December 2021

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December 2021 | 1

2 | 501 LIFE December 2021



To our associates, who have shown compassion, perseverance, and strength in the midst of unprecedented circumstances. Unity Health is stronger because of you.


ARKANSAS December 2021 | 3

Photo by Emilee Thomas

Angelic Harlow Hurst stands beside Stefanie Brazile and a young shepherd, Kameron Hurst.

Most people are looking for a particular song, dessert, movie, sacred

service, or gift to feel that they are prepared to celebrate Christmas with the right mindset. For me, the quintessential event is watching a children’s play about Christ’s birth. It’s hard to keep a straight face when you see shepherds clanging staffs, hear unplanned lines, see someone tugging at an uncomfortable costume, or watch some little rebel with a cause fall back and lay on the stage for the entire production. One such moment occurred when a director borrowed a doll for “Mary” from her younger sister, who was playing an angel. In the middle of the magi arriving, the younger sister grabbed Jesus and ran off-stage yelling, “That’s my baby!” I had another funny moment while teaching Children’s Church with my daughter. One of us was reading a children’s version of the Christmas story and said, “and Mary had her baby,” to which one child responded, “I thought she had a little lamb?” I’ve always enjoyed these authentic responses from children, especially when it was someone else’s child. I hope I’ve made you smile because it’s time for joy and celebration as we recognize the birth of our Lord. Communities throughout this region have planned special events for you and yours to enjoy. Check our extensive Calendar of Events beginning on page 8. We have packaged many holiday-themed stories and smiles in this issue from our staff to you. We offer beautiful decorations, human interest stories, gingerbread houses, Santas galore, and famous Christmas light displays. Our fashion section will even get you ready for a festive New Year’s Eve. You’ll also find our monthly features and ideas for personal gifts from experts. We’ve worked hard to bring you all things holiday. As the magazine comes to the end of the this year of “Celebrating Greater Central Arkansas,” we are grateful to our readers, advertisers, writers, photographers, editorial boards, copy editors and designers.

May the glorious message of peace fill you with joy this season.

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

CONTRIBUTORS Becky Bell Don Bingham Donald Brazile Jessica Duff Tina Falkner Laurie Green Dwain Hebda Linda Henderson Vivian Lawson Hogue Beth Jimmerson

MIke Kemp Mark McDonald Mark Oliver John Patton Susan Peterson Dr. Robert Reising Judy Riley Donna Lampkin Stephens Morgan Zimmerman


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

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 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.

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December Volume 14 Issue 8

4 7 8 10 12 14 18 20

Letter from the Editor List of advertisers/Writers’ Room Upcoming events Loving LIFE photos Noon Lions Club honors Grand Old Flag Fashion: New Year’s Eve outfits 501 Couple of the Month: Majors Stephanie & Bill Mockabee Holiday decor tips and ideas

By Jessica Coleman & Deanna Carpenter

On the cover Conway Santa and Mrs. Claus are busy preparing toys for children in Central Arkansas.

24 501 Youth of the Month Nathaniel Richardson

By Dwain Hebda

26 The traveling gingerbread house

By Morgan Zimmerman

30 Entertaining: Savory Roquefort Cheesecake

Photo by Mike Kemp

By Don Bingham

32 A healthy home for the holidays

By Mark Middleton

34 Searcy Santa collection

By Brittany Gilbert

36 Nutrition program for tight budget

By Judy Riley

38 Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights

By Dwain Hebda


42 501 LIFE staff shares Christmas memories 44 Artist feature: Ellen Hobgood paints Santa

By Donna Lampkin Stephens

46 Christmases forever in my mind

By Vivian Lawson Hogue

48 Healthy kid-approved menus at PCSSD

By Jessica Duff

52 Energy smart winterization tips By Beth Jimmerson 54 Living in a howliday wonderland

By Donna Benton

58 Kid feature: Will Schlientz

By Becky Bell

60 Beans, peas and carols

By Donald Brazile

62 501 Author: ‘The Power of Bread’

By Susan Peterson

64 Athletic Excellence: Mike Malham, Lonoke County

By Dr. Robert Reising

68 Backstories of Christmas traditions

By Linda Henderson

74 Giving yourself the gift of peace

By Laurie Green


Beauty advice for an uplifting holiday

By Susan Isom

76 78 79 82

AR PBS wins five Mid-America Emmy Awards AR foundation affiliate celebrates 20 years Conway Downtown Partnership celebrates 20 years Person of the month: Roy Johnson

6 | 501 LIFE December 2021


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

Arkansas Coding Academy - UCA, 74 Arkansas PBS, 77 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, 63


Bledsoe Chiropractic, 17 Blue Barn Bakery, 67


Centennial Bank, 41 Conway Corp, 59 Conway Institute of Music, 61 Conway Regional Health System, 83 Conway Regional Rehab, 73


DDS Denture + Implant Solutions, 81 DJM Orthodontics, 72 Down South, 67 Downtown Conway, 28-29 Downtown Searcy Jolly Jubilee, 35


E. L. Clinical Esthetics, 75 Edward Jones, 71


First Community Bank, 53 First Security Bank, 84 First Service Bank, 13 First United Methodist, 51 Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling, 9


Grace Presbyterian, 51

From North Little Rock to the North Pole -

Everyone Loves 501 LIFE! For only $20 a year, have this Central Arkansas Gift of Good News delivered to you and the ones you love. Copies go fast each month. Home delivery ensures you never miss an issue!

Email or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe. 501lifemag



Catch 501 LIFE on KARK News with Mallory Brooks at 12:30 p.m. on December 3.


Hartman Animal Hospital, 55 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA, 65 Heritage Living Center, 5


Julie's Sweet Shoppe, 27

welcome to the Writers’ Room


Koontz Electric Company, 57


Methodist Family Health, 37 Middleton Heat and Air, 49 MSC Eye Associates, 70


Ott Insurance, 22


Patterson Eye Care, 35 Pulaski County Special School District, 48


Reynolds Performance Hall, 66 Rik Sowell Architects, 43


Vivian Lawson Hogue


A native of Conway, Vivian graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in art education. A retired teacher, she worked in the Conway School District for 23 years. She can be reached at

Salem Place, 33 Shelter Insurance, 70 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 15 Smith Ford, 40 South Conway County Schools, 23 St. Joseph Catholic, 51 Stoby's/PattiCakes, 50 Stroud's Furniture, 67 Superior Health & Rehab, 2

Dwain Hebda is an award-winning writer, editor and journalist as well as president of his own editorial services company Ya!Mule Wordsmiths. Published in more than 35 publications, Dwain specializes in telling extraordinary stories about everyday people. Contact him at

Susan Peterson

holds a Ph.D. in education and taught at the University of Central Arkansas and Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Retired, Susan spends her time painting and creating pottery and is a member of the Arkansas Literacy Association. Reach her at susanleepeterson@

Unity Health, 3 University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, 45 University of Central Arkansas, 79


Woodland Heights Baptist, 51

December 2021 | 7


Christmas on Main will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. There will be vendors, booths, hot chocolate, train rides for kids, a tree-lighting ceremony, and Santa plans to attend. Send questions to


It’s a wonderful (Conway) Life! is planned for 7:30 p.m., Dec. 4, at Reynolds Performance Hall. The Conway Symphony Orchestra will perform and holiday favorites will be sung by the Conway Men’s Chorus. Enter the “It’s a Wonderful (Conway) Life!” photo contest through the website or Facebook page. Winners’ photos will be projected above the orchestra during the performance. Buy tickets at Downtown attractions will be offered from 5 to 10:30 p.m., through Dec. 31: A 100-foot and mini Ferris wheel for $5/$3. Horse-drawn carriage rides will be $5 per person with a $20 minimum. Boys and Girls Club Christmas Bingo fundraiser will be held Saturday, Dec. 11. Doors open at 5:30 and games begin at 6:30 p.m. at 1405 Robins St. The cost is $25 for 20 games. For information call Liza Bray at 501.329.8849.


Glisten in Greenbrier offers an ice skating rink, light displays and concessions from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursdays; 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays*; 1 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays; and, 4 to 9 p.m. on Sundays in Matthews Park, through Jan. 1. The "Rise Up in Lights" Christmas Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9. at 7:15 p.m., Santa will offer a bedtime story.

Hot Springs

Wonderland at Garvan Woodland Gardens runs daily* through New Year’s Eve. Exhibits are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last admission sold at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on site: adults are $15, children ages 4-12 are $5, 3 and under are free and dogs are $5. The light extravaganza features over 4.5 million lights in a variety of natural settings and many concerts, scavenger hunts and games enhance the experience.

Little Rock

The Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Street Fair will be held from 12 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, on Capitol Avenue between Victory and Cross Streets downtown. The Capitol Christmas Lighting Ceremony is planned for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Arkansas State Capitol Front Steps. Marlisa Goldsmith with THV will emcee. Representatives from Easter Seals will help “flip the switch” to set off fireworks and turn on the lights outlining the Capitol Building, the PEACE Lights above the bronze doors, and the Christmas tree inside. Afterwards, the crowd will be invited inside to look at decorations and visit Santa in his workshop.


The Conway County Christmas Parade will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2. The theme is “Parade of Trees” and the Grand Marshall is Shekinna Stricklen, a WNBA player.

*Daily attractions will likely close on Christmas day.

8 | 501 LIFE December 2021

North Little Rock

The Christmas Parade will kick-off at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, and begins on Pershing Blvd. in front of Laman Library. It will turn right on Main Street and end at the river. The parade route will run the entire length of Main Street in NLR.


The Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights runs through Dec. 30. The one-mile trail begins near the Sherwood Sports Complex and offers thousands of lights, spectacular displays, and holiday scenes.


Little Rock Capitol Christmas Lighting Ceremony photo by Secretary of State Staff Photographer Lori McElroy

Holiday of Lights Events will have special attractions through January 2*. The parks will be illuminated with more than one million cascading lights. The Living Nativity at First Assembly of God will be held on Dec. 4–5 and 10–12. Arkansas’ Largest Santa Collection is on display at the Carmichael Community Center from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Ice Skating at Spring Park is offered from 5 to 10 p.m. on the following dates: Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23, 30-31 and Jan. 1. Cost is $5 per person for 45 minutes. Cash and cards only, no bills larger than a twenty. Check Facebook “Skating at Spring Park” for information. Wonderland at Garvan Woodland Gardens

December 2021 | 9



Headed out on a special trip? Have a special occasion or get-together 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

Bear fans were “Loving LIFE” at the UCA vs. Stephen F. Austin State University game at Estes Stadium. Mary Lackie (from left), Karen and Curtis Barnett, Cherisse Jones-Branch, UCA President Houston Davis and First Lady Jenny Davis, Bunny Adcock, Cornell Maltbia and his nephew Jordan Ester. Ms. Van Buren County Fair Queen Nita McCoy (from left) and Senior Mrs. Van Buren County Fair Queen Jackie Sikes were “Loving LIFE” and honoring veterans at Indian Rock Village on Veterans Day.

Samaritan’s Purse volunteers were “Loving LIFE” as they promoted Operation Christmas Child giving in downtown Conway. Ayden (from left), Danny, Ashley and Atley Overstreet.

Whimscial Toad was “Loving LIFE” in Historic Downtown Conway as he enjoyed the Christmas shoppers.

Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce members were “Loving LIFE” at a Business After Hours event. Jennifer Tilton (from left), Theda Mahony, Ruth Tiapula, Sarah Thorpe, Deeandra Johnson, Karin Smith, Jazmynn Davis, and Amanda Fox.

St. Joseph High School senior Megan Garrett was “Loving LIFE” on Nov. 12 when she was crowned Homecoming Queen. She was escorted by her father, Mike Garrett.

Girl Scouts from Troop 6073 were “Loving LIFE” at Girl Fest: STEAM Expo on Nov. 13 at the Conway Expo Hall. On that day, 150 girls and 80 adults came together to celebrate everything that is Girl Scouts.

Jessica Davis (from left) and Amanda Robinson of Conway were “Loving LIFE” before running in the 21st Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. They were really loving life when they finished!

Veterans were “Loving LIFE” at the annual Veterans Day Celebration at Julie’s Sweet Shoppe. Jim Richardson (Army) (from left), Stanley Dogett (Air Force), Jerry Hicks (Navy) and Dale Harlen (Air Force).

Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker was “Loving LIFE” when he was recognized at the annual Veterans Day Celebration at Julie’s Sweet Shoppe as the male with the most years served (35 years). He was a Command Sergeant Major in the Army.

BancorpSouth staff were “Loving LIFE” at the recent ribbon cutting on Oak Street in Conway. Andrea Parker (from left), Brian Atkins, Donna Rogers, Community Bank President Tom Nelson, Piper Beaudin, Pamela Lozano and Shanetta Stewart.

December 2021 | 11

Photo by Mike Kemp After placing a flag outside the 501 LIFE Magazine office, members are ready for their next flag delivery. Noon Lion’s Club President Denny Brown (from left), Ritchie Howell and George Newton.


Conway Noon Lions honor Grand Old Flag By Dwain Hebda


here are few among us who can cite four decades in any affiliation, but that’s precisely the lofty accomplishment Ritchie Howell has attained within the Conway Noon Lions Club. The retired banker has made the most of that time, working through the ranks of club officers and working on various projects. But one project he took over a couple of years ago helps the Central Arkansas native to leave his mark on the community above all others. Howell chairs the club’s Don Dalton Patriot Project, an annual subscription service in which club members put out flags for participating businesses on 10 patriotic holidays. Howell, 69, administers the program with fellow Lion George Newton. He said the club has around 125 subscribers grouped into routes for individual members to manage, including installation and maintenance of flagpole brackets and the delivery, set up and take down of the flags themselves on the appropriate observances. “It really looks good to drive through an area and see the businesses and shops with all the flags out front, particularly in downtown Conway,” Howell said. Graduating from the University of Central Arkansas, Howell immediately began his 41-year banking career with Union National Bank. He served the last 20 years for Simmons Bank, from which he retired a little more than five years ago as president of the Conway market. As a community banker, he had plenty of opportunities to get involved with various clubs and boards, from the local

12 | 501 LIFE December 2021

Chamber of Commerce and Haven to the United Way and his church, First United Methodist. And, of course, the Lions Club, which started looking for a program to emphasize patriotism shortly after 9/11. “The person behind this was a member at that time, Ken Ingram,” Howell said. “Following 9/11, there was a wave of patriotic activity and we were looking for a way to bring that patriotic movement to life.” “Ritchie is our go-to person,” said Denny Brown, president of the club who also manages a route with the program. “He repairs the brackets for the flags, he delivers flags if we need replacements. He’s our quarterback; we can depend on him for getting the flags out. He does a great job.” Howell deflects such individual praise. He said the community impact goes far beyond the funds the program raises for the Lions’ other charitable work. Many members make their flag route a family affair, helping spread love of country and community to the next generation. “We have a member, Kim Tyler, who was putting up flags during one holiday recently, and she took her 4-year-old nephew Tyler Lewis with her,” he said. “They put up a dozen flags, and Tyler insisted every time a flag was put up, they had to say ‘The Pledge of Allegiance.’ That was a pretty cool thing for a kid that age to say something like that. That’s what keeps you involved.” To subscribe to the Don Dalton Patriot Project, call Howell at 501.339.8585. To learn more about the Conway Noon Lions Club, visit

December 2021 | 13

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Make the season


Shop online at December 2021 | 15


twenties friendly

KRISTA IS READY TO RING IN THE NEW YEAR IN HER MATCHING SET FROM HIPSWAY. Who doesn't love a good sequin for NYE? We love the sparkle that can be taken from day to night! Pair with a fun statement earrings and a boot and you're ready for the night!

thirties friendly

HEATHER IS PLAYFUL AND CHIC IN THIS GOLDEN GIRLS OUTFIT. New Year’s Eve is all about having fun and that’s exactly what this outfit is! We love taking our go-to black denim up a notch by adding fun prints and pops of color. Don’t be afraid to mix it up! Then, finish off the look with a trendy pair of studded heels and beautiful gold jewelry. Now you’re all set for wherever your night may take you!

These earrings found at HipSway are sure to stand out, with champagne bottle beading.

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forties+ friendly

GEORGEANN WILL BE BUBBLY AND COMFORTABLE IN THIS ENSEMBLE FROM KINDRED MERCANTILE. Ring in the New Year looking sassy! Animal print is a classic! Satin tapered pants give just enough twist to catch the eye while remaining comfy with an elastic waist! It’s all about design in this popular velvet bomber jacket with eyelet sleeve details. You’re never complete without the best accessories. This locally made essential oil necklace brings a positive message: “Kind words speak life.” Complete the look with leather detailed earrings, a magnetic closure bracelet, and a classy small backpack is now an essential.

December 2021 | 17




HER STORY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Wheeling, W.Va. EDUCATION: Associates of Arts degree. PARENTS: Ed and Goldie Long – Wheeling, W.Va. COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Member of Kiwanis Club in North Little Rock. HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: I enjoy being outdoors. Hiking is where I find peace in my busy world. Exploring all the beautiful places surrounding Little Rock has often led to getting lost in the woods, which unfortunately happens more than I care to admit. We have recently added a new family member to our house. Our puppy requires a lot of time and energy. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: I like to think I am a kind and thoughtful person. I am a passionate person, working hard at whatever the task is, big or small. I think I take myself too seriously, not stopping as often as I should to enjoy the little things. I am a protector, rooting for the underdog and doing what I can to help with their success. WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: I am more

sensitive than what I let on.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: I want to always possess a kind and loving heart, but never lose a fearless spirit.

HIS STORY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Moving around the South – I’ve never lived in one city more than five years my entire life. THE SOUTH is the short answer. EDUCATION: BA in Christian Ministry from Trevecca University. PARENTS: William and Debra Mockabee – retired Salvation Army officers who live in Midlothian, Texas. COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Rotarian at Club 99 in Little Rock. HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Hiking, kayaking, golfing, and Alabama

football — ROLL TIDE.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: I am a Jesus follower and believe that, by reflecting the character of God in our everyday lives and interactions, we can create a world that is much different than the one we live in. I am goal-oriented and have learned to love reading later in life. I am passionate about helping people find success and seeing them grow in their spiritual and personal lives. WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: Even though I am in front of people all day, and on a stage preaching every Sunday, I am an introvert. To recharge, I have to spend time alone. MOST ENJOYED WEEKEND ACTIVITY: If Alabama is not playing football,

I enjoy hiking with my wife and dog.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: If it isn’t broke, break it. What works now in business and ministry won’t be the same thing that works moving forward.

THEIR STORY: HOW WE MET: This depends on who you ask. According to Stephanie, she remembers meeting me when I was very young at a SA camp, where our parents happened to meet for the first time. However, Bill would state that we first met as teenagers at a SA youth event in Ocean City, Md. The retreat in Ocean City is where we started as a couple and through writing letters — yes that was a thing — and calling each other to talk. We both would get in trouble for this since we lived in different states and long-distance rates applied to home phones. We continued to attend youth retreats and work at SA Summer Camps for two summers to spend more time together. THE PROPOSAL: Not much of a story here and no proper proposal or romantic gesture. We were very young, 18 years old and very much in love. The only thing we were sure about is that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. WEDDING BELLS: Wheeling at The SA Church on Aug. 19, 1995. We wed and moved away from our hometowns for a fresh start together. CHILDREN: I tried to name my kids after the ’85 Chicago Bears … two out of three isn’t bad. Payton is a Licensed Medical Social Worker in Dallas, Texas – after Walter Payton. William is a junior at SMU in Dallas – after William “Refrigerator” Perry. Christian is a freshman at Navarro College in Midlothian, Texas – Bill tried to name him Jim McMahon Mockabee but Stephanie intervened. PETS: Saban (named after Alabaman head football coach Nick Saban) is a German Shorthaired Pointer that has completely turned our empty nest upside down. We are loving MOST every minute of it. Stephanie and Bill spent two years at The SA Training College in Atlanta. At the end of which, they were ordained as ministers in The SA. They have had many church appointments. Currently, they are in Little Rock overseeing Central Arkansas, including two churches in North Little Rock and Conway, all of the social services provided in eight counties with four physical locations, and the Family Store that operates in Conway.

Photo by Mike Kemp

December 2021 | 19


WELCOME HOLIDAY GUESTS WITH FESTIVE DECORATIONS Jessica Coleman and Deanna Carpenter, Curly Willow Designs Photos by Mike Kemp

20 | 501 LIFE December 2021


ooking around this time of year, it's easy to see that Christmas décor has evolved from basic red and green ornaments on a traditional evergreen tree, to anything and everything goes. The key to choosing your decor is to find what you love and run with it. Whatever your style, whether it be traditional, whimsical, rustic, elegant, colorful, or any other myriad of styles, you can create something that is specifically customized to your taste A current trend in Christmas decorations is blending a modern style with rustic elements. The entrance to this home features a garland and two teardrops displayed on the

double-door. This client wanted to blend her modern and rustic style in her holiday decorations. The modern look was achieved by using shades of white and gold with pops of green scattered throughout. The rustic elements of two large wooden snowflakes and several different sizes of flocked pine and cedar picks ties the design together. The teardrops on the double doors have many of the same elements, but also include an intricate gold and white birch printed ribbon, and large bell ornaments. This door display is simple but is very festive and ushers in the Christmas spirit well!

At Curly Willow, we are often asked, “How can I make my tree look updated or full of decorations like the ones I see in magazines or stores?” There are a few easy ways to spruce up the basic tree you have and get the look you want without buying a new tree and breaking the bank.

“My tree looks thin and bare! I see a lot of holes, and I wish it looked fuller.” A trick we use to make a thin or bare tree look fuller is to add greenery picks of different types and textures that can be purchased at your local florist, craft store, or anywhere that carries Christmas decor. The key is to choose greenery that complements your style — pine, cedar, flocked pine or cedar, greenery covered in glitter or tinsel, or anything that you like. The options are endless! Once you’ve chosen your pieces, place them in your tree pointing downward, using them to fill in bare spots or to fill in where you think your tree looks narrow. Keep adding until you get the look you're after.

December 2021 | 21

“I’ve always wanted a flocked tree, but I hate the mess it makes!” Flocked trees and garlands are a beautiful way to bring the snowy fun of Christmas indoors. The problem most people have is the mess that a flocked tree often leaves behind. A simple way to get the look of a flocked tree using your traditional green tree is to add flocked picks and decorations to your tree. Just like the greenery pieces, place the flocked picks in your tree facing downward. They can be added before your decorations but work best as an addition after you have decorated your tree. The branches can then fill in any blank spaces you have and you won’t need as many. Again, keep filling in your tree with the flocked picks until you get the look you want.

“My tree has large holes in it that not even several greenery picks could fill!” An older, well-loved tree will often have areas that look like holes, and those areas are too big to be filled in by a greenery pick. A fun way to fill those areas is to add a large item like a decorative sled, snowflake, or sign that will cover that bare spot but also add a fun element to your decorations and give your tree more interest and dimension. Place the large object where you want it to be in your tree, and use wire to hold it in place. Use small and large ornaments to continue to fill in the holes, and add in more pieces if you desire! Items in these displays can be purchased from stores offering holiday decorations or at a local florist. Special thanks to the Curly Willow Designs team for sharing these original designs with readers. Since 2008, the florist and home décor store has offered interior decorating year-round in Cabot.


THE TEAM YOU TRUST YOU “OTT” TO CALL TODAY! Luke Gordon, Debby Saddler, Cole Schanandore, Rex Saddler, Ashley Spencer, Trevor Martin





501.327.6711 • 831 Parkway, Conway, AR • 22 | 501 LIFE December 2021


December 2021 | 23

501 LIFE



MAYFLOWER By Dwain Hebda


hen many of Nathaniel Richardson’s peers are engaged after school in extracurricular activities or chilling behind a video game console, the 17-year-old’s responsibilities are just beginning.

for his work ethic and strong moral compass, but there’s one element of his life that comes straight from within and that’s his musical ability, which he employs in the high school band, his one after-hours school activity.

Richardson, who lives with his grandparents, jumps right into chores as soon as he gets home, working to do all he can to help the family farm operation.

“My primary instrument is tuba,” he said. “I can play a little bit of percussion. I used to play baritone, a little trombone. I play bass guitar and acoustic guitar. I’m currently learning baritone saxophone.

“I help out on the farm. I help my grandfather with the equipment and taking care of livestock,” he said. “I take care of the horses and, once in a while, a couple of cows, maybe a pig. I’ve lived here in the same place all my life and I’ve been around horses all my life.” It’s a long day and hard work, but the Mayflower High School junior doesn’t mind. In fact, he considers it a valuable education all its own. “I’m more of a hands-on learner, and I like working around equipment and machinery,” he said. “My grandfather’s been teaching me everything I need to know about machines, especially with the hay equipment we have. I look up to my grandfather a lot.” The respect and admiration Richardson has for his grandparents – Bill and Clara Richardson – is reflected in his academic performance. An excellent student, he’s also developed an attractive servant-leader personality that shows empathy for peers. “I’ve been chosen for the Who’s Who list they have,” he said. “I enjoy the people I meet through the things I participate in. Just being more involved with human interaction instead of sitting around on electronics. “I’ve been voted ‘Unforgettable’ because I like making people smile. I like spreading spirit. I just put others first before me. I like talking, I like socializing, I like to meet new people and talking to them about different things.” Richardson may credit his grandparents

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“I’ve always been drawn to music. I realized I was musically inclined and could pick things up really quickly. It just came easily to me.” This talent has led him to explore many different musical genres, Richardson said, which expands his horizons and fuels his creativity. “I like a little bit of everything,” he said. “I don’t listen to much rap, but I can listen to a little bit of country when it comes to guitar and pop songs or classic or alternative rock.” “I thought about writing my own music, but I’m learning how to play by ear instead. I’ll listen to a piece of music and sort of play it back without looking at the music itself.” For now, Richardson is keeping his future options open for after high school, saying he could see himself attending college at the University of Central Arkansas or joining the military. He expects music to be a part of his life in some capacity moving forward, although he’s not entirely sure how it will all come together. For now, he’s happy doing what he’s doing on the farm and in school. He’s even developed a few insights along the way that he’s happy to pass on to other students who are just starting out on their high school careers. “It’s always best to help others when you can,” he said. “It helps you make friends and then those friends can back you up someday in the future."

Photo by Mike Kemp

“If you respect others, they give respect back. I think if more people understood that, things would be a lot better today.” - Nathaniel Richardson

December 2021 | 25

By Morgan Zimmerman


hat began as a need for a centerpiece 45 years ago has become an annual tradition of smiles and fun for dozens of children. Susan Farris bakes an authentic, German gingerbread house each November to usher in the holiday season and bring the smell of Christmas to her home.

She mentioned one exception. “In 2018, we visited France with my grandchildren, and my granddaughter, Ellie, was obsessed with Paris. So, that year, I had my husband make a template for the Eiffel Tower that Ellie and my grandson, Max, decorated.”

After graduating from UCA in 1969 with a consumer science degree, Farris was working in Little Rock as a home economist coordinator for the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Co. sales department. As an HEC, she would teach people how to cook with the natural gas appliances that her company sold.

The Farris’ gingerbread house has become a tradition for Susan and her family over the years, but the project has touched so many more people than her four children and five grandchildren. She bakes and assembles the gingerbread house before Thanksgiving every year. Most years, it would travel to her parent’s home in Northwest Arkansas where all of the children would get to add a decoration. When her kids were in school, the gingerbread house would make the journey to their classrooms, where each student could add their own special touch.

“We would teach large cooking classes — kind of like Rachel Ray does now,” Farris said. “Sometimes women would call us to do programs in their homes. We might do a dozen recipes in one night!” She and her teaching partner decided a gingerbread house would make the perfect centerpiece for an in-home holiday program they were organizing. Susan had never made a gingerbread house before, so she reached out to her sister-in-law, a German teacher at an area high school, who found a recipe with a pattern in one of her German books. “I make the same house every year, and I still use the same recipe and the same cardboard pattern my husband, Bob, made more than 45 years ago,” Farris said.

“I remember having in my mind that their decorations would be perfect, like when I used to decorate the entire thing before I had kids, but of course it wasn’t,” Farris said. “It would return home with suckers hung upside down and

Photos by Mike Kemp

candies stuck in all sorts of unusual places.” Now that her children are grown, Susan’s daughter, Leah, has become chair of the decorating committee. She makes the icing and gathers the children at Thanksgiving and has even taken it to where she works so that more kids can join in the fun. The decorations range from vanilla wafer shingles to Kit Kat shutters and everything in between. “People can be so creative,” Farris said. “One year at the kids’ school, a teacher sprinkled granulated sugar over it to make it sparkle, and I thought, ‘I would never have thought of that!’” She added, “The kids always want to eat the candy.” But she said that she doesn’t recommend it because some of the candy has been in the pantry for years. “I buy it up after Christmas,

and anything we don’t use goes right back into the pantry for next year.” Her favorite decoration is candy canes because she “doesn’t like to eat those anyway.” The recipe that Susan follows is fairly easy to make and doesn’t require any unusual ingredients or tools. “Anyone can make it, you just need a big jelly roll pan and a sharp knife,” Farris said. She added that a good tip is to cut it while it’s hot because after it cools, it’s too hard to cut. Each season, after the gingerbread house has made its rounds to be decorated and bring smiles to children, it usually finds a place on Susan’s desk. “I leave it by my computer, and throughout the season every time I sit down, it smells like Christmas."

In 2018, Susan Farris visited France with her grandchildren. Her granddaughter, Ellie, was obsessed with Paris so, that year, her husband made a template for the Eiffel Tower that her grandchildren decorated.

Susan Ferris creates her annual gingerbread house with members of her family.

December 2021 | 27

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Ferris Wheel & Mini Ferris Wheel Rides - $5/$3 per person. Open from 5 to 10:30 p.m. each day through Dec. 31

Horse & Carriage Rides - $5 per person with a $20 minimum

28 | 501 LIFE December 2021

December 2021 | 29






holidays are always a colorful and

delicious time at our home. The parties we host will range from full-scale meals to simple appetizers. One of our favorite appetizers is called Roquefort Cheesecake. It is a cousin to the sweet dessert cheesecake but is a savory, rich appetizer with a mild blue-cheese touch. It is perfect for a heavier appetizer, or even a small wedge for a first course. We like to pair it with fresh fruit (pears, dates, nuts, and grapes). The recipe is a little time-consuming but not difficult. A food processor is almost a must and makes the preparation much more simple. A sure key to the success of this dish is to bake it full-time, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an additional hour. The top will be brown but not burnt. Let the cheesecake cool completely before releasing the sides of the springform pan. This dish may be done in two or three smaller springform pans, adding grapes, nuts, pears, and dates and then wrapped as a holiday gift for friends and neighbors. What a grand way to celebrate the Christmas holidays! Merry Christmas.

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Can be served as an appetizer or a small wedge for a first course.

1 ½ tablespoons butter (for pan) ½ cup bread crumbs, lightly toasted ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese ½ pound sliced bacon 1 medium onion, minced 1 ¾ pounds cream cheese ½ pound Roquefort cheese 4 eggs 1/3 cup whipping cream ½ teaspoon salt 2 to 3 drops hot pepper sauce Preheat the oven to 325. Butter 9-inch springform pan. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan. Sprinkle mixture in pan, turning to coat. Refrigerate. Fry bacon in a heavy medium skillet until crispy, remove from pan using tongs, and drain on a paper towel. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add onion. Cover and cook over low heat until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Crumble bacon. Mix cream cheese and process until smooth. Add eggs, cream, salt, and pepper sauce and process until smooth. Blend in bacon and onion. The filling should retain some texture. Pour into the prepared pan. Set the pan in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the springform. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and cool cheesecake about one hour with the door ajar. Transfer to rack. Cool to room temperature before removing it from the pan and serving. Makes 12 servings. Serve with toast points, toasted French bread, crackers, or pita bread. Refrigerate leftovers. Combine sugar substitute, corn syrup, cocoa butter, and half and half in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add vanilla and salt. Cool and drizzle over the pie.

Photo by Mike Kemp

December 2021 | 31



By Mark Middleton, Managing Director of Middleton Heat & Air


he holiday season is here, and while you’re caught in the hustle and bustle of all the holiday festivities, don’t forget to prepare your home for the holidays and keep health a priority. There are many factors that go into keeping your home healthy, and maintaining your HVAC system and air quality are two important components of home health for your family. From having your HVAC unit inspected, to regularly replacing your air filters and more, here are a few helpful tips to keep your home healthy this holiday season.

Kick Off the Holidays with an HVAC Inspection With cold winter nights approaching and temperatures continuing to drop, it’s always a good idea to have your HVAC system inspected before temperatures dip below freezing. It is best to take preventative maintenance measures for many reasons, including healthier indoor air quality, improved system efficiency, lower utility bills, and fewer repairs down the road. For peace of mind going into the holidays, be sure to make time early to have your unit inspected by a professional to avoid heating issues. The experts at Middleton have a 22-point checkup as part of the twice-annual system maintenance. The preventative maintenance helps to ensure better efficiency of your system, which in turn saves you money on your energy bills. A clean and efficient HVAC unit can save a homeowner up to 40% off utility bills.

Change Your Air Filter Changing your air filter is a quick, easy, and affordable way to assure your home is holiday-ready with clean air. When your filter is clogged with dirt and debris, airflow is reduced and your HVAC system has to work harder. This can lead

32 | 501 LIFE December 2021

to maintenance problems and higher utility bills, two things you want to avoid, especially around the holidays. Also, a clean unit helps to improve the quality of air in a home and helps those who have allergies or respiratory issues to breathe a little easier.

Replace Batteries in Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Carbon monoxide exposures occur more frequently in the colder months due to the increased use of gas furnaces and heaters. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and deadly when inhaled — that’s why it’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector in working condition at all times. To keep your home safe for the holidays, be sure to check your detector (or have it professionally tested), and replace the batteries with a fresh set for the winter months.

Clean Air, Happy Home During the winter, your home is typically less ventilated, meaning the air quality can suffer drastically. Using cleaners that have strong toxins in them will only worsen the indoor air quality because the toxins will remain in the air and on the surfaces you clean. We strongly encourage home and business owners to invest in an indoor air purifier. One of our favorites is the REME Halo In-Duct Air Purifier. The REME Halo cleanses every cubic inch of air that your central air conditioning system reaches, allowing your family to breathe easy year-round. The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Let Middleton Heat & Air help your family keep your home happy and healthy all winter long.


Searcy's Carmichael Center home to many Santas By Brittany Gilbert


he Christmas season is here! Bring on the hot chocolate, homemade goods, Christmas movies and music, and lots and lots of Santas. That’s right, a multitude of Santas. In the November 2018 issue of 501 LIFE, we featured an article about The Santa Lady, Wanda Emde. Emde has an impressive collection of more than 1,600 Santas — the largest collection in Arkansas. Our family started the Christmas season by visiting the massive collection that she gave the city of Searcy to display at the Carmichael Center. Emde began her collection with a homemade Santa craft made by her daughter in 1964. Through her own childhood experience of receiving thoughtful gifts when times were tough, Wanda developed a love for Santa Claus. Throughout the years, she has stories of accumulating Santas in hard seasons (finding them on clearance shelves once the holiday was over) to other years of purchasing beautiful ones as the season began, and also receiving many as gifts from those who knew her love for Santa. Perhaps, these memories are why she cannot choose a favorite. As you enter the Carmichael Center building, you are immediately greeted by Emde’s Santas. Her impressive collection isn’t limited to one room; rather, it lines the hallways of the building. Hundreds of Santas are carefully placed on each shelf in the display cases. If you don’t stop to look closely, you will surely miss many of the unique pieces she has collected over the years. Even then, you will most likely still miss many. Also, at the entrance is a guest book to sign and copies of the story of how this collection was

34 | 501 LIFE December 2021

created and has grown over the years. At the time that we went, the scavenger hunt was unavailable, however, it was planned to be available soon. You can call ahead if this is important to you. I did want my kids to really look at all of the Santas displayed and not just glance over them, so I came up with our very own challenge. In our homeschool community, our kids must prepare a presentation every week. While they usually have a lot more time to plan their presentation, I still knew they could handle a challenge like this. I asked them to look through the displays and choose their favorite. They could have multiple favorites, however, for the purpose of this challenge, they needed to be able to narrow down to one in order to present. After deciding, they had to give a speech to the rest of the family explaining why this particular Santa was their favorite, citing specific features or reasons. The kids picked very different Santas to present, and in the process, we each looked at these Santas a little more closely than we would have normally. After visiting the Santa collection, the kids enjoyed playing on the playground outside the Carmichael Center, and then we visited a local restaurant only found in Searcy. We also wore Christmas shirts and sweaters to really get in the Christmas spirit. We may have received a few questionable glances (considering it was early November), but it was worth it to create a memory and enjoy Emde's collection together.

Photos by Levi Gilbert

Levi (from left), Canaan, Declan, Everly and Brittany Gilbert enjoying a selection of Wanda Emde's Santa collection in Searcy. The parents were also able to sport some of the latest Christmas sweater fashion.

get f ra m e d

Downtown Searcy's


Pa t t e r s o n E y e C a re



2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR


December 2021 | 35


Family and consumer science program helps limited resource families with nutrition By Judy Riley


hen Keith Statham-Cleek applied for a job 17 years ago, he never thought about being the first male ever hired in this field in Arkansas. What he did know was that he was trained in Family and Consumer Science (FCS), ready to go to work, and felt it was his calling. FCS is the study of nutrition, resource management, and health. Every county in Arkansas has a County Extension Office with an FCS trained person. Cleek was no stranger to the organization. His mother served as an educator in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP) in Pulaski County’s Extension Office for 20 years. And today that mission of helping limited-resource families with nutrition has brought him full circle. He now directs the statewide program to which his mother devoted her career. The winding road for Cleek began in the Rose City area of North Little Rock, where he graduated high school. Next stop was the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, where he majored in journalism, and then to the U of A where he majored in fashion design. And then, Cleek’s education took a detour. He started his own business in Hot Springs Village and produced primitive wooden home decor. He was even featured on the cover of Country Sampler magazine and sold his works internationally. But that detour brought him to the University of Central Arkansas, where he found his passion. He obtained a degree in health and applied sciences with an emphasis in FCS. Cleek blazed a trail for the once female-dominated FCS field. And success became his tag line. His first job was in Phillips County, where he partnered with various other agencies to bring the latest research-based information on nutrition and healthy living to local residents. He moved from that job to a district position in the Delta and ultimately to EFNEP manager for the U of A Division of Agriculture. In this role, he gives leadership to 18 county programs, which includes 18 county agents. Nutrition information, a food experience that demonstrates cooking skills, and a physical activity are components of each lesson. He is quick to credit his success to the many mentors in his life. “My Extension family embraced me and supported me along the way,” Cleek said. “My immediate family inspired me by saying success is measured in what you give back, not necessarily in monetary things.” As he was leaving for college, he remembers his late father telling him that it did not matter what you did in life as long as you did your best and were happy. His mother taught him that if you put good into the world, it will come back to you. And that is just what Cleek is doing, helping others. He says his greatest accomplishments have involved teaching and mentoring others and seeing them grow and succeed. Family and consumer science is Keith Statham-Cleek's passion.

36 | 501 LIFE December 2021

To learn more about the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program, as well as other health and nutrition programs, visit and click on “Life Skills and Wellness.”

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December 2021 | 37

Center row: Mitzi (from left) and the late Jennings Osborne with their daughter, Breezy Osborne-Wingfield,



n the Christmas movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Clark W. Griswold wants to create the granddaddy of all Christmas displays. He installs and throws the switch on 100,000 exterior lights, causing the city to dim and the utility company to change to auxiliary nuclear power. As they say, truth is much stranger than fiction and compared to what annually sprang up on Little Rock’s Cantrell Road in December between 1986 and 1995, Griswold’s display was amateur at best. For it was there that the mother of all residential Christmas lights displays could be found, at the home of businessman and philanthropist Jennings Osborne. “My father was very passionate, he was an envelopepusher, he did not do anything in moderation,” said Breezy Osborne-Wingfield, Jennings’ daughter. “He definitely wanted to do things out of the norm, out of the box, but he wanted everyone to be able to experience it. He did enjoy that awe factor.” Born of meager means, Jennings made his fortune through his company, Arkansas Research Medical Testing Center, and in 1976, purchased a sprawling home along Cantrell Road. Ten years later, the story goes, 6-year-old Breezy

38 | 501 LIFE December 2021

uttered the words that launched a million lights. “We’d go get some apple cider and drive around town and look at Christmas lights,” she said. “And I said, ‘Can we have some on our house?’” The first year was pretty pedestrian, especially by Jennings’ usual standards. Workmen remember hanging lights on the wall surrounding the property and on the side of the house, all red. The next year, Jennings’ vision had changed. “There was a house right down on Cantrell just past us a ways on the opposite side of the road and he’s like, ‘Hey, you know that house down there?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘I’d like to beat it,’” said Richard McCormac, longtime jackof-all-trades handyman who started working for Osborne in college. “I said, ‘Man, you can do anything with this house of yours. It’s big enough.’ So, he’s like, ‘I’d like to have something on the wall, like maybe a reindeer and sleigh.’ OK, so we did that. Made it out of plywood and outlined it. Then a nativity scene.” Each year was a catalyst for the next. Breezy remembers her father obsessing over how to push the Christmas display over the top, then finding another top just to push it over that.

By Dwain Hebda Photos by Jeff Montgomery were photographed with a family visiting Spectacle of Dancing Lights display at Disney World.

FA N TA ST I C “Dad would wake up in the middle of the night and literally write down what he dreamed because he had an idea on what to do with the Christmas lights,” she said. “It was truly dreamed of.” Jennings’ limitless imagination — combined with adequate resources — meant nothing was too big, too bright or too much. Bret Franks, a college buddy of McCormac’s, was recruited to help with the display. “My main job was to cover the roof and then do whatever else,” Franks said. “I remember one year, we put 2,000 lights on a picnic table. I’m not kidding. I put 20 strands on a picnic table. I mean, it was like get as many lights on these things as you could get on there. “Going back to the first couple of years, we would go around to the stores and just buy every red light we could buy. We would go to Benton and Hot Springs and Conway and wherever and we would buy the store out. And it got to where there were no more lights around here, so he started shipping them in from China. Jennings didn’t give a rip. Whatever he wanted to do, he did it.” McCormac, now mayor of Clinton, would come to spend six months bringing Jennings’ vision to life. Memorable

projects were a 70-foot welded Christmas tree perched on the roof; twin carousels, each 30 feet in diameter; and a 30-foot decorated steel globe suspended from a crane. McCormac remembers enlisting a small army of fabricators, welders, electricians and up to 50 installers to bring everything to life. “It got a little more complicated as time went on,” he said in a massive understatement. “But you never say no to the King, man. Right? No, we never did say no.” In fact, there were people who would say no, starting with six neighbors who filed a lawsuit in 1993 saying the solid logjam of cars stopped in the street to look at the display was creating safety issues. Jennings, who by that time had taken to circulating throughout the throng handing out massive candy canes, was unrepentant to say the least, adding 3 million lights to the menagerie in response to the motion. A county court didn’t shut it down, but limited it to 15 days (it had run for as long as 35) and only during certain hours. Jennings appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court and then the U.S. Supreme Court, all to no avail. In 1995, the state Supreme Court pulled the plug. Some of the display went to Arkansas communities to decorate Main Street, but most of it, in an epilogue that Continued on page 40

December 2021 | 39

could only happen in Jennings’ reality, was acquired by Walt Disney World, which over time augmented the display to over 5 million lights. "The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights" delighted park goers for a decade before going dark for good. Today, 10 years after her father’s passing, Breezy thinks back on the display as a precious gift, albeit one meant to be shared with the entire city. “Dad used to joke with me and say, ‘Buddy, you don’t know what it’s like to be normal, do you?’ I was like, ‘No.’ And I mean, I’m fine with it. That is the way that he lived his life and it’s just the way that we were raised,” she said. “I have a really good, solid memory of when the house was all red, before different colors were introduced. That gave it this nostalgic, down-home feeling. I still have red Christmas lights I use to decorate our tree at home or put on our back porch. I have some red Christmas lights that I keep in the house all year long. That sticks out in my memory, for sure.”

40 | 501 LIFE December 2021

Jennings Osborne developed a light display for his daughter, Breezy Osborne-Wingfield that became world-famous.


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memories 501 LIFE SHARES OUR


Dwain Hebda, Contributor

The Hebda Christmas season starts after Thanksgiving dinner -- then, and only then, shall Christmas music, movies, and decorations be allowed. "Christmas Vacation," the greatest holiday film ever made, shall be viewed multiple times leading up to the big day, along with many other favorites. Gifts are opened Christmas morning and the tree stays up through New Year's, at minimum. These are the rules that keep our society from descending into chaos.

Mark Oliver, Contributor

Growing up in a single-parent household with a disabled parent, Christmases were rarely lavish for my older brother and me. My favorite present I ever received was a cup. It was a simple black cup, and to anyone else, there wasn’t anything special about it, but it was mine. At a young age, it helped me understand the true meaning of Christmas. We didn't always have a lot of money and my mother couldn’t always get us what we had on our wish list, but it was little things like this that taught me that the one gift that lasts the longest is family.

Laurie Green, Contributor

We were those crazy people who decided to get married the week before Christmas, so I have to say for as long as I can remember, trips to Silver Dollar City were always a family celebration and anniversary getaway. However, as all our kids have grown up and most of them are starting families of their own, we are finding that December cruises to Mexico with our best friends (who also got married the week before Christmas) are becoming our newest holiday/anniversary tradition.

Robert Reising, Contributor

Born in New Haven, Conn., I tingle with delight when recalling

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Thanksgiving Days in the mid-’40s with my three siblings, my German grandfather (who lived with us), and my Irish mother, long on love, short on culinary skills. While the cuisine would hardly merit a photograph in 501 LIFE, the excitement and banter featuring the football brawl between the two local high schools deserved Donna Lampkin Stephens' superior prose. At the head of our food — and fun-filled dining room table — sat the Head of New Haven's Vice Squad, my giant-sized father--a headline-making crime-fighter if ever there was one, orchestrating both meal and manners. Joviality and civility reigned, side by side, lovingly recalled more than halfa-century later.

Vivian Hogue, Contributor

For years, I cooked Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning breakfast. I was grateful when my daughter took up the Christmas morning duties with sausage and egg casserole and blueberry muffins. Every year, she takes over that occasion with the rest of us helping. That is, she cooks and we eat. It would be rude for us to not do our part.

Judy Riley, Contributor

When the crowd leaves after Christmas dinner, we watch "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" with our adult children. We've memorized most lines and have even had shirts made with quotes from the movie. My shirt says, "Are you serious, Clark?" And, I have my own Cousin Eddy hat!

Don Bingham, Contributor

One of my former delights was to serve as music and youth pastor for 150 young people at Conway's First Baptist Church many years ago. These were precious "golden years!" One cold December, a group of dear young people presented us with "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - with something

representative of each day that arrived at our front door. My favorite day was "11 pipers piping." I'm not sure there were 11 flutes, but there were very talented flutists playing a Bach number outside on our front lawn. It was just spectacular - I can still remember those amazing sounds today! All 12 days were delightful - so were the young people!

Susan Peterson, Contributor

A childhood memory - the smell of onions and celery cooking in butter while I helped "tear apart" the stale bread into little pieces to help make the homemade turkey dressing. And our traditional lemon meringue and apple pies were wonderful!

Andrea Miller, Contributor

During fifth grade, I attended a private Christian school with a small library. In that library, I discovered C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and instantly fell in love. I read the series and immediately started over again. I'm not sure anybody else was able to check them out that first semester. My mother must have noticed because, to my delight, I received the entire boxed set that Christmas. Books are a doorway to other worlds and delights, and I wholeheartedly plunged in and even read them aloud to my sisters. I still have those books and they remain treasured possessions and proof of my mother's love for me.

Donna Stephens, Contributor

Christmas is always a joyful holiday for me and my family. My husband, Ken, and I have multiple family celebrations, so it seems like we are celebrating much of December, but we always carve out time during the season for just the two of us to settle in to watch “It's a Wonderful Life.” Between that and Advent and Christmas Eve services, our hearts almost burst with gratitude, joy, and wonder.

Brittany Gilbert, Contributor

My favorite Christmas present was when I was 7 years old and my parents gave me a karaoke machine. My dad made a comment about how they could tell I was gifted in singing and they thought I would enjoy it. Thinking back, it encouraged me more than any gift I received before or since, because they noticed a gifting the Lord had given me. Fast forward, I pursued music both in choir and at church, becoming a worship leader at the age of 13.

Linda Henderson, Contributor

A tradition started with my husband’s Henderson/Logan family more than 50 years ago. Every year, we have a living nativity and read the Christmas story from the Book of Luke. As a male child outgrows the angel role, they graduate to a shepherd. Female members of the family continue to portray the angels. The young couple with the youngest child will serve as baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. As male family members mature, they become wise men. We have now had five generations celebrate the greatest story ever told. I pray the tradition will continue to future generations of Hendersons/Logans.

Stefanie Brazile, Editor

As a parent of two, I now fully appreciate all the effort my mom, Diana, put in so that Christmas morning would be magical for me and my two brothers. Stockings were filled with an apple, an orange, candies, and nuts in the shell that I never had a use for, but that was part of her tradition. Gifts were carefully chosen and wrapped (imagine a world before gift bags), and everyone was all smiles until someone realized that we needed one more C or D battery for a new toy to work.

Jeremy Higginbotham, Publisher

When I was very young, my grandparents would come to my house every Christmas Eve. The three of us would leave at some point to go back to their house. Lo and behold, within 30 minutes, we would get a call that Santa had come and we would rush back to my home. I still see and hear it in my mind … sitting in the hall floor, waiting for that rotary phone to ring so I could hear three words I had waited all year for, “Santa just left.”

December 2021 | 43

Photo by Mike Kemp



44 | 501 LIFE December 2021


llen Hobgood has found her happy. And she has embraced it. Hobgood, 55, owner of Ellen Hobgood Gallery and Associates in Heber Springs, has painted Santa Clauses since her middle school years, maybe even before. But the Santas have taken off over the last 20 years, having been featured on Arkansas Children’s Hospital Christmas cards three times (2003, ’19, ’20), on ornaments, tins of Lambrecht Gourmet Toffee and as commissioned paintings. Why Santa? “(Christmas has) always been a happy time, and so I’ve always done cheery, happy colors, as decorators would say,” Hobgood said. “They told me to calm my colors down on my paintings. But now I’ve found my happy. It’s something I’ve always done. “Many people have tried to summarize why I paint Santas and Christmas, and I don’t think I’ve come up with a reason. It just feels good.” Hobgood was born in Dallas but moved to Arkansas as a child, first to Mountain View and then to Heber Springs when she was 11. She remembers always being an artist. In her early teens, she took lessons from local artist Glynda Turley, and learned to paint with acrylics. She became a professional artist at 14 or 15, selling her pieces to pay for more classes. After graduating from Heber Springs High School in 1985, Hobgood went to work for her mentor, Turley, at her gallery and gift store, staying for nearly 12 years before spending the next seven doing mural wall paintings. After completing nearly 300 of those, though, she was burned out. She rediscovered her fire as a street painter at Salon Art 411, where she found her niche with Christmas themes, especially Santas. “That’s what I’m known for,” she said. “I paint them year-round. I do commissions, but people need to get to me in the earlier part of the year to get them for Christmas.” Hobgood and her husband, Ricky, have three sons: Jeston, 28; Skyler, 22; and Evan, 20; and four grandchildren. Her gallery, which features 48 local and regional artists, is heading into its 20th year. “It’s very

hard to say no to someone, but we can’t take everyone,” Hobgood said. “We want the fine art as much as possible, the unique. We try to not have craft-like items. It thrills me to see artists sell their work for the first time, or, as a gallery owner, to sell their piece. That’s almost as exciting as selling my own.” She said she was very proud to have owned a local business for so long.“Over the years I’ve seen war, I’ve seen the recession, now the pandemic,” she said. “We’re not finished with the pandemic yet. You don’t ever say you’ve made it through. Right now, I’m healing from spine surgery, but (the gallery) is what keeps me going.” Hobgood credited Debby Henson, one of the gallery’s artists who has volunteered as her assistant for more than 10 years. “She helps me with branding and packaging; she kept the gallery open for our Christmas open house, takes work back and forth,” Hobgood said. “We have clients from all over. My paintings have gone all over the world, especially my ornaments, gift cards, the toffee. I handsign everything that goes through the gallery. We really like people to feel good about their purchases. “It’s been quite an adventure.” While Christmas is her favorite time of the year, Hobgood said she had to get inventive to avoid burnout.“I’ll paint a Santa, and then to feed my soul, to keep my creative spirit going, I’ll do something else,” she said. “If you paint the same thing over and over again, you can get repetitious.” She has no clue how many Santas she has painted. “I tried numbering them, but I lost count,” she said. What hasn’t been lost, however, is her evolution as an artist. “My technique has gotten stronger,” she said. “The detail is much different. As a person, you evolve anyway. People who have some of my older pieces come into the gallery, and they talk about how the depth, the strength of colors and layers have really grown.” For more information, visit The gallery is located at 101 S. 3rd St. in Heber Springs.



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December 2021 | 45

r e v e r o f CHRISTMASES

IN MY MIND By Vivian Lawson Hogue

"When I compare those holidays with the bustle, glitz, and spending of today, I wistfully wish for the simpler one deep in the woods."


ome of my life stories are twice-told tales, some more than twice. I think I can assume there are many readers who have similar recollections they share as well. What would a holiday be without them? As I recently sorted through our time-honored Christmas decorations, I recalled uncomplicated but exciting childhood Christmases. Current long-timers and natives remember the annual town parade with a few floats, some high school and college beauties, the Conway High and Pine Street bands, and even some pre-leash law participants. Santa walked and waved. Onlookers were impressed by the high-stepping of the bands and cheerleaders, unaware that it was possibly because they marched behind the horses. Surrounding traffic and parking concerns were minimal due to a smaller county population and stay-at-home mothers, therefore fewer numbers of vehicles. During the Christmas season, the Conway Theatre presented a special movie to about 1,500 countywide children. We stood in line to pay our 25 cents for the movie, after which a theater employee gave each of the hundreds of children free brown paper sacks of fruit, nuts, and candy. The idea, attributed to Mr. James J. Kane, was promoted by the Kiwanis Club. The sacks were filled at the M & K Grocery, a former business on North Front Street. At home, our trek to get the annual 12-foot cedar tree was a family effort, necessitating three or four men and myself, the designated axe carrier. What would have happened had I taken a wrong turn in the woods? I was certain the concern would have been for the axe. The just-right tree would be found after an hour of walking and animated debates over height, girth, and density. Often, even after all the considerations, the discovery of a double trunk would start the search all over again. One year, our search was halted for a few seconds by a hunter’s bullet that zipped over us. All chatter stopped. We always got permission from landowners for our tree hunts, but back then, no one wore orange vests while looking for the perfect tree. Our dad, a botanist, was rarely daunted by gunfire, bone-chilling temperatures, and sleet that strafed our faces. He nearly always found some interesting “flora or fauna” to point out along the way. I recall bringing home a cow’s long-since-bleached skeletal jawbone, always wondering if it had failed to dodge a bullet. We never had need of a yardstick since Dad measured by axe-handle lengths. With the tree felled, two nearby saplings were cut down and threaded through it to provide handles for carrying. It was roped to the top of the car, destined to assist in celebrating another holiday. Once home, the tree was placed on an unstable wooden homemade stand, hoisted

somewhat upright in the living room, and the decorating began. The decorations I remember most even now were transparent, colored glass balls with multicolored stripes and opaque, non-twinkling, C-7 colored lights, each on wiring with wooden beads that cinched up to clutch branches. There were also rippled aluminum icicles. The later mylar version clung to your clothing as you sashayed down the aisle at church, searching for an empty seat. Available, too, were aluminum reflectors that fit at the back of bulbs to increase the effectiveness of the light. I miss the smell of those trees in the house ever since we decided to opt for an artificial one for fire safety in the 1990s. Sometime before Christmas each year, my parents would load us into our 1939 Buick for the long ride up to Imboden, Ark., where my Lawson grandparents lived. In their 1858 white oak log cabin perched on stacks of flat rocks, we roughed it for a few of the most frigid days of winter. Their little cedar tree would be sparsely adorned with ornaments, mostly handmade. Stringed lights were not deemed necessary. If God had wanted lights on trees, he would have created them on the fourth day. They felt the same about daylight saving time, so we grew accustomed to subtracting an hour from the number of chimes of the grandfather clock on the mantle. Sinking deep into the feather beds at bedtime was a pleasure since there was no heat in the bedroom. Any water left in the pitcher or bowl for shaving or face washing would be frozen in the morning and windows would be intricately glazed on the outside, perhaps by highland faeries. When morning did indeed arrive, we found our way to the surface of the mattress, jumped out quickly, and began throwing on clothes and shoes. We raced across the screened dog-trot to the living room, settling in front of the iron wood-burning stove with its isinglass viewing window. The tree and family visits were our grandparents’ Christmas. The cows still had to be milked, the chickens fed, the water fetched from the springhouse, and the fire stoked in the cast-iron, wood-burning kitchen cookstove. When I compare those holidays with the bustle, glitz, and spending of today, I wistfully wish for the simpler one deep in the woods. I’m counting clock chimes in a log cabin that smells of cedar, smoke-house bacon, over-well free-range eggs, and biscuits slathered with hand-formed butter. The pre-meal grace is said first, of course, ending with thanks for the blessed reason for Christmas. Amen.

December 2021 | 47

Kid-approved menus and innovative programs bring HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS TO PCSSD By Jessica Duff


ast spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of their program to fund school lunches for all students as we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement lifted the burden of paying for school lunches for many families in Pulaski County. Pulaski County Special School District is still required to collect free and reduced lunch applications every school year, despite the announcement from the USDA. These applications not only request a free or reduced price lunch but may also reduce and/or waive school fees for other programs outside of the meal program. These applications determine funding that can support all PCSSD students in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:

Excellence in Student Nutrition 48 | 501 LIFE December 2021

• School Funding

increased funding for schools to ensure students receive the support they need and deserve.

• College Application Fees receive discounts on fees associated with applying for college.

• Academic Test Fees

receive discounts on fees associated with academic tests such as the ACT, SAT and Advanced Placement (AP).

• Athletics

receive discounts on fees associated with participating in athletic programs in the District.

• Technology

increased technology funds to improve internet access, wireless and network services.

• Community Education receive a discount on fees associated with some Pulaski County community education courses.

PCSSD knows and understands the importance of providing healthy breakfast and lunch options to our students. This is why we continue to evaluate and review student nutrition to ensure the best possible resources are being provided to students of all ages. New this year, PCSSD is partnering with Chartwell to provide a new variety of fresh food options to each of our schools. "We are so excited to partner with PCSSD in an effort to make the cafeteria the happiest place in schools,” said Tiffany Reed, director of student nutrition through Chartwells. ”Student nutrition is so important, and we are excited to bring kid-approved menus and innovative programs to the District to help support the cause. We’re dedicated to serving up ‘happy and healthy’ to every student, every day." While all student meals are free for the 2021-2022 school year, adult or non-student breakfast is $2.50 and lunch is $ 3.75.

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.

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“We’ll Take Care of That”

Middleton Heat & Air is ready for the worst that winter can bring. When the temperatures drop, you can count on us to keep your family safe and warm. Our experts are there for you with same-day appointments and extended hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no overtime rates. Because when your heat goes out, you can’t wait.

Give us a call or visit us online today! 501-224-4888 |

December 2021 | 49

50 | 501 LIFE December 2021

First United Methodist Church - Conway

Advent 2021

Grace Presbyterian Church - Conway

“In the Fullness of Time”

11 a.m., 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. • Christmas Eve 1610 Prince Street • 501.329.3801

7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9 1010 Hogan Lane • 501.504.6899

Advent is a season for making room. We rearrange furniture to make room for Christmas décor, and clean refrigerators to make room for food. We are also invited to make room for God’s gifts of hope, peace, joy and love. And we are invited to make room for our neighbors and those in need. This Advent, we will discover many blessings as we make room. You are invited! Come in! There is a place for you! 8:30, 9:05 and 11 a.m. worship, Sundays, Dec. 5-19.

Join us for a celebration presented by the choir and orchestra ensemble. Under the direction of Eloise Stowe. Don Bingham, Artistic Director. A reception will follow the performance.

December 2021 | 51


By Beth Jimmerson, Conway Corp


he winter holidays are back again, quicker than ever, which means cooler temperatures are finally and officially here. Conway Corp wants to help make your home warmer without turning up the heat this winter. While the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts Americans will pay one percent less for heating expenses this year, that number can change dramatically with unexpected drops in temperatures if your home is not properly prepped. Conway Corp wants to ensure your home is prepared for the unexpected, helping you save a nice chunk of change while protecting your property for years to come. With these winterization tips, you'll save energy while saving money at the same time.

Seal all Drafts

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafts can waste 5 to 30% of your energy use. Window insulation is a few dollars at most hardware stores and is essentially invisible once installed. Repair bigger gaps with caulking and weather-stripping. Looking for a simple fix? Fill old socks with sand or kitty litter to make a “draft snake” to place in front of a drafty door.

Change Furnace Filters

It’s important to replace furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy demand. Consider switching to a permanent filter, which will reduce waste and hassle, saving time and money. Replacing an inefficient furnace for a modern machine will cost you in the short term but save you money every month through the heating season. Disposable fiberglass filters trap between 10 to 40% of debris while permanent electrostatic filters trap around 88% and are much better at controlling bacteria, mold, viruses, and pollen.

Run Fans in Reverse

Many ceiling fans come with a switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it warmer. Air pooled near the ceiling is circulated back into the living space, cutting your heating costs as much as 10%.

Winterize Your AC and Water Lines

Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, making sure you don’t have excess water pooled in equipment. If your air conditioner has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn it off. Remove any window air conditioner units and store them so you don’t invite cold drafts all winter. Also, turn off exterior water spigots.

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Turn Down Your Water Heater Many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees, but most households don’t need that much steam. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees – or lower – will reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%. Consider a tankless water heater to save even more.

Install Storm Doors and Windows Installing a storm door or storm windows can increase energy efficiency by 45% by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. They also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home.

Give Your Heating System a Tune-Up Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated, and properly adjusted will reduce energy use, saving up to 5% of heating costs.

Mind the Thermostat Most households spend 50 to 70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling. For every degree you lower the thermostat during the heating season, you’ll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill. The average family with a programmable thermostat will save $180 a year.

Boost Insulation Insulation is one of the best ways to save energy and money at home. It can make a big difference to add more insulation between walls and on the attic floor. Properly insulating your attic can save you up to 10% annually on energy bills. You can also pay less for hot water and decrease the chance of pipes freezing with insulation. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If they are, get pre-slit pipe foam at any hardware store, cut it to size and fasten it in place with duct tape. Zero percent interest loans for energy efficiency home improvements like attic insulation are available to Conway Corp customers through its Energy Smart program. All you need to do is provide an estimate from a vendor and apply for the Energy Smart Loan. Once approved, the vendor will verify the need and install your new insulation. Conway Corp then remits payment to the vendor. It’s that easy to start saving money with a more energy-efficient home.

Looking for more ways to save this winter? Visit ConwayCorp. com/EnergySmart.


CONWAY! Earlier this year we announced our plans for a state-of-the-art banking facility to be built at the corner of Harkrider and Polk Street. The former buildings at this location have been razed in our first step toward making this a reality. Our second temporary location, with a drive-thru and an ATM, has opened in the parking lot where construction will soon start. Come see us at either location, 766 Harkrider or 1089 Front, and let us show you what it is like when a bank puts the community first!

AIM YOUR SMARTPHONE To learn more about this historic property and our plans for the future, simply scan this QR code with your smartphone camera!


CONWAY 766 Harkrider | 1089 Front St. 501.764.9640 December 2021 | 53

Allie the Aussiedoodle and Dipper the Goldendoodle are


Photos by Makenzie Evans

Katie, Allie and Dipper share some snuggles on the front porch.


ick and Katie Begley stood at the edge of the road looking down into the wooded hollow below. They loved the winding roads and stately homes of Richland Hills just outside of Conway, and they had always dreamed of a home here. There weren’t many vacant lots left in this long-established neighborhood and this one had been overlooked, likely because of its steep and rugged terrain. The Begleys knew it would have to be a cliffhanger on this rocky hillside, but Katie’s dad, Ronnie Weaver, was an artist with heavy equipment and she knew he would be up to the challenge. This would be the perfect place for their boys Grant, 9, and Grahl, 6, to have epic adventures, and where the grownups could entertain both inside and on the back porches that perched over the forest canopy like a treehouse.

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Sharing their new home with friends and family was part of the master plan. Just as the sawdust was settling and the sod was starting to take root, the Begleys got the nod to host the Halloween party for the hospital where Katie works, an honor that is not bestowed lightly. So the Begleys got busy haunting their brand new home for the spooky soirée. As quickly as the skeletons appeared, it was time for them to creep back in the closet so the halls could be decked for Christmas. Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Begleys come with several time-honored events. At family dinners-by-the-house-full, you could be served traditional holiday fare, or on occasion, Katie’s momma, Becky, might be talked into making her legendary chicken and dumplings. Christmas morning breakfast is a family tradition, too, as is the annual visit from Santa. A monumental kitchen island is practically the nucleus of the whole house; a gathering space for cheering on Nick as he whips up something tasty. It seems the whole house was designed from this island outward. A natural wood dining table is custom built from leftover pine planks and beams. Paired with velvet chairs and a fabulous chandelier with milk glass beads, it gives the dining room a perfect balance of rustic and formal and sets a striking backdrop for a holiday feast. A forest of life-size Christmas trees flanking the front door doesn’t even begin to prepare guests for the holiday finery to come. Wooden doors open onto the family room with its white stone fireplace swagged with greenery. A towering live Christmas tree is the main attraction, flocked with snowy white — a DIY project that Katie had always dreamed about! The Begleys’ incredible home is a tribute to their quest for fun, friends and family, and they are an inspiration to always make the most of every moment no matter where you are. Continued on page 56

Allie and Dipper just having some fun in the tub. Even the master bath gets decked for Christmas.

December 2021 | 55

The grand kitchen island is the nucleus of the whole house. A perfect gathering spot.

Each interior door gets a wreath of its own.

The towering live tree gets a wintry flocking treatment.

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A custom dining table built from leftover pine planks and beams, paired with velvet chairs gives the dining room the perfect balance of rustic and formal.

December 2021 | 57

501 LIFE




By Becky Bell


ith all the activities Conway Junior High eighth-grader Will Schlientz is involved in, it is a wonder he’s always looking for additional hobbies to fill his schedule. Will, 13, has been playing piano since his grandmother, Linda Hybl, of Missouri, gave him a piano. Hybl plays piano in her church and was a piano teacher in the past. “I’ve been playing the piano for four and a half years,” he said. “When grandmother gave us the piano, mom signed me up for piano lessons and I kept playing.” Will takes piano lessons from Mark Wilson at the Conway Institute of Music. Although he enjoys pop music, when it comes to learning songs to play, he likes to play classics. “I just like whenever I’m able to get the hang of a really fun song. I really like to play cool music,” Will said. “I’ve been playing a lot of classical music on the piano, and I like a lot of songs that are really fast. Those are fun to play. I remember I did one by Mozart and I think the one I’m doing right now is by Beethoven.” His little sister, Norah, 8, has been wanting to play the piano after seeing her brother having fun with it, said Nathan Schlientz, Will’s father. When he is not playing piano, he plays percussion in the Conway Junior High School band. Will is also part of a competitive soccer team called Arkansas Rising. This organization is in Central Arkansas and has teams in Little Rock, Maumelle and Conway, his father said.

Photos by Mike Kemp

58 | 501 LIFE December 2021

Will’s role on the team is to be a center defender. “We are defending the goal and preventing them from taking a shot, if possible,” Will said. He is also a brainiac when it comes to trivia and is on the Quiz Bowl team at his school. Will describes it as a competition between two teams, and a moderator asks questions of each team about varied subjects. He tried out for it in the sixth grade and has participated for two years. During certain seasons of the year, Will is a part of the Conway Bearcats Mountain Biking Club. His father was a volunteer coach for the club and that is how Will got involved. “It’s a part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association,” Nathan said. “There are hills and uphill climbs and downhills. It is exhilarating and fast.” Will has also done some triathlons he really enjoyed. As we look toward the holidays, Will's busy schedule will become more demanding. He is a member of the handbell choir at First Christian Church in Conway. His grandparents, Mary Ann and Bill Schlientz, go to the church and his grandmother asked him to participate. “It’s mostly adults, I’m one of the only kids,” Will said. “My grandmother asked me to come do a performance with them one time, and I have done a lot of performances since then.” His mother, Leah Schlientz, said Will’s ability to play piano probably helps him play the handbells. “We always encourage him to find things he is interested in and stick with them, and he has,” his father said. “We just couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Happy Holidays from Conway Corp

When you’re making Nana’s favorite dressing, unwrapping years of special ornaments and celebrating with family and friends, Conway Corp will be right there with you. The holidays are full of powerful moments, and we’re proud to share them with you.


Powering Conway since 1929.


(501) 450-6000



December 2021 | 59

A little boy and his sister were singing their favorite



CAROLS By Donald Brazile

Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded “Silent Night” with the words, “sleep in heavenly beans.” His sister elbowed him and said, “No, not beans, peas!” Beans or peas both sound good for a holiday dish, but Christmas offers us a lot more than divine vegetables. A past Christmas carol, which was quite popular, contained several lessons we should ponder at this time of the year. It begins with the night wind seeing what Christmas is all about and asking a little lamb, “Do you see what I see?” The little lamb sees. Then the lamb asks a little shepherd boy in the field, “Do you hear what I hear?” The little boy listens, understands and goes to the mighty king. The boy asks, “Do you know what I know?” The King comprehends and is moved by the lad’s words and insights. He then goes to his balcony, summons the people, and makes a royal proclamation about the miraculous new born baby: “The child, the child, sleeping in the night, he will bring us goodness and light, he will bring us goodness and light.” Now, gather these three questions found in the carol: Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Do you know what I know? This Christmas carol reiterates what we may have forgotten about this season: There’s more to the meaning of Christmas than what meets the eyes and the ears! Some see only the superficial beauty of the lovely lights and decorations; others see a brighter light and think of Christ, the light of the world. Some hear the carols and even join in singing, but the meanings of the words are just an outward expression of the festivities. Others sing within, remembering the day that a new song was placed in their hearts. Some care only about the presents under the tree while others contemplate The Gift of Christ, God’s indescribable gift to the world — a gift freely given, never earned, nor deserved. This carol brings enlightening news to us this yuletide: Christmas is a feast for the eyes, ears and the heart! Or as Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life: to see nothing as a miracle or to see everything as a miracle.” You see, it all depends on your perspective. So, you might want to put this carol back in your Christmas repertoire. Start singing it today and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. Sing! Sing about seeing more, hearing more, and Christmas will become so much more! Sing about miracles!

Because miracles don’t just happen in Bethlehem or on 34th street. A miracle can happen on your street this Christmas — if you’ll open your eyes, ears and mind once again to this carol of yesteryear. Or as Phillip Brooks affirms in the final line of his Bethlehem carol, “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

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Give Something COOL for Christmas this year!

GIVE MUSIC LESSONS! Make This The Year You Or Your Child Learns How To Play!

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Sign up for lessons & receive a FREE $35 registration plus a FREE $32.50 lesson.




Expires 12/31/21

945 Carson Cove, Suite 103, Conway, AR. 72034

Limit one per household, one per customer.

December 2021 | 61


“It’s all about finding common ground, making connections." - Twylla Alexander

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e bake our bread with love … for family, for friends, for peace.” It is the perfect refrain for the season, and it can be found in Twylla Alexander’s book, ”The Power of Bread.” This Conway author and her husband, Drew, are welltraveled, having worked in schools on four continents. It was in 2004, while teaching second grade in Cairo, Egypt, that she initially got the idea for writing a children’s book, based on a true experience that happened between two children in her class. In the story, Khalil is a Palestinian boy and Leah is an Israeli girl. Both are new to their class and regard each other as “enemy.” It is during the school's Breads of the World Festival that the bread works its magic, helping the two to overcome their differences and find similarities. Twylla penned her first draft in 2010, but the book took many years to evolve into the publication it is today. Initially, the story was much longer as she tried to capture the complex subjects of prejudice and unity in a book for young children (approximate ages 4-9). After receiving helpful critiques at writing conferences in New York City, Twylla decided to let the book “set” while she worked on other writing projects, including a blog, articles for a Downtown NYC magazine, and a series of poetry. In 2017 she published “Labyrinth Journeys: 50 States, 51 Stories,” which involved two years of travel to visit a labyrinth and its creator in each state. Following its publication, Twylla decided to return to “The Power of Bread.” Taking the critical comments to heart, she cut the text by half, introduced Khalil and Leah’s grandmothers, and

added the repeating refrain. James Matthews of Little Rock, who edited both books, put Twylla in touch with illustrator Madeleine Robinson, an award-winning graphic design senior at UALR. Twylla admits to being "wowed" when she saw Madeleine's sample sketches. Due to COVID-19, the two worked only online for nearly a year, perfecting the tone of the watercolor illustrations to match the Middle Eastern setting and checking to be sure the text was culturally correct. She hopes the book will be used as a springboard to discuss prejudice, anger, and cultural differences. “It’s all about finding common ground, making connections,” Twylla said. “That’s especially important for children as they develop values and attitudes from a very early age." “The Power of Bread” is now connecting Twylla with her readers via Zoom book club meetings, school visits, and in-person events. She has even connected with a rabbi in Jerusalem who established a program for Palestinian and Israeli youth and a woman in Ireland who bakes Bread for Peace. The book is dedicated to Twylla's seven grandchildren "and to children everywhere, the world's best hope for peace." More information about Twylla and her journey in search of peaceful connections can be found at twyllaalexander. com. Her books may be purchased directly from online retailers and independent booksellers.

December 2021 | 63


athletic excellence By Dr. Robert Reising

Lonoke County's

Mike Malham He has been an asset for more than four decades, and Cabot will be forever indebted. Not only did he lead the high school football program to unprecedented success, but his integrity and work ethic on and away from the gridiron proved heartening to an expanding community. Today, three years into retirement, Mike Malham continues to enjoy and enrich the city that reveres him. Born in Little Rock on March 2, 1953, Michael James Malham was the only son of Michel Joseph Malham and Betty Ruth Ateley Malham, both educators. His father was also a coach en route to a 1999 induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF). He made sure Mike’s earliest classroom away from the city’s public schools was “always outside … hanging around the football, basketball, track, and baseball” facilities. Sports, especially football, accompanied his superior grades into adolescence. When he entered McClellan High, his athletic competence rivalled his academic excellence, and by graduation in 1971, he owned a grade-point average over 3.5 and honors as an All-Conference and AllState gridiron performer. An appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy awaited. But shortly before he was to don Annapolis dress, his father accepted a football coaching position at Arkansas State University (ASU), and Mike immediately opted for a scholarship in Jonesboro. He had played for his parent in high school, and he preferred to do nothing less in college. Ineligible for varsity play in 1971, he starred for the Indians (now the Red Wolves) during the following four seasons. At McClellan, he had moved among three positions, but at ASU, after a season at tight end, his stellar play as a linebacker consistently won him recognition. He totaled 370 tackles, fourth highest in school history, with 126 coming in 1975, when the Indians claimed an unbeaten 13-win season, as well as a Southland Conference Championship and 21st place in the final Associated Press poll among major universities. For the second consecutive season, he was a first-team selection to the Academic AllAmerican Team and to the All-Time ASU Team (1909-1975). Lying ahead was election to the All-Southland Conference Decade Team of the 1970s and, in 2001, to the ASU Athletic Hall of Honor and the institution’s All-Centennial Team.

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One highlight of Coach Malham’s career was 300 Cabot Panther wins celebrated in 2018.

Despite his lustrous ASU credentials, Mike was low on 1976 National Football League (NFL) draft lists. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 205 pounds, he was undersized for professional football’s grueling linebacker position and was forced to wait until the 17th round for the Chicago Bears to call his name. The Injured Reserve List was his fate during his first season, a shattered arm concluded his second, and two come-back attempts proved futile in 1978. The only serious injury Mike ever suffered ended his career. Disappointment in the pro game, however, did not force him out of football. Three years as an assistant football coach and mathematics teacher at Jacksonville High School provided enriching preparation for his remarkable 38-year stay at Cabot High. He started with a bang, a 7 and 4 mark at age 28 in his first season as a head coach. Immediately thereafter came more than a third of a century of triumphs and championships. Topping his list of achievements were his wins at 301, the second highest total ever registered by an Arkansas high school football coach. Accompanying it were only 138 losses (and 4 ties), proclaiming Mike won almost 70% of the contests his Panthers played. Between 1981 and 2018, Cabot earned 15 conference championships, participated in the state semifinals 11 times, claimed three state runner-up titles, and won two state titles -- the first in 1983 with a record of 13-1 and the second 17 seasons later with a 14-0 mark. Recognizing his excellence, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called him Coach of the Year in 2000, Channel 4 declared him Friday Night Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2000, and Channel 7 added 7A Coach of the Year in 2013. Two years later, Mike joined his beloved father in the ASHOF.

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Within hours of registering his amazing 300th career victory in 2018, Cabot’s mayor declared the following Oct. 13-19 “Mike Malham Week in Cabot,” an accolade rare in athletics at any level. Rare, too, is the mathematics teacher who has earned the superlatives-filled reputation for pedagogical effectiveness that Mike carried into retirement. A decades-long colleague recently voiced an assessment popular in the community, as well as on the campus: “Mike was an excellent teacher!” It is easy to discern why Cabot, Lonoke County, and the 501 all treasure Mike Malham.

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christmas traditions BACKSTORIES AND ORIGINS Story and photos by Linda Henderson

The Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park

I love traditions. I love doing the same thing the same way every year. I enjoy the same menu every year for the Christmas meal. I like to decorate the Christmas tree every year with the Christmas ornaments that have been on our tree for 39 years. Over the years, a few new ones have been added to my collection, but to be welcomed to my exclusive collection, the ornament must be linked to a memory. Because of my love for traditions and my curiosity for knowing where things come from, I started to research some of our culture’s Christmas traditions. Some of our traditions go back to ancient times. Many Christmas traditions are related to earlier Christian celebrations. In recent years, a few newer traditions have been added to the way Americans celebrate the holidays. Here are a few of the things I found out about the ways we observe Dec. 25 each year.

Merry Christmas

Thank you for your business and friendship throughout the year.

Roe Henderson

1416 Prince St. Conway, AR 72034 501-327-3888

We’re your Shield. We’re your Shelter.

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According to the American Christmas Tree Associations, 77% of U.S. households will have a Christmas tree during the Christmas season. Christmas trees originated during the Middle Ages in Germany. Early European immigrants brought the tradition of displaying Christmas trees to America during the 1800s. Before glass ornaments were available, trees were decorated with fruit, paper chains, and beads. In the late 1800s, Woolworth Department Store hid a pickle ornament in their tree. A new tradition was born. Many families, including mine, have included a glass pickle in their décor. Gingerbread cookies came from England. During the 15th-century reign of Queen Elizabeth, gingerbread was a part of Christmas celebration. Ginger was used as a digestive aid and was frequently eaten following a medieval meal. Gingerbread cookies have been a part of our family’s Christmas food traditions. My son is especially fond of gingerbread that comes from a local bakery and that will always be a part of our dessert table. Hot chocolate has long been a part of winter in America. Dutch settlers sold hot chocolate in New England during the 17th century. Throughout the Revolutionary War, wounded soldiers were given hot chocolate to help them to recover from injuries. During World War I and II, hot chocolate was a part of a soldier’s military rations. Fruit cakes have been around since ancient Roman times. During the Middle Ages, Christmas cakes were made with a mixture of fruits, honey, nuts, rums, wines, and spices. Ingredients to make cakes would have been expensive and hard to obtain. They were such delicacies that they were given as gifts. The fruitcake tradition was brought to America by the colonists. Eventually fruit cakes were produced by commercial bakeries and placed in decorative tins. Candy canes have been a part of Christmas decoration since 1670. A German minister included a candy bent into a shepherd’s crook to keep his young participants quiet during a Nativity pageant. Leaving cookies and milk for Santa started during the Great Depression in the United States. It was a way to say thank you to Santa. Nowadays, it may be to thank parents for “some assembly may be required or remember batteries.” Downtown Conway Christmas tree in Rogers Plaza.

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Traditions run strong in our family, and we very seldom vary from what was done last year. Traditions and holiday rituals nurture a family’s bonds. They give us a feeling of belonging. - Linda Henderson

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By Laurie Green


've always been a fan of holidays. From the cheesy, predictable movies that start at the first sniff of anything pumpkin spice, until the big ball drops at the stroke of midnight, I love everything about the holiday season. However, if we can just be honest with each other here, that wasn't always the case for me. Don't get me wrong, like I said, I've always loved the holidays, but for the longest time I was always stressing and fretting about how to make everything picture perfect. I had Pinterest-worthy dreams, yet I functioned on a procrastinator mindset and a penny-pinching budget. Everything that I was certain would make the holidays special was either unachievable or unaffordable, and therefore I would find myself feeling and behaving more like the Grinch. I honestly can't recall how many holiday battles took place in our home over the years as I tried to convince my husband that it was a necessity that our kids get whatever the "hottest item" was that year, regardless if it meant we'd all be eating Ramen noodles for the next six months to recover financially. So maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but, still, a couple months of eating nothing but Ramen would have been hard on us. And while I like to dish out a little humor in my stories, the truth is that a lot of us miss out on the joy of the season and the blessings of the moments

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because we get so wrapped up in what we can't do and what we can't afford to buy. I'm 100% guilty of wearing a "He's the reason for the Season" T-shirt and feeling stressed out because my tree looked a little bare underneath. Listen, it doesn't matter how much you are attending church and posting Bible verses. If you aren't cultivating an authentic relationship with Jesus, you will ALWAYS be trying to please people rather than living in the true peace that God gives you — His peace, which is not the same peace offered up by the world. More quiet time with God just brings me so much clarity and contentment in my life. It also helped me realize that all I needed to have the perfect holiday was to allow myself to accept that it didn't have to be perfect at all! If we have our health, our family, and our friends, and we are fortunate enough to come together and watch some corny Hallmark movies, sip some hot chocolate, and eat a little something sweet, well, I believe we have EVERYTHING we need! Time is the one thing we never seem to have enough of and once it's gone, we can never get it back. If you find yourself behaving a little grinchy like this holiday season, I encourage you to find yourself a quiet place to seek and soak up some quality time with Jesus. He truly makes every day a reason to celebrate.




By Susan Isom


ccording to recent data by the payment company Square, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's sees a consistent spike in Botox and filler procedures each year. I am sure there are many reasons for this growth, but without question, the holidays can be a busy time of year for many women of all ages. Before the hustle and bustle of Christmas comes off its sled, receiving Botox can be a welcomed boost to your morale. We interact socially with more people during the holidays than any other time of the year. If you have a party-filled holiday season, it is important to be strategic. Regardless of when or how you celebrate the season, the period between Christmas and the New Year is a time when we all want to look our best whether we’re reuniting with old friends, seeing former work colleagues again after many years, or visiting with relatives from out of town. Soon you will be having your photo taken countless times. If you are dreading the holiday reunions rather than looking forward to them, be camera ready! So when is the best time to have a little something done to ensure the results from your treatments are in full swing by the time you sit down to Christmas dinner? Choosing Botox and or dermal fillers two weeks before your special event is generally an adequate amount of time. That way, you can be sure that all of the swelling and redness has disappeared. You will see results immediately after injected with fillers, however, you may be a little swollen and asymmetrical for several days. By two weeks, all bruising should be gone. Botox usually takes three to five days to take effect but continues to improve over the next several days. If your travels include flying, it is recommended that both Botox and dermal filler be injected two weeks prior to your trip. Land travel can be done immediately following Botox or fillers without hesitation. Absolutely no dermal filler the day of flying because of the air compression on the plane. If you want a good head start before the holiday chaos starts lining up at the doors, these services can be administered about a month ahead of the holiday season. Because these treatments are completely noninvasive, you won’t have to take any time off work in order to have them. This quick in-office procedure allows you to take years off your appearance with little to no downtime. You can schedule these procedures during your lunch hour and head back to the office afterward, meaning that you’ll be able to save all of your vacation time for the things that really matter. This time also marks the giving season. Believe it or not, gifting Botox and lip injections. has become very popular, — and who doesn't like surprises during the holidays? So, why not give yourself or someone else the gift of confidence this Christmas? Schedule an appointment today and enjoy the benefits of smooth, plump, youthful-looking skin for the rest of the holiday season and well into the New Year.

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ARKANSAS PBS WINS FIVE MID-AMERICA EMMY AWARDS Network receives top honor for Community Service


rkansas PBS won five regional Emmy Awards from the MidAmerica Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Oct. 23, including the award for Community Service. The network earned a total of eight nominations this year. "To have the highly relevant work of the Arkansas PBS team recognized with five Mid-America Emmy Awards is an incredible achievement,” CEO Courtney Pledger said. “Of particular note is the Community Service award that demonstrates our absolute dedication to remaining a place for every Arkansan by bringing people together around the compelling stories of the state that we love. The eight nominated productions, including the five winners, are available in a playlist on the Arkansas PBS YouTube channel at Arkansas PBS won the Community Service Emmy Award for extensive work in education, civic engagement, public affairs, race relations, and early childhood programming. Productions included: “Arkansas AMI,” televised lessons produced in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE) Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) when schools closed for COVID-19; “Blueberry’s Clubhouse,” an original pre-k-2 children’s program produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts; “Civics in a Minute,” digital shorts designed to help children understand the election process; “Healing the Divide,” examining how race permeates and affects the lives of Arkansans; “Arkansans Ask: COVID-19 Vaccine,” a live program answering viewer questions; and many other projects. The effort in community service was led by Pledger, Ed Leon, and Sajni Kumpuris. Earlier this year, Arkansas PBS was also recognized with the national Public Media Award for Overall Excellence in Community Engagement.

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“Urban Forge: Ozark Artistry” won Lifestyle – Long Form Content. The film centers on working blacksmiths in Mountain View as they pass down the tradition and skills from one generation to another, turning raw materials into functional art and keeping a centuries-old craft alive. “Urban Forge” was produced by Charles Eric White, Terrell Case, and CJ Burks and executive produced by Ed Leon. “Blueberry’s Clubhouse: Blueberry’s End of Summer Jamboree” won Informational/ Instructional – Long Form Content. The finale to the first season, this episode features a talent show with entries from kids all across Arkansas. The series is produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. This episode was produced by Charles Eric White, Terrell Case, Corey Womack, and CJ Burks. “Blueberry’s Clubhouse: Exploring Helium, Hydrogen & Nitrogen” won Informational/Instructional – Short Form Content. The segment, produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, features a visit to the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock to show viewers what makes balloons float and explain more about gasses in the air. The short was produced by Charles Eric White and Terrell Case. “Rap Squad” won Documentary – Cultural. The feature-length film is an intimate verité documentary about Arkansas high school hip-hop artists who seek healing for themselves and equity in their community through their music. “Rap Squad” was directed by Nathan Willis; produced by Willis and Nolan Dean; and executive produced by Craig Renaud and Courtney Pledger. Other Arkansas PBS nominations included: • • •

“Blueberry’s Clubhouse PSA About Masks” – Public Service Announcement – Single Spot or Campaign. “Arkansas AMI” – Promotion – Program (Single Spot). “Arkansas PBS Sports – Home of High School State Finals” – Promotion – Sports.

The NATAS Mid-America chapter, which includes television markets primarily in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri, was chartered in 1962 and began honoring outstanding achievement in this region with local Emmy awards in 1976. The organization’s mission is to encourage excellence in the television community.

An image from “Urban Forge: Ozark Artistry.” Winner of Lifestyle – Long Form Content Emmy.

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TWO DECADES OF GIVING Arkansas Community Foundation of Faulkner County celebrates 20 years


he Community Foundation of Faulkner County, an affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation, celebrated its 20th anniversary on Oct. 21 with a reception in McCastlain Ballroom on the University of Central Arkansas campus. Guests included former board members, donors, and nonprofit organization partners. As part of the celebration, the local affiliate announced the creation of the Jerry B. Adams Excellence in Philanthropy Award. The award recognizes a significant and enduring commitment to philanthropy through direct support, service to charitable causes, or other philanthropic initiatives that improve people's lives in Faulkner County. An endowment was established by gifts from Nabholz Charitable Foundation, Weaver Bailey, Conway Development Corporation/Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, and other donors. The inaugural honorees were Robert Nabholz, Charles Nabholz and Charles Weaver. Each of these men were instrumental in the founding and successful growth of the Faulkner County affiliate. Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry presented a proclamation celebrating the affiliate and Jerry Adams’ efforts to improve Conway and Faulkner County. One program the affiliate has developed is titled Funding Faulkner Forever. The program was created to assist partner organizations to become more sustainable and to develop ongoing policies that will increase endowments, according to Executive Director Shelley Mehl. “We also saw this as a chance to better communicate what our Faulkner County affiliate does and how we can help grow philanthropy in our community,” Mehl said.

Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Brad Lacy announced the creation of the Jerry B. Adams Excellence in Philanthropy Award and presented Adams with a plaque. Jerry Adams was the driving force behind the creation of our local affiliate in 2001 and has served on the board for 20 years. He has a history of both professional and personal support for nonprofits such as United Way, Conway Symphony, and the Conway Interfaith Clinic. The award was created in his honor as a lasting example of a true philanthropist.

Don Weaver presented a Jerry B. Adams Excellence in Philanthropy Award to Charley Weaver.

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The seven organizations participating in the Funding Faulkner Forever program include: Bethlehem House, Boys and Girls Club, CAPCA, Deliver Hope, Faulkner County Council on Aging, Rise House, and United Way of Central Arkansas. All are on track to meet the goal of raising $5,000 for their operating endowments which will be matched. Gifts from the Nabholz Charitable Foundation, Women's Leadership Network Central Arkansas Open, and Peter and Shelley Mehl funded the matching program. Board chairperson, Dr. Lesley Graybeal, ended the evening with a toast to the future. “We will be successful because of the people who make-up our community … all of you who are willing to lead, to give, to volunteer, to make connections, to ask who else should be at the table, and to get to work together on the solutions of the next 20 years and beyond.” The Arkansas Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization with over a half billion dollars in assets, fosters smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow, and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Foundation supports existing charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create initiatives that address unmet needs. Since 1976, the Foundation has provided more than $314 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve neighborhoods, towns, and the entire state. Contributions to Arkansas Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 29 affiliates, are fully tax-deductible.

Bill Hannah presented a Jerry B. Adams Excellence in Philanthropy Award to the Nabholz Charitable Foundation. David Nabholz (from left), Hannah, Susan Denys, Tim Nabholz and John Nabholz.

Charles Nabholz (from left) receives a Jerry B. Adams Excellence in Philanthropy Award from Bill Hegeman.

Current and former board members of The Community Foundation of Faulkner County, an affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation.




ollege is about getting a great education that paves the way for your dream career. It’s also about special people and places, incredible experiences and exploring everything your new home has to offer – which is why so many students choose UCA. Gorgeous campus. Outdoor adventure. And Conway as a college town? Enough said.

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GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS Partnership's 20th Annual Meeting more than a trip down memory lane.


he Conway Downtown Partnership (CDP) celebrated 20 years of successes at the organization’s 2021 Annual Meeting on Oct. 28 in the Spiritan Center at St. Joseph School. “Great cities do not happen by accident,” said CDP director Kim Williams. “They are built with intentionality, one street, one building, one art installation, and one new business at a time and the Conway Downtown Partnership has been the center of all of that, embracing the challenges facing our city over the past twenty years.” During the meeting, deserving individuals and organizations were recognized for helping to build downtown. This year's recipient of the Downtown Award of Distinction was Jeanne Smyers. She is the owner of The Kitchen Store & More in Downtown Conway. The CDP also awarded the Downtown Achievement in Design to the City of Conway for the City Hall renovation.

Chris and Jessica Smith announced plans to bring Rogue Roundabout to downtown.

Dot Welch (from left) presents Jeanne Smyers with the 2021 Downtown Award of Distinction.

The CDP also took a look back at the organization’s achievements and presented four new projects in differing stages of development, including: a new BancorpSouth branch on Oak Street; a proposed Rogers Group headquarters building on north Front Street; Rogue Roundabout - a proposed craft kitchen and beverage lab; and, the newly revitalized “The Max” event venue. 501 LIFE Magazine was the publication sponsor of the event.

Jamie Gates (from left), Kim Williams and T.J. Johnston were interviewed by Brad Lacy about their tenures as Executive Director of the Conway Downtown Partnership.

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Jamie Bryce (from left) and Felicia Rogers accept the Downtown Achievement in Design to the City of Conway from Kim Williams.

Pete Tanguay announces a new state-of-the-art downtown venue, The Max.

635 Dave Ward Dr I Conway, Arkansas 72034

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I have been married to my wonderful wife, Marie, for the last 48 years. We have one son, Eric, a daughter, Eboni, and a granddaughter, Keyona.


I have a B.A. from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, a master in counseling from the University of Central Arkansas. I am also a graduate of a program in management and administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.


I am a staff development specialist with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) at the Conway Human Development Center. I have been employed with the state of Arkansas for the last 47 years, with 40 of those having been spent at CHDC. I love what I am doing and I am doing what I love!!! I also taught school in the Little Rock School District for two years prior to my state employment.


In my job, I have had the opportunity to assist with the training of all staff who have come to work there for the past 40 years. We provide services to persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. I talk nonstop on a daily basis to staff as well as to the residents who live there. Many of the staff have told me that they were inspired and motivated by being in my classes and that I sounded like a motivational speaker. After numerous people continued to tell me that, I started feeling like a motivational speaker! I didn’t start calling myself one until God told me to do so after He brought me through a life-changing event in 1994. In December 1994, I was diagnosed with a muscle disease known as dermatomyositis. This is a painful, rare inflammation of the muscles and skin. I was also diagnosed with a condition known as rhabdomyolysis, which basically means a melting away or a disintegration of the muscles. I was in the hospital for 35 days and I was off work for six months. Over time, not overnight, God miraculously healed me of that disease and told me to share my story around the world. I went two blocks from home and that was when I started calling myself a motivational speaker. That was in 1996 and since then I have been to all 50 states, over 300 cities and have traveled to other countries. My message is the title of my 2007 book "Put Some Gratitude in Your Attitude!"


I do several complimentary speaking engagements a year for various church and community groups throughout the country. I also serve as one of the associate ministers of Williams Temple Church of God in Christ in Little Rock.


My love for Jesus Christ!!! I gave my life to Jesus on Sept. 1, 1974.


I love the culture, the people, and the opportunities that I have been afforded. I have been in the 501 for 71 years. I was born in Stuttgart and moved to Little Rock in 1963. 82 | 501 LIFE December 2021

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We’re not just growing—we’re growing together. Pictured: Rachana Yendala, MD, Lindsay Massey, APRN, and Neelakanta Dadi, MD

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Just Your Family. $20 per book Arkansas ranks 3rd highest in the nation for child hunger. Over half a million Arkansans struggle with food insecurities. And, 1 in 4 Arkansas children suffer from hunger. We want to do something about it. That’s why all of the proceeds from the sale of our cookbooks go to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Help us feed Arkansas children by purchasing a First Security Cookbook today.

For the perfect Christmas gift that gives back, pick up your cookbook today at any First Security location.

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