June 2021 ALT Magazine

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From the Publisher

It’s summertime! I love it! As I write this, I am preparing to go to the beach for five days with my grandkids – my happy place – the place where I go to find peace. I cannot wait! I also cannot wait for the fall when I get to make the journey back to Belize with my husband. I am such a blessed woman. I love going on vacation with the people I love. For years, I have gone all over the south with my kids and friends. It is always so much fun to go with someone who has not been to the place you are going and see their faces as they get their first sight of the destination – whether it is the beach or the mountains, it is a joy to watch. Both the beach and the mountains are miracles from God – something you just cannot understand until you have stood right next to them. The three couples we feature this month have traveled lots of places together. It is a real testimony for them to remain friends pretty much their entire lives. There are the kind of friends everyone should have. They have stuck by each other through thick and thin. Whether laughing or crying, they have been there. Whether you are there for your friends or family, or maybe your pets, everyone needs someone. Brenda Williamson, the interim shelter director, has been a friends of mine for years. She has always been passionate about animals, wanting to help any that she can. She is smart, loving, caring, and a stickler for making sure things are done correctly and timely. She is exactly what we needed. I cannot wait to see what she does with the new shelter soon to open. I am sure the animals who are unfortunate enough to end up at the shelter will be happy to have her taking care of them. Last, June is here and with that we have Father’s Day! I have to brag on a special father – Mike Brower. He has been such a wonderful father to Jaclyn and Michael and has always stood by my side, helping me make sure they are doing well. He is the perfect example of how to raise children together. And although he drives me crazy sometimes, I always know he has our backs. He is there for us. I hope you have a special father in your life. May God bless you and yours.

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“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever” – Francois Mauric. 012

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It is very rare that even one couple gets to celebrate 50 years of marriage, but it is even more special that three couples who have shared so many memories throughout their lives EACH get to celebrate 50 years of marriage. “As we age, we lose our grandparents, parents, and other relatives who share our memories,” Sandy Francis, Administrative Assistant at Texarkana College, says. “It is comforting and special to have friends who have shared our childhood and adult memories as we reach this time in our lives.” The friendship that Sandy is referring to is the one that she and her husband, Richard “Dick” Francis, share with two other couples: Delbert “Earl” and Kathy Cox, and Billy and Kristina “Kris” McMillen. All three women grew up on the same street in Texarkana, Arkansas, and all three graduated from Arkansas High School. All three men played in the Texas High School Band and enlisted in the Marine Reserves during the tumultuous years of Vietnam. Not only that, all three couples have remained friends over the years, even when their lives have taken them in different directions. When they can, they still visit over dinner about the memories they made growing up and what life was like in Texarkana during that time.

married. “We lived in the time when kids gathered and played outside. We would ride our bikes up and down the street and gather in each other’s yards. Our families would step outside the house and yell out our names when they wanted us to come home,” Sandy says. “We walked to elementary school, which was about four blocks away, together in the mornings and home in the evenings. The other children in the neighborhood, Jerry Shipp and Curt Green, walked with us, too. As we reached our homes, we would depart, and the others would continue to their homes. So, our families knew all our families, and we have known each other all our lives.” As the girls got older, they all got involved in school activities. All three of them were in the Red Jackets, the AHS cheering squad. “Our parents would take turns taking us and picking us up after the games,” Sandy says, “They also took us to the roller-skating rink located at Spring Lake Park and to the swimming pool located there in the summer.”

When Sandy, Kathy, and Kris became old enough to drive and get their driving licenses, they would take turns borrowing the family car on weekends. “A lot of the guys seemed to work and have their Sandra (Sandy) Howell, Kathy Lynn, and Kris own car, but it was rare for the girls. In fact, none Cigainero all grew up on the same street in of the three of us girls had our own car until we Texarkana, Arkansas. There was one house married,” Sandy says. “So, we borrowed the car between each of their houses, and they lived in and would drag through the Arkansas and Texas those same houses until each of the girls got A&Ws.”

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There were two A&W drive-ins in Texarkana: one on the Texas side of town and another one on the Arkansas side. These popular hang-outs drew in crowds of teenagers who would drive from one location to the other in order to see who was there. They called it “dragging the A & W.” The drive-ins specialized in burgers, chili dogs, fries, and cokes, but their top-seller was whistle burgers, which was a burger with a slice of ham. It was at one of these A&W drive-ins that Billy and Kris met for the first time. “Back when we were all dating, we would get dressed up and go to the movies or drive back and forth between the A&Ws. One funny story I remember is that we would pass friends in other cars, and the guys would always call out to each other, ‘You going to the Pit?’ I always thought that after they dropped the girls off, the guys would go stand around some pit in the woods and talk or do whatever guys do,” Kris says. “I finally found out that the pit was Pit Grill on Stateline! I laugh every time I think about how young and naive I was back then!” The three young men, Dick, Earl, and Billy, met at Texas High School in a friend group that included Rex Duncan, Bill Waddell, Jerry Morgan, Billy Deloach, and Jack Jackson. They had their own cars and would meet at parking lots and talk, laugh, and then drag the A&Ws. “They were all three in the THS marching band and played at the pep rallies and games. Dick’s folks had a place on Lake Greeson where the boys would go boating and swim,” Sandy says. “After high school graduation in 1966, most of them went to Texarkana College, and all of them had jobs.”

Delbert, “Earl” Cox, and Kathy Lynn met when a mutual friend invited Earl to a Valentine party at the church where she and Kathy attended. Kathy remembers Earl telling the Biblical version of “Three Little Pigs,” a popular children’s story. “He seemed to be so kind and caring that it made me want to know more about him,” Kathy says. “I jokingly told my friend that I just might have to take him away from her. And that did eventually happen. We got married August 16, 1969.” When the three couples get together, they spend a lot of time talking about these early memories they share as teenagers dating and getting ready to graduate. “Our most special memories are the days of dragging the A&Ws, gathering at the parking lots to laugh and visit, riding around together as couples in one car, then switching to another one when the tank was low on gas. We spent hours and hours together,” Sandy says. “We would go on dates as a single couple but really enjoyed double dating so we could all be together. These were carefree, happy times filled with lots of laughter and music. Music was a big part of our lives. We knew the words to all the popular songs, and all the guys had the latest music system in their cars. We just enjoyed being together.”

However, in the midst of these idyllic days, the threat of the draft was hanging over the young couples. “When Dick, Earl, and Billy graduated from Texas High, the Vietnam War was raging, and the military draft was active. If you were drafted, it was almost certain you were going to Dick and Sandy met when they were introduced war in Vietnam,” Sandy says. “If you wanted to by Carrol Reed, who was dating Billy McMillen avoid going directly to war, you could voluntarily at the time. Carrol and Sandy were friends from join the reserves. This was for a six-year term, school and attended the same church. Dick and and you attended the same boot camp and Sandy were married on May 30, 1969. Billy and training that the active military attended.” Kristina met through mutual friends that gathered at the Texas A&W drive-in. They were married on Dick signed up for the Marine Corp Reserves first, leaving for training in Camp Pendleton, San Diego, May 7, 1971. California, on May 10, 1967. After completing his 014

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basic training (boot camp and infantry), he was allowed to come home for two weeks before returning to complete his training. He talked to Billy, Earl, and Jerry Morgan, another one of their friends, and convinced them to join. Billy left in September of 1967 for training, and Earl and Jerry left a few months afterward. They all went to boot camp in different areas but met up again at artillery school. “There were some tense times. We were all married at this time, and the girls would talk and get together when the guys were gone on drills,” Sandy says. “We were glad to have each other.”

Billy McMillen

In June of 1970, the North Korean Navy seized a broadcast vessel from the south near the Northern Limit Line. “Twenty crewmen were captured, and the Texarkana Marine Reserve 4th Division came within minutes of being activated,” Sandy says. “Dick, Billy, Earl, and Jerry completed their six years in the Marine Reserves. Dick was a Sargent, and his position was Forward Observer, calling the shots and directing them to the target. Billy was a Corporal and Section Chief on the 105 guns in the Artillery Unit. Earl was a Corporal in the Artillery Unit.” After those early years of love and war, the three couples began to build their lives, but this often took them in different directions. “As much as we had in common growing up, we have greatly chosen different activities in our adult lives,” Sandy says.

Earl Cox

Dick Francis A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

Dick and Sandy have lived in Texarkana all of their lives. They now reside in Redwater, Texas, and both of them still work. Dick has worked at International Paper (now Graphic Packaging) for 48 years. Sandy has worked at Texarkana College for 36 years, and neither one is considering retirement at this time. “We are very active. We have a small ranch with five horses, a mule, and seven dogs. One of our favorite things to do is load up a couple of horses and join our ‘horsey’ friends on trips to different horse camps to ride trails and enjoy stories around the campfire at night. We also owned and showed pleasure and reining horses,” Sandy says. “We have also taught country and western dance lessons at Texarkana College for over 30 years. After five years of marriage, we adopted our son, Robert. When he was growing up, we spent many years swimming and boating at Lake Greeson.” Earl and Kathy, along with their two children, Michael and Amy, were born in Texarkana. Michael and Amy attended Pleasant Grove ISD. Earl and Kathy were very involved with the various sports and activities that Michael and Amy 015

were active in at the time. Kathy was employed for twenty-three years at Wadley Hospital over a team of medical transcriptionists. Earl joined the Texarkana, Texas, police force and later became “Officer Friendly,” visiting the children at the various school campuses to promote safety and build trust. He later was instrumental in developing the DARE program and helping to establish the TISD Police Department. Even though they relocated to Longview, Austin, and finally, Frisco, they became active members of their church and community activities in each location with a desire to give back. “Earl was involved with medical mission trips through First Baptist Church in Texarkana. He loved to travel with them to Guatemala and help however he could,” Kathy says. “Years later, Dr. Terry Lands, the pastor that he traveled with, gave us a 016

beautiful letter about how much he appreciated Earl’s help on these trips.” Billy is retired from Natural Gas Pipeline Company after 29 years, and Kris is retired from Gregg County, Texas. Billy retired in 1998, and Kris retired in 1999. They retired to Mena, Arkansas, and later moved to Hot Springs Village. They sold their Hot Springs Village home in 2015, went on the road, and lived in their RV until July 2019. The couple also owned and drove race cars for many years. Their current home is in Gassville, Arkansas. “We are avid hikers and cyclists and have hiked in 21 of the 50 states and also in Canada. We have also ridden our bicycles in 27 states,” Kris says. “One of the reasons we love Gassville is that there are many trails for hikers and cyclists. We can actually walk outside our door to a hiking trail.” A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

Through The Ages The three couples would go for long periods of time without seeing each other as their lives took different turns. “We were all young, and times were different. We all worked, and money was not plentiful with any of us,” Sandy says. “All of our lives were changing.”

Unfortunately, Earl Cox did pass away from COVID-19 on February 15, 2021. He was 73. Earl is greatly missed by his wife, Kathy, and two children, Michael and Amy, along with their spouses and children. Earl had five grandchildren when he passed. Many close friends have mourned his passing as well, including those However, when the three couples meet together, that have been there from the beginning: Dick, it is like no time has passed. When they gather, Sandy, Billy, and Kris. He will not be forgotten. they enjoy talking and catching up on things in each other’s lives. They usually go out to eat or January 10, 1948-February 15, 2021 talk on the phone. “These friendships have meant so much to us through the years because they are lasting friendships. Throughout life, you have lots of short-term friendships--maybe you move away or change jobs. But, it’s special to have a group of people that you stay in contact with, in all walks of life,” Kathy says. “We know each other’s life histories on a deep and meaningful level, and that is something that builds over the Beautify Your years; it’s not something that you share with everyone you meet along the path of life.” Outd Kris believes that the friendship between the three couples is very uncommon. “It’s an unusual story that we would all meet and stay friends. Growing up, it was natural for us to run around together, but usually, after all this time, people lose touch,” Kris says. “We still like each other after all of these years. It’s just a really neat thing to have these friendships.” All three couples have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Dick and Sandy celebrated in May of 2019. Then, Earl and Kathy followed in August of 2019. Finally, Billy and Kris are celebrating their 50 years this month. “Through everything, we’ve always been there for each other,” Sandy says. “I like the quote by Joanne Fink that says, ‘Having someone with whom to laugh, talk, cry, and dream, is having a friend to love.’”



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Brenda Williamson

And the Animal Care and Adoption Center

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The Animal Care and Adoption Center on the Arkansas side has experienced a lot of positive changes recently. They are excited about the impending opening of a brand new facility, many citizens are donating needed items for the shelter, and the community is responding to Facebook posts and adopting animals into happy, safe homes. No one is more excited than the new Interim Director, Brenda Williamson. After years of volunteering and working at the Animal Care and Adoption Center (which most people refer to as simply “the shelter”), Brenda was asked to take over as interim director after the previous director left. She hopes that she can carry on in this position and continue to make a difference 022

for the Texarkana community and all abandoned and discarded animals that come to the shelter. “I love what I do, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Working with and rescuing animals is not easy. It’s an emotional job, but it’s an important one,” Brenda says. “The best days at the shelter are the ones when we see a new family walk away with an animal that they’ve fallen in love with. I will always remember a story involving Delta, a black mouth cur, that I found abandoned at the airport, hence her name. She was terrified of everything, and others believed that she would never be adopted. However, a family from Shreveport saw her online, came down and fell in love with her. They often send me pictures A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

of her, and she is spoiled and loved. It’s stories like this that remind me of why I do what I do.” We have all driven down a road in Texarkana and seen a lost or abandoned animal. Many times, we talk ourselves out of stopping, opting instead to hope that someone else who has the time or the knowhow will help. Brenda is one of the many volunteers in Texarkana who stop. Not only does she stop, but she also takes in these animals, gets them vetted, loves on them, and posts them for adoptions through area rescues. She truly cares about animals, and she has since childhood. “Rescuing animals has been a lifelong passion of mine. Even when I was a little kid, I would drag home every stray I found, and at one time, we had nine dogs, all thanks to me,” Brenda says. “My dad would just shake his head and say no more, Brenda! You can’t save them all, but that didn’t stop me from trying!” Even into adulthood, Brenda carried her passion for animals. Brenda and her husband, David Williamson, have cared for many animals over the years. Brenda met David through a mutual friend, who happened to be David’s ex-wife. “It’s very surprising, I know, but she introduced us, and then when David wanted to ask me out, she said, ‘Sure, I would love for her to be the kids’ stepmom.’ We dated for a year, and we’ve been married 35 years now,” Brenda says. “Even though I have two stepchildren, I call them my own. Erin Williamson was only seven years old when David and I got married, and Ryan was only five years old. Then, we had Tara. Erin is an interior designer in Austin, Ryan is a mechanical engineer in Fort Smith, and Tara is a teacher and dyslexia coach for Texarkana ISD. I couldn’t do what I do today without their support; my family is such a blessing.” When Brenda retired from nursing in 2007, she knew she wanted to return to her passion of rescuing animals, so she started volunteering at the shelter. Brenda volunteered three days a week for three years. “I loved coming in and giving the dogs treats. I also enjoyed working with scared and fear-aggressive dogs to help make them adoptable. I actually took several home over the years!” Brenda says. “I found that senior dogs and dogs with other issues that no one would adopt greatly touched my heart.” In her third year of volunteering at the shelter, Brenda was asked if she wanted to join Texarkana Friends of the Shelter, a non-profit organization headed by Debbie Brower. “I very happily said ‘Yes’ because I saw all the wonderful things they did for the animals A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

at the shelter, from sponsoring them to paying for things the shelter needed. They are a great group of hard-working, animal-loving women,” Brenda says. “At the same time, I joined Texarkana Animal League and eventually became the Dog Adoption Coordinator. I still work in that capacity and clean and take care of the animals at Texarkana Animal League three days a week.” Brenda applied for the position of kennel tech supervisor at the shelter a year and a half ago. She worked in that capacity for a year before being asked if she would take the position of interim shelter director. “I quickly agreed because I knew I would do everything in my power to do the very best for the animals housed there and the employees who work there as well. It’s been a hectic learning experience, both trying and rewarding,” Brenda says. “I hope to be able to continue in this capacity when the position is posted for a permanent director. Hopefully, I have done the job successfully enough to earn the position. I know I will never stop trying to do my very best for the city, the animals, and the employees that work with me. I care for them all deeply. I think we have a great team, and we are learning and growing together.” Part of this great team includes shelter kennel technicians Robert Noble and Amanda Peschel. “These two work their butts off taking care of the animals. Robert is the hardest worker I’ve ever been around. He takes care of all the animals downstairs, and we are full right now, so that is a lot. Then, when he’s done, he grabs the mower and push mows and weedeats the grounds,” Brenda says. “Amanda Pessel is one of our animal control officer’s wives. She works with our upper floor animals, and she gives every animal a name. She believes that each animal deserves one. She also takes their pictures to post online and then loves on them and takes them for walks. Both Amanda and Robert are amazing. It’s so great to work around other people with a big heart for animals.” Brenda also says that the shelter would not run without the amazing front office staff. “Jordan does adoptions and answers the endless phone calls. Kortnee, my administrative assistant, helps me learn my way around the computer, takes care of ordering all our supplies, and makes sure all the bills are paid,” Brenda says. “Without them, I would be lost.” For Brenda, the hardest part of being the interim director comes when the shelter is really full and 023

either Ark La Tex Spay and Neuter or Stateline Veterinary Clinic with Dr. Shively. Adopters take the animal to their appointment, and the shelter follows up. Another way that the shelter is helping potential adopters is by offering a foster program. “If someone comes into the shelter and is interested in an animal, they are welcome to take them home for a week and see how they do when they interact with their family,” Brenda says. “We’ve had a lot of adoptions this way. Once people get the animals home, their true personalities come out, and potential adopters can really get to know the animal.” having to make the decision to euthanize. Recently, the shelter started doing red alerts on dogs that are in danger of being euthanized and posting them on Facebook. The last time they posted, every one of their red alerts got adopted, and then Brenda saw pictures of them with their new owners. “They were so happy, and many of the issues we saw with that particular animal in the shelter disappeared once they were out of a kennel. I want the public to know how much we truly love the animals that come through our doors, and we grieve like they’re our own if anything happens to them or when we have to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize them,” Brenda says. “We do everything possible to find other ways to reduce our numbers, including the red alerts and our new foster program, and we are so grateful we live in a community of animal-loving people who step up and adopt these babies. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have a chance.” Another way Brenda and the area rescues are working to help animals includes pushing for a spay and neuter ordinance on the Arkansas side, which would require animals who have been picked up multiple times to get altered before returning home. “The ordinance would keep people accountable, but also it’s just better for our community and the animals. Altering animals keeps them from wandering when they come into heat. Then, that cuts down on the number of pregnant dogs and people having dogs that they can’t afford or keep,” Brenda says. “Also, health-wise, if you aren’t breeding them, animals have an increased risk of getting cancer if not spayed or neutered.” The shelter also has a mandatory spay and neuter requirement for any dog that is adopted. They let potential adopters take the dogs home; then, shelter staff schedules an appointment for alteration with 024

There will be a place in the new Animal Care and Adoption Center for potential adopters to meet and interact with the animals. In the old shelter, people could take the animals to the play yard, but now, the facility will have an indoor space to offer as well. The new shelter was budgeted for by the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, but some recent generous monetary donations have made many improvements possible as well. The new shelter is right next to the old building. “Our new shelter is completed, but we are still waiting on the kennels to be approved and ordered. We can’t move into our new beautiful building until our animals can move as well, but we are very excited and proud of the new shelter,” Brenda says. In the old shelter, there were many issues. Rodents, diseases, and structural problems kept the public view of the shelter in a negative light. Also, puppies were not always safe from parvo that lived in the cracks and walls of the old building. “The new shelter means so much to puppies coming in because they will be safe from any diseases they could get from not having had their vaccinations,” Brenda says. “No matter how hard we try to prevent it, we have had puppies come down with parvo and die. It’s heartbreaking to watch, and it makes us feel helpless.” What Brenda did not expect when she took this position was the political aspect of her job. As a city entity, donations to the shelter still have to go through approval. For example, the front part of the new shelter is air-conditioned, but the back part where the animals will be housed is not. In a metal building, Brenda worries about the conditions with our drastic Texas summer temperatures. She is also waiting for approval on kennels that she wants to order for the animals. Even though she has been given the money, she has to get each purchase approved, which takes A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

more time than she imagined. “We were supposed to open the new shelter in May, but the kennels have to go to the board meeting in June, and then it will take 8-10 weeks for them to be built and shipped,” Brenda says. “However, I’m just grateful for all the new improvements that are happening. Our new shelter is going to be so much more comfortable for families to interact with the animals. We have a large meet and greet room that looks like a living room. We also have several sitting areas in the front part of the shelter. The cat room has large viewing windows where people can come and watch the cats play, and we have a pen in the front area for puppies where they can be held and played with. Ultimately, it’s all about the animals and trying to do what is best for them.” The old shelter will still be put to use.”We are excited that once we move our adoptable animals to the new building, we will be able to make improvements to the old building with the very generous donation we received!” Brenda says. “That money will allow us to make the necessary repairs to once and for all get rid of any diseases that kill our animals and restore its beauty so that it looks new, as well.” Once the renovations are complete, the old building will serve as a hold for stray dogs. “Texas side animal control is considering renting some of the space from us as well. They only have a few holding pens for strays, and if the animals go unclaimed, animal control has to put a lot of them down,” Brenda says. “Using this space will allow them to save more animals.” Working for the animal shelter can be a thankless job. Only the animals there really see how hard Brenda, Richard, Amanda, and many other shelter volunteers work every day to enrich and save their lives. On the hard days, Brenda says that she just thinks about the dogs that got adopted when no one thought they had a chance. “Recently, one of our senior dogs, Sugar, got adopted. She is 14-years-old, and barely has any teeth,” Brenda says. “A younger couple came in, fell in love with her, and now, they send me pictures of her asleep on their chest. It warms my heart and encourages me.” Brenda says that the hardest dogs to adopt are pit mixes and senior dogs because most people want puppies. “I think our pit mixes are hard to get adopted because there are so many of them, and many of them are terrified because of the traumas they’ve been through. They may have been used as a baiting dog or fighting dog before they were dumped,” Brenda A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

says. “However, I’ve only been bit by two dogs, and they were both Yorkies, not Pits. Once people come to visit them and see that they are really big, ol’ lap babies, they fall in love with them. Taking dogs to the play yard or being able to see them in our new meet and greet room will help as well. Sometimes dogs are so stressed from being in the shelter that they don’t truly relax until they are out of this environment.” Even if community members cannot commit to adopting a dog, there are lots of ways to help the Animal Care and Adoption Center in Texarkana. They need constant donations of sheets, towels, blankets, comforters, toys, treats, and dog or cat food. Also, none of the items need to be new; instead, they take new, used, or old items. “The dogs don’t care if the toy has been used,” Brenda says. “ We could use ANY of these items.” Brenda says that they can also utilize monetary donations and volunteers who will come and walk the dogs and interact with the animals. “So many of our animals just need some attention and love,” Brenda says. “Even the ones that seem like they won’t be able to find good homes become so different after they feel safe, loved, and cared for.” When Brenda tells people what she does, many respond with things like, “Wow, I could never do that,” or, “But don’t you want to take them all home?” However, Brenda knows that every home she finds for an animal means that another kennel is open for the next one. “The animal rescuing community is amazing. Even though it’s hard, I know that we bring joy to families and these animals every time we find them a good home,” Brenda says. “I’m so blessed to have a wonderful, understanding husband who has indulged my crazy animal-loving ways and has always been there for me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m a very lucky woman, and I thank God every day for my life, my family, and all the wonderful friends I’ve made on this journey of rescue over the years.”

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Brady & Ashley


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May 1, 2021

Where love begins

Ashley and Brady met in December 2017 while both serving their community within their police departments. The relationship began as close friends. After two years of friendship, they discovered that the friendship had developed into something more.

Special Because

Our wedding day was special because we were able to transform Brady’s parents’ home into the most perfect and intimate wedding venue. We were able to take our time and relax, while bonding with friends and family as we customized everything about our day. The memories we made of all the people we love coming together to make this special for us means more than they will ever know. Parents of the Bride: Susan and Tom Giles, Michael Comer Parents of the Groom: Tracie and Richard Cooper Matron of Honor: Molly McNair Maid of Honor: Kathryn Comer Bridesmaids: Lydia McMillen, Elizabeth Cox, Louella Freeman, Paige Ball Best Man: Clint Freeman Groomsmen: Seth Lemley, Adam Ball, James Comer, Weston Bullard, Charlie Newton Flower Girls: Ella and Emmy Freeman Pastor/Officiant: B.C. Bowers Bridal Hair: Hailey Mahone and Anna Edwards Bridal Make-up: Kimberly Bearden Venue: Cooper Family Home Wedding Coordinator: Detra McCarver Cake: Heavenly Sweets, Ashdown, Arkansas Caterer: Jason’s Deli and Amy Barron Rentals: Dots Rentals Photographer: Debbie Brower Photography Videographer: Andy Johnson Wedding Dress: Gracyn Elizabeth Bride Tuxedos: Squires A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1


Your Contributions Make A Difference! Adore to Restore the Ace of Clubs House!

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jcree@swbc.com | www.jasoncree.com 3101 Kennedy Lane, Suite 200 Texarkana, TX 75503 © 2021 SWBC. All rights reserved. Loans are subject to credit and property approval. Other restrictions and conditions may apply. Programs and guidelines are subject to change without notice. Rates are subject to change daily. Corporate office located at 9311 San Pedro Avenue, Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78216. SWBC Mortgage Corporation, NMLS #9741 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). 1060-A4314 01/21


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SERVING. JOIN US. FOLLOW US Christian Warriors Church

Sunday Services, 10 am Veritas Academy, 2101 E 50th St, Texarkana, AR 71854 A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

Love God. Serve Others. Teach Truth.


Tim & Mackenzie


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Ernst April 18, 2021

Where love begins

It all began because of the love of books. Well, the love of English: my favorite subject in high school just so happened to be taught by Tim’s mom, Annice. Not only did his mother work at the school, but his older sister, Elizabeth, did too. I grew closer to Annice and Liz, with Liz becoming the big sister I never had. It was because of that friendship that one night, during an incredibly embarrassing movie, that Tim and I met for the very first time. Being the sweet and shy guy he was, Tim completely came out of his shell and talked with me for hours, laughing over silly stories and a multitude of animal crackers. It wasn’t until later that night when all had settled down that Liz told me, “THAT was a big deal.” It wouldn’t be until a few weeks later that we would see each other again at a wedding, both of us feeling nervous but wanting to talk so much. After a few quiet, special moments, the walls began to break down, and after four years of a long-distance relationship between Monroe and Baton Rouge, LA, Tim proposed. It was May 18, 2018, my graduation day from LSU. I was buzzing from the excitement of not only completing my bachelor’s degree but from having all my friends and family in one place. For weeks, it had been in the back of my mind: you know, today would be the perfect day to propose since everyone is here. Not to mention that for years now, I had known Tim would be the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. But my mom, Cindy, knew me too well and made sure to throw me off the scent by saying that she honestly had not heard a single whisper of a proposal, and she didn’t want me to be disappointed if it didn’t happen. I reassured her, though, that my graduation day would be perfect, and hey, if I got the proposal, it would just be the best day ever. The ceremony came and went. Everyone decided to head over to the Chi Omega house at the LSU lakefront for a few pictures with my sorority sisters before heading over to the graduation party. Now, the LSU Lakes are a staple of student life and one of my and Tim’s favorite places to walk during my time at the school. A place where we just got to be together and spend a few good hours (let’s be honest, it’s a crazy long walk) talking and spending time just the two of us. So, needless to say, it held a place very near and dear to our hearts. While getting the last of my pictures, I couldn’t seem to find Tim. I assumed he had gotten confused in the hustle and bustle of the moment and went on to my party. It was then that one of my friends suggested we head down to the lakes for some more pictures. Now, at this point, I was about done with this entire day. My heels were off, and I was trying to remain chipper about more walking and more pictures. Everyone followed along until I saw him. In a moment, I will always, always remember. Tim sat there, on a bench where we had sat endless times before looking out at the water, waiting for me. I called to him, thinking, “What in the world are you doing out here?” and finally, it hit me. This was the moment I had longed for and thought about for years. In a private moment full of tears and pure joy, Tim got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Afterward, we hurried along to my graduation party, which allowed us to celebrate and surprise all our other friends who joined us later. After hours of food and laughs and hugs and congratulations, the day ended in Tim’s arms tearing up and smiling, thinking about how it really did turn out to be the best day ever.

Parents of the Bride: Mark and Cindy Treadwell Parents of the Groom: Annice Lindow and Jay Ernst Matron/Maid of Honor: Emma Treadwell Bridesmaids: Laurel Copes, Kaylin Thompson, Isabella Harlan, Elizabeth Griffon Best Man: Cade Lawhon Groomsmen: Tanner Treadwell, Daniel Griffon Ring Bearer: James and Jude Griffon Pastor / Officiant: Mark Treadwell Flowers: H & N Floral Venue: Garrison Gardens Wedding Coordinator: Karen Guilbert Cake: Julie’s Deli Caterer: Julie’s Deli DJ: Chuck Guilbert Photographer: Gracie Britt Photography Videographer: Michael Tolar Video Wedding Dress: Low’s Bridal Tuxedos: Squire’s A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1


Chris & Jennifer


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April 3, 2021

Where love begins

On September 29, 2014, I walked through the front doors of Walgreens to follow up on a recent job interview. I had no idea that I was actually walking right into my destiny. Chris Mitchell was the manager that I was to follow up with. I began working later that week, and as luck would have it, Chris was the one assigned to train me. We worked together for the next two years, and our friendship began to grow. April 2016 was a major turning point in our relationship. I went into labor with my youngest son while at work. Chris was the manager on duty at that time. I was willing to stay and finish my shift, but he insisted that I go to the hospital instead. (Looking back, that could have been an amazing story to tell if he had delivered the baby himself!) My son spent 2 1/2 weeks in the NICU after his birth. Chris knew that I was a single mother and called every day to check on us and make sure that we had everything we needed. It was during this time that I realized just how special to me that my dear friend was. Over the next several years, our friendship continued to blossom, and we were closer than ever. However, due to the requirements of our jobs, our relationship remained platonic. That is until fate intervened. I was granted a promotion and transferred to a different store. We were finally on the path to our forever. On June 15, 2020, a new chapter of our story began. I was having a particularly difficult week. Nothing seemed to be going right. I could feel my knees beginning to buckle from the weight of the world that I carried on my shoulders. Chris knew what to do to bring a smile back to my face. He decided to abandon the plans that he was making for an elaborate proposal. As we sat in the middle of our floor, he listened to me complain about how unfair the world was being. He told me to close my eyes, and he slipped the most beautiful ring onto my finger. My tears of frustration quickly turned to tears of utmost joy. Our always had officially begun and will carry on until the very end.

Parents of the Bride: Royce and Sandra Johnson Parents of the Groom: Rita and Mike Cross, Steve and Sharon Mitchell Matron of Honor: Raechel Kennemore Bridesmaids: Candace Mitchell, Sundee Braley, Carrie Paslay Best Man: Collin Mitchell Groomsmen: Brian Mitchell, Alex Wise, Andy Wise Flower Girls: Mia Mitchell, Adelaide Mitchell Ring Bearers: Caleb Wise, Luke Smith Pastor / Officiant: Jake McCandless Flowers: All flowers were hand made by the bride and her mother Hair & Make-Up: Madison Rice, Bombshell Studio & Spa, New Boston, Texas Venue: Garrison Gardens Wedding Coordinator: Karen Guilbert Cake: The Cake Boutique Caterer: Nathan & Connie Austin, Austin’s BBQ and Alethea Doud DJ: Chuck Guilbert Photographer: Jim Davis, Twos Company Photography Wedding Invitations: Brandy and Rob, BnR Laser Designs Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1


Drug Take Back Initiative Operation Medicine Cabinet The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department is proud to partner with Texarkana Emergency Center in an effort to remove unused and out of date prescription medicines from your homes. •It is important to know that law enforcement is only interested in the removal of unused and/or outdated medications from the homes of our citizens. •It matters not whose name is on the prescription, by whom it was prescribed, where it was prescribed, or where you reside. •We stress that it makes no difference if you live in Texas or Arkansas. •We take back all medications, no questions asked. You can remove the label if you desire but it’s not necessary. •We ask that you do not deposit needles (sharps), inhalers, medication from businesses or clinics, ointments, lotions, liquids, aerosol cans, hydrogen peroxide, or thermometers. One box has been placed behind the Bi State Justice Building at 100 N. State Line Ave., Texarkana, Arkansas and another outside the Texarkana Emergency Center, 4646 Cowhorn Creek Rd., Texarkana, Texas. These boxes are regularly checked and the contents are immediately packaged for destruction. If you would like to personally drop your medications off to law enforcement, you can at the Miller County Sheriff’s Office on East Street and Bi State Justice Building in Texarkana.

You can learn more about this program by visiting www.artakeback.org or on Facebook by searching Arkansas Take Back or Arkansas Drug take Back.


TexarkanaEmergencyCenter.com US ON 4646 Cowhorn Creek | Texarkana, TX 75503 | 903.838.8000 038

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Suzie TK Snippets By: Suzie Tyler

Happy Father’s Day to All Dads! Babies usually say dada before they say, mama! Most little girls idolize their fathers, and that superman status is maintained in their eyes until they become a teenager... Then it fades until they are ready to find a husband, and they look for someone like Dad, their first superstar! I was no exception! My Dad was my hero! I thought, “My daddy can fix anything!” I respected his values, and my biggest fear was disappointing him! In the fifties, church attendance was a family affair, and parents were revered. Most Americans were patriotic, and boys were proud to serve in the military. Today that sounds like a fairytale. My fondest memories are of Sunday family dinners. My Dad worked from 3 to 11, and on Saturdays, he drove to Fouke to work at the farm. Sundays were set aside for rest and worship, and no one worked. The meal cooked during church, and after the service, we joined around the table, said grace, and sat down to eat together. We discussed our week's activities with no TV or cell phone distractions and learned about life from our parents, not a TV screen. When television arrived at our house in the mid-50s, shows were family-oriented. Lucy and Desi Arnaz slept in twin beds, and they could not mention the word pregnant. The challenge of fatherhood is greater today than at any other time in our history! The family unit has changed, and over 69 percent of homes have more than one father figure! Technology has replaced our quality time, and the family is no longer respected. Today, it is not unusual for teens to be texting during mealtime with no communication with parents. Writing this article has reminded me how different life was in the fifties. Entering the world of modern conveniences should have made life simple, but it has become more time-consuming. We have made significant trade-offs for our lifestyle. I hope it has been worth it. Happy Heavenly Father’s Day, daddy.

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U.S. Housing Market: Tale of Supersized Demand Low rates and millennials coming of age are expected to keep the pressure on. Call it the homebuyer “Hunger Games.” Historically low mortgage rates, the work-from-home phenomenon and demographic trends have created “insatiable” demand in the U.S. housing market, Raymond James analyst Buck Horne wrote in a research note. Home sales hit a 14-year high in 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors, which is a sign the Federal Reserve’s cut of the fed funds rate is having the desired effect for the economy. However, the imbalance of buyers to sellers has led to price increases and fierce competition that has reminded many Americans of the housing bubble in the mid-2000s. This market is different, analysts say. “I could see this boom in housing continuing for some time, given the demand and some of the demographic issues,” said Bill Geis, head of Private Client Banking at Raymond James Bank. That includes many first-time homebuyers, who only add to the demand side of the equation in a market where the supply of homes remains stubbornly low, with a deficit in 29 states, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reports.

Bidding war blues Meanwhile, the stories of homebuyer frustration continue to mount. One 24-year-old software developer spent months on the hunt for a starter home in Denver. He told USA Today he was outbid eight times, and his parents agreed to loan him money to boost his chances in a bidding war. In the end, he paused his search and moved in with his parents to save up for a larger down 040

payment. He represents a trend that has led to a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds living with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression, Pew Research Center reports. In other words, there’s another layer of pent-up need. “We’ve seen an increase in demand for homes across the board,” from first-time homebuyers to affluent clients buying second homes, Geis said, “as well as a need for more and more of our clients to become cash buyers,” using bridge loans to secure the home and then mortgaging it later to gain a leg up in bidding wars. Recent figures reveal the haggling behind the scenes: Half of the home sales handled by U.S. Redfin agents have faced bidding wars over the past eight months, the real estate brokerage reported. Normally such a hot market would call forth supply as owners seize the moment to sell, but the pandemic has slowed things down – creating an ideal situation for homebuilders.

Building our way up “Homebuilders have rarely – if ever – enjoyed a more favorable backdrop for selling new homes,” Horne said. The Census Bureau reported that 811,000 new homes were sold in 2020, up 18.8% from the prior year, thanks in part to the Fed’s pledge to keep rates near zero. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate in turn dipped from 3.65% in mid-March to a record low 2.65% in January 2021. That has boosted buying power and allowed people to stretch their budgets to buy more expensive homes. A 1% decrease in the interest rate equals more than A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1


A “cycle born anew” Demographic trends have been a steady pillar for the housing market. The peak of the nation’s largest generation – millennials – turned 30 in 2020, a time of life when many people buy their first homes. This demographic inflection point, paired with the work-from-home phenomenon, will continue to fuel robust housing activity, Raymond James analysts say. On top of that, “social shifts (deurbanization, de-densification, Sun Belt migration) we believe can fuel an entire housing cycle born anew,” Horne said.

Also, the pandemic has only brightened the appeal of aging in place for seniors, which is part of the reason for the paltry housing supply. Boomers staying put accounted for millions of homes held off the market in 2018 by some estimates. All of this means that the American dream of owning a home, a primary method of building financial security, remains out of reach for some despite record-low rates. Between the heightened standards for lending and the fierce competition for existing homes, homebuyers are facing challenges. Still, sales keep surging ahead. “Without question, the housing recovery since mid-May has been nothing short of extraordinary,” Horne said. Learn more about the low-interest era at RaymondJames.com/RateExpectations. Sources: Raymond James Equity Research; the National Association of Realtors; Pew Research Center; NAHB’s National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report; the Census Bureau; The Urban Institute; Freddie Mac analysis

© 2021 Raymond James Financial, Inc. All rights reserved. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the analysts and are subject to change. This information should not be construed as a recommendation. The foregoing content is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

financial focus

Homebuilders seem up to the task of helping to lead the economic rebound. In December, single-family homebuilding, the largest share of the housing market, jumped 12% to 1.3 million units, government figures show. That translates into economic growth. Building 1,000 single-family homes creates around 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110 million in taxes and fees, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report.

It’s not all tailwinds for housing, however. The Urban Institute’s housing credit availability index hit a low in 2020, meaning borrowers with less than perfect credit are having trouble getting a mortgage. Geis called the tighter lending standards “a little bit of a surprise.”

0 41

Fish Tales with Mike Brower

Not What You Think

I have been asked about my fishing lately. I am not and have not been bass fishing much in the last two years due to an issue with my arms (not “Arm Flailing Tube Man.”) In 2018, I got stuck on a sandbar on the Arkansas River. I had to pick up the back of a Ranger Z520 with a 250 Merc and move it two inches at a time for 80 feet. That jacked up my arms quite bad and I was advised to lay off the fishing for a year or so to allow them to heal. My fishing has been using a fly rod and trout fishing. Lately, I have been fishing salt water for bonefish since it does not hurt as bad as casting and reeling. I have become fluent in the “roll cast” and that does not hurt a bit. Currently my arms are doing pretty good, and it works out pretty well since Debbie and I have started to travel some. When we travel, I can take a couple of rods and some flies and fish wherever we go, plus, I look pretty cool with my backpack on and a flyrod case attached. All of us that have flyrods with them roaming around the airports are like “yea, we are all going fishing and look cool.” We also give each other the “head nod” letting each other know that we know what’s going on and wonder if we are all going to the same place. I’m most likely going to start back to bass fishing next year, and then I may look into buying a new boat, because Debbie keeps asking me to get a new one and I keep saying “not right now”. Publisher’s Note: He WILL NOT be getting a new boat! Will he, George Merrill???


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OPEN TUES - SAT: 11:00-6:00, SUN - MON : CLOSED

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June 2021

1st Free Family & Friends CPR Class This is an open public class for all who would like to learn basic CPR/First-aid. Hands on equipment, knowledgeable instructor and questions answered. Student participation/will include Book. Printed Certificate of Participation and this is an American Heart Association class/curriculum by A.H.A-(B.L.S) Instructors. 117 Parkway Dr. Texarkana, TX, 75501 / Call: (682)233-4CPR (4277) 4th Art Show at Fay J Winery Art show and reception. Come see Ride or Die Art by Joseph Gage and enjoy the amazing venue at Fay J Winery located at 2325 Texas Blvd, Texarkana, Texas. 11th Daddy Daughter Dance Mission Texarkana is hosting its third annual Daddy-Daughter Dance fundraiser at Crossties Event Center. Bring your dad or father figure for dinner, dancing, and activites! All ages welcome. This event will leave you and your family with memories to cherish for a lifetime, all while benefiting Mission Texarkana. Tickets from $5-$40. 19th 24th Annual Veterans Information Fair On Saturday, June 19, 2021, the Texarkana Area Chapter # 278 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. (VVA # 278) will host our 24th Annual “Veterans Information Fair” at the Texas Elks Lodge #2771 at 3702 New Boston Road. It will be open to the public from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. This “Fair” is to assist veterans, active duty, Reserve & National Guard personnel & their families obtain information from a variety of sources on VA benefits, programs, & other assistance and programs for them & their families. There is no charge for this service. All area veterans of all eras, all active duty, Reserve and National Guard personnel and their immediate families are invited and urged to attend. We also plan to have a voter registration drive for both Arkansas & Texas residents. For more information, please call: 870-773-8279, 903-556-1613, 903-824-2727 or 903-628-7216 or e-mail USMCgreg@aol.com or visit our website www.vva278.org or our Facebook page: Vietnam Veterans of America #278 26th Atlanta Local Summer Market Homemade. Handmade. Homegrown. All from within 50 miles of Atlanta, TX. These are the kinds of goods you will find at Atlanta Local Market! Join us from 1-7pm on E Hiram Street in Atlanta, TX. do you have an event to publish in the magazine? send your event name, details, date, and time to:



A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1



Passion For Pooches Small Chihuahuas that will make anyone smile!


Texarkana Animal League blue and white chihuahua mix. Which is such a cute sweet boy


Boxer Rescue of Texarkana Let us get these babies homes! Gunner is a great dog!


Adopt, Don’t Shop!

Local Rescues


CONTACT LOCAL RESCUES TO FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION! BOXER RESCUE OF TEXARKANA Facebook.com/ BoxerRescueOfTexarkana MUTTLEY CREW GERMAN SHEPHERD RESCUE Facebook.com/ MuttleyCrewRescue PASSION FOR POOCHES (mostly small dogs) Facebook.com/passionforpooches TEXARKANA ANIMAL LEAGUE Facebook.com/ TexarkanaAnimalLeague TEXARKANA HUMANE SOCIETY TexarkanaHumaneSociety.org Facebook.com/ TexarkanaHumaneSocietyInc

Muttley Crew A German Shepherd breed that everyone will love!


The Animal Care & Adoption Center of Texarkana, Arkansas is located at 203 Harrison, Texarkana, AR, 71854. For more information, call 870.773.6388, or visit: www. animalcareadoptioncenter.org or www.facebook.com/AnimalCare AdoptionTXK. Please note, all dogs adopted from this shelter MUST be spayed or neutered. Spays cost $89-$104, neuters are $76-$92 depending on the weight of the dog. We also have SPONSORED dogs and cats! This means someone has already paid for their vetting! Come see who’s waiting! We are always in need of caring, capable volunteers to assist in with duties at the center, adoption events, fund-raising activities and more. Open Monday-Friday 11AM 5PM; Saturday 11AM - 2PM.


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Featured Listing Bill Spradlin Realtor 903-748-3186

Tracy Spradlin Broker 903-748-2477

Jan Williams Realtor 903-277-5771


Pam Hollingsworth Realtor 903-277-1222

John Trubia Realtor 817-701-8402 Now Servicing the Dallas Fort Worth Area!

Amber Howeth Administrative Assistant 903-223-0710

4 bedrooms, 4 baths and 2 half baths with grand entry and soaring ceiling heights! Formal living & FP, formal dinning room, a view of the sweeping stair case, open floor plan with family room, gourmet kitchen, stainless appliances & breakfast area. Master suite has on suite executive office, built in book cases, bath offers jetted tub, tile shower, double sinks and large walk in closet. Upstairs 3 bedrooms, a Jack-in Jill bath, and on suite bath in bedroom. Two enormous bonus rooms with half bath and beautiful entertainment bar area. Backyard is private with flagstone patio & firepit. Side entry garage. A must to view! Move In Ready! Contact Pam Hollingsworth 903-277-1222 and schedule to view TODAY!

Brenda Elrod Property Manager 903-559-1511

Stephanie Barthel Property Manager 903-559-1511 A LT M a g a z i n e | J u n e 2 0 2 1

1356 N. Kings Hwy. | Nash, TX 75569 | 903.223.0710 billsprad@aol.com | spradlintd@aol.com www.ImpactRealtyOnline.com 0 47






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