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 Your Hometown Magazine

 Your Hometown Magazine

Issue 2 - 2010




A Life Lesson From B-Ball


Creative Birthday Parties


Maitland’s Friend


Meet Flat Stanley


Nothing Like Home


Backyard Resorts: On The Ranch


A World With More Birthdays


Get Real, Here’s the Deal


Mountain Top Cowboys


The Power Of Good Neighbors


Raising The Roof


New Life


Manners Of The Heart


Pen Pals For Life


Departments Publisher’s Note


Out & About


All American Citizens


Dinner & A Magazine


Living In Searcy


We The People


Financial Focus


Fashion Fun



Games & Puzzles

On the Cover Maitland Gann Photo by Kimberly Brackins (501) 279-1515


Publisher Christine Walker Business Manager Paul Parker Art Director & Webmaster Garrett Johnson Graphic Assistant Ikey Ray Customer Service Stephanie McInturff Editorial Assistant Cherie Sewell Makeover Coordinator Christine Locke Contributing Independent Photographers Maggie Hendrix (501) 388-3256 Homan Photography (501) 268-2844 Kimberly Brackins (501) 279-1515 George Dillin (501) 268-9304 Contributing Writers Cecelia Wilson Daniel Torres Ashton Reely Zach Welch

Searcy Living is Locally Owned and Operated 812 South Main Street Searcy, AR 72143 (501) 368-0095 For subscription information go to

Copyright 2010 Shark Promotions LLC. Searcy Living, Cabot Living, and Your Hometown Magazine are trademarks of Shark Promotions. All rights reserved. Ownership, rights, and logos are property of their respected businesses. No part may be reproduced without written permission. Shark Promotions LLC is not responsible for claims, misprints, discrepancies, advice of any kind, or content in advertisements or editorials, but will rectify errors in forthcoming issues. December 2009 - January 2010

CopyrightŠ 2010 Shark Promotions LLC

Searcy Living Magazine is a subsidiary of Shark Promotions LLC.

 Your Hometown Magazine

Publisher’s Note

No Reminder Needed

I was digging through a book shelf at home and ran across an old memento from years ago. It was a playbill from a production my husband and I attended that Barbara Eden was in. After the play we had been invited to a meet and greet with her. I remember being so impressed with how down to earth she was and when given a compliment she was so completely humble. I grew up watching I dream of Jeanie and of course never thought I would ever meet her. But when I did she was just... herself. After flipping through the playbill and remembering that night; I thought about the amazing people I have met over the recent past years. And I thought about how I don’t need a forgotten playbill to remind me of these fascinating people I am honored to meet in this community everyday. The people that own the businesses that are the lifeblood of this town. The people that volunteer and make this community their own. Even the competitive nature I see among different groups and entities constantly raise the bar and benefit everyone in the end. But finding this little memory made me think about how our everyday neighbors really are impressive people; but most people don’t really think about that when they start their day. When you turn the pages of this issue of Searcy Living you will get a glimpse of the interesting stories that are in our community. But I have a challenge for you tomorrow. When you wake up in the next new day, look around, talk to your co-workers, the person in line next to you at the grocery store, the teller at your bank, and know that they just might be the most interesting person you will meet this week. I bet they have a great story. And you never know, they just might be in a future issue of Searcy Living.

Creative Birthday Parties

always energize me! “ Children They have a way of showing us the world from a fresh pair of eyes and teaching us as much as we teach them. Page 30

A Life Lesson from Basketball

knew what had happened a split “ He second before was history; that the

game is not played in the past, but in the present, and he had to be in the present. Page 26

“It may be fun to meet someone [you grew up seeing] on TV, but there are amazing people around us that we all have the privilege of meeting every day.”

Maitland’s Friend

And if anyone can sense genuineness and “magic” in a person, it is a child.

Page 39 


Connecting You To Your Community

“ Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow. � ~Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros  Your Hometown Magazine

Show your support for life and help raise money at the same time! Purchase an Official Choose Life Arkansas License Plate for the rear of your car. You can obtain one through direct purchase from the Department of Finance and Administration. Let’s make the readership of Searcy Living the BIGGEST supporters for life in the state!

Find more OUT&ABOUT on! 

All American Citizens

Helping Children

by Olivia Hawkins

Helping Children Find a Voice in the Darkness “Misty”

I must be stupid I must be bad, What else could have Made my daddy so mad? I can’t speak at all I can’t do a wrong Or else I’m locked up All the day long. ~Anonymous Author

Children who are abandoned, abused, and severely neglected experience trauma that many of us can only imagine. In an effort to increase awareness of these children, many businesses and non-profit agencies in the White County area have teamed up to let each abused child’s voice be heard throughout the community with a month designated as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. A number of local agencies have formed a joint committee known as the Blue Ribbon Committee. Participants include Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Department of Human Services (DHS), Families, Inc., the White County Foster Parent Association, and the White County Children’s Safety Center. The committee’s goal of raising awareness will be accomplished through several events. There will be a Candlelight ceremony to honor those that have been abused in White County during the previous year. There will also be several different creative visual 10 Your Hometown Magazine

displays around Searcy to remind the community that abused children are all around us. Please help us reduce the millions of children that are abused annually, and prevent thousands of children from dying of abuse and neglect. For more information go to If you know of a child that might be abused or neglected, please call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964. If you would like to get involved in this year’s activities, please call Olivia at 501-388-1636. Also, please refer to to find specific dates for this year’s activities.

Online Extra

Go to to read past articles about the White County Safety Center and other efforts to stop child abuse. 11

d nner

& A Magazine

Cancun Hot Cocoa We went to Cancun, Mexico, in October of 1999, following all my cancer treatments. The place couldn’t have been more lovely! Like typical Americans, we had to go to the Cancun Walmart Supercenter, and it rained while we were returning to our hotel. Wet and a little chilled, we ordered hot chocolate from room service and sat on our balcony drinking it and watching the traffic go by. The cocoa was worth the entire trip there! No American ever served me cocoa like that! I think this is about as close as I’ll ever come to being in Cancun again. Drink it and dream! ~Tanya Leckie 6 C. Milk, Divided 2 Tbsp Cornstarch ¼ C. Cocoa ¼ C. Sugar 1/8 Tsp Salt 8 Ounces Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips 1 Tsp Vanilla

Recipe submitted by Tanya Leckie

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Add ½ c. of the milk and stir to make a paste. Slowly heat the remaining 5 ½ c. milk in a heavy saucepan and add the chocolate paste mixture just before it boils. Cook one minute more, stirring well, then remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla and serve once it’s all melted. This and about 349 other recipes can be found in Tanya Turner Leckie’s newly published cookbook entitled “Cartwheels in the Kitchen,” available locally at Midnight Oil Coffee House and also online at www. (Ordering online gives you the option of paying with a credit card, but there will be a $4 shipping fee.) Contact information for Tanya is available on the website listed above. The cookbook contains recipes that assist you in taking small steps toward cooking and eating healthier, like avoiding processed foods such as canned soups and packaged mixes. Don’t know how to make your own cream of mushroom soup to add to other recipes? The recipe is in this book!

Online Extra You can find more recipes from Tanya, the Williams family and the Searcy Country Club on!

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Brown Butter Sweet Potatoes DIRECTIONS

Recipe submitted by Miguel Espina, Searcy Country Club INGREDIENTS Sweet Potatoes, center cut - 24 Orange Juice - 1 cup Cinnamon, ground - 1 tsp Light Brown Sugar - 1 TBS Thyme, ground - ¼ TBS White Pepper - ¼ TBS Salt - ¼ TBS Lime Juice - ¼ TBS Butter, salted - ¼ lb.

Place the sweet potatoes in a non reactive baking pan. Melt ½ of the butter and brush the sweet potatoes on both sides. In a separate pot, melt the remainder of the butter and add all the other ingredients. Heat to mix thoroughly but do not let it come to a boil. Ladle the warm mixture over the sweet potatoes, stopping when liquid comes to about half way up the potatoes. Do not cover the potatoes completely. Place in a hot oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the potatoes over and roast for another 10/15 minutes, until nicely browned on top. BROWN BUTTER INGREDIENTS Butter, salted - 1lb. Cinnamon, ground - 1/4 cup Ginger - 1/8 cup Place 1 pound of salted butter in a skillet and melt slowly. When melted, add ¼ cup cinnamon and 1/8 cup ginger and bring to slow boil, allowing the butter to brown but not burn. Keep warm and drizzle it over the sweet potatoes before serving. 13

by RJ Taylor

Kathryn Yingling Meadows, of Searcy, and Sybil Winter, a Wisconsin native, may be co-holders of the world record for the longest pen-pal friendship. They have been writing each other since the spring of 1940; when strawberry season comes in the spring, they will have been pen pals for 70 years. Most pen-pal relationships that started during the Great Depression lasted a short time. But Kathryn and Sybil have never stopped writing and calling each other and have also visited each other and exchanged gifts over the years. Their story began when Kathryn, two of her sisters, and her three brothers were picking berries on several acres of a farm belonging to their parents, Osco and Hettie Yingling. Either Kathryn or a brother or sister wrote “Kathryn Yingling, Judsonia, Arkansas,” on a quart of berries that made its way by train from Bald Knob, a strawberry capital at that time, to Milwaukee. Sybil’s mother, Elenora Winter, bought the berries, saw Kathryn’s name and address, and reminded Sybil, who was 13, that she had been wanting a pen pal.  Sybil wrote, and Kathryn responded.  “I was in the seventh grade, and she was in the eighth grade, and we wrote mostly about school things in our early letters,” Kathryn said.

14 Your Hometown Magazine

Sybil, a talented figure skater, joined the Holiday on Ice show in 1945 and performed in Mexico, South America, and the United States for four years. She sent Kathryn letters, cards, and gifts from many places.  Kathryn and her family had moved to Searcy when she reached the ninth grade, and she studied at Searcy High School and Harding College while Sybil skated professionally. (left) Kathryn Yingling Meadows holds pictures of her long-time pen pal, Sybil Winter.  For four years, Sybil performed as an ice skater with the Holiday on Ice show. (above) Kathryn Meadows holds one of the pen-pal letters that she has received from Sybil Winter, a Wisconsin native, since 1940.

Sybil made her first trip to see Kathryn in 1953, when Kathryn and her husband, Ray Meadows, were teaching in Paragould. “When Sybil stepped off the train, it was like we had known each other always,” Kathryn said.  Two years earlier, Sybil’s parents, who were on their way to Florida, had looked up Kathryn, who was then teaching in Carlisle.  They also visited Kathryn’s parents in Searcy. Kathryn, Ray, and their daughter, Melissa, stayed with the Winters family in Milwaukee in 1959 while Ray, who was president of the Arkansas Vocational Teachers Association, attended a meeting in Chicago.  He commuted to the meeting. In 1990, when the 50th anniversary of their pen-pal friendship was approaching, Kathryn sent Sybil the letter mailed in 1940 that had started their friendship.  It was mailed with a two-cent firstclass stamp.  Sybil told Kathryn that the letter brought tears to her eyes. By the time Kathryn visited Sybil in 2000, she was living in Waldo, Wisconsin, about an hour’s drive from Milwaukee. Sybil, who had attended Marquette University and had become a dental hygienist, was still working part-time. She was also teaching tai chi, a Chinese system of exercise, as well as teaching seniors to ice skate. Well before her 2000 trip, Kathryn had recognized Sybil in an Arkansas newspaper’s wire service photo of a lady teaching a 90-year-old man how to ice skate. Sybil Winter has expressed her delight at having Kathryn as a longtime pen pal.  “Little did I dream that Kathryn and I would become as close as sisters,” she said. “Sharing our thoughts and dreams has made our friendship so special.”  Kathryn agrees. “There is a mutual feeling between us that ignores time and distance,” she said. 15

Written by Erica Clause

Photography by Homan Photo

in Searcy

16 Your Hometown Magazine

The Boone Home


n March 13, 2009, Eddie, Mandy, John Stephen and Katie Boone moved into their dream home. Designed on a napkin late one night, this almost 5,000 sq. ft. spruce log home is one which could be described as Country Living at its best. As the land it sits on was once owned by the Anderson family, who settled there many years ago and built a log cabin using only hand tools, the Boones were happy to be able to continue this western tradition, building their own “log cabin� on the land. The house features 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, an office, a laundry room, and a game room in the loft. The Boone ranch also has a barn and enough acreage to house a unique variety of animals, including chickens, ponies, potbelly pigs, goats, ducks, turkeys, a horse and a zebra named Z Man! Eddie said that one day they hope to maybe have a petting zoo. We think they already do! 17

smell of Ponderosa pine and warmth “ The of hand-scraped, hardwood flooring

conjures up feelings of the rugged life of settlers from years gone by...


Meet Z Man!

Online Extra Go to to see more home galleries! 18 Your Hometown Magazine 19

The kitchen, dining and living rooms are at the back of the house in a spacious, open floor plan design. The smell of Ponderosa pine and warmth of hand-scraped, hardwood flooring conjures up feelings of the rugged life of settlers from years gone by, minus the hardships that life entailed. The kitchen and dining area are decorated with true country flare, sporting a tasteful scattering of chickens and roosters here and there. Dividing yet uniting the kitchen and dining area is a kitchen island made of hickory which offers a generous work area and doubles as an eating bar and a place to visit with family and friends while working in the kitchen. A wagon wheel chandelier handmade by Mandy’s father softly spills light over the work area. The heart of the living room is a beautiful rock fireplace featuring a custom made mantle a friend of the family built out of an old log, with bundles of wild grasses on either side of the fireplace and warm, comfortable seating in the room. Blending modern conveniences with old world charm, a flat screen television is mounted above the mantle ready to show an old favorite or a newly released blockbuster! Stairs in one corner of this open area lead to a loft with a birds eye view of the living and kitchen area, and a large game room. Western trends continue in this fun filled environment. A range of games, including pool, fooseball, and air hockey, are just a few steps away. The family enjoys spending time with one another in this room, as well as playing host to a number of family and friends. The bedrooms in this home are all very spacious and continue the log theme. In John Stephen’s room is a log bed with a matching bench and a unique bedside lamp with horseshoe accents and leather trim. Finished with plenty of storage for a busy young man, horses everywhere and rugs shaped like a cowboy hat and boot, this room is ready for a real cowboy on the range. Down the hall is Katie’s bedroom. Her bed is a very unique canopy log bed with sheer, bright pink curtains draped around the canopy, showing the softer side of this cowgirl who loves her room dressed in a palette of pinks and finished with a pretty flower rug. Next door to Katie’s room is the master bedroom, bathroom and a spacious walk-in closet. Eddie and Mandy’s room also features a log bed, received as a wedding gift when they married. The message of Faith, Hope, and Love displayed over the headboard remind them of how blessed they are. The master bath has room for both “his” and “hers” and offers a relaxing corner Jacuzzi with

20 Your Hometown Magazine

beautiful Delta victorian oil rubbed bronze fixtures, matching the fixtures in all the baths and the kitchen. (The fixtures were purchased locally at Southern Pipe and Supply in Searcy.) According to Eddie, he always wanted to have a country log home and he found the perfect lady to go with his dreams. Together, they planned this dream home and stored up their treasures, hoping that one day they would be able to realize their dream. This rustic home with its country charm offers something for everyone and is a dream come true for the Boone family.

A Western Tradition

The Boone’s built their “log cabin” home on the same land as The Anderson’s who built their log cabin using only hand tools.

The Boone Family 21

We the People

Harley and Katy Bridges with great grandchildren, Jack Renela and Luke Renela, enjoying a beautiful afternoon.

Local Artists

For the birds takes on a whole new meaning when you see this majestic bird house on the front lawn of a home in Beebe. Lucky birds!

Snow Days

▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶▶ Sidney Deener Elementary School congratulates Ariadna Leyva for being selected as our January “Student Artist of the Month.” Ariadna is 9 years old and is in 4th grade in Mrs. Jennifer Taylor’s classroom.

Photos from this past winter on!

◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀◀ Sidney Deener Elementary School congratulates Dawson Allen as being selected as our February “Student Artist of the Month.” Dawson is in 1st grade and is in Mrs. Vicki Rain’s classroom.

d Alex Goff Michael Goff an an with the made this snowm neighbors. d help of friends an From left to right: Cami, Christyn, Cheryl, and Reid Simmons

Photo uploaded by Christyn Simmons

22 Your Hometown Magazine

The 65 Roses Tour Charity Event for Cystic Fibrosis - Family Fun Ride - 30 Mile Ride All Riders Welcome Call Duane Handley at 501-278-5155 for more information. Cystic Fibrosis is a life shortening, genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. The tour’s name, the 65 ROSES Tour, comes as a result of a young boy who heard his mother making phone calls in an effort to raise money and awareness

for Cystic Fibrosis. Not understanding her words, he asked his mother if she was working for “65 ROSES”. Upon hearing the story, the foundation adopted the term and to this day many children refer to their disease as “65 ROSES”.

Photos by Wally Jarrett. See more photos at

Recently, nineteen of Arkansas’s most talented young ladies came to the Searcy High School Performing Arts Center to compete in Arkansas’s Junior Miss. This year’s theme provided wonderful entertainment not only from the talented contestants but also by a number acts from around the state. The event, which drew a larger-than-expected crowd of attendees, was a huge success. 23

We the People

HOPE... believe!

At Searcy Living we have donated office space to serve the foster children in White and surrounding counties. This room is full of new and gently used items donated by people like you who care. All DHS caseworkers and foster parents are welcome to come and pick up outfits and necessities for foster children. Because of you, in the past twelve months the Searcy Living Foster Care Boutique has served over 200 foster children.

A special thank you to all the volunteers who spend hours of their time keeping the Searcy Living Foster Care Boutique organized. And thank you to all who have made generous donations to keep the Boutique stocked!

24 Your Hometown Magazine

Thank You! A special thank you to Duane Handley, owner of Bike City, for his recent donation to the Searcy Living Foster Care Boutique. Bike City donated boxes of brand new Skater shoes to Searcy Living Foster Care Boutique.

Find Links, Quotes and More on Our Website!

Brenda Webb’s 3rd grade class of 24 students at Searcy McRae Elementary donated over 80 books for foster children recently. The books were then given to the Searcy Living Foster Care Boutique to distribute to foster children. Next time you see one of these children, remember to tell them what a great project this was and how much they are appreciated by the community! 25

by Warren Darden

“ Hanging in the gym at Searcy High School is a large banner¹ listing the names of the 1995 State AAA Championship Basketball Team. This banner, and the accompanying trophy, are not only tributes to the players on that team, but a challenge to the players each year. The players on the ’95 team acquired many accolades and gained experience, not only in the game of basketball, but learned lessons that follow them in life. Being a part of team sports offers considerably more than the W’s and L’s, as any participant can tell you. Those memories stay when many other school happenings dissipate as time passes. One such memory recalled from that championship year, full of excitement and recognition for the team, was the invitation to play in the nationally recognized Entergy King Cotton Holiday Classic Tournament ² in Pine Bluff. Top ranked teams from across the country were always in attendance at this prestigious event and it was a mind expanding experience to just watch these superior high school talents. Many of them were from northeastern private prep academies. These were and still are the primary source or pool for many of the nation’s top university freshmen players. Unless one has seen in person the extraordinary abilities these teams display, it is hard to visualize such gifted young competitors. The Searcy team was one of two Arkansas teams invited in ’95, and, from participating, they gained knowledge, skills, and confidence that assisted in the state title run. In the tournament, they also surprised and upset a couple of teams picked ahead of them in the rankings. All the teams, as expected, were exceptionally well coached as reflected in the superior quality of play. High school basketball didn’t get any more intense or dramatic than the King Cotton

SEARCY LIONS 1995 State AAA Championship Basketball Team

26 Your Hometown Magazine

You just never know where you are going to learn life’s lessons.

each year. Many future NBA players, such as Russellville’s Corliss Williamson, ran up and down the court, too. One player’s coaching and concentration became very evident during an energetic game in which this outstanding forward made a mistake. The type of mistake is not important, but the magnificent manner in which this young man reacted has left a lasting impression - a life’s lesson. As soon as he committed the error - not a foul - he clinched both fists and grimaced. The mistake was something he knew he should not have made; however, in the same instant, his training and coaching took control. He knew what had happened a split second before was history; that the game is not played in the past, but in the present, and he had to be in the present. The game clock would not let him dwell on his mistake, the competition came first. As quickly as his grimace had appeared, it disappeared, and he was mentally back in the game. Not more than a second could have passed in the total episode! The thought in my mind was, “Wow, what a lesson in life!” If only we could all be so well trained that we would automatically realize our mistakes are history and it’s the present that is important. The young man had learned from his mistakes that he must get on with the game. We, too, cannot afford to concentrate on the past, because there is always a “fast break” happening. If we do, it is for sure someone is going to “slam-dunk” on us. The player’s team went on to win the tournament. Without a doubt, he has taken his training and coaching with him through the rest of his life! The mighty King Cotton is no more, it is sad to say. It was an outstanding event for the entire state. Maybe some group will revive the glory of those days for Arkansas players and basketball fans. You just never know where you are going to learn life’s lessons.

He knew what had happened a split second before was history; that the game is not played in the past, but in the present, and he had to be in the present.

Caily Moore, recently attended a gymnastic camp at the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Oklahoma. Caily is a ten-year old Level 6 gymnast on the Gym Stars Gymnastic Team, a 4th grader at Harding Academy, and a state champion on the Vault. While at the camp, Bart helped her perform her first giant (a full swing around the high bar) on the strap bar. She is pictured with Bart and his wife, Nadia Comaneci. Bart is the only male American gymnast to win a gold medal at every level of national and international competition. He won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics when he achieved a perfect score of ten on the parallel bars. Nadia charmed the world at the 1976 Olympics by being the first gymnast to acheive a perfect score of ten, earning seven perfect tens by the end of the games. Between them, Bart and Nadia have 11 Olympic medals.

Online Extra

¹ There is also a banner for the 1970 State AA Championship team. ² The King Cotton was founded by Mr. Travis Creed of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in 1983 and continued for 17 years, ending in 1999. Mr. Creed provided the following information: Sponsorships were initially local businesses and 50 for the Future, a civic group. Later, Mt. Valley Water, Inc., Coca Cola, and Entergy participated. The first year they had 10” of ice and snow but still had a good crowd. A lot of emphasis was placed on the interaction between teams and the community. In 1983, there were two other similar tourneys in the U.S.: Big Las Vegas Tournament in Nevada and Big Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina. The King Cotton was the first to pay the teams’ expenses, thereby competing with the other two. They paid for 20 people: transportation, 4 to a motel room, meals, and other benefits. Average yearly expenses were estimated to be $50K. It had 8 teams to start and later expanded to 12 teams each year. For a couple of the early years, they had a girls’ division with teams just from Arkansas. The King Cotton hosted an estimated 176 teams over the years in the annual four day event. Mr. Creed has a library of video tapes of all the games from each year. The largest attendance was in 1996 at 7,600. This was the game featuring the Russellville, Arkansas, team that included Corliss Williamson and the California team that included Jayson Kid. “The fire marshal would not let anyone else in,” Creed stated. In the final play, Corliss swatted the ball out-of-bounds from Kid’s last second shot attempt and Russellville won by one point. On December 28, 1987, the then fledgling TV network ESPN produced the first live high school basketball event ever, the King Cotton Tournament. They also aired the event for the next four years, but on tape. In 1989, the New York Times ran an article entitled “#1 High School Holiday Tournament in the Country.” At last count, Mr. Creed estimated over the 17 years, 35 to 37 future NBA players were in the tournament. The tournament was discontinued due to dwindling attendance, a concern for guest safety, and crowd (student) control issues. This footnote has been provided due to the lack of public information available on the internet or elsewhere. Special thanks to Mr. Creed. Maybe some alert university library will pursue obtaining the game tapes, programs, and other items Mr. Creed has kept.

Go to to read past articles about Corliss Williamson and more! 27

Financial Focus

with Jeff Kernodle

Warm Glow From Charitable Giving Also Reduces Tax Burden


mericans have a charitable streak. In fact, estimates place the percentage of American households making charitable donations each year at 70-80%. Research suggests that giving is good for you, too. Donors experience a measurable kind of warm glow or “helpers’ high” from giving to a good cause, studies show. Even if feeling good is not a motive for charitable giving, it sure is a plus to reap the tax benefits of giving. So it is worth considering the benefits of giving in the most tax-efficient ways, including making gifts of cash and appreciated securities or establishing donor-advised funds and family foundations. Gifts of appreciated securities are a popular way to benefit a favorite charity while sheltering the gains from taxes. By giving this way, the donor is allowing the charity to put to work 100% of the market value of the long-term appreciated securities, thus avoiding paying tax on the “built-in” capital gain. Let’s say you own an appreciated position of GE, now worth $10,000, acquired for $2,000. Sell the stock and you would be subject to capital gains tax on the $8,000 realized gain - a $1,200 tax bill. If you donate the stock instead, you can deduct the full amount as a charitable gift. For an individual who itemizes deductions and whose marginal tax bracket is 33%, the savings of $3,333 in federal taxes - added to the $1,200 in capital gains savings - brings to $4,533 the tax savings for making your gift in stock. A cash gift would reduce taxable income by $10,000, thus saving $3,333 in income tax. In addition to tax benefits, donors often have additional reasons to give stock. These might include lessening a concentrated position in a particular stock or preserving available cash for other needs. Those who wish to facilitate significant philanthropy may establish tax-favored vehicles such as donor-advised funds or family foundations. Many donors are discovering the benefits of donor-advised funds available through financial services companies and community foundations. A donoradvised fund is an irrevocable, tax-deductible contribution of assets to a charity. At any time thereafter you can recommend grant distributions to qualified charitable organizations. The convenience of donating a single block of securities that can benefit multiple charities makes the donor-advised fund a popular choice. Wealthy families looking to instill their family’s values and create a legacy of giving for their children and grandchildren often choose to establish their own private or family foundations. These foundations provide a vehicle or focus within the family to work towards common social goals and promote giving to future generations, permitting young and old to collaborate on these topics. The cost to establish and administer a family foundation can be prohibitive for all but the most committed donors. In addition to set-up costs, foundations must meet a required minimum payout each year and provide access to information, complete reporting and public disclosures that may prove a burdensome counterweight to other charitable vehicles. Donors should consult their tax advisors to seek a more thorough evaluation

28 Your Hometown Magazine

of one charitable vehicle over another, particularly in view of the donor’s own circumstances. The fourth quarter is a good time to consider the best way to give in view of your plans and objectives. You can plan ahead by putting funding vehicles in place to facilitate yearend giving. When it comes to tax-wise giving, who knows? It might feel better than you think. This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Jeff Kernodle, Senior Financial Advisor at Kernodle Investment Management in Searcy at 501-279-0101. Wells Fargo Advisors and Kernodle Investment Management do not render legal, accounting, or tax advice. Be sure to consult with you won tax and legal advisors before taking any action that may have tax consequences. Trust services available through banking and trust affiliates in addition to non-affiliated companies of Wells Fargo Advisors. Wells Fargo Advisors and its affiliates do not provide legal or tax advice. Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state. Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/ NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE. Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (WFAFN), Member SIPC. Kernodle Investment Management is a separate entity from WFAFN.

About the Writer Jeff Kernodle is a Senior Financial Advisor with Kernodle Investment Management in Searcy located at 707 W. Beebe-Capps Expy. Tune in to News Talk 99.1 every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. to hear Jeff discuss investments and the economy. For more information on this and other articles, please call Jeff at 501-279-0101. 29

s e i t r a p y a d h t r i b by Stephanie McInturff

One Saturday morning a friend of mine gave her daughter a birthday party in the park. It was one of the best birthday parties ever! Not too long, not too short... just right. I love birthday parties... especially well thought out, planned, and executed ones! The kind I can never seem to manage. Other peoples’ parties in particular, ones that I just help with! A birthday is a magical day as a child. Anticipation is high for that one day of the year that is totally your own. Anything can happen and everything usually goes your way: the universe balancing the world in your favor on your own very special day! Watching the children anxiously awaiting the next game or craft was such a blessing. They began with face painting: kitties, puppies, and even a monkey. Next, they got to decorate bags with stickers, markers, colored pencils, and sticky foam letters! Third on the list was Pin the Cheese on the Mouse! A friend blew up this sweet mouse and laminated it especially for JaLynn’s party. Then it was time for the Puppy Chow-down! This was the most exciting game as they were eating like puppies: on their knees, hands down, faces in the bowl! Children always energize me! They have a way of showing us the world from a fresh pair of eyes and teaching us as much as we teach them. God gave us such a blessing with children, one that returns itself over and over! I can’t wait for the next birthday party!

A special thank you to Melanie and JaLynn Barker

30 Your Hometown Magazine

“A birthday is a magical day as a child.” 31

Written by Cecelia Wilson

Photography by Kimberly Brackins



32 Your Hometown Magazine

ost two-year-olds are afraid of horses, but Maitland Gann is one precocious little girl who is the rare exception to that rule. Maitland was first introduced to horses when she was just 16 months old and, rather than being scared, the toddler was fascinated and loved sitting atop the large animals. Her grandmother, Kathy Lightle, whose own love for horses developed when she was a fourth-grader, marvels at the equestrian bond ingrained in her first grandchild. Maitland knows all the names of the horses on the family’s farm, but there is one in particular with whom she is the closest. Not only does Maitland love “her” horse, Hawk, but the feeling is obviously mutual. Hawk, a gentle, older horse, even knows their car! The minute Kathy and her granddaughter drive up to the barn for one of their frequent visits, Hawk trots out happily to greet the pair and begins licking an eager Maitland on the hand. But, how to explain the lack of fear in such a young child for what would otherwise be considered a formidable pet? Perhaps it is just a little magical; perhaps it is genetic; or perhaps it is just that Maitland and Hawk understand each other when they whisper. For all who know Maitland’s background, it could be explained as just another instance of astounding wonders in her young life. When Chris Gann and his wife Taylor learned they were expecting, the family could not have been happier - including first-time grandmother, Kathy and grandfather Steve. So, when Taylor had issues 25 weeks into her pregnancy, it was devastating news to hear that the child she was carrying weighed just over one pound and, should Taylor give birth at that point, the chances the newborn would survive were slim. Born prematurely 2½ weeks before Christmas, Maitland weighed a mere four pounds, but she delighted everyone with her progress and was allowed to leave the hospital in Little Rock by the holiday. It was a wonderful Christmas miracle. Of course, on the other hand, it could be argued that it is in Maitland’s genes to be so attuned to horses. Her maternal great-grandparents, Shell and Kathleen Blakely, who own B&B Farm where Hawk and friends are stabled, certainly have plenty of horsemanship in their own histories. As a youngster, Shell actually rode a horse to school each day and until most recently, Kathleen was still riding a horse 4 days a week. They passed that love down to their daughter, Kathy, who throughout her childhood was accustomed to riding by herself daily, chaperoned only by her Border Collie, Rover. But, the close relationship might also be due to Searcy’s own horse whisperer, Beno Fleming. A horse trainer most of his life, Beno worked for Joe Webb, then for C. E. Ransom on his farm until the Blakelys bought it from Ransom two decades ago. Beno stayed on, training horses for horse shows, hunting and breaking problematic horses. Fleming’s demeanor with people and with horses is almost legendary in White County. “You always see people sitting on the

benches in the barn just because they like being around Beno,” Kathy says of the shy, unassuming trainer. “He is one of the kindest people I have ever known and he treats people and horses the same.” He is well respected for his expertise as a trainer who never mistreats a horse, and he believes in training slowly, methodically. Kathy, who has known Beno well since her family’s purchase of the farm so long ago, is adamant in her assessment of his way with horses: “It is magical.” And if anyone can sense genuineness and “magic” in a person, it is a child. It is, then, little wonder that when Maitland comes to visit, Beno has half a dozen brushes and combs ready for the little girl so she can brush Hawk’s mane. Through Beno’s example, Maitland has no doubt observed the proper way to become a friend with Hawk, and maybe, just maybe, the horse whisperer who has such a gift with horses has shared that gift with Maitland as well. Only Hawk can really tell us why he and Maitland are such great pals…and he’s not talking. Someday, though, if you listen closely, you might just overhear Hawk whisper the secret in Maitland’s ear.

Above Left: Beno, Maitland, and Kathy with Hawk

sense genuineness and ‘magic’ “ If anyone can in a person, it is a ”

Maitland Gann 33

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34 Your Hometown Magazine 35

Searcy Hall of Honor Banquet

Mrs. Beebe’s Flat Stanley meets Department of Education Director Tom Kimbrell’s Flat Stanley

36 Your Hometown Magazine

In 1995, Dale Hubert, a third grade teacher from Canada, began the Flat Stanley Project. The project is based on a children’s book written by Jeff Brown in 1964. The storyline includes a boy named Stanley who is flattened when a bulletin board falls off the wall and flattens him. He enjoys being flat because he is able to fit inside an envelope and travel all over the world. When Dale Hubert began the project, he invited students to make a Flat Stanley journal. Students make a Flat Stanley out of paper, decorate him, and then begin a journal. Children write about a variety of things. They write about their family, vacations, favorite holidays, or they might just record a typical day’s events. After they write for a few days, Stanley is sent to a pen-pal. The pen-pal then writes in the journal and mails it back to the original sender. While the Flat Stanley Project’s main focus is on literacy, the venture has been a positive influence in many ways. A high school in Dallas, Texas, used the project as an instrument in informing their students about college life. The high school started a Flat Stanley Goes to College campaign. Students sent their Stanley’s to colleges all over the United States. College students from all over the nation participated in the campaign by becoming pen-pals. What a wonderful way to get students informed and excited about going to college! Four schools in South Carolina implemented a project called Flat Stanley Goes High-Tech. Nine teachers and two hundred third graders used computers to write letters and e-mails to corresponding schools. A large part of this program used webcams to promote cultural exchange between the students in South Carolina and students in Canada and South America. Several celebrities participated in this project, including Dick Cheney and Nascar drivers, Joe Nemechek and Richard Petty. Other celebrities have been involved with the Flat Stanley Project as well: Sarah Palin, Carrie Underwood, George Jones, and Reba McIntire, just to name

by Da’Lynn Mix

a few. Our very own first lady of Arkansas, Mrs. Ginger Beebe, is an advocate for this program. Mrs. Beebe received a Flat Stanley from a student in Texas wanting to learn more about Arkansas. Mrs. Beebe took Flat Stanley to different locations and compiled a journal complete with photographs and information about our state. It was then she decided to become involved with the project. The Flat Stanley Project began with just thirteen classes taking part. As of 2009, over six-thousand classes from forty-seven different countries are active in this program. The project serves as a pen-pal communication tool, but it is far more than that. It is a learning experience. It enables children to be connected with one another. It is an opportunity for them to explore other countries and cultures. More importantly, it enables them to share their own personal stories and triumphs. This has been an amazingly effective concept and has become very popular with students and educators around the world.

Sidney Mix, a third-grade student at Westside Elementary School, shown with her Flat Stanley. She is planning on sending her Flat Stanley to a soldier stationed in Iraq.

Hunter Smith riding Lady with Flat Stanley. 37


38 Your Hometown Magazine

Nothing Like Home

ack in 1896, Loveless Logan and Eudora Chandler Johnson traveled by wagon from Wilburn, a community about 20 miles north of Searcy, to East Texas. The couple, along with their children, sought more prosperous times. Arkansas farmers knew cotton farming best, but the 1870s marked the beginning of a long agricultural depression. Cotton prices declined steadily through the 1880s and 1890s; land prices and interest rates rose. By the end of the nineteenth century, a majority of white farmers had become tenants and sharecroppers, trapped in a continuing burden of debt and dependence. Descendants of the Johnsons never knew if Loveless Logan thought he could find farm work in East Texas—or what other situations lured him to uproot his family and make the long, arduous journey. Kinfolk claimed he listened to testimonials that East Texas was a land of milk and honey. Tales circulated that cotton grew so tall children had to climb the stalks to pick the bolls. No matter his reasons, Loveless Logan sold his 80-acre farm for about $200 for traveling money, and his wife sold about 20 geese for a dollar each to add to their purse. According to family records, Eudora was pregnant during the trip. In adulthood, one of the daughters, Ezza, whose daughter, Dallas Lafferty, resides in Searcy, remembered that she had a little ceramic doll. Her father had bought it for her when she had fallen and stuck a pine splinter in her mouth. The doll, costing about a dime, bribed her to stop crying. Somehow, jostling over rutted roads in a wagon bed, Ezza’s doll dropped and broke. After several days of travel, the family reached Hot Springs and stopped to stay overnight with Eudora Johnson’s sister, Rann. In later years, Ezza related how they had used the white of an egg at her aunt’s home to glue her doll back together. Over narrow roads with sun-scorched sand so hot it blistered the paws of the family’s dog, the family traveled by wagon. The oldest son, Alton, rode astride his horse. However, they found no opportunities in Texas. Alton related in latter years to his nephew, Rex Harral, that he earned $60 in Texas. Rex said his uncle described how he cleared a field, chopping down small trees and piling them into a heap as huge as a house. When he finished, he hunted up the man who had hired him. The man said they could burn the brush piles that day. Alton told that the fire blazing above treetops and burning into an adjoining cotton field

by Arline Chandler

frightened him. All he could think of was getting out of Texas. The next morning, the Johnson family started their return trip to Arkansas. They traveled as far as Paris, Arkansas, where they hired out to pick cotton and earn enough money to get back home. Family lore indicates they almost starved to death. On October 20, 1896, Eudora gave birth to Anne Savilla. After 14 weeks, the family made it back to Hiram Bottoms. Louis Taylor hired them to work on a farm near the ferry at Judsonia. They stayed at that location for a couple of years until they could earn enough money to return to Wilburn. Golda Johnson, about six years old during the trip, remembered that she once attended school at an Arkansas town in a little box house that was built for folks who lived in the poor house. She recalled that children from the county farm, and many who lived nearby, enrolled in the school. Although Golda did not clearly state that the location was White County, most likely she attended this school while her family worked near Judsonia. As a senior adult, Golda, who married Ellis Ramsey of Wilburn, related an anecdote about the school: “The teacher was an old man, that is, he looked old because his face was all covered with beard as most old men that were 40 or 45 had heavy beards. He didn’t keep much order, for he slept a lot, but I learned my lessons anyway.” The Johnson family had barely returned to their home turf in Wilburn in 1899, and Eudora gave birth to another son, Larkin. Within the following year, two of her daughters died, including the baby she had birthed on the trek to East Texas. Later that same year, Loveless Logan died, leaving Eudora to make a home and raise their six living children. She put cornbread on their table and shoes on her children’s feet by taking in washing. The older Johnson siblings hired out to hoe and pick cotton. Despite Eudora’s heavy workload with her own family, she always had time to help neighbors who were sick or in dire circumstances. Everyone in the Wilburn community called her “Aunt Dora.” Loveless Logan Johnson’s dream of better times in East Texas withered like droughtstricken corn. Yet, Eudora Johnson never complained about the discomfort of the trip, the hard work, or the time her family had to hire out in White County to earn their keep until they could return to their home in Wilburn. 39

Backyard Resorts:

On the


An Arkansas getaway just a few hours from home.

s we walked into the room, our first assumption was that the guests in the lodge had known each other for years. Maybe they were even family. The relaxed atmosphere made for easy conversation as the first couple told me that they were from Anchorage, Alaska, and the guest reading across the room (with her husband lounging nearby) offered that she was from Chicago. These two couples unwinding in the lodge were from very different parts of the country, yet they were more than excited to share that they had only met five days earlier. At Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, this would be the story told with enthusiasm by every guest interviewed. Owner Barry Johnson explains that the phenomena of the families bonding with each other happens on a regular basis. “There are families that become so close during their stay that they actually keep in touch throughout the year and plan their next summer vacation at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch for the same time. The kids become friends and the parents become friends.” With attention to details, professionalism of staff, and an array of diverse activities, it would be easy to assume that a large corporation owned this ranch. However, owner Barry Johnson, with the support of his dad, Jerry, started the ranch about twelve years ago. With humble beginnings and very big dreams, the Johnsons purchased 500 acres of rolling hills, rock cliffs, waterfalls, wildlife, and pristine beauty that became Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. The dream this family labored to build provides not only a typical dude ranch experience, but includes many other optional activities, such as beginner and extreme rock climbing, skeetshooting, a swimming pool, hot tub, movie theatre, game room, loft basketball court, and a spelunker box (man made

40 Your Hometown Magazine

RAN H by C. Walker

cave). Small details like an educational chart of cave insects next to the wooden play cave is an indication that learning is an intentional but fun part of the experience. Every day there is a schedule of activities to sign up for that most always includes a choice of rock climbing with a trained instructor, horseback riding morning and afternoon, zip lining, or other choices. The horse trail and arena rides are guided by seasoned cowboys/cowgirls who show a love for what they do. Horses are matched with the rider depending on self-declared skill levels and guests keep the same horse during their entire stay. Meals are prepared under the direction of a renowned chef, Nick Bottini, who has been featured in national publications. The dining room, located in the main lodge, overlooks open spaces surrounded by rock bluffs and the food is a combination of fine dining and family restaurant style. Our dinner entrees included grilled tilapia (grilled to perfection, I might add), chicken strips and fries, and a cordon bleu type dish. A dome shaped strawberry shortcake was dessert that night and consisted of a light fluffy cake topped with whipped cream and mounds of fresh strawberries. A short time later, we were standing around the arena for team penning. At this activity, two volunteers are each given a horse, and six calves are turned loose into the corral. The objective is to work as a team and round up two of the six calves, penning them in the shortest amount of time. I don’t know if that is the proper cowboy lingo to describe this activity, but the excitement was high as about half of those attending took a turn and were cheered on by their fellow guests. “This was my favorite activity, as it involved competition and it was fun and exciting,” said 14 year old guest, Wilma. The age limit for this is 12 and older, but at the end of the competition on horseback, the younger children get to round up the entire herd on foot. Ranch owner Barry Johnson’s story could be an entire chapter of its own. During college, Barry went out to Wyoming and

The Johnson Family


It has been a family effort from the beginning and the ranch has morphed from a raw untamed canyon to a family friendly vacation retreat, visited by guests from around the world.

� 41

worked on a dude ranch, learning the ropes of the business without any intention of starting his own ranch. There, Barry met his wife, Amy, and after they married he started a job that kept him traveling about 3 weeks a month. When his wife became pregnant with their first child, Barry decided that traveling was no longer an option, believing that participating in your children’s growing up years was something that just couldn’t be replaced. Remembering his love for the ranch lifestyle, he and his dad visited about 40 western ranches while writing the business plan for what would eventually become Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. It has been a family effort from the beginning and the ranch has morphed from a raw untamed canyon to a family friendly vacation retreat, visited by guests from around the world. As members of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, the Johnsons strive to offer quality service while helping visitors enjoy “A Western Experience with Southern Hospitality.” It has not always been an easy road building the ranch, but now with 4 children to raise, the Johnsons know that providing a place with family values is something they truly have a passion for and they enjoy sharing what they’ve developed with others. Go to and click on BackYard Resorts for more information on this story and more destinations in Arkansas. Call Searcy Cruise Planners to book your stay at Horse Shoe Canyon Ranch.

Renowned Chef, Nick Bottini

42 Your Hometown Magazine

Horse Shoe Canyon Ranch is also known around the world in the climbing community as a great destination for some of the finest sandstone sport climbing anywhere, whether you are an experienced climber or lacing up your shoes for the first time. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch has been featured in multiple outdoor magazines as one of the best climbing areas east of the Rockies.

by Miranda Reynolds


asey Smith never expected to be a cancer survivor at age 20. She took part in all the normal things that life has to offer for a country girl, following the rodeo circuit and being outdoors. When she turned 19, she heard three words she never expected: ‘You have cancer.’ Growing up in Texas and later moving to central Arkansas, Kasey began working at a local assisted living facility in Heber Springs. When she began having urinary tract infection symptoms, she casually brushed the discomfort aside and continued working as normal. She was concerned about her health insurance coverage recently being dropped because she had turned 19 and was no longer eligible for coverage on her family’s policy. Despite the costs, she saw a doctor and began taking some antibiotics. Like many though, when she began to feel better, she set aside the last of the antibiotics and continued her normal routine.

heard three words she never “Sheexpected: ‘You have cancer.’ ” Weeks after the infection, she began losing pound after pound. She felt nauseous and weak, unaware that cancer was developing in her body. She skipped rodeos and stayed home, enduring severe cramps. Holding a job down was nearly impossible. After several visits to the doctor with no answers, Kasey began to feel like she would never begin to feel better. She left work one afternoon to once again drive herself to the hospital, when she finally had to pull over and allow an ambulance to take her to a nearby emergency room. Leaning on her family, Becky, Trinity, and Jesteny Maples, she once again awaited a doctor to tell her he or she did not have any answers. But, this time, she finally got an answer to her mysterious symptoms. Cervical cancer. She immediately had more worries than she had ever had in her entire life. Could she go on to conceive children someday? Is this why she had suffered from a rupturing ovarian cyst? Could she overcome cervical cancer with no insurance?

44 Your Hometown Magazine

The next day, Kasey was sent to UAMS where she immediately received a procedure to remove the small mass that was found on her cervix. She successfully completed radiation until all signs of the cancer perished. With newfound hope, Kasey was able to return home and begin her life as a cancer survivor. Today, Kasey is living in Drasco, and has recently been introduced to the Relay For Life. She is slowly handling her medical bills. Kasey has tremendous respect for the American Cancer Society and all funds that they have granted for cancer research. Thanks to the American Cancer Society’s funds, over six million women’s lives have been saved due to the invention of the papsmear in the 1960’s. Kasey says “Please take part in the Cover Kids Contest because the money you spend goes directly towards saving lives, just like mine.” Thanks to her family, the Naples, wonderful medical staff, and for the advancements in cancer research, Kasey was recently able to celebrate another birthday this year. Happy 20th birthday Kasey. Kasey

The White County Cooperative Extension Service and Searcy Living Magazine collaborated in conducting a school enrichment program called “Get Real, Here’s the Deal!” at White County Central Schools. “Get Real, Here’s the Deal!” is a hands-on experiential simulation that gives young people the opportunity to experience their future in a financial decision-making mode. Youth are encouraged to make wise financial lifestyle choices similar to those that adults face each month. As youth move from station to station, they make decisions based on their family size and affordability. There are 12 stations set up where youth will be faced with the basic decisions of life. They include: groceries, child care, housing, entertainment, clothing, unexpected events, banking, education, insurance, personal and household care, transportation, and utilities. Over 20 community leaders and business owners volunteered their time to assist by manning the station that applied to their line of business so that the youth could get the most out of this “real world” experience. Through this program, youth learn invaluable life skills to take with them into the future. Arkansas 4-H is open to all youth between the ages of 5 and 19 without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability, or any other legally protected status. For more information on 4-H in White County, contact the University of Arkansas, White County Cooperative Extension Service at 501268-5394 or 1-800-467-8166. The Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

Find more inspirational stories on our website:

46 Your Hometown Magazine 47

Mountain Top

By RJ Taylor



Mountain Top Cowboy Church held its first service on the first Sunday in February, 2009. Larry Thomas and others who started the non-traditional Baptist church had prayed that at least 50 people would attend. To their grateful surprise, 174 gathered that day. A year later, the average attendance is around 170 or 180, with highest attendance at about 250. The church reaches out to cowboys, ranch hands, trail riders, people with a Western background, and to all people who have not been going to church anywhere. Brad Curtis, who became the church’s pastor in June, 2009, said, “Many are coming because they feel comfortable in the nonjudgmental environment. Many are dressed in jeans and boots.” About 50 percent of those attending the church are cowboy-types. The church meets at 740 Pangburn Road in the Cleburne County Livestock Auction Sales Barn, which has 300 theater seats. The Sunday service begins at 9 a.m., but people gather in the restaurant area around 8:20 for coffee, doughnuts, and fellowship. Brad Sneed is music director, and songs are sung by individuals, groups, and the congregation. Contribution plates are not used in services. “You can drop your contribution into a box,” church member Ronnie Barnett said. Curtis, who was a two-time Arkansas State Champion Bareback Rider and the 1985 International Rodeo Association Rookie Bareback Rider of the Year, enjoys preaching to the congregation. He said that he was led to Christ by a rodeo minister at an Oklahoma rodeo in 1986. His conversion brought him happiness, and he began preaching in 1996 at revivals and at churches as a supply (fill-in) preacher. After six years, he became a pastor and served three traditional churches before accepting the call to pastor the Mountain Top Cowboy Church. “It’s a friendly environmenta loving cowboy church,” he said. “The focus is not on clothes or a building. It’s on reaching people for the Lord. I preach the Word, and God changes lives.”

48 Your Hometown Magazine

His audience is not limited to the people who attend the Heber Springs services. More than 600 people in states like the Dakotas receive his Mountain Top sermon outlines on Facebook. “Some of those people want to know if there is a church like ours close to them,” Curtis said. Ronnie Burnett, who rode rodeo bulls for 19 years and also wrestled steers, is pleased to be a part of the congregation. “I’m excited about the church; it’s good for the family. You can feel the enthusiasm, the friendliness, the attentiveness, and the excitement.” Danny Sanders, who lives in Rose Bud, serves as the church’s secretary and clerk. He was a successful steer wrestler for about 15 years, and he and Ronnie Burnett sometimes go together to judge rodeos. On a judging trip in January, they had to drive through three inches of snow on their way home. Danny didn’t get to bed until 4 a.m. on Saturday night. But he was up in time for church on Sunday morning. And Curtis, who commutes to church from Vilonia, didn’t let a broken leg keep him from preaching at the Mountain Top except for one Sunday. He received the injury competing in bull riding for riders over age 40 in October. “I rode my bull and stepped off, and it just snapped. I broke both bones in my leg just above my ankle and broke a bone in my ankle and tore all the ligaments.” About just missing just one Sunday? He said about the injury: “It was my leg, not my jaw. As long as I can talk, I can preach.” Matthew 6:19-21 is a favorite Bible passage for Curtis. In it, Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (New International Version) 49

by Cecelia Wilson George Brown spent 18 months caring for his father through a prolonged illness that resulted in his father’s passing. But George had no idea that the long days of confronting a life-threatening illness were far from over. Just three days after the death of his father, George became sick. It was November 2007, and the flu-like symptoms that seemed innocuous enough initially would prove to be the opening salvo in an intense battle for George’s life. The following year would test his faith, but also prove that the relationships we form in our lives can provide invaluable strength. As a precaution, George went to see close friend Dr. David Staggs who told the Searcy farmer/rancher he had pneumonia. Though George went home to recuperate, Dr. Staggs insisted George return in one month to have a follow-up x-ray. In a week, Brown felt better and returned to work on his ranch tending his cattle. He did, however, heed the doctor’s advice and went back for the x-ray after several weeks. That night, Dr. Staggs’ nurse called asking George to come back into their office the next day. The x-ray had revealed George’s chest cavity was filled with fluid, which they promptly removed, and though there didn’t appear to be signs of cancer, there was a nagging suspicion that things just weren’t quite right. As the next step, he was referred to Oncologist Dr. Ryan Koch for more extensive testing.

50 Your Hometown Magazine

It was on a Monday, the first of March 2008, and life was about to change forever for George and his wife of 22 years, Lisa. The appointment with Dr. Koch resulted in a brutal reality: “You have cancer, it is rare and you have to get to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.” They told the Browns it could take a couple of weeks to get placed, so George and Lisa went home intending to get their affairs in order before leaving for Texas. But, on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., they received a call from Houston. If the Browns could be at M.D. Anderson by 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, George could see a doctor. With very little notice and no time to make plans for their ranch, cattle and business affairs, four hours after receiving their phone call concerning the next day’s early morning appointment, the Browns were on the road to Texas. It was almost incomprehensible. “I didn’t feel bad,” George says of his lack of symptoms. But, knowing he must act and act quickly, the couple “just left; dropped everything and walked away” in order to place their faith in the doctors in Houston and the potential solution the doctors would suggest. Hearing the diagnosis of cancer is never easy, but when that cancer is rare, the fear that results can almost be debilitating. According to the National Cancer Institute, Waldenström macroglobulinemia is a “rare type of slow-growing, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system)” with only 1,500 new cases occurring annually in the United States. While there is no known cure, there are several treatments that have been effective in some patients to prevent or control the symptoms. With so many unknowns, George did recognize that he would need every ounce of rigid structure and fortitude built into him by his late father, an “ironfisted Navy veteran.” “I was devastated at first, but I told myself, ‘If I’ve ever had faith, now it’s time to prove it.’”

It would be that faith in God and an unflagging grit that would keep him going. “I thought if I could win this in my head, I could win it in my body,” he said with determination. He would continuously need all that and more in the coming months. It would be anything but easy. For the next seven months, George and Lisa lived between the hospital and a hotel in Houston. He was given extensive 5-day-long treatments during a 3 – 5 week span of time. He lost his hair, his prized moustache and plenty of weight. Strength seeped out of his weakened body and ports and tubes dotted his lanky frame. But time for lamenting what-ifs in the past was over; he had to focus on small blocks of the present and simply get through a minute at a time, a day at a time, a week at a time. Leaning on God and not looking back, his mantra became simply, “Look up, look forward.” Between treatments, the couple received 2 - 3 week breaks when they were allowed to return to Searcy, allowing George to regain enough strength to undergo the next round of treatments. But, despite the fact the couple had left Searcy in such a hurry and were absent for long periods, they barely noticed it by looking at their ranch each time they returned home. “It was as if life [back home without us] never missed a beat.” Unable to take care of their land, their cattle or their business for themselves, friends, neighbors and business associates had quietly taken over those daily duties for the Browns. “We left in the middle of calving season. I had cattle to tend; work to be done,” Brown says of what was left behind. That’s when their family and friends came forward, most without asking what needed to be done, and simply pitched in to take care of chores for the Browns. Some saw to the cattle and their needs as if those cattle were their own. George had been in the process of looking to buy a bull. A neighbor found one for him, purchased it and, using Brown’s truck and trailer, put the bull in the appropriate pasture at the appropriate time. Another neighbor took in the Brown’s “child” – their 13-year-old beagle – and fed, watered and cared for her like they would their own pet.

Thank you to all of the people who helped during this difficult time.

Those we know about and those we don’t... we will always remember you! 51

Continued from page 51

The amount of help offered and the amount given was breathtaking. On one visit home, Brown noticed how green his pastures looked, almost as if they had been fertilized. They had been. The fertilizer had been purchased and spread and when he asked to pay he was told very matter-of-factly that it was “taken care of.” The yard was mowed all summer; the hay was baled. Caldwell Feed Store knew what feed he preferred and helped those who came for the supplies get what George always used. One close friend called the Browns a week after they had arrived in Houston: “Do you need me there? I’ll start that way right now if you need me.” Another friend was a pilot: “I can fly you back and forth between Searcy and Houston if you need me to.” They didn’t, but they knew the option was open if it had become necessary. As Administrative Assistant to White County Judge Michael Lincoln, Lisa was also on the receiving end of assistance during the intensive seven month period. Telling her “family comes first,” the Judge and his staff packaged paperwork to send to Lisa, who would complete tasks via the internet while her husband got through his treatments. Her mother would also spend time with the couple during stays in Houston in order to help get food, necessities and help in any way she could. And, of course, there were the prayers, cards and letters that were sent from local churches, Valley Baptist and Crosby Baptist specifically, as well as from churches throughout Arkansas and the nation once word had gotten out of the Brown’s ordeal. Armed with such a barrage of caring, George’s spirits were bolstered and during the lowest, bleakest periods of his hospital stays he was reminded of the fight he had to fight and the numbers of individuals working for him at home so he could work to get through his daily regimen in Houston. By September 2008, he had completed his final treatments and was allowed to return home for good. His doctors still monitor him every 60 days, but today George and Lisa Brown have regained a much closer-to-normal routine. While it took him numerous months to rebuild his stamina, George has returned to the rural life and work he loves, but he does so with a totally different perspective on each precious moment. Declaring he has a blessed life, George now holds each day as more special than before his bout with cancer. Always a good team, George and Lisa both declare they are even closer now after having gone through this illness together. He credits Dr. Staggs, Dr. Koch, the doctors in Houston and all those doctors’ staffs with saving his life. And saying thank you to the many individuals who helped him maintain his business and his home during his absence is an almost impossible task since so many people did so quietly, without ever taking credit for their actions. With God’s help and the help of deeply rooted relationships developed over a lifetime, George Brown persevered and knows that others can fight through their own tests of strength as well. “I feel like there’s an obvious reason I’m here today,” and sharing his story may be part of that reason. As for God, George declares Him as the main reason he was able to overcome one of the most indescribable years of his life. “I’ve always been a true believer and knew that all things were possible [through Christ], but I knew that if I truly believed this that I had to stand on my faith.” Perhaps as a confirmation of that faith, God sent a quiet reassurance when George needed it most and did so in the loneliest and lowest of times. After one particularly difficult treatment, Brown’s prayers were answered with a sense of peace that convinced the rancher he had been touched by the hand of God. “I knew then that however this thing turned out, I was going to be okay.”

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To everyone who has been supporting the Sunshine School. Here are a few snapshots from Raising the Roof. Your continued support of this project is appreciated!

More photos on

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Online Extra

Read past articles about this project on! 55

56 Your Hometown Magazine

For Inspirational Stories by

Go to! 57


Do you recognize the hands in this dramatic, symbolic image? They belong to two Searcy residents.

The idea for the image began on a cold Arkansas morning in January, when a few people gathered around a table during a planning meeting at Saint Paul United Methodist Church and tried to think of creative ways to invite people to come to church and hear a special message—a message of resurrection and new life. Soon they received inspiration and an idea began to solidify into a visual representation. Mary Kay James knew the perfect models and could provide ostrich, emu, goose or chicken eggs (Can you tell which one they used?). Being professional photographers, Bob and Sandy Homan had the studio, lights and software to bring it all together and capture the concept on film (actually, a memory card). Two beautiful hands--one old and rugged, one young and soft— holding that symbol of new life, that symbol of resurrection and new life, and sharing a brief moment, in the midst of a warm glow of light that is the color of both sunrise and sunset… The hands in this dramatic image belong to Searcy residents: Irvin B. Van Patten, 93 years young, and his great granddaughter Kate James, 3 years old, (the daughter of Tia Ethridge and Marcus James). Mary Kay, Bob and Sandy hope you enjoy the outcome of their hard work and they hope you will attend church. They would love to see you at Saint Paul United Methodist Church. Who knows, maybe you will be inspired, too.

Kate James 3 Years Old

Irvin B. Van Patten 93 Years Young

58 Your Hometown Magazine

by Jill Rigby Garner



hen I was growing up, people weren’t perfect, but society was certainly more civil. Folks respected each other because it was the right thing to do, not because they’d be respected in return; manners were the rule rather than the exception. Manners were defined as an attitude of the heart that is self-giving not self-serving. Well mannered people looked for ways to help others rather than choosing to help themselves. They believed what they gave the world was more important than what they were given in return. But in today’s fast-paced world I’m afraid we’ve lost our manners. Manners have now become the exception rather than the rule. Fred Astaire, the quintessential gentleman, once said, “It’s hard to teach children manners when they don’t see any.” Ouch! Children learn twice as much from what we do than what we say. They will imitate our actions and reflect our attitudes, but often will forget our words unless we model manners of the heart ourselves. We can’t expect more of our children than we expect from ourselves. When we set examples of giving unselfishly to others, our children learn to give unselfishly of themselves.


Say “Thank you” throughout the day for little courtesies given to you.

a a a

Take time to compliment others on a job well done. Be quick to hold open a door for another. Say a prayer the next time you hear a siren or see an emergency to show them how to watch for others in need.


a a a a

Be kindhearted toward the elderly. Sit with the not-so-popular classmate in the school cafeteria. Share the spotlight on the sports field. Serve their brothers and sisters.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it can be for a well-mannered parent to raise well-mannered kids. Send us your most perplexing manners struggles and we’ll do our best to give you practical answers that meet your parenting needs. For practical ideas and inspiration on how to instill manners in your child’s heart, visit www.mannersoftheheart. org. We’re here to help you… help your children. 59

before makeover

Thank you so much for an amazing experience! It was so much fun! Symmetrix layered my hair and gave me more volume. Diana from Hays helped pick out the perfect outfit to dress up or down. Unique Boutique had just the right necklace and earrings to bring everything together. Doris at The Cosmetic Studio knew exactly the right make up to finish the look naturally. Maggie Hendrix found fabulous lighting that made the photos really beautiful!

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3005 E. Race St. • Searcy (501) 268-0800

In the Heart & Soul Plaza 1623 E. Beebe-Capps • Searcy (501) 279-2526

2904 Hawkins Dr. • Searcy (501) 268-4540


MAGGIE HENDRIX 501.279.3347 61

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Games & Puzzles

Crossword Puzzle ACROSS 4. A world with more 6. An interesting zebra 8. Bird’s eye view 6

9. Pin the cheese on the

DOWN 1. The power of good neighbors 2. A big thank you to the volunteers of the Searcy Living Boutique 3. Hawk’s little friend 5. A friend who’s not talking 7. Country living in Searcy

STUMPED? Get the answers, play games, download wallpaper and tons more online at!


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TURN TEAL. Move to Bank Better. MAKING THE MOVE TO FIRST SECURITY BANK IS EASY! Get started today by visiting any of our convenient locations or accessing our online Turn Teal Kit at

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First Security Bank did not participate in the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Searcy Living - February March 2010  

Featuring Maitland's Friend, On The Ranch, Mountain Top Cowboys, The Power of Good Neighbors and more.

Searcy Living - February March 2010  

Featuring Maitland's Friend, On The Ranch, Mountain Top Cowboys, The Power of Good Neighbors and more.