December 2022

Texarkana Magazine


TEXARKANA MAGAZINE December | 2022 | Volume 3 | Issue 12

62. LIFE A Different Kind of Christmas List 66. TXK 411 How to Write a Letter to Santa


10. BUSINESS Wisdom and Rubies 14. YEAR IN REVIEW 2022

34. SPORTS Blind Living 42.


ENTERTAINMENT Good Evening TXK 46. STYLE TXK Holiday Fashion


68. TALK TUESDAY 2022 Top Ten Stories 72. THE MONTHLY MIX Holiday Bar Cart 74.

24. cover/COMMUNITY Delivering Christmas 32. CULTURE Christmas Activity Calendar


TXK ROOTS Ryan Yarnell


These are a few of our favorite things...

CASSY MEISENHEIMER Spanx and self-tanner

TERRI SANDEFUR Jamaica and Jeff, but not in that order.

SHELBY AKIN Diet Coke, a good book, and manicures

KARA HUMPHREY Snow days, massages, and comfortable shoes

LEAH ORR Bathrobes, 20/20, and a fire!

BRITT EARNEST Pour over coffee, acoustic music, and audible

MATT CORNELIUS I have too many to name, but chips and salsa are basically my love language.

LINDSEY CLARK Stretchy pants and yoga in my current pregnant state

LIZ FLIPPO Gray sweatpants, champagne, and a clean kitchen

BAILEY GRAVITT Honey Butter Chicken

TERRI GRAVITT Being anywhere with my boys, deep conversation with my friends, and Diet Dr. Pepper

MEGAN GRIFFIN Oversized sweatshirts and Rosé

Biscuits, baths, and reality TV

CHRISTI HERRINGTON Pilates and naps, please!

FRED NORTON Bow ties and fountain pens

Merry Christmas, Texarkana!





We may not be on a first name basis with all of them, but our United States Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, and UPS workers know a lot about our personal lives. They know where we live and what is coming in and going out of our mailboxes. Delivery people bring my groceries every week, my rented clothes, and the bills that need to be paid to keep my family functioning. These people are an integral part of my daily life. For Texarkana Magazine , our local USPS workers are the unseen angels who may not show up on our contributor’s page, but whose contribution is invaluable. Tonya (left) and Missy (right) pictured with me here are the two ladies I count on 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503


every month to ensure 6,800 magazines arrive safely and on time in local mailboxes. Not only do they do an incredible job of getting them out quickly, they also save any extras for me to come pick up and redistribute on stands. Tonya and Missy understand we are a small business and want to make sure none of our product goes to waste. They have helped countless times. When we started printing Texarkana Magazine , we needed to gain experience with how the mailing process worked. They were very accommodating. When magazines showed up later than expected, they still got them in mailboxes by the first of the month. The USPS is a huge part of Texarkana Magazine’s monthly operation! So, this season, while you are doing your online Christmas shopping and begin adding items to your cart, remember there is an entire operation of people working long hours, going above and beyond, to deliver Christmas to your door. Let them know you appreciate them. And while online shopping is convenient, remember to get out there and support our local businesses as well. In this month’s issue, you will find holiday outfit ideas you can purchase right here in Texarkana. Don’t forget all the restaurants, spas, and other retailers where you can purchase gift cards for anyone on your list. By shopping local, you are giving a gift to the community. 2022 has been a wonderful year for our city. Check out the “Year in Review” and reflect on community progress and the achievements of so many exceptional residents. Also, don’t miss “Talk Tuesday Top Ten” for the best of 2022’s weekly digital stories told by local writers. If you are not receiving Talk Tuesday each week, visit and sign up to have it emailed straight to your inbox. In December, emails will feature our Giving Guide so you can discover ways to support local nonprofits. Texarkana is a giving community, and we want to help connect you to those in need. I am fortunate to live in a community full of “Tonyas and Missys.” Friends and neighbors just like them make Texarkana an unbeatable community. The best place to work… the best place to do business… the best place to live! Merry Christmas!






Texarkana Magazine is a multimedia publication showcasing the Texarkana area and is designed and published by Cardinal Publishing, LLC. Articles in Texarkana Magazine should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Ideaology, products and services promoted in the publication are not necessarily endorsed by Texarkana Magazine .





Wisdom is better than rubies. —Proverbs 8:11

Wisdom may be better than rubies, but wisdom won’t pay the rent. —Fred

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I can hear Andy Williams singing his signature Christmas carol—it is one of my favorites. “With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘Be of good cheer,’ it’s the most wonderful time of the year! There is no holiday season I enjoy more than I do Christmastime. The sights, the sounds, the smells—all invoke memories of past celebrations with family and friends and promises of those to come. Traditional remembrances, both secular and religious, round out the experience as the new year approaches. While December may bring visions of sugar plums to some and tidings of comfort and joy to others, it also offers a limited window of opportunity to review your financial position and pursue tax- savings strategies. You must act quickly and decisively, though, for your chance to affect change expires when the ball drops on December 31 and your tax year closes.




Here are some things you can do...

WEIGH ROTH IRA CONVERSION. If you have a traditional IRA, you may convert all or a portion of its content to a Roth IRA. This can be particularly beneficial if your IRA is invested in stocks or mutual funds that have lost value. The conversion will generate taxable income when it occurs, but the income earned within the Roth IRA and its future distributions will be tax-free, so long as certain distributions rules are followed. CLAIM QUALIFIED BUSINESS INCOME DEDUCTION. If you are self-employed, a member of a limited liability company, a stockholder in an S corporation or an owner of another pass-through entity, you can deduct 20% of your qualified business income, provided your taxable income does not exceed $340,100 for joint filers and $170,500 for all others EXPENSE NEW EQUIPMENT. First-year bonus depreciation equal to the cost of eligible equipment purchased before 2023 allows taxpayers to immediately write-off such property. In addition, $1,080,000 of qualifying Section 179 property placed in service in 2022 may be deducted when business income does not exceed $2,700,000. SHIFT INCOME WITH GIFTS. The annual gift tax exclusion in 2022 is $16,000 per recipient, but gifts must be made before year end. You may achieve tax savings by transferring income-producing property to family members in lower income tax brackets who are not subject to the kiddie tax (dependent children under the age of 18 at the end of the tax year or full-time students younger than 24). Such gifts are not deductible by you, nor do they constitute income to the recipient. In this current economic environment where you have no control over the rising costs of goods and services, where you are powerless to stop interest rates from rising or stock prices from falling, where you might choose to think Scrooge has come home to roost for Christmas, there is one source of financial pain over which you may still reign supreme: your 2022 tax liability. Do not dawdle in making wise choices to preserve as many rubies as possible, for timing is everything. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’ll be much mistltoeing, and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” God bless us, everyone! Freddy is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at Texas A&M University- Texarkana and an attorney Board Certified in Tax Law and in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His practice is limited to matters of federal and state taxation, wealth transfer and asset protection planning, elder law, probate and the administration of estates, and the formation and operation of business, professional and nonprofit entities. You may find him at .

DEFER INCOME AND ACCELERATE EXPENSES. For 2022 and the foreseeable future, taxpayers will find themselves in one of seven ordinary income tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. Long-term capital gains (sales of capital assets held for more than a year) are taxed at rates of 0%, 15%, and 20%. Depending upon your current marginal tax rate (the rate you pay on an additional dollar of income), deferring receipt of income and delaying sales of capital assets until 2023 while accelerating expenses which qualify for deduction in 2022 may save you some money. EVALUATE CAPITAL GAINS NET INVESTMENT INCOME. If you have appreciated investments to sell, consider whether you have investment losses to harvest which might offset any gains. This may afford you the chance to take timely advantage of recent stock market volatility and possibly lower or completely eliminate any tax liability for capital gains. Beware of the net investment income tax, which is an additional 3.8% tax applicable to certain investment income earned when adjusted gross income equals or exceeds $250,000 for joint filers ($125,000 if married filing separately) and $200,000 for single taxpayers. “BUNCH” ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced or eliminated many itemized deductions and substantially increased the standard deduction for all taxpayers. In 2022, the standard deduction is $25,900 for joint filers, $12,950 for singles and married couples filing separately, and $19,400 for heads of household. If these high thresholds eliminate the benefit of itemizing deductions for you, consider a “bunching” strategy to push or pull discretionary medical expenses and charitable contributions and the timing of property tax payments into the year where you will benefit from them the most. This may result in itemizing deductions in one year and then claiming the standard deduction in the next. OPTIMIZE RETIREMENT PLAN CONTRIBUTIONS. Contributions to 401(k) plans must be made by year-end. The maximum allowable 401(k) contribution for 2022 is $20,500, but if you are 50 or older and the plan permits, you may add as much as $6,500 as a “catch-up” contribution. You may also qualify to make deductible contributions to an individual retirement account ($6,000 or $7,000 if you are 50 or older) and a health savings account ($3,650 for self-only and $7,300 for families plus $1,000 “catch-up” contributions for individuals 55 or older). Both IRA and HSA contributions may be made up until April 18, 2023, the original due date of 2022 individual returns. If you are 72 or older, remember to take your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from qualified plans or IRAs to avoid imposition of substantial penalties. Up to $100,000 can be distributed directly from your IRA to a qualified public charity in satisfaction of your RMD, but no charitable contribution deduction for such distribution is allowed (because the distribution is not included in your gross income).




As we come to the end of the year, inevitably our focus will begin to shift toward our goals for 2023. But before we make our New Year’s resolutions, let’s pause to look back and appreciate all that 2022 has brought us. Building, dreaming, and improving are the tenets of our community and this year did not disappoint. In celebration of our many accomplishments, we have put together a list of some of the most exciting things that have happened in Texarkana this year.




• Raining Fish Phenomenon— Australian researchers believe the “raining fish” phenomenon came from nervous birds.

• Texarkana Recreation Center officially opens after renovations.

• Rose Hill was named

Neighborhood of the Year Finalist by USA Neighborhoods.

• Leadership Texarkana graduates largest class in program history. • Literacy Council earns three of five state awards and honored at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. • Texarkana USA Chamber of Commerce wins national award from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) for their Beyond the Line print publication.

• The inaugural Pitch It

Texarkana entrepreneurial competition was held in March.

• Caleb Bolden, a Pleasant Grove ISD graduate, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.

• Gateway Farmers Market celebrates 25th anniversary.

• Bird scooters arrive in downtown Texarkana.

• New Veterans Affairs Clinic opens on Summerhill Road. • EF-3 tornado blew through the area on November 4.



T ravis Powell is a very special kind of entertainer. Although he is not a magician per se, he does perform a spellbinding act. It is a musical alchemy whereby he morphs from unassuming suburban dad into a king. And not just any king. THE king. As one of the nation’s foremost Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs), Powell has been winning ETA contests since grade school. In fact, while most toddlers were barely warbling their ABCs or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, by age four Powell had already zoned in on what he liked to do–and that was to sing Elvis songs. “My mom was a music director,” says Powell, “and after (my parents) started playing Elvis for me, I apparently got up in the middle of a church service and started singing ‘Love Me Tender.’” From there, he started entering talent shows at school and church events, winning his way through childhood and adolescence. After a stint in Nashville to pursue a country music career, he returned to his roots, and to what he loves best–as Elvis once said, “It’s my favorite part of the business, live concerts.” Powell describes what fans can expect at his show, “They’re going to see me cover a couple of eras, the ’68 special and an authentic tribute to the later years. We’re gonna have fun, we’re gonna dance, relive the magic of Elvis in an authentic way; it’s going to be a good time!” “I know I’m not Elvis,” Powell says wryly, “But if we can go back in time and people can be transported and remember that feeling of actually watching Elvis, that’s what it’s all about. I just want to give everybody in that audience something to relate to. If I can do that, I feel like I’ve done Elvis proud.”

And for those who like to get up close and personal with their favorite performer, Powell says he has never had a bad experience with a fan. “If a fan comes up and they are teary-eyed or emotional, then I feel like I’ve done my job. What I do when I go on stage is sort of go back in time and remember what it was like to be there…especially for the ones who never got to see him, they can get the feel of what it was like to see him in person.” Like his idol, Powell is also involved in charitable endeavors. “I started the Travis Foundation in 2014, basically to help the poorer children’s homes in my hometown, whether it be Christmas presents, school supplies, food, tutors, schoolwork, just a bunch of things to help the kids in my hometown.” When asked what his favorite Elvis song is, Travis replies

immediately, “My Way,” although it does sometimes change because I listen to a lot of Elvis songs.”

From performing with artists who actually performed with Elvis himself, such as the Sweet Inspirations, to playing in venues where Elvis once played, Powell has strived to provide the most all-encompassing show possible. “We’ve got a great band, great costumes,” Powell promises. “I just want to be the most authentic Elvis and express the love I have for him,” says Powell, and in that spirit, he smiles, “It’s been a fun ride.”



• Pleasant Grove ISD passes $39.9 million bond.

• Texarkana Arkansas School District had grand openings for four of the District’s Smart Labs located on the Fairview Elementary School, North Heights Community School, Harmony Leadership Academy, and Arkansas High School campuses.

• DeKalb ISD and New Boston ISD begin four-day school week. • Arkansas High School was selected as the 5A State Honor Band. • Texas High School Student Council was named State President of the Texas Association of Student Councils for 2022-2023. • Pleasant Grove High School earns 4A UIL Theatrical Design State Championship.

• Texarkana ISD voters pass $189 million bond.

• Daymon Finigan, a member of the Liberty-Eylau High School Band, was selected to the ATSSB Texas 4A All-State Band.

• Texas A&M University-Texarkana’s online MBA program was ranked the 4th most affordable online MBA in the United States according to College Consensus. • Texarkana College’s choral students perform at Carnegie Hall. • Texarkana ISD was awarded the 2022-2024 Innovative Services for Students with Autism Grant (ISSA), with a grand total over $5 million. • The Liberty-Eylau girl’s powerlifting team sent several qualifiers to the state competition, and Indiyah Aldridge won the state title in the 97’s weight class. • Dr. Marilynn Harris Wallace Endowed Scholarship established at UAHT.

• Pleasant Grove High School

robotics team claims UIL State Championship and competes in World Robotics Championship.

• Texas High School Culinary Arts

Academy unveils new food truck, the only culinary arts program in Northeast Texas operating a food truck. • Texarkana College was recognized by Achieving the Dream as a leader college of distinction. • Trinity Christian School (TCS) announced the appointment of Phil Nash as Head Football Coach and Athletic Director. • Arkansas High School “Cyberhogs” placed as runner-up in E-sports state competition. • Keniyah Bryant, Arkansas High School student, wins 200 meters 5A State championship. • Redwater ISD wins Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) District of Distinction Award.

• St. James Day School middle

school students win two Best in Show categories in international “Plant the Moon” competition.




• Gary Smith named Texarkana Water Utilities Executive Director. • Theresa Cowling named Redwater Elementary Principal. • Sidney Harrist, longtime superintendent of Atlanta Independent School District, retired after 48 years in education. • J.C. Allaire named Domtar Mill Manager for Ashdown, Arkansas. • US Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven retires from the federal bench after 24 years of service. • Denis Washington named interim president of Texarkana USA Regional Chamber of Commerce. • Miller County elects Wayne Easley as new sheriff in runoff election.

• Vashil Fernandez named Director of Planning and Community Development for the city of Texarkana, Texas. • JW Bramlett named Director of Administrative Services for the city of Texarkana, Texas. • Lane W. Simmons, a Cass County native, appointed as the Texas Department of Transporation’s chief engineer. • CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic, part of the CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, expanded cancer care across the Ark- La-Tex and Oklahoma with the addition of Essam Malaty, M.D. to the oncology

team at the only comprehensive facility of its kind in the region.

• Col. Jonathan W. Meisel assumed command of Red River Army Depot.

• LifeNet named Dave Snavely new CEO.

• LifeNet CEO and president, David Baumgardner, retires after 24 years.

• Michael Kramm named Texarkana, Arkansas Police Chief. • Chris Black named interim Chief, Texarkana, Texas Fire Department.

• Police Chief Kevin Schutte and Director of Public Works Dusty Henslee take on additional duties as city of Texarkana, Texas assistant city managers.




• Arkansas-Texas Regional Economic Development Inc. (AR-TX REDI) Site Certification by Arkansas Governor Hutchinson. • Summit Utilities closes on the purchase of CenterPoint Energy, Inc. in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texarkana, Texas. • Wadley Regional Medical Center received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines- Stroke Gold Plus with Target: Stroke Honor Roll and Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll quality achievement award.

• TexAmericas Center ranked fifth US industrial park in the nation by Business Facilities Magazine . • Rob Sitterley, president and CEO of Arkansas-Texas Regional Economic Development Inc. (AR-TX REDI), was named one of North America’s top 50 economic developers of 2022.

• CHRISTUS Health ranked best

employers in Texas by Forbes Magazine .

• TLC Burgers & Fries reopens after fire.

COMING IN 2023... • Thanks to a Farmers Bank

• Monjuni’s restaurant is making a comeback to Texarkana.

Foundation donation of $100,000 to the University of Arkansas at Hope-Texarkana a new workforce education center located on the Texarkana Campus will be completed

• $150,000 project will bring

lights to downtown Texarkana’s Federal Courthouse.

and called the Farmers Bank and Trust Workforce Center.









Giving makes us feel happy. Giving is good for our health, deepens social connections, and evokes gratitude. Giving is simply contagious! Though our hearts are still inclined toward giving gifts, maybe now more than ever, since our introduction to the internet and online shopping over the past couple of decades, and even more since the pandemic in 2020, the face of Christmas giving has dramatically changed. The holidays we spent in quarantine conditions made it necessary to give to our friends and family without the benefit of sharing the same spaces. Now we find that whether we are on our couches or in our cars, in a public place or in the privacy of our own homes, there is a strong possibility in the months leading up to Christmas that we are browsing online to see what we can buy for those we love and sometimes having it delivered right to their doors!




Online shopping has changed the world of retail as we once knew it. According to the 2021 holiday report by Adobe, since the 2020 COVID pandemic, November and December 2021 saw Americans spend $204 billion online, almost ten percent more than they did in 2020. This rising trend filters down and changes the seasonal duties of our United States Postal Service (USPS) workers. USPS employees have become Santa’s real helpers. They are the boots-on-the-ground, dressed in their postal blues, delivering all our favorite gifts and cards. Now we get even more excited when we see those white trucks with their trademark blue eagles entering our neighborhoods, and we peek out our front doors much more frequently to see if that special package has been delivered. James Rutledge, a USPS postal worker here in Texarkana, shared, “When I started, we got mostly Christmas cards. With technology today, we don’t get as many cards anymore, but online shopping has increased the volume a lot.” Rutledge, 57, graduated from high school in 1984. He has been married to his wife, Jamie, for ten years. They have seven children, five girls and two boys, and seven beautiful grandchildren. After graduating high school, he joined the military and served four years in the Army. After completing his military service, he believes it was “fate” that led him to the post office. “I didn’t have a clue what to do. Someone in conversation told me they thought the post office was hiring and here we are 29 years later.”

As the workload is much heavier during the holiday season, the USPS allows employees like Rutledge to come in earlier to deliver before they start their usual routes. They also hire an additional 28,000 employees nationwide to help deliver for the holidays. Although this increased workload can be exhausting and stressful, Rutledge is glad to have the opportunity. “Just to know you are possibly bringing that last-minute gift or card is such a great feeling. To see the joy on people’s faces and the multiple ‘thank yous’ we receive puts a smile on my face and makes me feel good inside.” In addition to the holiday magic the USPS works so hard to deliver, they have created a program called Operation Santa that gives us the opportunity to join with them and participate in bringing joy to children everywhere. Thousands of letters to Santa are received every year and have been handled by the USPS now for over a century. Through Operation Santa, the letters are carefully sorted, scanned, and posted with the child’s personal information hidden. Generous people can go to the website and adopt a letter, shop to find the perfect gifts, and purchase them to help Santa fulfill the Christmas wishes of the hopeful child. The gifts are then shipped on behalf of the North Pole. Information about how you can get involved can be found at . “It’s so neat to see what kids are asking for and the excitement they have when you pick [their letters] up and tell them, ‘I’ll send it to Santa today,’” said Rutledge.




Visit the USPS Holiday Newsroom at for holiday tips, videos, and resources.

Mail carriers work tirelessly to deliver our correspondence and packages day in and day out—especially around the holidays. It can be rough out there for these postal employees, especially if their route is in an area where they experience a lot of inclement weather or other obstacles. If your mail carrier has been serving your neighborhood for a long time, you may get to know them on a more personal level. Whatever the situation is, it is not uncommon to feel inclined to gift them something for their efforts. Under federal regulations, mail carriers may receive gifts worth $20 or less. However, keep in mind they cannot accept cash, gift cards, or checks—anything that can be exchanged for cash. “Mail carriers love and appreciate food,” said Rutledge. “I have received cookies, brownies and even a bag of pecans straight from someone’s yard. The cards we receive also especially acknowledge all our hard work during this time of year and make us all feel very appreciated.”

Romans 12:6 in the Bible reminds us that “God, through Christ, has given each of us gifts to use for his glory” and the holidays can be a great time to use those gifts for that purpose—to shine the light of Jesus while bringing joy to others. Mail carriers do just that. They deliver joy daily. The mail carrier’s motto says, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” These days I think it is safe to add “global pandemic” and “holiday gift delivery” to the list of things that our loyal and hard-working postal employees are ready and willing to overcome in order to complete their rounds, and they are doing it with a smile. “What I like most about my job,” explained Rutledge, “are the friendships I have made over the years with my customers and the opportunity I have had to serve my community.

cover photo by Matt Cornelius













R yan Yarnell was born and raised in Texarkana, Texas, by parents William Yarnell and Jeanette McLeod. Like many in northeast Texas, the outdoors began calling his name at a very early age. When he was eight or nine years old, Ryan’s dad took him hunting for the first time in the green timber woods of East Texas. His dad and uncles were the first people to show him the ropes, and he has been a fixture in the sport ever since. In a blessed nation full of grocery stores, well stocked with a variety of quality meats, hunting is not like it was for the hunters of generations past. Today’s average hunter does not find himself in the deer stand or duck blind out of necessity, and for many men, it is not necessarily the hunt that matters most. It is the fellowship that makes each outing unique, laughing and exploring with friends. Quietly observing the morning fog as the sun peeks

over the horizon, noticing the leaves, grass, and overall beauty of nature working together in harmony, is what hunting is all about, and Ryan knows this all too well. As an outdoorsman, Ryan hunts deer and elk and claims he will “basically chase anything with feathers.” While he loves to hunt it all, Ryan firmly believes duck hunting has always been in his blood. “It is what I know best,” he said. “It’s what I was raised doing. I just love watching the ducks work.” “Duck hunting is what my dad did,” he said. “It made my dad my best friend. When we are in a blind, we may all have different views, but there’s no bickering in the blinds. Duck hunting brings people together around a passion for the outdoors. We all respect each other, and I get to spend time with the people I love most in this world. It centers me. The only time I’m actually quiet is when I’m in the woods.”




To this day, Ryan considers his family, and the boys he grew up with, to be his greatest influences and mentors. Ryan says he always hunted hard with the “Texarkana boys,” and still comes home every winter to go out and see family and friends. He has a camp in Arkansas and recently bought a few acres for his family on Millwood Lake, which at one point had some of the best duck hunting in the area. No matter where his adventures have taken him in the past or where he goes in the future, Ryan claims Arkansas, around Texarkana, will always be his favorite place to hunt. Since childhood, Ryan has learned a lot on his own, from good ole’ trial and error, and all the different people with whom he has hunted. When he was a kid, he had to walk and search a little harder for each new conquest, but like with most things today, accessibility has gotten easier with technology. As he started going out in different places, he learned new things as well; he discovered how to dry-field hunt, which, for him, brought totally new aspects to the way he approached the sport. After graduating from Texas High in 1996, Ryan’s journey took him to College Station, where he spent three years, until some old friends invited him to the Smoky Mountains. Once there, he was introduced to river rafting. It was a game changer and quickly ended his college career. He jumped in with both feet and became a rafting guide. He has since led groups through rivers all across the Southeast United States, and even into South America, including world-renowned rivers in Peru. As he continued to travel the world, he spent time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for skiing, and then on to California. There he learned the twists and turns of his all-time favorite location for rafting, the forks of The Kern River. Riding rapids will always be one of Ryan’s biggest passions. After several years of extreme adventure, Ryan moved north to Montana. A resident of Bozeman for 15 years now, he is happily married to the love of his life, Alexa, with whom he shares a young son named Hiram. Even though Alexa is not a hunter herself, she appreciates the food Ryan brings home and always prefers wild game to anything available in stores. Ryan claims his son is his “mini-me,” and






he has been taking Hiram out on boats, scouting, and exploring since he was just four weeks old. Though Ryan is looking forward to the day he can take Hiram hunting, he isn’t quite ready to take that step and will wait until he is closer to four or five years old. “It’s safety first,” he said. “First, kids need to know how to listen, and how to be quiet and attentive. It really depends on what you’re trying to hunt, and you have to wait until you feel like they’re ready.” Of course, every good hunter needs an even better dog. For Ryan, his dogs have always played a huge role in his career. His oldest dog, Boss, trained by the legendary Chris Akin, of Webb Footed Kennel in Bono, Arkansas, has been one of his greatest companions. Boss has picked up thousands of birds and has been everywhere with Ryan. As Boss has gotten older, he is now enjoying retirement from duck hunting but remains on the job as protector and companion to Ryan’s son, Hiram, and is a constant fixture at his side. These days Boss’ son, Clyde, is on the trail, tracking birds and leading hunts. Clyde was trained by FowlCo Retrievers in Elkins, Arkansas, and is making Ryan proud, following in his father’s paw prints. In his current role as a professional outdoor sportsman, Ryan works for and






represents VOORMI, one of the most advanced textile companies in the world. VOORMI is a company that is proudly made in the USA and manufactures outdoor gear from the world’s finest wool and natural fibers. With the title of “Field Professional,” and all-around VOORMI-sportsman, Ryan is honored to represent a brand that practices what they preach. VOORMI takes great care ensuring all their efforts have a low environmental impact, with most of their work done in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and some in Bozeman, Montana. In addition to VOORMI, Ryan has shot content for YETI, Benelli USA and other well-known brands, and it is not uncommon for him to have a professional photographer with him when he goes out to hunt. VOORMI’s mission is to “make less, make it last and make it matter.” So, as an ambassador of the brand and as an overall way of life, making it matter is what Ryan does every day. But what if you are just getting started? For the basics, Ryan keeps it simple. He claims all you need is a “VOORMI sportsman hoodie, a trusted ol’ shotgun, a box of shells and a good place to hunt… like Arkansas.” With new hunters, Ryan always reminds people not to get discouraged. Remember, it is not just about the hunt or what you bring home. It is about the fellowship and the experience. It’s about getting outside and away from the hustle of everyday life. “Be in it to enjoy the setup,” encourages Ryan. “Experience the awesomeness of nature, and most of all…have fun with the people around you.” To read more about Ryan, make sure you check out “TXK Roots” on page 74.







W hile I have confidently stated in the past that I truly thrive during the summer, and I still hold firmly to that statement, I must face the fact that when it comes to summer clothing, unless you are a size zero and can comfortably show some skin, it is just harder to dress to impress than it is in winter months! I would very much enjoy the ease of less clothing if I was not sporting a gut. Maybe I should just cut out fast food to solve this problem, but that is not really an option I am interested in. I have a much better solution to the winter wardrobe blues. Vest season is upon us, and it can really never get here soon enough. For me, it starts in October, or really, the second the temps drop to anything below 60 degrees. I am ready and waiting for the first valid excuse to wear my signature long sleeve shirts paired with a vest! Name a better duo, I’ll wait. I am by no means a fashion expert. You may be better off not listening to me when it comes to fashion advice. I can dress myself and that is about it. I consider

myself a friend others can take with them to the store when trying on clothes, and they can count on me to be encouraging. “Oh yeah! Looks good!” Now, it might not actually look good, but do I think it looks good? Yes! I am not lying with my compliments! My eyes are just broken, I guess. I am simply proposing the idea here that layering clothes in the winter makes for much cuter outfits! Do people have to agree with me? Absolutely not! Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion. I find clothing to be an expression of identity. Once upon a time, I used to feel like I did not fit in anywhere. Looking back, I feel like I just did not know myself at all. I did not know what I liked or what I didn’t like, what I wanted out of my life, or why I thought differently than those around me. Maybe using little things like red shoes or yellow skinny jeans represented the many shades of emotion I felt inside, but I definitely cringe to look back at old pictures where I had on a red sweatshirt,






blue skinny jeans, and red Converse (yes this happened). Clothes are sometimes an outward expression of who we are. What I wore used to say what I felt I could not say to the world. I told people who I was right off the bat with the eccentricity in my clothing because I was scared they would not like me when they got beyond the surface. I wanted to give them everything upfront, so there were no surprises. It was almost like a porcupine showing his quills— you can get close to me, but not too close. When I was in high school journalism, I wrote an article about the red high top

Converse shoes I wore with everything (even things that did not match them). After I turned it in, I was sitting in that class, and my teacher was reading my assignment. She turned and said, out loud in front of everyone, that it was “really, really good,,” and “very moving.” It was the first time I had ever realized my words on paper could impact someone, and it fueled my desire to write more. This article you are reading rounds out two years I have been writing for Texarkana Magazine and it all started because of a pair of red Converse! So, when choosing what to wear this

winter, bring your A-game every time! Wear those vests! Layer up and throw your UGG boots on. And while a vest can say a lot about you… because, let’s face it, they are just cool… we should not rely on our clothes to tell the story of who we are. After all, it wasn’t the red Converse that ultimately defined me during that time. It was my teacher’s reaction to my writing about the Converse that ended up making the difference in who I would become. But don’t get it twisted. While we are out there living the big moments, showing up and showing out, it doesn’t hurt to look good too.



December 2-4 Texarkana Community Ballet The Nutcracker Perot Theatre, four shows, times vary December 2-3 Regional Arts Center Open House and Arts Market 321 West 4th Street, times vary Saturday, December 3 Christmas Home for the Holidays Vendor Pop Up sponsored by Boys and Girls Clubs of Texarkana 2300 Buchanan Road, #7540, 11 am-4 pm Monday, December 5 Christmas Market Kress Gap, 116 W Broad Street, 5-7 pm

Sunday, December 11 Christmas at The Perot 221 Main Street, 4-6 pm Sunday, December 11 Outdoor Movie Night Featuring The Star First Baptist Texarkana, 5 pm Sunday, December 11 Christmas Charity Show sponsored by BC Dance Pleasant Grove High School, 5 pm Saturday, December 17 Christmas on Main Perot Theatre Events throughout the day, times vary Sunday, December 18

Friday, December 2 Trophy Husband Whisky River Country Saturday, December 3 The LaRouxs Hopkins, 7-10 pm Saturday, December 3 Jesse Jenkins The Hideout, 9 pm Friday, December 9 Aces & 8s The Hideout, 9 pm Saturday, December 17 Hope for the Holidays Hempstead Hall, 7 pm Saturday, December 31 Stevie Ray & The Deacon

Natalie Grant & Danny Gokey Trinity Baptist Church, 7 pm

with The Cold Shot The Hideout, 9 pm

For more events visit





Denny Burdine Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose

Clara Tengwall Outer Banks on Netflix

Hannah Birchfield Mystery and Murder: Analysis by Dr. Phil







Celebrate in style and shop local for all your holiday looks. Warm and cozy, chic and casual or full of sparkle, our hometown businesses have you covered. With the return of in-person celebrations and family gatherings, these looks will make a statement at any Christmas event or New Year’s Eve party. Find your inspiration right here and get it all from the trendy stores of Texarkana! fashion PHOTOS BY MATT CORNELIUS







Model Titus Yeldell zip footie, vintage deer fair isle jolly green by Angel Dear sizes newborn-12 months

and assorted colors available at Jaxson Layne Kids. Co.

Models Evelyn Blake & Trinity Jackson two-piece lounge wear set pink gingerbread sleigh by Angel Dear sizes 6 months-6 years and assorted colors available at Jaxson Layne Kids. Co.







Model Briley Bunch burgundy velvet bubble by Daisy available at Fan Fare Gifts sizes 0-3 months to 9-12 months

Model Lawson Langdon woven red check onesie by Jasper green corduroy overalls by Jellico available at Fan Fare Gifts sizes 0-3 months to 9-12 months







Model Liam Avila elmer beanie by Herschel Supply Co.

down jacket by Patagonia wally shoes by Hey Dude

Model Adelynn Avila axel beanie by Dakine 1/4 zip fleece by Patagonia

available at Racquet & Jog







Model Raney Corcoran Be Cool black jacket TCEC black vest Daze jeans Model Melissa Martin glam red top port blue Spanx leggings Kinsey Design necklace and statement earrings

available at Apricot Lane Boutique







Model Whitney Fuqua Sequin Suit Mini Dress by Sherri Hill available at GEB Special Occasions sizes 00-12 black or shiny ivory available in store rose gold special order 18k diamond flex cuff John Hardy silver diamond bracelet Julie Vos Monaco bangle diamond tennis necklace 14k diamond clover pendant Julie Vos Mirabella chain black & white diamond hoops black & white diamond band emerald & diamond ring available at Alexander’s Jewelers







Model Mindi Pruett Sequin Pant Suit by Sherri Hill available at GEB Special Occasions sizes 000-18 shiny Ivory available in store special order colors black, neon pink, neon orange, gold, peacock, periwinkle, and red Jewelry by Shy Creations 3.96 ct diamond tennis necklace 4.08 ct diamond adjustable strand necklace 0.90 ct diamond dog tag necklace available at Crocker’s Jewelers







Model Patsy Morriss faux fur vest by Tyler Boe red and black sweater by Tyler Boe vegan leather cropped pants by Liverpool available at Labels Boutique

Jewelry by Alwand Vahan gold bracelets and earrings available at Gray’s Jewelers






I discovered a love for running in college but since having children, my choice of exercise shifted towards higher intensity activities I could accomplish in smaller amounts of time. My work out routine also shifted and became not-as-frequent. So, here we are. As our kids are getting older and require less constant supervision, I reintroduced myself to running. I still do high-intensity interval training and a variety of other programs, but I wanted to give myself permission to go back to something I once enjoyed, even if it takes more time away from some mom and housework duties. Now don’t get it twisted, y’all. I am not training for a marathon and my pace doesn’t correlate with the length of my legs, but there is something about putting in my ear pods, turning up the music to a volume I’ll likely regret down the road, and checking out from my day’s to-do list. In college, I would run to hip hop music or current hits, but now I really prefer running to worship music. I have always felt closest to God in worship, and combining the two creates the most cleansing, precious time. I’m sweating out both toxins and fears, praying for people and situations, praising Him with humility and gratitude, and even though I am physically moving, I am still. “Battle Belongs” by Phil Wickham was playing when I prayed for our friends to have strength and peace while navigating the new unknown that comes with their son’s Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. I grieved for another friend who experienced two failed in vitro fertilization cycles to Charity Gayle’s “Throne Room.” A few weeks ago, I was running and praying for this very column—what could I share that could help a reader? What do I want my kids to learn or remember when they read this one day? As I flipped through my mental Rolodex, it occurred to me how blessed I am to have so many topics to consider—my family, our health, and the holiday season… the list goes on and on. Why celebrate just one when God has given us many? My husband’s birthday is five days before Christmas and while we celebrate him every year, we will go a little bigger this year because John Flippo turns forty! John is so many things that are good in this







world. He puts his family first, has worked incredibly hard for his success, and is a good, loyal friend. It is a guarantee the clothes he is wearing have been freshly ironed. He takes his coffee black, and you should never ask his opinion unless you are ready for it. His favorite Christmas song is “Pretty Paper.” He has terrible vision and grinds his teeth in his sleep, but he gave our children his beautiful blue eyes and his natural hand-eye coordination. John balances my emotional overthinking with logic and common sense, and his attention to detail is eerily keen. Every day he empties the contents of his pockets into his catchall in a specific place and in a specific order because “it just makes sense.” We started dating when I was 19 and I still haven’t learned which direction his money clip faces because I get caught after getting in it every. single. time. He is the fun parent, a proud Atlanta Rabbit, and loves classic country music. Do not let him catch a Gaither Homecoming special on television, either, because it will get recorded on our DVR, never to be deleted. Excuses are never acceptable for any hardship or trial, only ownership of the action and motivation to do and be better, regardless of who is responsible for the circumstance. John may be strong in his opinion but will be the first to apologize when he’s wrong. If he’s not on the golf course, watching a Razorback sport, or working hard to provide for his family, you are likely to find him right in the palm of our daughter’s hand. The Brothers mimic everything he does, and I can only pray they turn out to be husbands and fathers like him. I pray the same for the boy our little girl marries one day. He makes me a better person and not a day goes by that he does not compliment me in front of the kids. He is just good, y’all. We certainly don’t deserve him, but we are so happy he is ours and so happy he was born. The youngest Brother stopped eating for over ten days back in September. Two hospital stays and my debut as momma bear to a room full of doctors later, the biggest fan of food in our home started eating again, and all has been right in the world with him since. Those eleven days were full of anxiety and complete helplessness as a parent. We still don’t really understand what caused it but let me tell you one thing—I will never take our health for granted again. I will also never forget how our village stepped up without hesitation in our time of need. Teachers, friends, speech therapists, family, our pediatrician, church staff, colleagues, friends of friends—I don’t know that we have ever felt such heavy blankets of love and prayer around us as we did during those days. We were completely overwhelmed with gratitude. I followed the American Cancer Society’s recommendation and had my first mammogram this year. I am thankful my results were normal and that my mom remains cancer free since her diagnosis and double mastectomy in 2013. We were appreciative to discover the oldest Brother’s tree nut allergy after he puffed up, almost instantly, after a bite of cashew dip. Children’s Benadryl now lives in every bathroom, bag, car, nook, and cranny. And perhaps the healthiest and greatest move of all is the one big sister made when she prayed her prayer of salvation in the spring. Her faith alone has brought such goodness and beauty to our home when moments were cloudy, and I thank God for using her to remind us of His greatness. Now if I’m being completely honest, I’m not ready for the holidays. Like, at all. As if most days aren’t already spent putting out

fires and taking care of the revolving door of laundry, I can’t seem to get my thoughts together before another flame sparks somewhere or I find another basket ready to be washed. Ready or not, though, I know Christmas morning is about to burst through the door like the Kool-Aid Man. Gifts, meals, coverage for kids while they’re out of school and I am working, class parties, work parties... all the things are happening and if I let it, anxiety will creep in, making me question if I’m doing it well. Will I make it special enough for my kids? Will they be happy with their gifts? Is my house clean enough for having company? I won’t let anxiety win because as cliché as it sounds, I need to remember the reason for the season. Jesus doesn’t care if we remembered to make some Pinterest-inspired reindeer food to sprinkle on the grass Christmas Eve or if guests see water marks on the bathroom mirror, friends. Let’s get real. Gabbie has lost at least eight teeth and I just learned the other day the tooth fairy is supposed to take the tooth after she leaves the money. She does not seem to be bothered that her tooth fairy doesn’t follow the same protocol as others, and really, neither does Jesus. He was born in a manger, died for our sins, and I am questioning if I am following the tooth fairy’s policies and procedures? Girl, bye. Maybe Santa cares, but Jesus doesn’t. I think He cares about loved ones being around a crowded table, giving thanks for the things we have and lives we live, knowing He gave them to us, and we don’t deserve a single bit of it. He doesn’t care if you sit at a beautifully decorated place setting with Christmas dishes or on a sticky floor with paper plates. It doesn’t matter to Him how your Christmas tree is decorated, or if you have a tree at all. He wants our hearts because He loves us more than we can ever imagine. He loved us like this before we were even born. I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful He loves my sticky-floor self. As I look back at moments in my life, I can’t help but wonder, “What if my circumstances were different? Would I still feel grateful?” Maybe I’m being naïve, but a large part of me believes our circumstances just are what they are, and it is our outlook that creates the outcome. Sure, we can take the hard and run with it, or we could find the goodness because it is there, too. I promise. I have and will continue to see hard times and dark days, but perspective, especially when intentional, is such a powerful thing. On the days I don’t feel like hitting the treadmill, I am reminded of my favorite Peloton Coach’s phrase, “You don’t have to, you get to. It’s a privilege, not a punishment.” Thank you, Jess Sims. One of the popular song requests on our drive to school is “I’m So Blessed” by Cain. Friends, there is something about listening to your children sing about how every day, even their worst day, is a good day because they have a heartbeat in their chests and are a child of God. On mornings we struggle, we may even listen to it twice just to make sure it sinks in. I want them to be grateful for the highs and the lows because He is faithful. After all, I was able to snuggle my once heartbroken friend’s perfect newborn baby girl in October and watch our other friends’ son continue to grow and thrive despite his Type 1 diagnosis.



Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs