Saturday, October 07, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears bounce back

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Lady Titan and the Sylvan Hills Lady Bear volleyball teams met for the second time of the season Thursday at Jacksonville High School. Sylvan Hills had won the first meeting at home, and also took the road match 3-1, with set scores 11-25, 25-16, 25-20, and 25-18.

The first set started well for the Lady Bears, but Jacksonville took the momentum on its Senior Night and won relatively easily. Everything changed in the second set as Sylvan Hills took charge. Set three was closer as the Lady Titans led early and were within one point of the lead several times, but could not take the lead late in the set. The final set was considerably close at times before the Lady Bears won out.

Sylvan Hills is now 10-12 overall and 7-5 in conference play, while Jacksonville is 8-14 and 6-6. The Lady Titans had won 3-0 over Fair on Tuesday, while Sylvan Hills fell 3-1 to Maumelle.

“I am really proud of them,” said Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway of his team. “We have got a couple of injuries. And then, to come over here on their Senior Night. The first game, I was scared. But then they came back and really fought and dug themselves a hole in the third game, and pulled it out. A good effort by the girls. I’m proud of them. They played well tonight.”

Injured senior Lady Titan, Rebecca Brown, opened the first set with a serve that fell just long. Two kills by Aliya Hatton, and two by Lydia Young gave the Lady Bears a 5-2 lead. Jacksonville then got the ball back with a kill and scored 11 consecutive points, seven of them aces, on the serve of senior Federica Bossi to lead 14-5.

Sylvan Hills scored on a few Lady Titan miscues before the home team regained the ball on a kill by Chandee Wesley, and then took a 20-8 advantage on three straight service aces by Blair Jones. The Lady Bears scored three, but a kill by Brittney Eskridge doubled the score at 22-11, and an ace by Wesley set the final score of the opening set at 25-11.

Sylvan Hills opened set number two with two aces of its own by Riley Parker. Graemme Withrow gave the Lady Bears a 6-3 lead with her ace, and Meredith West added a point with a kill on a Lady Titan overpass.

Three more Jacksonville errors, two aces by Young, and a kill by Scarlett Averet stretched the lead to 13-4. Libero Anna Snyder had a kill from the back row, and Grace Turner one of her several kill tips to the front corner to help up the lead to 18-7.

Jacksonville fought back, and scored nine to the Lady Bears five to get as close as 23-16, before Sylvan Hills got the final two points to win 25-16.

Eskridge had three kills and an ace, and Aaliyah Burks two kills in the Lady Titan run.

Jacksonville led 8-2 early in the third set with Savannah McKinney scoring the eighth point with a kill. The Lady Bears then outscored their opponent 15-3, ten of those points on the serve of Withrow, to lead 17-11 before the Lady Titans again fought back to pull within one three times. Averet scored the final point of the set with a push deep into the corner to close the set at 25-20.

Parker started the fourth and final set with two aces yet again. The score was knotted at 4-4, but the Lady Bears pulled ahead 13-5 during which West had two blocks. The closest Jacksonville would get would be 19-15. Bossi had two late kills for the Lady Titans, but a deep pass by Snyder finished the set at 25-18.

“Set one, phenomenal,” Jacksonville coach Savannah Jacoby commented. “It was great to see them start out so strong. I told them that was the best they had ever started a match before. And they just plummeted after that. It was Senior Night. I thought they would come together. We just lost focus and had way to many communication errors.”

Young and Turner led the Lady Bears in kills with eight each. Eskridge led Jacksonville with seven. Bossi had nine aces and Jones five for the Lady Titans, while Parker had six for Sylvan Hills.

Jacksonville will travel to Maumelle on Tuesday and host Pulaski Academy on Thursday of next week. The Lady Bears will host Hall on Tuesday and visit Little Rock Christian on Thursday.

SPORTS STORY >> Injury-bitten Beebe falls at Parkview

Leader sports editor

Beebe drew first blood in its game Friday night against the Parkview Patriots at the J.A. Fair High School football field, and even though the Badgers got a few more blows in, it was all Parkview after that first score.

The Patriots beat the Badgers, 35-14, dropping Beebe’s record to two wins and five losses.

After the game coach John Shannon said, “We just got to keep playing and keep working hard. We’ve been hit by the injury bug and we are going to have to have some of our kids ready to play positions they haven’t. They’ll have to step up.”

Pushing the ball down field early in the first quarter, the Badgers scored on a 5-yard run by Taylor Boyce. A successful point-after kick by Jaime Rodriguez put Beebe on top at the 10:24 mark.

The Patriots fired right back two minutes later on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Geary Allmon to Joe Howard.

At the 3:31 mark, it was the Patriots again scoring, this time on a 13-yard run by Leonard Elebeke.

For the next 10-minutes the two teams stayed mostly around midfield, neither one gaining an advantage. But around the 7:30 mark, Patriots’ Zachery Smith managed to turn the corner on the right side and zip 32 yards for a touchdown, however a holding call brought it back. Next play Allmon tossed a dump pass to Demetrius Feemster and he took it all the way into the end zone again. This time no flags. A successful two-point conversion run made it 21-7 Parkview.

Boyce took the ensuing kickoff up to the 29-yard line before being tackled. An unnecessary roughness call added 15 yards to the run back, giving Beebe a first down on its own 43-yard line.

Strong runs by Boyce brought the ball down to Parkview’s 34-yard line. For a change of pace, Ahmad Nelson got the ball, rushing five yards to the 29, but a facemask tackle put the ball on the 15-yard line. A rare pass from quarterback C.J. Cauldwell connected with Boyce just across the goal line on the left side. An extra-point kick by Rodriguez brought the Badgers to within seven.

At the five-minute mark of the third quarter it was 21-14 Patriots.

It looked like Beebe would be on the move again after Cauldwell recovered the onside kick. Beebe worked the ball down to the 24-yard line before turning it over on downs.

The Patriots moved the ball well at first, but their drive stalled on the 43-yardline where Beebe took over on downs with just two seconds left in the third quarter. Boyce had a solid 19-yard run in a series of plays that stalled for the Badgers on the 40-yard line of the Patriots after a pitch from Boyce to Connor Bieker who tried to hit Alex Boyce close to the end zone just missed.

Parkview took over on downs and took 10 plays before scoring on a controversial mark of the ball. Smith, on a 19-yard run, was tackled at the one and fumbled the ball into the end zone where Beebe recovered it. At first the officials declared Smith down at the one-yard line, but that was overturned by another official who called it a touchdown, giving Parkview a 13-point lead with five minutes left in the game.

On Beebe’s next possession, the Badgers, like they did all night, were able to move the ball, but just couldn’t punch it in. On this series, Beebe moved the ball from their own 29 to Parkview’s 49-yard line before running back Gage House fumbled away a pitch from Cauldwell.

On a play by the Patriots that involved a holding call, the officials placed the ball seven-yards short of where it should have been, causing about a four-minute delay in the game as both coaches questioned the competency of the officials. In the end, the ball was placed 13 yards further back for the Patriots, making it third and 30 on the 30.

The Patriots were forced to punt, which went short and took a Beebe bounce to the 45-yard line of the Patriots. A deep pass by Cauldwell was intercepted by Parkview’s #6 on the 16-yard line.

But Beebe returned the favor a few plays later as Parkview quarterback Allmon overshot his receiver and Beebe’s Mason Walker grabbed the pass at ground level for the turnover. However, a sack and a fumble gave the ball back to Parkview on Beebe’s five-yard line. Three plays later Allmon hit Adrion Worthy for the score. Parkview added on two more points faking the point-after kick, making the score 35-14.

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside pounds Comets

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears got just what it needed from its short conference road trip to Dixon Road in Little Rock, an easy win. The Bears cruised to a 35-0 halftime lead over Mills to invoke the mercy rule, and coasted to a 42-14 victory over the Comets for the first 5A-Central win of the season.

Sylvan Hills scored on five of its six first-half possessions, including the opener. That drive culminated in running back Deon Youngblood taking the snap in the wildcat formation, faking the run and throwing a jump pass to Omari Hervey for the score with 8:34 left in the first quarter.

Mills first drive went nowhere, and then went backwards. The punt snap was high and over the punter’s head. The Comets covered it, but the Bears took over at the Comet 15-yard line. Sophomore Chris Thomas took it in from there, and Tito Mendoza’s extra point made it 14-0 with 6:18 on the clock in the opening quarter.

Hervey, who usually plays defense, got a sack on third down to force another Mills punt.

This one went off without a hitch, and the Bears took over at their own 20. They converted one third and 11 on a reception by Devante White, but didn’t get another first down and punted.

The defense, however, forced another three-and-out series by Mills and the offense got it back and got back into rhythm. After one first down to the 45, Sylvan Hills (3-3, 1-2) perfectly executed the flea flicker, with quarterback Ryan Lumpkin taking the pitchback and hitting White with a 55-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

The Comets managed a couple of first downs on its next drive, but linebacker Ty Compton intercepted a pass and the Bears took over on their own 45. A few plays later, Youngblood got loose for a 25-yard touchdown run. Mendoza made it 28-0 with 6:03 until halftime.

Mills (1-5, 0-3) managed one first down, but a second was wiped out by a penalty for an illegal forward pass when Taydrean Ford was beyond the line of scrimmage when he released the ball.

That forced another punt, the Comets’ special teams woes continued. The punt traveled just 4 yards, and the Bears took over on the Mills 36.

This time it was Lumpkin to Payton Terry in the corner of the end zone for the score that invoked the mercy rule. Mendoza made the all-important fifth extra point with 1:11 to go until intermission.

Sylvan Hills played mostly junior varsity players throughout the second half. Mills drove down the field and scored on the first possession of the second half. The Bears then turned it over on downs at midfield.

After one first down, Ford scrambled 30 yards to the 15-yard line, and a roughing the passer penalty on the next play set up first and goal. Ford later scored on a scramble to make it 35-14 at the end of the third quarter.

Sylvan Hills junior slotback Jamir Shutes scored on a 25-yard run to set the final margin with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

SPORTS STORY >>Titan defense seals victory

By RAY BENTON Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville defense found a measure of redemption on Friday, turning around a poor performance from a week ago and leading the Titans to a 14-10 victory over the Mountain Home Bombers at Jan Crow Stadium.

Jacksonville turnovers and special teams breakdowns helped Mountain Home’s Double-wing offense dominate time of possession. The Titans came up with big stops when they needed them the most, including twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter with the Bombers inside the red zone.

“The defense showed up, man,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “That’s two big stops down there. They were just wearing on us and trying to wear us down. They had the ball the whole second half it seemed like. The defense was tired but they rose to the challenge.”

Jacksonville (2-4, 1-2) scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown early in the third quarter on a play only a wizard could draw up. The called play was a lateral pass down the line of scrimmage to Scott. He dropped the ball, chased it down, picked it up and reversed his field under heavy pressure by the Bomber defense. He was caught back in the middle of the field and lateralled back to quarterback Harderrious Martin as he was being tackled. Martin then outran all but one Bomber defender, and broke that tackle to finish off the wild 60-yard play with a touchdown. Josh Huber’s extra point made it 14-7 with 8:44 to go in the third quarter.

The Titans had a chance to go up two scores when Broderick Lacy intercepted an Isaac McKay pass on the first play of the next possession, but the Titans tried to go the air without success. One 14-yard reception by Braylon Mosby was the only positive play of the six in the drive.

There were three incomplete passes. Martin scrambled for 3 yards after being forced out of the pocket, a bad shotgun snap lost a yard and an illegal procedure penalty pushed them back further before punting on fourth and 16.

Mountain Home then drove from its own 25 to the Titan 16-yard line when Jacksonville’s defense stopped them and forced a 33-yard field goal attempt.

Ewan Platt had plenty of leg and split the uprights on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 14-10 with 11:53 left in the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jacksonville sold out for the rolling on-side kick, but Platt pooch kicked it toward the sideline. Platt landed the ball inches from the sideline and stopped it like a pitching wedge, where T.J. McKenna covered it for the Bombers at the Jacksonville 25.

The rest of the game was Jacksonville’s defense making stops to preserve the win.

The Bombers (0-6, 0-3) failed to get a single first down on the ensuing possession. On fourth and 3 from the 18, McKay tried to sneak outside again, but Martin came up from the safety position and made the tackle for a 2-yard loss.

But just a minute and 36 seconds into Jacksonville’s possession, Martin also threw a pass right to Mountain Home’s Ben Henderson to give the Bombers the ball at the Titan 46.

A heavy dose of 250-pound fullback Junior Williams got the Bombers to Titan 12-yard line, where they had second down and 6 yards to go. Kalon McCoy stopped Williams for a 1-yard loss, and Marcus Etherly and Marquez Casey then stopped him for no gain to set up fourth and 7.

McKay dropped back to pass on fourth down, but linebacker Marquis Rollins got pressure and forced an early and incomplete throw to give Jacksonville possession with 3:30 left in the game

“I thought we needed to play fast early and try to get out on them,” Hickingbotham said. “I knew if we didn’t, it would turn into to just what it turned into, a dogfight. I was a little worried about that with that big boy running the ball. But our defense won the dogfight tonight.”

Jacksonville’s offense moved the ball well when it wasn’t fumbling it or throwing it away. There were also a lot of dropped passes. Jacksonville got the ball to start the game and picked up 27 yards on four run plays to the Bomber 30. A pass for what would’ve been at least 15 yards was dropped by Mosby.

Shawn Ellis then rumbled 8 yards on second and 10 before losing the ball. Mountain Home covered it at the 22.

The Titan defense forced a three-and-out, but Jacksonville gave it away again. After another big run by Ellis again got the ball to the Bomber 30, Xavier Scott fumbled it away at the 5-yard line after a 25-yard reception.

Both teams remained scoreless through the first quarter and most of the second. Mountain Home finally got on the board first when quarterback Isaac McKay kept around the right tackle on the option and broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run. The extra point made it 7-0 Mountain Home with 6:54 left in the first half.

Jacksonville answered right back. After fielding an on-side kick attempt at the 43-yard line, Scott made a 27-yard reception once again to the Bomber 30.

This time things worked out for the home team. Martin scrambled 21 yards to set up first and goal. Ellis did the rest, going 1 yard on the next play and the remaining 8 for the score with 5:15 to go in the second quarter. Josh Huber’s extra point tied the game and that’s how it went into intermission.

Jacksonville travels to Little Rock to take on Hall High next week. A win in that game likely earns the Titans a playoff berth.

Friday, October 06, 2017

EDITORIAL >> School plans progressing

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board approved plans this week to build a new middle school at the current site of the high school.

It’s another big step to remake the community’s schools.

Already in the works for the same site is a new elementary school.

Where a dilapidated school building that looks worse than your average parking garage once stood, a new middle school and elementary school will rise as a modern campus complex.

When the new $66 million high school opens downtown off Main Street and Hwy. 67/167 in 2019, plans are in place to immediately bulldoze the old high school and begin construction of the new middle school and elementary.

It turns out it’s cheaper to build a new middle school than to remodel the current one, which is in the old North Pulaski High School building, because of the state’s school-construction payment scheme.

JNPSD officials were told the state’s generosity with its construction aid may be cut drastically soon, so it’s best to move forward quickly on all building plans.

The state aid that Jacksonville has been quick to secure is what’s helped build a string of new schools in Cabot, which many consider to be its greatest community asset, and helped build thousands of new rooftops as a result.

Jacksonville is hoping for much of the same effect. Already, plans are moving ahead for a new high school, a new middle school and four new elementary schools.

That’s a ton of progress for a city that’s seen no new schools in more than 40 years. The split from the Pulaski County Special School District is paying off fast.

The school board should stay focused on academics and facilities and avoid strife at all costs. Petty disputes led to the decline of PCSSD, and students and communities paid the price.

EDITORIAL >> Open houses for Hwy. 89

The Arkansas Department of Transportation and Metroplan will hold public-involvement meetings next week in Jacksonville and Mayflower on a proposal to transform Hwy. 89 into a thoroughfare between Cabot and Mayflower, near bustling Conway.

The plan has been discussed for several years now. It was conceived as an alternative for the incomplete North Belt Loop, which would have quickened commutes to west Little Rock and I-40.

The North Belt was abandoned years ago as expenses increased and coordination with cities fell through.

The Hwy. 89 corridor proposal calls for widening it to four lanes from Cabot to Mayflower.

It would be a boon for Cabot’s West Main Street and make north Pulaski County more attractive to development.

There’s been some talk of building an exit at Coffelt Road on Hwy. 67/167, which would connect to Hwy. 89. That caught the attention of Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher as that area could one day be annexed into his city.

Little Rock Air Force officials don’t support the Hwy. 89 plan. Too much development to its north could interfere with its operations.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde does not support the plan either. Fletcher, too, seems to have lost interest.

Firmly behind the plan is Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert. He knows it’ll boost his growing city.

To learn more about the Hwy. 89 proposal, the public can attend open-house meetings from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at McArthur Church, 3501 John Harden Drive in Jacksonville.

The other will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Mayflower City Hall, 2 Ashmore St.

There will be displays of the route concept, and attendees can ask questions and offer their comments.

“The study seeks to determine the need for and feasibility of a continuous Hwy. 89 corridor. The focus of the study is to make Hwy. 89 a key component of the regional arterial network, providing a continuous east-west corridor from I-40 to Hwy. 67 north of Camp Robinson,” according to the announcement.

Other major highway projects may beat out the Hwy. 89 plan. After all, the widening of Hwy. 67/167 from Jacksonville to Hwy. 5 in Cabot still has several more years to go.

Then there’s the revamping of the Hwy. 67 and I-40 junction in North Little Rock and the I-30 bridge in Little Rock.

Whatever happens, we can guarantee road work and delays ahead. Drive safe.

TOP STORY >> Doctor honored for jazz record

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s Dr. Alan Storeygard was recently awarded with a bronze Global Music Award for his album “Jazz meets the Classics.”

The album, his fifth, won Best Album and Best Contemporary Instrumental Recording. It is also up for a Grammy. It is a “classical and jazz fusion project,” according to Storeygard. It features solo tracks as well as pieces featuring the Alan Storeygard Trio, a quartet and a full orchestra. All pieces are arrangements by Storeygard of works by the great classical composers including Bach, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Chopin, Offenbach and Puccini.

“People from all over the world enter,” Storeygard said of the Global Music Awards. “You enter it and see what happens.”

The album was recorded at Infrared Studio in North Little Rock. Recording engineer Eric Chesher did the orchestration and synthesizing. The album also features Dave Rogers on drums, Brian Wolverton on bass and Danny Fletcher on guitar. All will receive an award.

Storeygard began playing piano in third grade, picking up jazz in high school and college. It wasn’t until 1996 that he played publicly in Jacksonville when he started playing at Jacksonville United Methodist Church. Not long after that he began writing his first album, “Church Jazz,” and formed The Alan Storeygard Trio.

Storeygard earned an IBLA Grand Prize International Music Competition award with “Church Jazz,” released in 2002. He was invited to perform his rendition of “Amazing Grace,” the lead piece of “Church Jazz” at Carnegie Hall in 2003.

Storeygard has released three other albums, “Just Havin’ Fun,” “Third Time’s a Charm” and “New Directions.” All feature The Alan Storey-gard Trio. Local artist Roberta McGrath designed the covers for “Third Time’s a Charm,” “New Directions” and “Jazz meets the Classics.”

“Jazz meets the Classics” is available online at iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Barnes and Noble in North Little Rock and from Storeygard.

TOP STORY >> Helping folks in Puerto Rico

By Senior Airman Mercedes Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – In times of adversity, many turn to their families for emotional support. Loved ones become safety nets when one of their own faces strife. But what does a person do when his family is in jeopardy on an island thousands of miles away?

Airman 1st Class Kenny Rivera Rojas, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, is helping not just his family, but the entire Puerto Rican population, by helping maintain aircraft headed to Hurricane Maria for aeromedical evacuation missions.

Rivera Rojas’ family is part of the 3.4 million people in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. They live in Canovanas, 30 minutes away from San Juan, the capital. Rivera Rojas’ only way to contact them is through his sister, who works at San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Airport.

“They mean the world to me,” Rivera Rojas said. “I’m very close to everyone, even my extended family. Although my sister hasn’t gotten the chance to talk to them, I try to call at least once a day. Since there isn’t electricity, all I hear is the phone ring. They don’t know I’m here.”

His family is facing many of the same challenges as other Puerto Ricans who are struggling to find food, water and gas. The U.S. territory has received support from federal and private agencies.

So far, Rivera Rojas has contributed to maintenance operations supporting responding aircraft by aiding in flight pre-checks and loading supplies onto aircraft headed to Puerto Rico and will continue to do so as long as he can.

“It’s heartwarming to see people donate to help so much,” Rivera Rojas said. “I didn’t think there was going to be the amount of support there is.”

“Until I see my family again, I’m willing to do anything in my power to make sure they’re OK,” he said. “I’m here. I’m doing my best to help out and be there. I love you.”

TOP STORY >> Wilson wins, wants GIF money returned

By JOHN HOFHEIMER Leader senior staff writer

Funding local General Improvement Fund projects with state revenue is unconstitutional on the face of it, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday, dealing a death blow to the practice of legislators divvying up millions of dollars between their favorite programs across the state.

Unless and until they can find yet another “workaround” to funnel funds – some call it pork – to their local projects, General Improvement Fund “grants” are illegal in Arkansas.

For the second time since 2006, the state Supreme Court has upheld former Jacksonville state representative Mike Wilson’s complaint that channeling state GIF funds through grants to local schools, volunteer fire departments, community groups, shelters, historic monuments and other recipients violates the state’s Constitution.

Circuit Judge Chris Piazza found GIF dispersals constitutional, while rejecting the state’s arguments that Wilson lacked standing to bring the suit and that his suit was moot anyway because the money had been spent. Well, note quite.


Of the $2.9 million the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District and the other planning districts each received in 2015, the district still has $923,086 on hand, Rodney Larsen, the director, said on Friday.

Wilson wants that money returned to the state treasury.

As for standing, CAPDD attorney Sam Jones and the state attorney general’s office argued that because GIF funds were from estate taxes, and Wilson hadn’t paid any estate taxes in the year in question, he lacked standing to bring the suit.

But Wilson and co-counsel John Ogles argued successfully that general tax revenue carryover from the previous year was also lumped into the General Improvement Fund, resulting in standing for Wilson.

The Supreme Court, by a 5-2 vote, overturned Piazza on constitutionality, and remanded the case to him to settle the details of returning the money to the state.


As a new precedent, the decision signals the end of such spending through the state’s other seven planning and development districts as well, Wilson said Thursday.

Writing for the majority, Justice Robin Wynn wrote: “The plain language of Article 5, Sec. 29 requires the purpose of the appropriation to be distinctly stated in the bill itself. Accordingly, we reverse and remand on this point without reaching Wilson’s factual allegations because the acts are facially unconstitutional.”

Larsen said he hoped the judge would allow grant money already approved but not yet delivered to go to the recipients. For those entities that have the money from their grant but haven’t spent it yet, Larsen wonders if CAPDD will have to notify them to stop their projects.


“That needs clarification,” he said. “We’ll wait until the final order.”

“The court made it pretty clear that whatever money CAPDD has left, it can’t be spent,” Wilson told The Leader on Thursday afternoon.

“We’ll ask the court to award attorney fees for Ogles, not for me,” Wilson said.

“I’m disappointed,” Larsen said. “GIF grants gave us opportunities to meet a lot of needs in our communities. Smaller and minority communities don’t always meet the threshold for larger state and federal grants CAPDD administers,” he said. He liked the GIF grants because the decisions were made locally and helped promote economic and social development.

He said over the past five years, his agency had passed through about $15 million in GIF grants.


The state attorney general’s office and Jones, representing Central Arkansas Planning and Development District in Lonoke and its director, Larsen, put it like this: “Mike won.”

Wilson and his attorney Ogles, also of Jacksonville, argued that the “surplus” revenues also included non-estate-tax money rolled over from the previous year, and so Wilson did have standing.

The Supreme Court agreed.

Piazza also said the suit was not moot because some GIF money remained in CAPPD coffers. The high court agreed.

Wilson said the court remanded the case to Piazza to determine the amount of money that remained of the $2.5 million in GIF funds allotted to CAPPD. Wilson wants that money returned to the state treasury at once.

Originally, Wilson wanted all the money, including that already awarded to various recipients, returned to the treasury.


With criminal charges filed or contemplated against several former legislators for kickback schemes or lining their own pockets with GIF money, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for seeking yet another path to spit up “surplus” state funds, even for use by worthy recipients.

Jon Woods and Micah Neal, two former Republican Springdale state representatives, have been indicted for arranging GIF grants for Ecclesia College and accepting kickbacks.

Also, state Sen. Jake Files, (R-Fort Smith) is under pressure to resign after about $25,000 in GIF funds intended for construction of a softball park allegedly ended up in his pockets. The FBI is investigating.

The Democratic Party of Arkansas on Wednesday demanded the attorney general’s office and the Arkansas State Police launch an investigation into lawmakers’ fraudulent use of at least $40,000 in state money in a kickback scheme through the General Improvement Fund.

“We need to in-crease transparency,” said state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot). “It won’t be much of a change—we didn’t do anything last year.”

Many legislators felt the writing was on the wall, particularly after all the charges of self-dealing.

“I’m just tired of it,” state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) said on Friday of the topic.

“I’m not surprised they ruled the way they did,” said state Rep. David Hillman (R-Almyra). “It was a Band-Aid approach.

He said that while he initially disagreed with the GIF disbursements, over the years many things in his district have been helped that wouldn’t have been otherwise.

He said the tide turned with news that some former legislators treated the GIF money as their own cash funds.

Wilson prevailed in his first suit when Circuit Judge Willard Proctor ruled the practice unconstitutional and in late 2006 and early 2007, the state Supreme Court upheld that decision.


The legislators, not to be denied the opportunity to help curry favor among voters and to fund causes, worthy and otherwise, devised what Wilson calls “a money-laundering scheme,” intended to restore such funding.

Instead of directly funding projects from the state treasury, with each legislator getting a share to direct at programs in his or her district, Legislators decided to run the money through the regional planning and development districts and then essentially tell the district what to fund and how much.

Each state representative in 2015 could earmark $70,000 for projects and each state senator could fund projects up to $285,000.

In 2016 Wilson sued again, saying a local grant of state money is unconstitutional, even if it’s run through the planning and development district.


Asked if he thought legislators were likely to try yet another workaround to spend money on constituents, Wilson said, “I think due to the public exposure of the whole messy scheme, it’s awful difficult (for them) to say let’s try something else.”

That’s the same source of funds the governor uses for his rainy-day fund and also for his quick-action fund to attract business to the state, but Wilson said he believes those are not constitutionally deficient.

“The court made it pretty clear that whatever money CAPDD has left, it can’t be spent,” Wilson said Thursday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

EDITORIAL >> A massacre in Las Vegas

“Instead of weeping when a tragedy occurs in a songbird’s life, it sings away its grief. I believe we could well follow the pattern of our feathered friends.” So goes a quote by William Shakespeare.

Let’s follow that pattern and focus on the heroes from Sunday’s tragic mass shooting at a Las Vegas outdoor concert that left about 60 dead, so far, and that number will grow, and more than 500 injured, resulting in the worst mass shooting in American history.

All from a madman with automatic weapons shooting across the street from the country show from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. With nearly 30,000 people confined by tall temporary walls, the shooter was having a heyday.

The killer, Stephen Paddock, took an arsenal of 23 sophisticated weapons to his hotel room, where he knocked out windows with a special hammer and gleefully gunned down innocent concertgoers enjoying a weekend of country music.

What kept the death toll from rising into the hundreds was the efforts of everyday people stepping up to do what was necessary. The terror gave rise to heroes, some who lost their lives, who urgently helped those who were wounded in the ordeal.

A witness described acts of heroism during and after the shooting. “It was everywhere. I saw guys plugging bullet holes with their fingers. I saw police officers, while everyone else was crouching, police officers standing up as targets, just trying to direct people to tell them where to go. The amount of bravery I saw, words can’t describe what it was like.”

Ordinary people became paramedics.

Dale Shrode, a 34-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, was at the show with his family when the shooting started. His emergency training kicked in, and he and his son began administering first aid, using belts to try to stop people from bleeding.

“My son, he actually collected the belts from people. The best thing we could do for people is stop the bleeding and once we stopped the bleeding, we dragged them out of the line of fire. Most people who were shot were still in the line of fire,” Shrode said.

Mike Cronk, a retired teacher from Alaska, was one of many that used their pickup truck to transport victims from the scene. He did that after making sure that his buddy, who was shot three times in the chest, was out of harm’s way.

Cronk braved gunfire and used his shirt to stop his friend’s bleeding.

“I had to stay with my buddy,” he said. “I wasn’t really worried about the safety part because I was going to stay with my buddy.”

Cronk helped move him under a stage and put pressure on his wounds.

They loaded him into another concertgoer’s pickup truck with four wounded. One concertgoer died in Cronk’s arms while they tried to get to a triage area that was set up by first responders.

Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon from Nashville, Tenn., said that her husband, Sonny, “saved my life and lost his.” He was shielding Heather from gunfire when he was fatally shot. He was one of many victims who died protecting their loved ones.

Amy McAslin and roommate Krystal Goddard dove under a table to protect themselves as best as they could from the barrage of bullets. Eventually, McAslin realized a perfect stranger, who ended up taking a bullet in the lower backside, was shielding the women.

“A gentleman – I don’t know his name – he completely covered me,” McAslin told the media. “He covered my face. He said, ‘I’ve got you.’ Just truly incredible, a stranger, jumping over me to protect me.”

An off-duty nurse from Orange County, California, told KTNV that she ran back into the danger to help rescue those who had suffered gunshot wounds.

“We went back because I’m a nurse, and I just felt that I had to,” one of the concertgoers said, after she had gotten safely out of the firing zone and then went back in.

After the shooting, concertgoers helped treat victims and get them to local hospitals. Later, area residents lined up to give blood as people from far and wide donated money.

“It’s been our finest hour as a city,” Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson said at a news conference Monday. “It’s been, I think, among our finest hours as Americans.”

As the days follow, we will learn more about the shooter and about the victims of this most heinous crime, but stories of heroism will also continue to be told.

Writer James Geary is credited with saying, “Heroism often results as a response to extreme events,” that was never more evident than Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Potential corner turner for Titans

Leader sports editor

It’s homecoming week for Jacksonville, but it’s also a game with major playoff implications in the 6A-East Conference. Coaches always worry about the distractions that come with homecoming, and it’s especially important for the Titans as the Mountain Home Bombers visit Jan Crow Stadium on Friday.

It is, however, a rare chance for the undersized Titans, which, because of an inexplicable ruling by the Arkansas High School Activities Association, plays 6A football even though the school has 5A enrollment numbers, to face a team that doesn’t have a huge depth advantage.

Mountain Home is a legitimate 6A enrollment school, but the football numbers are low, and a comparable number of Bomber players play on both sides of the ball.

“That’s one thing that’s a little bit of a relief,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “When you look at them on film, it looks a lot like us. You see guys, a jersey number, on offense. And then you look at their defense and you see some of the same jersey numbers. We’ve had to do that, too, and we’ve had to play a bunch of teams where nobody does that. So in that area we’re not going to be at a big disadvantage this week.”

Just like last year, Jacksonville is 1-4 and Mountain Home is 0-5 coming into the Week 6 matchup. Both teams are again 0-2 in league play. The Bombers, which have 19 seniors and 18 returning starters, pulled off a 34-27 win over the Titans last season, which sparked a strong finish and a playoff berth. After beating Jacksonville for their first win last year, the Bombers lost a tough one to Marion, then finished the regular season with three-straight wins over Little Rock Hall, Searcy and West Memphis.

“They’re going to come in here motivated,” Hickingbotham said. “This game was a key turning point for them last year. I’m sure they’re looking at it like it could be again. Hopefully we can turn the tables and get us a little spark going.”

Jacksonville found a spark in its offense in the first half at Jonesboro last week, but the defense, which had played well up to that point, fell apart. Jacksonville’s offense outscored its season high in the first half, but the defense gave up 55 points in just the first two quarters to Jonesboro. The 55-31 halftime score turned into a 76-31 final.

The lack of production in the second half was largely the result of free substitutions by the JHS coaching staff.

“We moved the ball down the field to start the second half,” Hickingbotham said. “We got down in the red zone, went for it on fourth down and didn’t get it. They went down and scored. It became a case where it just wasn’t going to happen. If we’d have scored there, you know, 55-38 has a different complexion to it than 62-31. We started using a lot of guys at that point and tried to get back home with everybody healthy.”

Mountain Home lost 36-14 to Pine Bluff last week. The Bombers played Jonesboro to open conference play, and lost 42-7. It was the same margin as Jacksonville’s loss to Jonesboro, but two very different types of games that make them difficult to compare.

“They (Jonesboro) ran the ball a lot more on Mountain Home,” Hickingbotham said. “We maybe had a little more speed and were able to do some things to take advantage of how aggressive their front four are.

The Bombers have another new coach, and will run variations of different run-oriented offenses. The team’s main offense is listed as the Flexbone, but they’ll also pull the slot receivers in tighter for a Double-wing look. They also played the entire first half of last week’s game against Pine Bluff in the Dead-T.

Jacksonville quarterback Harderrious Martin’s performance stood out last week, despite the loss. He completed 13 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, and carried 12 times for 128 yards and another score.

SPORTS STORY >> Joe Kleine talks shop to Panther foundation

Leader staff writer

Retired NBA basketball player and former Arkansas Razorback Joe Kleine of Little Rock was the guest speaker of the Cabot Panther Foundation Cabot Schools Hall of Fame banquet last week.

Born in Colorado Springs, Col., Kleine settled in Little Rock once his NBA career was over. After retiring from the NBA he was an assistant coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock from 2007-2015. He coaches AAU basketball and is a volunteer assistant basketball coach at the Little Rock Catholic High School.

Kleine went to high school in Slater, Mo. He played at Norte Dame the 1980-81 season before transferring to the University of Arkansas and playing from 1982-1985. He ranks sixth on the Razorbacks’ all-time scoring list with 1,753 points. He won a gold medal on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team in Los Angeles coached by Bobby Knight.

Kleine played 15 years in the NBA as a center from 1985 to 2000. He was drafted sixth overall in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.

Kleine was member of the 1997-98 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls team with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

During his career he played for the Portland Trailblazers, the Phoenix Suns, the Chicago Bulls, the New Jersey Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics and the Sacramento Kings. Kleine scored 4,666 total points and had 3,991 rebounds.

Kleine also is co-owner of Corky’s Ribs and BBQ locations in Little Rock and North Little Rock, which was served at the Cabot Hall of Fame banquet.

Honored were Ronnie Abshure, Joseph Gunter, Larry Rogers, Brenda Shurley and Mike Verkler.

“Events like these bring out how important community is. Honoring these people and the accomplishments they made is outstanding. When you think of Hall of Fame you think of sports, and that’s the furthest thing. The help they did made the city of Cabot better, made the school system better and made Arkansas better,” Kleine said.

He said when a person is inducted into a Hall of Fame they think about how lucky they were and the people who helped get to the places they are today.

“You have to work as a team. Sometimes you get a lot of the credit and sometimes the blame. The best part is the journey and the people,” he said.

Kleine spoke about the importance of the Cabot Panther Foundation and the support it gives to education, athletics and other activities to promote education.

“When I was in high school our foundation were 10 guys following the bus to the games. One night we were playing in Paris, Mo. I’m a junior and I look in my bag in the locker room and I don’t have my shoes. I wear size 16,” he said.

“We were playing a big game and told my coach. One of the supporters goes out.

I sit on the bench the first quarter in socked feet. He comes back with some shoes. It was a size 16 box, but it’s a size 14 shoe,” Kleine said.

“I got my feet in those shoes. I played the whole game like that. We won, but I never forgot my shoes after that,” Kleine said.

Kleine talked about how athletics teaches toughness and adversity.

“I remember the first time with Sacramento we played the Lakers. I watched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar run up the floor. I’m sitting there thinking what I’m going to do with this guy,” he said.

Kleine continued, “He shot a hook and I’m looking at his bellybutton. Coach is yelling at me. Years later (Celtics teammate) Robert Parish would look at you and say ‘There ain’t nothing you can do with that. Just take it like a man’.”

“In the NBA you don’t know what faith is until you’re sitting there and check in the game. You have Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, and the next night you fly to New York and have Patrick Ewing,” Kleine said.

“Dear Lord, please give me someone similar to me. You got tested every night,” he said.

“You had to rise up and fight (Ewing) him. Some nights you got him and some nights he scored 58 points.

“I was grabbing him, biting, stepping on his foot. I was trying to foul out of the game that’s back when they wouldn’t call a foul. The way they call the game now, I’d be gone in 30 seconds,” Kleine said.

“The greatest moments of my life was standing in the huddle at Hofheinz Pavilion (University of Houston). They were screaming at us and it’s just the 12 of us in there and you look at each other and say Let’s Go,” Kleine said.

“In Philadelphia when we were pulling inside the tunnel of the Spectrum (arena). You heard thumping. It’s them throwing pennies and quarters and other things at the bus. Then you beat their butt and on the way out you’re waving at it. That’s the greatest thing,” he said.

The hardest thing in sports and in life is to make somebody better. To be a true superstar in sports, make somebody on the team better.

“Larry Bird made me better because they went to guard him; I got to stand at the free-throw line wide open shooting 15-footers because they didn’t want (Bird) to shoot.

“Robert Parish made me better because a guy beat me and (Parish) blocked the guy’s shot.

Playing with guys who could give you a pass and all you had to do was lay it in. It made it so much easier,” Kleine said.

SPORTS STORY >> Strong ground games collide

Leader sports editor

Save for one half against El Dorado, for the first four games of the season, the Cabot defense ranged from good to very good. Game five was different, and it will have to get back to the former when the Panthers travel to Conway this Friday for a conference matchup with the archrival Wampus Cats.

Conway has rolled up some impressive offensive numbers this season. The good news for Cabot is that it has mostly been on the ground. It was El Dorado and Fort Smith Southside’s passing game that perplexed the Panthers. Last week, Southside rolled up 41 points and almost 600 yards (593) of offense. That included just under 400 yards passing, but even most of the rushing yards came from quarterback Taye Gatewood scrambling when he couldn’t find open receivers.

“The defense is going to have to step up and play,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “I don’t think we can score over 40 against them like we have the last three games.”

Leading the Conway offense has been senior running back Michael George. Except for the season opening, 19-17 loss to Springdale, in which he only got 12 carries, George has rushed for well over 100 yards in the other four games.

Last week he carried 28 times for 187 yards against a tough North Little Rock defense in a 24-14 loss. In Conway’s most impressive outing, George had 21 totes for 132 yards in a 35-16 victory over Bentonville.

He carried 17 times for 156 yards in a 49-18 blowout of Jonesboro, but his standout outing so far came in the wild 54-47 win over Southside.

In that game, George carried 31 times for 354 yards. He has 109 carries on the season for 891 yards in just five games.

“They will throw it,” Malham said. “They’ll do what it takes. But when they’re moving it on the gorund, that’s where they’re going to stay. They’re a lot like us that way. Those handoffs are just about 100 percent.”

Cabot also ran wild on Southside, totaling 520 rushing and total yards in last week’s 43-41 victory. The week before that, the Panthers had 455 yards rushing in a 42-20 win over Catholic.

After punting six times in the season-opening win at Pine Bluff, The Panthers have only punted twice since then.

“The offense, so far, has been a pleasant surprise,” Malham said. “We didn’t really know what to expect with a new quarterback and whole new offensive line. We felt like we had some good backs. We’ve moved the ball pretty well. We’ve been fortunate enough to do that.”

Cabot (4-1, 2-0) hasn’t needed to score 40 points in two of those 40-plus point victories.

The percentage of completed passes against Cabot hasn’t been exceptional, but the yards-per-catch has been. Southside only completed 56 percent (23 of 41) of its pass attempts, but averaged 18 yards per completion.

The Panthers’ run defense has been exceptional. They have only allowed a 100-yards rushing by a running back once this season. That was Catholic’s Samy Johnson, who carried 21 times for 125 yards in Week 4.

Gatewood had 23 carries for 182 yards against Cabot last week, but again, most of those came from scrambling on pass plays.

Conway, however, is the best rushing offensive team Cabot has faced this year.

“They’ve got a good running back,” Malham said. “Even against North Little Rock they ran up almost 200 yards on them. They got down there close a couple times and didn’t score. North Little Rock’s got some athletes. We’re going to have to be ready to play.”

TOP STORY >> Exhibit on black legislators

The Cabot Public Library will host a free traveling exhibit called “Arkansas African American Legislators, 1868-1893,” from Oct. 16 through Nov. 11.

It was produced by the Arkansas State Archives and the Black History Commission of Arkansas.

The library will hold a reception from 5 till 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16 to celebrate the exhibit’s opening.

The exhibit can be viewed during the library’s regular hours 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturdays.

“Arkansas African Ameri-can Legislators, 1868-1893” tells the story of the 85 African Americans who served in the Arkansas General Assembly in the 19th Century.

“After the Civil War, Arkansas adopted a new constitution in 1868, and its provisions included the right to vote and hold public office for black males. African American lawyers, merchants, ministers, educators, farmers, and other professionals served in the Arkansas General Assembly. Photographs of 46 of the 85 legislators are an integral part of the display,” according the library’s press release.

The exhibit will display a complete listing of the legislators and a short history of post-Civil War and election law “reforms” that effectively barred African Americans from being elected to the legislature until the 1970s.

The Black History Com-mission of Arkansas collects black historical materials for the Arkansas State Archives, encourages research in Arkansas black history and to cooperate with the Arkansas Department of Education in the development of African American historical materials for use in public schools.

The Black History Com-mission produces exhibits, hosts seminars, offers free educational material on African American history and administers the Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant Program to fund projects related to African American history in Arkansas.

The Arkansas State Archives, founded in 1905, collects and preserves the documentary history of Arkansas. It is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and shares the goal of all eight Department of Arkansas Heritage agencies, that of preserving and enhancing the heritage of the state of Arkansas.

The other agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Arkansas State Archives, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and the Old State House Museum.

To learn more about the Arkansas State Archives and the Black History Commission of Arkansas visit

The Cabot library is at 909 W. Main St.

For more information about the exhibit, call Leisa Horness at 855-572-6657, ext. 904 or email

To schedule the exhibit in your institution call the Arkansas State Archives at 501.682.6900, e-mail or visit

TOP STORY >> Statewide community services Saturday

Leader staff writer

The North Pulaski Baptist Association and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention are teaming up for a day of community service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Jacksonville, Sherwood, north Pulaski County, North Little Rock and Maumelle.

Associational missionary Dennis Wilkins with the North Pulaski Baptist Association said more than 2,000 volunteers from 50 churches in the North Pulaski Baptist Association and churches from all over the state will meet at 8 a.m. at the North Little Rock High School football stadium and then spread out to dozens of locations in the area.

Volunteers can sign up at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at North Little Rock High School. Groups will leave at 8 a.m. and return by 4 p.m. with a celebration service.

“The North Pulaski Baptist Association has a community service day in the spring and fall. The State Association has one a year in a different area of the state,” Wilkins said.

“As Christians, we are called to reach out to people in need. The day of service is a lesson to all of us that we can do it individually. But on this scale, we can see how it all works. People are coming from various parts of life – professionals, blue-collar and students – working on a common goal. It is a demonstration of unity, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community,” Wilkins said.

The associations will feed on-duty police, fire and paramedics. They will have senior adult ministries. They will be doing yard work and home repairs for north Pulaski County residents.

Block parties with free lunch and games will be held in Jacksonville at Bayou Meto Baptist Church, 26200 Hwy. 107; Stonewall Park, Lakeside Estates, 2613 E. Coffelt Road; Christ Centered Fellowship, 111 N. Oak St. and Runyan First Baptist Church, 10611 Jacksonville Cato Road.

In Sherwood at the vacant lot on 119 Country Club Road; Oakbrooke Elementary School, 2200 Thornhill Drive; Connection Church, 14322 Hwy. 107; Kohl’s parking lot, 7600 Warden Road; Indianhead Lake Baptist Church, 8601 Indianhead Drive and Iglesia Bautista Betel, 2300 E. Lee St.

Free medical and dental services held in Jacksonville at Bayou Meto Baptist Church, 26200 Hwy. 107; Options Pregnancy Center, 1409 Madden Road and Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, 1017 Ray Road. In Sherwood at Iglesia Bautista Betel, 2300 E. Lee St.

Free food distribution in Jacksonville at Christ Centered Fellowship, 111 N. Oak St. and Runyan First Baptist Church, 10611 Jacksonville Cato Road. In Sherwood at Kohl’s parking lot, 7600 Warden Road.

Free laundromat service at the Super Suds locations, 1000 Stone St. in Jacksonville and 3301 E. Kiehl Ave. in Sherwood.

Free children’s activities in Jacksonville at Options Preg-nancy Center, 1409 Madden Road, Maddox Road Baptist Church, 702 E. Maddox Road. In north Pulaski County at Zion Hill Baptist Church, 11923 Zion Hill Road. In Sherwood at Park Crest Apartments, 100 Manson Road.

Free children’s fishing derbies at Lake Cherrywood in Sherwood and North Pulaski Community Park, 5705 W. Republican Road.

Free car washes at in Jacksonville at Bethel Baptist Church, 112 N. Jeff Davis Ave. In Sherwood at Friendship Baptist Church, 10150 Brockington Road and at Auto Spa, 8521 Hwy. 107; Splash Car Wash, 14323 Hwy. 107 and Suds Carwash, 25401 Hwy. 107.

TOP STORY >> Lemons, Byrd to face off again in Primary

Leader editor

State Rep. Tim Lemons (R-Cabot) will have a familiar opponent in his bid for a third term next year.

Darlene Byrd will challenge him again in House Dist. 43 in the Republican primary set for May 2018.

It will be a rematch of their 2014 faceoff in the Republican primary for the seat, when Lemons was first elected. Lemons won by 653 votes. He ran unopposed in 2016.

Byrd, a nurse practitioner, is chairwoman of the Lonoke County 911 Call Center Advisory Committee, which is working to modernize the county’s emergency response system. Last year, she served four months on the quorum court after being appointed by the governor to fill the Dist. 12 seat being vacated by Matt Sanders.

Byrd said health-care policy, improving the state’s emergency response call system and fiscal responsibility would be her top priorities in the legislature.

“Being an advanced practice nurse, I see what patients and providers face every day,” she said.

Byrd has had a 28-year career in nursing, and the last 21 have been as an advance practice nurse. She is on faculty at UAMS College of Nursing.

Dist. 43 includes most of Cabot and parts of northwest Lonoke County.

Lemons said on Tuesday, “The opportunity to serve the citizens of Cabot is an honor I’ll cherish forever, and I’m looking forward to continuing that dedicated service in the next term. I’m thankful for the continued support of the people of Dist. 43, and I ask for their support again in the coming election season.”

He said he helped cut taxes for Arkansas families and is committed to reforming the state tax code. He said he supports business growth and Arkansas’ public school systems.

“Cabot is fortunate to have one of the best schools in the state. It’s important to me that we take lessons learned from our success here and apply it across Arkansas to help every student get a great education,” Lemons said.

He served six years on the Lonoke County Quorum Court before joining the legislature.

He’s also served on many Cabot-area boards, including the Cabot chamber and Cabot Parks and Recreation. He has coached several youth baseball teams and volunteered for Special Olympics, Relay for Life and Project Lead the Way at Cabot High School.

At the Capitol, Lemons is chairman of the City, County and Local Affairs Committee. He is a member of the House Public Transportation Com-mittee and the Legislative Joint Audit.

“Many times, the decisions in the City, County and Local Affairs Committee have a direct and immediate impact of the residents of our state, along with the city and counties to which they are governed. I take this big responsibility to heart and will continue to do what I can to increase jobs while cutting the waste from government and reducing taxes,” Lemons said.

Lemons was encouraged to seek re-election by his wife Janice, who for much of this year has been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

“During our last visit to MD Anderson, we received a great report that Janice is beating this cancer. After leaving the doctor, Janice asked me to please consider running, for her. I have been in church all my life, but I never realized just how strong prayer really is, and I thank those who continue to pray for Janice and our family,” he said.

They live in Cabot, where he owns Lemons Engineering Consultants. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Byrd was born in Little Rock and raised in Pine Bluff. She is not married and does not have children.

She earned her bachelor’s and master’s in nursing from UAMS and has a doctorate of nursing practice from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

She provides clinical services on a fill-in basis and now works in Altheimer (Jefferson County).

“Over the last year, I’ve become aware of some of the problems of interoperability of emergency first responders,” she said Monday of her interest in boosting 911 response.

Byrd mentioned Lonoke County has some dead spots in the Arkansas Wireless Infor-mation Network, which handles public-safety communications.

She said, as a legislator, she’d help the state prepare for “the next generation of emergency 911 call systems.”

“AT&T has received contract for First Net, dedicated for public safety across the country,” Byrd said.

The county’s 911 advisory committee will meet Thursday, she said.

“We need to be fiscally responsible with what we do and how we do it. Make sure to have the infrastructure to rollout the next generation of emergency technology,” she said.

Byrd said she was urged to run again by Cabot Alderman Rick Prentice, Wynonne Dwiggins of the Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center and Janice Treadway of Kiwanis Club. Byrd emphasized those organizations have not endorsed her.

“I appreciate their support and their willingness to serve on my committee and in this campaign,” Byrd said.

Byrd is president of the Lonoke County Coalition for Progress, which holds the annual Lonoke County Leadership program. She is first vice president of the Lonoke County Republican Committee.

Byrd was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and served one term as its president. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt appointed her to the National Advisory Committee for Rural Health and Human Services.

She has worked with state legislators, the state Depart-ment of Health and Arkansas Medicaid on a variety of health-care issues.