Friday, June 16, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Centennial Bank defeats Pythons 11-6

Special to The Leader

The Cabot Centennial Bank American Legion Junior team traveled to Little Rock’s Gary Hogan Field, home of the LR Trojans, and defeated the Little Rock Pythons 11-6 on Tuesday evening. Cabot never trailed in the game, but it was as close as one run after three innings. Centennial Bank picked up three big insurance runs in the sixth and final inning to close out the victory.

“Our pitching kept us in the ballgame,” Cabot coach Cody Perrin said. “We had some key hits throughout the game. We’ve got some guys that are kind of beat up right now, so we had to move some guys around, but they really stepped up. I’m really proud of them, of how they’ve carried themselves.”

Cabot picked up two runs in the top of the first after two were out. Austin Scritchfield singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a hit to left by Mason Griffin. Logan Bell singled to right, and Hunter Price had a hit to short center field to score Griffin for the 2-0 advantage.

The lead off hitter for the Pythons, Matt Wawak, singled in the bottom of the inning, moved to second then third on pitches that got to the backstop, then scored on a ground out to shortstop by Andrew McDonald to cut the lead in half at 2-1.

Centennial scored twice in the second. Blayse Quarnstrom walked and Tanner Wilson doubled down the left field line. Quarnstorm scored on a wild pitch. Wilson moved to third and scored on a ground out to increase the lead to 4-1.

The Pythons also scored two runs in the bottom of the frame for a score of 4-3.

Cabot picked up another three runs in the third on a hit by Price and three base on balls. Two runs scored on wild pitches and one on a RBI ground out by Masen Wade.

Blake Buffalo had come in to relieve Centennial Bank starting pitcher Will Camplain in the third inning. Quarnstrom moved from short to the mound to get two strike outs to end the frame, but Little Rock had answered with three runs for a score of 7-6.

Griffin singled and Price doubled to bring him in for Cabot in the fourth to add one run.

Quarnstrom got the Pythons in order in the bottom of the fourth, and Bell took the mound in the fifth inning and retired the side with two strikeouts and a ground out.

Three runs for Centennial Bank in the sixth inning set the final score at 11-6. Zach Edmondson entered the game to run and scored. Buffalo hit a double to the left center gap to score Price and Jake Moudy.

Bell retired the Pythons in the bottom of the inning to end the game.

Price had three hits for Cabot and scored twice. Griffin had two hits and scored two runs. Moudy reached base all four times on walks and scored two times.

Wawak and Nathan Mangum had two of the three hits by Python batters.

Cabot picked up a second win on Wednesday in Cabot, defeating the Stuttgart Ricemen by a score of 5-4. The victory gives them a record of 6-4.

The Centennial Bank team scored three runs in the first inning on two lead off walks, two base hits and a sacrifice fly. Jackson Olivi led off in the fourth inning with a hit and scored the fourth run. Scritchfield led off in the fifth with a hit and scored the fifth run for the 5-1 lead.

Stuttgart scored one run in the second inning on a triple and a single and did not score again until the sixth when two crossed the plate. Two errors aided the Ricemen to score their fourth run of the game in the seventh inning, but Brock Martin, who pitched the last two innings for Centennial, struck out the last hitter for the 5-4 win.

Scritchfield pitched the first five frames for Cabot and struck out nine with no walks and allowed only the two hits and one run.

Scritchfield also led the team in hits with three, while Wilson and Olivi each had two.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot fails to gain win on the road against LR

Special to The Leader

The Cabot Centennial Bank senior American Legion team fell 3-0 to the Little Rock Vipers Tuesday night at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock. It was a pitchers dual at the home of the LR Trojans with no runs crossing the plate until the sixth inning.

Caleb Wilson pitched all of the outs but the final one for Centennial Bank and only allowed three hits through five innings. However, three hits and a base on balls resulted in three runs in the bottom of the sixth and Dylan Billingsley entered to record the last out. The loss evened Cabot’s record at 3-3.

The Viper pitchers, of which there were three, recorded ten strike outs while allowing no runs. Starting pitcher, Shelby Quiggins, pitched the first three innings and had five of the strike outs.

“We were playing great defense,” Centennial Bank coach Casey Vaughan said. “Wilson was throwing it up for us. He was getting the outs that we needed. They threw some really good arms. They went three innings at a time, threw three different guys. It was tough to get them, because we couldn’t get them tired. They had somebody in coming fresh that pumped in strikes. Disappointed in our offense tonight. I felt like we could have scored some runs, we had opportunities to, but also hats off to them, and our guy obviously did a great job, too.”

Cabot only had three base runners in the first four innings, two on walks, Brian Tillery in the first, and Caleb Harpole in the third, and Blake McCutchen on a fielders choice. McCutchen did steal second to reach scoring position in the first frame. Ty Cyr reached on an infield hit in the fifth. Tillery and Logan Edmondson reached on walks in the sixth and seventh, but the Viper infield turned inning ending, and in the seventh, game ending double plays in each.

Little Rock had its lead off batter on in the first, only to be put out in a run down. Runners reached on an error and an infield hit in the third, but ground outs to third base and shortstop ended the threat. A one out double by Lance Hartville-Thomas put a runner in scoring position in the fourth inning, but a ground out to short and a sliding catch in right field again kept the game scoreless. However, in the bottom of the sixth, back to back one out hits put runners on board, and a triple to left center by Grayson Troutman scored them both. He then scored on a single by Camron Johnson. That was when Billingsley took the mound and got the final out on a pick-off of Johnson at first for the third out.

Cabot came to bat in the seventh needing at least three runs, but a strike out and a double play ended the contest.

SPORTS STORY >> Junior team bring record to 7-4

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet junior American Legion team defeated the Cabot Centennial Bank A team 9-4 Wednesday night at the Cabot Water Park and Sports Complex. The teams were tied at 3-3 after the first inning, but Jacksonville continued to score while holding the A team to only one additional run.

Gwatney improved its record to 7-4 while Cabot fell to 1-10.

“Pleased offensively,” Gwatney coach Larry Burrows commented. “We scored every inning and that was big tonight. We kept adding runs, adding runs, and kept putting the pressure back on them and alleviating it some on us. When you score every inning, that’s a good way to play, right there. It’s a little easier, so some of those walks, some of those things don’t hurt you as bad. Pleased offensively, for sure.”

As the visitor, Jacksonville got on the scoreboard first with three runs. Clay Burrows drew a base on balls, and Jaylon McGee reached second on a hit that got by the center fielder. Bryce Overman singled to right to score them and then scored on a double down the right field line by Axton Ramick.

The A team answered with three of their own to tie. Randy Couch doubled to right, Austin Calhoun walked, Parker Ashcraft and Coy Lovercheck were hit by pitches, Trent Maness walked and Reid Blackwell was hit by a pitch. One run scored when a pick off play went awry and two on hit by pitches with the bases loaded. Jacob McCaa came to the mound, was responsible for one hit by pitch, but then got a ground ball to shortstop Justin Dennis, who turned a double play to end the inning. Couch, Calhoun, and Ashcraft had come in to score.

Jacksonville added one in the second. Randy Davis singled to lead off. Burrows singled with two outs, McGee walked, Davis scored on an error on the play, and Gwatney had the lead at 4-3.

Jacksonville picked up two more in the top of the third. Ramick led off with a hit up the middle. Ethan Gray moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Robert Johnson scored him with a single and then scored on a hit by Ryan Ready to up the lead to 6-3.

Cabot responded with one run in their half of the frame. Calhoun started things off with a base hit up the middle, moved to second on a pitch in the dirt, and scored on a throw-ing error to cut the lead to 6-4.

Overman reached on an error and scored for Gwatney in the fourth inning. Johnson and Burrows each reached on throwing errors in the fifth and scored.

The A team’s Hayden Wood drew a base on balls in the fourth frame, reached third on wild pitches, and would have scored, with two outs, on a ground ball to shortstop, but the call was out at first base.

In the fifth and final inning played, Cabot had loaded the bases on two walks and an infield hit, but Ramick moved to the mound for Gwatney and got two strike outs to end the inning and the game. McCaa had pitched until then since he entered the game in the first. Calhoun went the distance on the mound for the Centennial Bank A team.

Overman had two hits and scored two runs for Jacksonville. Ramick also had two hits and scored once. Ready, McGee, Gray, Davis, and Johnson all had one hit. Burrows reached all four times with a hit, two walks, and on an error. He and Johnson also scored two runs.

Calhoun had one hit, one walk, and scored twice for Cabot. Madness and Couch also had one hit.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears repeat win

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears won the Aim High Let it Fly 7-on-7-football tournament for the second year in a row on Tuesday at Jan Crow Stadium in Jacksonville. The Bears went 3-2-1, and avenged one of its losses of the day in the finals, beating Maumelle 21-14.

“We did all right,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “It wasn’t great. “I thought the offense did pretty good. Ryan (Lumpkin) is going to be fine at quarterback. We’ve just lost some secondary we were counting on, and we’re trying to find the guys that are going to move into those spots.”

In the championship game, Sylvan Hills started on defense and forced a quick three-and-out possession. The Bears then scored in three plays, starting with a 13-yard completion from Lumpkin to Deon Youngblood. Micah Williams then caught a short pass for a first down, before Devante White snagged a hard throw between two defenders in the front of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown.

Maumelle’s next possessions started with a 20-yard completion on a wheel route, but that’s as far as the Hornets got before turning the ball over on downs again.

Lumpkin then hit Harmon Peters for 16 yards for a quick first down. He then found Youngblood for 7 yards, and Youngblood again for 17 and another touchdown for a 14-0 SH lead.

Maumelle answered quickly when no one picked up a receiver. The Hornets scored on an uncovered 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7.

The two teams then traded a couple possessions with no one scoring before Youngblood made his fifth catch and second for a touchdown for a 21-7 Sylvan Hills lead with five minutes remaining.

Sylvan Hills linebacker Ty Compton had a chance to seal it, but he dropped a pass right in his hands. The Hornets later scored with 2:45 to go. Sylvan Hills’ last possession went three and out, but the Hornets only had 45 seconds of a continuous clock left. They completed one pass for about 15 yards, but could not get off another snap.

The Bears’ varsity team did not have a good round of pool play. It lost 28-14 to Maumelle and 21-14 to Atkins, and tied Jacksonville’s varsity 7-7. That gave them a three-seed in the bracket round of the eight-team tournament. There they beat their own junior varsity team 21-10, but had to rally late after falling behind.

“I thought, you know, all things considered, our second team played pretty well,” Withrow said.

The Bears then beat Poyen, the No. 1 seed from the other pool, 28-13, and the Jacksonville junior varsity 28-7 to get to the championship game.

The Jacksonville Titans didn’t enjoy a great start to its 7-on-7 football tournament on Tuesday, but they did end the Aim High/Let it Fly event playing well. The Titans entered two separate squads in the event, as did Sylvan Hills, after two teams dropped out late.

The Jacksonville varsity squad, called White, went 0-1-2 in pool play and lost its first-round game of bracket to fall to the consolation bracket.

There, the Titans found some momentum, beating Rosebud and Atkins by wide margins to close the day.

The JV team, called Red, went 0-3 in pool play, but then shocked Atkins, the No. 1 seed from the other pool, in the first round of bracket play, hammering the Red Devils 30-7.

Red quarterback Dai Dai Haynes threw touchdown passes on each of the Titans’ first three possessions, while the defense picked off three Atkins passes for a 30-0 lead halfway through the 25-minute, continuous clock game.

The JHS Red team then lost to eventual tournament winner Sylvan Hills varsity 28-7 in the semifinal round.

Jacksonville varsity’s defense played well, giving up no more than two touchdowns in any of its six games. But the offense struggled until finding its rhythm late in the tournament.

The varsity squad lost 17-13 to Atkins in pool play. There are no field goals, but a defense can score three points for an interception. The Titan varsity then tied Maumelle 14-14, and tied Sylvan Hills varsity 7-7.

In bracket play, the Titans lost 14-10 to Poyen in the first round, but then came alive offensively. They beat Rosebud 44-17, and led that game 37-3.

The Titans scored on the very first play, with quarterback Harderrious Martin hitting Isaac Johnson on a post route for 40 yards and the score. On the Ramblers’ first possession, Titan defensive back DeBoious Cobbs got an interception for a 10-0 lead.

Jacksonville then threw a pick to make it 10-3, but Daniel Curly answered right back with his third interception of the day to make it 13-3.

Curly then took some snaps at quarterback, and found starting quarterback Martin in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown strike. Back on defense, the Titans got their third interception of the game, this time Tamad Tyler got the pick to make the score 23-3.

Curly went back in at quarterback, and completed three-straight passes. The first went to Johnson for 17 yards. The next two went back to Martin. The first was for 22 yards to the 1-yard line, and again to Martin for the score.

The Jacksonville defense held Rosebud to three and out, and the Curly/Martin combination proved effective again. Curly hit Martin for 31 yards on the first play to the 9-yard line. The same two hooked up again for the score on the next play, making it 37-3.

Rosebud then scored on 35-yard pass that was mostly luck. A Titan defender went up high for the pick, but the ball slipped right through his hands and into the chest of an unsuspecting Rambler receiver who was able to coral the ball for the touchdown.

Jacksonville slipped some of its JV players into the game for the next possession, and Dai Dai Haynes hit Cameron Robinson for a 40-yard touchdown strike on the first play.

Rosebud scored on its last possession to set the final margin.

EDITORIAL >> Lester name set in stone

Bobby Lester wasn’t among the four Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District leaders recognized by the state General Assembly and presented citations by state Rep. Bob Johnson of Jacksonville at the June board meeting. Lester went to the front only to pick up the citation for Chief of Staff Phyllis Stewart, who couldn’t attend.

And we cringed a little bit, feeling that perhaps Lester —the new district’s first superintendent and earliest guiding hand — had been passed by.

That was before the Wednesday’s groundbreaking for Jacksonville’s new elementary school. When the tarp was ripped — OK, maybe clumsily unwrapped in a stiff breeze — revealing an artist’s rendering of the new school and JNPSD board president Daniel Gray presented it as the Bobby G. Lester Elementary School.

We don’t know if Lester blushed, maybe he was red in the face from golfing or gardening or going to a grandchild’s ball games, but he said had he known, he would have brought his wife.

Well, she apparently knew, because she came forward from her hiding place in the back of the crowd.

Never in the collective memory of local educators has a new district been formed from part of an existing district in Arkansas and no one knew exactly how to do it.

But Lester, Stewart, Gray and their fellow travelers, with the help of state Education Commissioner Tony Wood, practiced educational midwifery, delivering a district, cutting the umbilical cord and beginning the nurturing.

Lester brought in the search team that hired Wood to replace him. The timing was perfect. Gov. Asa Hutchinson brought in Johnny Key — a man with no education experience but allegiance to his boss — to serve as his cutout in the commissioner’s seat, freeing up Wood with a couple of years before retirement.

Congratulations and thanks to Lester for all he’s done for his community.

This is a great time for students living north of the river.

Not only did Jacksonville break ground Wednesday on the first part of its $102 million building program, but the day before, patrons of the Pulaski County Special School District voted overwhelmingly to extend by 17 years the debt service millage to pay for improvements — in this case a new and reconfigured Sylvan Hills High School campus.

No one disputed the need for more space. Sylvan Hills High School was built for 850 students and the projected enrollment is 1,450 students. A freshman academy was opened in the old Northwood Middle School, and if the millage extension had failed, Superintendent Jerry Guess said plan B was to park 36 mobile classrooms behind the existing high school.

But by a 2-to-1 margin, district voters who did turn out to vote on the millage proposal approved the extension.

That’s a much wider margin than when Jacksonville passed its tax to fund construction, but the Jacksonville tax was a real, 7.6- mill increase, while the tax PCSSD residents voted on merely extends the existing tax for an additional 17 years. The tax doesn’t go up, it goes on.

Of the 77,658 registered voters in the area, 3,972 voted. That’s a turnout of 5.1 percent, even less than Pulaski County Election Director Brian Poe had expected.

But the turnout was heavy in the Sherwood precincts, where voters supported the issue by nearly a 4-to-1 margin.

Those voters approved the millage extension 1,907 to 525.

Thursday night, Stephens Inc.’s vice president for Public Finance, Jack Truemper, set a timeline for advertising and selling the bonds to get the Sylvan Hills project underway.

“I’m ready for the groundbreaking,” PCSSD board president Linda Remele said Tuesday night. The school should be ready for occupancy for the start of classes in August 2019.

Sherwood is determined to detach from PCSSD as well, and there’s also interest in Maumelle to break away, but the courts and the state have said no more detachments until PCSSD and Jacksonville are fully desegregated. The county board voted to hire WER Architects, which had already done about one-third of the work, according to Remele. Baldwin and Shell has been accepted as the general contractor for the new school.

That’s the same team — WER Architects and Baldwin & Shell — that’s working on the Jacksonville schools. That’s progress.

TOP STORY >> Streets will be repaved

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville will spend about $212,000 on its street-overlay program this year and in 2018.

The amount was unanimously approved the aldermen at the last city council meeting.

The money will purchase more than 1,700 tons of asphalt and provide for at least 7,500 square yards of milling.

Streets selected for this year’s program include Redmond Road from Main Street to the fire station; Loop Road from the bridge to 1,200 feet south of the bridge, and James Street from the railroad tracks to School Drive.

Two portions of Poplar Street are included in the program. The first section is from Bailey Street to 608 Poplar, and then from North First to Jones Street.

In other council business:

In his monthly report to the council, Police Chief Geoffrey Herweg said the department had 3,806 complaint calls in April, down about 200 calls from the previous April.

In April, there were no homicides or sexual assaults; four reported robberies, seven felony assaults, 15 burglaries, 82 thefts and six stolen vehicles.

The department closed 141 felony cases, but opened 149 new ones. For misdemeanors, 365 cases were closed and 357 were opened.

Under code enforcement, it was reported that officers had 137 assigned calls and initiated another 873 stops. Nearly 200 notices or letters were issued and 140 warnings given for code violations. The city mowed 47 properties that were in violation and sent out 159 grass letters concerning unkempt yards and properties.

Fire Chief Alan Laughy, in his monthly report, told the council his department had 309 rescue calls, 32 service calls, 22 false alarms, 11 fire calls, 10 hazardous conditions (without a fire), 14 good intent calls, one severe weather and natural disaster call and one call related to a down power line.

Ambulance responses for April included 241 transported runs and 95 non-transported runs.

Estimated fire loss for April was $25,500, and savings, based on insurance estimates of the department’s response and actions, was $894,500.

In the monthly animal shelter report, the shelter received 73 dogs and 49 cats in April. It returned 24 dogs to their owners and was able to adopt out 54 dogs and 26 cats. The facility euthanized two dogs and nine cats.

City Engineer Jay Whisker reported that in April his department issued 11 building permits and 10 business licenses. The department also performed 91 inspections during the month.

TOP STORY >> $168M in school construction starting

By GARRICK FELDMAN Leader executive editor

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski County School Board surprised Bobby Lester when it was announced at the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning that a new Jacksonville elementary school near Little Rock Air Force Base would be named for the former interim superintendent.

Workers unveiled a large depiction of the 80,000-square-foot structure to be built on 20 acres at General Samuels and Harris roads that will be named the Bobby G. Lester Elementary School.

The new $16.5 million elementary school should be ready for students by August 2018, with state partnership funding $7.5 million of the cost.

The new elementary school — part of a $102 million school building program — will replace nearby Tolleson Elementary School and Arnold Drive Elementary School on the air base. Both schools were built in the 1950s.

JNPSD board president Daniel Gray said, “After 30-plus years of tireless effort by countless members of this great community, we are finally breaking ground on the $100 million-plus in capital improvements for our Jacksonville scholars….Most of all, today is possible because of the Jacksonville-North Pulaski voters who voted to invest in our scholars and all of our economic futures by ensuring the passing of a historic millage.”

Gray asked Lester to come forward and said, “This man stepped up and is so integral in ensuring we would be on the right foot when he came out of retirement and sacrificed time with his family to be our very first superintendent. He knew where all the skeletons were buried and helped ensure we’d get a fair shake upon the division of assets from PCSSD. JNP is truly thankful and blessed that we have such a pillar in the Arkansas education community able to be of service.

“Ladies and gentlemen, JNP is proud to break ground today on the new Bobby G. Lester Elementary School,” Gray said. (See editorial, p. 8)

Lester, who headed the fledgling Jacksonville school district for a year and was the longtime superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District, said he would have brought his wife with him for the groundbreaking had he known the new school would be named for him.

In fact, Lester’s wife, Laura Beth, was in on the secret and arrived before the ceremony.

An emotional Lester thanked the school board and the district’s patrons, who had passed a millage increase last year to fund ambitious building projects, including a new high school along with the elementary school and 9,000-foot annexes at Murrell Taylor and Bayou Meto Elementary Schools costing $1 million each.

Jacksonville and Sherwood are both building new high schools costing more than $65 million each.

The state’s share of the new $66 million flagship Jacksonville High School along Main Street, slated to open in August 2019, is $20.2 million. Bids will be let on July 17.

The district’s entire construction budget is about $102 million, according to Superintendent Tony Wood.

That includes about $45 million raised by increasing the debt-service millage by 7.6 mills, the $28.1 million in state partnership matching funds, $10.2 million in the state’s final desegregation settlement, a $10.5 million second lien bond, a $4.5 million transfer of assets from PCSSD when the two districts split, $3 million from proceeds of a previous bond sale and $10 million in future bonds to upgrade Jacksonville Middle School.

The $28,187,684 million in state school facilities partnership matching money approved for Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is the largest in the state this year, according to Wood.

Those figures don’t in-clude about $4 million in architect fees.

Designed by WER Archi-tects, with Baldwin and Shell the construction manager, the elementary school will serve 648 students and will have 36 classrooms, dedicated music and art instruction spaces, a parent center and a hardened storm shelter.

It will include a 5,000 square f00t dining area with a permanent, raised stage and appropriate support spaces.

Wood called construction of the new school a milestone for Jacksonville, saying that the new facility is the first public school to be built in Jacksonville in four decades.

“This ceremony represents the success of joint efforts to improve conditions for students enrolled in our schools,” he said at the groundbreaking.

“We put it all together. Now we’ve got to get it built and paid for,” Wood said afterward.

Bryan Duffie, who will succeed Wood next month, said after the ceremony, “It’s an exciting time for the community. We hope this is the first of many progressive improvements for the district.”

Duffie, who is currently assistant superintendent for support services, has been a principal and superintendent at Westside Consolidated School District near Jones-boro. He said, “The unconditional support (from Jacksonville-area residents) has been unprecedented in my career.”

Meanwhile, Sherwood is looking to build a new $65 million Sylvan Hills High School campus after voters in the Pulaski County Special School District on Tuesday approved an extension of the existing 40.7-mill property tax to pay for the new school, which could be ready for occupancy in fall 2019.

By a margin of 2,628 to 1,337, voters decided that the existing school, built for 880 students, is not up to the task of housing, feeding and educating the projected enrollment of 1,450.

Currently, the ninth graders are diverted to a “freshman campus” at the old Northwood Middle School and will go to the new high school campus.

The 17-year tax extension will generate about $66.5 million. About $60 million of that will be used to build new classrooms and science labs, a larger cafeteria and a large auditorium at Sylvan Hills and remodel much of the rest of the campus, he said.

Sherwood’s population has gained about 41 percent between 2000 and 2014.

WER architects have done preliminary drawings and should complete the plans later this year, according to Deborah Roush, PCSSD director of communications.

Dirt work for the construction, adjacent to and including the existing high school, could begin this fall, she said.

Leader senior staff writer John Hofheimer contributed to this report.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

TOP STORY >> ASU-Beebe welcomes Moore as its PR boss

Keith Moore of Jacksonville has been named executive director of marketing and public relations at Arkansas State University-Beebe.

Moore will be responsible for the planning, development and implementation of the university’s marketing, communications and public relations.

Moore holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Arkansas Air National Guard and has served as a senior public affairs officer for the adjutant general at the Joint Force Headquarters for the past 11 years. 

His Guard duties have included the implementation of strategic communications, management of crisis communication and maintaining brand awareness. 

He previously served as the marketing and administrative support services coordinator for BKD, a Little Rock public accounting firm.

Moore received a bachelor’s degree in news journalism from Arkansas State University and a master’s degree in media communications from Webster University. 

He is also a certified FEMA public-affairs officer and is experienced in interagency coordination for crisis-event management.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TOP STORY >> Millage vote will pay for new campus

By JOHN HOFHEIMER Leader senior staff writer

By a 2-1 margin Tuesday, Pulaski County Special School District voters approved an extension of the existing 40.7-mill property tax authorizing money for a new and reconfigured Sylvan Hills High School that could be ready for occupancy in fall 2019.

By a margin of 2,628 to 1,337, voters apparently agreed that the existing school, built for 880 students, is not up to the task of housing, feeding and educating the projected enrollment of 1,450.

Currently, the ninth graders are diverted to a “freshman campus” at the old Northwood Middle School and will go to the new campus.

The 17-year tax extension will generate about $66.5 million. About $60 million of that will be used to build new classrooms and science labs, a larger cafeteria and a large auditorium at Sylvan Hills and remodel much of the rest of the campus, he said.

Sherwood’s population has gained about 41 percent between 2000 and 2014.

“Hip hip hooray,” said PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess. He said the ballot included all the options, so the folks at Stephens Public Finance could advertise and sell the bonds without delay.

“We will sell them, use the proceeds for all fees and construction and to furnish, fix and equip the school,” Guess said.

Plan B would have been to move about 36 portable classrooms in behind the existing building.

The district may use the surplus revenues produced each year by the debt service millage for other school purposes.

WER architects has done preliminary drawings and should complete the plans later this year, according to Deborah Roush, PCSSD director of communications.

Dirt work for the construction, adjacent to and including the existing high school, could begin this fall, she said.

About 80 people gathered at the city-owned Greens Country Club in Sherwood for the election watch party and applauded warmly at 8 p.m. when PCSSD Board president Linda Remele announced an early vote count of 546 for extending the tax, 219 against. Then the waiting began in earnest.

The Pulaski County Election Commission posted the final but unofficial totals at 9:30 p.m. to the appreciative gathering.

Among those present were Guess, Roush, Chief Operating Officer Derek Scott, Sher-wood Mayor Virginia Hillman Young and Sherwood aldermen Marina Brooks, Beverly Williams, Mike Sanders and Ken Keplinger.

From the WER, the firm designing the high school, Eldon Bock and Russ Fason were there.

The gathering was fueled by a cash bar, cookies, fruit, brownies and Popeye’s fried chicken.

TOP STORY >> City father recalls work at WWII ordnance plant

Jacksonville experienced a jobs and building boom 75 years ago when the Arkansas Ordnance Plant, along with five others in the state, produced parts for explosives used in World War II.

Jacksonville resident Odes Goodsell, 88, was 16 when he worked eight months at the AOP as a materials handler starting March 1945. He unloaded materials from freight railcars into warehouses (Warehouse Row Street) and loaded trucks with supplies to the production lines five days a week.

“I made 39 cents an hour. That’s $3.20 a day. That was a good raise compared to $1 a day at the farm,” Goodsell said.

Many people, mostly women, came to Jacksonville for the work and higher pay.

In 1941, the War Department approved the immediate construction of the $33 million, 6,895-acre ordnance plant operated by the defense contractor Ford, Bacon and Davis of New York.

Within nine months the plant went into operation from 1942 to 1945 with 12 assembly lines making fuses, primers and detonators. It made 80 percent of the detonators used in the war. The plant had 476 buildings, water and sewer systems, a railroad, paved streets, a fire department, a police department, a hospital, laundry and horse stables.

“It was amazing how big the plant was, how fast they built it and then shut it down,” Goodsell said.

Before the war, Jacksonville’s population was 400. In August 1943, the plant had 12,600 people working three shifts, one fourth of them African Americans.

Goodsell’s dad, Albert, was a security guard. His brother, Roy, who is 94, worked on building foundations until he was drafted into the war. Goodsell’s sister Reba and his stepmom, Edina Parks, both worked on the production line.

Many employees used shuttle buses and trains to get to work. Housing was in short supply.

“It was unreal with the amount of people in Jacksonville,” Goodsell said.

Goodsell rode to the plant from Roosevelt Road in the back of Gus Griggs’ truck with three other passengers.

People slept in tents, under trees and in cars. Some homeowners rented beds. Dormitories for women were built along West Main Street at the new high school site.

At the McArthur Drive split are 25 former plant administration houses.

The Sunnyside Addition had 375 prefabricated homes and duplexes built to house 500 families. A 200-unit trailer park was near where First Arkansas Bank and Trust’s West Main Street branch is today.

Relics of the Arkansas Ord-nance Plant can be found in Jacksonville.

The Jacksonville Museum of Military History sits on the former plant’s administration building site. The original structure burned in 1945.

The small gray building next to the museum is the only guard house from the ordnance plant known to exist. There were 13 houses at entrances to the plant. The Goodsell family restored the guard house to honor his brother Roy, who was a security guard there.

The post office building along West Main Street was the plant’s cafeteria. Bart Gray Manor Apartments was the hospital. The Jacksonville courts building was the fire station. Where West Main Street splits into one-ways was a plant entrance. On Municipal Drive, the closed Tires for Less was the carpentry shop and beside it was a lumber warehouse. The Cripple Creek Flea Market row had offices there.

Many warehouses off South Redmond Road were used by the ordnance plant.

The thick concrete structure behind the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District bus lot once housed explosive powder used in detonators.

Some of the plant’s buildings locations are fading memories. An ice house was at Crestview Plaza. The Chili’s restaurant on West Main Street was the plant’ s laundry.

Chicken Country was the fueling plant. On School Drive the vacant fenced property next, to the orange mini-storage units was the employment office.

“It was called the bull pen. You waited here until you got called up,” Goodsell said.

As the war was ending, employment decreased and the plant closed in 1946. The population dropped to 2,500 people.

“You could buy a house in Sunnyside for $50,” Goodsell said.

Goodsell and a few employees were kept on after the war to close the plant.

“Where the air base control tower is now, we had to take new surplus supplies, hospital beds and tools to the tall hill and dump and burn it. They felt redistribution would hurt local sellers,” Goodsell said.

The Leader is seeking surviving ordnance plant workers to share their stories of working in Jacksonville during the Second World War.

TOP STORY >> Not all news is new news

Editors Note: This is part one of a series.

The president made a speech in which he deplored the political condition of the country and declared that it was trending to a military dictatorship or a monarchy.

Trump at it again?

Oh, no! Bad mouthing the political condition of our country is nothing new. This speech was by President Andrew Johnson. He gave it in early July 1869.

It’s just one of many gems culled from a collection of London Times newspapers dated from July to September 1869 that The Leader staff has had a chance to skim through.

By the way, Johnson made that demeaning speech even though he was serenaded the night before, according to the newspaper report. Must not have been his favorite kind of music.

Then there was the July 10 police-beat article of a stabbing, which stated, “Yesterday two men and a woman were apprehended at Shrewsbury on a charge of stabbing a man named Thomas Evans in a most awful manner. There is not the least chance of his living” … as he was “cut round almost from belly to back so his entrails protruded.” He was also stabbed in the ribs and the wounds are “about certain to prove fatal.”

First question – since this was a stabbing “in a most awful manner,” is there a way to stab that would be considered good manners? Secondly, if poor Thomas was still alive and read this he definitely would not have cared for the prognosis as he’s told twice in a paragraph that he is among the walking dead.

And crime and the cost of having enough police to control it was also a topic in the July 1 edition where an article stated “in Great Britain the public purse contributes more than a half-million sterling a year towards police expenses.” The good news from the Brits’ side of things was that the cost in Ireland was “fast approaching a million sterling.” Must have something to do with the green beer.

Under the category of articles we probably won’t see anywhere today is this one from July 3: “By Atlantic Telegraph gold closed at 136 7/8.” The millennials are trying to figure out what is a telegraph and the rest of us want to know why we are paying 1,294 1/8 per ounce of gold today.

And then there’s the July 6, 1869, police article. It states there were 447 convictions in the second quarter within the metropolitan police district for False Weights and Measures.

Do you know there’s not been a single conviction for this nefarious crime in Pulaski or Lonoke counties this year? What are the police doing?

In the July 10 edition, there was an article about the deadliest place to live. Quoting the monthly Sanitary Statistics: Paris has 23 deaths per 1,000 annually; London is at 20 per 1,000; Berlin deaths were as high as 34 per 1,000. Today, in the United States, it’s almost 9 per 1,000.

The London Times had a classified-ad section and again three jumped out.

In the July 11 edition in bold letters it stated “Groom wanted.” Not the kind connected to a bride, but one who works with horses. The ad said the gentleman needed to “be punctual and willing to make self useful.” Maybe brides to be should put out similar ads.

A day later this ad was spotted:

“Apartment to be Let (lady and gentleman or two friends or otherwise).” Or otherwise? Let’s just leave that to your imagination.

Then finally, on July 16, this ad ran “Junior Clerk Wanted, no less than 17 years of age and who has held no previous situations.” Wow, a job with no experience needed, that fits many, many young people, so what’s the catch? It’s the rest of the ad, “No salary for the first year.”

And who needs social media when you have rumours? (British spelling, of course.)

From the July 6, 1869, newspaper: “Various rumours have of late been in circulation to the effect that the case had been abandoned or, at all events, would not be carried into court. We are in a position to contradict these reports, and to state that the petitioner’s case is proceeding and that there is at present no probability of its being withdrawn. “

Don’t know who the “We” are, but glad they quashed the rumours. So did you hear about Mrs. Johnson and the Harper Valley PTA …

EDITORIAL >> Discipline that’s fair, consistent

At first we didn’t know what to make of the rather large number of expulsions this past school year.

Of about 4,000 Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District students, the board expelled 37 — originally reported to be 38 — or about 1 percent. The Pulaski County Special School District, with about 12,000 students, expelled only 21 students (or less than two-tenths of a percent), and Cabot, with about 10,000 students, expelled just five.

How to explain the disparity?

“It’s an unfair question,” said JNPSD Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Owoh. “We don’t work for (other districts),” he said.

Of the 37 students the board expelled, 25 were high school students, nine middle school students and three elementary school students.

Females accounted for 15 of the 37, according to Owoh.

The new district has come a long way in a short period of time, exhibiting top-flight leadership and steadfastness of purpose, so we’re inclined to believe they are on the right track.

The school board has proven itself thoughtful not only in establishing the rules of conduct for students, but also in following the superintendent’s recommendation to enforce them.

We think the district and the board have established high expectations for student responsibility and behavior, but in the flux of Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District’s first year as a standalone district, students may not have been certain of what to expect.

But here’s the takeaway — administrators and the board want the students to succeed, and if they must curb disruptive behavior — as defined in the student handbook — by some of the students to create a safe environment conducive to learning by the others, well, we understand.

Outgoing Superintendent Tony Wood simply said, “The numbers speak for themselves.”

Incoming Superintendent Bryan Duffie, who inherits the district, warts and all come July 1, said, “It is (our) hope that discipline problems and expulsions gradually decrease, and we don’t have to go on to the ultimate sanction.”

And Owoh, who’s been lured away to the deputy commissioner’s job at the state Education Department, said, “We’re just taking care of business here.” The administrators in the district were “following the process in the handbook — rules passed by the board.”

“Expectations are set when the board sets the handbook,” Owoh said. “To be fair and consistent, we follow the student handbook.”

“We’ll keep enforcing policy,” said Duffie. “That’s the way we do business. If interventions don’t work, we’ll eventually get there with those students.”

“There are expectations of how young people should conduct themselves so they don’t detract from others,” Wood said. “Our goal has been to follow the student policy handbook, provide interventions to promote positive, consistent and fair discipline.”

The administrators work through progressive sanctions, starting with a parent conference before moving on to suspensions.

In some cases paddling (with parental permission) is an option instead of suspension. Expulsion is the last resort for discipline.

Expulsion can follow a string of infractions or occur for one serious infraction, such as bringing a gun to school.

“We started a positive behavior intervention system,” Owoh said. It can include separating students by changing seats or even classrooms, meeting with parents and providing incentives for students who don’t receive disciplinary sanctions.

Positive behavior intervention includes low-er hierarchy approaches, like encouraging students to hold up a red card and going to a quiet part of the room or to see a school counselor or psychologist to cool down.

Meeting with a student’s parents can reveal strategies used at home to defuse potential problems.

Teachers can also use incentives to reward students who avoid disciplinary problems, Owoh said.

Parents are sometimes supportive of paddling — three whacks are the maximum — rather than expelling their children.

Of the five students expelled at the June school board meeting, none of the expulsions were challenged.

Expulsions and probation can follow a student from one school year to the next, but the student’s discipline folder doesn’t. The new school year will provide a fresh start.

While there have been fights and an occasional weapon on school grounds, Wood, Duffie and Owoh agree there has been no indication of gang problems at the schools, including gang graffiti.

SPORTS STORY >> CWD Management Zone widens to include Van Buren County

Van Buren County is the latest area to be placed under special wildlife regulations to curb the spread of chronic wasting disease, as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission added it to the official CWD Management Zone.

No positive cases of CWD have been found in Van Buren County, but a positive elk was collected in Searcy County last year within a few miles of the county line.

Based on AGFC’s management strategy for disease containment, counties within a 10-mile radius of a positive CWD case are included in the management zone.

“Yearling bucks are an age class of white-tailed deer that tend to travel the farthest. They can range up to 50 miles, but we based our CWD management strategy on the assumption of a 10-mile average dispersal radius,” said Jenn Ballard, veterinarian for the AGFC’s newly formed Research, Evaluation and Compliance Division. “Some may go more or less than that, but to keep it reasonable, any county that significantly overlaps one of those circles is included.”

Hunters who successfully harvest a deer in Van Buren County will no longer be allowed to move any part of their deer except for deboned meat, hides, cleaned antlers and skull plates, and finished taxidermy items outside of the CWD Management Zone.

“The prion which causes the disease is very resistant,” Ballard said.

“We want to prevent the spread of it as much as possible because it stays in the environment indefinitely. We know that the brain and nervous tissue are the areas of the cervid’s body that house the most prions, so by leaving that portion in the zone, we drastically reduce the chance of spreading the disease to new areas of the state,” Ballard said.

Ballard says, the safest way to dispose of the remainder of the carcass is to bury it within the CWD Management Zone or take it to an approved landfill within the zone to help prevent scavengers from spreading infectious material.

People within Van Buren County also will need to adhere to new regulations regarding feeding wildlife. In general, placing food for wildlife viewing is now banned in the county. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Incidental feeding of wildlife from active livestock operations and any other normal agricultural operations are still allowed.

Hand-feeding of wildlife, such as waterfowl and squirrels, and the use of birdfeeders and squirrel feeders are still allowed. Baiting deer and elk for hunting is allowed from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Food plots may be used year-round.

Baiting bears also is allowed 30 days before bear season opens, however any baiting before Sept. 1 must be with dog food, cat food, pastries and bread, cooking oils/grease, non-wildlife meat scraps, popped popcorn and fish.

“The regulation primarily concerns people supplementally feeding deer and concentrating them in one spot,” Ballard said. “We know that artificial congregation of animals increases the transmission of any disease, not just CWD.”

Ballard says there are still information gaps left regarding CWD’s spread in Arkansas, but the picture is becoming clearer each time samples are taken and tested.

“We’re coming closer to defining the boundaries of the disease and hope to have more information by the end of the next hunting season, once more samples can be gathered from hunter harvests.”

Chronic wasting disease was first detected in a 2-year-old, hunter-harvested, female elk near Pruitt, about 12 miles east of Ponca. The elk was harvested Oct. 6, 2015, but the samples from that annual testing group were not confirmed CWD positive until Feb. 23, 2016. CWD was confirmed in Arkansas’s white-tailed deer herd March 8, 2016, when a 2∏-year-old female deer that was found dead near Boxley Valley tested positive for the disease.

To date, there have been 213 confirmed cases of CWD in Arkansas.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills brings record to 2-0

By ANN THARP Special to The Leader 

The Sylvan Hills junior Bruins American Legion team traveled to Jacksonville Monday evening and extended their record to 2-0 with a 16-2 win over the Gwatney Chevrolet junior team. The other Sylvan Hills win was over North Little Rock. Jacksonville is now 6-4.

Neither team scored in the opening frame.

The lead off hitter, Zac Cook, reached for Sylvan Hills, but Jacksonville pitcher, Ethan Gray, got two strike outs and a ground out to end the inning, stranding Cook on third.

Jacksonville had the bases loaded by way of walks in the bottom of the inning, but Sylvan Hills pitcher, Jack Haley, got his counterpart, Gray, to ground out to second to end the threat.

Jacob Galiano started things for the Bruins in the second with a double down the left field line.

He reached third on a pitch in the dirt and scored on a wild pitch to the screen. Brice Cagle singled to score Hunter Allen who had walked, and Stone Stanley grounded out to second, but scored Gage Taylor, who had reached on an error. Cagle scored the final run of the half inning to give Sylvan Hills the 4-0 lead.

Jacksonville answered with two in their part of the frame to cut the advantage in half. Axton Ramick led off with a hit to right, and Ryan Ready reached on an infield hit. Robert Johnson moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt. A balk was then called, scoring Ramick and moving Ready to third. Clay Burrows singled to left to score Ready and the score was 4-2 after two.

The Bruins had a huge third inning with 12 batters coming to the plate and eight of them scoring. Galiano led off with a hit, following by a double by Hunter Allen. Taylor was hit by a pitch, Cagle singled again, and Stanley walked. Cook got his second hit of the game, Connor Young was hit by a pitch, Will Cartwright reached on an errant throw to the plate, and all scored before the third out was recorded. Galiano also picked up his third hit, another double, but did not score again.

Jackson Pope took the mound for Sylvan Hills in the bottom of the third. Randy Davis had a base hit down the left field line for Jacksonville, but no runs scored and the score remained 12-2.

The Bruins added four more runs in the top of the fourth and final inning to set the final margin of 16-2. Nick Reeves had a base hit and scored one of the runs, and Cagle scored his third of the contest. Justin Dennis had moved to the mound to pitch for Gwatney in the fourth, and Ramick had taken over in the second and gotten the final two outs.

Adonis Fuller entered the game and led off with a base hit to right center for Jacksonville in the bottom of the fourth, but Pope got the next three batters out to end the game.

“We hit well,” Sylvan Hills coach Matt Presson commented. “We took advantage of the errors they made when we had guys on. We threw strikes and made plays, so you can’t ask for anything other than that. Overall, I thought it was a good game for them.”

Galiano had the three hits for Sylvan Hills and scored twice. Cook had two hits, scored two runs and also reached on an error and base on balls. Cagle and Allen each had two hits. Burrows, Jaylon McGee, Davis, Ramick, and Ready each had one hit for Gwatney.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills defeated by Gwatney, 3-2

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet senior American Legion team improved its record to 3-1 Monday night with a very close 3-2 victory over the Sylvan Hills Bruins senior team. Brandon Hawkins pitched the entire game for Jacksonville, excluding the final two outs, in which Brandon Hickingbotham moved over from first to throw. Hawkins had 11 strike outs and allowed only four hits and three walks.

Ray Young went the entire game for the Bruins.
“We played pretty decent, offensively and defensively,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham had to say. “Our pitching was on top of the situation tonight. Being our fourth game, we were pleased with what we did tonight. We were very well pleased. We had some guys step up and do a good job. We’re trying to get the season started. We’re a little short handed on players, but they’re giving good effort, and that’s all I ask for.”

Sylvan Hills went in order in the top of the first.
Gwatney meanwhile scored once in the bottom of the inning for an early 1-0 lead. Trent Toney drew a base on balls, followed by a single to left by Caden Sample. An infield hit up the middle by Brandon Hickingbotham loaded the bases for Tyson Flowers who came through with a RBI single to center field. Young struck out the next two batters to allow only the single run.

Hawkins struck out the side in the top of the second. Jason Neeley had drawn a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and stole third, but was stranded there.
Gwatney picked up another run in the bottom of the frame. Caleb Smith reached on an infield hit to the left side and moved to second on a ground out to the pitcher. Kameron Whitmore was hit by a pitch and both runners moved up on a wild pitch.
Smith then scored on a ground out to first by Toney, making the score 2-0.

After a scoreless third inning, the Bruins got on the scoreboard in the fourth. Ryan Lumpkin singled to left, followed by a hit that found the grass in right field by Nick Fakouri. Hawkins got Lumpkin in a rundown between second and third which eventually resulted in Fakouri being thrown out at first. Neeley got a base hit up the middle to score Lumpkin from second, narrowing the lead to 2-1.

Jacksonville scored another run in the fifth. Sample doubled to deep center field. Flowers was hit by a pitch, Jordan Wickersham reached on a ground ball to the left side of the infield, and the bases were loaded with one out.

Jayden Loving put down a bunt that went for an infield hit and scored Sample for the 3-1 lead.
Both teams went in order in the sixth, bringing us to the top of the seventh. Fakouri led off for Sylvan Hills with a line drive single up the middle. After a fly out to center, Young walked. With runners on first and second, Jacksonville went with the pitching change to Hickingbotham.

Connor Young bunted to move the runners into scoring position with two outs. Fakouri scored when a ball got through the catcher, setting the final margin of 3-2 before a strike out ended the game.

“It was a close one,” said Sylvan Hills coach Matt Presson. “He (Hawkins) had his fast ball. We just couldn’t time it up. There toward the end, we got on it and started getting some guys on. We had one base running mental mistake that I think cost us a run. I thought they competed. They played hard. I wish we had got on that fast ball a little bit more, because we knew it was coming. He’s a good pitcher, threw a great game. They just beat us. Besides that one mental error, it was a good clean ballgame in my opinion.”
Sample and Flowers had two hits each for Gwatney, while Wickersham, Loving, Hickingbotham, and Smith had one.

Fakouri had two hits to lead Sylvan Hills, while Lumpkin and Neeley had one each.

TOP STORY >> Expulsions rise in new school district

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board expelled five students Monday, bringing to 38 the number of expulsions for the new district’s first year.

For all the giant strides the district made this year, discipline looms as a large concern, both in the day-to-day operations of the schools and also as one of five areas where Jacksonville has failed to achieve unitary status, first as part of Pulaski County Special School District and now on its own.

Federal court oversight of both districts continues until they are considered desegregated — unitary — in all areas. That includes student discipline and facilities, and the district is working on both.


The district has not yet parsed all the numbers, but of the 38 students expelled this year, 15 were girls, according to Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Owoh.

On the recommendation of the superintendent, the board expelled 25 five high school students, nine middle school students and four in elementary school.

Pulaski County Special School District, three times larger than JNPSD, expelled only 21 students this year, according to PCSSD Communications Director Deborah Roush. That’s less than two-tenths of 1 percent. Cabot expelled five students.

Wood has said it’s futile to try to compare expulsions between districts.

“I’ll just let the numbers speak for themselves and hope students make better decisions,” Superintendent Tony Wood said.

School administrators can suspend students, but only the board can expel them.


Expulsion is considered the last resort, usually following a string of infractions, interventions and disciplinary actions, according to Wood. An expulsion is the last resort for discipline, in some cases including paddling.

“There are expectations of how young people should conduct themselves so they don’t detract from others,” Wood said. “Our goal has been to follow the student-policy handbook, provide interventions to promote positive, consistent and fair discipline.”

The administrators work through progressive sanctions, starting with a parent conference before moving on to suspensions.

Administrators can suspend students for two to four days, for six days and for 10 days. Paddling is an option when parents have “opted-in,” according to Wood. Many parents would prefer their child  paddled than suspended.

 When appropriate, administrators may send a student to an alternative classroom for in-school suspension—one at the high school, one at the middle school and for elementary school, one at Tolleson.

While any expulsion is one too many, the 38 expulsions amount to less than 1 percent of enrollment, Wood said.


“Next year, I expect a better year as pertains to academics and discipline,” said Owoh, who leaves after June 30 to become the state education department’s assistant commissioner of educator effectiveness and licensure.

“The encouraging thing is the (change) in the environment at both the middle school and the high school from the first 30 days to the last 30 days,” Wood said.

“I talked to students at a couple of basketball games, and a few said we don’t like all these new rules,” Duffie said. Now he hears, “We think we’re getting along better and there are not as many fights.”

The three men say it is important to be fair and consistent in discipline, but that other students deserve an environment free of disruptions and conducive to learning.

Wood said there are many factors affecting student discipline and achievement, including the home environment and expectations both at home and at school.

While Wood said he couldn’t compare this year’s discipline and expulsions to last year, when PCSSD controlled those schools, “I’m confident there would have been more expulsions this year.”


“We deal with the human condition,” Duffie said. “It’s not an exact science. There are so many conditions that impact a child’s life.”

“School’s just a tough business,” Wood said. “If you’re really trying to make a difference, it’s hard work. I hate that we have expulsions, but if no action is taken, we’re not doing our job.”

Administrators work through a hierarchy of progressive sanctions and by the time a student is expelled, he or she has a history of disruptive or even dangerous behavior, Wood said.

Behaviors leading to expulsion can range from fighting or possessing a weapon on school grounds — level IV offenses — down to excessive tardiness or talking disrespectfully to a teacher — level I offenses.

Discipline folders don’t move from one school year to the next unless the student is expelled or on probation. So most students, even those who had problems last year, will have a fresh start for the new school year.


Expulsion is sometimes a progression where the proverbial straw breaks the camel’s back, Wood said, but some times it’s from a single incident, like having a weapon on campus.

A student with repeated level one violations can move onto level two.

JNPSD uses the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports approach to affect student behavior, one that’s been used in Arkansas at schools including J.A. Fair, where Owoh was principal and at Westside Consolidated School District at Jonesboro, where Duffie was superintendent before signing on with the Jacksonville district.


“We started a positive behavior intervention system,” Owoh said. It can include separating students by changing seats or even classrooms, meeting with parents and providing incentives for students who don’t receive disciplinary sanctions.

PBIS includes lower hierarchy approaches, like encouraging students to hold up a red card and going to a quiet part of the room or to see a school counselor or psychologist to cool down.

Meeting with a student’s parents can reveal strategies used at home to defuse potential problems. Teachers can also use incentives to reward students who avoid disciplinary problems, Owoh said.

They can be rewarded with Titan Bucks or points for good behavior that might allow a trip to a “treasure chest,” where they can be redeemed.

Or rewards can include extra time on educational computer games. The middle school had a hotdog party this year for students who had no referrals. Or they could have a dance at the end of school, Owoh said.