General tells how to build bases fast
Brig. Gen. Kip Self can build an air base faster than I can write a column. Self, who last month became commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, has been busy preparing for this weekend's big open house that will attract some 200,000 people as the air base celebrates its 50th anniversary. [FULL TEXT]

Monk-Coltrane masterpiece
The most important jazz CD of the year – no, make that of the decade, or even of the century, for that matter – was recorded almost 50 years ago but was just recently discovered in the vaults at the Library of Congress. [FULL TEXT]

Self-effacing general's
revealing talk

Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the new commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, made his first public appearance outside the base at a Jacksonville Cham-ber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday. The general, who has a self-effacing, down-to-earth style, said he didn't have a prepared speech and almost convinced his audience he didn't have much to say. [FULL TEXT]

Masters tell Ledge: No more studies
Halfway through the summer hearings on the state's compliance with the Lake View school order, it must have been clear even to the lawmakers and other state officials who were defending the state's work that the task was hopeless. It could have been a surprise to no one when the special masters appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to adduce evidence for the court concluded Monday that the legislature and the governor had reneged on their promise to make public education the state's first priority, as the state Constitution requires. [FULL TEXT]

Huck and grubbing
Gov. Huckabee and his friends have had to be reminded too often that, whatever good you do, public service should never be an opportunity for private gain. After first the Arkansas Times and then the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette made an issue of it, the official state Web site of the Governor's Mansion has stopped selling goods for the profit of the private association of Huckabee friends that seeks to make the mansion a fancier dwelling for the first family. [FULL TEXT]

Casino czar we deserve
Let us acknowledge that the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize casino gambling and a state lottery and put state Rep. Charles Ormond of Monticello in charge of both is the perfect gambling amendment and the perfect denouement for Ormond's dazzling lawmaking career. [FULL TEXT]














OCTOBER 5, 2005

The Air Force Thunderbirds make a return to Little Rock Air Force Base this weekend, when the base celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Thunderbirds are tentatively scheduled to perform as the final event on both days of the open house.

Large crowd expected for variety-filled air showcase
IN SHORT: Little Rock Air Force Base's 50th Anniversary Air Show from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday could be the biggest ever. The gates open at 8:30 a.m. each day and a full, tentative schedule features a variety of aerial entertainment.

Legislative effort flunks
IN SHORT:. "In terms of the district's current situation, the special masters just lit a bright candle in the darkness called fiscal distress," Pulaski County Special School District lawyer Sam Jones. [FULL TEXT]

Attorneys want special session
IN SHORT: With a report on public school financing now in the state Supreme Court's hands, attorneys and state officials pondered Tuesday whether the legislature will be called into special session to readdress school funding.

Base gains seen as modest
IN SHORT: The Air Force on Monday evening told Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Cong. Vic Snyder that the active-duty side of Little Rock Air Force Base can expect a net gain of five C-130s and the Guard side can expect one additional plane as a result of the final Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission's recommendations, signed Sept. 9 by President Bush.

County officials butting heads over response
IN SHORT: The tornado that hit the Searcy area last month as a result of Hurricane Rita was the first disaster that has struck White County since the quorum court took the dispatch center and the 911 system away from the sheriff and put it under the county judge and the Office of Emergency Services.

City spruces up for weekend festival
IN SHORT: Sunny, warm weather helped make Cabot's Fall Cleanup a success for the more than 200 volunteers who worked Saturday morning to tidy the town for this weekend's CabotFest. "We didn't collect as much trash or tires as we normally do," said Matt Webber of Cabot City Beautiful. "That might mean we're getting ahead of the litter bugs."

Cabot halfback Raul Gault gains big yardage last week during the Panthers' loss to West Memphis. Cabot goes to Forrest City on Friday.

Panthers focused on rest of season
IN SHORT: The Cabot Panthers find themselves in a very unfamiliar situation. At the midway point of the season, the Panthers have just one win, and are staring at the possibility of falling below .500 in conference play for the first time in quite sometime. It's been the 1980s since Cabot finished below .500 in conference play, but the Panthers aren't thinking about that right now.

Badgers to face powerful Wynne
IN SHORT: The Beebe Badgers cleared a huge hurdle last week in their bid for an AAAA-East conference title with an improbable come-from-behind 38-35 win against the Marion Patriots. The Badgers will need another performance like that this week, as Beebe travels to Wynne to face the Yellowjackets in a battle between two teams which are both undefeated in conference action.



SEPTEMBER 28, 2005

Mile Hale (center) talks with members of the Red Cross and friends after his mobile home was destroyed by a tornado Saturday evening on Hwy. 70 near Lonoke.

Rippin' Rita packs punch
IN SHORT: A storm survivor tells of ordeal in his mobile home. An F-2 tornado smacked Mike Hale upside the head with the door of his mobile home Saturday evening, blew the home to smithereens, spewing debris everywhere, and left Hale momentarily dazed about 30 feet away under a piece of wall.

A church feels fury of area's twisters
IN SHORT:. Debra Betts of Searcy was finishing up the church bulletin at West View Missionary Baptist Church on Hwy. 36 about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday when she first heard the sounds that a violent storm was outside. "I'm sorry, but it didn't sound like a train," Betts said. "It was just different." Regardless of the sound, the aftermath proved what Betts heard was a tornado. [FULL TEXT]

Former Air Force officer escapes Rita
IN SHORT: A few weeks ago, John Felsher was busy helping victims of Hurricane Katrina find food and shelter. Felsher and his family are now evacuees themselves. A former Air Force public affairs captain stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base from 1990-1993, Felsher is back in the area after seeking refuge from Hurricane Rita, a storm which battered Felsher's Lake Charles, La., neighborhood on Saturday.

Bank doubles branches with its acquisition
IN SHORT: First Arkansas Bank and Trust, headquartered in Jacksonville, will officially merge Nov. 1 with First Team Bank in Heber Springs, giving the bank branches in Heber Springs, Greers Ferry, Marshall, Damascus, Center Ridge, Greenbrier, Guy, Quitman, Concord and Pangburn.

Ex-Beebe police chief charged
IN SHORT: Dennis Briggs, who was police chief in Beebe during much of Mayor Donald Ward's first term in office, was arrested in Shelby County, Tenn., Monday for allegedly forging former Mayor Mike Robertson's signature to dozens of magazine subscriptions. Robertson, who was instrumental in getting Briggs arrested, said Tuesday that trying to get the subscriptions stop-ped and clearing up his credit record after he refused to pay the bogus bills had consumed about a year of his life.

Police promotion comes under fire
IN SHORT: Former Beebe Police Chief Dennis Briggs' arrest came on the same day that former Mayor Mike Robertson, now a city alderman, took Mayor Donald Ward to task during a city council meeting Monday for what Robertson says was the questionable hiring of another police officer. Though neither Ward nor Robertson have formally announced their intention to run for mayor in 2006, both say they likely will run.

New fire trucks boost Beebe, Cabot
IN SHORT: The Beebe Volunteer Fire Department has unveiled the newest addition to its fleet, a 2005 Freightliner fire truck with a 4,500-gallon capacity. "This new truck enables us to pump more than 3,000 gallons of water on a fire if we're somewhere in the fire district where there aren't fire plugs," Chief William Nick said. The truck has a 2,000-gallon tank and 2,500 gallon drop tank. The drop tank can be left at a fire while the engine goes to get more water.

Cabot quarterback Cory Wade will lead the Panthers into a huge showdown this Friday against West Memphis at Panther Stadium.

Blue Devils coming strong
IN SHORT: Cabot and West Memphis meet up this Friday at Panther Stadium. While Cabot's overall record isn't as impressive as it usually is this time of year, this battle between the two perennial AAAAA-East heavyweights is no less huge as any other year. The Panthers enter Friday's game 1-3, while West Memphis is 4-0, but don't tell West Memphis coach Lanny Dauksch that his team is a big favorite.

Red Devils needing little things for win
IN SHORT: The Jacksonville Red Devils will try to rebound from their conference-opening loss to Mountain Home last week when they travel to Jonesboro to take on the also 0-1 Hurricane. The 13-7 loss to the Bombers was the second consecutive lackluster performance from a Red Devil offense that showed signs of explosiveness in the first two weeks of the season.









OCT. 1, 2005

Air base prepares for 50th birthday
Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the new commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, says the base's 50th anniversary air show next weekend is just as important to the entire nation as it is to central Arkansas. "The face we put on Oct. 8 and 9 will send a clear message that Little Rock Air Force Base is a place you want to be," Self said. "It's full of community spirit, it's full of national defense pride and it's full of great people doing great things for America." [FULL TEXT]

Evacuation plan
The tornado that ripped through Beebe the evening of Jan. 21, 1999, destroying much of the older housing, two churches and a new school building, changed the way Beebe emergency workers plan for disasters, Fire Chief William Nick said Friday. [FULL TEXT]

Marine's life ends in remote outpost
Lance Cpl. Steven Valdez, 20, of McRae was killed Monday at Camp Blessing in Afghanistan's Pesch Valley, which is home to personnel from the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, including Army Rangers, Marines and the Afghan Security Forces. Valdez, a machine-gun operator, was running to his post when shrapnel from a mortar round struck him in the neck. [FULL TEXT]


Good words for criminals
Justice is hard enough to render in the criminal courts of the land without the interference of politics. We have seen its corrupting fruits in the criminal-justice process in many a national case the last few years, but it can be encountered as well in the most parochial courts, where nothing but the majesty of the law should hold sway. [FULL TEXT]

Sen. Frist insists he knew nothing
The word is "beware and don't engage in this type of conduct because it will not be tolerated," David Kelley, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said outside the courthouse after Martha Stewart was convicted of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about dumping stock before it tanked. "This is a victory for the little guys. No one is above the law." Those were the words of one of the Martha Stewart jurors. [FULL TEXT]

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