January 2022

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January 2022 501lifemag.com | 1

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(501) 203-0055

AND WELLNESS January 2022 501lifemag.com | 3

EDITOR Stefanie W. Brazile PUBLISHER Jeremy Higginbotham FOUNDERS Donna Spears and Sonja Keith SPORTS AND DIGITAL DIRECTOR Levi Gilbert COPY EDITORS Jade Fitch 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 Amanda Castillo Houston Davis Jessica Duff 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


This is the time to look to the future, but to borrow a phrase from Robert

Burns’ world-famous poem, allow me a few moments of “Auld Lang Syne.” Let me set the scene: It’s 1999, and I grew up hearing Prince’s song that said “party like it’s 1999” on New Year’s Eve. But that year, instead of fun, all we heard was the Y2K disaster that might befall us when the clock struck midnight. The fear was that all computers would malfunction when the year became 2000. The newscasters reminded us during December that at 12:01 a.m. we might revert to living like it was in the olden days: without electricity, heat, or running water. They called this the great Y2K scare. Some folks stocked up on water, canned goods, beans, and rice for fear the supply chain would come to a screeching halt or stores and banks would close temporarily since everything was automated and computerized. As you know, there were some minor hiccups, but no catastrophes. And, I rang in a new millennium with millions of others, watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve Countdown with a 3-month-old in my lap. The only thing we had stocked up on was diapers. It wasn’t the party I imagined in my teen years; nevertheless, it was a very happy time. Now, it’s 2022, and I greeted this new year with friends, laughter, and lots of snacks. Sadly, all the goodies I’ve enjoyed for the past month now have to be dealt with at the gym. Speaking of the new year, I am pleased to announce this issue is full of positive stories. We are excited to share with you our January 2022 Game Changers edition. Our cover features five inspirational individuals. They are worker bees who care about others and who are paving the way for future game changers. We also devote a section to the Sissy’s Log Cabin Women in Business Awards. The Conway Chamber recently honored seven women who have excelled in various industries. Excellence requires consistency and a determination to keep going when many would give up. Congratulations, ladies!

Let’s ring in the new year celebrating Greater Central Arkansas!

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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 Suzann 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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January Volume 14 Issue 9


Letter from the Editor/Staff Box


Upcoming events/News


Searcy Principal fulfills promise


Loving LIFE photos


Conway Noon Rotary celebrates 100 years By Stefanie Brazile


Winter wreath design By Tipton & Hurst

16 18

501 Basketball Team announcement


2021 Conway Women in Business


501 Couple: Heath & Carmen Helton

30 32 34 36 38

On the cover

Youth feature: Emma Cariker

By Becky Bell

These game changers are celebrated throughout this issue: Emma Cariker (from left), Judge Jim Baker, Sara Gates, Ronnie Williams and Kimberly Moore.

Scene change

By Houston Davis, UCA President

501 Kid: Hunter Dove

Photo by Mike Kemp

By Becky Bell

Harding Administration Building renamed Big flavor for the big game

By Chef Don Bingham

Celebrate the Blue 5K

40 Judge Baker – change maker By Dwain Hebda

42 44 50 52 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 74 78

High-speed internet arriving in rural 501

By Judy Riley

Ronnie Williams Student Center at UCA A life change: It’s time to exercise

By Amanda Castillo


Mid-Century modern home design

By Stefanie Brazile

Artistic Excellence: Izzy Getzov

By Donna Lampkin Stephens

Old places have soul

By Vivian Lawson Hogue

Choose PCSSD

By Jessica Duff

Energy smart challenge

By Beth Jimmerson

501 Pet: Class cockatiel

By Becky Bell

Morrilton bowling alley

By Dwain Hebda

501 Author: “The Neophyte’s Tale”

By Susan Peterson

Athletic Excellence: Amy Gruber Burgess

By Dr. Robert Reising

For the birds

By Walter Dube

Koontz Electric

By Donna Lampkin Stephens

80 Hunting pelicans

By Linda Henderson


501 Person of the month:

Austin Booth

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Director

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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, 72 Arkansas PBS, 35

For only $20 a year, be ahead of the game when it comes to having good news delivered to you and the ones you love. Copies go fast each month. Home delivery ensures you never miss an issue!

B Bledsoe Chiropractic, 22-23 Bonnie Barton Cook, 81

C Centennial Bank, 73 Central Baptist College, 63 ConsignDesign, 49 Conway Corp, 59 Conway Regional Health System, 83 Conway Regional Rehab, 41 Conway Symphony Orchestra, 81

Visit 501LIFEmag.com or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe.

D DDS Denture + Implant Solutions, 47 DJM Orthodontics, 79 Downtown Conway, 54-55

E Edward Jones, 9

F First Community Bank, 43 First Security Bank, 84 First Service Bank, 13 Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling, 37

H Hartman Animal Hospital, 65 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA, 67 Heritage Living Center, 5




Catch 501 LIFE on KARK News with Mallory Brooks at 12:30 p.m. on January 5.

welcome to the Writers’ Room

M Methodist Family Health, 77 Milestones, 21 MSC Eye Associates, 39

N Natural State Recovery Centers, 48

O Ott Insurance, 57

P Patterson Eye Care, 81 Pulaski County Special School District, 61

R Restoration Wellness, 46 Reynolds Performance Hall, 33

S Salem Place, 51 Salter Construction, 27 Shelter Insurance, 39 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 15 St. Joseph School, 27 Superior Health & Rehab, 2

U Unity Health, 3 University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, 60 University of Central Arkansas, 45

Dr. Robert Reising Retired from the University of Central Arkansas in 2013, Dr. Reising held a variety of teaching, coaching and administrative posts during more than a half-century in education. His doctoral dissertation at Duke treated literature and sports. In 2009, he co-authored “Chasing Moonlight: The True Story of Field of Dreams’ Doc Graham.”

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

Becky Bell is an award-winning writer who spent most of her career as a newspaper reporter and in public relations. Now a freelance writer, she enjoys writing anything from human interest features to news storiest. She received her graduate degree in public administration from SAU. Becky and her papillon, Queenie Belle, live in Magnolia. Contact Becky at beckybell33@gmail.com.

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 7

501 Events Arkansas Duck Derby

Finding Family Facts 3:30 p.m. • Jan. 10

Hunt and Evening Banquet

5:30 p.m. • Jan. 7 (hunt in the a.m.)

The Conway Regional Health Foundation will present the 3rd Annual Arkansas Duck Derby. The hunt is for teams of four and the banquet will be held at the HPER Center in Conway. The evening includes live and silent auctions, raffles, entertainment, food, and drinks. Visit conwayregional.org/ about/foundation/events/duckderby.

Arkansas Shorts 2022

The Butler Center at the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock offers a beginner’s genealogy class the second Monday of every month, taught by Rhonda Stewart, the Butler Center’s local history and genealogy expert. For more information, go to cals.org.

Designing Women at The Rep! Jan. 18 - Feb. 6.

A Night of Short Film

Jan. 8-9

The 15th annual event will take place at the Malco Theatre in Downtown Hot Springs and will showcase films, 20 minutes or less, in three categories: those made by natives and current residents of Arkansas, those made by North American filmmakers, and those made by internationals. Sometimes called the "Jewel of January," it is one of the most fun and anticipated cinema events of the year. filmfreeway.com/ArkansasShorts.

Antique Alley

Arkansas Antique Show

From the creators of the smash hit TV series comes a comedy bringing Julia, Suzanne, Mary Jo, and Charlene into our current age. As always, the social commentary is levied by raucous laughter and heartfelt human connections. Whether you’ve been a Sugarbaker fan, or are just joining the crowd, you are sure to enjoy every minute of Designing Women live on stage. Buy tickets at therep.org or call 501.378.0405.

Tim Tebow

Harding University Spring lecture series

10 a.m. • Jan. 18

Daytime hours • Jan. 7-9

Looking for antique furniture, advertising items, jewelry, dishes and more? They may be available at this event at the Conway Expo Center at the Faulkner County Fairgrounds. 100+ booths from several states, plus food trucks. Learn more at antiquealleyarkansas.com. 8 | 501 LIFE January 2022

Heisman Trophy winner and champion football player, Tim Tebow, will speak on “The Power of Persistence: Lessons in Leadership and Life” in a Distinguished Lecture Series at Benson Auditorium in Searcy. Purchase tickets at hardingtickets.com.


Searcy principal keeps promise after students exceed fundraising goal P

rincipal Heather Franks of McRae Elementary School agreed to kiss a pig if every class in the grade school raised at least $20 for the Red Ribbon Foundation during Red Ribbon week. All 20 classes met her goal and exceeded it, raising $1,045. The class in each grade level that raised the most money was invited to watch Principal Franks plant one on Erik and Tiffany James’ pet pig, Muffin. Those classes were: Monica Dye’s kindergarten students raised $82.26. Sherris Jackson’s first grade students raised $199.14 and earned a popsicle party! Lee Ann Hopper’s second grade students raised $68.43. Sam Davidson’s third grade students raised $71. Abigail Lavender’s fourth grade students raised $61.51. The remaining classes watched the big smooch on Google Meet. Principal Franks kisses Muffin after students exceeded her giving goal for the Red Ribbon Foundation.

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SHARE THE 501 LIFE SPIRIT! 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 stefanie@501lifemag.com.

Dean and Leo Treat of Conway, were found "Loving LIFE" when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Branson. The happy pair were married in Little Rock.

This Arkansas Rising soccer team was "Loving 501 KIDS" at the 3v3 Live National Soccer Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The team placed 2nd in the nation playing in the High School Division. Lily Ahlers, Coach Wall, Kenzie Wall, Emily Jones of Dover, Emma Browning and Briannah Kirk. Fred Owens, President /CEO of Opera in the Rock, and Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel, Chief of Staff and Board Liaison, were "Loving LIFE" at the Opera's Ribbon Cutting.

Conway City Mail Carrier Nick Boston is "Loving LIFE" and the holidays as he delivers mail along his route, including the 501 LIFE Magazine office.

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Amelia and her daughter, Tiffany, Guenther handed out milk and cookies at Conway Regional Foundation's annual Tribute Tree event.

Jerry Belew (from left), Teresa Belew and Jonathan Nettles, of Granny Hawk's Chocolate Gravy, were "Loving LIFE" at Searcy's Chocolate Gravy contest and came away with crowd favorite at the event.

The Arkansas Heart Hospital food truck staff was "Loving LIFE" and showcasing menu options at a recent event. Front row: Brady Hartwick (from left), Matthew Dunn, Laura Walters and Kevin Settles. In the window: Gary Tucker, Yolanda Hunter and Tarneisha Daugherty.

Isabel Andrade was "Loving LIFE" while celebrating her husband's, Sergio Rosa, 48th birthday in Las Vegas! Viva 501 LIFE Magazine! Viva Las Vegas!

Sierra Schultz (from left), Michael Moore and Tiffany Lyons were "Loving LIFE" when they enjoyed "Postmodern Jukebox" at Reynolds Performance Hall on Dec. 5.

These ladies were "Loving LIFE" as they prepared to do Black Friday shopping in style. Barbara Sossamon (from left), Kara Campbell of Conway and Courtney Campbell of Morrilton.

Mary Walter of Conway was "Loving LIFE" while vacationing at Gulf Shores, Ala.

Emla Caroline Holsted, dressed as Dog Man, and her mom, Amanda Horton, were "Loving LIFE" at the Conway Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Whitley (from left), Saegan, Malachi and Carter were "Loving LIFE" when they received their ticket and Christmas bell for a "Pajamas and Polar Express" movie.

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Service Club making a difference in Conway for 100 years By Stefanie Brazile


he Conway Noon Rotary Club marked their "Centennial Celebration" on Dec. 16 at Hole in the Wall Café with presentations from dignitaries. It is the oldest civic club in the City of Colleges. The world's first Rotary Club was founded in 1905 when lawyer Paul Harris and three friends met in a small office in downtown Chicago. Remarkably, only 16 years later, The Rotary Club of Conway was established in March 1921, with 26 charter members. Reverend R.L. Jetton was the first president. Today, Rotary International boasts more than 35,000 clubs worldwide and members are encouraged to visit other clubs when they travel. At least 65 people attended the "Centennial Celebration." They heard about the history of a vibrant club whose service activities impact regional needs and international projects in Africa and South America. The Rotary International Director from Zones 30 and 31 was the keynote speaker. Elizabeth Usovicz oversees Rotarians from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. In her address, Usovicz praised the club for donating $130,000 since 2013 to help "Touch A Life Foundation" in Ghana, West Africa, provide longterm rehabilitative services for children rescued from slavery. "Thank you for continuing to help those whose hearts you will see, but you may never meet," Usovicz said. The Rotary motto is "Service Above Self," and fellow Rotarians Senator Jason Rapert (District 35) and Senator Mark Johnson (District 15) presented a Senate Citation to the club to honor her accomplishments over 100 years. "I'm proud of this club personally, and thank you for all that you've done,"

Rapert said before presenting the framed document to current Club President Ben Temple. Then, Conway Mayor Bart Castleberry read a city proclamation naming Dec. 16 as Rotary International Day. Other certificates and awards were given to the club and individuals as the celebration continued. Some highlights of the club’s activities include: The annual Toad Suck Daze Pancake Breakfast fundraiser has raised nearly $90,000 for scholarships for local college students. Members have provided meals for first responders and non-profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, raised funds for Salvation Army, United Way's Stuff the Bus, Conway Police Department's Coats for Kids, Conway Imagination Library, the Community Action Program for Central Arkansas, food banks and homeless shelters, and more. The club helped provide picnic tables at Laurel Park, new trees for the Expo Center and joined other civic clubs in building new welcome signs on Interstate 40. Additionally, the club provided tornado relief assistance after the 2011 and 2014 tornadoes that struck the area and helped the Conway, South Carolina, community after a devastating tornado in 2018. Club members have donated $391,000 to The Rotary Foundation for projects worldwide, including Rotary International's global polio eradication initiative, PolioPlus. The group also sponsors a high school-based Rotary program, two college-based Rotaract Clubs, participates in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, and sponsors a Rotary Adoption Awareness picnic that led to more than 30 adoptions. Additionally, they assumed leadership and operation of the area youth football program, which the Conway Optimist Club previously sponsored.

President Ben Temple (left) receives a Centennial Certificate from Rotary International from Jamie Higgins.

Mayor Bart Castleberry presents a City Proclamation to Courtney Kennedy.

President Ben Temple with keynote speaker Elizabeth Usovicz.

The Conway Noon Rotary Club marked their "Centennial Celebration" on Dec. 16. Pictured are current club members and some former members who are past club presidents.

photo by Bailey Hensley Photography

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APRIL 24-30, 2022

JUNE 11-19, 2022


AUGUST 13-21, 2022


AUGUST 14-24, 2022


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Photos by Mike Kemp

MAGNOLIA MAGIC Give a warm welcome with this winter wreath


our homes for the holidays can be a time-consuming and arduous process. But there is generally a straightforward game plan to follow. We invest in some twinkle lights, put up seasonal greenery, and if we have kids at home, maybe add a whimsical yard blowup—or two. But when the festivities are over, what happens to our decorations? The gap between so-called “Hallmark holidays,” such as New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, leaves many of us searching for outdoor design inspiration. So, how can we dress up our houses’ exteriors to make them look inviting to visitors without a specific cause to celebrate? Enter Vice President of Tipton & Hurst, Chris Norwood, who is an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers. He is sharing four easy tips to help us create a wintry and welcoming fresh magnolia wreath.

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1. Pick up an affordable grapevine wreath base at a local craft store or online. 2. Accent the wreath by weaving icy twigs, available at Tipton & Hurst or made at home with white paint, spray adhesive, and rock salt, into the base. 3. Add consistent pops of green by inserting fresh magnolia leaves, which can withstand Arkansas’s fluctuating outdoor temperatures and be gathered outdoors or from a local retailer. 4. Finish off the wreath by tying a simple green ribbon in its center, either at the top or bottom, in a classic bow.

The excitement of the holidays may be over. But we can still make our own winter wonderlands. All it takes is a quick trip to our backyards or local businesses. For additional decor, gift or event ideas, visit Tipton & Hurst at 810 Fourth Ave. in Conway or tiptonhurst.com.



Photos by Mike Kemp

2021-22 team members include: Alexa Booher (Clinton), Mya Bradley (Beebe), Karley Brown (Mayflower), Amira Calvin (Morrilton), Calle Citty (Harding Academy), Kaitlyn Crafton (Wonderview), Sara Daniel (Searcy), Carl Daughtery Jr. (Maumelle), Ben DeSalvo (Nemo Vista), Cooper Ellis (Conway Christian), Aubrey Evans (Bigelow), Jackson Fox (Harding Academy), Kylie Freeman (Nemo Vista), B.J. Gilliam (Mayflower), Russ Hensley (Clinton), Halen Hoelzeman (Sacred Heart), Jaylea Hooten (Heber Springs), Taylor Jo Hooten (Quitman), Faith Johnson (Cabot), Kalayna King (Conway), Trinity Kussmaul (Guy-Perkins), Dwayne Lockhart (Conway), Rylie Marshall (Beebe), Jacob Mathis (Greenbrier), Maggie Mooney (St. Joseph), Piper Peterson (Mount Vernon-Enola), Joseph Pinion (Morrilton), Luke Pope (St. Joseph), Emma Rehm (Greenbrier), Sam Reynolds (Wonderview), Caleb Ross (Maumelle Charter), Alyssa Rudolph (Perryville), Nic Shue (Quitman), Gavin Smothers (Mount Vernon-Enola), Cade Spinks (Perryville), Jasiah Stubbs (Guy-Perkins), Jake Swindell (Sacred Heart), Zach Thomas (Heber Springs), Madeleine Tipton (Vilonia) and Josie Williams (Conway Christian). In addition to being featured in this issue, a player bio will be published in February and March. 16 | 501 LIFE January 2022

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Photo by Don Brazile

501 LIFE





mma Cariker, 16, loves to read and wants others to have something to read just by stopping by her church in Conway. That is why, in late July 2021, she started making inquiries about putting in a Little Free Library at Woodland Heights Baptist Church, where her father, J.D. Cariker, is an associate pastor. “It’s like a way to outreach to the community through reading,” the Conway High School junior said. “You can take one or take some. You can take one and bring it back another time. It’s really casual.” Emma said she had seen the Little Free Libraries online at littlefreelibrary.org, on TikTok, and in downtown Conway. The official website dubs it the world’s largest book-sharing movement and Emma’s project is registered with the program. Before Emma could make her idea into a reality, she would have to do research, presentations, and find a builder. The yellow structure with a glass pane door is in the church parking lot near the corner of Prince and Hogan streets. The church’s address is 4215 Prince St.

books, cards, and bookmarks to go into the library as well.”

Pastor Cariker said he and his wife, Kelley, are really proud of Emma’s idea. “She loves to read, and she wanted to be able to share the gospel by putting books in the Little Free Library. The library shares the gospel to let people know there is more to life and that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the entire story,” he said.

Emma said her maternal grandmother, Peggy Ambrose, sparked her love of reading when she was young. Her grandfather was the late James Ambrose. “My grandmother and I would read the Chronicles of Narnia each night,” Emma said. “I like to read fantasy, dystopian, and mysteries.”

What really impressed Emma’s father is how she took hold of the project from beginning to end and showed her leadership skills to make a positive change both at the church and in the community. “She did it all. She talked to the outreach pastor, and he loved the idea but said she would have to share it in a staff meeting. So, she put together a presentation. She found someone who handbuilt it, (former Conway coach) Bill Clements.”

When Emma is not reading, she works backstage in theater for Conway High School. Being able to prepare lighting and work on the technical aspects of running a theater is something she has been practicing at church.

The Little Free Library at the church looks like a large bird house, and Pastor Cariker said Clements put a yellow bird on the top of the house to suggest that look. Clements donated his time and the materials. It has shelving for books and can be opened without a key. The books are not all Christian, but Emma and other members of the youth group help make sure there are no inappropriate books.

Emma has a 5-year-old brother named James, and her paternal grandparents are Norman and Jill Morgan. Emma is glad she took the initiative to help create the library at her church.

“The staff at the church are very supportive,” she said. “My family and students in the youth group prepared

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“I do a lot of technology and stuff for the church,” Emma said. “I do anything you see projected on slides. I do the lyrics on screen and sometimes run a soundboard or livestream so people could watch from home when COVID-19 hit.”

“It was like something that I had known about for a long time, and I wanted to run my own but also be able to spread the love of God through one of my passions, which is reading,” she said. “I don’t think there is a better way to do that other than making the library.”

The Sissy’s Log Cabin Women in Business Awards was held Dec. 14 at Reynolds Performance Hall. The Conway Chamber of Commerce event marked 10 years of honoring individuals who have excelled in leadership and community service. There were five recipients of the Outstanding Women in Business Award; one individual received the Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit Award, which is presented to those who work within the fields of nonprofit, education, or government; and the Diamond Achievement Award recognized a woman with at least 25 years of professional experience who has inspired and empowered many generations of women. The guest speaker was Natalie Stute, Chief Human Resources Officer at Gainwell Technologies. The awards were presented by representatives of the companies that sponsored the awards: Acxiom and First Community Bank.


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TERESA LITTLE Teresa received her award from Brad Lacy, President and CEO of the Conway Chamber of Commerce.


s the Executive Director of an organization that strives to empower children and adults with developmental delays or disabilities, Teresa has remained adaptable throughout years of changing policies and regulations. Facing the unexpected challenge of a global pandemic, Teresa acted as an advocate for her employees as much as her clients, working to ensure they continued receiving compensation and support despite the office temporarily closing its doors. With a heart for the nonprofit sector, she has devoted countless hours to the work of Milestones Services, as well as the Community Action Program of Central Arkansas, the Faulkner County Leadership Institute Alumni Board, and the statewide Developmental Disabilities Provider Association. As Teresa prepares for her retirement at the end of this year, she will be concluding a nonprofit career spanning 38 years, with the vast majority of time spent at the organization that holds a special place in her heart.

501 LIFE asked Teresa what this award meant to her: “All of the attention has been so overwhelming and so much appreciated at the same time. As I am retiring, the Diamond Achievement Award was a big surprise and big cherry on top of my career. Working at Milestones (formerly Faulkner County Day School) for the last 38 years has given me rewards of its own watching children grow and develop. Sharing in the heartaches and joys of hundreds of families through the

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years has been my work and my mission. To be given an award to say, ‘yes, you made a difference’ in our community. And that difference wasn’t just for children but also in the lives of the many women who have worked for me or along side me, is truly an outstanding honor. I am fortunate to work in a field that is filled primarily with women. Many of them have come to me broken by so many things, struggling to survive. I have tried to help them when I could with a steady job and some understanding of what they needed at the time. And many of them who came before me or along side of me were my role models that helped to shape my leadership. All of these words sound empty to me. It is so hard to put into words the love that I feel for all those families and staff members that I have had the pleasure to serve. I certainly didn’t do it to be recognized like this … but I am very grateful for all it means.”

Recommended Reading: Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate.

Guilty Pleasure: Coke over ice, with Lays potato chips without ridges, and green onion dip.

Favorite Quote: If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.


eresa Little has spent most of her career at Milestones Services, Inc., formerly named the Faulkner County Day School. When she retires this month, she will have served as Executive Director for five and a half years and as Early Childhood Director for 33 years. She graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 1980 with degrees in Special Education and Speech Pathology and later added graduate work in Early Childhood Special Education. Since graduation, she has devoted her professional career to serving children and adults with developmental delays or disabilities. When Teresa accepted the Early Childhood Services Director position in 1983, only 14 children were enrolled. The young woman was not satisfied because she knew other children needed the nonprofit's support. So, she began marketing the program and, in 1987, added a regular daycare. Her conviction was that children with developmental delays needed role models and play partners that did not have delays. Soon, they outgrew their building on Elizabeth Street and moved to the old Antioch church in 1996. There, they grew to more than 100 children served and achieved quality status for the daycare. The director has worked hard to maintain the original mission from 61 years ago, even though laws and funding have changed over the decades: To help children with developmental disabilities that could not be served in public schools. As a result, milestones now empowers young children to reach their maximum potential through a culture of love and respect. This culture is one that Teresa, and Ruth Castleberry before her, have modeled and nurtured. As a game changer, Teresa has grown the program, even though funds were limited, but always wanted it to be the highest quality program. "Young children with, or without,

delays or disabilities, need lots of guidance and love," Teresa said. "I have worked hard to make sure we do not lose sight of doing what is best for the people we serve. Love is so intangible, but somehow, people say they feel it when they walk in our building, and I hope that foundation was built by me, and I know it will continue." The leader benefited from continuing her education. She attended the Faulkner County Leadership Institute and has been a part of many trainings through Arkansas State University, where she earned the Arkansas Children's Program Administrator Certificate. Teresa also trained with: Developmental Disabilities Provider Association, Community Action Programs of Central Arkansas and UCA Outreach. One book and online training she recommends to other nonprofit leaders is "Joan Garry's Guide to Nonprofit Leadership." Teresa has faced ups and downs as a leader but always valued her staff. She is proud that the Board supported her request to pay the team when COVID-19 closed their doors for a time. Together in 2020, they faced the tragic loss of a coworker while continuing services to the children. Teresa wishes she could reward the nonprofit's staff with the higher salaries they deserve, but she reminds them regularly that their worth is much more than dollars. She and everyone at Milestones are helping children have better, more successful lives. They are game-changers who are committed to helping children and their parents. Last month, Teresa received the Diamond Achievement Award at the Sissy's Log Cabin Women in Business" annual event. It is the highest honor bestowed on a woman by the Conway Chamber of Commerce. Indeed, she has been a game changer in the lives of innumerable families.


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As a young girl of 13, Elissa embraced her spirit of volunteerism. Now, with over 30 years of experience in the industry, Elissa leads a team of 400 in their work, serving individuals with developmental disabilities. With a caseload of over 200 residents, the work of Independent Living Services could be seen as strenuous at any point, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought about an unprecedented set of challenges. Elissa’s advocacy work, on behalf of the developmental disability population, encouraged her to think creatively on how essential services could continue while maintaining a safe work environment for her team and clients alike. Elissa celebrates the fact that no one living in their group homes has contracted COVID-19 thus far. Outside of work, she is a member of Conway Morning Rotary and has served on the board for Sonshine Academy and the National Provider Government Affairs Committee.

501 LIFE asked Elisa what this award meant to her:

Crystal Floyd of Acxiom (from left), Elissa Douglas, and Lori Melton with First Community Bank.

“It is an incredible honor to be named Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit. I am joining a group of fantastic women who I admire. I am very thankful to all the women who have mentored me throughout my career. I feel very blessed to be a part of Independent Living Services for the past twenty years and serve our consumers and their families. I love being part of Conway where my husband and I have raised our daughter, Lily.”




For more than 15 years, Dr. Amanda Bledsoe has provided her community with quality chiropractic care, opportunities for professional development, and unending support for the variety of causes represented throughout Conway. After working as an associate for other local clinics for 11 years, Dr. Bledsoe opened the doors of her first clinic in 2017. Since then, she has employed more than 50 employees, and she has expanded Bledsoe Chiropractic from 2,500 to 7,800 square feet. Always giving back to the community that has supported her, Bledsoe’s clinic has kept an active presence at numerous civic events, providing free adjustments and massages to attendees. Outside of the office, Deliver Hope, Community Connections, and Harbor Home are just a few of the organizations she supports.

501 LIFE asked Amanda what this award meant to her:er:

Lori Melton (from left), Dr. Amanda Bledsoe, and Crystal Floyd.

24 | 501 LIFE January 2022

“It means so much to be recognized by the community I love so much. It especially means a lot as a woman! Conway is an amazing place to own and run a business as a woman!”

Whether she’s working at her desk, or on-site at a rock quarry, Carla is recognized as a well-respected and encouraging leader in an industry that has been predominantly male. Over the past 10 years, she has worked to streamline processes in her office which has empowered staff to work more effectively and independently. To her team, she is a dedicated colleague and sounding board; to her daughters, she is a steadfast figure who can successfully juggle priorities and achieve success, while working in an industry she loves. The giving of her time has been a priority of Carla’s as she’s devoted countless hours volunteering for Children’s Advocacy Alliance, The Chase Race, Bethlehem House, and her church.




501 LIFE asked Carla what this award meant to her: “First and foremost, I would say that I do not consider myself an ‘Outstanding Woman in Business.’ I get to work in an industry I love with a great team, which makes it easy to be successful. I am humbled by the nomination and selection. I do commend the chamber for recognizing Women in Business in our area. There are many great women who live and work in Conway who offer so much to the community, making it a better place to live & work.”

Lori Melton (from left), Carla Brockman, and Crystal Floyd.

OUTSTANDING WOMAN IN BUSINESS: Karil embodies the essence of an outstanding woman in business. Through her work at Bank of America, she created the Power of Ten group within Arkansas branches where 10 emerging women leaders in their market meet monthly to help drive success and encourage each other. With years of dedication to programs like these, Karil has been recognized with the Presidential Service Award by Bank of America for the past 10 years. In her free time, she has devoted countless hours to community service organizations, Faulkner County Circle of Friends, and The Call. She is recognized not only as a dependable volunteer, but someone who leads by example, opening her heart and home to children she has fostered and adopted.



501 LIFE asked Karil what this award meant to her: “It means a lot to me that the chamber recognizes the important contributions women make in Conway. Furthermore, to be recognized is both humbling and an honor. Women have so many demands on them every single day. Some days I feel like I’m failing at everything, and I don’t feel very outstanding. So to have all my hard work recognized, is truly an honor.”

Lori Melton (from left), Karil Greeson, and Crystal Floyd.

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 25




In a male-dominated industry, Jennifer has earned a role on the executive team of a 45-year-old construction business after just 6 years with the company. Always an advocate for her colleagues, she prides herself on creating an education program for employees, and cultivating an environment that fosters professional growth and advancement. Through the Women’s Leadership Network, Jennifer has mentored countless students and young professionals. Embracing a style of transformational leadership, she pushes herself and her team to question if there’s a more effective way to complete projects and tasks, ultimately avoiding the “this is how we’ve always done it” trap we often find ourselves in. Jennifer has served on the boards for Blackbird Collective and the Creative Institute of Central Arkansas.

501 LIFE asked Jennifer what this award meant to her:

Crystal Floyd (from left), Jennifer Mouser, and Lori Melton.


“When I heard that I was being honored as one of the Outstanding Women in Business, I was blown away, honored, and so joyful that people could see my heart through my actions. Getting to be recognized for doing what I love is an honor in itself, but getting to carry on the legacy of amazing business women in my family really meant something special to me. My grandmother was a southern gem who was in the floral and gift business when I was growing up. My mom also went into the same business, and both of them have taught me so much about what it means to give REAL customer service, work hard, and always treat the people around you with the utmost love and care.”



As a working mom of 4, Teneicia is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that has been passed down through generations in her family. A relatively new entry to Conway’s business community, TreeHouse Cleaning has grown from a humble beginning with only $20, into a reputable and recognizable brand in the cleaning industry. Teneicia takes pride in the growth of her company, and she works to share lessons learned and encouragement with women involved in organizations such as the Women’s Leadership Network and the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. In an effort to give back to the community that helped build her business, she has had the opportunity to not only mentor young women, but provide them with employment.

501 LIFE asked Tenecia what this award meant to her:

Crystal Floyd (from left), Teneicia and Skylar Roundtree, and Lori Melton.

26 | 501 LIFE January 2022

“To be chosen for this tremendous award is humbling. As I learned of the names of previous and current recipients, many of whom I admired for some time, I feel honored to be called amongst them.”

Stop by for a tour

PreK-12 campuses open

Registering for 2022-2023

You are invited to the



SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 2:00-4:00 PM Projected Opening of the New High School August 2022!

St. Joseph School 502 Front Street, Conway (501) 329-5741


Faith Learning &

Living For more information & to register, use the QR code Or visit www.stjosephconway.org January 2022 501lifemag.com | 27






WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Chicago and Houston.

EDUCATION: Master of Science in criminal justice with emphasis on public Administration from Liberty University; Bachelor of Science in leadership from Central Baptist College.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in health education with a minor in history, UALR.

JOB TITLE: Major/ Little Rock Police

JOB TITLE: Sergeant—public information officer/North Little Rock Police Department. PARENTS: Father is Alphonso Armstead of Chicago; Mother is Debbie Sheffield-Drake of Missouri City, Texas.



Reading, traveling, cooking/grilling, and spending time with my family.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: A blessed and compassionate

husband, father, son, and sibling. I have a servant’s heart and care deeply about my family as well as the community. I love a good challenge and remain calm under pressure. A proud law enforcement professional.


beach with my wife and admiring all of God’s creation.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: Aspire to make

a difference!


my entire life. It’s a community that’s grown so much over the last three decades. My friends and family are here, and the community itself is small enough that you almost always see someone you know. I look forward to seeing what the future will hold for the 501 because I think it’s going to be bright.

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Volunteer with Special Olympics Arkansas and the Law Enforcement Torch Run; I am a commissioner with the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission. HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Traveling, watching my kids grow and accomplish their goals, enjoying a good movie with my husband, and spending time with family. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF:

Caring and compassionate, especially when it comes to family and friends. I’m a fun-loving person that enjoys a good laugh.

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: I love ’80s & ’90s movies, television

shows and music.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: Treat others how you

would want to be treated.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: It’s not like the bigger cities that I grew up in.

I came to the 501 as a Division 1 athlete, recruited by UALR and given a full scholarship to play volleyball. I’ve seen the 501 grow over the last several years. There are a lot of new businesses and plenty of outdoor activities for families to enjoy. The community is wonderful and I’m honored to have made so many friends in the 501.

THEIR STORY: HOW WE MET: We met while participating in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics in May 2009. We were running the Flame of Hope from Little Rock to Searcy for the opening ceremonies. We had just run through the City of Austin, Arkansas, and the group was finishing a leg of the run. Heath extended his hand to help me up after sitting down to rest. We struck up a conversation as we continued to Harding University. I remember him telling me after the ceremony that he’d take me to lunch one day. We went on a date a week later. THE PROPOSAL: Occurred at Capers in Little Rock. It was totally unexpected and Carmen thought it was a joke at first. WEDDING BELLS: Feb. 21, 2010; Crystal Beach, Destin, Florida CHILDREN: Alexis, 21; Caleb, 18; Haylie, 17; and Mason, 9. PETS: Chewie, a mini Bernedoodle. 28 | 501 LIFE January 2022

Photos by Mike Kemp


The new North Little Rock Justice Center held a ribbon cutting on Dec. 9. The 82,000 sq. ft. facility will allow all of the existing police buildings to be housed under one roof. The facility will also be home to the North Little Rock District Courts, the North Little Rock Information Technology Department and a 5,000 sq. ft. public meeting room. "Though neither of us had a part in planning the new Justice Building, I am very excited about working there. The North Little Rock Justice Center symbolizes the excellence and growth of the city, as well as the professionalism of the men and women who work for the NLR Police Department. It’s designed for the community. "The new facility allows for various units in the police department and courts/prosecutors to come together under one roof, which will improve our efficiency and effectiveness. Everything about this building is meant to draw the police department together as well as our community. All our new community rooms were built with NLR citizens in mind. We hope our neighborhood associations will utilize these rooms for meetings. Additionally, the police department will host community events that will continue to strengthen our relationships with the community."

- Carmen Helton January 2022 501lifemag.com | 29


By Houston Davis, UCA President

President Davis stands in front of the new Integrated Health Sciences Building with the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts which is under construction in the background. Both facilities are game changers for students and the region.

30 | 501 LIFE January 2022


f there is one comment that we hear most consistently from University of Central Arkansas alumni, regardless of the decade, it is how much the campus has changed since they last saw it. In recent years, this statement could not be more accurate. The north side of the UCA campus has seen significant modifications that will continue to change the way that our university engages with our community and our state, particularly in the areas of wellness and culture. The university celebrated the grand opening of the Integrated Health Sciences Building (IHSB) in August with dozens of community members, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as representatives from one of our strongest partners: the Conway Regional Health System. This cutting-edge, 80,000-square-foot facility sits on Bruce Street, stretching from Augusta to Bruce avenues. The main entrance, on the south side of the building, features a ceiling art installation of eight interlocking rings, representing the health care disciplines within the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. A donor wall greets visitors as a reminder of the community connection and support. The facility is home to the UCA School of Nursing, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, an expanded Nabholz Center for Healthcare Simulation, and an interprofessional teaching center – the first of its kind in the region. Named in partnership with Conway Regional, the interprofessional teaching center (ITC) is housed on the first floor of IHSB. The center provides health care services, such as nutrition, audiology, speech-language pathology, and occupational and physical therapy, to the Conway and Faulkner County communities. Patients schedule appointments with the center as they would a local clinic and are treated by advanced practice registered nurses and students in the college. In addition to providing health care services to the community, ITC serves as a place for students to learn in an interdisciplinary environment, improving understanding across specialties and increasing collaboration. The college has implemented interprofessional education activities for many years, and the ITC will provide additional opportunities for learning outside of the classroom. With more than 90% of UCA’s health care graduates remaining in the state, Arkansans will reap substantial health benefits. Now that our IHSB is up and running, we are eagerly watching the construction of the new Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts. The facility is at the intersection of Bruce Street and Donaghey Avenue. The university broke ground on the $45 million facility in October 2020. Made possible by a $20 million matching gift from the Windgate Foundation, this new space will revolutionize the arts and cultural experiences of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and arts patrons. The Windgate Center will provide almost 100,000 square feet of much-needed classroom, studio, rehearsal, and design spaces. The open-concept arts center will include a creative quad and sculpture garden, a first-class art gallery, a 175-seat black box theater equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and a 450-seat concert hall that will be the only one-room, open-concept venue in central Arkansas. The design of the facility will allow visual art, theater, and music students to better inform one another’s artistic endeavors and will foster new collaborative partnerships for students and faculty across multiple academic disciplines. These interdisciplinary experiences directly impact the cultural and economic needs of communities across the state, region, and beyond by producing graduates that are critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. Along with the Windgate Foundation’s incredibly generous leadership gift of $20 million, the UCA Board of Trustees dedicated state bonds to the construction of this facility with the remainder of the capital funds needed to complete this transformative project being raised by UCA’s Division of Advancement. The new Windgate Center will further establish UCA as a leader in the arts and a destination for exceptional cultural experiences for future generations.

Photo by Mike Kemp

As we look ahead, UCA is poised to bring even more visibility to several programs and initiatives already successfully operating on and through our campus. Collectively, they represent extensions of UCA service beyond our university and into many communities throughout Arkansas. They are the Arkansas Coding Academy, Center for Community and Economic Development, Conductor, UCA Cyber Range, and Makerspace. Each of these individual initiatives provides education, leadership development, and community programming in its own way. We believe that by increasing connectivity among them and other programs, UCA can magnify the impact we have on our community and strengthen our role as an economic catalyst for our state. Individually, they are game changers, but working in concert, they ensure that our university addresses the state's grand challenges and positions Arkansas for a vibrant future.

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 31

501 LIFE




AGE: 6 SCHOOL: First-grader at Bobby G. Lester

Elementary, Jacksonville, North Pulaski School District

FAVORITE SUBJECT: Art. FAMILY: Michelle and Joseph Dove, a sister named

Annabelle and a brother, Joey.



HOBBIES: Drawing, riding a bicycle, and spending time with his family. His best friends are the “front office crew” at school: Terrance Hatcher, Latitia "Tish" Hankins, Charity Kendrick, and Gary Beck. Photo by Mike Kemp

“Hunter demonstrates excellent behavior inside and outside the classroom,” wrote Cheesa S. Williams, marketing and communications coordinator for Jacksonville North Pulaski School District. “He is well mannered and respectful to peers and teachers. Hunter shows exemplary character through his compassion, honesty, responsibility, optimism, and loyalty in creating a positive school environment.” Hunter is a kind soul that loves making friends of every age. His parents say that Hunter “never meets a stranger and is always willing to give to others.”

Hunter was the winner of the Amazing Titans Award at school. The Amazing Titans Recognition Program acknowledges students who exceed expectations. Pictured: Assistant Superintendent Dr. Janice Walker (from left), Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Owoh, Hunter and Michelle Dove, and Assistant Superintendent Bobby Lester.

32 | 501 LIFE January 2022

By Becky Bell

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 33

Howard Wright and Elijah Anthony together in front of the Administration building both at the 2021 Homecoming Celebration as well as at their commencement ceremony in 1968.


Administration building renamed for Harding's first African-American undergraduates


here were more than 100 events held during Harding University’s 2021 Homecoming celebration. One moving event was the renaming of the Administration Building in honor of two students who were true game changers for the university. Bro. Elijah Anthony and Dr. Howard Wright were the first two African American undergraduate students to earn bachelor’s degrees from the school. On Oct. 23, the building was named the Anthony and Wright Administration Building, in honor of the two gentlemen. “Elijah Anthony and Howard Wright are deserving of this honor,” Harding President Dr. David Burks said. “I know both men, and I am grateful for their faithful leadership. I’m so glad future students will always be able to refer to this iconic building as the Anthony and Wright Administration Building.” In front of the building, a bronze three-dimensional plaque shows the images of Anthony and Wright and tells their stories. Anthony was born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1946, and he enrolled at Harding in 1966. Wright was born in Chester, Pa., in 1945, and he enrolled at Harding in 1965. In May 1968, Anthony and Wright both graduated from Harding University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since graduating, Anthony and Wright were both named distinguished alumni recipients, an award given by the university to respected alumni. The recognition came after Dr. Bruce McLarty, retired school president, formed a task force “on recognizing African American achievement at Harding University.” “I am grateful to former president Bruce McLarty for

34 | 501 LIFE January 2022

initiating the task force on recognizing the contributions of students of color since Harding integrated in 1963 and to Dr. Burks and the board for continuing this relevant and necessary work,” Anthony said. “The fact that my time spent at Harding gave no indication that I would ever be honored in this way is a testimony to the growth and progress of Harding University. For that, I applaud Harding’s administration, faculty, staff, and students for continuing the conversation toward racial equality and unity. I am humbled beyond expression that God has chosen my experiences at Harding and beyond to influence the lives of untold numbers of young people for generations to come. To God be the glory!” “When we stepped on the Harding campus, we stepped into history,” Wright said. “When we graduated from Harding, we stepped into history. We didn’t come to Harding to make history. We didn’t even know we were making history. But, it was history, nonetheless.” He continued, “It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said, ‘You don’t have to have a college education in order to be great. You don’t have to have your subject and verb agree in order to be great. In order to be great, you have to have a heart to serve!’ And since walking across that Administration Auditorium stage, God has blessed me for 5 1/2 decades to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. It’s all about a life of service.” The Administration Building was built in 1953 and soon became the center of campus activity, holding various school events, presentations and chapel. Today, the building remains a prominent fixture on the front lawn, housing several administrative offices and a 973-seat auditorium.

“Because of their significant contribution to Harding as students and as alumni as well as their distinguished lives of service, we are today dedicating the iconic administration building as the Anthony and Wright Administration Building from this day forward.” - Dr. David Burks Harding President Photos by Jeff Montgomery




myarpbs.org/passport January 2022 501lifemag.com | 35

By Don Bingham


o one wishes to spend endless time in the kitchen preparing for the festivities of the Super Bowl Party, the chef included! So here are some favorites of ours that you can prepare ahead of time for the number of guests you expect. The little smokies, or small cocktail sausages, are one of the nation's top winners for party snacks; this barbecue sauce has been one of our favorites through the years. The recipe came from the original Betty Crocker Cookbook, and it never disappoints. The cheese toast is a hearty, filling and rich concoction of cheeses toasted on French bread. We first enjoyed this recipe at a luncheon in the lovely home of Gay White, wife of former Governor Frank White. She shared the recipe with us, and it always brings back memories and is an excellent addition to any party.

Photos by Mike Kemp

36 | 501 LIFE January 2022

There are many popcorn recipes available, but this one is our favorite. Boil the sauce for six minutes, then pour over the popped corn and toast it in a slow (200 degrees) oven for an hour. Enjoy these party foods, and may your team of choice take home the trophy! Thanks, Jessica Faulkner, for adding this to our family cookbook collection!

Bingham's Favorite BBQ Sauce

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

1 cup ketchup 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 1/4 cup butter 1 tablespoon paprika 1/4 teaspoon pepper Mix all ingredients and heat to boiling. Add little smokies. Serve in a crockpot on warm or low setting.

Gay White's Cheese Toast Mix:

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese 1/2 cup white cheddar 1/2 cup grated Parmesan 3/4 cup mayonnaise 1 (4.5 oz.) can green chilies 1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix Spread this mixture on French bread and toast until bubbly.

Caramel Popcorn 2 sticks butter 2 cups sugar 1/2 cup corn syrup Boil the above ingredients for 6 minutes.

1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 3-4 bags microwave popcorn, popped Stir these remaining ingredients into the above mixture and toss into cooked popcorn. Then, spread popcorn on a lightly buttered baking pan and bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour.

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 37

CELEBRATE THE BLUE 5K The first Celebrate the Blue 5K was held Nov. 20 at the Stone Dam Creek Trail on the University of Central Arkansas campus. Sara Gates organized the event to show honor, respect, and support for officers in the 501. All proceeds will go toward training for de-escalating crisis events for all police departments in Faulkner County. Gates took part in the event with her children, Logan and Lana (pictured left), and said she was touched by the Memorial Ceremony remembering fallen police. "What an honor to watch this moving ceremony and the lasting impact these officers have left. I stood there with tears rolling down my face for those I've never met. “Our officers on a daily basis show and exemplify a code of ethics and wear the badge of honor with high integrity,” Gates said. Celebrate the Blue 5K is an opportunity to unite our families, our community, and our officers together as one. In the years to come, I hope to have an astronomical amount of money [raised] to further their education and training, mainly in de-escalation.” The 2022 race is planned for Oct. 8.

38 | 501 LIFE January 2022

Photos by Mike Kemp

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Photos by Mike Kemp

JUDGE BAKER - CHANGE MAKER By any measure, Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker’s life is a vivid example of game-changing achievement. By Dwain Hebda


’ve been very fortunate,” Jim Baker said, seated in an office crusted with photos and memorabilia from 4-H'ers to sitting U.S. Presidents. “I’ve had six careers.” For starters, Baker’s advocacy on behalf of Arkansas’ cattle and poultry industries has greatly improved the lives of livestock producers. On the board of Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, he worked to eradicate herd disease and contributed to Arkansas becoming the hub of poultry protein for the world. His business sense led him to grow companies such as Lewis Livestock Auction in Conway — at one time the second-largest livestock auction in the Southeast U.S. — and Central Arkansas Production Credit Association, serving 700 customers in Faulkner and Van Buren counties. Seated on ag association boards such as Arkansas Farm Bureau and State 4-H Foundation, he stuck up for family farms, helped develop future producers and worked to create mutually beneficial partnerships between farmers and the companies that fed and clothed the globe using their products. He even took his act to Washington where under President Bill Clinton, Baker served as the inaugural Administrator for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. There, he led 840 employees in executing

40 | 501 LIFE January 2022

the same common-sense principles nationwide that was his hallmark in Arkansas. On their own, any of these accomplishments place him among the state’s game-changer elite, but Baker wasn’t finished. In 2014, he was elected Faulkner County Judge, a post where he’s improved quality of life throughout a county that continues to attract residents on an enviable scale. “The state of the county when I took office was, it was busting at the seams,” he said. “We’re continuing to see that here now, but it was busting at the seams even back then. We’d just had the tornadoes and the oil spill and a lot of the county projects had been put on hold. So, there was a great need to develop our infrastructure, our roads. That’s the biggest challenge I’ve had, my road projects.” Baker dove headfirst into his work. In seven years, the county has invested more than $100 million in various projects, modernizing the vast majority of the county’s transportation grid on an impressive scale. Noticing the potential for the county’s smaller communities, Baker identified highway, bridge and other projects that could bring service up to par with the rest of the quality of life. “Highway 25 changed the landscape in the northern part of the county,” he said to describe why the project was important enough for him to make it a campaign promise

Judge Jim Baker's legacy, as well as his agenda, is made up of a hundred different projects serving thousands of constituents from highly anticipated highway and bridge construction to long-overdue services like a county animal control facility, one of his priorities for the coming years.

three years ago. “We knew we needed better access to that part of the country – Wooster, Greenbrier – and get folks off Highway 65. It’s changed the landscape as people have moved in that direction.” “Right now, we’re involved in road projects at Mayflower building two overpasses — one over the interstate and one over the railroad tracks — that will eliminate the problem of traffic being blocked when there’s a train on the tracks. That’s a $30 million project that will be completed next fall.” Cynics might say Baker is as lucky as he is good, given the tsunami of unplanned American Rescue Plan dollars that rained down in the wake of COVID-19. But assessments severely underestimate the value of Baker’s well-honed teambuilding skills. “It’s all about partnerships and partnerships are something you develop over time,” Baker said. “You can stretch your own dollars, but you can do a lot more when you partner with people.” The Mayflower project, for example, involved getting five entities (the State of Arkansas, the federal government, Metroplan, City of Mayflower and Faulkner County) to not only see eye-to-eye but row in the same direction. No small feat, even for a seasoned relationship architect like Baker, who keeps the same plaque over every entrance to his office building that reads, “Leave your politics at the door”.

“I have a partnership with every mayor in the county,” he said, simply. “No judge here has ever done that before.” Baker also engenders mayors with his attention to lessvisible but no-less-vital projects underground as vital investments in a community’s economic development. “We’re working right now to get improved water and sewer into downtown Wooster,” he said by way of example. “It’s a huge project. They’ve got the ability to tie into Greenbrier’s sewer plant; and they asked for assistance from the county. I consider that paying it forward. Once we get that done, small businesses will start coming in there. Sales tax will start coming into Wooster.” Ask Baker what’s next and you’ll hardly get the question out of your mouth before he declares he’s running for another term to finish what he sees as his mandate from the people. Having already paved all but a handful of miles of county gravel roads and put wheels in motion to bring broadband to every household in Faulkner County, one can only imagine what lies in store, just knowing that if Jim Baker puts his mind to it, it’s a lock to get done. “I want to help people. That’s the whole thing. You try your best to step forward and help people,” he said of his mission. Asked why he’d run again after all he’s already accomplished — why not just retire — he deadpans, “I don’t own a boat, I don’t play golf and I get sunburned every time I go to the beach.”

One One Step Step Closer Closer to to Home Home The only certified acute inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Faulkner County

501-932-3558 On-site Physician • Certified Rehab RNs Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy Speech Therapy • Average Stay 10-14 Days

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 41

Seeds of Change High-speed internet is traveling to rural areas in the 501. Service will be a game changer for students, home businesses and those working remotely. By Judy Riley


he greatest thing on earth is to have the love of God in your heart, and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your home,” according to a farmer in rural Tennessee during the beginnings of electricity being offered in rural areas. This quote appeared in the book “The Next Greatest Thing” by Richard Pence. He documented what he considered the greatest social and economic advancement of the 20th century, the electrification of America. Prior to the 1930s and 1940s, electricity was only available in cities and towns through private electric companies. As part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, member-owned rural electric cooperatives were born and electricity became available to all. The philosophy of electric cooperatives has always been to provide low-cost electricity to rural areas, serving the underserved. And they are tackling providing high-speed internet to their members in just the same way. According to First Electric President/CEO Don Crabbe, “We are providing the service to rural and highest-need locations of our service area, as well as where all of our members live.” His theory is that the “next, next greatest thing” is to make high-speed internet available to all their members. Life in rural Arkansas has many perks: communities of support, space between neighbors, land for gardens and animals, and the sweet smells and sounds of country life. Many who work in nearby towns consider the commute to work and shopping worth the hassle. But the biggest downside, magnified during the pandemic when folks had to work remotely, was lack of dependable internet. High-speed internet in rural Arkansas has been illusive, unpredictable, and expensive at best. Electric cooperatives are coming to the rescue.

42 | 501 LIFE January 2022

First Electric serves almost 80,000 members and 100,000 member accounts in Central and Southeast Arkansas. They are one of 17 electric cooperatives serving rural Arkansans; 13 are working toward the same goal. Having an affordable and predictable high-speed internet will be a “game changer” for rural Arkansans. Central Arkansas’ First Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Jacksonville, is the largest cooperative to embark on this project. According to Crabbe, the company has made a huge commitment in time and resources, and the employees are excited to be a part of this effort to serve the members. For First Electric, the process began in 2019 with an initial build-out of a fiber backbone infrastructure to connect five offices, one operation center, and 46 substations with broadband technology. Ultimately, their plan is to bring high-speed fiber-optic internet service to all members. And they are working at “high speed.” By the end of this quarter, the infrastructure will be complete and distribution construction has already begun. Connect2First was launched, and they now have service provided to almost 1,000 customers in the Keo, Furlow, Seaton, and Nelson communities of Lonoke County. Connect2First will be available to every First Electric member. Once the buildout is complete, services may be offered to homes and businesses outside of First Electric’s service territory. So, anyone may choose to live in rural Arkansas, even taking their jobs and businesses home. Look out your back door across a pasture or pond and be able to work from your kitchen table. Indeed, it’s the biggest “game changer” for rural Arkansas since electricity and telephones.


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 firstcommunity.net January 2022 501lifemag.com | 43



he University of Central Arkansas honored longtime executive administrator Ronnie Williams by renaming the campus Student Center to Ronnie Williams Student Center. The name was unveiled in a special ceremony on campus Dec. 3. “For this president and for this board to feel that I did something so significant as to have my name attached to this wonderful facility ... is a blessing,” said Williams. “I want you to know how grateful and how thankful I am.” The UCA Board of Trustees voted to rename the building at its August 2021 meeting. At that time, UCA President Houston Davis thanked him for his dedicated service to the university. “The true measure of his work and impact lives in the tens of thousands of students’ lives that he touched and the futures that he impacted. Ronnie was a man of service and conviction in his time at UCA and has left our university better than he found it. We are thankful to call him colleague and friend, and his legacy will still be felt long after his retirement,” Davis said. The Ronnie Williams Student Center houses a food court,

student meeting rooms, offices for the Student Government Association, a convenience store, KUCA radio station, and other student-focused facilities. For more than three decades, Williams was a pillar of the UCA campus community. He began his career at UCA in 1980 as assistant dean of students. In 1990, he became director of Minority Affairs, and in 1992, he was named assistant to the president. Williams became vice president of Student Services in 1996. His role expanded to include chief diversity officer in 2013. Williams retired in 2021. “I’m the one standing here, accepting this honor, but the recognition belongs, at least in part, to the phenomenal team of Student Services professionals, to faculty and staff that I have the pleasure to work with at various stages of my career,” Williams said. “Thank you for partnering with me in leadership, but more importantly, thank you for your friendship. I love you dearly.” Dozens of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members joined Williams in the celebration, along with his wife, Connie, and other members of his family.

“For this president and for this board to feel that I did something so significant as to have my name attached to this wonderful facility ... is a blessing, - Ronnie Williams 44 | 501 LIFE January 2022

Williams’ accomplishments stretched beyond the UCA campus. He was vice chairman of the Arkansas Educational Television Commission. His service also includes the Arkansas Community Foundation Board, the Faulkner County Shelter for Abused and Battered Women, and the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct. He was also the first Black chairman for the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Williams with the Guy W. Murphy Distinguished Service Award in 2018. The award is the highest form of recognition from the chamber and is presented each year to a person or group who has demonstrated special service to the community. The chamber cited Williams’ inclusive, open leadership and guidance at UCA and toward people and organizations in Faulkner County. Williams was the first Black person to serve at the executive level at UCA. An endowed scholarship in his name was announced in 2021. The Ronnie Williams Scholarship provides support to full-time students who are active participants in a recognized student organization with preference given to students in a leadership role with a 2.5 GPA or above.

UCA President Houston Davis looks on as the Ronnie Williams Student Center is unveiled. Williams was the first Black person to serve at the executive level at UCA. An endowed scholarship in his name was announced in 2021.


UCA leads the way in wellness, preparing students to become providers throughout the state. It’s a position of responsibility – and opportunity. That’s why we made wellness one of the pillars of UCA NOW, our $100 million capital campaign. The result? A new state-of-the-art facility. An interprofessional teaching center. An expanded nursing program. And a healthier future for us all. Join the movement today.




January 2022 501lifemag.com | 45

“We are a one-of-a-kind facility here in Conway. We will be the only clinic in Arkansas with some of the services that we offer." Sheila Hayes, APRN, FNP-C


estoration Wellness is a new innovative wellness clinic operated by Sheila Hayes, APRN, FNP-C. The clinic focuses on Bioidentical Hormone Replacement therapy for men and women using the Biote method. Myofascial release treatments utilizing Shockwave therapy to treat acute and chronic pain such as tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, back and neck pain, and Erectile Dysfunction. The most exciting addition to the clinic is the fat loss therapy featuring the Emerald laser by Erchonia. It is the only device that has FDA Market-Clearance for full body fat loss for people with overall body circumference to treat those with a BMI of over 40. It has a 6-inch average circumference weight loss in as little as eight sessions with no pain or down time. Restoration Wellness the first and only provider in Arkansas. “My passion in life is to help people and encourage those around me to be better. Knowing the clinic will be able to help so many people and improve their overall health and quality of life is one of the most rewarding feelings,” says Hayes. The Family Nurse Practitioner says many people come to mind when thinking of who has inspired and mentored her along her journey. “My parents, who are both leaders have modeled their different leadership styles, and have taught me the importance of integrity, hard work and that people matter,” she said. I think

some of the most important attributes of a strong leader are listening skills and work ethic. See what needs to be done and never think you are too important for hard work or the most tedious tasks. There are also many physicians and peers that have helped Hayes along the way. Dr. Kay Chandler at Cornerstone Clinic for Women inspired her to realize that medicine has its place but sometimes you must dig a little deeper to find the real cause of and issue. It may be something that medicine may or may not be able to help. “I continue to grow as a leader by watching others in the medical field and in this community. Today, Hayes stays motivated by focusing on the goals of her patients and the difference Restoration Wellness can make for them. Hayes says the team at Restoration Wellness is made up of individuals who are forward thinkers and risk takers. They listen to needs of others and then look for ways to use their knowledge, skills, and resources to meet those needs. “The most important risk I have taken is simply jumping in and opening this clinic. Knowing that God has my life in His hands and knows my best allows me to keep pushing to the end goal.”

RESTORATION WELLNESS, LLC • 1014 Harkrider • 501.932.1780 • restorationwellnessar.com 46 | 501 LIFE January 2022

“Transparency and authenticity are two traits that foster a more successful and effective leader.” Laura Brunson


elping people find the confidence to smile again is what Laura Brunson, General Manager, strives for with every patient. Customers across Arkansas also find themselves smiling at the quality service, affordable prices and financing options that DDS Dentures and Implant Solutions of Conway provide. They offer general dentistry services but primarily focus on dental implants, implantsupported dentures, implant-retained dentures, and traditional dentures. In addition, their stateof-the-art technology and on-site lab often offer same-day service. Brunson and her team are committed to your dental needs and ensuring you are a delighted patient. Brunson has experience in healthcare management in several capacities. These experiences have allowed her a reflective on the human experience that has strengthened her leadership skills. She has found that an effective leader is first and foremost self-aware and creates a culture where her team knows she has their back. "Being a great leader means never asking your team to do something that you would never be willing to do yourself and always being ready and eager to serve your staff," Brunson explained. While Brunson's career has provided her many mentors, she credits DuShun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, as providing her not only profound advice but an incredible friendship. "He provides insight into personal and professional situations and is always willing to invest in my personal growth and professional development," she explained. In 2022, Brunson's goals include guiding the award-winning success of DDS Dentures and Implant Solutions to superb dental services. Brunson also hopes to improve herself as an empathetic leader. "I think it is important to recognize that we all have room to grow and to work on developing ourselves into becoming better consistently," she said. One way Laura does this is by being an avid reader. She immerses herself in great books to spark her imagination and spawn new ideas. Her favorite leadership books are "The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle and "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. Brunson's commitment to her staff and desire to help patients regain confidence makes her a game changer in her industry.

DENTURES + IMPLANT SOLUTIONS 635 Dave Ward Dr • 501.238.9801 conwaydentures.com January 2022 501lifemag.com | 47


he capable team at Natural State Recovery Centers is dedicated to helping people overcome addictions. Director of Treatment Bobby Ward believes one of his greatest achievements came in 2018 when he helped put together the new substance abuse facility that truly addresses every need of a person suffering from addiction. “Our organization is known for a hands-on approach, meaning educating clients and treating them as an individual with respect and dignity, no matter how far they have fallen in society’s eyes,” Ward said. “We walk hand-in-hand with clients through the darkest parts of trauma, and enable them to see a brighter future, being a contributor to society, to employers, family and friends,” he said. “The accomplishment that makes me the proudest is coming from 17 years of active addiction to 32 years of sobriety and from being the black sheep of my family to being a loving brother, being a husband and a father that my wife/kids can count on, to being a pillar to my friends that they can call on.” Ward served on the Certification/Licenses Board for Counselors from 2006 to 2010 and was voted Counselor of the Year in 2009 by his peers. Laura Kirk is thrilled to be the Business Development Manager for Natural State Recovery Centers. With three years of experience in the field, this is the position she is most proud of landing. "The minute I stepped on the Natural State Recovery Centers campus, I knew that I had to be a part of the amazing things they were doing,” Kirk said. "I had been dreaming of working for the best drug treatment program in Arkansas and I’ve found it."

Kirk considers the program a game changer for those with addictions. "We are the only facility in Arkansas that offers all levels of care from detox to sober living," she said. "We are Natural State Recovery Center, but I am sure in time we will be THE Natural State Recovery Center!" Another important team member is Cope Hughes, Director of Operations. Hughes has worked with Natural State Recovery Centers since day one. "It is my responsibility to make sure that our staff is happy so we can provide the best service possible for our clients," Hughes said. "It is a privilege to be able to watch people rebuild their lives." Natural State Recovery Centers is committed to clients for the long haul. J.D. Skelton's position as a "Peer Support" is a game changer for clients. "My favorite thing about my position at Natural State Recovery Centers is the interaction with clients," he said. "We offer a 120-day program that includes all levels of care, not just 30 days. So after clients complete their stay, I stay in touch with them for the following year to provide support and encouragement. "I am most proud of my ability to meet the client where they are," Skelton continued. "I keep my team motivated by showing them love, showing them my dedication to recovery and helping others through daily interactions." Natural State Recovery Centers is located on a 27 acre campus and is like nothing else in the state. If you or someone you love is seeking recovery help is here…at NATURAL STATE RECOVERY CENTERS.

NATURAL STATE RECOVERY CENTERS • 10025 Oakland Dr. • 501.319.7074 • naturalstaterecovery.com 48 | 501 LIFE January 2022

"If I can help my customers, consignors, and my team feel valued and respected, everything else will take care of itself." Steve Hobbs


onsignDesign of Little Rock is a unique venue for people to buy and sell their high-end furniture and home accessories. But perhaps they are best known for special treasures that you can't find anywhere else. Owner Steve Hobbs invites you to check out their large showroom of beautiful chandeliers, area rugs, and expansive selection of paintings and prints by local artists. "We have customers stop by weekly, not only to see what's new but to visit with my staff and me," he said. The ConsignDesign Experience is a game changer! They offer a warm, inviting environment where customers can shop for high-quality, one-of-kind items. It is not uncommon to walk into any part of the store and see several people sitting on a sofa or loveseat, just chit-chatting. Customers feel welcome and comfortable. This inviting atmosphere is essential as there is so much to take in, and it's easy to be overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of their items. There are nearly 2,500 consignors and more than 24,000 items in the store. Hobbs' background is in sales and marketing, including time with Holophane Lighting, where he worked with electrical engineers and architects. He also helped develop interior

lighting for the first Walmart Supercenters. His wife, Julie, is an interior designer, and as he assisted her on projects, Hobbs saw the need for an upscale shop in central Arkansas where her clients could get a fair price for items they no longer need. Thus, ConsignDesign was born. Stepping away from a guaranteed paycheck to owning his own business was challenging; however, Hobbs doesn't shy away from pursuing his dreams because it is hard. "Usually in life, the harder things have the most value," Hobbs said. He credits his father as his inspiration, "My father always looked for the best in everyone he met." This philosophy led Hobbs to put together a talented team at ConsignDesign. "I always try to hire team members who are better at what they do than me. And I make sure they get credit and praise for their successes. My pleasure comes from seeing them be successful," boasted Hobbs. Empowering his team and consignors leads to dynamic results for customers. He often refers to the Zig Ziglar quote: "You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want."

CONSIGNDESIGN OF LITTLE ROCK • 10503 Maumelle Blvd Suite A1 • 501.772.4247 • consigndesignlr.com January 2022 501lifemag.com | 49

Amanda Castillos leads a spin class at Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center.

MAKE A LIFE CHANGE It's time to get started! By Amanda Castillo

The holidays have come and gone, and a new year brings

Whether you are new to working out or have been letting your fitness go during the pandemic, starting over simply starts by starting — period. It won’t be easy, and it will take some time, but if you never start, you will never grow.

I also encourage you to consider joining a local gym, such as Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center. The energy being around others is like nothing else. You are sure to stay motivated with the variety of cardio machines, wide selection of dumbbells and strength equipment, swimming pool, and high energy of group exercise classes.

We were all impacted by the pandemic in some way. Stress, uncertainty, isolation, quarantine businesses closures, including fitness centers. It’s no wonder so many are starting over and beginning from an unfamiliar place.

Group exercise is for everyone. It is a community of other like-minded individuals all coming together with similar goals, and then add in amazing music and a motivating instructor.

No matter if your goal is to lose weight, get stronger, get fitter, or to simply just feel good, once you start seeing and feeling the changes from working out, you will want to keep going. I promise!

Another option is to invest in a certified, experienced personal trainer. Whatever you do, don’t stand still. Do the things you think you cannot do, and don’t be afraid to fail. You may just surprise yourself!

intentions of starting fresh and setting goals.

During the pandemic, many began working out at home. We watched the craze of gym equipment selling out across the nation. For some, this new way of working out at home was enough to maintain their fitness level by utilizing ondemand workouts or following their favorite influencers on social media. For others, the lack of accountability, motivation, and energy of being around others left them skipping workouts and slowly falling out of the habit. It’s tempting to just rest on the couch for a few minutes or get distracted by the television or family during an at-home workout. My advice to anyone is to start messy, start unsure – but get started. Resilience is about getting back up. Make a realistic plan and promise yourself to move more. Whether that means taking more active breaks throughout the day if you work from home or lacing up your shoes to walk or run a mile.

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To get the results you want, you’ve got to do the things you’ve been thinking about and possibly avoiding because they are hard. I say it often in my spin cycle classes that I instruct, “You can do hard things.” No one is going to tell you to get off the couch, run a mile, take an exercise class except you — well, maybe I will! But you have to make it happen daily through small changes and consistency. Remember, I’m over here cheering for you!

Amanda Castillo, BA, ACE | Marketing Coordinator/Personal Trainer/ Group Exercise Instructor ACE Certified Group Exercise Instructor, Yogafit Instructor, Schwinn Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor, RRCA Certified Running Coach, and Barre Above Certified Instructor. She is on staff at the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center.

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 51

Photos by Mike Kemp

52 | 501 LIFE January 2022

MIDCENTURY MODERN HOME DESIGN Style gaining traction in the region By Stefanie Brazile


espected Conway architect Rik Sowell has noted a design trend in the region growing in popularity. In 2018, Rik Sowell Architects began receiving design requests for mid-century modern residences and businesses. He likes the clean straight lines, single-slope roofs, large expanses of glass windows, and minimal ornamentation so much that in the summer of 2020, he and his wife, Teri, moved into a mid-century modern home on top of the hill at the north edge of Conway. The new build on Grandview Heights Drive has a deck that allows them to enjoy a birds-eye view of the bustling community below. "We see all of Conway lit up at night," Teri said. "We can see the UCA stadium lights and all the way to Mayflower. From the deck, you can see the sunrise and sunset. It's really pretty." Rik's firm designed about 30 mid-century modern homes and businesses in the past three years, along with several other styles they create for residential and commercial clients. He anticipates an uptick in requests for the modern design in 2022, though he notes that it's not replacing the modern farmhouse in popularity. A few years back, Rik decided to build a modern Airbnb option for Conway visitors. Around that time, he met Teri and later, when they were engaged, the pair decided to sell the large homes they had raised their families in, minimize their belongings, and start fresh together in a house big on views and small on upkeep. Ultimately, the pair decided to finish the Airbnb as their primary residence. The home is 1,375 sq. feet. A wood, stone and glass structure, the home extends out from the hill, which required a lot of engineering. Teri describes it as "a Mid-century modern with a contemporary bent." She used some monochromatic colors typical of the modern style but added a pale aqua, a green called Honeydew and another green called Green Trance at Sherwin Williams. "We've had so much fun!" she said. One common characteristic of the modern style is the large windows. "We wanted to take advantage of the view, arguably the best view in Conway," Rik said. “When you come to the front door which is glass, you see through the house and across Conway." Teri said that foregoing some privacy is part of the look. "I was the one who initially said I want the doors and windows so you can see through the house," she said. "I had seen that at the ocean. So we don't have any window coverings, but the two bathrooms and the bedrooms doors are frosted for privacy." There is also a private, screened porch off the master bedroom. Another clever use of space that Rik designed for the Airbnb is a set of bunk beds that is nestled into a wall. The grandkids love that feature! The couple worked on the décor together. One goal was to incorporate the mid-century modern look into the furnishings, and they found a few authentic pieces at a local store. Teri stripped and stained them. Unfortunately, they had to order a lot of the furniture to find a tapered, clean leg which is typical of mid-century modern furnishings. "Rik chose a lot of the unusual pieces," Teri said. "He got into the geometric things that are on the walls, and he chose the metal piece over the fireplace." "My favorite part is the hardscaping," she said. "As much as I adore flowers, I didn't want the maintenance, and this house style needed very simple plants. We have a lot of grasses and some evergreens. They brought in the large stones and incorporated rocks in the landscaping. It was tricky because it's on a hill. They would do it and redo it to get it perfect. But, they did a great job and gave us something free-flowing and low maintenance."

Rik and Terri Sowell enjoying the home they have created.

The Sowell's have built a home with style and functionality in mind. They enjoy an enviable view, since their upkeep is minimal. "There's a freedom in that," Teri said, smiling. Her husband added, "A lot of baby boomers are scaling down to save money, reduce hassle and simplify life which frees them up to do the things they enjoy."

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 53

A message from Director, Conway Downtown Partnership

Kim Williams

Downtown Conway is looking forward to a fabulous 2022! We kick off the year with our annual Moonlight Madness Event from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28. Enjoy extended shopping hours, restaurant specials and the best shopping specials of the year! Our merchants roll out fabulous endof-season merchandise and holiday items at better than clearance prices. Plus, our restaurants offer fantastic food and drink specials for the whole family! We also look forward to new and exciting shopping and dining options coming online later this year!

Stay tuned. Shop, Eat, Play, Repeat in Downtown Conway

54 | 501 LIFE January 2022

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 55

ISRAEL GETZOV By Donna Lampkin Stephens

At 3, Israel Getzov (Izzy) wanted to be like his older sister and learn to play violin. Their Chicago family wasn’t musical at all, he said. She later switched to cello and eventually quit music lessons around age 11. Izzy, however, had found his calling.

photos by Blake Tyson and Mike Kemp

56 | 501 LIFE January 2022


etzov, now 45, is Music Director of the Conway Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Music Director of the Little Rock Winds, and Professor and Director of Orchestras at University of Central Arkansas.

undertaking to put together great concerts. Everybody knows their role, and everybody participates and gives what they can. You can’t do it alone. What you can say as a group of 70, 80, 90 musicians — you can’t beat that.”

“I don’t know if I would say ‘prodigy,’ but I would say I was advanced,” Getzov said of his musical beginnings. “I was always into orchestra. That was always my first love. What attracted me the most about it was the community aspect, the depth and breadth of stories and the emotions that are told.”

He is intentional about programming for the CSO. At the Concert in the Park in September, he chose music by William Grant Still, a Little Rock born and raised composer.

“Fortunately for me, one-third of the orchestra is made up of violins. It was a good match for me.” While he also studied piano, percussion, and viola as a teenager, the violin was his main instrument. He remembers attending a Chicago Symphony concert when he was in fourth grade. At nine, he began playing in youth orchestras. At 14, he joined the Chicago Youth Symphony. At 17, he entered the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony. “It was mostly for college and young professional musicians, but I was a senior in high school,” he said. At 15, he began asking college recruiters how he could become a conductor. Getzov earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance at what was then Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. He then went straight to the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he spent a year pursuing a master’s degree in Orchestral Studies before leaving that program early to study conducting. He earned his Master of Music in Conducting at Cleveland. He skipped his 2001 commencement ceremony to audition in Little Rock for the position of Assistant/ Associate Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO). At 25, he got the job. He also played in the orchestra and was a member of one of the string quartets. After he was hired at the CSO and UCA in 2005, he curtailed some of his ASO activities to focus on conducting. “Conducting is a funny thing,” he said. “It takes 15 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.” After all these years, he still remains in awe of the drama and sounds of the music. “And the fact that it takes a community of people, a team, to execute,” he said. “It takes a village. It’s an

“He is the dean of African American composers,” Getzov said of Still. “Right now, people all over the world are rediscovering his music, and we also are here in Central Arkansas. This is our music.” “This is like the people in Vienna playing Mozart or Brahms. We are very proud to go to the places and breathe the same air Mr. Still breathed and share what the meaning of the music is, not just what the meaning was, but what it is and hopefully what it will be for the future.” Similarly, during the Dec. 4 It’s a Wonderful (Conway) Life! concert, the program included the suite from the classic film. “It’s underplayed, and it was great to have the opportunity to feature that,” he said. Getzov, who was promoted to full professor at UCA in August, is excited about what 2022 will bring for the CSO. “We’re doing a concert of American music to finish our season, and we’re preparing for the transition to the new concert hall in the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, set to be completed next fall on the UCA campus. It’s very rare that orchestras have the opportunity to open a new hall.” While the CSO will retain some presence in Reynolds Performance Hall, Windgate will become its primary performance venue. Among his proudest accomplishments is the CSO’s performance of all nine Beethoven symphonies under his artistic leadership, completed in fall 2019. Getzov has cultivated numerous international relationships for years and lived in China for an extended period. Upon his return in 2014, he moved to Conway from Little Rock. “It’s comfortable and the right place to live, especially now,” he said. “I’m very focused on other cultures and always will be. Traveling and making music in different places will always be part of my life, but Conway is the perfect home base for me, and I’m thrilled to be a part of a community that embraces the arts and artists.”


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 • ottinsurance.com


– Sarah Anderson

By Vivian Lawson Hogue


hange” is one of those words that can have many meanings. It can be good, bad, sudden, slow, better, worse, monumental, minor, planned, unplanned, total, directional, or gradual. Some are reversible; unfortunately, many are irreversible. Today, the popular thing is to call it “progress,” but even that word can be vague or have various meanings, noticeably downward or upward. Changes are obvious in the experience of a native of Conway, Arkansas, and America. This became more apparent recently as I perused some early pages of our local newspaper. I thought our reader friends and “newbies” might want to see what changes our town has endured.

1895: In one issue was a simple notice that said, “Conway needs a tailor, a tannery, water works, a bathhouse, steam laundry, wagon factory, flour mill, furniture factory, steam bottling works and wholesale grocery house.” They eventually acquired all but the bathhouse. It said we already had two hotels, a bakery, a bookstore, cotton gins, restaurants, one male college, two brass bands, one female college, and 10 preachers. Oh yes, and “scores of pretty young ladies.” The lack of mentioning “scores of handsome young men” didn’t sound promising.

steel, fluted poles installed in concrete foundations arrived in 1948.

1914: World War I was coming up, but sugar had advanced in price. One store was selling 20 pounds for $1.00. Then during the next war, they rationed it. 1924: The 1907 Arkansas State Normal School changed its name to Arkansas State Teachers College. And it wouldn’t be the last time. 1930: A list of major businesses stated that they would be closed in observance of Good Friday. Apparently it was agreed upon that loss of profit was not a problem when abiding by personal and honorable principles. I have never found a notice saying why that concept fell out of favor. 1935: An ad for Cox’s Drug Store, phone number 3, had five rolls of toilet paper for 29¢, and Evening in Paris perfume worth $1.65 on sale for $1.10. Some folks still recall that blue perfume bottle with its strong smell that surely permeated plaster walls after first dissolving wallpaper glue. 1938: “Dancing at Squirrel Hill is Stopped.” A filling station and roadhouse on Highway 64 was considered to be a nuisance and was padlocked by law officers. No details, but I’d say they hadn’t seen anything yet.

1910: The Grand Opera House was built. Two years later, it became the Grand Theater with a stage and sound system. It existed until 1956, leaving the Conway Theater to garner movie attendance.

1942: World War II gas rationing began. Along with tire rationings as well, it is difficult to imagine current local conditions if workplace commuters encountered these dilemmas.

1913: After several versions of street lamps on wooden poles, the city purchased 50 iron columns, each with a cluster of four 60-watt white globes. The Conway Electric System held a formal opening of the “New White Way” that was attended by about 2,000 people. The community band and Hendrix College band marched everyone to the fairgrounds. For what purpose was not mentioned. Another system with

1943: “Old Hardware Business Sold to Competitor.” The Grummer Hardware Co. at Oak and Chestnut was sold to Walter Massey. “Hardware” was misleading, because whatever you needed, this store had it, be it guns, ammo, seeds, fresh pecans, onion sets, belts, dynamite, kitchen supplies, heating stoves, and hunting caps. Central to its existence was an iron stove, where overalled men sat

Downtown Conway circa 1955

58 | 501 LIFE January 2022

around it “chewing the fat,” smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, and telling tall tales. Many of us say if the store were to return, it would be an even more popular place.

of our In summary, most of the components were miss earlier town that we long-timers they were certainly not ever in prime shape, but ds, frien comfortable. We and our town were s. fault ving knowing what to expect and forgi our es, bodi our But changes come to our world, still and ge souls. Cities and people can chan beck posed maintain their identities. John Stein Wrath.” of es a question in his book, “The Grap our out with It was, “How will we know it’s us has still who past?” It’s easy. Just ask someone or os, phot time gas-rationing stamps, old warfunny downtown or farm stories.

Also 1943: I was born in the small Dickerson Clinic on Center Street, the last of five children and the only female. The youngest brother was less than thrilled with the change of losing his place as the baby. He reluctantly came to the clinic with our father for the inevitable, dreaded viewing of the new invader. While my parents chatted, my 4-year-old brother managed to loosen and remove a large fabric-covered button that was used in the construction of cotton mattresses of that time. His lifelong trait of curiosity apparently prompted him to see if he could swallow it. It was a success until he started choking. My mother, almost age 43 and in her postpartum condition, grabbed him by the feet, turned him upside down, and whacked him on the back. Out the button popped, rolling casually across the floor in no worse condition. No wonder I was last on the list.

They know who we were.

1951: “City’s First Signal Light Installed.” It was installed at Harkrider and Oak to help with the “heavily traveled” highway. That right there deserves at least a chuckle. They hadn’t seen “heavy” yet. But our then-town had not yet seen nor heard of roundabouts or orange barrels, so we were given a 70-year reprieve. 1954: The cost for regular gasoline was at a new low in town with a price of 24.9¢ a gallon. Today’s local current price is around $2.90 and counting.

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PCSSD application open through May 1 By Jessica Duff


s we prepare for a new calendar year, Pulaski County Special School District is already thinking ahead to the 2022-2023 school year! A new registration process will be implemented for the next school year. Beginning Jan. 10, current PCSSD families can submit a letter of intent to return to the District next school year. Pre-K registration also opens Jan. 10 for students new to the District. The letter of intent will replace the need for returning students to re-register this year. The letter of intent can be found at bit.ly/PCSS-22-23LOI. For families who do not live within the PCSSD school zone but wish to attend one of the schools, the Arkansas School Choice Act is an option. The Arkansas School Choice program enables a student in kindergarten through grade 12 to attend a school in a nonresident district. School choice applications are being accepted through May 1 this year. If you have specific questions related to registration and school choice within PCSSD, please contact the Office of Equity and Pupil Services at 501.234.2021. PCSSD’s mission is to provide equity and excellence for all students through rigorous college and career readiness instructional strategies. We serve 27 schools in Maumelle, Little Rock, and Sherwood. Those 27 schools include 16 elementary schools, four middle school campuses, one junior high campus. four high school campuses, and an online K-12 school. Particularly in the Maumelle area are three elementary schools, Crystal Hill Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, and Pine Forest Elementary; one middle school, Maumelle Middle; and one high school, Maumelle High. If you live in the Maumelle area, you are zoned for one of these PCSSD schools. However, school choice opens our schools to families outside district lines, allowing students to be a part of our school family, no matter their neighborhood.

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2022-2023 REGISTRATION REMINDERS Jan. 3 - May 1, 2022 Arkansas School Choice applications will be accepted Jan. 10 - 28, 2022

Letter of Intent for returning students in Kindergarten - 12th grade

March 1, 2022

Online Registration opens for students NEW to the District (Grades K-12)

May 2, 2022

Office of Equity and Pupil Services will begin accepting permits

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.

CHOOSE PCSSD School Choice application window open through May 1. Visit pcssd.org/page/school-choice January 2022 501lifemag.com | 61



t’s that time of year again. The holidays are officially over. We’re putting away the decorations and making lists of what we hope to accomplish this year. This year, you can resolve to save energy and money in 2022 by participating in the Conway Corp Energy Smart Challenge. The challenge helps Conway residents make home-energy upgrades easy and affordable. Customers can work at their own pace, choosing to start with small upgrades like replacing old light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs, or you can request a free energy audit from Conway Corp to identify goals and develop a tailored plan for your home. Zero percent interest loans from Conway Corp are even available for many upgrades, including attic insulation and appliances. No matter how large or small you start, saving energy is a resolution you can stick with that will save you money in the long run while making your home more comfortable too. Start with these five tips and put them into action in the next three months – you will definitely start to notice changes.

REDUCE WATER HEATING EXPENSE Water heating is a large energy expense in your home, accounting for about 14-18% of your utility bill. By taking low-cost steps, you can reduce your water heating bill. Make sure your water heater is set to no higher than 120 degrees. Install low-flow showerheads or temperature-sensitive shower valves. Newer water heaters have more insulation than older ones. If your water heater is more than 5 years old, wrap a water heater jacket around it to stop heat loss from the tank.

BENCHMARK YOUR ENERGY USAGE Staring down 12 months of utility bills can be daunting, but benchmarking is a key step toward seeing how your current energy usage stacks up, prioritizing your projects, and ultimately making a dent in your utility bills. The myConwayCorp app is a great resource for the past 13 months of electric and water usage in your home.



Many electronic devices and equipment continue to consume unnecessary energy even when not in use. Often called energy vampires, these devices cost families more than $100 a year. Use a power strip for electronic devices and turn it off when not in use to eliminate energy vampires. And be sure to unplug your chargers – they draw energy even when they aren’t connected to a device.

Set an energy-saving goal that will both challenge you and serve as an attainable milestone to reach by yearend. Aim to reduce energy use by 5% or save $300 from last year. Whatever your goal – set it and work toward it. Once you’ve made the commitment, visit ConwayCorp.com/EnergySmartChallenge to officially sign up to take the Energy Smart Challenge and pledge to reduce your energy usage and footprint in 2022. You will find other ideas and tips for energy efficiency along with information on free residential energy audits and 0% interest loans for qualified energy-efficient improvements. Customers who register to take the Energy Smart Challenge and schedule their free residential energy audit during January will be entered to win a $100 gift card to help with energy-efficiency improvements around the home. The winner will be selected by random drawing in February. To schedule your energy audit or learn more about the 0% interest loan program, call 501.450.6000.

REPLACE INEFFICIENT LIGHTING About 10% of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs. By replacing five of your home's most frequently used lights with energy-efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you can save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs can yield as much as 75% energy savings and last six times longer. You can get even more energy savings, longer life span and less wasted heat by switching to ENERGY STAR LED bulbs.

UPGRADE APPLIANCES Installing and utilizing a smart thermostat can save you 15% or nearly $150 on your yearly utility bills, while switching to ENERGY STAR certified appliances can save nearly $750 over the lifetime of the item.

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For a fourth-grade class at Baptist Preparatory Lower School in Little Rock, Pepper makes sure all the kids know that

Bird Word is the

By Becky Bell

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Photos by Mike Kemp


1-year-old cockatiel named Pepper has flown into the hearts of a fourthgrade class at Baptist Preparatory Lower School in Little Rock. The class teacher, Jessica Jackson, said she has wanted to have a bird as a pet since she rescued baby robins when she was a child. So, when she had the opportunity to get Pepper, she wanted to share him with her students during the day and take him home with her each night. “I got him when he was still being hand-fed,” she said. “I fed him myself like a mama bird. He and I have a very strong bond. I wanted him to bond with me and know that even though he was coming into the classroom, he had me as a security blanket.” Although Pepper cannot speak in words yet, he has many ways to communicate, she said. “He loves to get kisses and he will make the ‘mwah’ sound,” she said. “Eventually, he will make some words. He likes to sing a lot of different tunes.” Jackson said her husband is the children’s music director at Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock. Hearing the songs of him preparing for church has given Pepper something more to learn and put into his birdy repertoire. Their feathered friend also likes the song “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. “He likes the chorus and can whistle it, which is very entertaining when we are in the middle of class and he

decides he is just going to belt that out,” Jackson said. The children are so used to Pepper in the classroom, they do not get distracted if he flies over to their desk and sits on their shoulder during a lesson, Jackson said. She said if he is not on their shoulders, or on her shoulder, he will get down on their desks and nibble at the corners of their workbooks. He also has a suctioncupped perch on the window where he likes to bask in the sun. “He will see his reflection in the window, and he thinks it is another bird so he will whistle at himself,” Jackson said. When some people think of cockatiels, they think of those with a yellow face, but Pepper has a white face and a gray body. That is how he got his name Pepper. He is about a foot long and is easy to feed. His favorite treats are millet seeds that come in a bunch, but when he does not have that, the students find treats for him. Pepper loves to share popcorn with the fourthgraders, and he also is happy when they bring him Cheerios. Pepper’s wings had to be clipped after what Jackson describes as “an adventure” he went on several weeks ago. When she was going out the door to take out the trash, Pepper followed her and when he got outside, he went straight up into the air. “The door spooked him, and he went

up like 70 feet in the air. We live backed up to some woods and we lost him, and then we found him and lost him three times because he was up so high he could not fly down. We were scared. He would sit on the limb and chirp at me and pace back and forth and back and forth.” The teacher said she could not face her students the next day, and she stayed home and searched for Pepper, finally coming to the grim conclusion she would not see him again. But that evening, a phone call came from a man who had seen a post online and said he and his family had her bird at the Maumelle Community Park. “I sobbed in these people’s arms,” she said. “He flew to me when I walked in the door. We took him home and to the vet and the vet said he was totally fine.” The fourth-grade teacher said it was by the grace of God that Pepper returned to her home and to the classroom. “I had 14 kiddos very concerned about him,” she said. “He had a lot of prayers going up for him.” And now that things are back to normal, Pepper has returned to the school to help students with their studies and remind them of how much love they can feel for a little bird who greets them every morning in class. “Pepper never meets someone who is not a friend,” she said.

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Morrilton ready to


Dwain Hebda


hen Morrilton Mayor Allen Lipsmeyer says he’s committed to providing safe places for youth in town to recreate, he’s not kidding. The mayor, who’s in his seventh year in office, just adopted his five grandchildren, ages 5 to 13, and so when an idea hits the table for providing positive, healthy things for youth to do, he’s all ears. He’s also shown remarkable commitment to ideas that he sees as beneficial for the next generation, especially the ones that meet the needs of the citizenry at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. Case in point is his most current crusade, the revival of a long-dormant roller skating rink and bowling alley complex under city ownership, a project he’s been beating the drum for over the past seven years and which is finally coming to fruition. “We’re providing a place for kids to hang out,” the mayor said. “When I was a kid, that’s where we went every weekend was the bowling alley and skating rink. Now, there’s going to be new generations of kids who will be able to say that.” Lipsmeyer was approached by the owner of the Playland facility shortly after taking office with the suggestion that the city buy and operate the longtime facility. The original pitch had some issues – the asking price was too steep and the City Council was queasy about the city operating a private business. As time went on, however, the price started to come down and Lipsmeyer became more convinced that the idea was a winner. “The lady who owned it, she’s 88 now and she and I developed a dialogue where she told me she wanted to see it be something for children, and that’s what I wanted,” he said. “I kept putting it in front of my council and my parks and rec commission. They were a little apprehensive, so I said OK, let’s take it to the public.” “I put the idea on my daily Facebook post and within 30 minutes I had like 300 to 400 hits. Overall, I got 3,000 hits and it was an emphatic ‘Let’s do it. Let’s get it done. Yes, we want that.’ It’s kind of hard to say no to the public when they’re after something that emphatically.” Lipsmeyer said the 22,000-square-foot building, which was purchased for $11 per square foot, was in pretty good shape considering it hadn’t operated as a rink or a bowling alley for more than a decade. "The owner had let a church go in there, so the skating rink side is fairly updated. It’s not in bad shape. The whole building’s not really in that bad of

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shape,” he said. “We’re going to go into the skating rink side and build some party rooms for people to have birthday parties. “On the bowling alley side the lanes look good, so all we’ll be replacing is the equipment, all new seating for the bowling area, automatic scoring. We have to enclose the kitchen a little bit, although it has good equipment in it, so that’s in good shape.” Once the project was approved, citizens also reached out to Lipsmeyer requesting some pickle ball and tennis courts be built on the property, requests that are now part of the overall renovation package. Residents also showed they were willing to invest some sweat equity into the project. “We’ve got a lot of citizens that say they want to come help,” he said. “So, we’re going to have some work days. People want to be involved in this.” The new center, as-yet unnamed, is expected to be open by Summer 2022, creating 10 to 15 jobs in the process. It’s the latest in a string of community improvements Lipsmeyer and city leaders have been able to pull off. “This will get us up to about $18 million we’ve invested into Morrilton, the city has, and that is without raising taxes,” he said. “We are bargain shoppers.” The improvements have been paid for through a variety of funds, including refinancing the city’s bond issue and from the city’s share of federal American Rescue Plan funds, issued in the wake of COVID-19 in 2020. “We do have a sales tax but not any extra to pay for all this,” Lipsmeyer said. “A lot of towns, they raise the sales tax to build these huge aquatic centers and all that. We have an indoor pool, we have an outdoor pool, we have a splash pad, we have ball fields, we have the community center which has the indoor pool, basketball court and a workout facility. And then, this bowling alley/skating rink project that we have probably around $2.5 million in.” “I feel like my job as mayor is to constantly provide projects that make the quality of life better in this town and that’s what I try to do. This project, number one, is cleaning up an eyesore. Number two, we’re creating jobs, we’re creating sales tax dollars and we’re creating a place for our kids. In turn, I think it’s going to make money for our parks and rec department. Right now, we subsidize our parks and rec department with a little bit of money and this could make them self-sufficient. How can you be against all of that?”

“I put the idea on my daily Facebook post and within 30 minutes I had like 300 to 400 hits. Overall, I got 3,000 hits and it was an emphatic ‘Let’s do it. Let’s get it done. Yes, we want that.’” - Morrilton Mayor Allen Lipsmeyer

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January 2022 501lifemag.com | 67

Author encourages teen girls to be strong, independent and successful leaders By Susan Peterson


he Neophyte’s Tale” follows 16-year-old Raindalynn, who lives on the Great Island with other survivors following a mighty eruption. In this dystopian story, the ruling body that strictly governs its citizens is The Disciple Council, which is comprised of women. Raindalynn is tested to find her assignment, and she discovers that she carries the memory gene and can hold the collective memory of others. But, through her gifts, she becomes part of a plot that could set the island’s inhabitants free. Finding your identity and standing up for yourself were lessons that author A.R. (Audrey Rachel) Alexander learned the hard way. After graduating from Pangburn High School, she found herself trapped in a toxic marriage. Her career goals were derailed by her husband and she became pregnant with her daughter. As his abuse increased over the years, she finally obtained a restraining order. Shortly thereafter, a self-inflicted gunshot wound tragically ended her husband’s life. Emotionally distraught, the single mother soon remarried, and the cycle again repeated itself. She found herself in another abusive situation, pregnant with their son. The marriage ended in divorce after eight years. That’s when realized she wanted her teenage daughter to know that through inner strength, there is a way out. And the best way she could express this was to write a story. She knew how much her daughter loved “Twilight” and ”The Hunger Games,” so she decided to write her own book that featured a strong female character. The book is “Dedicated to Sprout, my Neophyte … you will never know how much you changed my world forever.” Six years ago, she entered into a third marriage, slowly and for all the right reasons. Her husband, Carl Alexander, has become her biggest supporter, and he encouraged her to publish her book, which she did several years after presenting it to her daughter. She says her brother, who is techsavvy, helped her through the daunting self-publishing process. The artist who designed the eyecatching cover was found through an author's group on Facebook. For Alexander, validation of her talent as a writer has come in several forms. Readers have written reviews commending her on her skill of world building, which is very important to make the dystopian setting believable. Others have called it “fast-paced” and said they couldn’t put it down. They are also asking for the next installment in the series, wanting to know what happens next. Her book has sold more than 600 copies in five countries. A young female reader from Belgium wrote to her, saying she “needed that story” since it helped her realize she could take a different path than her friends. But most surprising was the day Rachel received a thank you note from Lois Lowry, author of “The Giver,” for having sent one of her books. Lowry was one of Alexander’s favorite authors when she was growing up. Something Alexander hopes people will take away from her story is that there is always hope, and things can change for the better. But ideally, it is best to know who you are and be true to yourself in order to make the right decisions initially. A.R. and Carl Alexander live in Searcy with their combined family of three children. And “Sprout” is doing just fine, living and working on her own. Recently, Alexander completed her Master’s in Nursing (MSN) as a nurse practitioner. She says she has the "honor and privilege" of working for hospice. When not working, she enjoys sewing, participating in cosplay, and writing the next installment of her series, which she hopes will be out in April 2023. Copies of “The Neophyte’s Tale” may be purchased on Amazon.

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athletic excellence By Dr. Robert Reising

Photo by Benjamin Krain

Perry County's

Amy Gruber Burgess “I

was the only member of the [high school] team all four years and never lost a race,” explained Amy Gruber Burgess recently when queried about her Bigelow High swimming career. Convinced by Amy’s resourceful mother, school officials created a girls’ swimming team that not only allowed the precocious teenager to experience mind-boggling success but also moved the small-town school to distinction. No other high school in “The Natural State,” and probably in the nation, could ever field a smaller squad with a better winning percentage or a more extraordinary performer.

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photo by Jeff Jacobson

Amy Gruber Burgess is the head swimming and diving coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has earned a place in the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame.

Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on Sept. 5, 1982, Amy enjoyed her cradle in Indian Hills in North Little Rock, Arkansas, nine months later. By 1987, she was proving herself capable in water, displaying an affinity for it that was never to disappear. Summer-league experiences yielded to those with a year-round club before, at age 12, she moved with her parents and her younger sister and younger brother into the home built for them on Wye Mountain. There, as a sixth-grader, she launched the seven years in Bigelow’s schools that were to prepare her superbly for future academic and athletic success.

highlighted her achievements and were key in her selection for numerous awards, including the prestigious Heil Mile Award. Also key was the attention she earned on sports pages, and not in Arkansas alone. Amy was a nationally publicized and acclaimed student-athlete.

That preparation was ultra-busy. Included was participation in the Advanced Placement (AP) Program as well as in three sports other than swimming. She managed the football team and competed in softball and track.

At KU, she continued the excellence that had typified her performances, academic as well as athletic, in “The Natural State.” Four times she claimed the Jayhawk and the Big 12 Scholar Athlete awards. Four times she appeared on the Commissioner’s List, the University of Kansas and the Kansas Athletic Director’s Honor Rolls. She added the KU Senior Female Student/Athlete Award after the 2004-05 season.

Pulaski County, however, continued to play a key role in her athletic career. Because Bigelow had no pools, at 5 a.m. daily, Monday through Friday with precious few exceptions, Amy traveled down the mountain with her parents to Little Rock, over 35 miles away, to train before returning for school classes. Dr. Doug Adams, Perry County’s superintendent of schools and a state-certified coach, served as her coach and was present at every meet in which she competed. A more gratifying task never fell to a coach. Calling upon skills improved first by Conway’s Hendrix Aquakids and later by the Little Rock’s Arkansas Dolphins (LRAD), Amy dominated her state’s opponents, every one of them. For four years, in grades nine through 12, she encountered no equal while setting three state high school records. Her wins totaled a sparkling 30. In addition, club swimming frequently took her out of state to test foes in regional and national competitions; again, she fared handsomely. Multiple Top 8 finishes in both

“With Honors” appeared on her Bigelow High diploma when she graduated in the spring of 2001. In her recent past were the five campus visits allowed to heavily recruited high schoolers. The flagship universities in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, and Wisconsin all hosted her, but it was the University of Kansas that Impressed her most.

Aquatically, she was no less impressive. Her avalanche of achievements began in her freshman year with the Newcomer of the Year award. Three times she was an NCAA qualifier in seven events, and twice she was a USA Swimming National Qualifier, once after claiming Central Sectional Championships in two events. She set six school records and continues to hold four Kansas All-Time Performance marks. In two Novembers, 2004 and 2005, she was named Big 12 Swimmer of the Month, and in the latter, National Swimmer of the Week by CollegeSwimming.com. From April of 2003 to March of 2004, she served as team captain, and in three seasons, she earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors. Not surprisingly, Amy acquitted herself well in her final race as a Jayhawk. In Indianapolis in 2005, she was one

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photo by Jeff Jacobson

victory away from the 2008 Olympic Qualifying University Games, but she lost by “just a fingertip,” in Dr. Adams’ words. The photo-finish loss was disappointing but not discouraging. Her KU athletic eligibility behind her, Amy moved on to completing her course work and to earning her degree in journalism in 2006. Again, “Honors” embellished her diploma, thanks to a 3.4 grade-point average. Amy’s credentials as well as her respect for both swimming and education have led her to success in subsequent endeavors, and, since 2008, to her present post: head

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swimming and diving coach at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The married mother of two has taken the Missouri Valley Conference program to unprecedented heights in her 13 record-breaking seasons. Thus, not yet 40 years old, she has already earned a place in the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame and can look forward to adding more accolades in the decades ahead. The professional whom Dr. Adams recently labled “wonderful, wonderful” has traveled an incalculable number of miles since her years as an unbeatable one-person team from Wye Mountain in Bigelow.

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A day that's sure to be

FOR THE BIRDS Jan. 5 has been designated as National Bird Day by The Avian Welfare Coalition and Born Free USA. Please enjoy the following bird photos I have photographed near the birdfeeder at my home in Conway. By Walter Dube


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Photo by Mike Kemp

he significance for observing a National Bird Day is to help us appreciate and celebrate our ever-present feathered friends. So much of the respect and admiration that these avian creatures deserve seems to escape us or is blatantly disregarded by our commercial, busy, and preoccupied lifestyle. Perhaps now the time has come for us to take a step back for nature's sake. It's time that we consider exercising a more proactive and responsible stewardship toward the conservation of these gorgeous and vivacious creatures with which our Creator has endowed this amazing planet we call Earth. The caution flag regarding a diminishing bird population is out. In September 2019, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study, which revealed that the population of breeding birds in the U.S. and Canada has declined by 29% (a loss of 3 billion birds) since 1970. Should this trend prevail, it is projected that, by 2080, 12% of the current wild bird species would face extinction. This means that approximately 100 of America's 850 bird species would meet the fate of Arkansas' ivory-billed woodpecker. These startling statistics should capture our attention and make the observance of National Bird Day infinitely more urgent and intentional. The profound influence that the world

of birds has had on the world of humanity cannot be overlooked. Birds throughout history have played an incredibly inspirational role in literature and media of every genre, in poetry and prose, in movies and artistic imagery, in spiritual and biblical metaphors and cultural folklore, as well as in musical themes, song and spiritual hymns. I suspect you can think of a few examples right now off the cuff. A moment of reflection will no doubt provide us with a much more compassionate understanding as to why the world of birds has become such a pervasive influence in so many ways and why bird enthusiasts will travel the world over to see and watch wild birds in their natural environment and habitat. Consider the joy, excitement, and emotional favor that these avian creatures bring to our life right into our backyards. Have you ever paused long enough to admire the confident, peaceful demeanor of a brilliantly crimson arrayed cardinal perched ever so precariously, yet confidently, on a frail branch swaying in the breeze? Don’t we all just envy that same kind of calm, quiet disposition when we’re out on a limb, as it were, with an ill wind of uncertainty blowing all around us? How about the happy feeling of relief from the stressful rigors of everyday life after taking time to observe a meadowlark proudly sitting on a fence post singing its heart out for all to hear its gleeful song, or by watching any number of birds jockeying for position and a place at the feeder, flitting to and fro, up and down as if they were performing a carefully choreographed aerial ballet? I recently was supremely entertained by a tug of war as a robin tried to extract an earthworm from its tunnel and by observing a black-eyed junco skipping all over my backyard, pecking at bugs, seeds, or a variety of other forms of nutrition. What fun, even if it was only for a moment. Oh by the way, what's there not to enjoy about sitting on the front porch in the evening after a long, tiring day at work listening to the back-and-forth conversation between a whippoorwill at the foot of a hill calling out to a kindred spirit on top of the hill who calls back as if to answer? Furthermore, what could be more inspiring than beginning a bright, beautiful spring day to the song of a cardinal, wren or mockingbird singing their cheerful song to their nesting mate? Then, who does not marvel at the gorgeous, radiant apparel with which each feathery creature is adorned? Not a feather out of place. Every marking, pattern, and color all perfectly, symmetrically, flawlessly arranged. Each bird, male or female, appears as if it had just flown from an elite grooming parlor. Finally, is there anything more awesome than to marvel at the apparent display of affection by a male cardinal for his mate as he peels the husk from a sunflower seed and gently feeds the heart of the seed to his mate? Also, how about the devoted family nurturing by a pair of eastern bluebirds diligently gathering insects, moths, and a variety of other nutritional morsels for a hungry family back at the house all clamoring for the next morsel from nature's smorgasbord? Yes, I think the new year, 2022, provides us ordinary citizens with the perfect time and opportunity to include in our new year’s resolutions: a resolution for the birds! It's due time for us everyday citizens to join the ornithologists and bird lovers of every stripe by weaving into our soul and conscientiousness the principal of conservationist Charles Babcock, who in 1894 already advocated “bird conservation as a moral principle.” With all due respect for all the many other urgencies in life, let’s make 2022 a "Happy New Year for the Birds!"

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“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could." — John James Audubon

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Koontz Electric Company of Morrilton is game changer in more ways than one By Donna Lampkin Stephens


he company, heading into its 64th year, was selected by Ampirical Solutions to construct critical underground power distribution and new high voltage substations for the Bentonville Electric Utility Department in association with the new Walmart Corporate Headquarters. “We are providing unique services as the only qualified provider in the state of Arkansas,” said Dean Hoover, executive vice president and chief operation officer. According to koontzelectric.com, the company, founded in 1958 by Keith Koontz and now headed by Benny Koontz, president and CEO, is the largest heavy industrial electrical contractor in Arkansas and among the top five in the region. It reports annual revenues of about $50 million. “Our professional office and field staff, diverse work history … uniquely qualify us for the most challenging projects across the nation,” the website states. One of those challenging projects is taking power distribution underground, which dramatically improves reliability. Safety is another game-changer for Koontz Electric, which employs about 200 people. At press deadline, the company had amassed more than two million man-hours without a lost-time accident. To put it into greater perspective, that’s the equivalent of more than five years. The statistic is eye-popping, making the company one of only 26 (out of 700,000 total) construction companies to hit the two-million mark. “That’s less than four out of every 100,000 construction companies,” Hoover said. On Aug. 31, the company was recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for five years without a lost-time accident.

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“I would say that this all started when one of our largest customers, Entergy, challenged the contractors that worked for them to make safety a priority,” Hoover said, referring to a “Zero is Achievable” initiative. “We got with our owner and mapped out our strategy.”That was in March 2017, and there hasn’t been a lost-time accident since. “We were a good safety company before, but we took it to a new level,” Hoover said. “We’ve been so successful with the risk control, we’ve gone self-insured for workers comp and liability. The other part of that message is that safety pays. It saves us tens of thousands, if not more, in premiums we’d pay for that insurance.” Safety initiatives focus on three areas. “Training and regulatory compliance, which we are very good at,” Hoover said. “The last element of safety is human performance. We have focused on that element. Humans are flawed individuals, and so there are certain techniques we can do to help overcome those flaws.” He mentioned an extension of the “I am my brother’s keeper” philosophy. “Peer checking, just to make sure,” he said. “You might not see the hazard, but someone else might. Probably the other significant thing is that the highest-risk employee is the new employee, so we have implemented a very formal mentoring program with new employees, like a big brother or guardian angel looking over them.” In a press release announcing the five-year safety recognition, Hoover said: “Koontz Electric Company believes that our vision of a ‘Zero is Achievable’ culture delivers a commitment to protect our most valuable asset, our people. We will continue to drive safety success as priority one.”

Game Changer Kimberly Moore

Other major projects completed by Koontz Electric: Over 50 hydro electric power plants, including Hoover Dam. Several Giga Watts of wind power transmission projects across Oklahoma. Over 1000 megawatts of solar power generation/transmission projects, including Fort Hunter Liggett in California. Many iconic bridge lighting projects including all the Little Rock bridges and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Hundreds of high voltage switch yards, including Arkansas Nuclear One. Dozens of locks and dams, including everyone on the Arkansas River and most on the Mississippi River. All the paper and steel mills in Arkansas.

Featured on the 501 LIFE cover, Kimberly has been with Koontz Electric for more than 20 years. While earning her degree, she worked her way up from Receptionist to Manager of Marketing and Communications. She has been an active and decorated member of the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC), served as board member, Vice President, and now President for NAWIC Greater Little Rock Chapter 12. Kimberly was named 2019 Rookie of the Year by the Arkansas NAWIC chapter, and she was named a 2021 Woman of the Year in Construction by Associated Builders and Contractors. She is from Conway County and one of the 120 descendants of Louise Dold. (11 children, 34 grandchildren, 72 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-greatgrandchildren.)

Learn more about Women In Construction on facebook at NAWICgreaterlittlerockchapter or send a message to: kim.moore@ koontzelectric.com.

January 2022 501lifemag.com | 79

My winter adventure in the 501


Story and photos by Linda Henderson W

ell, it is here, another year. I am always excited to see what is in store when we flip the calendar from December to January. Hopefully, the year will be filled with blessings, new possibilities, and adventure. Speaking of adventure, here is one to enjoy during the chilly winter months. Have you ever driven over the Arkansas River Bridge on Interstate 430 in Little Rock and noticed the large white flock of white birds? That large flock is migrating American white pelicans. In recent years, Arkansas has become a winter resting spot for the giant birds. The adventure I suggest is to take a day during January and see if you can find these huge white birds in a waterway in the 501. The Arkansas River corridor has become a winter home for the world’s largest aquatic bird. Every winter right before Christmas, these birds make their way to the McClellan-Kerr Dam Navigation System. Then, they spend the winter on the estuaries of the river and the lakes within the river’s tributary. They often travel and forage in large flocks called pods. The pelicans breed and nest in the spring and summer months in the upper north of the United States and Canada. During the winter, they normally migrate to the Southern U.S. or Mexico. In the past, a few birds found Arkansas to be a wonderful place to spend winters, and every year, they return and bring other members of their pods. Despite the size of these large birds, they are graceful flyers. Adults can weigh 30 pounds and can reach a height of 4 feet with a wingspan of 9 feet. The bird is white, except for the tips of its wings, which are black. The most distinguishing characteristic of the bird is a large orange bill. The bill acts as a collection device for fish and water. The bill can hold up to 3 gallons. Pelicans are fascinating to watch up close. They fish by swimming as a group in a “u” shaped line. They push fish into shallow water by beating their wings into the water. They swim toward the fish and scoop up fish and water into their bills or pouches. The birds will then hold their heads up and allow the water to drain out and swallow the fish. The best places to see the birds in the 501 are the Big Dam Bridge in Little Rock and Lake Conway near the Highway 89 bridge, and occasionally they may be found on Lake Beaverfork near Conway, Lake Overcup near Morrilton, and Harris Break near Perryville. Right outside of the 501, they can be viewed on Lake Atkins near Atkins and Lake Dardanelle near Russellville. While they are swimming and feeding, they can be found close to the shore in shallow water. The best time of day to view the big birds swimming and feeding is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. So, plan a winter adventure, go pelican hunting in the 501.

80 | 501 LIFE January 2022

get f ra m e d at



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

“All You Need is Love!” Saturday February 5, 2022 • 7:30 pm

Connect with the greatest hits of the Beatles! The Liverpool Legends with the Conway Symphony Orchestra Presented by

Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA Campus Tickets available at the Reynolds Hall Box Office 501-450-3265 or www.conwaysymphonyorchestra.com

2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR



January 2022 501lifemag.com | 81

501 LIFE






Kristen is my beautiful bride and the best thing about me. We have three children, Raley, 8, Rosa, 5 and Hiatt, 3. They are far more than I deserve.


I am a graduate of Catholic High School for Boys, The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia, South Carolina.


I served in the United States Marine Corps in multiple capacities from 2011-2019, including a 2015-2016 deployment to Afghanistan. I came to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission after 18 months as chief of staff and chief financial officer at the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, where I oversaw financial functions as well as internal operations of the department.


I don't have a field. I’ve been a criminal prosecutor, a lawyer in combat, a Marine on the Hill, an advocate for veterans, and now the leader of the finest conservation organization in the nation. I have the immense blessing of serving only causes that I care deeply about, and Game and Fish is no different. The Arkansas outdoors was formative in my upbringing, and I want to ensure that my grandchildren have the same public opportunities that I had. I’m not afraid of a fight, and that’s why I’m here.


Member of Bible Church of Little Rock. Member of the Catholic High Young Alumni Board.


Without a doubt, my Bible. I bought it in 2006. All that I can say is what a dear mentor told me: “Bibles that are worn and torn belong to people who aren’t.”


I grew up here. Everywhere I look, there are reminders of what I regret and what I cherish. But in this season, I love most my proximity to wild places. It’s only a short distance from my house to great fly fishing, bass fishing, duck hunting, deer hunting, bear hunting, hiking, wildlife watching, and all things outdoors.


Easy question. My parents. I adore them. Dad is an engine builder. Mom is a registered nurse, but she went to college only after she made sure her kids could. They’ve sacrificed at every single opportunity possible, and they did so with much joy. Every day, I try not to let them down. 82 | 501 LIFE January 2022

A Growing Health System for a Growing Community

Innovative Services

Expanded Access

More Specialists

New Medical Offices

Down the Hallway, not the Highway As our community continues to grow, we are growing alongside you to ensure all of your healthcare needs are met right here in Conway. When your family needs emergency care, our board-certified providers will give you the comprehensive care you deserve when you need it most. When you’re facing an emergency, trust the care you’ll find down the hallway, not down the highway.

We’re not just growing—we’re growing together. January 2022 501lifemag.com | 83


2 22 Happy New Year from First Security! Pick up your 2022 calendar at any of our banking centers today. 84 | 501 LIFE January 2022 Member FDIC