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

Texarkana’s Dorothea Towles Church

 

In the 1950s the barriers set up against African-Americans managed to exclude them from almost everything unless they fought ten times harder than anyone else to get it.  African-Americans were still segregated during these times and one of the many areas of segregation included the fashion industry worldwide.  While superstars rose as models in New York, Paris, and California and often managed to capture leading roles in movies, the African-American women were left out of this elite circle that often led to fame and fortune.  One African-American woman walked boldly up to the barriers set up by society, stretched out her long, elegant legs, and leaped over them in one historic move. Mrs. Dorothea Towles Church was one of seven children born to Mr. Thomas Towles and Anabella in Texarkana, Texas.  She was born July 26, 1922.  Among her siblings, Dorothea’s sister Lois would also work to break down barriers for fashion models, but she became known as a concert pianist and music professor.  It would be from those early 1920s in  Texarkana that Dorothea would leave to conquer the world of fashion and defy the prejudice barriers often found in the United States at that time. Continue Reading →

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Miller County Delinquent Business Tax List Hits Social Media

Miller County, AR – Some are calling it “Public Shaming,” but for the Miller County Tax Collector, she is calling it “Public Accountability.”  What is that “Public Accountability”?  It’s a list of  over $200,000 of taxes owed to the county that is hitting social media today.  Several media outlets have already published the list.  Most of the responses from the public have been supportive so far; however, there have been a few that prefer to call it all “Public Shaming” and feel that it should not have been done. Continue Reading →

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Texarkana’s National Humane Alliance Fountain

Texarkana, AR- Herman Lee Ensign of New York died in 1899, and with his passing another wealthy philanthropist from that time passed away into history.  In addition to building his wealth off of advertising, Mr. Ensign was also an early anti-cruelty to animals’ advocate.  After his death, his stories were published in a book, Lady Lee and Other Animal Stories.  It would be published in 1901 to a modest review.  The book, like the man’s name and advertising company would virtually melt into history.  The book, in first edition format, can still be purchased today through antique dealers and online through EBay for a modest $25-$30 which as any collector can tell you does not raise the book to any great elevation in the world of book collectors.  It is simply another book and is now even available online through many free eBook programs.  But it is not Mr. Ensign’s business, or his book that has had the most enduring impact on American history and on Texarkana in particular as it is his love of Animals.  In the end, Mr. Ensign’s love for animals would reach out to well over one hundred cities after his death, and Texarkana was one of those fortunate cities. When Mr. Ensign died in 1899, it was two years after he had founded the National Humane Alliance.  That foundation received a great portion of Ensign’s money with very specific directions.  Ensign indicated in his donation that the money must be used to build animal drinking fountains for any city, anywhere, that wanted one.  The requirements were simple for a city.  The city had to request the fountain, provide an appropriate spot for it, maintain it, and ensure a constant water supply was provided.  The city could not charge for the use of the fountain, and it had to be free for horses, cats, dogs and any other animal that might require a drink while passing through the city which received the fountain. After Mr. Ensign’s death, the National Humane Alliance began making the fountains available.  Somewhere between 1904 and 1912 over one hundred cities across the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico took advantage of the free offer.  The fountains were built in Vinalhaven, Maine by the Bodwell Granite Company. Mr. Ensign could not have foreseen the impact that the auto industry was going to have on Americans and the way they would travel.  Most of the major cities that applied for fountains suddenly found themselves with a huge, water producing, potential hazards for new drivers.  Some of the cities put the fountains away in storage, others moved them to parks, and still others have been lost to the bureaucratic red tape of government and its ability to ever relocate, store, or even give away, and forget about what they have acquired through the years. Despite the fact that over one hundred were initially issued, there are still about 70 fountains in operation to this day.  There are multiple websites that show the fountains, all similar in design, and even give the coordinates for visitors to go see the fountains.  Texarkana, Arkansas currently maintains its own fountain. Continue Reading →

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Equality Texarkana Prepares for First Major Fundraiser

Texarkana, USA-Equality Texarkana, a non-profit organization in Texarkana that works to help the LGBT community and other under-served and discriminated communities in the area, is planning their first major fundraiser.  The group has already held a public picnic, and a march with success and support from many in the community.  They are preparing their updated website, and have already received donations and one grant from an organization outside of  Texarkana.   Equality Texarkana goes beyond the borders of just the LGBT community and is open to anyone interested in equality for all people to join.  The organization reaches out to any member of the community interested in supporting, helping, and joining the cause to ensure equality for all people in Texarkana regardless of race, sexual orientation or religion.  The organization already has supporters and members from church organizations, civic organizations and private individuals in the community. The organization recently held a dinner at Pecan Point in Texarkana where over 70 members of the community attended.  Pecan Point was given high praise by Equality Texarkana for going above and beyond to ensure the groups needs were met for the event.  The group continues to work toward support groups for LGBT teens and adults and will have a parent support group meeting later this month. The next big event planned by the organization will be a major fundraiser on October 14.  The event is a costume party with food and drinks and is considered an adult event due to drinks being served.  The group plans to have rides available for any having a little too much to drink.  Tickets are available in advance for $40 and will be $50 at the door.  Members of Equality Texarkana have noted that the tickets are selling, so if you are interested check the organizations Facebook page for further details.  The event promises to have lots of food, fellowship and fun for the evening. Facebook

Equality Texarkana Website Continue Reading →

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Senator Jimmy Hickey, Getting The Job Done

Laws and requirements are always changing no matter what state you live in, but when a law changes, you expect a certain level of cooperation from the government that changed the law.  Unfortunately, that cooperation does not always come as easily as you might think and sometimes you just have to have an act of Congress to get anything done….or in my case an act of a State Senator. When I went to get my updated driver’s license, I had been warned in advance that a new law required me to have my birth certificate with me for my CDL renewal.  Like a good driver, I carried my old CDL, my birth certificate, and my checkbook down to the revenue office.  After taking a number and waiting my turn, I finally got to the counter and to a new surprise.  I told the lady that I had a CDL and that I understood I had to have my birth certificate to get it renewed.  She agreed, looked at my birth certificate and then told me that it would not work. The problem was I did not have a certified birth certificate.  I had the only copy I have ever had in my life.  I had used it for school, college, proof for my first driver’s license and everything which has ever required a birth certificate.  Nonetheless it wasn’t good enough now.  It had to be a certified copy from the state. Continue Reading →

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July 4, Fireworks, Shows, Parades, and God

It started with a suggestion in June, followed by a meeting on July 2, and finally a formal signing on July 4, 1776.  From that moment on, the cry would go up around the world that the colonies of the North American Continent, all thirteen of them, had declared independence from Great Britain.  Like any country, Britain would not take kindly to losing the colonies.  In fact, no country in the history of the world has ever simply said, “Sure, go ahead and leave us and take all the investments we made into your area with you.”  No, instead the greatest empire in the world set out to reclaim the colonies and force them back into the British realm.  The rest of the story, you know as the United States won independence in the war that followed.  To this day, we still hear our friends across the pond in England wish us a “Happy Traitor’s Day.”  Naturally, this is done more in good humor now that we are friends so many years after the revolution. The founding fathers were by no means blind to the fact that they were setting in motion something that would be celebrated for years, and perhaps forever.  John Adams wrote to his wife of the importance of the entire event that officially started on July 2 and ended on July 4.  He sent his letter on July 3, 1776 that included the following statement:

“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” Continue Reading →

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Thrifty Bird Brings Walmart Markdowns To Email

A few months ago a friend of mine shared a new business he has running with me called Thrifty Bird (Thriftybird.com).   He signed me up with my permission and I started to receive daily emails at roughly 3 a.m. each morning.  By the time I would stumble out of bed, I could pull my Thrifty Bird email and see all the latest mark downs at my local Walmart stores. Now I’m sure that a lot of folks are thinking, “Big deal, I can see the sales paper or go see the mark downs myself.”  Yes, that’s one way of doing business, but then you miss the bigger picture.  Thrifty Bird does something that sale papers cannot do.  It captures daily mark downs.  Did you know that Walmart marks prices down daily on many items?  With such a large inventory, they have clearance items, stock reduction items, and even outdated items – think digital copies free with a purchased DVD or Blu-ray that have expired.  These items do not always make the local sales paper because the item or items may be exclusive to one or a few stores.  Let’s say that all the Walmart stores nationwide sell out of a “Top Notch” television sets – don’t worry, there is no such thing to my knowledge as “Top Notch” – but the store in Texarkana, Texas still has three units on the shelf.  The main Walmart sales paper- which goes nationwide – is not going to advertise that those “Top Notch” televisions are about to be marked down.  You cannot have people in Dallas running to a store, searching for a “Top Notch” and then not finding one!  So, “Top Notch” never makes the main sale paper.  If you happen to go into Walmart in Texarkana, Texas, then you find “Top Notch” televisions have been marked down from $300 to $75 and they only have three of them left.  Because you happened to go into the store, you lucked out and got a “Top Notch” television for a great price.  But, what if you don’t go to the store that day?  You miss out and there’s no “Top Notch” television in your future.  Enter Thrifty Bird! Thrifty Bird will send you an email with your selected store – in this case Texarkana, Texas – and you’ll see a post that says something like this:  “Top Notch” Television set, 3 in stock, Reg. price $300, marked down $75 in electronics row 33”.  Now you know how many sets are there, what the mark down price is, and where to find the television once you get to the store.  You’ve received your email early in the day – remember, they just marked it down around midnight – and you can quickly run to the Texarkana, Texas Walmart and buy your set.  Thrifty Bird brings you the clearance or reduced prices before anyone else gets them…. well, before anyone other than other Thrifty Bird uses. Continue Reading →

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Miller County Receives “Turnback” Check From Arkansas

Miller County, AR- When land and/or homes in a county go tax delinquent it cuts into funds needed for the county to operate efficiently.  Money that would normally go for schools, county pay raises, road improvements, sheriff patrols and many other areas needed stops when a land or home owner does not to pay the taxes.  There can be any number of reasons that an owner may not pay, but regardless of the reason, it affects everyone in the county.  When an owner does not pay the taxes, they become delinquent and eventually the County Tax Collector must certify the property and send it to the State Land Commissioner.  Once there additional attempts are made to collect the taxes, fines and other penalties.  If the State Land Commissioner can not collect, the property goes to auction.  The auction recovers the taxes, fines and fees from bidders.  If the property has multiple bidders, an overage is created.  After four years on the books, that overage, called “Turnback” and is sent back to the county. Today State Land Commissioner John Thurston came to Texarkana and presented the check for the Miller County Turnback.   Today’s check brought a Turnback, or overage, of $338,839.  This means that not only did the county receive the delinquent tax funds, but it also received the money from the auction in the form of the Turnback. While the state conducted the sales, the bottom line is Miller County would never have seen this Turnback without the work of Cathy Hardin-Harrison, the County Tax Collector, and her staff at the county.    Cathy’s office maintains the records, reviews the tax rolls, and certifies the delinquent taxes before turning them over to the state.  Without this operation, not only would Miller County be missing delinquent taxes, but the county would never have seen a Turnback check.  Today a few pictures were posted on Facebook about the check and the Turnback, but the citizens of Miller County deserve to know that those funds came to the county only through the hard work of the Tax Collector’s staff and Cathy Hardin-Harrison. Continue Reading →

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Emergency Responders Working Together in Miller County

Miller County, AR-On June 15, 2017, the four states region received news from the Miller County Sheriff’s office that the body of Ryan Shane Johnson of Fouke, Arkansas had been recovered from the Sulfur River at the Smith Park Landing.  While the news was devastating to family, friends, and the community, there was a positive side regarding the efforts that were made to find Mr. Johnson.   The search for Mr. Johnson was not an exclusive Miller County Sheriff’s Office operation.  The fact is, much like any disaster or search to take place in the area, the entire region came together. For the search for Mr. Johnson, there was no concerns about state boundaries, districts, county lines, city or county officials.  There was only a concern to search and find Mr. Johnson.  That concern transcended boundaries not because of pay, or legal standings, but because Mr. Johnson needed people to care and search for him, and they did just that.  People came from the city, from Texas, from other areas of Arkansas and all around to help.  In the words of the Press Release from the Miller County Sheriff’s Office “Each of these entities devoted many hours assisting in the recovery.”

Too often we limit ourselves to our own cities, towns, states, or counties.  People sometimes think in terms of “Well that’s a county problem” or “That’s a Texas side problem” or “That’s an Arkansas side problem,” but we forget that the people acting as responders do not think that way.  Their thought patterns are different and instead they think, “Someone needs help.”  These people, regardless of boundaries or their assigned areas, are the ones you see running toward a disaster, or a need when others are running away.  When the call goes out for help, they are the ones who come. When the call went out for help to find Mr. Johnson, true to their oaths, their dedication, and their training, they came.  Below is a list of those who crossed the lines and boundaries because someone needed them.  They are owed a huge amount of gratitude from everyone in the area and especially from Miller County, Arkansas:

Corp of Engineers

Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Salvation Army

Red Cross

Bowie County Sheriff’s Office

Genoa Volunteer Fire Department

Boggy Creek Volunteer Fire Department

Mandeville Volunteer Fire Department

Doddridge Volunteer Fire Department

Bowie County Dive Team

Miller County Office of Emergency Management

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department

Bright Star Volunteer Fire Department

Many volunteers from several communities

 

We should all be thankful to know that living in this region affords us access to some of the finest emergency response people in all the country.  The groups above dedicated many hours and for that the entire community should show gratitude and thanks.   Continue Reading →

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Four States News Expands Social Media Reach

The Four States News (FSN) is proud to announce we have added additional Facebook Groups online. The FSN is a “Community Journalism site.”  We focus on events in communities such as church happenings, school events, and other issues often not covered by mainstream media.  We are not looking to cover the latest wreck or the latest Congressional issues.  Instead of a broad focus, we might focus on a Congressional leader who visits the four states area, or we might focus on the impact someone had on others who happened to pass away from injuries of a wreck.  We want stories based on what’s important to you and your community.  Anyone can write that a great citizen passed away at a certain age and left behind a list of relatives, but we want to know and share how that great citizen changed his family, his or her friends, and touched the lives of those she may have known.  Community Journalism is driven by two factors – contributors or people taking time to write something and submit it, and the community’s desire to know more, understand what’s happening on a deeper or more “hometown” level. We also recognize that we can not possibly cover all the stories.  In our area we have several outstanding, online publications.  You may have seen Texarkana Today or Jeff Easterling’s outstanding Texarkana FYI  .   You have also likely seen the long-standing, now-online also publication for the Texarkana Gazette .   It also seems like new publications are popping up daily like the new  ArkLaTex Post. Because we focus not just on Texarkana, but on the surrounding area of the four states, we thought it was time to allow those areas to have a reference point for articles directly related to them and to share articles.  These new groups will allow people to easily share post from any news outlet with links back to the original publication.  Together we can share news not only published from FSN, but also from any major or minor publication touching on important events or happenings. Currently we have Four States News Community Post  our first set up to allow sharing of news from around the Texas and Arkansas.  We have just added Oklahoma Four States News Community Post  and Louisiana Four States News Community Post. Continue Reading →

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