Friday, July 07, 2017

TOP STORY >> Air base change of command Tuesday

Col. Gerald “Gyro” Donohue will become commander of the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Herc Hall.

Donohue most recently was 86th Operations Group commander at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, commanding the largest and busiest C-130 and operational support aircraft squadrons in the Air Force.

Donohue takes over for Col. Charles Brown, who is headed for a top position with NATO in Mons, Belgium, as a senior assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

Known as SHAPE, it is the headquarters of Allied Command Operations, which has controlled all NATO operations since 1949.

The current Supreme Allied Commander is Army Gen. Curtis Michael Scaparrotti, who took the post a year ago. Previous Supreme Allied Commanders have included Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Alexander Haig, Wesley Clark and James L. Jones.

Before commanding LRAFB, Brown was the Pentagon’s assistant deputy director of Joint Strategic Planning, Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff. He was division chief for the Strategic Alignment Division, Joint Staff at the Pentagon from June 2013 - April 2014.

Brown had been previously assigned to LRAFB as commander of the 62nd Airlift Squadron from April 2009 - April 2011 and as the 314th Airlift Wing’s Chief of Wing Safety from July 2008 - March 2009.

Brown was a national security fellow at Harvard in 2012.

He earned a master’s of national security and strategic studies in 2008 from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He was a distinguished graduate of the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., in 2002. He earned a bachelor’s of science in criminal justice at Florida State University in 1994.

Brown is a senior pilot with 1,600 hours in C-130E, C-130H, C-130J aircraft and the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet. He has served Operations Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The 19th Airlift Wing is the host wing of Little Rock Air Force Base. As the installation commander, Donohue is set to lead the “Home of C-130 Combat Airlift” and work with the 314th Airlift Wing, 189th Airlift Wing, 913th Airlift Group and the 29th Weapons Squadron in all aspects of C-130 training.

“The wing provides combat ready forces to meet combat commanders’ requirements globally. He ensures support for combat, contingency, and humanitarian requirements while providing for the health and welfare of more than 10,000 personnel and families at Little Rock AFB,” according to Donohue’s official biography.

He will be “responsible for organizing, training and equipping the personnel who operate, maintain and sustain more than 65 C-130 aircraft.”

Donohue entered the Air Force in 1995 after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s of science in psychology.

His additional education achievements include receiving a masters’ in national security and strategic studies from Naval War College, Newport, R.I., in 2015; an MBA from Touro University International in 2007; completing Squadron Officer School at Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL, in 2000; Army Command and General Staff Officer’s Course, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 2008, and Air War College in 2010.

Donohue is a command pilot with more than 500 combat and combat support hours in Iraq and Afghanistan supporting Operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

He flies C-130E, C-130H, and C-130J aircraft with more than 4,000 hours.

After completing pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., he served as a C-9A instructor pilot with the 75th Airlift Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. He transitioned to the C-130, first with the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, and later with the 39th Airlift Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

He was previously assigned to LRAFB in 2004 when he was a student in a C-130 Weapons Instructor Course.

“From 2011 to 2012, Col. Donohue commanded the 386th Expeditionary Opera-tions Support Squadron, Southwest Asia. In his role as commander, he led a team of airmen and contractors providing operations and airfield support for assigned and transient airmen and aircraft prosecuting Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom.

“Upon completion of the command tour, he assumed responsibilities as the deputy commander for operations, 317th Airlift Group, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, where he was responsible for the organization, training and equipping of two airlift squadrons and an operations support squadron,” his biography said.

Donohue’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

He was promoted to colonel on Aug. 1, 2015.

TOP STORY >> Cabot senior center opens

By DEBORAH HORN Leader staff writer

Cabot officials and the Lonoke County Council on Aging are throwing the doors open wide to the recently renovated Cabot Senior Citizens Center at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony after which tours of the facility. Refreshments will be served.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert and Lonoke County Council on Aging executive director Buster Lackey encourage the public to attend.

“Come see the new center, meet the staff and visit with the seniors,” Cypert said.

The mayor said that he is pleased with the senior center’s renovations, and the members and staff he has talked with are happy with the new $240,000 facility as well.

Cypert said because of the county’s large senior population, it was important to Cabot to better address their needs.

“I don’t believe the services seniors needed were being met. We’ve worked to change that. We’ve raised the bar,” he said.

He was referring to the efforts the city and the Lonoke County Council on Aging have made over the last year, such as improving the quality of the meals served, availability of transportation, a facility upgrade and a new director.

“All our arrangements are working well,” Cypert said.

The seniors’ new facility is actually the city’s old public library at 506 N. Grant St., which was located next door to the city’s original senior center.

After months of renovations, Lackey said about the new facility, “It’s a great space…Our members are excited, and we’re ready to get moved in.”

The new 8,600-square-foot facility more than doubles their old space, and it includes a main common room, six offices, and conference, activity and media rooms.

Lackey said the new center means members will not have to share areas when doing activities.

Cypert said the facility isn’t just for Cabot seniors but welcomes anyone over the age of 60 from the surrounding area, including Ward and Austin residents. Hot, home-cooked meals are served five days a week.

The renovations were done in two phases, and with the completion of the first, Cypert said, the second phase began soon after. The center includes a commercial kitchen and a dining room that can seat about 100.

Phase I cost the city about $115,000, and Cypert said he expects Phase II to cost about $125,000.

The architectural plans for the remodel were designed by North Little Rock architecture firm Clements and Associates Architecture. Floyd Parker Construction of Benton was the contractor.

The old seniors center at 600 N. Grant St. will be turned into an events center, with the profits partly financing the new seniors center, Cypert said.

Cabot gives the seniors center about $50,000 annually for the operation and maintenance of the facilities.

The Lonoke County Council on Aging is headquartered at the Betty Fort Senior Center in Lonoke, with other senior centers in Carlisle and England, and Des Arc in Prairie County.

For more information about the Cabot Senior Citizens Center, call 501-843-2196 or visit

TOP STORY >> June cool, wet; so far, July too

By RICK KRON Leader staff writer

For summertime weather, it has been cool and wet.

June turned out to be the coolest in more than a dozen years and the one of the wettest on record.

July is starting off the same.

This was the first time in more than 40 years that June had only one day (June 16) hit 90-degrees or better, plus it was the first 90-degree of the year, making it the latest 90-degree day in 20 years.

Rainfall was plentiful and made the month one of the wettest in central Arkansas.

The area saw more than six inches of rain in June, 2.81 inches above the 30-year average. Through the first six days of July, the area has since had almost an inch above what it normally gets for the beginning of the month, and the temperatures have been averaging three degrees below the norm.

In June, the high temperature was below average 19 days and above average eight days.

It was the wettest June in three years, in part, thanks to Tropical Storm Cindy. The storm’s remnant hit the area hardest on June 22-23, dropping more than an inch of rain. The 1.65 inches that fell June 3 broke the record for the day by nearly three-fourths of an inch.

Through the first six months of the year, most everywhere in Arkansas is soaked above the norm. Central Arkansas is 3.51 inches above average; Fayetteville at 9.8 inches, and Ft. Smith has seen more than 7 inches of extra rain so far. Only Texarkana and West Memphis are slightly below.

The storms rolling through have produced 33 tornadoes in the state and there have been 11 weather-related deaths, mostly due to flooding.

SPORTS STORY >> Biologists measuring benefit of larger brook trout

By RANDY ZELLERS Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

HEBER SPRINGS – Arkansas’ Trout Management Program worked with the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery in Heber Springs to clip off a fin on each of 14,300, 9-inch brook trout to be released into the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters later this month.

The loss of a fin may seem counterproductive to fish survival, but the fin-clipping effort is part of a larger project to determine the effectiveness of larger trout being stocked in the tailwater.

Brook trout have been stocked in Arkansas since 1994 at a size of 6 inches. Recently, the AGFC Trout Management Program has worked with the hatchery to grow out the trout to 9 inches before release. According to Christy Graham, supervisor of the Trout Management Program, the tradeoff for fewer, but larger trout being stocked may increase the amount of trout that make it to catchable size.

“Creel and electrofishing surveys conducted over the last 10 years indicate very few of the 6-inch brook trout stocked survive very long after stocking,” Graham said. “We hope increasing the size to 9 inches will give anglers a better opportunity to catch these trout.”

Graham says the clipped fins pose little harm to the fish, and enable biologists to accurately determine when a fish was stocked. This information is vital to determine the success of stocking as well as the growth rates of the fish.

“Typically some fish would have to be sacrificed to determine age through other means,” Graham said. “But this marking enables us to track the growth rates and survival of stocked fish and release it to be caught by anglers.”

The current minimum length limit for brook trout is 14 inches and anglers may keep two per day. Arkansas is the only state in the Southeast to stock rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. Catching one of all four species in a single day is a feat known as the “Ozark Slam.”

Graham says anglers who visit the Norfork and Bull Shoals tailwaters should also be on the lookout for public workshops in August to begin the review of the trout management plan for these tailwaters. “We want all anglers, from the casual bait-fisherman to the experienced fly-fishing guide, to be represented at these meetings to make these tailwaters the best they can be, Graham said.”

SPORTS STORY >> Errors pile on Cabot’s A Team

By RAY BENTON Leader sports editor

The A Team, one of two of Cabot’s Jr. American Legion teams, closed its regular season at the Cabot Sports Complex Thursday with an 11-6 loss to a familiar foe, Mount Vernon. It was the fifth meeting between the two teams this season, and the second win for the Warhawks, though the visiting team didn’t do much except wait for Cabot mistakes. The Centennial Bank squad racked up nine errors that accounted for all 11 of Mount Vernon’s unearned runs.

In an effort to save pitching for this weekend’s Zone 3 tournament, Cabot coach Steven Moore sent a different pitcher to the mound in each of the seven innings, but the pitching mattered less than the fielding on Thursday.

Mount Vernon is made up entirely of the Mount Vernon-Enola High School team, and elected not to play the American Legion postseason, so it had the luxury of throwing its best hurler, Logan Adcock, and he was stellar during his five innings on the mound, though he got off to a slightly rough start.

After inheriting a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Adcock walked the first two batters he faced in the bottom half. He then threw a wild pitch that allowed Brian Tillery to score.

Adcock then found his groove. He struck out the next three batters to fan the side with only the one run crossing the plate.

Mount Vernon then took advantage of a series of wild mistakes in the field to add four more runs in the top of the second before Adcock again struck out the side in the bottom half.

After another run in the top of the third made it 7-1, Adcock struck out Logan Bufford before Braylen Moore broke up the no-hitter with a single to left field. But a groundout to shortstop and another strikeout ended that inning with the Warhawks’ six-run advantage intact.

Neither team scored in the fourth, and Cabot scored a run in the fifth, though it should’ve been more. Once again, Adcock struggled briefly with control. He walked Parker Ashcraft and Hayden Wood singled to center field. Bufford then walked and Moore was hit to drive in another run. But once again, Adcock found his spot, and again struck out the side, this time with the bases loaded.

Cabot’s defense fell apart again in the top of the sixth and Mount Vernon scored its final four runs. The home team put together its own four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth. Adcock left the mound after walking the first two batters. Trenton Maness then struck out on a wild pitch, but advanced safely to first base to load the bases with no outs.

Wood then struck out before Tillery and Mark Abselica walked to drive in two runs. Harlan Chism flew out to center field, but Randy Couch walked and Reid Blackwell was hit to drive in another pair of runs. Ethan Hance then struck out to end another inning with the bases loaded.

To go with Cabot’s nine defensive errors, the A Team also left nine on base and struck out 15 times.

Despite the loss, the A Team, which is 6-17-1 on the season, entered the Zone tournament winners of four of its last six games.

Cabot is hosting the tournament at two sites, the Cabot Sports Complex and the old city park on Ritchie Road. The A Team opened play last night after Leader deadlines against Central Arkansas Christian. A win in that game means a matchup with No. 1 seed Pine Bluff at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Ritchie Road field. A loss means playing at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sports Complex against the loser between Searcy and Batesville.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot seniors 3-2 at Memphis

By RAY BENTON Leader sports editor 

Winning the first three games of the Keith Hagan All-American Classic in Memphis meant some tough competition in the final two rounds for the Cabot Senior American Legion baseball team.

With only four teams left without a loss, Cabot faced the Tigers-16 club out of Memphis and fell 5-3 to drop to the consolation bracket. There the Centennial Bank squad met a familiar foe in a battle of defending Arkansas state finalists.

Cabot, the defending Double-A champion, faced defending Senior runner-up Bryant and lost 11-2, a team it had beaten earlier this season.

Cabot had pulled off two come-from-behind wins in earlier rounds, but that script was flipped in the loss to the Memphis squad. Cabot scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a quick lead.

The score was tied at the end of the third inning, but the Tigers scored one run each in the top of the sixth and seventh innings for the win.

In the first inning, Blake McCutchen and Caleb Harpole hit back-to-back singles to start the frame. With McCutchen on third base, Dillon Thomas hit a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in the first run. Brian Tillery’s groundout advanced Harpole to third, and he scored on a wild pitch. Memphis had scored in the top of the inning, so Harpole’s run gave Cabot a 2-1 lead.

The lead only lasted until the next half inning, when the Tigers got two singles and a double to claim a 3-2 lead, but Cabot tied it in the bottom of the third. Again McCutchen led off with a single and reached third on Thomas’ one-out single. Tillery then grounded to shortstop to score McCutchen, but Thomas was thrown out trying to get to third base on the play. Tillery was then caught stealing to end the inning.

Three singles gave the Tigers the lead in the top of the sixth.

Cabot got its first two runners on in the bottom of the sixth after walks by Tillery and Brody Schluter. Brett Brockinton then grounded back to the mound for the first out and advanced, but overly aggressive base running ended the rally on the next at-bat.

Rail Gilliam grounded hard to third base where Schluter was tagged out, and the throw home go Tillery to end the inning.

In the seventh, a walk, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a sac fly set the final margin.

Brockinton took the loss on the mound. He gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out eight. Cabot had five base hits with McCutchen going 2 for 3 to lead the way.

Playing as the visiting team against Bryant, Cabot scored one run in the top of the first inning, but gave up three in the bottom half and never led from that point.

McCutchen reached on an error at second base and scored on a two-out base hit by Tillery.

For Bryant, Logan Allen hit a one-out triple and scored on a single by Dylan Hurt. Brandon Hoover then grounded into an E4 to score Hurt. Hoover later scored on a wild pitch by Koletan Eastham for the 3-1 lead.

The Centennial Bank squad got one back in the top of the third, but blew an opportunity for many more runs. After a leadoff single by Eastham, McCutchen was hit and Bryant flubbed Harpole’s bunt to leave the bases loaded with no outs.

Thomas then struck out and Tillery’s 4-3 groundout scored Eastham. After Gilliam’s walked loaded the bases again, Brockinton struck out to end the threat.

Bryant then scored three more unearned runs thanks to two walks and a two-out error. After the error that would have ended the inning, Bryant hit back-to-back singles to go up 6-2.

The Black Sox then went off in the bottom of the sixth inning. The first five batters reached base on two hits, two walks and a hit batter off relief pitcher Tillery for an 8-2 lead. After a fly ball to right, Matthew Sandidge tripled to drive in the game’s final runs.

Cabot finished with six base hits, this time Michael Crumbly was the only Centennial Bank player with two.

Bryant had eight base hits and drew six free bases on five walks and one hit batter. The Sox also benefited from two costly Cabot errors.

The Centennial Bank team comes home from the tournament with a record of 11-10.

EDITORIAL >> Police get new bosses

Jacksonville City Attorney Robert Bamburg has picked up additional duties since the hiring and unhiring of Geoffrey Herweg as the city’s police chief.

Bamburg has had to fight a lawsuit by city council member Tara Smith, who has convinced a judge that at least until a full trial is held, Herweg cannot serve as chief because of a 17-year-old arrest in Texas.

More hearings are scheduled before Circuit Judge Alice Gray, whose antipathy toward Herweg and the city suggests she will continue to rule against Herweg’s rehiring.

As the embattled former police chief assumes an administrative consulting job with the city, Bamburg takes over much of Herweg’s duties as police department manager, in addition to the daily grind as city attorney and running his own law practice. He’s going to be busy for much of the year fighting back Smith’s lawsuit and running the police department and other city business, but without extra compensation at this point, in addition to whatever hours he can devote as a private attorney.

Bamburg has always been busy: As city attorney for 30 years, he has never given an interview or returned a phone call to the editors at The Leader.

During this period of turmoil, Mayor Gary Fletcher remains head of public safety with Bamburg’s assistance until the judge decides whether or not Herweg’s 15-year-old misdemeanor guilty plea for filing a false police report disqualifies him from working as a police chief in Arkansas.

After serving more than two months on the job, Herweg continues to draw his chief’s salary in a much-diminished role, but he may never get his old job back again if the courts rule against him.

The trial on Smith’s original complaint that Herweg was an illegal hire has not been scheduled yet, but it is expected to be held two or three months from now. In the meantime, the city has appealed the temporary restraining order that forced Herweg out. The mayor is confident that Herweg will get back to his position of chief.

Regardless the outcome of the trial, it most likely will be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so the case could drag on till the end of the year.

Department heads serve at the will of the mayor. Should he be reinstated, Herweg, without a doubt, would be police chief as long as Fletcher is mayor, but should he step down or lose an election, the new guy or gal could clean house, likely starting with Herweg, who didn’t deserve to step into this much uncertainty.

But for now the embattled chief has the support of 90 percent of the council and a majority of police officers and that will go a long way in closing this schism.

EDITORIAL >> Historic event

The Jacksonville Historical District, a nonprofit group working to restore and promote the city’s old downtown near the railroad tracks at South First Street, will hold its first awards banquet at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 27 at the Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive.

Twenty residents who have worked hard for the Jacksonville community have been nominated for honors like realtor of the year, independent business of the year, volunteer of the year, veteran of the year and citizen of the year.

The Jacksonville Historical District, spearheaded by Alderman Barbara Mashburn and artist Roberta McGrath, is one the most ambitious urban-renewal projects the community has ever seen, second only to the formation of the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District. Both signify the dedication to improve Jacksonville by cherishing the past and the future.

With that in mind, tickets to the banquet are already on sale. They are $20 each and can be purchased by calling 501-765-0767 or sending checks to Jacksonville Historical District, P.O. Box 6507, Jacksonville, Ark. 72076.

Proceeds will help establish a Jacksonville history and train museum at 120 N. First St. that will feature an interactive miniature train area.

Renovations to the building, the former Jim’s Pawnshop, will include installing a new roof and restoring its interior.

The historic preservation group also plans to restore the original telegraph and freight building and build a replica of the train depot.

The banquet will include a silent auction, door prizes and the bluegrass band Highway 31 will perform.

Donations of gifts or services are being accepted for the silent auction from businesses and individuals.

The menu includes barbecue chicken, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, rolls and cobbler for dessert. Jacksonville Fire Chief Alan Laughy will be the master of ceremony and will present the awards. Mayor Gary Fletcher and Alderman James Bolden will speak. See you there!

Monday, July 03, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Three for Cabot at the Hagan

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Senior American Legion baseball team won its first three games of the Keith Hagan All-American Classic in Memphis over the weekend. Cabot started the tournament, hosted by the Memphis University Tigers baseball program, on Friday with a 7-2 win over the Arlington, Tenn., Legends.

The Legends scored one unearned run in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. Cabot came back with two runs in the top of the second and never trailed again.

In the second inning, Michael Crumbly drew a one-out walk and Brody Schluter did the same in the nine-hole. Back at the top of the lineup, Blake McCutchen and Caleb Harpole got back-to-back RBI base hits.

The Centennial Bank squad added three runs to its lead in thetop of the fourth inning. This time Harpole and Dillon Thomas had back-to-back RBI base hits. Brian Tillery then hit a hard grounder to second base that was mishandled, resulting in the third run scoring and giving Cabot a 5-1 advantage.

Rail Gilliam made it 6-1 in the fifth inning. He hit a leadoff single and scored on a base hit by Schluter.

The Legends answered with a run in the sixth, and Cabot set the final margin in the top of the seventh with a series of walks and one base hit.

Koletan Eastham drew a leadoff walk and Gilliam got his third base hit of the game. After two-consecutive outs, McCutchen and Harpole drew back-to-back walks, with Harpole’s BB driving in Eastham.

Gilliam’s three hits led the way offensively for Cabot. Harpole went 2 for 4 with a walk and three RBIs.

Schluter pitched all seven innings, giving up just one earned run on six hits with three strikeouts and zero walks.

In the second game on Saturday, Cabot needed nine innings to come from behind and beat the Bulls of Mississippi 4-3. The Bulls led 3-0 after two runs in the first inning and one in the third.

Cabot scored its first run in the top of the sixth inning after a leadoff single by Easton Seidl. Two passed balls moved him to second and then third base, and he scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.

Eastham then reached on an E6 to start the seventh inning. McCutchen then singled and Harpole walked to load the bases. Thomas then hit an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, but an error on the throw allowed another run to score and tie the game.

After a scoreless eighth inning, Harpole drew a leadoff walk in the top of the ninth and Thomas was hit by a pitch. Seidl grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice that left him and Harpole on first and third with one out.

Tillery then grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice that scored Harpole and gave Cabot its first lead of the game.

The Bulls loaded the bases with two outs on two hits and an error, but Cabot pitcher Michael Shepherd got a fly ball to left field to secure the win.

Shepherd was masterful in pitching all nine innings for Cabot, getting stronger as the game wore on. He gave up four-straight singles before a walk to start the game, and had given up seven hits through four innings. But he retired the side in order in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings before pitching out of trouble in the ninth for the win.

He gave up nine total hits while striking out five and walking just the one batter in the first inning.

Cabot got another great pitching performance in game three on Sunday, a 5-0 win over the Highlands Reds of Kentucky. Cabot scored twice in the first and three times in the sixth.

McCutchen singled and Harpole walked to put two on with no outs. They were still standing on base with two outs when Gilliam singled to right field to drive both runners in.

In the sixth inning, Crumbly hit a leadoff double and Nicholas Belden drew a walk to start a rally. McCutchen, Harpole and Thomas then got consecutive RBI base hits to set the final margin.

Wilson had a no-hitter going through six innings, but gave up a one-out double in the seventh. He still had to pitch out of trouble a couple of innings thanks to two walks and three Cabot defensive errors. He finished with three strikeouts.

Find out how Cabot finished “The Hagan” in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> The A Team gelling, wins four of five

Leader sports editor

The Cabot-Centennial Bank A Team is in the midst of an apparent season turnaround. After starting the season with nine-straight losses, and just two wins in the first 18 games, the junior American Legion squad won four of its last five games last week, improving the overall season record to 6-16-1.

A three-game winning streak started with a 7-3 win over Mount Vernon last Monday. Since then, Cabot beat Vilonia 13-3 last Wednesday, and Mount Vernon again 11-5 on Thursday. Last Friday, the winning streak came to an end with a 7-2 loss in the opening game of a doubleheader at Searcy, but Cabot bounced right back for a 4-2 win in the nightcap.

The key to the turnaround has been as simple a matter as time and experience.

“We started off playing teams that have been together through the high school season,” said A Team coach Steven Moore. “We’rea team that has been thrown together, and we’ve been trying to put the pieces together as we go. They’re learning each other and learning to play as a team.”

In Wednesday’s win over Vilonia, Cabot only had four base hits by two different players, but they were all at key times, resulting in seven RBIs. Cabot drew 11 walks and has runners on base when Braylen Moore and Austin Calhoon came through. Moore went 2 for 3 with a triple and four RBIs. Calhoon went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.

Coy Lovercheck pitched all five innings of the run-rule win. He gave up seven hit while three strikeouts and three walks.

On Thursday, Cabot fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning after Mount Vernon got two hits, a walk and benefited from one Cabot error. But the A Team dominated the rest of the way.

The home team answered with five runs in the bottom of the first and never trailed again.

Calhoon got the win on the mound and had three base hits offensively.

He pitched all seven innings, giving up just five hits and one earned run while striking out eight and walking three. He also went 3 for 4 at the plate, scored three runs and drove in two more.

Evan McCoy also went 3 for 4, and he drove in three runs. Brian Tillery, Jacob Caswell and Hayden Wood had one base hit apiece.

Cabot managed just three base hits in the loss to Searcy, once each by Braylen Moore, McCoy and Lee Lenahan. But an old problem reared its head in that game, and Cabot committed five errors.

“We’ve had those games where we’ve had seven, eight and even nine errors,” Steven Moore said. “The difference is, where early on we would bite each others’ heads off for those mistakes, now we’re picking each other up. Everybody is playing together as a team, and that’s the biggest thing. They’re just becoming a team.”

Zach Eveleth and Ethan Hance combined to throw a three-hitter in the nightcap victory. Eveleth pitched two innings and Hance the final three.

Calhoon went 2 for 3 at the plate while McCoy and Eveleth went 1 for 3, each with a double. Eveleth’s hit drove in two runs.

SPORTS STORY >> Guy you want in your program

Leader sports editor

Baseball is a game of idioms and metaphors like “take one for the team” and the all-important “sacrifice”. Both of those take on new meaning for the selfless action of Jacksonville’s Kameron Whitmore.

The recently graduated Titan back catcher took one for the team, and sacrificed his own exposure to college scouts, and therefore his future, by playing that position.

Whitmore, the son of Kevin and Dana Whitmore, did not project as a back catcher at the college-level, but he played it all year for the good of the team.

Though the right thing sometimes takes longer to happen than it seems it should, things did finally work out for Whitmore when he signed a scholarship to play for Eastern Oklahoma State College two weeks ago, but what he did for his high school team won’t soon be forgotten by head coach Larry Burrows.

“It takes a special person to put the team ahead of himself, especially for your whole senior season,” said Burrows. “That’s just the kind of person he is.”

Whitmore started in left field and was the backup catcher last year. As offseason progressed into summer, it began to don on Whitmore that he’d be starting behind the plate.

By the time he was approached by Burrows, he had already made up his mind.

“I knew from the get-go that me playing catcher was going to be best for the team,” said Whitmore. “Coach B was always a fair man. We had a one-on-one talk about that being the spot. I just had to make the sacrifice. It was never a really big deal or a big problem at all.”

The head Titan, though, was not looking forward to broaching the subject.

“I was a little eerie of how that conversation was going to go,” Burrows said. “I didn’t expect him not to do it, but I didn’t know for sure if he was going to embrace it. I just told him, I know you probably don’t want to do it, but if you don’t catch for us, we’re not going to be very good. He said he’d already prepared himself for that, and he gave it everything he had. No doubt it was a huge sacrifice.”

Because scouts weren’t able to watch him play his projected position, Whitmore had to hit the tryout circuit hard. He had received offers from NCAA Division II schools UA-Monticello and Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn. He had also been invited to walk-on at Memphis. That’s where he was most interested, until he visited EOSC, a junior college program in Wilburton.

Eastern coach Kirk Kelley has strong Arkansas ties, having been the head coach at Lyon College and an assistant at UCA.

“He said he had heard about me,” Whitmore said of Kelly. “He’s very familiar with Arkansas and said a few coaches had bragged on me. He asked if I wanted to come for a private workout about the end of May. I loved the program. I liked coach Kelley a lot. The workout went good. I didn’t have a direct offer when I left, but I felt pretty sure I was going to get one, just the way he talked and things he said. It seemed like he was trying to recruit me to come there.”

Just a couple days after the workout, Kelley made an official offer. After discussing it with his dad, Whitmore accepted.

“I just felt like, with where I am physically, it would be best to go the JUCO route and try to get stronger and faster,” Whitmore said. “In a couple years, then maybe get another shot at DI, rather than be DII for four years.”

Whitmore led the Titans in batting average, .403, and on-base percentage, .571. He had 91 at-bats and struck out only five times.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Burrows said of the strikeout ratio. “He would have hit even higher if he hadn’t been back there. And the thing about him not being a catcher, he received and blocked on a level with the really good ones I’ve had, just doing the dirty stuff. He did a heck of a job with that.”

Whitmore also suffered an injury mid-season, tearing an LCL during a spring-break tournament and missing two weeks. If there was ever proof that he was a necessary clog for Titan success, it showed in their 0-7 record during his absence.

“Now we played a pretty tough stretch of games while he was out,” Burrows said. “We probably wouldn’t have gone 7-0, but we wouldn’t have been 0-7 either if we’d had him in there. And I’ll be honest, I’m not sure he was 100 percent when he came back.”

Burrows’ suspicions were warranted.

“Honestly, I didn’t like seeing my teammates suffer the way they did,” Whitmore said. “I was probably 90 percent. I felt pretty good, but there were times when I felt like I had to do something, move a certain way or whatever to keep from tweaking it. But it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Whitmore gives Burrows a lot of the credit for being the team player that he is.

“I have to give coach B a bunch of credit, actually,” Whitmore said. “When I transferred back to Jacksonville my 10th grade year, I had heard about how tough he was. I didn’t really realize how tough until I got into his program. He taught me a lot about just being more mature and playing the game the right way.”

Though his offensive numbers were stellar, coaches had to rely on word of mouth when considering Whitmore for their team. And everyone who asked got an earful from Burrows.

“The coaches I talked to, that’s what I try to tell them,” Burrows began. “What an awesome kid he is to start with. Forget baseball player. for a minute, and just see what kind of young man he is. Beyond that, I think he’s a corner outfielder or second baseman. I think he can handle either of those.

“But the main thing is, he’s just a baseball player. He’s a baseball dude. He’s a team player. He’s going to grind for you. He sacrificed for his teammates. He gutted out an injury for his teammates. That’s a guy I want, and that’s what I told the coaches. ‘This is the kind of guy you want in your program.”

TOP STORY >> PCSSD kicks off $65M bond sale

Leader senior staff writer

On July 26, Jack Truemper, vice president of Stephens Inc. for public finance, will sell about $65 million worth of bonds authorized last month by Pulaski County Special School District patrons.

The money will pay for a new Sylvan Hills High School and reconfigure that campus.

The existing school, built for an enrollment of 880 students, is “bursting at the seams,” PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess has said.

The current enrollment is about 1,450 and the old North-wood Middle School building had to be pressed into service as a freshman academy.

By a 2-1 margin, voters agreed on June 13 to extend the existing 40.7-mill property tax for an additional 17 years.

A new and reconfigured Sylvan Hills High School could be ready for occupancy in fall 2019.

The first legal notice of the bond sale will be published next Wednesday and the bond sale will be at 10 a.m. July 26, according to Linda Remele, PCSSD school board president.

“We have to wait until July 26 in case there will be a challenge to the bond election,” she said.

In addition, the district will refinance an existing bond at a better interest rate, for a net gain of about $1.1 million, Remele explained.

The first and second notices for the refinance have already been published with the bond sale set for Tuesday, she said.

Meanwhile, WER Architects continues working on plans for the new high school.

TOP STORY >> Base to get a new chief

Little Rock Air Force will welcome a new commander at 10 a.m. Tuesday with a ceremony at Herc Hall, where Col. Charles Brown will pass the guidon to Col. Gerald Donohue as commander of 19th Airlift Wing, the air base’s host wing.

Donohue was most recently 86th Operations Group commander at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The group also leads operations at two other airfields, Morón Air Base in Spain and Chièvres Air Base in Belgium.

Brown, who has led LRAFB for two years, is headed to Belgium, where he will be a senior assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

Known as SHAPE, it is the headquarters of Allied Command Operations, which has controlled all NATO operations since 1949.

The current Supreme Allied Commander is Army Gen. Curtis Michael Scaparrotti, who took the post a year ago. Previous Supreme Allied Commanders have included Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Alexander Haig, Wesley Clark and James L. Jones.

TOP STORY >> World’s largest goldfish pond

Leader staff writer

Danny Pool cups his hands as he submerges them into the cool water that’s churning with thousands of small golden fish. Suddenly there are about a half-dozen fish wiggling in his hands. One or two escape, jumping back into the water, then a third and fourth.

Pool gently releases the remaining two back into a square concrete holding pond, just one of about 30 that fill a warehouse designed to acclimate the fish from pond to clean water, as well as their temperature, before shipping them around the country and to Canada.

The water temperature in the goldfish ponds is slowly adjusted so the fish don’t die from a sudden shift.

“Fish can go from warm water to cold, but not cold to hot,” Danny Pool explains.

Pool should know — his goldfish operation, Pool Fisheries at 1131 Brownsville Loop in Lonoke — is the world’s largest.

During their peak season, April through August, they ship as many as 3 million goldfish per week, and during that same time, they ship out about 1.5 million minnows. Annually, they sell about 150 million goldfish.

Mike Freeze, former Arkansas Game and Fish commissioner and Keo Farm owner, describes Pool as an innovator, who during his tenure as owner, has continued to develop and refine the fish farming process.


Pool says he loves the business. It’s allowed him to travel and pursue interests like scuba diving.

“He enjoys anything outdoor, and he’s never sitting around but is always working on a project. He’s a great guy,” Landon Pool says.

Surprisingly, he’s also involved in the country-music scene in Nashville, Tenn., Freeze adds.

Landon Pool says his dad is also generous and is always willing to step up and help when needed in the community.

“Danny is an all-round good person. He’s someone you can always count on,” Freeze says.

For instance, Lonoke Mayor Wayne McGee says he financially helped with the city’s baseball fields and paid for the track at Lonoke High School.

Pool doesn’t mention these things himself, and McGee describes him and the entire family “as good people.”


Fish farming has its roots in Lonoke County. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Aquaculture interim chairwoman Rebecca Lochmann, Ph.D., says the people who started the now fisheries industry “were risk-takers and entrepreneurs.”

They probably started with drive, a bit of luck and the right conditions to make fish farming a lucrative endeavor.

Ruben Pool, founder of Pool Fisheries, was one such person.

During the Great Depression, Ruben Pool was involved in the construction of the state’s first fish hatcheries, and later he would purchase a 40-acre farm near Lonoke and help reinvent and modernize an industry.

He was one of the first in Lonoke to go into the fish farming industry, using chain-driven bucket pans that were designed for rice levees to build his fish ponds.

Before this, freshwater fishermen used a trotline, net or pole to catch fish and it was a laborious and slow process but pond fish were easy to grow and to catch with weighted nets called seines.


Pool Fisheries was officially started in 1959, and the family believes the land in the middle of Lonoke County — it’s soil, water, weather, PH and alkaline balance — is great for raising fish.

Back then, Ruben Pool was raising minnows and catfish but soon other farmers got into the biz and flooded the market. Ruben Pool and his son, Lon, decided to try goldfish and Israeli carp.

The two managed to capture about 25 percent of U.S. goldfish market in the early days, Landon Pool says.

That market share equaled about five million fish, but that was about to change.

In the 1950s and 1960s, goldfish were popular as carnival wins and with department stores like Sterling’s as pets, but it wasn’t until the 1970s, with the development of saltwater aquariums, that the goldfish market exploded.

Not as potential pets but as food for more exotic saltwater fish that weren’t interested in fish flakes. Not surprising that goldfish tanks were often marked as feeder fish.

Feeder fish make great food, and to illustrate that point, Pool says, “They’re slow, and they’ll will swim right into a snake’s mouth.”

It was during the pre-fish boom that Danny Pool’s grandfather, Ruben Pool, got into the business, so the family was well positioned to meet the increasing market demands.

Pool Fisheries grew from the original 40 acres to 1,800 acres today and the land is peppered with about 200 goldfish ponds, 75 ponds containing fancies (These are goldfish of various patterns with names like Sarasa, Shubunkins, red fantails and calicos), 47 are dedicated with rosy red minnows and about 10 ponds are full of koi.

Danny and his brother, Ronnie Pool, run the operation that’s located only a few a miles or so from Lonoke.

And yes, the family still owns the original farm, now referred to as Grandpa’s Farm, with a fourth generation now coming online, including Pool’s 29-year-old son Landon.

Although Landon Pool has a bachelor of business, with a major in finance, he wants to work in the business and is kicking around a few of his own ideas, such as expanding their lines of fancies and baitfish, as well as setting up internet retail.


Kick Start Lonoke organizer Ryan Biles describes the Lonoke area as the goldfish and bait-fish “capital of the world.”

And he’s right.

Kayla McCoy, who does fish research for UAPB in Lonoke County and describes herself as a fish-nerd, says, “We have several of the biggies. The world’s largest bait-fish farm, I.F. Anderson Farms Inc., is in Lonoke County, so is the largest hybrid striped-bass hatchery, Keo Farm, and J.M. Malone and Son Inc. are the largest Triploid Grass Carp producer.”

As well as Pool Fisheries, she adds.

According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, which tracks farming industry numbers, “Arkansas is considered the “birthplace” of warm water aquaculture. It began with goldfish and morphed into production of more than 20 species of fish and crustaceans.

The Arkansas Agriculture Department says the state leads in production of bait-fish (live fish bought by anglers as bait for recreational and sport fishing), large-mouth bass for stocker fish, hybrid striped bass fry, and Chinese carp.

It ranks second in all aquaculture-producing states, and third in catfish production.

The state has about 85 aquaculture operations that were worth about $61 million in sales in 2013, according to the USDA latest information available.

Lochmann says in 2013, sportfish sales were about $7,301,000; baitfish sales were about $18,360,000; and catfish sales were about $28,582,000.

Although they ship all year, Danny and Landon Pool say they have a busy season, starting in the spring and ending in the fall. They employ around 60 full time and part time, including high school and college students through the busy season.

Landon has already worked for the business for nearly two decades, but he says there are employees who have been with the company for 25, 30 years.

McCoy says she impressive with Pool’s operation and that the family is always willing to help when her department asks for a favor.

McGee says Pool Fisheries is an important source of jobs and is a driver of the local economy. Kick Start Lonoke agrees, and Biles says it’s a strength the community can build upon.

Landon Pool says about his father, “He’s naturally smart, very business savvy.”


Many people, Danny Pool says, have a goldfish or two in a bowl, but the Pool Fisheries has about three billion fish immediately after spawning. Not all are goldfish but include minnows, both considered feeder fish by sportsmen, and a variety of fancies, and koi that are especially popular in large aquariums and backyard ponds.

But says Danny Pool, it’s not just captive saltwater fish that enjoy one of their fish for dinner, and he adds, “They don’t call them feeder fish without good reason.”

He names off a long list of predators like turtles, tadpoles, frogs, crawfish, a variety of birds who help themselves to a free fish dinner at the farm’s expense.

“We’re feeding a lot of wildlife,” Danny Pool says.

Bacteria, even acid rain and global warming take its toll.

“Only one out of 10 survive,” Danny Pool says.

By the time the goldfish are ready to sell, the fish population numbers have been nibbled away to somewhere between a 100 million to a billion.

Still, Pool has cornered the market on goldfish, and their customers include Walmart, PetSmart, thousands of small pet stores, carnivals and more. Until Amazon came online, they were FedEx’s No. 1 customer.

Landon Pool, says, “Chances are if you’ve bought one or seen one in the last 50 years,” it came from Pool Fisheries.

Despite a lifetime in the business, Danny Pool is still intrigued by certain facts about goldfish, such as how the males have whiskers on the sides of their bodies and the females are smooth and how they only spawn after reaching a certain size — even if that means waiting for decades.

Their growth is determined by the size of their container or how crowded the pond conditions, and, he adds, “They can remain small for years but when moved to a larger container, they will start growing again. Somehow they know not to grow or they will deplete the oxygen and die.”

Goldfish can live for two-and-a-half decades, while Koi can live for 200 years.