May 2023

Texarkana Magazine

MAY • 2023

TEXARKANA MAGAZINE May | 2023 | Volume 4 | Issue 5

45. LIFE Class of 2023 54. STYLE Finding Forever

10. BUSINESS Taste Buds 16. POLITICS Strengthening the Health Care Workforce


32. cover/SPORTS Going Bananas 40. ENTERTAINMENT Good Evening TXK



62. TXK 411 Potted Planter 64. THE MONTHLY MIX Teacher Gifts 66. TXK ROOTS Buffy Youngblood

20. COMMUNITY Clay’s Golf & Guitars 26. CULTURE Books for Grads



Who was your favorite teacher?

CASSY MEISENHEIMER Susie Grogan Queen City Middle School 7th Grade English

TERRI SANDEFUR Arnie Lawson Prescott High School 12th Grade Band

SHELBY AKIN Anne Taliaferro St. James Day School 2nd Grade

KARA HUMPHREY Debbie Norton, Rita Martin, and Peggy Hobson Red Lick Elementary 5-8th Grades

MATT CORNELIUS Marc-André Bougie Texarkana College Music Appreciation

LEAH ORR Charla Harris Pleasant Grove High School Yearbook

BRITT EARNEST Sue Harvey Pleasant Grove Elementary School 4th Grade

BRITTANY ROBLES Holley Robinson Texarkana College Freshman Biology

TIFFANY HORTON Sandra Downs Kennedy Elementary 1st Grade

LESLI FLOWERS Patti Pierce Wake Village Elementary 3rd Grade

BAILEY GRAVITT Jenny Walker Texas High School 10th Grade Communications

MEGAN GRIFFIN Rebecca Potter Texas High School 9-12th Grade Yearbook


PAULA SHANKLES Helen Clark Hope High School 9-12th Grade Home Economics

KYLE AKIN Steve Clowney University of Arkansas Law School

ANDREW MCELHANEY Ellen Campbell Pleasant Grove High School 12th Grade English



TEXARKANA MAGAZINE 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503

so conveniently located, right off I-30 after crossing Lake Ray Hubbard, that we did not have to deal with the stress of pulling the camper through the metroplex. Also, with that location, we could get just about anywhere we needed to be within 45 minutes, and the customer service from the staff was impeccable. They called to check on our arrival time, and when we arrived, they escorted us to our camping spot. They even helped Fred successfully back the camper in, earning them five stars from me, as it saved us from the stress of that task and the argument that was sure to follow. The facilities are so lovely. The entire park is gated. They have lots of lights at night, so you never feel like anything could lurk in the shadows. They have an activity center with a pool table, shuffleboard, a Golden Tee video game, TVs, a hot tub, a swimming pool, a business center, and a gym. They also have not-so-ordinary campsite community bathrooms and showers which are extremely clean. They are nothing like the showers I used growing up camping. (Those were meant to build character and make you appreciate things.) Staying at Lakeshore was like staying at a very nice resort, where you bring your bed. They provide all the amenities you could want and definitely more than you need. I absolutely recommend it if you need a place to stay in the metroplex and want to go camping. We look forward to doing it again! May begins the time of year when golfing, camping trips, and baseball games ramp up. On this month’s cover, we have our locally known and nationally loved Vincent Chapman, AKA “The Dancing Umpire.” I am fortunate to have grown up with Vincent in Queen City, where we graduated high school together. We have known each other a long time, and one thing has remained the same the entire time I have known him. He ALWAYS brings a smile to people’s faces. These days he is doing that on a larger scale for the Savannah Bananas Baseball Team. Check out our special graduate section as we cheer on the Class of 2023 and wish them all the best in their next adventures. Enjoy!


A couple of months ago, I wrote about our new camper and the escapades that were on the horizon for the Meisenheimer family. The good news is that it all has gone well, and everyone is still intact after two weeks of camping adventures. These outings are probably very different from what most would envision when using the word “camping.” For example, we had a water view and community bathrooms and showers, just like I did camping as a child. But this scenic view also included the George Bush Turnpike and I-30. The “19th Hole” camper (as we affectionately call it) was purchased with the intention of making it our home away from home while our kids participate in out-of-town golf tournaments. In the metroplex, this camping experience led us to Lakeshore RV Resort in Garland, Texas. Growing up, I had never stayed at an RV park because my camping scene mostly consisted of Cowhide Cove at Lake Greeson and Shady Lake in Arkansas. RV park camping has been a very different experience. For starters, we had to get the 19th Hole approved for entry, as they have restrictions against campers over ten years old. Ours is a 2009. Who knew RV parks had so many rules? However, all it took to gain entrance was a phone call to the park manager, sending photos of our camper, a mention that I would include their wonderful RV park in this article, and the promise of a much needed “bath” in order to get the 19th Hole looking spick and span before we rolled in. It was a wonderful experience both times we visited. Lakeshore RV Resort is





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 .




Kyle Akin

Andrew McElhany


YOU ASKED, AND WE LISTENED. This month’s food review comes from a local restaurant that is not on everyone’s radar (yet). Tay’sful Kitchen is located in the “circle of Wake Village” at 607 Redwater Road, across from Domino’s Pizza. Taylor Smith, the owner of Tay’sful Kitchen, is as genuine as they come. She was professional, polite, and courteous from the minute we sat down. The only thing better than the service was the smell. You could smell love in the air. Well, our kind of love, anyway. Before Tay’sful opened on February 8, 2023, Taylor expressed her passion for food by cooking lunches in her kitchen for her mom to take to work at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital. Others caught on quickly, and Taylor soon fed many hungry medical professionals daily. With glowing reviews from CHRISTUS St. Michael staff and a fast-growing reputation, Taylor started cooking more and catering various events. Finally, Taylor’s following grew so much that she decided it was time to open up shop, and Tay’sful Kitchen was born. Thank you, Taylor; the people of the greater Texarkana area needed Tay’sful Kitchen. The first time we dined at Tay’sful Kitchen was on a Wednesday. If you are one of the fortunate ones who have eaten here before,




Wing Wednesday, naked and clothed

Taylor Smith, owner of Tay’sful Kitchen in Wake Village

you know this specific day of the week is Wing Wednesday. When we ordered wings for the appetizer, Taylor flipped it back to us by asking, “Clothed or naked?” If you are a wing fan, you know that question refers to whether you want the wings breaded or not. Being that it was our first time there, and needing to provide our readers with good, sensible direction, we ordered them half and half. Now, two places (which we won’t mention) come to mind when thinking about wings, both of which are in trouble after sampling Taylor’s rendition of this staple item. They were simply fantastic. The wings were cooked to perfection, with the outside crunchy and the meat juicy and falling off the bone. They were massive, in a good way! The only problem was that we were too stubborn to let them cool before devouring the entire basket. We found ourselves doing that thing where we were trying to talk to each other about how great the wings were while trying to chew and cool the bite off with our breath at the same time. It did not work out well, but it wasn’t hard to figure out what the other was trying to convey. If we had to pick one, we preferred the breaded because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a perfectly fried chicken wing? We had our wings dusted in a lemon pepper seasoning, but that is

just one of many flavors she offers. We will definitely be back on a Wednesday to try the rest. After devouring the wings, bones and all (just kidding), it was time to decide what to get for the main dishes, which proved much more difficult than either of us anticipated. We studied the menu intensely and scoped out every picture on Tay’sful’s social media before arriving, and we thought we had a plan. But as lovers of all things seafood, buttery, and Cajun-spiced, all bets were off when we walked through those doors. Andrew— I willingly chose the daily special, “The Fix,” which consisted of a hearty piece of blackened salmon and five juicy grilled shrimp on a bed of Cajun fried rice. If that wasn’t enough, it also came with a side of street corn covered in a creamy, buttery Cajun sauce and a side of garlic broccoli that will make you want to slap yo mama. The salmon was perfectly cooked with a nice crust of blackening seasoning drizzled with a light creamy Cajun sauce that would only have been better had it been served with a straw. It’s one of those sauces that you’re not upset about when it drips on your shirt because hours/days later, when you’re at home scrubbing




rice (all honored above), and the thin layer of melted butter that had accumulated on the bottom of the plate, what else do you need? The answer is a Cajun-boiled egg and an eggroll with sweet dipping sauce. Having never had a Cajun boiled egg, we did a little investigating and contemplating, and this is what we came up with... Imagine a Saturday afternoon crawfish boil with your friends. You’re outside, enjoying the warm weather, the sun is shining, you get the water rolling in the pot, throw in your seasonings, and toss in some lemons, oranges, and some spice to kick it up a notch. Just as the water starts to turn that deep red/orange color, you turn to grab your swamp lobsters and toss them in. Wait, oh no, Billy forgot to pick up the crawfish. So, what do you do? You go to the fridge, find the

The Fix

pack of five dozen eggs your spouse impulsively bought at Sam’s, and think, “What the heck, let’s do this!” That’s what these Cajun-boiled eggs taste like. Simply fantastic. Nothing brings a meal home like a crispy, crunchy egg roll with a sweet dipping sauce. Hard on the outside, soft on the inside, perfection, rolled up in a wonton wrapper, just how we like it. Tay’sful Kitchen was an excellent restaurant with a great owner and caring, attentive staff. They are open daily from Tuesday to Thursday (11-7), Friday and Saturday (11-8), and serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday (11-3). We highly recommend you follow Tay’sful Kitchen on social media for more information on daily specials and pictures of their incredible food.

the stain out, it brings back wonderful memories about the meal and reminds you to go back soon (this happens to us often). The Cajun fried rice paired perfectly with the grilled shrimp, which was pulled together by, you guessed it, the SAUCE! If you love corn on the cob, you might want to double up on this side. And yes, I was wearing the creamy Cajun sauce from ear to ear (no pun intended). I cannot forget the steamed garlic broccoli. If you are not a fan of creole, seafood, or anything else you may come across at Tay’sful Kitchen (which is highly unlikely), you must stop and get a side of this broccoli. There’s no telling how many spankings I might have been spared growing up if this was the broccoli my parents served me as a child. The garlic sauce drizzle was not overpowering and aligned perfectly with the overall flavor of the plate! I even brought a side of broccoli to the co-worker who recommended Tay’sful Kitchen to us!

Kyle— I ordered the “Tacklebox,” a regular item on the menu, but in no way does “regular” describe this wonderful dish. The Tacklebox included eight juicy shrimp stir-fried over garlic steamed broccoli and Cajun fried rice, and as you might have guessed, it also comes with a side of corn, a Cajun boiled egg, and an egg roll with sweet dipping sauce. If anyone knows me, then you know that I will most certainly get the most Asian-inspired dish on any menu, so it is no surprise that the stir-fried dish with an egg roll caught my eye. This dish was da bomb! (Shout out to the 90’s.) But in all seriousness, this entire plate was an explosion of flavor. The shrimp were grilled perfectly, and when combined with the garlic steamed broccoli, corn, Cajun fried

The Tacklebox





NURSE’S WEEK IS MAY 6-12, 2023

A rkansans rely on access to physicians and health care professionals to provide life-saving and preventative care close to home. Rural states like ours face an acute need for medical providers. More than 500,000 Natural State residents live in an area defined by the federal government as lacking the adequate number of health professionals to serve the population. While we’re investing in educating and training the next generation of health care providers to help expand the delivery of health care across the state, Congress is also advancing a number of solutions to help enhance health care in rural communities and underserved areas. Arkansas is not alone in experiencing an increasingly insufficient number of physicians. Nationwide, we’re facing a projected shortage of up to 124,000 doctors by 2034 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. There is a bipartisan effort in both chambers of Congress to address this and I’m proud to support these initiatives to strengthen our health care workforce. We’ve made positive steps in recent years with a small increase of Medicare-supported Graduate Medical Education (GME) positions and we’re building on this momentum. I recently joined my colleagues to introduce legislation aimed at attracting medical professionals to practice in communities across Arkansas by increasing access to medical residency slots in areas with a shortage of health care professionals. The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act would update the GME distribution process to allow medical residency programs in areas with physician shortages a greater chance of gaining available residency slots following a hospital closure elsewhere in the country. During residency, physicians refine their skills in specialty fields and obtain their license to practice. Once this step is completed, data show most doctors don’t move away. That’s why having GME positions in Arkansas is so vital to creating a pipeline of future medical providers. We’re also working to incentivize students to join the medical field and encourage them to pursue residencies in rural areas by advancing the Resident Education Deferred Loan Interest Act. This legislation would allow medical and dental students to pause student loan interest accrual and principal loan repayment while serving in their residencies or internships.

Sen. John Boozman, Arkansas Republican, serves as Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He also serves on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

UAMS chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said these measures “will help retain physicians in areas where they are needed most.” We are also aiming to preserve the talent developed at American medical schools to stay here to serve our citizens. The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act allows international doctors trained and educated in the United States to remain here as long as they practice in areas experiencing physician shortages. Just as importantly as drawing physicians to rural areas is ensuring they want to stay. The Save Rural Hospitals Act would help curb the trend of hospital closures in rural communities by making sure they are fairly reimbursed for their services by the federal government. This would help hospitals increase compensation for doctors and other medical professionals. Because this is an issue that impacts the entire country, there is widespread interest in developing policies to better support the health care needs of underserved areas. This will continue to be a priority for me and our state leaders to help Arkansans live longer, healthier lives.




HOW IT ALL BEGAN In May 2014, friends of Gail and Dr. Ed Eichler held a crawfish boil to celebrate the life of their son, Clay, who passed away earlier that year. The crawfish boil was held on Clay’s birthday (a birthday shared with his older brother, Edward) as an opportunity to share memories and uplift the family. It was quickly evident that this memorial would become an annual gathering to raise funds for the community. The Clay Eichler Memorial Fund was created in 2014, and the first Clay’s Golf and Guitars fundraiser was held May 30, 2015, at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. For the past nine years, the Clay Eichler Memorial Fund has benefitted local organizations, some from their inception, in hopes of making a positive impact on the Texarkana community in memory of Clay. “We pick our recipients after carefully going over their missions and how they would use money the community would essentially give,” Eichler said. “We tried to choose organizations which would provide services to the most people in our area.” CLAY’S GOLF AND GUITARS THROUGH THE YEARS…

To date, the Clay Eichler Memorial Fund has awarded over $ 1.2 million to local organizations.




GOLF AND GUITARS Each year, the fundraiser begins with a golf tournament hosted at Northridge Country Club. Teams, many filled with friends of Clay, gather to compete in a friendly tournament and share memories of their beloved friend. After the golf tournament, a tribute band plays, and attendees gather to eat, celebrate, and dance. The party historically includes a highly-esteemed raffle drawing. A select amount of $100 tickets are sold to provide a chance to win a vacation for four. “The first year, we had no idea on how to throw a concert,” stated Eichler. “We had Jason Boland and The Stragglers, one of Clay’s favorite bands. We had a friend suggest a tribute band after being at a wedding in Houston and remarking how much fun it was. So, we decided to have tribute bands in the following years who offer music we like to dance to.”

2019: Dr. Ed and Gail Eichler

NINE YEARS OF GIVING BACK 2015— Texas A&M University-Texarkana was awarded $120,000 for a four-year scholarship and an endowed scholarship. 2016 & 2017— The ArkLaTex 100 Club was formed to help families of deceased officers. The Clay Eichler Memorial Fund combined their funds from 2016 and 2017 for a total of $310,000 to donate to the ArkLaTex 100 Club. “The ArkLaTex 100 Club is a direct result of Clay’s Golf and Guitars,” Eichler said. “This is the only community volunteer non- profit organization supporting police and firefighters. The mission is to provide funds for dependents of our first responders lost in the line of duty. Remaining funds are used to purchase any unbudgeted but necessary life-saving equipment and additional training.” The ArkLaTex 100 Club distributed funds to the family of slain correctional officer, Lisa Mauldin (47), on December 17, 2016, and to immediate family of Telford Unit Correctional Officer Coy Coffman (65) who passed from complications of COVID-19 on April 27, 2020. On October 27, 2021 Lucas Stephenson (25) died when the fire truck he was driving overturned. “We provided financial assistance to officer dependents within 72 hours of an officer’s death,” Eichler said. “We also supplied funds for life-saving, unbudgeted firefighter/police officer equipment.”


CLAY’S GOLF AND GUITARS’ BANDS 2015 Jason Boland and The Stragglers 2016

CMA Artist Winner and Texas Country Music Hall of Famer Sonny Burgess 2017 Jonathan Moody Band 2018 The Fab 5: Beatles and 1960s Tribute Band 2019 Dancing Dream: ABBA Tribute Band 2021 ESCAPE: The Ultimate Journey Tribute Band 2022 Sail On: Beach Boys Tribute Band 2023


Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Tribute Show




used for the purchase of property and the building of a new 25 bed home for women. Until the permanent home is built, temporary housing is being utilized to house seven women and a house mom. To date, the Clay Eichler Memorial Fund has awarded over $1.2 million to local organizations. 2023— This year will mark the final year of Clay’s Golf and Guitars. “We never imagined our ‘benefit’ would last nine years when we started this in 2014,” Eichler reflected. “This event has been successful primarily because of the dedication and enthusiasm of everyone who volunteers. Each of these organizations have been excellent stewards of money raised by our wonderful and generous community members.” The golf tournament will take place the morning of May 20 at Northridge Country Club. The concert in the evening will feature Satisfaction: A Rolling Stones Tribute Show. The raffle ticket drawing VOLUNTEERS (top) 2021: Debbie Alkire, Barbara Glick, Judy Smith, Gail Eichler, Brenda Sutton, Ann Ainsley, and Stephanie Maddox. (left) 2022: Front—Stephanie Maddox, Lisa Henry, Debbie Schimming, and Laurie Booker. Back—Brenda Sutton, Lucy Sarrett, and Bonnie Lamb.

2018 & 2019— $310,000 benefitted the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club at the C.K. Bender location. In April 2020, Boys and Girls Club closed due to the pandemic, but residual funds will be used to open the first Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club in Arkansas early next year. 2020— The traditional May date was moved to August in response to the pandemic. “We were able to host the golf tournament only and awarded $120,000 to the Boy Scouts ScoutREACH program. 2021 & 2022— Haven Homes was the chosen non-profit. Funds raised in 2021 were able to award $170,000 to support ten men for one year at Haven Homes and ten women at the Haven Transitional Homes. Vehicle maintenance and other needs of the ministry were also included. In 2022, the Clay Eichler Memorial Fund awarded Haven Homes with $190,000 with funding being

will take place during the intermission at the concert, and the winner does not need to be present to win. Funds raised will be given to TRAHC’s Arts on Main program.

Scan to read more of Clay’s Golf and Guitars’ origin story in “Hope Remains” on our website.

Edward, Gail, and Dr. Ed Eichler






You have brains in your head, you have

G raduation time feels a bit like being on the cusp of a new year. The blank slate of a new life path can be a thrilling rebirth and, at the same time, paralyze you with the scaries. For many graduates, this could mean heading off to an oversized elementary school that makes you feel tiny, leaving the comforts of your childhood hometown to embark on a brave new world, or packing up your college apartment and thinking, now what? Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery While I recommended this book in my annual holiday gift-giving review, I have never reviewed it on paper. It is a book I have read multiple times and recommended to anyone interested in understanding people and themselves on a deeper level. feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose! ” —Dr. Seuss




The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile does an excellent job of explaining the Enneagram, which can be a helpful tool in understanding who you are at the root of what brings you joy and your deepest fear. It will also open your eyes to see the goodness at the heart of the people around you. “The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.” Another book I recommend at the start of a New Year that seems equally fitting for the new beginnings of graduation is Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book’s message is straightforward and insightful for the recent grad learning to form healthy habits and get into the new college or post-grad work rhythm. “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves, and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.” James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know I go back to Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell over and over. You have heard me review many books on the power of changing our minds, and for my money, there is no one better at helping you consider the other side than Gladwell. Heading off to or out of college is a ripe time to examine perspectives and ideals you hold dear. The same goes for us not graduating humans. “We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues. We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course. We are nuanced and complex, and enigmatic. But the stranger is easy. If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let it be this: Strangers are not easy.”

I polled a handful of reader buddies, and we all agreed that these books are also worth gifting... • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie • The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell • Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin

My tiniest human will graduate Pre-K in a few weeks, and while we could argue that graduating from every grade can get a tad non-special, I can not help but stand back and celebrate that we made it through infancy and toddlerhood. She is off and on

her way to great places, and I promise not to blink because I have been assured by the veterans who have gone before me that I will be buying her books to prepare her for college before I can finish a Dr. Seuss sentence.

Visit to sign up for Talk Tuesday and receive more book reviews by Lesli.





How can you not be romantic about baseball? —Billy Beane, Moneyball

photo by Matt Cornelius







B aseball has been a constant for more than a century of American history, and people have set their calendars using opening day as a guide. We have our favorite players and favorite teams, we collect baseball cards and autographs, and old, well-oiled baseball gloves are often passed down from father to son with as much reverence as any sacred family heirloom. It is hard to imagine after all this time, there could be anything new under the sun when it comes to baseball, but thanks to the antics of teams like The Savannah Bananas, based out of Savannah, Georgia, it is literally a whole new ball game! Banana Ball is baseball with a twist, and every game changer is meant to entertain the fans with an experience they will never forget. Banana Ball includes pre- game parades, choreographed dances, legendary walk ups, team celebrations running through the stands, and players in yellow kilts. There is a senior citizen dance team called the Banana Nanas, and a Dad Bod Cheerleading Squad called the Man-Nanas. But most impressive of all, and what really takes Banana Ball to the next level is Texarkana’s very own dancing umpire, Vincent Chapman, who can be found behind home plate for every thrilling game. “I had a dancing umpire video go viral in 2015 on Facebook and it got over 12 million views,” explained Chapman. “It ended up on Ellen DeGeneres’ website. Someone saw it there and sent it to the Bananas. They reached out to me through messenger in December

2021.” What was supposed to be a tryout quickly revealed itself as a sure thing, and the opportunity became the chance of a lifetime for this fun-loving umpire who has been on the ball field since early childhood. “I was supposed to try out in February 2022, but I was really the only umpire there and had signed a contract before I ever went, so I was pretty confident. I had a few Zoom meetings with the owner, and I fell in love with the ‘fans first’ culture he was trying to build. I knew I’d be a perfect fit because I love to entertain people and umpire.” For everyone involved, it was a match made in Heaven. Chapman grew up playing baseball from little league through high school ball at Queen City, and like many before and after him, he has had a love for the game since day one. “I love that baseball has the most life lessons you can learn from a sport,” he said. “In baseball, you are wide open. If you strike out, everybody knows it. If you don’t practice, it’s going to show. Building character comes from realizing you are on a team, and it’s not all about you. You are going to make mistakes, but how you learn from those mistakes is what makes you a better person and player. Baseball to me is the most valuable sport you can play to learn life lessons. Every position is important and there’s a position for almost everybody if they are willing to practice.” Chapman began umpiring at 15 years old in Atlanta, Texas, while he was still a student athlete. “I was a freshman going into my




sophomore year of high school. I was at a game, and I asked the guy who was over the league if I could start umpiring. I umpired my first game at 15 years old at first base, and I blew a call in the second inning,” he recalled. “A ball hit on the line, and I called it foul.” For many teenagers, the pressure and intensity of the game and the public scrutiny of making a bad call may have been intimidating, but Chapman used the moment to develop confidence and learn from his mistake. “Everyone was yelling and upset, and I realized, ‘This isn’t so bad, and I survived.’ I knew after that I could handle it.” The key to his success as a young umpire was being willing to make the tough calls and stand behind them. “Back then I had pretty thick skin, and I kicked a lot of coaches out as a young umpire. They knew they could only go so far, and I wouldn’t be intimidated. I would throw them out even as a teenager. They weren’t going to run over me. I was doing the best I could do. Of course, I missed calls. I know I did. And my strike zone wasn’t that great. They even called me ‘shoestrings’ for a while because I liked the low pitch. But I adapted and got better.” 25 years have now passed since Chapman got his start as an umpire, and he has watched an entire generation of ball players come and go and return as fathers and coaches of their very own little leaguers. Time marches on and, thankfully, so does baseball.

A business-as-usual type of umpiring doesn’t normally draw the attention of crowds, but of course, business as usual has never really been Chapman’s style. Long before The Savannah Bananas showed up on the scene, the baseball fans of Texarkana had taken notice of “The Dancing Umpire,” as he was affectionately referred to, and he has long been a crowd favorite. “I’ve been dancing my whole life,” Chapman said. “At fifth and sixth-grade dances, I would be the only one on the dance floor while everyone else was over by the punch bowl. I’ve always loved to dance because I love to make people laugh and have a good time, so I’ve been doing it since I was little. At some point, parents started bringing those old coolers with built-in radios to their kid’s ball games and that’s all it took to get me grooving between innings. The kids started laughing and having fun with it and would get their phones out and record; it brought a little more enjoyment to the games. It would break the monotony and stress of parents, coaches, and teammates yelling at you and it would remind everyone it’s a game! It’s supposed to be fun.” It is that outlook that made the Savannah Bananas the obvious next step for this Dancing Umpire. The Bananas are all about the fun and the fans. “Two words… ‘Fans First,’” Chapman said. “We are all about making the fan’s experience unforgettable.” The games are not scripted, and the players are very competitive, so for two






Kathrine and Vincent Chapman

full hours, you get all the excitement of a high stakes baseball game paired with a party atmosphere that starts before the first pitch is ever thrown. “After the games, we stand outside for an extra hour taking pictures and signing autographs with fans. It’s crazy! It feels like I’ve signed thousands of autographs and taken thousands of pictures with fans. I never would have imagined. The games are all about the fans and they are so much fun.” Each year since the beginning of Banana Ball, the team’s popularity has grown exponentially. This year, they will play 90 games in 33 cities and 21 states. That is almost three times more games than they played just last year. “The bigger the crowd, the more exciting it is!” says Chapman. “I’ve been blown away but never nervous— overwhelmed, but never intimidated. Every game since 2016 has been sold out and there are 500,000 on the waiting list for tickets!” Chapman can travel weekly thanks to his accommodating employers at IT Network Specialists (ITNS) where he does sales. “ITNS works with me to make the Banana’s travel schedule work, and they have been very supportive. Owner Bradley Wicks and my bosses Richie Wicks and Jeremy Boykin really are great. It’s a great company,” he said. Chapman’s wife, Kathrine, has also been very supportive of his busy travel schedule and often accompanies him to see the Bananas play. They are the team behind the team and Chapman is grateful for their support in making this dream a reality. Baseball brings something out of people, players, and fans alike, from generation to generation that is priceless. “Just seeing people smile and having a good time for the two hours of the game, knowing they’re enjoying it… all the worries, all the cares, all the things going on in their lives are no longer their focus. It’s all about that moment,” Chapman said. “I love making people happy most of all. It might be selfish on my part, but getting smiles and laughs from what I do is the best.” There really is something romantic about baseball.

Scan here to visit The Savannah Bananas YouTube channel and see Vincent in action.

See more of Vincent on Instagram @thedancing_ump.

A very special thank you to Ross Cowling with the Texarkana, Texas Parks and Recreation Department for preparing the beautiful baseball field in our cover story photo shoot.

cover photo by Matt Cornelius






N ine years ago, a very wild, rambunctious 16-year-old me was sitting in Mrs. Jenny Walker’s communications classroom at Texas High School. I was rather obnoxious, dividing my classmates up between ‘royals’ and ‘peasants’ and making plans for how I would go about securing my own MTV reality show, entitled King Bailey of course, because what else would I title it? Through my loudest and lowest days, when I thought I was running the classroom, I can still firmly recall every hallway conversation with Mrs. Walker. Nine times out of ten, I had just been sent out of class by her for doing something dumb, yet she never treated me like I was dumb. She just wanted to gently remind me, “Bailey, you can’t call your classmates peasants.” Since we are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week in May, I wanted to give a really big THANK YOU to Jenny Walker. She deserves it not just for how she treated (and continues to treat) me, but because of how she treated all her students. I hope we all can look back at our experience growing up in the public school system and remember at least one or maybe even two teachers who saw something in us that we did not see in ourselves. It takes a very special human being to see beauty where things appear on the surface to be ugly, wholeness where there appears to be cracks, and abundance where there seems to be a lack. I can name on one hand the number of special people in my life who have done this for me, and Jenny Walker is included in that count. Throughout my school years, I had the unique privilege of having a great mother, a supportive family, loving friends, and a social, outgoing personality (which I am sure was a challenge for many of my teachers). Other students around me did not grow up afforded the same advantages. Mrs. Walker did not have to say a word because it was evident from her actions alone, even to 16-year-old Bailey, that GOOD EVENING TXK COLUMN BY BAILEY GRAVITT







LOCAL EVENTS May 8 Get Into Gardening Texas A&M-Texarkana University Center 6 pm May 10 Inspired! Texarkana Chamber of Commerce Women’s Conference Texas High Performing Arts Center, 8:30 am-12 pm May 12 Downtown Live Downtown Texarkana, 5-9 pm May 13 Dragon Boat Race Festival Bringle Lake East, 9 am-5 pm May 14 Mother’s Day May 16 Infant Safety and CPR Training Pathway Resource Center, 6:30-7:30 pm

May 5-7, May 12-14 Pippin Texarkana College Every Saturday of May Texarkana Farmers Market Downtown Texarkana, 7 am-12 pm May 6 Community Unity Day for students 9-12 am Four States Fairgrounds, 11 am-3 pm May 6 Friends of 1st Choice PRC Walk 4 Life Spring Lake Park, 7:30 am May 6 Twice as Fine Texarkana Wine Festival Spring Lake Park, 11 am-7 pm May 8

May 20 #BeLikeCJ Walk of Love Downtown Front Street, 7:30 am May 21 Tough Kookie Cancer Support Group Meeting Oak Street Baptist Church, 4 pm May 29 Memorial Day Service Hillcrest Memorial Park, 2 pm

Tyler Brolo Order of Man

Tee Up for Temple Texarkana Country Club, 11 am

Kiki McClure I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

For more events visit


introduced me to a little phrase known as “fake it ’til you make it,” a statement that I have carried with me since 2014, the first time I heard it in her classroom. I did not realize how often I would apply this phrase, meant for my professional life, to my personal life. Most of us see the highlights on social media, everyone’s best moments, not understanding that almost everyone is just faking it! The person with 200 million followers on Instagram feels just as lost as you do, just faking it, taking things day by day. We are all the same, no better than

Every Tuesday Night Karaoke at Whiskey River, 8 pm May 20 Blues, Booze, and BBQ 67 Landing, 2 pm May 27 Dusty Rose Band The Dapper, 8:30 pm

Edie Neal One Tree Hill on Hulu

her unwaveringly kind, beautiful heart for me and the kids who were not as lucky as

I, was at the forefront of every move she made as an educator. I watched her bleed compassion, patience, and understanding for those she knew needed to hear they were so much more than their current circumstances. To this day, Mrs. Walker still talks to those students, the ones she poured her heart into in high school. I want to think she is fully aware of her profound impact on some of her kids, as that would make the ups and downs of her profession, which isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, worth it for her. All I can hope to do in this life as well is to make an impact on people for the better. I had Mrs. Walker as a teacher the year I started my first job at Starbucks. She taught us all about the art of job interviews and

anyone else. Remember, as Mrs. Walker would say, “Bailey, you can’t call your classmates peasants.” Nine years later, I have never utilized a teacher’s wisdom as much as I have Jenny Walker’s. I am forever grateful to her. Although she no longer teaches in a high school, Jenny still serves as an educator. As Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties, she leads a team of faculty, staff, and volunteers who help men and women meet academic and workforce goals to better provide for themselves and their families, and I know her impact will continue to be life changing for everyone she touches. So, from me and so many others, thank you Mrs. Walker… Sincerely, King Bailey.









No one gets a diploma alone. The teachers, administrators, family, and friends who contribute to a graduate’s future are real heroes. CONGRATULATIONS from Texarkana Magazine !




A s a family of six, space and location were key factors when Sarah and Dr. Mike Wages were house shopping eight years ago. They eventually found the perfect-sized house just minutes from work and school, making it easy to overlook the dated decor to see the home’s potential. Sarah was also particularly drawn to the classic colonial architecture and the quiet cul-

de-sac where she could easily envision the kids safely playing. Fast forward several years and the dated decor began to feel restrictive, but Sarah struggled to figure out how to make an update that still felt true to the home’s architecture. However, meeting with designer, Lauren Callaway, helped her imagine ways to give the house new life. “I didn’t really know Lauren, but I was friends with her on Facebook and

saw that she was looking for a house for a client, and ours fit what they needed. I reached out to her and said, ‘I’ve never really considered selling, but maybe.’ And when she [Lauren] got to the house, she asked me why would I ever sell?” From that moment on, Sarah felt confident that with Callaway’s help, they could remodel the house and get exactly what they wanted.






The goal of the remodel was to highlight all the timeless, existing features of the home while updating the parts that felt tired or out of place and to accent with treasured family keepsakes. The bathrooms and the kitchen were the areas that received the most attention throughout the remodel. “This was actually gutted down to the studs,” Wages said, describing the primary bathroom. “It had a corner fireplace and was very dark with black slate tile and black countertops.” The primary bathroom had ample space and custom features, but the dark finishes and open, integrated laundry room left it feeling more utilitarian than relaxing. “I didn’t want the bathroom looking like a workhorse,” Wages continued. Callaway’s simple solution was to swap the small existing shower and the large open laundry space, allowing instead for a spacious, spa- like, two person shower while maintaining ample room for a stack

washer and dryer in the new enclosed laundry area. Cabinetry was custom built to allow for ample counter space and more room at the secondary sink. Traditional details, like layered crown molding, were added, but also done in a simplified, contemporary style, helping to balance the traditional and modern. The soft white walls and light grey accents emphasize the spa aesthetic that Sarah was after. A sleek chandelier and designer touches like the acrylic curtain rod bring just a touch of glam. Continuing downstairs, the powder bath was updated with freshly painted cabinetry and a fun monochromatic floral wallpaper, reflective of the energetic personality of the Wages family. Across the hall is Mike’s office. He does not use it much for work, but enjoys having a quiet space to retreat. In this room, like so much of the downstairs, Lauren and Sarah saw the beauty in keeping existing






features and focused on integrating these features into the overall design. In the office, this meant keeping the custom tapestry curtains, the meticulously crafted paneling and built-ins, as well as the unique fabric-covered walls, then using a combination of traditional furniture and sleek, masculine pieces to create a gentleman’s lounge. In the main living room, the existing fireplace, French doors, warm wood paneling, and beautiful hardwood floors were all given the attention they deserved. These original features help the house feel inviting and genuine while also making the perfect backdrop to the clean lines and current feel of the furniture pieces curated for the space. Adjacent to the living room is the kitchen. By maintaining the existing footprint, the Wages kept the original hardwood floors, bringing continuity to the downstairs. The kitchen received a full transformation to the tune of cabinetry, a new backsplash,

and lighting. A large center island is the kitchen’s focal point and continues to serve as the heart of this busy home. The island was painted a soft blue-gray, and a coordinating backsplash tile brings cohesiveness while adding personality. “When she first brought that over here,” Wages said, referencing the blue tile, “I was afraid it would look like the country blue and mauve from when I was a kid, but I love it. And it’s a feature you probably won’t see at someone else’s house.” The beautiful blue also blends perfectly with a set of china that Sarah inherited from her grandmother. Other items downstairs that hold special meaning include five charming pottery cups completely handmade by Sarah’s niece as a Christmas gift and proudly on display in the butler’s pantry and an Early American bench in the foyer that once belonged to the dining set Sarah ate on with her family every night as a child.






Upstairs, each of the kids’ bathrooms was given a facelift, and accents of powder blue and gray continue. Each room also emphasizes the personality of its occupant. In their oldest son’s room, pennant banners from his dad’s childhood add a focal point while also revealing the family’s love for sports. In another room, a custom Razorback-themed quilt stretches across the bed. The quilt was a gift from Sarah to Mike after he graduated from medical school. It includes t-shirts from high school and college, baby clothes, and other special pieces of clothing from Mike’s time during medical school. In their daughter’s room is an heirloom quilt that Mike’s great-aunt gave them as a wedding gift and his grandmother’s china cabinet that she uses to display her dolls. Moving down the hall is an upstairs hangout space ideally suited for their growing crew. Like the rest of the house, the space is cozy

and inviting. One recent addition to the area is a set of four charcoal portraits sketched by local artist Daniel Rushing. The portraits have been placed at the bottom of a second staircase, leading to the most transformed space of the entire house—a former attic space converted into a usable third floor. The idea behind the third floor was to add something fun for Mike and the whole family. Luckily, they had just enough space to add a golf simulation room, complete with astroturf flooring, and a full bathroom in case they want to transform the space into something else in the future. “My husband and I moved so much for school that when he finally finished, all we wanted was a permanent address,” Wages explained. The couple accomplished that goal by embracing the traditional details of their home while simultaneously adding their own personality, resulting in a space they are sure to call theirs forever.








1. Choose bloom colors that are the same intensity. Different leaf shapes and textures add variety. 2. Check for good drainage. Fill in with soil leaving room for the deepest plant. 3. Start with the largest plant in the back or middle of the container. Plant in odd numbers—each different type in 1,3,5, etc., while scaling down in height. Pay attention to the maximum heights the plants will grow to avoid crowding and smothering. 4. Fill in with soil, fertilizer, and water. Check soil again for settling. TIPS • To encourage good drainage, use a rock or two to allow water to pass through the hole but not wash out the soil. • Don’t skimp on the soil. Good soil matters. • Read those plant tags while shopping. If they are planted together, they need to like the same light and watering cycle. • Feed your plants. Get a time release fertilizer. It makes your job easy! (Osmocote is my favorite). • Don’t forget to water! I like to water Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s easy to remember. Adjust with extreme heat or rain.


TXK 411

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