The Leader

Big Jack Johnson: Great Bluesman
Big Jack Johnson has been playing at Red's Lounge in Clarksdale, Miss., for the last couple of weekends, and if you hurry down there, you might still catch the great bluesman tonight as he rocks the juke joint down with his powerful guitar playing and soulful singing that's as deep and satisfying as anything you'll hear today anywhere in the Delta.[FULL TEXT]

How bodies come home from Iraq
(Relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq are often surprised to find out that their loved ones are returned home on commercial airplanes. This column first appeared here on May 26, 2004). A couple of weeks ago, passengers on an airplane flying into Little Rock heard a pilot telling them that an officer was escorting home a soldier returning from Iraq. [FULL TEXT]

Eyewitness to attack on Pearl Harbor
(This column about the late McLyle Zumwalt first appeared here on Dec. 9, 1989 and is reprinted to mark the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.) Most people think of retired Col. McLyle Zumwalt as one of the organizers of Pathfinders, which trains the developmentally and physically disabled in Jacksonville. [FULL TEXT]

How you can make big bucks at home
Does Arkansas need two people to head the state's emergency management agency? Right now we have Wayne Ruthven, the outgoing head of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, still collecting $6,600 a month while he supposedly works out of his home till the end of the year, and John Brackin, the interim chief, making about the same amount of money. [FULL TEXT]

Administration runs into trap door overseas
Every administration has its defining moment that symbolizes its successes or failures – from John Kennedy's "Ich bien ein Berliner" to Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," from Richard Nixon's "I'm not a crook" to Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman," from George H.W. Bush throwing up in Japan to George W. visiting Beijing more than a decade later and getting stuck in front of a door that would not open. (Maybe it was the first Bush's immortal words, "Read my lips, no new taxes," that got him defeated.) [FULL TEXT]













DECEMBER 28, 2005

IN SHORT: Jacksonville lawyer, a rising star in the Democratic Party serving his second term as a state representative, says he thinks he'll have the 51 votes he needs to be the next speaker of the House. [FULL TEXT]

Christmas celebrated with jobs, loved ones
IN SHORT: Somebody is always on call at the animal shelter or working at the Waffle House so others can celebrate. [FULL TEXT]

Home invasion nightmare
IN SHORT: Two intruders in ski masks menace residents in their Cabot home a couple of days before Christmas, shooting a man in the shoulder before fleeing on foot. [FULL TEXT]

New start for Cabot utility as '06 nears
IN SHORT: The city council approves just enough to meet its Jan. 1 takeover deadline. [FULL TEXT]

He says heŐs shy, he speaks like an intellectual, he acts like a driven force, and those who know him say heŐs all of those things. Airic Hughes, a senior guard for the Jacksonville basketball team, hasnŐt seen much of the spotlight early in his career at JHS, but has made the most of his senior season. [FULL TEXT]

Red Devils put away Hughes in first round
IN SHORT: Jacksonville used a fourth-quarter flurry to bury the pesky Class AA Blue Devils Tuesday night at JHS. [FULL TEXT]

Just off Hwy. 31 in Lonoke County, on Bethlehem Road, is a four-mile community-wide project that displays the story of the birth of Jesus for motorists driving by. The displays are illuminated every evening from 5:30 to 10 p.m. until New YearŐs Eve. For the past 19 years, nearly all the residents along Bethlehem Road have put up life-size Biblical figures and signs with Bible verses, made out of painted plywood in their yards. [FULL TEXT]


DECEMBER 21, 2005

Legislators frustrated by Lake View
IN SHORT: A special session on education may well be necessary but doesn't have to be hurried, Gov. Mike Huckabee said Tuesday. After the state Supreme Court declared school funding unconstitutional a week ago, Huckabee initially said a special session might not be needed to address concerns raised in the decision. [FULL TEXT]

Defense bill gets approval in House
IN SHORT: After a long and heated battle Sunday night, members of the House of Representatives passed 308-106 the 2006 defense spending bill that would also open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, but Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., who opposed the drilling, cautions Arkansans that the real vote was much tighter.

City council butts heads over budget suggestions
IN SHORT: Following a firestorm of words with Mayor Donald Ward Monday night, the Beebe City Council tabled a vote on the $2.7 million 2006 city budget until a full council is present.

Residents dispute new development
IN SHORT: Residents of Sun Terrace, across the street from Wal-Mart Supercenter in Cabot, who several years ago successfully fought rezoning on the corner of Rockwood and Hwy. 89 at the entrance to their subdivision, are doing battle with the council again to stop a commercial development just one house down from that corner.

C-130Js pass tough test in cold Alaskan climate
IN SHORT: Two C-130J cargo aircraft from Little Rock Air Force Base have been proven ready for war in all types of weather after finishing two weeks of cold-weather evaluations at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, that ended Dec. 14.

A Coca-Cola Christmas in Lonoke
IN SHORT: It's always time for Coca-Cola and Christmas at the home of Don and Wanda Cook at 1381 N. Johnson Road in Lonoke. "I would go to flea markets looking for jewelry, and 13 years ago I bought a couple of Coca-Cola pieces because they were so cheerful with the red and white," Wanda Cook said. [FULL TEXT]

Lonoke senior guard Libby Gay drives down the court while Cabot sophomore Lauren Walker defends Friday night during the Lady Jackrabbits' 52-49 double-overtime victory.

Lonoke upsets Lady Panthers
IN SHORT: Few people expected the Lady Jackrabbits to leave the Cabot gym with their unbeaten record still in- tact, nor did they expect the double-overtime war it took in order for them to actually do it. The Lonoke girls proved all doubters wrong Friday night, edging out the Lady Panthers 52-49 in one of the most exciting games of the early season. The win improves the Lady ÔRabbits record to 11-0 on the season, and establishes them as a serious force heading into the heart of their 6AAA-conference schedule.

Cabot tops Jackrabbits to remain undefeated
IN SHORT: Cabot managed to keep its unbeaten streak alive Friday night at the Panther gymnasium by beating Lonoke 43-40. But they didn't do it without a serious fight from the Jackrabbits.


DECEMBER 14, 2005

Leon Hill, right, and Charlotte Hill prepare to vote Tuesday on bond issues and a local sales tax. Election judge Lillie Gatewood helps them at the Lonoke Depot.

Voters split on bonds
IN SHORT: Like voters statewide, area residents rejected by a wide margin Ballot Question 1 on Tuesday, which would have given authority to the state's Highway Commission to finance interstate maintenance through bond sales. [FULL TEXT]

Sherwood aldermen get terms extended
IN SHORT: Voters in Sherwood on Tuesday approved extending the terms of aldermen from two years to staggered four years by a vote of 682 to 584. The city, following Jacksonville's lead, which voted in four-year terms last year, has four wards with two positions each.

PCSSD votes to trim costs; Adkins to be Pre-K school
IN SHORT: Homer Adkins Elementary School in Jacksonville will be closed at the end of this school year and reopened as a pre-kindergarten school, the Pulaski County Special School District Board voted 4-3 Tues-day night after more than two months of intrigue, anxiety and community meetings over which small elementary school would be closed or reconfigured to help alleviate the district's dire financial straits.

Hospitality tax passes in Lonoke
IN SHORT: Lonoke voters approved a 2-cent hospitality tax on Tuesday, dedicated to improving and expanding city parks, by a vote of 176 to 137. That should raise about $100,000 a year for city parks and free money for other uses.

463rd: Inside look at war on terror
IN SHORT: Besides being a schoolhouse for all things related to the C-130 cargo plane, Little Rock Air Force Base houses the 463rd Airlift Group, which transports "beans and bullets" as well as troops, all over the world.

Cabot police kick off new alert program
IN SHORT: A program created almost 10 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to help find missing Alzheimer's patients and children is now available to law- enforcement agencies all over the country, and the Cabot Police Department is one of the first in the area to use it.

Video with class
IN SHORT: Cabot High School students learn the art of broadcasting Cabot High School recently premiered the television program CHTV (Cabot High School Television) created by the school's radio and television-broadcasting students. [FULL TEXT]

Cabot forward Josh Whatley drives around Conway's Xavier Tyus during the Panthers' 52-37 victory over the Wampus Cats Friday night.

Cabot handles Wampus Cats
IN SHORT: The Cabot Panthers controlled every aspect of its their game Friday night against Conway but one, and one wasn't enough for the Wampus Cats as Cabot cruised to a 52-37 victory and kept its record un-blemished after eight games.

Red Devils fall short in Cyclone title game
IN SHORT: The Jacksonville Red Devils won the second-place trophy Saturday at the Russellville tournament, but if it were up to head coach Vic Joyner, they wouldn't have accepted it.


DECEMBER 7, 2005

Lt.Gen. Dennis Larsen(left) speaks to officers and airmen after the fifth C-130J arrives at Little Rock Air Force Base on Tuesday. At right is Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at the air base.

Fifth C-130J arrives at air base
IN SHORT: Lt. Gen. Dennis Larsen, vice commander of the Air Education and Training Command, piloted a new C-130J to Little Rock Air Force Base Tuesday from the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, Ga. The plane is the air base's fifth active-duty C-130J, aircraft No. 3147. [FULL TEXT]

Budget in Cabot shaping up for '06
IN SHORT: As Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis sat down at a conference table at city hall Monday evening to begin justifying the budget he had submitted for council approval, Alderman Eddie Cook leaned forward in his seat and proclaimed a loud "no."

Districts could be changing borders
IN SHORT: Even as contractors launch a quarter-million-dollar feasibility study that could result in the reconfiguration of Pulaski County's three school districts, some residents of both Jacksonville and Sherwood each would like to have their own stand-alone district..

Parents say keep school
IN SHORT: Warren Dupree Elementary School has one of the highest literacy and math proficiency rates among district schools, patrons told Pulaski County Special School District administrators and board members Tuesday night.

'I'm not a racist,' teacher responds
IN SHORT: The Homer Adkins Elementary teacher accused of making inappropriate racial and religious comments to her students may still be in the classroom, but she's not yet out of the woods.

Lonoke tax would go to city parks
IN SHORT: No organized opposition has materialized to a two-cent hamburger tax proposal that Lonoke voters will see when they go to the polls Tuesday, according to Mayor Tom Privett.

Christmas on Main Street
IN SHORT: Cabot, Beebe and Ward hold weekend parades Crowds surely got into the holiday spirit over the weekend as area communities held Christmas pa-rades Saturday and Sunday. Organizers of each were happy with the crowds, number of entrants and overall atmosphere. [FULL TEXT]

Lonoke point guard Libby Gay eyes the basket during the Lady Rabbits' 33-32 win over Mountain View in the championship game of the Bank Classic at Searcy High School.

Lady Rabbits win Bank
IN SHORT: At 8 p.m. Saturday evening, the Lonoke girls basketball team may have felt more like it just completed a Greco Roman wrestling tournament rather than a basketball tournament. Either way, the Lady Rabbits took home the championship trophy from the Bank Classic at Searcy High School with a 33-32 victory over Mountain View in the title game.

Raiders top Bison to win Medallion
IN SHORT: Riverview controlled Saturday night's encounter with Carlisle in Newport, and as a result brought home the championship trophy from the Medallion Classic with a 64-48 victory.





Payday lenders Democrats' friends
It is the least surprising and most surprising news of the month: The payday-lending industry has settled more than $20,000 on the Democratic Party of Arkansas. The Arkansas Business newspaper reported that development this week. Least surprising because it will come as a shock to no one to learn that an industry that gets its way in the legislative halls spends some money on political campaigns. [FULL TEXT]

Holiday spirit missing in D.C.
Christmas in the Year of Our Lord 2005 in Washington, D.C., finds little children, the sick, the meek and the poor in spirit more out of fashion than ever before in our nationŐs capital. The disciples are decidedly out of fashion, too, having been replaced by the less sentimental Grover Norquist and Ayn Rand. [FULL TEXT]

Arkansans used again
Pardon our paranoia, but it is hard to escape that old feeling that Arkansas is not a real state but a colony, to be exploited when the need arises. That is indisputably the case whenever we are hauled before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. [FULL TEXT]

High court does it again
For the third time in three years, the Arkansas Supreme Court instructed the legislature and the governor this week to fix the funding of public schools so that the 450,000 children are assured suitable and roughly equal educational opportunities. [FULL TEXT]



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