Legislature in session
Governor Beebe took office two years ago with a reputation for wizardry in the legislative process developed over two decades in the state Senate. Nothing has happened to sully the reputation, the governor having gotten every last thing from the legislators that he asked for, including a big tax cut and an even bigger tax increase, the first serious tax on natural gas production in the state’s history.
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Hospital tries new approach
The city of Jacksonville has reached a deal with Allegiance Health Management, a medical provider from Shreveport, La., to operate North Metro Medical Center in hopes of getting it back on the road to financial health.
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No private prisons
The career of a bad idea is almost limitless if you can persuade yourself that its failures are either accidental or incidental. The Arkansas legislature seems bound to repeat that error with privately run prisons.
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One tax idea that’s helpful
Governor Beebe and the incoming leaders of the General Assembly said yesterday that they would work for a sizable tax increase in the legislative session that begins Monday. That is music to no one’s ears, but it is an instance when the dreaded phrase “higher taxes” should raise hopes, not fears.
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We’re No. 1
Speaking of national rankings, finally there is one that puts Arkansas at the top, far ahead of even No. 2. The state’s flagship university, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, spends more on athletics as a proportion of its total instructional expenditures than any other school in America.
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Apartments given
a new lease on life

The Jacksonville apartment building whose owners let the building go to hell — broken windows just about everywhere and utilities shut off because the owners wouldn’t pay their electric and water bills — is under new management and is getting a new lease on life.

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It’s the year of the blues,
or how blue can you get?

This has been a tough year for almost everyone, and things could get worse in 2009. Times are bad, or in the words of the immortal bluesman B.B. King, “How Blue Can You Get?”

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Little girl left Santa
very sad
(This is a reprint of a previous Christmas column.)
When my friend Jack Sallee was with the Jaycees in Fayetteville, they’d put an ad in the paper at Christmastime, saying that for $2 you could have Santa come to your place.

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Arkansan key player
in machine

Back in the 1950s, the Chicago political machine picked a young black lawyer who was born in Blytheville to run for the state House of Representatives after reapportionment gave the city an additional district.
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Pearl Harbor survivor
tells of '41 attack

(This column about the late McLyle Zumwalt first appeared here on Dec. 9, 1989 and is reprinted to mark the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.)
Most people think of retired Col. McLyle Zumwalt as one of the organizers of Pathfinders, which trains the developmentally and physically disabled in Jacksonville.

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Preacher’s jail ministry
is real close to home

It doesn’t look like Tony Alamo, the self-styled evangelist and accused child molester, will be home for the holidays.
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Pastor retires after
42 years with church

Two years after he had cancer surgery, Lyndon Whitledge has retired as pastor of North Jacksonville Missionary Baptist Church, where he was the minister for 42 years and at its predecessor, Unity Baptist Church, which was in the Sunnyside section of Jacksonville.
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Why Obama must hold Hillary close
President-elect Barack Obama is said to be considering Hillary Clinton for secretary of state to discourage her from challenging him for the Democratic nomination in 2012.
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Unexpected blowout as nation veers to left
The election of Barack Obama as president is as dramatic as the election of Ronald Reagan a generation ago.
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McCain hopes stock rally will save candidacy
The pundits were saying last week that the only way John McCain could win the presidential election was if the stock market went up 3,000 points. Well, who knows?
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The man who couldn’t
stay out of trouble
After he went to prison for six years for tax evasion and cheating his followers out of millions in wages, Tony Alamo should have thought about retiring from his phony Christian cult and stayed on the right side of the law, living out his golden years in a double-wide trailer somewhere in the Ozarks, not far from his native Missouri, singing “Volare” to himself as the sun went down.
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Family speaks after son killed in shootout with police
Steven Smith’s family buried their schizophrenic son Friday morning, four days after he’d been fatally shot in their house by Jacksonville police following a five-hour standoff.
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Gwatney: He found his voice in politics
Not long after he was shot at Democratic Party headquarters just before noon on Wednesday, Bill Gwatney’s family and friends knew his wounds would prove to be fatal.
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British girl who survived bombs, German scientist
who made them

Christine Diffie of Jacksonville was just a little girl back in England during the Second World War, when German bombs and rockets fell from the skies and families were split up and sent to the countryside where it was considered less dangerous, especially for children.
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Gala honors Jordan centennial
The old house on South Main Street in Brinkley is falling apart, and there’s only a handmade sign in the front yard to remind passersby that this is where Arkansas’ most important musician was born.
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Hustlin’ Lu should give back bonus and resign
Luther Hardin, the tireless self-promoter who’s itching to run for governor after Mike Beebe finishes out his second term, should give back the $300,000 bonus he received from his pliant board of trustees just for staying on as president of the University of Central Arkansas.
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Soul singer Green keeps streak going
Soul singer Al Green, the minister of love who was born in eastern Arkansas, keeps spreading his message of happiness and good vibes with his third CD from Blue Note, “Lay It Down,” which evokes the exuberance of his 1970s Hi Recordings.
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Experienced lawmakers know right from wrong
Sen. Jack Crumbly of eastern Arkansas can keep his seat despite “flagrant fraud” that helped him get elected, but two veteran senators are outraged that their colleagues voted last week to let him stay in the Senate.
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Hillary’s loss reminiscent
of stumble by Bill in ’80

Hillary Clinton is giving up her dream of becoming president anytime soon, but she said on Tuesday she’d consider the second spot on the ticket.
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Tornado gets too close for
comfort

Sen. Bobby Glover was in his car early Friday afternoon when a storm roared into Carlisle. He was just a couple of blocks away from the old railroad depot on Main Street, where he has his insurance office, and he was worried about his daughter Robin and was desperate to find her.
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LR lawyer caught in subprime meltdown
Before there was a subprime meltdown, thousands of homes were sold to buyers who couldn’t afford the mortgages that went with them and middlemen lined their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and fraudulent expenses.
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Huck prays for miracle after losses
An obvious sign that his presidential campaign is sinking and out of money, Mike Huckabee is throwing the national media off his plane and bus and will probably soon abandon Florida, placing all his bets on Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.
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Huck’s main adversary is not running
Mike Huckabee’s most formidable opponent is not running for president.
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Central book is suddenly more timely
Ralph Brodie dropped in at the Jacksonville Rotary Club on Monday to talk about his book, “Central in Our Lives: Voices from Little Rock Central High School, 1957-59.”
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Hillary hurt, Huck boosts McCain for nomination
Until a year ago, Mike Huckabee was an obscure governor from a small state that has a knack for producing national political figures.
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Aretha releases record of the year
Record of the year: Aretha Franklin’s “Rare and Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul,” a two-CD set from Rhino that discounters sell for about $15, which is a bargain. [FULL TEXT]

What little girl wanted for holiday
(This is a reprint of a previous Christmas column.) When my friend Jack Sallee was with the Jaycees in Fayetteville, they’d put an ad in the paper at Christmastime, saying that for $2 you could have Santa come to your place.
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Huckabee impressive, unenduring
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is way up there in the polls, pulling almost even with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination, although Huckabee badly trails all potential Democratic nominees.
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Pearl Harbor marks 66th anniversary
(This column about the late McLyle Zumwalt first appeared here on Dec. 9, 1989 and is reprinted to mark the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.)
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County too poor for sick inmates
Beebe police recently arrested James E. (Big Ed) Fuller for selling crack cocaine out of his apartment.
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Tough vet able to cry and smile
When you saw Bill Greer, he usually smiled like all his brothers.
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Parties still looking for their savior
While Republicans and Democrats are slugging it out over who should get their party’s presidential nomination — for many, the choices aren’t all that terrific, which is why minor candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are pulling up from the rear —the good news for Lonoke County Republicans is they have squelched a rebellion to humiliate the mayor of Cabot and an alderman.
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Department plays games with scores
The state Education Department last Friday sent out a poorly written press release that bragged about how much progress public schools are making, although if you read far enough into the press release, you realize schools are doing less well than the year before.
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Quillin’s relatives stand by their man
Ron Quillin’s mother-in-law wasn’t too happy with my column Wednesday about the former Pulaski County comptroller who’s in prison for stealing more than $40,000 to finance an affair with a lady friend who was doing business with the county.
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Emails out, but in-laws still pay up
It was nice of Ron Quillin’s in-laws to mortgage their home so he could repay Pulaski County more than $42,000 he stole while he was the county comptroller, but after they saw the infamous emails he sent to his girlfriend printed in the papers, they must wonder if the bum is worth keeping as a son-in-law.
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It doesn’t take long to get out of prison
You’ve probably noticed how criminals get their names in the papers over and over again.
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It’s Biscuit time in Helena
The Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in downtown Helena — formerly the King Biscuit Blues Festival, although it’s still the Biscuit for most fans and it’s still free — will kick off next Thursday with several strong acts and will continue through next Saturday with plenty more good music, and there’s still lots more across the river the following afternoon in downtown Clarksdale, Miss.
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Classmates meet, recall friendship
Ernest Green, perhaps the best known of the Little Rock Nine, was walking up a couple of flights of stairs at Central High School after Tuesday’s ceremony marking the integration of Central 50 years ago this week.
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No troops when you need them
Most people in Little Rock resented the arrival of the 101st Airborne Division to ensure the integration of Central High School 50 years ago — many of those troops were flown into Little Rock Air Force Base — but almost exactly the year before, I would have welcomed the 101st into my native Hungary.
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All voices need to be heard now
No one at the Little Rock School District or at Central High School will tell us if the city will honor white students and their teachers who stood up to the bigots outside Central High School when Gov. Faubus tried to keep nine black kids out of their neighborhood school 50 years ago this month.
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Recognizing others who were there
Gene Bowman of Jacksonville is one of about 4,500 people who’ve received invitations to a ceremony Sept. 25 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the integration crisis at Central High School in Little Rock.
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Pizzeria closes after move and owner’s surgery
The state Highway Department is completing work on an on-ramp at Hwy. 67/167 in north Jacksonville, where the Pizza Company did pretty decent business for more than a decade.
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Sad news hits us hard this August
A death in the family and deaths of friends have made us think about mortality.
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My father: A witness to 20th Century
When my father passed away at the age of 85 late in the afternoon on Aug. 5, one of the doctors at the emergency room at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami called my brother Steve with the terrible news.
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Is Villines trying to hide more disgrace?
It’s hard to figure out why Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has opposed the release of emails written by a disgraced former employee — unless Villines thinks they will make his office look bad and raise questions about what his workers are doing when they’re on the clock.
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Americans who make a difference
While we visited the other day with Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz, the commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, and later with members of a local church, they reluctantly mentioned some extraordinary things they’ve done — one in the line of duty, the others going overseas with a church group.
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Local TV closes in on killing
When it comes to local TV news, they say if it bleeds, it leads.
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Kids, dope don’t mix with driver
He’s been driving a bus for the Pulaski County Special School District for 22 years, and this summer he drives a van for special-education students who attend a summer program at the Jacksonville Middle School for Boys.
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Stax marks 50 years of great music
If you remember Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft,” the Staples Singers’ “Respect Yourself,” Eddy Floyd’s “Knock on Wood,” Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay,” Booker T. and the MGs’ “Green Onions” and the Mar-Keys’ “Last Night,” you would have enjoyed a concert last month in Memphis commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stax record label.
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Air strategy saving lives
Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz is in his office at the headquarters of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, where he’s the commander, and he reaches for a dagger he’d brought back from Qatar a couple of years ago, when he was in charge of running airlifts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Payday series wins award in competition
(The Arkansas Press Association awarded The Leader first place in the Better Newspaper Contest for our in-depth reporting on payday lenders. This column from March 22, 2006 was part of that series.)
A populist state like Arkansas, which once had the lowest usury rate in the nation — 10 percent was the interest limit until 1982 — now allows payday lenders to charge outrageous interest rates — often several hundred percent interest.

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Next move may be up to federal prosecutor
When the FBI completes its public-corruption probe into former Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s administration, interim U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin in Little Rock could be the one who decides whether to file charges against Stumbaugh and his cronies.
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How city wiped out vet’s investment
A veteran of Vietnam, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, Jim Eggert bought two commercial buildings in Jacksonville, but the closing of the Graham Road rail crossing killed business. He’s put his property up for sale, but he’ll have to take a huge loss.
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Famed photographer had roots in area
If you turn off Hwy. 5 at Cabot near the freeway and drive down Cleland Road for less than a mile, you’ll come to Mt. Pleasant Road.
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U.S. prosecutor demoted over bullying e-mail
Witness in Campbell trial used his government computer and official title to try to intimidate newspaper with threat of a $50 million libel suit and takeover of The Leader.
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Why didn’t feds take this case?
You may have wondered while you were following the corruption trial of Jay and Kelly Campbell in Lonoke County why the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock didn’t prosecute the couple, along with two shady bail bondsmen, who will be tried later.
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January 14, 2009

Memorial dedicated
Chief Master Sgt. Kevin O’Gorman, chief flight engineer, 181st Airlift Squadron of the Texas Air National Guard, speaks during a ceremony Tuesday dedicating a memorial for the “Demon 51 Crew” at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History. The memorial, which includes a propeller of their C-130, is in honor of the crew of “Demon 51,” six airmen who perished in a crash near Greenville, Miss., while on a routine training flight on June 8, 1988. Those who died were: Maj. Andy Zwaan, 2nd Lt. Mark Brandt, 2nd Lt. Thomas Leece, MSgt. Ed Smith, Jr., Master Sgt. Danny Holland and Staff Sgt. David Bingham.

Legislators set agenda
IN SHORT: Capps, Glover, Perry, McCrary, English, Carter at legislature. [FULL TEXT]

Cabot officials plan for 2009
IN SHORT: Private firms can haul trash for less than the city; savings will pay for building projects. [FULL TEXT]

Fire chief search is down to three
IN SHORT: Sherwood will replace a longtime part timer with full timer. [FULL TEXT]

Library ready to move
IN SHORT: The new Jacksonville facility will open on Feb. 14. [FULL TEXT]

Judge retires after 18 years
IN SHORT: Lance Hanshaw leaves bench and begins new chapter in life: retirement.
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Knight’s is business of the year
IN SHORT: Cabot chamber honors supermarket, names Pastor Eisold member of year.
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Sports

5A Southeast
North Pulaski’s T.J. Green takes it to the basket during the Falcons’ dramatic win over the Comets on Friday night at the Falcons’ Nest. North Pulaski held off a Mills rally when Jerald Blair hit a pair of free throws with six seconds left.

Falcons hold on to beat Mills
IN SHORT: Blair’s two free throws concluded bizarre finish to conference battle. [FULL TEXT]

Lady Falcons survive
IN SHORT: North Pulaski girls post first win of season by holding off Mills in final seconds
of league contest
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Cabot girls upset Conway on late bucket by Rock
IN SHORT: Lady Panthers hand defending state champs second consecutive setback.
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Charity stripe woes sink Red Devils
IN SHORT: Jacksonville takes defending champs to wire, but turnovers, free throws costly.
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Allfam to host NCAA bowling tournament this weekend
IN SHORT: Twenty-two teams, including 2008 champs, on hand. [FULL TEXT]




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