Page 1



january 2024




Contents 04 22

Letter from Catherine Profiles in Education


06 10

Calendar of Events Book Recommendations


14 60

Health in the New Year Health and Fitness Guide


08 11 12 16 48

Community Rescue Mission Shop Local

52 54

Winter Minestrone Golden Sunset

Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club Project Zero To Protect and Serve


18 40 44


Hero for Zero Friday Night Lights Boy, that Girl Can Sang!


{ T R AV E L }


Natural State of Love

OUR COVER Image: Viktorya Telminova Shutterstock



Letter from Catherine



Happy New Year! I hope your holiday season was filled with laughter and joy, and just the right amount of glitter that seems to linger on everything until at least mid-January (seriously, where does it all come from?).


Now that the confetti has settled and resolutions have been made (perhaps already broken, and that's okay too), we're diving headfirst into the excitement of January. It's a month of fresh starts, Jack Frost, and an extraordinary desire to organize every space in my house. I don’t know about you, but my urge to declutter switches into overdrive when the temperatures drop. In this issue, we've got an incredible mix of features to kick the year off right. Beyond our heartwarming stories, we’re sharing a recipe for a soul-warming minestrone soup and a vibrant cocktail. Looking for a Valentine’s getaway, or simply just because? Our feature, The Natural State of Love, highlights recommendations for incredible destinations right here in Arkansas. We’re catching up with Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club as they gear up for their 81st Annual Book of Golden Deeds ceremony which recognizes unsung heroes in our community. We’re also proud to recognize the contributions of school systems and educational organizations in our community in our annual special feature, Profiles in Education. We know the struggle is real when it comes to bouncing back after the holidays, so we’re sharing our annual Health and Fitness Guide! This year’s guide is filled with the best local providers and businesses who stand ready to help you on the road to a healthier you! So, whether you're cozied up with a cup of cocoa or braving the winter winds, we hope this issue adds a sprinkle of warmth. Don’t miss the fun found in our January events calendar, the January book reviews from our friends at Bookish, or our nonprofit spotlight featuring Community Rescue Mission. Here's to a month filled with laughter, unexpected joys, and maybe a few snowball fights (a girl can dream, can’t she?). Cheers to a fantastic start to the year!


Catherine Frederick, Owner/Publisher/Editor

OWNER - PUBLISHER - EDITOR Catherine Frederick COPY EDITING Charity Chambers GRAPHIC DESIGN Artifex 323 – Jessica Meadors CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Jade Graves CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Marla Cantrell, Catherine Frederick, Dwain Hebda, Sara Putman, Brittany Ransom, Bob Robinson, Dr. Kendall Wagner ADVERTISING INFORMATION Catherine Frederick I 479.782.1500

FOLLOW US ©2024 Read Chair Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner. Opinions contained in Do South ® are exclusively those of the writers and do not represent those of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. as a whole or its affiliates. Any correspondence, including photography, becomes the property of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. Do South ® reserves the right to edit content and images. Printed in the U.S.A. | ISSN 2373-1893

Annual subscriptions are $36 (12 months), within the contiguous United States. Subscribe at or via mail, 4300 Rogers Avenue, Ste. 20, PMB 110, Fort Smith, Arkansas 72903. Single issues available upon request. Inquiries or address changes, call 479.782.1500.

To inquire about this free space for your charitable nonprofit organization, email:




JANUARY EVENTS January 1 - 7, times vary LES MISÉRABLES W alt o n Ar t s Cent er , F a y e t t e vi lle



R og e r s C o n v e n ti o n C e n te r , Ro ge r s

T h e H a ll, Li ttle Ro c k


January 14, 12:30p-4p 2024 WEDDING SHOW

January 21, 3p - 6p 2024 RIVER VALLEY BRIDAL EXPO

Rog e rs Co nvent i o n Cent e r , R og e r s

S t a t e h ou se C o n v e n ti o n C e n te r

F o r t S m i th C o n v e n ti o n C e n t er

Little Rock


January 15, 6:30p WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW

Fort S m i t h Co nvent i o n C e n t e r

S immons Bank Ar ena

January 11, 7:30p THE COMEDY ZONE: TAMMY PESCATELLI W alt o n Ar t s Cent er , F a y e t t e vi lle

January 12, 6-8p STEMS & STORIES PRESENTED BY BOOKISH B o o kish at The Baker y Di s t r i ct Fort S m i t h

January 13, 7:30p STARLIGHT JAZZ CLUB: LOSTON HARRIS TRIO W alt o n Ar t s Cent er , F a y e t t e vi lle

N orth Lit tle R ock

January 18-21 OZARK MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL D owntown Eur eka Spr ings

January 19, 9a 10TH ANNUAL WESTERN ARKANSAS BALLET TUTU RUN G r e g S m i th Ri v e r T r a i l, F o r t S m i th

January 19-21, times vary ARKANSAS MARINE EXPO S t a t e h ou se C o n v e n ti o n C e n te r L i t t le R oc k

January 20, 7p 6TH ANNUAL BREWERY CHILI COOK-OFF For t S m i th B r e w i n g C o m pa n y


January 23-28, times vary JAGGED LITTLE PILL, THE MUSICAL W a lto n Ar ts C e n te r , F a y e tt e v i ll e

January 25, 7p TWITTY & LYNN: A SALUTE TO CONWAY & LORETTA K i n g O pe r a H o u se , V a n B u r e n

January 26 EUREKA SPRINGS PARANORMAL WEEKEND C r e sc e n t H o te l a n d S pa , E u r eka S p r i n g s

January 27, 8p FRANKE VALL AND THE FOUR SEASONS: THE LAST ENCORES S i m m o n s B a n k Ar e n a , N o r th Li ttle Ro c k


ARTS ON MAIN – VAN BUREN ARTSONMAINVB.COM Jan. 20: Photography Workshop, 12:30-2:30p Jan. 27: Stained Mosaic Glass, 10a-1p

BOOKISH: AN INDIE SHOP FOR FOLKS WHO READ – FORT SMITH BOOKISHFS.COM Sto r yti me: Saturdays, 1 1 a J a n. 4: Entrepreneur's B ook C lub, 1 2p

UAFS ATHLETICS UAFORTSMITHLIONS.COM Jan. 1 1 : W o m e n ’ s Ba ske t b a ll v s. T e xa s A& M U n i ve r s it y Kin g sv ille , 5 : 3 0 p Jan. 1 1 : Me n ’ s B a s ke t b a ll v s. T e xa s A& M U n i v e r s i t y Kin g sv ille , 7 : 3 0 p Jan. 1 3: W o m e n ’ s Ba ske t b a ll v s. T e xa s A& M In t e r n a t io n a l Un iv e r s it y , 1 p Jan. 1 3: Me n ’ s B a s ke t b a ll v s. T e xa s A& M In t e r n a t io n a l Un iv e r s it y , 3 p Jan. 25 : W o m e n ’ s Ba ske t b a ll v s . Midwestern State University Texas, 5:30p Jan. 25 : Me n ’ s B a s ke t b a ll v s . Midwestern State University Texas, 7:30p

J a n. 1 1: Romance Book C lu b, 6 p Jan 12: Stems & Stories - $50 tickets, 6p J a n. 1 8 : Small P ress Book C lub, 6 p

Jan. 27 : W o m e n ’ s Ba ske t b a ll v s. C ame r on Un iv e r sit y , 1 p Jan. 27 : Me n ’ s B a s k e t b a ll v s . C a m e r o n University, 3p

J a n. 2 0: Local Author S h owc as e s w/ C K R i ver s & Roslyn W ild er, 1 2: 30p

FORT SMITH REGIONAL ART MUSEUM FSRAM.ORG R A M S a t u r d a y s : 1 2 - 4 p ( F R EE ) G u id e d T o u r S u n d a y s: 2 p (F RE E ) To Jan. 21: Martin Peerson and Susan Morrison Exhibits To Feb. 4: ArTs at Bost Creativity, Connection and Choices To Feb. 11: Virmarie DePoyster Beyond Labels

THE BAKERY DISTRICT – FORT SMITH BAKERYFS.COM T r iv ia : Mo n d a y , 6 : 3 0 p Y o g a : T u e s d a y s & T h u r sd a y s , 5:3 0p C o r n h o le (B a g s a t T h e Ba kery ): W e d n e sd a y s, 6 : 3 0 p

Jan. 25: Middle Grade Book Club, 4:30p

F o r t S m it h J a z z J a m : 3rd Thursday, 6:30p

J a n. 2 6: Mostly Fiction B ook C lu b, 6 p

F o r t S m it h Blu e s J a m : 3 r d Sund ay , 1p





Submit events online at or email





Do South Cares

DS: How did Community Rescue Mission come to be? Community Rescue Mission was founded from a heart of gratitude and a deep concern for those left unsheltered on a cold and drizzly night. With the belief that everyone should have


words Catherine Frederick with Shanelle Livingston, Office Manager and Facilities Coordinator, Community Rescue Mission

access to protection from the elements, a warm meal, and people who care, Community Rescue Mission was born. Founded in 1981, many changes have taken place, but the mission has remained the same – instilling hope and empowering lives. DS: Who does Community Rescue Mission serve and in what way? Community Rescue Mission (CRM) serves families with children, by providing shelter, meals, and all basic necessities. Additionally, each family is provided with individualized case management that targets the specific barriers that the family is facing and works towards resolving those issues. Whether it be mental health, childcare, transportation, identification, or any of the many other challenges the families may face, CRM aims to assist each of them to reach a place of stability and success. DS: How does Community Rescue Mission impact our community?

Community Rescue Mission

One family at a time. We realize that many of our families are facing generational issues that

is a nonprofit, faith-based

started years ago through little fault of their own. By guiding those families into a better

organization that provides safe

way of living now, we are hopeful that the impact will bring about positive change for

shelter, meals, and needed

generations to come.

support to help people get back on their feet as quickly as

DS: How can our community get involved and show support?

possible. Do South® reached

One of the major factors that we have noticed is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to

out to Shanelle Livingston,

overcoming homelessness. Each family has a different story and comes with a unique set of

Office Manager and Facilities

challenges and struggles. Because of that, we are all too aware that we cannot do this alone.

Coordinator, to learn more.

While we are always in need of the basics like toiletries, food, and baby items, we also need people to step in to help in different ways. We would love to have more mentors, additional life skills and educational classes, etc. And of course, since we rely mostly on grants and donations,

Community Rescue Mission

financial assistance is always very appreciated.

310 North F Street, Fort Smith 479.782.1443

DS: What is something that many people may not know about Community Rescue Mission?

That the investments of all who support CRM are truly making a difference. With all the skills learned, the barriers overcome, and the continued support, the families who follow through

Next month, we’ll showcase another worthy nonprofit in our area free of charge. Requests for

and graduate the program have high rates of continued stability. In fact, the success rate is nearly 90%. We are so proud of those who have beat the odds and have found a better path for their lives!

this free page accepted beginning October, 2024. Send inquiries to

DS: Are there any upcoming events or needs we should know about?,

Absolutely! We have the Heart of the Mission Gala on February 10th and our Annual Charity

or call 479.782.1500.

Golf Tournament on April 26th. All proceeds will go directly to Community Rescue Mission. Details of the events are on our website, For additional questions, feel free to email me at DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM




GET BOOKISH January Recommendations courtesy Sara Putman, Bookish

Enjoy these recommendations from our friends at Bookish, Fort Smith, Arkansas’ only independently owned bookstore located in The Bakery District. The Forgotten Girls

by Monica Potts This part-memoir, part-investigative journalism hits a little too close to home, but it’s a story that needs to be told. Monica and Darci, two gifted yet economically disadvantaged girls, forge a profound friendship in the backdrop of a dwindling Arkansas town. Monica successfully breaks free and pursues a career in journalism, and Darci becomes a single mother battling addiction, unemployment, and near-homelessness. In her quest to uncover the causes behind the drastic chasm between the haves and have-nots, Potts shares pieces of her own upbringing, her relationship with her parents, and her motivation for feeling the need to leave the state in the first place. Through it all, she strives to uncover the forces behind the stark decline in life expectancy for poor white women in Arkansas, forces that have become too normal, too mundane, and too common in our lives.

This is a must-read for fans of Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver or Heartland by Sarah Smarsh.

The Heiress

by Rachel Hawkins When Ruby dies, family secrets start to unravel. As the story unfolds in gothic glory, we find her legacy is not as inescapable as her family had hoped.

The Vulnerables

by Sigrid Nunez An exploration of contemporary life through reflection and comedy. Nunez skillfully intertwines a search for understanding critical issues and an exploration of writing’s nature and purpose.


Follow the Angels, Follow the Doves

by Sidney Thompson The first book of the Bass Reeves Trilogy, we see Reeves before he became the most successful 19th-century American lawman. Discover some of Reeves’ most exciting exploits.


New Year – New Discoveries! imageS Jade Graves Photography and courtesy vendors

Eyewear by Oliver Peoples

STILES EYE GROUP Dragon Fire Sparkling Moscato in Blueberry, Strawberry, Cherry, and Peach


IN GOOD SPIRITS 479.434.6604

Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector and Ear Protection


Iron Wolf Hotscotch Whiskey, Stella Rosa Naturals Non-Alcoholic Black, Monday Zero-Alcohol Whiskey, Stella Rosa Smooth Black Berry Brandy, Force & Grace Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Hearts On Fire Ellipse Pendant, Available in 18kt White, Yellow and Rose Gold









Julie Moncrief, Amanda Daniels, Dr. Mike Thames

EMPOWERING COMMUNITY THROUGH SERVICE AND FELLOWSHIP words Brittany Ransom image courtesy Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club

If your mission is to leave the world better than you found it,

luncheon on February 9. In addition to honoring others who

then you’d be in great company with the members of Fort Smith

serve, Exchangites also give back to the community. FSNEC

Noon Exchange Club (FSNEC). Since 1925, the organization has

follows goals set forth by the National Exchange Club, with

devoted itself to community service, honoring the nation, and

programs focused on youth and Americanism. For seventy-

creating opportunities to “exchange” ideas.

eight years, the Club has sponsored Girls, Inc. summer camp participants. Exchange is also an active Partner in

As the Club enters its 99th year, members are gearing up for a

Education with Beard Elementary School. The award-winning

special season of celebrating those who share their same passion

collaboration includes annual shoe and Christmas gift drives,

for service. The Club’s well-known Book of Golden Deeds Award

a pen pal program, and volunteering on campus.

– which recognizes unsung heroes who consistently share their time, talent, and resources to benefit others – will be presented

Exchange Club promotes the world’s greatest democracy and

at the 81st annual ceremony on March 8.

those that served to ensure its existence through its Americanism initiatives. FSNEC hosts a “One Nation Under God” lunch each

FSNEC bestowed its first Book of Golden Deeds Award in 1942.

November. Members also take part in American flag distribution

Notable recipients have included the late Fort Smith Mayor Ray

and education efforts.

Baker; the late Dr. Roger Bost, Founder of Bost, Inc.; beloved librarian, Louise Turner; longtime Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club

Exchangites understand that one can’t make a difference in the

Director, Jerry Glidewell; and Christmas Honors Chairman Philip

world without being informed. From its inception, FSNEC became

Merry. In 2023, the Club recognized former A&P Director Claude

known for informative programs, which featured guest speakers

Legris, who played a key role in advocating for the U.S. Marshals

highlighting local projects, non-profits, and other relevant

Museum to be built in Fort Smith.

groups. The format continues today, as members are educated about area needs, as well as issues of state and national concern.

“This is one of our area’s oldest and most distinguished

“Along with the exchanging of ideas, our meetings help cultivate

honors, as evident by the roster of impressive citizens and civic

mutual respect and fellowship,” explained Mike.

volunteers who have helped shape this region,” said President Dr. Mike Thames. “Nominations are open to the public, and we

Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club has thrived for nearly a

encourage people to submit names of those who work behind

century because of its unwavering commitment to community

the scenes to make the world a better place.” Nominations are

and country. The Club is continually

due February 23.

seeking new members to help carry out its mission and invites visitors to

FSNEC also recognizes local emergency responders. Emergency

attend Friday meetings at noon at

Medical Technician (EMT), Firefighter, and Law Enforcement

Golden Corral, Fort Smith. Learn more

Officer of the Year Awards will be presented at a special





Health in the New Year WORDS Dr. Kendall Wagner, Chaffee Crossing Clinic Image SewCreamStudio/Shutterstock

Breathe a deep breath and slowly exhale. The holiday season has ended; the new year has arrived. For many, the rush from Thanksgiving to Christmas with pressures of family, friends, parties, and presents results in feeling empty and emotionally spent. The start of the new year is the perfect time to refocus on our emotional and physical health. Focusing on your health does not need to be overwhelming. Start by incorporating a few simple changes to yield enormous benefits!


a study at the University of Utah, recreational activities result

According to the CDC, the average adult requires 7-8 hours

in reduced stress, improved mood, and overall reduction in

of sleep per night, an adolescent needs 10 hours, and the

depression and anxiety.

school-age child may require up to 12 per night. ROUTINE RELAXATION

Human beings crave routine and consistency. Lack of routine

Outside of nighttime sleep, it is important to make time for

results in higher stress levels. Regular times for waking, eating,

recreation. This should be something that brings meaning or

and activity provide a grounding effect for our responsibilities.

joy, it may be a hobby, a sport, or social club. According to

According to a health initiative supported by the Australian



Government: “Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning,

Several key vitamins and nutrients are important in regulating

be it a job or walking the dog. That's what gets you going, and

mood and supporting emotional wellbeing. Magnesium is a key

the rest follows.” Your best investment as we began this year is

mineral involved in many cellular processes and has a calming

a planner. Many options are available, from an electronic version

effect on the nervous system. An amino acid called L-theanine

on your phone, a desk calendar that serves as a convenient visual

may reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen anxiety. Vitamin

prompt, or a book-style planner to organize your responsibilities

D is also essential in energy and immune metabolism and

and activities in a convenient location.

its deficiency is associated with impaired mental health. Nutritional supplements such as glutathione improve cellular


detoxification which can improve stress response and focus.

Several studies involving gratitude demonstrated that it results in an increased feeling of wellbeing. For many, this


may be a gratitude journal, where you can write something

There is growing research that identifies certain genetic

you are thankful for daily. Routine prayer has also

alterations that carry a higher risk of mental health disorders.

demonstrated improvements in mental health. Meditation

One involves the enzyme Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase

may also provide an avenue to reflect and focus on what

(MTHFR). This important enzyme is involved in the breakdown

truly matters in your life.

and recycling of amino acids in our body. While MTHFR deficiency has long been known to result in birth defects

While gratitude journaling helps to highlight the blessings

and coronary artery disease, it has also been associated with

and positive outcomes in our lives, it can also be helpful

several neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia,

in processing difficult emotions or challenges. Sometimes

bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and ADHD. Patients

feelings that are difficult to articulate to others or even

with this deficiency may need special replacement of vitamins

process mentally become clearer as they are written down in

B12 and folate. The methylated, or active forms, of these

the process of journaling.

vitamins can be immediately utilized by the body. Genetic screening technology has advanced to the point that testing for


genetic abnormalities such as MTHFR deficiency can be done

Nutrition plays a vital role in mental health. A study published

by a simple at-home cheek swab that is sent to a reference

in 2022 in the Frontier of Nutrition highlighted the importance

laboratory. Such testing may help identify increased risk for

of diet and lifestyle as it relates to our emotional wellbeing.

impaired mental health which allows for appropriate treatment

While sedentary lifestyle and obesity were clear risk factors for

or supplementation to avoid disease.

depression, appropriate and healthy nutrition also plays a key factor in mood regulation. Excessive sugar and alcohol intake has been associated with depressed mood and lower sense of wellbeing. Fast food is highly inflammatory and also has been linked to poor mental health.

As we begin this new year, a few simple steps can improve mental health and pay huge dividends in your personal life, work, and relationships. Make a fresh start for your mental health and wellbeing. Talk to your physician today about steps you can take on your road to health!

Kendall Wagner, M.D. is a regular healthcare contributor to Do South® Magazine. Chaffee Crossing Clinic 11300 Roberts Boulevard, Fort Smith, Arkansas 479.242.5910 | DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM





IMAGE courtesy Jon Yoder Photography

All girl, all the time! Myia, age 14, loves fashion and all things beauty. She also is a great friend and gets along well with her peers. She can be a bit of a picky eater, but there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you like! Like most kids who have experienced childhood trauma, Myia may have moments when things get a little too much for her emotionally. But never fear, she quickly gathers herself and is back to her normal, happy, outgoing personality! Myia longs for a forever home to provide the things she needs, which is, more than anything else, unconditional love and affection. The perfect home for Myia is one with two parents and other children she can bond with, a family to provide all the love she needs along with consistent structure and expectations. Myia thrives in this type of environment, and she deserves every chance to become the amazing woman we all know she can be. If that sounds like you and your family, let us know by inquiring at!

In partnership with Project Zero and the Arkansas Heart Gallery, each month Do South® will feature a waiting child, or sibling group, in foster care in Arkansas. To inquire about these incredible children, please visit





HERO FOR ZERO WORDs Dwain Hebda images courtesy Christie Erwin

Success is doing something long enough to have seen challenges overcome, gained perspective on the impact you’re having and watched the competitive landscape shift by your efforts. By that definition, Little Rock-based Project Zero has been a rollicking success. For years, the group had led the charge for fostering and adoption in Arkansas under the skillful guidance of Founder and Executive Director Christie Erwin. The group is responsible for hundreds of children finding loving foster or forever homes and has played a major role in the number of children waiting for a family to reach levels once thought impossible. “Our latest number is there are 274 kids waiting to be adopted, which I think has been the lowest number I’ve quoted in the last twelve years,” Christie says. “At one point we were over 600, then for years we were at 500. The number continues to move down and it’s just amazing. “I was in Pizza Hut last night and I had a sweatshirt on that said, ‘Until There Are Zero.’ The lady who was waiting on me said, ‘Oh, I love Project Zero.’ I said, ‘I’m Christie. I’m the executive director.’ She said, ‘Can I hug you? I’m trying really hard not to cry because the Lord’s really working on my husband and me to adopt.’ People are seeing our Christie Erwin

kids and they’re seeing that they can be part of the solution, which is a beautiful thing.”



Christie is a hard woman to please, however, when it comes

that for almost ten years and shot probably over 750 short

to waiting children. Even as she acknowledges the role the

films. This year alone we shot 164 short films,” Christie says.

organization has played on reducing the number of kids, she’s after total victory. As the very name Project Zero suggests,

“The Heart Gallery photos have also been transformative," she

the goal is for there to be no children waiting for the phone

says, noting one story among many about a young couple who

to ring, no five-year-old without someone to care for them,

came to church and saw a display set up by the organization.

no teens l lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering why they’re not worthy of a family.

"They saw a photo of a little guy who has special needs. The photo was not one of our best, not anything that you would

It’s a goal that runs contrary to the realities of the world,

ooh and ah about, it was just a plain photo," she says. "They

admittedly, but to Christie’s thinking any other number is

messaged me and said, ‘God moved in our hearts this morning

unacceptable. “I think oftentimes people get this vision in

and we want to know more about him. We want to open our

their minds of children or teens in foster care. As a society,

home up.’ I heard from them just yesterday; which was the

sometimes we tend to look at them as less than,” she says.

three-year anniversary since they finalized their adoption.”

“Our team and the team at the Arkansas Department of Children and Family Services want people to see that they are

Displays such as these, along with the live meet-and-greet

not second-best to anyone. They are not less than.

events, help bring together children and prospective families, another element of Project Zero’s attempt to put a human

“I think [Project Zero] being able to give them a voice, being

face on the issue of waiting children.

able to give them a face, helps to cast a wider net and reach people who maybe don’t know about them.”

“Connection events not only give folks an opportunity to interact with waiting kids and vice versa, but it gives them

One of the major ways Project Zero is accomplishing this

a visual and many times [families] totally change what they

exposure is through multimedia campaigns. These include the

thought they wanted to do,” she says. “Maybe they started

Arkansas Heart Gallery which provides a photo and profile of

out wanting to adopt a young child and they get there and

each child or sibling group. Project Zero has also commissioned

meet a teenager and they decide to go that route.”

short films that help capture children in their own words. The success of the organization speaks to Christie as a “Definitely one of the things we have seen that has made a

cheerleader for “her” kids, which she is. But she’s also adept in

tremendous impact has been our short films. We’ve been doing

laying out the facts of foster and adoptive life for prospective

Jacob and Christie



Nathan Willis, Allie and Emmet, Christie, Jon Yoder




became foster parents, beginning in 1993, fostering for twenty years for a private, non-profit adoption agency and, starting in 2004, for the Arkansas Department of Children




She's fostered more than fifty children and adopted two. In 2009, Christie’s book, The Middle Mom – How to Grow Your Heart by Giving it Away, was published, the same year she received the Congressional Coalition on Adoption “Angel in Adoption” Award. She also represented




American Mother of the Year in The Erwin Family

2016. In addition to Project Zero, she is a founding member of The CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved

families. While it may seem counterintuitive to risk scaring off

for a Lifetime), which recruits and educates prospective foster

an interested couple, Christie said it’s the best way to help

and adoptive households.

ensure, as much as it is possible, that a foster or adoption sticks. All of that represents a pretty successful career for many “Oftentimes families come into this process with their own

people, but for Christie, there’s still much important work to

expectations, their own thoughts and sometimes they’re a

be done until the organization truly lives up to its name.

little bit blinded by ‘Love is going to cover this,’” she says. “With kids who have been through trauma and are coming

“The big dream is to have more families waiting to adopt than

from hard places, you’ve got to parent them in a different

kids who are waiting to be adopted, to literally get to zero,”

way. There are things that you’ve got to ferret out within

she says. “To have so many families waiting that when little

what is available as a resource for that specific child, not as

Suzy comes into the system, you’ve got ten families, and you

a sweeping thing for all adoptive kids. You’ve got to be a

pick one that’s the best fit for her.

student of what your child needs. “They’re big dreams. They really are and they haven’t dimmed “We’ve got to do a better job on the front end because what

over the last twelve years. There’s been hills and valleys and

happens sometimes is families go in with unrealistic expect-

incredible heartbreak and discouragement, but the vision and

ations and it ends very badly. Then, if you have a disruptive

the enthusiasm and the passion for waiting kids and for their

adoption, the child has another level of trauma, another layer

futures has not dimmed.”

of ‘I’m not good enough. Why does nobody love me? Why am I so bad?’ All those questions are just so horrible.” Christie knows of what she speaks and not just from an organizational perspective. She and her husband, Jeff,

Learn more about Project Zero at Do South® Magazine is proud to feature waiting children in every issue.




WORDS Dwain Hebda and Catherine Frederick some interviews have been edited for length and clarity

Do South® is proud to recognize the contributions of school systems and educational organizations in our community. They set the bar for excellence and are committed to providing the best opportunities for our students. Join us as we salute the passion they share for education.



the time students are given for daily prayer, Bible study coursework and weekly chapel services. All students, regardless of church background, are welcomed and accepted at 1st Lutheran.


1st Lutheran students excel academically thanks to student-to-

There’s a lot that can change in any organization that lasts for

teacher ratios that ensure individualized attention and connection

170 years and 1st Lutheran School of Fort Smith, the city’s oldest

to additional resources to address any special learning needs.

school in existence, is no exception. The school has kept up

Technology is on ready display as well, with iPads in use in grades

with classroom technologies, teaching practices and curriculum

K-2 and Google Chromebooks issued to students in grades 3-8.

enhancements that have evolved over time.

The school augments its challenging academic coursework with a range of extracurricular activities to foster teamwork, creativity

But there’s one thing here that hasn’t changed a bit since

and social skills in music, visual arts, theater, and athletics, just to

congregants laid the foundation nearly two centuries ago – a

name a few.

Christ-centered environment that places an emphasis on moral and spiritual growth alongside of reading, writing and arithmetic.

“We recognize that academics are not one-size-fits-all and every student is a unique individual created by God,” Samuel says. “We

“The ‘1st’ in our name represents how we keep Christ first in everything

partner with parents to ensure that we meet the unique needs of

we do,” says Principal Samuel Fishburn. “We have been Christ-

each student, working to overcome areas in which they struggle

centered since 1853 when our founders decided that establishing a

and to build upon their academic strengths. At 1st Lutheran, we

Christian school was the most important task before them. That early

believe that with the right support, every student can reach their

vision is still in play today.” This philosophy can be seen at work in

full potential.”



COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF THE ARTS INSTITUTE FOR THE CREATIVE ARTS One of the most unique and exciting educational programs in all of Arkansas, Community School of the Arts helps each student maximize their intellect, creativity, and social development through an immersive program of music, dance, visual arts, and theater. “Artistic excellence is at the core of everything we do,” says Dr. Rosilee Russell, Founder, and Executive Director. “We offer programs and activities that meet the needs and interests of all students.” The CSA program will soon open a bold new chapter. In November, state officials unanimously approved the application to begin a performing and visual arts charter high school in Fort Smith. The new high school, called Institute for the Creative Arts, will open to students entering grades nine through eleven next fall, with grade twelve added in 2025. Registration for next year is open now for students currently in grades eight through ten, accepted on a first-come first-served basis. As a public charter school, the Institute will be a tuition-free school open to all students with funding provided by the state. The new institution will be housed in the state-of-the-art CSA Center for the Creative Arts facility, slated for completion in spring 2024. “We are so excited to be able to provide a special high school like this in Arkansas,” says Rosilee. “We believe that the pursuit of mastery in an artistic field, combined with a strong sense of purpose, leads to great things for our students and our world. This is true whether a student pursues a career in the arts or in another rewarding field. ICA is going to have a tremendous impact on students all across our region.” The new campus will also house CSA’s existing arts programming, the Susan Burrell Hutchinson Community Arts Connection, which offers after-school, evening and weekend programs for individuals aged three to adult. Group classes and private one-on-one instruction are offered, which include performances, exhibits and recitals. A weekly summer camp program for children and teens is also offered, as well as classes and private sessions in Music Therapy taught by a nationally board-certified music therapist. In addition, CSA offers outreach and residency programs for greater arts access whereby instructors provide weekly arts outreach activities to underserved children at area elementary schools at no cost. “CSA is important because of the opportunities it provides our students to express their creativity through the arts,” Rosilee says. “We develop programs that meet the needs and interests of all people, from the amateur to the highly gifted. We meet students where they are and use the arts to bring out their very best.” DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM



FORT SMITH PUBLIC SCHOOLS Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS) offers its students a future-focused journey that equips them with the education and skills they will need to reach their full potential. The district introduces students to various career paths that best suit the student’s interests while complementing the student’s aptitudes. The district starts this approach early. Staff begin infusing career awareness in kindergarten through fifth grade. Intentional career planning and guidance begins in middle school and continues through high school. By strategically charting a career path, juniors and seniors may ascend to the district’s pinnacle, the Peak Innovation Center (PEAK). The Peak Innovation Center provides an invaluable resource of concurrent college coursework through the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and skilled trade certifications from Western Arkansas Technical Center (WATC). Overseeing the district’s Peak Innovation Center, Dr. Gary Udouj says, “We want all our students to think about their careers. The adage of ‘college or career’ is outdated. We know that every student is headed toward future employment. The pathway to that employment may include college – or not.” While the link between education and career has theoretically existed for years, public schools have recently increased efforts to help students try on or test career options before investing in them. FSPS students can explore career paths and take technical or college-level courses for free. Students begin their journey early. By sixth grade, students take a career awareness course for one-quarter of their studies. In seventh grade, the students take a semester-long career exploration course with hands-on activities. “We do a lot with student assessments that reveal their interests and aptitude. Sometimes, they’re interested in something only because they’ve heard about it, but they might show aptitude in careers they don’t know much about. It’s our job to ensure they experience all career options, especially the ones in which they show great aptitude.” In eighth grade, the student takes career coursework the entire school year. By charting a career course in eighth grade, the student feels more prepared to embark on their high school adventure. “ The earlier we talk to them about potential job options, the more time they’ll have to try some of them and determine what they like the most,” Udouj said. At FSPS, our motto is “Believe. Belong. Become.” The work we do directly reflects our motto. We begin talking to students early, so they feel supported and encouraged and can start thinking about and believing in a professional future. No matter the student’s interests, FSPS has programs that help students identify pathways where they feel they belong, and a future where they know they can become.




FUTURE SCHOOL OF FORT SMITH As an open enrollment public charter high school, Future School of Fort Smith requires no application or tuition. It stresses the same academic rigor and achievement as its peer schools and works every day to prepare its students for success after graduation. But the relatively recent addition to Future School’s education offerings achieves these goals in ways that are different than its peer institutions. In addition to a challenging in-class curriculum, Future School also employs a robust network of community partners to provide internships and training in various career fields. “We’re called Future School because our goal is to prepare our students for their future after high school,” says Kristan Mosely, Community Outreach Director. “There’s a lot of students who come here because they are interested in our internship program. They like the idea of graduating and actually being prepare for a career.” Each student’s education is guided by Big Picture Learning, a practice that puts students directly in the center of their own learning. The first BPL school in Arkansas, Future School programs are highly flexible to help define and meet individual goals and needs. “We focus a lot on hands-on learning,” Kristan says. “Our size, and the fact that we’re a charter, provides the flexibility that some students need. It’s not a one-size-fits-all model. Our goal is to help students succeed and if we can do that by changing things a little bit, then we are more than happy to do so.” The school maintains relationships with local businesses and organizations that provide hundreds of internship opportunities in a variety of job fields. And, through an arrangement with Western Arkansas Technical Center, provides an opportunity for free college classes in technical and non-technical fields of study. “Our internship program is one of the biggest things we do,” Kristan said. “We have kids doing internships right now in everything from being a barber to working in dental offices and veterinary clinics.” Another unique feature of Future School is each student is assigned a faculty adviser who provides guidance and mentorship through the high school experience. “ Think of their adviser as a school parent,” Kristan says. “They guide the student through high school, helping them to determine what they want to do when they graduate and make sure their work and their grades are where they need to be. They follow the student through to graduation, eventually handing them their diploma.”




GREENWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS Comprised of seven campuses and serving a population of just under four thousand students, Greenwood Public Schools set a high bar for academic excellence in Arkansas. Committed to providing a quality education for all students in a safe and nurturing environment, the district works together with parents and the community to prepare students to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. “ The Greenwood School District has the long-standing vision of ‘Providing Excellence in Education,’” says Superintendent John Ciesla. “This tradition stems from a community that values education and has high expectations for all academic and extracurricular programs.” The challenging curriculum is augmented by the latest classroom technology, providing students at all grade levels an optimum learning environment. The district also maintains a robust slate of extracurricular activities aimed at developing the physical, intellectual, social and leadership qualities of all students. “Research has shown that students involved in extracurricular activities show greater success in academics,” Ciesla says. “At Greenwood School District, we strive to find a niche where every student can participate and excel.” Preschool students attend Greenwood Preschool Center, offering a certified teacher and paraprofessional in each classroom to maintain a low student-to-teacher ratio. Elementary education takes place at Westwood Elementary and East Pointe Elementary, both of which earned Lighthouse status by FranklinCovey and are Highly Effective Schools accredited centers for learning. East Pointe Elementary is a proud National Model PLC School. Middle School students attend East Hills Middle School, routinely recognized as a Top 10 Middle School in Arkansas and is a Kindness Certified School, while junior high students attend Greenwood Junior High, a two-time Outstanding Middle School in Arkansas winner by Technology Student Association and ranked eighth-best middle school in Arkansas by Niche. Finally, high school students attend Greenwood High School, which is ranked among the top high schools in Arkansas for exceptional ACT composite scores, an extensive roster of AP and concurrent college classes, as well as excellence in athletics, the arts and leadership development. “Whether a family is new to the area or has lived here all their lives, we encourage everyone to help us continue the ‘tradition of excellence’ that has been long established for Greenwood Public Schools.”




LearningRX LearningRx helps kids, teens, and adults build the skills they need for a lifetime of learning. Through customized one-on-one training, we help families with reading, math, or assist with a learning difference, such as ADHD or dyslexia. LearningRx Fort Smith opened March 13th, with Dr. Janissa Jackson and her husband Justin as the owners. Dr. Jackson received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2005 from the University of Arkansas after completing specialty training in the evaluation and treatment of children and adolescents with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Furthermore, she received additional training in the assessment and treatment of developmental concerns including autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Jackson began clinical practice in 2005 and has been practicing in Fort Smith since 2011. Dr. Jackson has become passionate about providing additional options for those who struggle with cognitive processing and effective learning. This drive for more comprehensive care is what led her to pursue opening LearningRx in the River Valley. “I’ve been practicing psychology for eighteen years specializing in testing and diagnosis of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other concerns. While my career has been rewarding, never before have I been able to offer hope for lasting changes in cognitive skills such as focus, memory, speed, and auditory processing. LearningRx provides this and owning this franchise has breathed new life into my career. I maintain my clinical practice and still offer testing but seeing the results at LearningRx is the best part of my week!” Dr. Jackson stated. Brain training is a series of fun, mentally rigorous exercises that strengthen attention, short- & longterm memory, processing speed, auditory & visual processing, and logic & reasoning. It’s designed to leverage strengths and improve weaknesses. To date, LearningRx has helped over 120,000 kids, teens, and adults break through learning (and life) barriers via brain training. LearningRx River Valley has seen its first group of graduates and the powerful changes brain training made in the students and their families. “Dr. Jackson and her team have been wonderful at working with our daughter to help her improve in the challenges she has faced with ADHD. Our daughter has been able to go from having to be reminded of each direction given to being able to follow 3-4 step instructions without reminders. We have seen improvement in her reading and math scores at school. Her focus and attention have both greatly improved. We cannot wait to see what she is able to do in the future.” N.W., Fort Smith, AR LearningRx is currently enrolling new students! Our brain training sessions can happen in-center or remotely. Give us a call; we look forward to helping you or your child!



UNION CHRISTIAN ACADEMY James 2:18 tells us, “I will show you my faith by my works,” and no school ever lived that passage more completely than Union Christian Academy. Everywhere one looks at this faith-based institution one can see not only a devotion to a Christ-centered education but also how it serves families, enriches the community, and embraces students allowing them to walk confidently into the light of the future. “ The mission of Union Christian Academy is to provide an outstanding Christian education centered on a Biblical worldview that encourages all our students to reach their highest God-given potential,” says Ricky Massengale, Superintendent. The school offers pre-school, elementary, middle, and high school and at every level the family atmosphere can be seen and felt. Union Christian Academy provides extended care to assist working families and financial aid to help those families afford tuition. At Union Christian Academy, qualifying families may also receive LEARNS Act EFAs paying roughly $6,500 of their tuition. As for that tuition, the school is proud to offer an income-based model, its boldest effort yet to make a Union education available to as many households as possible. “ The heart of our model is equal sacrifice not equal cost,” Ricky says. “ The School Board established tiered tuition amounts that are proportionate to the school’s need and the city’s demographics. Because of our tuition model, more families have been able to access Christian education and we are able to equip more students with a high-quality education that integrates a Christian worldview.” The servant mentality developed through a Union Christian Academy education doesn’t stop there. In addition to the rigorous and award-winning academic instruction, students at all levels participate in U-Serve activities partaking in community service on the local, regional and national levels. These experiences culminate with Union’s juniors and seniors traveling as far as to Ecuador on an annual mission trip. Academic highlights by school include: Preschool: Offering a loving, playful environment for three- and four-year-olds, the preschool is led by skilled teachers, producing kindergarten-ready students. Elementary: Dynamic, traditional learning for kindergarten through fifth graders includes a challenging curriculum balanced with daily Bible readings and weekly chapel. Middle School: Union middle schoolers are exposed to a culture of high academics as well as discipleship and encouragement, aimed at educating and shepherding the whole child. High School: Union’s high school offers an academically challenging curriculum that guides students to reach their highest God-given potential through academics, extracurriculars, leadership and service. “We’re proud of our 100% graduation rate, 100% college acceptance rate and that our students test above state and national averages, but Union is much more than that,” Ricky says. “At Union we are a family.” DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


VAN BUREN SCHOOL DISTRICT Voted “ Top School District” for the 2023 Best of River Valley, the Van Buren School District (VBSD) is recognized as a leader in academics, athletics, arts, and beyond. VBSD has tremendous “Pointer Pride,” and aims to serve the community by providing a learning environment that enables students to attain their full potential and that promotes lifelong learning. This is accomplished through diverse course offerings, and by giving students access to programs that help meet their individual needs. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education is incorporated at all grade levels. Teachers integrate hands-on learning through agriculture, technology, and entrepreneurship. Multiple campuses have thriving gardens and take part in FoodCorps, a national initiative aimed at connecting kids to healthy foods and practices. Each year, sixth graders are given the opportunity to attend NASA Space Camp. Van Buren High School (VBHS) students can learn business and design through involvement with the school’s spirit store, Pointer Place. VBSD also offers a wealth of Advanced Placement and concurrent credit classes. Strategic partnerships with regional universities enable VBHS students to earn college hours, complete technical certifications, and earn associate degrees before graduating. Courses are provided at little or no cost to families, which save students time and tuition dollars and gives them a workforce advantage. The commitment to excellence extends to extracurricular programs. In recent years, VBSD has captured state championship titles in band, wrestling, soccer, and baseball, and had record numbers of All-Region and All-State musicians. VBSD is also a leader in school safety. It was one of the first districts in Arkansas to employ full-time School Resource Officers at every campus. Schools also utilize modern safety technologies including surveillance and check-in systems. High-quality education is impossible without highly qualified personnel. VBSD is among the top-paying districts for both new and veteran teachers. It also offers competitive benefits packages for both certified and non-certified employees. The District also features beautiful campuses and stateof-the-art venues. Recent years have included the construction of a new Pointer Activity Complex, additions to Citizens Bank Stadium, and transformation of the VBHS track into one of the state’s finest athletic complexes. Pointer partnerships also abound. The Van Buren Education Foundation has invested more than $1 million into the classroom. The District’s own IMPACT Meals initiative helps ensure families in need don’t go hungry. PTAs, booster clubs, local businesses, and the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce also provide tremendous year-round support. “We are fortunate to be part of an amazing community that values education and understands the importance of investing in our schools,” said Superintendent Harold Jeffcoat. “It is because of our local leaders, partners, and families that we are able to provide a premier educational experience to our students at every level.” DOSOUTHMAGAZINE.COM


The Early Childhood classroom (ages 3-6) is a carefully prepared environment that enables the child to practice and master day-to-day learning while building concentration, coordination,


order, and independence.

For more than five decades, The Montessori School of Fort Smith

harnessing their sociability, curiosity, and eagerness to contribute

has delivered an unparalleled, child-centered method of education

to their community through a robust curriculum that features

to generations of families in and around Fort Smith. “Our mission

biology, history, language, math, and arts.








is to cultivate a joyful learning experience that empowers students to be independent learners and creative problem solvers,” says

Montessori Middle School builds upon prior learning. Students are

Sarah Boone, Head of School. "Our vision is to build a diverse

provided opportunities for creative exploration, critical thinking,

and inclusive community of families and staff who understand

investigating occupations and exploring larger questions about

the power of a Montessori education and transforming traditional

society, in addition to math, language, literature, humanities,

ideas about how students learn."

science, and health.

The institution is divided into multiple areas and is the only

“As Montessori educators, our goal is to empower children

Montessori school in the River Valley, and one of only two in

to become self-motivated, independent, and compassionate

the entire state of Arkansas, to either be accredited or working

individuals who are able to successfully navigate our ever-

towards accreditation.

changing world,” Sarah says.





Friday Night Lights WORDs Dwain Hebda images courtesy Karen Schwartz and David Humphrey

Anyone who knew David Humphrey coming up probably wouldn’t have pegged him for a forty-oneyear career in football, least of all him. “I found out very early in life that I loved sports and I watch all the sports, but I never was very good at playing them,” he says. “I remember in the ninth grade playing football and never getting to play very much. I remember practicing for the last game of ninth grade and thinking, ‘You know what? I think football’s not in my future. I think I’m going to retire.’ David Humphrey

I do love football, and all sports, but just was never very good, unfortunately.”

David’s story might have ended right there except for a fateful day in the 1980s when Frank Ward, a co-worker, recruited him to be a fill-in on a chain gang working local high school games. After a year as an as-needed sub, he replaced a full-time member of the team who’d moved away and never looked back. Today, he and his team are still working home high school games for both Fort Smith Northside and Fort Smith Southside. By day, David is vice president of investor relations for ArcBest but on Friday nights he’s the official in charge of a crew that helps keep the game running smoothly. “All in, including the first fill-in year, I’ve done it forty-one years,” he says. “For a long time [Northside and Southside] played in the same conference so you always had one team that was



playing out of town and one team that was playing in town. We always did chains for both schools, so that meant pretty much you worked every week. “Now they’re in different conferences which can make it kind of interesting. Sometimes they’ll both be out of town at the same time, and you don’t have a game at all or there have been a couple times where they were both in town at the same time which means you have to come up with two chain gangs to cover both games.” Of all the moving parts that a football game employs, there

2008 Southside Har-Ber Playoff Game Frank Ward, Rick Spearman, Phil Leraris, Dick Wakefield, David Humphrey

is arguably no official more often overlooked than the chain gang, a team that tracks placement of the ball after every play. So named because the equipment includes two tall stakes with a ten-yard length of chain between them, the team is critical for determining down and distance to first down or goal, but rarely gets the spotlight. “If you’re a football fan like I am, you’re kind of right in the middle of the action instead of sitting up in the stands,” David says. “It’s just interesting and fun to do.”

Phil Leraris, David Humphrey, Antonio Skinner, Dave Cogswell, Grayson Cogswell

It’s hard to find something in football officiating that would be recognizable from its origins and especially over the past

David says the chain gang offers him the best of all possible

forty-one years. In all areas — including coaches consulting

worlds, allowing a front-row seat to help make sure the game

data analytics and sideline iPads, players’ access to video

runs smoothly while still avoiding the ire of coaches.

analysis of opponents, and officials’ instant replay — the digital revolution has taken over the game from Friday Night

“Doing the chains, you’re still sort of a middleman,” he says.

Lights to Monday Night Football. Yet the chain gang remains

“I’ve seen a lot of interesting situations on the sidelines over the

a staunchly analog island in a sea of such technology.

years, but most coaches understand the chain gang’s just doing what they’re told and trying to do the best they can. Most of the

“You’ve got somebody holding both ends of the chain with

screaming and yelling is directed at the officials. Occasionally we

the ten yards in between them,” David says. “You’ve got the

get caught up in that but generally most coaches aren’t yelling

box that marks first down, second down, third down. And

at the chain gang; they know it probably needs to be directed at

we’ve always had somebody we call the clip man, and that’s

their own players or the officials on the field.”

the person who marks the ball on the chain in case the chain gets knocked away. You always need to know where to go

Raging coaches aren’t the only line of fire a chain gang needs

back to to line up the chains on the proper marker.

to be aware of. Plays that spill out of bounds are another constant hazard and chain gang team members are coached

“In recent years we’ve gotten really fancy and we put another

at an early age to drop and run to avoid becoming collateral

person on the other side of the field to mark first down. That

damage. Even with this awareness serious injury can occur,

way, if the ball carrier was running on the other side of the field

which is why the first rule of the chain gang, David says, is

they know where he must get to in order to get a first down.”

“Forget the equipment, just get out of the way.





“We had one time in particular involving a guy that helped us

the field, witnessed amazing plays, suffered through searing

for many years,” David says. “There are twenty-two players on

heat, endured numbing cold and slogged through miserable

the field and twenty of them were all on the other side of the

downpours. A highlight was getting to work the chains during

field, except for a receiver and a defensive back that for some

a high school playoff at the University of Arkansas’ Reynolds

reason were on our side. They got into a squabble or whatever

Razorback Stadium, but each contest brought with it its own

and knocked over our guy who was on the end of one of the

special kind of magic.

chains. It was over at Northside before they redid their field, and they had a cinderblock track that probably went back to

Now in his mid-sixties, he’s technically supposed to retire with

the 1940s or 1950s.

the close of the current season, but circumstances suggest he’s not going to disappear overnight.

“They knocked him back and his elbow hit that cinderblock track and I mean he was really hurt pretty bad. What I’ll always

“I probably need to retire; they probably need somebody that

remember about that is, they took him to the hospital and

moves a little faster than I do now. My problem is I don’t have

after that game was over, we went to the emergency room,

a very good exit strategy,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not sure

and I was standing with him when the doctor came in with the

who’s going to take it over. I’m working on that, so we’ll see

X-ray. He said, ‘It looks like a bomb went off in your elbow.’ I

what happens. I told the district athletic director I wouldn’t

think all of us have at one time or another been knocked over,

just leave him in the lurch.

but that was the worst injury we’ve ever had.” “I’m thinking whoever does take it over I’ll probably tell him I David can only offer a guesstimate as to how many games he’s

know how it is sometimes when it’s Wednesday and suddenly

worked, but four hundred and fifty over forty-one years isn’t

three people bail on you, and you have got to have somebody.

that far off. Along the way, he’s enjoyed many adventures on

I’ll be there to help them out.”

Josh Carmack, Jackson Carmack, Dalton Pearson, Michael Beaumont, Jim Rowland, David Humphrey, Jeff Prewitt, Terry Morawski, Olivia Carmack, Julia Carmack, Claire Person, Lucy Person, Sheila Humphrey





Boy, That Girl Can Sang! WORDs Marla Cantrell images courtesy Lacey Schaffer-Thomas

During a staff seminar at the beginning of the 2023/2024 school year, Lacey Schaffer-Thomas sang “Superstition” with the band High Reliability, made up of employees in the Fort Smith School System. The keynote speaker was bestselling author Jon Gordon. When he heard Lacey sing, he blasted a video clip of her performance across social media, which got the attention of the Kelly Clarkson Show. Kelly asked Lacey to perform with her, bringing worldwide attention to Lacey and Fort Smith. The show aired on November 13, 2023.

SINGER/SONGWRITER LACEY SCHAFFER-THOMAS, JUST WEEKS AFTER performing on the Kelly Clarkson Show, sits in an empty classroom at Euper Lane Elementary in Fort Smith, Arkansas. It’s shortly after the final bell at three o’clock in the afternoon, and Lacey, a paraprofessional who works with special education students, has had a good day. It started with her drive to work, listening to Lacey Schaffer-Thomas

KISR-93 radio. She caught Jelly Roll’s “Need a Favor,” her new favorite song.



The sixty-year-old has loved singing since childhood. “One of my friends told me she can still see me, sitting at my kitchen table, a hairbrush for a microphone, singing to my mama,” Lacey says. “Mama would be standing at the stove, and she’d say, ‘Sing me a song, Lace.’ Her favorite was ‘One Day at a Time.’ Dad’s was ‘Amazing Grace.’” It also took a bit of grace to raise Lacey. “I was fifteen and in the tenth grade at Northside High School, and The Gong Show was coming to the Civic Center in Fort Smith, and I wanted to be in it.” [The Gong Show was a nationally televised talent show in the 1970s. If your act was deemed subpar, you’d know it by the sound of a mallet hitting a metal cymbal.] Lacey’s family of eight attended Fort Smith’s First Freewill Baptist Church. So did a couple who had a son, Jasper, in the local band. Lacey, never one to shy away from an opportunity, asked them to get a message to their son, hoping the band

High. Years later, Bill told Tom Ware [Lacey’s longtime friend,

would back her up if she got on The Gong Show. To Lacey’s

musical and songwriting partner] that students like Lacey come

delight, they said yes.

along in a choir director’s dreams. And sometimes never.”

“My very first live performance, other than church, was with

By the mid-1980s, Lacey was finding wide success with the

Jasper, and I sang ‘Tumbling Dice.’” The 1972 Rolling Stones

local band Gray Ghost. The group signed with Mercury/

song wasn’t enough to get her to Hollywood, but it did open

Polygram Records and had songs in the Top 100. They opened

a door. “After that, Jasper invited me to join the band.

for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Photos from that time show Lacey, thin as any runway model, her big eighties hair

“I went home and asked my dad, and he said not no, but

a bridal veil of curls, her mouth lined with maroon lip pencil,

Hell no!” Which sent the teenage Lacey to her room, crying

her blue eyes shining. If she worried about expenses, it was

crocodile tears. That could have been the end, but while she

likely because she was buying the biggest cans of Aqua Net

stormed to her bedroom, her dad stomped out of the house

hairspray she could find.

to get a haircut. The barber just happened to be a lifelong It could have been a trying time, with six people in the band

musician and the sound engineer for Jasper.

and Lacey the only woman. But the guys, which included Tom He told Lacey’s dad that he’d had the same problem with his

Ware, treated her like a little sister. “Nobody messed with

musical son, and his advice was this: Don’t knock her down.

Lacey,” she says and laughs.

Not when she has the love and passion for music. Gray Ghost toured Canada, Bahrain, Japan, Spain, Korea, So, Lacey began singing with Jasper. On weeknights, she had

Iceland. They played a lot of military bases. “We had to learn

to be home by half past ten. On weekends, twelve-thirty. That

Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA.’ We got asked to play

meant she missed part of the sets, but she didn’t mind.

that all the time, and at first, we were like, ‘We’re too cool for that!’ But then we played it in Spain, and I looked out,

“I just wanted to sing. It was the only time I felt special,” Lacey

and all the service people were singing along, holding up their

says. “The first person to notice my voice, besides people in

lighters, and I got it. I stood on the stage and bawled.”

church, was Bill Cromer, the choir director at Kimmons Junior





She did miss a trip to China with Gray Ghost. “I was seven months pregnant with my daughter Phoebe, and I said, ‘Guys, I don’t want to have this baby in China.’” She stayed with the band a bit longer but finally moved on to a more traditional life. Eventually, she found her footing as a paraprofessional at Euper Lane Elementary School, with students who fill her heart. When she sang Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” accompanied by the High Reliability Band, made up of employees for the school

Lacey, Opal and Oscar

Lacey and Derek

district, the earth shook, and the world took notice. And it was all because the keynote speaker at the back-to-school seminar,

Africa. Her grandkids, Oscar and Opal, think she’s pretty cool.

author Jon Gordon, shared her video on social media. Soon,

As much as she loves what’s happened (another opportunity

the Kelly Clarkson Show came calling. Lacey and her husband

may be in the works), the Kelly Clarkson Show isn’t the

Derek flew to New York City for the taping in front of 200

pinnacle of her singing career, and neither is Gray Ghost.

people. After producers whisked her away to hair and makeup, Lacey practiced with the band. The plan was to have her sing

Instead, her favorite performance happened at Euper Lane.

into a commercial break. She would not meet Kelly.

“I was singing the national anthem about five years ago, and it was close to Veterans Day. The entire school was here; the

“I was rehearsing ‘Superstition,’ and everybody just stopped.

kids are behind me on the stage, and I start singing, and the

I looked, and there was Kelly Clarkson. She said, ‘Girl, I was

entire school starts singing with me. It was incredible,” Lacy

sitting there about to get my makeup on, and I’m thinking

says, and tears gather. “It was this perfect moment.”

maybe we need to start this show together.’ The lights in the classroom are motion-activated, and we’ve “I didn’t have time to get too nervous. I was waiting on her,

been mostly still, so it goes dark. Lacey waves her arms to

across from where she’ll come out, and I’m staring at the

make the classroom bright again. But for a moment, in the

audience. She walks through the door, and the producer kind

middling light, it’s as if the only thing shining is Lacey. Silver

of pushes me out there, and the next thing I know, the music

bracelets sound as they mesh on her thin wrist. Her silver hair

starts. It was so fun!

falls in waves around her face.

“I wasn’t scared. I’ve performed most of my life. I’m sixty years old.” Lacey shrugs. “It is what it is. And, oh my lord, I can’t say enough about Kelly. She’s so kind. She’s exactly what you see on TV. She’s genuine. She put me at ease. We only had to do one take, and we were ready.”

Lacey mentions the goodness of Kelly Clarkson again and the generosity of Jon Gordon. “He didn’t have to call me out, but he did,” she says, talking about the viral social media post that set everything in motion. “I used to tell my children that the only time you should look down on someone is when you’re giving them a hand to help them up.” It looks as if the universe took notice and lifted her up instead. “I thought I had everything I ever wanted, but I

Lacey left with the clothes she was given to wear on the show,

think I needed this to happen.” Lacey folds her hands in her

and a trip to hear Kelly sing in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve.

lap. Her fingernails are painted blue. The light catches her

“Kelly just came up to us and offered.”

smile, and for a moment she’s that super-cool girl from Gray Ghost, the world at her feet. The overhead light flickers, and

Since being on the show that aired on November 13, 2023,

she transforms to the present day, just as beautiful, but with

Lacey’s heard from fans as far away as New Zealand and South

a much richer story to tell.





Graduating Class 2022

TO PROTECT AND SERVE Fo r t S m i t h C i t i ze n ’s Po l i c e Ac a d e my WORDs Bob Robinson images courtesy Fort Smith Police Department

Have you ever had a Fort Smith police cruiser pass by, lights

support and help in promoting a positive image of the Fort

flashing and screaming siren, and was curious what it would be

Smith Police Department throughout the city.

like to be a police officer? Or passed the police department, at 110 South 10th Street in Fort Smith, and wondered what the

The FSCPA is an eleven-week program offered twice annually

inside looks like, and what activities take place there?

that provides community members an inside look at the operations of the FSPD. Each week participants interact

If you answered yes, then you may be a candidate for the Fort

with various police divisions and the officers working within

Smith Citizens Police Academy (FSCPA). The primary goal of the

them. Through classroom sessions and hands-on real-world

Academy is to foster cooperation between community residents

experiences, participants learn the inner workings of the police

and dedicated department members. The Citizens Police

department. Last November, the FSPD graduated its 50th

Academy Alumni Association plays a vital role in this effort.

Citizens Police Academy (CPA) class.

Comprising former FSCPA students, they provide invaluable



The fall '23 program covered a wide array of police divisions.

Ashlie found the outing to the gun firing range therapeutic.

One session discussed the Communications Unit. The

Prior to the FSCPA, she had never held a gun, and now she was

Communications officers, which operate 911 calls, provided a

firing live ammo with a Glock 19 9mm handgun and a Rock

detailed description of that unit’s tasks. How operators receive

River M4 rifle. The same weapons used by the FSPD.

police and fire calls to determine appropriate distribution and escalation. CPA members listened to recorded 911 calls that

Another eye-opening experience was the police ride-along.

have come in over the years. Later, they were allowed to sit-in

Ashlie accompanied an officer for an entire shift. The officer

with operators during live 911 calls.

dealt with two people fighting, traffic stops, and a homeless woman lying in the street that people were worried about.

Another segment covered Patrol Special Operations. This specialized unit includes the force’s Motorcycle, Bicycle, and Crisis Intervention Units. Fort Smith’s police were the first department in Arkansas to form a Crisis Intervention Unit to address mental, drug, and alcohol challenges in our community. The program related to the Use of Force Policy describes how officers train utilizing a Use of Force Simulator (UFS). They learn to use the facts they have in the moment to respond in a police situation, following the Response to Resistance Policy. The UFS has a giant screen that projects different possible scenarios police officers encounter, from a suspiciously behaving citizen on the street, to an armed, active shooter. This life-sized interactive video simulates potential life-threatening situations where officers learn to make split-second decisions. Ashlie Ross was a member of the 50th Class. When it was her turn to experience the UFS, the scenario featured a breaking and entering situation. She was given a weighted fake gun for the exercise that she kept holstered, as an officer would, until the situation warranted its withdrawal. As she approached the screen, she encountered a suspicious young man. From the classroom she recalled how officers were encouraged to interact with a suspect, so she asked the suspect to show his hands. He angrily responded, asking why should he show her his hands, adding he had not done anything. She repeated her request and he continued to display an uncooperative attitude. Suddenly, the suspect reached for an object. The man could have pulled his hands up with a firearm, a cell phone, or empty hands. Ashlie, as police officers are trained to do, responded based on the facts she had. Given his behavior, she determined he was reaching for a gun. She drew her weapon and fired. It turned out he was reaching for a staple gun. Fortunately, Ashlie missed. Ashlie Ross





Ashlie was impressed by the community-minded approach of the officer, and other police officers she had met throughout the CPA. How proactive they were during encounters, rather than reactive. They genuinely expressed a desire to help people rather than lock them up. There were many other divisions covered during the Fall 2023 FSCPA program, including Civilian Response to an Active Shooter, Criminal Investigation Division and Special Investigation Units, Crime Scene Investigation, DWI and Standardized Field Sobriety, Narcotics Investigations, SWAT Unit, K-9 Unit, SWAT Team Demonstration, and Traffic Enforcement. And last, but certainly not least, there was Pawfficer Fuzz. The FSPD is one of two departments in the US to have a Police Cat they utilize as a Community Relations tool. Pawfficer Fuzz is used to build relationships with the public and encourages conversation. He has received national news attention on the Hallmark Channel, 48 Hours, and in national publications. When they take Pawfficer Fuzz to a school classroom or other public gathering, everyone warms up to him immediately, creating a Pawfficer Fuzz

connection between the police and the public. Interested in attending the next Citizens Police Academy? Officer Robyn Shoptaw, of the Crime Prevention and

the classes with a new appreciation for the department and

Community Relations (who received the 2023 Arkansas Public

community awareness.

Safety Solutions Officer of the Year Award from the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police), explained that each year the

The spring 2024 FSCPA will be held at the end of March, or early

class curriculum is revised to include new and updated material.

April. Interested citizens can watch for the official announcement date and signup for CPA on the police department’s website,

The hands-on exercises and classroom activities presented in Announcements are also made on the Fort

the FSCPA sessions provide citizens with a new perspective

Smith Police Department’s Facebook page. Don’t delay in signing

about what the FSPD experiences. Members come away from

up once the date is announced, as the thirty-member limit usually fills within forty-eight hours.





Winter Minestrone RECIPe adapted



INGREDIENTS (serves 6-8) •

¾ Cup pearled barley, cooked (or 1 Cup uncooked shell pasta)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Cup carrots, chopped

1 Cup celery, diced

1 small onion, diced

1-2 Cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 medium zucchini (optional)

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 Tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¾ teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

32 ounces vegetable broth, more if needed

28 ounces canned Italian style diced tomatoes

½ Cup canned kidney beans, drained/rinsed

½ Cup canned cannellini beans, drained/rinsed

1 Cup water

parsley, fresh (garnish)

Parmesan cheese, grated (garnish)

METHOD Cook barley or pasta according to package directions, set aside. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté carrots, celery, onion, and garlic until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add basil, oregano, thyme, let cook 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, zucchini, beans, bay leaves, broth, and water. Stir to combine and let come to a boil. Reduce heat, let simmer 20-30 minutes. Add barley or pasta, cook 5 more minutes. Stir in spinach, cook 1-2 minutes, add additional broth or water if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in balsamic vinegar. Serve with warm French bread and garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.





Golden Sunset RECIPe adapted



3 ounces dry Prosecco, chilled

2 ounces Aperol

sparkling water or club soda

orange, sliced (garnish)

rosemary sprig (garnish)

METHOD Fill wine glass with ice. First add Aperol, then Prosecco. Top with a splash of sparkling water or club soda. Garnish with an orange slice and sprig of rosemary.

Always drink responsibly. Never drink and drive.





Natural State of Love WORDS Marla Cantrell images courtesy venues

Looking for a romantic getaway to wow your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? Breathe, because you have a bigger window this year. Since February 14 falls on a Wednesday, you can celebrate the weekend before, the week of, or the weekend after. You don’t need to travel far; Arkansas is the natural state of love.


Eateries abound in this area. Guests recommend Mylo’s Coffee

Little Rock, Arkansas |

and Café Bossa Nova, both on Kavanaugh Boulevard. Located on Main Street, other top dining choices are The Root Café,

Create your own fairytale in Little Rock. Rosemont B&B Cottages

offering farm-to-table fare, the all-new Bread Cheese Wine

look as if you might stumble across them in an enchanted

featuring elevated grilled cheese sandwiches and a diverse

forest, but they’re in the downtown area and walking distance

and eclectic wine list, and Raduno Brick Oven and Barroom for

from entertainment, shops, and restaurants. The one and

incredible pizza, house-made pasta and craft cocktails.

two-bedroom cottages are private and have a garden, balcony, or porch. Every cottage has a fireplace or radiant heat stove, a

Live music abounds in Little Rock, as do comedy clubs, bars and

double-jetted tub or walk-in shower, a kitchen, or kitchenette.

breweries, and one-of-a-kind cultural centers, like the William

Order breakfast from the menu, and it will be delivered to your

J. Clinton Presidential Library and the Arkansas Museum of

cottage, either ready-to-eat or ready to easily prepare.

Fine Arts. Visit Rock Town Distillery to try their vodkas and bourbons, and Flyway and Lost Forty are two iconic breweries.

For Valentine’s Day, owner Susan Maddox has specials. The

Head to Pinnacle Mountain State Park for a hike, or bike on the

Lovers Only package includes champagne, chocolates, candles,

Arkansas River Trail.

and bath amenities. The Simply Romantic package comes with wine, chocolates, and candles, and there is a Champagne and

There’s another reason to celebrate. The SoMa (South Main

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries option. Finally, the Champagne

Street) district is having their SoMardi Gras: Under the Sea Ball

Service, which includes a chilled bottle of Champagne and two

on February 9, and the Mardi Gras celebration on February 10.

stemmed glasses.




skills. Hiking and mountain biking are abundant in this part of

Lakeview, Arkansas |

the state, and fishing guides are available through Gaston’s. Drive to nearby Mountain Home for culinary delights. Don’t

If you love the outdoors nearly as much as you love each other,

miss Mont Thai Cuisine, or O.M. Greek (open for lunch or a

this is your getaway. Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview

very early dinner). Make the trip even sweeter by visiting Petite

(near Mountain Home) is one of the most iconic establishments

Patisserie Bakery for French bread and treats.

in Arkansas, with some of the best trout fishing you can find. The pink cottages, synonymous with Gaston’s, have been around since Al Gaston built the first few in 1958. Today, there are seventy-nine cottages, welcoming visitors from all fifty states and around the world. There’s a landing strip for small planes—approximately 10,000 different types of aircraft stop by Gaston’s each year. A muster of peacocks calls Gaston’s home, so be prepared to see these colorful birds on the grounds. Guests in February will get forty percent off a stay of two nights or more, making this choice even more appealing. Clint Gaston, carrying on the family legacy, says it’s the perfect time to target bigger brown trout. Because the weather can change on a dime, dress in layers, and be sure to work up an appetite. The resort’s restaurant is run by Executive Chef Rick Gollinger,


who serves dishes like Sea Bream DeJonghe, Pork Wellington,

Hot Springs, Arkansas |

Chicken Florentine, and various sandwiches and burgers. If you’d rather eat the fish you caught, his team can prepare

Love is better on the lake, especially at Lookout Point Lakeside

it for you. The Valentine’s menu will be a special one, giving

Inn in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This boutique hotel has been

diners the chance to watch the White River from the expanse

repeatedly named one of the most romantic hotels in the

of windows.

country. There, you’ll find luxury suites with a view of Lake Hamilton. Manicured gardens make for romantic walks across

There are three nature trails on this 400-acre property, and a

the property, and downtown Hot Springs is just minutes away.

fly-fishing school for those who want to learn or sharpen their

If you’re hungry to spend time alone, you’ll love the room





service, starting with a two-course breakfast. Guests can’t

which includes a spa gift box, a dozen long-stemmed roses,

get enough of the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Greek Frittatas,

chilled French sparkling wine, fine chocolates, a cheese/cracker

and the ever-popular mimosas and Tomatito Bloody Marys.

basket, a couple’s massage, tickets to Garvan Woodland

Hand-crafted cocktails and appetizers like duck meatballs

Gardens, and a $50 in-house credit.

and flatbreads are available in the afternoon. Room service is Consider catching a race or placing a bet at Oaklawn, one of

available from 3pm to 7pm.

the best horse tracks in the country, which recently opened a When eating out, consider choosing one of the nearby

gorgeous hotel and spa on-site. Visit Bathhouse Row and soak in

restaurants: Luna Bella, The Vault, 501 Prime, J&S Italian Villa,

the thermal waters, which is why Hot Springs has its name, and

or a lunchtime favorite, Café 1217. If you really want to make

don’t miss downtown shopping, Superior Bathhouse Brewery,

Valentine’s Day sizzle, consider The Great Romance Package,

and the incredible views from The Waters Hotel rooftop bar.


Now, yearly events like the Bentonville Film Festival bring in

Bentonville, Arkansas

big names from Hollywood and beyond, and mountain biking enthusiasts show up to ride the trails. It’s the perfect mix of nature and art. Step outside 21c, and you’re near twenty miles

Ever dreamed of spending the night in an art museum, the

of walking and biking trails, the impeccable Crystal Bridges,

beauty of the world all around you? Try staying at 21c Museum

and restaurants that offer diverse cuisine. Have drinks and

Hotel Bentonville, where you and your love will be surrounded

dinner at Tusk & Trotter, experience Crepes Paulette, or visit the

by masterpieces. In 2013, 21c opened, with 104 rooms and

eclectic restaurant, The Preacher’s Son, housed in an old church

12,000 square feet of rotating modern art exhibition space

building. Downstairs is the Undercroft Bar, perfect for cocktails.

integrated throughout the hotel and The Hive, its restaurant featuring refined country cuisine by Executive Chef Micah

The Bentonville entertainment venue seems to belong in a

Klasky. On the menu at this writing, are dishes like the dessert

bigger city, but that only makes it better for Arkansans who

cocktail Buffalo River Float, with black walnut bourbon, root

frequent the town. Many of 21c’s guests travel from New York,

beer, buttermilk ice cream, and a cherry brandy drizzle. Dinners

California, and Texas, but there have been visitors from across

include Pan-Seared Sea Bass, House-Made Campenelle, and

the globe. While 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville has garnered

Pan-Roasted Chicken. There are also burgers, chops, and

praise from the likes of Condé Nast, they say their biggest

steaks. On Valentine’s Day, a custom menu with wine pairings

reward comes from the guests themselves.




2024 Health & Fitness Guide It’s time to focus on you. Time to create a healthier lifestyle and improve your overall wellness. Do South® is here to help. In the following pages, you’ll discover some of the best and brightest professionals in our community who are committed


to helping you feel better, look your best, and live longer!



7000 Chad Colley Boulevard, Fort Smith, AR 479.308.2243 Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) is a private not-for-profit institution located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Since

pediatr c therapy 115 Pointer Trail West, Van Buren, AR 3321 South 74th Street, Suite B, Fort Smith, AR 479.471.1290

its inception in 2014, ACHE has been an agent of change Arkansas Pediatric Therapy has been providing physical,

development of five programs including: the Arkansas College

occupational and speech therapy to the River Valley and

of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM), School of Physical Therapy

surrounding area since 2001 by therapists with over twenty

(ACHE PT), School of Occupational Therapy (ACHE OT), Master

years of experience. Our therapists are trained in the latest

of Science in Biomedicine (MSB), and Master of Public Health

approaches and work closely with families and patients to

(MPH). The ACHE Research Institute Health & Wellness Center

provide the best treatments available. Our caring therapists

(RIHWC), a 317,000-square-foot building, opened in March

provide exceptional treatment in a fun, child-friendly

2022 with a variety of classes available. For more information

environment! Free transportation is available to current

about the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education and our

Arkansas Medicaid recipients.

programs, visit


in the state of Arkansas. The ACHE campus has seen the




810 Lexington Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 479.441.5469

Dr. Norma Basinger Smith has been providing Board Certified

Whether you’re starting a new year with a new exercise

Healthcare to the Fort Smith region since 1998. Dr. Smith

routine or just looking for a comfortable environment to

began her vein practice in 2006 and was proud to become

continue your health journey, Marvin Altman Fitness Center

Arkansas’ First Diplomat of the American College of Phlebology

has something for all ages and fitness levels. From our

(now American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine) in

indoor track and swimming pool to our array of quality

2009. She is joined in practice by Elizabeth Maechler, APRN

exercise equipment and free weights, you can enjoy leading

FNP-C, who provides aesthetic services. This hardworking

a healthier lifestyle in comfort. If the fitness floor isn’t your

team is adding a weight loss clinic to the aesthetic practice in

thing, check out a class. We offer everything from cardio

January, providing Semaglutide and Tirzepatide injections! As

dance to yoga! The fitness center also features a range of

a physician-owned and led practice, Arkansas Vein Clinic and

desirable amenities, including locker rooms stocked with

Skin Care is a unique and personal environment where familiar

towels, soap, conditioner, and hair dryers, as well as a sauna

staff greet patients by name and treat them like family.

and a whirlpool. Call today for more information!


8101 McClure Drive, Suite 101, Fort Smith, AR 479.484.7100


1401 South Waldron Road, Fort Smith, AR 479.629.8300 Natural Drip is a locally owned IV Nutrition and Wellness

Ann K. Passmore, M.D., F.A.C.S. 7805 Phoenix Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 479.242.2442

Center that seeks to help patients find wellness and be heard regarding healthcare concerns. Whether you have an illness,

We are all quite unique. The good news is that Passmore

autoimmune disorder, or are simply looking to boost your

Plastic Surgery can customize products and procedures for

energy or immune system, Natural Drip has several services

your body, your skin, and your budget. A Board-Certified

to choose from including, IV Vitamin Hydration & Injections,

cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Ann Passmore has repeatedly been

MAH Ozone, Prolozone & Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections,

voted Best of the Best (Community Choice Award) and

and our Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy. Natural Drip

Best of the River Valley. Her practice now offers EvolveX to

provides you with the best alternative healthcare experience!

tighten, trim and tone problem areas such as the abdomen,

This spring, our services will expand to include a Red-Light

love handles, glutes, and upper arms. She also offers Fraxel

Infrared Sauna, Himalayan Salt Room, Ozone 1-Pass, Massage

dual laser which improves skin tone and texture without

Therapy, Electro Lymphatic Therapy, and a Functional

extended downtime. Ready for a new you? Call for a

Medicine Nurse Practitioner. Call today for more information

consultation today!


or an appointment!




6801 Phoenix Avenue, Suite 5, Fort Smith, AR 479.222.1160 Find them on Facebook

311 Lexington Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 479.782.1444

Unleash your potential at Fort Smith Fit Body Boot Camp!

Learn, Play, Grow Children’s Therapy Services is a pediatric

Join our fitness family and experience a transformative

outpatient clinic, conveniently located in the heart of Fort

journey towards a healthier, stronger you. Our supportive

Smith, at 311 Lexington Avenue. LPG serves the River Valley

environment fosters camaraderie and motivation, making

and Eastern Oklahoma by providing Occupational, Physical,

every workout a celebration. Benefit from personalized

and Speech therapy to clients, ages birth to 21 years. We

training in a group setting, ensuring expert guidance while

host monthly support groups for families of individuals

enjoying the power of community. Accountability is the key to

with Down Syndrome and Spina Bifida. LPG accepts most

success, and we've got your back every step of the way. Our

private insurances, AR Medicaid, and SoonerCare. We are

dedicated coaches provide the encouragement and expertise

very proud of our amazing team of therapists at LPG and

you need to surpass your fitness goals. Embrace a holistic

are seeking to expand our team! We are currently hiring

approach with nutrition guidance and tracking, ensuring

for Speech Language Pathologists and have a variety of

your wellness journey is comprehensive. Elevate your fitness

positions available; Full-Time, Part-Time, and PRN. Call us

experience, become a part of Fort Smith Fit Body Boot Camp

for more information!


today! #FSFitBodyFamily #TransformWithUs




Fort Smith: 479.785.5544 Farmington: 479.267.3335 Holiday Island: 479.253.9933 Peachtree Village Assisted Living Communities provide highquality care in the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas regions. Our communities offer Assisted Living, Independent Living and Respite (Short Term Stay) rooms. Our mission at Peachtree Village Assisted Living, is to provide affordable assisted living services in a dependable, safe environment through the compassion of our caretakers. We offer state-ofthe-art studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Our services include 24-hour staff, medication management, laundry service, housekeeping, three meals a day, snack bar, bathing and dressing assistance, transportation/shuttle, daily activities, game rooms, and senior-focused exercise rooms, all at no additional cost. And most importantly, a compassionate,


caring environment for your loved one!

613 Lexington Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 479.242.9797 Phillips Medical Clinic is your trusted source for quality healthcare! Jacqueline Phillips APRN, is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner holding a certificate of Independent Practice with the Arkansas Board of Nursing. We are committed to your personal care and wellness, providing comprehensive healthcare that prioritizes your well-being. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals specializes in Complete Primary Care, addressing both acute and chronic illnesses, so you can receive the treatment you deserve. Our commitment is to offer same day and next day appointments to our established patients. Trust us for careful analysis, offering insights essential for effective diagnosis and treatment. Visit us at our convenient location or call for an appointment during regular business hours.


Hrair Pierre Simonian, M.D. 9001 Jenny Lind Road, Ste. 2, Fort Smith, AR 479.444.3566

5901 Riley Park Drive, Suite B, Fort Smith, AR 479.763.3050 At Premier Pediatrics, we know that kids don’t get sick or injured only during business hours. It’s why we designed an urgent care clinic open nights and weekends. And because

service you have come to rely on from Dr. Simonian at his new,

children aren’t just little adults, the clinic is staffed with

independent clinic and ambulatory surgery center, River Valley

providers specially trained in caring for pediatric patients –

Gastroenterology, opening January 2, 2024. At River Valley

from tiny newborns to active teens. Urgent care appointments

Gastroenterology we emphasize a patient-first mindset. Dr.

can be booked online to cut down on the amount of time

Simonian and his staff are here to provide high-quality care

patients (and their parents!) spend in the waiting room.

in a friendly and welcoming environment. Our new location

Walk-in patients are also accepted up to one hour before

features the latest technology and equipment to provide the

closing. Premier Pediatrics Urgent Care is open Monday-

most comprehensive gastroenterology services to the River

Friday from 12pm-8pm, Saturday from 9am-6pm and Sunday

Valley and surrounding communities. Visit our website or scan

from 12pm-6pm. Visit to book a

our QR code to learn more about our services. Call to schedule

same-day appointment!

an appointment today!


Experience the same medical excellence and professional




River Valley Primary Care Services, your Healthcare Home!

The fit.four.five app is more than just a fitness app! There

RVPCS is dedicated to fostering meaningful connections

is simply no other health and wellness app where you can

for individuals seeking essential healthcare support. Our

communicate with a professional 24/7 about your workouts,

commitment extends to a range of comprehensive programs,

nutrition, and supplements. I designed the app based on what

including the Prescription Assistance Program and Sliding Fee

I wish I had had when I started my lifestyle journey! With

Scale Program, all designed to ensure that everyone in our

the fit.four.five app, everything is in the palm of your hands,

community receives the care they not only need, but deserve. At

no searching social media, YouTube or lost emails. Want to

RVPCS, we take pride in establishing a Health Care Home that

know more? Find me on social media platforms, online at

upholds the values of dignity and respect. RVPCS offers care, or email me at

in a variety of specialties including Pediatrics, Family, Women's

and let's connect! Make 2024 all about you!

Health, Pulmonology, Behavioral Health, Pharmacy and Dental. Our approach is centered on prioritizing the health and wellbeing of everyone we have the privilege to serve.


8 Convenient Locations to Serve You 479.785.5700


2401 South Waldron Road, Fort Smith, AR 479.452.2020 (call or text)


Experience personalized eyecare at Stiles Eye Group! We

• Low ad-to-content ratio

don’t follow the one-size-fits-all approach. We recognize

• Affordable rates

your eyes are distinct with unique needs and characteristics.

• Free digital edition

Through advanced technologies like digital imaging, Dr.

• Highly desirable audience

Stiles and Dr. Friday can customize treatment plans and

• Exceptional design

prescriptions. They can also address specific issues such as

• Local circulation

refractive errors, diabetic eye issues, dry eyes, and age-related

• Robust website

concerns, ensuring optimal vision and comfort. Our caring approach starts by understanding your lifestyle, habits, and family history, so we can offer preventive measures and early interventions, promoting long-term eye health. Our patientcentered approach not only enhances vision but also fosters a deeper connection with our valued patients, for a more


holistic and valued eyecare experience. Call today!

CALL TODAY! | Catherine Frederick | 479.782.1500

Read Chair Publishing, LLC 4300 Rogers Avenue, Suite 20, PMB 110 Fort Smith, AR 72903

479.452.2140 | 5622 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith

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