Restaurants going wet
Jacksonville and Sherwood voters on Tuesday made it a lot easier for restaurants to boost revenues and for cities to attract national chains. [FULL TEXT]

State readies Medicaid cuts
Significant changes to the state's Medicaid expansion program proposed by Governor Hutchinson --- including work requirements and a change in eligibility that would remove tens of thousands of Arkansans from the rolls --- were slated to begin Jan. 1. The state is still waiting for federal approval necessary to move ahead. [FULL TEXT]

Medical marijuana
Nearly a year after Arkansas voters narrowly approved legalizing medical marijuana, state regulators have been slow to implement the program. [FULL TEXT]

Revisions advance for conceal carry
The Arkansas State Police is working on changes to concealed carry regulations to enforce the intent of Acts 562 and 859, which the legislature approved earlier this year. [FULL TEXT]

Hot-check resolution

Sherwood and the American Civil Liberties Union have reached an agreement on the city's hot-check court, which handles all hot-check prosecutions for Pulaski County. [FULL TEXT]

JHS ROTC among best
For the first time ever, Jacksonville High School's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program last week received an "Exceeds Standards" rating in its unit evaluation. [FULL TEXT]

Future I-57 needed soon
The state Transportation Department will soon designate Hwy. 67/167 as the future Interstate 57 to the Missouri state line, reported here first, which will not only ease traffic congestion but create an economic boom here and in north Arkansas. [FULL TEXT]

It's Cotton vs. Corker
It's been a tough week for President Trump: His chief of staff, retired Gen. John F. Kelly, did'’t sound as if his job was secure when he said Thursday, "I'm not quitting today…. and I don't think '’m being fired today." [FULL TEXT]

Court: Stop thievery now
Thanks to Mike Wilson's General Improvement Fund lawsuit, $923,086 of taxpayers' money seems headed back from the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District in Lonoke to the state treasury. [FULL TEXT]

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. [FULL TEXT]

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. [FULL TEXT]

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. [FULL TEXT]

Durham's departure

Jacksonville City Administrator Jim Durham stepped down Friday after nearly 40 years of service to the community. He's been Mayor Gary Fletcher's right-hand man since 2009. [FULL TEXT]

Fall festivals coming up

Fall festival season kicks off Saturday when Jacksonville holds its fifth annual Festiville at Dupree Park and Sherwood hosts its 41st annual Sherwood Fest at Sherwood Forest off Maryland Avenue. [FULL TEXT]

Jerry Jones on his knee

That was a dramatic gesture when the visiting Dallas Cowboys and their owner Jerry Jones knelt down with his players and then stood up with their arms locked Monday night before their game against the Arizona Cardinals. [FULL TEXT]

State to lose $6 billion

Americans who may have found no reason to feel indebted to John McCain for enduring five and a half years of mental and physical torture as a captive in an unpopular war may find more palpable reasons to be grateful for the old soldier’s sacrifices next weekend. He may protect the right of 20 to 30 million Americans to get medical care when they need it. [FULL TEXT]

$123 million for schools

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is determined to rebuild its aging schools after decades of neglect when the area was part of the Pulaski County Special School District. The school board has approved a new high school and elementary school, and a plan for a new middle school and elementary school has been presented to the school board to be built when the old high school is demolished. [FULL TEXT]

Single serve before voters

Sherwood and Jacksonville city councils have both set a Nov. 14 election on an ordinance that would allow serving alcohol by the drink in restaurants. [FULL TEXT]

Explaining school funds

If the Pulaski County Special School District is building a nicer new school for the whiter, richer kids in west Little Rock than for the blacker, poorer one in the southeast part of the county, well, that's just not right. [FULL TEXT]

Election rally today

The Jacksonville and Sherwood chambers of commerce today are kicking off an initiative to win public support for a Nov. 14 election to allow liquor sales at restaurants in Gray Township, which banned alcohol more than 50 years ago. [FULL TEXT]

Cutting off GIF grants

Mayor Charles (C.J.) Wax of Rockport, Texas, was in the news over the weekend when Hurricane Harvey made landfall just before 10 p.m. Friday. The Category 4 hurricane slammed into Rockport, a coastal town south of Houston, at 130 miles an hour, destroying much of the resort community, with several blocks completely leveled. [FULL TEXT]

Mayor we knew well

Mayor Charles (C.J.) Wax of Rockport, Texas, was in the news over the weekend when Hurricane Harvey made landfall just before 10 p.m. Friday. The Category 4 hurricane slammed into Rockport, a coastal town south of Houston, at 130 miles an hour, destroying much of the resort community, with several blocks completely leveled. [FULL TEXT]

Feeding kids after school

The Jacksonville community sprang into action Thursday and Friday after learning in these pages that its beloved Boys and Girls Club wasn't serving after-school meals. [FULL TEXT]

Pay heroes living wage

A former Jacksonville firefighter is a quarter of a million dollars richer after he convinced a judge he was wrongfully terminated in 2013. [FULL TEXT]

Two cities plan vote on liquor

Both the Sherwood and Jacksonville city councils last week passed ordinances Thursday asking the Pulaski County Election Commission to give a legal description of the defunct Gray Township, which remains dry and saddles both cities. Officials in both cities want to allow restaurants to serve "alcohol by the drink" everywhere, not just in wet areas and in "private clubs." [FULL TEXT]

Silver lining on state test

Did you see Jacksonville High School’s state test score results? [FULL TEXT]

Promise made, promise kept
Jacksonville high school students will be better prepared for college and it will be more affordable, in some cases possibly even free, thanks to the Jacksonville Promise. [FULL TEXT]

Tracing roots of extremism
White supremacists marched over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., where they held a torchlight parade, carried Nazi banners, quoted Adolf Hitler and gave the Nazi salute. The torches were probably Chinese made and purchased at Pier 1, but they were meant to evoke the nighttime Nuremberg rallies in Germany. More than 135,000 American soldiers died in Nazi-occupied Europe in 1944-45 to free the continent from fascist tyranny. [FULL TEXT]

Monument for Beebe
Beebe could become the first city in Arkansas to erect a monument dedicated to the families of American military service members who died fighting for their country. [FULL TEXT]

Professors' sleight of hand
We have all learned to beware of politicians boasting of magical potions for setting everything right, most recently the governors of Kansas and Louisiana, who promised economic miracles if people elected them and followed their prescriptions of big tax and spending cuts. Their states sank into desperate fiscal crises and they left office with approval ratings approaching single digits and even Republicans declaring good riddance. [FULL TEXT]

How much for sales tax?
Lonoke will vote to double its sales tax to 3 percent on Nov. 14 to pay for $16 million in much-needed repairs to its water and sewer lines and increase funding for the police and fire departments. [FULL TEXT]

Glen Campbell, R.I.P.
Paraphrasing the words from Donnie and Marie, he was a little bit country, he was a little bit rock and roll and Glen Campbell was certainly all entertainer. [FULL TEXT]

Hwy. 89 extension
Almost $200 million in Hwy. 67/167 construction projects are nearing the halfway mark from Jacksonville to Cabot. Although the construction has caused some disruption for commuters, especially with the recent closing of the Main Street exit, the inconvenience is well worth it once construction is completed in a couple of years. [FULL TEXT]

Time to break ties with Russia
President Trump on Wednesday signed the sanctions bill against Russia, which Congress passed almost unanimously the week before. [FULL TEXT]

Cabot offers homeless help
Allen Miller of Central Arkansas Team Care for the Homeless wants to help the homeless in Cabot. [FULL TEXT]

McCain deals blow to repeal
After several tries, the Senate this week could not repeal and replace Obamacare as President Trump said it must six months ago. Voting after midnight Friday, the Senate dramatically rejected a "skinny" or partial repeal after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) turned his thumb down, making his the 51st vote against repeal as he joined two other moderate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. [FULL TEXT]

Austin, Ward grow fastest
Even as population growth has slowed in other north Pulaski and Lonoke county cities and towns, Austin and Ward in recent years have seen their population increase at least 1,000, or 38.6 percent and 26 percent respectively. [FULL TEXT]

Our best to Barbara
Jacksonville Alderman Barbara Mashburn suffered a stroke Monday and, at last report, was in intensive care at North Metro Medical Center, but she's doing well. [FULL TEXT]

PCSSD board risking havoc
Jerry Guess is no longer superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District, and it's a cryin' shame. [FULL TEXT]

Liar, liar --- pants on fire
He’s a liar, he’s a liar --- that seems to be all attorney Alex Gray can say about former Jacksonville Police Chief Geoffrey Herweg. [FULL TEXT]

Newspaper wins again
Talk about irony …
The day before The Leader won best in state for the ninth time in 10 years, a design consultant brought in by the Arkansas Press Association said our paper had too many ribbons on the front page.

Police get new bosses
Jacksonville City Attorney Robert Bamburg has picked up additional duties since the hiring and unhiring of Geoffrey Herweg as the city's police chief. [FULL TEXT]

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

Governing too difficult
Rep. Steve Womack shared his frustrations with the Washington Post this week when he pointed out that not only has the Republican Congress failed to repeal and replace Obamacare as promised during the presidential campaign, but there's not even a federal budget in sight. [FULL TEXT]

Recognition well deserved
As we reported Saturday, the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council has received the much-deserved 2017 Member of the Year Award from the Association of Defense Communities for supporting Little Rock Air Force Base for more than 60 years. [FULL TEXT]

Replacement hits roadblock
Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton remain silent on the newly unveiled health-care bill introduced Thursday in the Senate after much secrecy. Although Cotton helped fashion the controversial bill, he won't say if he supports it, and neither will Boozman, even if hundreds of thousands of Arkansans will lose their health insurance if the bill passes. [FULL TEXT]

Make schools world-class
"World-class" schools are what the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is striving for. With their first year in the history books, how did they do? [FULL TEXT]

Lester name set in stone
Bobby Lester wasn't among the four Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District leaders recognized by the state General Assembly and presented citations by state Rep. Bob Johnson of Jacksonville at the June board meeting. Lester went to the front only to pick up the citation for Chief of Staff Phyllis Stewart, who couldn't attend. [FULL TEXT]

Discipline that's fair, consistent
At first we didn't know what to make of the rather large number of expulsions this past school year. [FULL TEXT]

Millage vote in Sherwood
Residents in the Pulaski County Special School District vote Tuesday to extend its current 40.7 millage rate for 30 more years instead of 17 years. Early voting ends Monday. [FULL TEXT]

They serve and protect
The Arkansas Air National Guard installed new leaders last weekend. We welcome them to the community and salute those who served before them. [FULL TEXT]

Restaurants will benefit
Residents of dry areas in Jacksonville and Sherwood, including Gravel Ridge, will vote this fall to allow restaurants to sell alcohol by the drink --- beer, wine and mixed drink. [FULL TEXT]

District loses key leaders
A retirement party for Tony Wood, superintendent of the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, was held Friday at the Jacksonville Community Center, where former Gov. Mike Beebe saluted the long-time educator for his 45 years of outstanding service. [FULL TEXT]

Progress continues
The $200 million Hwy. 67/167 improvement project from Redmond Road in Jacksonville to Hwy. 5 in Cabot is moving forward, perhaps more slowly than we'd like, but steady progress continues. The massive work will not only improve traffic here but will usher in an economic boom along the highway and beyond. [FULL TEXT]

Kids can eat this summer
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance summer-meal program for kids is underway in Cabot and Beebe, and starts on Thursday in Lonoke and on Monday in Jacksonville. [FULL TEXT]

Memorial Day celebrations
We first celebrated Memorial Day as a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead. Now it honors all fallen military members and the freedom we have because of them. [FULL TEXT]

Turn tassels and toss hats
Graduation season is here.
As spring gives way to summer, hopes are high and celebration is nigh as students from area schools pick up their diplomas en route to the future.

New school in Sherwood
Residents in the Pulaski County Special School District will vote June 13 to extend --- not raise --- the current millage rate for 17 more years. [FULL TEXT]

Farmers markets
Farmers markets have opened for the season in Cabot, Jacksonville, Sherwood and Lonoke. That means plenty of local fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, honey, jams, pickles, pies and lots more.

Col. Brown is in SHAPE
Congratulations to Col. Charles E. Brown Jr., commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, whose next assignment will be as senior assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium. [FULL TEXT]


Jim Johnson left big legacy
Former Jacksonville High School Principal Jim Johnson, 68, passed away April 28 in Rogers, where he was assistant superintendent of secondary education for many years. Johnson then worked for the Arkansas Department of Education, training and consulting educators throughout the state. [FULL TEXT]

What repeal would mean
If you are one of the 25 million Americans, including 800,000 Arkansans, who must worry almost daily about getting medical care and paying for it, this has been a bummer of a week, because your health insurance has been jeopardized. If you need to assign blame, you can start with President Trump and Governor Hutchinson, but there is plenty of censure to go around. [FULL TEXT]

We are your local paper
After years of plummeting circulation and advertising, Gatehouse Media is shutting down five newspapers in central Arkansas, including the Jacksonville Patriot, Sherwood Voice, Maumelle Monitor, Cabot Star Herald and Carlisle Independent, which have lost almost 90 percent of their circulation since these once family-owned businesses were sold to investment groups in the last decade. [FULL TEXT]

New chief applauded
Jacksonville Police Chief Geoffrey "Jeff" Herweg received a standing ovation at the city council meeting Thursday. [FULL TEXT]

Execution, Round 2
Marcel Wayne Williams lived four days longer than Ledell Lee. The two convicted murderers committed terrible crimes in Jacksonville more than 20 years ago. Only Lee, 51, proclaimed his innocence to the end, while Williams, 46, sought a stay of execution only because he said he was too sick to die. [FULL TEXT]

Ledell Lee, serial killer
A serial killer and rapist who picked out his female victims at random more than 20 year ago in Jacksonville was executed at the Cummins Unit just before midnight Thursday. Ledell Lee, 51, convicted of a vicious murder in 1993, was executed by lethal injection after exhausting his appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. [FULL TEXT]

Killers look for reprieve
"April is the cruelest month," T. S. Eliot wrote, perhaps anticipating the great Arkansas morality play in which the state and its political leaders seek to execute eight prisoners before the flowering month ends and one of the government's ill-gotten killing drugs reaches its expiration date. [FULL TEXT]

Preparing for cyber warfare
Twenty airmen graduated last month from the Air National Guard's new cyber-skills validation course at Little Rock Air Force Base. The graduates represent the cutting edge of the Air Force's concerted effort to train and develop future cyber missions. [FULL TEXT]


Cabot to host re-enactment
Here's an important date to put on your community calendar: A huge Civil War re-enactment will be held at Change Point Church, 3525 Hwy. 89 in Cabot, on Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30. [FULL TEXT]


Who will bring back shorthand?
Whatever happened to shorthand? [FULL TEXT]

Assembly-line death penalty
Arkansas and its governor are reaping a whirlwind of nasty publicity around the world for their haste to kill eight condemned men before the secret cache of a narcotic that will help kill them reaches its expiration date. They are to die two a day this month until the last one is dispatched to his grave. [FULL TEXT]

Welcome, new chief
A search committee last week chose Geoffrey Herweg, 53, the deputy chief of the Lovington, N.M., police department, as Jacksonville's next police chief. He will succeed Kenny Boyd, who has been with the department for 29 years, the last three as chief. Boyd announced his retirement earlier this year after serving with distinction in various capacities. [FULL TEXT]

David Solomon, 1916-2017, RIP
Sad to hear that David Solomon, the longtime Helena lawyer and civic leader, passed away last week at his home at the age of 100. Everyone in the Arkansas Delta thought he was a mensch (a Yiddish word for someone of great character and integrity). Mr. Solomon worked for the Helena school board and the hospital pro bono for many years and was a member of the Arkansas Highway Commission, serving as its chairman in 1984-85. [FULL TEXT]

No repeal, replace yet
An inexperienced president and a House speaker who could not count ensured defeat of a signature healthcare bill that Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail would cover everyone for a lot less money and with better features than Obamacare. [FULL TEXT]

Obamacare repeal stuck
The House of Representatives will vote on a Republican health-care bill on Thursday, but passage is uncertain as critics in the president's own party balk at a plan that would hurt the working class and working seniors who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. [FULL TEXT

NLR donates sirens to Ward
Ward residents can feel safer this spring thanks to the generosity of North Little Rock officials. They are donating four tornado sirens to Ward, where a couple of residents told the city council last week they can make the sirens work almost like new. [FULL TEXT]

Sound walls on highway
The state Highway Department is considering placing sound barriers in front of several residential areas along Hwy. 67/167 in Jacksonville as part of a $200 million widening project going toward Cabot. The proposed walls could go up near the freeway between Bart Gray Realty and City Motors, in front of the Pine Meadow trailer park near the air base and elsewhere. [FULL TEXT]

Cotton slams replacement
Nothing could be more telling about the American Health Care Act of 2017, the Republican replacement for the hated Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, than the White Houes’s insistence this week that it NOT be called Trumpcare. [FULL TEXT]

FOI: Letting sunshine in
The 50-year-old Arkansas Freedom of Information Act is under attack from lawmakers representing special interests, with 20 or more bills seeking to amend and curtail it. [FULL TEXT]

Big windfall for military?
Little Rock Air Force Base received its last C-130J Super Hercules on Monday when Maj. Gen. James B. Hecker, 19th Air Force commander, flew the newest version of the durable cargo plane to the air base and handed it over to the 314th Airlift Wing's 62nd Airlift Squadron. [FULL TEXT]

Reforming probation
The state legislature could pass a bill as early as this week that will protect people on probation in district courts from being sexually exploited by their probation officers. [FULL TEXT]

Russian roulette
The American people deserve to know if our nation's chain of command has been compromised by Russian intelligence operatives. [FULL TEXT]

Celebrating job creators
The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce announced at its annual banquet last week that SIG Sauer, the arms manufacturer, will soon open with 150 employees, three times the number of jobs that were originally planned for last year when the plant decided to relocate here. [FULL TEXT]

Guess did it, PCSSD lives
The Pulaski County Special School District, newly released from state control and operating under an elected school board for the first time in five years, is wasting no time in its effort to rebuild its schools and its reputation after years of mismanagement. [FULL TEXT]

Police prevent drug deaths
All Jacksonville police officers now carry kits that can stop people from dying if they are having heroin and opiate-based prescription-drug overdoses. [FULL TEXT]

Consensus on tax cuts
Several state legislators who had been critical of Governor Hutchinson's $50 million tax cut for Arkansas' lowest earners now say they will support the plan. [FULL TEXT]

Base center of excellence
In a recent interview with The Leader, Col. Charles E. Brown, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and of Little Rock Air Force Base, discussed operations at the base and the possibility of more missions at the world's premier C-130 base. [FULL TEXT]

Jacksonville preservation
The Jacksonville Historical District has laid out its best vision yet for its plan to preserve and revitalize the town's original downtown near the railroad tracks on South First and Second streets between East Center and Mulberry streets. [FULL TEXT]

Mike Wilson: Man of Year
It is way past time to revisit the Arkansas General Improvement Fund (aka GIF), the vast political scam run for nearly two decades by the Arkansas legislature at the expense of Arkansas taxpayers. Jacksonville's venerable dragon slayer, Mike Wilson, has been fighting and suing the racket for a more than a dozen years, with mixed success, but this week there was some reward. [FULL TEXT]

Resolutions by the book
Need something different to motivate and push forward resolutions for 2017? [FULL TEXT]

End-of-year reflections
As we do every year's end, we find ourselves in a reflective mood, taking stock of our accomplishments, and maybe a few shortcomings, and looking forward to the year ahead. [FULL TEXT]
Will it snow Christmas?
Will it snow in Arkansas on Christmas Day? [FULL TEXT]

Road work continues
The Arkansas Highway Department this week approved bids for a new interchange for Cabot and widening Hwy. 67/167 from Jacksonville to Cabot totaling about $100 million. They are part of an ambitious Hwy. 67/167 improvement project from Redmond Road in Jacksonville to Hwy. 5 in Cabot costing an estimated $200 million. [FULL TEXT]

Giving makes big difference
Christmas is less than two weeks away. Many people are wrapping up their holiday shopping and preparing to celebrate with family and friends, but it’s a good time to remember the less fortunate and contribute to noteworthy collection drives that make sure people in need have a merry Christmas. [FULL TEXT]

New leader for JNPSD
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board this week picked Bryan Duffie, 46, to lead the district over the next three years, beginning July 1. Duffie, who is now assistant superintendent, was offered the top job by a 6-0 vote with one board member absent. [FULL TEXT]

Time to winterize

What a coincidence. The coldest weather in almost a year hits the state right in the middle of Winter Weather Awareness Week (Dec. 4-9). [FULL TEXT]

Pearl Harbor: Date of Infamy
Dec. 7, 1941.
It was going to be just another Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor, with the rising sun glistening over the ocean's blue and green oily sheen, a mixture of sweet plumeria and diesel awakening a mix of humanity from the military to civilian pipefitters to the Chinese and old and new Hawaiians, sustaining the prophecies of the ancients who had named the island Oahu "the Gathering Place" -- a day like any other Sunday morning.

Christmas charity work

Many Christmas charity drives have begun with the holidays just a few weeks away. [FULL TEXT]

Suits threaten tourism funds

The Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Commission last week balked once again at funding requests from the military museum, boys and girls club and the Jacksonville Historical District. [FULL TEXT]

Thanks be to...
The countless volunteers and generous donors who helped make community Thanksgiving dinners a memorable event for many. [FULL TEXT]

Duffie poised to lead JNPSD
There may be good reason not to hire Bryan Duffie, the current assistant superintendent for support services, as the next Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District superintendent effective July 1, but if so, it is not apparent to us. [FULL TEXT]

Thankful for little things
Just as one small cell atop another small cell forms life, so it is with little things. One little thing atop another little thing is what we call living, and it is those little things that we need to remember and be thankful for this Thanksgiving. [FULL TEXT]

Health care cuts coming
The United States is about to become Russia's best friend and at least a silent ally of Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad, and President-elect Donald Trump plans to build only a little of that wall and over time ship back no more than a couple of million illegal immigrants (the crooks, he says), fewer than President Obama. But none of that is likely to affect little Arkansas very much, but what he does on one of his promises will have huge impact, potentially. [FULL TEXT]

Making your holidays local
There may be no better time to shop locally than for the upcoming holidays. [FULL TEXT]

New street named for firearms plant
In a salute to a large firearms company bringing an ammunition plant to the city, the Jacksonville City Council will vote to rename Commerce Drive to Sig Sauer Drive.

New district turns page
Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Owoh told us once that he didn't want to be moved into the big office when Superintendent Tony Wood retired. Wood said from the git-go he was a short timer and at last week's school board meeting, he resigned effective the end of this school year. [FULL TEXT]

Election review before you vote
Early voting in the general election starts Monday. [FULL TEXT]

North Metro limps forward
Financial and administrative problems continue to hamstring North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville. [FULL TEXT]

Reading FBI's crime statistics
The recent crimes statistics compiled by the FBI had some encouraging news. [FULL TEXT]

More Afghans going AWOL
The disappearance of eight Afghan soldiers from U.S. military installations in September may be the tip of the iceberg, according to Reuters reporter Idrees Ali. [FULL TEXT]

Our military nonpartisan
The men and women in the military appreciate their special status in our society: They make sacrifices every day, which is why they earn the gratitude of the American people. [FULL TEXT]

District chooses new school site
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board voted Monday to buy four acres adjacent to Tolleson Elementary School on Harris Road between General Samuels and Jacksonville Middle School for the site of the district's first new elementary school. [FULL TEXT]

Jacksonville celebrates
Festiville in Jacksonville is from 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. today in Dupree Park. The event will include hot-air balloon rides, live music and performances, a barbecue contest, festival foods, carnival rides, a volleyball tournament, a petting zoo and kids zone and much more. [FULL TEXT]

Arkansans fight against hunger
President John F. Kennedy once said, "The war against hunger is truly mankind's war of liberation." [FULL TEXT]

McNally wears prison stripes
Former Lonoke County Assessor John (Jack) McNally was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison after pleading guilty to lying about his previous federal theft conviction when he filed to run for election in 2010. [FULL TEXT]

They serve and protect
The recent town hall meetings hosted by police departments in Jacksonville and Lonoke look even more impressive following the fatal police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, N.C. [FULL TEXT]

Cabot court near a deal?
Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert and District Judge Joe O'Bryan may be nearing a compromise that would restore probation services to the community. [FULL TEXT]

Police meet with public
Police departments in Jacksonville and Lonoke recently hosted town hall meetings with residents to assure them they're getting outstanding protection while their rights are being protected.


A new field of dreams
Demolition crews at the old middle school in Jacksonville have worked hard in the last couple of weeks to clear the 30-acre site for a new high school near Main Street and Hwy. 67/167. Demolition should be completed in about a month as the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District looks to a fresh start with construction of a new high school and three more elementary schools in the next few years. [FULL TEXT]

Candidate may be disqualified
Folks in Beebe are wondering if city council candidate Joe Morgan may be disqualified from running for office because of a theft conviction. [FULL TEXT]

It's 15 years since 9/11
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared at a town hall meeting Wednesday night designed to display their command of national-security issues and to show voters who would protect them better from another 9/11 attack. [FULL TEXT]

No cash cow in Sherwood
Sherwood's hot-check court saw about 75 defendants in about as many minutes early last Thursday morning. [FULL TEXT]

Let's insure all Americans
Another cascade of headlines last week, mostly on the predictable pages, foreshadowed the doom of Obamacare---the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act---when a new president and Congress assemble in four and a half months. [FULL TEXT]

Amendment challenged
Initiative elections are hallowed but dangerous exercises in the Arkansas democracy because voters must make monumental decisions inside a voting booth based upon little knowledge and often confusing and purposely cloudy descriptions of a proposed law written by an anonymous sponsor. [FULL TEXT]

Shackled with debt
Sherwood is getting unwelcome national attention for its decades-long hot-check court that has brought the city millions in fines over the years but is now facing a court challenge that will definitely change the way the municipality runs the court. [FULL TEXT]

Straight talk
Leader staff writer Rick Kron will moderate a town hall meeting on community relations between the Jacksonville Police Department and residents at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 at the community center. [FULL TEXT]

Remarkable school year
We wish a successful new school year to all area students, teachers and the school administrators who support them. May they focus their efforts on education, not politics, and be ready to tackle the challenges ahead. [FULL TEXT]

Henderson honors Mom
We salute our two outstanding Olympians in Rio de Janeiro, gold-medal winner Jeff Henderson of McAlmont and Lexi Weeks, Cabot's own pole vaulter who did not make it to the finals this week but who will likely return to future Olympics in the years ahead. [FULL TEXT]

Couple leave lasting mark
There's so much bad news these days, it's nice to report something heartwarming for a change. Trustees of the Ethel Hope (Kirk) Carter Trust announced last week the final distribution of the trust worth more than $633,000, which will benefit a Beebe church and cemetery, a church in Cleburne County and Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock. [FULL TEXT]

Judge says no to transfer
It didn't take long for U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. to rule against the state Board of Education, which last month approved the transfer of a Jacksonville High School student to Cabot in violation of the existing desegregation agreement. [FULL TEXT]

Base impact is still strong
Little Rock Air Force Base's economic impact was down $300 million last year, according to a just-released military report. [FULL TEXT]

How to right bad writing
Remember when Typing 101 was offered in junior high and high school? [FULL TEXT]

Pruitt should leave council
Beebe Alderman David Lee Pruitt, 57, this week pleaded guilty to election fraud, a misdemeanor, after he was caught voting twice in the March primary. He voted early at Beebe City Hall, where he returned on Election Day to cast another ballot. [FULL TEXT]

GOP dumps its nominee
When presidential campaigns go bad, they fall apart quickly: Michael Dukakis in his goofy helmet looking out of a tank. President George H.W. Bush checking his watch during a debate with Bill Clinton. John Kerry windsurfing. [FULL TEXT]

Sales tax holiday
Arkansas will hold its annual sales-tax holiday on Saturday and Sunday. [FULL TEXT]

VIP invite for Putin
The big surprise at this week's Democratic convention was seeing several Republicans endorse Hillary Clinton. Retired four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan and is the former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, spoke just before Clinton’s acceptance speech. [FULL TEXT]

KGB thug is still at it
Donald Trump may have had a modest bump in the polls after last week's Republican convention, although Hillary Clinton --- the first woman nominated for president by a major political party --- will likely get a similar boost at the end of her convention. [FULL TEXT]

Convention in disarray
Even after Donald Trump's strong acceptance speech Thursday night, television viewers could not miss the deep divisions inside the Republican Party during this week's often chaotic convention. [FULL TEXT]

Why not lift from Nancy?
The Republican convention in Cleveland has received less than stellar reviews so far this week. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) putting down a rebellion on the floor Monday night to open up the nomination to other candidates was not something we're used to seeing at a GOP convention. Donald Trump easily won his party's nomination on Tuesday night. [FULL TEXT]

Another act of terrorism
Its becoming an almost weekly routine for us. Commenting on the latest terrorist attack: San Bernardino, Charleston, S.C., Orlando, Dallas, where 10 days ago a sniper shot and killed five police officers. Exactly a week later, at least 84 revelers enjoying the Bastille Day fireworks in France were run down and killed by a maniac in a rented 20-ton truck. [FULL TEXT]

District readies for its first year
Thirty days and counting until the doors of Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District open for the first time---an amazing timeline and trajectory since U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall approved a desegregation settlement agreement in early 2014 that allowed for the new district. [FULL TEXT]

Keep guns from kids!
The Beebe police have delayed releasing information about the shooting death of an 18-month-old infant Friday morning, probably by one of the children who were left alone to watch the baby while their parents were away. [FULL TEXT]

Planes worth $3.4 billion
Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, commander of Air Mobility Command, flew last month from the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, Ga., and delivered the last of 28 C-130Js assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base. [FULL TEXT]

Nightmare in Dallas
The moment we heard the terrible news Thursday night from Dallas, it was obvious that at least one experienced shooter was responsible for this latest domestic terrorist attack at a Black Lives Matter march that killed five officers and injured seven. President Obama called the murders "vicious and despicable." [FULL TEXT]

Our readers help us win
For the eighth time in nine years, The Leader has been named "Best of the Best." [FULL TEXT]

Department to the rescue
Southbound traffic on I-440 headed toward the Arkansas River Bridge was backed up for miles early Wednesday afternoon. Traffic stopped for at least 15 minutes and then started to crawl at a snail’s pace. If you were headed for the airport trying to catch a flight, you were probably out of luck. [FULL TEXT]

North Metro heads south
North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville is in turmoil after two of its top administrators resigned when its Louisiana owners reinstated a doctor who was believed to be drunk on the job.

Our election and Brexit
The reaction, in America and around the world, to British voters' narrow decision Thursday to depart the European Union befits the England of Shakespeare "this sceptered isle, this earth of majesty, this happy breed of men, this blessed plot, this realm, this England!", not the diminished power that is Great Britain today. [FULL TEXT]

Let's save that brain
A new summer series, "Brain Dead," is being advertised on television about the brains of our Washington politicians being devoured by bugs. [FULL TEXT]

Court security costs money
The Lonoke County Office of Emergency Services will be hosting an active-shooter class from 9 a.m. to noon today at the Lonoke County Annex. County employees, business owners and civilians are encouraged to attend. [FULL TEXT]

Bowling keeps veteran active
If you want to know the secret to longevity, watch 97-year-old Robert Hall bowl Mondays at Allfam Bowling in Cabot. [FULL TEXT]

The sun also rises
At the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board meeting Monday night, the board finalized the sale of $15.3 million in bonds to build a new high school. [FULL TEXT]

Libertarians a third party
The Arkansas Libertarian Party is fielding several candidates in local and statewide races, including the U.S. Senate and Congress. Libertarians are also competing for two state Senate seats, nine state House seats and seven county positions across Arkansas. [FULL TEXT]

Probation corrupted
Lonoke and Beebe have stopped using a contracted probation supervisor who was arrested for allegedly trying to coerce sex from a woman he had previously overseen as a probationer. Cabot, though, has yet to sever ties with the man's company. [FULL TEXT]

How emails shifted funds
Former Rep. Mike Wilson (D-Jacksonville) has uncovered some incriminating emails from area legislators in his lawsuit against so-called General Improvement Funds that lawmakers funnel to their communities through local agencies. He says they're laundering money to circumvent the state Constitution. [FULL TEXT]

Salute to our graduates
In the last couple of weeks, 1,514 young people, including 323 with honors, received diplomas from seven high schools here and began new chapters in their lives. In all, they earned $15.48 million in college-scholarship offers. [FULL TEXT]

Sports, water park opens
The Cabot Sports and Aquatic Complex held ribbon cutting ceremonies Saturday morning, although the water park opens officially to the public on Thursday. [FULL TEXT]

Zero tolerance for meth houses
Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert and the city council last week heard a concerned resident complain about an alleged meth house on Barnwell Drive near Central Elementary School. The mayor reassured her the city will not tolerate drug activity anywhere, especially near schools. [FULL TEXT]

Tax needed for our roads
In his weekly column and radio address yesterday, Governor Hutchinson drew an analogy to the first legislative session in the new state Capitol 105 years ago to suggest that his little weekend special session also was truly historic. [FULL TEXT]

Dependable water source
Some of us here remember the Lonoke White Public Water Authority project finally getting off the ground back in the 1990s when area officials had a goal of providing water to the area from Greers Ferry. [FULL TEXT]

State flunks report cards
Do you know what the recent round of state report cards on schools showed? They showed that Arkansas should get an F --- not education --- but the state for ignorance. [FULL TEXT]

How to fix our roads
Leadership sometimes surfaces in the most shocking places, which is to say, in Arkansas, where it should surface. That would be in the lawmaking branch of government. Four senators---all Republicans!---are proposing that the legislature raise excise taxes on motor fuels when they convene next week in a special session that is intended to raise a little cash to repair the state's deteriorating streets and roads. [FULL TEXT]

A symbol to build on
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board this week chose the Titans as the mascot for all of the new district's schools. [FULL TEXT]

Guests of honor are turned away
Twenty honor graduates from North Pulaski High School were locked out of a banquet hosted by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce on Monday. It has angered and embarrassed many people in the community. [FULL TEXT]

Sherwood's new library
The design of Sherwood's new $5.8 million, 14,000-square-foot library was unveiled last week. Taggart Architects of North Little Rock has conceived a modern, nature-oriented facility that the community deserves. [FULL TEXT]

Thanks, Lt. Dan
Gary Sinise, the actor best known for his Oscar-nominated performance in "Forrest Gump," performed Friday with his Lt. Dan Band at Little Rock Air Force Base as part of a USO tour.

Fight against Zika virus
Who would have thought mosquitoes would become such bearers of illness --- malaria, chikungunya, West Nile virus and now Zika --- threatening entire populations including the unborn?

Meaningful new mascot
A public hearing was held last week to discuss ideas for a new mascot for Jacksonville High School. Residents made clear they want a new look and a fresh start for the new Jacksonville High School, which could cost as much as $60 million and will be built at the old middle school site. [FULL TEXT]

Foolish tactics in legislature
Gov. Hutchinson and the bipartisan leadership of the legislature earned no style points with the manner in which they saved Obamacare's big expansion of health coverage in Arkansas, but a mere expression of gratitude for their cunning should suffice. [FULL TEXT]

Farrer goes the distance
Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) has seen the light: Farrer, who previously opposed expanding Medicaid for 265,000 poor Arkansans, now says he will vote for Arkansas Works, the governor's version of the so-called private option. [FULL TEXT]

Arkansas held hostage
The Arkansas legislature will return to the capital today for what was supposed to be 30 days of routine roll calls to rubberstamp budget acts. Now, thanks to two disparate gentlemen---Barack Obama and Asa Hutchinson---it looms as the most momentous legislative session since the state's historic racial crisis 60 years ago. [FULL TEXT]

Merle Haggard, 1937-2016
Like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard was clearly a country singer, but his songs transcended across all lines, across all levels of America. It would be hard to find someone who didn't know where an Okie came from…Muskogee, of course. [FULL TEXT]

Much ado about little
Today's vaunted special session of the Arkansas General Assembly is looking more and more like much ado about very little. Gov. Hutchinson yesterday dropped his ballyhooed managed-care act from the call for the session, which is supposed to consume three or four days this week. [FULL TEXT]

40 years after deadly disaster
A devastating tornado destroyed much of Cabot 40 years ago yesterday. The F3 twister ripped through town a little after 3 p.m. March 29, 1976. [FULL TEXT]

It's not kids' play
The other day, I was waiting in a doctor's office -- a required pastime of mine lately -- and this wait got so long that I finally had to look at those outdated magazines on the waiting room table.


Do not let our kids fail
About 45 percent of Arkansas' elementary school pupils are failing, according to the state's annual test, and the number is much worse in Pulaski County. [FULL TEXT]

Billionaires vs. Trump
The Republican establishment and the party's wealthy donors are still hoping they can deny Donald Trump the presidential nomination. But Trump gets millions of dollars worth of free advertising with his telephone interviews on just about every news program on television almost around the clock seven days a week. [FULL TEXT]

Panthers' win earns respect
Congratulations again to the Cabot Panthers for their stunning run to the Class 7A state championship last weekend. Their play in the championship win over Bentonville and senior sensation Malik Monk was inspiring and proved once again that defense wins championships. [FULL TEXT]

Hometown boy runs for Senate
After a long day on the campaign trail, Conner Eldridge, who's running against Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas), dropped by the paper Tuesday night to visit with the newsroom staff and meet with the nightshift workers as they prepared the paper for printing and delivery. The mailroom and pressmen aren't used to having Senate candidates drop by, but Eldridge was in his element, shaking hands and making conversation like a local. [FULL TEXT]

Runoff voting is underway
Early voting is underway for three runoffs in Lonoke County and will continue through Friday and Monday with Election Day on Tuesday. [FULL TEXT]

Districts free at last
The state Board of Education announced this week that it will release the Pulaski County Special School District from state supervision after five roller-coaster years. Patrons in PCSSD, including Sherwood, will elect their own school board later this year in hopes of rebuilding the district's depleted resources following the departure of Jacksonville and much of north Pulaski County, where residents recently passed a millage increase that will pay for new schools and other improvements. [FULL TEXT]

Welcome, Judge Bailey
Judge Rita Bailey was elected last week to preside over the newly formed Jacksonville-Maumelle District Court. Having easily defeated Democratic state Sen. David Johnson from Little Rock, she will take over in January from Judge Robert Batton, who is retiring after almost 40 years on the bench. [FULL TEXT]

Coroner's race is complicated
The Lonoke County coroner’s race last week taught a civics lesson to even the savviest residents and political observers. [FULL TEXT]

Debate below the belt
We thought we had seen everything in the wildest presidential debates ever seen or heard. Then came the last two Republican debates and the great dispute over the size of the candidates' sexual organs. Now we hope we never see the likes of them again.

Asa wins primary
On the day after Arkansas' historically early party primaries and election, Gov. Hutchinson sort of claimed victory. Although his name was not on the ballot, he said the election---at least the Republican segment of it---was indeed a referendum on Asa Hutchinson. He had performed the rare expedient of openly endorsing seven candidates for the legislature in his own party's primary, which we do not recall having happened in modern times. He bragged that five of them won, including state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) and Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock).

Big winners on Tuesday
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continued their march across the South on Super Tuesday toward to their parties' nomination after also winning big recently in South Carolina. They easily won in Arkansas, while racking up impressive numbers in most of the contested races in a dozen states yesterday. [FULL TEXT]

Primary day on Tuesday
Tuesday is Election Day in Arkansas---two party primaries and a mini-general election rolled into one. We are voting now instead of the spring or summer for the Democratic and Republican primaries and November for part of the general election because Gov. Hutchinson and the legislature last spring thought the most important thing for Arkansas was the political career of former Arkansan Mike Huckabee, not the convenience of voters or tradition. Huckabee thought he needed the near-certain early victory in Arkansas to propel his campaign for president. So, although it would interfere with the legislative calendar and the normal rhythms of governance, all the elections that could be moved were advanced to the same wintry day. [FULL TEXT]

Choices for Supreme Court
Justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court---indeed, all judges---are supposed to be above partisanship and altogether inconsiderate of politics and public opinion, but voters will chose two of the seven Supreme Court members at the party primaries Tuesday instead of the general election this November. The choices could not be more important, although the immense money spent and the dark strategies used in the campaigns seem to leave confused voters no obviously sensible choices. We will try to make some sense of the chaos created by the large dumps of money into the campaigns by "independent" and largely anonymous groups outside the state. [FULL TEXT]

Telling it like it is (sort of)
News by its nature is mostly distressing, but you still have to pity poor Asa Hutchinson, who gets a double or triple dose of bad tidings each morning when he snatches up the public prints from the Mansion porch. The paper is full of stories about legislative races around the state, each one detailing how one or sometimes both Republican candidates for a legislative seat are denouncing "the private option" and promising to kill it if the voters will only install them in office next year. [FULL TEXT]

This week's millage vote
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District millage increase passed with just a little over 600 votes --- far from a landslide many predicted, but still at a comfortable margin of 55-45 percent. That’s considered a landslide in today's political elections. A 65 percent plurality would be have been better --- after all, residents voted 95 percent in favor of separating from the Pulaski County Special School District in 2014 --- but the anti-tax sentiment out in Bayou Meto this week was huge. [FULL TEXT]

A big win for district
Jacksonville-area residents voted Tuesday to raise their property taxes to benefit their new school district, showing once again their commitment to improving the quality of education and building new campuses, something the Pulaski County Special School District refused to do for decades. [FULL TEXT]

Why you should support millage
Here’s what happens if the 7.6-mill increase in property taxes on the ballot passes:
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, completely on its own for the first time for the 2016-2017 school year, will begin construction on the first new public school buildings in the area in nearly 40 years---a high school and an elementary---the best remaining building will be remodeled as a middle school and the four other elementary schools will each get a new multipurpose building.

Millage election to decide future
Jacksonville-area residents are about to decide the future of their community as they vote on a proposed millage increase for their new school district. Election Day is Tuesday, but early voting is underway. [FULL TEXT]

North Belt alternative
Area mayors have the support of Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) for an alternate route to replace the North Belt Loop, the now-abandoned plan to build a freeway from the Jacksonville bean fields to I-40 at Crystal Hill Road. [FULL TEXT]

Time to build for a new era
Rebuilding in the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District has to start now. [FULL TEXT]

SIG Sauer's new home
The area's economy got a needed boost last week when Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that SIG Sauer will open an ammunations plant in Jacksonville and Remington Arms will expand its Lonoke factory. [FULL TEXT]

Custodian passes away
Kenneth L. King, 60, of North Little Rock passed away on Jan. 16. He was a big, quiet fellow who kept the Jacksonville post office clean for more than 25 years. [FULL TEXT]

Rebuilding our schools
Support for the Feb. 9 millage vote in the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is building, with early voting set to begin Tuesday. [FULL TEXT]

Lt. Adams, RIP, fallen firefighter
The brotherhood of first responders is mourning the loss of one of their own. [FULL TEXT]

Bumpers' legacy (V)
Dale Bumpers' first legislative victory as senator was passage of a law in 1975 letting driver make right turns on red lights if traffic was clear. The nation was in the midst of an energy crisis and he said drivers would save millions of gallons of gas a year if they did not have to idle at corners where the traffic was light. [FULL TEXT]

Bumpers' legacy (IV)
In 1974, Dale Bumpers, who died on New Year's Day at the age of 90, talked to some friends about running for president in 1976. His friend Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia, made that race and won. But on the Saturday deadline he set for himself to make a decision about whether to run for a third two-year term, which would position him to run for president in 1976, or to run for the Senate against Sen. William Fulbright, he decided to run for the Senate. [FULL TEXT]

Bumpers' legacy (III)
Dale Bumpers, who died on New Year's Day at the age of 90, toyed with running for governor in 1968. His father-in-law, H. E. "Babe" Flanagan, walked into his house one morning and woke him and Betty up. [FULL TEXT]

Bumpers' legacy (II)
Former Governor and Senator Dale Bumpers, who passed away on New Year’s Day at the age of 90, was born Aug. 12, 1925, at Charleston, the county seat of southern Franklin County.

Bumpers' legacy (I)
Dale Bumpers, whom a poll of historians and political scientists in 1998 ranked as Arkansas' only great governor of the 20th century and who served for nearly a quarter of a century in the U.S. Senate, died Friday night at his home at Little Rock. [FULL TEXT]

New Year's resolutions
Happy New Year to our readers and the communities The Leader covers. May 2016 be fortunate and filled with blessings, good health and sustenance. We've been reflecting on the big stories that kept us occupied in 2015 so we thought we'd offer a few New Year's resolutions and goals for our hometowns. [FULL TEXT]

The season for giving
Two generous gifts brightened Christmas for youngsters in the area. The Defense Department has awarded $250,000 to the Jacksonville Lighthouse charter schools to improve educational opportunities for students at K-12 school on North First Street and the middle school Flightline Academy on the air base. [FULL TEXT]

Body cameras for our police
State Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) presented a $5,000 check to the Jacksonville Police Department at a recent city council meeting. [FULL TEXT]

Lives they lived (RIP)
Several notable deaths have appeared in the obituary pages just before the holidays, including the passing of distinguished local veterans who served their country with distinction. We had the fortune to know many of them. They were unpretentious elderly gentlemen who never bragged about their accomplishments. [FULL TEXT]

Let's not cut local funding
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District officials know that a new high school will have to make a strong statement architecturally, as well as academically, in order to make the city's school system first rate. [FULL TEXT]

School plan impressive
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District officials know that a new high school will have to make a strong statement architecturally, as well as academically, in order to make the city's school system first rate. [FULL TEXT]

Seeing what C's mean
When did a "C" become OK on a report card? [FULL TEXT]

Prison reform close to home
A halfway house may be coming near you if you live in Lonoke County. [FULL TEXT]

Arkansas says no to refugees
Gov. Hutchinson's announcement Monday that Syrian refugees are not welcome here came as no surprise after Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris and the disclosure that at least one of the attackers sneaked in from Syria with a wave of refugees fleeing the Assad regime. [FULL TEXT]

Candidates get company
Don't call Arkansas a one-party state. There will be several primary contests March 1 between establishment Republicans and Tea Party candidates, as well as Democrats who will then face off with Republicans in November. [FULL TEXT]

Can't stand heat, blame the media
Mike Huckabee and Gov. Chris Christie found themselves relegated to the undercard at last night's Republican debate on Fox Business News, dealing a blow to their campaigns. Don't be surprised if both candidates drop out before the end of the month. [FULL TEXT]


Welcome, Judge Bailey
Judge Rita Bailey was elected last week to preside over the newly formed Jacksonville-Maumelle District Court. Having easily defeated Democratic state Sen. David Johnson from Little Rock, she will take over in January from Judge Robert Batton, who is retiring after almost 40 years on the bench. [FULL TEXT]


Good choice for school site
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School board on Monday went along with Mayor Gary Fletcher's proposal to build a new high school on the site of the old middle schools near Hwy. 67/167, which the mayor endorsed Saturday in The Leader. The board also authorized a 7.6-mill property tax increase to help pay for the new district's building program, calling for a Feb. 9 special election on that increase, approved the proposed long-range facilities plan and will apply for state financial help through the facilities building partnership program. [FULL TEXT]

Areas revisit wet-dry laws
The Lonoke County Quorum Court and Jacksonville officials in separate undertakings are hoping to do away with local alcohol restrictions that prohibit sales in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, except with a private-club license. And liquor stores are banned entirely. [FULL TEXT]

State needing organ donors
Kristy and Rodney Cotillier of Cabot got to listen to their son's heart earlier this month. Their 16-year-old son was an organ donor, and his heart has given new life to a 20-year-old in Iowa.

New group encouraging
The Downtown Jacksonville Business Association held its first meeting in August. Since then, it has quickly made its mark on the community by providing a venue for local business owners and residents to discuss ways to improve the city's economic prospects and the community overall. [FULL TEXT]

Expansion helps state
Here's some news that should cheer Gov. Hutchinson and the Republican lawmakers who designed the private-option plan for implementing the Medicaid portion of Obamacare, but it will not please their friends in any of our surrounding states. The Kaiser Family Foundation, the national health-care research group, reported that state spending on all Medicaid programs increased twice as fast in the 21 states that did not expand Medicaid to poor adults as it did in the other 29 states, including Arkansas, that did. [FULL TEXT]

Plan to save North Metro
Rock Bordelon, chief executive officer of Allegiance Health Management, claims he and his company are the saviors of North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville. But it looks more like a bull turned loose in a fine china shop to deal with a mouse problem. [FULL TEXT]

Making kids look good
Appearances are everything, right? So, if your kids don't pass the test, just lower the scale to show that they passed. Everyone is happy --- the kids, their parents, the teachers, school administrators and state officials, who can proclaim, after all, that their schools are preparing children for college and good careers. [FULL TEXT]

Words change
Kidnapping is a serious offense, and it's not just the taking of people. Kidnapping words and holding them until the original meaning has been squeezed out of them is becoming more and more commonplace. [FULL TEXT]

Supporting new district
We share your excitement --- the opportunity to grow Jacksonville by transforming Jacksonville-North Pulaski into a world-class, destination school district. [FULL TEXT]

Anniversary for air base
The Leader's special section in today’s newspaper commemorating the 60th anniversary of Little Rock Air Force Base tells the history, mostly in photos, of one of the premier military installations in the country. [FULL TEXT]

Our man in Havana
It does not match President Nixon’s opening to communist China in 1972 for boldness and certainly not for historical significance, but Governor Asa Hutchinson's visit to the little neighboring communist state of Cuba is noteworthy because, well, because he didn’t need to do it but he did it anyway. [FULL TEXT]

Foster care needs you!
Arkansas' foster-care system needs our help, and that has never been more painfully obvious as when Michelle Hood spoke to the Jacksonville and North Little Rock Sertoma Clubs during a combined meeting last week at Southern Oaks Country Club. [FULL TEXT]

Lonoke County Fair takes GOP straw poll
One of the more interesting sideshows at the Lonoke County Fair last week was a straw poll by the local Republican Party committee asking fairgoers about their preferred presidential candidates. [FULL TEXT]

The future of Asacare
Confusion and indecision rarely serve the public interest, but they can be useful for a government official in the throes of a terrible political dilemma. So it is for Gov. Hutchinson, who must somehow persuade quarrelsome members of his own party to accept a program they viscerally hate. You know what that is---Obamacare and particularly the giant part of it that has insured medical care for 250,000 Arkansans for much of the past two years. [FULL TEXT]

Sore spots for JNPSD
It’s inevitable, this divergence of interests among groups in the new school district. [FULL TEXT]

North Metro heads south
North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville is in turmoil after two of its top administrators resigned when its Louisiana owners reinstated a doctor who was believed to be drunk on the job.

School board gets voted in
Congratulations and welcome to the seven new and returning Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board members elected last night. They succeed the interim school board that was appointed after voters last year approved the split from the Pulaski County Special School District. [FULL TEXT]

More C-130s from Keesler
Second District Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) wants to bring all 10 C-130Js at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi to Little Rock Air Force Base, saving taxpayers $60 million to $100 million over five years. [FULL TEXT]

Saving Jacksonville
A new group called the Downtown Jack-sonville Business Association recently held its first meeting. Members include several Jacksonville business owners and concerned residents who want to improve the appeal of downtown, which has lost several shops and restaurants to areas closer to Hwy. 67/167. [FULL TEXT]

Long road for schools
Not only are facilities substandard in Jacksonville and the Pulaski County Special School District school district, so is academic performance at nearly 25 percent of the schools. [FULL TEXT]

A good choice for high court
You expect governors to make political appointments whenever there is a vacancy in the electoral establishment, even when the vacancy is in the judicial branch, where independence from politics is a foundational principle. Just like his predecessors, Gov. Asa Hutchinson took the political route in his first six months in office, but not last week when he was faced with the task of replacing the venerable Chief Justice Jim Hannah, whose grave health problems forced his resignation. [FULL TEXT]

How Asa can fix it
We must give Gov. Hutchinson credit for searching high and low for a way to bring recalcitrant legislators in his party along for the ride to provide everyone, including the poorest Arkansans, good medical care when they get sick. [FULL TEXT]

JNP District gets warned
Saying the districts aren't making satisfactory progress in achieving unitary status, U.S. District Judge Price Marshall on Thursday ordered the Pulaski County Special School District, Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District and the Joshua Intervenors to meet monthly to work out specifics of school facilities plans and report back to him in December.

New library instant hit
Cabot opened its new $2.6 million public library on West Main Street on Monday. The spacious modern design has 24,000 square feet, six times the size of the old Arlene Cherry Library.

Schools set to reopen
It's back-to-school time!
But it's more than just new clothes, notebook paper and a pack of pencils.

Metrotrends notes growth
Jacksonville was once the fastest-growing community in the area, but that was before its schools were entangled in an important, if debilitating, desegregation agreement. [FULL TEXT]

Former sergeant needs your help
Harold "Hutch" Hutchison –– a local Mason and master sergeant retired from 24 years in the Air Force –– was doing what he does, helping people, when tragedy struck. [FULL TEXT]

Dog gone it, here to stay
Almost all pet owners understand the importance of searching for their next pet. Whether it's finding the right breed or visiting the local shelters, hoping to save the life of the perfect animal, finding the right pet is an endeavor most people have undertaken at some point. But, sometimes, pets find their owners. [FULL TEXT]

Alimony check from PCSSD
An agreement reached Monday between the new Jacksonville school district and the Pulaski County Special School District is a bargain by any measure and should secure the city's fledgling school system while it gets its footing. [FULL TEXT]

Jacksonville gets its turn
For the first time in a long time, Jacksonville is growing faster than its neighboring communities of Sherwood and Cabot. [FULL TEXT]

New district fears lawsuits
Keep your friends close, but your adversaries closer---going forward, that needs to be the motto of the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board and administrators, or its detachment from the Pulaski County Special School District could slip into another expensive, long-running legal quagmire. [FULL TEXT]

The mayor vs. ex-police chief
(This Leader editorial from Sept. 10, 2014, placed first in the Arkansas Press Association's Better Newspaper contest for large weeklies.)
The Jacksonville mayoral race is heating up, with former Police Chief Gary Sipes gaining momentum and laying out several goals for the city if he is elected.

Teachers' pay
The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District's school board approved a salary schedule Tuesday that would cut the pay of some veteran teachers by as much as 20 percent and reduce their benefits by half. That's all the board, administration and consultants are sure they can afford. [FULL TEXT]

Save Ward library
Ward could lose its little library at the end of the year if the city does not come up with funds for a librarian. The Lonoke-Prairie County Regional System has lost $35,000 in funding after the state legislature cut $1 million in aid to Arkansas libraries. [FULL TEXT]

Tony Wood gets to work
As superintendent of the newly formed Jacksonville-North Pulaski County School District, Tony Wood has taken on the biggest challenge of his career. He took over for Bobby Lester last week, having previously been Searcy's superintendent and education commissioner under former Gov. Mike Beebe. [FULL TEXT]

Do we need a high court?
You may or may not care about the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on several monumental issues, from legalizing same-sex marriage to upholding Obamacare, but at least the highest court in the land made cogent arguments in those landmark cases.[FULL TEXT]

High court makes two bold decisions
Sometimes judging is easy, a matter of simply applying common sense to political disputes about the law. Other times it could not be harder, such as when judges must decide whether to apply great constitutional principles of law like equality to a society still much beholden to ancient prejudices and mores.[FULL TEXT]

Market price or fixed deal

Sometime soon, after hearings and some pondering, the state Public Service Commission will give Entergy Corporation the go-ahead to raise the monthly electricity bills of homeowners, businesses and large industries on the company's distribution system in Arkansas.[FULL TEXT]

Charleston and the past

A boyish white supremacist's slaughter of nine black worshipers at a Charleston, S. C., church reminds us again that, much as we might wish it were not so, the past in this country is still not past. It will never be past until we have fully embraced it. [FULL TEXT]

Hungry seniors
There's been a lot of buzz about senior hunger in Arkansas. The state has won --- for the third year in a row --- the dubious honor of being No. 1 in the nation for hunger among seniors.

Fireworks ban

The Cabot City Council voted Monday to keep the city's ban on fireworks after hearing from residents who opposed the proposal, which would have allowed fireworks for a few days around July 4th and on New Year's Eve. [FULL TEXT]

Standardized flip-flop-flip
The state might have wasted nearly three months of students', teachers' and principals' time this past school year administrating the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test. [FULL TEXT]

Honoring our nurses
National Nurses Week has been observed in some form since 1954 and in 1991 the American Nurses Association board of directors expanded the well-deserved recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration every year. [FULL TEXT]

Flix on the Bricks pure movie magic
The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce's new outdoor movie program called Flix on the Bricks at the Nixon Library pavilion started on Friday and attracted more than 60 people to see "Rio."

Teachers face layoffs

The Arkansas Department of Education approved a plan to lay off all the teachers in Jacksonville next year as the city completes its separation from the Pulaski County Special School District and the new Jacksonville district. [FULL TEXT]

Chambers closes

Chambers Grill, a long-time Jacksonville fixture in the pharmacy that anchored it, Chambers Drugs, closed yesterday. It was a favorite spot of regulars for years for grilled-cheese sandwiches served with pickles and tasty hamburgers served with their signature French fries. [FULL TEXT]

North Metro still struggles

North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville quietly fired its chief executive officer recently and has not yet announced who will be its next leader. [FULL TEXT]

Class of 2015 says farewell

Area high schools have wrapped up graduation season, sending young people on to further their educations in college, technical-training programs and into adulthood. [FULL TEXT]

Whit Davis gets cold shoulder

Whit Davis Lumber Plus is set to open a beautiful new hardware store on Brockington Road in Sherwood. But the city council is not happy about it. [FULL TEXT]

Socializing industries

A conservative governor and a conservative legislature in a conservative state that ranks as one of the poorest in the nation are about to commit a big lump of taxpayer money to support the national military budget and fatten the profits of one the biggest, richest corporations in the world. Does that make sense? Does it pass the smell test? [FULL TEXT]

Jack McNally fraud, thief

Jack McNally, the disgraced former Lonoke County assessor, was arrested for fraud last week after a lengthy investigation that began long before last May's Republican primary in which he was defeated by Jerrell Maxwell after two terms. [FULL TEXT]

Fireworks set fuse in Cabot

The Cabot City Council is considering lifting the city's ban on fireworks, which would make official what has long been known: Police officers have stopped responding to every complaint about bottle rockets. [FULL TEXT]

Col. Rhatigan, farewell friend

Col. Patrick Rhatigan will step down later this month as commander of the 19th Airlift Wing and retire from the Air Force after 22 years of outstanding service to our nation. [FULL TEXT]

PCSSD needs a millage hike

This much is certain. We should always vote. We should always vote in our own best interest, though sometimes we are confused or misled. [FULL TEXT]

State flunks report cards

Schools give students report cards, so the idea of the state giving schools a report card makes sense. [FULL TEXT]

New district fields all stars

Tony Wood, Jacksonville-North Pulaski's superintendent-select, is due to take over those duties for the fledgling district July 1 from hometown hero Bobby Lester, and it's hard to imagine anyone better qualified for the job. [FULL TEXT]

Report cards a mixed bag

In the state's efforts to give parents a simple way of seeing how their schools are doing, it has created an often contradictory, hard-to-understand report card that doesn't show how the state decided on the grade for each school. [FULL TEXT]

Wood and his faculty
Former Arkansas education commissioner Tony Wood is now, or will be once the contracts are signed, the first official Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District superintendent, succeeding the interim superintendent, Bobby Lester, who’ll keep the job through June. [FULL TEXT]

Why districts look to Cabot

The Van Buren School Board voted unanimously last week to hire Cabot School District deputy superintendent Harold Jeffcoat as the new superintendent of the historic community in western Arkansas. [FULL TEXT]

PACE helps small firms

Local businesses have a friend in Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.
Hyde is seeking support of area mayors and the quorum court for an initiative to help businesses finance upgrades in their electrical and water systems, which will save companies money and improve the environment.

Educators young, old

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski County School District may hire a superintendent who is nearing retirement age. Meanwhile, it's been suggested that the district will fire aging teachers in favor of establishing a young and innovative faculty. [FULL TEXT]

Base opens new center

Little Rock Air Force Base last week celebrated the grand opening of the Walters Community Support Center, a multi-purpose building that will serve the needs airmen and their families for generations. [FULL TEXT]

Asa saves us from disaster
Gov. Hutchinson's learning curve in his first 80 days has been both steep and gradual, but either way he has demonstrated a remarkable ability to finesse his way out of a mess, even one of his own creation. On the last day of the legislative session he executed a complete about-face and killed a bill permitting businesses to discriminate against sexual minorities that only four days earlier he had earnestly sought. Everyone seemed to cheer. [FULL TEXT]

District says it will be fair

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is not quite off the ground yet --- it’s still a two-person operation with a couple of part-timers and an interim school board --- but teachers are concerned about future pay and even if they'll have a job once the district completes its separation from the Pulaski County Special School District. [FULL TEXT]

Broken glass still lies in parking lot

Someone’s sideview mirror must have broken during a visit to the Jacksonville post office during the ice storm early last month. [FULL TEXT]

Districts' split turns messy

The separation between the Pulaski County Special School District and the new Jacksonville district is much like a divorce, albeit a somewhat friendly one. [FULL TEXT]

Cabot board sounds alarm

The Cabot School Board last week released an open letter criticizing proposed legislation that could hurt the district. The Leader ran an article Saturday under the headline, "Board warns on state cuts." The school board is worried that more open-enrollment charter schools and more taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools will drain aid for public education. [FULL TEXT]

French lessons on the air base

Freshman Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) visited Little Rock Air Force Base last week and warned about tough times ahead for the military as spending cuts --- or sequestration in government jargon --- could hit our base with reduction in personnel and airplanes. [FULL TEXT]

Give district all its money

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is completing its separation from the Pulaski County Special School District on schedule. An interim school board is in place, and school board elections will be held in September. The new district should become completely independent during the 2016-17 school year. [FULL TEXT]

Big potholes plague area

How bad are the potholes right now?
"I've driven or been driven in Newton County, Belize, Mexico, Greece and Kathmandu, and the potholes on Hwy. 67/167 at Jacksonville are probably the worst I've seen," Leader senior staff writer John Hofheimer said.

Petitioners get big break

Although the Jacksonville and Sherwood wet-dry campaigns did not get enough signatures to get their initiative on the ballot this spring, they got a boost last week in the legislature, which passed a bill that requires signatures from far fewer registered voters to put the measure before voters. [FULL TEXT]

Re-homing harms kids

We had heard about "re-homing" children, mainly from a Reuters investigation two years ago about Americans who adopted children from overseas and then used the Internet to dump them, sometimes to predators, when the kids proved to be troublesome. But we were shocked to learn that trafficking in vulnerable children happens right here in Arkansas, apparently legally, with the tragic results you would expect. [FULL TEXT]

More funds for air base

"Sequestration is the dark cloud up ahead, and it could affect us in readiness," Col. Patrick Rhatigan, commander of the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, recently told The Leader. [FULL TEXT]

How to sue legislators

State legislators continue to violate the recently passed ethics amendment that prohibits lobbyists from offering free meals and booze to lawmakers. [FULL TEXT]

Common Core fails many kids

The biggest problem with Common Core is not the curriculum, but the testing --- it sets up Jacksonville students to fail. [FULL TEXT]

Jacksonville taking lead

Jacksonville's new school district is showing the way for Sherwood and Maumelle, which are also trying to separate from the troubled Pulaski County Special School District. [FULL TEXT]

Last chance, sign petition

Kudos and good luck to those collecting signatures on the wet-dry petitions in Jacksonville. Organizers are only 500 signatures short now and "sprinting to the finish line," Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce board president Roger Sundermeier said Friday. [FULL TEXT]

Remember Wilbur Mills

In 1965, Rep. Wilbur Mills (D-Kensett), the longtime Second District congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, helped pass Medicare and Medicaid legislation that has provided health care to the state's elderly and poor. [FULL TEXT]

New district will rebuild

The Jacksonville School District, which is working toward a complete separation from the Pulaski County Special School District, is floating several new ideas that will improve schools. Plans include closing at least one old school in the new district --- some of the buildings are 50 years or older --- and consolidating two high schools into a new campus near the air base. [FULL TEXT]

Liquor drive running dry

Efforts to loosen liquor laws in Jacksonville and Sherwood seem to have hit a wall. [FULL TEXT]

Who can lead new district?

The Jacksonville School Board is looking for a permanent superintendent to run the fledgling district as it continues the process of breaking away from the Pulaski County Special School District. [FULL TEXT]

Rep. Farrer is on board

Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin), having heard from his constituents, has dropped his opposition to Medicaid expansion for working-poor Arkansans and has co-sponsored the bill to continue the private option program for at least another year. [FULL TEXT]

Cherishing local history

Several efforts to preserve and promote local history deserve the public's support. Volunteers throughout the area have worked hard to keep alive the stories of the past that provide context about our hometowns. [FULL TEXT]

Construction all around us

The $107 million runway renovation on Little Rock Air Force Base is one of the major construction projects in our community — the first major overhaul of the flightline in 60 years. [FULL TEXT]


Chamber sets a big agenda

Roger Sundermeier, the new president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, has a plan for reviving the city’s often dormant downtown. During his inaugural speech last week at the chamber's annual banquet, Sundermeier announced the formation of a small-business initiative to support local businesses. He said Jacksonville needs a good mix of retail chains and restaurants and locally owned businesses. [FULL TEXT]


Expansion affordable

You thought Mike Beebe was Merlin for the way he orchestrated the legislature to get what he wanted, year after year, even when the other party controlled it. What about Governor Asa Hutchinson? [FULL TEXT]

Honoring 'The Boss'

The closing of Arkansas Funeral Care in Jacksonville, where more than 30 bodies piled up while awaiting a decent burial or cremation, overshadowed the news last week that Dr. Thomas Wortham, a much-loved local physician, had passed away at the age of 88. [FULL TEXT]

Asa's healthy state of mind

It could have been no surprise to anyone, except the new lieutenant governor, that Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to continue to insure more than 200,000 Arkansans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the infamous Obamacare. What may have been surprising to many is that the conservative Republican did so not grudgingly but warmly. [FULL TEXT]

Schools need improving

The bad news is that, mathematically, the Pulaski County Special School District is shortchanging Jacksonville schools again when it comes to facility dollars. [FULL TEXT]

A corrupt judiciary

Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio's admission this month that he took bribes before slicing $4.2 million from a jury's award to the family of a woman who died from negligence in a Conway nursing home was a severe wound to the reputation of the courts in our fair state. We hope it was not a mortal one, for the founders considered confidence in an independent judiciary to be the bedrock of democracy. [FULL TEXT]

A good start for governor

We do not remember a new Arkansas governor who struck a discordant note in his inaugural address, and Asa Hutchinson did not disappoint yesterday either. Dare we hope that Governor Hutchinson will be the pragmatic, problem-solving, careful leader that the voters of Arkansas seem to want? We say that this is what voters want because they have seemed inordinately pleased with Mike Beebe, who embodied those qualities almost to perfection and who left after eight years with the highest approval rating of any chief executive in America. [FULL TEXT]


New schools won't be easy

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District needs a large or even staggering amount of money to build its way out of one of the worst school building situations in one of the poorest states in the country. [FULL TEXT]


If Huck runs for president

Neither pardon is as bad as Huckabee paroling rapist Wayne DuMond and granting clemency to Maurice Clemmons, who, between them, killed six people after Huckabee turned them loose. [FULL TEXT]

Hwy. 67/167 needs funding

Hwy. 67/167 in Jacksonville could see more major improvements that would ease traffic congestion, especially at North First Street and Vandenberg Boulevard near Little Rock Air Force Base. [FULL TEXT]

Making jails self-sufficient

Jacksonville officials know when to hold them and when to fold them. After a bitter, year-long showdown with Pulaski County officials over the city's share to fund the county jail, the Jacksonville City Council caved in and agreed to budget $201,000 a year for the right to send local prisoners to Pulaski County. [FULL TEXT]

Liquor petitions

Jacksonville has gathered about 4,000 signatures and needs only 400 more to do away with its outdated liquor laws and annually inject about $600,000 into the city's economy once restaurants start selling alcohol and grocery and convenience stores can stock beer and wine on their shelves. [FULL TEXT]

Who loves fruitcake?

A few times every year, I question God's intentions.
In the summertime, I wonder why He created mosquitoes, and, in the wintertime, I wonder what He was thinking when He allowed fruitcake to come into this world.

Millage rate is set locally

The Pulaski County School District is seeking a 5.6-mill property tax increase in September, but Jacksonville residents will not even vote on that request. Instead, voters in the newly formed Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District will keep the current 40.6 mills or decide to raise their millage possibly as soon as this fall when they will elect a new school board to replace an interim board appointed by the state. [FULL TEXT]

District plans on schedule

It seems the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District has a few friends in Little Rock. The state Board of Education recognized the new district soon after area residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of leaving the Pulaski County Special School District. [FULL TEXT]

Give judges raises in Lonoke County

Lonoke District Court Judge Teresa Smith wants a $5,000 raise for 2015, but the city council approved her request only as part of a preliminary budget that could easily be changed. [FULL TEXT]

Don't ignore people's will

The old political maxim that money will find its way to where its owners want it to go, like water to the sea, may be proved again with Arkansas' new ethics law. In the month since voters adopted tough rules to limit money's influence on government decision-making, lobbyists, their bosses and many legislators have searched for loopholes in the law that might permit business as usual. [FULL TEXT]

Infrastructure spending pays

County and city officials in Lonoke on Friday celebrated the official opening of the $9.6 million Hwy. 89 and I-40 interchange in Lonoke, which not only provides convenience to motorists but should encourage economic development in the area once the city extends water and sewer lines out there. [FULL TEXT]

Security plan at courthouse

Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham says security at the courthouse must be improved before someone gets killed or injured. [FULL TEXT]

Possible sites for a library

Sherwood voters on Election Day passed a special property tax to build a $6 million library. It will be a first-rate addition for the growing community that will help attract families to the area and serve readers of all ages. [FULL TEXT]

Free speech and politics

Jacksonville City Attorney Robert Bamburg has demanded the resignation of three civil service commissioners because they participated in the recent mayoral election. Bamburg says the statute that is being used to relieve these three commissioners --- two supporters of former Police Chief Gary Sipes and one a supporter of Mayor Gary Fletcher --- clearly states that civil service commissioners should stay above politics. [FULL TEXT]


Schools win state grants

You may have seen our report Saturday that eight schools in the Cabot School District and two schools in the Pulaski County Special School District have received $408,859 from the state Department of Education's Arkansas School Recognition and Reward program for academic excellence. [FULL TEXT]

Vote for McDonald

Clinton McDonald, former Red Devil and current lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is up for a spot in the Pro Bowl game and needs the support of his hometown. [FULL TEXT]

Enthusiasm for schools

The new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board was off to a good start at its first meeting Monday evening at city hall. [FULL TEXT]

Right decision on consultant

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher and the city's controversial economic development consultant quietly parted ways during a divisive campaign for re-election that Fletcher won by 841 votes

Impressive new board

The state Board of Education will meet Thursday, when it is expected to approve a proposed seven-member Jacksonville School Board. The names for the interim board were submitted by a committee headed by state Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville), which also included Sen. Linda Chesterfield, Sen. Jane English, Rep. Doug House, all of North Little Rock, along with Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher and Rep.-elect Bob Johnson, also of Jacksonville. [FULL TEXT]

Our lobbyists under attack

Democrats were not the only ones who wore long faces Wednesday morning when the full panoply of results from the general election were known. The saddest---and most shocked---people in Arkansas may have been the army of lobbyists who toil in the legislative and executive branches of government on behalf of their corporate employers. [FULL TEXT]

GOP sweeps into office

It's taken Arkansas Republicans almost 50 years to get here, flipping the state away from Democrats and joining the rest of the South solidly in the GOP column. [FULL TEXT]

Liquor vote: You decide

If you believe that alcohol is the degradation of man and the ruin of families --- a notion with which we sometimes do not vigorously quarrel — then you will want to vote against Ballot Issue 4, which legalizes liquor sales in currently dry counties. [FULL TEXT]

Vote to increase minimum wage

Old canards never die; they don't even fade away. So it is that in 2014, with minimum-wage laws facing voters or legislatures, the cries go up, "My God, when you raise the minimum wage, you drive people out of jobs and hurt the economy." [FULL TEXT]

Helpful hints for ballot box

Changing a constitution, even the state Constitution, is a serious labor for voters since it either authorizes government or the citizens to do something or else forbids them to do it forever, at least until the constitution can be changed again. Altering a constitution is supposed to be a rare event since it tampers with individual rights or with the structure and powers of government. [FULL TEXT]

Top award for 19th AW

The Air Force Historical Foundation recently presented its James H. Doolittle Award to the 19th Airlift Wing for its contribution to airpower for more than 80 years It's an amazing history from the early decades of air combat to the modern era. [FULL TEXT]

Voter ID law overturned

Sometimes the law is so clear that appellate courts seem almost superfluous. Anyone who could read could see that the Arkansas legislature violated the state Constitution over and over last year with the act that stopped people from voting if they did not submit official government-issued photographic proof that they were the person they claimed to be when they went to the polls or mailed their absentee ballots. [FULL TEXT]

Feisty debate in Jacksonville

Last night's debate at the Jacksonville Community Center between Mayor Gary Fletcher and his opponent, former Police Chief Gary Sipes, revealed the tensions that have been brewing in this race since the day Sipes resigned to run against his old boss. [FULL TEXT]

Parolee in rape case

Elderly abuse isn't talked about enough. But, when it is, we often hear about family members or caregivers who abuse older people physically and financially. [FULL TEXT]

How state will build schools

The new Jacksonville school district will need tens of millions of dollars from the state's Academic Facilities partnership program to build new schools, and, despite a $20 million infusion by the governor, the fund for that program is $65 million short for the next two years. [FULL TEXT]


Questions for debate

Pat O'Brien will moderate the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce's debate between Mayor Gary Fletcher and former Police Chief Gary Sipes at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14 at the Jacksonville Community Center. [FULL TEXT]

What's next for district?

By a resounding, overwhelming, huge, making-a-statement margin, Jacksonville residents have said loud and clear that they have had enough of second-class treatment under the Pulaski County Special School District and are ready to soar higher. [FULL TEXT]

New district is approved

It's finally happening - Jacksonville is getting its own school district. [FULL TEXT]

Vote Tuesday in Jacksonville

A standalone Jacksonville/north Pulaski school district is finally within our grasp. [FULL TEXT]

The mayor vs. ex-police chief

The Jacksonville mayoral race is heating up, with former Police Chief Gary Sipes gaining momentum and laying out several goals for the city if he is elected. [FULL TEXT]

The campaign here so far

If you have followed the Arkansas election ads you know that each party faces a single challenge. Republicans must overcome a philosophy problem, Democrats an Obama problem. [FULL TEXT]

Early voting (continued)

The Lonoke County Election Commission reversed itself on Friday and agreed to hold early voting at Cabot, Lonoke, Carlisle and England for the general election on Nov. 4. [FULL TEXT]

Health care costs falling

Call us suckers for good news, but can it hurt to celebrate some now and then in this sea of troubles? [FULL TEXT]

Still hauling after 60 years

The mighty C-130 Hercules reached a milestone Saturday, marking the 60th anniversary of its first flight at Burbank, Calif., on Aug. 23, 1954. [FULL TEXT]

Don't end early voting

Jacksonville voters will decide Sept. 16 on forming their own school district. They can vote early starting Sept. 9-Sept. 15 at the Jacksonville Community Center, William F. Laman Library in North Little Rock and the Pulaski County Regional Building in downtown Little Rock. [FULL TEXT]

Chamber is on board

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce's board of directors on Thursday voted to support the citys efforts aimed at getting its own school district ahead of a Sept. 16 election asking residents to break away from the Pulaski County Special School District. [FULL TEXT]

Ward's tax vote

Ward voters will decide in November if the city should raise its sales tax from 1 cent up to 2 cents. [FULL TEXT]

Pupils need recess break

Just when it seemed the Pulaski County Special School was doing right, it turns right around and does something stupid — it has taken away recess at the elementary level. [FULL TEXT]

School-year excitement

As students return to school on Monday and Jacksonville voters count down to Sept. 16 to form their own district, we can't recall a more exciting start to any school year. [FULL TEXT]

The future is up to us

We've said it before: Jacksonville puts "unity" in community. [FULL TEXT]

Benchmark: Plus, minus

The Leader has just finished running a three-part series taking an in-depth look at Benchmark scores, and, though there is some good news in the recently released information from the state, there are also disturbing trends. [FULL TEXT]

Good news for Arkansas

Governor Beebe and Davy Carter, the speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, rushed yesterday to get out statements claiming bragging rights for a bit of national good news for the state: Arkansas leads the nation in reducing the number of people who are not insured for sickness. [FULL TEXT]

Help walkers and bicyclists

As Cabot gears up for construction of the new North Interchange on Hwy. 67/167, adding two roundabouts on Lincoln Street near the high school and the beautification of West Main Street into downtown, city leaders and planners have overlooked an improvement that could help many people — adding a protected pedestrian and bicycle bridge onto the Hwy. 89/West Main Street overpass. [FULL TEXT]

Our air base safe, secure

Little Rock Air Force Base officials went into high alert last week when they received a report of a suspicious person on base. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. But, even if there had been just a 1 percent chance of a maniac loose, the authorities had no choice but to close the base for several hours. [FULL TEXT]

Achievements please schools

Talk about being the elite of the elite — Lonoke Middle School and Searcy's Ahlf Junior High are in sky-high company. [FULL TEXT]