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Oscar and Katherine Harris Dedication Plaque Placed at Welcome Sign

New plaque at I-30 Welcome Sign

In July of 2015, the city of Texarkana Arkansas completed a dedication ceremony for a large welcome sign near I-30 as visitors and travelers cross into the city.  The dedication was completed by the City Beautiful Commission under the supervision of chair Mary Warner with funds from the A&P Commission of Texarkana, Arkansas.  Most travelers and citizens saw the sign, appreciated it and moved on with little knowledge of the work of love and dedication that had gone into the project. 

As the Interstate continued to expand and grow in the area, it was agreed that both Texarkana Arkansas and Texas needed signs to welcome people to the area.  With discussion between the two city groups, an informal agreement was made to put up signs welcoming visitors to “Texarkana”.  Because of the shared resources, community, shopping, and ties the two cities have, much of the world often sees Texarkana as one city instead of the two.  The groups agreed that the “Texarkana, USA” is often more associated with the area than either city entity.  With an agreement in place, both city groups started searching for locations for potential placements of new signs that would welcome the world to “Texarkana” and the entire community. 

It was at this time that Jerry and Nedra Turney, along with their family, decided they wanted to do more for the sign project.   Jerry and Nedra, whose maiden name was Harris, wanted to find a way to help with the sign and honor Nedra’s parents.  Oscar and Katherine Harris had been citizens and landowners in the area for many years and it just so happened that some of their lands were alongside the Interstate.  Jerry and Nedra decided the best potential land spot for the sign would be a strip of land they could donate to the city and allow it to be the home of the new sign. 

Mary Warner and the rest of the City Beautiful Commission
took possession of the needs and search for a builder for the sign.  Ron Otwell, a local brick mason, who had
built signs for several city parks was ultimately selected to build the large
sign for Texarkana.  Funds were requested
and approved from the A&P Commission of Texarkana, Arkansas, and work moved
forward for the sign.  The sign was
completed and dedicated with city officials, representatives from the area, and
the press on July 9, 2015. 

Since the dedication, the sign has been featured in advertising, pictures, and has become a symbolic point of entry into the Texarkana area.  Behind the scenes, the Miller County Master Gardeners have helped maintain the plants around the sign.  The city crews have watered and have continued to work toward getting a sprinkler system to the sight.  The state highway department has maintained mowing near the sign and has generously cut back trees to allow better visibility of the sign for travelers. 

With all the various groups involved, the work at the sign
shows no indications of ending soon.  The
City Beautiful Commission still discusses and works toward the improvement and maintenance
of the sign at their monthly meetings. 
The Master Gardeners report updates and place recommendations for
planting.  The city updates on water
efforts and needs and the A&P Commission stands ready to assist financially
as needed to support the sign. Recently a beautiful dedication plaque was placed on the sign (see picture).  With the placement of the plaque, Nedra Harris Turney sees the work aspect of the sign and its dedication to her parents as complete.  She is quick to stress that she appreciates all the work, dedication, and help that made the sign possible.  She also reminds the community that the sign will need the support of the community and city groups long after this generation is gone and that each generation will need to pick up, work, and maintain the sign so that it will always be a beautiful and unique welcome to the area known to the world as simply Texarkana. Continue Reading →

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Miller County 4-H to host information night

TEXARKANA, Ark. – Miller County 4-H will be hosting an information night on Thursday, September 26 at the Texarkana Public Library for families interested in learning more about joining 4-H. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Miller County 4-H is a youth development program of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Membership is free and open to youth ages 5-19. Continue Reading →

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Two Local Organizations Dedicated to the Preservation of History

Paul Gramling, CIC, of the SCV speaks

Members of two Sons of Confederate Veteran (SCV) camps came together this evening to discuss history, plan a dedication, and hear from the Commander-In-Chief (CIC) of the organization.  Paul Gramling, CIC,  and his wife Lynda were in attendance which meant leadership from a national level was in Texarkana to hear about the joint work of the camps.   Throughout discussions with Paul, trips to grave dedications, and attendance at various meetings, it has become clear this organization is dedicated to the preservation of history.  The mainstream media, for the most part, continues to ignore the SCV and the work they do.  Outside observers can only assume that the overwhelming positive qualities of the organization are overlooked by the media because it does not fit into their agenda.  SCV members come from all races, and they work to ensure the preservation of the history of the Civil War. Like any organization, the meeting opened with business, new
members, planned events, and charities. 
While the Red Diamond Camp hosted the meeting, there were also plenty of
members present from the Major J.B. Burton Camp.  The two camps from Texas and Arkansas
discussed the preservation and dedication of a recently found cemetery in
Arkansas.  The central focus was a planned
dedication day.  The United States
Government has provided memorial headstones for the Confederate Soldiers buried
at the cemetery.  The stones have been
placed, and the actual dedication day is being planned for October.  Some people may not understand Confederate
veterans have been made American veterans. 
When Congress completed this act, the men who fought for the Confederacy
were given the same rights and privileges of any veteran of the United
States.  These rights include a headstone
and dedication. 

During the meeting, the group was informed the land at the cemetery
had been donated to the SCV.  Future
maintenance of the cemetery will now be the responsibility of the  SCV. 
The Texas unit will provide cannons for the dedication ceremony.  Had it not been for the research of the SCV
and the work put into this project, the cemetery may have been lost to history
forever. 

During the meeting, Robert Edwards, Treasurer of the
Arkansas SCV Division, spoke briefly and commended both SCV units from two different
states for their work in the history and preservation of the cemetery. 

Paul Gramling then spoke and provided an update on the SCV
national museum being completed by December of this year in Tennessee with a
dedication planned sometime in early 2020. 
The museum will hold both temporary exhibits and permanent exhibits
regarding the history of the Civil War. 
Paul also provided a copy of “The Southern Defender,” a small news-like
handout that contains history, information, and pictures from around the SCV in
the United States.  Interestingly, Paul
is one of the people who has continuously said that current attacks and removal
of Confederate Monuments will not be limited to those memorials only.  His words rang more accurate than ever as it
was noted on the front page of “The Southern Defender” that “Vandals
defaced” a Baltimore monument to Francis Scott Key.  Key is the author of “The Star-Spangled
Banner.”  

The cemetery in southern Arkansas and the continued joint efforts of two SCV groups to preserve the cemetery is an integral part of historic preservation.   The work protects graves which are vital for all histories and decedents.  Cemetery research has also retained the history of what was going on around the area during the Civil War.  The movement of troops and camps in southern Arkansas was reviewed extensively.   Colleges and universities will likely use the work of these two SCV units in the future as they study the history of southwest Arkansas.  The dedication to preserving history by the SCV should be appreciated by all students of history. Continue Reading →

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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 →

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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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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 →

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Eat Your Way Around The World

Hotels.com 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 Hotels.com® Tasty Travels* report. Paying tribute to these delicious destinations, Hotels.com 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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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