Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

TOP STORY >>Highlights of 2007 reviewed

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

In the last issue, The Leader ran its Top Ten stories of 2007. Here now is a month-by-month look at other important local news of the year.


January

1/17—Three days of heavy cold rain leaves many areas flooded.

1/17—The Cabot City Council restores the duties of city clerk-treasurer Marva Verkler.

1/24—Cabot mayor and others help remove racial slurs painted on the home of a black family in the city. At the time, the homeowner was serving in Iraq. Mayor Eddie Joe Willliams called the graffiti “despicable.”

1/31—Air Force Staff Sgts. Matthew Patnaude and Lawrence Lipinski, both with the 314th Civil Engineer Squadron, receive Purple Hearts for their actions and injuries in Iraq.

1/31—Bancroft battles the military the entire month over the quality and materials of its berets. The company is forced into bankruptcy because the military cancelled its multi-million contract with the Cabot firm.


February

2/3—Army Spc. Justin Haynes, of Beebe, receives a Purple Heart for his heroic actions and wounds received in battling terrorists in Iraq.

2/10—About 120 members of various squadrons on Little Rock Air Force Base are deployed to Iraq in support of the global war on terror.

2/21—A new I-440 route, running through the northern edge of Sherwood is submitted to the Federal Highway Administration.

2/28—Pastor Larry Burton is roasted at the Jacksonville Senior Center’s annual dinner and fundraiser.

2/28—Former State Rep. Doug Wood, of Sherwood, is released after serving almost six years of a 14-year sentence in prison for allegedly stealing up to $70 million from insurance companies he headed.


March

3/3—Maj. Gen. William Wofford assumes command of the 10,200-member Arkansas National Guard.

3/3—Air Force Lt. Kelly George, with the 314th Public Affairs Office, competes as Miss Arkansas USA. She doesn’t win the crown, but does well.

3/10—Daylight Savings Time is moved up by three weeks and causes some confusion.

3/17—The Leader celebrates its 20th anniversary as the voice of Jacksonville, Cabot and central Arkansas.

3/28—Army Sgt. Freeman Gardner, 26, of Little Rock, is killed in Iraq.

3/28—Sherwood’s fire rating for most of the city improves to a two from a three, a portion of the city remains at a nine because of a water flow problem, but that rating is much improved by the end of the year.

3/28—Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the base commander becomes the head of the Air Force Expeditionary Center in New Jersey.


April

4/4—The 41st Airlift Squadron, known as the Blackcats, was activated at Little Rock Air Force Base.

4/11—Soldiers from the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade were alerted that many of them would be heading back to Iraq for another tour of duty.

4/14—The beleaguered Jacksonville Housing Authority is informed that it would lose $140,000 in federal money while it was cleaning up from its mismanagement fiasco.

4/21—Former Jacksonville City Engineer Jay Whisker returns to the city as its new administrator after a short departure. His former engineer’s position still remains open.

4/25—The Two Pines Landfill in Jacksonville plans a 105-acre expansion, doubling its size, by using the open field opposite its current operations near I-440.


May

5/2—The battle against the high rates charged by payday lenders continued on multiple fronts despite the state General Assembly’s failure to criminalize high-interest loan practices.

5/5—A $530 million Bayou Meto Basin Irrigation Project could bring water to Lonoke farmers by 2015.

5/19—Now Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz takes command of the 314th Airlift Wing from Brig. Gen. Kip Self.

5/23—More than 1,300 seniors from area high schools participated in various graduation ceremonies and activities.

5/26—It was discovered that Mike Brown, a convicted sex offender, was still teaching at his Taekwondo school in Jacksonville.

5/30—Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams promises to try to find enough city money to hire three new, much needed firefighters and 21 pay-per call firefighters.


June

6/6—Embezzlement charges are filed against former Pulaski County comptroller Ron Quillen.

6/6—J.J. Martin, who retired earlier in the year from the Jacksonville Police Department, is named the new Austin police chief.

6/13—Dr. Frank Holman ends his five-year tenure as Cabot’s school superintendent, taking a job in Lincoln with an $80,000 cut in pay.

6/23—The eighth C-130J lands at the air base and becomes part of the Blackcats, the 41st Airlift Squadron.

6/27—Now Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, commander of Little Rock Air Force Base, told the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce that more C-130Js were heading to the base. “We’ll also see more C-130J training at Little Rock Air Force Base,” the commander said.

6/30—For the first time in years, Beebe allows the sale and use of fireworks within the city limits.


July

7/4—A modest but complicated grocery-tax cut goes into effect cutting the sales tax on groceries from 6 cents to 3 cents on the dollar and creating headaches for merchants.

7/7—Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson asks the public to help his department catch thieves who’ve been stealing copper from the county’s construction sites.

7/11—The five-candidate race for Sherwood mayor is narrowed to two: the interim Mayor Bill Harmon and city clerk (now mayor) Virginia Hillman who faced each other in a July 31 runoff.

7/11—Most area schools scored above the state average on end-of-course algebra and geometry exams. Lonoke students had a 100 percent pass rate.

7/14—A $6.4 million bid is accepted for the overpass which will connect Hwy. 367 to Hwy. 38 in Cabot and Austin.

7/14—The Air Force looks into developer shortfalls as housing privatization work ceased and contractors wait for their money.

7/18—Cabot’s council agrees to pay $399,000 for industrial park property for a new National Guard Armory.

7/21—Jacksonville opens its long-awaited, off-leash dog park.

7/28—A loop extension is approved for North Belt’s second phase but since no funding is on the horizon, some commissioners want to see it designed as a toll road.

7/31—Charitable bingo becomes legal. The state collects a penny for every bingo face.


August

8/8—Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson fires Police Chief Don Inns after the chief fixed an arrest warrant.

8/15—Area suffers through a heat wave with temperatures hitting as high as 106 degrees.

8/22—City’s annual report puts worth of Jacksonville at $1.1 billion.

8/22—Jacksonville signs a $3.6 million contract to build a new 13,000-square-foot library on Main Street.

8/29—Assistant Police Chief Wayne Bellew becomes the new chief of the Beebe police force.

8/29—Scott Landrum becomes the new CEO of Rebsamen Medical Center.


September

9/5—Bingo fever spreads across the state. The games became legal the first week of August and by early September more than 240 permits had been issued statewide.

9/19—Challenger Bill Vasquez defeats incumbent Bishop James Bolden for a seat on the Pulaski County Special School

District school board.

9/19—The Air Force celebrates its 60th birthday with a military ball and other events.

9/29—Little Rock Air Force Base commander Rowayne Schatz becomes a general, receiving his first star.

9/29—Wal-Mart meets with Sherwood residents upset with the retailer’s construction work and apparent lack of concern for neighboring residents.

No headway is made at the meeting.

9/29—Sherwood seeks changes in a proposed I-440 interchange.


October

10/10—The $59 million Northbelt Transmission Water Project bringing water from Lake Maumelle to Cabot and Jacksonville and north Pulaski County is on schedule for completion by 2010.

10/17—The Dixon family of Ward is named the Lonoke County Farm Family of the Year.

10/17—Army First Lt. Thomas Martin, 27, a Cabot High School graduate, is killed in Iraq.

10/20—Federal officials tell Jacksonville Housing Authority that it is no longer in trouble after a mismanagement problem came to light back in February.

10/20—Eighteen schools in the local area are on the state’s school improvement list.

10/24—The military puts lending restrictions on payday loan lenders, telling them to cap their loans at 17 percent.

10/27—Gov. Mike Beebe gives Cabot a $100,000 check as part of a down payment on the city’s new Army National Guard facility.


November

11/7—Lonoke County Judge Lance Hanshaw announced his retirement after almost 30 years on the bench.

11/10—A Jacksonville toddler survives after swallowing deadly Aqua-Dots, toxic toy beads from China related to the date-rape drug.

11/21—Cabot City Council freezes collection of impact fees it collects on new construction.

11/24—Little Rock Air Force Base’s historic 53rd Airlift Squadron is slated for deactivation.

11/28—The Sherwood City Council votes to kill off its economic-development department, citing the $77,000 used to fund the department could be put to better use.


December

12/1—A new $15 million wastewater treatment plant in Cabot opens replacing a 20-year plant that never worked up to required standards.

12/5—Five historical panels and acreage are added to the Reed’s Bridge Battlefield off Highway 161.

12/8—National Guard members of the 77th Aviation Brigade, stationed at Camp Robinson, return from a yearlong deployment in Iraq.

12/8—Jacksonville follows the lead of Sherwood and other Arkansas cities and bans the sale of novelty lighters within the city limits.

12/12—Little Rock Air Force Base Commander, Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, urges the Pulaski County Special School District board to push up the date for construction of a replacement for 50-year-old Arnold Drive Elementary School.

12/15—Santa arrives early at Little Rock Air Force Base in time for the 48th Airlift Squadron’s Christmas party. He brought a sackful of toys.

12/15—Rebsamen Medical Center begins to operate under the name North Metro Medical Center.

12/19—Cabot School Board plans to call a March election for a 3.9 millage increase for construction projects, including a new elementary school. Pulaski County Special School District will ask for a millage increase in August.

12/19—Cabot’s new wastewater treatment plant goes online.

12/19—Cabot School Board votes to move ninth graders back to the high school in the next few years.

12/19—Local churches, civic organizations and residents reach out to those less fortunate and provide food, toys and clothing for Christmas.

Twelve-year-old Sydney Hickok of Cabot was recognized for her generosity.

12/26—Both Jacksonville and Sherwood eye Gravel Ridge. Both cities plan elections aimed at annexing the unincorporated community of nearly 4,000.

12/29—The $15.7 million Joint Education Center planned for Little Rock Air Force Base receives funding as President Bush signs the $555 billion omnibus funding bill.

The center will offer college classes to airmen and area residents and will be on base property but outside the fenced perimeter.