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Ashley News Observer- Features

Crossett's Langley heads to Miss Arkansas pageant
An Ashley County woman will participate in the Miss Arkansas pageant this weekend.

Rachel Langley of Crossett is the reigning Miss South Central Arkansas and will travel to Little Rock Friday to spend the week competing for the state title.

Langley said there are five stages of the competition and she will begin with an opening interview on Monday. Langley said she thinks the interview is her favorite part.

“I always get excited talking about my platform, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, because it’s an organization not many people know about, and I love being an ambassador and a spokesperson for them,” Langley said.

After the interview, Langley will spend the next few days competing in the swimsuit, evening gown and on-stage question portion of the contest.

“It may sound crazy, but I’m really not nervous,” Langley said.

Langley said she feels prepared and plans to present the best version of herself to the judges.

According to Langley, the most important part of the experience is the impact she has on the younger girls who look up to her. Langley mentors young girls through the Miss Diamond State Princess program. This program allows young girls to take the stage with local title holders so that they may learn what the organization is all about.

“I started as a Diamond State Princess and am now competing for the Miss Arkansas title,” Langley said.

As a former Miss Diamond State Princess, Langley said she is excited to say she now has three princesses of her own to mentor — Kaylynn Sands of Magnolia, Lauren Hunter of Benton and Bethany Austin of Jonesboro.

Langley said she wants to encourage young ladies interested in pageants to try it out.

“Pageants are so much more than just getting dressed up and walking across the stage,” Langley said.

She has gained so much from competing, Langley said, she has learned life skills and the importance of volunteering in her community.

Langley said scholarships are another big reward for those who participate in pageants.

The Miss Arkansas Pageant is giving away $184,300 in scholarships this summer, and according to its Website, it is the largest scholarship provider for young women in the state.

Langley said one of her goals is to collect enough scholarships to graduate college debt free and maybe even win enough to pay for a portion of law school.

Langley is not the first in her family to fall in love with the pageant world, and said her big sister and former Miss Arkansas contestant, Randee Jo Langley, was her biggest inspiration and the reason she started competing.

“She has showed me what true determination is and I have loved watching her in pageants,” Langley said.

After years of following Randee Jo to the Miss Arkansas stage, it is finally Rachel’s turn, and Rachel said Randee Jo will be there as her biggest supporter.

“She is always the loudest in the crowd cheering me on and I know that she will always be my biggest fan, just like I was hers,” Rachel said.

The Miss Arkansas pageant will begin June 12, and the new Miss Arkansas will be crowned live on Channel 7 on June 16.

Govan publishes "Awakened by Destiny"
Last Saturday, guests from Mississippi to Maryland traveled to Crossett to attend a book release event for Shanae Govan of Crossett.

Govan’s second book, "Awakened by Destiny," was officially released Saturday afternoon.

Shanae Govan of Crossett recently published her second book, "Awakened by Destiny." (VAL GAUGHT/News Observer)
Govan’s former college professors, pastors and players all spoke at the event with the keynote speaker, Dr. Priscilla Belin, of Baltimore, attending as the keynote.

The book is the second part of Govan’s life story that she began telling in her first book, which was released in 2016.

"Awakened by Destiny," follows Govan’s first book, "Purpose and Adversity." Both are narratives about Govan’s life that she said are meant to inspire her readers to face whatever adversity life throws at them.

“I wanted to inspire people, especially young people, because adversity is what makes us who we are,” Govan said.

"Purpose and Adversity" is about growing up in rural Arkansas and the trials that Govan faced.

Govan said her second book picks up where her first book left off.

The second book starts at the time in Govan’s life when she returned home, to Crossett, to take over as coach of the Lady Eagles basketball team.

The keynote speaker, Belin, compared the book to "Love and Basketball," a popular film released in 2000. Belin told members of the audience that Crossett should be proud to have Govan home and “enjoy her while she is here .”

“Because bigger things are going to come for her, and the offers are going to come, they are already coming, the East Coast wants her,” Belin said as she told about Govan traveling to the East Coast to speak at a conference last year.

“ I’m so amazed at this milestone God has allowed me to embark on," Govan said. "I want to encourage anyone who has a goal that you’ve set, go for it.”

"Awakened by Destiny" can be found at Books a Million, Amazon and other book stores.

Jackson goes 'hog wild' with winning sketch
A Crossett student won first place and best of show in the 2018 Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest Awards.

Crossett homeschool student Reagan Jackson’s sketch “Hog Wild” won first place and best in show at the 2018 Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest. (SUBMITTED/News Observer)
Approximately 1,000 students submitted artwork to the annual ‘Wildlife of Arkansas’ art competition, which showcases Arkansas’ wildlife diversity, and 11th grade home school student Raegan Jackson won first prize in her category with a sketch she named “Hog Wild.” Jackson is the daughter of Perry and Shelly Jackson of Crossett.

“It was something I had in the back of my sketchbook and when I saw the competition, I knew I wanted to use it,” Jackson said.

The Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) and Creative Ideas joined together to host this competition. Their goal was to promote wildlife education and the arts.

The 2018 Wildlife of Arkansas student art winners were recognized at an awards ceremony May 4 at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock.

Jackson said it was an honor to attend the banquet, and this was her first art award of this kind.

“I really didn’t expect to win, but it feels awesome,” Jackson said.

Now Jackson’s painting is on tour all over the state and will be featured in a series of art displays over the next few months.

--For the complete story, see the print edition.

‘LOVING SOMEBODY YOU DON’T KNOW’: After years of waiting to adopt, Crossett family brings home girl from Malawi
After eight years of waiting, Alan and Lindsey Brewer brought home their daughter Clara Grace Brewer, a 15-month-old from Malawi, this month.

The story of the adoption didn’t work out like they’d originally envisioned, but now that they’ve met their daughter, the family feels complete.

The Brewers originally waited three years for a baby from Ethiopia, only to find out that Ethiopia had shut down adoptions temporarily and they lost their spot on the waiting list.

“God gave us another way,” Lindsey Brewer said.

A trip to Kroger started the adoption journey all over again, and this journey brought them little Clara.

Lindsey Brewer plays with her daughter, Clara, at Grace Christian Fellowship. Lindsey and her husband, Alan, adopted Clara from Malawi, and along with the rest of their family, introduced her to the Grace church community two weeks ago.
Alan met a couple in Kroger, who got him in touch with the adoption agency Second Milk in 2015, and in February 2017 they got their first picture of Clara. For more than a year, the couple and their four children have watched Clara grow up from half a world away.

“It’s loving someone you haven’t met yet,” Lindsey said last fall while anxiously waiting for a court date.

They finally got to take the plane ride they had been waiting for and traveled to Malawi to meet their daughter. After the family spent almost three weeks in Africa, Clara is officially a Brewer and a resident of the Crossett.

On April 15, the Brewers introduced Clara to their church family, Grace Christian Fellowship, and told about their time in Africa and in the Malawian court system.

The Brewers credit GCF and the community with helping them raise the funds necessary to pay for the adoption and travel expenses. The couple said it is surreal to finally have Clara in their arms.

They showed a video and talked about meeting Clara for the first time. When a handful of stuffed animals didn’t get her attention, Alan played a song on the ukulele to break the ice. She started dancing.

Alan said Clara was a little anxious at first, but warmed up to Lindsey fast.

“It was so awesome to see God work, because within an hour, Lindsey was Mom,” Alan said.

Lindsey had her own stories as well.

“After like an hour of being together, she hugged me like she had missed me,” Lindsey said.

The Brewers talked about working with the local court system and how the process went faster than expected. They knew they could potentially be there a month, but within two weeks, they were getting to bring Clara home. Alan said if Easter hadn’t been on the calendar while they were there, they would have been home in less than two weeks. The adoption agency, orphanage and Malawian court officials told Alan they were shocked at how smooth the process went for the Brewers while in Africa.

“It was a God thing, it was like we waited all of these years, but when it was time, God said ‘Here you go,’” Alan said.

Before leaving, they got to meet Clara’s biological family and her caregivers at the orphanage. They collected pictures and information they said they know Clara will cherish later.

On their journey, they were also able to meet someone else who will soon be moving to Crossett.

Jeremy and Mandy Mills attend the same church as the Brewers and they had been thinking about adoption since the Brewers first moved to their church six years ago. Mandy said they were watching a documentary on Cambodia and God really started to put it on their hearts to adopt.

“These kids need to be rescued,” Mandy said.

After spending the last three years in an adoption journey of their own, the Mills now have a match and are waiting for the Malawian court system to send them a date.

The Brewers were able to meet baby Mills and give him a toy from his future family.

GCF held a silent auction April 15 to help aid the Mills on the trip to Africa they hope to take before the summer ends. For anyone interested in contributing, there is an envelope fundraiser going on at GCF. The church raised $600 last week when the children of GCF ran a lemonade stand at the church, and they plan to open their stand again Tuesday at Centennial Park.

“The sweet little girls in our church love being able to help bring these babies home,” Mandy said.

They will open the lemonade stand once a week until the Mills travel.

Crossett mayor proclaims Autism Awareness Month
Crossett Mayor Scott McCormick officially proclaimed April as Austim Awareness month for the city of Crossett. The members of the Ashley County Autism Support group met with the mayor Thursday as he signed a proclamation for the group. The ACAS meets monthly and has other special events. Their next group event will be a disc golf tournament on April 21 at the city’s disc golf park and their monthly meeting will be 6 p.m. April 26 at Country Vittles. Those present at the proclaimation signing include, from left, René Bowles, Drew MacDonald, Cindy MacDonald, Rebecca Blankenship, McCormick, Aaron MacDonald and Mandi Carter. (VAL GAUGHT/News Observer)