Leader Blues

Monday, May 04, 2009

TOP STORY >> Businessman roasted, Cabot High School seniors are honored at annual banquet Tuesday

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Cabot developer, real estate agent and “vain” Democrat Bill O’Brien was roasted and toasted Tuesday night at the Cabot Scholarship Foundation’s 14th annual fund-raiser.
Vain?

That’s what roaster Mayor Eddie Joe Williams called O’Brien. “Why he once told me he’d rather have his kids go to school naked and without lunch money than lose his hair,” the mayor said. “Well, Bill that hair ain’t helping, you are still ugly,” Williams quipped in front of a crowd of about 300.

This year the scholarship foundation gave out 38 scholarships, totaling $37,350, to Cabot High School seniors and those students were recognized and applauded at the banquet which was held at the school’s cafeteria.

“We try to help our students every way we can,” said John Thompson, foundation chairman. He said this year, 115 students applied for the many scholarships offered through the foundation. “It made us feel good going through the applications and looking at these future leaders. These students all had four-point grade averages or close to that. I thought 2.5 was the highest you could get,” Thompson quipped, reminiscing about his grade-point average.

“These students maintain those high grade-point averages while working part time and involved in a ton of extracurricular activities.

“We are going to be a better world because of the kids here tonight,” Thompson said.

Thompson said most of the scholarships given through the foundation were for about $1,000. “That might not seem much considering the cost of tuition, but studies have shown that the difference between staying in school and dropping out is often just $1,000.”

O’Brien was roasted by his longtime friend and business partner Bill Green, and Williams.

Another friend, David Many, was also set to roast O’Brien, but was called into work.

Green, who has known O’Brien since they were neighbors in the early ‘80s in Searcy, told the crowd that out of respect for O’Brien and his wife Linda, he came up with about six or seven stories and ran them by O’Brien. About half of those stories ended up in the recycling bin.

“Those are the ones I have for you tonight,” Green quipped as O’Brien sat nervously on stage.

Green said O’Brien was the front man for their development company. “I follow behind and clean up the mess,” he laughed.

Green said O’Brien is known as a talker and that he always has an opinion. He told of a time that the two went to present plans at a meeting and there were only about five people at the meeting and loads of empty seats.

“When it came to be our turn, I walked up to the microphone, expecting Bill to be right behind me, but he wasn’t. So then I thought, well, he’s got to get some papers and he’ll be right up here, but he never budged from the chairs. So after I gave the presentation and went back to our seats, I asked him why he didn’t come up with me.

“He said, ‘Well someone had to save our seats.’”

Green also told of the time that O’Brien’s wife bought him some lovely heart boxers for Valentine’s Day, and Green and some of O’Brien’s other buddies put the shorts high in a tree for everyone to see.

Speaking of clothing, Williams presented O’Brien with a t-shirt for his youngest grandchild that said, “I only cry when being held by Democrats.”

Williams said he came up with the idea after reading a therapist’s letter about O’Brien. It seems the grandchild only cries when being held by O’Brien or the therapist. The only tie between the two, Williams said, was that they were both Democrats, hence the shirt.

Williams also thanked O’Brien for increasing the city’s crime rate. It seems that O’Brien called Williams awhile back to say thieves had stolen one of his prized possessions–his Razorback truck.

In listening to O’Brien rail about the thieves, Williams asked, “So how did they break in?”

Williams said O’Brien replied that the thieves didn’t break in, they just walked in.

“Why?” Williams asked.

O’Brien said because he left the garage door unlocked. “So, they walked in and hot wired the truck,” Williams said.

Well, not exactly was O’Brien’s response. “Not exactly?” questioned Williams.

“I left the keys in the truck,” O’Brien said.

“So,” Williams told the crowd, “I said, you want to report the theft of your truck but thieves came in through an unlocked door and drove away because your truck was unlocked and the keys were in it?

“Well you would think a loss like that would teach Bill a thing or two, but a month later I got another call,” Williams said.

This time O’Brien had left the back door unlocked and thieves walked in and took his wife’s purse which was sitting by the door.

“So again, Bill, thanks for increasing our crime rate stats,” the mayor said.

When O’Brien took to the microphone he had stories on both Green and Williams.

O’Brien talked about the time that he and Green had decided to waterproof the basement of a house they were building and both ended up getting tar and gunk all over themselves and their clothes.

“O’Brien had his wife bring in a change of clothes, but Green decided to just drive home in his underwear. But on the way home, his truck rear-ended another vehicle. Can you imagine Bill scrambling to get his clothes back on? And to add insult to this, the woman he hit had just bought a house from us,” O’Brien said.

The mayor, O’Brien told the crowd, has turned out to be a bit of a moocher. “As most of you know, my wife and I are members of the Arkansas Razorback Road Hogs and we go to the games in our RV and cookout and have a good time. Well, a few years ago we invited the mayor to join us to eat. Now remember we invited him only that one time and he hasn’t missed a game meal with us since.”

O’Brien added that one time when the mayor and his wife arrived for the game, the mayor told O’Brien that his wife didn’t have her purse and he’d forgotten his wallet.

“He wanted to know if I could loan him some cash for a motel room so I gave him some money,” O’Brien said. “The mayor looked at what I gave him and said, ‘What, you expect us to stay in a Motel 6?’”

Besides the annual fund-raiser, the foundation also receives money from various community and civic clubs, local businesses and memorials for those who have passed.

This year, five new scholarships were given out through the foundation. For more information on the foundation, visit www.cabot.k12.ar.us.