November 2021

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November 2021 | 1

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


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


Photo by Emilee Thomas


think any soccer parent can relate to what my good friend Nona said recently: "I never like it when they schedule these Saturday soccer games in the morning. And I'm not too crazy about the afternoon ones either!" It was early October and we were scheduled to be at a soccer tournament at 7:30 a.m. with our son, Preston. Rain had been in the forecast for most of that week, but it didn't actually show up until about 15 minutes into our first game. Four hours later, with not one piece of dry clothing remaining, I was on the sidelines feeling … sour. At that moment, the steady rain decided to become what the experts call a torrential downpour. The games were paused — not canceled, but paused — so we just remained on the field waiting for the vengeful storm to pass. With my eyes closed, I sat there thinking, "We paid money for this?" That is when I heard the first laughter coming from the parents beside me. Looking around, I saw a sight you seldom witness these days. The kids were acting like … kids. Their coach had given them free rein to have fun and straight to the mud puddles they went. I know I won't remember the scores from that day, nor how uncomfortable my soaked pants were. But I will always remember that moment which, just like my favorite movie candy, melted sour into sweet. This magazine is dedicated to the sweet LIFE found in the 501 and not only the truly delicious sweets from our dear friend Don Bingham that you see on the cover. The heart of this edition is about those who have faced sour moments and transformed them into a sweet outcome. I challenge you to not have a lump in your throat as you read Mike Kemp's story of how a neighborhood came together when he was saying goodbye to his dog, Pepper. Another example is the story of young Jamey Cook, who lost her father before she was even born and who now makes Christmastime better for families throughout Central Arkansas by helping her godfather deliver gifts. The theme this month is particularly poignant around our offices, as our 501 family faced our own bitter with the sweet recently. I want to acknowledge the passing of our "Celebrating Artistic Excellence" contributor Aaron Brand, whose love for the humanities, culture and art made him the perfect contributor for this piece each month. Aaron, to your 501 family, you were a sweet soul and you will be truly missed. Thank you, as always, for sharing your time with us at 501 LIFE. We wish you all a happy, healthy Thanksgiving, hopefully enjoying some of Chef Bingham's decadent recipes. You can bet your sweet life we will!

Jeremy Higginbotham

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

Jennifer McCracken Mark McDonald Mark Oliver John Patton Susan Peterson Dr. Robert Reising Judy Riley Abby Sanders Jennifer Skinner Donna Lampkin Stephens Morgan Zimmerman

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

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

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

Stephanie Lipsmeyer Stewart Nelson Kristi Strain Jim Taylor Morgan Zimmerman

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

Matt LaForce Mike Parsons Brooke Pryor Carol Spears Kristi Thurmon

To subscribe or order back issues, visit The 501 LIFE subscription rate is $20 to receive 12 monthly issues. Make the Jump Media, LLC 920 Locust Ave., Suite 104 Conway, AR 72034 501.327.1501 • 501 LIFE is published monthly by Make the Jump Media, LLC (920 Locust Ave., Suite 104, Conway, AR 72034, 501.327.1501) owned by Jeremy Higginbotham and Stefanie Brazile. The contents of 501 LIFE are copyrighted and materials presented may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publishers. Articles should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Products and services advertised are not necessarily endorsed by 501 LIFE.

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November Volume 14 Issue 7

4 Letter from the Publisher 7 Writers’ Room 8 Upcoming events 9 News 10 Loving LIFE photos 12 Event celebrates 4-H Center, helps youth 14 Engaged in the end zone 16 Easy fall update: Front porch makeover 18 Couple of the month: Cliff & Susan Erwin Prowse 20 Dialing 911 is key after stroke

On the cover

By John Patton

Local celebrity chef, Don Bingham, treats 501 LIFE readers to a treasure trove of recipes for Thanksgiving sweets.

23 Staying trim around all those trimmings

By Jenn McCracken

24 Youth of the month: Laritza Chena

By Dwain Hebda

26 Recipe for a sweet life

Photo by Mike Kemp

By Laurie Green

28 Student life doubly sweet at CBC

Donna Lampkin Stephens

30 Entertaining: Carrot cake, bread pudding, apple pie and pecan pie

By Chef Don Bingham

38 Sweet as honey

By Judy Riley

40 The sweet spirit of kindness

By Mark McDonald

42 Quitman schools experience 25% growth

By Becky Bell

44 It’s time for HallowThanksMas!


By Donald Brazile

46 Artistic Excellence: Photographer Dero Sanford

By Stefanie Brazile

48 Fashion after forty

By Tina Falkner

50 Do you remember?

By Vivian Lawson Hogue

52 PCSSD is sweet spot for athletics

By Jessica Duff

56 Energy efficient Thanksgiving

By Beth Jimmerson

58 Neighbors help family say goodbye to pet

By Mike Kemp

60 Kid of the month: Jamey Cook

By Becky Bell

62 Author brings to life Faulkner County League

By Susan Peterson

64 Athletic Excellence: David Alpe, Hot Spring County

By Dr. Robert Reising

66 Frozen beauty hiding in plain sight

By Linda Henderson

68 School Counts! in Conway County 70 Fairfield Bay murals are dream in color 72 Hip to be square

By Dwain Hebda

74 Person of the month: Charles Finkenbinder

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501 LIFE would like to thank our advertising partners for their continued support and encourage our readers to visit these businesses: A Arkansas Coding Academy - UCA, 65 Arkansas PBS, 63

B Bledsoe Chiropractic, 57

C Conway Corp, 21 Conway Regional Health System, 75 Conway Regional Rehab, 29 Conway Symphony Orchestra, 49

D DDS Denture + Implant Solutions, 61 DJM Orthodontics, 53 Downtown Conway, 54-55

Every month, 501 LIFE serves a sweet slice of Central Arkansas good news! For only $20 a year, you can have this sweet confection of good news delivered to you and the ones you love. Copies go fast each month. Home delivery ensures you never miss an issue!

Visit or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe.

E Edward Jones, 43

F First Community Bank, 45 First Security Bank, 76 First Service Bank, 13 Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling, 51





Catch 501 LIFE on KARK News with Mallory Brooks at 12:30 p.m. on November 2.

Hartman Animal Hospital, 59 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA, 67 Heritage Living Center, 5


welcome to the Writers’ Room

Julie's Sweet Shoppe, 73

M Methodist Family Health, 69 Middleton Heat and Air, 9 MSC Eye Associates, 49

O Ott Insurance, 47

P Pain Treatment Centers of America, 27 Patterson Eye Care, 39 Pulaski County Special School District, 52

R Renewal Ranch, 63 Reynolds Performance Hall, 22

S Salem Place, 37 Shelter Insurance, 40 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 15 South Conway County Schools, 41 St. Joseph School, 71 Superior Health & Rehab, 2

U Unity Health, 3 University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, 53 University of Central Arkansas, 43

Judy Riley has lived in White County since 1980. She holds degrees from the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M University-Commerce. She retired as a full professor for the U of A Cooperative Extension Service and currently helps her husband, Tom, with a hay production and beef cattle farm and is a board member for several community foundations.

Mike Kemp

Don Bingham

is a Conway-based portrait and commercial photographer. He is a member of the Arkansas Professional Photographers Association, and specializes in making people look their best. He is husband to Crystal, and father to two beautiful daughters. Mike loves motorcycling, coffee, guitars and anything driven by internal combustion.

Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, he has authored cookbooks, presented television programs and planned elaborate events. He was the administrator of the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion for a decade and his wife, Nancy, was the First Lady’s Assistant. They have five children and 12 grandchildren. Contact him at

November 2021 | 7

501 Events

Newsboys - Step Into The Light 7 p.m. • Nov. 18

Windgate Museum of Art at Hendrix College

First Friday

5 – 7 p.m. • Nov. 5

The Conway event is free and will feature WMA’s fall exhibitions, Migrantes and Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South. They invite all members of the 501 community to participate in compelling programming — artist demonstrations, hands-on activities, live music and refreshments.

Christian music veterans Newsboys with special guests Mandisa, We Are Messengers and Cade Thompson will be live at The Theater at Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock. Newsboys has released 17 studio albums, 6 of which have been certified gold.

Northern Lights 2021 3 - 8:30 p.m. • Nov. 20

Thankfulness – Beats & Eats 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. • Nov. 7

Downtown Searcy will host the world’s longest community Thanksgiving table with food trucks, square dancing, live music, train rides, Christmas shopping and a family fun zone. It is held in conjunction with many Christmas Open Houses in downtown and throughout the city. Make plans to worship, eat, dance, play, shop and give thanks!

Spa Running Festival and Spa Squirt Race

7 a.m. - 12 p.m. • Nov. 13

Held in Hot Springs National Park, the festival includes the Summit2Summit 13.1 Half Marathon, the Spa 10K and the 5K category, as well as, a Spa Squirt 1K for kids. The Spa Squirt is open to ages 2-10 and costs $10. Parents are allowed to run/walk with the younger kids. This marks the 40th Anniversary of the event. Register at 8 | 501 LIFE November 2021

North Little Rock’s annual holiday celebration returns to Argenta Plaza at 510 Main Street. “Santa’s Workshop” will have free kids’ holiday activities from 3 to 7 p.m. Families will be able to take photos with Santa and the 38-foot Christmas tree. There will be food trucks and a holiday market for shoppers. Live entertainment will include the musical duo Caleb and Abi, Lagniappe, and carolers from Argenta Community Theater’s “A Christmas Carol.”

Turkey Trot 5K 8 a.m. • Nov. 25

The United Way of Central Arkansas will host its 7th Annual Turkey Trot 5K and Gobble Wobble Kids Mile on Thanksgiving morning in Conway. The Kid’s Mile will begin at 8 a.m. and is for children 10 and under. The Turkey Trot 5K will begin at 8:30 a.m. Both races will be held at the Centennial Valley Country Club. This is the United Way’s largest local fundraiser of the year.

Shorts and sweet



he first annual Firehouse Film Festival was held Sept. 16 in the Old Downtown Firehouse in Cabot. A standing room only crowd watched as winners were announced for Best Film, Best Director, Best Performance, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing. The festival was planned by the Cabot Foundation for Arts and Culture (CFAC). Those in attendance included citizens, city officials and artists who came together to support local filmmakers. The films of less than 5 minutes were judged by a panel. Additionally, an Audience Choice award was given. The winner of each category received $250 and a custom Firehouse Film Festival bobblehead trophy, which were fan favorites. The film festival was coordinated with Cabot City Beautiful’s already successful Food Truck Frenzy event. Five films from local creatives were showcased using equipment ranging from professional cameras to cell phones. The submissions even included an inspiring silent film titled “Perspective” from Southside Elementary’s gifted & talented students, which won the Audience Choice bobblehead trophy. Cabot has several successful festivals annually but they are generally commercially focused, rather than art focused, according to Becky Williams, CFAC co-founder. CFAC believes that art brings people together as a community. In addition to the film festival, the local foundation has successfully commissioned half a dozen major murals and an Art Walk in a city of just under 30,000 people, according to Williams. For more information, visit To see the all the films and other art opportunities, follow them on Facebook.

Photos by Matthew Dyson and Rebecca Williams

Audience Choice bobblehead trophy.

CFAC board member Mo Lashbrook (from left), John Rudd, president, and Rebecca Williams, vice president.

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November 2021 | 9

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

The Arkansas Coding Academy hosted a “Demo Day & 5-Year Celebration” on Oct. 15. Gov. Asa Hutchinson attended to congratulate graduates and staff on the milestone. Back row, Gleb Polovtsev (from left) and Joshua Gibby. Front left, Emily Cooper Yates and Dylan Edgell. Front right, Tracie Spivey (from left), Kristin Jetts, Shaneil Ealy, Josh Hicks and Alison Wish.

While working the annual Faulkner County Fair Parade, Deputy Moody (from left), Investigator Dixon, Chief Deputy Wooley and Deputy Rappold were caught “Loving LIFE.”

Oak & Ash Home Decor in Conway was “Loving LIFE” and celebrating one year in business on Sept. 30. Claire Hogue (from left), Raegan McGhee, Bryce McGhee, Katie Pew, Cassandra Greenfield

The St. Joseph School Basketball Homecoming Court was “Loving LIFE” at the campus grotto. Back row, sophomore maid Ashlynne Vote (from left), junior maid Presli Webb and freshman maid Izzie Garrett. Front row, senior maid of honor Sydney Pham, beauty queen Presley Harmon, homecoming queen Megan Garrett and senior maid Audrey Flanagin.

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Candy Boyd of Vilonia was “Loving LIFE” as she celebrated her 50th birthday on Madeira Beach, Fla. Jason (from left) and Terrie Strain of Quitman; Candy; and Matt Smith of Enola.

Hendrix College’s Windgate Museum staff were “Loving LIFE” during the inaugural First Friday event on Oct. 1. Lauren Allen (from left), Hannah Diggs, Adaja Cooper, Hannah Samuel, Julia Hooper and JaZmyn Shambley.

Adam and Dr. Amanda Bledsoe and staff were “Loving LIFE” at the ribbon cutting for their new clinic.

The Arkansas Clogging Council was “Loving LIFE” when it hosted a workshop at the Bois D’Arc Conference Center in Mountain View on Sept. 11, with instructors coming from Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas. Leona Miller (from left), Gina Broyles, Kasey Holbrook, Kevin Lovelace, Donna Bivins, Beth Rowlett, Marie Lovelace and Ann Marie Sterling. Perryville High School Senior Homecoming Maid Avery Branscum and her senior escorts, Brandon Hoyt (on left) and Mason Roland, were “Loving LIFE” at the daytime ceremony.

Addie Bowman (from left) and her grandmother, Diane Millwood, were “Loving LIFE” outside Seattle on a recent adventure.

Jeremy Clayton is “Loving LIFE” at his food truck - King Fry’s at North Plaza in Morrilton, a new distribution site for 501 LIFE Magazine.

Miss Faulkner County Fair Queen pageant winners are “Loving LIFE” and showing off their crowns. Kristyn Lynch Pre-Teen, (from left); Paige Alsup, Miss Faulkner County Fair Queen; and Audriann Wolfe, Jr. Miss Faulkner County Fair Queen.

Morgan Sanders (from left), Justin Rickman and Rebecca Nelson at Pain Treatment Centers of America were “Loving LIFE” at the new Ambulatory Surgery Center in Conway.

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Event celebrates 4-H Center, raises $30,000 for Arkansas youth D

inner at the Vines was a sold-out farm-to-table event held Oct. 5 at The Vines Center. It celebrated the beautiful facility’s 40th anniversary while raising more than $30,000 for Arkansas’ youth. More than 200 guests arrived early to enjoy hors d’oeuvres while touring the Pulaski County Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden. The Vines Center is owned by the Arkansas 4-H Foundation and is also known as the Arkansas 4-H Center. It is nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, just 10 miles west of Little Rock. “Mr. Vines’ vision of creating a place for kids to experience unique and creative opportunities celebrates 40 years of history,” said J.J. Pitman, Vines 4-H Center director. “Adults that use the 4-H Center are supporting the kids through giving back. Around 1 million people have visited the center with unique, memorable experiences.” Before speakers addressed attendees, a gourmet meal was served that featured locally sourced and donated foods from Arkansas farms and gardens. The tables were arranged with a view of Lake LaVerne, which is on the grounds. Other pre-meal festivities included live entertainment by Kordsmeier Music and partygoers enjoyed participating in a silent auction. “Seeing the enthusiastic buy-in by the attendees tells me the opportunities provided are just as relevant today as they were when envisioned,” said Bill Reed, 4-H Foundation board member and retired senior vice president of Riceland Foods. “The celebration reminded me, and I believe it reminded others, that the center provides a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Arkansas youth that will benefit them and our state well into the future,” Reed said. “I cannot wait to see what transpires at the center over the next 10 years.” The Vines Center offers lodging for up to 500 people, meeting spaces, a pool, pavilions, amphitheater, gazebo, and activities, including rock climbing walls, ropes courses, hiking trails, canoeing, and zip lining. It hosts meetings and team-building programs for adults. Children and youth enjoy day and overnight camping and training opportunities. "Dinner at the Vines was a tremendous opportunity for the Arkansas 4-H Foundation to share the center with those who support the mission of the foundation and perhaps, more importantly, to share it with folks who have never seen the facility,” said Mike Boyd, president of the 4-H Foundation and an attorney. “We want everyone to know, especially the Vines family, that Mr. Vines' vision is alive and growing. Events like this help the foundation elevate his legacy and the impact and accomplishments of all of Arkansas 4-H'ers, past and present, who have followed his path." Top: Dr. Donald Bobbit (from left), president of the University of Arkansas System, and his wife, Susan, were “Loving LIFE” at the Arkansas 4-H Center’s 40th anniversary event with Judy and Tom Riley. Judy is the treasurer of the 4-H Foundation and chaired the sold-out event. Center: Guests were welcomed by tables placed near Lake LaVerne decorated with fall flowers and mini pumpkin tablescapes. Photos by Stefanie Brazile

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Bottom: A display promoted Peebles Farm, pumpkin patch and corn maze.

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END ZONE By Morgan Zimmerman


eAirus Whitney and Macie Fritts met during high school in Searcy and have been sweethearts since. She expected they would marry after he graduated with his master’s, but a lucky turn of fate has wedding bells ringing sooner than planned. Both graduated from the University of Central Arkansas, and then Whitney got into graduate school and became a graduate assistant for the UCA football team. At that point, Fritts assumed a proposal was a sure, yet distant, dream. Fate stepped in when DeAirus stumbled upon a Sissy’s Log Cabin contest ad on the UCA athletics website. He remembers thinking, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, so I just signed up. I’ve won like one other raffle before but didn’t really think much of it.” A few months passed and he had forgotten all about the contest when he got the call from Sissy’s that he had won an amount of money towards a ring and that he needed to claim the prize soon. DeAirus didn’t hesitate. He engaged his friends to help him with the on-field logistics. Then, he made a plan to get

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Macie’s mom to town before the big event. Finally, he arranged for Macie and her mom to sit on the sidelines in the Sissy’s Log Cabin sponsor tent. After that, he said, “All that was left was for us to get the win.” And they did get the win. The UCA Bears beat the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, and as Coach Brown wrapped up the postgame talk, he tossed it to DeAirus for the big ask. The yes was followed by a surprise fireworks display. Even with all of the behind-thescenes planning, Macie said, “It was a complete shock.” DeAirus said he’d never even walked into a jewelry store before now, but he had an idea of what she was looking for based on pictures she had shared with him. He said, “I told the guys at Sissy’s what I wanted and they really helped.” Macie added, “It was definitely everything that I could have asked for ... so I guess he was paying attention to the things I sent him.” The couple plans to wed in July 2022 at Legacy Acres in Conway. Macie said, “We plan on going back to Sissy’s to get our wedding bands. They are really good people and know who we are every time we go in the store.”

Jaden Powell / UCA Athletics photo

Shop online at

November 2021 | 15

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Photos by Mike Kemp

WELCOME GUESTS WITH EASY PORCH UPDATE By Jessica Coleman and Deanna Carpenter

A favorite way to usher in the season and guests is to create a series of mixed flower pots full of fall foliage to display outside your home. Assembling mixed flower pots is an easy way to make your home ready for fall and all of the fun it brings. This month’s easy home update is brought to readers by Curly Willow Designs in Cabot. The full service florist offers home décor and also interior and landscape design services. Their two-story building is festively decorated for every season and fall is a favorite for the talented staff. “After a fire a couple of years ago, we opened a new building in May,” Owner Monica Griffin said. “Just like any new homeowner, we are excited to decorate our wrap-around porch for fall and wanted to share instructions on an easy update anyone can do!”

Here are some things you’ll need to make your mixed flower pot; everything can be purchased from your local nursery or florist: • A large pot (ours is 17” X 24”). • Styrofoam pieces or small bricks to fit in the bottom of your pot. • An assortment of plants. (We suggest mums, cabbages, millet, sweet potato vine, pansies, crotons, celosia, corn stalk and hay bales.) • Sheet moss or Spanish moss. • Pumpkins, scarecrows, door wreaths or other fall décor of your choice.

Step 1 Take your large pot, and place your foam or bricks inside. Build up the bottom of your pot until it is about ¾ of the way full. Your smaller flower pots will be placed inside of your large pot, so the key is to make sure the rim of your small pots are not any higher than the edge of your large pot.

Step 2 Fill the large pot with smaller flower pots. By leaving the flowers in their original containers, it’s easy to change them out as they finish blooming or change the look as new plants become available. Choosing plants that are different textures, sizes, and colors can add dimension and variety to make your displays interesting. If your flowerpot can be seen all the way around, choose something tall for the center. Place it toward the back if the pot is going to be one-sided. Continue to place your plants in the large pot until it is full. As you start adding more plants to your pot, they will begin to fill in the spaces and hold each other up. Feel free to reposition plants as you see fit in your design process. Be sure to place plant liners under your plants so that they will always have fresh water.

Step 3 Once you have everything arranged, the pots should not be visible. If they are, or you would prefer a cleaner finish, take a few pieces of sheet moss or Spanish moss and cover the empty spaces.

Step 4 Around the base of your pot, place other décor like pumpkins or hay bales. If you have an extra mum or other plants you’d like to use, cluster them around the base of your pot. Add in scarecrows or wooden pumpkins to help your new porch décor come to life. Remember to regularly water your plants so that you can enjoy your mixed pot all season long. Curly Willow Designs has served customers since 2008. The store is located at 210 West Locust Street in downtown Cabot. Connect with them on Facebook or on Instagram @curlywillowdesigns.

501 LIFE





JOB TITLE: Owner/Producer of Big Red Dog Productions

PARENTS: Philip Prowse and Wendy Byrne. Both live in Central Arkansas.

CHURCH ACTIVITIES: I’m a member of Graves Memorial Baptist Church.

HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Other than music, astronomy and bird watching.

HER STORY: WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: On a farm in Magnet Cove

(Hot Spring County.)

EDUCATION: Honors College University of Central Arkansas. I have a

Bachelor of Science in pure mathematics, minor in physics; I earned a private pilots’ license in 2009 from Central Flying School in Little Rock.

JOB TITLE: “Artistpreneur.” Cliff and I own Big Red Dog Productions, an artist development and event production company. We tour internationally as Cliff & Susan, a high-energy duo show. We also launched the Yadaloo Music & Arts Festival in 2019. PARENTS: Mike and Debra Erwin live in Magnet Cove. COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: We are members at multiple Chambers and have worked with NAMI, We Are The 22, City Connections, and Habitat for Humanity. Our mission is to always support other small businesses and artists. HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS: Painting, sewing, flying, and travel. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: A workaholic, but I love

what I do. Outgoing. Loud. Creative.

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU: I used to team pen on my horse named “Rhythm.” She and I happily chased cows.


Being close to family.

THEIR STORY: HOW WE MET: On the stage performing together at Willy D’s in Little Rock. THE PROPOSAL: Susan flew home from performing in Spain, and Cliff

surprised her at the airport with a pink stretch limo and proposed.

WEDDING: July 8, 2017, in Vegas. We eloped, streamed it live from the little wedding chapel. We had Elvis, a pig flower girl, and a Chihuahua ring bearer. CHILDREN: None yet. PETS: Charlie Daniels, toy poodle. Booker, part Yorkie. Gibson, aka “Gibby”,

a rescued Maltese.


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HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF: Dashingly handsome & devilishly charming. :)



Movies and performing.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: Being close to family and friends.

Photo by Mike Kemp

November 2021 | 19




hen it comes to providing heart and stroke emergency care, there is no substitute for dialing 911. Because time is so crucial, the American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes emergency and heart care teams based on the time it takes them to care for heart attack and stroke patients. The national gold standard — The American Heart Association Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award — is recognized as the highest achievement in treating both of these lifethreatening conditions. In Conway, a new video application is helping paramedics and the Conway Regional Emergency Department and Cardiac Team achieve the gold standard by sharing crucial information such as EKGs, patient vital signs, and other medical information while en route to the hospital. More than one third of all deaths in the United States are traced to heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is more than 859,000 people per year. Both strokes and heart attacks are caused by arterial blockage of blood flow to the brain or heart. In late August, the Conway Regional heart team earned the AHA’s top achievement for hospitals in the Mission Lifeline program. The award honors hospitals that provide artery-opening treatment to heart patients in fewer than 60 minutes, which is considered AHA’s gold standard for heart care. “It’s based on door-to-balloon time, from the first medical contact at the hospital to the time they place a device in the artery to restore blood flow to the heart,” said Paula Weatherley, director of Cardiovascular Services for the hospital. Weatherley credits the video phone app called Pulsara, EMS paramedics, and the work of the Conway Regional ER and heart team, as well as the staff of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, for achieving the outstanding response. The Conway Regional heart team includes interventional cardiologists Don Steely, MD, Rimsha Hasan, MD, and Yalcin Hacioglu, MD. “All emergency response agencies have an app on their

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phones that enables them to activate the cardiac cath lab,” Weatherley explained. “We get to have a conversation with the paramedics when they are in the ambulance or the helicopter. We can see if the patient has an IV, look at the EKG, ask about COVID-19 testing, and get additional information, so we can get the cath lab properly prepared. All this is taking place while the on-call heart team and interventional cardiologist are on their way to the hospital.” She added: “By the time the heart team gets here, we have examined the EKG and know where the STEMI (heart attack) is happening and we can prepare for the appropriate procedure.” Interventional cardiologists perform heart catheterizations using stents and other devices to open the clogged arteries that cause heart attacks. There are 16 technologists on staff in the Conway Regional Cardiac Cath Lab.

Gold Standard Stroke Care

Down the hallway, the Emergency Department staff is also focused on responding to stroke calls. The Conway Regional stroke team achieved the AHA’s Mission Lifeline’s top award for hospitals, the 2021 Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, in late August. The award honors hospitals that administer the clot-dissolving tPA drug to stroke patients in fewer than 90 minutes. The hospital’s stroke coordinator, Brandi Alred, RN, said stroke response is also a team effort driven by technology and coordinated by the ER nurses. After responding to a 911 call, EMS paramedics activate the Pulsara application on a cell phone to link them with the ER staff via a video connection. “They take the video and send it to us and there is a lot of communication back and forth with the medic,” Alred said. “The information goes straight to a device at the charge nurse’s desk and sounds an alarm so we know an emergency is taking place.” The staff watch the video and communicate back and forth with paramedics, sharing information about the patient, and an IV is usually started.

The stroke team begins to assemble and the nurse-directed stroke-prep process begins. A vascular neurologist at UAMS who specializes in stroke care assists the stroke team as part of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Information Stroke program (formerly ARSAVES). This is done via a telemedicine video call as the emergency progresses and the patient arrives. Radiology and clinical laboratory testing is often ordered to confirm a stroke diagnosis. If the patient is diagnosed with an ischemic (non-bleeding) stroke, a physician in the ER is available to immediately administer a clot-busting drug.

Know the Symptoms, Make the Call

After responding to a 911 call, EMS paramedics activate the Pulsara application on a cell phone to link them with the ER staff via a video connection.

Heart attack warning signs include:

• Other signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness. It is important to remember that there is a difference between warning signs in men and women. For men, the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain (angina) or discomfort. However, women are more likely to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. The use of video technology has increased the importance of calling 911, said Weatherley and Alred. “If you can call 911, ischemic stroke patients are treated an average of 12 minutes faster with the clot-dissolving medicine, which is why the acronym BE FAST (Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm, Speech, Time) is so important for the public to remember,” said Alred. “Twelve minutes can make a difference when it comes to life and quality of life.” Weatherley added: “If you are at home, you definitely need to call 911. If you call 911, our team will be en route simultaneously and have the room prepared before your arrival.”

Whether it’s a stroke or a heart attack, the key is knowing the symptoms and calling 911 immediately. For instance, stroke warning signs can include: • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body. • Sudden  confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech. • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination. • Sudden severe headache with no known cause. • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes – or it may go away and then return. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. • Shortness of breath. This can occur with or without chest discomfort.

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November 2021 | 21

Christmas with CeCe Winans

22 | 501 LIFE November 2021

Staying trim around all those trimmings By Jenn McCracken


veryone who knows me will tell you that I love the holiday season and especially Christmas! I am the girl who puts her tree up after the last trick-or-treater leaves and will start singing Christmas songs even before that. I love the hustle and bustle that the season brings, and I look forward to the ugly sweater parties, white elephant gift exchanges, and family gatherings. However, one thing that I struggle with every single year is how to find time to workout and how to resist all of the delicious goodies that surround the holiday season. Between work, holiday parties and the kitchen pantry, I have the opportunity to constantly indulge! Here are a few tips that I hope will help you stay on track during “the most wonderful time of the year.” Honestly, I am not reinventing the wheel with these tips, but I do think that a reminder of small things we can do will help to keep your waistline from expanding.

2. Don’t take dessert leftovers home

1. Keep the overindulgences to the actual party day

Turkey trots, Santa Chases, and New Year’s 5Ks are all the rage during the holidays. Pick out a funky outfit and sign your family up to participate in these fun activities. You can walk and jog these events. Outside of doing something with family and friends, the best part about these races is that most of the time the money goes to support a local charity.

It is so easy to find yourself unconsciously buying all of the holiday-themed candy and cookies at the store and stopping by a coffee shop for yet another seasonal holiday drink. Make a plan to enjoy these treats on a certain day of the week or only at events, rather than an every day indulgence.

After gatherings, many hosts encourage guests to take a plate of goodies home. Resist the urge at that moment so you won’t have to fight the urge when it’s on your kitchen counter. If you have a sweet tooth, keep sugar-free candies handy to help curb a craving.

3. Keep water intake at an all-time high One of the things that will make the biggest difference in keeping calories under control is making sure you don’t drink your calories. Hot chocolate, eggnog, alcohol, and punch all contain as many calories as an actual meal. Instead, try to limit yourself to only one high-calorie beverage — or better yet, to only water. Also, drinking water throughout the day is said to help curb cravings because most of the time when you think you are hungry, you are actually thirsty.

4. Participate in themed 5Ks

I wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health, happiness, and the best of memories with the ones you love. November 2021 | 23

501 LIFE




“The truer you are to yourself, the happier you will be, especially with choosing a career or choosing a college.” - Laritza Chena

Photo by Mike Kemp



By Dwain Hebda


aritza Chena has a lot of ways to get her point across. She emphasizes knowledge through her performance in the classroom. She communicates leadership through her captaincy of the school bowling team and a seat on the statewide advisory body of her youth group. Through multiple clubs and platforms she preaches by example to strive for personal excellence. And she makes a statement for inclusion of many cultures through her mastery of three languages. If fact, if you can’t get the message that this Searcy High School senior is special, you’re just not paying attention. “I grew up volunteering naturally because my mom has always been very involved in the community and our church,” Chena said. “She is a very prominent figure in the Hispanic community here in Searcy, so I’ve just always been helping her. I think I’ve also developed that sense of wanting to help others and wanting to help my community as well.” The family tradition of service also extends to Chena’s grandfather who was a pediatrician and who inspired his granddaughter to follow a similar career path. She is already taking steps toward her goal of becoming a pediatrician by interning in a local medical office. “I would go with [my grandpa] when I was younger, to his office,” she said. “Now that I’m older, I see it as another way of helping people. I’ve always loved working with kids, and I’ve noticed a lot that there’s a sense of mistrust between — especially between — Hispanic parents and doctors. I just know that parents are very protective of their children, so being able to close that gap would really be cool.” Chena’s string of accomplishments is impressive by any standard. She’s active in numerous clubs including Beta Club, National Honor Society and is president of both the French Club and Key Club. She sits on the student council and is a member of both Future

Teachers of America, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. Outside of school, she’s heavily involved in her church, St. James Catholic Church, where she is assistant director of her youth group and cochairs the Youth Advisory Committee through the Diocese of Little Rock. She’s also written oped pieces for the diocesan newspaper on topics of faith for young people. As if that weren’t enough, she’s captain of the school’s bowling team, a tag she earned for her ability to lead and inspire others. Chena was also an Arkansas Girls State representative and recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar Award. She earned the Seal of Biliteracy in French which, combined with her home environment, makes her proficient in three languages. “I have always loved listening to French, and I’ve always thought it was such a beautiful language,” she said. ”So, in high school, when given the opportunity to learn French, I decided to take it. It’s been really great getting to learn a whole new culture and just seeing how it’s similar and different to the cultures that I already know.” Any way you say it, Chena is a role model for others to emulate and she had some parting advice for the students who follow in her footsteps. “I would tell them never let anyone tell them what to do,” she said. “I know in [high school] it’s really hard to find your identity and you’re trying to fit in — but the truer you are to yourself, the happier you will be, especially with choosing a career or choosing a college. You just have to find the one that makes you excited and gives you that sense of peace.”

November 2021 | 25

Photos by Mike Kemp



hen I was younger, I remember hearing older folks speak of a time in life called The Golden Years. At 16, I was pretty certain this was the time in life you reached that ripe old age of 30 (lol) and you spent your days sitting in your rocking chair reminiscing. Now that I'm 49, I can tell you two things for certain. One, 30 is not old, and two, I don't know exactly what season of life you reach those so-called Golden Years, but I can tell you I'm totally saturated in the joys of the sweet side of life right now! I've often joked about how having two sets of twins was quite a daunting experience, and many memories have been safely filed away in the back of my brain in a file labeled “Do Not Open.” There were many tears shed, and I dare say only God knows who cried more, me or the twins. It truly was a hard season of life, and many of the blessings of that time were so wrapped-up in stress and chaos that I missed savoring that season of the sweet life. The truth of the matter is that every single day we wake up with breath in our lungs is a sweet gift from God. Have you ever watched all the different cooking shows on Food Network? From the world's worst cooks to the best of the best bakers, I can totally relate this to the different seasons in my life. You see, when I began my family, I was definitely a novice. Becoming a wife and a mother, I felt like one of those new cooks who was just handed a surprise box full of life ingredients and I needed to make something special. Trust me when I say it took a lot of trial and error

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and often, looking back, things didn't turn out at all like I had pictured, often because I was trying to do it without any instructions, but then came God! Finding my relationship with Jesus was like being given the world's best cookbook, the Bible. It was full of everything I needed to sort out all the different ingredients that life tossed my way. The more I applied things like hope, love, grace, and forgiveness, the better things turned out. And while I realize that my children may have had to grow up watching me make plenty of mistakes, it has finally taken a full circle and placed me in that sweet side of life I mentioned above — grandchildren! I don't think there is anything sweeter (on this side of life) than holding a baby from one of your children. Will and I have been blessed with six of the most beautiful and amazing grandchildren and No. 7 is on the way! I honestly believe God gives us these grandchildren as a second chance to get things right. I get tears in my eyes thinking about our grands and I savor every single moment we have with each of them. This is definitely one of the sweeter times in life for me. I can only hope that as long as God allows, every moment spent in this season will be a legacy and a testimony to our children and our children's children. I pray that when they look back on our life together, they will see me as not that novice "cook," but as a wonderful baker who made life sweet!

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Photos by Mike Kemp Back row, from left: freshmen Wade and Allen Farish (fraternal twins from Hector, Ark.); juniors Ethan and Bella York (fraternal twins from Mayflower); juniors Christa and Emily Owen (identical twins from Conway); and, freshmen Kane and Kimbrow Harrell (mirror/identical twins from Conway). Front row: juniors Brianna and Alexandria Irons (Identical twins from Conway); and, seniors Andrew and Austen Krisell (identical twins from Greenbrier).




wins are everywhere, so it seems, at Central Baptist College. Six sets are enrolled this fall at the Conway institution — identical girls, identical boys, fraternal sets and even a set of mirror twins, whose features are asymmetrical. According, when those twins face each other, they seem to be looking in a mirror. Kane and Kimbrow Harrell are freshmen mirror twins from Conway, grandsons of CBC President Terry Kimbrow. Kane is left-handed; Kimbrow is right-handed. Moles on the right side of one’s face are reflected on the left side of the other. “There have been multiple times in high school when our teachers would stop us in the hallway and say, ‘You should be in my class,’ and it was the other one,” Kimbrow said. Kane admitted to pranking a CBC teacher by saying he was Kimbrow. “It wasn’t until halfway through class that he figured out I was Kane,” he said, chuckling. The two say Kimbrow is the better athlete. He plays

28 | 501 LIFE November 2021

baseball for the Mustangs, but Kane was better at football. Kane is about 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds; Kimbrow is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds. Kane is older by two minutes. They still share clothes and a bedroom at home, but not a car since Kimbrow has baseball responsibilities and Kane has a job schedule. Their personalities, though, are different. “Kimbrow is more the person who messes around with people,” Kane said. “He always likes to joke and give them a hard time. I like to be a little nicer. I’m a little more caring.” Kimbrow agreed with that assessment. Alexandria and Brianna Irons are identical juniors from Conway. Their mother, Kayla, said one her childhood Sunday School teachers told her during their baby shower that she “vividly remembered me stating I wanted 10 children and had been praying for the Lord to give me at least one set of twins.” “They are an answer to a little second- or third-grade girl’s prayer,” Kayla Irons said.

She remembered Alexandria and Brianna holding hands in their car seats. “They are alike in kindness and manners, work ethic and selflessness, but oh so very different in personalities,” she said. “Truly a beautiful balance the Lord has gifted them in one another. They argue and squabble and frustrate one another, just like all siblings, but will passionately defend and support one another at every opportunity.” Austen and Andrew Krisell are seniors from Greenbrier. “We’ve never had a formal test to determine if they’re identical, but according to doctors, their eye prescriptions were the same, their inner ears are identical, and they were serviced for the same speech impairments in elementary school,” their mother, Becky Krisell, said. “To this day, there are still family members who can’t tell them apart.” She remembered that Austen and Andrew were on different teams during a game of charades but both acted out the same words the same way, even falling to the ground at the same time. When they play rockpaper-scissors, they go numerous rounds before either wins. Kane Harrell met Austen Krisell at CBC and didn’t realize he was a twin. “Then Andrew walked up to the pool table (a few days later) and I said, ‘For some reason, you look different today,’” Kane remembered. “He said, ‘That’s because it wasn’t me.’” So even twins can be tricked. The best part of being a twin? A built-in study partner, Kimbrow Harrell said. Kane Harrell added: “You always have that person you know is going to be there, like a built-in friend. Me and Kimbrow get mad at each other, but give it a few minutes and we’re good. We’ll argue and stuff, but give us a few minutes and it’ll be like nothing’s happened.” The worst part? “It really gets annoying getting called ‘Kane’ all the time,” Kimbrow said. Added Kane, “I just got my hair cut, and everybody’s been coming up and talking to me about baseball. I tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but you’ve got the wrong twin.’” According to the college’s website, since 2012, CBC has offered a Multiples Grant available to students whose twin, triplet, etc., also attends the school. The award is a percentage of tuition, from 25 to 50 percent, based on how many siblings are currently enrolled. Despite the occasional instance of confusion, and double the number of skinned knees and teenage heartbreak over the years, twins provide their families twice the love. “Twinning has been a doubly fun portion of parenting, and we are thankful the Lord has allowed us to witness His vast personal creativity even in people who look very similar,” Kayla Irons said.

Christa (on left) says that Emily is determined, artistic and generous. “Emily displays her generosity by serving others. She is thoughtful and enjoys giving to people.” Emily describes Christa as joyous, humble and dedicated. “She has a passion for everything that she does. She focuses on growing in relationships with others and the Lord.”

"We don’t have a ton in common, but we for sure love watching ‘The Office.’ Some people say that we have the same facial features," Ethan York.

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30 | 501 LIFE November 2021

Season the


Dessert photography by Mike Kemp



here are many variations of the carrot cake that have been in existence for years. My wife and I each have our favorite recipe. Mine has coconut and pineapple added, but the carrot cake pictured is Nancy’s favorite carrot cake recipe. The slight difference in this recipe that packs a full flavor is the addition of mace for the spice. Mace is the ground outer husk of the nutmeg pod. It’s delicate but definite. For those of us who like nutmeg, this spice gives a bit more depth in color and flavor. The fun of this presentation is the regal showing of a vegetable with the sweet version of fall-orange color – all edible for dessert. I must confess, this recipe was multiplied three times for this height of cake, and it’s still only three layers. Cream cheese icing is a must, however, I did branch out and break the cardinal rule for carrot cake and frost it with seven-minute frosting on one occasion. The result was delicious, but lacked the traditional cream cheese flavor to which I was accustomed. This is one of those cakes that the cake portion tastes even better if done days ahead and frozen. This is what we always do. It will frost easier, and it is so much less stressful to enjoy decorating the cake the day it will be served.

CARROT CAKE 2 cups granulated sugar 4 eggs 1 ½ cups salad oil 3 teaspoons cinnamon ½ teaspoon mace 1 teaspoon nutmeg 2 teaspoons soda 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup chopped nuts 3 cups grated carrots Cream the sugar, eggs and oil, then add dry ingredients, nuts, carrots, and vanilla. Bake in two (2) greased and floured 9X13 pans at 350 for about 55 minutes. Cool.

FROSTING 1 stick margarine or butter 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 1 box powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla Dash salt Cream the margarine and cheese with a mixer. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Spread on cooled cake. Top the sides and top with nuts if desired.

November 2021 | 31


uring the seven years of owning, running, and cooking at one of Conway’s first tea rooms, Zinzendorf’s, located on Harkrider Street, we experimented with many desserts. Bread pudding was always one of my childhood favorites, thus, Zinzendorf’s Bread Pudding was added to the menu. The classic recipe made from leftover biscuits was changed to pieces of French bread, and the milk/sugar mixture was changed to buttermilk and sugar. Nutmeg is the primary spice along with dots of real butter and pure vanilla flavoring. Soaking the bread overnight in the baking pan will enrich the flavor and texture of this dessert, and I always plan the night ahead for the bread pudding. It’s also great to have it ready to place in the oven the next morning. The orange sauce is very simple to make, but, oh, so delicious! What could be better than sour cream, sugar, and orange juice! This sauce does not require but a minute or two of boiling, and it will thicken to a rich sauce once it cools. This sauce is also served on orange butter rolls, another bread favorite. The orange butter sauce was borrowed from that recipe.

BREAD PUDDING 1/3 cup raisins 1 loaf (about 12 ounces) French bread, torn or cut into small 1½ inch pieces 2 cups heavy cream • 2 cups milk 4 eggs • 1 cup granulated sugar ¾ cup brown sugar • 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon cinnamon • 1 teaspoon nutmeg ½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted Whipped cream, Grand Marnier, powdered sugar Preheat the oven to 350. Place bread pieces in a large baking dish that has been generously buttered Sprinkle raisins throughout bread pieces. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread pieces, coating bread thoroughly. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients (sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg). In another bowl, beat heavy cream, milk, and eggs together. Add the dry ingredients to the milk-egg mixture and blend. Completely soak bread pieces in the milk mixture, pressing gently to ensure all bread pieces are soaked and that there is little or no liquids in the bottom of the pan. Immerse the pan of soaked bread into a large pan that has been filled with water to fill halfway up the sides of the bread-filled pan to form a water bath for bread pudding to bake. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until well-browned and risen as a souffle. Serve warm or at room temperature, accompanied with orange butter sauce and whipped cream with Grand Marnier.

ORANGE BUTTER SAUCE ¾ cup granulated sugar ½ cup sour cream 2 tablespoons orange juice ¼ cup butter or margarine Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

CREAM TOPPING 2 cups heavy cream 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier 2-3 teaspoons powdered sugar Whip cream, add Grand Marnier and powdered sugar. Dollop on sauced pudding.

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Apple Pie NANCY'S


uring our years of various careers, we have been privileged to meet lots of great chefs and many talented cooks – the majority of them come from the church families with whom we have had the honor of worshipping. One such lady was the late Mrs. Margie Clark of Conway, the mother of James Clark, lifelong community educator. She would sew costumes for the bicentennial celebration. Mine was Benjamin Franklin, and Nancy’s was a beautiful blue satin, hoop-skirted Martha Washington. Margie was always supportive of church and community projects and cooked the most simply delicious apple pies! She gave Nancy her recipe, and Nancy perfected it even further – always using Granny Smith apples, fresh-made crust, and just the right touch of cinnamon and sugar balance! This apple pie is just that – an apple pie that features the apple with a little of the trappings. What better way to welcome fall and the holidays than with a hot, fresh apple pie!

CRUST: 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup shortening 3-4 tablespoons cold water Mix flour, salt, and shortening until cornmeal consistency. Add water, mix lightly; roll out. Makes one pie crust.

FILLING 4-6 apples, peeled and sliced (Granny Smith) ½ cup granulated sugar (vary according to sweetness of apples) 2 teaspoons cinnamon ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional) Place apples and sugar into an unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle spice and nuts on top of sugared apples.

TOPPING 1 cup all-purpose flour ½ cup granulated sugar 1 stick butter Mix ingredients together to crumbly state, and sprinkle generously on top of the apples. Bake pie at 350 for 40 minutes or until the apples are done.

November 2021 | 35

Pecan Pie GAIDO'S

To call this dish a pecan pie is somewhat of an understatement. Perhaps Regal Pecan Pie would be more fitting. The recipe is from one of our favorite restaurants – Gaido’s in Galveston, Texas. Our families have vacationed there for more than 50 years, and Gaido’s has been serving for more than twice that long. Their strength is seafood, of course, with white tablecloth dining, finger bowls, and the works. The dessert menu never disappoints either. This pie is slightly involved to make, but the results are worth the time and effort. The pie is made with a graham cracker crust with the traditional fillings and chopped pecans, but the pie is turned upside down on a plate, then layered with toasted pecans, simple syrup, and Bourbon brushed over all. THEN, a sauce with cream is passed as it is served … need I say more? The holidays demand pumpkin and pecan pie in one form or another, and this one is the King of Pecan Pies.


3 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 2 Tbsp. butter, melted 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cups pecan pieces, toasted

Combine the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, salt and pecan pieces in a large bowl and mix well. Pour into the prepared crust. Bake for approximately one hour or until filling is set and edges are firm. Let cool for 15 minutes.


½ cup water ¼ cup sugar ¼ coup bourbon ¼ cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan to make a simple syrup. Add the bourbon, cream, and vanilla and stir until fully incorporated.

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST Graham cracker crust 10 ounces graham cracker crumbs ¼ cup sugar 3 tablespoons butter Combine the crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter and add to the crumb mixture, and then mix well. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line the outside of a springform pan with aluminum foil. Coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture tightly and evenly to prevent the filling from leaking.

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6 tablespoons light corn syrup 2 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted Remove the warm pie from the springform pan. Invert on a cardboard round or cake platter. Let cool for 15 minutes longer. Heat the corn syrup in a saucepan. Brush over the crust’s bottom and side with a pie pastry brush. Press the pecan halves into the syrup, pushing firmly. Brush Cowboy Bourbon Sauce over the pie while still warm.

November 2021 | 37


By Judy Riley


here’s a growing buzz about honeybees and beekeeping in Central Arkansas. Are honeybees essential to pollinating many plants? Is it possible to keep honeybees in your backyard without alienating your neighbors? Are there resources and training available for learning about them? The answer is a resounding yes to all! The University of Arkansas’ specialist in apiculture, Jon Zawislak, developed a fascination with honeybees as a graduate student at the university’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. That curiosity led to a life’s work of teaching and research into the complex world of honeybees. According to Zawislak, “Bees and other pollinators are vital to helping many plants reproduce. By efficiently transferring pollen from one flower to another, they aid in mixing up plant genetics, keeping generations vigorous, healthy, and not inbred. Some plants are windpollinated (grasses and cereal grains) and some can be selffertile (many legumes), but most flowering plants benefit from insect pollinations. And honeybees (just one of 20,000 bee species) are major players.” Here’s why bees are vital: Without pollination, plants don’t produce seeds. If they don’t produce seeds, plants don’t put resources into producing fruits that hold those seeds. Hence, we don’t get the fruits and vegetables we like to eat, not to mention the seeds that provide the next generation of crops that provide food and fiber to sustain our world. Honeybees are not only found in rural areas, but they can thrive in urban and suburban settings, basically anywhere there are flowers in bloom. Sometimes they do better in urban areas because of well-watered landscaping at businesses and homes. Should you be afraid of being stung if your neighbor has honeybee hives? Probably not, according to Zawislak. Honeybees are out there whether you or your neighbor have hives. There’s always a potential risk of being stung. But honeybees will only sting in defense of themselves or their colony because doing so is fatal. They generally travel

38 | 501 LIFE November 2021

overhead, about 10 feet above the ground to avoid humans and other obstacles. If a bee does come buzzing around, just stay calm. They may be curious because of brightly colored clothing or scented shampoo or fragrance. Once they discover you are not one big luscious flower, they move on. When George and Marcy Bujarski retired, they looked for a joint hobby. After attending classes taught by Zawislak, they “lit” into beekeeping. Both are members of beekeeping clubs. His club is the Beekeepers Association of Central Arkansas and hers is The Lady Beekeepers of Arkansas. They both volunteer helping others with bees and sharing bee swarms. Swarming is the natural process in which a queen and assorted other bees leave the hive to create a new one. Thus, the bees continue their life cycle. Marcy champions the beekeeping venture in the Master Gardener’s Garden at the Vines 4-H Center. Even though an individual bee may live only about six weeks, a hive is a highly developed society. The single queen is capable of laying 1,500 to 3,000 eggs a day. The worker bees are females. The drones are males whose job is to find a future mate. The more we learn, the more we want to learn, according to Marcy. Make no mistake, beekeeping is work and not inexpensive. According to Zawislak, it takes about $800 to get started, but it is well worth the effort. Honey from your own backyard is like no other. Once you get a taste of the pure, sweet honey, you won’t settle for less. Resources and classes abound, just for the asking. There are more than 30 beekeeping groups in Arkansas and eight of them are active in the 501. Local Master Gardener groups are also a wealth of information. More is available at uaex. There are many blogs, videos, and discussion forums online, but according to Zawislak, the best information is from a reliable, scientific source, such as a university or a Cooperative Extension Service.

Marcy Bujarski is a member of The Lady Beekeepers of Arkansas. She champions the beekeeping venture in the Master Gardener’s Garden at The Vines 4-H Center.

get f ra m e d at

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

2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR

501.450.9900 Homeschool students watch as apiculture specialist Jon Zawislak transports 10,000 honey bees to a new hive. The queen is in a small container within this larger container.

November 2021 | 39


Give Thanks!


Thanks for the trust you have placed in my agency and Shelter Insurance®. May we continue to serve your insurance needs in the years to come.

Roe Henderson

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

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

40 | 501 LIFE November 2021


hen I retired after 30 years of pastoring, I made a career change. Soon after starting my new family business as a Farmers Insurance agent, I heard about The Kindness Revolution™ and knew I had found something life changing. The Kindness Revolution is a grassroots movement that grew from a book by the same name. It has grown into a nationwide movement with the mission of raising the awareness of the value of kindness in different facets of life. It is funded entirely by local businesses and led by a local coordinator. After visiting with Ed Horrell (the book’s author) and Dave Daily (the movement’s director of recruitment), I was invited to become a Community Champion and invest in launching The Kindness Revolution here in the 501. Starting a new business has been filled with some of the deepest challenges I’ve faced, and the day I became a sponsor of this movement still remains one of the most exciting days of my life. We launched The Kindness Revolution by printing a message on business cards that we give to people to share when they do a random act of kindness. The first time I shared one of the cards, I gave it to the clerk in a drive through along with $10 to give to the car behind me. It actually slowed down the line because everyone kept reading the card and talking about it. I’ve now experienced that over and over again, with dozens of people sharing the card with Kind Bars, extra tips, and more! One person hid the cards with $5

bills throughout a Dollar Store. Giving money is not the only way to show kindness. Many people have simply smiled and spoken to strangers, complimented them in some way, and handed them a card to remind them that they are grateful to have the opportunity to be around other people. Others simply hand cards to someone when they witness them performing a kind act, and then thank them for their kindness. Anyone can do it! There isn’t anything new about random acts of kindness, but the cards add a new twist. When someone experiences an act of kindness, we hope it makes their day better. The card becomes a tangible reminder that someone noticed them and cares about them. It encourages each person to “pay it forward” rather than feeling obligated to “pay it back.” And the sweet spirit of kindness continues to grow. Back at our business, we added our love for coffee into the mix. I began roasting our coffee years ago, so we set up a fun espresso bar and hosted our first coffee hour to share about The Kindness Revolution. Now we roast “Kind Coffee,” and we welcome everyone to drop by our office for a free cup. What’s next? Kind business, Kindness Ambassadors, Cool 2 B Kind, and more! Visit the Facebook page at jmark. to see what is going on. Like our page, share it with others, pick up some cards, or message us for (or with) other ideas!

November 2021 | 41


Photo by Mike Kemp The Quitman High School Athletic Department leadership team stands in front of the new, $2 million track and field. They are Stephanie Davis, Head Softball/Asst. Cross Country Coach (from left); Brandon Burgener, Head Boys Basketball/Asst. Track Coach; Michael Stacks, Asst. Superintendent/Athletic Director; Dennis Truxler, Superintendent/Head Volleyball Coach; Trenton Corley, Football Offensive Coordinator; Ariane Johnson, Head Cheer Coach; Timothy Hooten, Head Girls Basketball/Head Track/Head Cross Country Coach; and, not pictured is D.J. Marrs, Head Football/Head Track Coach.

Quitman schools experience 25% growth, renovate track, football field By Becky Bell


uitman School District, home of the Bulldogs, has seen a 25% growth in the student body since 2016 and had its first home game at its $2 million fully renovated football stadium, which includes a new track. “Last year, we experienced a large amount of growth. We had almost 100 new students and 70 of those took advantage of the school choice law,” said Michael Stacks, assistant superintendent, high school principal, and athletic director. “Regardless of where they live, they can choose where they go to school. There are really a lot of folks taking advantage of that and sending their kids where they want.” Stacks said all that it takes to get into a district is to complete an application for school choice and it is granted. School choice is the program authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2015. Along with growth, Quitman’s district is a Professional Learning Community Model School District, he said. It is the only such district in Arkansas and is recognized for the staff’s work in establishing professional learning communities in the district. “Our staff has been trained to work, collaborate, and teach higher learning for each child,” he said. And at Quitman, there is a focus on teaching a child more than just how to perform on a yearly test, such as the ACT Aspire for third through tenth grades. “We want them to be productive citizens,” Stacks said. “We’ve had large gains in student performance with standardized tests, but we try not to make that our priority. We hope to continue our growth, and we believe that the more students we have means more opportunities. And we

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want to be able to say it does not matter if students are in band, athletics, FFA, or just focus on academics, we want Quitman to be a place where they can find their niche.” Athletics is another area where Quitman has been improving and striving for success. Until 2016, the district had never had a state championship in any sport, but has had nine state championships in basketball, cross country, softball, and track since. “And we’ve made 17 state championship appearances and hosted a football playoff game last year,” Stacks said. “So, working to raise expectations in academics and athletics go hand in hand.” The $2 million fully renovated football field and new track is something the district is certainly proud to offer students. The renovations were made possible by a 2.5 millage — the first one passed in 25 years — district funds and $350,000 worth of community donations, he said. “Pretty much the only thing that is the same as it was before is the bleachers,” the leader said. “We picked them up and moved them and went from grass to turf. Then we built a track around the turf field for our track program. We have all new fencing and lighting.” Stacks said the state-of-the-art lighting features LED light systems that flash a light show during touchdowns. As academics continue to improve and facilities grow and change to accommodate students, Stacks expects more students to be attracted to Quitman in the future. “We usually have a family a week wanting a tour to see if they want to send their students here,” he said.

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WELLNESS THE Health care PROFESSIONALS YOU NEED IN THE FUTURE ARE THE ONES WE’RE PREPARING NOW. UCA is at the forefront of the health care landscape in Arkansas. UCA NOW – our $100 million capital campaign – brings that commitment into even sharper focus. We opened a state-of-the-art integrated health facility. Expanded our nursing program. Created an interprofessional teaching center. And your care will be better for it. Join the movement today.




November 2021 | 43


By Donald Brazile


oes it seem to you that Halloween jumps right into Thanksgiving, and then Christmas comes creeping up on their heels? Does it feel as if all three get lumped into one extended holiday celebration? If you didn’t know already, there’s a name for this — “HallowThanksMas” — a combination of Halloween + Thanksgiving + Christmas. But if we were really honest, it might as well be “Hallowmas.” By this I mean, the middle child is often overlooked. We immediately go from Halloween costumes to Christmas presents. Thanksgiving is just a passing day when we eat until we collectively slip into food comas. And we can see the effects of this — a lack of true gratitude in our culture. For instance, a while back on an episode of “The Simpsons,” Bart was asked to offer thanks at the Thanksgiving meal and he said, “Dear God, we bought all of this stuff with our own money, so thanks for nothing. Amen.” This pretty much summarizes the reigning sentiment of our day. Often the more we have, the more likely we are to say “thanks for nothing.” You see, no one is born grateful. Gratitude isn’t built into our culture, despite the federally declared holiday, and it does not come naturally to us. Therefore, thankfulness is a virtue that must be taught, fostered and nurtured. Just like anything else, it must be practiced. It takes longer to learn for some than others. Some never learn. And others don’t learn until later in life. Years ago, Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” wrote a story about Charlie Brown preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for his friends. Being a child, Charlie Brown didn’t know how to prepare the traditional menu, so he makes toast,

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popcorn, and jellybeans and serves them to his friends. At the table, Peppermint Patty, who had invited herself over, isn’t impressed. She says, “Where’s the dressing? Where’s the cranberry sauce and the turkey? Where’s the pumpkin pie?” Throughout Schulz’s narrative is a reminder of the true essence of Thanksgiving Day: to be grateful even when your plate only has toast and jellybeans. Some days we’re like Charlie Brown, trying to do the right thing despite the odds. Other days, we’re more like Peppermint Patty, forgetting to be grateful when so much has been given to us. I read about an elderly pastor who was famous for his pulpit prayers. He always found something to thank God for, even in bad times. One stormy Sunday morning, when everything was going extremely bad in the community and in the lives of many people in the congregation, the pastor stepped to the pulpit to pray. Members of the congregation thought the preacher would have nothing to thank God for on that wretched morning. The pastor began his prayer: “We thank thee, O God, that it isn’t always like this.” This Thanksgiving season, is it hard for you to be truly thankful? If so, be thankful that “it isn’t always like this.” On Sunday, Nov. 7, we get to set our clocks back one hour, and the night before Thanksgiving, we get to set our scales back 10 pounds. During these two magnificent bookends, resolve to say “thank you” to God as quickly and strongly as you say “will you?” And maybe, you'll embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving this year.

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November 2021 | 45

Photo by Mike Kemp



Artists see the world through a unique lens and Dero

Sanford has made a successful career using his creative perspective to photograph food, models, architecture, and lifestyles. "I've been to amazing places like Costa Rica, Hawaii, Africa and Honduras," Sanford said. "Good clients and good work have made for a good life. I've done some fun, fun things. God has blessed me immensely." His interest in capturing life on film began when he took a class in high school. Because of the raw talent he showed, friends and family encouraged him to pursue photography. He enrolled in Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, which was considered one of the best photography schools in the nation at the time. Sanford earned an associate's degree in photography, then moved back to Little Rock and started working for an architectural photographer. After a year, he wanted to move into advertising and started branching out, working for a monthly magazine in Arkansas for about a year. Ultimately, Sanford started a photography company and has been in business for more than 20 years. As an outgrowth of that work, he founded a modeling agency as well.

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He travels a lot as he works for mega-companies like L'oreal, Kraft, Walmart, Hewlett Packard, Palm Beach Tans, Terminix, Sedesco, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few. But Little Rock is home base for him and his son, Solomon. Sanford is half-Korean and moved to Arkansas with his American-born father and younger brother as a child. After his father died in a car accident, he and his brother were adopted by a family in Russellville. "I was raised by the most loving people you could possibly imagine," he said. "They had four kids and adopted 11 children, and even hosted foreign exchange students. It was an amazing, eclectic upbringing and it has definitely influenced how I interact with people today." The way a photographer relates to his subjects impacts the final product and on his website,, Sanford bills himself as a very personable professional who is passionate about painless photography. His craft has carried him to large cities and tropical islands, but he hasn't forgotten his neighbors and how he can help his community. "During the pandemic, my work completely dried up," Sanford said. "I started donating my time to restaurants to help them promote their food and stay open."

He was more than qualified to do this because of his extensive experience shooting food. One might think that is the easiest job, but Sanford has the inside scoop. "I treat it like I treat people," he said. "There are trends in food photography. There is a similar lighting style and good planning turns out to be good pre-production. So, with our food shoots, we have several meetings before it ever happens." Sanford said a team of at least five people is involved in the shoot, including a food stylist and a chef to oversee the recipe. He works for a client who wants to convey a message, a vibe, a particular brand. During the planning stage, the background, tablecloth, silverware and napkins are discussed. They even talk about the recipe and whether it will be made fresh or photographed frozen. There are industry tricks that make the food look delicious throughout the photography session. One trick is to pour gelatin into a cup of coffee and let it chill overnight, so when you put whipped cream (actually shortening) on it for the photo, it won't melt away. They also mist fruit on desserts so that the produce looks fresh and most desserts are shot frozen. Sanford said that hot wings are flash-fried so they look good, but you wouldn't want to eat them. And the most challenging item to photograph is — drumroll please — hamburgers. "We'll bring 10 packages of buns to the shoot to get one good set," Sanford said, laughing. Whether he's taking digital photos, using drones, or the latest technology — the RED Digital Cinema camera that shoots 8K — he's immersed in his art. "No matter how big the job is, you've got to do your best — even if it's free — because it represents you."

Professional photographer Dero Sanford has travelled the world taking photographs of models, architecture, lifestyles and food. Above, Mike Kemp's photo of Sanford shooting a table at The Root Café in Little Rock’s SoMa district. Below, Dero's final product shot.


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






501.327.6711 • 831 Parkway, Conway, AR • November 2021 | 47

Photo by Makenzie Evans

FASHION after FORTY By Tina Falkner, America Jane Vintage

Make the styles you once loved shine in your wardrobe today W

hen you get to be my age wearing – 40-plus – wearing vintage can be a touch tricky. (I didn’t want to admit my age, but I felt like it gives me some credibility.) I’ve seen so many of these styles, colors, patterns and textures rise and fall and rise again. Because of that, I can feel a little hesitant to have free reign with all of fashion history to determine what this woman, of a certain age, can wear. I hate to admit it, but I often find myself asking: “What will folks think of my 40-plus-year-old self wearing these high-waisted jeans? ‘Is she stuck or is she trendy?’” So, what are the rules of engagement for someone who wants to shop sustainably by buying second-hand, or more specifically vintage, but may feel their finger isn’t quite on the pulse of fashion like it used to be? One woman may say, “I can’t keep up — Is cheetah out of fashion or in again?” Here are a few suggestions to help you find your stroke in the deep end of the fashion pool.

1. Know thyself. Before you do anything else, know thyself. I have to be honest with myself about what my silhouette is looking like now. Not what it was at 21. It’s like my mental image of myself is operating off old intel. It’s not updated to what I really look like. Do that self-realization in the safe space of your home before you go shopping. Having a self-awareness moment in the dressing room is no fun. Put on some outfits that you love and really look to see what you like about them. Neckline, where the waist hits. What trends do you see in your own closet? Colors, patterns, shapes.

2. Style icon. Find a style icon with a similar shape to you. What do they wear? These famous folks more than likely have a stylist that helps them. Glean wisdom from what they put on your style icon. Look for what works for them. How do they put outfits together? Grab your phone and do an image search of their name and see what comes up. 3. Decades. This is probably the trickiest because an outfit can look like a costume from your favorite TV show really quickly. That may be what you are going for because you love everything from the ’50s or whichever decade you are drawn to, and you relish the distinction from modern fashion. Rock on, sister! Wear it! Peruse old magazines or watch classic TV shows and see how they managed the proportions, waistline, hemlines, all the lines. Those lines are what shape the look. Maybe you can’t find a dress that fits from the ’50s, but you found the same waist, hem and shoulders in a dress from the ’80s. Score! 4. Vibes and aesthetics. You love the vibe of the ’70s, but you

just want a hint of it? Hand-tooled leather and some fringe make you really happy? Or you love dark academia, where you look like you’ll be teaching linguistics right after lunch in your cardigan and blazer combo. (I don’t know why it’s called “dark” academia. I am more of just an academia girl myself.) Do an image or hashtag

search for a style icon, decade or occupation, and add a vibe or aesthetic of that look to the outfit, and the result often presents a modern style that gives a nod to a past trend.

5. Modern Fashion as a lens. Look at modern trends and let that filter what you purchase at vintage and thrift stores. If you love the look of certain big brands, let that inspire your hunt.

6. Bonus tip: While thrifting, if something stops you in your tracks and you say to yourself “I like that” — even if you determine it won’t fit you — look at it closely and ask what it is about this that I really like? Is it a vintage print that grabbed you or a color combination that’s refreshing? Snap a pic. Make a folder on your phone for inspiration. These are truly just suggestions, so if you have time, do a little research. Look for folks who look like you. They are out there. Become your own style icon. Y’all, getting dressed needs to be fun again. Don’t let this be a burdensome task. Have fun looking and crafting your own aesthetic. Do we really need to worry about what otherss think? If dressing like Stevie Nicks or Diane Keaton gives you a pep in your step, do it! We need all the pep we can get right now.

A modern moss-green blazer by Emporio Armani covers a 1980s Mr. Witt Paisley button-down. The early 2000s embroidered, purple sweater-vest is layered over a 1970s Bobby Brooks earthy plaid skirt. The tassel loafers are circa 2010. A 1970s Leslie Fay black turtleneck fitand-flare dress is paired with a 1970s owl pendant. The handmade fringe vest is from the 1990s, and the outfit is grounded with 1970s Joyce California black leather boots. The faux-suede fringe belt is modern.

Clothing photos by Kristina Goodwin



It’s a Wonderful (Conway) Life! Saturday, December 4th • 7:30 pm

Connect to Conway at the Holidays with musical favorites and a spotlight on our hometown. Watch our Facebook page for information on how to enter our Conway area photo contest! Special Guests, Members of the Arkansas Festival Ballet

Reynolds Performance Hall on the UCA Campus Buy tickets online at or at the Reynolds Hall Box Office 501-450-3265

November 2021 | 49

Do You Remember? Celebrating life's sweet and simple moments By Vivian Lawson Hogue


oetess Emily Dickinson wrote,“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” I believe Emily was saying we should savor all the “enjoyables” in our lives as they provide balance in our total life experiences. They don’t have to be monumental events or people, and I’ll wager you have a collection as I do. I often hear locals preface a memory with,“Remember when . . .?,” and I know something has emerged from their “sweet life” file. It is almost always in question form because they want to receive agreement with a memory of perhaps better times. “Remember the old ice house?” Yes, I do. All the greenpaint-over-brick in the world can’t hide the cold, frozen magic that was behind those doors. “Remember when our local paper was thrown onto our porches, neatly folded into a triangle or rolled up and tied with string?” And yes, I do. They occasionally were also found

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on top of the house or in the privet hedges. Teenage boys threw them from bicycles with tube-tire tread sometimes as thin as the newspaper pages themselves. Through rain, sleet, snow, heat, or a jeans leg caught in the chain, it seemed worth the 10 cents per customer. Remember when the old steam trains sounded like they were outside your open bedroom window on a summer night? Indeed, I do. Through my screened window I heard all the night sounds, which included the soulful, husky intonations of the train mixed with the hand-sized sycamore leaves clapping from the tree next door. The tree is gone now as it didn’t thrive in the middle of a later-added concrete driveway. “Remember when downtown stores had everything we needed?” Yes, and that our parents told us, “No running,” and we could look but not touch items. But how does one know how a 15-cent balsa airplane kit is going to look when glued together and ready for flight?

“Remember when Donaghey Avenue was gravel from Prince Street and past the dairy pastures? When cows had the tastiest butter because they grazed in those fields? When the Kuykendall house, still there, was the only structure at the top of the hill?” Yes, and I recall they wanted the paperboy, Ken Parker, to park his bike down at the mailbox where they usually received their paper and walk their daily edition up to the front porch. Interestingly, that didn’t happen. “Remember when the expanse of empty fields west of the hospital was beyond the city limits?” I absolutely do because my best friend, Carolyn (Hazel) Lewis lived “out there” on the road also inhabited by yellow, undulating tickseed flowers, buzzing dragonflies, crickets, and hovering fireflies at night. Seldom-seen fireflies seem to be becoming extinct. They used to practically lead me to our front door by their “tail lights” when I finished playing in the yard after dark. “Do you remember when we didn’t hear many sirens?” Yes, now and then we heard the single warning device at our only fire station, as well as the daddy-sang-bass droning of an infrequent ambulance. When I heard an ambulance coming, I ran to the end of the long front walk, waited for the vehicle to approach, then waved at the drivers who waved back. I think we all can remember pets we place in our sweet life files, and they include cats, dogs, goats, chickens and rabbits. And that was in town. Everyone knew everyone else’s dog although it might be far from home. Without leash laws, they visited whoever would throw them a biscuit. I had two cats – father and son. We thought the father had somehow gotten its tail cut off until the neighbor’s female cat had a

litter of carbon-copy bob-tailed versions. They are otherwise known as Manx cats, originating from the Isle of Man. Pretty dignified heritage for a cat that relished resting under a dripping water faucet. In adulthood, among the menagerie of my life’s pets was a cat named Smokey, another cat named Weird Harold, a dog named Boogie, and my dad’s Basset hound named Ferguson. We treat our pets like family, don’t we? We christen them with names and talk to them and they listen. Or so we think. I was reminded of this recently as we attended a church picnic. A few attendees brought their small dogs and puppies. One family brought a small, curly-haired, black puppy, and I was moved to inquire about its breed. The woman said, “He’s a cockapoo.” I knew but had to ask. Here was a life-detail going back 45 years. My oldest brother, a pediatrician, had a patient who “gifted” him with a box precariously overloaded with three champagne-colored cockapoo puppies. We were suckers, as he knew we would be, and took one of them home to join our other dog, who was “genealogically challenged.” I don’t know why, but we named him Ollie. He was beautiful. He was also a groomer’s financial dream. We had him a long time until he finally became ill and we lost him. So now I bring you back to the church picnic and feisty puppies. We somehow ended up back in the presence of the woman leashed to the bouncing cockapoo. We watched his zany antics for some time, and I casually asked, “And what is his name?” She said, “Ollie.” Some things you just don’t question if they remind you of something sweet in your life. Just know there is a reason.

November 2021 | 51

By Jessica Duff



ulaski County Special School District offers a variety of extracurricular activities for students outside the classroom. From athletics to fine arts to STEM - there is something for any PCSSD student. This month, we focus on the competitive and valuable athletic opportunities available for the elementary, middle, and high school students in the Maumelle feeder zone. “The great numbers in sports at Maumelle have yielded a ‘team’ atmosphere,” said Coach Kirk Horton, who serves as the athletic director for the Maumelle feeder as well as head football coach at Maumelle High School. Maumelle High students can choose from more than a dozen athletic programs in their respective schools. Some of the most popular sports include archery, baseball, basketball, bowling, cheer, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, swim/diving, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. Over the years, many of these programs have seen great success, including state championships!

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Maumelle Middle student athletic programs include boys and girls basketball, football, track, and volleyball. Archery is also available at both Crystal Hill Elementary and Pine Forest Elementary. In addition, there are a number of Maumelle community athletic programs, including baseball, basketball, cheer, football, soccer, and softball. “Our student athletes support each other creating a positive environment within the school and at athletic events,” coach Horton added. “Our coaches work with administrators and teachers to ensure that student-athletes advance in their studies. The growth mindset is the staple concept that motivates our progression as one. Go Hornets!” The district is also making updates to Maumelle’s athletic facilities, including replacing the turf on the football and soccer field at Maumelle High School as well as installing a track around the high school. Additionally, PCSSD is hoping to build new practice facilities and softball and baseball fields as part of a bond restructuring vote in November.

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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November 2021 | 53

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A message from

Kim Williams

Director, Conway Downtown Partnership November in Downtown Conway is a very busy time of year! We start the Holiday Shopping Season with our Downtown Conway Christmas Open House from 1 to 4 p.m., Nov. 14. For over 50 years, merchants have opened their doors on a Sunday afternoon in early November as the start of the holiday shopping season. There will be more than 30 shops and restaurants participating that day. Visitors flock downtown to take advantage of the special hours and to be among the first to see the seasons' holiday collections. Next up will be Small Business Saturday from 10 a.m. until closing on Nov. 27. This is the day we ask everyone to come out and “Shop Small!” Our small businesses owners are the heart and soul of our downtown. That same day will be Illuminate! This has become a Downtown Conway tradition when we light the big Christmas tree in Rogers Plaza. Festivities for Illuminate will begin at 3 p.m. We will have all the entertainment and rides that we have had in the past, and maybe more! The Giant Christmas Tree, Giant Ferris Wheel, Baby Ferris Wheel, and horse and carriage rides will be back.

Mark your calendar for these exciting opportunities for savings and family fun!

November 2021 | 55

By Beth Jimmerson


ooler temperatures and the return of pumpkin spice everything means fall has officially arrived. And with Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, it’s also the start of holiday gatherings. Surprisingly, Thanksgiving takes a lot of energy. Between cooking meals, watching football, and Black Friday shopping online, Americans consume a lot of power over the holiday. A few minor changes can save you from an increased energy bill so you can stay focused on amazing food and good times with loved ones. Use these five simple tips to keep your Thanksgiving energy-efficient:


Most of the action takes place in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. That’s why it’s so important to use your oven efficiently. Set a timer, keep the oven door closed, and cook multiple dishes at once. Use glass and ceramic baking dishes. They retain heat better than metal and allow you to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Avoid preheating your oven. Turkeys are traditionally stuffed in the morning and roasted for hours. Since it’s a long, slow process, there’s no need to preheat your oven. This also holds true for a holiday ham. It might take a few minutes longer to cook, but it’s a great way to cut costs because your oven won’t be wasting energy while it’s empty.

into the garbage can instead of rinsing and make sure the dishwasher is full. Allow dishes to air dry rather than using the heat-dry cycle to save even more. Turning off the heat-dry cycle can save more than $40 a year if you run one load a day.


The second best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers you eat the next day. Store leftovers in glass, reusable containers. Before you put them in the fridge, let them cool completely. Putting warm food in a fridge affects its resting temperature, causing it to work harder to reach the ideal cool temperature. When you’re ready for round two, use a microwave. Microwave ovens are fast and efficient, using 50% less energy than conventional ovens. Plus, they won’t heat up your kitchen. If you’re rewarming food on the stove, make sure to match the size of the pan to the heating element so more heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. Believe it or not, a 6-inch-pan on an 8-inch burner will waste more than 40% of the energy used.


Saving energy is a habit you should practice all year long, and the holidays are a great time to start. Just simply being aware of your energy usage can help you save energy and money. Conway Corp’s Energy Smart program was designed to help you balance increasing demands for electricity with our commitment to providing affordable rates.


With all the action going on inside the kitchen, the rest of the house will reap some benefits. Cooking and conversation will heat up fast, so go ahead and turn the heat down a few degrees. The heat from the oven and extra people in your home will heat up the other rooms. You guests will still be comfortable while you keep your heating costs to a minimum.


When dinner is done and everyone is resting in the living room, the kitchen is full of dirty dishes. Skip handwashing and use the dishwasher instead. Dishwashers require 37% less water than washing dishes by hand. Scrape off plates

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Conway Corp offers free residential energy audits to help you identify how much energy your home consumes and how to make your home more energyefficient. Annually, homes that have received a free audit from Energy Smart save $148,000 combined in utility costs. Over the lifetime of the program, these homes have saved more than $2.6 million. To schedule your free energy audit, or to learn more ways to conserve energy, contact Conway Corp at 501450-6000 or visit

November 2021 | 57

A Sweet Life

Neighbors’ actions helps family say goodbye to beloved pet Story and Photos by Mike Kemp

Pepper was never meant to be my dog. She chose me.


he came into our family at the insistence of our children. They wanted a dog, and a friend found an abandoned puppy on a fishing trip. The kids wore down my wife, Crystal (who chose the name Pepper), and a dog came into our lives. The day she came home, we played with her in the back yard until the kids were ready to go inside. I lingered with the new puppy, sitting cross-legged on our deck and petting her. She crawled into my lap, curled up, and fell into a deep sleep. I think that’s when she chose me. Pepper was a ball of energy for many years and always enthusiastic to greet me when I came home. She would run laps around the yard — “zoomies” is what most dog lovers call this behavior — and would almost clear our privacy fence by running up to it, jumping and launching off of the fence parkour-style to get a glance over it. When we moved to a new neighborhood, she became an indoor dog. We had no fence in our backyard, but she took the new environment in stride. She learned to find me to let me know when she needed a walk — usually at about twohour intervals.

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It wasn’t bad, although she never really developed a good sense of timing. It never failed that she needed a walk right when I sat down with a fresh cup of coffee, or got on a call, or was knee-deep in a project that demanded my attention. But the walks got us up and out. It helped me meet our new neighbors, which was a nice perk. I may not be able to remember all their names, but I knew their faces, and their kids would come to pet Pepper. Sometimes, the adults would, too. The past few years, I noticed time catching up to Pepper. Gray began to show on her muzzle, and she didn’t want to play like she used to. Over the past year, her arthritis really made itself known. Our walks became slower; when she would lay down at night, it was a process that was painful to watch. We knew our time with her was short. During a routine visit this summer, I discussed our options with her veterinarian. He gave her some painkillers that would help in the short term, but the decision was made that we would end her suffering. Over the Labor Day weekend, our children came home to say goodbye to their longtime companion, and the Tuesday after was the appointment we all had dreaded but knew was inevitable. Crystal posted in our Nextdoor neighborhood

group, explaining what was about to happen and we wouldn’t be out for our walks as we had in the past. Sunday came and the kids came to spend some time with us and Pepper. Having already done our early morning walk, Pepper decided it was time to go again. Our oldest daughter thought about joining us but said she couldn’t bring herself to it, so Pepper and I headed out. As we circled the block, we came to a house in our neighborhood that had a sign in the front yard. As we approached, I noticed it read, “Dogs leave paw prints on our hearts.” I thought they had lost a pet, knowing they had a couple of dogs who sometimes barked as we passed, and I felt a pang for them. We approached the next house, and I noticed they had the same sign. Pepper stopped tugging long enough for me to read the personalized message written on the sign – both to Pepper and to my family. I was dumbstruck. Another house across the street had the same sign, with their own personalized message. I stood in the street choking back my emotions at the act of kindness my neighbors had shown to me and my dog. I came home and could barely get out the words to explain the kindness of our neighbors. I lightened the mood by adding, “But she couldn’t read them.” By our next walk, more signs had been placed in yards. When we ranged out into adjacent neighborhoods, others recognized her from the post and expressed their sympathy. The next day, we encountered our next-door neighbors on our walk. They walked with us while choking back their own tears and remarking on the number of signs placed in the yards, theirs included. That Tuesday, we made it through the appointment, and Pepper peacefully passed. The signs came down one by one, and we settled into a new normal without a family member. But the actions of our neighbors have not been forgotten. The priorities of dogs are different from ours, which isn’t a bad thing. They don’t care about the color of your skin or the amount of dollars in your bank account. They could care less who you voted for or if you went to church on Sunday. They love you regardless. And sometimes, you find out your neighbors do, too.

As we approached, I noticed it read, “Dogs leave paw prints on our hearts.”

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501 LIFE




Girl and her Godfather work to help less fortunate at Christmas By Becky Bell


ine years ago, Jamey Cook got an incredible gift for Christmas. Against the odds, she got a father. Her biological father was killed before her birth, but she has never known life without a father because she’s had her godfather, Eric Lamb. “She has been a big inspiration,” Lamb said. “Every time she sees me, she is going to give me a hug and love. Just to see improvement in her makes me proud, and the idea that she wants me to be in her life as a fill-in father means so much.” Lamb got to know Jamey and her story because her grandmother, Kristina Cook, and her mother, Sumer Cook, attend church with him. About seven years ago, he spearheaded a program called Eric’s Christmas Miracles, which now helps 500 families. For the last four years, Jamey, now a fourth-grader at Williams Magnet Elementary in Little Rock, has worked with her godfather throughout the project. She helps him set up the workshop where all the gifts are stored and sorted by family, she helps wrap gifts for the children, and she helps Lamb deliver presents. His youngest daughter, Eryana, 14, also helps, and the girls share a bond because of the special deliveries they get to make. “We go with my grandmother to help wrap presents, and I like helping because I think I’m a grownup,” Jamey said. “I like it because I like hanging out with Eric. He’s my Eric and I love him.” Jamey lives in an apartment with her two cats and her dog, Sunshine. She enjoys her Barbies and the gifts she receives at Christmas. However, she can tell during the delivery process that families they visit cannot afford the type of Christmas she is used to. “It makes me feel good helping other kids and it’s just fun going around everywhere and delivering presents,’’ Jamey said. “They are really excited and some of them jump around because of the stuff we give. They jump a lot.” Lamb said some of the homes they deliver gifts to should have been condemned. Many of the families they visit are grandparents raising their grandchildren, he said. Jamey’s mother said it is hard to imagine their lives without Lamb in them. “I think we are fortunate to have him in our lives,” Cook said. “There are lots of kids without daddies who don’t have a father figure, but she was able to have someone as great as Eric to be her father figure.” Jamey wholeheartedly agrees. “I’ve got a famous daddy,” she said. A spirit of giving has been implanted in Jamey now, and she worries about those who do not have the things they need, Cook said. Jamey said she loves her own Christmas celebration when she and her grandmother make cookies and prepare for her godfather to come over. “My mom sometimes puts makeup on me, and I will help her with the tree, and Eric will come over and we will do pictures,” she said. “She normally makes me something or gives me something,” Lamb said. “Once she made me a black Santa ornament. They call me Black Santa and I thought that was real sweet.”

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Author brings to life



egional author and retired educator Jim Yeager from Russellville is keeping Arkansas’ baseball history alive with the publication of his book “Backroads and Ballplayers: A Collection of Stories about Famous (and Not So Famous) Professional Baseball Players from Rural Arkansas.” Even when he was a child, it was the stories of the players that interested him much more than collecting autographs or other memorabilia. Over the years, he conducted interviews, did research in small-town libraries, and even visited cemeteries to chronicle the tales of players with Arkansas roots. He published some of these stories locally, and when he showed them to a cousin who was in the publishing business, she told him, “This is a book – just write 40 more stories.” And so he did. Jim made the decision to self-publish his work but was advised to hire someone to assist him since the process is not as easy as it may seem. He was glad he did and is proud of the professional quality of the 300+ pages in the end product. Jim notes that baseball in its early days (the first half of the 20th century) was a great equalizer. Education and money were not important. A ball, a bat, an open field, and players were all that were needed. Because other forms of entertainment were not readily available, players were abundant. Today, vestiges of ball fields, with crumbling back stops and dugouts, can still be seen in many small towns around the state. It was a different way of life. Few people know that Arkansas has such a fascinating baseball history. Of interest to many in the area would be the chapter on Dr. Earl T. Williams, otherwise known as “Dr. Baseball,” who coached a team in Greenbrier and helped establish a semi-pro team called the Faulkner County League. In 1938, he started a baseball summer school in Greenbrier, offering many young men an immersive baseball experience in a rural setting. The school was a success and ran until 1952. Arkansas-born brothers Dizzy Dean and the lesser known Paul “Daffy” Dean are also featured. In 1934, Daffy impetuously got married in Russellville to Dorothy Sandusky, a Miss Russellville, and the news made national headlines. The story of Glenna Sue Kidd of Choctaw, who played in

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the All American Girls Baseball League, is one of the many other players in the book. “Backroads and Ballplayers” received high praise from an online reviewer for its ability to interest even non-sports fans. “The personal stories share the limelight with the stats and provide amazing insights into the lives of players of the past. Even though the focus of this book is on Arkansans who made the Majors, I believe anyone would enjoy this book, and Arkansas fans will especially love it.” Jim is more than a bit surprised by the book’s success, the sales of which he estimates to be in the thousands since its publication in 2018. He enjoys the opportunity to share information about baseball and often speaks to groups of historians and sports enthusiasts alike. He has appeared on local radio and TV shows. After graduating from the University of Central Arkansas, Jim began his career in education as a teacher and coach. Later in his career, he was a counselor and an instructional technology specialist for various school districts and the Arkansas Department of Education. Today, Jim refers to himself as a baseball historian. He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Robinson-Kell Arkansas Chapter of SABR. He relishes the friendships he has made there and enjoys the company of other like-minded enthusiasts, many of whom are serious researchers and statisticians. Several of these friends contributed chapters in his book. He believes their work has made an impact on the game. Jim continues to write about baseball and works from his home in a room that “is a combination of an old man’s office and a little boy’s room.” He credits his wife, Susan, for assisting in editing and says she is his biggest critic and most valuable supporter. His next book will be an extension of a column that he writes for Only In Arkansas, an online magazine sponsored by First Security Bank. He hopes to publish the book by late 2022. It will also tell unique and heartbreaking stories of Arkansas baseball players. “I want to humanize the players, both on and off the field,” he said. “Backroads and Ballplayers” and autographed copies are available at

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athletic excellence By Dr. Robert Reising

Hot Spring County's

David Alpe

Even his alma mater agreed. Eight years ago, Southern Arkansas University publicly admitted that David Alpe’s name was “synonymous with Malvern High football and athletics,” not with Magnolia and his superb undergraduate athletic feats or even with Arkansas’ Lake Village, the native city that launched him on his victory — an awardfilled athletic career. For David — despite numerous invitations to move elsewhere — Malvern and its high school provided all that he desired for 45 years of success and satisfaction. Today in retirement, he continues to enjoy a never-to-disappear compatibility with his adopted city and memories of athletic accomplishment lauded far beyond Hot Spring County.

Alpe's name was "synonymous with Malvern High football."

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Born on Jan. 8, 1940, he knew a vastly different setting in childhood and adolescence. David is the grandson of Italian immigrants who settled in the unforgiving southernmost tip of the Delta Lowlands of Arkansas: sultry, impoverished, cottoncontrolled Lake Village. David was blessed with loving Roman Catholic parents who knew only toil, responsibility, and family — and church-centered activities. He found schooling challenging; nothing other than commitment and arduous study allowed him to progress. Football emerged as a wholesome ally, and popular among his high schoolmates, he served as a team captain on a squad claiming a perfect 9-0 season in 1957, during which he accounted for an amazing 39 touchdowns.

Clearly, his gridiron exploits were headline-grabbing. A speedy 5-foot 10-inch running back, he garnered All-District and All-State honors, as well as an invitation from SAU to continue his education and football career. University studies provided yet another academic challenge. Again, David met it with steadfast study, supplemented by long hours of SAU tutoring, and in 1962 earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, with a major in physical education and a minor in mathematics. His degree represented no ordinary achievement: He became the first in his family to earn the baccalaureate. Nor was his excellence as a four-year football starter ordinary. Three times his stellar performance as a running back earned him All-AIC team honors; his leadership and camaraderie brought him the team co-captaincy in his final season. Nearly half a century of teaching, football coaching, and athletic administration lay ahead. Three years at Catholic High and a fourth at Helena High (where he coached basketball, which he neither knew nor had ever played) launched him nicely, providing a perfect apprenticeship for the position that he relinquished only when a successful battle with a rare cancer invited less strenuous responsibilities. His 42-year record of 239 wins, 142 losses, and five ties at Malvern High placed him fourth among Arkansasactive coaches before he opted for three years as an aide to the principal. David’s teams claimed 16 conference championships, played in 16 state play-offs, advanced to the semi-finals in four seasons, and won the State Championship in 1993. Among numerous players of his moving to intercollegiate play were 11 proving successful at the University of Arkansas. Seven of that number later moved to rosters in the National Football League (NFL). His achievements did not escape the attention of the best football minds in The Natural State. David won Outstanding District Coach honors eight times, both the Curtis King and the Lowell Manning Annual Awards as Arkansas’ Outstanding Coach, and the Arkansas Gazette’s designation as Coach of the Year in 1994. That same year, Channel 4 KARK provided a similar honor. Nor did David’s teams escape numerous awards for sportsmanship, all now publicly and proudly displayed at Malvern High with the Leopards’ plaques and trophies earned for superior gridiron play.

The NFL did not forget, either. Twice, in 2003 and 2005, he was a nominee for its Outstanding High School Coach of the Year Award. Twice, too — in 1987 and 1993 — the state’s High School Athletic Administrators’ Association (AAA) acknowledged his effectiveness as Malvern High’s Athletic Director by awarding him its annual award. Halls of fame soon welcomed him, the Arkansas Coaches Association’s in 2005, SAU’s in 2013, and the AAA’s in 2017. Malvern’s equivalent punctuated the sequence by inducting David into its Wall of Honor in 2010. Two years ago, the Arkansas Sports HOF added him to its list of lustrous inductees. His county and city have also detected that a special citizen resides in their midst, David having recently been named Hot Spring County’s Civitan of the Year and Malvern’s Citizen of the Year. Married in 1965, he and his wife, Mary Jane, (parents to three sons and seven grandchildren) value their setting and circumstances, and in David’s words, “Thank the Good Lord” for the advantages the decades have brought them. At age 81, in the city he loves, David can take pride in knowing that he has achieved in every area of his life. Now, in 2021, his inspiring, distinctively American story deserves to be shared far beyond Arkansas’s borders: a tale illustrating how initiative, perseverance, and education can overpower the impact of disadvantage to allow a youth just two generations removed from immigrant forebears to transform The American Dream into reality. David Alpe’s excellence is America’s excellence!

Alpe returned to his high school to coach for 42 years with a total of 239 wins and a state championship.

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Frozen Beauty hid ing in pla in s ig ht Story and photos by Linda Henderson


ou likely have driven by them on a cold frosty November morning. You might have wondered who would litter the ditch banks with all those white plastic bags? But if you look much closer, you may find that what you thought was trash in the ditch was frost flowers. Frost flowers are created when temperatures in the early morning drop below freezing. Thin layers of frozen sap will move up from the confined space of the root system to the top of the plant’s stem, forming unique patterns that look like petals or flowers. If you search frost flowers on the web, you may find they are also known as frost faces, ice castles, ice blooms, rabbit frost, or crystallofolia. These rare formations occur usually in the late fall or early winter. Weather conditions must be exactly right for frost flowers to materialize. They occur when air temperatures are freezing but the ground temperatures remain warm enough that plants’ root systems have not yet gone into winter’s hibernation. The hydraulic action of water causes long thin cracks in the stem. The result of this capillary motion causes the construction of white frosty ribbons of ice unfolding from the extended grassy stalks. The first time Jim and I observed the phenomenon of frost flowers was when we were hiking in a creek bottom in the Ozark National Forest in Van Buren County. Our first impression was how in the world would all these plastic bags have gotten here. On closer inspection, we saw that this was

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ice prodding out of grassy stems. This encounter with my first frost flowers started my fascination with this natural wonder. The problem with this attraction is it only occurs once in a season. Once the sap has escaped from its roots, the frozen beauties will be gone until next year. If you want to look for frost flowers, here are some things to keep in mind. If the weather remains warm into November and a cold snap is predicted with temperatures expected to drop into the 20s in the early morning hours, get ready to search. Hunt for hints of white. On first impression, you may think they are tossed-out paper. Start early before the sun heats up the atmosphere. Look in moist, shady spots. The further north you are, the more likely you are to find them in early November, and as the month progresses and weather cools in the morning, you may find them in the southern counties of the 501. Look for tall-stemmed, native grasses. Those types of plants are more likely to yield frost flowers. Every frost flower is different. Some are wool-like, some are featherlike, and others resemble spears. The frost flowers disappear as the sun rises and the air temperature increases to above freezing. So, as our weather starts to cool, sharpen your gaze, and look for the frozen beauties hidden in plain view. You never know what you might see as you travel the byways of the 501.

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School Counts! Conway County students earn college credit, technical certificates in high school


f you are a high school student in any of the five Conway County high schools and meet the criteria for the School Counts! program, you can get a jump start on your college degree or technical certificate for free. More than $720,000 has been invested in eligible Conway County students since School Counts! began in 2006, according to Brenda Mauldin, a fundraising consultant. Qualifying students can receive financial assistance to help them earn college credit hours and/or a technical certificate in one of the many technical programs offered at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton by taking concurrent classes. “All Conway County School Districts contribute $51/credit hour for School Counts! students to take concurrent classes at UACCM,” said Shawn Halbrook, superintendent of the South Conway County School District. “This includes students who want to earn college credit and students who want to earn a technical certificate while still in high school. We’ve had students graduate high school with 15 to 30 hours of college credit already completed. Also, we’ve had students who received their technical certificates, ready to start to work when they graduated.” Support for School Counts! has come from individuals, all K-12 county schools, local businesses, community organizations, foundations, and UACCM. The program instills in students the importance of developing skills and attitudes that help them succeed in the workforce. School counselors begin early in elementary school talking about the helpful program, so that by eighth and ninth grades, students understand the opportunities and financial assistance available to them. Many enroll in the program during their ninth-grade year to take full advantage of the financial assistance available to them during high school. In addition to the Conway County schools paying $51/ credit hour, UACCM and School Counts! split the mandatory fees, according to Lisa Willenberg, chancellor. “Many of our School Counts! students earn an associate degree at UACCM and transfer to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to complete their degree,” Willenberg said. “When they do this, they pay the same tuition at Fayetteville as they did here at UACCM. Actually, all two-year colleges in the UA system can do this, which really helps students complete their degree as economically as possible.” Chancellor Willenberg also noted, “UACCM is excited to continue our partnership with School Counts! and all Conway

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Jordan Ryals took concurrent classes at the University of Arkansas Community College in Morrilton and completed her associate’s degree early before transferring to the University of Central Arkansas to work on a bachelor’s degree in health care services.

County K-12 schools. This partnership spells opportunity for students. Upon high school graduation, whether it be a certificate for direct entry into a high-wage, high-demand job, transfer to UACCM for advanced training/classes, or transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree, the opportunities are truly endless with this unique partnership and it remains the envy of communities near and far. Great job, Conway County!”

To be eligible for financial assistance, students must meet the following core values and criteria: Quality: “I always give my best effort.” No transcript grade lower than a “C.” Attendance: “I show up for work.” Achieve a 9095% attendance record each year for Grades 9-12. Persistence: “I finish what I start.” On schedule to complete high school in four consecutive years. Goal Setting: “I go the extra mile.” Take more than the minimum number of credits required by the state for graduation. If students meet the criteria, contact a high school counselor to enroll in the program. “The skills you learn will never leave you and can serve as a foundation for a great future!” Willenberg said.

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Photos by Mike Kemp

Fairfield Bay murals are a


airfield Bay residents are loving the new view in The Towne Center thanks to the nonprofit We Love Van Buren County and the artists who painted colorful murals. On Oct. 10, the FFB Chamber of Commerce hosted an unveiling ceremony and reception. “We are moving Fairfield Bay forward one project at a time,” Chamber President Jackie Sikes said. “We called this project the ‘We Love VBC Towne Center Beautification Project.’ We started raising funds a year ago this month.” Sikes is also the chairman of We Love VBC. “This was a project of mine that I've wanted to do for some time,” Sikes said. “I gave each artist the opportunity to choose what they wanted to paint. Before painting, they submitted their design for approval first to my board, and then to the building’s owner. “The ones around the pergola in the Towne Center are all musically themed. We hope to bring live music to the pergola during nice weather. The only one that has anything symbolic of the town is the butterfly mural. We are designated as a Monarch City within the state of Arkansas. That mural is meant for people to stand in front of for a photo opportunity.” The organization was founded in 2014 and this is not their first community project. Funds for the project were raised by selling tickets for a drawing, two bake sales, and two benefit lunch events. Phase two will include a community garden and the Forgotten Pow Wow Park project at the pocket park by Indian Rock Village, a nursing/assisted living facility. The artists who painted them were honored with a

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plaque at each mural. They include Tayler Rachel, butterfly fence; Debbie Bakk, the four-sided scenery mural on Dave Creek Parkway; Maud Huber, the hubcap fence on Dave Creek Parkway; Sunny Jenkins, the mushroom mural; Jane Gortney, the dancers; Tamara Newton, the drum/ astronaut/sunflower girl fence; Mark Davis, deer postcard fence; Tamara Newton, the cement wall with musical notes; Karen Roethle Parise, the patriotic mural; Cynthia Schweitz, the three seasons; and, Kim Walker, the rainbow notes on the stairs. “One mural that is really special is our quilt square wall,” Sikes said. “It is also featured on the Arkansas quilt trail website and brochures. We are the first community to put quilt squares on a cement wall.” The following artists created the 62-quilt-square cement wall: Lisa Duggan, Coco Williamson, Patti Manville, Patti Dobbe, Cynthia Schweitz, Kay Sharpe, Betty Smith, Linda Ritchie, Kathi Parker and Gail and Ernie Campbell. The We Love VBC board members are Sikes, president; Gator Helton, vice president; Darleen Ward, treasurer; and Kenzie Young, member at large. Building owners who allowed the beautification projects are Sunny Hargis, Chris Norman, and the Fairfield Bay Resort and Community. Donors and sponsors include F.L. Davis, Benjamin Moore Paints, and 501 Pressure Washing. Volunteers are Sean Sikes, Van Buren County Sheriff's Department, Rebeckah Saveachin, Keegan Hays, Stephanie LeGaux, Mitch Mitchell, Denise, and Mike Von Kanel from Mike's Nursery.

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Hip to be Square By Dwain Hebda


ordon White clicks a couple of keys on his computer and grins. In a few seconds, a smooth instrumental starts playing, something you might hear at a cocktail party or jazz festival. He waits a few beats. “Bow to your partner … to your corner you-all … four ladies change … gents promenade, half-way … down the middle with a right-left through … rollawaaaayyyy. … ” White’s mellow patter snugs into and on top of the beat, smooth and silky. He’s not rapping, though it’s not far from it. What he’s doing is square dance calling and whether you know your allemande from your do-si-do, the lyrical performance is honey on the ears. “A good caller will analyze the floor within the first step or within the first five or ten minutes and then the caller should have the ability to push people just to the edge without breaking them down,” he said. “Just kind of nudge them along with some calls that might be a little more challenging, let’s just say.” White has nudged and been nudged in the art of square dancing, along with his wife Sue, for just shy of 50 years. The couple began dancing in their native upstate New York and through the years, combined their hobby with a passion for travel. Today they can boast of having danced the world over, from Russia to South Africa. Even now, having relocated to Hot Springs Village where they’re members of the Diamond Squares, the Whites’ upcoming calendar is jammed with trips and cruises where they will dance in the U.S., abroad and on the high seas. “It’s mental stimulation and it’s physical, because you’re going to walk three miles in an evening at 128 beats a minute,” he said of square dancing’s enduring appeal. “It’s social, something done that’s healthy. Just holding hands when you square dance, holding hands is therapeutic.” If your notion of square dancing runs toward gingham and

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hay bales, you’re woefully behind the times. The American art form is practiced to all kinds of music, in all 50 states and, as the Whites attest, more than 30 countries. There are almost 5,000 “calls,” which are dance maneuvers a caller strings together during the course of a song. Meaning, unlike the rigid 1-2-3 of a waltz, square dancing to the same song by different callers can result in two very different sets of steps. Carolyn Birdsong of Ferndale discovered square dancing in the 1990s and has been active since, to the point of becoming a caller herself. She said one appeal of square dancing is it can be learned by anyone. “It’s something so good, it’s hard to describe,” she said. “It’s just walking. Square dancing is just walking. People think you’ve got to have rhythm. No, you don’t have to have rhythm. It exercises your brain, too, because you have to think about what you’re doing.” Birdsong muses on several club affiliations throughout her career, each one eliciting warm memories of times shared and lifelong friends made. She founded her current club, Bluebird Squares in Benton, partly inspired by her last name, in the hopes of helping revive interest in the art form locally. “Twenty years ago, when I first joined a local club, they had 150 members,” she said. “I don’t know what it is now, but the numbers definitely have dropped. It’s really sad because it is such a wonderful thing. But some people just don’t want to make the commitment to take lessons for three months to learn 50 moves. And, as we get older, it takes us longer to learn, too. “But it’s funny; a lot of people who did it a long time ago now have time, so they’re coming back. Well, that’s fine. With my club, I tell ’em, ‘Come and dance. Don’t worry about anything, just come and dance.’”

Carolyn Birdsong is a square dance caller for the Bluebird Squares club in Benton.

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CONWAY Each weekday morning and afternoon, you’ll find the Conway City Attorney volunteering as a school crossing guard and at bus stops. “Watch out for our school buses and school crosswalks,” Finkenbinder said. “Instead of seeing an approaching bus or kids at a crosswalk as a delay, see it as an opportunity to show these children that their safety is important to us, that they are valuable, that they matter. Stopping for a school bus or for kids at a crosswalk … is a chance to do an important public service.”


My wife, Trina, and two children, Charles Christian and Madeline Grace. We have a blue heeler mix named Alice.


I have a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a law degree from William Bowen School of Law.


City attorney of Conway, appointed Jan. 1 after serving as chief deputy city attorney from 2017 to 2021. I've been licensed to practice law since 2001 and have previously served as a child welfare attorney and administrative law judge for the state and as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Faulkner County.


When I was 7, my teacher told us about a group of Native Americans fighting to keep their land and homes. They lost every fight on the battlefield, but when they took their struggle to court through a lawsuit, they won because a judge ruled in their favor. My teacher showed us that people may be poor, powerless, outnumbered, and outgunned, but in our nation, the courts of law could provide an equal playing field. I wanted to be a part of that system, and upon my return home from school that day, I gave a speech to my family that I was going to be a lawyer and help the people who could not fight for themselves. My goal each day is to be the kind of lawyer that little boy wanted me to be.


Earlier this year, I was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Equally important is a toy horse given to me by a child whose abuser I prosecuted. In the meetings to prepare for trial, the girl was scared to testify, and I told her she could bring her favorite stuffed animal to help her be brave. She selected a horse doll and held it while she testified. Afterward, her mom sent me a stuffed horse from her daughter, along with a card that said the child “wanted you to have a horse.” I believe the little girl wanted me to have it so that it would help me be brave too.

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I am very proud to be a member of Rotary and Kiwanis, the City of Conway’s Adopt-a-Street Program, and Meals on Wheels.


We attended First Assembly North Little Rock for many years, but while we love our First NLR church family, we want our church home to be in Conway and have started the transition to 2nd Baptist Church.


The Airborne wings I received upon graduating from U.S. Army Airborne School in 1986. I was terrified of heights, but my fellow soldiers helped me overcome that fear. The day of graduation, my Airborne instructor, in accordance with long-standing tradition, pounded those wings into my chest. I have never been more proud because my fellow soldiers were there for me. To me, those wings represent the brotherhood that carried me through my years of service in the Army and on into civilian life.


Anything involving my kids - kayaking, bicycle riding, or games.


Conway is a town of opportunities. When I came here in 1991, I was a year out of the Army. I had no money and no prospects, and my skills as an infantryman and paratrooper were not exactly in high demand in the civilian world. And yet the people of Conway took me in. You might say they adopted this young veteran who came with little more than the clothes on his back. I love how when there is a need, the people of the community come together. I love how so many people here look for ways to help their fellow citizens. Conway has so many organizations that not only work hard to fill the needs of those less fortunate, they also work hard to bring diverse people together to build bridges in our community and create a sense of belonging. So, the little things that I do are out of a tremendous sense of gratitude for all this community has done for me and for my family.

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We’re not just growing—we’re growing together.

New Medical Offices

Bank Better with us. When you bank at First Security, you’re also opening doors for friends, neighbors and fellow business owners across the state. That’s because our bank is Arkansas owned. And Arkansas focused. We put dollars back into the community, helping our customers – and yours – grow and succeed, all while providing the outstanding service that Arkansans deserve.

Member FDIC 76 | 501 LIFE November 2021