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Chronicling A Family Legacy

Reflecting the Character of the Arkansas River Valley February 2013


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February 2013

8 A Small Town's Voice

The City of Atkins was incorporated on November 3, 1876. Only two decades later, on November 30, 1894, George L. Parker established The Atkins Chronicle. The Atkins Chronicle is the oldest business still operating in Atkins.



Berger Passes Torch Making a choice last February to retire as the first executive director of Choices PRC, Mrs. Berger has been instrumental in the organization’s growing from a small center that offered self-testing pregnancy kits in 1991 to a clinic in 2013 that provides medicallyadministered pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound services, parenting classes, a thrift store for expectant parents and medical and adoption referrals.


Renfro Stepping Up as Choices Director


A View From The Back Roads


Making a Difference One Ribbon at a Time



about | our cover Photo by Steve Newby

Still the oldest business in operation in Atkins, The Atkins Chronicle has been family-owned since being sold to Ardis Tyson in 1917. Ardis’ grandson, Van Allen Tyson and wife Ginnie, owned the Chronicle from 1959-1961 and then purchased it again in 1992. From “printer’s devil” to setting Linotype, Van Tyson truly has ink in his veins. Don’t miss the story of this community treasure beginning on page 8. 4 ABOUT | February 2013

The 4th grade can be an exciting year for kids: learning about economics and the beginnings of algebra, Pee Wee football, basketball, and cheerleading, and figuring out boy’s don’t have cooties after all. For Kamrie Ewing, a 4th grader at Dover Elementary, she’s figured out a way to make a lasting difference in the community.

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Club Celebrates 25th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Story and photo by Johnny Sain

The River Valley Progressive Men’s Club held its 25th annual celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday January 19, 2013. Rick Colclough, past president and active member of the RVPMC said that the club is aimed at community involvement. “We are a grass-roots community service organization. We’ve been established since 1988 and operate primarily in the River Valley. Our focus is to instill the values and principles of Dr. King and being a positive influence in our community with the youth.” The celebration is for the entire community said Rick. “This event is intended to bring the community together in a day of fellowship. It’s a day to remember Dr. King and his legacy of the civil rights movement, non-violence, and the dream that all people will come together.” The event usually averages around 300 people according to Rick. Besides providing a positive presence in the River Valley, the RPMC also provides

scholarships based on merit for area youth. One recipient of a scholarship was Carmen White, a 1992 graduate of Russellville High School. . The scholarship was a stepping-stone for Carmen. “I graduated from Baylor University in 1995 with a degree in political science,” said Carmen. “After that I attended Harvard Law School and graduated in 1999 with a doctorate of law.” Carmen put her degree to use shortly after graduation. “I left Massachusetts and moved to Dallas Texas. I worked in a civil law firm and then left there to pursue my dream of being a prosecutor. I’ve been a prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney’s office since April of 2001.”

“For the last 10 years I’ve been a child abuse prosecutor and I’m currently the chief of the child abuse division at the Dallas County District Attorney’s office.” The influence of the RVPMC goes far beyond a scholarship for Carmen. “The River Valley Progressive Men’s Club was integral in getting my education, but was also integral in just being great men in the community that I could look up to and go to for support. My dad, Steven Pearson is a member. They are a great influence on the community.” The MLKJr celebration featured several speakers, words from past scholarship recipients, singing, and lunch. Admission was free. Food and drinks were free as well and provided by the club. n

February 2013 | ABOUT 5


The Editor’s Notebook


the River Valley

The Printed Word Faithful readers may recall previous columns where I discussed the source of my love for the written word. You’ve also read my rants about reading books on a Kindle and how I love the feel of the page of a book, magazine or newspaper in my hand. Call me “old school.” I still appreciate the “old” journalists and television anchors that deliver the news via airways and I get aggravated when something interrupts my viewing of the nightly news. I guess we all have our own quirks. But, isn’t that what they say keeps the world spinning around? Known as a youngster who loved to spin a yarn, I transitioned from oral word to written, filling pads of yellow legal pads and spiral bound notebooks with colorful jargon, mostly the ramblings of an adolescent. An aspiring artist I would never be so my search for a career led me to journalism, and eventually to Arkansas Tech. There I was fortunate enough to learn under some of the masters, among them, the late Gerald Edgar. Known for his dashing bow tie and fedora – along with his love of Oaklawn and the spring horse races – he was one of my inspirations, an old school gentleman and respected journalist. His only other counterpart, who at that time was Mr. Van Tyson, had joined the Tech staff only two years before I arrived. He quickly earned an appreciated and equally-respected spot in my eyes though he probably never knew it. Between Edgar and Tyson, the classes required for a degree in journalism were divided and taught. You didn’t miss an opportunity when an upper level class was offered or it might be another year added to your college stay. (That was when most students did manage to graduate in four years!) I was far from the best student, becoming easily distracted by the social activities that college had to offer, so I doubt I gave their classes my best effort. However, both instructors gave me benefit of the doubt and in 1980, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Now Dr. Van Tyson, he has retired as an instructor but continues the journalistic tradition as he and wife Ginnie work with other family members to produce the weekly Atkins Chronicle and its sister publication, The Dover Times. The oldest family-owned, continually operated business in Atkins, the Chronicle continues to be a welcomed voice in the Arkansas River Valley. They breathe life into their community, keeping residents abreast with the news they won’t see or hear about anywhere else. While still printing their weekly edition, The Chronicle also maintains a web version which can be read around the world for those folks wanting to remain in tune with their roots. I’m proud to call Dr. Tyson not only a fellow journalist and mentor but a respected friend. I hope you enjoy their family’s story on page 8. Dianne Edwards, Editor/Publisher 479.970.6628

A Publication of Silver Platter Productions, Inc Vol. VIII, Issue 1 – February 2013 Owners: Nolan and Dianne Edwards DIANNE EDWARDS | editor CHRISTINE WOJTKOWSKI | advertising KECHIA BENTLEY | columnist JOHNNY SAIN | freelance CONNIE LAS SCHNEIDER | freelance TABATHA DUVALL | freelance STEVE NEWBY | photography CLIFF THOMAS | illustrator CHRIS ZIMMERMAN | layout/design

ABOUT… the River Valley is locally owned and published for distribution by direct mail and targeted delivery to those interested in the Arkansas River Valley. Material contained in this issue may not be copied or reproduced without written consent. Inquiries may be made by calling (479) 970-6628. Office: 220 East 4th Street Email: Postmaster: Please send address changes to: SPPI, P.O. Box 10176, Russellville AR 72812.





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Feb.1: “Table for Two, Chicken Involtini, culinary class, 5 p.m., Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Petit Jean, (501) 727-5435. Feb.3: Reception Collegiate Competition and Exhibition, 1-3 p.m. River Valley Arts Center; 968-2452. Feb. 6-27: Eagle Tours, Lake Dardanelle State Park; dates and times vary, call 967-5516 for times and reservations.

Putting the newspaper on the computer wasn't nearly as simple as it seemed

Times: They are a changin' ‘Twitter, FaceBook, Google, Amazon’... even ‘the Internet’ were words that were not in my vocabulary when I began my journalistic career in 1976. Of course, there are scores of other words introduced over the years since but as we recently contemplated this month’s cartoon illustration, we marveled at how things had changed technologically. We recalled our own early days working on fussy MicroTek computers and cutting and pasting copy from little strips affixed with hot wax. Then the subject of “putting the paper on the web” came up. As you can see in the work of talent illustrator Cliff Thomas (above) we’ve poked fun at the process. But as we did, I still struggle with exactly how effective is the reach of stories and marketing to our readers in the Arkansas River Valley. Always conscious of the average age of our market reader, I’m sensitive to change. Listening to the media and their constant reference to “for more information, visit our website at...” I do realize a huge majority of folks have computers and web access but still, there are those that don’t.

Perhaps it’s my increasing age. Perhaps I’m stuck in time or dragging my feet but I’m just not entirely sold that print is on its way out, to be replaced by the web – at least not in my lifetime. Don’t get me wrong. I surf. I read stories and ads on the web. I purchase online (sometimes!) But just like our story on the Atkins Chronicle in this month’s issue, I believe community is best served when it does not entirely rely on reaching its market and readership via electronic media. In addition to their weekly printed issue, the Chronicle maintains a current website. But assuming that everyone gets all their news from the web just makes me feel like something is missing. Maybe I’m too tactile. I want to leaf through the ads, I want to peruse the pages of a paper or magazine and refer back and forth to what I’m searching for. Or maybe I just feel like we owe it to our older readership. Supplementing a publication with a website is a good thing and as with time, all things change, as I’m sure will my perspective... eventually. n

Feb. 9: Crawdad Craze, 10 a.m., Lake Dardanelle State Park, 967-5516. Feb. 9: “The Romance of Food” with Don Bingham culinary class, 10-3, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Petit Jean Mountain, (501) 727-5435. Feb. 9: 9th Annual Sweetheart Saturday, 1-3, Hughes Center, hosted by Arkansas Hospice; tickets or info: 498-2050. Feb. 9: Native American Games, 2 p.m., Lake Dardanelle State Park. 967-5516. Feb. 9: Talk of the Town Tables, Lake Point Conference Center, 6 p.m., info: Aldona Standridge, 968-4653 or Judy Murphy 967-1177. Feb. 9: Monte Carlo Night, presented by St. John PTO and the Knights of Columbus, 6 p.m., St. John’s Catholic School; info:967-4644. Feb. 12: Forget Me Not Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group, 6 p.m., second Tuesday of each month, Wildflower, 240 S. Inglewood Ave. 264-8805. Feb. 14: Valentine Dinner Party, RV Arts Center, 6:30 p.m. Info: 968-2452. Feb.15, 22: Fish Fry, 4-8; hosted by the Knights of Columbus, 990 SR 247. Info: Craig, 964-0063. Feb. 15: Table for Two, Beef Medallions culinary class, 5 p.m., Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Petit Jean Mountain, info: (501) 727-5435. Feb. 23: Made from Scratch, Across Europe with Jason Knapp, 10-3, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, Petit Jean Mountain, info: (501) 727-5435. Feb. 28: Community Bingo, seniors 55 and older; 2-3 p.m.; Wildflower, 240 S. Inglewood, Russellville; 890-6709 *Unless otherwise indicated, all area codes are 479 Visit for a list of activities updated as they are received. To have your event included in the ABOUT Calendar of Events, email: or fax to (866) 757-3282. Deadline is the 15th of the month preceding publication. February 2013 | ABOUT 7

The Atkins Chronicle A Small Town's Voice ~ A Family Legacy



mbry, Godby, Cheek, Lemley, Murdoch, Matthews, Sorrels, Tyson... the names of a small town’s leaders, entrepreneurs, and high school sports heroes. The years turn into decades and the decades into centuries but the names remain. They have been chronicled. Logged into posterity one inky letter at a time and they weave a tapestry of heritage through the soul of this small town in Pope County Arkansas. The City of Atkins was incorporated on November 3, 1876. Only two decades later, on November 30, 1894, George L. Parker established The Atkins Chronicle. The Atkins Chronicle is the oldest business still operating in Atkins. Parker promoted his creation as “the great thought-maker of the millions.” A pompous tagline to say the least, but Parker saw his paper as the antidote to the daily paper which as he put it, “is alright for those who wish to read about the smut, libels, scandals, gossip, trash, casualties, romances, and contradictions.” Ulterior motives aside, Parker had a firm grasp on the power of the printed word. His other slogan, “a drop of ink makes millions think” was spot on. Until the advent of the radio, ink was what made people think. In 1898, Parker sold The Atkins Chronicle to a W.F. Turner. Turner was a former teacher and wrote in his autobiography of buying the Chronicle.

In 1961, Van Tyson sold the paper to Tommy Gillespie, seen here on the Linotype.

8 ABOUT | February 2013

Leroy Tyson (son of then owner Van Tyson) hard at work on the press.

“In 1898 I accidentally got The Chronicle shot into me or me into it. I don’t know which and to this day we’ve stuck. The prospects are that we will stay stuck -until the sheriff do us part – if delinquents fail to even up.” By his words, it would seem that Turner viewed his relationship with the paper in similar light as a marriage. Both good and bad, give and take. Under Turner’s direction The Chronicle grew. Another former teacher, this one from the Dover school district was the next owner of The Chronicle in 1917. Ardis Tyson was his name and under Tyson’s editorial leadership, The Chronicle became a family business. Tyson brought his sons, Van and Leroy into the newspaper business. Tyson’s wife Ila and daughter Catherine were proofreaders for the paper. Also along for the ride was Van’s son, Van Allen Tyson. Van Allen started out at the Chronicle as a printer’s “devil.” That’s right, a printer’s devil. Who better to explain what that is than the printer’s devil himself, Van Allen Tyson. “Well, I started working here doing all the dirty work. A printers devil is what they called a printer’s apprentice, that’s all it is. Cleaning up, setting type, that kind of stuff.” Van talks about this as he leads the way through a room filled with the history of a small town known as the “Heart of the River Valley.”

Old issues of The Chronicle peek out from every nook and cranny - the construction of Interstate 40, the opening of the Atkins Pickle Plant, the flooding of Lake Atkins, and the Red Devils state football championship. It’s all in here. A community isn’t built on headlines though. It’s built on people. The births, the marriages, and the deaths, those are the ties that bind folks together and The Chronicle has recorded those as well. The roomful of sepia colored memories leads back to what was once the heart of the paper. The hulking Linotype typeset sits like a saurian fossil just off center in the room. It’s a relic of a simpler time. It’s also a reminder that work, even journalism, was fueled by elbow grease in those days. Folks may say that living was easier decades ago, but the fact of the matter is that the work was harder. Van explains all of the different moving parts and configurations involved in just getting the type set ready. “This is where you drop the type.” Ok. “And of course the letters in the press go right to left as opposed to left to right.” Of course. “The Linotype keyboard is not like a typewriter. The most commonly-used letters are all together at the top, like a California job case, which is where the type was when we used handset type.” >>

Ginnie and Van Tyson, Owners of The Atkins Chronicle

A California job case? Handset type? Dropping the type? This is already a lot more labor intensive than Microsoft Word and we’re a long way from being ready to print. Van continues explaining and the expression on his face says the years are falling away in his mind. The old tools move deftly through his hand. The printer’s devil is in his element. “We used to print pickle labels for the pickle plant. We were doing that when I started working here. After I bought The Chronicle, the pickle plant put in its own print shop and started making its own labels. That almost ruined us. They were our biggest customer.” “Job printing was about half of our business,” said Van. “It was about half and half with paper advertising.” A look back at Van’s life confirms that printer’s ink runs through his veins. Journalism is common thread throughout his family. “My Grandfather owned the paper for 40 something years. My dad edited it until he went into the army for World War II; he left in 1940 or 41. I started down here when I was 11.” Van became owner and editor of the Chronicle in 1959. In 1961 he sold the paper to Tommy Gillespie. Tommy had started his newspaper career as a printer at the Chronicle for Ardis Tyson, Van Allen’s grandfather, in 1945. After selling the Chronicle, Van Allen was off to Fayetteville. “When I sold the Chronicle, I went back to school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and picked up my master’s degree in English. Later on I earned my Ph.D. in English and I thought I’d probably end up teaching college English.” From northwest Arkansas it was on to the

10 ABOUT | February 2013

Midwest. He also married Virginia in 1963. “Right after we got married, I was in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Des Moines Register and Tribune for three years. Then I went back to school to get my doctorate in English.” “We taught a couple of years at Wayne State in Nebraska, Ginnie and I both did. I taught English and journalism there. I had taught at the University of Iowa where I was a graduate assistant. I taught the labs.” “When I came back to Arkansas I worked at the Arkansas Democrat in Little Rock, worked there for five years. Then, I got on at Arkansas Tech in 1974. I taught journalism at Tech for 33 years. While I was at Tech, I started covering meetings for Tommy and for The Courier in Russellville.” Van was head of the Speech, Theatre and Journalism Department for 15 years during which time he added courses in broadcasting, public relations and technology. During his tenure there the department grew from about 25 majors to more than 100. The faculty grew from 3.5 to 10 at his retirement in 2006.

Putting her English Master’s degree to work, Virginia instructed at Arkansas Tech as well. She taught college English for 20 years. The circle of ink was completed when Tommy Gillespie decided to retire. The Tysons bought The Atkins Chronicle again in 1992. The Chronicle introduced its sister publication, the Dover Times, in 1994 as well. “We bought it from a lady (Susanna Bewley) that started it up and ran it for a couple years,” says Virginia. “She wanted to revive and use the name of the original Dover paper that started… back in the 30’s I think.” “It started in the 20’s,” says Van. He knows this because the very first Dover Times surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, has a family tie to Van. “My grandfather, Ardis Tyson had a partner when he bought the Atkins Chronicle. It was my great uncle, Hugh Matthews Ardis’ brother-in-law. Hugh started the original Dover Times sometime in the 1920’s after he left the Atkins Chronicle.”

Van and Virginia’s daughter Emory Molitor helped her husband, Jason, run the Dover Times for a few years. Their other daughter, Gail Murdoch, was managing editor at the Chronicle for 12 years as well, before she became a certified financial planner. She now owns Cardinal Investment Group in Conway. Gail’s husband, Mark, (also a journalism major) still does photography and oversees technology at the Chronicle. Van’s sister, Beckie Tyson, is now on staff at the Chronicle as managing editor. Beckie brings 25 years of journalism and public relations experience to a family already overflowing with it. The Tyson name is synonymous with rural Pope county news and has been for decades. A small town newspaper faces many challenges in today’s journalistic climate, but Virginia believes that the Chronicle and the Times hold a special niche. “I think that real connection to the community is what separates a paper like the Atkins Chronicle from the other publications. Where else are people going to find news specific to what’s going on in their lives.” Like the two-car and bull accident that happened on Highway 105 north, near the Gumlog Creek bridge, a few years back “The bull was killed and the two autos were of course damaged,” says Van. While thinking about the headline possibilities for a rural story like this brings a snicker, this is news that matters for many Pope County residents. And, something you’re not likely to find covered by the larger media outlets. The current Atkins Chronicle and Dover Times staff includes hometown folks that bring hometown news to readers. Managing Editor Elizabeth Brown and writer/sports editor/ad salesperson Joseph Brown report news in northern Pope County for the Dover Times. Circulation manager Beverly Davis makes sure every paper gets where it’s supposed to be. Lori Johnson and Donna Hanke help out as proof readers. Mark’s dad, Gary Murdoch, writes sports and helps with distribution. Add yet another Tyson on staff as well. Van’s brother Bob takes care of the Atkins Chronicle/Dover Times web editions. The many community columnists and contributors help as well. In this age of sensationalism, it’s easy to lose focus of what is really newsworthy. What matters to the members of small town America sometimes gets lost in the flashing headlines and braying soundbites. The whisper of rustling newsprint filled with familiar names offers a refuge from the onslaught. What better way to stay connected with a community than sifting through the pages of a paper tracking the pulse of the heart of the River Valley. n








Your Hometown Family-Owned Dealership Serving The River Valley For Over 20 Years


Hwy 64 East Russellville

Service Department Open Monday-Friday 7:30-5:30 and Saturdays from 8-1 | 479-968-4566 February 2013 | ABOUT 11

Berger Passes Torch for Compassion, Caring Story by Angie Self | Photo by Steve Newby

Choices is defined as the act or power of choosing, according to Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Used as an adjective, it means: “worthy of being preferred; select; precious; very valuable.” Life is full of choices that may affect a single person, a family, a city or even the entire world. Sherry Berger made a choice more than 20 years ago to form a faith-based organization that is all about choosing life, something the co-founder of Choices Pregnancy Resource Clinic, Inc., believes is precious, valuable and worthy of being preferred. Making a choice last February to retire as the first executive director of the non-profit clinic, Mrs. Berger has been instrumental in the organization’s growing from a small center that offered self-testing pregnancy kits in 1991 to a clinic in 2013 that provides medically-administered pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound services, parenting classes, a thrift store for expectant parents and medical and adoption referrals. There were 38 clients of Choices PRC this past year who were previously abortion-minded and chose life. Mrs. Berger brought to Russellville her knowledge of working in a center that began in Harlingen, Texas, where she and her family lived in the 1980s. The Lord gave her a passion for the work there that she brought to Arkansas. “I became a Christian in 1985 and remember a day about two years later when I was driving through town listening to James Dobson on the radio,” Mrs. Berger recalled. “He said that a person from Planned Parenthood could pick up my daughter from school, take her to get an abortion, and bring her back to the school without parent permission. That hit me right between the eyes, because my 14-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat at the time.” “I was adamant about being pro-choice before my salvation experience. I remember praying after hearing Dr. Dobson for God to show me the way if He wanted me to work in this area to help young girls with unplanned pregnancies. About two months later, I was contacted while working at my church about a pregnancy testing center that had opened and needed someone to answer telephones. So, I began working there in the mornings and eventually full-time. I was one of the first employees and saw the operation grow from the ground up.” Her first experience actually working with clients who came seeking help from the center came a few months later when no one was available to talk with a walk-in client. Mrs. Berger had become familiar with the 17 questions the volunteers used to talk with clients who were considering abortion. Mrs. Berger related that miraculously the Holy Spirit guided her as she visited with the young woman. When they had finished their visit, Mrs. Berger said the young woman chose life. By the time the day was over, Mrs. Berger had spoken with three clients who all said they chose life for the baby instead of abortion before they left the testing center. “So, that’s when The Lord gave me a passion for this work that has lasted me throughout my many years working with the center in Texas and then in Russellville. I never had a time when I didn’t want to go to work. It was such a rewarding job and a spiritual help to me to go to work each day, especially working with the clients. I knew I would miss the volunteers, the staff and the clients, but I will still have a chance to minister where ever God puts me.” Sherry Berger  Continued on page 14 12 ABOUT | February 2013

Renfroe Stepping Up as Choices Director Story by Angie Self | Photo by Steve Newby

Faith is all about taking a risk and letting God work in His timeline and not our own, says Christy Renfroe, new executive director of Choices Pregnancy Resource Clinic, Inc. In a year that marks the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in America, Mrs. Renfroe will use her love and trust in The Lord to lead the agency in its efforts to save lives and change futures. Her passion for the program has blossomed over the past eight years since she began volunteering with the agency, says Sherry Berger, who retired from the position. “To me, this is confirmation that Christy is a right fit for the task,” Mrs. Berger said. “Part of my ease in leaving comes because of her. I would have been a little uneasy if we had hired someone new. She and I have worked side by side, and I have seen her go through some difficult times in her life and handled them so well.” A native of the Arkansas River Valley, Mrs. Renfroe started volunteering at the clinic a few nights a week when she was a public school teacher. She was involved when the agency changed from a center to a clinic and is familiar with what happened during that process. During this time, the thrift store was also organized as well as the “Bottles for Babies” campaign to raise funds for the agency. “I trained to work with clients, and that was certainly where my heart was for the program,” Mrs. Renfroe recalls. “I have a heart for sharing my testimony with them, helping them grow through their situation and transitioning to the role of a mother, many who are becoming one for the first time.” Through her connections as a school teacher, Mrs. Renfroe helped develop the Abstinence Program of the clinic that was presented at area schools including Russellville, Dardanelle and Dover. She continued this program for several years until she became a mother herself and had to limit some of her work with the agency. She continued as a client advocate for Choices PRC during this time. “Sherry has been such a mentor for me over the years and am so grateful to have worked with her,” Mrs. Renfroe said. “She has worked tirelessly throughout 2012 to make the transition smooth and make sure staffing for the agency was adequate before she left.” Mrs. Renfroe recalls a time when she was fairly new to the agency that Mrs. Berger gave her some advice that stuck with her and made a lasting impression on her life -- one that she can share with clients. “I was single at the time and was really going through a growth process to find out who I was with God and know his plan for relationships,” Mrs. Renfroe said. “I was a Christian and knew what God said about relationships but also knew what the world was saying about relationships. That’s when Sherry told me that I would know I had met the right person for my life when I would fall in love with him spiritually first, before the emotional or physical. I knew from that point on that I had to seriously trust God and step out in faith to let Him make the connections in my life. Before, it had always been me seeking and trying to find someone to date. The biggest thing I learned was what unconditional love meant with my relationship with God. Then, I had to know that God had a mate picked out for me, and I didn’t have to go looking for Mr. Right.” Christy Renfroe  Continued on page 20 February 2013 | ABOUT 13

Continued from page 12 The Crisis Pregnancy Care Center in Russellville began with a choice that Mrs. Berger made soon after moving to the Arkansas River Valley. She was approached during a local Arkansas Right to Life meeting about taking a position in the program. “I said, ‘no’ because I wanted to look into starting a crisis pregnancy center in the area,” Mrs. Berger recalls. “After the meeting, Maggie Simmons introduced herself to me. She said that she had been given a passion to help girls with unplanned pregnancies and would like to help me get one started.”

Mrs. Berger said that God had given them the two main ingredients to begin the program -- the knowledge of how to work the agency and someone who could find supporters. Mrs. Simmons had lived in the area for 35 years and was “adamant about approaching people, setting up the board and securing the support needed,” said Mrs. Berger. The two women, their families and volunteers worked from January until Aug. 2, 1991, preparing for the opening of the center. The center provided selftest pregnancy kits at that time and was not a clinic with medical personnel. Their objective was to help educate and empower

“Serving Four Generations of Satisfied Customers Since 1944”

201 North Ark. Avenue | Historic Downtown Russellville | (479) 968-2929 14 ABOUT | February 2013

women to make informed, life-affirming choices regarding pregnancy, relationships and future plans for their lives. “We have laughed many times about us two older women shivering at all the car washes we had,” Mrs. Berger recalls. “We had garage sales about every weekend and started our first half-year with a budget of about $1,900.” Mrs. Berger’s insight in helping clients and their families was increased to a new level the day the agency opened. Although there were no clients the first day during office hours, Mrs. Berger said that circumstances in her home life that evening led her back to the office to use the first self-test pregnancy kit on one of her own daughters. “We had moved a young man into our home who was a friend of our son,” Mrs. Berger recalled. “There were some problems there that we just weren’t aware of. She had been enticed, accepted and became pregnant. Being a mother, I couldn’t believe it unless I saw it myself. I took my 16-year-old down to the office about 10 o’clock after she told me that she was pregnant. She took the test, and it was positive. God worked a lot of things through that situation to grow our daughter, and she took a responsible attitude that even helped us in the crisis pregnancy center. But what it taught me was that behind each person that comes through our clinic, regardless of the situation, she has parents who are hurting, too. That helped me in my years lay counseling these women that I could say, ‘we’ve walked that path and its painful not just for you but for parents of the expectant mother.’ God can restore that relationship.” Mrs. Berger said that she used her testimony with the clients and parents, if the client allowed them to be brought into the picture. The primary focus of the agency was and continues to be to help the client feel safe and protected at the center, knowing their information is kept confidential, she said. “We wanted them to know that no matter what they were looking at, that it was okay,” Mrs. Berger said. “We tell the clients up front that we are not in support of abortion and want to educate them on risks of abortion and offer them life alternatives if they are open to this.” “We also ask them about their relationship with The Lord. There are a lot of emotions when dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. There were times when my husband couldn’t speak to our daughter. Then, one day, I came home and saw them comparing bellies and knew that they were going to be able to work through this. If you allow God in, he can help you through anything, and that’s what I tried to tell the clients.” About two years after the center opened, Mrs. Berger remembers a client she was able to help because of the life experiences she

CHOICES PRC EVENTS OF 2013 “Chosen” Fundraising Dinner with Henry Jernigan 6 p.m., April 16 First Baptist, Russellville

Bottles for Babies Campaign May 12-June 16

2nd Annual Catch the Beat 5K Saturday, Nov. 9

Choices Pregnancy Resource Clinic 311 East Third Street Russellville, AR (479) 967-2255 and her family had been through. The young girl didn’t have a father in her life at that time and was afraid to tell her mother at the age of 16 that she had been raped. The male who had raped her threatened her if she told. “The pregnancy test was negative, she told us after taking it at the center,” Mrs. Berger said. “I talked with her about the burden of carrying this bad experience by herself. She gave me permission to contact her mother. When her mother arrived and first sat down on the couch, there was a lot of space between them. Then, I asked the client to tell her mother what had happened to her. Before it was over, her mother couldn’t wait to get close to her and wrap her arms around her daughter and let her know how much she loved her. She told her daughter that they would work this out and began immediately to seek treatment for her.” One of the first milestones for the center under Mrs. Berger’s direction was starting a young mother’s support group. The idea came directly from her daughter and her experiences. “Many of these young women do not know the first thing about caring for a baby or parenting,” Mrs. Berger explained. “A lot of times, they don’t even have family support. Diana told me that I was missing something in the program. She said that when a young girl finds out she is pregnant, she many times loses her friends. Diana came along beside me as we started the support group and in two years, when she was 18, she began leading the mother’s support group. We would bring in guests speakers such as doctors to talk with the girls and other times, it would be just a time for the girls to share with each other what they were going through.” Later, the center turned the support group into a parenting program where the clients would earn “parenting bucks” to use in the thrift store to “purchase” clothes, diapers or other items for their babies. The organization

offers a six-week parenting program and Bible studies that the parents can attend for the first two years of the child’s life. One of the biggest milestones of the nonprofit organization during Mrs. Berger’s 20 years as executive director came in 2004 when the clinic changed from a care center to a clinic with a medical doctor’s supervision and registered nurse support staff. This allowed Choices PRC to provide nurse-administered pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to confirm a viable pregnancy. The ultrasound provides a “window to the womb,” allowing the parents to see their unborn baby and that tiny heart beating. The clinic also starts clients on prenatal vitamins and provides medical referrals for prenatal care. “We started seeing a change across the nation that unplanned pregnancies in young, unmarried women wasn’t a crisis anymore,” Mrs. Berger explained. “For the first 10 years, the girls that came in were so tender and fearful. It was truly a crisis pregnancy. Now, it’s a part of life for a larger number of people. So, we changed our operation so we could confirm a viable pregnancy through ultrasound allowing moms and dads to have immediate bonding with their unborn child. It also helps us more efficiently minister to their physical, mental and spiritual needs.” Board members, staff and volunteers had been praying for the agency to go medical for about six years as they worked to secure funding. In 2004. Once the decision was made to “trust God” and move forward, they received two grants that covered the cost of a new ultrasound machine and covered the first year’s salary for the nurse manager to oversee all medical aspects and provide ultrasounds. “Our budget went from $70,000 to $125,000 in a year,” she explained. “That first year, The Lord just brought all the funding in like we needed. He has continued to provide for us each year. We have found that if we leave God out of the equation, nothing works well.” Choices PRC is affiliated with CareNet and National Institute of Family Life Advocates, agencies that provide discounts on literature for the clinic as well as yearly conferences and seminars for administrative support. However, all funding comes from local individuals, churches, businesses and organizations, Mrs. Berger explained. “When we converted to medical, we took Choices Pregnancy Resource Clinic up to another level in what we could provide,” Mrs. Berger said. “Now, it needs to go up another level. I’m the dinosaur of the business. It was time for me to leave and for Christy Renfroe to step in and take the executive director position. The ministry is still in God’s hands and his servant now is Christy. It will continue to be wonderful, reaching people for The Lord, educating people on the trap we get into with sexual activity and educating them on parenting.” n

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about | family

Story by Kechia Bentley

A few days ago I could not stop singing a couple of lines from the song, “I Want to Know What Love Is.” I believe that is what they are now calling an “ear worm.” I know, weird, isn’t it? In my day we just called it annoying. Anyhow, I just kept singing the same phrase over and over again: “I want to know what love is; I want you to show me.” After about the 20th time of singing it I started to inform myself what love is. Thank goodness I was all alone because I was actually talking out loud to myself. The conversation went like this: Singing Me: I want to know what love is; I want you to show me. Talking Me: (with a know-it-all tone of voice) I will tell you what love is; Love is driving 16 hours in a Honda Accord with four adults and a cat! Some background might make this a little more understandable. You see, my oldest son, Adrin, found a stray cat that he took in and then promptly sat on, breaking its hip. When he called from the Animal Hospital emergency room to tell me of the cat’s existence and inform me that the surgery to fix the cat’s hip would cost $1000 to $1500, I promptly told him to put the cat “down.” Not a “mother of the year” moment at all. As a matter of fact I am pretty sure it knocked me out of the running for the next five to ten years. In my defense, we didn’t even know he had a cat. And the reason we didn’t know was because his father and I had advised him not to get any pets at this time of his life: Pets cost money. He has very little money. Still at the moment my boy was distraught and the cat was in pain; not a good time to suggest death for the cat. After I could finally get my son to speak to me again, we discussed the predicament. We discussed the fact that he did not have that kind of money and his parents don’t spend that kind of money on a pet. What to do? Well, my brother-in-law is a veterinarian in Jonesboro. He offered to do the surgery for free, and not only fix the hip but neuter and declaw the cat as well. Problem solved! Not quite. 16 ABOUT | February 2013

“ I promptly told him to put the

The Things We Do for Love

cat 'down.' Not a 'mother of the year' moment at all.

You see the cat, Watson, is in Tampa, Florida, and as I mentioned previously my brother-in-law is in Arkansas. We were going to Florida in a couple of months to celebrate Christmas. The only way I can explain what happen next is to say guilt -- every mother’s best friend -- took over. I did feel badly about my lack of compassion in my child’s hour of need. And I was hoping maybe to get back in the running for mother of the year. I offered to let the cat ride back with us so Uncle Jim could care for him. I would then be willing to meet Adrin in Montgomery, Ala., to return Watson once he was well Oh, I know some of you are thinking, “You should have just paid the $1000.” By the time this is all over you will probably be right. The only problem with my plan was I did not run it by the three other adults who would be riding in the Honda Accord with me. I eventually told my husband but I was afraid if I told my sons, Dillon and Payton, they would balk and not go with us to Florida for Christmas. So, on our way to Florida, about the time we hit Birmingham, Ala., I told the boys about our surprise guest on the trip home. It went about like I had expected -- not good. I was subjected to – and rightly so – lectures about honesty and trust. You know my hopes of getting back into the mother of the year race? Yeah, I am officially disqualified for at least a decade. Upon arriving in Florida we met Watson. Funny thing, for a cat with a broken hip Watson walked normal, sat normal, played normal. Apparently, the only thing Watson could not do was jump up. I held out a little hope that maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have to bring Watson back to Arkansas after all. But Adrin was insistent that Watson’s “quality of life” would be better if he had the surgery. Where did this kid come from? We brought Watson to Arkansas. I will admit, even though I ended up covered in cat hair, he traveled very well.

Here comes the real kicker. After being examined by Uncle Jim and an animal orthopedic specialist, it was determined that Watson does not need surgery. The break is healing fine and even if they did do surgery Watson would not be able to jump up. So, now it will just be neutering and declawing. When they prepared Watson for surgery they discovered that this stray cat had already been neutered. We are finally down to just declawing. From what I have been told, a declawing can be as little as $125. I do believe my boy could have afforded that procedure. But that is neither here nor there, because sometime in the near future, I will be taking my grandcat on another long car ride. You want to know what love is -- Me, Watson, and Montgomery, Ala.! The things we do for love. Everyone sing along! n



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about | community


AMCARE Senior Life Partners, Inc. (AMCARE) recently celebrated a move to a new location 914 West “B” Street in Russellville. This move comes after five and a half years on 4th Street and a growth that necessitated this renovation and move. “We are excited about serving the River Valley and would like to Thank everyone for the support and acknowledgement of our service and growth,” said Avona B. Kasselman, president and owner. For additional information call 880- or if you have never attended the event, this 1112 or contact AMCARe via avona@ would definitely be the year to come,” said Beth Giroir, co-finance chair. Junior Auxiliary is a national organization CHARITY BALL TICKETS AVAILABLE that represents a serious endeavor on the There are a few things we just do better part of women to be active and constructive down South - friendliness, charm, music community participants and to assume leadership roles in meeting community and (of course) food. All of those attributes will be on display needs. Junior Auxiliary is a non-profit when Junior Auxiliary of Russellville organization that encourages members presents its 48th annual Charity Ball from to render charitable services which are 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 2. beneficial to the general public, with The 2013 event, with a theme of “Southern particular emphasis on children. Hospitality,” will be at the L.V. Williamson For over 50 years, Junior Auxiliary has Boys and Girls Club of the Arkansas River been assisting children and families by overseeing projects that directly impact Valley at 600 E. 16th St. in Russellville. Tickets for the black tie-optional event child welfare, community education, are $70 per person or $130 per couple. scholarships, civic and cultural community Activities will include Hors d’oeuvres, a involvement and children’s health. seated dinner in an elegant environment Junior Auxiliary of Russellville members and a live auction. Mr. Lucky will provide volunteer over 3,000 hours of service annually. Helping children in Russellville is the musical entertainment for the evening. “The focus of our planning is on making the priority of the organization. Charity Ball, the event enjoyable for our guests. If you which can be attended by any person that haven’t been to Charity Ball in a few years supports the mission of Junior Auxiliary,

serves as the primary fundraiser for the organization. This year’s slate of officers include: Cindy Waits, president; Jessie Hogan, first vice president; Ashleigh McMillian, second vice president; Heather Strasner, public relations chairman; Jennifer Samuels, recording secretary; Andrea Nicholson, treasurer; Charity Smith, assistant treasurer; Chrystal Hall, parliamentarian; Amanda Mink, historian; Amy Whitlow, corresponding secretary; Jennifer Saxton and Beth Giroir, finance chairmen, and Mel White, associate to the board. Chapter members are required to complete 72 hours of service related to Junior Auxiliary areas in order to maintain membership. Members participate in annual projects like “Project School Supplies,” which provides school supplies to more than 550 children in the Russellville School District. The project benefits students in kindergarten through fifth grade who do not have funds for basic supplies.


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The chapter’s newest project is “Lunch Buddies,” which pairs each active Junior Auxiliary of Russellville member with a local elementary school student for monthly meetings during the school year. The majority of the projects and scholarships provided by the Russellville Junior Auxiliary are funded by the chapter’s annual Charity Ball. To purchase tickets for Charity Ball 2013 and for additional information, call (601) 467-1735 or (479) 890-1381.


Proceeds will be used to bring the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra to Russellville for an April 6th Concert. Proceeds are also designated for the Guild scholarship funds given to local schools and to raise awareness of the arts and music. Tickets for this popular event are $60 per person and may be purchased from Russellville Symphony Guild board member Judy Murphy by calling 967-1177.


Arkansas Tech University will present “Talk of the Town Tables” fundraiser will a performance by Gohar Vardanyan once again be hosted by The Russellville in the second annual concert of the Symphony Guild. This annual event will University Classical Guitar Series on be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, Tuesday, Feb. 5. at Lake Point Conference Center in Vardanyan will perform at 7 p.m. in the Russellville. Doc Bryan Student Services Building The evening will begin with heavy hors Lecture Hall in Russellville. The concert will d’oeuvres, a silent auction and live music. be free and open to the public.  Continued on page 23 A steak dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m.




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Continued from page 13 As she grew in her relationship with the Lord, God brought Travis Renfroe into her life, she said. The two met at a Monday night Bible class and spent their first few dates developing a spiritual intimacy before speaking of marriage. “I knew when I met him that this was who God planned for me to marry, but we grew in our relationship as fellow Christians before we fell in love emotionally,” Mrs. Renfroe explained. She uses what she learned during this time in her life about accepting herself as God’s daughter, made in His image, to talk with clients who come in to the clinic with deep hurts. “It is awesome to talk with clients about how God is not going to fail them or hurt them,” said Mrs. Renfroe. “I can talk to them about what unconditional love looks like and how God can fill that void of wanting to be loved. We don’t have to work so hard and strive for perfection with God. A cherishing relationship is so much better than infatuation.” Mrs. Berger shared with Mrs. Renfroe last February that she had a date in mind for retiring by the end of the year. Before Mrs. Renfroe made it out of the parking lot, she knew it was time to step forward and take the director’s position. She had been approached by Mrs. Berger a few years

ago about taking the position, but had a complicated pregnancy with her youngest son and didn’t think it was time for her to take on the task. After praying for a few weeks and receiving immediate support from her husband, Mrs. Renfroe made the decision to apply for the job. Personal difficulties and surgery with her three-year-old son, Dautry, to remove a benign tumor last summer did not sidetrack her from continuing to transition into the position that she felt she was called to do. “This position came open during a time when my husband and I were seeking answers on where we needed to be serving in ministry,” she explained. “This is an answer to our prayers, and we are going to trust God to handle all the issues we are facing with our son. The surgery was a success, and you wouldn’t know by looking at him that he had developed such a rare tumor and had it removed. Our family is standing on God’s Word that the tumor is not going to regrow.” Mrs. Renfroe said that she has over the years seen affirmations in her work that she is where God wants her to be by working with Choices. She said that adding the ultrasound machine to the clinic has had a definite impact on clients.

“We had an 18-year-old client come in who was very determined to be career oriented and had her college path chosen,” Mrs. Renfroe recalls. “She already had an appointment with the abortion clinic. A friend had talked her into coming here first. We talked with her and gave her the option of making an ultrasound appointment at our clinic. When she came back for the ultrasound, she still had a lot of walls up and an indifferent attitude. The moment she saw the heartbeat fluttering on the screen, her shoulders relaxed and she began to cry. She had a God moment where she saw life in this tee-tiny little six-week-old baby inside her womb. She walked out of the clinic changed, and her ideas were completely different.” Mrs. Renfroe said that her job is so much easier because of the amazing team of staff and volunteers that she has. A very important part of the team is prayer time. “A group of us will set aside time just to pray for a referral or a walk-in. Other clinics will call us or we will call them for prayer support. It’s not what we say or do, it’s a matter of God being completely involved in the atmosphere of the situation. Our workers pray for the clinic even when they are away from it. They donate their time, energy, efforts, homes and families to bless other people. We really mesh as a team.”

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The clinic has experienced transitions in other positions this year, including nurses. In a search for replacements, Mrs. Berger and Mrs. Renfroe were able to replace and even gain nurses to work at the clinic, including a staff nurse transitioning to the nurse manager position. There was also some turnover in the volunteers, including a volunteer and an administrative assistant changing places. Mrs. Renfroe hit the ground running when she took over as executive director. During the transition, the staff made the decision to step out in faith and organize its first 5K fund raising event to secure funds for training the new nurses on the ultra sound machine. “We needed $5,000 to train three nurses,” Mrs. Renfroe related. “We set the date for Nov. 17 for the 5K and started working toward it. Then, we received a $5,000 donation check in the mail. I was still training with Mrs. Berger at the time and taking on a new event to raise money. It’s amazing how when you step out in faith with both feet that God blesses that and brings us exactly what we need at the right time.” With the pressure off on raising funds for the training, the first Catch the Beat 5K was then used to raise funds for replacing the ultrasound machine. The machine is over eight years old and

Choices Pregnancy Resources Clinic '2012 Catch the Beat 5k' Race Day Prayer

working fine, but there are no parts available for repairs, she explained. The first 5K was a success with 303 participants and sponsors completely paying for the costs of the event. Choices PRC now has $5,000 raised at the event to put toward a machine that costs about $25,000. This year’s second annual Catch the Beat 5K is already on the calendar for Saturday, Nov. 9. Mrs. Renfroe is concentrating her efforts during the first part of 2013 on running the clinic as smoothly as possible with all the

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transitions and preparing for the annual fundraising dinner set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16. The guest speaker for “Chosen” will be Henry Jernigan at the event held at First Baptist Church in Russellville. A life verse that she has used this past year to help her through the surgery with her son and taking on the new position at Choices comes from Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in The Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.” “God told me, ‘You have to trust me on this.’” n


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February 2013 | ABOUT 21

about | outdoors

It’s February, the month that doesn’t have a season. According to the calendar its winter, but seasons don’t punch a time clock. Not in Arkansas anyway. Sure, there are going to be some cold days during the shortest month. They won’t last long. That’s why I have a hard time calling February a winter month. Can you smell it? I sure can, that sweet, heady, fertile smell of spring coming around the corner. It’s the smell of moist soil and warm southerly breezes. It makes me want to grab a cane pole, and an old coffee can full of worms. I’ll bet I can find a pasture pond where the water might be a touch warmer than the area lakes.

I can hear it too. Last night my daughter and I heard the first spring peepers of the season. For those of you that don’t know, spring peepers are little frogs. They will use any wet spot they can find to start the spring serenades and get underway with another years reproduction. I usually hear them on the first warm evenings in mid-February. You’ve heard them too. They make a high-pitched, monotonous cheeping. Usually several dozen are participating. My daughter used to think the sound came from birds; specifically great blue herons which most of you may know make a prehistoric sounding “croak.” She had seen the herons at the pond during the day and thought they summoned more of their buddies to the pond for a nocturnal get together. I had to tease her about this when we heard the little singers last night. It won’t be long until the other springtime vocalist come on the scene. I’ve already heard the cardinal, bright as a flame in the morning light, singing or “plowing” as some of the older folks call it. The whip-poor-wills will be starting in a couple of months. The 22 ABOUT | February 2013

turkeys will be hitting their peak gobbling at about the same time. Robins have been hanging around all winter but no singing from them yet. We usually don’t see the brownheaded cowbirds until April, so to hear their liquid call was a surprise the other day. The visual promises are everywhere as well. Trout lilies reach from the forest floor, their blossoms unable to face the gray February sky. Hickory leaves are still a long way from popping out, but the buds look as though they could burst at any moment. There’s the faintest touch of green in the grass. The stalks of jonquils sprouting up in pastures and yards are telling you that it won’t be long now. This first tease of warm days offer a scene of pasty legs and flip-flops dug out from the closet. Folks are pining for spring, craving the promise of warm afternoons. I think what we really crave is change though. I know I do. I love summer, but along about August I’m ready for frosty mornings. Frigid nights are spent around the fire dreaming about wade fishing for smallmouth. A fire-warmed backside reminds me of the sun on my bare shoulders. I recall a vacation on a beach in Mexico where I heard a woman exclaim that she was in paradise. “It’s eighty-five degrees and sunny every day! What more could you want?” My mind wandered to those first cool mornings in September after a steamy summer. I thought about the first green flash of a hummingbird at the feeder in March. No ma’am, my favorite flavor of paradise revolves around change. We need to come up with a name for this time of year, this precursor to spring. There’s “Indian Summer” for the nice days after that first cold snap in fall, “blackberry winter” for a cool spell in the late spring, and of course the “dog days” for those oppressive midsummer heat waves. We need something to call this wonderful period when all the promise of springtime is waiting for us just up the path a bit further. Or maybe it needs to stay like the month it’s wrapped in. A teasing puzzle without a label. A peek of what spring has in store for us before the cold north wind sends us back to the fireplace for a few more days. n






frequent freelance contributor to ABOUT... the River Valley Magazine. He and his wife, Christine, and daughters make their home in Dover, Arkansas. His column, A View from the Back Roads, will become a regular feature in future issues of ABOUT. We welcome your comments and input via email to:

The Month Without a Season

Continued from page 19 Dr. John W. Watson, vice president for academic affairs at Arkansas Tech, sponsors the University Classical Guitar Series. A native of Armenia, Vardanyan began playing guitar at the age of five and she made her first appearance on Armenian television just three years later. Vardanyan went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School. She has performed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., at Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and on the National Public Radio program “From the Top.” Vardanyan is also an active teacher. She received two teaching fellowships while at Juilliard and has received multiple fellowships to teach guitar in New York City public schools. For more information about Vardanyan, visit www.


Fantastic Friday is a Literary and Music Evening that will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. the third Friday of each month at River Valley Arts Center, 1001 East B Street, Russellville. The inaugural event, held January 18, featured readings by Wetzel LaGrone. The three true stories (read at the Starving Artist Cafe in North Little Rock for “Tales From the South”) and additional stories are widely broadcast in several countries by the World Radio Network.

Betty LaGrone recited poetry remembered from school days as well as newer selections. Both the stories and poetry of upcoming events will allow attendees to reflect back on their own childhood memories. Refreshments will be served. Reservations are requested by calling 968-2452 or via email at: Space is limited. Donations of $10 per person are acceptable. The next event is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15.

Arkansas Hospice Russellville presents 9th Annual


Arkansas Hospice Russellville is once again presenting Sweetheart Saturday, celebrating the 9th annual rendition of this popular event on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Hughes Community Center, 1000 East Parkway Drive, Russellville. The event will run from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 each or two for $18. Proceeds benefit the Arkansas Hospice River Valley Hospice Home. Call 498-2050 or n visit for more information.

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about | food

Valentine Dinner

Story by Dianna Qualls, Food Editor


alentine’s Day -- what a wonderful opportunity to show-off your culinary skills. My favorite steak is a filet and they are not as difficult to prepare as you might think. Just follow these simple instructions. The Apricot cake is one of my hubby’s all-time favorites. Shelbia Willis gave us this recipe many years ago after she had made Lloyd one for this birthday, and it has been a favorite ever since. The asparagus bundles are similar to green bean bundles, except the asparagus are so much easier to wrap with bacon. Who doesn’t just love yummy, creamy, cheese potatoes? So set out the fine china, get the real napkins and pretty candles, and spend a romantic dinner with your special someone.

Menu Gratin-Dauphinoise Asparagus bundles Filet Mignon Apricot Nectar Cake

24 ABOUT | February 2013


2 lbs. fresh asparagus, ends trimmed 12 slices bacon 1/2 c. light brown sugar 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter 1 T soy sauce 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the asparagus spears into 12 bundles. Carefully wrap one piece of bacon around each bundle, starting about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the tips. Secure the baconwrapped spears with a toothpick. Lay the bundles in a low-sided casserole dish. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, soy sauce, garlic salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the asparagus bundles. Transfer the dish to the oven and roast until the spears have begun to wilt and the bacon looks fully cooked, about 25 minutes. Remove the toothpicks before serving. Recipe from the

GRATIN-DAUPHINOISE (Potato Gratin) 2 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold or all-purpose potatoes 3 c. half-and-half 2 c. shredded Gruyère cheese, about 6 oz

Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel potatoes. Slice potatoes very thin with a sharp knife and put them in a medium pot with half-and-half, 2 teaspoons salt, and freshly ground white pepper. Stir well and simmer the potatoes for 15 minutes, or until they are just beginning to soften. Transfer potatoes and half-and-half mixture to a shallow medium casserole. The liquid should come just to the tops of the potatoes. Cover evenly with the shredded cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and cheese is golden brown. Recipe from

Add the wine to the pan and reduce by half while scraping the bottom of the pan. Serve the mushroom sauce on each steak.


1 box yellow cake mix 4 eggs 1 pkg. (small) Lemon Jello (dry) 3/4 c. vegetable oil 3/4 c. apricot nectar Glaze: 1/2 c. sugar 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice


2 (1-1/2 inch) filet mignon Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 1 c. red wine 1 c. sliced mushrooms 2 T. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 10-inch tube or Bundt pan. Mix the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, apricot nectar, and (dry) Jello together. Mix well and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Invert cake onto a plate and cool for several minutes. Pour glaze over cake while it is still warm. Glaze: Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, boil for 1 minute. Immediately pour glaze over still warm cake. Recipe from Shelbia Willis. n

Place the filets on a plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Allow to sit at room temperature for ½ hour. Rub each side of the steaks with salt and pepper. Place the pan over a high flame. Place the oil in the pan there with enough to just coat the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is very hot, place the steaks in the pan and do not move them for at least four minutes. Flip the steaks over and cook the other side for four to five minutes. Test the temperature of the steaks; they should be between 120 and 130 degrees. Remove the steaks to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sauté for two minutes or until the mushrooms release their moisture.

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about | generosity

Making a Difference One Ribbon at a Time Story by Tabatha Duvall

The 4th grade can be an exciting year for kids: learning about economics and the beginnings of algebra, Pee Wee football, basketball, and cheerleading, and figuring out boy’s don’t have cooties after all. For Kamrie Ewing, a 4th grader at Dover Elementary, she’s figured out a way to make a lasting difference in the community. A friend had brought Kamrie a hair ribbon, and she decided to learn how to make them. Using the ribbon as template, and help from her mom, she started making them and selling them where she could to earn a little money. Kamrie’s parents, Melanie and David, had told her once she had saved some money, she could use it to buy whatever she wanted to spend it on. Melanie laughed, “We didn’t think she’d make 30 bucks, but in one night at a baseball game she made over $100. We got home, counted the money, and she ran into the office and screamed as loud as she could!” She began selling wherever she was allowed: the fair, Starbucks, sporting events, and to cheerleading squads. When asked what she wanted to buy with the money, she shocked her parents letting them know she wanted to give it to charity. She explains, “I knew I had everything I needed, like a mom and dad and toys, so I decided to give it to charity. One of Mama’s friends asked me ‘One person can make a difference, can’t they?’” Values of giving and compassion were instilled in Kamrie, and her older brother Christian, at a young age. At Christmas, their parents


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would take them to the store and buy a toy to give to another child at Main Street Mission. They had to give the toy away and wouldn’t get anything in return. Melanie continued, “Maybe that left an impression. We always try to remind the kids of families that are less fortunate than us. She’s never wanted to quit raising the money or keep the money for herself. I thought for a while she’d want to buy something eventually, but she never wanted anything.” Her initial goal of $100 for homeless children quickly tripled, and she decided to expand her goals.

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Kamrie had heard about 11-year old Korey Heath, her coach’s daughter’s who was battling cancer, and knew she could be able to help. Kamrie reveals, “It was sad because she has a lot of life ahead of her. It makes me feel good that a girl can be changed. One bag of medicine is over a thousand dollars and she has to go every week.” In September, she was able to hand the Heaths $1000, and by December was able to give the family another thousand. Soon after reaching her second thousand dollar goal, Kamrie again broadened her horizons with the “Operation Bookmark Happiness.” Classrooms were able to be sponsored and receive bookmarks made by Kamrie, and the money for the sponsorship went to charity. Within five days she had raised $2,000 for the Southern Christian Home in Morrilton, which currently houses 49 children. In those five days she had 106 classrooms sponsored in Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, and California. Four days before Christmas, she delivered the money, hair ribbons, and bookmarks to the orphanage. Later the same evening, half of the 27 classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., devastated by a school shooting, were sponsored. As of midJanuary 2013, all of the classrooms at Sandy Hook have been sponsored, and she had an additional $800 to donate to Southern Christian home. She is still taking donations to have classrooms sponsored through “Operation Bookmark Happiness.” More information about this project is available at www., or on Facebook by searching “Kamrie’s Colorful Creations” or “Operation Bookmark Happiness.” One person can make a difference, can’t they? n


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February 2013 | ABOUT 27

about | humor

A Snake Story By David Bachman M.D.

Green garden snakes can be dangerous – they can present problems. A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had an experience with one of those green little things they will never forget. They had a number of potted plants on their patio, during a cold spell, the wife decided to bring them indoors to protect them from possible freeze. It so happened, a little green grass snake was hidden in one of the plants; then when it had warmed up, it slithered out, the wife saw it go under the sofa – she let out a horrendous Texas scream heard all over the neighborhood Her husband, who was taking a shower, ran into the living room naked to see what had frightened his wife. Good wife told him there was a snake under the sofa and yelled at him to get rid of the thing. Husband got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for the thing. At about that time, the family dog came and cold nosed his naked rear – he literally went bezerk – thinking the snake had bitten him; in fact, he fainted. His wife thought he had a heart attack and called an ambulance. The attendants rushed in and loaded the husband on a stretcher and started carrying him out of the house. About that time the snake came out from under the sofa – one of the emergency medical technicians

saw the thing, and dropped his end of the stretcher – that’s when the husband broke his leg and was admitted to the hospital. Despite all this, the wife still had the problem of having the snake in her house, so she called on a neighbor man - he volunteered to capture the snake. Good neighbor armed himself with a rolled up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided the thing had gone and so told the wife, who sat down on the sofa in exhausted relief. While relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushion, where she felt the snake wriggling around – she screamed and fainted and the snake rushed back under the sofa – the neighbor man, seeing the woman lying there passed out tried to revive her with CPR. The neighbor’s wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store saw her husband’s mouth on the woman’s mouth. She slammed her husband on the back of his head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches; so, the ambulance again was called, since the neighbor wife determined hospitalization was required. The noise of the canned goods hitting the man woke the fainted woman. She saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him and assumed the snake had bitten him. She scurried to the kitchen, brought back a small bottle of whiskey and began pouring it down the man’s throat. By now the police had arrived – they saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the two women tried

to explain how it all happened over a little green snake. Soon thereafter the ambulance arrived and took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife. About that time, the little snake crawled out from under the couch – one of the policemen drew his gun and fired it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of an end table that was on one side of the sofa. The table fell over and the lamp on it shattered, and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes. The other policeman tried to beat out the flames and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog, The mutt was startled, jumped up and raced out into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car and set it on fire. Meanwhile, the burning drapes had spread to the walls and the entire house commenced blazing.

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28 ABOUT | February 2013

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Neighbors had called the fire department and the arriving fire truck had started raising his ladder when they were halfway down the street – the raising ladder tore out the overhead wires and pulled out the electricity, thereby disconnecting telephones in a 10-square block area. About a year later, the original couple was watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The husband asked his wife if she though they should bring in their plants for the night... She shot him dead!

and without warning, she found herself out of control and skiing backwards down the hill– picking up speed all the while. She continued skiing backwards, creating a most unusual sight for the other skiers. Her pants were down to her knees, skier skiing nude and backward under the lift, finally colliding violently with a pylon. The bad news: she broke her arm and was unable to pull up her ski pants. At long last her husband arrived, put an end to the nude show and summoned the ski patrol for her transportation to the hospital. While in the emergency room, a man with

an obviously broken leg was put in the bed next to our lady “nudist.” “So how did you break your leg?” asked she to him, trying to make small talk. He replied: “It was the darndest thing I ever saw. I was riding up this ski lift and suddenly I couldn’t believe my eyes -- there was this crazy woman skiing backward out of control down the mountain with her bare bottom hanging out of her clothes and her pants down around her knees. I leaned over to get a better look and fell out of the lift.” Then he asked, “So how did you break your arm?” n

A Ski Story By David Bachman M.D.

In “days gone by,” Spring was the time of year for planning an annual ski trip – usually to the slopes of Colorado – Snow Mass, Breckenridge, Vail or Beaver Creek. Unfortunately, some things must be relegated to the “used to do” bin -- not that I couldn’t still ski – like any other sport, once learned, the technique stays with you. My concern is the possibility of falling and breaking a bone – those things just don’t heal as well at my age. I am left with fond memories of days on the slopes. Every once in awhile, I hear a ski story that is hilarious. This story was told to me by a friend who returned from the ski slopes in Utah supposedly, it is a true story. Conditions were perfect – 12 below, no feeling in the toes, basic numbness all over – a “tell me when we’re having fun” day. One of the women in a group of skiers complained to her husband that she was in dire need of a restroom. He told her not to worry – there sure was a “pit stop” at the top of the lift for females in distress. He was wrong, no restroom – and the wife’s pain and urgency worsened! If you ever have had the panic button pushed, then you know that a temperature of 12 degrees below doesn’t’ help matters. With time running out, lady skier weighed her options. Her husband, picking up on his wife’s distress, suggested that since she was wearing an all-white ski outfit, she should go off in the woods and “do her thing” -- no one would notice her -- the all white outfit a perfect camouflage. The dear lady made a mad dash to the woods to do what was needed. Now if you’ve ever parked on the side of a slope, you know there is a right and a wrong way to set your skis so you don’t move. Yup, you got it! Lady skier, since she had no time, positioned the skis in the wrong direction and at the most embarrassing moment -- her pants down around her knees

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M A R C H 2 , 2 0 13 SAV E T H E DAT E www.jar ussell February 2013 | ABOUT 29

New York City Holiday

Fifteen Tech travelers were encouraged to “Start Spreading the News” as they began preparations for their trip to New York City, New York, on Nov. 26, 2012. The group flew from Little Rock to America’s most exciting metropolis for a getaway filled with shopping, sightseeing, entertainment and holiday cheer. Their tour of the Big Apple included Greenwich Village, the Wall Street district, Chinatown, the Empire State Building and other landmarks, including a memorable visit to Ground Zero. They viewed the high-kicking Rockettes during an evening at the Radio City Music Hall’s incredible Christmas Spectacular. On Day Three the travelers spent a day with Lady Liberty, touring Ellis Island and visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The following day the group enjoyed shopping and leisurely activities before part of the group attended “Jersey Boys” while others saw “Wicked” on Broadway. They returned to Russellville on Nov. 30th. For information on upcoming travels with Tech Travel, call Dana Moseley, office of Gift Planning, at 964-0532. n 30 ABOUT | February 2013

February 2013 | ABOUT 31

Profile for ABOUT the River Valley Magazine

ABOUT | February 2013  

ABOUT | February 2013