May 2022

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May 2022 | 1

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PUBLISHER Jeremy Higginbotham EDITOR Stefanie W. Brazile FOUNDERS Donna Spears and Sonja Keith SPORTS AND DIGITAL DIRECTOR Levi Gilbert COPY EDITORS Jade Fitch, Andrea Lively 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 Jessica Duff Lori Dunn Jade Fitch Laurie Green Dwain Hebda Linda Henderson Vivian Lawson Hogue Colleen Holt

Our May issue is an exciting collection of “501Der Women” and we have

included stories about women of all ages who are pursuing dreams, excelling at work and making time for volunteer commitments. I believe women have great influence, and we applaud how hard they work every day.

This month, we also look ahead to Mother’s Day and offer tips that will help you set a beautiful table to honor Mom, Grandma and your mother-in-law. I wish everyone had a mother who loves them as much as mine loves me. Diana always encouraged me to try things that pushed me beyond my comfort levels. I was a shy child, but what I saw in her eyes gave me confidence. She is someone that I can call at 3 a.m. and she will willingly get up, make herself a cup of coffee and talk with me. Like many readers, I also have a bonus Mom and her name is Deanna. Those similar names (Diana and Deanna) have gotten my dad into trouble a couple of times. Deanna has a contagious laugh and a huge green thumb. She shows her love by helping and she has given me a lot of love. Our featured 501Der Woman is Laura Monteverdi. A talented news anchor, she lost her fiancé to an overdose in 2015. Shocked, she silently grieved alone for a long time, but ultimately turned the circumstances into a cause that she now champions. I’m thrilled to report that while we were working on our cover story Laura became engaged and was beaming at the photo shoot. It’s always fun to see someone excited about the next step in their life. And that is a common theme of the stories in this issue. All women experience heartaches and it’s what they do with the pain, with the new reality, with the emotional baggage that determines stagnation or growth and accomplishment. I know you’ll enjoy meeting our 501Der Women. They are young women, paying their dues; single women giving time to causes that life has made them care about; wives who cook and clean and cheer on their partner; leaders committed to a goal; and, moms who fold laundry and make tomorrow’s lunches after everyone else is in bed. The May issue is filled with special, talented and driven girls and women — let’s celebrate them now!

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Beth Jimmerson Tammy Keith Meagan Lowry Beth Jimmerson Susan Peterson Dr. Robert Reising Judy Riley Donna Lampkin Stephens Rita Halter Thomas

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

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

May 2022 | 5


Celebrating 14 Sweet Years

May Volume 15 Issue 1

of Loving LIFE!


Letter from the Editor


Upcoming Events


Loving LIFE


Main Street Director Wins State Award


Pretty on a Plate - Table Settings


Couple of the Month: MaryAnn & Trevon Leon


Laura Monteverdi - Arkansas Superstar

EDITION On the cover Laura Monteverdi started as an evening anchor on KARK in September 2020. She champions fighting the opioid epidemic. Photo by Mike Kemp

By Dwain Hebda


Dana Stewart - Agricultural Rock Star By Judy Riley


Troop of Trailblazers/Scout Leader Retires By Rita Halter Thomas


Allyson Caruthers - Noble Gestures By Colleen Holt


Faulkner County Master Gardeners By Lori Dunn


Because of Momma By Don Bingham


Dr. Angel Jordan - Arms of an Angel By Donna Lampkin Stephens


Children’s Advocacy Alliance By Tammy Keith


Women's Health - Ask the Experts


CBC Scholarship Gala


Author of the Month Feature: Raye Montague By Susan L. Peterson


Crystal Taylor - Million Dollar Team By Lori Dunn


We Can Begin Again By Laurie Green


Youth of the Month: Malik Simpson


Our Women of Noble Character By Vivian Lawson Hogue


Time for an AC Tune Up


By Beth Jimmerson


Athletic Excellence: Gaylon Smith By Dr. Robert Reising


Shoot the Moon Photography of 501 Lunar Eclipse By Linda Henderson

90 92

PCSSD Salutes Seniors Kid of the Month: Jordynn Bumpers By Becky Bell


Prairie Home Companions By Judy Riley


Artist of the Month: Diana Shearon By Tammy Keith


Golden Girls at the Senior Olympics By Colleen Holt


UCA Laurels + Stripes Gala


Person of the month: Diane LaFollette

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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 Single Parent Scholarship Fund, 27 Bledsoe Chiropractic, 39, 60


Campaign for Jim Baker, 55 Campaign for Conway School Board, 79 Campaign for Allen Dodson, 33 Campaign for Amy Ferdowsian, 34 Campaign for Mark Johnson, 57 Campaign for Spencer Hawks, 9 Campaign for Jason Rapert, 27 Campaign for Diane Robinson, 30 Campaign for Crystal Taylor, 81 Campaign for Travis Thorn, 95 Centennial Bank, 35 Conway Corp, 43 Conway Institute of Music, 91 Conway Regional Health System, 36, 37, 58, 103 Conway Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, 99 Community Service Inc., 77

In search of Central Arkansas good news??

No need for a distress signal. It's 501 LIFE to the rescue!

Did you know that you could have our 11-county publication delivered to your front door? For only $20 a year, you can get a subscription for yourself, or the special ones you love. Home delivery ensures you never miss an issue!

Visit or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe.


DDS Dentures + Implant 41 DJM Orthodontics , 92 Downtown Conway, 48-49


Edward Jones, 53


First Community Bank, 23, 24, 25 First Security Bank, 104 First Service Bank, 13, 19 Float Spa, 64 Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling, Inc., 83


Hartman Animal Hospital, 51 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA, 71 Heritage Living Center, 5




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

welcome to the Writers’ Room


Iron Horse Marketplace, 26


Kilwins, 22 Kindred Mercantile, 31


Methodist Family Health, 78 MSC Eye Associates, 69


Nutrition World, 67


Ott Insurance, 64


Patterson Eye, 22 PrimeCare Medical Clinic, 67 Pulaski County Special School District, 93 Pulaski Heights United Methodist, 21


Restoration Wellness, 18, 66


Salem Place, 47 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 15 Shelter Insurance, 93 South Conway School District, 28-29 Star Aesthetics, 63 Superior Health & Rehab, 2


Unity Health, 3, 65 University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, 89 University of Central Arkansas, 30

Colleen Holt

is a native of Iowa and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Arkansas in 1984. After working for 23 years at the Log Cabin Democrat, she is the communications director at Conway First United Methodist Church. She enjoys reading, playing games with family, eating out, and taking long, spontaneous drives with her husband, Stuart.

Rita Halter Thomas

is a Conway native and a pastor’s wife. She attended the University of Central Arkansas and is an award-winning writer, author, editor, writing coach, and speaker. She is married to Jimmy and has one daughter, Marinna, and enjoys horseback riding and spending time with family. She sings with the worship team at Mountain Top Cowboy Church in Heber Springs.

Tammy Keith

worked for Arkansas newspapers for 38 years, including the Log Cabin Democrat and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. An ASU graduate, she is a 12-time Arkansas Press Women Communications Contest winner and three-time national winner. Her biggest honor is being Mimi to her granddaughter, Kennedy.

May 2022 | 7

501 Events Cinco de Mayo 5K Glow Run 5:30-8:30 p.m. • May 5

The Beebe Athletic Club is hosting a 5K Glow run/walk. Free tacos will be offered after the race for all registered racers. Music, food, and fun! The fundraising event will help Paula and David Dodge with their fight against cancer.

Show Me

Iron Horse Marketplace 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. • May 13-14

Lovers of arts and crafts, antiques, junktique, and vintage wares will want to visit Iron Horse Farm in Perry County. Two barns will be filled with treasures and tasty food trucks will be onsite. 221 Iron Horse Drive, Perryville. $5 admission. Children 12 and under are free.

Reptile & Exotics Show

Community Band Concert

A premier reptile expo bringing quality and variety right to the Jacksonville Community Center. A unique experience for both reptile lovers and the reptile-curious and is affordable for the entire family. For more information, visit

The sounds of beautiful music and talented musicians will fill Simon Park in Historic Downtown Conway. This is the first of three summer concerts sponsored by 501 LIFE Magazine. Current and former band students will entertain in an open-air park. No admission cost! Limited seating, so bring a chair or blanket to sit on. The next concerts are June 10 and July 1.

10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. • May 7-8

Mother’s Day Brunch at the Zoo 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 am. • May 8

Treat your mom to brunch at the Little Rock Zoo complete with an omelet, a ham carving station, and more! Live music featuring the talented Christine DeMeo, special animal ambassador encounters, and kids can make something special for Mom. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Vist for more information. 8 | 501 LIFE May 2022

7:30 p.m. • May 20

The 3rd Annual

Yadaloo Music & Arts Festival 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. • May 21

Held on the banks of the Arkansas River at North Little Rock Riverfront Park, the festival will feature national, regional and local Americana and Country Music acts. The headliner is Randy Houser and the event will also feature interactive art installations by local art groups. Tickets available at

Hot Springs Renaissance Faire Momento More

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater 2 p.m. • May 21-22

Help solve a mystery 400 years in the making! Located in the historical Vapors Live, experience Her Majesty's masked birthday ball for fabulous food, bountiful drink, lovely dancing, and murder most foul! Help solve the murder and save the Queen! For tickets, visit

May Growing Community

Garden Workday and Workshop 2 p.m. May 21

Head over to the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library and Learning Center Teaching Garden to work in the garden and learn. This is an outdoor event, so dress accordingly. It’s open to all ages and a great way to meet new friends. Learn more at

Willie Nelson & Family Live in Concert

5:30 p.m. • May 31

The legendary country artist will be joined by special guests Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, plus Charley Crockett live on the outdoor stage at the First Security Amphitheater. Tickets on sale now at May 2022 | 9


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

Stewart Nelson and Carol Way Hefner of Morrilton were “Loving LIFE” on their honeymoon trip to Grand Teton National Park. The Conway ROTC members were “Loving LIFE” at the Wreaths Across America mobile exhibit event. Jonathan Roup (from left), Abigail Gifford, Nathan Eggert, Trace Toups and Abbie Bunch in front.

The Newcomers Club of Conway were caught “Loving LIFE” on a recent trip to Savannah, St. Simons and the Jekyll Islands in Georgia.

10 | 501 LIFE May 2022

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (from left), Sen. Mark Johnson and Bill Stovall were “Loving LIFE” at a reception held at Holly's Country Cookin' in Conway.

Marc and Maureen Willey from Conway were “Loving LIFE” while taking a break from skiing in Breckinridge, Colo., with their children.

Everyone was “Loving LIFE” when Fellowship Bible Church hosted a Father & Daughter Dance on April 1 at Renewal Ranch in Conway. The theme was “Light Up the Night.” There were 27 father-and-daughter pairs of all ages, doing a little bit of everything from a Waltz to a Two-Step to Line Dancing taught by Donna Bivins, who was assisted by Sue Sims.

Several young ladies were “Loving LIFE” at the Bigelow cheerleading tryouts in March.

Members of the Good News Celebration Praise Band at Conway First United Methodist Church know that music is the way to “Love LIFE” in the 501. They are (from left) Matt Parks, Brian Elms, Liz Mathis, John Beasley and Fred Hueston.


LEFT: Arkansas Game & Fish Commission staff and friends were “Loving LIFE” and rigging poles at Conway Chamber’s Catfish & Cold Ones event. Presley McCoy is held by Stacy Chun, Straisley Dubois, Alexander Baney, Marc Dyer and JJ Gladden. RIGHT: Conway Area Chamber of Commerce staff were “Loving LIFE” at their Off the Clock: Catfish & Cold Ones after hours event. Back row, from left: Brad Lacy, Lee Hogan, Corey Parks and Leo Cummings III. Middle row from left: Jennifer HiegelShelden, Mary Margaret Satterfield and Rachel Shaw. Front row from left: Lindsay Henderson, Celeste Suitt and Melissa Baney.

Pam White was “Loving LIFE” at Harp’s after being awarded the Motivator Award by the Mayflower Area Chamber of Commerce President.

May 2022 | 11


Jewel in the Downtown Crown Conway’s Main Street Director wins statewide award By Stefanie Brazile

Photo by Lee Hogan


im Williams' love for Conway was recently acknowledged in a significant way. She was named the 2022 Outstanding Executive Director presented by Main Street Arkansas at the Arkansas Municipal League Winter Conference in March. “I am so honored to have received the award! When they called my name, I was in shock and thought ‘they obviously have this wrong.’ It was supposed to go to the person that I nominated,” she explained. The biannual event is attended by anyone who works with their city. More than 1,400 people from around the state were present. A fellow director nominated Williams, and the award was voted on by other Main Street Directors. “Every one of those folks is very deserving of this award. It’s not an easy job,” Williams said. “Some of those folks are part-time, but it’s a full-time job. Some don’t have the funding that others do. It was very meaningful that they recognized me.” Williams just began her 13th year as director of the Conway Downtown Partnership. She grew up in the small town of Berryville in northwest Arkansas, attended UCA and never left. “This became my adopted hometown because the people are so warm and friendly, and they want you to be a part of the community,” Williams said. After earning an education degree with a minor in marketing, she decided to use the degree outside of the classroom. When the weather is warm, Williams is often seen riding her bike downtown, visiting local businesses, working in flower beds, picking up trash, or doing whatever needs to be done to keep things looking fresh and welcoming. But her accomplishments run much deeper than mere aesthetics. A few significant projects that she’s accomplished during

12 | 501 LIFE May 2022

her tenure are: Downtown was recognized as a Historic Commercial District. This allows property owners to take advantage of tax credits and register their properties on the national registry as a group. In 2013, the Central Business Improvement District passed. “Property owners are paying a ‘POA’ if you will, and it goes directly to help maintain all of the streetscaping, hanging baskets, and any new street,” Williams said. “We like to partner with the city on projects like redoing the Parkway parking lot, some lighting projects, and other capital improvements.” In 2016, the downtown became part of Main Street America. “This allows us to qualify for $20,000 to $25,000 in grants annually which are given back to merchants for façade improvements, street décor, and advertising, among other projects,” Williams said. “Last year, more than $11 million was invested downtown through some of those programs and we are already looking at over $20 million in either new or remodeled buildings that will finish this year,” Williams said. “We all work together. The Chamber, the Downtown Partnership, Conway Corp, the city. All these folks have always pulled the same direction to make downtown a better place. We know the importance when you’re trying to bring people and companies here; they come and look at downtown first. “It’s all about the sense of place, and quality of life. Downtown is the heart of the community, and it makes the whole town come together to provide a sense of community.”

May 2022 | 13

Photos by Mike Kemp taken at Haynes Ace Hardware in Conway

Pretty on a Plate

Creating the perfect table for Mother’s Day By Stefanie Brazile


ooking for tips to set a spectacular table for your Mother’s Day or graduation gathering? It all begins with how many people you are seating, according to Mary Pollock, store manager of Haynes Ace Hardware in Conway since 2006. “Once you have a number in mind, you can choose your table size and determine if it should be casual or formal. Then, decide if your dinner service will be on a buffet or on the table where you are passing things around familystyle,” Pollock said. From there, it’s all about the colors in the room or on the patio. “I do what I feel is pretty and what is nice together. I’m not a professional decorator. I just know what I like and love seeing people’s faces when they see what you’ve done.” You can save money by purchasing neutral tablecloths, runners, and placemats and using them for several occasions. Pollock said you can add various colored and patterned salad and dessert plates to a white base plate as long as you keep color schemes in mind so they coordinate. She likes to mix antique china on a table. Centerpieces can easily be changed to create a unique look. Pollock suggests blending real flowers from your garden, grocer, or florist with tasteful silks. Tropical and outdoor plants can be considered and succulents remain popular. Her store offers a lot of pastel colors and lemon yellows this season, and the Waverly pattern (think tea party florals) is very popular. She continues to offer ceramics and wood pieces with fun and heartwarming phrases and the naturethemed items have been tried and true year after year, she said. This season, plan a special gathering and look around your home for timeless pieces. Then, consider borrowing dishes from a friend or purchasing some new items to freshen up your décor.

14 | 501 LIFE May 2022

May 2022 | 15





HER STORY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Detroit, Michigan. EDUCATION: College graduate.


NAME OF BUSINESS: Chef and owner of YGFBFKitchen

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Brinkley, Arkansas

Restaurant & Catering.

PARENTS: Re Strange of Detroit and Charles Edmonson of Seaton,


COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Helping local charities through food


HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Spending time with the

kiddos and cooking.


goofy, and loving.

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: I worry about others more than I worry about myself.

EDUCATION: Some college. CAREER: Owner/Operator at Bully T Trucking LLC PARENTS: Arnold Leon Sr. And Rosalind Leon, both of



riding, fishing and hunting.


I’m a very caring but no-nonsense type of person. Very hardworking and dedicated to whatever it is that I’m doing at the moment.



WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: “Love your imperfections.”


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: The scenery! Arkansas has some really beautiful outdoor

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO: It is what it is.

eateries and thrifting.



WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: Being from Brinkley, it’s the perfect place to be.

I’m away, but also still very close to all of my loved ones.

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Photo by Mike Kemp

THEIR STORY: HOW WE MET: October 2016 through a mutual friend. THE PROPOSAL: On Christmas Day opening up gifts with the kids WEDDING BELLS: We were originally going to get married on Nov. 7, 2020, but since COVID-19 was still prevalent – we waited and got married Jan. 21, 2021, at a little cabin here in Conway. FAMILY ACTIVITIES ENJOYED TOGETHER: We have 6 children. We love gathering all in the living room, snuggling on the couch, and watching movies on Saturday nights. We would like to thank the 501 community for supporting us and our family with our restaurant in Conway! We would also like to mention that we will be opening up a new location in Little Rock (27 Rahling Circle) in May 2022! MaryAnn makes this Loaded Seafood Alfredo for Trevon because he loves seafood and anything with her homemade alfredo sauce.

"It makes him feel extra loved — like it’s Christmas!”

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When asked how long she has worked at First Service Bank, Robin Hackett usually answers with “all of my life.” There is no denying that banking is part of her DNA. Her father, Tom Grumbles, is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board at First Service Bank. “My growth throughout my banking career has been with one thing in mind: learn all that I can as fast as I can,” said Robin, who began as a part-time proof operator while still in high school. “It was always very important to me to know the ins and outs from A to Z!" This commitment to detail has led Robin to her current position as Chief Mortgage Officer and Chief Operations Officer (COO). “Having the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity within the First Service organization and continue my father’s legacy are meaningful accomplishments,” she said. “First Service has always put customers first, and as COO I want to expound upon that even further, push the envelope and challenge our organization to think outside the box to create a customer experience that is unparalleled." In addition to serving on the bank's executive team, she has been involved in the HypeSquad, Training Committee and Corporate Managers Group. She was also instrumental in creating the bank’s foundation, which is aimed at helping veterans and has led the First Service Bank “Operation Red, White and Brave” initiative. When not focused on her work at First Service, Robin and her husband, Ryan, are devoted parents to their two children. “I thank my parents for their love and for being wonderful role models in both my personal life and professional career. Dad is a true servant leader," Robin said. "Working alongside him not only makes me a better banker, but it makes me a better person and leader. Being a part of this bank family is bigger than you or me. It is something really special, and I’m just proud that I get to be a part of it.”

Contact Robin today at: or 501.679.7200

May 2022 | 19

TOP ROW (from left): Laura in the KARK studio, preparing to go live. Anchor Bob Clausen enjoys a lighter moment with Laura during a break from the newscast. Laura, who was born in New York and grew up in Florida. loves exploring Arkansas and visited Hawksbill Crag. A final check of her notes before Laura presents the evening news throughout Central Arkansas. CENTER ROW: Laura accepting the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Newsmaker award in Washington, D.C., with family by her side. BOTTOM ROW (from left): Laura and her “fur baby,” Juneau, floating the Buffalo River. Laura takes her mom to experience her first ever Hogs game.

KARK studio photos by Mike Kemp

How Laura Monteverdi went from Florida native to

SuperStar arkansas By Dwain Hebda

You couldn’t dislike Laura Monteverdi if you tried. Fresh off vacation, the brassy KARK anchor has a catch in her voice from, she confesses, “too much fun,” the temporary rasp accentuating the New York-born elements of her speech. She laughs a lot, mainly at herself and at the path from her Florida hometown to the Midwest’s frozen tundra to emerald Little Rock. “I think all my friends always knew, ‘Laura’s going to be on TV,’” she said. “They always said I had the anchor hair.” The camera loves Monteverdi, who has real grit and brains behind the done-up persona, and just enough tomboy sass to suggest she’s equally at home at ball games as interviewing heads of state. In other words, she’s Arkansas’s kind of girl. “I know that I’ve earned the trust of Arkansans after working here for seven years. I know if I say something, it has meaning behind it,” she said. “When people meet me, they say, ‘You’re the same person on TV as in real life.’ I say, ‘Well, you know, who else would I be?’” The moment Laura Monteverdi was anointed to be a broadcaster varies according to who you ask. Her mother says it was in the womb when, at a loss for what to name her impending daughter, she heard a local newscaster name her

baby Laura Elizabeth and was inspired to do the same. Others in her large extended family point to her youth, when the precocious girl would stage elaborate TV newscasts, covering whatever stories were at hand. “My stepdad had one of those big ol’ honkin’ video cameras, and my stepsister and I used it all the time for fun,” she said. “While other kids were playing outside, we were doing fake broadcasts in our room. “In Florida you grow up with a lot of hurricanes so we would sit in my room, set up a desk. We’d wear my stepdad’s old blazers, have the coffee mugs and everything, and we would report on hurricanes. We’d go outside and do live reports in a Category 4, which at the time sounded fun. Right now it sounds very dangerous.” At this she pauses to let her laughter subside. “Those videos still exist,” she said. “They are highly embarrassing.” Monteverdi herself said the galvanizing moment for her career came in college. After growing up on E! News, she entered the University of South Florida with an eye on entertainment reporting.

Continued on page 22 May 2022 | 21

Continued from page 21 “Once I got into college, I realized the importance of actual journalism,” she said. “I transitioned from that E! News correspondent to actually wanting to tell stories that mattered.” The nobility of her goals didn’t exempt Monteverdi from the same duespaying by which all cub reporters are proven. Sioux Falls, S.D., her first job, was as rude an awakening as any self-described beach girl could have. Low pay, schlepping equipment from one farm report to the next and the vicious winters were a long way from the red carpet, but looking back she sees those years as instructive, from teaching her to treat mundane stories with professionalism to solidifying her confidence. “Picking up my entire life and moving to South Dakota where I did not know a soul, I don’t think I was mentally prepared for that,” she said. “I’m alone in the middle of nowhere in a frozen tundra and I can’t afford soup for the week. I mean, I knew I wouldn’t get paid a lot, but that does something to your mental health. You’ve really got to tough it out.

get f ra m e d at

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

“No one in my family or friends really agreed with my decision; they thought I was crazy. I can’t really explain it, but I just knew. I said, ‘Just trust me on this.’ I mean, I didn’t even trust me sometimes, and I questioned my decision a lot. But now I look back and I say, ‘See? I told you.’” Monteverdi rose to morning anchor at her station but hated the winters so much she applied to other jobs, landing at THV in March 2015. Then, in September 2020, she was hired as the evening anchor for KARK, Little Rock's NBC affiliate. “I started applying for jobs because I was really cold and I needed to get out of there,” she said. “I wanted to go closer to a beach. Obviously, I had no idea where Little Rock was.” She also had no idea the transformative event of her career and life was mere months away. In September, her boyfriend Brock Eidsness died from a heroin overdose, the shock of which drove her into a dual existence, with one face for the mirror and one for when the studio lights came on. “I am a very private person. I keep a lot of my life private because we share so much about ourselves, especially when you’re an anchor,” she said. “[With Brock’s story] I couldn’t share it. I was frozen by fear of the stigma attached to drug addiction. It took me two and a half years just to tell people. “I look back now, and that was a very sad time in my life because here I am on a morning show and I’m bright and bubbly and happy, but people had no idea what was really happening. I came across very easily on camera, but my personal life was destroying me.” Monteverdi finally decided to channel her pain into helping others. “Saving a Generation: The New Face of Drug Addiction,” her Regional Emmy Award-winning documentary examining the opioid epidemic, was cathartic for herself and, judging by the fan mail, for others as well. “I remember walking into my boss’s office saying, ‘I want to do this.’ I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, and I don’t think they did either,” she said. “I really wasn’t healing those first two and a half years. When you’re so alone and you’re not talking about it, it’s very hard to grieve. I worked on the documentary for six months, and those months were very long. Sometimes I just had to stop and not do it. It was a process for me, but it was a very healing process.” Now newly engaged, life has come full circle for Monteverdi, who has one simple directive for anyone who thinks about affecting change on an issue important to them, be it combating drug abuse, saving animals or coaching Little League. “Listen to that God Whisper,” she said. “I heard that whisper for a really long time, and it only got louder. I tried to ignore it, but it became overwhelming, in a good way, and I knew what I needed to do. There is a quote I absolutely love; it says, ‘Use your pain as a microphone.’ I have an actual microphone, but you don’t need one to do that. If you feel that calling in your heart, if you know it can help someone, then share it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t. “I shared my story so many years ago, and I still do, because I still see it helping people. I do not like talking about myself, I really don’t. But if I know that it’s helping someone else then I’ll do it, no questions asked.”

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2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR



NOW MIGHT BE A PERFECT TIME. Now could be a good time for a cash-out refinance, because home prices have gone up while mortgage rates are still relatively low. Visit with Tara or Cameron to explore your options!

CONWAY 501.764.9640 766 Harkrider | 1089 Front St. Offer of credit is subject to credit approval. Bank NMLS #539634





May 2022 | 23

Interacting with customers is the highlight of Ashley Martin’s workday. “I get to hear about customer’s lives, and it makes for a more personal experience when they come to the bank to handle their business,” she explained. A military veteran, Ashley is a personal banker who also works as a teller and opens new accounts. She is training to be a loan assistant, as well. In her off time, she volunteers at the City of Hope Outreach which is a nonprofit that helps veterans and the homeless in Conway. “It is important to me because I am also a veteran, and although I have not experienced things that other veterans have, it could have easily been me,” she said. “I have full compassion for veterans and the homeless. There are some great programs going on right now, and we love working with individuals who want to help us meet our goals.” A mother of four, Ashley moved to Conway ten years ago, and she bought a house in 2020. “I plan to stay here until all the kids are out of school and then see where life takes me,” she said. Life has taught her some valuable lessons that she would like to share with younger women. “Don’t compare your life or situation with anyone else’s. Everyone moves at a different pace, and you will get to where you’re going with hard work and dedication. Consistency is key. Don’t give up, especially when you want to.” As a veteran, a mother, and a banker, she has looked around for role models. “Believe it or not, all the women that I see working and striving to move up in the world are an inspiration to me,” she said. “I believe women can do anything, and all it takes is putting your mind to it and doing your best to get the job done. When I see women in high places, it makes me believe that I, too, can get there one day.”

Contact Ashley today at: 501.764.9640 •

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America Quintero started her career in the banking industry in January. She is excited that her work at First Community Bank gives her the opportunity to meet new people from the 501 community and to help them with their financial needs. “Since I’m bilingual, it’s rewarding that I’m able to help the Hispanic community,” she said. She works as a teller and with new accounts and would love to be more involved with the Hispanic community. America can help guide customers through questions and will thoroughly explain the services and products that First Community offers. Stepping into a new career has been exciting for the mother of three. America encourages other women to pursue fresh challenges. “Don’t be scared to take that leap. I’ve learned to not be afraid of changes and to always try your best while doing it. Never underestimate yourself!” Drawing strength from strong women in her life, America sees her mother as her biggest inspiration. “I admire her strength and willingness to never give up. My sisters, being single mothers, have also taught me that women can achieve anything. I’m blessed to have such amazing, strong women in my life,” she said. Additionally, America credits her best friend for encouraging her to accept the position at First Community. “I would like to thank my best friend, Ericka Gutierrez, for always encouraging me to be the best I can be and for being my back bone,” America said. “She’s an amazing business woman and truly a role model. We’ve known each other since childhood, and we now have daughters that will grow up being best friends!” America has three sisters and two brothers, and she is engaged to be married. “My family is my biggest support system, and I am very blessed to have them.”

Contact America today at

May 2022 | 25

‘A rock star in agriculture’ Dana Stewart elected first female president of White County’s Farm Bureau Board By Judy Riley


eep in the hill country of northern White County lies a typical purebred cattle farm with an atypical farmer. Dana Martin Stewart grew up one of three daughters of David and Rita Martin, with five generations before her working with cattle and often other agricultural crops, from strawberries to soybeans, hogs and chickens. Stewart and her sisters were treated the same as their male cousins, learning the value of hard work. They drove tractors, hauled hay, fixed fence, tended to cows and did whatever was needed on the family farm. According to Stewart, she and her sisters did not know they could or should be treated differently because they were girls. Farm life became Stewart’s declared way of life and she longed to raise her family similarly. But the road back to the farm took a few detours. Stewart and husband Joshua grew up in the little community of Step Rock, meeting at church when they both helped with a youth group. Stewart adds, “Church is the very best place to meet a husband. It helps our marriage because we have the same values for faith and family.” Joshua joined the National Guard right out of high school, partly because of his passion to help others, but with the added benefit of assistance for college. They had been married one week before he learned of his deployment to Iraq. The couple “did college” in an untraditional way. Stewart completed a degree in Agriculture Communications and worked in member services for the American Gelbvieh

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Association. She later worked as Executive Director of the White County Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Arkansas Community Foundation. Stewart credits the lessons she learned at the feet of her father and grandfathers with her success in the work place. While working as a draftsman for a construction company, Josh completed his architectural degree and started his own firm. According to Stewart, “Joshua has always been supportive of my dreams of farming and knew the value of raising our children on the farm. It was an easy choice to move back to the farm when the opportunity arose.” Stewart’s involvement in agriculture stretches far beyond her work on the farm. She became involved in Farm Bureau, often only known for insurance. Stewart says, “The core of Farm Bureau is grass roots policy development. Local farmers and ranchers come together to share their concerns to develop policy. Through that process, I’ve seen changes benefiting farmers and rural life. And part of advocating is sharing information about agriculture with those who may not understand the safety and nutritional value of food and fiber produced in the area.” Stewart quickly took on leadership roles with Farm Bureau, recently elected President of White County’s Board, a job never before held by a woman. When asked if that is difficult, Stewart adds, “Growing up, I’ve always been in a male-dominated industry, so I’ve never known anything different. I’m comfortable being a woman in agriculture because that’s who I am.”

According to Brian Haller, Staff Chair for the White County Cooperative Extension Service, “Dana is a rock star in agriculture. She is always taking advantage of the latest technology, latest information to increase the value of the livestock. She is quick to share what she knows with others. She has led the Farm Bureau Board with professionalism and grace. She is very well-respected among other farmers or she never would have been elected president of the Farm Bureau Board.” Stewart’s advice to other young women who want to go into the agriculture is, “Follow your dreams. The face of agriculture is changing. Agriculture needs people of all different types and backgrounds. Not everyone will be a full-time farmer, but our industry needs the right people in all kinds of roles: food scientists, geneticists and teachers. In short, my advice for women is to work smarter, not harder. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; don’t be intimidated.” The couple’s work ethic and desire to give back plays out in all aspects of their lives. She is a volunteer leader for the local 4-H Club where their children Jewel, 11 and Henry, 8 are heavily involved. Both kids are raising their own herd of cattle and goats, using money earned for future college expenses. Both parents volunteer in their church as well as Mission Machine, an outreach for the area’s homeless. What does the future hold for the Stewart's? Today, the farm operates as Martin Cattle Company. Together with her extended family, they continue to produce a quality product while enjoying what they know is a quality way of life for their family.

Ready to help hardworking single parents like Kira study nursing? Donate now at

“Having this type of program and people to reach out to is truly a blessing.”

Kira A. & her daughter

Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund Recipient


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Diane Robinson for Conway School Board Zone 3 EXPERIENCE | VISION | SERVICE

Dr. Diane Robinson has served on the Conway School Board since 2016 with a focus on access to quality education for all students, data-supported decision making, and transparency. Vote May 24 for continued service and dedication to our students and community. Paid for by: Elect Diane Robinson School Board | Dr. Liz Gron, Treasurer | 2925 Candle Circle | Conway, AR 72034



eed to catch up on your degree? No sweat! Summer sessions help you graduate on time or even early – meaning you could save big. Summer financial aid might also be available.

Registration is open now, so get started today.

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Mirinda Mathis-Davis knew she wanted to own a business in downtown Conway at 12 years old, and she fulfills that dream every day at Kindred Mercantile. She was raised in the Saltillo community of Conway and shopped local stores with her mom. “As a young girl, I had the ‘passion for fashion’ mixed with a heavy dose of a servant’s heart. That is an undeniable mixture for the retail life,” Mathis-Davis said. She took her first retail job in 1989 in Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock. “I have been in retail leadership for 34 years and devoted many hours to the development of others, to corporate life and to travel.” While working for great organizations, she had the opportunity to build friendships and learn all aspects of the business. During those decades, she worked under some challenging leadership styles and chose to use those as learning tools. “I have always tried to keep perspective and use the retail world as a mission field. I believe that God sent me out into the field to make a difference.” Working in leadership roles in many states taught her a lot about serving customers and building personal relationships. She decided to do that in her hometown. Mathis-Davis launched Kindred Mercantile online, in a booth rental and at vendor events in 2019. It’s important to her that the environment in her downtown storefront, which opened November 2020, feels welcoming and personal. Even the name ‘Kindred’ means family. “When you shop with us, you are part of the family. We’d love to earn your business and become the ‘go-to’ local store that you love and tell your friends about. When you need a little retail therapy, or just someone who is a good listener and prayer warrior, think of me.”

Contact Mirinda today at: 501.472.6450 • FB or IG Messenger • 1120 Oak Street • Conway, AR

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Photo by Mike Kemp

Back row, from left: Ember Strange and Elizabeth McCall. Middle row, from left: Annabelle Bolling, Lucy McCall, Hannah McCall, Carol Funkhouser, Ava Funkhouser, Susan Eggert and Karen Ferrer. Seated, from left: Allie Maune, Imani Mwenda, Ava Strange, Emmy Creswell, Veronica Ferrer and Ellie McCall.

Troop of Trailblazers

Service projects develop young leaders through Faulkner County Girl Scouts Stories by Rita Halter Thomas


irl Scouts. The words alone immediately bring thoughts of cookies. Fortunately for Faulkner County Girl Scouts (FCGS), selling cookies is more about the process than the product. It’s less about a box of cookies and more about building character and serving community. It’s less about raising money and more about raising girls with a strong moral compass and life skills needed as they become young women. “The GS organization is a girl-led organization … leaders may set the path for troops to do things they would never otherwise get to do, but as they progress, the leaders take a back seat and the girls decide what they what to do, within reason, of course,” said Susan Eggert, a lifelong Girl Scout who served as a Scout for 11 years and an adult leader for 30 more.

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Eggert, product manager and treasurer for the FCGS, said the county has about 300 Scouts across 22 troops. The Faulkner County Service Unit is a part of the GS Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. According to the Diamonds website, there are five key skills a Girl Scout learns through cookie sales: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. “The whole point of selling cookies is the learning process and what the girls get from it,” said Carol Funkhouser, the mother of 10-year-old Ava. “The skills they learn far outweigh the profit,” she said, and added that her once-shy daughter now boldly steps out to talk to people.“I’ve not found anything that empowers her more than Girl Scouts,” Funkhouser said.

Continued on page 34


orty plus years ago, Susan Eggert of Conway followed the lead of her older sister and joined Girl Scouts (GS) where she grew up in Iowa. After 11 years as a Scout and then serving for 30 years in leadership capacities, Eggert will be “retiring” in June from the Faulkner County Service Unit of the Girl Scouts Diamond of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Eggert and her husband are moving to Florida to enjoy their retirement years. “I’m not sure how one retires from an unpaid position,” said Carol Funkhouser, leader for Individually Represented Girl Scouts, citing all Eggert does for FCGS is a full-time job, but hasn’t been paid a dime. Funkhouser knew nothing about Girls Scouts until her daughter joined six years ago and credits Eggert for her help and guidance along the way. “She is an amazing woman and human being in every single way one can imagine,” she said. Officially, Eggert serves as the product manager and treasury for the Faulkner County Service Unit and is a true 501Der Woman. She handles the registration for events, verifies activities, organizes camps, and so much more. “Susan is always ready to jump in and solve problems, or guide you to the right person if she’s unable to help,” said troop leader Mary Bolling. “Whether it be 10 a.m. on a weekday or 8 p.m. on a weekend, she is always ready to help … I can’t even imagine what it takes to do her job.”

Scout's Diamond Retires Eggert impacted Girl Scouts for three decades

Eggert, a certified public accountant, master of business administration, and certified management accountant, says her unique skill set makes the job easy for her. “I love numbers, math, and figuring things out. For me, it’s always been fun, and I enjoy doing it,” Eggert said. “As the treasurer, [Susan] tracks the money for every troop in Faulkner County as well as for the service unit. As product manager, she organizes everything to do with fall product and cookie sales,” said Karen Ferrer, a leader for two troops. “She is very organized and has shown me the importance of good record keeping,” she added. “[Susan’s] wisdom and lifetime of dedication is unmatched. She manages complicated fall sales and cookies without breaking a sweat, but will also answer questions about anything GSrelated,” said Susan Bradshaw, troop leader. While all three ladies said that Eggert’s decades of knowledge and tireless service will be sorely missed, Eggert said she will still be available. “I’m not disappearing and will do all I can to assist,” she said. “We have built some really special stuff over the years. We have great folks and strong leaders.” With all Eggert has poured into FCGS and its leadership, it’s reasonable to believe the best will rise, take hold, and grow the next decade of women into leadership.

May 2022 | 33

Continued from page 32

Susan Bradshaw, a leader of Troop 6654, has two girls involved. “A parent’s goal in life is to raise strong, independent children with good hearts. Scouting gives girls and women an opportunity to learn how to adopt these qualities while having fun at the same time.” Bradshaw was a Girl Scout from Brownie through Cadette, and her mom was her troop leader. “I have specific memories of the things we did together in Scouts, from trying unique foods from other countries to working on badges at home with her. We had the best time doing Scouts together.” Mary Bolling, a Girl Scout from first grade through her senior year in high school, is now a leader for her fifth-grade daughter’s troop, No. 6073. “I’ve been so impressed with how much our girls have grown since they started. … I feel like this year … they have taken the lead in planning their service projects,” she said. Each troop decides what service projects they want to do for the year. One would be hard-pressed to count them all, but their efforts include donating hundreds of boxes of cookies to veterans, Bethlehem House, and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital each year. They also give back by placing flags on veterans’ graves on Memorial Day, building food pantries, making food baskets for the homeless, helping with

a community garden, cleaning up trash in area subdivisions, hosting cereal drives, working on recycling projects, and singing to nursing home residents and sending cards to them for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. Some even work with park rangers at Woolly Hollow State Park to identify and remove invasive species of plants. And some Girl Scouts discover their life’s path through the experience. “My oldest did a GS Destination organized by GS USA and spent a week camping on a beach in Costa Rica caring for sea turtle nests. She was 15. I put her on a plane with no contact with her for a week. Now she is a freshman in college studying marine biology because of what she learned on and became inspired by during that trip,” said Karen Ferrer, who serves as a leader for each of her two younger daughters in Troops 6827 and 6746. FCGS needs leaders to grow leaders. “Every year we have girls who want to join Girl Scouts but can’t because there aren’t enough troops,” Eggert said. Leaders don’t have to be moms with daughters involved, nor do they have to be a former Scout. Many start out as volunteers or co-leaders. Training is available, and help is usually just a phone call away. Troops meet in churches or community centers, and some even meet in businesses kind enough to offer their meeting rooms. Each troop decides when, where, and how often to meet, but most meet for about four hours per month. To learn more about Faulkner County Girl Scouts, becoming a leader, or to volunteer, go to

Early Voting Begins May 9

Election Day May 24 34 | 501 LIFE May 2022

Donna Townsell says one of the most rewarding accomplishments she has achieved at Centennial Bank was being selected to run one of its largest and most impactful projects. Bank leadership had set a goal to reach an Efficiency Ratio of just under 40%. This is a metric in banking that measures how many pennies it takes to make a dollar. “When I started the project Centennial Bank had an efficiency ratio of 65%. As a result of the project, we were able to move that ratio to 37%,” she said. “We remain a leader in this ratio.” Townsell’s work on the project led her to receiving the “Chairman’s Award” at Centennial, which is the highest recognition the bank bestows. “I was also honored to be the first female elected to the Board of Directors for both Centennial Bank and its parent company, Home BancShares.” To what does Townsell attribute her ability to reach these goals within her organization? “Bloom where you are planted,” she said. “Each position you are in offers learning and experience. They are the building blocks to your future. There is no substitute for experience. Take advantage of opportunities as they come along and learn all you can. Every step of the way, make sure you are the person your boss thinks of when they need something done." Townsell says she sees many positive developments for women in today’s workplace. “There are more seats at the table, more opportunities and more recognition of women. More than ever, you see women promoting women. This environment means even more to Townsell as a mother to a teenage daughter. “She has already overcome many obstacles in her life. She inspires me!”

Contact Donna today at:

May 2022 | 35

Dawn Hughes, MD, knew from an early age that she wanted a career that would combine service and science. “I wanted to invest in a field that would provide me with a challenge and a need for lifelong learning,” she said. “I fell in love with women's health and the pathophysiology of pregnancy.” She loves working with the patient population. “Mothers are brave, tough, and selfless. My patients make my job easy because we share a common goal — healthy mom, healthy baby.” Hughes has found that some of the most rewarding moments in her field are often the bittersweet ones. “There is nothing more rewarding than getting to hand a family their healthy newborn and celebrate with them after navigating a difficult pregnancy or a prior loss,” she said. As a physician, wife and mother, she has advice for young women. “It took me far too long to realize that the only definition of success that mattered was my own,” Hughes said. “My generation has been fed these unattainable ideals for what it means to be the perfect doctor, mother, partner, or friend. I think it's important for young women to know that you are never going to be ‘perfect’ at every aspect of life at any given moment. Rather, it's more important to look at yourself as a whole and realize that there is going to be a natural ebb and flow of priorities, and that is OK.” Hughes is married to Rob Butler and they have a 6-year-old daughter, James, and a 3-year-old son, Robinson. “I could not be more thankful for my amazing team at Conway Regional. I consider it an honor to work with such an amazing group of women. My team includes nurse practitioner, Stacey Ross, perinatal sonographers, Jyl Sullivan and Kristen Thomsen and medical assistant, Crystal Burroughs. Our love and fierce support for each other radiates to the patients we have the privilege of caring for.” Contact Dawn Hughes, MD: Conway Regional Maternal-Fetal Medicine Center of Arkansas 2200 Ada Ave., Suite 200 • Conway, AR 501.513.5424

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Dr. Burgess compares her work as an infectious disease specialist to being a detective and solving a mystery every day. She has worked in the field in Central Arkansas for almost eight years and currently practices in the Conway Regional Infectious Disease Clinic. She is also the past program director for the Infectious Disease Fellowship at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “As an infectious disease specialist, I study and treat every system of the body, trying to identify the organism that is making someone sick,” she said. Discovering the cause of an illness ensures proper treatment, and Burgess is glad to help people get better and back into life. But her biggest reward has been teaching and mentoring the next generation of physicians. “I am helping prepare for five residents who will begin training in our internal medicine residency program in July.” Burgess and her husband, Dale, have two adult children. She was confident that she could balance family and a demanding career because of her mother. “My mom, Jackie Bukowski, is my inspiration in life. She was a working mom and a teacher who showed me that you can develop a career while being present for your family.” As she reflects on the women of the past who broke through the glass ceiling, she is hopeful about the future. “The generation in the ’60s and ’70s helped to break through barriers, and now about 50% of students in medical school are women. I also see more women taking on leadership positions in academia and in the private sector.” She looks at the next generation of physicians with admiration. “The young female residents who are going through training are inspirational in how they approach work and life balance while volunteering and taking on leadership positions.” In her free time, Burgess enjoys hiking at Pinnacle Mountain State Park and attending performances at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Contact Mary Burgess, MD: Conway Regional Infectious Disease Center 525 Western Ave., Suite 301 • Conway, AR 501.513.5295

May 2022 | 37

Photos by Mike Kemp A member of the interim board of directors for the National Association of Interpreters in Education (NAIE), Allyson Caruthers displays the sign for "interpreter."

Noble Gestures

Conway native joins a national effort to provide equal access to American Sign Language services in nation’s schools. By Colleen Holt


llyson Caruthers was named as a member of the interim board of directors for the National Association of Interpreters in Education (NAIE), a group founded in 2016 to “empower educational interpreters to promote best practices and to enhance the education of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind students.” As part of the interim board, Allyson is helping with NAIE's restructuring and developing a strategic plan for the next two to four years. The first contact Allyson had with NAIE was through her volunteer work with the Arkansas Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf and some of their continuing education opportunities. “I took a couple of classes online preCOVID-19 and heard about NAIE. I was thinking about joining, and then NAIE had a free membership opportunity during the pandemic. I joined in May 2020 and attended their member-only webinars that summer.”

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While learning more about NAIE, Allyson noticed their state ambassador program – and that there wasn’t an ambassador from Arkansas. “I applied to be the state ambassador, was interviewed, and came on board in September 2020,” she said. The roles of a state ambassador are to recruit members in your state, talk with leaders in your state’s Department of Education to inform them of the standards for educational interpreters, and show that there is a need for American Sign Language interpreters in education. Soon after being named Arkansas’ State Ambassador, Allyson assisted the organization’s vice president with the design and setup of the State Ambassador Google site for storing documents and other information for use by the ambassadors. She said the board saw how much work she had put in and the passion she had for the state ambassador program and, in response, asked her to be on the interim board in June 2021.

Continued on page 40

At the young age of 8, Dr. Amanda Bledsoe knew that she wanted to be a physician and help others. During her senior year of undergrad at the University of Central Arkansas, she became a chiropractic patient and realized that was her calling. “I saw a way to be a doctor and help people and still be a wife and mother, too,” she said. “I also saw a way to be in practice by age 25!” Bledsoe graduated with a doctorate in chiropractic in 2005 from the Cleveland Chiropractic College in Kansas City, Mo. Since then, she has been active in the field and is committed to giving patients hope. “I see hurting people everywhere and want to give them hope and healing. I want it to be accessible and affordable to everyone,” she said. “I love helping people who have been told they’ve just got to live with their condition finally be able to see hope. It’s my favorite word and thing to see in others. It drives me to help who I’ve been blessed with and find others who don’t know that hope exists and show them how amazing their body is. It can heal! You aren’t just getting old!” Bledsoe is a successful entrepreneur who expanded her practice last year to be able to provide for her patients. She accomplishes this with the support of her husband, Adam, who works at THV11, and her children, Audrey, 13, and Hunter, 9. Being involved in her community is paramount to Bledsoe, who is a board member of the United Way and the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, a member of BNI Conway Natural Networkers, and attends Pleasant Valley Church of Christ with her family. She is inspired by people who are givers. “I know many women in this community that are such givers, and I try every day to rise up and give my best in love and service and unselfishly put others first.”

Contact Amanda today at or 501.504.6999 775 Amity Road • Conway, AR

May 2022 | 39

Continued from page 38 “The interim board was initially a six-month agreement, but that turned into another six months because we’ve done more than we originally planned. We’ve gone into more detail on a few projects,” she said. In addition to the board duties, she continues with her state ambassador duties. A couple of things she has started doing for Arkansas NAIE members is sending a monthly newsletter and conducting virtual “meet and greets” a couple of times each year. “I have also been working with the Interpreter Education Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to get their seniors and juniors involved in NAIE,” she said. “UA Little Rock is where I graduated from, and the Interpreter Ed Program is one of very few accredited schools in the nation that has an emphasis on educational interpreting. You can get a minor in educational interpreting.” Allyson is a full-time educational interpreter in Central Arkansas and has worked in the public school system since 2016. She earned an Associate of Science in American Sign Language Studies in 2014 and a Bachelor of Arts in Interpretation: American Sign Language/English with a minor in educational interpreting in 2016, both from UA Little Rock. Allyson is continuing with other volunteer work in the world of interpreting, especially with the Arkansas Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf, a group established in 1981

to provide information about the world of interpreting. “I became a student member in 2015 and got my feet wet by being support staff at the biennial conference. In fall 2016, I became chair of the technology committee.” Not only are NAIE and ARID a large part of Allyson’s work community, she has also found lifelong friends in the Deaf and Deaf-Blind community. Her contributions in this community include being on the Deaf-Blind Camp planning committee and taking freelance jobs to make sure everyone has equal access to interpreting services. She has even been known to deliver groceries to her Deaf and hard-of-hearing friends as needed. The latest volunteer job Allyson has taken on is as an interpreter/coach for Team Arkansas at the USA Games for Special Olympics next month in Orlando, Florida. She has worked with Special Olympics Arkansas since the summer of 2016 as part of her UA Little Rock degree internship. “I have fallen in love with SOAR. I feel I’ve helped bring awareness to others in the organization that it is important to have an interpreter for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes and coaches for equal access,” she said. “That, in turn, has opened an opportunity for me to work with them in many ways. This year, I’m fortunate enough to be a part of Team Arkansas.”

"For as long as I can remember I have been an advocate for equal access for all, and this is a way for me to live out my passion," said Caruthers.

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Laura Brunson is passionate about dentistry and finds it to be an enjoyable and rewarding career. “I love to be part of a positive transformation in my patient’s lives. I love seeing them smile so brightly and find their self-confidence because of the dental treatments that we are able to provide for them.” DDS Dentures and Implant Solutions of Conway provides general dentistry services, yet primarily focuses on dental implants, implant-supported dentures, implant-retained dentures and traditional dentures. Many patients share with Laura that they are excited to take family photos for the first time in a while as they are confident in their new smile. Testimonials like this are what makes her career so enjoyable and fulfilling. In addition to this busy career, Laura and her family are frequent volunteers with the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. It is a division of the Arkansas Department of Education and works to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the state. “The Executive Director, Dushun Scarbrough, serves as my mentor, but is also a dear friend to me. He consistently encourages and pushes me to advance personally and professionally.” Laura has career advice for others. First, choose a career you enjoy, not based on how much money you will make. Another tip is to adopt a learning attitude. She feels this helps anyone become a well-rounded, fulfilled individual. A native Arkansan, Laura lives in Conway with her significant other, Ernest, daughter Fallon, and their Goldendoodle, Finley. “The people in Central Arkansas are amazing, the scenery is breathtaking, and we are so fortunate to have so much talent, culture and opportunities in this area.” If Laura could give advice to her younger self, she would advise that finding your confidence is key. “You are good enough! Don’t allow anyone to tell you that your dreams are out of reach, only you know your full potential.” This is exactly what Laura is doing in her career at DDS Dentures and Implant Solutions, helping patients find their confidence and smile bright.

Contact Laura today at 501.229.5993 635 Dave Ward Dr. • Conway

May 2022 | 41

Master Gardeners plan annual sale By Lori Dunn

Photos by Mike Kemp


he Faulkner County Master Gardeners is looking forward to its annual plant sale on Saturday, May 14. It’s the first time in two years for the popular sale that helps plant lovers find new flowers every spring. The sale will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Conway Expo Center, 205 E. Oak St., Conway. Admission and parking are free. “As with so many other groups, we came to a screeching halt in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19. We were actively planning for the 2020 plant sale but had to cancel that one as well as the 2021 FCMG Plant Sale,” said sale coordinator Celia Harkey. Getting back into planting was easy, she said, since the arrival of spring automatically means digging in the dirt and planting for Master Gardeners. “We are very excited to have the sale again. We are up and going, and members have been doing a lot of work. This is our largest community event,” she said. The Faulkner County 4-H Club will help with children’s activities during the sale. Proceeds benefit scholarships, horticulture education, and operating costs for Faulkner County beautification and gardening education. Thousands of plants known to thrive in Central Arkansas will be for sale.

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Plants will include sun and shade annuals, sun and shade perennials, pollinator plants, irises, lilies, daylilies, Hosta’s, ferns, house plants, succulents, herbs, shrubs, vegetables, and some trees. “We usually have some of everything,” Harkey said. “If you don’t know much about native plants, we will have members there to educate you. They can answer questions about which plants do better in the sun and which ones in the shade.” Education never ends, even for the Master Gardeners. “Most of us love plants and want to learn about them. This is for us to learn about plants too,” she said. Prices vary but are reasonable, starting at $3. “We want to make them affordable,” she said. Plant prices are based on two variables: One is the size of the plant. Plant pot sizes start at 4 inches and many of these plants will be $3. However, unique characteristics of the plant also affect price. Less common plants and harder-to-grow plants will likely cost more no matter the pot size, Harkey said. Master Gardeners are hoping to see regular shoppers at the sale plus new ones. There will be interactive education

for all ages with special activities for children. Most of the plants for sale are from the lawns and gardens of members, and digging up the plants is always an enjoyable part of the sale for members. Faulkner County Cooperative Extension has always been focused on providing education to Master Gardeners and to the community, according to Harkey. A special focus this spring has been to provide opportunities to learn more about propagating plants. Members and the community have participated in seed-starting training, plus a workshop to encourage growing plants by seed. Training to be a Master Gardener utilizes the resources of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Extension at unex.uada.ed. They also mentor and train with experienced FCMG members while working on projects to improve the community’s landscape. Master Gardeners get involved to learn more about horticulture and also work with others who love plants. The annual dues are $15. In 2021, FCMG had 222 members. Members logged more than 8,000 volunteer community service hours and more than 5,000 continuing education hours. “Most members don’t have trouble meeting the education hours. We even have advanced training for members,” Harkey said. “We are about educating members as much as we are educating the community.” The group has also given $4,000 in scholarships to local college students. The FCMG has worked on 10 community landscape projects this year at five Faulkner County Library branches, the Legacy Gardens at Antioch Church, the Faulkner County Courthouse, the County Museum, and the County Extension office. Harkey encourages anyone wanting to attend the sale to bring the entire family. “We want them to bring their kids. It makes them think about growing plants and where food comes from,” she said.

Sandra Bradberry takes multiple starts from a ponytail cactus to re-pot them to be sold at the Master Gardener’s annual plant sale.

Members are excited for the event and more excited to share their enthusiasm about everything green. “Our hearts are in plants. It’s a plant party.”

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May 2022 | 43

Photo by Mike Kemp

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A mother's love led to brightly-colored meals and a lifetime of colorful memories.

by Don Bingham


other's Day brings with it many memories from our childhood in the kitchen. There were lots of challenges growing up, but "loving life" around the table and celebrating with food was never one of them. Mom cooked basics, with a hint toward the fried and unhealthy. She grew up on a farm and everything they cooked was fresh from the barn, directly picked from the garden, and seasoned well. The downside of such a wonderful culinary diet as this is that I have fought weight, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and choices of four sizes in my closest with which to array myself on any given day! We all were awakened to breakfast every morning without exception! There was bacon and eggs, biscuits, fresh perked coffee, etc. I'm not sure why this was a ritual for us, but except for an occasional bowl of oatmeal or grits, it never varied all 18 years of my home life. On Mother's Day, Mom still cooked! As we got older (ripe old age of 8 or 9), we learned to meet the street peddler to buy vegetables. Then we would shuck the corn, pick beans from the endless trails of beans on hot-hot days and make the most wonderful cornbread imaginable. I do recall a short season in my life when I was anemic and slightly frail. Well, this would just not "ever do" for a Bingham! Mom took me to specialist after specialist to determine why I was not gaining weight and did not have the mentality of a hog in my eating habits. She was determined that I would arise from the dead with a new vision for all things food! (Had she left me alone, I probably would have been buff and still on the Broadway Runway modeling at my age!)

To encourage me to eat more, she colored my foods – knowing that I was attracted to sparkle, color, pizazz, etc. The result was pink milk, blue cornbread and green mashed potatoes. I suppose her philosophy was “whatever it takes!” All of her gargantuan efforts paid off! For those of you who see me today, you will readily see Momma's influence. While remembering Mom, I have been looking at some of her favorite dishes (color options up to you!), and have included some of them with this article. Remember, they have a touch of Alabama, grease, starches and creams! I'm very thankful for all the great things Mom did teach me and many of them began in the kitchen. She allowed me to bake and sell cakes to purchase my first accordion. The cakes were always a Duncan Hines box mix, of course, but they sold! I will be eternally grateful for Mom and Dad. It's great to recall those fun times during this season of the year. I may even purchase a boxed cake mix in her honor! On the following page are some of those favorite dishes I have "because of Momma!"

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Easy-Do Fudge

3 cups granulated sugar 2/3 cup evaporated milk 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine 1 (12-ounce) package of semisweet chocolate pieces 1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream 1/2 cup pecan pieces 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, milk and butter, or margarine, in a large heavy saucepan; heat to boiling. Stir constantly for 5 minutes to the soft, ball stage (238 degrees). Remove. Add other ingredients; stir vigorously until well blended. Pour into greased 13x9x2 pan. Cool; cut into squares. Makes 3 pounds of fudge.

Coconut Cake 4 cups all-purpose flour 4 cups granulated sugar 2 cups sweet milk 1 1/2 cups corn oil 2 teaspoons vanilla 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 6 eggs

Mix ingredients and pour into prepared 9-inch cake pans (3-4). Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until lightly golden and done in the center.

Kathryn's Icing

Ice Box Cookies 1 1/2 cups shortening 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup granulated sugar 3 eggs 5 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon soda 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup pecans or walnuts

Cream shortening and sugar; add eggs, flour, soda, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, and nuts. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into several long rolls and wrap it with wax paper. Store in refrigerator. When ready to bake, cut into 3/8-inch slices and place on greased baking pans and bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Makes about 8 dozen.

Easy Fruit Cobbler 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup sweet milk 1 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt 3 cups fresh fruit

Mix the first five ingredients; pour into a buttered baking dish; use fruit to spread over the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until the crust is golden. Dot top with butter.

1 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup water 1 cup marshmallow cream 3 egg whites 3 cups shredded coconut

Boil sugar and water until strings form. Add about 1 cup marshmallow cream and dissolve. Beat egg whites until stiff, then gradually combine both mixtures. Beat until stiff. Sprinkle coconut between layers along with icing. Ice layers and top. Sprinkle coconut over all. Variation: Fruit filling or coconut juice may be added between layers.

Lila Bingham and Don Bingham, 8, are seated on the front lawn of his childhood home in Huntsville, Ala. “Mom was a talented lady! She was a wonderful cook, gardener, decorator, china painter, seamstress and more! She encouraged my brother and I to do anything and everything we dreamed of! For example, she drove me 100 miles for a TV network audition in Birmingham to sing ‘A White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation’.”

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May 2022 | 47

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A message from

Kim Williams Director, Conway Downtown Partnership

May in Downtown Conway is so lovely! Blooms abound with the addition of the hanging baskets and the streetscaping along our sidewalks. That isn’t all that happens! We will welcome the Conway Community Band Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Simon Park. This will mark 12 years of the concert series at the park. The band consists of community members who enjoy playing instruments and performing for others. Plan to bring a chair and enjoy the evening, which is sponsored by 501 LIFE Magazine. May also kicks off the Downtown Conway Farmers’ & Crafts Market season. There will be more vendors than ever this year and it opens at 8 a.m. on May 7. Join us in Downtown Conway for the best in shopping, dining, and more!

an angel in the arms of Dr. Angel Jordan helps horses find healing By Donna Lampkin Stephens


resh out of Oklahoma State’s veterinarian school in 2007, Dr. Angel Jordan turned down her dream job at an equine clinic in Burleson, Texas. She felt she needed to put her family first.

Jordan grew up on Hodges Farm in Wynne, where her parents were third-generation farmers who met through the equine community. “We always had animals — horses, dogs, cats, chickens,” she remembered. “They were just part of everyday life, and I guess that’s what stuck.”

Fifteen years later, though, she’s built her dream job with Arkansas Equine Services, her specialty veterinarian business based in Rose Bud. She has clients in counties all over the 501, as well as a few beyond.

From Wynne, where she was a catcher on the softball team, she went to Murray State for her agriculture degree in pre-veterinary medicine and then to Oklahoma State for vet school.

Jordan estimates her practice is about 70 percent ambulatory (she puts about 45,000 miles on her truck annually), and 30 percent at her Rose Bud barn.

After declining the Texas offer, she took a position at Morrilton Veterinary Clinic, where her clients included large animals such as horses and cattle.

Jordan, who will turn 41 in May, said her life is what she envisioned from the day she marched into kindergarten at Wynne and introduced herself: “I’m Angel, and I’m going to be a veterinarian.

“That was a great fit out of vet school,” she said. “Going to a mixed-animal practice was ideal. But I always knew at some point I wanted to go primarily equine.”

“I get to smell like horse every day,” she said. “For some people that’s a nightmare, but for a little kid who grew up on a farm, that’s a dream. I’m so blessed that my career allows me to interact with so many people. I get to share my faith with my customers every day, and I get to provide for my son. It’s a daily blessing.”

After two years at Morrilton, and a year at Searcy Animal Clinic, Jordan started Arkansas Equine Services in 2010. “While I was at Morrilton, I had one of those thoughts you don’t get away from — ‘You can have a predominately equine practice around Cabot’,” she said. “Realizing how centrally located Rose Bud is made really good sense. I kept a lot of my customers from Faulkner, Conway and Perry counties

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A member of the interim board of directors for the National Association of Interpreters in Education (NAIE), Allyson Caruthers displays the sign for "interpreter."

Photos by Diana Cantey

May 2022 | 51

“She’s like a three-legged stool — faith, family and farm.” - Diana Cantely, a friend describing Dr. Angel Jordan

Angel gives her patient "Strawberry," a Shetland pony gelding, a kiss on the nose after his exam. Strawberry is owned by Drs. Andy and Angie Dunlap of Beebe.

and meshed them with others from White, Lonoke and Cleburne.” According to, the practice offers wellness, dentistry, reproductive, performance medicine and pre-purchase exams, among other services. “I’m a one-woman show,” she said.. “I clean all the stalls, feed all the horses, make all the appointments. This time of year is breeding season, and I was ultra-sounding mares at 6 a.m. Then you’ve got to get in the house by 7 to cook breakfast for the kid.” ”The kid” is Jordan’s son, Eli, a seventh-grader at Rose Bud. He plays baseball and shoots trap; Mom doesn’t miss a practice or competition. Diana Cantey, a friend and former client, runs Jordan’s website and social media accounts. “She is very committed to having a work-life balance and is very organized,” Cantey said. “She’s very involved with her community, very charitable, very compassionate.“She’s like a three-legged

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stool — faith, family and farm.” Jordan agreed with the analogy. “It would certainly be in that order, too,” she said. “I teach an adult singles Sunday school class at Searcy Assembly of God because, you know, I need more to do.” Her community involvement includes Beyond Boundaries, a therapeutic riding center in Ward; Brander’d by Christ, a nonprofit rodeo ministry; A&D Quarter Horses in Romance; the Central Arkansas Horse Show Association; and Hearts & Hooves, a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship)-accredited riding program in Sherwood. In 2016, Jordan was awarded PATH Veterinarian of the Year. “I’m just living my family’s footsteps,” she said of her legacy of community involvement. “Any time one of my customers wins at an equine event, Arkansas Equine Services also wins. The greatest awards are the hugs and high-fives from my youth clients.” Her own menagerie includes horses Smoke and Champ (a Hearts

& Hooves retiree); dogs Woody, the new beagle from the Humane Society; Rocky, a border collie mix, and Asa, a black and tan coonhound; several barn cats and Lance, the guinea pig. Will Eli follow in his mother’s equine footsteps? “No, all caps, exclamation mark,” she said, chuckling. “Eli doesn’t like to ride. He’s a dog person. He has consistently shown interest in farming. My brother took over the farm from my parents, so if Eli chooses to farm, he’ll be the fifthgeneration male to run Hodges Farm.” Jordan said she has her own “dirt therapy” — flower beds on all four sides of her house. The ultimate reason she chose to focus on horses? “The attraction to their eyes when they just get soft,” she said. “They look at you, and it’s like, ‘I’ll give you my heart and anything else you need.’ As long as you don’t break that trust bond, they’re going to be there every day. Even if a horse gets scared or nervous or mad, if you’ll effectively communicate, you’ll see the eyes soften before the body does.” The ability to understand that is a gift. “God didn’t ask me to be a veterinarian and not give me the tools to do it,” she said.

Triscuit, a Haflinger mare along with barn manager Jimmy McMinn and equine manager Stephanie Dedman receive a very generous check in support from Dr. Angel Jordan. Beyond Boundaries, is a nonprofit equine-assisted therapy program located in Ward.

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Heroes of Hope & Healing

Leadership graduates raise money for Children’s Advocacy Alliance By Tammy Keith

The Conway Area Leadership Institute (CALI) graduated 35 in its 2021 class and they chose the Children’s Advocacy Alliance (CAA) as its community impact project. They raised $15,500 to fund a room in a future building project. Shenel Sandidge (CALI, from left), Jason Owens (CALI and CAA Board Member), Kristen Epstein (CALI), Tess Fletcher (CAA Executive Director), Miranda Daily (CALI) and Eric Sutterfield (CALI).


little girl was anxious as she walked into the medical room in the Central Arkansas Children’s Advocacy Center in Conway to undergo an examination. The nurse took her time, calmly explaining every step in the head-to-toe exam. Tess Fletcher, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, said that after the exam was over, the child nervously asked if she was “broken.” She wanted to know if people would be able to tell what had happened to her. Fletcher said the nurse reassured the girl. “She said, ‘No, you look just the same. Nobody can look at you and tell.’ The nurse said the relief on that child’s face was very visible.” Fletcher’s dream of a larger, updated medical room to serve abused children was met when the 2021 Conway Area Leadership Institute class chose the Children’s Advocacy

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Alliance as its community impact project and raised $15,500 to fund the room in a future building project. CALI is a 10-month program for emerging or established leaders who want to take a deep dive into learning more about how to serve the city. The curriculum is based on Conway2035, a long-range strategic plan developed with residents’ input, and covers areas such as arts and culture, education, health care, and job creation. The nonprofit Children’s Advocacy Alliance serves abused and neglected children in five counties: Conway, Faulkner, Perry, Searcy, and Van Buren. It has two programs under its umbrella, the Children’s Advocacy Center and Central Arkansas Court Appointed Special Advocates. Miranda Daily, a graduate of the 2021 leadership class, said choosing a project was difficult. “There were very strong opinions in my group since we’re all local leaders. We wanted to make sure we had a direct impact that would help for years to come,” she said.

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Continued from page 54 Representatives of organizations made pitches, and Fletcher’s stood out, Daily said. “Tess gave an amazing testimonial, and people know the great work they do, and that really stuck with that class. Everybody agreed that this was a great cause.” Jason Owens knew firsthand it was a worthy cause as a member of both the CALI 2021 class and the Children’s Advocacy Alliance board. Owens, an attorney, said he also sees the benefits of the CASA program. “We’re really excited to get on board with the Alliance and raise funds for this room and try to meet this need to assist neglected and abused children. We all thought it was really important and worthwhile,” Owens said. The 1,632-square-foot advocacy center, a former private home in downtown Conway, serves as a childfriendly location for sexual-assault exams, forensic interviews, family resources, mental health advocacy, and prevention. Fletcher said 400 children were served from July 2020 through July 31, 2021, and the number is growing.

taking the lead The Conway Area Leadership Institute graduated 35 in its 2021 class and recognized several honorees in a ceremony at the University of Central Arkansas McCastlain Hall on Feb. 25. CALI is a 10-month program that prepares emerging leaders to serve the Conway community by providing firsthand experience with community leaders, businesses, and local organizations. Participants engage in a curriculum inspired by Conway2035, a long-range strategic plan developed with the input of more than 1,800 area residents.

Families “don’t pay a dime” for services, she said. The nonprofit receives some funding through grants, but it also relies on fundraising and community support. Daily said she set up a Facebook group for the fundraising project and posted testimonial videos from class members asking for donations, which could be made through an online giving portal or by taking them directly to the Children’s Advocacy Center at 574 Locust Ave.

CALI exceeded its goal and presented a $15,500 check to Fletcher in March. “One of my major goals is to see our agency comfortably serve all of the children who need our services. This donation from CALI means the world to me because it helps us move closer to future expansion,” Fletcher said. “We make do with what we have, but the layout of the medical room could be better and more conducive to kids.” She also envisions a spot near the exam table for a facility dog.

Osmar Garcia, CEO and co-founder of Garcia Wealth Management, received the Dan Nabholz Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes a recent CALI graduate for leadership and community involvement. Garcia serves on the Conway Health Facilities and Conway Symphony Orchestra boards. Garcia is also vice president of Opportunity Matters Arkansas and serves as the Hispanic coordinator for the Knights of Columbus State Council. He is a previous chair of the United Way of Central Arkansas.

Fletcher said CALI was successful because the class members worked together. “The CALI group didn’t say, ‘Hey, one person has to raise $15,000.’ The one big thing I would want people to take away is anybody can make a difference; $5 a month to us means as much as $500 a month,” she said. “Conway is an amazing community made up of people who truly care about making a difference where they live.” The CALI project is even more personal for Daily. She is being trained as a court-appointed special advocate to go to court with an abused child who has been removed from a home to represent the child’s best interests. “I never thought I could love Conway more, but I do now because of what I learned,” Daily said. Fletcher said the Children’s Advocacy Alliance is passionate about supporting children who experience trauma, and the advocacy center is crucial to its mission. “The change in these children from the way they walk in and the way they walk out is amazing. That’s the difference that CALI can make. They will make a difference in countless children that they’ll never know,” she said.

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Nick Stevens was named Class Champion of the 2021 class. The award recognizes one individual for contributions to the group throughout the year. Stevens serves as program director of the Creative Institute of Central Arkansas where he oversees curriculum, partnership and program development. Stevens and fellow 2021 class member, Karla DeFreitas, were added to the CALI Advisory Board, which provides feedback on curriculum and program structure.



Senator Mark Johnson Banning Sanctuary

Voted YES

Cities in Arkansas

Voted YES

Banning Chemical Castration of Children

Voted YES

(Act 1076 of 2019)

(Act 626 of 2021)

Veto Override of Banning Chemical Castration of Children (Act 626 of 2021)

Voted YES

Protecting our Historic Monuments from Being Torn Down (Act 1003 of 2021)


Voted YES

Personal Right to Privacy Regarding Your COVID Vaccination Status (SB 731 of 2021)


$3,000 Tax Credit to Full-Time Law (Act 224 of 2021)

THERE IS ONLY ONE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATE FOR STATE SENATE DISTRICT 17 Vote to Re-Elect Senator Mark Johnson in the Republican Primary on May 24! Paid for by Mark Johnson for Arkansas

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A Growing Health System for a Growing Community

More Specialists

Expanded Access

Innovative Services

Voted Best Place to Have a Baby At Conway Regional, we provide all women and their newborns with dignity, respect, and compassionate care. Our Women's Center cares for mothers and newborns from admission to discharge, offering reassurance and support as you welcome your bundle of joy. Conway Regional was also voted “Best Place to Have a Baby” by the readers of AY Magazine for two years in a row. To learn more or to see a virtual tour of our facility, visit

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New Medical Offices

There has never been a time when medical care was more advanced. Preventive exams and tests can identify problems early, and there are many effective treatments for illnesses. Everywhere women turn, articles, podcasts, TV programming and friends are reminding them to incorporate more exercise into their weekly schedules, to eat better and drink more water, to get quality sleep and to take time for mental and spiritual wellness.

So why is heart disease the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.? Why are so many women diagnosed with depression each year, and why are more women than men suffering a stroke annually? You can probably name five reasons quickly. But how does one change the cycle of a demanding lifestyle? Many activities are not optional. Most families need two incomes, and usually both spouses want to have a career. You cannot change the demands of parenting or of helping older family members with their health needs. The laundry and dishes must be washed and shopping must be done. But there is hope. We have turned to experts on heart health, mental well-being, skin and hormone experts and pregnancy specialists who give their advice for living your best life. Read their expert advice and then take the time to schedule a check-up with a medical doctor. Spring is here and summer will arrive soon, so it’s time to think about keeping your skin healthy and glowing. It’s also time to schedule some down time. Consider your overall emotional well-being and turn to an expert, if needed. Besides talking through issues, there is value to planning relaxing activities like: massages, chiropractic adjustments, facials, floating, visiting a hair salon and mani-pedis.

This is the time to take charge of your health and wellness. If you don’t believe us, ask the experts! May 2022 | 59

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Skin Health EXPERT: Daneen Carson Fiddler, Licensed Aesthetician, Certified Medical Assistant, Makeup Artist & Skincare Specialist, Owner of Star Aesthetics.

Q: How can women maintain healthy and vibrant skin as they age? A: In order to maintain healthy and vibrant skin as you age, wear sunscreen daily. I recommend a physical sunblock that is chemical free. Physical sunscreens are more commonly known as mineral sunscreens. They work by creating a physical barrier on the skin that shields it from the sun’s rays.

We all benefit from a little sunshine, and it’s important to help maintain healthy vitamin D levels in your body. Sunshine also makes us happy, but too much sun will break down the collagen in the skin, causing sagging and hyperpigmentation. To maintain vibrant skin, here are some additional recommendations: Get a facial treatment monthly, use a good skincare system in the morning and at night and don’t smoke. Drink lots of water, get eight hours of sleep, exercise regularly, eat fruits and vegetables and take vitamins that your doctor recommends. Avoid processed food and sugar and too much caffeine and alcohol. I recommend getting adjusted regularly by a good chiropractor and going outside to breathe fresh air. Oxygen is very beneficial for producing new skin cells.

Treating Hormone Imbalance EXPERT: Sheila Hayes, APRN, FNP-C with Restoration Wellness

Q: What symptoms can be caused by a hormone imbalance and what benefits come from taking hormones?

A: Hormone imbalance symptoms can be fatigue, anxiety, low

libido, vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction, night sweats, hot flashes, depression, mood swings and insomnia. Any one of the symptoms can affect a woman’s quality of life.

Today, there are treatment options for women who are coping with these symptoms. One option is bioidentical hormone replacement. The benefits can be improvement from all symptoms listed above, as well as cardiovascular protection, brain protection, decreased risk of breast and prostate cancer, increased bone strength and help with one’s metabolism. I encourage women to discuss their hormone imbalance symptoms with a professional. There is help available and it’s good to understand your options.

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EXPERT: Rimsha Hasan, MD, Interventional Cardiology, Conway Regional Cardiovascular Clinic

Q: As a cardiologist, why are you passionate about women’s heart health?


A:Women’s heart health often gets

misdiagnosed, and that delays access to care. There is an under representation of women in the cardiology data. The major misconception is that ‘it’s a man’s disease.’ Truthfully, it is a human disease, and it can happen to anyone.

I diagnose patients based on a risk profile, regardless of gender. The focus should be on individual risks, rather than just dividing people into categories based on gender. My assessment includes comorbidities and social habits, such as having a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercising, smoking, as well as family history.

Q: Do you have a takeaway for the public?

A: Don’t wait on symptoms such as

chest pain, shortness of breath, and back pain that is happening with exertion. These can be symptoms of a heart attack.

Q: What would you like for the

community to know about you as a physician?

A: I hope I am known as a physician

who is accessible to patients and to physicians in the community, working as part of a team with other providers.

Today’s medicine is about a team approach and awareness is key. The more we talk and work together, the better we can educate our patients and prevent long term health consequences.

Q: What do you enjoy most about caring for heart patients?

A:Caring for my patients is

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incredibly gratifying to me, and I find great satisfaction in my role as an interventional cardiologist. I enjoy everything about it: the complexity, the urgency, and the fact that there is immediate gratification. It provides a mix of inpatient and outpatient care and the opportunity to solve problems in both settings.


DANEEN CARSON FIDDLER OWNER OF STAR AESTHETICS The reason why I chose my career is from the time I was a child I was always getting into my mother’s moisturizers and makeup! As a teenager, I would draw models’ faces for hours in my room with very dramatic makeup. I have always been attracted to beauty, fashion, and the cosmetic industry from an early age. In 1986, at the age of 21, I started working in the Retail Cosmetics/ Skincare Industry. In 1991, I went to aesthetician school and received my license. I continued my career in retail, selling cosmetics and skincare until 2007 when I took a chance and started my own business ... and Star Aesthetics was born. At 57, I am a Licensed Aesthetician and own Star Aesthetics. I feel so blessed that I have been able to make my living in a field that I am so passionate about. There is not a day I go to work that I don’t thank my Lord for the gift he gave me. The most rewarding part of my career has been the clients that God has sent to me. Each one of them always fits a piece of the puzzle of my life’s journey at the right time. I would like to thank the three most important women in my life who inspired and encouraged me to believe in myself and to go after my dream of owning my own business. My mother led by example. She always took great care of her skin and herself, and taught her girls to clean, clean, clean! She was my biggest fan! Next, my sisters, Kim and Wendy, paved the way into the Spa Business in Conway. They had the first full-service spa in Conway, The Gathering. Wendy branched out and founded Elan Nails and Spa. It was in both of these places that I got a sense of peace and fell in love with pampering people. Thank you Conway for so graciously accepting us California Girls, and for supporting our small businesses throughout the years!

5 Medical Lane, Suite A, Conway 501.504.4064 May 2022 | 63


Vitamins an d Supplements EXPERT: Amanda Uhl, Owner of Nutrition World

Q: What can women add to their diet to feel better? A: As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The first wealth is health.”

Good nutrition and a healthy diet that is full of vitamins and minerals are the true wealth. That is what we should be investing in when we think of health. Often, we think of good nutrition as whole foods that are organic, pesticide free, unprocessed, etc. This is vital to our health because it plays a role in our quality of life, and by making some of these changes you may see improvements in mood and skin and experience a better digestive system and an increase in energy. An increase in energy produces the benefit of being more active and able to exercise. As we all know, exercising improves mood and promotes better sleep, along with many other benefits. So, in turn, good nutrition and a healthy diet lead to a healthier life! As some may be aware, it can be difficult to consume your daily recommended vitamins and minerals through

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the foods you eat. That is why supplements are a great addition to your daily regimen. Finding good quality vitamins and minerals can be a struggle nowadays. Some specialty vitamin stores are knowledgeable and offer an assortment of quality brands. Their staff can assist you in finding the best supplements to suit your needs and will offer them in many different forms, ranging from liquids, gummies, capsules, tablets and powders. I recommend that women consider vitamins and supplements to help them live their healthiest life.

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Maternal & Fetal Health

EXPERTS: Dawn Hughes, MD/Stacey Johnson, APRN. Hughes and Johnson lead the Conway Regional Maternal-Fetal Medicine Center of Arkansas. The team provides care for women with complications found prior to or during pregnancy and for their unborn babies.

Q: When does a patient need a Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) Specialist?

A:(Dawn) This is usually determined by the patient’s

obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) prior to or during pregnancy and is based on a patient’s medical and family history. Our patients include mothers who are older than 35 (or advanced maternal age), those who have health conditions that could complicate pregnancy (such as hypertension, diabetes, etc.) or those who have had highrisk pregnancies in the past. We also take care of unborn babies with issues such as structural abnormalities, genetic differences and growth restriction.

Q: Are there certain warning signs that women should be aware of during pregnancy?

A:(Dawn) One of the confusing and often frustrating

aspects of pregnancy is that many symptoms can often be totally normal or a warning sign of a potential complication. It almost always takes a complete clinical evaluation to tell the difference. Because of that, it is always best to discuss any concerns with an OB-GYN or MFM.

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Q: What’s the most surprising thing that you have learned about Maternal-Fetal Medicine?

A:(Dawn) I didn't realize how much my practice would change my outlook on life. Learning everything that can go wrong in a pregnancy gave me a profound appreciation for when everything goes right. After a hard day at work, I find myself marveling at my own children and the miracles that they are.

Q: What is a favorite story that the two of you have shared?

A:(Stacey) One of my favorite stories is when my sister came to our clinic to see Dr. Hughes for her second pregnancy. In high-risk obstetrics, there is a lot of anticipation with that first ultrasound. I was not in the room at the time of the initial ultrasound, and when Dr. Hughes told me I needed to see what was on the ultrasound screen I knew it had to be multiples! We were all in shock at this unexpected finding (especially my sister)!

Q:What has it been like working together at Conway Regional?

A: (Stacey) Getting to go to work every day with my

friends has been amazing. Everyone has been very supportive of our vision. We have a wonderful team that worked very hard to help us open the new center.

Stacey Johnson, APRN and Dawn Hughes, MD

May 2022 | 67


Mental Healh & Stress Relief EXPERT: Kitty Douglas, LCSW, Unity Health - Clarity Health and Wellness.

Q: How can women create balance in their lives for better health?

A:With all the important things going on in our lives, it can be difficult

for women to find balance. However, it is important for women to create balance, so we can manage both professional and personal responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed. Here are some tips: 1. Personalize your definition of balance, because it will be different for every woman. Understand there is no way to spread your time equally between all areas at the same time. Just do the right things at the right time. 2 Prioritize. Focus on what must be done at that moment to keep yourself and your family healthy, safe and loved. 3. Delegate. Ask for help, and accept help when you need it. 4. Let go of the image of perfection for your life. Give yourself grace. Be okay with not being perfect. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. 5. Stop comparing yourself. You will never live up to the high standards you see on television and social media, because they are not real. When you compare yourself and your situation, you will continue to fall short. 6. Make time for yourself. This is the most important but also one of the hardest things to do. Set a precedent to do something just for you. Even a small amount of time dedicated to yourself will be beneficial. 7. Set boundaries to separate work and home life. For most of us, it really is OK not to check our email at home. It’s important to understand that every mother is a working mother. Whether you’re managing the household or working outside the home, the stresses of needing to do so much and the feelings of guilt of not doing enough are often very real. Finding balance is very important because it helps women cope with stress before it becomes chronic or evolves into something more intense. A lack of balance can lead to a negative mindset causing undue self-criticism, second guessing, comparison and feelings of inadequacy. If these habits and feelings persist, women can begin to lose interest or motivation for normally enjoyable activities; experience sleep issues, sleeping too much or too little; have appetite changes, eating too much or too little; feel as if they are failing at everything and show signs of depression.

If you are overwhelmed with stress, feelings of failure, or show signs of depression, it’s important to reach out for help. Crisis Text Line: Text “SIGNS” to 741741 for anonymous, free crisis, counseling National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255

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EXPERT: Christina Martin, PrimeCARE Medical Clinic LPC-S, LMFT-S

EXPERT: Jennifer Smith, Owner of FLOATspa Conway

trauma of COVID-19 differently?

floatation tank at a float provider?

Q: How have women experienced the

Q: What are the mental and physical benefits of slipping into a

A:It doesn’t matter what your personal

A:Floatation therapy is about whole-body wellness. To relax for an

Vicarious trauma is what happens to your brain and body when you watch someone go through something traumatic, but you aren’t actually involved. It’s what we experience when we see Ukrainian children crossing Polish borders by themselves, when we watched the daily COVID-19 number update at the height of the pandemic, or waded through the political and social upheaval of the past few years. As women, we are generally more attune and empathetic to the emotions of those around us, so we tend to feel vicarious trauma more deeply.

Floating is like no other experience. Once you enter your float pod, turn off the light, and get comfortable in the water, your body and mind truly begin the relaxation process. You feel your muscles slowly letting go and the tension you are holding begins to dissipate. The meditation music subsides. All you can hear is your heartbeat and breath. Some fall asleep. This is as close to full sensory deprivation and zero gravity as you can possibly be without being in space.

experience was with COVID-19 we all experienced trauma in some way through the pandemic.

The virus forced us to isolate and to hold all that on our own. We were separated from friends and family for varying lengths of time. We watched the news and didn’t know who to trust. Overnight, we had to take on more roles with fewer resources. Women generally aren’t great at self-care anyway, and COVID-19 threw any time we did have right out the window.

hour and get 4-6 hours of true mental rest is becoming rarer in our overstimulated lives. Zero gravity experiences, or sensory deprivation tanks, are old ideas with improved twists. Removing all stimulation for short amounts of time allows our minds to become better equipped to deal with all that daily stress. We rest better, eat better, feel better and treat others better.

Each pod contains 1000 lbs. of medical grade Epsom salt in 200 gallons of water to achieve full buoyancy. There are many benefits to flotation therapy besides the fun of floating: joint decompression, vasodilation (which decreases blood pressure), aids in resetting circadian rhythms, decreased bouts of anxiety and depression, enhances mental agility and focus, reduces athletic recovery time, helps reduce severity of skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and seborrhea, aids in mineral absorption for healthier bones and teeth, helps alleviate muscle spasms, headaches, migraines, PMS and menopausal symptoms, AND floating is perfectly safe for pregnant ladies to use.

While the last two years depleted us, it also allowed us to experience ourselves and our strengths differently. When I think back to the craziness of 2020, I don’t remember the fear. I remember the slow mornings with my son picking flowers (weeds) in the front yard, making pinecone birdfeeders, coloring pictures, reading stories -all things that I wouldn’t have been able to experience as much of if the world had been normal and I had been at work. I remember locals rallying behind small businesses and ordering takeout so they didn’t have to close and the kindness of those who brought our team free coffee and encouragement during the long days. Even though we were so isolated, the pieces that stick out to me the most were the little moments of connection. Connection really does foster healing. The whole reason therapy works at its core is because of connection. And while it is going to take a long time to heal, if we lean into the discomfort, if we face the fear and pain, and hold onto each other while we do it, we really can come out stronger and more beautiful on the other side. May 2022 | 69

Central Baptist College hosted the 3rd Annual Scholarship Gala at the Conway Expo Center. The theme of the sold-out, event was “Courageous Faith.”


he proceeds of the event benefit student scholarships, and CBC President Terry Kimbrow announced $510,100 had been raised through event sponsorships and private donations. The keynote speaker was writer, director, actor and author Alex Kendrick. He is known for his work in the movies “Overcomer,” “War Room,” “Courageous,” “Fireproof,” “Facing the Giants” and “Flywheel.”

APRIL 2, 2022

CBC is a liberal arts college committed to transforming lives through education that integrates Christian faith and academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment. It is a four-year, private college owned and operated by the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas. CBC offers approximately 40 baccalaureate degree programs, 16 athletic teams that compete in the AMC conference of the NAIA, and six fine arts performance groups.

Kane Harrell (from left), Jada Harrell, Alex Kendrick, Kimbrow Harrell and Terry Kimbrow

Dr. Deandriea Bass-Carrigan and Pastor Jarvis Charles Blake Carrigan

The keynote speaker for the Gala was Alex Kendrick who is a writer, director, actor and author who has received more than 30 awards for his work. Spencer and Xochilt Hawks

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Kim Looney (from left), Becky Rogers, Randy Rogers, Ann Raines, Jim Fink, Lisa Fink, Margaret Lindsey and John Lindsey

The Alliance Family of Companies Deanna and Trey Ott

David and Ashley Moore

John S. Harwood,


Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA is in the business of helping individuals and businesses achieve their financial goals with accounting, insurance and retirement strategies. From tax returns and retirement to business and personal insurance – and so much more - our firm is committed to providing the best in personal service with a “total client service” approach. Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA (HOF) Certified Public Accountants Tax return preparation/planning Financial statement preparation Consulting Services And many more... Alliance Insurance Group of Arkansas, Inc (AIGA) Independent Insurance Agency Business and personal, Health and life policies, Employee benefits

L. Tray Ott, CPA, PFS

Alliance Financial Group, LLC (AFG) Retirement Strategies Retirement plan analysis both business and individual

Connie Cody Fisher, CPA

Shirley Barham (from left), Alex Kendrick and Daniel Barham III

May 2022 | 71

Raye’s Vision 501 LIFE AUTHOR OF THE MONTH FEATURE By Susan L. Peterson

David Montague celebrates that his mother, Raye Montague, is no longer "hidden" and that she finally achieved recognition for her amazing accomplishments w o r k i n g f o r t h e U. S . m i l i t a r y d u r i n g t h e C o l d Wa r . This image of Raye Montague comes from a poster promoting her as part of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 2015 STEM lecture Series.

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LEFT: Raye Montague appearing on Good Morning America program in 2017. CENTER: Montague conferring with U.S. Navy officer at an official Navy speaking event (year unknown). RIGHT: Book cover of “Overnight Code” by Paige Bowers and David Montague .


r. Raye Montague was formally honored as the U.S. Navy’s “Hidden Figure.” She appeared on “Good Morning America” and other television shows to tell how she created the first computer-generated rough draft of a Navy ship in 1971. It was a job that would typically take two years to design using paper. She accomplished it in under 19 hours. Essentially, she revolutionized the design process for all naval ships and submarines, some of which are still in operation today. It was only during the last years of her life that her work was truly recognized. Her amazing story is now available in book form thanks to her son, David Montague, and Paige Bowers, co-authors of “OVERNIGHT CODE: The Life of Raye Montague, the Woman Who Revolutionized Naval Engineering” (Lawrence Hill Books, 2021). It is the story of a single woman’s struggles and ultimate success in a system with deeply ingrained racial, gender, and societal barriers. Raye decided at an early age that she wanted to become an engineer. But in 1952, when she tried to enter an engineering program, minorities were not accepted at the University of Arkansas. Instead, she earned a Bachelor of Science in business from the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal School, now known as University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Immediately after receiving her degree in 1956, she moved to Washington, D.C., and took an entry-level position as clerk typist working for the male-dominated U.S. Navy. She continued her education, taking night courses in computer programming, which led to a job as a digital computer systems operator at the Naval Ship Engineering Center. She soon became the Navy's first female program manager of ships, holding a civilian rank of captain. Her career in the Navy spanned 34 years, and in 1972 she was presented with the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award, their third-highest honorary award. When her son, David, took a position with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Raye followed, returning to her native city in 2006. For years, people told Raye she should write her story. It wasn’t until she received national recognition in 2017 and urging from a publisher that she relented. And David wanted to help. Recalling stories for the book became a bonding experience for David and his mother. They reminisced about days when his mother, a single parent, would sometimes take him to work with her. He remembered accompanying

her to conferences around the country. She taught him programming when he was only 4 years old. Despite her demanding workload and continual studies, she always found time to take him to Scouts and ball practice. When she was invited to appear on the Harry Connick Jr. Show in 2017, David traveled with her to New York by train since a health condition prevented her from flying. While they ate in the train’s dining car, his mother recollected those early trips when she was not allowed to step a foot into the area. David initially thought of writing the book on his own, but he accepted the publisher’s suggestion of using the experience of noted author Paige Bowers to assist him. David shifted his responsibilities to researching records, compiling data, and lining up interviews. Following his mother’s death, he downloaded her phone contacts to arrange interviews and follow additional story leads. Sadly, Raye Montague died in October 2018, and she did not see her story published. But while she was in hospice, David promised her the book would be completed. It was released in January 2021. In addition to her intellectual capabilities, Raye was generous in helping and encouraging others. After she returned to Arkansas, she served as a mentor and motivational speaker, even working with prison inmates in a re-entry program. David still encounters people who pursued their degrees because of her. Raye Montague’s legacy of empowering others lives on. Scholarships at three universities are now presented in her name. And another tribute came in March 2020 in the form of a children’s book, “The Girl With a Mind For Math: The Story of Raye Montague,” by Julia Finley Mosca (author) and Daniel Rieley (illustrator). It is a story read in many classrooms throughout the country with the aim of encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers. It was Raye’s own mother who instilled the notion that she could be or do anything you want through education. Today, David R. Montague, Ph.D., continues this family tradition of encouraging and finding educational opportunities for others in his role as interim associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at UALR. He is also a tenured full professor of criminal justice. David and his wife, Whitney, have been married 22 years. They live in Little Rock with their 18-year-old son, Mace. David enjoys speaking to groups about his mother and says she would be happy knowing her story encourages others to pursue their dreams.

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Faulkner County Circuit Clerk's Office becomes

The Million Dollar Team By Lori Dunn


ver the past six years, new innovations and improvements in technology have helped the Faulkner County Circuit Clerk's Office save money, become more customer-friendly, and serve as a model for other counties. "The past six years have been a whirlwind. We just went in and made a lot of changes," said Circuit Clerk Crystal Taylor. "We have cut the overall budget by 15%. Today, Faulkner County has one of the most innovative and efficient Circuit Clerk’s Office in the state of Arkansas," Taylor said. Taylor was elected in 2016 and took office the following year. She said the changes could not have happened without the ideas and willingness of the office staff. There are 10 full-time and four part-time staff members. "When I came into office, we didn't know each other. It took some team building and trust and I started asking for their ideas on how to do things more efficiently, and I would take their ideas into consideration and try to implement them," Taylor said. One of the first changes included adding an accounting program to an existing copy machine. Previously, customers would go to the building next door where they would print or make copies of land records. Once finished, they would need to return to that building to pay for copies. The process was improved by adding a counter on each terminal to keep up with the copies that were printed, and then staff would collect the entire fee at checkout. "It saves a lot of time," Taylor said. Another change was made with the addition of an Adobe Acrobat software program that helped with transferring cases to the County Clerk's Office. Previously, an entire case file that was digital would have to be printed out and some information omitted when transferring a case on

an adoption file, Taylor said. The new software allows the data to be updated without the need to print and sends the information digitally. Another innovation was the electronic transcript of appeal, which originally required digital data to be printed on paper and then weeks of work numbering it and putting it together. Once completed, the transcript would have to be driven to the Arkansas Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, where the paper file was then unbound and scanned by staff to turn it electronic again. Taylor and her staff worked with the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office to pilot the creation of a digital transcript for a one-year period, providing both a paper file and an electronic one that was created with Adobe. This worked so well that the Arkansas Supreme Court issued that all transcripts be performed by electronic method. "That's a huge honor because it not only helped our county but our entire state,” Taylor said. “I had been driving to Little Rock for this and asked if I could create something electronically.” The office also assisted in the training of other county circuit clerks. She also decided to streamline the staff through attrition. Five full-time positions were not refilled due to retirement or someone leaving, which saved the county money. Since 2017, the office has received four Arkansas Digital Transformation Awards and two Data Quality Excellence Awards from the Administrative Office of the Arkansas Supreme Court, according to Taylor. "I am very proud of the accomplishments we have made in making a government office more efficient while providing better services to our citizens," she said. “This year alone, I will be giving back over $900,000 to the County General Fund, totaling $1,750,000 since taking office.”

Inset photo: Ginger Berry (from left), Nicole Spiller holding Rosco, Josephine Slagle, Shawn Mix, Crystal Taylor, Nancy Eastham, Bekah Donahue, Peyton Dockery, Diana Varner. Rosco serves as office manager/employee morale booster and is charge of keeping the office happy and customer friendly! Right: Crystal Taylor.

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Photos by Mike Kemp

Mountain Climbing with Mr. Finnegan

Even when we find ourselves in the valley, we can still begin again By Laurie Green


ave you ever heard the kids' nursery rhythm "Michael Finnegan?" The lyrics repeat over and over the unfortunate events of Michael Finnegan and all his troubles having whiskers on his chin and losing whiskers on his chin-again, growing fat then thin again, etc. poor old Michael Finnegan, Begin again … This was definitely one of my kids' favorite songs growing up. Years later, as I have become a Gram Gram, I've recently discovered that I'm not only singing this family favorite again, but at 50, I'm living it, chin hairs and all, LOL. Seriously, I'm one of those folks who always uses humor to cover hurt, but in all honesty, these last several months have been a series of multiple yet unsuccessful begin-agains. I had done so well with my weight loss that I found myself finding little ways to celebrate. I started indulging in all the sweet treats that I had avoided for such a long time … chocolate, soda, ice cream (you get the gist). They seemed like such small decisions, but I was standing on a slippery slope. It wasn't long before I was choosing to sleep in and eat out, rather than eating healthy and exercising. And face it, I seem to be the type of person who can gain weight A WHOLE lot easier than lose it. Sixty pounds later, I found myself looking up at that slippery slope I'd slid down and realized it now looked like a mountain I was going to have to climb. The problem is figuring out how I was supposed to 'begin again.'

With that same passion I had to inspire people to keep pressing on throughout the struggles of weight loss, I found myself hiding from everyone. I not only felt ashamed for gaining back so much weight, but I added this new guilt to the mix that I had let everyone down and failed. All those bad habits just seemed to multiply under the disappointment and I found myself right back where I started, reaching for food (instead of Jesus) to feel better. Trust me when I say that I 100% know and believe that relying on any substance other than Jesus will NEVER fill that void, yet here I was … again! Honestly, I was even embarrassed to share my struggles with our wonderful readers because I felt like I had let everyone down, but then it hit me. This isn't just my story and my struggle; this is the opportunity to reach out to others who have found themselves in this same place. This is my opportunity to create a spark of hope in the despair of darkness. To let someone else who may be reading this know that it's OK to fall down — I like to think it's the best place to meet Jesus! He is the one who sustains me and He is the one who hears me when I look up at the mountain I need to climb and calls out, "Let's go, Laurie!" Yes, I am most definitely at the bottom of this journey with weight loss once again, but the difference is when I allow myself to stop hearing all the negative talk in my head and set my eyes firmly towards the one who has created me "fearfully and wonderfully."

I have said it before and I will say it again (but this time to myself): "You are worthy, you are beautiful, and you are God's beloved … regardless of the number on that scale." So, buckle up Mr. Michael Finnegan, we are about to start climbing mountains!

May 2022 | 75

Photo by Mike Kemp




By Dwain Hebda


hen it comes to sports, Malik Simpson is a standout. No matter if it’s the field, diamond or court, the 15-year-old makes his presence felt with his natural athleticism and his cool head under pressure. A competitor from an early age, he’s the point guard on the Conway Junior High basketball team and second base for the school baseball team. He also used to be a standout on the gridiron at tailback, but gave up football to focus on his other sports. He’s also a man of relatively few words, preferring to let his actions between the lines speak for him. “I always liked to do stuff that my dad did. My dad played baseball when he was younger, so I just like playing baseball. It’s been fun to me,” he said. “Basketball, I like watching and playing that. My dad played basketball, too.” In fact, Malik’s parents, Carlos and Jennifer, have played a central role in his development as a person, student and athlete. It’s what keeps him humble despite all the attention and accolades that tend to come his way. “It comes down to how I was brought up,” Malik said. “My parents always taught me to not be over my head with things and not fill my head up with too much stuff, and to always be humble and be able to be coached. My dad always taught me that with baseball, basketball, and all my different sports to be willing to learn.” By everyone’s assessment, the formula has worked as Malik is routinely and consistently praised by coaches and teachers for his leadership qualities and his work ethic. Joey Moon, CJHS basketball coach, is effusive in his praise of the 5’6” right hander. “Malik is a no-nonsense, day in and day out leader for our team,” said Moon. “He patiently helps younger players learn what they should be doing even when it costs him repetitions. Malik is, without a doubt, more concerned about the good of the group than his individual success.” “He does the right thing, the right way, at the right time every time, whether anyone is watching or not. If I asked him to make 100 free throws before he left for the day and then walked out of the gym, he’d make 101. Then he’d make

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Continued from page 77

THE OVERACHIEVER sure the basketballs were put away, the lights were off, and any stray water bottles were in the trash before he locked up and went home.” When asked what advice he tries to pass along to younger athletes, Malik said for starters, success starts with giving one’s best effort. “Always go your hardest, and try your best at something,” he said. “Start working now, because once you get up to these higher levels of sports, it will be hard to catch up with everyone else who’s already advanced to new levels. Make sure that you’re always doing the best you can, and know that when you mess up in games, it’s OK. You can always learn from that and be better.” True to his own advice, Malik has already identified the things in his own game that he wants to improve on during off-season workouts. This goes especially for baseball, his favored sport, where he’s got a short-term goal of making the starting roster on the varsity team, and a long-term goal of playing for Dave Van Horn and the Arkansas Razorbacks. “I want to make sure I get a bunch of swings in and fix

little things in my swing to make it better,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m fixing every little thing I can with my fielding. I need to be able to move and throw and do different stuff to help me at second base.” Malik has also made sure to train his mind and spirit as well as his body. He plans to become an engineer, and has already been invited to some prestigious engineering camps this summer to get a jump on that goal. And he never forgets to pay homage to the true source of all of his gifts as well. “I go to church at Mount Gale Missionary Baptist Church. We’ve been going every Sunday and Wednesday for a long time,” he said. “And every week, I go to FCA at school, that’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We meet every Tuesday during lunch.” As for the prospect of adjusting to high school next year, Malik just shrugs. “I adjusted pretty well to ninth grade,” he said. “You just have to realize there’s more stuff going on in high school, and you have to start to get more mature. You realize that you have to work harder.”

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May 2022 | 79


Women of Noble

Character’ (Inspired by Proverbs 31:10-31) By Vivian Lawson Hogue

Many people are not aware that the earliest listing of American generations began with the “Lost Generation,” covering 1883 to 1900. Faulkner County was only 10 years old in 1883, and the City of Conway emerged two years later. However, we can’t overlook the fact that there were residents of our forested areas before that. Obviously Native Americans were here, but there were white residents as well,

some passing through, some staying. Our place in the Ozark foothills had abundant wildlife for the families of all.

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hose families had goals that were far from those we observe today. They were purpose-driven, with that purpose being to be free and thrive. The framework of the family unit was that the husband and wife both produced food; the husband built the house and outbuildings and often made the family shoes; the wife birthed and raised the children. The children had age-appropriate chores and duties and considered hard work the norm. The wife had to find materials to make clothing, rugs, and curtains all sewn by hand. Considering the number of children there often were, this was quite an endeavor. She made candles, carried water, milked cows, raised chickens, and conducted home schooling, teaching reading from the only book most people had, the Christian Bible. When older children were able, they helped tutor the younger ones. She also preserved vegetables, smoked meat, cooked in the fireplace, and made her straw brooms. It was necessary for her to know her way around a pistol or rifle for protection from interlopers, whether humans or snakes, or perhaps for an opportunity of acquiring a squirrel or rabbit for supper. The frontier woman could ride a horse, and help deliver a foal, a calf, a goat, or a baby for the neighbor woman a mile away. These descriptions fit life for many years until small communities grew, and wagons or carriages could access businesses and churches. My paternal grandmother, born in 1879, had 11 children, with the first one dying early. She lived her life much as described. She swept the rocky front yard with a broom. Cooking supplies were bought when money and transportation was available. She died in 1972 at age 94 a few years after her hip broke as she threw a pan of dishwater out her log cabin’s backdoor. My maternal grandmother, born in 1874, had nine children, three of whom were stillborn and one who died at age 2 and another at age 28. She was blessed with better financial circumstances. She dressed her family nicely and rode her horse sidesaddle. I have her woven fabric and leather riding crop, an equestrienne item I would not know how to use. Both women cooked delicious food in and on iron cookstoves with no heat regulators. They knew cornbread was done by checking the grandfather clocks on the fireplace

mantles or when the crusty scent suddenly brought five or 10 kids in from play or chores. My mother, born in 1901, also worked hard for her family of seven, but what we could call obsolete inventions were blessings to her – a pop-up toaster, which I often use, and an electric skillet! In the 1950s, she was able to replace her wringer washer with a modern version. Saving another $230 would buy a dryer. Meanwhile, the clothes line that many subdivisions will not allow let us sleep on sun-kissed, windcuddled sheets. The old oiled mop that I still use under beds was put away when she bought her first Electrolux vacuum cleaner. I rely on it when my own is in the shop. As her children came close to emptying the nest, she and dad changed directions in financial needs. Dad was the sole wage-earner, but it was their dream and goal that we should all have college educations. There were many sacrifices and probably some transactions occurring without our knowledge. However with many passing years and mother pinching pennies till they screamed, the result was three physicians and two educators. They would have welcomed a plumber, carpenter, and electrician, too, requiring only a few more squished pennies. In the relative comfort of these days, we mothers should keep in mind that we may not always be comfortable. Coming times may be harsh and our children will depend on us to have Plan B in the cupboard when we’re out of Plan A. Just remember King Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 22:6 to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The child may stray from it for a time, but he will always know what was taught, and at any age can come back to it. My siblings and I appreciate that our mother and those before her abided by that advice. With May’s day of tribute to biological and adoptive mothers, it is hoped that we will also recognize and thank the mothers who came centuries before. Mothers of the “Alpha Generation” born between 2010 and 2025 ... Be home, be the parent, hug them, tell them you love them, take them to church and go with them, feed them properly, give them responsibilities, give them attention ... and teach them in the way they should go.

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It's time for an

AC Tune Up By Beth Jimmerson


ummer is officially here, which means temperatures are steadily rising. Sometimes it’s hard to balance comfort and cost, but staying relaxed and cool in your home on the hottest days of the year without worrying about energy bills going through the roof is possible. One of the easiest things you can do to stay cool this summer is have a professional tune up your air conditioning unit. Over the course of 12 months, a home’s heating and cooling will easily run thousands of hours. Left unserviced, the average unit will lose 5% of its efficiency each year from dust and dirt accumulation, as well as regular wear and tear. Conway Corp recommends customers have a preventative maintenance tuneup on their central air conditioning unit every year to keep it working efficiently. Having your home’s cooling system serviced is one of the best things you can do – both from a comfort perspective as well as a financial one. Plus, small problems can be detected long before they turn into big, expensive problems when temperatures are likely at their worst.

Conway Corp Energy Smart professionals recommend scheduling a local, certified HVAC contractor to perform a system tuneup that includes four basic steps:

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a checkup of your home’s HVAC system can extend its life by several years as well as save you up to 10% a month on energy bills. On average, a tuneup will cost $70 to $ 100, which easily pays for itself in monthly efficiency savings. Plus, a well-looked-after unit will last up to 15 years, compared to seven years for ones that are left ignored. Extending the life of your unit will save up to $5,000 in replacement costs.

• Measure airflow of the system to test capacity and efficiency. Most air conditioners require 400 cubic feet per minute of air to operate to capacity.

Homeowners can also play their part in keeping the system in good working condition by changing the filters on their heating, ventilation, and cooling system four times a year. This helps to keep the system running smoothly and improves the home’s airflow, providing better air quality and less temperature fluctuation. When you clean or replace the filter, you enhance your air conditioner’s efficiency by 5 to 15%.

• Clean the condenser. The outdoor unit should be sprayed with a heavy foaming cleanser that soaks for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.

If your air conditioning unit is more than 10 years old or frequently needs repairs, consider replacing it. New units with a high-efficiency rating of at least 13 are 25% more energy-efficient than their older counterparts and can save you up to 30% on your energy bill. Conway Corp customers replacing their air conditioning unit can apply for a 0% interest loan. The loan program, funded by the City of Conway through the American Recovery Act of 2009, is available only to Conway Corp customers. Although there are no income limits, applicants must have a good credit history with Conway Corp. Loans are available between $ 500-$2,500 and are repayable over a 36-month period. To learn more about the loan program or Conway Corp’s Energy Smart program, call 501-450-6000 or visit

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• Measure indoor and outdoor conditions, including indoor wet bulb, indoor dry bulb and outdoor dry bulb. After all measurements are taken, they should be plotted on a sliding chart to determine superheat that will set the proper refrigerant charge. • Adjust refrigerant charge. One of the most expensive repairs for units is a refrigerant leak.

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athletic excellence By Dr. Robert Reising

White County's

Gaylon Smith He appears to have been more myth than mortal, so impoverished was his native setting, so spectacular his athletic play, so successful his post-playing career, so shocking his death. He emerged from a Lonoke County settlement one writer called “dinky” and from rented lands he helped his widowed mother farm while caring for three siblings, one an older brother dying of cancer. Yet he knew only excellence and popularity once he took to the athletic fields of White County. Gaylon Smith’s journey from squalor and anonymity to national stardom eventually placed him in distant—and vastly different—cosmopolitan Cleveland, Ohio, a member of “Pro Football’s Greatest Dynasty.”

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orn on July 15, 1916, Gaylon was invited in 1930 to earn his high school diploma in Beebe, about 10 miles from the nondescript Oak Grove Community that had provided his elementary education. “Bro” Erwin, Beebe High’s Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame coach, was persuasive and Mother Smith quickly acquiesced. Although Gaylon thereafter boarded in his adopted city, the arrangement allowed him frequent trips home to help his mother and siblings. His young sister said, “Gaylon was a wonderful person who took responsibility for the family.” Five years passed before his mother, again befriended by Bro, moved to Beebe to manage a boarding house. Bro, however, played no part in the acquisition of the exemplary strength, speed, and agility Gaylon had acquired during early adolescence. In addition to a basketball court he built in his front yard, he had followed a rigorous self-created, self-prescribed, and selfmonitored regimen, complete with homemade weights that shaped his torso into a marvel his new schoolmates could only admire. Beebe High’s sports opponents quickly realized that Gaylon not only looked great, he was great. Years later, his sister recalled that in the first football game he ever saw, Gaylon delighted the Beebe crowd with his play. “He was something,” she declared, “and the people were yelling their heads off.” His bull-like runs became almost as eye-catching as his leaping grabs of passes traveling dozens of airborne yards. One Beebe footballer labeled him “awful fast … [able to] make tacklers stagger. He could run, block, catch passes and place kick.” Yet, Coach Erwin believed Gaylon was no less gifted in basketball, placing him on his all-time team. Bro could not find superlatives enough to laud his skills and “compared everything to him.” Gaylon was a double-digit scorer in an era when 25 points could gain a victory for a team, and his speed and defense constantly drew fan approval, as well as his coach’s. Erwin also insisted he join the track team, and Gaylon collected his share of praise with stellar performances in the dashes, the relays, and the hurdles. White County had a sensational multi-sport talent in its midst. “The Beebe Bullet” excelled in every sport he attempted, including amateur baseball, in which he was a slugging catcher. As he neared graduation, college basketball recruiters descended on Beebe and football recruiters followed. Soon, one of the horde observed, “It looked like every college in the South came after him.” Again, Erwin’s cooperation and Gaylon’s love of family were key in the decision that brought Southwestern at Memphis (now

Rhodes College) the “star of a chapter of … [Southwestern’s] football history that is unequaled” and its “greatest athlete” ever. Gaylon’s like was never to be seen again on the Tennessee campus. He lettered in and captained or co-captained four sports, not only the three he played in Beebe but also baseball. He was a darling of the Memphis sports media from 1935 through 1938, and with each year that passed and the more impressive his performances became, the wider geographically spread his stardom. He set school records in the 100-yard dash and the pole vault that stood for years, while also constantly “a standout” in the discus and shot put. In basketball, he was the team’s leading scorer for three years and All-Dixie Conference twice. In football, however, he performed at his finest. All-Dixie his final two seasons, he leaped to second-team All-Southern and to Little All American in 1938. In the same year, he led tiny Southwestern to a final-game 14-7 upset of mighty Mississippi State, while running for almost 1,000 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns and 97 points in nine contests. Celebrated as a “pass receiver coaches dream about” and “one of the finest defensive backs of all time,” Gaylon won accolades difficult to surpass from a Louisiana sportswriter: “He is the only athlete I’ve seen that lived up to everything said about him and more.” Professional football welcomed him. A Round 2 Pick 13 selection in the 1939 National Football League Draft, Gaylon played for five seasons and in 51 games for Cleveland. His versatility and durability proved invaluable. Starting irregularly, he appeared at eight positions, mostly at fullback and linebacker in an era of one-platoon football. In 1946, after two years in the Navy, he enjoyed his final and finest year with Cleveland. Late in the campaign, replacing the immortal NFL fullback, injured Marion Motley, “Smith ran for 240 yards and scored five touchdowns as the Browns won the … championship that year,” the first in the acclaimed 10-year dynasty. In Cleveland retirement, Gaylon found happiness in marriage and fatherhood, success in sales, friendship with teammates, and visits with his sister. Life was good until an undiagnosed melanoma took him from them all on March 10, 1958. Beebe, White County, and the 501 will always be proud of Gaylon Smith.

TOP: Smith, circa 1944. He served in the Navy for two years during World War II. CENTER: Gaylon seated on front row, third from right, with the Beebe High School basketball team and Coach "Bro" Erwin. CENTER: Smith (far right), with his siblings, who he cared for with his widowed mother. BOTTOM: Smith was known as the "Beebe Bullet."

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shoot the moon Watching in the skies of the 501 Story and photos by Linda Henderson View of lunar eclipse on Snow Lick Mountain, Van Buren County

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lunar eclipse is the easiest sky-watching event to observe, and the 501 will have the opportunity to view two this year. The first eclipse of the year will start after sunset May 15. The second will be Nov. 8. All you need to watch a lunar eclipse is a pair of eyes and a cloudless sky. Unlike a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses are safe to observe without protective equipment for your eyes or your camera. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through Earth’s shadow. Lunar eclipses only happen during a full moon. To catch a glimpse of the next one, look up in the eastern skies May 15-16. According to NASA, the lunar eclipse will begin with the shadow of Earth touching the moon’s face at 8:32 p.m. May 15. The eclipse will start low in the southeastern sky just after sunset. Total eclipse of the moon will occur at 10:29 p.m. when the moon turns red. The eclipse will conclude at 1:50 a.m. on May 16. There are three types of lunar eclipse, penumbral lunar eclipse, partial lunar eclipse, and a total lunar eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse takes place when the moon moves through the outer part of Earth’s shadow. These eclipses are very faint and are hard to observe. Partial lunar eclipse occurs when Earth moves between the sun and a full moon. They are not completely aligned. Only part of the moon’s visible surface moves into Earth’s shadow. These eclipses are visible. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the entire moon passes through Earth’s shadow. During a total lunar eclipse, the moon turns a vivid red. A lunar eclipse begins with a small shadow on the edge of the moon which slowly passes over. Over the next two hours, the shadow on Earth grows deeper. The moon appears to become thinner until the moon is a small slice. The sky becomes darker, and stars become visible. The moon does not completely disappear, but an eerie darkness takes over the entire sky. As Earth’s shadow passes, the moon reflects the light of the sun. The sun’s light gives the moon a dim red glow during the totality of the eclipse. A glow of reflected light will be seen around the edge of the moon. According to NASA scientists, the color of the moon will range from a deep red to a copper color. Particles and smoke in the atmosphere will determine how red the color will be.

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So make plans to do a little moon watching. A telescope or binoculars are not required, but if you have one, use them to enhance your view. Find a clear eastern view, look up, and marvel at God’s creation. Bring snacks, blankets, chairs, and enjoy the show in the 501 skies.

An approximate 20 minute time lapse of a "blood moon" on January 21, 2019. A "blood moon" happens when Earth's moon is in a total lunar eclipse. While it has no special astronomical significance, the view in the sky is striking as the usually whiteish moon becomes red or ruddy-brown.

LEFT: Henderson describes this photo a "An Eclipe Story," showing each stage of the lunar eclipse. CENTER: View of eclipse above Cadron Blockhouse at Cadron Settlement Park. RIGHT: Lunar Eclipse above Snow Lick Mountain.

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a salute to seniors

A letter from Mr. Jason Young, Maumelle High School Principal

Congratulations on being a member of the 11th graduating class from Maumelle High School! You join an elite group of over 2,500 Hornet alumni who call themselves graduates of MHS. This is truly a time of celebration for not only you but for your family, friends, community, and teachers who have poured into you and helped you along your journey. While this chapter is now complete, your story is far from over. As you move into the next chapter of your life, my hope is that you do not become defined by labels, but embrace a spirit of service to your fellow humans. Society will want to define you and put you in a box but you are so much more than the work you do or some other label. Become involved in your community and give back so others can know you as a volunteer, a giver, a servant. Never fail to acknowledge the most important titles you will ever hold: father, mother, spouse, friend. Continue to be “indefinable” but be sure the roles placed upon you are those that speak to who you really are. These labels, roles, titles, etc. not only have the power to build you and others up, but they can quickly destroy the story you are telling.

Eva Casto, a senior who was named as a National Merit Finalist, receives her certificate from Principal Young.

In closing, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story. You are my first graduating class here at MHS and you will always hold a special place in my heart. I wish you well. I wish you the best life has to offer. And I wish you continued blessings. Regardless of where life takes you, I hope that you will always be proud to call yourself an alumni of the Maumelle High School family. Go Hornets!

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

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501 LIFE



By Becky Bell


o Jordynn Bumpers, 9, being either a famous basketball player or a dentist seems like a good thing to become when she is a grown-up.

school for basketball and become famous for her athletic ability and work on her dentistry at that college as well. Her mother is supportive.

The third-grader at Sidney Deener Elementary School in Searcy said she sees the upside of each profession.

“I think it’s amazing because that’s my retirement plan,” Pruitt said, chuckling again. “She really has a passion for basketball, and I’m so glad she is not just into electronics.”


“Well, I love basketball and I play it, and I thought about the dentist because I really like the dentist. They are nice and I like cleaning my teeth,” she said. “I floss every day with a pick, and I go twice a year to get cleanings. When I go to the dentist, they hand out cookies and toothpaste.” Now, wait a second. Do they hand out cookies at the dentist? “Yes, they want us to keep coming back,” her mother, LaToya Pruitt, confirmed, chuckling. “They have chocolate chip, sugar, different kinds.” Jordynn said she would remind everyone flossing is not something to skip in a daily routine.

From her success in classes, it sounds like Jordynn would have no trouble making the grades necessary to become a dentist. She excels at all subjects, but says math and science are her favorites. “I’m good at multiplication and I won the math bee. It’s where most of the people who are good at multiplication go and compete for first, second, and third place.” The third-grader also likes science and experiments. “Most of the people in my class like reading and social studies.”

“Because it’s good for them and good for their health,” she said.

Another characteristic about Jordynn is that she enjoys helping other classmates who are struggling with a lesson, her mother explained.

But let us get back to basketball and how she sees that fitting into her life. Once a week, she has private lessons, and plays basketball on a travel team every other weekend. Jordynn said she has been dribbling since the first grade. The traveling team coach recruited her because he saw potential in her, she said.

“She is truly an amazing kid. All her teachers, all the daycare workers brag on her and said she doesn’t fuss when they ask her to do something,” Pruitt said. “There was a Hispanic student who didn’t speak much English and she was the only one who tried to help him fit in. She is great at making friends and I truly admire that about her.”

“We were playing his team, and he thought I was good because I’m a good shooter and I have good defense,” she said. What she would like to eventually do is to go to a good

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The teachers call Jordynn a “mama hen” because she is willing to help everybody. “I like helping others and it’s nice. I like seeing people smile. I want to treat others the way I want to be treated,” Jordynn said.

JORDYNN'S FAVORITES COLOR: Red RESTAURANT: Chick-fil-A ACTIVITIES: Playing AAU basketball at her church, Nintendo and hanging out with her brother. VACATION DESTINATION: The beach in Florida.

Let’s talk about your insurance!

To not only thank you for your business, but to ensure we are doing the best we can for you and your family, call me today so we can review your current and future insurance needs. In addition to thanking you for choosing Shelter, we like to take time each year to review your coverage options. Your life changes and this free service helps you get the right coverage at the right price.

Roe Henderson

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


Personal Photo by Mike Kemp Protection Review

Don't forget to register for the 2022-2023 school year! May 2022 | 93

White County farm-family depends on their

Prairie Home

Companions Story and Photos by Judy Riley

s everyone ha rly age that and Blake. ea an at d dd ne La ck have lear rder collies Josie and Ja the farm, just like bo on s le ro r ei th


wouldn’t be able to manage these cows on several farms scattered across White County without the help of these dogs,” said thirdgeneration cattle farmer John Allen. “I mostly farm by myself and I depend on my dogs. I’ve trained both Ladd and Blake, male border collies, out of necessity. These dogs are incredibly smart and have a natural herding instinct.” Well-trained cattle dogs are valuable and difficult to find. Allen has sold dogs to other cattle farmers as far away as Kansas and Colorado. Allen raises Brahman and Hereford cattle and border collie dogs. He teaches his dogs, Ladd and Blake, to respond to his commands to either turn the herd, “away,” or turn them counterclockwise, “come by.” He is usually alone, sometimes with a portable pen, but always with his dogs. They gather the cows up, responding to his verbal commands, and bring them straight to him. When the herding is done, the dogs are thirsty, but don’t get a drink until they are told. When it is time to go, Allen simply tells them to get on the truck, and up they go without a whimper or complaint. Allen and his wife, Natalie, have two children, Jack, 8, and Josie, 6. Both love the dogs and the cattle. Jack is training his own dog, an 11-monthold female named Honey. Jack is certain that, with a little more training, Honey will be a great cattle dog too. When asked about his favorite thing to do, Jack responds, “worship the Lord.” And that’s how you’ll find this wholesome family, loving the Lord, the land, the cows, and the dogs.

Jack and his dad John can usually be found with a border collie near.

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SHEARON By Tammy Keith

Even before she started school, Diana Shearon loved to draw and color. H

er canvas was the white butcher paper that came wrapped around meat her mother bought for their family in rural Minnesota. Today, the national award-winning North Little Rock artist paints on fine linen from Belgium and Thailand, but her inspiration is the same — real life. “I’ve always been representational,” she said. Shearon (pronounced Sharon) primarily works with oils, which she uses to create her sought-after lush florals, realistic landscapes, figures, and portraits. “One of the things that’s important to me is painting from life. What I enjoy the most is probably painting my flowers and my pots. [I enjoy] finding an absolutely gorgeous bunch of garden roses, or having my hydrangeas in bloom, or if I get lucky and find peonies in bloom. I’m in control … until the flowers wilt,” she said. Shearon’s art is in venues such as Red Door Gallery in North Little Rock, which is owned by Melody and Steve Stanley. Mrs. Stanley said Shearon is “very easy to work with, and her work is so real. I love her florals, landscapes, and hay bales. Her florals are just beautiful. We had a show for her, and her florals were compared with the number one watercolorist in France, who also does florals. She’s very, very good.” Shearon won a Best of Show Award in 2018 at the Memphis Germantown Art League’s 41st annual Juried Star Exhibition for a yellow rose floral, and it also sold. Her dream of an art career was deferred for decades. One of four children, Shearon was the artsy one. “We didn’t have a lot of white drawing paper,” so she’d ask her mother for butcher paper. “I loved art in high school, and I built my first paint box when I was 16 years old. I asked to take a shop class instead of home economics, but I couldn’t take it with the boys, mind you.” But the shop teacher taught her how to use the tools and helped her with the project, she explained.

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When it came time for college, Shearon wanted to attend art school, but she said her hardworking father couldn’t fathom art being a lucrative career. “He didn’t want me living on the streets,” she said, laughing. Shearon earned a degree in political science and American government from the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. She and her husband, Dennis, moved to North Little Rock in 1978, and she graduated in 2000 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in art with an emphasis in graphic design, photography and illustration. Shearon was a freelance artist until her younger daughter got out of college in 2009, and then Shearon got back into the studio full-time. She has studied with top artists, such as Roger Dale Brown, an oil-painting master. “When I was really getting serious about landscape painting, he told me something that really stuck with me. He said, ‘You can have certain types of paintings that you love to paint, but you need to have command. Your skill needs

Photo by Mike Kemp

to be able to do every type: portraits, figures, florals and landscapes.’ One thing I’ve learned to do is to take figures and put them in landscapes, so it all comes together,” she said. A perfect example is her oil painting called The Adventurers featuring boys playing in a Montana river; this was a work that started as a plein-air (outdoor painting) study with Brown. She was sketching when a bus pulled up. “The boys came in their church school bus, and they all just piled out of the bus and started playing in the river. I just had a moment. I grabbed my little camera and just started taking pictures.” She took her painting of the river home, and she created a larger studio piece to include the three boys. “To me, it was such an iconic scene.” In 2020, it won first place for portrait/figure in an Arkansas League of Artists show. She earned a national honor in 2021 in the Steamboat Art Museum National Plein Air in Colorado, where she was

accepted to compete with top painters in the United States. “Most of them were men,” she said. They stood and painted for days. At the preview reception, one of the sponsors snapped up her landscape Pleasant Valley in 15 minutes, and it also won an Award of Excellence. Collectors of Shearon’s art include the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Community Foundation, and a long list of individuals. Her work can also be seen at “I know my production has been high. At some point, I’m going to have to slow down a little bit. I’m going to keep painting as long as I can. I still love to draw, but I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. I’ve met a lot of my goals, and I never dreamed I’d be able to get to this level,” she said. Even with Shearon’s accolades, Mrs. Stanley said the best is yet to come. “She’s local, but she’s taken lessons from some of the greatest and she grows as an artist; she doesn’t just stop. She’s an incredible artist.”

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GOLDEN GIRLS By Colleen Holt

Two Central Arkansas women will be among the approximately 200 athletes competing at this year’s National Senior Olympics.

Frances Barger (from left) and Barbara Thomason, both of North Little Rock, are among those who have qualified to compete in the 2022 National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., May 10-23.

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Frances Barger

Frances Barger is a veteran of the National Senior Olympics, having competed 10 times. She began running in her 50s, largely as therapy. “I ran track in high school. Running may be the reason I’ve made it to 88 years old. I really think it helps you.” She began running all distances, including participating in several 5K and 10K races. The Vilonia native ran in the Arkansas Senior Olympics for several years before she went to Nationals. She holds six state Olympian records: 400m and 800m for ages 80-84; 5K for ages 7579 and 80-84; and 10K for ages 75-79 and 80-84. Overall, she has 63 gold, 25 silver, and 5 bronze medals in the Arkansas Senior Olympics. Her first experience at the National Senior Olympics was in 2001 at age 67. The first gold medal she collected was in the 400m race in 2003. Barger has competed in Baton Rouge, La.; Hampton Roads, Va.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Louisville, Ky.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; St. Paul, Minn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Albuquerque, N.M. She has 5 gold, 7 silver, and 7 bronze medals from Nationals. In the 2022 National games, she will compete in the 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m track events. The trip to Fort Lauderdale will be different from others because the family is flying, rather than driving. “It’s hard to go to Nationals sometimes if it’s a distance,” she said. “I prefer to drive because I have so many things, like shoes, to take.” As part of the Senior Olympics, she has made cherished friends from across the U.S. “We have remained close in contact. It feels good to meet all these people, and it’s a rewarding experience.” The atmosphere at the Senior Olympics can even be like a reunion. One female athlete from South Dakota has a scattered family, and her family sometimes gathers at the Games when she competes. “It’s always fun to see the friends you met in previous years and see what has gone on with their families. It’s great to hear some of their stories and how they started participating,” Frances said. She will have family with her in Fort Lauderdale. In fact, her son Keith Barger and his family are coming from Helena, Mont. She also has two daughters, Sherry Mize and Marla Baker, both of Vilonia. This year, the competition at Fort Lauderdale could be stiffer than normal. “The list [of contestants] for this year looks a little longer. I think Florida had something to do with it,” Barger said.

Barbara Thomason Barbara Thomason, 81, will participate in her first National Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale in the pickleball and tennis events. Her husband, Bill, is also competing in pickleball, and they will be among 72 Arkansans registered in 135 events in the pickleball tournament. Pickleball is a game that has elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong put together. A paddle, a net, and a ball (similar to a wiffle ball) are the equipment used. The couple has been playing the sport for about a year. Her husband introduced her to pickleball after seeing a YouTube video. “He had both of his knees replaced, and he couldn’t play tennis anymore. He saw a pickleball video and thought he could play it. He got involved, and then I got involved,” she explained. Ironically, he also introduced her to tennis about 48 years ago. “I lived in a small town where we just rode horses. No sports were introduced to me. Bill and I went to Burns Park in North Little Rock for tennis lessons,” she said. At Nationals, she will play pickleball mixed doubles with her husband, and ladies doubles with another athlete. She added that she also plays singles in pickleball, but she didn’t “want to put too many irons in the fire” at Nationals. In tennis, she will be entered in doubles. She already has five gold medals from the Arkansas Senior Olympics—four in pickleball and one in tennis. The thing about pickleball, said Thomason, is that anyone can play. “You can go on the first day with a paddle and a ball and dink it over the net and have fun. You really can play it on the first day.” Tennis, she said, is a harder game to play. “They have the same concept, but they are definitely different games. In pickleball, you don’t have as much ground to cover. It’s fun and it’s for any age. Find a paddle, a court, and a ball, and just get out there and start,” she said. “Elderly people can play it.” The Thomasons are excited about the trip to Florida, and they plan to drive. She said the pickleball events are in one area of the city, and tennis events are in another area, so they will need their own transportation. Thomason said she has made friends playing both sports. “When you’re playing tennis and pickleball, you barely have time to clean your house,” she laughed. “I started from scratch, [I was] a small town girl. Now I’ve met a lot of nice people. If you work hard, you can do it.” So why try for Nationals at this time in her life? “Time is running out. So if we’re going to do this, we better do this now.”

Photo identifcation correction

In spite of the friendships made, she said she still wants to win a medal. The first three athletes in each event win medals, and the next few receive ribbons. “Everybody is a senior, but there is still a lot of competition. It’s great to get a ribbon, but once you win a medal, that’s what you want,” she explained. Due to macular degeneration, Frances had to quit running in 5K and 10K events, but she still enjoys hiking and staying active in a variety of ways. She says there is a church near her nursing home, and she enjoys running around the church parking lot. “Once you get started in the Senior Olympics, you don’t want to quit,” she laughed.

This photo was published in the April issue, page 40, with incorrect names. We apologize for the error. The Roy W. Ward family photo includes (from left): Front row: Judy Roach, Bill Ward, Joe Ward, Bobby Ward, John Ward, Loweta Turney and Marketa Evans. Back row: Suzy Ward, Dena Ward, Jo Ward, Billy Jack Roach and Betty Ward.

UCA hosts Laurels & Stripes Gala The

University of Central Arkansas

2022 Distinguished Alumni awardee Kristin Lewis (from left) and Martha Antolik.

hosted the 2022 Laurels & Stripes gala on Saturday, April 9. Presented by First Security Bank, the event sought to raise money for scholarships and recognize two Distinguished Alumni award recipients: Woodrow E. “Woody” Cummins Jr. ’68, ’71 and Kristin Lewis ’99.

During the event, this year’s co-chairs, Derek ’78 and Toni Lewis, announced a new $100,000 gift from the Lewis family to fund a pre-med mentoring program and a cohort for planning to attend medical

Dr. Kyle Basham (from left) and Dr. Mike Stanton.

school. Also announced was an estate gift from Elaine McNiece in the amount of

250,000 for the McNiece Research


Fellowship Fund, as well as several other scholarships.

The 2023 Laurels & Stripes event is scheduled for April 15, 2023. Dr. Kyle ’07 and Kristin Basham ’09 will be the cochairs.

Brandi Watkins Adams and Mary Bane Lackie

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2006 UCA Distinguished Alumni awardee Ray Simon (from left), Cora Cummins and 2022 UCA Distinguished Alumni awardee Woodrow E. “Woody” Cummins Jr.

Derek Lewis II (from left), Maurice Webb and Dr. Derek Lewis.

“Laurels and Stripes allows us to recognize our Distinguished Alumni each year, but we also have another opportunity to reinforce our commitment to student success through scholarship support. Since our last Laurels and Stripes in 2021, we have established 29 new scholarships and raised more than $ 1.3 million in scholarship funding. We know that scholarships transform students’ lives, and as graduates, they become a powerful force for good in our communities. And one day, who knows? They may even be honored with a Distinguished Alumni award.” - President Houston D. Davis pictured with wife Jenny

Grant Gordy (from left), Jeff and Lori Standridge and Kale Czerwonka.

LaFollette (far right) accepted the National Medal for Community Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2016 from First Lady Michelle Obama. Only 10 museums receive this award annually and Mid-America Science Museum is the only in Arkansas to receive the honor.

501 LIFE




I have three grown sons who live in Dallas, Austin, and Kansas City, and a 1-year-old granddaughter, Zoe, in Austin.


Bachelor of Science in secondary education, certified in Biology and General Science from the University of Missouri; Master of Public Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Member of Pi Alpha Alpha, International Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.


I began working in the science museum field in 1997, when I was hired as an educator for a soon-to-be renovated Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. During my 16 years there, I first led the Education Department, then became the founding director of the Arkansas Discovery Network, which was a consortium of seven museums and learning centers located across the state that shared exhibits and programs supporting STEM education. I was fortunate to raise over $14 million over 10 years to support that effort. My career at that museum culminated with the $9.8 million renovation in 2012 funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. After moving to the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs in 2013, I oversaw final fundraising for a $7.3 million renovation. This museum has a wonderful legacy of innovative hands-on experiences. We were very mindful of that during the renovation and reopened in 2015 to record-breaking crowds. We are all very proud of the National Medal for Community Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services the museum was awarded in 2016 at a reception in the White House in Washington, D.C. Only 10 museums receive this award each year for outstanding community service. Mid-America Science Museum is the only museum in Arkansas to receive this honor.

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I was pursuing a degree in medical technology. When I was taking science classes, I had so many “a-ha” moments when I was learning about nature and the world around me that I became passionate about the learning process itself. I realized what I really wanted to do was to get other people as excited about science as I was, so I became a teacher. I was raised with the philosophy that we should all participate in making this world a better place in whatever way we feel is our path to do so … for me it was inspiring people to follow their dreams. After teaching for a while and raising a family, I took a part-time job teaching at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. Learning in museums is personal, is very meaningful and encourages lifelong learning. Working at a science museum is a perfect match to my passion.


Board of Directors, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs and LifeNet EMS; past president and current board member of Fifty for the Future; board member of Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Ouachita Mountain Regional Science and Engineering Fair; member of Hot Springs National Park Rotary, Student Guest Committee Chair; volunteer for Women’s Leadership Council and am a Sunday school teacher at First United Methodist Church.


I have four paintings that my father made as a Christmas gift for my grandmother in the late 1940s. My parents were newlyweds and didn’t have money to spend on gifts, so he cut four “canvases” from shirt boxes and painted a different desert flower on each canvas. I had them framed and they hang on my living room wall. My father has passed away, so they are especially precious to me.

A Growing Health System for a Growing Community

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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.

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