The Leader

Staffers see too many relatives die
Several Leader staffers lost their relatives during the holidays, two of them killed in car wrecks, while another relative died suddenly from a heart attack. As we were talking about the unusually high number of sudden deaths in The Leader family, word came that the 93-year-old mother of bluesman Charlie Musselwhite was strangled in Memphis during a home break-in. Musselwhite's father died a few days later in a nursing home.[FULL TEXT]

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]


FEBRUARY 1, 2006

A probation officer contacted the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office last week after finding a working meth lab underneath this house on Driskell Road near Macon.

No stopping crime
IN SHORT: The bust last week of a methamphetamine lab near Macon in north Pulaski County is precisely the kind of event that leaves some residents feeling vulnerable and fearful, and with cutbacks in road deputies and felony jail beds, the problem will likely only get worse. [FULL TEXT]

District's plan for facilites approved
IN SHORT: In less time than it takes to tell, the Pulaski County Special School District School Board convened, approved a $97.2 million, 10-year facility-maintenance plan with an additional $11.6 million in capital improvements and adjourned. [FULL TEXT]

Utility's control still not finalized
IN SHORT: A special council meeting in Cabot on Tuesday night, called to tie up the lose ends of transferring the operation of the water and sewer departments from city control to a new commission, ended with some issues unresolved and one ordinance likely to be vetoed by the mayor.

Water costs ready to go up in Beebe
IN SHORT: Water and sewer bills are going up in Beebe to pay for $1.3 million in improvements to the water system. Currently, the average residential customer uses 6,000 gallons a month and receives a monthly bill of $50.70, which includes water, sewer, garbage collection, all taxes and other fees.

Many airmen return, but others are leaving
IN SHORT: Twenty-six airmen from the 50th and 61st Airlift Squadrons and the 463rd Airlift Group are preparing to leave within the week for a three- to six-month deployment in the Middle East.

Wilson to try to stop funds awarded to library
IN SHORT: Jacksonville businessman Mike Wilson said Monday that he would ask Pulaski County Circuit Judge Willard Proctor not to let the state Department of Finance and Administration release $190,000 in General Improve-ment Funds earmarked for a new Jacksonville library until he can appeal a ruling from Proctor handed down on Friday.

From the ground up
IN SHORT: The end of school might seem a long way off, but teachers at Cabot High School are already preparing to move into the new 191,015-square-foot high school building as soon as classes let out for summer. [FULL TEXT]

North Pulaski guard Neyshia Ridgeway goes in for a transition layup during the Lady Falcon's victory over White Hall Friday night. The boys lost their seventh AAAA-Southeast game with an 86-65 decision.

Lady Falcons stay in playoff race
IN SHORT: The North Pulaski Lady Falcons continued their mid-season conference winning streak Friday night with a 64-59 win over the White Hall Lady Bull-dogs. After leading the opening quarter, the Lady Falcons fell behind to White Hall by as much as eight points towards the end of the third.

Red Devils run away late against Bombers
IN SHORT: The Jacksonville boys quickly squelched a brief scare last Friday night at last-place Mountain Home. After dominating most of the game, the Bombers cut the Red Devils' double-digit lead to three points just seconds into the final quarter.






Previous Issues

School report badly skewed
Lots of teachers and parents in more than a few of our school districts must have been dismayed to see that some of the poorest instruction in Arkansas was occurring in their schools. Only 17 of Arkansas' 1,116 public schools, for example, were judged to be worse than the Jacksonville Middle School in a performance index crafted by the research team at the new University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform. [FULL TEXT]

Let people vote on ethics
The Jack Abramoff scandal and the associated corruption involving Republican congressmen and White House officials has sent nearly every politician in Washington and many in statehouses across the land scrambling for cover. Everyone wants to stand behind some proposition to regulate the behavior of lobbyists. [FULL TEXT]

Bill Halter's awful idea
A good rule is to beware the politician who promises big, bold new ideas for it is apt to be no more than a promise. Follow the man or woman who actually offers them. [FULL TEXT]

Five-year feud appears over
Mike Abdin, who passed away in 2000, was a successful Jacksonville businessman who left his mark on his community, having long served as an alderman and police commissioner. [FULL TEXT]

Huckabee's plea for help
We here in the first decade of the 21st century have been privy to a sudden revolution in the federal system, made evident again the past two weeks in the catastrophe that is the government's new Medicare drug program. [FULL TEXT]


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