and friendship; and their motto ‘Charity never faileth’ continues to be the principle, which Relief Society sisters strive for,” it said.

Women of the church’s Cabot ward will mark the anniversary at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at the church at 6110 T.P. White Drive in Jacksonville. This event will include soup, salad, dessert, and then a broadcast from Salt Lake City, Utah. All women and girls ages 8 and older from the community are invited.

For more information, call Sister Alice Kellar at 817-584-7673.

TOP STORY >> Celebrating AETC's 75th anniversary

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For 75 years, the Air Education and Training Command has trained the world’s greatest airmen. 

The major command has trained countless airmen in multiple wings and installations around the world, including the 314th Airlift Wing based at Little Rock Air Force Base. 

“Our mission is to train the best C-130 aircrews in the world,” said Mark Wilderman, 314th AW historian.

Before the 314th AW became the Center of Excellence C-130 schoolhouse, it was known as the 314th Transport Carrier Group. Since its activation in March 1942, the 314th TCG has undergone many name changes and played a vital role in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. 

In 1971, the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing, assigned to the Military Airlift Command, served as the primary C-130 at Little Rock AFB training organization after the Vietnam War. The organization trained approximately 81,000 students, including students from 47 allied countries.

The 314th Airlift Wing began training students under the Air Education and Training Command in 1997. 

Eleven years later, the 19th Airlift Wing became Little Rock AFB’s host unit and the 314th Airlift Wing realigned to oversee premiere C-130 aircrew training. The transition created a close partnership between the 19th Airlift Wing and 314th Airlift Wing, allowing one-of-a-kind training for combat airlifters. 

“The 19th Airlift Wing has been very helpful,” Wilderman said. “The 19th AW frequently provides aircraft for students to train on. The 314th AW has approximately 12 aircraft.”

As the 314th AW continues to train C-130 aircrews, they ensure the 19th AW has capable and competent airmen to conduct rapid global mobility. 

“The 19th Airlift Wing supports our mission in many ways,” Wilderman said. “Not only do they occasionally provide aircraft, they provide facilities and resources so we can keep training airmen for wings like the 19th Airllift Wing.”

TOP STORY >> Commander visits posts

Leader staff writer

American Legion National Commander Charles Schmidt made stops at the Cabot Legion Post 71 and the Beebe Legion Post 91 on Monday during his tour of posts around the state. 

Schmidt, of Hines, Ore., retired as an Air Force major after a 28-year career in the military.

During his visit at the Cabot Post, Legion member Andrew Johnston asked what was being done to try to prevent suicide among veterans. 

Schmidt said it is a tough challenge for everybody. It is hard to say why some veterans commit suicide. Maybe it’s a result of their military service, combat, post-traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries. 

“We prefer the VA take on alternative medicines and treatments; some have said marijuana or cannabis. Some studies have said that there are elements within cannabis that are of value. The American Legion supports further study of cannabis to see if there is something to come out of it that is positive other than addictive,” Schmidt said. 

He said a lot of places have service-dog programs that help veterans. In Oregon, there are fishing-buddy programs that takes veterans out.

Schmidt said Oregon is trying to get them off the pills and help them get treatment another way. 

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills ladies struggle with bats

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills girls’ bats went silent against some stellar pitching over the weekend in the Benton High School tournament. The Lady Bears got three total hits in two games against 7A Bentonville and defending 6A champion Sheridan. 

On Friday, Sylvan Hills lost 4-0 to Bentonville in a well-played game by both teams. Bentonville (4-0) had 10 total base hits, but the Lady Bears’ defense was stiff, and kept the Lady Tigers from mounting any major rallies. 

Bentonville scored two runs in the third and two more in the fifth to set the final score.

The defense was not quite as solid on Saturday. Against Sheridan, Sylvan Hills again gave up 10 base hits, but aided the Lady Yellowjackets (3-2-1) with five errors that led to a 9-1 loss.

Sylvan Hills (4-5) only trailed 3-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, but three base hits along with four of those five errors led to a six-run rally that put the game out of reach for the Lady Bears.

Sheridan started the inning earning its way on base, with back-to-back singles. After a pop fly for the first out, back-to-back fielding errors led to both base runners scoring for a 5-1 Sheridan lead. Doma’Nique Hunt booted a ball at shortstop and Tristan Goodson misplayed another in center field.

Sheridan’s Tobi Finley then capped a long at-bat hitting the 10th pitch of the at-bat to center field for a two-RBI single. After a groundout, two more Sylvan Hills errors, one by Lynlee Broadway and another by Hunt, set the final margin.

Sylvan Hills’ lone run came in the second inning when Destiny Sanders singled with one out, and Hunt hit an RBI single to center field with two outs.

Sylvan Hills traveled to J.A. Fair to open 5A/6A-Central Conference play on Tuesday. Look for a full report on that doubleheader on Saturday’s Leader. The Lady Bears play at Benton on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot softball splits at Benton

Leader sports editor

The Cabot softball team got a win Friday to start the 16-team Benton High School tournament, beating White Hall 1-0. But offensive struggles continued on Saturday as the Lady Panthers lost for the first time this year, 4-1 to Greenbrier. 

Cabot had opportunities to score more runs in the win over White Hall, putting nine players on base. The Lady Panthers had six base hits to go along with two Bulldog errors and one walk. 

Cabot pitcher Lauren McCluskey pitched a gem. She gave up just three base hits while striking out five and walking zero over five innings of work in the timed games.

Greenbrier had the first real threat to score, getting two Cabot errors and a single in the top of the second inning. But with runners in scoring position and two outs, McCluskey got an easy pop up back to the mound to get out of the jam.

Cabot then got two base hits with one out in the bottom of the second, but courtesy runner K. Howard was picked off for the second out, and Rylie Hamilton grounded out to the mound to end the inning.

Both teams went down in order in the third. Greenbrier got one hit in the top of the fourth but never seriously threatened the score. Cabot then had a chance for a big inning in the bottom half, but couldn’t find the gaps with runners on base.

Cabot (5-1) did manage to push the lone, winning run across the plate.

Grace Neal drew a leadoff walk before Hannah Montgomery and Riley Walthall hit back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs.

McCluskey then flew out to center field deep enough for Neal to tag from the third for the game-winning run.

Aubrey Lee and Hamilton followed that with well-hit balls, but both went right to outfielders for harmless outs to end the inning.

Cabot got one base hit from six different batters, with McCluskey recording the RBI.
On Saturday, Cabot got two hits total off Greenbrier ace Jaylee Engelkes.

One was a two-out, solo home run by Walthall in the last inning that gave Cabot its only run of the game.

Greenbrier (4-2) got eight base hits and two walks off McCluskey in five innings, and all four runs were earned. All eight hits and all four runs and one of the walks came in a two-inning stretch in the second and third innings.

Engelkes threw six innings. She struck out four and walked one to go with the two base hits allowed. McCluskey had Cabot’s other base hit.

Cabot hosted Mount St. Mary on Tuesday in the first 7A-Central Conference game of the year.

It will travel to Fort Smith Southside on Thursday to continue league play. Look for details of both of those games in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> SH Bears outlast Badgers

Leader sports editor

A rapid first three innings turned into a long, drawn out affair as the Sylvan Hills Bears remained unbeaten with an 19-13 marathon victory over Beebe on Friday. 

The game was originally scheduled for Beebe, but was moved to Sherwood because of weather related field issues at BHS. 

The game was scoreless for three innings. Beebe leadoff hitter Carson McNeill walked in the first inning, but the next nine batters went down in order for the Badgers. Sylvan Hills got one on in the first inning, and two base hits in the third, but could not get a run across the plate. 

Then things changed dramatically in the fourth inning as both teams struggled to find the strike zone. 

“We didn’t play well,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton. “Neither team did, really. We just couldn’t throw strikes. We got a few more hits than they did and that was the difference. But it was not a pretty game. We have to be better than that.”

Sylvan Hills played as the visiting team since the game was originally scheduled for Beebe, and scored eight runs in the top of the fourth. The rally started immediately with an error at first base. The next two batters were hit and walked respectively to load the bases. Chaz Poppy then doubled to clear the bases and give the Bears the lead. Another hit batter and another walk loaded things again for leadoff hitter Michael Coven, who singled to drive in two more runs. Another hit batter led to a two-out, two-run triple by Ryan Lumpkin to cap off the scoring in the frame.

The huge Sylvan Hills lead didn’t last long, as Beebe posted six in the bottom half of the same frame. Noah Jolly hit a leadoff single, followed by three-consecutive walks to drove him in for Beebe’s first run. Blaine Burge then doubled for three RBIs before two hit batters and two more walks made the score 8-6.

Sylvan Hills (8-0) got a walk and a double to start the fifth inning, and Coven hit a two-RBI single to make it 10-6. The Bears then added nine more runs on just two base hits in the sixth inning. Seven of the first eight batters reached for Sylvan Hills on one hit, two walks, two hit batters and two Beebe errors. Zach Douglass then doubled as the ninth batter of the inning. Another walk was followed by a two-RBI triple by Lumpkin that completed the Bears’ scoring in the game and gave them a 19-6 lead.

Beebe (2-4-1) kept the game from ending on the 10-runs-after-five-innings mercy rule by scoring four in the bottom of the sixth. Burge led off by reaching on an error at shortstop before two walks and a hit batter drove him in. Logan Sharp then singled to score two runs, and a wild pitch allowed another run to score to make it 19-10.

Beebe finished the scoring when two hit batters led to a two-RBI triple by McNeill in the seventh. McNeill then scored on an RBI base hit by Jolly to set the final margin.

Both teams issued 13 free bases. The Bears had 10 base hits to go along with seven walks and six hit batters. The Badgers had five hits along with eight walks and five hit batters.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers’ girls win a pair at Harrison

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panther soccer team avenged one of its two losses on Friday, and did so emphatically, defeating Fayetteville 4-0 in a round-robin tournament in Harrison.

The Lady Bulldogs had beaten a shorthanded Cabot 2-1 six days earlier at FHS, but head coach Kerry Castillo says his team played its best game of the year on Friday. 

“We put together a very complete game,” said Castillo. “In my opinion, it’s the best we’ve played so far. We’ve had some other games we’ve won handily, but the level of competition wasn’t what Fayetteville is. That’s a very quality win.”

The Lady Panthers (7-2) were supposed to play two games on Saturday, but the second was canceled due to wintry weather. Early in the day, however, Cabot picked up another quality win, beating 5A power Harrison 3-0. The third game was scheduled against Maumelle. The Lady Panthers opened the season with a benefit game against the Lady Hornets, playing just one half and outscoring them 5-0.

Against Fayetteville (6-1), freshman Kiley Dulaney got her first-career hat trick, scoring three of Cabot’s four goals. Sophomore Gracen Turner put the other goal into the net for Cabot. Junior leading scorer Tristyn Edgar assisted two of the goals while sophomores Caitlann Potter and Tatum Moore got the other assists.

“Our passing was great,” Castillo said. “Everyone played unselfishly with the goal of scoring in mind.”

Friday’s win came on the heels of a 1-0 shutout loss at Little Rock Christian Academy (6-0) on Wednesday. It was a match Castillo missed for personal reasons, but one he said he thinks helped the team’s overall chemistry.

“I didn’t watch the film on that before we went to Harrison, so I didn’t think it was fair of me to be judgmental when I wasn’t there,” Castillo said. “I just didn’t even talk about it. I actually think it brought out some of the intrinsic problems we have as far as communication and stuff like that, and we were able to focus on that. I think that had a more positive effect than if we had focused on what we did wrong on the field. Because the Harrison trip was really a great team effort.”

Against the Lady Goblins (1-2-2), Delaney, Edgar and senior Hadley Dickinson scored one goal each, with Grace Turner assisting two of the goals.

In the other two tournament games, Fayetteville beat Maumelle 1-0, while Maumelle (2-6) upset Harrison 3-2.

The Cabot boys have not played since last Monday, but the boys and girls hosted Catholic/Mount St. Mary on Tuesday in the 7A-Central Conference opener for both teams. Look for details of those games in Saturday’s edition of The Leader. 

The Cabot teams will travel to Fort Smith Southside to continue league play on Friday.