September 2021

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September 2021 | 1



— Opening Summer 2022 —

We look forward to serving Jacksonville as we continue to improve the quality of health and well-being for all the communities we serve through compassionate care.


To the memories that made me who I am... When I make my trek home from the office each evening, I hear the cicadas singing their late summer song. I roll down my windows to soak in the evening heat and reminisce about summers gone by. As a child, I spent several weeks during the summer break on my grandparents’ farm. Half of the land was covered with pine trees, and the other half held a large garden and Papa’s shop. I can still see the new potatoes, laid out on crates and waiting to be grabbed for a meal, and tomatoes ripening on sheets of thoroughly read newspaper. My grandparents expected us to help in the garden and strawberry patch, and Papa would give me quizzes about which leaf went with what plant. Even though I’ve been on amazing summer vacations, it’s funny how memories of walking barefoot on sandy dirt roads to pick plums or blackberries and eat them on the way back is what grounds me as a person. Lessons from a no-frills childhood, which included eating the peels of those fruits without washing them, make me a pragmatist to this day. I am a highmaintenance chick, but at the end of the day I have a practical side. And this carries my mind to this edition of 501 LIFE. Our theme is “Made in the 501” and it will introduce you to people, companies, products and programs that were started and cultivated here in Central Arkansas. This includes our company, Make the Jump Media, LLC, which publishes 501 LIFE Magazine. You don’t have to look far to find creative 4 | 501 LIFE September 2021

people who have committed their skills to The Natural State. I’ve been told that the agriculture produced in this region is a microcosm of what is grown in the rest of the state. We also have large beef producers, Olympic medalists, and artists like Kevin Kresse, whose sculpture of Johnny Cash was chosen in July to be placed in our nation’s Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The 501 LIFE Team couldn’t publish a September 2021 issue without recognizing the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On this somber day, the custom of the “Tribute in Light” will be seen on the New York City skyline. The twin beams of light will again represent the fallen Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. In this edition, writer Donna Stephens brings us the firsthand account of John Hoffman who lives in Central Arkansas with his family. Would you believe he was starting his first day of work in the Pentagon when the plane hit? A flag will fly outside our office on 9/11. We are proud to stand with our 501 community as we pause to remember those who lost their lives and to honor the brave first responders. We live in a nation of heroes and I hope the stories in this issue will inspire you to dream big, work hard and stay grounded in the principles and values that you, like me, were taught as a child. A love for God, a love for our country, and a respect for all people.

EDITOR Stefanie W. Brazile PUBLISHER/ART DIRECTOR Jeremy L. Higginbotham FOUNDERS Donna Spears and Sonja J. Keith SPORTS AND DIGITAL DIRECTOR Levi Gilbert COPY EDITORS Jordan Hickey and Andrea Miller BRAND AMBASSADOR Donald Brazile PHOTO DIRECTOR Mike Kemp FINANCE DIRECTOR Debbie Flowers ADVERTISING SALES: Donna Spears

CONTRIBUTORS Becky Bell Don Bingham Aaron Brand Donald Brazile Jessica Duff Tina Falkner Brittany Gilbert Laurie Green Dwain Hebda Linda Henderson Vivian Lawson Hogue

Beth Jimmerson Jennifer McCracken Mark McDonald Mark Oliver John Patton Susan Peterson Dr. Robert Reising Judy Riley Chloe Short Donna Lampkin Stephens Morgan Zimmerman

FAULKNER COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Johnny Adams Jack Bell Don Bingham RaeLynn Callaway Glenn Crockett Kay Dalton Beth Franks Russ Hancock Spencer Hawks Mathilda Hatfield Roe Henderson Jerry Hiegel Mike Kemp Julie LaRue

Karl Lenser Monica Lieblong Lori Melton Kiera Oluokun Deanna Ott Pat Otto Jon Patrom Amy Reed Lori Ross Margaret Smith Jan Spann Kim Tyler Suzanne Waggoner Jennifer Whitehead

CONWAY COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Mary Clark Shelli Crowell Dr. Larry Davis Shawn Halbrook Alicia Hugen Alisha Koonce

Stephanie Lipsmeyer Stewart Nelson Kristi Strain Jim Taylor Morgan Zimmerman

WHITE COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Betsy Bailey Tara Cathey Cassandra Feltrop Phil Hays Natalie Horton

Matt LaForce Mike Parsons Brooke Pryor Carol Spears Kristi Thurmon

To subscribe or order back issues, visit Subscription rate is $20 for one year. (12 issues)

Make the Jump Media, LLC 920 Locust Ave., Suite 104 Conway, AR 72034 501.327.1501 •

501 LIFE is published monthly by Make the Jump Media, LLC (920 Locust Ave., Suite 104, Conway, AR 72034, 501.327.1501) owned by Jeremy Higginbotham and Stefanie W. Brazile. The contents of 501 LIFE are copyrighted and materials presented may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publishers. Articles should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Products and services advertised are not necessarily endorsed by 501 LIFE.

September 2021 | 5

September 2021 Volume 14 Issue 5

4 Letter from the Editor/Staff Box 7 List of advertisers/Writers’ Room 8 Upcoming events 9 News 10 Loving LIFE Photos 12 First Service campaign successful 14 Silver Medalist Kayle Browning 17 Chainsaw company carving in the 501

On the cover Master chainsaw artist Lee Halbrook creates custom pieces of art from wood here in the 501.

By Jeremy Higginbotham

20 Couple of the month: Amber & C.L. Brantley 22 Big Cuppa in Morrilton

Photo by Mike Kemp

By Morgan Zimmerman

24 The newest Unity community - Jacksonville

By Stefanie Brazile

26 Youth of the month: Shayde Harris of Beebe

By Dwain Hebda

28 Where’s the beef?

By Donna Lampkin Stephens

30 Never Forget: 20th anniversary of 9/11

By Donna Lampkin Stephens

32 Entertaining: The Co-Ed Cafe

By Don Bingham

34 Conway Corp smart homes

By Beth Jimmerson

36 Only in Arkansas blog celebrates state

By Dwain Hebda

38 Finding the right jeans for you

By Tina Falkner

40 Eric Rob & Isaac build AR brands

By Stefanie Brazile

42 501 a great place to make a healthier you

By Laurie Green


45 Artistic Excellence: Sculptor Kevin Kresse

By Aaron Brand

48 501 crops, livestock represent AR

By Judy Riley

50 Gus Opitz: A man ahead of his time

By Vivian Lawson Hogue

52 501 Football team announced 54 How PCSSD came to be in the 501

By Jessica Duff

56 New school option promotes curiosity

By Brittany Gilbert

58 Kid of the month: Terrance Blake II

By Becky Bell

60 Pet of the month: Courthouse Barb

By Becky Bell

62 64 66

Art journaling gives voice to end-of-life experience

By Susan Peterson

Athletic Excellence: Marvin Delph

By Dr. Robert Reising

Unseen light of the 501

By Linda Henderson

70 72 74

New CRMC Oncology physician Conway Chamber’s annual award recipients Person of the month: Karen Reynolds

6 | 501 LIFE September 2021


501 LIFE would like to thank our advertising partners for their continued support and encourage our readers to visit these businesses:

Get homegrown good news delivered right to your door. For only $20 a year, you can have 501 delivered to you. While the magazine is distributed to more than 700 locations in Central Arkansas, copies go fast. Home delivery ensures you never miss an issue!

A Arkansas Coding Academy, UCA, 41 Arkansas PBS, 51

Visit or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe.

B Bledsoe Chiropractic, 71

C Centennial Bank, 49 Conway Corp, 9 Conway Institute of Music, 57 Conway Regional Health System, 75 Conway Regional Rehab, 21

D DDS Denture + Implant Solutions, 39 DJM Orthodontics, 73

Did you know 501 LIFE covers 11 counties

E Eat My Catfish, 59 Edward Jones, 43


Catch 501 LIFE on KARK News at 12:30 on September 3!

in Central Arkansas?

First Community Bank, 16 First Security Bank, 76 First Service Bank, 13 Freyaldenhoven . Heating and Cooling, 23




G Garage Experts, 55

H Hartman Animal Hospital, 61 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA 19 Heritage Living Center, 5

welcome to the Writers’ Room

M Methodist Family Health, 63 MSC Eye Associates, 31

O Ott Insurance, 54

P Pain Treatment Centers of America, 69 Patterson Eye Care, 73 Pulaski County Special School District, 55 Purple Cow, 25

R Reynolds Performance Hall, 35 Rik Sowell Architects, 70

S Salem Place, 44 Shelter Insurance, 431 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 15 Superior Health & Rehab, 2

U UAMS Health, 47 Unity Health, 3 University of Arkansas . Community College Morrilton, 65 University of Central Arkansas, 27

Brittany Gilbert A former public school teacher, Brittany is now immersed in all things homeschool. She is a director of a local homeschool community and also co-hosts a podcast called The Deeply Rooted Homeschool. She lives in Greenbrier with her husband, Levi, and their three kids.

Aaron Brand Since 2002, Aaron has been an arts, entertainment, and features reporter. A Chicago native, he earned a BA in English from Earlham College and an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University. He's lived in the Chicago area, London, and now rural Arkansas. His poetry has appeared in several literary journals.

Linda Hoggard Henderson A resident of Central Arkansas for most of her life, Linda shares her love of photography and traveling Arkansas each month. A graduate of UCA, retired from the Conway Human Development Center, she and her husband, Jim, have a son, John Mark. Contact Linda at lindahenderson@

September 2021 | 7

501 Events Women’s Leadership Network Kickoff and Women's Showcase

23rd Annual Fall Antique Auto Swap Meet September 23-25 • All day

September 16 • 6 - 8 p.m.

The event will be held at UCA's Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center. There is no cost to attend. Learn more at: UCA Women’s Leadership Network is a network created for women, by women, to support women who are seasoned or aspirant leaders in the home, at work or in the community. The purpose is to provide opportunities for women to connect from various backgrounds in Conway and surrounding areas.

Conway Symphony Orchestra season-opening concert

Antique-auto enthusiasts are invited to the Museum of Automobiles atop Petit Jean Mountain. Activities are open to the public and admission is free. Antique, classic, and special interest automobiles will be sold. More than 500 spaces will be filled with parts, supplies, books, memorabilia and numerous other hobby-related items. There will be a Military Vehicle Rally from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Event proceeds support The Museum of Automobiles, a non-profit organization. For information, call 501.727.5427 or visit

Urban Farm Festival 2021 September 25 • 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

September 17 • 7:30 p.m.

Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair to the family-friendly event now held at Laurel Park. A 60-piece orchestra will play classic favorites from Bugs Bunny to Lord of the Rings to Sousa’s "Stars and Stripes Forever." Pets are not invited. Visit the CSO Facebook page for additional information on the concert, picnic partner restaurants, and chances to win a free picnic dinner or concert tickets!

Great Arkansas River Clean Up September 18 • 8:30 - 11 a.m.

Taking place at Burns Park Boat Ramp in North Little Rock, community groups will eliminate trash along the banks of the river. Groups that take part in the event will be featured on the KNLRB website and Facebook page. Contact or at 501.350.8775. 8 | 501 LIFE September 2021

The celebration of the 2021 harvest and local farmers will be held at the Faulkner County Library Gardens and will include a free lunch from the grill, garden tours, storytelling, face painting, games, crafts, local vendors and music. Learn more on their Facebook page.

Downtown Little Rock Partnership’s 10th Annual

Main Street Food Truck Festival October 2 • 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Taking place on Main Street and Capitol Avenue in Little Rock, more than 60 food trucks and vendors will be rolling into town. Attendees will enjoy familyfriendly activities, games, entertainment and beverages. Admission is free.

Topping-out ceremony hosted at new UCA Windgate Center The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees and UCA President Houston Davis hosted a topping -out ceremony for the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts on July 29 at the corner of Bruce Street and Donaghey Avenue. Prior to remarks, attendees added their signatures on the topping-out beam and enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers courtesy of Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. In addition to Davis, speakers included Kay Hinkle, chair of the UCA Board of Trustees; Mary Bane Lackie, vice president for university advancement; and Scott Copas, president and CEO of Baldwin & Shell. The event was part of the university’s $100 million comprehensive fundraising campaign, UCA Now: Impact Arkansas and Beyond. The university broke ground on the facility in October 2020. Upon completion, the new Windgate facility will provide almost 100,000 square feet of classroom, studio, rehearsal, and design spaces. The topping-out ceremony dates to a Scandinavian or Viking tradition that marks a milestone in construction. An evergreen tree is placed at the topmost part of the building's framework, or skeleton of a building, to commemorate the successful construction of the building.

After the beam was lifted into place by a crane, two men bolted it into the framework and then moved toward the center of the beam to release the cables.

Attendees signed the beam before it was lifted to its resting place in the building’s framework.

UCA President Houston Davis and Board of Trustees Chair Kay Hinkle.

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September 2021 | 9

Making LIFE Fun!

Ayden and Benjamin Collins were “Loving LIFE” and hanging loose this summer in Gulf Shores, Ala. John and Paula Trafford of Morrilton were "Loving LIFE" as they cruised on the Carnival Miracle to Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan, Alaska.

First Security Bank’s Gold Club of Saline County was “Loving LIFE” at the Golden Gate Bridge in California.

Headed out on a special trip? Have a special occasion or gettogether coming up? Pack a copy of 501 LIFE in your suitcase, snap a photo at your destination and send it to us for publication in a future issue! Photos can be submitted by email to

10 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Members of the 106th National Guard Army Band Five5 Star Brass Quintet were "Loving LIFE" when they performed the National Anthem to open the Drum Corps International Tour at War Memorial Stadium. SGT Layne Martens (from left), SSG Traci Hesse, SGT Chris Winfrey, SGT David Hixson and SSG Cody Jernigan.

The Campbell and Wheeler families were “Loving LIFE” at a patriotic "Welcome Home" for Olympic silver medalist Kayle Browning: Jill Campbell (from left) holding Caleb Campbell, Melissa Wheeler; middle row, Cooper and Carson Campbell, and Graham and Grayson Wheeler;Griffyn Wheeler is holding the magazine.

Library Programmer Ellen Scoggins (from left) and Janie Jones were "Loving LIFE" at the Faulkner County Library as Jones presented a reading from her true crime book "The Arkansas Hitchhike Killer: James Waybern Hall."

School leaders were “Loving LIFE.” at the Greenbrier Teacher’s Breakfast. : Jason Miller, junior high principal (from left); Bryce Bennett, director of teaching and learning; Stephanie Worthey, assistant superintendent; and Steve Wood, district athletic director.

Students who are members of Mayflower’s Youth Advocates and Resource Network, Inc. (YARN) were “Loving LIFE” when they visited the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. They met Hezekiah Watkins (blue shirt), the youngest Freedom Rider from the civil rights movement. YARN was founded by Berthenia Gill.

September 2021 | 11


First Service Red, White, and Brave campaign finds swift success After just eight months of community fundraising, First Service

Bank announced they had raised the required $80,000 needed to build their very first Habitat for Humanity home, the focus of their Operation Red, White, and Brave campaign. “When Habitat learned we had reached our goal so quickly, they were sort of in shock,” said Tom Grumbles, president and CEO of First Service Bank bank. “We had some amazing support from our bank customers and the local community. We couldn’t be prouder of what they helped us accomplish in record time.” A homeowner has been named following a rigorous application process. His name is Darryl Jerome Walker. Daryl had changes that impacted his life path back in 2017. A victim of a traumatic assault while he was serving in the army, Walker’s PTSD became so serious that the decorated soldier was discharged early. Overwhelmed, Walker was fortunate to learn from a military buddy about a PTSD treatment program for vets in Arkansas. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Walker headed east to Little Rock’s Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center. “My original plan was to get my mind right and then go back to California,” Walker recalled. “In the midst of getting my mind right, I decided that wouldn’t be good for my mental health to go back.” The decision created a new problem for Walker when he left the program. He was now homeless in a strange city. Fate stepped in and led him to St. Francis House, a social outreach program of the state’s Episcopal Church. The House works to restore lives and providing temporary living quarters, a community food pantry, and help with securing household necessities for the community of homeless individuals and families. Soon, Walker began working five nights a week at Saint 12 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity (HFH) of Central Arkansas and First Service Bank (FSB) celebrated the groundbreaking with the new homeowner. They include (from left): Brad Robertson, VP of Development for HFH; Kelly Sims, Chief Operating Officer for HFH; FSBs Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Barnard; new homeowner Daryl Walker; FSBs Chief Operation Officer Robin Hackett; HFHs Homeowner Services Director Jeff Roper; FSBs Marketing Director John Patrom; and, HFHs Construction Director John Hames.

Francis church. A couple of months ago, he was awakened from his daytime sleep by St. Francis House’s Carol Chastine. “When I see it’s from St. Francis, I always answer,” said Walker. “Carol told me she knew some people at First Service Bank wanted to do something good by helping a veteran.” Walker was understandably shocked. “Things like this don’t happen to me,” he said. “I have to fight and work for everything in my life. I wasn’t comprehending the full scope of what she was saying. When I got to work that night, there was a large packet on my desk, and I realized it was from Habitat. This wasn’t a dream.” When construction begins, the crew will include bank staff, bank customers, professional builder volunteers, as well as Walker. As part of his new homeowner agreement, he will put in 300 hours of sweat equity toward the build and is required to take a course in the basics of homeownership, including how to manage mortgage payments, budgeting, and other homeowner responsibilities. The official groundbreaking ceremony for the home took place on August 16 at 4300 11th Street in Little Rock. Participating in the ceremony were First Service Bank CFO Kenneth Barnard, COO Robin Hackett, Marketing Director Jon Patrom, as well as the home’s new owner. “We were thrilled to learn about Darryl,” said Hackett. “He’s a hardworking, dedicated young man who gave his all to the Army, and has been dealt a difficult hand since then. We know he will make a very responsible homeowner.”

September 2021 | 13

Made in the U.S.A. Greenbrier welcomes home Silver Medalist Kayle Browning

Photos by Mike Kemp

On August 4, community members throughout the 501 gathered at Herschel Hall in Greenbrier to celebrate Kayle Browning as she returned from the Olympic Games. The Wooster native was honored for her silver medal performance in trap shooting. "There is a deep sense of pride when it comes to the people in our community,” said Ashton Pruett, Greenbrier chamber president. “We are proud people, and proud of our people. Kayle is an excellent representation of not only Greenbrier and the surrounding areas, but Arkansas, and the nation. The community came together seamlessly because one of our own represented us on the world's stage.”The event included a special presentation from Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker, Arkansas State Representative Spencer Hawks, Arkansas State Senators Mark Johnson andMissy Irvin, Izzy Baughn on behalf of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and U.S. Congressman French HIll he day was declared “Kayle Browning - Red, White and Blue Day.” Judge Baker noted that Faulkner County was more than 150 years old and the day was one of the proudest in its history. "We were blown away by the support from the community,” the Browning family said..”All the businesses with banners and signs, plus the text messages and calls, meant a lot to our entire family. It made us all proud to be from Faulkner County." 14 | 501 LIFE September 2021

L: Congressman French Hill presents Kayle with a US flag that has flown over the US States Capitol . R: Greenbrier Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick gives Kayle keys to the cities of Wooster and Greenbrier.


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September 2021 | 15


CONWAY! We are excited about the progress we are making on our new full-service, state-of-the-art banking center at 766 Harkrider Street! In the meantime, you can visit us at our temporary location on-site or at our current branch at 1089 Front Street. • PERSONAL BANKING • BUSINESS BANKING • MORTGAGE LENDING



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16 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Chainsaw company carving out their own niche in the 501 By Morgan Zimmerm

By Jeremy Higginbotham

"There is a level of artistic ability in everyone; however, for some it supersedes everything else," said Lee Halbrook, co-owner of Custom Log Carvings. His love of art that began as a young child has led him to writing, painting and, today, being a master chainsaw artist. In fact, a shared love of art has brought together an entire team. While woodwork is at the center of everything Custom Log Carvings does, their talents are as varied as the pieces they have created. "Alex Ward called me last year and said, ‘You don’t do what I do and I don’t do what you do — let’s get together and make something out of this,’ And we have,'" said Halbrook. Alex is co-owner of the company. Fascinated with numbers, letters and symmetry, Alex has honed his craft to become a master at carving names into logs. "Alex will say he is not artistic, it is mathematic skills he utilizes," Halbrook said. However, anyone that has viewed Ward's final products knows they are works of art. But the organization is not only home to masters of the trade. While some members of the team are experts, the company also takes on apprentices. Halbrook's youngest son is an apprentice. "He always has been the art kid," Hallbrook said. "Harley — he is a carver." Halbrook said Custom Log Carvings has welcomed other artists and believes they all have one thing in common — a mindset of giving of themselves to make the best possible pieces. "Everyone here creates beautiful work, from Geneva who walked in with no experience and said she would love to do this, to Don Nichols who actually lost an eye, but taught himself to carve." Halbrook says that his customer’s reactions are what mean the most. "Any of our artists will tell you the same thing," Halbrook said. "The wood carvings you create are a piece of you, a part of your makeup. So, when you create it and someone loves it, that’s an amazing feeling." One project Halbrook is particularly proud of is one he completed before starting the company, yet he considers it part of the company's DNA. It is a totem

pole for the Easter Seals School in Little Rock. Halbrook was asked to create something for the playground. After hearing that the kids playing were mostly 4 and 5 years old, he came up with the idea of a Winnie the Pooh Totem Pole. The administrator told him she had never thought of something like that, but said “I love it already!” "We did it,” Halbrook said. “The kids loved it! It’s the most emotional thing I have ever done because the kids watched me create it from the windows. One child wrote down thank-you [notes] from all the kids there. I still have those in my home." The company was hired to create three more totem poles for the school system. "I enjoy making things look good and making things that people enjoy," he said. "I want to do that for the 501 community. If you go to a city with no art in it, you don’t remember it. But when you visit a city with artwork — like the sculptures in Downtown Conway — everyone just loves that. That’s what we want to do and you can do that with wood. If you take care of the piece — they will be there for your great-great grandkids.” Halbrook welcomes anyone to learn more about the art of chainsaw wood carving by contacting the company or visiting their website. He said it is important to remember the work can be dangerous and not taken lightly. "Unless you are very familiar with chainsaws grinders, sanders, drills, and you know safety protocols, I don’t recommend going out and grabbing a chainsaw and seeing if you can do this." However, Halbrook explains that anyone with an interest can work with the company and learn. This included a mom and her 14-year-old son who came to the studio with no experience, and in five hours had created a piece of art. "The options with woodworking are limitless," Halbrook said. "Every time someone comes to me, hesitates and asks 'Can you create this?' my answer is always ‘yes we can do it.’”

September 2021 | 17

Don Nichols, carver (from left); Geneva Vaughn, carver apprentice; Harley Halbrook, carver; Alex Ward, owner/carver: Carri Jo Torrance, artist/carver assistant; Lee Halbrook, owner/carver; Ginger Halbrook, artist/office Manager

18 | 501 LIFE September 2021

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Finished Bear from 501 LIFE Cover

September 2021 | 19




HIS STORY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Conway, mostly, with a three-year stint in Alaska.


EDUCATION: Conway High School and Arkansas State University.


EMPLOYMENT: Branch manager, Rain For Rent. PARENTS: Charles and Cindy Brantley of Conway.

EDUCATION: Education specialist from UCA, National Board-certified teacher.


EMPLOYMENT: Principal at Greenbrier Wooster Elementary School.

Volunteering (or sometimes voluntold) when needed at Greenbrier Wooster Elementary and Soaring Wings Ranch.

CHURCH ACTIVITIES: Member of Crosspoint Baptist Church in Greenbrier, where I currently serve as treasurer.

HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Supporting our kids in the activities they participate in. Spending time with family and friends at our cabin north of Dover. Kayaking, hiking, fishing and riding ATV/UTVs. Working out at CrossFit Greenbrier.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: Follower of Christ; family-centered; friendship investor.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: Reject Passivity; Accept Responsibility; Lead Courageously; Invest Eternally - Credit to the Manhood study at

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: I enjoy the geography and the people.

Having traveled a lot for work, I can tell you we are blessed to live in an area and community that provides so many opportunities for families to get outdoors and spend time together. From community events like the farmers markets to Toad Suck and having beautiful lakes and rivers within a short drive in almost all directions, there is so much to do.

PARENTS: Rick and Debbie Reid of



Crosspoint Baptist Church in Greenbrier, where I teach preschool and we are small group leaders.


Reading, watching movies, and anything outdoors with family at our cabin. Supporting our kiddos in various activities. We love to travel and experience new things.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: Bubbly. WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: I love

the people and the awesome community where we live!

THEIR STORY: HOW WE MET: We technically met in 10th grade when Amber visited Second Baptist Church Conway for three weeks. Then the couple ran into each other again on the first day of college. THE PROPOSAL: On top of Sugar Loaf in Heber Springs. WEDDING BELLS: Aug. 4, 2007, at Faith Baptist Church in Greenbrier. CHILDREN: Maddox, 11, and Adelyn, 8. PETS: A miniature aussiepoo named Wooster Blue Brantley.

20 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Photo by Mike Kemp

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September 2021 | 21

Photos by Mike Kemp

Jaime and Marty Kurtz stand in front of their local 501 meeting spot "Big Cuppa" where they roast their own coffee daily.

Morrilton coffee shop is pouring a “Big Cuppa” community By Morgan Zimmerman


hen the Krutz family set out to open a coffee shop in downtown Morrilton in 2017, roasting their own coffee seemed like a distant dream. They opened Big Cuppa in March, and almost immediately, it lived up to its tagline as “Morrilton’s Place.” The little yellow shop in downtown Morrilton started out serving a small menu of beverages featuring Arkansas coffees. Now, just four short years later, they have a large menu, including food and specialty drinks made with their house-roasted coffee beans. But they aren’t just making coffee, they are making a community. Big Cuppa is a family business. Jaime and Marty Krutz were on a mission to give Morrilton a central connecting spot. Their oldest son, Joe, had been in the coffee industry for years, working his way up into management for some well-known franchises. He happened to be at a crossroad in his career when the offer came from his parents to join their venture. Joe is Big Cuppa’s resident coffee expert and a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) certified roaster. His wife, Danielle, also jumped on board, and she is now the creative mind 22 | 501 LIFE September 2021

behind the coffee shop’s food menu, including house-made baked goods, seasonal soups, sandwiches, and flavored syrups. You’ll also find the Krutzes’ other son, Austin, working tech behind the scenes and daughter, Arden, behind the bar from time to time. According to Jaime, Morrilton immediately bought into their mission of promoting community pride and creating a place for new shared experiences. Roasting their own coffee was a part of the fiveyear plan for Big Cuppa, but Jaime said, “With the overwhelming support from the local community, we were able to hit goals sooner than expected and to take risks like investing in the new side of our business.” They purchased the roaster in year two. Joe traveled to Minnesota for the SCA’s Certified Entrepreneurial Coffee Roasting Course with Mill City Coffee Roasters, which sets the standard for quality across the industry. Having experimented with extraction methods in his free time, Joe said that being able to expand into the sensory side was appealing. Big Cuppa produces 250 to 350 pounds of roasted coffee a week

in a natural gas roaster. It takes 15 minutes to roast 6 pounds of coffee. The Krutz family carefully selects importers who share more of the profit with farmers, and about 30 percent of their beans are purchased from them. The rest of their beans are sourced through a partnership with Blue Sail Coffee (Conway) and a Brazilian family that enables the farmers to sell in larger quantities. Their core blends are the light house roast named Broadway Blend after their street address and the medium, espresso blend Spro’Town. The Spro’Town name is a nod to their hometown, which is often referred to by locals as “Motown.” The menu also includes a few single-origin coffees, meaning they are a single bean that is not blended with other coffee. These are Midnight on Broadway, Mexico, and the house decaf, which is created using the Swiss Water Process, which means it is washed without any harsh chemicals. The coffee house is also known for its collaborations with other companies throughout the 501. It has produced several limitedrelease, bourbon barrel aged coffees made with barrels from Rock Town Distillery in Little Rock. Its coffee has been featured in Flyway Brewing’s (North Little Rock) annual limited release Coffee Cake Stout and was also recently used by Point Remove Brewing Co. (Morrilton) for its limited release coffee stout. For Joe, it’s all about the collaboration. He says that’s what he loves about living and running a business in the 501. “Everyone is connected in some small way, and everyone knows a little about something that can be shared,” he said. “You can be out somewhere and make a random connection that will lead to an awesome opportunity for collaboration.” Jaime added to that sentiment, “Watching Morrilton grow from within Big Cuppa has been fascinating. We’ve witnessed people picking up their coffee and making a connection they wouldn’t normally have made, and it leads to new opportunities for building business, community, volunteerism, and friendship.”

Joe Kurtz is Big Cuppa's certified roaster.

September 2021 | 23

The newest Unity community Unity Health is renovating hospital in Jacksonville, bringing new administrator By Stefanie Brazile

Unity Health is expanding their services into Jacksonville and has chosen a leader who is committed to helping those in need. Currently, the not-for-profit health care provider has two hospital campuses in Searcy, a hospital campus in Newport, and more than twenty physician clinics and specialty centers. They employ more than 2,300 associates who work in eight counties. But their leaders identified that Jacksonville did not have an emergency room, so Unity Health has purchased an existing facility and is in the process of a major remodel with plans to open it next summer. “The initial plan is for the Unity Health-Jacksonville location to provide an emergency department, radiology and imaging services, behavioral health services, and observation and acute inpatient rooms, with the intent to add more services throughout the first three years," said Steven Webb, Unity Health president and CEO. It was important to find a capable leader to take the helm of the new operation, so they hired someone whose work they were familiar with — someone who has helped Unity succeed. Kevin Burton was promoted to administrator from his position as Unity’s director of patient financial services. A Texas native, Burton earned his bachelor’s and master’s of business administration degrees from Harding University.

24 | 501 LIFE September 2021

“I got into health care and was amazed by the impact we have on people’s lives,” Burton said. “We make sure that people who — in their minds — don’t have the financial ability to get health care, receive health care. We take care of everybody, regardless of their ability to pay.” Burton and his wife, Kelley, have lived in Searcy for 20 years and he has worked for Unity Health during that time. “We have such a shortage of health care available to the people of Arkansas,” Burton said. “It became a mission [for me] almost immediately – I believe in it that strongly. I wish more people could feel this in their daily jobs. You get phone calls from people that say, ‘You changed my life or my mother’s life.’ It’s a high you just can’t understand.” The hospital system has purchased a facility in Jacksonville that, with the exception of an adult behavioral unit that remained open until recently, has been vacant for about two years. The renovated facility will offer emergent care for nearly 70,000 residents if nearby Sherwood and Cabot are taken into account. The building is undergoing demolition and is being stripped down to the studs, so that it can be rebuilt according to Unity’s standards, according to Burton. By the time it opens, it will be a $15 to $16 million investment. “From the outside, you can’t tell all the work that’s being done there,” he said.

A new MRI machine will be purchased and the hospital plans to partner with physicians in the city, so that patients won’t have to drive out of town for imaging. The adult behavioral unit will typically admit patients for a six to seven day stay. Besides partnering with area physicians, a collaboration has been established with the Little Rock Air Force Base, so that soldiers and their families can be served. Burton said they will also partner with schools and with senior adults to ensure they are receiving annual wellness checks. “We are not an outside company. We are part of the community,” he said. Burton grew up in Dallas, Texas, and his wife grew up in Searcy. His father was a Harding University alumnus who encouraged his son to consider his alma mater. Burton followed in his father’s footsteps and played both pitcher and infielder for the Bison baseball team. After graduating with his master’s degree, Burton accepted a job in Dallas and moved there for a short time, but his wife missed the slower pace of Searcy. So, they moved back and raised Kamryn, who is 23, and Kyle, who is 19, in White County. With his new position, the family will move to Jacksonville to become part of the community.

“The main message is that we’re coming to Jacksonville for the long haul to take care of people,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”

Kevin Burton, new administrator of Unity Health-Jacksonville

September 2021 | 25


Finding his voice Teen ready for the future thanks to rodeo, FFA By Dwain Hebda

There was a time not long ago that Shayde Harris wouldn’t have imagined participating in a public speaking competition – until just a few years ago, the Beebe teen was far more comfortable rodeoing. But today, the senior is a champion public speaker and a two-term president of Beebe High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. It’s been a journey worth taking, he said. “FFA helped me professionally, helped me grow as a leader,” he said. “When I was little, I stuttered badly and still do, actually. I was always talkative and social and loved attention, but all the different public speaking I’ve had to do, and the presentations and the constant support and encouragement I’ve had, that really helped me a lot. “That’s not the same for everybody, I guess; I guess it’s more specific to myself, but that’s what’s impacted me the most from FFA. It’s literally taught me how to speak.” Talking to Harris today, one hardly notices the speech impediment. All you really notice is the quality of his ideas, as the judges did during FFA public speaking competitions that ultimately led to a state win. He won a local competition last December, then won the Arkansas Eastern District contest, and then the state event where he also won the right to represent Arkansas in national competition. This month, he will deliver his speech virtually and if he advances, will compete in person in October in Indianapolis. The young man, who hopes to be an equine surgeon one day, is modest about these accomplishments, but is passionate about his topic of inclusivity. “I wouldn’t call myself a public speaker, I just talk about how FFA is inclusive to different types of people,” he said. “One of the hog showmen from a school in Arkansas has 26 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Photo by Mike Kemp

Down syndrome. I talk about how FFA included him and modeled their norms towards him. They adapted and changed, you know? “Then I talk about the Arkansas School for the Deaf as well as the North Carolina School for the Deaf and how FFA has a spot for all different types of people to be inclusive to anyone and everyone, no matter what.” Another formative event in Harris’ life has been rodeo, a sport he’s been around and participated in practically from the time he could walk. “I’ve done it my entire life, since I was little,” he said. “My parents have done it their whole lives and my grandpa did it, too. So, it’s kind of been a generational affair.” Harris has more than held up the family name in the rodeo arena, competing with distinction in steer wrestling, team roping, and calf roping events at the highest level. In addition to accumulating multiple state titles through the Arkansas High School Rodeo Association, he’s also competed at the national level since middle school. “I feel like all rodeo kids grow up in this sport learning much more responsibility a lot sooner than most,” he said. “Most 6- or 7-year-olds are still on a leash with their parents, but I was walking around in the arena, riding horses by myself and all that. “Rodeo teaches you you’ve got an animal to take care of, so you’ve got a job to do. It teaches you to be more responsible a lot sooner in life. There’s just more things that you have to be mindful of and that are counting on you in this sport.”

Shayde Harris competed in the National High School Finals Rodeo this past summer in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by Acentric Rodeo.





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September 2021 | 27

beef? where's the

Right here in the 501 By Donna Lampkin Stephens

Many families from the 501 and beyond are taking advantage — one way or another — of locally produced beef. It’s all part of the farm-to-table movement, and two Faulkner County families are at the local forefront. Tom and Judy Riley of El Paso sell to individual clients. Kenny and Rebecca Simon of Saltillo cater primarily to restaurants.

“It’s just the awareness of where your food comes from,” Rebecca Simon said. “People like to know their food was locally sourced.” Photos by Mike Kemp

The Simons family of Saltillo raises a Hereford-Brangus mix to sell to restaurants.

up in Farmington. “The fat marbles throughout the meat. It’s marketed as Kobe beef.” Tom wanted to bring that variety to the Riley farm, so he used artificial insemination to introduce the breed into their herd, which now features a mix of Simmental, Brangus, and Wagyu. They have about 60 mother cows. Over the years, they’ve gone from selling calves at a sale barn for feed-lotting in the Midwest, to keeping back one or two to provide beef for their family, to supplying restaurants, to ultimately focusing on sales to individual clients. “Our customer base is typically couples that may or may not have children, who don’t have big freezer space, who want 25 or 50 or 75 pounds of Tom and July Riley of El Paso sell beef to individuals. actual weight,” Judy said. The Rileys are retired from the University “Twenty-five pounds will fit in the freezer of Arkansas Division of Agriculture portion of a refrigerator. We sell boxed beef Cooperative Extension Service. Tom grew that amounts to about 40 percent burgers, up in El Paso (White County), and the couple 30 percent steaks, 30 percent roasts and bought roughly 350 acres on U S. Highway brisket, or a pack of ribs. 64 for a beef operation. About 25 years ago, “They get a variety, and sometimes several on an extension service trip to Japan, he saw families share a box.” a beef product in a supermarket that was The Rileys deliver their beef year-round in different than the typical American beef. the Central Arkansas area. “What we typically grow in this country has “We’re not a big operation at all,” Judy said. thick back fat, and the Wagyu breed does not What’s the attraction for consumers? have thick back fat,” said Judy Riley, who grew “It’s probably beefier-tasting than what


Simons — Kenny, 43, and Rebecca, 39 — farm about 140 acres of their 160-acre property in Saltillo. Rebecca said the farm was purchased in 1936 by Kenny’s greatgrandfather, but the family didn’t live there. Two generations later, in the late 1970s, Kenny’s father, Rick, moved his family to the farm, so Kenny grew up there. Rebecca grew up on Catholic Point in Center Ridge (Conway County). “They farmed out here, but they didn’t really clear everything and make improvements on the land — so they could run more cattle — until about 2002,” Rebecca said. “Kenny said, ‘If I’m going to work for Extension, I need to practice what I preach.’” They were married in 2007. Today, the family runs 75 to 80 head of Hereford-Brangus mix. “The biggest thing Kenny and I have done since we’ve been married is to improve or increase our beef cattle production in regards to farm-to-fork,” Rebecca said. “Kenny had done it occasionally — he’d have a steer he’d raise and process. Twice a year we’d sell one and keep one for ourselves. “So when Tom Riley came to Kenny and

said, ‘I have an opportunity for you,’ to supply beef to The Root Cafe, we met with Jack Sundell and transitioned to become sole providers for them. Then we picked up The Press Room in Bentonville in January.” They also sell to individual clients, but Rebecca said their main focus is the restaurants. “People like to know that they have bought product that was locally grown and locally sourced,” she said. Their three children have grown up working alongside them. Nicholas, 19, now works off the farm, but Kendra, 13, and Addyson, 11, are responsible for feeding. “We have a group that we feed out and get a grain ration [for] every day, and there’s moving of electric fence for temporary fences for rotational grazing,” Rebecca said. “Kendra wants to continue and get a job in agriculture. She is really into the record-keeping, the data. “Of the three, she’s that fifth-generation farmer.”

you can get in the grocery store,” she said. “It has a different flavor, I think, but then again, we haven’t bought grocery store beef in a long time. These animals are never feed-lotted; they’re always on grass or hay. They’re never confined. We don’t ever give them antibiotics; they don’t have growth hormones. “We supplement with a small amount of allnatural feed in the winter. It’s like free-range chickens — they’re just handled differently than what you get in the grocery store.” She said over the years they’ve gotten acquainted with their customers, who number about 40 families. “I code them into my phone with the last name ‘Beef,’” she said. “Then, when we know we’re going to get a couple of steers, I send them the information. It’s a very low-tech way of keeping up. Our business all started through Craigslist, and it’s now taken on a life of its own.” Several years ago, Jack Sundell, who owns The Root Cafe in Little Rock, approached Tom about supplying beef to his restaurant. According to, “we source absolutely as much as we can from small farms and producers here in Arkansas. This includes 100 percent of the meat, eggs, and bread we serve, as well as the majority of our vegetables, fruits, nuts, and cheeses.” Tom and Judy sold beef to the popular restaurant until they became so busy that they had to make a choice. “His [Tom’s] business grew exponentially as we developed our customer base, and we couldn’t do both,” Judy said. So, they handed off the restaurant business to their friends, the Simons, who worked with them at UA Cooperative Extension Service.

Rebecca and Kenny Simons raise cattle on the family farm that his great-grandfather purchased in 1936.

September 2021 | 29

Never forget

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Pentagon survivor encourages patriotism By Donna Lampkin Stephens

Twenty years after surviving the attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, John Hoffman has a message for America: “We need to remember how patriotic we were the day of, the day after, the few years later, until it was forgotten,” said Hoffman, 45, of Conway. “Remember how you saw red, white and blue everywhere. Remember when everybody was the most patriotic you’ve seen since World War II. “I want everyone to remember how we were then, and how we were as a country, and not to be so divided. I want us to come back together as one nation.”

John Hoffman

Permanent outdoor memorial to people killed at the Pentagon and in Flight 77 in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Hoffman grew up in Lawrence County and graduated from Black Rock High School in 1995. Before that, though, he attended Army boot camp in the summer of 1994. A few months after graduation, he went on active duty. After stateside stints at Fort Meade, Md., and Fort Gordon, Ga., he embarked on a three-year tour in Germany as a Multimedia Specialist that included many deployments all over Europe and back. Just 25, he returned to the U.S. in the summer of 2001. After a few weeks off in Arkansas, he began his next assignment at the Pentagon and was assigned to the Graphics Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Intelligence G-2. Hoffman was a multimedia illustrator, designer, photographer, audio-visual specialist and videographer. The office was in the process of being moved from Crystal City, Va., back to the Pentagon. His first day at the Pentagon was Sept. 11. When a plane hit the building, he was about 100 feet from the point of impact. He survived, but was forever affected. “It turned me into a disabled vet with PTSD,” he said of the effect of the experience on his life. “It makes you appreciate a lot more. You learn to enjoy things. It taught me to enjoy children and family and to have a good work ethic so my kids can witness it and replicate the same good ethics and love of family. “I wouldn’t have any of those things if I hadn’t made it out.”

30 | 501 LIFE September 2021

He remembers the outpouring of support for victims in the days following the attack. “Who can say they’ve gotten a massage from a professional masseuse in the parking lot of the Pentagon?” he said. “We were flooded with people bringing food, pop-up places for naps, massages. There was so much patriotism you couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the support and outpouring of feelings of love and support for us in the military. Then it was all forgotten over 20 years. He had already been raising three stepdaughters and moving his family back and forth across two continents. “I got to the Pentagon at a very young age,” he said. “You don’t go there for no reason. Minus the whole first part, it was a great experience. All the rest of (the Pentagon assignment) was interesting.” He continued to work there until his service ended in 2004. After leaving active duty, he joined the Washington, D.C., National Guard the same year. In 2005 he took a job as a Visual Information Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at their Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He spent 10 years there before a similar position opened in Little Rock, and he moved his second wife and youngest three children back to his home state after spending 19 years on the East Coast. His stepdaughters — Rochelle, Blair and Shadow — lived through his 9/11 experience. His firstborn, Gabriella, 18, has also lived with the knowledge of what her father went through. His youngest three — Emma, 15, a sophomore at Conway High; John Jr., 11, a sixth-grader; and Eva Sofia, 7, a first-grader — only know from the few photographs he has and his PTSD, he said. Nearing the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has weighed heavily on him. For the first 12 anniversaries of the 9/11 attack, he rode his motorcycle to the Pentagon for the memorial ceremony. Since moving his family to Arkansas, though, he hasn’t been back. But he plans to return this year for the 20th anniversary commemoration, flying in after his son’s birthday. Junior was born on Sept. 8th 2010 narrowly missing the solemn date.

The Pentagon Memorial was dedicated to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attack.

In 2002, John Hoffman attended the first Memorial Service held at the Pentagon with Christina Berradelli Davis. For the first 12 anniversaries of the 9/11 attack, John Hoffman rode his motorcycle to the Pentagon for the memorial ceremony.

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September 2021 | 31


By Don Bingham

Conway treasure may be gone, but sweet memories remain Our communities are certainly known for their quality in products and services. Among these "goods and services" would be the unending array of hospitality in the food industry. While musing over the past 50 years, I remembered some classic offerings from time-honored establishments and reminisced as to how much I have missed many of their delicious offerings. One such establishment was thriving just after World War II, and for those of us who recall the delightful downtown cafe, it was called the Co-Ed Cafe. Its phone number? 67. In doing research for this article, I was able to contact many locals who recall this unique cafe and remember many wonderful times at the Co-Ed Cafe. One of these is Sue Hassel, the daughter of some of the owners. "My parents, Harold and Clynell Cummins, along with Harold's brother and wife, bought the Co-Ed Cafe after WWII from Mr. Guy Maxey and ultimately became sole owners," she said. It was located in the Halter Building on Oak Street. Next door was 32 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Dyer Butcher Shop, and across the alley on the other side was J.C. Penney. Ben Franklin's Five & Dime was across Oak Street. Upon entering the cafe, the customer would be greeted with a candy counter, cigar case, and a cash register for payment. Homemade chili was 50 cents a bowl. A massive wooden counter extended all the way to the back, with stools bolted to the floor. A Wurlitzer jukebox was near the front, with tables and chairs in the middle space. "My dad would walk to town every day at 5 a.m. to prepare breakfast for the breakfast guests,'' Hassel said. Open seven days a week until 10 p.m., Sunday was their busiest time. Harold did the cooking and baking. There were no dishwashing machines back then and a friend of the owner, named Vanteen, was the revered dishwasher. Clynell managed the front of the cafe and ran the cash register. She would stay to help until the Cummins’ children were out of school, and then she would return to help clean up and close. A vacation was never taken during the 30 years of the Cummins’ ownership, and most Sunday afternoons were dedicated to mopping the floor and putting

away the ice from the ice machine. Everyone who remembers the cuisine will tell you that the Co-Ed Cafe was famous for its chili, cinnamon rolls, and pies, along with its plate lunches and sandwiches. "I remember Dad was so concerned when it was necessary to raise the price of coffee,” Hassel said. “Dad was worried about losing customers because the way to do it was to double the cost of a cup from 5 cents to 10 cents!" During the ’80s and ’90s, it was my privilege to have a cooking segment at noon on a Little Rock television network, and often I was given the delight of hosting wonderful cooks. The Cummins were among our special guests and presented their chili and cinnamon rolls for the viewers. The cooking segment was sponsored by Kroger, and the company printed the recipes and placed them throughout all the Kroger grocery stores in the state of Arkansas. As I enjoyed the thoughts of the Co-Ed Cafe, I also remembered the following food establishments that brought such joy to our community: Dog-N-Suds, Hidden Valley Catfish House, Clarence Day's Grocery and Feed Store, Tommy's Restaurant, Ed Bradley's Bakery inside of Simon's Grocery, Gresham's Grocery, Frank Brannan's Drive-In, Clements Donuts, and Cecil and Bertha Bell’s restaurant in the Holiday Inn, just to name a few. We have such a rich history and much to be thankful for in the legacy of great foods in the 501 area code!

Cummins’ Cinnamon Rolls 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup raisins 1 cup pecans 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon clove melted butter Spread the butter on dough, sprinkle mixture, roll triangle (big end first). Stretch and twist, cut, place in pan, and let rise double. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Drizzle top with butter, powdered sugar, and water mixture.

Harold's Co-Ed Cafe Chili Boil 5 pounds chili meat for 30-40 minutes until cooked down, but not dry. Skim grease. Cook 1 pound pinto beans until done. 5 heaping tablespoons chili powder 5 heaping tablespoons paprika 2 heaping tablespoons ground cumin 1 heaping tablespoon oregano 5 heaping tablespoons cracker meal salt and pepper to taste Spoon liquid off meat a little at a time; add two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce, adding them to the dry ingredients. Stir until well-blended. Add beans and seasoning mixture to meat. Cook 3-4 minutes stirring constantly.

Cummins’ Light Rolls 1 cup milk 6 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 cup Crisco 1 cup very warm water 2 packages dry yeast 2 eggs (slightly beaten) 5 or 6 cups flour Scald milk, stir in sugar, salt and shortening. Cool to lukewarm. Measure very warm water into a mixing bowl, sprinkle in yeast. Stir until dissolved. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture, eggs and flour (3 or 4 cups). Beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Place in a greased bowl large enough to rise to double size. Grease top with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to one hour. Punch dough down and add more flour if needed to handle well. Knead it in the bowl to remove air. Place on a floured board and roll to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a cutter and place in pans and grease tops again with melted butter. Let rise for 45 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven until brown. Makes 3 dozen.

Photos by Mike Kemp

September 2021 | 33

Smart homes increase energy efficiency By Beth Jimmerson

The future is becoming a reality. Automation is a part of our daily lives, and we have the power to control almost everything from our smartphones. Smart home products not only make your life more convenient, but they can also lower your energy bills. In a do-it-yourself smart home, you can target some of the home's biggest energy users. In fact, most houses could cut a third of their current energy bill by switching to energy-efficient appliances, equipment and lighting. Smart thermostats can cut a chunk out of the 48 percent energy use heating and cooling accounts for while smart plugs and switches combined with LED bulbs can mitigate the more than 30 percent electronics, lighting and other appliances consume monthly. The average household in the U.S. spends almost $2,000 on energy costs annually. Conway Corp customers spend less thanks to having one of the cheapest electric rates in the nation and the cheapest in Arkansas and saving even more money is always a welcome idea.


Almost half of the typical utility bill goes toward heating and cooling. When summer temps rise, it's tempting to blast your air conditioning in an attempt to stay cool. But you might have sticker shock when you see your monthly statement. 34 | 501 LIFE September 2021

A smart thermostat offers the flexibility and power to control the climate in your home efficiently by automatically adjusting the heating and cooling settings. Typical features include programming temperatures you prefer, developing an ideal automated schedule, providing energy usage data, and enabling control of your home's temperature through your smartphone. Utilizing a smart thermostat can save you 15 percent or nearly $150 on your yearly utility bills.

SMART LIGHTING More than 25 percent of the average utility bill is spent on just lighting the home. Simply turning off lights when you don't need them can drastically reduce your energy use, but it's easy to forget when you leave the house in a hurry. With smart lighting, forgetting is a thing of the past.

Switching to smart light bulbs and smart switches can cut lighting costs by as much as 50 percent. These can be customized, scheduled, and even controlled remotely through your mobile device. Set timers for lights to go off automatically when you usually leave for work or use your phone to make sure you turned the coffee pot off before walking out the door. Even swapping your existing incandescent bulbs for energyefficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can make a big difference. For the same amount of light, CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer.


Electronics in your home are using electricity even when you aren't aware of it. Devices plugged into your wall – even when powered off – are using power. On average, the standby power consumption for a home ranges from five to 10 percent of total household energy consumption. For the average American, that's almost $200 of wasted electricity on devices not in use. The best way to stop this from happening is simply identifying the culprits and unplugging them. But when it's not convenient – like a TV plugged in behind a large entertainment center – smart power strips can help. Smart power strips automatically cut off power when devices are not in use which can save some serious energy. Smart power strips can manage this usage by working hard to reduce power usage. They can shut down power products that go into standby mode saving some serious energy.

CONWAY CORP SMART It's easier than you think to start making your home a smart home. Conway Corp security and automation offers you a wholehome system that provides peace of mind as well as energy efficiency opportunities. Turn on the lights when you're at work or on vacation. Adjust your thermostat if the temperature changes unexpectedly. The possibilities are endless – and so are the money savings. Visit ConwayCorp. com/services/security to learn more or call 450.6000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our security and automation specialists.


September 2021 | 35

By Dwain Hebda

36 | 501 LIFE September 2021

From Little Rock to Low Gap

Good News is blog's Natural State By Dwain Hebda

Given everything that’s going on in the nation and the world, it’s easy to get the impression that there’s no good news anymore. That is, except on the First Security Bank blog “Only in Arkansas” ( which has seven years of stories to the contrary. Want to learn about the must-attend events for the summer? It’s here. Need the latest on Olympic silver medalist shooter Kayle Browning? Check. How about the lowdown on an interesting business or a great drive to see fall color? “Only in Arkansas” has you covered. Kristi Thurmon, vice president of marketing for First Security Bank, has posted plenty of these tales in the seven years the blog has been publishing. “There’s just a lot of things that you can only find in Arkansas,” she said proudly. “Arkansas is the only place that has a town named Turkey Scratch. We have the only home in the world that is constructed only of bauxite. We have the world-record holder of rainbow trout. The idea for the blog came up as part of a marketing campaign developed with the advertising agency Eric Rob & Isaac that highlighted how First Security impacts the local communities in which it operates and how it was invested in Main Street for the long haul. “Back in 2011, we started an ad campaign after the financial crisis,” Thurmon said. “A lot of our competitors were buying banks out of state, and their operations and attention were focused elsewhere, other than Arkansas.”

“We felt like what really set us apart was we don’t want to be anywhere else. We want to be in Arkansas. So, we started an ad campaign called ‘Only in Arkansas.’” Thurmon said the bank had been on social media since 2010 and found it tough sledding to constantly come up with new and fresh content. Highlighting the bank’s products and services, important though that may be, only went so far. With the new ad campaign, Thurmon started to plumb another well of inspiration. “Starting out, we didn’t really have a direction or a focus for what we should say on social media,” she said. “I think most banks struggle on how to interact with their customers. In fact, most banks offer products that are very much the same as everybody else. “‘Only in Arkansas’ gave us an opportunity to talk about things that people care about and not just talk about ourselves.” Another key decision for content was to employ a cadre of freelance writers to scour the state for interesting tales, businesses to profile and unique trivia that makes a community unique. “Instead of just sharing facts and tidbits and things that we had taken from other sources, we decided to become our own source and write about all of these things that make Arkansas wonderful,” Thurmon said. The strategy worked and the blog took flight. Today, blog posts number 2,700 and counting, detailing every corner of The Natural State. “People ask all the time, ‘Well, have you

written everything there is to write?’ The answer is no,” Thurmon said. “We have come up with our own ideas. We have 1,000 employees and our employees send us ideas. Public relations people will shoot us ideas. We get tons of ideas from our bloggers as well. “And we just have people who contact us when they see our site who are writers and they’ll shoot me an email and say, ‘Hey, I have this great idea. Give me a shot.’ It’s just grown from there.” Thurmon, a Searcy native and 23year veteran of bank marketing, said in addition to highlighting what’s great about Arkansas specifically, it is gratifying to support a project that tells positive stories in general. She said such news is needed now more than ever. “We get so much feedback from our employees, from our customers,” she said. “One of the great things about this is that we don’t just limit it to our customers. We don’t make our decisions on what to write about just from people who bank with us. That’s also been really refreshing. “It’s a way for us to branch out and meet people that we had not met previously in our communities. There are so many wonderful stories out there. We never have a problem coming up with great Arkansas stories because there’s so many great things happening.”

There are so many things that you only find here. We wanted to tie our bank to everything that’s amazing and wonderful about Arkansas. Kristi Thurmon, vice president of marketing for First Security Bank

September 2021 | 37

You are more than your measurements Finding the right jeans for you By Tina Falkner

The great jeans debate - you may have seen it working up quite a

froth on social media. Gen Z telling the Millennials that skinny jeans are out. High-waisted jeans are vying for the top seat amongst every other rise. Tapered vs. flare. Mom jeans? What in the world is going on here? The lines have been drawn and folks are taking sides. Not sure I am the one to broker peace when it comes to which cut of jeans is the go-to silhouette this year, but maybe I can shed some light on what you need to know to help you make a more informed decision when buying your next pair, especially if they are vintage. First off, know thyself. In this case, I don’t mean on an existential plane, although it can’t hurt. I mean know your measurements. Go ask your grandma if you can borrow her measuring tape and start off with measuring your waist. “Measure my waist? I don’t know how to do this! I don’t even know where my waist is!” No worries! Let me help. Use your belly button as your anchor. Starting there, wrap the measuring tape around, breathe in, and as you exhale, look at your number. Another good measurement to know is your hips. Tracking downward to where your trunk is its fullest, that is where your bum and legs meet. Wrap around and measure there. Now, know your jeans; grab your favorite pair and measure them as well — the waist, hips, rise, and inseam. The best way to do that is to lay your jeans flat. Start with your waist and measure the top band of your jeans, then double that number. Same with the hips. The rise is from the top edge of the jeans from the button to the crotch. (For the life of me, I tried to figure out how to say this measurement description without using the word crotch, but I couldn’t. Sorry.) Your inseam is from the crotch (cringe) to the hem of your jeans. Now you know your jeans, but there is one more thing. Fabric content. What are your favorite jeans made of? Do they have stretch? Lycra, spandex? Take that into consideration with your measurements. Sidenote: The measuring tape can feel brutal. Don’t sweat that. Consider these numbers as just guideposts to help you find the jeans

to suit your silhouette. That is all. They don’t define who you really are. Can that measuring tape capture the depth of the love you give, or your tenacity that shows itself in persevering at a really hard task? No. Can it record the speed that the glow of your kindness travels? Not at all. These measurements are just numbers that help you find YOUR best jeans. They can’t quantify how awesome you really are. You are more than your measurements. Just sayin’. Moving on. Back to fabric content. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but what gives those modern jeans their stretch can be negative for the environment. The Lycra and spandex are a plastic that is not biodegradable. That’s a bummer. The presence of the plastics limits the garment’s recycling options and can contribute to the microplastic problem burdening our oceans. Boo. If you are feeling compelled to make the switch to 100% cotton jeans, like the majority of vintage jeans are, giving up the stretch can be a tricky jump. Here is the thing about 100% cotton that you may not know: The cotton relaxes with wear, becoming your most comfy jeans. When you wash and air dry, that causes the cotton to relax even more. High-heat drying is what draws the garment up. Did you just pull out your favorite pair from the dryer and they are having a hard time meeting in the middle? Don’t despair because it’s not permanent. Wash them again and let them air dry this time. Even hang them up to invite gravity to help. Don’t give up on a pair of jeans if they are a little snug - just relax because they will. So, there you go. I didn’t really tackle skinny vs. loose jeans. Maybe another time. Perhaps the great jeans debate is a blessing. Since it’s up for discussion what the on-trend jeans are right now, you can feel more freedom to wear whatever works for you! In the meantime, know yourself, know your jeans, and what they are made of. We already know you are made of awesome. Remember you are so much more than your measurements.

Photo by Kristina Goodwin

38 | 501 LIFE September 2021

September 2021 | 39

By Stefanie Brazile

Creative group thrives on promoting Arkansas The founders of a prominent Little Rock advertising agency

were raised in the 501 and love telling the stories of businesses that are Arkansas treasures. Eric Rob & Isaac is so passionate about Arkansas that they only take on clients within the state. As one would expect, the business is named for the men who incorporated the creative company in 2005. To borrow a line from their website, the team "was curated" from the beginning, with Rob Bell being the common denominator who pulled them all together. Rob met Isaac Alexander in the fourth grade in Searcy (White County). Laughing, he recalls their adolescent pranks. In seventh grade, Isaac was creating humorous, expertly rendered caricatures of teachers and Rob was marketing them to students. In high school, their band "The Screaming Mimes" played venues around Searcy and the guys even offered concessions and merch. "We were a funk and soul band – classic ’60s and ’70s complete with horn sections," Rob said. "People were walking around town 40 | 501 LIFE September 2021

wearing our T-shirts. We were doing marketing but didn't know it." From those early adventures, a lifelong friendship has flourished. "We were creative types in a small town," Rob said. "We weren't the greatest in sports, but we had a passion for making movies. Isaac has always been an amazing illustrator and I've always been his wingman." After high school, Rob moved to Memphis and graduated from Rhodes College with an English literature degree. Within a year, he landed a job at a prominent Little Rock advertising firm. "My first job was in PR, though I never had one marketing class, but I had great mentors," Rob said. "It was like training on the fly." He was moved to the account services side of the business because the firm’s leadership thought that selling was a good fit for him. "I saw it as a performance," Rob said. "I was passionate about it, but I had to believe in what I was selling. It was more about hearing a client having a problem and giving solutions. That was gratifying

to me. More than selling, it was building a relationship." While working for that agency, he met Eric Lancaster who was on a similar path at the same company. Eric grew up in Sherwood (Pulaski County) and earned his degree at the University of Arkansas. "We started having conversations about how we'd like to serve customers differently and I mentioned Isaac," Rob said. Isaac had earned a graphic design degree from Harding, then worked at a marketing firm in Memphis before making his way back home to Arkansas, where he worked as an art director for the state's top agencies. He and Rob had never stopped talking each week and both wished they could handle things differently in their current jobs. In 2004, the three men were all around 30 years old when they realized that they each possessed complementary strengths, that they were all Arkansas boys and proud of Arkansas' brands. That’s how Eric Lancaster, Rob Bell and Isaac Alexander decided to create their brand, Eric Rob & Isaac. "Our first client was First Security Bank, which was broadening their footprint and expanding into Little Rock," Rob said. "We're proud that they're still our client. "When you look at our website, you'll see that 'We build Arkansas' favorite brands.' It's our mission statement." Fast forward about 17 years and the three men each carry the title "Principal" at their agency in downtown Little Rock's River Market District. What started with three guys, one client, and one desk has grown to employ a team of 19 other creative types and now represents "dozens of other Arkansas treasures," according to their site. Their goal is to brand great Arkansas

companies. "When we started [in the industry] in ’99, it was a challenge to get people to understand what branding was," Rob said. "We define branding as an essence. When you say the name of this entity, how do you feel? To get people to feel that way, there's a whole lot of things you must do consistently over a long period. All of these clients have allowed us to permeate every facet of their identity, so we can help them build it." Part of the company's culture is an attitude of respect and a value for collaboration, both with the client and with fellow team members. The founders have established these phrases to complement their mission statement: "We" means a collective, team mentality. "Build" means to constantly strive for the next greatest thing. "Arkansas" represents that they don't work for companies beyond the state. "Favorite" refers to their clients being well-run, treasured companies. "Brands" means they want the whole enchilada, or permission to run an allencompassing brand excursion. Additionally, they focus on the core value that culture is everything. "We believe our culture is what's held us together," Rob said. Eric, Rob, and Isaac have these goals for themselves and their team. "We have handpicked them because they're all so important," he said. "There's no hierarchy. Most of them are multi-disciplined.” He said they are enjoying a golden age among their hard-working team, but it's taken time to get there. "We screwed up a million times. Some hard decisions are paying off now." While the company serves clients of all sizes, some pro-bono, Rob is partial to Conway clients.

"I love Conway," Rob said. "My wife grew up here and we moved back in 2008. I've known from day one how unique Conway is. Our agency has done project stuff for the [Conway Chamber of Commerce] for 10 years. It's neat because they want creative stuff and they allow us to be really creative. I've always believed in the secret sauce of Conway." The team of Eric Rob & Isaac has been working remotely for a long time and had hoped to reopen the office after Labor Day. Because the virus is affecting a lot of people again, they have delayed that. "We worry about how long we can run on those fumes in a business that has to be collaborative,” Rob said. “We want to get back and our people want to get back because we like each other." Surprisingly, because all conversations have to be scheduled, they are communicating even more. "There's been a lot more intentional, 15-minute meetings and I think when we're back together we'll keep that," he said. The secret sauce of the agency is the closeness of the founders. "My partners are like brothers," Rob said. "That's where businesses break most of the time. We're a three-headed monster. We have heated debates and have been through everything. We can talk openly, candidly and have a united vision. "We are so proud to represent the brands that we have. They are treasured Arkansas institutions. They have been around and thrived. They already have a great story; we're just telling it. I never imagined we would get to work on the kinds of brands that we have. That's the biggest thrill — that they trust us."

September 2021 | 41

Photo by Mike Kemp

The 501 is a great place to make a healthier you By Laurie Green

While pondering about what I would write for our "Made in the 501" issue, I jokingly told my husband, “Hey, I was completely crafted in the 501, maybe I'll share about that.” I was kidding, but considering that I was born in Conway, grew up in Greenbrier, and live in Wooster, I figure I really am Made in the 501 material. If you've followed my previous columns, I've shared the first half of my 100-pound weight loss with our fabulous readers. I can't tell you how many texts, emails, and messages I've received asking how I lost my weight? So I thought I'd share more of my journey on making myself healthy. Let's be honest. Losing weight is HARD, and when you've spent a significant portion of your life overweight, it can seem impossible. However, I am a firm believer that if someone like me can do this, then anyone can! The No. 1 piece of advice for my success began by realizing my identity in Christ. This was a defining moment for me because I'd spent the majority of my adult life wanting to lose weight because I thought it would make me better and people would like me more. When I finally wrapped my mind around the fact that Jesus sees me as worthy (regardless of my size), I found change. There isn't a prerequisite. I'm not found more worthy because of 42 | 501 LIFE September 2021

my accomplishments, just as I'm not any less worthy because of my failures. I was always loved right where I was but too much to stay in the place I was in. God loves us right where we are, but enough that He can create good changes. The next phase in weight loss was having a doctor who had the knowledge to help me. This part of my journey would have been impossible without Dr. Michael Carson. He encouraged me, monitored me, and had the medical know-how to help me start seeing results. This leads me to the final portion of my weight-loss story. Again, no part of this journey has been easy, but it has been so rewarding. It was hard to learn new habits and make different choices in my meals, but I know that it was also hard to do daily activities being 100-plus pounds overweight. I had to decide what "hard" I wanted to handle ... enter Mr. Warren T. Martin, owner of Sync Fitness & Movement. If you would have told me a year ago that I would wake up at 5 a.m. to fit in a 30-minute personal training session three days a week, I would have laughed in your face! Yet, here I am doing just

that. Thank goodness my daughter Brittainy decided to join me as an accountability partner in this newest adventure. The truth is once you've started learning to lose the weight, the next phase is all about daily habits that will keep it off. Finding a place to learn how to work out was important to me, and even though you can find a gym on almost every corner in town, I wanted a place that made me feel like a character from the sitcom “Cheers.” You know how it goes. I walk in the door and start hearing the following chorus in my head (go ahead, sing along with me) “Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came…” That's what I found at Sync Fitness. OK, so not everyone knows my name, but when I walk in, I see the folks who have become my community. I see the girl who walks that step machine every time I'm there and smiles at me when I come in. I see the group of women (every size and shape) doing their daily workout, laughing and pushing each other to success, and I find myself right there in the mix. Laughing, sweating profusely, and asking Warren what the heck is this exercise, and realizing there are muscles I didn't know existed! I found my people and I've found my place. As I'm writing this article, Brittainy and I are officially three weeks into a 10-week training program. By the time you read this, we will have completed our training and can't wait to show our end results. Most importantly, I pray this helps encourage you, especially if weight loss is your place of struggle. We have a wonderful 501 Community full of possibilities to help you find success. So rise up, look in that mirror, and boldly remind yourself that you are enough and you are worthy. Let me wrap this up in the ever-relevant words of Esther 4:14: “Perhaps you were MADE for such a time as this.”

Laurie and Brittainy at the start of a 10-week training program. Previous the page shows them after the program.

September 2021 | 43

44 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Photos by Mike Kemp



The human form is everywhere in Little Rock artist Kevin Kresse’s work — sculpture, paintings, drawings — and his love for portraying our physical selves will soon find a home at the U.S. Capitol. Kresse’s sculpture of Arkansas native Johnny Cash will greet Capitol visitors with the unique personality of a truly iconic singer, one of the greats raised in the Natural State’s Mississippi County. But Kresse’s work has captured our essential humanity for many years. Whether in galleries, exhibitions, or out on the streets and in parks, Kresse’s art brings to the outward form our inner selves, capturing more than just surface appearance. That's true with sculptural projects like one depicting Fort Smith, Arkansas-born Gen. William O. Darby — the World War II Darby’s Rangers leader. Sculptures like “Storytime,” which shows an older man reading with a child, and “The Family,” which shows parents playing with their kids in Little Rock’s Two Rivers Park, do much the same. “I like the storytelling and the emotional impact of people. That's

what I’m usually drawn to,” Kresse said. He strives to bring a level of emotion and gravitas, another layer of depth, he said. He wants to go beyond the simple likeness. The Cash job is where Kresse has directed his energies recently. “I had actually already started on a series of Arkansas musicians on my own. I’d gotten a commission to do Levon Helm that was over in the Delta,” he said. He started thinking about all the top-tier musicians from Arkansas. Thus, Kresse started on a 1960s version of Johnny, but the Washington, D.C., project soon popped up, courtesy of the Arkansas legislature. In a way, he had advance work done on a face tough to represent. “Because he has a very difficult face to get right,” Kresse reflected. He retooled his idea for more of a 1970s, TV show look to Cash’s form. “As an artist, you go mouth, nose, eyes, all parallel – nose right down the center of the face. That’s just sort of a hardwired thing that you do when you’re sculpting. His are just all slightly off,” Kresse said about Cash’s face. September 2021 | 45

That was a challenge, along with Cash’s personality. “I’ve said before if you do a biopic of someone, you have a couple of hours, and it still falls short. To try to freeze-frame somebody in a millisecond and convey all of this about someone’s life is quite the challenge,” Kresse said. But he was clearly up to the challenge and, ultimately, tapped for the job. The Cash family even said they wanted a ’70s-era Cash when three finalists were chosen, Kresse explained. He wanted to do more of a personal version of the man, rather than just the icon. “I think it has more emotional power,” Kresse said. “When you’re working, sometimes things just feel right, and you know you’re on the right track.” Other aspects clicked. Kresse found a Cash tribute artist to model for him. “Long story short, it turned out that he uses the same designer and tailor that made Johnny Cash’s clothes,” he said. Kresse uses an oil-based clay. He first did a 3-foot, full-figure model, then a bust where he worked out the likeness. After winning the job, he said, the Cash family was happy with what they saw. “Actually, I’ve kind of done most of the heavy lifting,” Kresse said. He will now work with an enlarged version of the figure - roughly 8 feet tall - with clay going on the foam figure as he sculpts details. Then it will be cast in bronze. “I’ll probably end up going with a dark patina because he was the Man in Black, and probably lighten up some of the skin tones, highlights,” Kresse said. He will visit the place where the sculpture is destined to sit near the Capitol entrance in D.C. and think about the lighting before completing the figure. For Kresse, he feels a responsibility to nail it and do his best. Currently, there are a lot of questions about the installation date, but the goal is to have it there by the end of 2022. “To be an Arkansas native son doing an Arkansas native son going to the U.S. Capitol, it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me artistically in my career,” he said. Looking at his body of work, it clearly hangs together. Earlier in Kresse’s career, teaching at what was then the Arkansas Arts Center gave him a chance to learn more sculptural techniques. He then learned to cast bronze, and it all built from there, he said.

Commissions rolled in. His interest in the figure that he explored via painting and drawing found a natural growth point in sculpture. “I’ve been able to support a wife and three kids doing sculpture and painting and everything now for 23 years,” Kresse said. Public art like the “Mother Earth Fountain” in the Argenta Arts District of North Little Rock brought his talent and vision to a new audience. He dedicated that massive, large-hearted, yet peaceful cement sculptural work (with mosaic flowers) to his late sister. “I really enjoy doing the public work because I was reaching people that I wouldn't normally reach just in the gallery shows,” Kresse said, adding, “That’s still one of my favorite pieces.” His “Icarus” series of oil paintings shows that same heart and humanity, referencing the mythological son of Daedalus who flew too close to the sun. The meaning hits close to home. “That was all about a good friend of mine who died. He was from New York. He burned hot. He was a special guy,” Kresse said. A series of self-portraits he collected under the name Dorian Gray Gallery at his website shows him tackling the timeless theme of aging, referencing a classic literary character with his personal touch. “They’re all me. I turned gray early,” Kresse admitted. Back when he was doing those in the 1990s, he observed that people did not have cellphones and could not take pictures all the time. Kresse doesn’t do many shows at galleries now, focusing more on public art. “I love the unexpected encounters with people. Well, the ‘Mother Earth,’ for instance. I had a woman come up to me and tell me that she and her daughter would go there every week to pray, and I was like, wow,” Kresse said. Artists do work and walk away, but people see the art when the artist is away. They have their own experience. “I’ve seen a couple of weddings take place there. Things like that are very special,” Kresse said, noting last year he painted his first mural at a 7th Street underpass in Little Rock, a response to what befell George Floyd. “That was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had really, just people stopping and thanking us, people coming up and donating money, bringing food and drinks,” Kresse said. “It was just a very fulfilling endeavor to do.”

At home - Kevin Kresse is creating an 8 foot tall sculpture of Johnny Cash for the U.S. Capitol.

The same, great ENT team you trust. Now with a new name.

Patrick L. Fraley, MD and Jeffrey P. Kirsch, MD, FACS

For appointments, call 501-932-7600

The Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Conway is now UAMS Health Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic.


Ranked in the Top 50 ENT programs in the nation*, UAMS Health has joined forces with the expert otolaryngology team in Conway to offer access to even more ENT specialty care.

2425 Dave Ward Drive, Suite 101 • Conway

Board-certified otolaryngologists, Dr. Jeffrey Kirsch and Dr. Patrick Fraley have joined UAMS Health along with their clinical staff. The team also includes an on-staff audiologist. Conditions and treatments include:

Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic

*U.S. News & World Report rankings 2021-22

General adult and pediatric ENT

Nose and sinus disorders

Balloon sinus surgery

One of only a few ENT clinics in the state focused on sleeprelated conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep studies, endoscopies and Inspire implant device – opens airways to aid in breathing

Hearing loss, hearing aids, chronic ear infections and vertigo

Pediatric ear tubes, tonsils and adenoid surgery

Thyroid and parathyroid disorders

Throat cancer and neck masses

Hoarseness, vocal nodules, chronic cough and chronic laryngitis

At UAMS Health, we are committed to bringing the highest quality of care to the people of Conway and its surrounding areas. We look forward to serving you and your family! September 2021 | 47

Ingrained in who we are 501 crops, livestock represent the whole of Arkansas By Judy Riley

Photo by Mary Alice Photography

Silas, Brad and Tara Peacock of Bald Knob believe farming is an unbeatable way of life.

When driving across the state, one might notice a tractor now and then or a herd of cattle but rarely think of the impact of agriculture in Arkansas. It is no accident that Arkansas ranks No. 1 among states in total rice production and in the top five in broilers, catfish, cotton, cottonseed, turkeys, and sweet potatoes. One wonders how farmers and ranchers in this small state can contribute so much toward feeding a hungry world. It is especially astounding because five out of eleven 501 counties are considered urban, according to U of A Division Of Agriculture’s “Rural Profiles of Arkansas.” And the variety of crops, horticulture, livestock, and poultry grown in the counties in the 501 area code mimic the composite of the state. If it is grown anywhere in the state, you can find it right here in the 501. From pine timber in Hot Spring and Van Buren counties to bottomland hardwood in the river valleys to soybeans, corn, wheat, and cotton in Lonoke, Conway, Perry, Pulaski, and White counties. And then there is livestock, poultry, and horticulture, including fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals grown in every 501 county. One does not have to drive far from a city or town to witness farmers at work and the economic impact is significant. According to figures from the Arkansas 2019 IMPLAN database, farm revenue in the 501 was more than $844 million. And the economic impact of jobs related to agriculture, including processing of agriculture, forestry, and fish products, was more than $459 million during that same year. So, what’s it like being responsible for a piece of this? Brad and Tara Peacock of Bald Knob are an example of a typical farm family in the 501. Brad graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a degree in agriculture business and, after trying the corporate world for three short months, returned to the farm of his roots. They grow row crops: rice, corn, and soybeans. A fifth-generation farmer, Brad 48 | 501 LIFE September 2021

says the farm is where he is meant to be. When asked why, he says, “Seeing the biblical principles of planting seeds in the soil, helping the plants grow, and the eventual harvest year after year is inspiring.” He adds that sunsets viewed from a tractor’s cab are the best. Brad admits his biggest challenge in farming is mother nature. The weather often dictates everything. Even though it takes valuable time, both Brad and Tara readily share the farming story with others, from Tara teaching a school group about agricultural products to Brad advocating for farmers. When asked about the safety of his products, Brad says he takes pride in being ethically responsible in all his farming practices. Like most farm families, the Peacocks are never discouraged. They proudly declare farming an unbeatable way of life. “It isn’t just about the investment of money, but also time. It’s not an 8 to 5 job; I’ve never seen a successful farmer who didn’t work till the job was done,” Brad said. “It takes commitment and dedication but is always worth whatever sacrifice.” Tara works full time as a graphic designer at Think Art in Searcy. “Even though there are demands on family time, my favorite part of farming is watching Brad do what he loves – and he’s good at it. He’s incredibly smart, patient and persistent,” Tara said. “We pour everything we have into growing a product that ultimately provides for the world. Sometimes the payout is good, and other times it’s not, but I ask myself, ‘If not us, who?’” She’s also glad to raise their son on a farm. “Silas loves to be outside. It’s an honor for me to raise our son watching his dad and papaw.” Will Silas follow the path travelled successfully by five generations before him? “Only if that’s what he wants to do,” Tara said. “We will support him either way. Regardless, he will have learned the value of hard work.”

September 2021 | 49

Gus Opitz:

A Man Ahead of His Time By Vivian Lawson Hogue

It took more than land and people to build the town that Conway founder Col. Asa Peter Robinson had in his always-forward-thinking mind. For a guy from Connecticut, he seemed to have a handle on the kind of people and entities needed for the town. So he built a school, a courthouse, a small “calaboose” (jail), a post office, and a train depot for what was then Conway Station, and all was done with his own funds. The town became incorporated with a name change to simply Conway in 1875, and its growth began in earnest. Robinson saw to it that there were businesses that served the real needs of the residents. For luxury items, there were always the mail-order catalogues, the 1872 versions of Amazon. Even lumber, nails, and hardware to build complete houses could be ordered to arrive by train, so Conway was becoming thoroughly modernized. As one might guess, farming and farm-related

50 | 501 LIFE September 2021

businesses were the prevailing livelihoods of many citizens of Conway and Faulkner County. By 1880, there were nearly 1,770 farms in the county. Besides cattle raising, cotton was king here, too. That called for blacksmiths, wagon yards, feedlots, gins, farm animal auctions, and small cafes for out-of-towners. Home and clothing needs were supplied at a successful dry goods store built by Max Frauenthal in 1872 and sold to cousins Jo Frauenthal and Leo Schwarz in 1892. Not all businesses were related to farming. A hand-drawn map by historian Robert L. Gatewood shows approximate locations of some of the small businesses in 1880. Besides physicians, lawyers, druggists, grocers, hoteliers, and owners of cotton gins, there were those who sold their own creations or services, such as carpenters, tinsmiths, cabinet makers, jewelers, printers, and saddlers. One of the needed businesses at the time was

lumber production, and one company was operated by Mr. Johann Gustav Opitz. While lumber was an obvious need then, he also produced wooden barrel staves. His great-grandson, Conway resident Johnny Opitz, related to me his knowledge of this enterprising man. “What I know about my great-grandfather, I know because of my father, my cousin Frank and the late Ed McMoran,” Johnny said. “Ed worked for Gus as a youngster, actually riding the log carriage that held the log as it passed into the blade. Gus would stand at the front facing the end of the log and would tilt his head either left or right to indicate which way Ed should roll the log on the next pass.” For many generations, Johnny’s ancestors in Germany were wheelwrights, or makers of wheels, so wood seemed to be destined to be in Gus’s life. Johnny added, “Gus was born in Marsdorf, Saxon, Germany, in 1867 and immigrated to Arkansas in 1882 at the age of 15.” The family of several children settled at Germania (Saline County), which was later renamed Vimy Ridge for the first Allied victory of World War I in Vimy Ridge, France. “While living there, the family wouldn’t light lamps at night for fear of neighbors shooting at them through the windows,” Johnny said. “Neither my grandfather nor his brother were taught any German words due to the danger posed in being German. “Gus married Isabelle Beaty in 1890, and that same year he opened a sawmill in Haskell (Saline County) and expanded with a mill at Conway. They lived on the road that still bears his name. He also operated a cotton gin and a general store and even had his own railroad spur. He was known for employing more




people than he needed just to provide jobs to folks in hard times.” Johnny continued, “Gus, along with his sons and their wives, moved to Conway to exploit the virgin timber here and start some businesses. He harvested much of the virgin timber here in Conway and all of the Palarm bottoms south of Mayflower. This supplied most of Conway’s timber building needs. “Sometime in the early 1900s, he had boarded a train on a whim and traveled out west, where he saw tourist courts for the first time. He later built a tourist court in Conway called Conway Cabins for his eldest son, Otis John. He also built a service station called Motor Service Station for the younger son, H.G. (Buck). Both businesses were on the same property as Gus’s sawmill/stavemill.” Belle died in 1932, and Gus closed the mill at Haskell and moved to Conway. After Gus died in 1943, Buck and Otis continued building and operating motels. Johnny adds, “Across the street on the west side of Washington Avenue at the Hunter Street intersection, the Bowen’s Tourist Court was built for my great-uncle, Clyde. Yet another one was constructed on the south end of town around the same time Gus’s sister built the Ideal Motel in 1945 on the new bypass.” It seems if Gus was looking for businesses with plenty of demand and one with little or no competition. It is safe to say his entrepreneurial spirit found them. John David (Johnny) Opitz is the son of the late John Henry and Eleanor Hardin Opitz. He stated that for generations all his paternal family’s first-born males were traditionally named “Johann,” “John,” or “Hans.”


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Tuesday: Culture and Heritage “Antiques Roadshow” “The Great British Baking Show” Wednesday: Best of British “Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palaces” “Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths & Secrets” “Secrets of the Six Wives” Thursday: Get Outside, Explore “Nature” “Native America” “Wonders of Mexico” “Exploring Arkansas” Friday: Science “NOVA” “Plants Behaving Badly” *Special “Tommy Emmanuel: A Music Gone Public Special”

September 2021 | 51

52 | 501 LIFE September 2021

501 LIFE Magazine is thrilled to announce the 11th Annual 501 LIFE Football Team! These players were nominated by their respective coaches and selected by members of 501 LIFE because of their on- and off-the-field attributes. Congratulations to our 2021 team: Andrew Miller (Harding Academy), Braden Efird (Bismarck), Braylon Watson (Malvern), Cain Simmons (Benton), Caleb Stroud (Maumelle), Colbe McBride (Bald Knob), Colton Lowe (Poyen), Ethan Cash (Vilonia), Gabe Morris (Mayflower), Garrett Farnam (Perryville), Jacob Hutto (Clinton), Jeremiah Canady (Morrilton), Jonathan Harrison (Cutter Morning Star), Keenan Hobbs (Bigelow), Logan Stephens (Beebe), Manny Smith (Conway), Nick Huett (Greenbrier), Payton Lentz (Conway Christian), Pierce Smalley (Hot Springs), Steven Cummins (Hot Springs Lakeside), Tyler Williams (Central Arkansas Christian), William Litton (Quitman) and Zach Roberts (Lake Hamilton). The 501 Football Magazine is being distributed across Central Arkansas. This year’s Team Sponsors are: Conway Regional Health System, First Security Bank, Moix Equipment & Toy Company and Velda Lueders Coldwell Banker RPM Group. September 2021 | 53

How PCCSD came to be in the 501 By Jessica Duff

The Pulaski County Special School District has provided quality education for Central Arkansas children for nearly 95 years. PCSSD was created in July of 1927 as a result of a statewide effort to consolidate small, rural school districts, which were often poorly funded. In the early 1920s, D.T. Henderson was superintendent of the Pulaski County Board of Education and studied the benefits of a single countywide school system, similar to what had already been established in neighboring states. In March of 1927, the Arkansas State Legislature passed a bill allowing counties with a population higher than 75,000 to vote on the creation of county-level school districts. Under this legislation, the district would be called Pulaski County Special School District. Cities with a population higher than 10,000 would be exempt

1975-1976 Sylvan Hills High School Bears Band.

54 | 501 LIFE September 2021

2017 Maumelle cheerleaders in Oak Grove High School uniforms.

from the consolidation, which included Little Rock and North Little Rock. Pulaski County voters overwhelmingly voted in support of the consolidation of 38 school districts into the Pulaski County Special School District. For more than five years, PCSSD was governed by the Pulaski County Board of Education, but in 1933, the state legislature abolished county-level boards of education and the PCSSD School Board was established.

About PCSSD Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927. PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.

In May of 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of schools across the country. But the Supreme Court failed to place a timeline on segregated schools. In 1959, Air Base Elementary School became the first PCSSD school to be integrated. Through the years, PCSSD continuously worked to close achievement gaps, eliminate disparities, place high expectations on all of our staff and students, and ultimately be declared unitary by the courts. In May 2021, Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. declared the district unitary, with the final issue to be resolved relating to facilities discrepancies between Mills University Studies High School and Joe T. Robinson Middle School. Currently, PCSSD spans more than 600 square miles and serves nearly 12,000 students with 27 schools, including a new completely virtual option for the 2021-2022 school year called DRIVEN Virtual Academy. Nearly 3,000 students attend schools in the Maumelle feeder zone. The Maumelle feeder within PCSSD includes three elementary schools (Crystal Hill, Oak Grove and Pine Forest), one middle school (Maumelle Middle), and one high school (Maumelle High School).

MADE IN THE 501 September 2021 | 55

Made by Moms

New school option promotes curiosity-driven and project-based learning By Brittany Gilbert Photo by Natalie Gunn

Moms Amber Neighbors and Gracie Hardy with their families. The moms have created a new school.

Over the last year and a half, it seems that more and more people

are open to different schooling options for their children, and there’s a new option in Conway beginning this year. Willow Roots Learning Center hopes to provide a new type of learning for children in Central Arkansas. Their mission is “to cultivate a safe community of inspired learners through a curiosity-driven and project-based learning approach.” The goal is to “empower students to become responsible, creative and critical thinkers, while nurturing empathy and emotional intelligence.” While searching for other school models, moms Gracie Hardy and Amber Neighbors started a conversation while working together at a local fitness center. “Through years of research, I narrowed down the vision to be a blend of some of the best practices of Montessori, Reggio Emilia, project-based, Forest School, and Waldorf methods,” Neighbors said. “I shared my research with Gracie, and we booked a road trip to visit an independent school in Dallas.” Their conversations soon began to include other like-minded moms who encouraged their research. “It was laid on our hearts during this season that if we wanted it to happen for our kids, why not do whatever it takes to provide this for our families and our community,” Neighbors said. Hardy and Neighbors each earned certifications to further their efforts in creating Willow Roots. Neighbors, who already has a bachelor’s degree, added a Forest School teacher certification to her training. Hardy is trained in emotional intelligence with Seed and Sew. They have also added certified early elementary teacher Danica Smith to their faculty. She is also certified in Connections in 3D and Phonics First. Similar to traditional schools, Willow Roots offers a full day of instruction each weekday. Math and literacy curriculums will be implemented, while a strong blend of history and science will be used in project-based learning. There will be no desks, however, alternate options for seating will be provided (wobble chairs, 56 | 501 LIFE September 2021

stand-up desks, carpet spots, etc.) There will be no lecturing or kids sitting for extended amounts of time. Problem solving will be a part of the entire day, as well as exploring through movement and sharing with peers/teachers. “Teachers will not be answering student’s questions but, instead, want to lead them to the answers, guiding them along the path,” Smith said. “Students will not depend on technology while doing research, but will explore in other areas, while promoting creativity and problem solving along the way.” Denmark is No. 3 in the world for education. They spend most of the time outside in nature and also focus heavily on peer interaction and problem solving. Willow Roots has a similar plan in mind. “They will spend the majority of their day outdoors,” Smith said. “Unlike [many] schools, we will be outside, with appropriate clothing, in rainy and/or cold temperatures. Also, students will have responsibilities at our school. They will care for their own garden plot, will learn to cook the food grown, and will be responsible for specific chores at the end of the day.” Willow Roots will be using Camp Beaverfork’s new facility at 150 Beaverfork Road. The campgrounds have more than 70 acres of land for student exploration. There are two ponds, an amphitheater, and a new, state-of-the-art kitchen where students will learn to prepare food. Homework and tests will not be completed in the traditional sense either. Students may be encouraged to observe things while away from school, but family time is emphasized. “We do have frequent assessments used solely to meet the child’s specific needs and measure growth, and these will be recorded in their learning portfolio,” Smith said. “We do not compare any child to the next. They are all on their own paths as they have diverse strengths, interests, and backgrounds.” Willow Roots will also offer a homeschool program in which parents can drop off their kids so they can participate once a week in a full day of nature-based learning.

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September 2021 | 57



Terrance Blake II’s mother has a picture

of him playing the drums when he was less than a year old. And now, at age 13, with a height of about 5 feet 7 inches, he still loves music. Because of years of lessons, he can play the drums and piano, and his heart is set on trying out for the jazz band at Conway Junior High School. He also plans to go out for the football team. His athleticism is shown in how he plays soccer year-round, plays football in the fall, and runs track each spring. “Soccer is his actual sport, and they start it in the ninth grade at school, but he has been playing since he was 6 or 7,” Cameria Blake said. “He is on a competitive team and did the three-by-three tournament and they won all their summer games. Soccer is usually little bitty guys, and a lot of times we have to keep his birth certificate with us. Lots of teams we play haven’t gotten their growth spurt yet.” But it’s still music in which he immerses

his life, according to his mother. He has taken lessons at the Conway Institute of Music since 2015. The teen’s love for piano began at his church. His mother said she and her husband noticed he liked it, and, during a summer program, someone told her he was picking it up by ear so well that they might want to invest in some lessons. He also loves playing the drums, and, like the piano, his first memory of the drums was seeing someone play at his family church, Salem Missionary Baptist, and then climbing up to the set after the service and banging on them himself. While church helped draw his attention to those instruments, Cameria said her young son discovered jazz on his own. “He was going to sleep, and I went in his room and there was jazz playing,” she said. “He likes to listen to jazz while he goes to sleep. He just likes all kinds of music.” Terrance said he doesn’t really know a way to explain his love for jazz, but he knows it’s important to him as a musician.

Terrance Blake II plays piano, drums, soccer and ninth grade football.

58 | 501 LIFE September 2021

“It’s kind of soothing I guess, and I know I just feel kind of attached to it,” he said. “I like it because you can make music that you really haven’t heard before and think it’s cool,” he said. “I like to hear my beats on the piano, and my friend comes by and he plays percussion as well. So whenever I play the piano, friends come over and might beat the drumsticks and beat on the chair while I play the piano. It’s fun.” Terrance hopes his talents will allow him to play in jazz band. He said his lessons have already helped him learn more about the music he is playing. “I think it helps me drastically,” he said. “When I first started, I thought it was hard to play, but now it’s just natural.” His mother said the lessons have helped him advance beyond playing by ear. “He had to go back and learn the notes,” she said. And now things are different. “Instead of just listening to the songs and pressing keys that sound just exactly like it, I actually know the notes on the paper,” Terrance said. “It was hard because you got so used to playing by ear, but now I play the actual notes.” Since he’s had a passion for music and sports most of his life, he is sure to be successful in both.

In 2008, Travis Hester left a finance career in Dallas with one plan in mind. “I’m gonna sell catfish on the side of the road.” Hester took his idea of a side-of-the-road catfish business to a local bank and received $ 30,000 to purchase a used, unairconditioned food trailer. In the middle of the hot summer, Hester opened up shop in Benton, cooked catfish for the VERY FIRST time … and within an hour was sold out. That food trailer became a local favorite,

Terrance has been interested in music for his whole life.

then a brick-and-mortar restaurant, then a 6 chain restaurant - all the while catering to all of Arkansas in that original trailer. Today, Hester credits the foundation of his family and the support of his friends for all they have accomplished. What began as a single case of fish has become the largest catfish provider in the state. Through it all, Hester still takes the time to visit, celebrate and thank his valued guests. “I am humbled by their support, they are my best catch ever!”

September 2021 | 59

60 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Compassionate Barb makes it easier for children who testify By Becky Bell

“If the prosecutor had a hard day, if the The saying is that a dog is a man’s best judge had a hard day, they just come and friend. But one dog named Barb proves to be hang out with Barb a little while. What a best friend to children who find themselves we didn’t expect was an increase in office in a courtroom. morale.” Barb, affectionately known as Courthouse Barb’s success with everyone she meets Barb, is a Labrador/golden retriever mix who works to comfort victims at the Faulkner in the prosecutor’s office means that County Prosecutor’s Office in Conway. the measures that went into getting her For the past five years, Barb has been used there are all worth it, Bradshaw said. In by the office to help children who are often 2014, Bradshaw began emailing other worried about testifying against an adult prosecutor’s offices across the state to find who hurt them, said Susan Bradshaw, Barb’s out if any of them used a dog for court primary handler. purposes. “When the children testify, she can be at These conversations led her to the their feet. She has been in six jury trials,” Courthouse Dog Foundation based in Bradshaw said. “Imagine if you had to be in Bellevue, Wash., and then to Canine front of strangers and talk about your most Companions, which has training centers difficult experience. It is such a unrealistic in California, Texas, Ohio, New York, and expectation for children. If we can provide Florida. them support to get through, then that’s a Bradshaw and Borden traveled to fantastic idea to help them.” California for their two-week process of Bradshaw and Barb’s other handler, Fawn Borden, meet with the children initially and getting trained on everything the dogs had introduce them to the highly trained dog. been trained on for their entire life. They One of the games Barb plays when she meets had to take a written and practical exam, the children is Tic Tac Toe. She picks a piece and then it was time for the agency to pair of kibble and continues to pick kibble until them with a dog. Fawn Borden and Susan Bradshaw are trained to work someone wins. with Courthouse Barb. “Well, they talk about how they have “Barb is not strategic; she just takes the better results than,” Bradshaw closest piece of kibble to her,” Bradshaw said. said. “The dogs are bred in Santa Rosa, “We use commands she has learned and turn Calif. When they are 8 weeks old, they are sent out to volunteer those into games so kids can be interactive with her.” puppy raisers. It’s a very selfless thing.” When a child is on the witness stand, they are not seen by the jury Having two handlers is important so that Barb can be used and neither is Barb, explained Borden. So, if a child becomes nervous regardless if one handler needs to be in another part of the during the questions, they can pet her with their feet. “They take their shoes off and put their feet on her, and they can courthouse that day. Most dogs like Barb work until they are 10 or so, and then they get to go home with their primary handler if he or she use their feet to rub along her,” Borden said. The children are not the only ones who enjoy Barb’s presence at wishes. And that’s Bradshaw’s wish. the courthouse, Bradshaw said. Barb already sleeps in her bed at night anyway.

September 2021 | 61

Art journaling gives voice to end-of-life experience By Susan L. Peterson

In 2004, Jennifer O’Brien impetuously enrolled in an art journaling workshop. Little did she know then that keeping an art journal would help her through her time as caregiver for her husband and aid her in understanding her grief. She didn’t know others would be interested in her very personal journey or that what she compiled for her personal benefit would one day be published and win awards. She certainly didn't anticipate that the pages in her journal had the power to help others in similar situations realize that the end-of-life journey is not only hard work and heartbreaking, but beautiful and rewarding. In 2015, when her husband, Dr. Bob Lehmberg, received a diagnosis of stage IV metastatic cancer, the couple felt uniquely suited to take on the job of Bob’s palliative care, with Jennifer being his primary caregiver. Jennifer was familiar with the medical field, having worked 30+ years as a physician consultant and administrator at three medical centers. She also helped close family members at the end of their lives. Working as a physician for 40+ years, Bob spent the last decade of his practice working with seriously ill and palliative care patients at the University of Arkansas fpr Medical Sciences. He loved what he did and continued working another 16 months even after his diagnosis. As a palliative care physician, Bob coined the term “precious time” to describe to families the point at which death is within sight, whether days, weeks, or months. It’s a time that calls for special preparations, kindness, and patience in order for survivors to have peaceful, comforting memories and not have regrets later about what was said or done. “The Hospice Doctor’s Widow: A Journal” (Et Alia Press, 2020) documents Jennifer’s innermost thoughts and feelings during their “precious time” (22 months) and throughout her grieving process. Her artwork provides a graphic representation of the words overlayed on them. The book is a unique compilation of email communications, notes, and honest personal reflections. It is tender, funny at times, and heartwarming. There is a to-do list and another titled “wish we had done ... ” Mostly, the book is a love story, told through visual art, poetic text, and a bit of “slap-in-the-face” reality. Jennifer never intended for her journal to be published. But when the wife of a friend received a rare cancer diagnosis, she showed the couple some of her loose 62 | 501 LIFE September 2021

pages. They found her words and wisdom both reassuring and comforting, from the perspectives of both caregiver and patient. She got similar feedback from Bob’s former colleagues who worked in palliative care. Encouraged by the positive response, she knew she should release her private journal into the public realm. Published in February of 2020, the book’s first award was a silver Nautilus Award in the category Death and Dying/Grief/ Loss. It won first place in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the category of Relationships, and it won a bronze award in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for its Gift/ Special/Journal category. Jennifer is amazed by the range of categories her book can be slotted into. Jennifer is now on a mission. “Death is our one constant. It’s something that will happen to everyone, but we don’t talk about it,” she says. She hopes her book will help families have open, honest discussions about end-of-life issues. It can also assist caregivers and those who want to support them. She is an ardent advocate for caregivers. “They are the ubiquitous, unsung heroes of our time.” Jennifer resides in Little Rock in the downtown condominium she and Bob downsized to after his diagnosis. There, surrounded by art the two collected and created, she continues making art and working as a proponent of end-oflife issues. She especially enjoys speaking to medical groups and caregivers. To find out more about Jennifer, order art prints, or get caregiver resources, visit her website, Her book may be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Et Alia Press (, which will provide a 20% discount and free shipping through the month of September by using the code HDW20.

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September 2021 | 63


Faulkner County: Marvin Delph

He was not a triplet at birth, but two decades had hardly passed before he and the label became inseparable. Although Marvin Delph performed sensationally in high school, it was only after his skills teamed with those of Ron Brewer and Sidney Moncrief in University of Arkansas intercollegiate play that he not only enjoyed his greatest basketball success, but earned a special niche in the state’s sports history. As long as tales of The Triplets resonate throughout Arkansas, Marvin Delph’s court exploits will garner respect. Yet his troubled youth hardly foreshadowed the stability that followed. Born in Conway on September 15, 1956, his mother a teacher and his father a city worker, he had what he termed “a great childhood,” but one replete with rebellion. Racial integration was taking its toll on the city’s K-12 education, and Marvin found the period, in his words, “tense and uneasy.” Transitioning from Pine Street Elementary to Conway Junior after six years led to three dismissals from school basketball squads; grades 7, 8, and 9 all ended identically, with him not with his school team but in pick-up games on the First United Methodist Church playground. In retrospect, he terms himself “a rebel without a cause.” Clearly however, he was “a rebel” with rare basketball potential. C.D. Taylor, Conway Senior High basketball coach, notified Marvin that he would be welcome on his varsity but emphasized that if he were not available at season’s close, his public-school basketball career would be ended and his chances for a university basketball grant and career nonexistent. In effect, Taylor assured Marvin that his first high-school season would be his last and his hopes for aid and play in higher education dashed if he quit yet another time. Marvin did not squander his final opportunity. Never again did 64 | 501 LIFE September 2021

thoughts of quitting surface. Following a season of transition came two campaigns in which the Wampus Cats went unbeaten, 1973 and 1974, earning state AAA championships in both, while Marvin claimed a pair of state tournament MVP trophies. Also in the spring of 1974, with ink hardly dry on his Razorback head basketball coaching contract, Eddie Sutton raced to make Marvin his first recruit. Successful, the coach had acquired the first of the trio who allowed him years later to proclaim that, “No coach has been as blessed to have three guys [all from a small state like Arkansas, and] all 6-4 on the same team that could play like they could … wonderful talents … all could shoot, run, defend and rebound. Any one of them could have led the nation in scoring.” But none did. In June of 2021, the Conway native revealed what had long been suspected, confessing that like Brewer and Moncrief, who joined him in 1976, he subscribed to iconic coach John Wooten’s belief that “it’s amazing how much could be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.” The Triplets were intercollegiate basketball’s epitome—the embodiment—of selflessness and probably the sport’s most successful and celebrated threesome ever. Also schooled in Sutton’s three D’s—discipline, dedication, defense—

they burst upon the nation’s basketball scene in 1976 with eye-catching finesse and immediately soared into the affections of fans everywhere. Sportscaster Al McGuire soon sensed their unity and uniqueness and christened them The Triplets, a perfect moniker for a trio virtually identical in size, style, and skills who appeared to have been joined at the hip at birth, so handsomely coordinated and effective was their play. Success accompanied their surging popularity, a superb 19 and 9 record their first year together, a sparkling 26 and 2 mark in 1977. Almost inexplicably, however, the Razorbacks fell to underdog Wake Forest University in the 1977 Midwest Regional, and their quest for national honors was abruptly ended. The following season would contain no such setback. Compiling a 32 and 4 mark, the Hogs claimed a victory over favored UCLA en route to a place in the prestigious Final Four. Not even a loss in the semifinals could blemish the unprecedented credibility and luster The Triplets had brought to Razorback basketball. A premier national program had emerged. In the years that have followed, modesty and an ingratiating smile have characterized Marvin when discussing his innumerable basketball achievements and honors. Paramount in his explanations are his gratitude and commitment to the Almighty, whose “amazing grace,” he proclaims, has renewed him “when I have not always lived up to His standard of righteousness … when I blew it.” For over two decades, he has been a popular, successful salesman for Family Heritage, a subsidiary of Globe Life Insurance Co. Faulkner County and the 501 are fortunate that such an esteemed native son remains productive on native soil.

Delph being interviewed on KCON radio by Bill Johnshon after the Wampus Cats had won their second straight Arkansas State Baskeball Championship in 1974.

"The Triplets," Marvin, Ron and Sidney in 2000.

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September 2021 | 65

The Unseen Light of the 501 Story and photos by Linda Henderson

St Boniface Church, Perry County

66 | 501 LIFE September 2021

I have an interest in an unusual form of photography. It is infrared photography. If you are old enough to remember Life Magazine, then you may remember the outstanding black and white images that were in that magazine. Most likely, many of the photos that really stood out to you were infrared. Infrared images are easily recognized by their radiant white trees and jet-black skies, or by an unreal color cast. Plants and trees reflect infrared light, making them appear to glow, while water and skies reflect extraordinarily little infrared light. The sky and water will appear very dark in an infrared photo; clouds, however, do absorb the infrared light, so they appear very white. Infrared (IR) light surrounds us. Human eyes lack the ability to see this light. The visible spectrum that humans can see is in the wavelength of 400 nanometers to 700 nanometers. This narrow band of light enables us to see violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red light. Light waves less than 400 are ultraviolet light, waves greater than 700 are infrared light and not seen by the human eye. The source of infrared light is the sun. My interest in this form of photography started many years ago when I was introduced to it in my high school photography class. Then, all that was required for this type of photography was a camera, infrared film, and a lens that adapted to the light. IR film was extremely hard to shoot, process, and develop. It almost ruined my grade in that class. I chose infrared film as my final assignment. Not one of my photos turned out, but because I was willing to try a difficult project, my teacher gave me a passing score. I learned a life lesson from that project: Choosing the hard option may not always end in success, but the experience may be the success. Infrared film is no longer commercially available, but with modern cameras, it is possible to shoot infrared images with either a special filter over the lens or by having a camera modified or converted to capture light greater than 700 nanometers. A few years ago, I had a camera converted to IR so that I could see and capture that unseen light. Choosing the right subject is important with this kind of photography. For the best results with IR, it is best to remember that if it is alive, it will reflect IR light. If it is non-living, it will absorb IR light. Foliage and trees will give infrared’s trademark white glow. Bright sunlight is not required, but high contrast will render the best black and white infrared photographs. The best time to shoot IR is in the summer. The spring/summer seasons provide more greenery and ensure there is plenty of chlorophyll in the leaves. Shooting greenery with something man-made like stonework or weathered wood will provide a beautiful image. This style of photography is not for everyone, and I am definitely not an expert in IR, but I am enjoying seeing the 501 in an unseen light and producing photos that few are creating.

The Old Mill in North Little Rock

Vehicle found off Hwy. 64 in Faulkner County

Faulkner County Museum Log Cabin

Lonoke County

September 2021 | 67

Sunflower at Camp Robinson in Mayflower

Barn in Conway County

Sunrise at Petit Jean State Park

68 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Historic Big Boy No. 4014 steam locomotive

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Muscle & Joint Pains Myofascial Pain Neck Pain Neuropathy Pelvic Pain Postherpetic Neuralgia Sacroiliac Joint Pain Spinal Stenosis

Stop living in pain. With a referral from your PCP, our team of pain management providers will treat your pain and help you get back to living!

NEW LOCATION! 118 Central Avenue • Searcy, AR 72143 • September 2021 | 69

Hematology/Oncology physician joins

Conway Regional Multispecialty Clinic Neelakanta Dadi,

MD, has joined the team at Conway Regional Health System. Dadi will be practicing alongside Rachana Yendala, MD, and Lindsay Massey, APRN, at the Conway Regional Multispecialty Clinic. “I am excited to begin the journey with Conway Regional,” said Dadi. “Expanding access to Hematology-Oncology services is important for patients in the area in order to receive the high-quality care they need. I am thrilled to be part of the Conway Regional team.”  Hematology-Oncology physicians see and treat patients for a wide variety of blood diseases and cancer. Dadi received his internal medicine residency training at the University of Utah. He then completed his hematology-oncology fellowship at the Fiest Weiller Cancer Center at Louisiana State University.  “The expansion of hematology/oncology services has been greatly needed in the community and we are excited to welcome Dr. Dadi to our medical staff,” said Rebekah Fincher, chief administrative officer for Conway Regional. “The addition of Dr. Dadi’s practice will greatly increase accessibility to Hematology-Oncology services.” The Conway Regional Multispecialty Clinic provides specialty services including hematology, oncology, rheumatology, and pulmonology services in conjunction with Conway Regional Medical Center. The Conway Regional Multispecialty Clinic is located at 525 Western Ave. Suite 305. For more information, call 501.358.6145. Neelakanta Dadi, MD.

70 | 501 LIFE September 2021

At Bledsoe Chiropractic, we specialize in chiropractic adjustments, both hands-on manual and computerized instrument adjusting. In addition, we offer massage therapy, posture and balance rehab, laser therapy, kinescoping, custom orthotics, acupuncture and decompression. We live here, we work here and we love our patients like family! We go above and beyond and offer more bang for your buck than any other chiropractor. We pride ourselves on being generous and affordable! We accept most insurance policies and offer payment plans.

We have moved to a larger, more convenient location, but one thing hasn’t changed - our mission: Hope through Healing. We use chiropractic and our therapies as tools to show our patients love. A big part of their experience is the positivity shown by our entire team of healing hearts and hands! Not only is chiropractic care safe, effective and 100% natural—but it’s safe for the entire family. Our team frequently adjusts babies who are just hours old to someone who just turned 97. We help with much more than your back - come see us for your feet, sinuses, dizziness, and much more!!

September 2021 | 71

Conway Chamber honors businesses, individuals at Annual Meeting A host of businesses, individuals, and community members were celebrated at the Conway Chamber annual meeting on Aug. 12 at the University of Central Arkansas’ HPER Center. The awards recognize excellence in business, community service, and the advancement of Conway. This year's winners are:

The Guy W. Murphy Distinguished Service Award was presented to Shelia Isby. This is the Chamber's highest form of recognition. Established in 1957, this award is presented annually to an individual or group who has demonstrated an active leadership role for the betterment of the community through their involvement in business, civic, and social service organizations.

The Lloyd Westbrook Good Neighbor Award was granted to Tremayne Harris. This award recognizes an individual who has given his or her time and talents to the betterment of the community. Candidates are known for going beyond the call of duty to help others. The nominee exemplifies

Shelia Isby

Tremayne Harris

outstanding public service to the Conway area.

The Business Executive of the Year Award was presented to two people: Vickey Kirkemier and Brent Salter. The award recognizes the owner, executive, or president of a business who has displayed outstanding performance in either an individual or collaborative endeavor. The nominee is a driving force behind the company and works to maintain an enriched business climate and an enhanced quality of life in Conway. Vickey Kirkemier

The Young Business Leader of the Year Award

was granted to Gilberto Garcia. Gilberto is the co-founder, president, and financial advisor at Garcia Wealth Management-Northwestern Mutual. 72 | 501 LIFE September 2021

Brent Salter

Outstanding Conway

Businesses of the Year: get f ra m e d at

Pa t t e r s o n E y e C a re WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER INSTITUTE (Outstanding Nonprofit) PEDIATRICS PLUS Outstanding Large Employer

BRICK AND FORGE TAPROOM Outstanding Hospitality

KONA ICE Outstanding Small Business

ROCK CITY OUTFITTERS Outstanding Retailer 2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR


September 2021 | 73


Karen Aufdenberg Reynolds Arkansas Department of Agriculture Program Manager

Photo by Mike Kemp




I have been married for 30 years to Mike Reynolds. We have a beautiful blended family with four adorable granddaughters and their parents, Mary Kathryn and Scott, and Michael and Brooke. Our daughter, Emily, is getting married this month, so we are excited to gain a new son-inlaw, Chris.


Bachelor of Arts degree in advertising from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (during Bear Bryant’s final years.)


I have worked for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture for the past two years after several years in agri-marketing for John Deere dealers across the country. I support our local farmers, producers, and farmer veterans through the Arkansas Grown, Arkansas Made, and Homegrown By Heroes programs. These are the people who grow and produce our food for farm-to-table.


Although I grew up in a farm family, I was away from agriculture when I lived in New York City, Chicago and Atlanta. I was still connected to agriculture while managing family farming operations, but from a distance both geographically and culturally. When I returned to the 501 and started working with farmers again, I was struck by how dedicated, 74 | 501 LIFE September 2021

unselfish, hardworking, and innovative our farmers are. They are mission-driven; they are not working a 9 to 5 job. As a former farmer, I am compelled to help them build their business if I can. Many resources are available to our farmers, but they are too busy farming to look for them. Helping our farmers can also have a positive impact on other social issues, such as food insecurity and nutritional needs.


New Life Church


My family, pictures of my family, letters from my family … notice a pattern here?


Exploring our beautiful state, traveling backroads, visiting local farmers markets and state parks.


There are many reasons to love the 501, but my No.1 reason is the people. Family, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers – the people in Arkansas are special. I have lived in 10 states, and by comparison, I find most of the people in Arkansas are friendly, caring, and helpful. I lived in the 501 in the 1980s and moved away in the early 1990s. In 2014, we were at a place where we could live anywhere, and we chose to move back to the 501. We are so happy we did!

A Growing Health System for a Growing Community

Left to Right: Dr. Don Steely and Dr. Rimsha Hasan of Conway Regional Cardiovascular Clinic

Expanded Access

More Specialists

Innovative Services

New Medical Offices

All That Your Heart Needs, All in One Place At Conway Regional, we strive daily to exceed the standards in heart care. Led by a highly-skilled group of interventional cardiologists and emergency department physicians, we have one of the state's best door-to-balloon times for providing emergency heart care.

We’re not just growing—we’re growing together. September 2021 | 75

Bank Better with us. When you choose First Security, finding the right home gets even better. That’s because our bankers are here to make the whole process easier, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner. So you end up with the home you want – and the experience you deserve.

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