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Memory in Art:


Rector’s Gail Burns




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1955 EAST MAIN P.O. BOX 367

PIGGOTT, AR 72454 870-598-3848

Delta Crossroads

Letter from the Editors From presenting the amazing art of Norwood Creech in Lepanto to the masterful woodwork of Richard Caldwell in Piggott (and many points in between) we celebrate our first year of publishing Delta Crossroads — a truly rewarding and educational experience. Searching for stories, and receiving suggestions from readers, has led us to appreciate the magic and cultural depth of the Arkansas Delta. It was satisfying to be recognized for our efforts by receiving the Media Support Award from Arkansas Delta Byways at a recent banquet in Forrest City. The banquet served to highlight the wonderful initiatives that already have taken place in the Arkansas Delta and the many encouraging efforts that currently are underway. Dr. Ruth Hawkins of Arkansas State University has been the guiding force behind the major new developments in the celebration of the Delta. These include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center at Piggott, the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum at Tyronza and the Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village. Next on the agenda is a major new initiative at Dyess in Mississippi County. Part of the Arkansas Heritage SITES program at ASU, “Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash,” promises to become an international tourist destination due to the enormous fame of the country music legend. It is interesting how many noted attractions have more than one “story” involved. Such is the case with the HemingwayPfeiffer center at Piggott. No doubt


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

most of the national and international interest revolves around the life and writing of Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway. But visitors to the center also will discover the significant contribution and influence of the Pfeiffer family in the development of the extreme northeast corner of Arkansas. By the same token, the Cash center will draw visitors to that attraction from around the world, who then will become fascinated by the unique history of the Dyess Colony itself. Dyess was an agricultural resettlement community developed in 1934 as part of the federal Works Progress Administration. It was the home to some 500 colonists, including the family of Johnny Cash, who moved there in 1935 from Kingsland in South Arkansas. Cash went on to graduate from high school in Dyess in 1950 and his musical roots were heavily influenced by his time in the community. Delta Crossroads will follow the development of the Dyess-Cash project and many other attractions and individuals throughout our region. We thank our readers and advertisers for making our first year so successful. We have enjoyed it immensely. We also would like to express appreciation to our staff for their dedication, with specific recognition to Clover Kesson, whose remarkable creativity in design shines in the pages of each issue. We hope you enjoy this spring issue of the magazine and we look forward to a successful and fun second year of Delta Crossroads. Ron and Nancy Kemp Editors, Delta Crossroads

Ron and Nancy Kemp Publishers/Editors Clover Kesson Creative Director Dianna Risinger Kaye Farrow Composition Contributing Writers Revis Blaylock, Ryan Rogers, Corey Clairday, Nan Snider, Kenneth Kesson, Clover Kesson, Mary Gay Shipley, Jan Murphy

Laura Cole Account Rep 870-598-2201

Yvonne Hernandez

Account Rep 870-561-4634

Tom Martin Account Rep 870-483-6317

Delta Publishing Company Rust Communications Delta Crossroads Offices Piggott - 870-598-2201 Rector - 870-595-3549 Trumann - 870-483-6317 Manila - 870-561-4634 For more information, contact: Ron Kemp, P.O. Box 366, Rector, AR 72461 870-595-3549, 870-595-3611(f ) Delta Crossroads is published quarterly and distributed free in Clay, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett counties in Arkansas and Dunklin County in Missouri. Contact the offices at the above numbers for information on advertising.

The Farmers Bank & Trust Main Office

870) 763-8101 (870) 763-3500 - fax 400 West Main Street Blytheville, Arkansas 72315

Thank you for your patronage


Museum and Educational Center Visit the restored home and barn studio where literary giant Ernest Hemingway penned portions of some of his most famous works, including A Farewell to Arms. During his marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer from 1927 to 1940, Hemingway was a frequent visitor to her family home in Piggott, now open to visitors. The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center offers tours, exhibits, educational programs, special events, Hemingway and related books, and unique gifts.

Group tours are offered by appointment with drop-in tours on the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday.

Upcoming Events

For more information call 870-598-3487

April 7-9: Creative Writers’ Retreat for Adults April 30-May 10: Young Art IX Exhibit May 21: Celebration of Quilting June 20-24: Creative Writers’ Retreat for Adults 1021 W Cherry St. • Piggott, AR 72454 870-598-3487 •

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads



contents SPRING 2011

16> J.D. Forsythe: Man at Arms

Telling the incredible tale of his survival through war camps and persecution as a POW in World War II

21> Gail Burns: Spotlight on An Amazing Career

Burns graces the stage by directing and producing countless plays in Rector and teaching invaluable lessons in the process

27> Suzanne Churchill: Art’s Memory

By capturing the essence of childhood memories and regional landscapes, Churchill paints her own consciousness

43> Everyday Heroes: Willbanks 48> Everyday Heroes: Sandusky 49> Barbara Fairchild: Stardom in a Small Town A Knobel resident breaks the country charts at a young age

60> Mitchel Platz: The Voice

His songs brought on an overnight sensation

63> Paul Weaver: Working in Wood

An extraordinary wood craftsman, Weaver answers the call

68> Jim Poole: A History Lesson

Poole purveys years of Piggott history research


32> At the Holiday Inn

A new idea gives way to new construction, and now for the finishing touches

35> Parkin Archeological State Park

Do it like De Soto: Take a tour through time to discover how one man impacted the mound builders

54> Downtown Destiny

Father and son, Schultes, restore downtown Piggott buildings to their original glory *Cover photo by Nancy Kemp

Home Tour


9> Tudor Dreams

The Hendersons cherish and preserve their Trumann dream home, the Singer House, steeped in local history


41> Medical Column Pre-Op: Surgery success suggestions 44> Eye on Conservation Bring the wildlife to your doorstep 47> Environment Water quality: not just a matter of taste 52> Book Review Code Adam: Non-fiction recount of 80s events that reshaped childcare 58> Jan Murphy Picking the right spring palette

In Every Issue

38> Calendar of Events 69> Main Street 74> Side Streets Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads




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Area of Commerce

Downtown Harrisburg

June 4, 2011

Northeast Arkansas' Best Kept Secret SPECIAL EVENTS







Harrisburg Rotary Club Pot O’ Gold Banquet

Festival on the Ridge, Downtown Harrisburg



American Legion Easter Egg Hunt, Lake Poinsett State Park Chamber's Annual Banquet and Auction, Elementary Cafeteria

Annual Poinsett County Fair


Parker Pioneer Homestead Fall Festival


Annual Chamber Christmas Parade

At Home

with the Hendersons Story by Nancy Kemp Photos by Jackie Wilson

Historic Singer home treasured by a Trumann couple


arry and Georgia Anne Henderson have a deep appreciation for the history of the Tudor Revival house in Trumann they now call home and feel great pride that they are helping to preserve a piece of Trumann’s past which is so much a part of the town’s fabric. Known by all in Trumann as “the Singer House,” it is easily one of the most fascinating homes in Northeast Arkansas, both for its unique features and beauty and for the story of its early years. To truly understand the significance of the house, one first must know about the Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing Company, which had the structure built in 1935 as a home for its manager. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Singer Manufacturing Company, Poinsett Lumber and Manufacturing was estab-

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


The Hendersons always admired the Singer House for its architectural and historical merits innate to the local cultural background of Trumann. 10

Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

lished in Trumann in 1911 and quickly became the center of daily life. According to early history, more than half of the townspeople worked for the company, and the plant’s whistle signaled the start and end of activities throughout the day. Trumann residents soon referred to the plant as “Ma Singer.” The company provided simple housing for many of its employees, but the manager’s house was meant to impress and to convey to all the importance of the position. Situated away from the road on three acres east of the Singer plant, the house is now on the National Historic Register. Designed to be a showplace, the home’s interior is breathtakingly elegant, with living room walls of cherry, a sunny dining room of splendid oak and a breakfast room of maple. A library behind the living room, with walls of rich walnut, features built-in bookcases. A sunroom at the north end of the house looks out to the grounds, where a unique picnic table and grill area were constructed of concrete designed to look like wood. The Hendersons said these, too, are original to the house, and are said to have been made by a noted Mexican artist who was in the area at the time the house was buit. Typical of the Tudor Revival style, the house has eaves of varying heights, overlapping gables and an arched entryway. The exterior is primarily of brick and ashlar stone. While some original architectural details on the home’s exterior

were at some point covered with vinyl siding, the Hendersons are having the siding removed to uncover the original surfaces. “We’re doing this a little at a time, and we’ve been really pleased that the original materials are still in good shape,” Georgia Anne said. The Hendersons purchased the house 2 1/2 years ago from Gene and Mattie Brown. They are the first occupants who did not work for Singer, though Georgia Anne’s father was at one time supervisor over the finishing department at the Singer plant. The Hendersons say they always admired the house when they were growing up in Trumann. Georgia Anne lived just down the street and, as a child, would roller skate in front of the house and dream of living there. The home’s first occupants were company manager Alfred Carlson and his wife Golda. Carlson was a powerful man, and it is said that many of the decisions he made defined Trumann. Small photos of the Carlsons on a living room shelf are for good luck, Larry said. A collection of peacock feathers

While some original architectural exterior details have been covered with vinyl siding, the Hendersons are having the siding removed to uncover the original surfaces. Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


on the mantel also are a reminder of the early days, when, Georgia Anne said, there were peacocks on the grounds. “This is the room where lots of business deals were made in the past,” Larry said of the library, which also holds many historically significant items. When in the room, one can easily imagine lively conversations which shaped the town of Trumann. A central north/south hall behind the front rooms leads toward the kitchen, which features ceramic tile, countertops and fixtures original to the house. An east/west hall leads to the master bedroom, where a sitting area was added at some point, giving the area an open spacious feeling. Unique to the home, a bathroom across the hall is actually two rooms, side-by-side, one housing a toilet and the other a sink and shower. Both have original ceramic tile on the floor and walls. One of Georgia Anne’s hobbies is making stained glass, so for Christmas, Larry ordered her a stained glass window featuring a peacock which will be installed in the two rooms as a continuing picture — part of the peacock in one room and part in the other. The Hendersons have beautifully utilized picture rails, installed when the house was built to prevent damage to the plaster, with decorative cords holding family photos and other art. The home has all its original hardware, and Larry proudly pointed out glass door knobs in the bedroom wing and brass thresholds at each room.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

“This is the room where lots of business deals were made in the past.� -Larry Henderson,

referring to the library of the Singer House

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


All of the floors of the home are wide-planked oak and pine, except in the kitchen and breakfast room, which were considered service rooms from which meals were served by servants. The Hendersons met while they were attending Trumann High School and married in 1967 at the First Baptist Church in Trumann. Larry, a 1969 graduate of Arkansas State University, is a third generation farmer who loves history and enjoys genealogy. He and Georgia Anne have farmed for 35 years and now have a partnership with their son, Brent, and his wife, Ami. Georgia Anne attended ASU and served on the Poinsett County Quorum Court for 12 years. Her other hobbies include making porcelain dolls (many are housed in one of the home’s bedrooms), sewing, knitting, crocheting, learning new crafts, reading and spending time with family. A main activity for Larry and Georgia Anne is spending time with their three grandsons, Rives, 10, Garner, 7, and Fischer, 3, the children of Brent and Ami. The couple’s daughter, Shannon, is single and lives in the caretaker house located at the edge of the property. The Hendersons attend Southwest Church of Christ, where Larry serves as an elder and Georgia Anne works in the preschool and nursery area. Both also work with teens in the congregation. Their joy at living in one of the area’s most historic homes is evident and they are clearly perfect for giving the property the attention and care it deserves.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Gary Wilcoxson

Daryl Wilcoxson

901 South By-Pass Kennett, Missouri 573-888-5157 1-877-888-5157

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Living to tell the story

World War II Veteran: German POW recounts his extraordinary story of struggle and survival Story by Revis Blaylock


haring the stories and events of being a prisoner of war (POW) or the battles that preceded his capture at the Battle of the Bulge did not always come easy to World War II veteran Jim Daniel (J.D.) Forsythe. Like most military men and women who have experienced battle firsthand, Forsythe spent many years trying to forget and trying to forgive. After his service, he returned to his Arkansas home with the desire to make a life putting memories of war behind him. It took many years, but Forsythe now can share the role he has played in history. Before growing up and becoming a soldier, Forsythe was born in Manila, Ark., on March 28, 1923, the son of Floyd Lee Forsythe and Allie Mae McCain Forsythe. His education started at a country school called Shady Grove, one mile south of Manila. He attended New Harmony School, north of Manila; Brown Spur School, northwest of Manila; Boynton School, two miles north of Leachville, and graduated from Leachville High School in 1942. After high school, Forsythe, like so many young men of the era, didn’t wait for the draft call, he volunteered to serve his country. At age 18, he left Blytheville by bus and was physically and mentally examined at Camp Joseph T. Robinson Induction Center in North Little Rock.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

J.D. Forsythe at the age of 18, taken at Camp Polk, La., waiting for assignment at Sheppard Field Texas for transfer to Pilot Basic Training

During his induction, different doctors, specialists and a dentist called other dentists over to take a look at his perfect and flawless teeth. Then the x-ray department called the others to view the extent of his chest expansion. After his examination, Forsythe said he was called to a room where he was told he had exceptional qualities and could choose to go into the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy, Navy Air Corps, or Army or Navy Officer Candidate School. He asked for time to make his decision. He was sent to Camp Polk, La. He made a decision and requested to be in the Army Air Corps. After passing the examinations, he went to Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls, Texas, for aptitude tests and preflight exercises. He did well on the tests and wanted to be a pilot. He was assigned to pilot training and sent to the University of Nebraska for math and science enhancement and basic flight training. He was doing great with his studies and especially enjoyed being part of the wrestling team at Nebraska University. Forsythe said he got his first great disappointment in life when members of his class were notified they would not be needed in the air crew and were being transferred to the 97th Infantry Division. He would report to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for training. He then went to San Louis Obispo, Calif., for amphibious training. He and a friend, Dwight T. Stokes, decided to ask for a trans-

Jim Daniel ( J.D.) Forsythe Medals and Awards

(above) J.D. Forsythe, 83, visiting the World Ward II Monument in Washington, D.C.

The Bronze Star Medal Good Conduct Medal American Campaign Medal European African Middle East Campaign with Bronze Stars World War II Victory Medal Overseas Service Ribbon Combat Infantryman Badge Honorable Service Medal Sharp Shooter Medal Sniper Medal Missing Prisoner of War Medal Purple Heart

Uniform Patches 536th Armored Infantry AIR Force Patch, Wings 106th Infantry Division Patch fer so they could see action. They were sent to the 106th Division and soon were on their way to the European Theatre. “We crossed the Atlantic on the Aquitania, landing at Glasgow Scotland,” he said. “We traveled to Banbury Cross, England, only to perform more basic training, then to Lomerswieller, Belgium.” Forsythe became a runner in Company A, 1st Regiment and 424th Battalion of the 106th Infantry Division. “We were scattered sparsely in a holding action for a couple of weeks before Dec. 16, 1944,” he said. “We were almost at leisure with little or no action for several days. We were housed in the village Lomerswieller in various houses if they had a spare room. We were issued only 40 rounds of ammunition.” It was early on the evening of Dec. 16, 1944, that Forsythe recalls German tanks started passing though the village, followed by infantry. Their 40 rounds of ammunition didn’t last long. Most of

his squad was killed in the first few minutes of the battle. Five survivors, including Forsythe, hid in a roadside root cellar. They were discovered and captured by German SS Troops. “Their rules were simple,” Forsythe said. “Do as you are told or be shot.” It was a difficult time for the prisoners. They were interrogated, marched from place to place, and stripped of their boots and coats. Forsythe said he was one of the fortunate prisoners who received a pair of wooden shoes for his boots. The prisoners eventually were taken to a train station and loaded on boxcars. Most of the prisoners came down with severe dysentery. Many did not survive the trip. They arrived and marched more to Stalag 12-A at Limburg, Germany. Forsythe was in several camps for a few weeks at a time until he had been in a total of 13 camps. “With little news or twisted news, we prisoners had no hope of surviving and little hope of our country surviving the war,” he said. The prisoners walked across Germany from east to west, then from west to east. They would sometimes work on farms or in factories with little food. His comments about his original physical and mental examinations were not to boast, but to let people know what war can do to a person. In less than a year, Forsythe went from a 178 pound man in perfect physical condition to a 108 pound man with many issues. When liberated, he had not had a change of clothes, a toothSpring 2011|Delta Crossroads


J.D. Forsythe at the dedication ceremony of the Buffalo Island Veterans Park in Leachville

brush or a bath in five months and seven days. He was among the liberated prisoners taken to Reims, France. “Some of the American cooks actually cried at seeing the condition of us ex-prisoners,” he said. After a month in the hospital, he was in line to board a military plane to the U.S. when he fell to the ground. He was placed back into the hospital for a few days and then sent to the coast of France, where he boarded a ship for the 22-day trip back to New York. He still remembers his homecoming meal -– steak, ice cream and milk. He was put on a train for a two-day trip to Paragould, the closest station to his Leachville home. His parents had not received news of his release. They had received word he was missing in action (MIA) and later that he was a POW. He spent seven days at home before going to the Army Navy Hospital in Hot Springs for 30 days restoration before being discharged. It is true a brotherhood is formed by men who serve and fight together. Forsythe has been blessed in later years to reunite with many he had served with, including his best friend, Dwight Stokes. He and Stokes had been together until Forsythe was captured and lost contact. Forsythe did not know if Stokes had survived, and 58 years later, in 2002, they found each other. Forsythe gives credit to the internet for helping find his comrade. Forsythe relocated to California in 1955 and made a successful life. He received a degree in mechanical engineering and spearheaded challenging tasks including starting a company known as Applied Pyrotection, which was a fire protection and safety-engineering firm. He has over 8,000 documented designs and installations, including projects on atomic energy, sawmills, lumber camps, power stations and other industrial giants located within Silicon Valley. He is not only a scholar, but an accomplished ballroom dancer and gourmet cook. He plays classical mandolin and has won many awards for hydroponics gardening. Forsythe soon will celebrate his 88th birthday. He enjoys returning to Arkansas every chance he gets. He is a contributor to the Buffalo Island Veteran’s Park in Leachville and was home for the dedication in 2010. He was in Manila for the veterans program in November and donated his Army uniform and medals to the Manila Depot Museum. Forsythe does not take anything for granted. He does not consider himself a hero, but he is a survivor. Millions did not survive. He still carries his identification tag issued by his German captors. His identity number is stamped on the medal plate. He attends reunions across the country with other members of the 106th Division. “We old geezers stand tall as we are proud of ourselves and our accomplishments,” he said of the 106th Infantry Division. “We are a Brotherhood of Unshakable Comrades. Our rewards for our


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Forsythe, regarding the legacy of World War II and the 106th Infantry Division of the U.S. Air Force:

“We are a Brotherhood of Unshakable Comrades. Our rewards for our performing the hideous tasks of winning a war are what we see in the opportunities for the next generations of this great country. We cry for those who paid the price of death or that are living with severe permanent wounds both mentally and physically.” performing the hideous tasks of winning a war are what we see in the opportunities for the next generations of this great country. We cry for those who paid the price of death or that are living with severe permanent wounds both mentally and physically.” Forsythe has traveled and seen most of the World War II monuments in Washington, D.C., and Western Europe. “They are very somber and peaceful,” he said. “However, I wish we could build one last monument that would depict absolutely the last war ever.”

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Downtown Inn


Bed & Breakfast 193 West Main St. Piggott, AR 72454 Innkeepers:

Richard & Brenda Forrest Owned by the Forrest Family

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Regular Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 – 5:30

Alice in Wonderland as performed by Rector High School students.

A lifetime gift Gail Burns offers students

a chance to shine Story by Nancy Kemp


he spotlight has been burning brightly for years at Rector High School. Hundreds of students have found their chance to shine, to feel deeply gratified at a job well done, to find confidence they didn’t know they had, all through the encouragement and direction of someone always striving for excellence — Gail Burns. As a teacher for 40 years, including 38 in the Rector School District, Burns’ vision, incredible energy and determina-

tion have catapulted the school’s drama program to the top in state, regional and international competition, giving her the opportunity to not only show off the amazing talents she has helped develop in her own students, but to influence thousands of others. Burns, a Rector native and 1967 RHS graduate, has for years been one of the most respected and admired theatre educators in America, and in 2009 was named to the National Hall of Fame

Gail Burns Drama teacher

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


After directing almost 200 shows in her teaching career, Burns was asked which shows were her favorite:

“The CRE-8 shows — and usually the one I am currently working on at the time.” by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), which she served as national president after quickly rising from Arkansas state director, to territorial director for six states and then to national EdTA board trustee. In addition to her work in drama, Burns also has garnered much praise over the years as a gifted and talented instructor and now the district’s GT program coordinator, twice winning the State Educational Gifted Award. Unique programs she has established to teach valuable lessons in economics helped her earn the Master Economics Teacher Award, and she cleverly has found ways to weave the study of economics into her drama program, giving students the advantage of powerful knowledge and experience in two areas which help them find success in life. The school’s Economics Fairs and Business Expo, established through Burns’ GT program, challenge students to create, market and operate their own “business” for a day. “I became involved in the study of economics through my training in GT and soon became a strong advocate of the fourth “R” — the right to learn economics,” Burns said. “I still believe our young people need as much training as possible to become good consumers and entrepreneurs in our world.” The complete list of Burns’ honors is long, and all who know her, or know of her, agree she is deserving of them all. Establishing such tremendously successful programs in a small school certainly has not been without its challenges for Burns. When she returned to Rector in 1973 with her husband, Joe, after living two years in Georgia, the Rector school, like many others at that time, had “junior/senior plays,” which, Burns said, were “mostly very funny cute little comedies.”


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Burns initially was hired to teach junior high reading and math, but with an undergraduate degree in speech pathology from Arkansas State University, she soon became the administrator of the district’s new speech pathology program and began teaching high school speech classes. At the suggestion of then-principal Ethel Stafford, drama was added to the mix, and Burns returned to ASU for a Master’s in Speech Communication and Dramatic Arts. She was off and running, but things evolved slowly at first. She opened auditions to all students in grades seven through 12 and began to add dramas, such as Up the Down Staircase, and the school’s first musical, Game of Gold. “When the program began, we worked with the agri department to build the first flats and the art department helped paint the sets,” she said. But the shows quickly became big productions with many people involved and, Burns added, “a wonderful group of community people who helped with costumes and props.” When plans were released for a new high school building soon to get underway, one problem was quickly evident. “Jessie Malin (RHS counselor) looked at the plans and said, ‘Where is the stage?’” Burns remembers. “So the building planners decided to knock out the back of the cafeteria and raise one area of the floor two feet — and that was the stage.” The area was tiny, but soon a parent group purchased heavy stage curtains and the first track for them. Microphones were hung from the ceiling, and a spotlight was purchased. Then in 1983, Stafford made another suggestion that would help take the RHS drama program to new levels. “She suggested teacher Linda Waldron and I go back to school to get cer-

tified in gifted education,” Burns said. “She told us our school soon would be starting a state-required GT program and said she thought Linda and I would be the best teachers to get that degree.” Through their gifted education work, Burns and Waldron were introduced to special summer AEGIS (Academic Enrichment for the Gifted in Summer) programs, funded through state grants, and soon CRE-8 was born. “Linda and I wrote the program to cover eight areas of the arts in a threeweek program that would end with a public performance,” Burns said. Over the next eight years, CRE-8 presented full-scale musicals involving students from all over Arkansas. “It was, I must say, an exciting experience, with some of the most talented students in the state and the opportunity for me to truly work as a program theatre director with a technical director, musical director, choreographer, costumer and marketing expert, other professionals hired through the program for the three weeks,” Burns said. The grant funds also allowed the department to extend the stage and add other much-needed equipment. Photos in the front hall of the high school still display photos of what Burns calls “the magical musicals” produced during those summers: Fame, The Wiz, Babes in Arms, West Side Story, Pippin, Forty Second Street and Camelot. The last production, “A Hat Full of Dreams,” was an original show. Burns has directed almost 200 shows, plays and musical reviews. Pressed to choose a favorite, she said, “The CRE-8 shows — and usually the one I am currently working on at the time.” “I have enjoyed all of them and have chosen them because they filled a need at the time,” she said. She has chosen a wide variety of

Gail Burns surrounds herself with younger students, teaching them techniques of the stage and providing valuable experience early on

shows — comedies, dramas, social dramas and musicals, and while she admits the dramas are probably her favorite, she enjoys the musicals because they are so entertaining. In any body of work, there is always one special time that stands out, and for Burns, it was taking her show “Greater Tuna” to the International Thespian Festival on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where it was chosen as one of a handful of productions for the main stage of the university’s 3,000-seat state-of-the-art theatre. The show starred Joel Boyd and Will Mobley, who, at graduation, both earned scholarships to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.

“The audience gave them a standing ovation, and that is one of my most memorable moments,” she said. “I still have people who saw that show ask me about the boys and what they are doing. It was quite impressive.” The RHS drama department sponsored its first summer Stageworks program in 1992 as a fundraiser to help send students to the Thespian Festival at Lincoln, and that program, which has continued without interruption since, has in many ways allowed Burns to grow and develop talent for her program. “It occurred to me we needed to start with the younger students, teaching them techniques of the stage so they would have some training before com-

ing into the seventh grade,” she said. The one-week day program allows older drama students to teach the younger ones, with assistance from Burns and other teachers, including RHS music instructor Judy Hargrave and art teacher Carolyn Caldwell. Special guest artists have included Rick Chudomelka, of ASU, who has conducted design workshops. Also a part of the RHS drama and GT programs have been trips Burns calls “classroom without walls.” “For 15 years I took students and parents to New York on the weekend of Thanksgiving break,” Burns said. Each trip involved activities such as visiting the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Radio City Music Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Anne Frank, performed at Rector High School, directed by Gail Burns

Art, attending at least four Broadway shows, participating in workshops with artists and more. “It was the most exciting trip, to see the magical city and to watch the shows with each new group of students. Every time I saw their eyes light up, it felt like I was seeing it all again for the first time.” The trip didn’t happen the last two years because of economic factors, but when Burns doesn’t take students, she returns to the Big Apple with her husband to do what she loves best — see Broadway shows. While all of the New York trips provided special memories, as did a GT trip to Washington, D.C., Burns’ fondest memory is a once-in-a-lifetime journey to Scotland for the International American Theatre Festival and the Festival Fringe. “To be able to perform on the Royal Mile in Scotland was a dream come true for all of us,” Burns said. When she received the National Hall of Fame Award, one person by her side was former Rector student Mike Randleman, now a professional actor in California. While Burns glows with pride at Randleman’s accomplishments, she is quick to add that she is proud of every student who graduates from the RHS theatre program and goes on to be successful in their chosen field. “I know they are better became of the time they spent in this program,” she said. “Whether it’s as manager of KAIT, as a professional actor, manager of a restaurant chain, head of catering at ASU, teacher of theatre at the high school or college level, preacher of the gospel, lawyer, event planner, artist, hairdresser, dance instructor, elementary teacher, carpenter, deputy sheriff, communicators or performers, they are using the talents and skills learned on the stage.” Her love for the arts also led Burns to establish the Clay County Arts Council nine years ago. “The council is going strong with an outstanding board working toward the mission of supporting the arts in Clay County,” Burns said. “It was established for this purpose and has been successful with the special events it offers the community, as well as through over 20 scholarships given to students to pursue college study. “I have two daughters, Heather and Jeania, who were active in the theatre program in high school and attended college with theatre scholarships,” she continued. “Both of them work in professions directly using their theatre skills. Heather is a professional dance instructor and performer, as well as a teacher of gifted students in the arts. Jeania, a former theatre award-winning director, currently works in real-life drama as a deputy sheriff.” Burns also has three grandsons who are creative in sports, music and art. “My husband Joe and I enjoy date nights at the movies,” she said with a smile. “I love good movies and especially like to see all of the ones currently nominated for Academy Awards. I love a good story, whether it is a movie, play or novel.”


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Burns shared her philosophy that theatre is:

“both Shakespeare’s mirror held up to nature and a window on the human condition. The study of theatre and the goals it provides should be fundamental to an effective high school theatre program.” Burns shared her philosophy that theatre is “both Shakespeare’s mirror held up to nature and a window on the human condition.” “The study of theatre and the goals it provides should be fundamental to an effective high school theatre program,” she adds. “...I believe that those involved in education must make every effort to meet the needs of students in granting them the fullest possible education opportunities.” Burns offers this advice for effective leadership: make others feel important; follow the Golden Rule; stay close in communication; promote a vision of youth in the 21st century; volunteer to set community, county, regional and state goals; celebrate success, and reward with praise. When the spotlight dims on Burns’ final RHS show with her retirement in May, the light she has given to so many will continue to glow for years as a result of her tireless work.

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Find the perfect gifts for the occasions of your life

Nancy and Ron Fithian email:

221 W. Main Street, Piggott, Ark. 870-598-3359

Clay County Arts Council 573-344-2942 • 870-240-3014 • 870-974-0393

Making Memories June 6-10 June 11 May 21



Clay County Art Show for Clay County Students, K-12 Rector Community Center Judging starts at 9am Reception & Awards Ceremony at 2pm

Salsa Dance Workshop Heather Burns, Instructor Two Classes, Students & Adults Cost will be set at later date


CCAC honors Gail Burns Rector Community Center Tickets: $40 for CCAC members $45-non-members Limited Seating, Catered by Traveling Whisk If you have been a student of Gail Burns, we need you! Thoughts, songs, poems. Please show your appreciation to this wonderful woman for all the time and energy she has tirelessly put into the ARTS Program!

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Favorite Spot, Watercolor, 8.5” x 10.5”

Where our memories are The paintings of Suzanne Churchill


Story by Corey Clairday

uzanne Churchill enjoyed art as a child, though she didn’t grow up around it. “I didn’t really know much about art until high school,” Churchill said. “My parents weren’t very artsy. But I always enjoyed art and working with my hands.” Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Bermuda House Portrait, Watercolor, 16” x 12”

Chruchill, of Jonesboro, has since turned that interest into a career. She graduated from Arkansas State University with a Bachelor of Science dgree in commercial art and worked as a commercial artist for while, back when it was all done by hand. She also has taught classes in color, line, design and fashion and owned a needlework shop where she did custom needlework designs — which she still does a little. She then worked as an architectural illustrator for an architectural design company. She had always done commissioned work on the side, but four years ago she started doing it fulltime from her home studio so she could be a stay-at-home mom. All in all, Churchill has been painting professionally for over 30 years. Ninety percent of the artwork Churchill does is commissioned, and she runs an internet business through which she sells her paintings and accepts commissions. Her paintings consist primarily of portraits of houses in watercolors. She originally got into painting house portraits through people asking her to paint their homes for them. “Several people asked me to paint portraits of their homes, and I really enjoyed it,” Churchill said. “It’s interesting learning the history of a house. I think of a home as a special place. Even if it’s not big, it’s where our memories are. I’ve had people cry when they got the paintings. It means a lot to them. Some of the houses I paint aren’t there anymore.” Churchill paints her house portraits from photos sent in to her. She sometimes adds a favorite pet if asked, like a dog on the porch or a cat in the window. “Pets are an important part of our homes,” she said. “I love painting homes and buildings. I think the places we live, work and spend our time are extensions of who we are. We all cherish special memories of places from our childhood and other happy times. I enjoy helping keep these memories alive.” The busiest time of the year for Churchill is Christmas. “Right before Christmas, I was doing a painting a day. Christmas is busy. That’s the time of year everyone wants one.” She also offers gift certificates for those times when she


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

The Ritz Civic Center, Blytheville, AR; Watercolor; 18” x 12”

Greyhound Bus Station, Blytheville, AR; Watercolor; 18” x 12”

In a Row, Watercolor, 12” x 12”

AR House Portrait, Watercolor, 20” x 16”

“It’s interesting learning the history of a house. I think of a home as a special place. Even if it’s not big, it’s where our memories are.” -Suzanne Churchill

Hanging Out, Watercolor, 10” x 8”

That Bookstore In Blytheville, Blytheville, AR; Watercolor; 9” x 12” Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


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Suzanne Churchill in her studio in Jonesboro, putting the finishing touches on a painting of a museum in Newport.

doesn’t have enough hours in the day to get another painting out. Churchill’s preferred medium is watercolor, though she also works in acrylic, ink and colored pencil. In February and March, the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in Tyronza displayed an exhibit of her work, featuring twelve paintings entitled “Quilting In Watercolor,” to coincide with the Sunken Lands Quilt Show in March. “I love quilts,” Churchill said. “I’m a needle worker, but I’m not a quilter. Last year when I attended the quilt show I asked if I could show my paintings at the museum.” Several of the quilts in the paintings are based on pictures she took of quilts at last year’s quilt show. “And sometimes I add a cat,” she said with a smile. “For some reason cats and quilts go together. They just like to curl up on them.” Churchill’s paintings also will be featured in several shows this spring, including the Threads of Life Quilt Show April 2-3 in Jonesboro, sponsored by the Women’s Advisory Council of the St. Bernards Development Foundation. In February, Churchill, along with five other artists, won the Promotional Award from Arkansas Delta Byways for promoting the Delta through art. “It was an honor. I was surprised. I hadn’t expected that,” Churchill said. She also is a member of Arkansas DeltaMade, an organization for products made in the Delta, ranging from artwork, to honey, to barbecue sauce. Her work may be viewed on her website at www. and at

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Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Blytheville Holiday Inn wins

national recognition



Story and Photos by Revis Blaylock

lytheville Holiday Inn owner Don Houseworth had a vision for an extensive rebuilding project which would make his hotel “the best of the best” in this area. That vision led to an amazing design by a Florida architect which has earned Houseworth national recognition and a feature in the Wall Street Journal. The ambitious project began in April 2010 with McMurry Contractors, a company experienced in hotel construction, doing the work. “They are doing a great job,” Houseworth said. The project is expected to be completed in April. The Blytheville Holiday Inn is the largest hotel in the area with 156 rooms. With the rebuilding project, all of the rooms now are larger and the facility also now includes 13 one and two room suites. The extraordinary, full service hotel features an outdoor pool and a completely refinished inside pool; 1,500 square feet of meeting rooms to accommodate large groups; two restaurants, Perkins and Bistro Eleven-21; a new front de-


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Enlarged rooms and beautiful suites provide added comfort



156 rooms

13 suites

The extraordinary, full service hotel features an outdoor pool and a completely refinished inside pool; 1,500 square feet of meeting rooms to accommodate large groups; two restaurants, Perkins and Bistro Eleven-21; a new front design; all interior corridors; a large concierge area on the upper floor; internet service in all rooms, and much more.

sign; all interior corridors; a large concierge area on the upper floor; internet service in all rooms, and much more. The massive project now nearing completion is far more than just cosmetic. A third floor was added, along with elevators and new lobbies, and in addition to the rooms being six feet larger, new appliances, wiring and plumbing also have been added. Houseworth has owned the present property where the Holiday Inn of Blytheville is located for 34 years. There was a major renovation in 1985, and Houseworth said he felt it was time to make the investment to rebuild from top to bottom. The project is something he had been looking at for several years, and he is excited to see the results as the final touches are made. As owner of the Blytheville Holiday Inn for 40 years, Houseworth always has taken great pride in providing toplevel accommodations and service for his customers. He never wanted to let his hotels get to the point where renovations were a necessity, he said, so he has continuously upgraded

through the years to ensure the comfort and safety of his customers. Houseworth came to Blytheville 41 years ago after starting with Holiday Inn in 1966. “Holiday Inn brought me to Blytheville,” he said. “Blytheville has been very good to me.” The Holiday Inn of Blytheville is growing to meet the needs of the area, but also remains a family enterprise. Houseworth’s wife, Robin, and daughters, Abby and Molly, all work in the business. The facility employs 200 workers. In addition to the Holiday Inn, Houseworth has owned the Comfort Inn and Suites for two years and also owns the Hampton Inn and Quality Inn. The Holiday Inn in Blytheville is one of the first Holiday Inns to relaunch with the rebuilding project. Houseworth is scheduled to be a panelist/speaker in March at a national hotel real estate and finance conference in Atlanta. The building concept being used in the Blytheville Holiday Inn may very well be used on other properties. Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads



1909 Linwood Dr. Paragould, AR 72450 870.240.0400 146 S. Second Ave. Piggott, AR 72454 870.598.5207

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Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Layers of History Parkin Archeological State Park

De Soto’s voyage to the new world imparts significance to Casqui: a mound building Native American village of the Mississippian era Story and Photos by Corey Clairday


istory runs deep in Parkin. From the Mississippian era Native American village of Casqui — which flourished from the 13th through the 17th centuries — to the North Ohio Lumber Company in the early 1900s and the Sawdust Hill Community that continued to thrive after the sawmill closed, Parkin Archeological State Park preserves a wide range of history. The main archeological focus of the park is the village of Casqui. The village, which takes its name from the chief who ruled during the time of Hernando de Soto’s visit, was a fortified 17-acre village nestled along the eastern shore of the St. Francis River from A.D. 1250 to the early 1600s. At its peak, Casqui may have had 400 houses and 2,000 people. Casqui was the capital for around 15 to 20 other villages along the St. Francis and Tyronza Rivers during the Mississippian era. It is part of the Mississippian mound building culture and one of the most famous Indian mound sites in this area. Indian mounds in most parts of the country were used for burial, but in Northeast Arkansas, the platform mounds were probably the base for the chief’s house. The mound at Parkin in still there, though much eroded over the centuries. It was once pyramidal in shape with a flat top and a flight of stairs up one side, made of either wood or earth. One of the reasons so much is known about Casqui is because of the chronicles written during De Soto’s expedition. De Soto led a Spanish expedition on a journey from Florida to Arkansas in the 16th century. The explorers were the first documented Europeans to cross the Mississippi River. According to those accounts, De Soto visited the village of Casqui in 1541. When De Soto arrived, Casqui was at war with a rival chief named Pacaha, whose main village is thought to have been located in Crittenden County near Turrell. Casqui gathered 100 people to greet De Soto and offered to let De Soto’s men stay in his village, but De Soto decided they would camp outside. When De

The pottery and shards on display all came from sites in the Parkin Phase, which includes villages along the St. Francis and Tyronza Rivers.

Soto went on to meet Pacaha, Casqui saw this as an opportunity to attack. Pacaha assumed that De Soto’s men were also part of the attack and fled to a fortified island in the Mississippi River while Casqui’s men looted the village. De Soto brought the chiefs together and had them make peace. Casqui returned the looted items. After De Soto left, however, no one is sure what happened. One of the mysteries of the site is why the village was no longer inhabited soon after. One notable event during De Soto’s visit was the raising of a cross on the platform mound during the first Christian ceremony held west of the Mississippi. When De Soto arrived, Casqui told him the village had suffered through several droughts and that they were starving. De Soto told them it was because they were not Christian, so Casqui asked De Soto to pray to his God and ask for rain. A giant wooden cross was erected on the mound, followed by a mass. Archeologists from the University of Arkansas found the remains of bald cypress wood in the mound during the 1965-66 excavation. This piece was carbon dated to around 1515 to 1563 and is on display in the museum. Now that dating technology has improved, the park hopes to get a larger sample to try to pinpoint Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


(left) The park has several period costumes for kids to dress up in when they visit. (below) The Northern Ohio Schoolhouse was restored in 2006. The school served African-American children for 38 years.

the date 1541. The museum also houses several other artifacts from Casqui’s village and other sites in the Parkin Phase, which refers to other Native American villages along the St. Francis and Tyronza rivers. Among the museum’s collection are pottery and pottery shards found on Parkin phase sites, as well as three head pots. The head pots can tell a lot about what people looked like and how they decorated their faces. There are only 143 head pots in the world, and they are concentrated in Northeast Arkansas. The site also employs a full-time archeologist and has a dig planned for the summer. Part of the reason the site is preserved so well is because it was occupied for much of the 20th Century. Farming, road construction and levee building destroyed many other village sites in eastern Arkansas. The Northern Ohio Cooperage and Lumber Company moved into Parkin in 1906. The sawmill was adjacent to the village of Casqui, and the sawdust from the mill was dumped into what would have been the old moat that surrounded Casqui. This sawdust helped preserve the moat by forming a protective layer that reduced erosion from wind and rainwater. Excavations in 1991 revealed the moat was 85 feet wide and six feet deep. After the saw-


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

mill closed in 1945, many people continued to live on the site in what came to be known as the Sawdust Hill Community. The site became a state park in 1967, and most of the residents agreed to move. Parkin Archeological State Park also has restored the African-American schoolhouse built in 1910 to serve the children of the Coldren plantation, the Northern Ohio Cooperage and Lumber Company for 38 years. And on the north end of the site, there still are gravestones for the segregated cemetery in use from 1909 to 1927. Workers for the lumber company and their families were buried there until the cemetery was abandoned after the Great Flood of 1927.

The park also holds several workshops and special events each year. These include workshops in which participants learn to make primitive weapons, gourds and pottery. During the pottery workshop, participants dig clay out of the St. Francis just like villagers would have done centuries ago. In February each year, the park does a Black History Month School Days program through which teachers and students go to the restored schoolhouse and learn what everyday life was like in the early 20th century. There is plenty to learn about at Parkin. The Visitors Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. During the winter, the Visitors Center is closed Mondays.

This platform mound, where the chief’s house would have stood, has a sign which shows what the mound would have looked like when Native Americans inhabited the village.



Clay County Fairgrounds, Piggott

Annual FFA Farm Sale,

Piggott City-Wide Yard Sale



Blytheville Country Club, for more information, call 870-762-2012

Annual Blytheville Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament,

sponsored by Wal-Mart in Trumann

Relay Roadblock for the American Cancer Society,

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Tyronza

EPC Student Art Show,


2 2


of Events


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011






8 p.m., RHS Gymnasium, Lake City

Riverside High School Graduation,

7 p.m., PHS Gymnasium

Piggott High School Graduation,

sponsored by Marked Tree Chamber of Commerce, ASU Technical School

Appreciation Dinner for Healthcare Professionals,

for more information call Matt Perkins at 870-763-2525

Main Street Mayfest, Blytheville,

Marked Tree sports complex

Regional Girls Softball Tournament,




Annual Community Clean-Up, Blytheville

YOUR Important Dates:


Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


7 p.m., MHS Gymnasium

Manila High School Graduation,

8 p.m., Mustang Athletic Complex, Monette

Buffalo Island Central Graduation,

Marked Tree High School Graduation,

7 p.m., high school football field

from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Bernard’s Auditorium, Jonesboro

Cinco de Mayo celebration

8 p.m., RHS Athletic Complex

Rector High School Graduation,

2 p.m., Briggs/Sebaugh Wellness Center, ANC Main Campus, Blytheville

Arkansas Northeastern College Graduation,

8 p.m., high school football field, Lepanto

East Poinsett County High School Graduation,

7 p.m., high school football field

Trumann High School Graduation,

30 Memorial Day

Stars and Stripes Festival, Tyronza



hundreds of classic cars visit Piggott

13th Annual Piggott Heritage Park Car Show,









Now, services found in rehab hospitals are available locally.

Extended Hospitalization

Physical Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Speech Therapy

Over the years, many patients have been treated in rehab hospitals away from home for extended therapy and hospitalization. With the addition of occupational Even more impressive, these services are available in the hospital or as a patient of Home Health. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in activities of everyday life. Our licensed OT can assess the patient’s physical health and strength as well as the environment the patient will return to after an accident or illness that has reduced skills, strength, or stamina. He teaches the patient how to simplify tasks and modify activities to progress with changes in their abilities. He is able to make recommendations to improve safety in the patient’s home, too. No matter where you are treated, ask your doctor for a referral to Piggott Community Hospital for rehabilitation. For more information, call 870-598-3881.

Piggott Community Hospital

Before going under the knife:

Do Your Part to Make Surgery a Success By Richard N. Waldman, MD President, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Millions of people in the U.S. have surgical procedures each year. Being prepared for surgery beforehand can help ease anxiety, improve peace of mind and pave the way to a smoother recovery. Have a surgery coming up? Keep these tips in mind:

Find Out Basic Information Your doctor will explain how the procedure is performed, why you need to have it, the risks of the surgery vs. the risk of no treatment, and alternative treatments that may be available. You may also want to ask: Who will be a part of your surgical team (doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, etc)? When and where will the surgery take place (hospital, your doctor’s office, surgical center, or clinic)? Will you need any pre-surgical tests or exams? Is any special preparation involved? What type of care will you need following surgery?

Before Your Surgery If you smoke, quitting will decrease the risk of problems related to anesthesia and post-operative lung infections and will help wounds to heal faster. Any period of not smoking helps, but aim to quit at least two weeks before the operation. Make a list of all of the medications you take (both prescription and overthe-counter such as pain killers, vitamins

and other supplements) and share it with your doctor. Find out if it’s okay to continue taking them. On the day before your surgery, follow any diet regimens suggested by your doctor, such as fasting or drinking only clear liquids. Don’t drink alcohol within 24 hours of your scheduled start time. If you are a diabetic, keep your blood sugar well-controlled. Consider preparing a “living will” or appointing a health care power-of-attorney. These measures help ensure that you will receive the type of care you want if you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

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Surgery Day At home, shower, wash your hair, and remove nail polish or acrylic nails. Don’t wear makeup and leave any valuables at home. Be sure you have your insurance card. If you’ll be staying overnight, bring only essential items, such as a case for contact lenses or dentures. Arrive at the surgical facility early. You will be asked to sign a consent form describing the details of your upcoming procedure and verifying that you were involved in the decision-making process with your doctor. Before signing, read it carefully and ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand. Be prepared to answer questions about your health history, current medications and allergies. For more information, the Patient Education Pamphlet “Preparing for Surgery” is available at patient_education Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads



Hargrave Corner • 522-3497 Dennis Adams, Manager

2300 Southwest Dr., Kennett, Mo. PO Box 885 • 573-888-6515 Gregg Sain, Manager

• Cotton Ginning • Whole Cotton Seed • Land Management


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Everyday Heroes. t did id wha As a k e? b nt to you wa er.” police offic “Always a Detective, anks, Sgt. ment -Eric Willb rt olice Depa Trumann P

Eric Willbanks How many years on the force? Six years in Trumann Current Title: Sergeant Detective in the Criminal Investigative Division Training: Certified by the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, has had training in Meth Intervention, Drug Intervention, training in Meth Labs, and certified as a Canine Handler for the Trumann Police Department. What is it like working for the Trumann Police Department: “It’s a great place to work. There are some great guys here, guys who don’t get appreciated as often as they should. Like the guys on patrol, they should be recognized. But in the end we are all one big team working together.” Most memorable experience: “We had a call about an infant who had choked on something. When I got to the house the child had turned blue. I thought he was dead, but I began to give him the Heimlich Maneuver for infants and a piece of candy flew out. It ended up saving the baby’s life.”

What do people not understand about police work: “You constantly are dealing with drugs and addiction, drug trafficking and sometimes people don’t understand that there are a lot of rules and procedures we have to follow in order to stop it. We have to take the right steps and follow the rules.” What do you enjoy about being a police officer: “I enjoy trying to make our city a safer and cleaner place, especially for the kids. I want to try to reduce the drug crimes as much as possible here.” Personal Information: Eric Willbanks has lived in Trumann all of his life. He graduated from Trumann High School in 1997 and later went to Black River Technical College to receive his basic law enforcement training. Willbanks is the father of three. His wife is a probation officer in the area. Although he is on call most nights to make drug busts, Willbanks enjoys deer, duck and turkey hunting, as well as fishing. He also enjoys watching football and baseball when he gets the chance.

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Sisters’ at the CROSSING Antiques Bags & Bagala Beads China, Candles & Cards Dog Beds Engravings Frames & Fabrics Glorious Gifts Hand Lotions Interior Design (ASID) Jewelry Kitchen Linens (old) Lamps, Lamps, Lamps Mugs Napkins Ottomans Pictures & Paintings Quilts Robes & Ribbons Silver & Seda France Tearoom (TTFS 11-2) Urns Victorian Chair Wedding Registry Xtraordinary Wrappings York Wallcoverings Zodax Glass

Call 870.763.2520 or come by 223 W Main, Blytheville


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Simple ways to create wildlife habitat

this spring By Kenneth S. Kesson Wildlife biologist and contributing writer

The soft, sweet scent of the lilac flowers fills the air; birds flutter to and fro and delight us with majestic songs; the first sprouts of delicate, green, grass appear beneath our feet. At last, spring is finally here. For many, springtime means cleaning and other household chores. Farmers are getting ready to work their fields. Turkey hunters await their chance to get back into the woods, and anglers look forward to wetting their lines. With so much going on, it is easy to forget that springtime is a great time to do things on your property for wildlife. Whether in the backyard, or the back-forty; there are several things that one can do to create and enhance wildlife habitat on their land. Hang a few birdhouses around your property to provide our feathered friends with places to rear their young. Look for sites that match the habitat requirements of the species you are trying to attract. Nest boxes should be placed on a steel pole to reduce predators like snakes and raccoons. They should be faced away from the prevailing wind direction and should be painted in natural color. Avoid placing more than one nest box adjacent to another to reduce crowding. To maintain your nest box clean it and make any needed repairs early in the spring of each year. Or, allow a corner of your yard or property to revert to natural vegetation. Ideally you can kill the lawn grass or fescue in this area prior to letting the area go wild. Such areas can be further enhanced by placing a large brush pile in the center. Additional improvements such as planting a few spruce and berry producing shrubs along the edge of these areas make them especially good for wildlife. If you own a woodlot or fence row there are some things you can do that are good for wildlife too. Allow your fencerows to remain wide, brushy and overgrown. This creates good habitat for quail, rabbits and other species. Also,

Tony Campbell |

leaving large dead trees, or snags, provides places for many wildlife species to live. When managing your woods remember to leave large, sprawling old trees, known as wolf trees. Such trees often provide a lot of food and cover for a wide variety of wildlife species. Managing your woods for oaks, beech and other species of mast (nuts or berries) producers can help ensure good habitat for wildlife. Those with limited space should consider planting a flower bed for butterflies or hummingbirds. Options for those with more land include planting field borders or whole fields to wildflowers and native warm season grasses. Landowners that are making hay or mowing should avoid mowing fields and grasses during nesting seasons (May-July) to prevent mowing up nests and young. Otherwise mowing from the center of the field outward, or leaving safety areas can help reduce wildlife mortality. The options of developing wildlife habitat on your property are limited only by the amount of time and effort invested, and the rewards are outstanding. Remember professional assistance is available through your local, state, or federal wildlife agency; and many times there are financial incentive programs available to assist you with your efforts. Their helpful, friendly staff will be happy to assist you. So this spring why not implement a project for the wildlife on your land?

HITTS CHAPEL CHURCH Come Grow With Us! End of North 4th Street Piggott, AR SUNDAYS Sunday School 10am Worship 11am Evening Worship 5:30pm WEDNESDAYS: 7pm Adult Bible Study Youth Service Patch Club (K-6th)

598-2595 KNOW



REDMON MONUMENTS & SIGNS 402 Linwood #1 Hwy 49 & 412 (across from McDonalds) Paragould, AR 870-215-5485 Ermert Funeral Home 100 W. Elm Corning, AR 870-857-3596

“Committed to Quality”

• Etchings, Portrait Scenes & Animals • Monuments of All Sizes and Colors • Mausoleums

Other numbers to call: 870-598-2331 (main office) or 870-634-6604 (cell)

364 S. Thorton Hwy. 49 (coming into Piggott) Piggott, AR 870-598-2331




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Water Woes:

Before you drink, think By Clover Kesson Environmental enthusiast

The conditions and quality of a community’s water source are paramount to the overall health and well-being of its population. Residents of the United States are ultimately blessed by the water treatment and distribution infrastructure put in place in the past century. Our ability to clean and reuse potable water in mass quantities is a world standard for water quality. Developing countries aspire to one day have the sources for clean water that I take for granted every time I turn on the faucet, hose or sprinkler. The majority of fresh water in the Northern Delta is obtained from the Mississippi Valley Alluvial Aquifer. Arkansas is a water rich state, but every water source has its limits. I make it a general rule not to drink water directly from the faucet. Environmental factors that contribute to my caution are possible exposure to pesticides in the water, such as trizenes; possible exposure to pharmaceuticals present in the water; as well as a possibly unhealthy balance of nutrients or minerals which contribute to water acidity. Old, uncapped water wells also can contaminate ground water if the land surrounding the well is exposed to pesticides or used for livestock production. Chlorine is another point of caution. While it is true that civil water suppliers are put under rigorous water testing, chlorine ingestion and exposure over time may be harmful. Up until the 1970s lead solder was commonly used to connect copper plumbing which over time can leach into the water. What about buying water from the store? Bottled water is traditionally bottled in plastic, plastic that when exposed to high heat or extreme cold can begin to break down and leach chemicals into the water itself. A perfect example of this is the taste

of bottled water when the bottle has sat in the sun on a hot day. Water in gallon jugs is really no different. Many times a chemical odor can be observed by smelling the containers prior to use. The idea of recycling plastic jugs and filling up your water at the water station at the store is also noble but again this may pose greater risk of exposure to chemicals. Opt for a glass or stainless steel refillable container. Now, with all this to consider and the recommended eight glasses of water a day to consume, worry could soon take over. Concern could lead to water consumption restriction or just as bad, too much water worry could lead to not caring what is in your water. These things need not happen. Instead:

Tues-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat-Mon Closed 224 W Main Blytheville, AR 72315 (870) 780-6430

n Buy a filter. There are many kinds and in many price ranges. The minimal approach, which I have chosen, is the in-fridge water pitcher/filter. It’s cheap, keeps the water cold, and ensures the removal of pesticides, 99 percent of pharmaceuticals and even cysts. Who needs cysts? This may or may not work for your family’s water consumption, but it’s a good place to start.

If you have a private water source, get your water tested. Maybe your drinking water is clean. Cleaner than clean — maybe it’s pristine. If it is then the reassurance of knowing is just a bonus. But, no matter the condition of your water it is good to be informed. Contact the local office of the Arkansas Department of Health for the specifics on broad band water testing. n



If you have a farm or use your hoses to fill livestock tanks or spray tanks


use an anti-backflow valve or an air gap to prevent possible contamination of your water source.

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Everyday Heroes.

Wes Sandusky

Manila fireman Wes Sandusky enjoys spending a few days every year as part of the rescue squad working NASCAR races in Atlanta.

First Assistant Fire Chief Fire Fighter for 26 years at the Manila Fire Department

AKA: Sandusky is a past fire chief and has been nicknamed by the younger firefighters as “the guru of extrication.” Sandusky serves as an instructor on extrication. Changes in 26 years? Sandusky has seen the local fire department go from only fighting fires to also working wrecks. “The rescue need was there,” he said. “There was a bad wreck about 17 years ago and we did not have the extrication tools we needed.” He took steps as fire chief at the time to raise funds for the needed equipment. “In every vehicle accident, there is a real chance a life is hanging in the balance. We are fortunate to have a lot of younger men stepping up in the department. We have 23 men on the fire department and they meet every week, attend weekend training classes and give a lot of their personal time for the community. If we are called in the middle of the night or Christmas Day, we go.” Other stats: He and his wife Pam have two grown children. Daughter Heather and her husband, Dr. Walt Short, and son Blake and his wife, Danae, all live in Jonesboro.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

So, what about NASCAR? Sandusky also serves as an extrication specialist at NASCAR races in Atlanta. He works for Atlanta Motor Sports and Emergency, a company that subcontracts to NASCAR during the races. He got involved in the NASCAR job through his friends, Tim Watson and Curtis Davenport with the Greene County Rescue Squad. They needed an extra hand for the NASCAR races and asked Sandusky if he was interested. He has worked the NASCAR races for four years and calls it “a great experience.” They have four rescue trucks at the races and Sandusky said he works Turn 4. What makes it memorable? “It is amazing to see the cars close-up coming around at 180 miles an hour,” Sandusky said. “During the warm-up, most of the drivers will wave or give us a thumbs up.” It took more training for him to be certified for the races. He had to know all of the different equipment and electronics used in the racing cars. He said that, so far, he hasn’t yet had to get a driver out of a car during the races. “We are self-contained during our stay at the races,” he said. “We don’t have leave the track.”

The Barbara Fairchild story:

Long career of Knobel, Arkansas, talent show winner leads to Hall of Fame induction Story by Nan Snider


elebrated country and gospel singer/songwriter Barbara Fairchild began her performing career at age five when she won a grade school talent contest in Knobel, Ark. She was just 15 when she cut her first single, “Brand New Bed of Roses.” Fairchild has never forgotten her smalltown roots, and she and her sister, Bernice Arnold of Corning, still maintain the family home and store in Knobel, the place they call home. Ulys and Opal (Archer) Fairchild lived in Knobel when Barbara was born at Dr. Loyd’s Hospital in Lafe on Nov. 12, 1950. Ulys Fairchild had several jobs to earn a living for his family. He was a farmer, ran a sawmill, drove trucks and later owned a store there. She and her siblings, which also included brother Charles (now deceased) attended Knobel School, now a part of the Corning School District. “I did all the things that country girls do growing up,” Fairchild said. “We chopped cotton, picked cotton, rode the bus to school, listened to the radio and attended church regularly. Daddy

Fairchild’s diner in Branson offers an up-close and personal Morning Show production

sawed off a hoe for me to use because I was too little to chop cotton with the long handle. I rode on the cotton sack with Momma when I was little since there was no such thing as day care back then. When I got old enough I had a toe-sack to pick in, then graduated up to the longer one. “When we worked we sang and when we played we sang,” she said. “We sang at school and we sang at church. Music was just a part of my life. My parents both sang. Dad’s family of eleven kids had wonderful voices, played instruments and could harmonize. Mother, from a family of nine, had a strong voice, and I could

hear her above all those in the congregation at Knobel Church of Christ, where we attended. I sang often in a trio with my aunts Shirley and Patricia Fairchild. “We had a school carnival at Knobel every year, and it had a talent contest,” Fairchild said. “I was so proud to be queen in the first grade and could hardly wait to enter the talent contest. Momma made me a new blue dress and I got all dressed up for my first big performance. I had lot of encouragement from family and friends and sang in that talent show for seven years in a row. I guess you could say that was the beginning of my professional singing career.”

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


The Knobel Church of Christ where Barbara sang as a girl

Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame

“He told us to go home and write seven more and come back. I think he was testing us. We did go home and came back in two months with 16 songs.”

Gov. Mike Beebe was on hand to congratulate Barbara on her Hall of Fame induction

- Barbara Fairchild talks about being signed with MCA Music

The Fairchilds moved to St. Louis when Barbara was 13. “I had just made cheerleader in my freshman year at Knobel and sure hated to move away, but knew Daddy had to make a living for us,” Fairchild said. “It was hard at first to leave Knobel, as I was well known in the area as a singer. I had guest spots on the Slim Rhodes and Gene Williams shows on KAIT-TV in Jonesboro. Before long I made friends at our new church in St. Louis, and we sang music together.” While she and a friend were looking at guitars in a St. Louis music store, the owner asked Barbara to sing a song. She sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” Bobby Caldwell accompanied Fairchild on the guitar, and at age 15, she became a regular on a local Saturday afternoon TV show called Norvill Dollar Show. Record company owner Norman Winestrower made a record of Fairchild’s voice. Fairchild met Ruby VanNoy when she was 16 and VanNoy taught her how to write songs. They wrote two songs together and asked Ulys Fairchild to drive


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

them to Nashville, Tenn., for an audition at KATC-TV. “They told me they were not looking for a cute little girl who could sing good,” Fairchild said. “Dad got tired of our efforts and sat down to rest, while Ruby and I walked around music row to see the sights. We took a short cut through the alley by Decca and MCA Music. Jerry Crutchfield came out of MCA and Ruby recognized him since she had written for him before. He was going to lunch, but invited us in to hear what we had. We sang our two songs, and he liked them. He told us to go home and write seven more and come back. I think he was testing us. We did go home and came back in two months with 16 songs. He signed us up as writers and agreed to manage me as a singer.” Fairchild’s first recording contract was with KATC. She secured a songwriting contract with MCA right out of high school, but continued to perform. She soon had a recording contract with Columbia Nashville and delivered the single “Love Is a Gentle Thing” in 1969. She recorded seven albums on Columbia during

the 1970s and scored charting singles in 1970 and 1972. The “Teddy Bear Song” was number one for two weeks and even crossed over to the pop charts. The song earned Fairchild a Grammy nomination and would go on to become her signature song. She continued to enjoy chart success through the latter part of the 1970s. In 1982, Fairchild married evangelical singer/songwriter Milton Carroll in San Antonio, Texas, and went back to Nashville for a comeback. In 1989, she joined the gospel group Heirloom, which released a few albums in the early ‘90s. She released her first solo gospel album, “The Light,” in 1991 and did a few shows in the country/gospel entertainment haven of Branson, Mo. The performances were well received, and Fairchild moved to the city, landing a permanent job with the Mel Tillis show. Fairchild later remarried and began singing and performing with her new husband, Roy Morris. The duo released inspirational albums together in 2001. Fairchild and Morris had their own Bran-

son production during the Christmas months and continued to tour the U.S. Three years ago they opened the Barbara Fairchild Diner in Victorian Village in Branson, with an up close and personal Morning Show production. Fairchild has three children of her own, Tara Pierce, Randina Foret and Randy Reinhard, and two stepchildren, Linelle Meadows and Lorna Chambers. Together she and Roy have 10 grandchildren. “We are proud to have Barbara recognize Knobel as her hometown,” Knobel Mayor Doris Sellmeyer said. “The Fairchild family café and homeplace are just across the street from me. I love to look out and see her van parked in the driveway when she comes home for a visit.” Fairchild was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame last year in Pine Bluff, along with previous inductees Johnny Cash of Dyess, Conway Twitty of Helena, Glenn Campbell of Delight and Floyd Cramer of Huttig.

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads



One true story that changed the country

316 West Main (Historic Downtown Blytheville) 9:30-6:00 Mon-Sat • 24/7 at

How the disappearance of six-year-old Adam Walsh shook the nation


By Mary Gay Shipley Owner, That Bookstore in Blytheville

“This tale of TV host John Walsh’s son Adam and the twenty-five year search for his killer is truly terrific.” –Scott Turow

Come meet Les Standiford and Joe Matthews, March 19 at 7:00. Copies of Bringing Adam Home and selected others will be available for autographing.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Remember when the only face on the milk carton was that of the contented cow? Back when children left the house early on a summer morning to return just in time for supper, having freely explored the neighborhood with all the other area children? Back then children played for hours, largely without adult supervision. All that changed on July 27, 1981, when six-year-old Adam Walsh accompanied his mother on an errand to the Sears Mall in Hollywood, Fla. Adam played with a demonstration of the new Asteroids video game while his mother shopped for lamps a few aisles away. Minutes later when Reve Walsh returned, Adam had disappeared. Weeks later his head was found in a canal. Adam’s killer was never found, and the case remained unsolved. The world changed. Parenting would never be the same — no more unsupervised play for children. Largely due to the efforts of Adam’s parents, John and Reve Walsh, law enforcement agencies transformed their practices to better protect children. John Walsh became the well known host of America’s Most Wanted and solving many cold cases. He helped many families of victims find some closure and peace. But he and Reve did not have the same for themselves, and efforts to find Adam’s killer always met a dead end. More than 25 years after Adam’s disappearance, John and Reve Walsh turned to Joe Matthews, former sergeant of detectives and 29-year veteran of Miami Beach Police Department, for help. Matthews had periodically

been on loan to the Hollywood Police Department to help with the Adam Walsh case. He was retired when John and Reve asked him to re-examine all the evidence and prove who murdered Adam. Bringing Adam Home is the full story of that crime, the botched investigations and the work of Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews. It is the complete story at last. Les Standiford rises to the occasion with his narrative skills to spell it all out for us. And even though we remember the press coverage, Standiford manages to create a compelling read. Les Standiford graduated from the MFA writing program at the University of Arkansas. His John Deal mystery series has been compared to the writing of Graham Greene. In recent years Standiford has turned his attention to non-fiction with the highly acclaimed Man Who Invented Christmas (Charles Dickens writing and publishing A Christmas Carol), Meet You in Hell (Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick’s bitter partnership in the steel industry), Last Train to Paradise (Henry Flagler and the railroad across the ocean to Key West), and Washington Burning (how L’Enfant’s vision for our nation’s capital survived Congress, the founding fathers and the British Army). Les Standiford and Joe Matthews will be at That Bookstore in Blytheville at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 19, 2011, to discuss this case and the book and its unusual path to print. Copies of this and selected backlist titles will be available for autographing.

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Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Back to square Schultes father and son take an interest in Piggott downtown, restoring buildings one by one

Story and Photos by Ryan Rogers


istoric buildings which line the courthouse square in Piggott have been given new life through an ambitious project undertaken by Piggott father and son team Chuck and Brian

Schulte. The two have rolled up their sleeves and worked side-byside with construction crews to not only make repairs to the buildings, some more than 100 years old, but also restore them as closely as possible to their original form. Having purchased more than 15 buildings in downtown Piggott over the last few years, the Schultes have taken giant leaps forward in revitalizing the downtown while similar areas in other small communities have dwindled, or in some

cases, have been entirely lost. Wear from the elements, a lack of maintenance, design fads and poor construction decisions had left many of the properties purchased by the Schultes in poor condition. Watching them come back to life and, in many cases, return to their original glory, has been exciting for local residents. “Anytime we can put the buildings back to their original state, we try to,” Chuck said. “We get as close as we can to the way they were built.” If such a task seems like a difficult proposition, there’s a good reason for it. “Most of the buildings weren’t what you’d call gems when they were bought,” Brian said. “A lot of them were in pretty

The interior work required on this building was extensive. The Schultes put in many hours restoring the tin ceiling alone, one of the key attractions of the original design.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

The ceilings in this building were cut and rearranged, with much of these beautiful arching windows damaged or removed. Brian’s hand (left) indicates the approximate level to which the high ceilings were lowered during the late 1960s.

rough shape. We refer to them as onions, because there are so many layers you have to pull off.” One of the biggest hurdles in restoring most of the buildings in the downtown area comes from the energy crisis of the mid to late 1960s. In many cases, the beautiful tin ceilings of the original designs were completely covered, or even removed entirely, as efforts to conserve energy saw ceilings lowered. In some cases, the drops were so dramatic, doorways would scrape ceilings which once towered way overhead. Picturesque designer windows on storefronts were covered entirely. In many cases, storefronts were altered as the originals were amended with more modern metal awnings. “So much of the original designs were just thrown out,” Chuck said. “It’s taken a lot of work — a whole lot of work — to get the buildings to where they are today.” With the ceilings, the presence of the original tin is an instant attraction in the design. In the cases where the tin was stripped away in areas, the Schultes have done their best to match the unique patterns of the design by utilizing the remaining portions, often taken from the rear of the building, to fill any gaps. “You can find some tin ceilings on the internet, but it’s almost impossible to match the patterns,” Brian said. “You’ve pretty much got to take some from here and there to make it work.”

(right) Brian Schulte shows off the restored Osh Kosh mural on the side of a popular shop in downtown Piggott

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Chuck and Brian Schulte have restored and rejuvenated many buildings in downtown Piggott.

Brian Schulte on the revitalization of Downtown Piggott: “If anything we’ve done has helped keep downtown Piggott vibrant, then that’s great. If something helps the town, it helps everyone in the long run.” Modern additions to the storefronts are removed and reworked when possible to restore the traditional look. What lies underneath often is something much better, with many of the buildings having portions of the historic Mesker Brothers storefronts, which have been a favorite of history and architecture aficionados for some time. The building at 209 West Main, which houses Feather Your Nest, has caught the attention of many passersby with its unique mural on the side of the structure. A retro-style OshKosh logo has added a touch of days-gone-by to the building, giving the site additional charm. “You don’t see a lot of these anymore,” said Brian. “I just thought it would be something good — kind of an attention-getter for the square.” As the revitalization of downtown areas has caught on in recent years, the Schultes were way ahead of the curve. By beating the trend, the Schultes were able to acquire their many buildings. The family purchased their first


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

building, which today houses Evans’ Jewelry on Main Street, in 1980. Chuck’s wife, Sherry, was renting a location for her beauty shop. To cut expenses, the couple decided to buy a property. When the landlord learned they were interested buying property, he lowered their rent and eventually sold the site. When other building owners learned the Schultes were looking at properties, more offers came their way. At the time, many building owners were looking to get out of the expense of upkeep for the properties. “Honestly, people started calling me, asking me if I wanted to buy them,” Chuck said. “They were looking to get out from the expenses and made us some good offers.” The efforts have been effective, as nearly every building in downtown Piggott has been rented and is in use. “If anything we’ve done has helped keep downtown Piggott vibrant, then that’s great,” Brian said. “If something helps the town, it helps everyone in the long run.”

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DOWLESS How to pick a Antiques & Area Rugs

color scheme

By Jan Murphy, owner of The Interior

Beautify your home with an area rug!

Choose from over 800 rugs in Stock in our Monette store!

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Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

This time of the year, just after the holidays, most of us are ready for spring and ready to update rooms in our homes to welcome the new season. Adding or changing color is the easiest way to change a room. Here are a few hints to help you pick your color scheme. Use your favorite color or colors. Turn these colors into a color scheme you’ll love by sprinkling them throughout the room. For example fiery oranges, soft blues and classic neutrals create a magnificent scheme. Find accessories, such as an accent pillow, lampshade, or throw, that feature the dominant colors. Sprinkle these pieces throughout the room to make the scheme feel cohesive. By using your favorite color as the base of the scheme you are sure to love the room. Balance bold hues with white, off-white, or one harmonizing shade through the accents and secondary elements. To set the atmosphere — serene, cozy, vibrant, pick hues based on the way you want to feel when you walk into the room. For example, relaxing off-white and light blue tones present a calming atmosphere. Make a list of the words you want associated with this room, then pair those words with colors that come to mind to create the perfect scheme. Take colors from a rug. A rug is the foundation for a room. Draw from colors featured in a patterned rug to create a cohesive look. To add more dimension to your color scheme, incorporate different textures such as wicker chairs

in a dining group or one as a side chair in a less formal room. Be inspired by art. Art adds personality to a room. Using it as a foundation or focal point creates a great color scheme. If choosing a wall color from your artwork, go one or two shades lighter to ensure the art will pop. Try to stick with a classic combo color scheme. Blue and yellow, green and blue, red and brown — you can’t go wrong when you stick to classic combos. To jazz up a classic combo accessorize with punchy accents. Relying on color combos featured in window treatments, pillows, or upholstered furniture is a sure bet for a good scheme because the combinations were created by design professionals. Be inspired by a theme when selecting your color scheme. Decorating themes often incorporate a color theme (such as a beach-inspired theme which would most likely feature classic blue and white). To give a theme a modern twist, brighten up the hues, such as swapping a light blue for a bold aqua. Let the light in and brighten up your home with bold colors and vivid hues this spring. Try using classic red, hot pink, apple green, orange, or aqua. They are the trends for this spring! Photo courtesy of Jill Hertz Interior Design in Memphis

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Music composes the man: A former Monette resident makes waves with song on the net Story by Nan Snider


t’s all the buzz. The good news about the amazing vocal talent of former Monette resident Mitchell Platz, discovered on an internet video clip, is spreading like wildfire, and his hometown friends and other area residents are bursting with pride that lots of others also are celebrating his gift. At a recent funeral visitation in Caraway, Platz’ sister, Sheila Anderson, gave Mitchell’s former classmate Janet Rolland an update on her brother and mentioned someone had posted videos of him singing on YouTube. After Rolland saw the videos, the word spread quickly. Platz’s friend, Will Jarrett, recorded him singing two songs during the Zion Baptist Church Homecoming Celebration last year in Brownsville, Tenn., and posted them on YouTube as “I’m Amazed/Mitch Platz” and “Midnight Cry/Mitch Platz.” Platz received a standing ovation from church members and had won equally passionate approval from his hometown friends. Platz lived south of Monette while attending high school. He was known for his quick wit, talent and good work ethics. He was recognized in the MHS Buffalo 1983 yearbook as senior class president and Who’s Who’s Wittiest and Most Talented. The son of Billy and the late Thelma (Rogers) Platz, Mitchell has four siblings, Diane Holt, Linda Luff, Clarence Platz and Anderson. “Mitchell was always making us laugh at home,” Billy Platz said. “He studied karate in Paragould, and when he learned a new move he had to try it out on his mother as she was in the kitchen cooking. He was always coming up with something to make us laugh, and it came easy for him. “We all loved music and would either be singing or playing something on the guitar,” Billy said. “When we had Platz reunions we would all gather around and sing.” Mitchell attended First Baptist Church and Assembly of God Churches but never sang solos there. “I recall volunteering to sing a solo in the Karlene Redman’s fourth grade class,” Mitchell said. “When I stood up in front of the class to sing Puff the Magic Dragon, I froze. Not a word would come out. I always had the fear of doing that again and was reluctant to try.


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Mitchell Platz singing sensation

“My high school music teacher, Pat Qualls Taylor, would have no part of that and insisted we all take part in choir competitions,” he said. “I think it was a requirement that we all take part in talent shows and music choral competitions. Before long I found myself singing out loud and enjoying it. I was so proud to get the lead in Scrooge in our high school musical.” “It was such a pleasure to have Mitchell in my class at school,” Taylor said. “He had such a talent, was well mannered and respectful of others. He was willing to try all varieties of music. His talent was evident and his confidence grew with each performance. “I was thrilled to death to hear him on YouTube for the first time as a grown man,” she said. “He has a fantastic vocal talent and is a person anyone would be proud to know.” Platz was a quick study at whatever job came his way. He was a butcher at Terry’s Grocery in Monette, worked on cars, and even drove a bulldozer at the landfill. After graduating from high school, he moved to Memphis and got a job in cement sales for Edmonds Materials. He took night classes at Memphis State and Jackson State. With a promotion as sales manager, Platz stayed with Edmonds for 22 years. He took a job with Boral Brick Industries in 2005 and currently is center manager in Jackson, Tenn. Platz met his future wife, Kelly McCullough, when he was singing at Harmony Baptist Church in Whiteville, Tenn. “It was love at first sight, for both of us,” Platz said. “She liked my singing and I liked her looks. We hit it off as soon as we were introduced that day and I knew she was the one for me. “We soon had a family of our own and our lives were busy taking care of them. It seems that my kids, work and sports keep me busy and on the road going to and from one function or another. However, home is my favorite place to be.” Kelly Platz is a teacher at Parkway Middle School in the Jackson/Madison County School District. Their children are Caribeth, 17, Cody, 16, and John Burton, 13. They attend Fayette Academy in Somerville, Tenn. “Caribeth got a softball scholarship to attend Willams Baptist College,” Platz said. “All the children are good in sports. Cody is on the Vikings wrestling team, and John Burton plays basketball. I love working as a coach and helping where I can.”

The Platz family lives in Tennessee. Kelly Platz (top right) is a teacher at Parkway Middle School in the Jackson/Madison County School District. Their children are Caribeth, Cody, and John Burton.

The Platz family is active as members of the Zion Baptist Church in Brownsville. Mitchell is a featured vocalist at the church and often is called on to teach as well. Platz is a member of a gospel vocal trio called “His Voice,” with Candace Maness and Larry Kelly. They have released their first CD, titled “Our Offering.” “I love harmony and our voices seemed to just fit together well from the beginning,” Platz said. “We have had great support from our churches and families in producing our first CD. Our friends Les and Cathy Meter donated all of our sound equipment, plus a trailer to haul it in. We practice every week and perform at churches and special functions, when invited. We are so thankful for God’s blessings in our lives and find joy in expressing it through song. “When you are growing up in a small town, you never know where life is going to take you,” Platz said. “I have been very blessed to grow up in a loving family, in a nurturing town, and to find joy and fulfillment in my life with my family, my job and my music. Who could ask for more.”

“I think it was a requirement that we all take part in talent shows and music choral competitions. Before long I found myself singing out loud and enjoying it. I was so proud to get the lead in Scrooge in our high school musical.” - Mitchell Platz on his memories of performing in high school Platz grew up in Northeast Arkansas. He graduated from Monette High School in 1983.




Trusted Service

As funeral directors we are honored and committed to serve bereaved families in the manner that will justly commemorate a life lived. Our staff consists of the most knowledgable and dedicated


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those who must call on us, just as we have for FOUR GENERATIONS.

HOWARD FUNERAL SERVICE OF MANILA AND LEACHVILLE is the oldest business on Buffalo Island. From our beginnings in 1911 through four generations of family service, we have been honored to serve you. Although we are proud of our history we are committed to the future and continuing to serve for generations to come. Funerals have changed and we are proud to say we have too, from our state of the art website to our video tribute program, we have strived to provide a more personalized service unique to the life of your loved one. We offer all types of services for all types of needs, and remember, quality professional service does not have to cost more.

a love of woodworking

runs deep for a Caraway man

Story and Photos by Revis Blaylock


f it can be made of wood, Paul Weaver of Caraway can build it. From custom built kitchen cabinets, duck calls bearing the “W” for his Weaver Customs Calls, hand-made ink pens, hunting knives, to a complete house, he has done it. Weaver has been building houses since 1987. During a time when house framing got slow, he picked up building kitchen cabinets. Custom cabinet building was something he always wanted to learn. He bought the tools and started building cabinets about 10 years ago. Weaver was born in Monette, moved with his family to Mississippi and returned in 1979 to Arkansas, where he finished high school in Caraway in 1984. “The Lord saw fit to hook me up with one of the best carpenters ever, Lester Mullen,” Weaver said. “He gave me my first job as a carpenter. He told me to forget what I thought I knew and he would teach me.” Weaver said he always had a desire to build. When he was young boy, his grandfather hired him to feed and water hogs. He used the money to buy his first tools. At the age of 12 or 13 he started making bookshelves, gun racks and spice racks. Even then, when Weaver worked in wood, he wanted it done right. He is sure some of those first shelves and racks are still around today. “I also had a great high school agri teacher, Lloyd Lamb,” Weaver said. “He demanded respect and taught me basics on wiring, plumbing and framing. Mr. Lamb told us any man ought to be able to build their own house and care for it.” Weaver took his high school teacher’s advice to heart.

(above) Paul Weaver enjoys making handmade ink pens in a variety of styles. (right)Making hunting knives is a hobby for Weaver. He sometimes makes the handles using deer horns.

He built his first house at the age of 21 for his parents, Danny and Wanda Waver. They still live in the house. His love of working with wood goes back generations in his family. His grandfather worked in logging. His dad worked in logging, also. Weaver still has his grandfather’s saw mill. He keeps it as a reminder of how hard they had to work cutting timber. He learned about wood through listening to his father and grandfather.

Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


There are at least 103 different species of oak. He likes to work with the American Holly, the whitest wood on the planet. After the last ice storm, Weaver was able to stock up on wood. There is a use for all wood, and he doesn’t want to see any go to waste. As a hobby he started making duck calls and enjoys creating the Weaver Custom Calls. Osage Orange Wood, commonly known as hedge apple, is one of his favorite types of wood to use for his duck calls. “I have sold quite a few duck calls, but I have yet to sell enough to pay for the tools I bought to make them,” Weaver said. He can make a wooden call in 45 minutes. His duck calls are well known and stamped with a W. He has duck calls from Caraway to as far away as New Zealand. Again, Weaver said he was fortunate to have a good teacher in Thurman McCann, who taught him how to make duck calls. One of his newest ventures is knife making, which he calls a “wild hair.” He was planning a hunting trip and decided he wanted to skin his deer with a knife he made himself. He has enjoyed making knives and fashions them from wood and leather sheaths. On some of his knives he uses actual deer horns for handles. He has made toy trucks for a grandson, tiny ducks calls as Christmas tree ornaments and a variety of ink pens. He makes two styles of pens using acrylic and a variety of wood, including red palm, Brazalian burr, maple, oak, blackwood and more. He uses Parker inserts for the pens he makes. He enjoys working in his shop when he has time, but recently has been busy using his “spare time” in building his home, a 2,700 square foot two-story structure with six bedrooms and three baths. Having started five years ago, he calls it a work in progress. He and his wife, Tammy, have five


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

grown children and six grandchildren. His idea for their home was to have six bedrooms so when the kids visit, there is a room for each. The majority of the work is done, but he still has some finishing work on the upstairs bedrooms. Weaver is quick to give the Lord credit for everything he is able to do. He admits he is his own worst critic. “I want my work to last,” he said. “If

I build a house for a family, I want it to be there for their grandchildren.” He has a genuine love and desire to build. “If I had plenty of money, I would love to just build houses for free,” he said. He is not sure what he will be creating next, but he is sure it will be made out of wood.

Paul has been building custom made kitchen cabinets for about 10 years

Weaver’s Custom calls are in the hands of hunters and collectors from Caraway to New Zealand



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A trip down Piggott’s own memory lane Story and Photo by Ryan Rogers


he quest for glimpses into Clay County’s past is a favorite journey for Jim Poole of Piggott.

Despite maintaining an immensely busy schedule as an alderman, vice-president of Piggott State Bank and dedicated volunteer, Poole has spent countless hours delving into the way things were. “I just love it,” Poole said of researching the past. “I’ve always been interested in history — especially the history of Clay County. There’s always been something about the past that just fascinates me.” Poole has earned a reputation for possessing near encyclopedic knowledge of the way things were in Clay County’s early years. Through countless conversations and exhaustive research of old documents, Poole has been able to create accurate “retellings” of events and interesting points long forgotten. One of the most endearing mysteries about which Poole has sought information is the location of a brick factory which ceased operation in Piggott about 100 years ago. While no records can be found giving a specific location, through the years Poole has been able to speak with some of the community’s older residents who were able to remember playing near the location as children. “It was a popular spot for the kids to play,” Poole said. “They would go there at the end of the day and the kilns (ovens used to make bricks) would burn all the time. They could stay warm if it was cold and use the coals to roast sweet potatoes.” Poole said the best information he was able to get indicates the brick factory was located near the current site of Murphy Health and Rehab on Ninth Avenue, just a few blocks from downtown Piggott. “Everyone I talked to who could remember it was so young, they couldn’t


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

remember exactly where it was. They remember crossing the creek which runs behind the nursing home to get there, so it must have been right around there.” For each treasure trove of information about the past, Poole also runs into the sad reminder of what has been lost. “I don’t know that we’ll ever know for sure where the brick factory was. That’s what happens with so much of our history. It’s not recorded anywhere and when everyone who remembers it is gone, it’s lost.” Poole has been able to construct a window into the area’s past through personal accounts, old newspapers, fire maps and state survey guides, among other documents. While some residents may be aware, many in Piggott likely would be surprised to know the downtown area was once a pasture, with a livery stable occupying the location of what is now city hall — as recently as 1907. And once upon a time, the small town of Greenway was known as Hamburg and Corning was named Hectch (pronounced “Hetch”) City. Imagine how the landscape of Highway 149 would change if the former railroad whistle stops remained, such as the Arkdale community in the four miles between Piggott and Greenway, or Hannibal, which once lay between Rector and Greenway. Through looking at long-forgotten records, Poole has been able to count at least 110 school districts which once were established in the county. Today, there are

Jim Poole

only three schools in Clay County. “I just love finding out about things like that,” Poole said, the excitement in his eyes giving verification to the statement. “Things like that we’d have no way of knowing just by looking at it today, because so many of these things and places are gone now.” Poole himself has a rich history throughout Clay County. Born in Success, his family moved to the Grapevine area when Poole was very young. He attended school at Tywhop in the first, second and third grades before attending Rector school through the seventh grade. The family then moved to Greenway. Poole graduated from Greenway High School in 1961. Residing in Piggott today, he has experienced life in pretty much every area of the county. After high school, Poole spent three years in the United States Army. From there, he returned to Clay County, working with International Harvester four years. He has been with Piggott State Bank for the last 43 years. While his willingness to work hard and dedication would have served him well anywhere in the world, Poole said Clay County is the only place he could ever call home. “When you get right down to it, that’s probably why I find our history so fascinating. I love living here and want to know as much about this area as I can.”

Main Street | 2010-11 HOMECOMINGS

Buffalo Island Senior High

Buffalo Island Central Senior Homecoming theme was “A Sweet Escape.” Pictured are senior class representatives and their escorts, from left: Senior Princess Taylor Owens and escort Weslan Colbert; Queen Jenny Walker and escort Ben Cole, and senior Princess Jenna Pike and escort Drey Crabtree. At front are flower girl Madalyn Gathright and crown bearer Tyler Pitts.


Senior High

Manila’s 2010-11 senior high homecoming royalty included, from left: Breanna Pannells, 10th grade maid; Brianna Stone, 11th grade maid; Lindsey Green and Brooke Warren, 12th grade maids; Queen Caitlyn Scott; Alyssa Tate and Danielle Hicks, 12th grade maids; Savannah Towel, 11th grade maid, and Spencer Smith, 10th grade maid.

Riverside Senior High

Riverside Senior High Homecoming Court and escorts are, from left: Cody Stallings, Lindsey Gamble, M.J. Brewer, Kayleigh Wilson, Jake Love, Sarah Douglas, Josh Anderson, Deandra Slankerd, Luke Moyer, Miranda Denton, Tyler Rolland Tori Reid. Front – flower girl and crown bearer, Lexie Moyer and Kenley Sanders.

Junior High Buffalo Island Central Junior Homecoming Royalty are, from left: Ninth grade Princess Kaley Hawkins and escort Jacob Sanders; Queen Bianca Munoz and escort Jerry Cazares, and ninth grade Princess Courtney Garrett and escort Drake Brown. At front are flower girl R.J. Moad and ball carrier Hunter Clifton.

Junior High Manila’s 2010-11 junior high homecoming royalty included, from left: Jenna Benson, seventh grade maid; Justice Aguilar, eighth grade maid; Karley Moore, ninth grade maid; Queen Kelsen Watkins; Kaitlyn Parker, ninth grade maid; Shelby Williams, seventh grade maid, Breeanna McCollum, eighth grade maid.

Junior High Riverside junior high Homecoming Court and escorts pictured are, from left: Zachary Reece, Trisha Null, Kollin Stone, Haven Crews, Ben Hensley, Ashton Raney, Brandon Sain, Kaitlin Lindley, Devon Austin, Molly Davis, Caleb Waugh and Lauren Smith. Front - flower girl and crown bearer Lexie Moyer and Kenley Sanders.

Photos by Revis Blaylock Spring 2011|Delta Crossroads


Main Street | VALENTINES DAY IN POINSETT COUNTY Slade Melton, 22 months, decorates his mouth in chocolate almost as much as his cookie.

Kara Fox, two, reaches across the small silver pond to grab a specially marked duck for a piece of candy.

Trumann Valentine Festival

Children enjoyed the fourth annual Children’s Valentine Festival hosted Sunday, Feb. 6, by the Maple Grove Baptist Church at the Trumann Recreational Complex. The festival included games, inflatable toys, face painting, cookie decorating, a family photo and concessions. There were also drawings for Walmart gift cards and a Wii game system. Both parents and children enjoyed candy and games throughout the day, as well as spending time in fellowship with their church members and the Trumann community.

Matthew Wray, five, sits patiently as he has a giant black spider painted across his cheek.

Julie Walton, five, watches Kaden Kent, two, as he plays a game where he has to bounce balls into glass jars.

Photos by Jackie Wilson


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Photos by Nancy Kemp


Gary Morris and Gail Ford of Rector

Gary Morris and music producer Bill Carter (right) with Arkansas State University Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Glen Jones (left) and Mrs. Jones

Rebekah Scott sings on stage at the Gary Morris concert in December. The concert raised funds for the Rector Helping Hands Foundation, which assists disadvantaged Rector students. Bill Carter (left), the Nashville music producer who makes Rector concerts possible, enjoys some off-stage time with his friend.

Main Street Milestones

Zula George of Rector celebrated her 100th birthday in December 2010 with a party at the Rector Community Center. Among those attending the celebration were her three sons, Mack, Avery Jr. and Doug. Mrs. George was born Dec. 23, 1910, in Senath, Mo.

Carl and Peggy Finley of Rector celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Dec. 31, 2010. They have three children, four grandchildren and one greatgrandchild.

Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Faulkner of Ravenden and Caraway celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Bill and Shirley Ward of Rector celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Dec. 26, 2010. They have three grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

Vestes Rouse celebrated her 100th birthday Nov. 28, 2010, at the Rector Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. A party was given at the facility to celebrate. Family and residents attended and everyone had a great time.

Billy and Jerri Mann of Piggott celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They enjoyed sharing 50 years of memories with family and friends.



Events to remember Junior and Sharon Small of Rector celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the Rector First General Baptist Church.

Ralph and Lois Hunter of Leachville celebrated their 50th anniversary. They were married at the Happy Corner Assembly of God Church.

William and Vacle Olive of Leachville celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. The couple married in Kennett, Mo.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Seal of Piggott celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married at the Rector First General Baptist Church by Rev. E.G. Muse.

Bobby and Tonnie Moore of Manila celebrated their 50th anniversary. They enjoyed a family dinner with family and friends.

Side Streets

Beautiful peach-peel tulips, garden pathways


Delta Crossroads|Spring 2011

Photos by Nancy Kemp

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Delta Crossroads, Spring 2011  
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