Recent Articles

Local Student Finds Joy and Income as a Texarkana Rising Artist

Texarkana, USA: It’s no secret that college students need income, and Blake Butler is no different from other college students.  Blake has worked his way through school, starting with his associate degree, then a Bachelor’s.  He is currently working on his master’s degree in Social Work.  Like other students, he needed additional income, and like other students, Blake had various levels of interest.  One of those outside interest was fulfilled last year with an early Christmas gift.  Blake took a class with Keegan Kidd of Primal Flow Studios of Texarkana.  Blake found he enjoyed the course and started producing some artwork with the techniques he learned.  Immediately friends and family began to encourage him to create more. The class with Primal Flow Studios allowed Blake to complete
a variety of art called acrylic pouring. 
He noted that one of the first things he learned was that this was not
merely “pouring” out the paint. 
There is an entire process that Blake described that includes words such
as “Crazing” and “Floetrol.”  It did not
take him long to start producing more works, and he found that he enjoyed it as
a hobby and interest outside his schoolwork.   He says that he can spend up to two or three
hours at a time going through color palettes and finding just the right colors
for the combinations he wants to make. 
When making the art, Blake says he has a great “feeling of exhilaration”
with the entire process from start to finish. 

As Blake started sharing pictures of his artwork on social
media with more friends, he started receiving positive feedback.   Feedback was supportive and uplifting, but
as all artist can tell you, friends and family are often too kind as
critics.  The real test came when
feedback rolling in from people outside his social circle.   The feedback continued to be positive, so Blake
decided to take his art to the next level. 
He started selling his artwork on a website called Art Station.  At Art Station, Blake was able to display his
art in a portfolio style and then extend out to sell on an Etsy store.   

Blake has seen his artwork sells climb higher than he
thought possible.  He has even had a
commission for a piece from California. 
He said that he would name paintings, and while some people accept the interpretation,
others will see something entirely different. 
That is one of the things that Blake finds exciting.  He says when someone sees something different,
it simply means it has been interpreted differently, and that is great.  He will often find himself reevaluating the
work based on the comments he receives.   So far, feedback and has been positive and
supportive, and income has started to rise slowly.  At this time Blake says he is happy because
the income helps support the work.  When
he sells a few paintings, he can purchase the supplies need to complete
additional works.    

Blake says he does not expect to make a full-time living off
his art and that he is happy to be able to support the work.  It’s also fulfilling when someone compliments
a work or purchases the work.  As for
long term plans, Blake says he will finish school and hopefully teach Social
Work in the future.  He has already had
the opportunity to show some paint pouring to employees of a local clinic.   Blake can see that there will be many ways
to incorporate his art into the area of social work in the future.  He feels that paint pouring can help some
people deal with anxiety or depression. 
Blake feels that if he can help make someone’s day a little brighter by
teaching or sharing the art form, then the early Christmas gift will have paid
off tenfold. You may view or purchase Blake’s artwork at the two sites below:

Blake Butler’s Portfolio Online Website

Blake Butler’s Website of Art for sale. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

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

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 →

Filed under: ,

Bobby Ferguson Park Sign Progress Continues

Texarkana, AR – Enter Bobby Ferguson Park near UofA Way or pass it as you come off the Interstate and you’ll see a nice, rock sign on the hillside just inside the park informing you of the park’s name.  However, if you enter from the Fairgrounds end of the park, there is no sign to indicate the name of the park.  Soon, the lack of a park sign will not be a problem near the Four States Fairgrounds. The Texarkana Arkansas Beautiful Commission works to improve the appearance and beautification of Texarkana, Arkansas.   In addition to having clean-up days, dumpster trash days, planting days, and coordinating education about keeping the city clean, the commission has overseen the implementation of signs for city properties.  The most recent sign, the huge “Welcome to Texarkana” sign on the Interstate was one of the larger sign projects the commission has undertaken in recent years. The commission usually, through suggestions of need, etc. attempts to take on a sign project whenever it can afford to do so.  Funding is supplied through the A&P Commission and the City Beautiful Commission seeks bids, designs the signs, and implements the projects.  Once completed, several other groups, including city maintenance, the Master Gardners, and other volunteer groups join in to assist in planting, watering, and maintaining the signs for the city. The commission’s latest project is underway right now.  The unfinished sign is coming together on the southwest corner of Bobby Ferguson Park.  When finished, there will be two flag polls, the sign, lights, water, and plants to celebrate and enhance the new sign’s location. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Eat Your Way Around The World Reveals The Best Foodie Destinations

DALLAS, /PRNewswire/ — Paris (27%), Tokyo (23%) and Rome (22%) have topped a list of the hottest spots on earth for foodies, according to the® Tasty Travels* report. Paying tribute to these delicious destinations, has collaborated with food artist Carl Warner to bring foodies’ favorite hangouts to life, using each city’s famous food ingredients – Parisian buildings made of cheese, the Pantheon made of pasta and Mount Fuji made of seaweed. Every city looks good enough to eat. Top 7 Foodie Cities

Paris (27%)
Tokyo (23%)
Rome (22%)
London (21%)
Barcelona (16%)
New York (16%)
Madrid (14%)

Nearly two-thirds of American millennials (60%) admitted a destination’s cuisine is the biggest deciding factor when picking where to travel, with beautiful beaches (43%), the shopping scene (20%) and special offers (9%) being less appetizing. The younger generation in the U.S. is now even more focused on munching delicious local delicacies on vacation (65%) than visiting landmarks (49%) and exploring the outdoors (34%). Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Indie Film ‘One Hand Clapping’ Filming in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas,  /PRNewswire/ — A new feature film production, “One Hand Clapping,” is currently being filmed in the Austin, Lockhart, and San Marcos area with an all Texas cast and crew. The timeline of “One Hand Clapping” has a long and winding development history. Writer/Director/ Producer Jerry Alden Deal wrote the first draft in the early 1990s, more than 25 years ago. It has been previously optioned by three different L.A. production companies, but none of those situations bore the fruit of ever going into production. Once the rights reverted back to him, he decided to produce and direct the project himself. Since then, the screenplay has gone through numerous drafts. Deal adds, “Returning to my Texas roots and filming with local cast and crew is actually very fulfilling. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Texarkana’s Night to Shine

Texarkana, AR – Social media came alive last night as people started to notice unusually bright lights to the north of the Interstate in Texarkana, Arkansas.  Almost immediately people began to post questions such as “Anyone notice those lights?” and “Anybody know what’s going on in Texarkana with the lights?”  It did not take long for the answers to come flowing in as people responded it’s the “Night to Shine” event at the convention center.  Spotlights could be seen from across town as they cut into the night to announce that the party was about to begin. Several hundred people descended into the Arkansas Convention center between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the evening.  At about 6 p.m., hundreds more began to flood through the doors.  They were met by police officers, the Pleasant Grove Hawks, and Liberty Eylau Football teams, Arkansas High Redline and the Arkansas High Cheerleaders along with dozens more as they entered the room.  The focus of all the volunteers from Football teams to dance teams and church groups and police groups was to welcome a special group of people to a Night to Shine. The annual Night to Shine is sponsored by the local organization of Night to Shine Texarkana  The local organization is part of the larger Night to Shine Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and is designed to allow people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to gather and party in a formal prom styled atmosphere and dance.  Surrounding organizations such as Evergreen Life Services, Opportunities, and many others worked to ensure the people they serve had formal dresses and suits for the evening.  Once they arrived, the Pleasant Grove Hawks and Liberty Eylau players helped escort the ladies and the Arkansas High Redline and Cheerleaders escorted the men onto the dance floor. The party rocked on from 6 p.m. until just after 10 p.m. Friday evening.  Several people noted that parking was full and that cars were parked as far away as the restaurants and other hotels around the area. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

DPS Urges Caution in Summer Heat

Tips help residents beat the heat, stay safe

AUSTIN, TX – The Texas Department of Public Safety is warning Texas residents to be prepared for summertime temperatures, and to take precautions to stay safe as temperatures and heat indices hit 100 degrees and above in many parts of the state this time of year. Extreme temperatures increase the risk of heat-related injuries or deaths. “Summertime heat is a fact of life in Texas, but the dangers from high temperatures are real and should not be taken lightly,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Heat-related deaths and injuries are often preventable if residents take the necessary steps to educate and protect themselves – and their loved ones.”

Warmer weather places children at greater risk of injury or death if left unattended in a vehicle. Every year children die from heat-related injuries after being left in a vehicle or by entering a vehicle unnoticed. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Best Ways to Cut Funeral Costs

I have been an Insurance Agent for quite some time. When one becomes a Funeral Director, Insurance is one of those collateral duties that compliments your skill set and assists clients as they come to the funeral home looking for assistance for their future end of life (death) needs. Insurance offers a vast selection of products based on the needs of the client. The issues related to product selection are that although clients can vocalize their concerns, they often do not understand which product provides the most efficient solution for them. In most cases, their purchase decision will be based on one of two facts. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Isolation Increases Risk of Suicide

Last night I was surfing social media when I came upon a friend’s post stating that upon reflection, he was taking a break from social media.  He stated that since the passing of his wife six months ago, his opinion posting had become offensive to his son.  He was confused and hurt by his son’s chastisements, and to discontinue causing his son discomfort or embarrassment, he had concluded that his withdrawal was in order.  His post was filled with sadness, despair, pain, and anguish.  Regret was apparent that he had not foreseen that his posts might wedge a wound in his father/son relationship, and he was solemnly announcing his intention to bend to his son’s harsh rebuke. To show my support of this man’s right to post his opinion on a social media platform based solely on opinion posting, I went through his history and began liking every one of his opinion posts with which I could agree.  It was not enough though.  As I lay in my bed last night, I found that sleep was elusive.  I tossed and turned all night worrying about this friend.  
Grief Brief 7
Social Withdrawal
People who have recently lost a loved one may tend to withdraw from family or friends in intimate and social situations. This tendency is generally brief and usually corrects itself without intervention. If one continues to withdraw from social interactions over an extended length of time, one might find it comforting to consult with a counselor. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

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 →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,