Friday, April 07, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Power game lifts Beebe girls over Heber

Leader sports editor

The Lady Badger softball team only out-hit Heber Springs by one, but did a much better job of getting hits with runners on base, as well as extra-base hits in a 7-1 nonconference road victory on Tuesday.

Caelyn Longing and Hannah Gammill each went deep for home runs, while Katlyn Gordon and Molly Poe combined for three doubles.

Beebe’s first two runs came in the first inning, and the rally started when leadoff hitter Nikita Howell reached on an error at first base. Gammill walked and Howell stole third base during Haley Dinapoli’s at-bat. Dinapoli then hit a fly ball to center field to score Howell for a 1-0 lead. Gordon then hit her first of two doubles to drive in Gammill.

After a scoreless second inning, Gammill led off the top of the third with a single to left. Dinapoli sacrificed her to second before Gordon popped up for the second out. Longing then singled to left for Gammill’s second run scored and a 3-0 Lady Badger lead.

The fourth was also scoreless, but the odd innings continued to be kind to Beebe. Gammill led off again, and this time sent a 1-1 pitch over the wall in straightaway center field for a 4-0 lead.

Two batters later, Gordon hit her second double, and Longing followed that with her blast over the fence in center to make it a 6-0 game.

The Lady Panthers (10-6) finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth after a leadoff single and a two-out double.

Beebe (9-9) set the final margin Poe walked, and later scored on a two-out error in right field.

Beebe finished with seven base hits, two each by Gammill, Gordon and Longing, and one by Poe. Longing finished with three RBIs and Gammill scored three runs.

Beebe pitcher Abby Burch went the distance for the win in the circle, turning in a fine performance. She gave up six hits and one earned run on eight strikeouts and zero walks.

On Thursday, the Lady Badgers lost 5-4 to Wynne (8-10) in a 5A/6A East-Central Conference matchup. Dinapoli went 2 for 3 for half of Beebe’s base hits in that loss.

Beebe’s next game is technically a nonconference game, but it will likely determine the No. 1 in the postseason 5A-Central Conference tournament. The Lady Badgers will host Sylvan Hills (11-6) on Monday.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers get a win at Bryant

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team continued to live on the edge, and continued to win when it beat Bryant 3-2 on Tuesday in Saline County in a big matchup between the 7A-Central’s two undefeated teams. It was the Panthers’ third-straight win by one run, though Tuesday’s victory did not need an extra inning, like previous wins over Conway and Little Rock Central.

Cabot (13-5, 5-0) has played most of the season without three projected starters, but the two that have returned in the last couple of weeks figured heavily in the game-winning run.

Cabot broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth inning when Evan Hooper, playing in just his second game this season, hit a two-out triple that scored Bobby Joe Duncan for what turned out to be the game winner. Duncan, who only returned a week earlier, also got on base with a two-out single.

Starting pitcher Logan Gilbertson then gave up just one base hit over the next two innings to preserve the victory. It was Gilbertson’ second-straight phenomenal performance. He threw a two-hit shutout against Conway in a 1-0, eight-inning performance last outing. On Tuesday, he gave up two hits and both Bryant runs were unearned.

Cabot led 2-0 after scoring one run each in the third and fourth innings.

In the third inning, Kyler Franks hit a one-out single, and stole second with two outs. Clayton Gray then came through with a two-out single to right field to give Cabot the lead.

In the fourth inning, Dillon Thomas hit a leadoff single to center field, but was thrown out on a 4-6 fielder’s choice by Houston King. He moved to second on a passed ball, and then scored on a base hit by Duncan for a 2-0 Cabot lead.

Bryant (12-5, 4-1) tied it in the bottom of the fourth. After Gilbertson struck out Jake Wright to start the inning, Seth Tucker reached on an error at second base. Cameron Coleman then hit a triple to the wall in center field to drive in the base runner. Logan Chambers then flew out to center field deep enough to score Coleman and tie the game.

Duncan went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored, and was the only player with multiple hits.

Gilbertson had five strikeouts and zero walks.

On Thursday, Cabot traveled to Searcy and came home with an 11-6 victory in a rubber match. The Lions (12-5) beat Cabot 7-4 in the season opener, then lost to the Panthers 7-0 less than a week later.

Gray went 3 for 5 and Denver Mullins 2 for 3 to lead Cabot offensively. Eight other Panthers got one base hit for a total of 13.

Zach Morris threw the first four innings, giving up five hits and two runs for the win. Dylan Billingsley and Michael Shepherd pitched one inning each, giving up three hits and two earned runs apiece. Brodey Schluter also pitched one inning, giving up no hits or walks and striking out one batter.

The Panthers will host Fort Smith Northside (5-14, 1-4) on Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Titans sweep Pulaski Academy

Leader sports editor

A scary game two followed an easy game one, but the Jacksonville softball team came away with a pair of conference victories over Pulaski Academy on Tuesday in Little Rock. The Lady Titans won by scores of 19-2 and 7-6.

Game two was played without some key starters, including at pitcher and catcher, and the visiting team committed five errors to help the Lady Bruins keep make it a close game.

“We’re just very inexperienced,” said Jacksonville coach Hank Hawk. “We’ve drilled a lot on situational things, but it just takes being out there and experiencing it. We don’t have a real high softball IQ right now, but they are working hard and we’re getting better.”

In game one, Jacksonville sent 13 batters to the plate in the opening inning and scored seven quick runs on two hits and seven walks. Rebekah House hit a triple and Allison Seats singled to drive in two runs.

PA’s two runs were also scored in the first inning. With two outs, the Bruins (1-8, 1-4) drew two walks before a double drove in both base runners.

Jacksonville’s leadoff hitter struck out in the top of the second inning, but the next seven batters reached base. A walk by Grace Smith was followed by an RBI double by Abby Hooper. Tori Hankins singled and Samantha Luna walked to load the bases. Another run scored on a wild pitch, but the next two batters were out to end the inning.

In the third, Jacksonville’s first two batters went down, but Seats cranked a home run to make it 10-2.

The Titans (4-8, 2-4) loaded the bases again with a double by Smith and walks by Emma Gartman and Hooper, but Hankins popped up back to the pitcher to end the threat.

Jacksonville put five more across the plate in the fourth.

Jordan Moody got an RBI base hit to start the scoring after two walks and a hit by Megan Davis loaded the bases. Seats walked to drive in another run and Smith doubled to clear the bases for a 15-2 lead.

Just like in the fourth inning, Luna led off the fifth with a walk, while Davis and House did the same to load the bases. Moody then singled for two RBIs, and Seats doubled for two more to set the final margin.

Moody got the win in the circle. She gave up two hits over five innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out 11 and walking four.

Jacksonville drew 16 walks and compiled 12 base hits. . Seats went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double and six RBIs. Smith had two doubles and Moody two singles.

Seats and Moody did not start in game two. Moody pitched the last two innings, but Hooper got the win in the circle after Jacksonville scored all seven runs in those first two innings.

House went 2 for 3 with a double to lead the Titans offensively.

Jacksonville plays in a tournament in Heber Springs this weekend, and will host Parkview in another conference doubleheader on Tuesday at Dupree Park.

SPORTS STORY >> Panther boys and SH girls get top three

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys finished third and the girls first in the Walmart Invitational on Tuesday at Panther Stadium; while the Sylvan Hills girls finished second at Jessieville in a meet it used mainly to find depth rather than win.

Lady Bear coach Grover Garrison didn’t even enter a team in the 4x400-meter relay, the event that the SH girls have the fastest time in the state, and still only lost to Joe T. Robinson by 2.5 points, 113-110-5.

Sylvan Hills held 7.5-point lead going into the final event, the 4x400. Robinson had to at least finish second to win the meet, and did one better, taking first place with a time of 4:34.40. It’s a decent time that beat second-place Magnet Cove by more than 15 seconds, but it was still almost 26 seconds slower than Sylvan Hills’ best time this season.

The host school finished a distant third with 63.5 points.

At Cabot, the Panther boys won the 4x800 and 4x400-meter relays. The girls’ only event wins were the 800- and 1,600-meter races.

Sophomore Lady Panther Lauren Turner won the 800 with a time of 2:22.00, beating out teammate Casey Gore for first place.

Gore won the 1,600-meter race with a time of 5:22.27, while Conway’s Sarah Grace Meek was second and Cabot’s Brayden Giesler finished third.

Despite having the top two finishers in the 800, Cabot finished second to Conway in the 4x800 relay. Giesler and Erin Bowie finished third and fourth respectively in the 3,200.

EDITORIAL >> Who will bring back shorthand?

Whatever happened to shorthand?

We still have shortbread, shortstops, shortsighted and shortchanged, which would cause a shortage.

But who uses, needs or discusses shorthand anymore?

Well, we did after watching one of those late old black-and-white films where the bank president called in the secretary to take a memo and the secretary whipped out one of those small, narrow pads and started to write in shorthand.

Back in the day, it was required for most young ladies in high school to take shorthand and home economics so they could get into a good college or go into the workforce.

But shorthand wasn’t always just for secretaries or court reporters.

Before the 1870s, it was used more for writing down one’s own thoughts or discreetly noting the conversation of others. Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens used it. George Bernard wrote his plays in shorthand. Cicero’s orations, Martin Luther’s sermons and Shakespeare’s plays were all preserved by means of shorthand.

Shorthand, besides being known as stenography (close or narrow writing), is sometimes called tachygraphy (swift writing) and brachygraphy (short writing). It’s one thing for young ladies to be called stenographer, but to be tachygraphers or a brachygraphers? Potential husbands might have run in a direction opposite of the church.

So where can one find shorthand now?

In the dusty collectible section of bookstores there are Pitman and Gregg shorthand books for sale, and also in the dollar bins at Goodwill stores.

Did you know that Gregg guy was just 18 when he came up with his version of shorthand?

So what good is this skill that has gone the way of the floppy disk?

According to one shorthand website, there are constant requests for those few with the skill to help decipher an old diary written by someone’s grandmother or great aunt.

And as Shakespeare would say, without taking a shortcut, “That is the long and short of it.”

EDITORIAL >> Cabot to host re-enactment

Here’s an important date to put on your community calendar: A huge Civil War re-enactment will be held at Change Point Church, 3525 Hwy. 89 in Cabot, on Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30.

The Cabot Civil War Muster event will be led by hundreds of re-enactors from the 1st Michigan Battery G. The re-enactment will coincide with Strawberry Festival in Cabot.

Approximately 400 re-enactors are expected to participate. Most of them will be from around Arkansas, but many will travel from other states.

Organizers expect 3,000 people to attend the event over the three-day event.

The activities on Saturday and Sunday will include battle re-enactments of the campaign for Little Rock, which was fought along the old highway from Little Rock to Searcy that runs directly behind Change Point Church.

These battles will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In addition, there will be an artillery night fire Saturday evening at dusk on the main battlefield. Camps are open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, the 1st Michigan Battery will re-enact the Battle of Reed’s Bridge, which was the Confederate victory that thwarted the Union Army’s advance near Jacksonville. Sunday’s battle will recreate the Battle of Fourche Bayou, which ended with the Union gaining control of Little Rock.

“We are proud to have the support of the community, residents and businesses to put on this event. We also received funding from the Cabot Advertising and Promotion Commission, for which we are very grateful. The Cabot Civil War Muster will be running in conjunction with Cabot’s very own Strawberry Festival,” the announcement said.

School groups are invited to attend the events to see what life was like in the 1860s. Students will be able to stop and observe, touch and hear stories about the American Civil War. Children will be able to meet with soldiers from the infantry, artillery, cavalry and engineers, as well as field hospital personnel. “They will also be able to see blacksmiths performing their trades, visit sutlers (Civil War-ear peddlers who sold their goods to soldiers) and check out local Civil War artifacts that will be on display,” the group’s announcement said.

“Our sutlers are merchants who sell Civil War era goods, uniforms, dresses and novelties and are traveling from as far away as Florida to be with us for this event. We will also have local food vendors on site with a variety of favorite foods,” the group said.

For more information, visit, email or view the group’s Facebook page, @1stMichiganBatteryG.

We’ll see you on the battlefield April 28-30.

TOP STORY >> Cabot junior wins duck-stamp contest

Andrea Lafave, a junior at Cabot High School, won the state round of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Junior Duck Stamp competition.

The best-of-show award includes a $1,000 scholarship.

Her winning artwork — a watercolor and colored pencil based on her photographs of local duck habitats and birds at a taxidermist — will now be entered in the national competition.

“The winning design from the national contest is used to create the Junior Duck Stamp, which are sold by the U.S. Postal Service for $5 per stamp. Proceeds support conservation education, and provide scholarships for the national winners, and awards for students, teachers and schools that participate in the program,” according to the Arkansas Game and Fish website.

Five other Cabot High students will have their artwork displayed in two gallery shows in Little Rock.

Sydney Black and Hunsu Kang, both seniors, will be included in the Governor’s Young Artist Exhibit Com-petition at the Governor’s Mansion this month.

The themes for the statewide-juried exhibition are emotion and energy in art. An awards reception will be held in May at the Governor’s Mansion.

Kang’s art will also be in the Arkansas Arts Center’s Young Artists Exhibition from May 16 through July 23, as will sophomore Lindy Cook and juniors Sewon Park and Chloe Smith.

There will be 104 artists from across the state in the show.

TOP STORY >> Bethune recalls years in politics

Leader staff writer

Former Rep. Ed Bethune visited Cabot High School on Friday, talking to advanced-placement history students in the media center. He also donated a plate signed by Vice President George Bush to the Cabot Public Schools Museum of American History.

Bethune, 81, was elected in 1978 to represent the Second District in Congress.

He was the first Republican to hold the Second District seat in 104 years. He served three terms in Congress. In 1984, he ran for Senate and lost to David Pryor. Bush campaigned for him at an event at the Old Statehouse. Each supporter at the rally received a plate as a souvenir.

Bethune encouraged students to keep collecting artifacts for the museum and continue making it special.

“Show and tell is very important. It resonates with people more than reading a book about it,” he said.

Bethune was raised in Pocahontas. After high school, he joined the Marines. After his enlistment ended, Bethune went to University of Arkansas Law School. After graduating he joined the FBI and became a special agent working on bank robberies and hijacking cases. He served in the FBI for four years.

Bethune then had a 40-year career as an attorney.

Bethune said when he got started in politics, the state was dominated by Democrats. Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, a Republican, told him the state needed a two-party system and political competition.

“I ran for attorney general and got smeared. Jim Guy Tucker was the prosecuting attorney in Little Rock. He was my opponent and from Pulaski County. I was from Searcy. When the race was over, I carried White and Pulaski counties, where they knew us best. He beat me in the 73 other counties in the state because they voted for the party,” Bethune said.

“When I got into the (congressional) race in 1978, there were no Republican elected official in the nine counties of the Second Congressional District. Since then times have change,” he said.

Bethune talked about his memoir “Jackhammered: A Life of Adventure.” The book is about self-reflection, identity and the choices he made in life. It also includes the story about him and his wife, Lana, sailing to Portugal in a 31-foot sailboat in 1990.

They didn’t make it. They ran into a nor’easter and were rescued 265 miles southeast of Nantucket in the Atlantic Ocean.

Bethune was asked if he supported the missiles strike against Syria.

“I think it was the right thing to do. I led the effort in Congress to stop the production of chemical weapons when I was there. They are terrible weapons. They were used in World War I, which America entered 100 years ago (on Thursday). They don’t make any sense. The use of chemical weapons degrades combat on both sides of the field. It is so dangerous to the people who use them and a terrible thing to do to another human being,” he said.

Bethune lives with his wife in Little Rock. They have been married 58 years. They have a son and a daughter.

TOP STORY >> Airmen finish first class on cyber warfare

Leader senior staff writer

“I want to be able to take a cyber warrior out of any technology company, put them into our workforce and validate the skills they already have,” Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice told the first 20 graduates of the Air National Guard’s seven-week Cyber Skills Validation Course at Little Rock Air Force Base on March 29.

“I also want to be able to take young airmen just joining the Guard and make them cyber warriors from day one. Thanks for stepping up to the challenge,” he said.

The graduates represent the cutting edge of the Air Force’s concerted effort to train and develop the need to fulfill future cyber missions, he said.

“This is an historic day at Little Rock Air Force Base,” Sen. John Boozman R-Ark.) said in a press release. “These graduates are essential to combatting our nation’s growing cyber threat,” Boozman said.

You don’t have to look further than Russian election hacks or the 2014 hacking of the State Department to realize the urgency for cyber defense and offense.

The cyber skills validation course is designed to tap into the wealth of skills that Reserve component airmen already possess through their civilian careers and turn them into the mission-capable troops in high demand by state and national leaders.

“Airmen come into the course with considerable cyber-maintenance experience, and are taught to use cyber in an operational way,” according to Lt. Col Erik Polz, commander of the Arkansas Air Guard’s 189th Operations Group.

“They learn the importance of mission planning, briefing and debriefing and how to use cyber for defensive purposes, as well as how to prevent our enemies from using cyber offensively against us,” he said.

Polz said the course was part of the war on terrorism and, in addition, graduates will support many other missions across the cyber domain.

The seven-week course consists of training in several critical mission areas, including digital forensics, industrial control systems and vulnerability assessments – curriculum that the formal technical training course covers over seven months, according to Capt. Scott Anderson, 189th Operations Group Detachment 1 director of operations.

“This course builds on the knowledge, skills and ability that students have previously learned and validates that they have what it takes to serve in the cyber warfare career field,” Anderson said.

“We are very proud of the students and we have the utmost confidence in our graduates being successful,” he said.

Initially, the course would be conducted quarterly and that based on available facilities at the base and the demand for highly skilled cyber operators in the Guard, it is likely the mission could grow, he said.

While currently airmen from many allied nations are trained to fly and maintain C-130s at the base, there are no plans to cyber train allies.

“We hope to include active duty USAF and Air Force Reserve students in the future,” Polz said.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> NFL’s McDonald honors JNP district’s volunteers

Leader sports editor

The most important thing community volunteers should keep in mind is to remain humble. That was the key message from Clinton McDonald when he spoke at the Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast at the Jacksonville Community Center on Tuesday.

The breakfast was sponsored by the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District in honor of its volunteers.

“You can’t get lost in the sauce,” McDonald, a JHS graduate and Super Bowl winner with the Seattle Seahawks, told the audience of about 100. “It’s easy to say to yourself, look what I’m doing. Look how important I am. We have to remember, it’s not about us. God can knock you down when you’re on top. So it’s important to stay humble. Stay humble spiritually so we don’t lose sight of what’s really important in what we’re doing.”

McDonald, who has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last three seasons since starting at nose guard for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, explained in more detail how the idiom “lost in the sauce” is pertinent to him.

“Being in the NFL and having that lifestyle available to you, with the money and all that, it’s something that’s worse than just being lost,” McDonald told The Leader after the speech. “If you’re lost, you can find your way back. When you’re lost in the sauce, you’ve created your own world and told yourself, I belong here; I deserve this. And it’s harder to come back from because it’s a different reality.”

McDonald has been Jacksonville’s preeminent volunteer since becoming an NFL player. This Saturday he will host his annual Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football and Cheerleading Camp at Jacksonville High’s Jan Crow Stadium. The day before, he will host Family Fun Day at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.

His foundation, McDonald Association Collective Collaboration-Light Into Darkness, or MACCLID, does lots of other volunteer work and fundraising for different organizations such as Care Channel and Ronald McDonald House.

McDonald noted the volunteers that helped his family and friends during his childhood, some of the same people in attendance Tuesday morning.

“I can remember the free lunches at Mt. Pisgah and the free lunches at the Boys and Girls Club,” McDonald said. “I remember the reading programs. When I got older I realized the importance of those things and the positive impact they had on my life.”

McDonald singled out neighbor Ron McDaniel, who has been an active volunteer in Jacksonville for many years, and is now on the JNP school board, for having the right frame of mind to be a volunteer.

“I grew up next to Mr. McDaniel,” McDonald said. “He was always asking me about my grades. Even coming home from college, he’d want to know how things are going. I’d say things are good with football and stuff like that. He’d say, no, I mean your grades.”

McDonald later tied it together.

“(Volunteering) is not about showing them what’s now, but what’s next,” McDonald said. “Helping them see the ability in themselves to rise above whatever circumstances has them down at that time; showing them avenues and teaching them the tools to make things better.”

After the speech, McDonald went to the Ronald McDonald House, where MACCLID partnered with Baskets of Hope, an outreach group based in St. Louis, to give gift baskets to patients and families.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills rallies past Lions

Leader sports editor

A pitchers’ duel finally came to an end after one extra inning Friday in Sherwood, where the Sylvan Hills softball team prevailed 2-1 over Searcy with a walk-off single by freshman Destiny Sanders in a nonconference matchup.

Sanders was also the winning pitcher, throwing a five-hitter over eight innings, but Searcy’s Maegan Pistokache utterly dominated until the eighth.

“It took us until about the sixth inning to start getting on her (Pistokache) at all,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “We had faced her earlier in the year when it was pretty cold and she wasn’t throwing as hard. It was warm Friday and she was bringing it up there about 62, 63 miles per hour. We were just having all kinds of trouble. We had just come off playing Jacksonville, and they don’t have anyone that can throw like that. She just was having a great game. Late in the game, she made a couple mistakes and we were finally able to start finding the timing, and were able to get the win.”

Searcy (7-6, 2-2) scored its only run in the top of the eighth inning, despite automatic base runner making the second out on a fielder’s choice.

With two outs and a runner at first, Jessi Harwell doubled to the fence in right field to put two runners in scoring position. Jessica Bailey then singled to left, but Storm Ellis made a good play on the ball that only allowed one run to score and forced Harwell to hold at second base.

That was huge, because Sara Grace Weaver also singled to Ellis, who again was able to keep Harwell from advancing beyond third base. With the bases loaded, Sanders got Lauren Joyner to strikeout looking after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches.

In the bottom of the eighth, Addison Harper went to second base to start the inning, and moved to third on a bunt single by Cara Pozza. Pistokache hit Ellis with 2-1 pitch to load the bases. She struck out MacKenzie Rodgers, but Sanders came through with a ground ball to center field that scored Harper and Ellis to win the game.

Anderson bragged on his defense, not just for Friday’s performance, butthe whole week.

“We didn’t have any errors, and I think only one error in all three games we played this week,” Anderson said. “We had been committing a lot of errors. Cutting those down like we have is huge. Our defense has been outstanding this week, and hopefully we can keep it up. We pitch and hit pretty well for the most part, but we’ve given away too many runs. If we can keep playing this kind of defense it will definitely help us become a more well rounded team.”

Joy Franco went 2 for 2 to lead Sylvan Hills. Searcy’s Jessica Bailey was the only Lady Lion with multiple hits. She went 2 for 3.

Sanders struck out four and walked zero. Pistokache finished with 16 strikeouts to just one walk and one hit batter.

Sylvan Hills (11-6, 6-0) plays Beebe on the road on Monday. It’s not officially a conference game, but because of the mixed conferences and classifications, it is an important one.
“It’s like I told the girls, it’s not a conference game, but it’s the most important game of the year,” Anderson said. “They’re in a conference postseason tournament, and the winner of this game is going to decide who’s No. 1 and who’s No. 2 seed in that tournament.”

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears win as hosts

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills girls won the first-ever Jeff Henderson/Arkansas Army National Guard Relays on Friday at SHHS. Renovations of Bill Blackwood Field included a new track that was put in last year, and Friday marked the first large high school meet the school has hosted.

The Lady Bears scored 165 points to easily outdistance Maumelle’s 102.25. Sheridan was third out of 17 teams in the event.

This year’s Sylvan Hills girls’ squad is the best girls’ track team the Lady Bears have had since winning back-to-back state championships in 2003-04.

This team is eyeing another state title, and found some extra pieces to the puzzle in the throwing events, particularly in the shot-put performance of Chanel Miller. She finished third in her first-ever attempt at competing in the event. Not only that, her distance of 35-feet, 4-inches was good enough to pre-qualify for the state meet. Her teammate, Brae’zah East, finished fourth, beating her previous best by almost five feet with a toss of 33-11. Her previous personal record was 29-01.

Liz Fouts of Harding Academy won the event with a throw of 35-11, and Mills’ Cetra Dale was second at 36-4.

Fouts also won the discus throw, but Sylvan Hills’ Sierra Towles and Jayla Bell were second and third.

The Lady Bears also set the fastest times in the state this year in the 4x400- and 4x400-meter relays. The 4x100 team ran a 49.18, which is less than a second away from the Class 5A state record.

“This was that particular group’s first time ever running together,” said SHHS girls’ track coach Grover Garrison. “We had a little trouble with two of our handoffs, so I think if we can get those things straightened out, we should be able to run a sub-48 with no problem.”

Friday’s 4x100 team consisted of Ayana Harris, Mia Heard, Alexis Lee and Aliya Hatton.

The 4x400 team already held the fastest time in the state coming into the meet, and then shaved another four seconds off that with a 4:08.42. That team also changed, with Daviunia Jones replacing Alexis Lee because Lee had just run the 4x100. Garrison thinks the switch makes both teams better.

“Jones has been out and is still not in top shape,” Garrison said. “She’s slowly but surely getting into shape, and I think we can run even faster in that event as well.”

The rest of the 4x400 team includes Jordan Sanders, O’Shayla Muldrow and Hatton. Muldrow won the 400-meter dash, and did so with the fastest time in 5A this year, 59.84. That’s also just .14 seconds off the fastest time in the state in any classification.

Dallyn Stubbs continued her strong season with a second-place finish in the 800. She ran it with a time of 2:32.41 behind Des Arc’s Alysa Dohm. Ashley Jefferson took fifth in that event.

Those two also helped the Lady Bears dominate the 4x800-meter relay. Despite running 13 seconds slower than their seedtime, the Lady Bear team of Jones, Marbley, Jefferson and Stubbs beat second place by 46 seconds with a time of 10:48.14.

Mia Heard ran a personal record 26.77 to finish third in the 200-meter dash. She also finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. Sheridan’s Carly Strong won both of those events.

Ayana Harris also placed in both events, taking sixth in the 200 and seventh in the 100.

Heard took third in the long jump with a leap of 17-feet, 1/2-inch. Anderson won that event as well with a leap of 17-6.

Makayla Smith took third in the 100-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 16.66. Winner Asia Anderson of Robinson, and second-place Claire Luallen of Maumelle finished in 15.81 and 16.41 respectively.

Smith also finished second behind Anderson in the triple jump. Anderson went 38-3, while Smith cleared 34-6.

Anderson also won the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 47.82, but Sylvan Hills Erykah Sanders and Smith were second and third. Sanders finished in 49.01 and Smith 49.43.

Makaila Murphey and Dasia Harris were two of three athletes to clear 5-feet in the high jump. Sheridan’s Lauren Goodwin got first place for doing it on her first try.

Allysia Marbley placed fourth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 13:59.63.


Lonoke also had a couple of top performances. Gracie Hyde, who has the state’s best time in 3,200, chose to only compete in the 1,600 on Friday, and won the event with a time of 5:15.36. She beat second-place Victoria Ortega of Maumelle by 30 seconds, and beat her own state championship time last season by 15 seconds.

Her teammate, Keiunna Walker, finished second in the long jump with a leap of 17-2 3/4. She was also third in the triple jump, bounding 34-3.


In the boys’ meet, Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter was the top-finishing local school. Robert Whitfield finished second in the 100- and 200-meter dashes behind blazing sophomore Kennedy Lightner of North Little Rock.

Lightner, who became the first-ever high schooler to break the seven-second mark in the indoor 60-meter dash, ran the 100-meter dash in 10.79 on Friday, while Whitfield ran an 11.12.

Whitfield has also run a sub-11 this season at 10.96, but didn’t approach that on Friday.
He also didn’t meet his PR of 22.22 in the 200, running a 22.82 to Lightner’s 21.65.

SPORTS STORY >> CHS escapes trouble with lowly Tigers

Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team had a surprising bit a trouble with the 2-15 Little Rock Central Tigers on Friday, but Cabot got three runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, and then won it 6-5 in extra innings.

Denver Mullins drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the eighth inning after Michael Shepherd put the Tigers down in order in the top half of the frame. Shepherd got one groundout, and then fanned the next two batters.

Dillon Thomas’ sacrifice bunt moved Mullins to second and Houston King walked. Mulins then stole third base on a 0-1 pitch to Bobby Joe Duncan. Duncan then hit a fly ball to center field, deep enough to drive in the game-winning run.

It was the second time in as many 7A-Central Conference games that Cabot won with a single run in the eighth inning. On Tuesday, the Panthers beat Conway 1-0 when Duncan scored on a passed ball.

Both teams finished with seven base hits, but much like they did against Conway, the Panthers failed on several opportunities to push runs across the plate. Central committed five errors to supplement Cabot’s seven base hits.

Cabot’s starting pitcher Brett Brockinton started out dominant. He struck out the side in order in the top of the first inning.

The bottom of the first was Cabot’s first blown chance to score. An error and a single had two runners on with one out, but Thomas grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Mason Gresham then got things rolling for Central with a leadoff single on the first pitch of the second inning. Emmanuel Mayweather drew a one-out walk, and Paden Chrisman hit an RBI single to center field for a 1-0 Tigers’ lead.

Cabot stranded runners at second and third in the bottom of the second inning, and Central (2-15, 0-4) took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third.

Nine-hole hitter KaJuan Richardson hit a leadoff single, and Aaron Mann followed with a double to right field. After a pop-up to Mullins behind the plate, Charles Pyron walked to load the bases. Gresham then hit a line drive to right field for a two-RBI single that made it 3-0 and left runners on the corners.

Ben Farzley then grounded to shortstop that turned into a non-traditional double play that allowed Pyron to score and make it 4-0.

Cabot (11-5, 4-0) only got one base runner over its next two at-bats, but again failed to score after getting two on with one out in the fifth. But Shepherd was exemplary after coming in with one out in the fourth, and Cabot finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Thomas drew a leadoff walk and Duncan walked with one out. With two outs, Caleb Harpole singled to left to score Thomas. Duncan then scored on an error at third base off the bat of Logan Edmondson to make it 4-2.

Mayweather hit a leadoff double to start the seventh inning, and scored on a two-out single by Richardson.

Facing a huge upset loss, Cabot caught a huge break with a Central error in the seventh, and then made the Tigers pay dearly for it by just being patient.

Thomas reached on a one-out line drive to center field. King then hit a grounder to shortstop where the usually reliable Mann couldn’t get the handle, leaving everyone safe. Duncan then doubled down the left field line to score Thomas.

Evan Hooper, Cabot’s University of Arkansas signee who was playing for the first time this season, walked to load the bases.

Harpole walked to drive in King, and Blake McCutchen walked to score Duncan and tie the game.

Harpole was the only Panther with multiple base hits, going 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Duncan went 1 for 3 with two RBIs and scored two runs. Gresham and Richardson each went 2 for 3 for Central.

Brockinton pitched 4 1/3 innings for the no decision. He gave up four earned runs on five base hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Shepherd got the win for his 3 2/3 of work. He gave up one earned run on two base hits with six strikeouts and zero walks.

Jacob Evans-Funk took the loss in his 1 1/3 of work. He gave up one earned run on no hits and three walks. Mann started on the mound and pitched 5 1/3 innings for the no decision. Ty Barrett threw one inning. He gave four runs on three hits and four walks.

EDITORIAL >> Assembly-line death penalty

Arkansas and its governor are reaping a whirlwind of nasty publicity around the world for their haste to kill eight condemned men before the secret cache of a narcotic that will help kill them reaches its expiration date. They are to die two a day this month until the last one is dispatched to his grave.

America will soon end its long ambivalence about executing people by stopping the killings altogether, by practice if not by statute or judicial decree. The fatuous legal and medical arguments for a decade now about which cocktail of pharmaceutical horrors might render a person’s death something short of “cruel”—the constitutional standard for legally taking someone’s life—may be the death penalty’s last stand.

Death is still on the books in 32 states, though several never employ it, and in only a handful of civilized nations. The vast majority of executions now occur in communist China and three big Muslim countries (Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia) that follow the Koran’s and Old Testament’s eye-for-an-eye policy in human relations rather than Jesus’ and the U.S. Constitution’s. Of course, Antonin Scalia and Neil Gorsuch would say that just as the founders didn’t really intend “cruel” punishment to include killing, God didn’t really mean it when he said you should forgive and not kill people. The scribes just didn’t take careful notes.

Arkansas has always had a public-relations problem, often for its way of dispatching criminals. It made headlines around the world in 1967 when a prison superintendent dug up old graves he said were murdered inmates. When carbon dating more than a year later showed the bones to be from a pauper’s cemetery that predated the prison, the world had moved on to other horrors.

When Bill Clinton rushed home from the presidential campaign in 1992 for the execution of brain-damaged Rickey Ray Rector (he reserved his last meal’s slice of pecan pie to eat the next morning), the botched 50-minute execution seemed to horrify the nation. They stabbed his arms many times to find a good vein while he groaned and writhed in pain. The media and Clinton’s critics suggested that the heartless politician returned home to glory in the fellow’s execution.

Gov. Hutchinson, who set eight executions in 10 days, perhaps to satisfy his party’s attorney general, is looking pretty heartless, too, though he’s handling it with a modicum of dignity. If the Arkansas spectacle—even the Democrat Gazette, for a change, plans to cover the killings in detail—actually moves the country closer to ending capital punishment, I suspect that Hutchinson will be pleased, if secretly.

The attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, probably not. She has fought from before her election to get on with executions and fought the release of the identities of the suppliers and makers of the lethal drugs, none of whom want the public to know their medicines are used to kill. The medical scientist who invented midazolam, the expiring drug in Arkansas’ killing cocktail, is desperate to stop his invention from being used to kill rather than heal.

You wonder if Rutledge would be so eager to execute if her grandpa, Leslie Rutledge, who was imprisoned for killing neighbor Joe Beel and mortally wounding his brother Frank, had been sentenced to death in 1952. Rutledge spent some time at the Cummins unit for the shootings—he took his rifle to prison and was a long-line rider—and at other times for bootlegging whisky. What separates men on death row from other killers and rapists is usually their victims. The Beel brothers must not have been leading lights in the Hutchinson Mountain community.

Governors like Asa Hutchinson (no relation to the mountain) face a moral predicament. While polls show most Arkansans favor the death penalty, we citizens don’t have a direct role in a man’s death. The governor sets execution dates, and with a stroke of his pen can commute a man’s sentence to life in prison and perhaps save him from perdition.

When Orval E. Faubus was waiting for Winthrop Rockefeller to come take his office in January 1967, we asked him what his worst days had been. Executions, he said. He was sick with anxiety and remorse each time, but he thought he had asked for the job and it was his duty.

Each time he had to preside over an execution, Gov. Sid McMath was visited the night before by his biggest supporter, industrialist Witt Stephens, who pleaded with him all night to pick up the phone and call off the execution, leaving only when the call came at dawn that the man was dead.

Rockefeller was different. Defeated for re-election, his last official act was to commute the sentences of all 15 men on Death Row to life in prison. His words were the most earnest ever delivered by a governor:

“What earthly mortal has the omnipotence to say who among us shall live and who shall die? I do not. Moreover, in that the law grants me authority to set aside the death penalty, I cannot and will not turn my back on lifelong Christian teachings and beliefs, merely to let history run its course on a fallible and failing theory of punitive justice.”

The happiest man on the planet was Dale Bumpers, who took office the next week. He was relieved that his predecessor’s moral courage relieved him of ever having to face the terrible dilemma.

I like to think that Asa Hutchinson is hoping for some such deus ex machina, a court order perhaps. Maybe not. —Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> River Trail challenge in LR

Leader staff writer

Heroes Ruck March organizers are looking for men and women with the right stuff to compete in the 15.3-mile River Trail challenge on Saturday.

There is a $200 entry fee per team of four for the Heroes Ruck March or $50 for individuals.

Easy, right? Not so fast. There’s a 35-pound ruck pack strapped to each team participant’s back, said Daniel DiMatteo, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance Central Arkansas Chapter commander and event organizer.

For people without military experience, a ruck march or forced march, is done at a fast pace, often over difficult geography conditions.

It will be “very challenging,” he said. The nonprofit group assists injured former military members and first responders and works to prevent suicides.

So far, DiMatteo said he has eight teams of fours signed up to compete, and the packs are pre-loaded so teams compete on a level marching field, so to speak. Divisions include: active duty, former military, civilian, civilian light and collegiate.

Individuals are also welcome to attempt the challenge and are able to adjust the weight to their skill level.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. at the Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave. in downtown Little Rock this Saturday. The competition starts at 8 a.m. and follows the southern River Trail route to the Big Dam Bridge. From there, marchers follow the trail along the north shore, cross the Rock Island Railroad Bridge, and end their march back at the Clinton Center.

There will be water stations every three miles, and participants are allowed to carry their own water, too, DiMatteo said.

DiMatteo said, “At each mile marker there will be a small memorial honoring fallen military and first (fire or police) responders killed in the line of duty.”

While heroes who die in the line of duty are memorialized, DiMatteo said, “It’s easy to forget those who served and were injured.”

They often suffer from and struggle with long-term physical injuries, as well as dealing with mental issues like post- traumatic stress disorder, he said.

DiMatteo, a Jacksonville police officer who was injured in the line of duty, understands the varied and difficult struggles injured people experience.

Five years ago, he and two firefighters were intentionally run down by Bryce Allen Jr.

Jacksonville Fire Capt. Donald Jones died at the scene, while firefighter Jason Bowmaster and DiMatteo were hospitalized with critical injuries.

The road to recovery was a long one for DiMatteo.

The 20-year Air Force veteran had planned to spend the second half of his career as a police officer, and although DiMatteo made several attempts to return to duty full time, it proved impossible.

But his new job with Sheep Dog Impact, which he started Jan. 1, is proving a good fit.

“It’s an organization I wholeheartedly believe in,” DiMatteo said.

Sheep Dog refers to the position the military and first responders take during an emergency, putting themselves between the public and crisis.

The organization’s mission is to engage, assist and empower the injured through camaraderie and peer support and activities such as their outdoor adventures and other programs. For example, DiMatteo went scuba diving with a Sheep Dog in Hot Springs.

He said, “It was a fantastic day.”

“It gives wounded military and first responders an opportunity to get up off the couch and get active, but that costs money,” and all the money raised by this event will go to the Sheep Dog cause.

Heroes Ruck March is a perfect opportunity for the community to get to know their local first responders and active-duty military members and “support those who serve,” DiMatteo said.

Everyone is invited to participate or to come out and cheer on the marchers, he said.

For more information about the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance Central Arkansas Chapter or to make a donation to the “Heroes Ruck March” or to sign up to compete as a team or individually, call Daniel DiMatteo at 501 259-9483.

TOPSTORY >> Rodeo coming to El Paso

The Central Arkansas Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association will hold its ninth annual rodeo on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15 at CrossRoads Cowboy Church and Two Bar Two Arena in El Paso, where the event has been held the last two years.

The rodeo will start at 7:30 p.m. both nights with kids events at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 7 to 12 and free for kids 6 and under.

Ron Riddle will hold church services in the arena at 9 a.m. Easter Sunday, which the public is invited to attend. A chuck-wagon breakfast of biscuits and gravy will start at 7:30 a.m.

Last year, about 1,700 attended.

“We have contestants from all over the country who are competing for points to get them to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December. In years past we have had contestants such as Shawn Proctor, Rider Wright, Reece Cates, Ricky Hyde and many others compete at our rodeo,” according to the announcement.

The Andrews Rodeo Company will provide the livestock both nights.

The rodeo clown Frankie “Punkintown” Smith will perform as will Bert Davis and his Muttley Crew, whose act features 10 rescue dogs.

The Muttley Crew and Bert were on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010, and they were the only animal act to make it to Las Vegas. They were featured in “Dogs with Jobs,” 2002 National Geographic television documentary.

The Central Arkansas Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association partners with the Wounded Warriors of Arkansas through the Marine Corps League of Arkansas. “We always honor a few of our local veterans during the rodeo. Some of the monies raised will go to help Arkansas soldiers as they re-adjust to life back home,” the announcement said.

This year’s event will add the Miss Rodeo Arkansas pageant. The winner will be crowned Friday night.

There will also be kids events like mutton bustin‘ and a calf scramble. The mini bronc riders, a favorite event last year, will return for the second year.

To sign up for those events, arrive by 5:30 p.m. Only 10 riders can participate in the mutton bustin‘ and they must be 8 years old or under and weigh 50 pounds or less.

Calf scramble will be for ages 7 to 12 years old, and boot scramble is for kids 6 and under with buckles for the winners each night.

Vendors will also be set up for shopping during the rodeo.

For more information, call Becky Switzer at 501-230-7872 or Dale Hancock at 501-269-4900.

TOP STORY >> Kicking down doors

Leader staff writer

The Lonoke County Literacy Council has helped a Chinese immigrant become an educated young American.

Growing up in China, Lily Zhou Morrow was one of three children at a time when the country severely restricted the number of children a family could have. As a result, her parents, Li Hua and Mai Ping Zhou, sent her to live with her grandparents, Su Fang and Qing Yang Zhou. Her grandfather became ill when she was only eight, so her grandmother worked the farm alone. The young child helped when and where she could, and she said her grandmother made her who she is today.

When she was older, money was scarce, which meant there was none for her tuition, books, the teachers and other costs associated with education, and she was forced to leave school in the ninth grade.

“School isn’t free,” she said about the education system in China.

Morrow, who moved to Lonoke a decade ago, wrote on the Arkansas Department of Career Education website, “Fifty Faces,” “My hope for education was killed by poverty. I was angry, despairing and destroyed. I didn’t have any choice…Even though my chance to go to school had seemed zero percent, my enthusiasm for the pursuit of knowledge never died.”

She said, “It was hard for me when I quit school…Doors closed for me.”


For a time, she lived in Inner Mongolia, part of China, where she sold clothes, and later moved to Beijing, China, to live with her sister. At first, she waitressed, but eventually she landed a job selling furniture. In large part because she could speak “a little English,” Morrow said.

She remembered that she always had a book in her hand and she devoted every extra moment she had to reading, but without a formal education, the most she could hope for was “to marry and become a housewife and have lots of children.”


Lily said she was attracted to Bill Morrow, a software developer and installer for Halliburton Co. from Texas, the first moment he entered the furniture shop where she worked. He was interested in the leather handmade fishes they sold.

She was 19, and before he left the shop, he had arranged for them to take a day trip.

“We were so happy to get to know each other and fell in love,” she wrote in “50 Faces.”

They dated for two years or so before Bill Morrow asked her to go to the United States with him and marry.

He recalled, “She was always studying… She’s amazing.”

To sweeten the pot, he promised she could get an education once here.

Lily Morrow said, “I knew he cared about me…A good education was always my dream. It would open doors for me.”

The two married June 24, 2007, and made their home in Lonoke, where he had relatives.

Bill Morrow was true to his word and soon his wife was working with Judy Jackson, a tutor, at the Lonoke (County) Literacy Council.

“She was an outstanding student,” Jackson said a few weeks ago while visiting the Cabot Public Library at 909 W. Main St., where students are able to work with Literacy Council volunteer tutors.

Lily also worked with Debbie Shelton at Lonoke and Prairie Counties Adult Education at 500 E. Locust St. in Lonoke. Shelton is now the program’s director.

Shelton said Lily rode her bike to class everyday, adding, “She was very diligent and determined.”

In addition to working with her on improving her English skills, Shelton borrowed textbooks from the Lonoke High School so Lily could prepare for the GED exam.

Lily remembered Shelton saying to her at the time, “‘This is your dream, and we will help you.’”

Lily said her help meant so much, and said, “She was very good to me.”

Shelton said, “Lily is ray of sunshine and just a joy.”

It took Lily about three years to complete her GED.

Shelton said, “It’s not a quick process and a person must be dedicated.

Another excerpt from “50 Faces,” in which Lily Morrow wrote, “When I held my high school diploma, tears dropped down from my eyes. I had so much I wanted to say. I not only made a lone journey from China to America but also had an unbelievable tough path to approach my dream of education.”

Her GED was her long-time dream, but just a first step, Lily Morrow said she felt like “doors were opening.”

And she had the courage to take those first steps and walk through.

She took classes at the Adult Education Center in Lonoke, where she prepared for college classes. While there, she took the ACT and scored 28 in math.

Shelton said, each step builds a student’s self-esteem.

In 2013, Lily became a U.S. citizen and received a full scholarship from Arkansas State University at Beebe, and in 2016, she earned an associate’s of arts degree, graduating with a 4.0 GPA.

She has won awards for her scholastic achievements, and now, she’s a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she is working on a degree in mechanical engineering.

It isn’t all about herself, Bill Morrow said. “She volunteers and loves to help other students.”

Lily didn’t timidly push open those closed doors but kicked them wide open. Her husband said, “She works all the time. She wants to be perfect. For me, it’s been a pleasure to see her come so far, just by her will alone. Everyday I’m amazed at her progress. She just keeps getting better.”

Shelton said, “Lily went after her education. It’s pretty cool.”

Lily said, “I am lucky to be here. My future is filled with so much opportunity,” and perhaps one day she’ll have a job at Remington Arms in Lonoke, Caterpillar Inc. in North Little Rock or perhaps at Halliburton Co. like her husband.

She said with hard work and dedication, “This is a dream anyone can achieve.”

To read Lily Morrow’s entire “50 Faces” story in her own words, go to


While visiting the Cabot Public Library a few weeks ago, Shelton said, “Without good reading skills, a person has a limited future.”

“With good reading skills, a person has a better quality of life,” and, she added, “No matter what walk of life a person is from, it’s (more education) possible.”

Cari Swink, director of both the Prairie Arkansas Literacy Council and the Literacy Council of Lonoke County, said her office took over the Lonoke Literacy Council last year and hopes to expand its services.

They worked with 31 students last year, but Swink believes she can triple those numbers.

They are looking for tutors for their Cabot, Lonoke, Hazen and Stuttgart programs, which help students advance to an eighth-grade reading level, as well as English as a Second Language and family literacy tutors.

Swink said, “We don’t yet have the tutor base we need.”

Shelton said, “It feels good to help someone.”

Volunteers are also needed at these sites and duties include office work, help in its bookstores and with events and fundraisers.

Training and materials are free to tutors, volunteers and students, and learning programs can be tailored to the individual’s need.

“If (you or) someone you know needs help, please call us…Everyone is welcome,” she said.

Swink is also a volunteer and said, “We take our education for granted,” but there are many reasons a person may not have succeeded.

They want to help not only young immigrants but people from all walks of life.

For example, a person might have gone through school at a time when disabilities like dyslexia weren’t treated or even recognized.

TOP STORY >> Beebe doctor fights

UAMS communication specialist

If there’s anything Dr. Carolyn Mehaffey of Beebe and her mentor Dr. Robert L. “Lee” Archer argue about, it’s not patient care.

“Don’t worry, I do it the way Dr. Archer taught me,” Mehaffey said during a recent visit to the UAMS Neurology Clinic, reassuring a patient who was concerned about who will continue Archer’s legacy as the main provider of multiple sclerosis (MS) care in Arkansas when it comes time for him to retire.

No – what the two argue about is who gets the credit for Mehaffey’s successes.

She was inspired to go into medicine when her older sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Mehaffey remembers Archer as a warm and inviting educator who opened doors for her from day one of medical school at UAMS and continued to do so during her residency in neurology in his department. She counts herself lucky that he essentially crafted her current position from nothing, allowing her to become the first MS fellow at UAMS and the only one in the state.

“A lot of people came together to – literally – make my dreams come true,” Mehaffey said. “People don’t do that kind of thing for you every day. I am extremely grateful.”

But Archer – professor, interim chairman of the Department of Neurology in the UAMS College of Medicine and the Major and Ruth Nodini Endowed Chair in Neurology – remembers it differently.

Mehaffey was a student who volunteered to help, sought out opportunities and continued to go above and beyond at every level. She was the author of her own success.

“From the start, I was impressed with how much she had already taught herself about MS,” Archer said. “The complexity of her questions was on more of a resident level than a student level. During her fellowship, she has taught herself more than I have taught her.”

There is no cure for MS, but treatments can help patients manage symptoms. Mehaffey helps patients cope with mobility issues, depression, cognitive difficulties and more, as well as counseling family members about ways they can help.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. When she was in the 11th grade, her older sister was diagnosed with MS, a disease of the brain and spinal cord that can affect movement, balance, sensation and reasoning. The cause is not known, but researchers suspect it is autoimmune related.

“It became clear very early on after my sister’s diagnosis that there weren’t a lot of neurologists in Arkansas who can help MS patients,” Mehaffey said. “My family and I immediately had a steep learning curve. I have always liked science, and I had thought I might teach, but my sister’s diagnosis made the decision for me: I was going to become a neurologist.”

Mehaffey said her personal experience of her sister’s MS has not only given her drive, it has made her a more empathetic physician.

“I think it helps me to connect with patients,” Mehaffey said. “I at least partially understand what they’re feeling, and it wasn’t too long ago that I was sitting on their side of the exam room, so I can remember the kinds of questions I had and the kind of information that they likely need to know.”

Mehaffey’s fellowship training in neuroimmunology began in July 2016 and will wrap up in June 2017.

A fellowship gives physicians advanced medical training in a sub-specialty that goes beyond their residency specialty training.

After completing the fellowship, Mehaffey will be able to – independently, without Archer’s supervision – treat MS and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders, which have similar symptoms to MS but require different treatments.

The funds for Mehaffey’s fellowship came from the Rampy MS Research Foun-dation, a family foundation in Bentonville dedicated to funding MS research, and from Archer’s endowed chair position, which was established in 2007 by $1 million in anonymous donations to support Archer in researching and treating MS.

Mehaffey sees patients at the UAMS Neurology Clinic on the second floor of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.

After completing the fellowship, Mehaffey will be director of the MS Clinic at UAMS and work one day a week at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.

“We already have the start of a comprehensive MS center, but I’d like to make it even better,” Mehaffey said. “I want patients to be able to come in for an appointment and see everyone they need to see in one visit – me, a physical therapist – whatever they need.”

Archer is optimistic about Mehaffey’s research with fellow faculty member Tuhin Virmani, M.D., Ph.D.

They are using a computerized “gait mat” that records extensive data on the patients as they walk. Mehaffey is using it to track MS patients over time to see what impact various treatments have on their walking abilities.

“Very few people are doing this, so I think it will be a great area for her to focus her research,” Archer said.

In addition to the clinical and research opportunities at UAMS, Mehaffey feels like she gets the “best of both worlds” by working at an academic hospital that allows her to give back as an educator.

“That one-on-one attention I got in med school was priceless,” Mehaffey said. “It’s why I didn’t want to go anywhere else for my residency. The support I’ve gotten has been huge, and along with my love for teaching, it’s why I want to stay here in Arkansas. I hope that by paving new ground with this fellowship that it will inspire other residents to be interested in doing fellowships too, so we can retain more talent here in the state.”

While they continue to agree to disagree on the past events that brought Mehaffey to this point, Archer is unqualified in his praise and assessment of her future.

“As a senior member of my department, I get asked by patients frequently about when I will retire and who will take care of them then,” Archer said. “I tell them I’m not leaving anytime soon, but when I do, their care will only get better.”

Appointments can be scheduled by calling 501-526-1000.