Editorial


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.
[FULL TEXT]

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
[FULL TEXT]

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]