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

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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Finding The First Christmas

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the joy of the season, the magic of the season, the decorations, the trees, the family, and the gifts of the season will come to a high point for most families.  There will be food, reunions, music, and presents.  Afterward, children will ride new bikes, play new video games, and text their friends to report on their Christmas loot.  By the time January rolls around, those same children will have forgotten many of the gifts, but they will return to school and complete essays and reports on how Christmas vacation was spent.  Most will start off those reports with, “I got this or that for Christmas,” or perhaps, “We had ham, and cake and grandma came.”   With all that will happen in the next couple of days, it is sometimes easy, even for Christians, to forget that at the center of all the celebrations is a small baby and the worship and praise bestowed upon that baby for his birth into the world. The first Christmas was very different than the ones we celebrate today.  There was no Santa Clause, no gift giving among friends, no cakes, pudding, and family visiting.  There were no bright lights and snowmen.  There was initially only a baby in the manager.  There was wise men, or magi, in the east who had studied the stars and knew that a new king was being born, but they would not arrive until sometime after the birth.  The fact is, on that wonderful night that we now celebrate as Christmas, there were no gifts.   It was a much different kind of Christmas for those who ended up celebrating. 

Mary and Joseph and a few others knew the significance of the birth.  They knew that God was sending his only son into the world.  But the fact remains that few others knew about what was going to happen. 

Imagine being one of the angels in Heaven for just a moment.  You know that God himself is about to enter the world he has created.  You know that after hundreds of years of messages carried, enlightenment given to the inspired words that would predict Jesus’ arrival that at this very moment Jesus was in fact being born.  Those angels must have been bursting with the desire to spread the news.  If angels sit in Heaven, or have a starting point, they must have all been on the edge of their seats or right on the mark waiting for the word to go.  Can you imagine them leaning forward, pushing against the line like runners waiting for the starting gun to go?  In Heaven, the celebration was in full swing. They knew what was happening and they had waited for it, perhaps even rehearsed and prepared, or maybe they just knew what they would do.  Whatever the case, they wanted to praise God, celebrate Jesus, and share with the world their love and devotion to the new king.  Finally, at long last, maybe it was the moment that Jesus first drew his breath, the word was given from above and the angels were told…”Go”. The angels then raced into the world and told the first people they found about Jesus.  They found shepherds in a field.  These shepherds were hard at work, dirty, tired, poor, and working to get by when all at once the worshiping of the angels started.   The angels had arrived, and they were ready to get the party started.  They were not bringing trees or pudding, no Santa in a red suit.  No, these angels were worshiping God, praising his son, announcing the arrival and celebrating.  So powerful was the moment, that the shepherds dropped everything they were doing and rushed to see the new king. 

When the shepherds arrived and saw Jesus, they worshiped
him, they glorified him, and they celebrated him.  Afterwards, those same shepherds went out and
told everyone they knew about the new king. 
They continued to worship him and celebrate him and to spread the world
just as the angels had done. 

Sometime later, between Jesus’ birth and about two years of age, the magi would finally arrive.  At first, they would seek Jesus as a king in Jerusalem, but then eventually they would arrive at Joseph and Mary’s home.  Most likely the home was a poor or modest home and certainly not one where a king would be found, but nonetheless, they would worship.  They would recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior, the King and they would worship him as God.  The story tells us that they also presented gifts before heading home a different route to ensure Jesus’ safety. 

That first Christmas was very different from the one we
celebrate today.   While the politically
correct will attempt to take Christ out of Christmas, the fact is they can
never do it.  Christmas is not about the
wrapped presents under a tree, it’s not about a man in a red suit, it’s not
about candy, and cakes, and pudding, no Christmas is much more.  Christmas is about the one Savior of the
world.  Christmas is about the worship
and celebration of Jesus Christ and his arrival in this world.  The event would affect millions of people,
promote thousands of books, and the news would spread around the world.  It all started with angels wanting to
worship, shepherds coming just as they were to worship, and even the rich
bowing down to worship the king.  
Arguably the entire story took place over a year or two, but it had been
prepared for since the beginning of time. 

So, during your Christmas celebrations on the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, enjoy the day.  Spend time with loved ones, remember Christmas of the past, eat, give gifts and celebrate.  It’s a wonderful time of the year and you should enjoy it.  But maybe, at some point you can take a break from those modern celebrations and step back to the first Christmas for a moment, and in that moment,  you can worship and celebrate the baby in the manager coming into this world as the first gift for our salvation. Continue Reading →

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Potential Cell Phone Scam

Texarkana, USA- Today I received a 1-800 call from a number that stated it is “AT&T Care”.  Upon answering the phone, I was greeted with a statement that indicated that my account had been “suspended pending verification.”  I was then instructed that I could press “1” to verify my account or “2” to speak to a representative. Because I know my account is up-to-date, I decided to press “2” and ask the representative what the problem was today.  I was then instructed by the automated system to input the primary account holder’s last four digits of their Social Security number.  Since I suspected this was a fraudulent call, I put in “0000” to which the automated system then thanked me.  I was then instructed to put in my four digit security code.  I again put in “0000”. After I had put in my codes of “0”, the automated system told me that a representative would be with me shortly.  I waited about three to five seconds and the system then said, “All our representatives are currently assisting other callers.  We will call you back in thirty minutes.”  The phone then went dead. It has now been well over an hour since the call.  I also found that there are no suspensions on my account and I was able to call the rest of the family and warn them to not provide any information. While calls may or may not come from AT&T and other providers, please keep in mind that hackers can easily set up numbers that appear to be legitimate, can easily set up computers to appear as automated company call systems, and that the information they are requesting can be used in a negative way.  Had I provided the four digits of the primary person’s Social Security Number and the security code as requested, any person having that information could have easily gone into any AT&T store or online and purchased phones, cases, speakers, headphones and other cell phone related items.  As far as AT&T would have known, it was someone authorized to make the purchase. Continue Reading →

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It’s a Wonderful Life

Recently I was reminded of what a wonderful gift life truly is to each one of us.  Today is my birthday and I’m another year older; however, last night I thought I might not make it to this year’s celebration.  As I drove home last night, an 18 wheeler decided that he wanted in my lane.  Seeing how he was in an 18 wheeler and I was in a Toyota Camry, I decided it would be best to not fight him for the road.  I allowed the car, or perhaps the car just did it, to go away from the truck after he hit me.  Fortunately, I am fine and in all likelihood, my car will be fine too.  As a side note, those big spokes on semi-trucks can take all the paint off your car doors – in case you were wondering – but again, nobody was hurt, and I survived which was in and of itself wonderful to me. When the driver of the truck came back, apologized and admitted that he simply did not see me beside him, he said, “I felt a small bump and wondered what I hit.”  I responded to him that the “Small bump was me.”  I guess in comparison, I really was an insignificant and small bump on the road.  Naturally, this statement got me to thinking about whether I was a “small bump” on the road of life. As you can imagine, my life flashed before my eyes – you know it does that when an 18 wheeler takes over your lane and sends you off the road, but I have to admit that I was at peace.   With life flashing before my eyes, I was reminded of just how blessed my life has been.  It has been filled with joy, good friends, family, work, and too many hobbies and interests to even start to list.  I have had supportive parents, great kids, and friends that simply cannot be replaced but can only be maintained with a long, positive history.  Life has been good and no matter what the driver said about my car on the road, my life has certainly not been a “Small Bump”. It is interesting in a way that this incident came just after a holiday of thanks and just before the most important holiday in my religion, Christmas.  It is even more interesting that it came on the eve of my birthday – a day each of us sets aside to celebrate our lives. I was able to make calls to family and say, “I’m okay.”  I was able to drive away and even more importantly walk away, from what could have been a very serious accident.  I was able to reflect, thank God, and to realize that as Thanksgiving closed out, my birthday was forthcoming, and Christmas was just around the corner that I have been blessed and have had a wonderful life. Continue Reading →

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Stop For The Bus

With all the safety lights, driver knowledge, and the size of a bus, no child should ever be hit by a car while entering or exiting a bus.  Unfortunately, while everyone seems to know the law, not everyone honors it.  Recently a family was devastated when their three children (9 and twins age 6) were killed while crossing the street to get on a bus.  As a nation read the news in shock, a fourth child continued to fight for her life in a hospital.  While prosecution is certain to follow for the driver, there is no amount of enforcement, jail time, fines or any other things that can be done to bring back those three children.  There will be no middle school, high school, football, basketball, cheer, dance, or even college years or beyond for Mason, Xzavier and their sister Alivia.  They are dead.  They are dead because some driver failed to yield to the flashing lights of a school bus.  People are outraged, but some bus drivers are implementing further protections for the children in their care. The average school bus can weight between 25,000 lbs and 36,000 lbs, and that is a lot of steel moving down the road.  In recent years some bus drivers have been taking what could be considered pointers from police when it comes to child protection and the bus.  Most police officers are trained to use their cars as potential weapons, and most importantly a potential defense if needed.  Many bus drivers have figured out with the recent accidents that they can do more.  With a bus weighing 25,000 lbs, it makes one large and almost immovable object on the road when stopped.  Some bus drivers have started utilizing that large bus as a shield. I first saw this within a few days of the accident that has gained national attention.  Driving down a two-lane road a bus was a few blocks in front of me.  The driver put on his flashers and all traffic began to slow down, but then he did something different.  Rather than stay in the lane coming directly toward me, stopping with his red lights on and stop sign out in that lane, the driver turned his bus slightly and cut into the middle of the road.   I thought he was intending to turn or perhaps he had moved to miss something, but then he stopped and the red lights started flashing.  The driver had angled his bus across the center line and now took up two full lanes with the body of the bus.  If anyone was going to go around the bus, that person either had to go off the road or run into the bus.  For most, hitting 25,000 lbs of steel would not be the best option.  I thought the driver must simply be doing something different until I started seeing several posts on Facebook and other social media about bus drivers doing the same type of action. The picture above was taken from a friend’s video feed on Facebook.  It was shared with the hope that it would be widely shared, discussed, and implemented by other bus drivers.  The entire video shows the bus’ yellow lights coming on, the bus moving to take up the entire road at an angle and then the red lights come on when the bus is stopped.  Children were able to exit the bus and go in any direction while the bus effectively served as a shield to protect them. Hopefully, bus drivers around the nation will see this video and other pictures like it, share the information, and implement this simple procedure.  Maybe if more drivers will do this, we won’t read another story like Mason, Xzavier and their sister Alivia’s in our national headlines.  Maybe next time the headline will read, “Moron Kills Self While Failing to Stop for Bus and Crashes Into 25,000 lbs of Yellow Steel…No Children Injured.” Continue Reading →

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Today, 11-11-18, at 11 a.m. Paris time, the guns went silent.   One hundred years ago today in 1918, the world collectively let out a sigh of relief as the killing officially ended. Europe remembered the end of World War I earlier today.  It was designated that on the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour in that cold morning of 1918, the great war would end as swiftly as it had begun.   We are seven hours behind the hour that marked the end of the war one hundred years ago today.   For Americans living in the four states area, World War I would have ended on November 11, 1918, at 4:00 a.m. in the morning. As the end came, one single gun was designated to fire the last shot.  The 11th Field Artillery Regiment of the United States named their gun Calamity Jane, and she fired her last shot of the war at exactly 11:00 a.m.  The day would become known as Armistice Day and it would be celebrated around the world.  The great war was over.  A war that had introduced trench warfare to the world, the ability to kill almost unseen from the air, a modified machine gun that could rip down rows of men, and chemicals that could cripple, burn, and kill a person through the air had ended.  Up until this point, the world had never known so much destruction, death, and warfare as was introduced during those early years of the last century. In the years that would follow, annual celebrations would be held around the four states area and most of the world.  War memorials would be built to honor those who had fallen.  Parades would celebrate those who survived.  Widows, orphans, and parents would tell stories of their brave soldier who went “Over there” and never came back when it was finished over there. Today, 100 years later, as we face a time period when all those who fought in the war and even those who remember the war have faded, it is fitting and right that we should take a moment to remember them.  There is no better way to honor them than a moment of silence since that is what so many on the front longed to the hear back then…the silence of the guns. Continue Reading →

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Community Marketplace Saturday at Sand Flat Glendale Shannon Center

Texarkana, AR:  Bridging the Gaps of Arkansas, a non-profit serving Texarkana, will host a community marketplace Saturday the 10th at Sand Flat Glendale Shannon Center in Texarkana.  The event will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature local small business vendors offering a variety of products for sale.  The sale is a follow up to the successful Holiday Marketplace held on the first and second of this month. Many handcrafted and items made at the center will be up for sale. Booths have been purchased at $25.00 per vendor with proceeds going to support the non-profit.  The center is located at 209 East 14th Street, Texarkana, Arkansas, and the community is encouraged to attend and view items.  There is no cover charge, but everyone is encouraged to bring your pocket change – you are bound to find an item you can not live without and you’ll be supporting a great local non-profit!   Continue Reading →

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