Clinton S. Thomas, Th.D.

Clinton S. Thomas, Th.D.

A published writer of  poetry, fiction and non-fiction in both the digital age and the pre-digital age of publishing.  Currently serving as editor and writer for the Four States News all while living life across the four states region from Texarkana, USA.

Recent Articles

Vote for Texarkana in America’s Main Streets Competition

Mainstreet Texarkana is encouraging citizens and friends of Texarkana to vote for Texarkana. “America’s Main Street’s” is offering a $25,000 award to the winner. STIHL company is the sponsor of the award and the last day for voting will be June 3. Mainstreet Texarkana is accredited and recognized by both Texarkana, Arkansas and Texarkana, Texas. The unique position of Mainstreet Texarkana allows the organization to serve both cities. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas Municipal Auditorium Prepares for Life Again

It was once the the place where the music blazed out into the night from piano players, guitar pickers, drummers, and vocals arriving by way of Highway 67. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Conway Twitty were just a few of the names to become legends that would perform in the early days of the Texarkana Arkansas Municipal Auditorium. Perhaps the most famous performer of them all was Elvis Presley, the boy who would become the King of Rock and Roll. But, all those greats faded away from the Texarkana spotlight over forty-five years ago. For Texarkana, the Interstate arrived, planes began to carry the performers from city-to-city and Texarkana’s small auditorium simply would not accommodate the growing crowds of fans. Continue Reading →

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Destroying History

From Facebook Post

George Orwell once predicted that “The most effective way to
destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their
history.”   It might be thought that Orwell
could see into the future with his book 1984 and other predictions he seemed to
make.  These predictions did not unfold
though in 1984, they are unfolding now. 
It appears that there are those in society, especially in positions of
authority with the government, set on denying and obliterating our
understanding of history.  These groups
first targeted schools, and then national monuments, but they met more resistance
with national monuments than they did with school.  Once they ran into that blocked doorway of resistance,
they opted for the next best thing…obliterate recent history that few people
will be overly concerned about. 
Obliterate first Confederate history and that will open the doorway for
a firm assault on U.S. History. Dallas has again jumped onboard with a desire to deny
history, and their target this time is a statue in a cemetery – yes, you read
that right, a cemetery where we bury our dead to remember them.   You
may remember that a year or two ago as Confederate Statue Hysteria rose, many
city governments said that the statues belonged in museums or in cemeteries.  Well, Dallas targeted first Lee Park and successfully
removed the statues there despite overwhelming opposition from the public.  With that step done, they are now moving to cemeteries
– “But Wait,” you say!  They said these
statues should be in the cemeteries, right? 
Well, you were told they would not put the statues in museums – remember
those in New Orleans?  They are still sitting
in a city yard.  The statues from Lee
Park?  Still in storage.  Now, they are targeting Pioneer Cemetery and
the Confederate Statue that will cost the people of Dallas over $400,000 to
remove.  You know there must be a need
for immediate and fast removal!  After
all this statue has stood on the same location since 1896 or 122 years.  Further, consider what was originally said
about these statues – they are in public view and should be in museums or cemeteries
to remain out of the general public view. 
At that time, many people warned that these governments would not stop
with the public view, but that they would also focus on cemeteries and deny the
statues a place in museums.  The same
people who warned of the cemetery assault also told us that attacks on the
founding fathers would be next. Now, you may not believe that these groups will target the
founding fathers, but consider this – the last Confederate veteran died in the
1950s.  Prior to that, the only honor
that he had for fighting in a war came from his friends, family, the Union
army, and the communities.  Since there
was no country, and they did not have veteran status at the time, the statues
were erected around the country to honor them. 
They were erected, as almost all documentation indicates, to promote
healing, unity, and to honor the people who lived through the Civil War on the
Confederacy side.  In the late 1950s,
Congress made all Confederate Veterans, American Veterans.  This now means that the government will place
cemetery markers for those veterans, and that they are just as honored as
veterans of the United States.   With the
consideration that the Confederate Veterans are American Veterans, then it is conceivable
to view statues in their honor no different than those honoring Vietnam, Korean,
World War I or World War II veterans and so on. 
However, over 100 years later none of the original daughters or sons of
those Confederate Veterans are alive. 
There are small groups of decedents around the United States who honor,
assemble, and remember as well as study the history.  But the core group who supported and erected these
statues are long gone.  Since they were
not “National” statues, they are generally not afforded the protections of a National
Park or a National Monument after the late 1950s.  The fact that they have a small direct defense
base with no federal backing makes them the easy target.   The
goal is simple -remove the Confederate statues from public places, including cemeteries,
lie about it if you have to – remember they wanted some of the statues moved to
cemeteries, but they have not, and they have not put them in museums either-  get them out of sight and then set the goal on
others such as founding fathers.  The
target will shift to national statues once these groups have forced the nation
to accept the removal of the Confederate statues.  Once people are complacent and have accepted
that the city government can and will simply remove statues at their own
desire, then when it comes time to target Washington, Jefferson, and others, it
will be easy.  We will have grown to
expect monuments and statues of and about our history to be taken down. 

Ultimately it does not matter whether you like the
Confederate Statues or not.  It really
doesn’t matter what your understanding of Confederate history is as far as that
goes as well.  The fact is, the
Confederate Statues are a part of our national history.  They were put up in the south, north, east
and west to honor and help healing.  No
matter what anyone tells you or dreams up about them being put up to harass or
cause fear in people, the actual history from the period does not support this –
Even if you believe the history does support that these statues were put up to
scare people, then you have to explain exactly who was being scared by a
Confederate Statue in Pioneer Cemetery? 
Did the Daughters of the Confederacy have some great master plan that
would scare away people by posting these statues in graveyards?  Was their target the ghost of other people?   It
simply not likely.  The fact is, the
period of time when these statues were put up is collectively known as the “Cult
of the Confederacy”.   It is a period of
healing, honor and remembrance.  In many
cases, it gave the only grave markers known for some soldiers who died in the
war.   It was a way to promote unity in the United
States and Presidents, Congressional members, and others all supported and even
attended the dedications for many of these monuments and statues. Continue Reading →

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Black History Month and Texarkana

Warning – the essay below contains situations and history that may not be appropriate for all readers. As we come to a close in February, most of the Black History
Month events in Texarkana will be winding down. 
Celebrations of great African-American contributions to our nation,
state, county and to the city of Texarkana will come to a close.  Many people will have learned about names
like Scott Joplin, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Little Rock Nine, William
Still, and others.  The list of African-Americans
making an impact is long, but there is also some names you will not hear
mentioned.  Maybe you will not hear them
mentioned but they are names like John Carter, Edward Coy, and Bud Hayden.  These names may be left out of Black History
Month Celebrations, at least publicly, because as politically correct goes,
their names can and often do make people feel uncomfortable.  See, the names John Carter, Edward Coy, and
Bud Hayden are three of the famous African American names from Arkansas because
they are three of the most famous cases of lynching in the state.  In fact, two of them, Edward Coy and Bud
Hayden, were lynched right here in Texarkana, Arkansas. 

The two men were lynched in Texarkana, Arkansas a little
over six years apart.  Edward Coy was
lynched in February 1892, in a moment of history that shocked people across the
nation and headlined newspapers from Little Rock to New York.  Perhaps even more shocking is that Mr. Coy’s
lynching was elevated to being burned alive at a stake.    Mr. Coy was accused of assaulting a white
woman in town.  Once Coy was captured, a
mob decided he was guilty, tied him to a tree, cut his skin, poured coal oil on
him and then had his alleged victim light him on fire.  Mr. Coy’s lynching, with no trial, no judge,
no jury, is perhaps one of the most brutal lynching’s in this despicable part
of our history.  By any standards, today’s
or those of 1892, Mr. Coy was outright murdered.  Roughly 1,000 people stood by and watched.  It was rumored that Mr. Coy and his alleged
victim had been seeing each other.  It
was further reported that before the woman set him on fire, Mr. Coy pleaded with
her asking how she could burn him when they had been “sweethearting.”   Mr. Coy died near Iron Mountain Roadhouse by
some accounts.  Other accounts place the murder
on Broad Street in Texarkana, Arkansas. 

In June of 1898, downtown Texarkana, Arkansas again became
the site of a lynching.  This time Bud
Hayden was accused of assaulting a twelve year old girl.  The girl identified Mr. Hayden as the man who
assaulted her, and this would result in his death.  There was no trial, no jury, no judge again
in this case.  Articles from the time
period do point out that Mr. Hayden did have the benefit of several citizens
speaking about the event.  Naturally,
their speeches were made while Mr. Hayden had a rope around his neck and was
being prepared to hang, and most were made in favor of lynching Mr. Hayden.   Statements from the time said they “adjusted
the rope so it would not choke him and ran to a tree near Iron Mountain
Railroad crossing.”  Once again, the
incident is nothing short of murder.  Mr.
Hayden was hung and shot several times.   

It should be noted that both of these lynching’s occurred with
what newspaper articles of the time called “Over 1,000 people” in attendance.  Since the 1890 census placed the population
of Texarkana at 3,528 and the 1900 census placed the population at 4,914, it
would be safe to guess that the likely population at the time of the their deaths
was around 4,000.  If over 1,000 people
attended the lynching’s, then this meant that roughly a quarter of the
population stood by, contributed or condoned, and watched as two men were
murdered without a judge, jury, or trial. 
Even the laws on the books at the time would not have supported hanging
or a death sentence for assault of an adult or a child, but yet the people of
the Texarkana area stood by and watched. 

The lynching of Edward Coy and Bud Hayden is a shameful,
horrible, and pathetic moment in the history of Texarkana, Arkansas.  Maybe that shame and horror is the reason few
people hear the names today of Edward Coy and Bud Hayden.  Maybe it’s easier for us as the current
residents of Texarkana, Arkansas to look the other way and praise the African American
contributions to society by the greats like Scott Joplin and Dr. King.  Maybe, praising men and women for their great
contributions makes us feel a little better, eases our minds and allows us to
forget men like Edward Coy and Bud Hayden. 

I have traveled up and down Broad street.  I have looked around the railroad areas and I
have found no mention, no plaque, no sign, no statue…nothing at all to indicate
that Edward Coy and Bud Hayden were lynched in those areas.  I have to stop and wonder what if Mr. Coy or
Mr. Hayden had been the next Scott Joplin, or the next Dr. King, or the next
William Still?  What if they were
destined to make an impact, make a difference, or become “somebody”?  Well, we will never know that answer, and the
reason we will not know the answer is because they were lynched right here in
Texarkana, Arkansas.  Yes, maybe a
plaque, or a statue or a memorial of some sort would be uncomfortable for our
community, but you know what?  I bet that
Mr. Coy and Mr. Hayden were far more uncomfortable and terrified as they faced
the last few minutes of their lives in the hands of an angry mob that operated
freely outside the law.  A statue, plaque
or memorial would certainly be uncomfortable for our little town, but maybe we
need to be reminded not only of the great African Americans, but also of the African
Americans who were so horribly wronged during this period of our history here
in Texarkana. Continue Reading →

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Gowns For HER Plans Two Giveaway Events

“Changing lives one gown at a time!” “Formal Attire Required” is the words that hundreds of young ladies and gentlemen will hear as prom season rolls around and other “formal” events get into full swing.  It’s that time of year again when parents open up pocket books and sigh at the cost of dresses.  For gentlemen, they can often get away at a formal attire event with anything from a Tuxedo to a dark jacket and pants.  The cost is usually a rental or the cost of a jacket from a local shop, but for the young ladies the cost can be much greater. 

Formal Attire for a young lady almost always means a dress, and not just any dress, it must be a formal gown.  These dresses can range anywhere in cost from a few hundred dollars, up into the thousands.   When our family recently purchased one, we found the average cost range hit about $350 to $700 for something nice.  While most will charge, or purchase, and move on, the fact is some people simply cannot afford to push out big bucks on a dress that will be worn once, maybe twice by a young lady.  The cost is too high and that means that some young ladies simply will not be able to attend the formal attire dance or event of a lifetime.  Being unable to attend due to financial cost can, and often does, impact self-worth and self-esteem.  A young lady may feel that she simply does not measure up to her friends as they purchase the new dresses.  She can feel lost in the shuffle and left behind as friends get their dresses, make-up and shoes ready for the big event.  The cost of a dress should never hinder a person’s once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved in prom and other formal events, and this is when Gowns for HER comes into the scene. 

Gowns for Her operates with one mission in mind – “To promote self-worth by providing formal gowns to young girls who desire to attend formal activities regardless of financial circumstances.”  The group gathers gowns, shoes, and accessories through donations and provides them to young girls at no cost.   According to Apolonia Pacheco, MSW, the founder of Gowns for HER, the group has a goal to “give away gowns to as many girls in need in the Ark-La-Tex and surrounding areas as possible.” The group also continues to collect gowns throughout the year along with other donations such as shoes, accessories, and even new make-up is accepted. 

A Giveaway even requires no ticket or fee.  The group provides the services at absolutely
“NO COST”.  This year there will be two
giveaways.  The first will be March 8 and
the second will be March 9 as follows:

March 8, 2019 – 5p.m. to 8p.m. at the Couture Closet, 4038
Summerhill Square, Texarkana, TX, 75503

March 9, 2019 – 12p.m. to 4p.m. at Lakeridge Apartments
Clubhouse, 3708 S. Lake Drive, Texarkana, TX 75501

People interested in the event, or interested in donating,
can contact Apolonia Pacheco at 813-385-6273 or by email at Gownsforher@gmail.com

Self-worth and self-esteem is most often started at a young age – if you are someone in need of a formal gown, or you child needs one to attend a formal event and you simply cannot afford it, reach out and attend one of the Gowns For Her events.  Sometimes these formal events only occur once, but the memories will be there for a lifetime. The group also has a Facebook Page at Gowns for Her. Continue Reading →

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Miller County Tax Assessor Offers Online Assessments

Nancy Herron, Miller County Tax Assessor

If you have ever needed to look a property record up for
Miller County, Arkansas, then you may have used the online service known at “ActDataScout”.  The service offers access to several counties
and the opportunity to search property records, and see mapping for properties.  What you may not know is that the service has
expanded to cover assessments. Nancy Herron took over as the new Tax Assessor for Miller
County in January.  Nancy and her team
wasted no time rolling out the online assessment coverage for Miller
County.  Now if you have an existing
assessment with the county, you can go online and easily add new vehicles.  Not only can you access the site from your
computer at ActDataScout.com, but you can also find an app for those wishing to
use their cell phones or tablets. 

Assessments are required for new vehicles, boats, motorcycles, RVs, etc.  You have to have completed an assessment with the county assessor before you can register for tags.  In the past this has meant a trip to the Assessor’s office or a call to talk with someone about your assessment needs.  Now with the online service, you can complete your assessments without going to the courthouse. 

Nancy is encouraging everyone to spread the news and use the
app or the online service as needed. 
However, if you are still more comfortable talking with someone on the
phone or coming by the office, then please do so.  Nancy and her crew will be glad to help you
complete your assessment needs. 

ActDataScout.com is operated by DataScout, LLC. 
Continue Reading →

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Keathley’s, An Old Idea Ahead of Its Time

Post from Keathley’s General Store’s Facebook Page

Keathley’s General Store was an old idea ahead of its time.   With all the excitement about downtown apartments, the Grim project, and a growing set of restaurants and small retail stores, Keathley’s was an old idea returning to the downtown area as a fresh new face. 

It’s hard for many of us to remember a time when people in
Texarkana walked, rode the trolley, and inched their way into a crowded downtown
Texarkana to purchase needed items.  In a
time before large chain grocery stores, big retailers, and shopping centers on
the edge of town, downtown was the place to go. 
You bought supplies you needed such as flower, eggs, meat, and other
grocery items downtown.  You also bought
things like books, toys, and housewares downtown.  To the point, downtown was the place to be
and go.  It was not unusual to find a “general
store” to meet these general needs. 
Items were purchased, friendships were made, and people eased back to
home happy with their hometowns.  Those
days faded with the arrival of the supermarkets and the outward growth of
Texarkana.  As people moved away from
downtown, the general store closed up and went away. 

With the revitalization of downtown Keathley did his
research, found that downtown was going to be booming again, and decided to
jump ahead of the competition.  The family
opened a general store.  Keathley’s
General Store, to be specific, opened in late September 2018.  The fanfare from newspapers, to social media
was big.  People praised the idea,
including me, and people were excited and talked about the new store.  People all over town made comments about how
proud they were to see a downtown store coming back.  Texarkana was going to have a general store
again – not a knock off big chain – but a real general store owned and operated
by a local family.  We were all excited,
but then we did what we always do…we failed downtown and more specifically we
failed Keathley’s General Store. 

Less than five months into the return of the general store
to downtown, Facebook broke the news on the store’s page.  They were going out of business.  Like all going out of business sales it
started with 10-20% off, followed by more and eventually today 95% off was
hanging from the sign outside the store. 

When I first heard about the store, I was excited just like
many others in Texarkana.  I love the
downtown Texarkana atmosphere,  and so
like many others I decided I would start visiting the new downtown store.  With all the new apartments, I knew they
would thrive.  Apparently, several of us
in the community felt the store would thrive because if you are like me, your
good intentions of supporting the downtown store never came to pass.  It seems that just about the time I decided to
go to  the little store, the notice came
out they were closing.  But I have to
admit…I did not go in September, October,  November, or December.  I finally went today and found the store in a
state of what would be the last few hours. When you put your stuff up for 95% off, it doesn’t take the
public long to come clean your shelves.  I
arrived today to find a few books, some toys, and a lot of empty freezers and
shelves.  The Keathley’s were warm and
welcoming and surprisingly to me, they blamed nobody for the store’s
failure.  In fact, they admitted that
they may have simply been too early for the downtown area to support the store.  I on the other hand was certainly quick to
blame myself, and others who called the store a great idea and talked it up
without ever setting foot into it during a regular day of operation. 

With the growth planned for downtown Texarkana, assuming
regulations and requirements do not kill it off, there will be a booming population
in the area someday.  People will go for
walks downtown, they will enjoy parks, the library, the street lights, and the
local dinners.  Maybe when that growth
finally expands, a general store can survive in Texarkana.  Unfortunately, until that day comes, any
general store in Texarkana will be dependent on those of us who do not live
directly in the downtown area.  All our talk
and good intentions simply will not pay the bills to support a general store or
any business in the downtown area.  No,
Keathley’s General Store was a great old idea that simply came too soon.  It came at a time when we as a community were
not willing to put our money behind our talk and good intentions.  Maybe we will learn from this lost treasure
of Texarkana and make sure the next downtown business has our talk, good
intentions, and most importantly our financial support as customers.  
Continue Reading →

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Flag Retirement Ceremony in Fouke Saturday

US Flag half-mast at sunset

If you display the U.S. Flag or a State Flag, then you know that with time it wears out.  The wind will eventually cause damage, the sun will fade the flag, and sometimes just time itself will cause the flag to come into a status where it no longer should be used.  When this happens, many people have heard that the retirement of a flag has established rules.  In many cases, the flag is put on a shelf and replaced with a new flag instead of having a retirement for the flag.  While everyone may not know the established rules to retire a flag, on Saturday, January 5 a Flag Retirement Ceremony will be held in Fouke, Arkansas at the Fouke Veterans Memorial Park.  The event will start at 2 p.m. and will allow anyone from the community to bring worn, faded or damaged U.S. Flags for a free, and proper retirement.  While the focus of the event is the national flag, the organizers say that state flags will also be retired properly at the event, and they are offering this service.   

Ronnie Dancer, Sr., a local Fouke resident and veteran, said
that he and a group of veterans from the area wanted to do something to allow
people to retire flags appropriately.  He
said that Home Depot and Walmart had already given flags to be retired to the
group and that the community is encouraged to bring flags which need to be
retired.   The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Wake
Village provided three flags for retirement. 
Ronnie also stated that active military in the area, and veterans in the
area are encouraged to attend and participate in the event. 

The event is being hosted by the Major John B. Burton S.C.V.
Camp #1664 of Texarkana, Arkansas.   The group and veterans in the area hope to
make the event an annual one to allow community members to retire their state
and national flags appropriately and according to the established standards in
one place yearly.   Ronnie Dancer stressed
that all flags will be treated with respect, dignity and retired according to
appropriate and established rules and regulations.    
Continue Reading →

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January First Marks Historic Day in Miller County, Arkansas

Cathy Hardin-Harrison

Tuesday morning will bring in January first of a New Year and it will also mark a historic event in Miller County, Arkansas.  There has been a lot of talk about the new County Judge, Cathy Hardin-Harrison.  She will be the first female County Judge in Miller County, but there is much more going on for the county history.  The county will have a first-ever female County Judge and it will see a Courthouse with all major positions held by women for the first time in history.  The Tax Collector, Assessor, Treasurer, County Clerk, and Circuit Clerk will all have positions filled by women.  On a county level, only the Sheriff and the Coroner offices will be held by men.  As far as the day-to-day operations at the Miller County Courthouse go, women will be running each office held. 

The swearing in ceremony will be held at the Miller County Courthouse, on the second floor at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.  While the Courthouse and offices are closed for the holiday, elected officials are expected to be sworn in during the first day of the new year.  Some judges have chosen to be sworn in earlier so they can conduct the ceremony for the County Judge and other major officials for the county.  It is currently unclear if the Sheriff will be sworn in at the Courthouse or not, but major courthouse held offices will start the process at 10:00 a.m.  With the historic event, those wishing to attend should arrive early. An interesting side note to the fact that the county will have the first female county judge is the fact that all major offices in the county will be held by Republican representatives.  Until January 1, the office of Assessor has been held by an appointed person since the retirement of Democrat Mary Stuart.    As of January 1, Miller County will also be served by nine Republican Justices of the Peace (JP), one Democrat JP and one Independent JP.  It is the first time so many Republicans have held major offices in the county since Reconstruction. 

For those unable to attend the ceremony Tuesday, you may also catch it live-streamed on the Facebook Page “The ‘Whose Who’ of Our Miller County”. The page is maintained as a community service by Ronnie Dancer, Sr. of Fouke, Arkansas. The last election cycle, candidates and outcomes, may be viewed online at Election Cycle 2018. Continue Reading →

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Santa is coming tonight!

Santa visiting Jesus

Boys and girls it will not be long now until Santa starts his magic trip around the world again.  While you may have heard that the government is shut down recently, you don’t have to worry.  NORAD will be tracking him again and there will be all sorts of Santa watch shows, as the reindeer guide him through the dark night. In fact, Santa has already started his trip around the world right now! You can follow Santa’s journey here: NORAD

Tonight will be the night you go to bed early and wake up early tomorrow.  The day of fun and filled with activities where you see all the new presents, toys and things that Santa left on his special visit. I must admit kids…I am a little jealous.  You see I am all grown up
now, so Santa does not visit me anymore.  Oh, do not worry too much – he
visited me for years!  But, there was one year I almost messed it all
up.  There was one year I did not listen to mom and dad and go to bed –
Nope, instead, I decided to catch Santa. It was late in the night.  Instead of going right to sleep – like I
know you will do – I stayed awake to catch Santa.  At one point, I heard a
lot of moving around in the family living room.  So, I decided my time to
catch Santa had finally come. Continue Reading →

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