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Ashley News Observer- Features

GUEST COLUMN: Food pantry needs volunteers
In our world of advancing technology, most of us have everything we want at our fingertips.

We spend countless hours a week on social media, “connecting from a distance.” We live busy lives. We go to work and come home. We go to church and come home. We go to events our kids and grandkids are involved in and come home. We take needed vacations and come home.

These are all good things that met our needs, but we are fast losing the art of relationship building and giving to others. Did you know that one in four children in the greater Crossett area go to bed hungry every night? One in four children. I cannot imagine one of my four children going to bed hungry. I believe we were created to glorify God and designed to live in community with one another. “For the body does not exist of one member but many,” 1 Corinthians 12:14.

I am a volunteer at the Greater Crossett Area Food Pantry, and we need your help. The Food Pantry was established in the early 1970s by the Presbyterian Church and remains housed in the church at 309 Pine St. Twenty-five years ago, the community came together, formed a charter and elected a Board of Directors, and the small closet pantry became the Food Pantry.

The mission of the Food Pantry is a response to Jesus Christ’s command to “give them something to eat.” Our purpose is to gather and share food and other essential supplies and services with our neighbors in need. Our relationships are based on respect, cooperation and accountability as we seek to lessen the pain hunger brings.

The Presbyterian Church faithfully provides the space and utilities needed to keep the pantry open. The Pantry exists to serve many, but our volunteers are few.

Many people are not aware of the need. Many people are thinking someone else will serve. Many are thinking they just don’t have enough time. Others may think they are too old to serve. Let me assure you, there is a great need.
There are not enough volunteers and we are all given the same amount of time in a day. You are never too old to help others in need. I know that there are many willing to serve.

We need your help. Any amount of time you choose to serve would be greatly appreciated. So grab your family, your friends, your Sunday school class, your youth group, your co-workers, and let’s get busy giving to others. Let’s get busy being the hands and feet of Christ. Let’s bring unity back to our community. Crossett is my home, and I love this community. I encourage you to choose to give a portion of your time to the Food Pantry. I promise you will be blessed.

Please call 870-364-9551 or come by the church. We would love to get you connected. Without volunteers, there is no pantry. We are co-laborers in Christ.

Girls get lessons in glamour, inner beauty
A group of girls were recently given lessons on beauty inside and out.

The girls from the Boys and Girls Club of Ashley County were treated Friday to make-overs and pizza after Kristi Stocker of Crossett decided that she wanted to do something special for the club over the summer.

Kristi Stocker of Crossett recently organized a “Glamour girls wear diamonds and pearls” event for the girls of the Boys and Girls’ Club of Ashley County. During the event, the girls were given makeovers, treated to a banquet at First United Methodist Church of Crossett and heard from speakers who talked about the importance of inner beauty. (VAL GAUGHT/News Observer)
“I’ve always loved the Boys and Girls Club, and I love what it does for the children,” said Stocker, whose son attended a Boys and Girls Club when he was younger.

Stocker said the club really made an impact in his life, she would like to see the one here in Ashley County do the same for other children. That’s where her idea of a glamor day for girls came into play.

As the owner of Southeast Insurance in Crossett, Stocker gathered the rest of the Southeast Insurance crew — Whitney Gill, Denise Hudson and Pamela Culb — and told them her ideas. The four planned an event, “Glamour girls wear diamonds and pearls,” to teach young girls to focus on the importance of inward beauty.

“We wanted to give them an opportunity to feel good on the outside, as well as the inside,” Stocker said.

“We could have just donated money or sponsored an event, but I said, “You know what, I want to do my own thing.”

The day started with motivational speeches and lessons about being kind to others no matter their outward appearance.

Stocker even gave the girls a presentation about hurtful words, using a bottle of toothpaste and an apple to make a point.

“I had them say mean words, and every time they did, they squeezed out the toothpaste, and then I handed them a q-tip and said, now put it back in,” Stocker said.

She did a similar demonstration with the apple. The girls hit the apple on the ground every time they said something mean to it.

“The apple still looked perfect on the outside, but was bruised and ugly on the inside,” Stocker said.

After that, some of the Crossett High School cheerleaders and Eaglettes treated the girls to makeovers. When the girls were glammed up, they attended a banquet in the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall that was complete with crystal center pieces and silver fountains of punch.

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

COLUMN: Musical Meccas and sports pilgrimages in unlikely places
There are no rules when making a bucket list, and the possibilities are endless. If you look around, you might find an interesting spot that you didn’t know you were looking for.

Arkansas has produced its share of interesting people and in turn, those legacies immortalized places in our state that might otherwise be forgotten.
You’ve probably heard of Bill Clinton and his library in Little Rock or his birthplace in Hope, but Arkansas was once home to a few other names that you might recognize as well.

If you like country music and know who “the man in black” is, you might find it interesting that his birth place can be found about 60 miles from here in a place called Kingsland, which has built a small memorial to honor its famous son, Johnny Cash.

One block away from the memorial, you can find a small Cash collection inside the post office. The memorial is available any time day or night, but the post office is only open during normal business hours.

If you’re a fan of Cash like I am, then a stop in Kingsland would be a good addition to your bucket list.

If you’re up for a longer road trip, Arkansas has even more to offer Cash fans. It’s not quite as close to Ashley County, but Cash’s childhood home and museum can be found in Dyess.

Arkansas State University started efforts to restore and preserve the Cash home in Dyess in 2011.

The singer-songwriter’s family moved to Dyess with a colonization project established by the federal government as a part of the New Deal. After the Great Depression, families of sharecroppers and tenant farmers were chosen to relocate to the colonies, where they would work to own the homes and surrounding land.

The Cash home, built in 1935, has been restored to its appearance when the Cash family lived there, from 1935 to 1954, and the house is furnished based on the memories of the family members.

Cash lived there from 1935 until he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950.

Cash isn’t the only big name musician to turn a normal spot in Arkansas into a tourist attraction.

Fans of Elvis Presley might find a pilgrimage to the northwest side of the state worth their time.

A barbershop in Fort Smith became famous 60 years ago when Elvis made international headlines by shaving his iconic hair and sideburns. “Hair today, gone tomorrow,”was all the superstar had to say after the Arkansas barber shop gave him an army haircut.

Headlines called the haircut, “the haircut heard round the world,” on March 24, 1958, when Elvis suspended his music career to serve his country in the U.S. Army.

The Chaffee Barbershop Museum not only lets the visitor ‘step back in time’ to that day in 1958 but also serves to honor Fort Chaffee and the important role it played during that time and decades that followed.

A little closer to Ashley County in Dallas County, travelers will find another interesting spot.

Iconic football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant made a name for himself coaching the Alabama Crimson Tide, but he was born southeast of Fordyce on Highway 8 not too far from where Cash was born. Bryant’s house was just as close to Kingsland as it was Fordyce, but he played football for the Fordyce Redbugs, so he called Fordyce home.

In 1981, Bryant became the winningest coach in football history. He got his nickname “Bear” when he wrestled a bear at a carnival.

In 2012, before a nonconference game against the Crossett Eagles, Fordyce High hosted members of the Bryant family for a ceremony to dedicate and rename the stadium in Bear’s honor.

On Highway 8, you can view Bryant’s home, and in Fordyce you can see the field where he played lineman in 1929, and if you really want to learn about Bear’s history, you visit the Dallas County Museum.

These are just a few of the places marked forever by names you might recognize, and if you look around you’ll see that Arkansas has other unique places to check out.

Even the fictional world left its mark on Arkansas as some locations became sacred because of a film or television show.

“Gone with the Wind” gave the Old Mill in Little Rock something special to add to its tourist resume by filming scenes there. Even southeast Arkansas was marked by the stars who visited the area to film the movie Mud.

The Villa Marre house in Little Rock will forever be known by fans as the Designing Women House, a popular television show in the eighties.
You can ride by 1321 Scott Street in Little Rock and snap a picture of the show’s mansion, or if you’re a huge fan, purchase it. The house is actually on the market right now for those super fans who have “owning a movie location” on their bucket list.

The excitement in Arkansas is out there, you just have to look around as the attractions are unique in their own way.

Plenty of interesting people got their start in our state and left something special behind such as the actor Billy Bob Thornton and the author of the popular show “True Blood.’

Joe Jackson, the father and creator of the Jackson Five, was born right here in Ashley County, though he left the Fountain Hill area when he was 12.

Unfortunately, some of these places aren’t even marked with a sign, but others are places worthy of being added to your Arkansas Bucket List.

Ashley County 4-Hers attend O'Rama
Five Ashley County 4-Hers participated in the Delta District O’Rama in Forrest City recently. The 4-Hers gave talks and competed against other 4-Hers from the Delta District in a number of subject matter areas. Those who competed and placed included, from left, Haleigh Boston, first place in Human Development; Phebe Dawson, first place in Food Fair; Rachel Junior, second place in Public Speaking; Trinity Foster, first place in Public Speaking; and Joi Holden, first place in Consumer Economics. For more information on 4-H or how to join, call the County Extension Service at 870-853-2080. (SUBMITTED/News Observer)

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.