May 2022

MAY • 2022

TEXARKANA MAGAZINE May | 2022 | Volume 3 | Issue 5

46. S T Y L E VRBO Bungalow 52. T X K 4 1 1 Baseball Mom’s Secret

10. B U S I N E S S Tradition of Remembrance 16. P O L I T I C S Travel the World Without Leaving Texas

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30. S P O R T S Calling the Shots 34.

E N T E R TA I NME N T Good Evening TXK 38. c o v e r/ L I F E Three Sisters and a Baby

54. T H E MO N T H LY M I X Mother’s Day Gifts 56. S H A R E T H E L O V E Milestone Celebrations 58. T X K R O O T S David Michael Wyatt

18. C OMMUN I T Y Class of 2022 28. C U L T U R E Just Call Me G-Dawg

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What is your favorite mom quote?

CASSY MEISENHEIMER “As a boy mom, always keep some cash on you, because the banks are closed on Sundays and ATMs have limits. You’ll need it in case you get a late-night call.” —Gail Eichler

TERRI SANDEFUR When my husband would ask, “Where are my shoes?” his mother, Nancy,

KARA HUMPHREY “Go play on the Interstate.” —Emily Smith

LEAH ORR “If you see me running, you better start running too.”

would reply, “Well, did you look in the oven?”

MATT CORNELIUS “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”

BRITT EARNEST “Let me poop in peace!” —Terri Forrester

ANNI BISHOP “Dear kids, sorry I yelled. In my defense, you were acting like a bunch of psychos.”

RACHAEL CHERRY “I cannot wait until you have kids of your own.”

That means one thing when they are 13, but it starts to mean something completely different when they are 23.

MEGAN GRIFFIN The moment you say, “My child would never...” Here they come nevering like they never nevered before.

LINDSEY CLARK The tried and true, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about!” Didn’t everybody’s mom say that?

BAILEY GRAVITT When I’m telling my mom a story that’s taking too long, she always says, “K, land your plane.”

TERRI GRAVITT “Please don’t speak to me after 8 pm.”

TIFFANY HORTON “No, you can’t eat the Tic Tac. It’s been in your nose!”

BRIAN JONES I-Y-D-G-I-T-H-R- N-I-G-B-Y-A!

PATSY MORRISS My college friend’s mother looking at a picture of her daughter at a party... “Oh, look. Somebody was letting you hold their beer.”

TRACEY SMITH When my kids say, “That’s not fair!” I say, “The only fair is the one where you eat cotton candy, ride the rides and throw up.

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txkmag.com letstalk@txkmag.com 903.949.1460 OFFICE 911 North Bishop Street Building C • Suite 102 Wake Village, Texas 75501 MAIL 2801 Richmond Road #38 Texarkana, Texas 75503

“DON’ T FORGET TO PRESS RECORD! ”

I tell my family that this would be the title of my book if I ever wrote a book. I always intend to record memorable moments but somehow I always seem to forget to press record. This week, I was documenting what I was sure would be a lifelong memory, only to realize too late I hadn’t pressed the record button until it was all over. Even with my below-standard videoing skills, I have managed to document much of my kids’ lives, but they will never understand the joy of watching the VHS tape recording of a dance recital made with an 80s camcorder. Though the shaky shots are almost unrecognizable, it is the thought of the proud grandpa behind the camera that counts! Becoming a mom has been one of the most remarkable experiences. Every day, I am grateful for the opportunity to hear “Mom” come out of the mouths of our boys. Unfortunately, becoming a first-time mom wasn’t the happy-ever-after moment I had always envisioned. My first son, Trip, passed away, so our journey to parenthood took an unexpected path. As I recently spent a weekend away with some friends, I learned one of my traveling buddies (Hi Jenni!) was one of the nurses working that tragic night. She shared how she got to hold our sweet baby and watch over him. Talk about cue the tears! It’s crazy to think 13 years ago, when all that happened, she and I didn’t even know each other. It’s funny how God is always working behind the scenes of life, and sometimes it only gets revealed to you years later. My boys are in their tween years. I have called our current season of life the promised land with their ages because they do not have social media or phones, and they still like me and want to be around me. But we are getting ready to exit the promised land as the teenage years are just around the corner. Motherhood is a gift, and so are siblings. An Isadora James quote says, “A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.”

Publisher C A R D I N A L P U B L I S H I N G Staff C A S S Y M E I S E N H E I M E R cassy@txkmag.com T E R R I S A N D E F U R terri@txkmag.com K A R A H U M P H R E Y kara@txkmag.com L E A H O R R leah@txkmag.com M AT T C O R N E L I U S matt@txkmag.com B R I T T E A R N E S T britt@txkmag.com Local Sources C L A R E A N G I E R J O H N L U K E A N G I E R M A R Y C A R O L I N E A N G I E R

This month’s cover story gives insight into the incredible bond of three sisters who embody that quote. When one sister could not realize her dream of becoming a mother, the other two stepped in and said, together, we will make this happen. They were willing to do whatever it took, and they did it without hesitation. My own sister, Brittany, has recently become a surrogate for a family she did not know. To give someone the gift of life is an immeasurable gift. I am so proud of my sister and others like her who are willing to carry out such loving and selfless acts for others. As long as there are people like them in it, the world will always be a beautiful place. May is a month to honor the loving and selfless: our mothers, nurses, teachers and veterans who have paid the ultimate price. Let us remember to honor them and look for ways to be more like them because when we are willing to step up for one another, you can be sure God is working in the background!

P H I L I P A N G I E R A N G E L A E V A N S L E S L I F L O W E R S J AY C E K E I L TA M M Y L U M M U S V I C K I M C M A H O N J O E R E G A N E R I N T R E A D WAY

C R A F T E D I N T E X A R K A N A . E M P L OY E E OWN E D A N D L O C A L LY S O U R C E D .

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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 .

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TRADITION OF REMEMBRANCE BY RACHAEL CHERRY

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T E X A R K A N A M A G A Z I N E T he land of the free and the home of the brave—this final phrase from our national anthem so beautifully depicts why the United States is the greatest nation on Earth. America is the land of the free quite simply because it is the home of the brave. For centuries, courageous men and women have set aside—sacrificed—their own wants, needs, and desires and answered a call to defend the life and liberty of all Americans. Many made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives in defense of the freedoms that we so casually enjoy. This month, as we have for decades, Americans will pause to commemorate these brave service members and honor that sacrifice. More than picnics and backyard grilling, more than camping and water sports, Memorial Day is a day to acknowledge that our freedom was bought with a price and remember the ones who paid it. Originally known as Decoration Day, the first national day of remembrance for military members who died in service was held in 1868 following the Civil War. It was celebrated each year on May 30 for more than a century. In 1971, following an act passed by Congress, Memorial Day became a federal holiday recognized on the last Monday of May. This year, on May 30, cities and towns, businesses and organizations, families and individuals will break from their normal routine to celebrate Memorial Day. Customs and traditions vary from place to place, including parades, special services, flags on veterans’ graves and speeches at war memorials. These events are done to remember the lives that were sacrificially given in what President Lincoln termed “the last full measure of devotion.” One local business has made it a personal mission to honor the sacrifice of all veterans. Texarkana Funeral Home has been hosting a Memorial Day Service at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery for thirty years. Under the leadership of the late Tommy Fuqua, Texarkana Funeral Home established the annual Memorial Day service in 1992. Dale Buster, former Manager of Texarkana Funeral Home and self-proclaimed “military brat,” organized the very first Memorial Day service and continued until his retirement in 2017. He secured then local pastor and now former Arkansas Governor, Mike

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Huckabee, as the guest speaker for that event. Mr. Buster fondly recalls personally placing the flags along each side of the drive at Hillcrest that first year. “I wanted to pay honor to all the veterans who made the supreme sacrifice and to those who are currently serving and are away.” He said he got emotional just thinking about it. “It’s not just a holiday for gathering and picnics; people need to take time out of the day to remember and pay tribute. It was truly my honor to be able to do this, and I hope it continues for many, many years.” Over the past thirty years, there have been many changes in the annual service-many guest speakers with many new traditions-but what has not changed is the Fuqua family and Texarkana Funeral Home’s commitment to veterans. President of Texarkana Funeral Home, Vickers Fuqua, is the third generation to lead his family’s business. Mr. Fuqua carries on the tradition of honoring veterans with the Memorial Day service established by his father three decades ago. He has surrounded himself with a staff who are as committed to this special event as he is and looks for ways to increase their support of veterans. A lot of time and energy goes into planning a service like this. It involves communicating with local veterans who assist with the event, finding a guest speaker and ensuring all graves are freshly mowed for Memorial Day weekend. It would not be possible without the help and input of everyone involved. In addition to

the breathtaking avenue of flags placed along the drive of the cemetery, over 1,000 flags mark each veteran’s grave at Hillcrest Cemetery. It is a tremendous undertaking, but it is something the employees enjoy doing with their families. Former Manager of Texarkana Funeral Home—Arkansas, Eddie Hawkins, reflected on over 25 years of working the Memorial Day Service. “It is such an honor to recognize all of our veterans, those gone before us and those that are still with us. Our veterans have given so much to allow us the freedoms we enjoy today.” Heather Kiser, Manager of Chapelwood Funeral Home, has been helping with the Memorial Day service for eight years. She expressed the importance of keeping this tradition alive and making sure the younger generation understands and remembers. Mrs. Kiser said working on the Memorial Day Service is “her favorite thing to do.” Mr. Fuqua also discussed the importance of involving the local veterans in planning the service. He explained, “Each year, we look for ways to make it better.” Specific symbolic gestures that honor military traditions need to be executed correctly, and veterans know how it should be done. Mr. Fuqua said, “It’s for the veterans, and we want to make sure we honor them. We tell them, if there is something we need to do differently, we want to know.” Local veteran Charles Jordan weighed in on the Memorial Day service, stressing that these events are important for helping the community remember who veterans are. “If the community takes time to acknowledge

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veterans and their families by providing free burials for veterans at any of the three cemeteries owned by Texarkana Funeral Home: Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, Memorial Gardens in Texarkana and Memory Gardens in Hope. Veterans have always had the benefit of being buried in a national cemetery for free. However, the closest ones are in Dallas or Little Rock, and the transportation to those cemeteries is very costly. Mr. Fuqua stated, “We are not a national cemetery, but we can

the sacrifices of veterans, then it is more likely they wi l l begin to remember not only who veterans are abroad, but who they are here— individuals with jobs and families.” He also spoke of the involvement of Texarkana Funeral Home in the service at Hillcrest, explaining that this service is an especially heartfelt and even somber occasion. When a spouse or parent

[Memorial Day] is not just a holiday for gathering and picnics; peopleneed to take time out of theday to remember andpay tribute. ” —Dale Buster

is lost in service to their country, it becomes necessary for the community to “step in and fill the gap.” This is how we say to them, “you gave what you loved most to the nation, and we are grateful. We are telling them we recognize your sacrifice.” Texarkana Funeral Home actively looks for ways to support and honor veterans. They do this by providing flags to the local veterans to place at Chapelwood Cemetery and Memorial Gardens each year. Additionally, in 2018, Mr. Fuqua decided to serve

honor the veterans.” This year’s Memorial Day service will be held on May 30 at 2:00 pm at Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, 5101 West 7th Street, Texarkana, Texas. On behalf of Vickers Fuqua and the staff of Texarkana Funeral Home, all are invited. “Anyone looking for a way to honor veterans for their service to our country and for the freedom they have granted us should attend.”

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S ummer is upon us, and many Texas families are taking advantage of the opportunity to get away. Well, not too far away. It’s hard for us Texas-lovers to venture too far outside our beloved state, but lucky for us, we can see the whole world without ever having to leave the greatest state in the nation. If you’re looking for an Alpine adventure, there’s no need to hop a plane east to Europe. Rather, jump in the car and head to West Texas. Both the European Alps and Alpine, Texas, share stunning mountain views, but here in Texas, you can also enjoy a rock hunt for local agate, the famed cliffs of Big Bend and an Alpine Cowboys baseball game. The Eiffel Tower is another popular tourist attraction, made even better by the enormous red cowboy hat perched on top. No, this one isn’t in Paris, France, but in the second largest Paris in the world—Paris, Texas—about 100 miles northeast of Dallas. The 1300-pound Eiffel Tower was erected in 1996 from scrap metal at the local boiler plant, and it’s a sight to see. You might even stop by Whataburger for some French fries on the way. If you’re heading west to L.A., you can cut more than 20 hours off your road trip—that is, if you go to Los Angeles, Texas. This town is more a city of rattlesnakes than a City of Stars, and actually, I guarantee you’ll see more stars in the Texas town than in California—just look up after sundown. Rather than high-rises, you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of the prickly pear cactus. The place to “be seen” in Los Angeles, Texas, is Ruby’s Lounge, the town’s premiere watering hole and downtown’s only business. Until a few years ago, Texas families could set eyes on Emperor Qin’s 6,000 terra cotta soldiers and a scale replica of Beijing’s Forbidden City—all at a park off Interstate 10 in Katy, Texas. A koi TRAVEL THE WORLD WITHOUT LEAVING TEXAS BY SENATOR JOHN CORNYN (R-TX )

fish pond, the aroma of fine Chinese incense, and sounds of ancient Chinese melodies helped transport visitors 7,000 miles without ever stepping on a plane. The mystery of England’s Stonehenge rock formation has yet to be solved, but we know exactly how our Stonehenge II in Ingram, Texas, came to be. Al Sheppard’s yard project began with a spare limestone from his neighbor’s patio renovation, and before he finished, it had grown to the 92-foot recreation of Stonehenge you can visit today. On either end of the field, 13-foot replicas of the Easter Island statues stand guard of this Texas treasure. All in one field in Ingram, you can see the sights of both the United Kingdom and the South Pacific. We also have a little version of the Big Apple in our state. Not to be confused with the town of Texas, New York, the town of New York, Texas, is quieter, and probably cleaner, than New York City. Found 11 miles west of Athens (Texas, not Greece), New York, Texas, has much friendlier folks than the bigger city in the Northeast—and millions less of them. Why do these two opposite cities share the same name? There are competing stories, but legend has it in 1856 either founder T.B. Herndon named it with a chuckle because of its contrast to the big city, or co-founder Davis Reynolds named it with dreams of similar success. While there, don’t miss the chance to glide above the East Texas pines on a zip line. Of course, if you’re really itching to get away, you can visit Houston’s Johnson Space Center for an out-of-world experience. We know Texas is big, but just how big? From Paris to Los Angeles, Stonehenge II to outer space, I guarantee you’ll never run out of worldly sights to see right here in the Lone Star State.

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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 !

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“What’s your grandmother name going to be?”

Nine years ago, as I eagerly anticipated the arrival of our first grandchild, I found myself constantly fielding this question. Everybody wanted to know what the little bundle of joy was going to call me. I felt befuddled at the prospect of choosing a grandmother name. My own grandmothers had been “Grandma” and “Oma,” the German form of Grandma. Nothing cutesy. I agreed with my late mother-in-law, who had her grandkids call her by her given name. She didn’t want to risk being called, in her words, “something dumb like ‘Peepo’ or anything like that.” So she went with Martha, and every grand and great-grand called her that. Originally intending to follow her lead, I settled early in that first pregnancy on Patsy. My son and daughter- in-law, however, were not on board. “You have to have a grandmother name,” they insisted. So, I dutifully set about finding one, beginning by researching the subject. Someone told me there was a website devoted to grandmother names. “Surely not,” I thought, and it actually was not entirely true. There were, in fact, MULTIPLE websites dedicated to the subject. One even featured a quiz designed to help each of us select our perfect name, much like the quizzes in Ingenue magazine once assisted us in determining our fashion personalities. In addition, my research yielded numerous books about grandmother names, one of which is inaptly titled The World’s Only Grandparent Nickname Book . I’m still not sure how you fill an entire book with grandparent names, but I didn’t spend the money to find out since plenty of suggestions were available on the Internet for free. One website featured a blog written by a former schoolteacher who had retired to become a full-time grandmother of seven. She blogs about ways to be a better grandparent. She has a newsletter, and you can follow her on Twitter. I’m not making this up. After reading several lists on the Internet, I decided to take the quiz. It indicated that I’m a “Hip Grandmother,” and suggested I might be suited for a name like “G-Dawg.” While I rather liked it, I didn’t think I could keep a straight face hearing a baby say it. One woman, who shall remain nameless (although not grandma-nameless), decreed that her grandchildren would call her “Grammy.” She and her husband took their first grandchild, when he was very young, to one of those wine warehouses where you need a shopping cart because the prices are so great. The child sat in the cart as they loaded it with their chosen vintages; the woman leaned over to the baby and whispered, “Your Grammy is a wino.” Can you guess what the child has called her ever since? Talk about a hip grandmother name. Grandfathers need names, too, of course, although nobody seems quite as obsessed with the grandpa names

(L-R) William, GiGi, Bryce, Dude and Hughes

MY DRIFT COLUMN BY PATSY MORRI SS Just Call Me G-Dawg

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as they are with the grandma monikers. The best grandfather name I discovered was “Doo-dad,” but I couldn’t convince anybody to adopt it. It’s catchy, though, don’t you think? Grandma and grandpa names that go together are always an option. “MeeMaw” and “PeePaw” make up a popular pair, as do “Grammy” and “Grampy.” A friend reported on a couple who are known to their grandchildren as “Lolly” and “Pop,” which you must admit is pretty cute. Sadly, however, Lolly and Pop recently divorced, which really ruins the whole thing. Then again, you never know if you can believe those “friend of a friend” stories. A list of playful grandmother names includes such entries as “Peaches,” “Bambi,” “Bubbles” and “PomPom.” Is it just me, or do those sound more like exotic dancers than grandmothers? Some ideas are far out there, like “Momette” and “NotherMother.” A few are rather insulting, like “Ninny” or “Big Mama.” Others are simply, in my opinion, unattractive. I don’t want to be called “Geezer Girl.” In the grandmother-names-gone-sideways category, my friend Lisa carefully planned to be “Mama Lisa.” When her first grandchild tried to say it, however, it came out “Meese.” It stuck. Doubling the first letter of your given name, aka “DeeDee” for Debbie or “LeeLee” for Linda, is fun unless your name is Patsy. Lucy was going to be “LuLu,” but that late-developing “L” sound created a roadblock. The earlier accomplished “YuYu” stuck, despite the grandchild’s eventually perfect diction. A joke I heard when I was in kindergarten comes to mind. Johnny opens the front door to a caller looking for his mother. “She ain’t home,” Johnny says. “Johnny!” scolds the caller. “Where’s your grammar?” Johnny’s reply? “She’s in the kitchen baking cookies.” Though I spend little time baking cookies, or even in the kitchen, “Grammar” would be a good name for a grammar nut like me. Such a lot of fuss over grandmother names. It wasn’t until William, our first grand, was a couple of months old that I settled on what I wanted mine to be. When William cried hard, as newborns do, he would get a little catch in his throat that made a hard “G” sound. I dubbed myself “GiGi” so I would be the first of his many grandparents whose name he could say. My ploy worked, and I’m still happily called GiGi by everyone in the family, including my husband. Speaking of my husband, his original plan was to take a page out of his mother’s book and just be Don. That worked for a while until one day he addressed one of the grands as “Dude.” The two-year- old addressed him back in the same way, and he forever became “Dude.” It suits him, in an ironic sort of way. All this ruckus over grandparent names shouldn’t come as any surprise. It is, after all, a bunch of baby boomers who are becoming grandparents these days. In typical boomer fashion, we’ve made it all about us. It’s what we do. Despite all the commotion, it looks like most still consider old school the way to go. A recent survey of 3,000 new parents revealed the most popular grandparent names by far to be “Grandma” and “Grandpa;” they’re instant grandparent names with no imagination required. Hip, playful and creative are great, but sometimes tried and true constitute the best solution. Give a grandchild a hug from me. And maybe a popsicle.

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COACH FINCHER CALLING THE SHOTS BY ANNI BI SHOP

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Baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Generations of young athletes have grown up spending their summers sliding through the dirt and grass or enjoying a ballpark hotdog with family cheering on their favorite team. Dating back as far as the 1700s, baseball has endured through many economic endeavors and national hardships, including the Industrial Revolution and The Cold War, and it is still a favorite for players and fans around the country. Baseball has survived the test of time!

B aseball season is officially in full swing and there is no doubt Pleasant Grove High School’s head coach, Riley Fincher, and the Hawks have the state championship on their minds! These boys are coming in hot straight off their 2021 State Championship win. Last year’s win was exciting, to say the least, securing the third state baseball championship in the school’s history. The 2-1 victory in Rusk, Texas, was “arguably one of the best games of the year” according to Coe Blain, who pitched for the 2021 team. As the tournament drew near, the boys’ nerves were sky high and their adrenaline was on the rise, as this game was the biggest game any of these boys had ever been a part of. “It was a dream come true,” said Blain. All the boys had high expectations for themselves going into the tournament and, even better, they believed in themselves as a team until the very end. “Being at the bottom of the dog pile with my teammates was one of the best feelings ever,” he said, “and something I know none of us will ever forget.”

Fincher has been coaching at Pleasant Grove for nine years. Developing the fundamentals of baseball is important to him, but it is his influence in the lives of the players that he values most. “The relationships that are built is one of the greatest joys in coaching… from the players to the coaches I work with, to everyone associated with the profession. Also, being able to see our players develop and grow into young men, on and off the field, is awesome to see.” The combination of a dedicated coach and determined athletes has been key to the success of the PGHS baseball program. “Our young men continue to work hard and improve every day,” said Fincher. “They love the game of baseball and take so much pride in representing our school and community. The best part about them is they come to practice every day to work their tails off and get better.” Baseball runs in Fincher’s blood and for those who know him and have watched him play from his earliest years, to his time as part of Texas High’s baseball team, it is hard to imagine him in any other profession.

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Fincher played baseball in college at Henderson State University and later joined their coaching staff for two years before moving on to high school coaching. Pleasant Grove High School Principal Kristin Giles said, “Coach Fincher pours his passion for education into all our students. He provides his players with the confidence and skills they need to be successful on and off the field.” It is obvious Coach Fincher is loved and appreciated by the

the head coach at Pleasant Grove and am overjoyed at the opportunity that this award allows the team and community to be showcased,” he said. While it was humbling enough to receive the National Coach of the Year award, Fincher also earned the title of Class 4A Coach of the Year as voted upon by the Texas Sportswriters Association. “Coach Fincher is the best coach I have ever played for,” emphasized Blain. “It was an

Texarkana community. But his accolades reach beyond this area as he was recently named the High School National Coach of the Year in 2021 by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). Fincher admitted it was “an unexpected honor” to receive such an award. “The best thing about the award is that it allowed our coaching staff and players to be recognized as well. That award was a team and coaching staff award. None of it would have been possible without our amazing men and coaching staff,” he said. To add to the excitement of this award, Fincher was the only coach in the state of Texas to be considered in any of the three divisions. The ABCA Convention was held in January in Chicago, Illinois, where Coach Fincher was honored and recognized for his many accomplishments and outstanding coaching. Fincher showed much humility when accepting the award, as he gave all the credit to his team and coaching staff. “I feel fortunate to be

honor to get to play for him for four years. He was a great coach, but an even better role model for my teammates and me. He played a big role in my life my senior year and helped me with challenges off the field and I will forever be thankful for that.” Blain was thrilled to help his coach win his first state title at Pleasant Grove. A state championship win and the national recognition of the head baseball coach was a great and well-deserved end to last year’s season. As the 2021-2022 high school baseball season is winding down, the excitement surrounding the team, Coach Fincher and the Pleasant Grove community has been palpable. Their hard work has clearly paid off as they inch closer and closer to the playoffs yet again. As the seniors prepare for college or whatever career path they have chosen, the excitement of another possible state championship title may be hard to shake. Let’s wish them lots of luck as they finish out this season with a bang. Go Hawks!

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GOOD EVENING TXK COLUMN BY BAI LEY GRAVITT

Imagine you just spent your VERY last dime on a totally-worth-it, scrumptious, mouth-watering honey butter chicken biscuit from Whataburger, and you don’t get paid for another three days. Every bill under the sun is due RIGHT NOW! You don’t know how you are going to make it, and you feel like you are drowning… but you desperately NEEDED a biscuit. This is an example of my own financial irresponsibility, but like with most single mothers, my mom has never had the luxury of such self-indulgence. For the past 24 years of her life, my beautiful, strong, independent mother, Terri Gravitt, has done it all on her own, and she has never considered the choice of financial irresponsibility. She knew hers was not the only hungry mouth to feed. My two brothers and I were counting on her and she made sure we always understood we were her top priority. After finally escaping my dad, she didn’t just feed us physically, she fed us emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and taught us about the most important man to ever walk this earth—Jesus. She concealed the fear and anxiety of her newfound loneliness, cried and prayed in rooms all alone for many nights, and she held back

the anger she was experiencing by blaming herself for the situation we were all thrust into so she wouldn’t take it out on us. A whole day in May is set aside for mothers, but that does not even begin to do my mom justice. However, I will do my best with these next few words to highlight what a phenomenal person she is, just in time for Mother’s Day. My mom is an incredibly gifted writer, but not being one to often believe in herself, she hasn’t always seen that. As she does each month, she wrote an amazing article in this very magazine, so make sure you check it out! She once even had dreams of writing a novel, a dream I hope is eventually in the Lord’s plan for her life. I am grateful Jesus passed down her writing genes to me because I love getting to express myself, and now my love for her, in this way. Before I ever stepped out in faith, not knowing if the floor was going to collapse below me, my mom acted as my example and took the first steps. Life truly begins when you step out of your comfort zone, and my mom has consistently embodied that truth and taught me to do the same thing. There is no one in this life who will build me up more than my mom will. There is no achievement she won’t celebrate me wholeheartedly in, no heartache she won’t offer up her best (and

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sometimes unsolicited) advice during, and no LOVE she won’t fully, unconditionally pour out onto me. I recognize some people cannot have this same type of relationship with their mom. Some do not have a mother to walk through the triumphs and pitfalls of everyday life with. Some don’t have a relationship with their mom at all. Please understand with all your head and all your heart that everything on this side of eternity is broken. Relationships are broken, and death and pain are inevitable. Right on the other side of this life, though, is a ferocious, all-consuming love that makes even the most motherly love here on Earth look like dirty rags. There is no one, including the most loving mom, who wants

your heart more than Jesus does. Rest in this promise—you will only experience a measly handful of Mother’s days without your mother here on earth, but someday you will share an eternity with The One who formed you in your mother’s womb in the first place. So, I’d like to say, Thank you Mom. Thank you for loving me, sacrificing for

me, supporting me and, most of all, thank you for introducing me to Jesus. Happy Mother’s Day! RANDOM THOUGHT… What is it going to take to get Ironwood Grill to give me free meals for an entire year? I will do (almost) anything… Hit me up, Ironwood!

LOCAL EVENTS

May 1-31 Student Juried Art Exhibition TRAHC Galleries May 2 Tee Up for Temple Golf Tournament Texarkana Country Club, 11 AM May 6 Big Bass Round Up Registration Party Crossties, 6-9 PM May 7 Big Bass Round Up Tournament Wright Patman Lake, Sportsman Cove For more info call 903.748.3411 or email brittany@runninwjranch.org Annual Spring Car Show Four States Auto Museum, 8 AM Walk/Run for Life Spring Lake Park, 7:30 AM Twice as Fine Texarkana Wine Festival Spring Lake Park, 11 AM-7 PM May 9 Texarkana HBA Golf Tournament Texarkana Golf Ranch, 11 AM

May 13 Farmers Bank & Trust Arkansas Boulevard Open House Free Burgers 11 AM-1 PM Free Snow Cones 11 AM-2 PM May 16 Harvest Regional Food Bank

Drive Out Hunger Golf Tournament Northridge Country Club, 10 AM May 21 8th Annual Clay’s Golf and Guitars featuring A Beach Boys Tribute Northridge Country Club Peak Fighting 19 Arkansas Convention Center, 2 PM May 22 Smokey and the Bandit 45th Anniversary Celebration Four States Auto Museum, 10 AM-4 PM May 24 Gateway Farmer’s Market Opens 800 Jefferson Avenue, 7 AM-Noon

LIVE BANDS May 13 T-Town 5 Redbone Magic Brewery, 7:30 PM May 14 Relentless The Hideout, 9 PM May 20 Zain Braden Fat Jacks Oyster & Sports Bar, 9 PM May 21 Heather Linn & The Deacons The Hideout, 9 PM May 28 Nix Creek The Hideout, 9 PM

For more events visit

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THREE SISTERS AND A BABY BY TERRI GRAVITT The bond between sisters is unlike anything else. They play together. They fight. They “borrow” each other’s clothes and hairbrushes. It is like living with your best friend and your least favorite mean girl simultaneously. If we do not have a sister, we want one, so we find a best friend and call her our sister. Books and movies like Little Women and My Sister’s Keeper are written and brought to the big screen to explore this one-of-a-kind bond. It is a complex and fascinating friendship—one in which there is indeed struggle, but also the knowledge that you never have to stand alone. You have a genuine gift of the heart that far surpasses most other relationships.

There is no more beautiful example of this unbreakable bond than the story of the relationship between these three sisters: Lyndsey Leach, Brooke Beall and Meagan Beauchamp.

L yndsey, the oldest sister, a US Market Accounting Manager for Mary Kay Cosmetics in Dallas, Texas, explained, “It is a story about growing up together, loving each other and being willing to do whatever we could to help each other.” Brooke, the middle sister in this trio and an eighth-grade principal at Texas Middle School shared, “We had a typical love/ hate relationship as sisters do. We loved each other to death, but definitely had our fights growing up. Lyndsey and I ganged up on Meagan a tad… just typical things sisters do growing up. But I would say as we have gotten older, they’re my best friends. So, if something happens, they are who I reach out to tell.” Youngest sister, Meagan, a Registered Nurse and a branch manager at Texarkana Heritage Home Health & Hospice, added with

a laugh, “Yep, they made up their own language so that I couldn’t talk to them, AND they cut my hair!” Lyndsey met her husband, Darren, in college. They graduated from college one week and got married the next. “Within three months, I think we did everything you’re not supposed to do,” she said. “We graduated college, got married, moved to Dallas and started new jobs.” The couple has been together for 21 years and married for almost 18. “He is my best friend and the person who makes me smile every day. There are so many ways we have been blessed throughout our time together. Still, unfortunately, we could not have children.” After five years of marriage and at 27, they began to try to have a baby. It was seven long years. They faced many trials while trying to conceive. It became increasingly

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more challenging as they watched their best friends have children. They had wholehearted support from both their friends and family as everyone witnessed their enduring struggles. In 2021, as Lyndsey was approaching 40 and after many conversations with her husband, they realized, “We had not completely let go of that dream. If we were going to do this, we needed to do it!” They sought help from Meagan and Brooke to fulfill their dream of becoming parents. “It may have been a super easy decision for them. I don’t know. But it was still hard to ask because it meant starting that dream up for us again. It was opening up that hope of, ‘Is it really going to happen?’ I kind of knew they were going to say, ‘Yes.’ They had even brought it up before. So, after we asked, both my husband and I felt very hopeful.” Meagan, married for 13 years to husband, Zachery, and a busy mom of three to Olivia, Faith and Hunter, recalled, “When Lyndsey called to see if I would be willing to donate eggs, I was totally for it! I had three blessings, and I wanted to be able to give her that as well. I didn’t really have any reservations about donating eggs until my age was questioned. I didn’t think 36 was old, but apparently, it is in the baby world! There was no question that I would do anything for her.” Brooke, married for 11 years to her husband, Daniel, and a mother to two girls, Emily and Lyndsey (named after her aunt), felt the same excitement after her conversation with her sister. “When she contacted me about carrying the baby, it was almost like we had just been waiting for the phone call. ‘Whenever you’re ready, we’re ready!’ Without a doubt, it was a yes! Daniel was, of course, onboard, too. He likes to joke that he sometimes has more of the pregnancy symptoms than I do, so he was all for eating ice cream and sweets. There were no reservations on my part. If this were God’s plan, then it would work out. If not, then we would take the next step.” Brooke continued, “My kids have been the funniest. They are the best. I don’t know if my youngest really understands much. My oldest was seven years old when we first started talking about it. I was prepping her about the process by telling her they may put two babies in, and I would be pregnant.

Bryce Edward Leach, born April 2, 2022 at 12:30 pm weighing six pounds, 12 ounces and was 20.5 inches long.

(L-R) Brook Beall (surrogate), Lyndsey Leach (mom) and Meagan Beauchamp (egg donor).

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One day, I was talking to her about it, and she asked, ‘How about they put two babies in, and you give one to Aunt Lyndsey and we keep one?’” “No, ma’am,” Brooke replied, “Absolutely not!” “At the beginning, I still had to remind them that this is Aunt Lyndsey’s baby. It’s their cousin, so we use that language. ‘This is your cousin.’ ‘This is Aunt Lyndsey’s baby.’ ‘When I have the baby, they will give the baby to Aunt Lyndsey.’ They are so excited!” In March 2021, Meagan eagerly began the process. For her, this included giving herself two nightly injections in her abdomen for three weeks during ovulation to slow down the growth process, increase the number of eggs possible, and ensure their release together so the doctor could harvest them simultaneously. In June 2021, she went through the procedure of donating her

just puts the cherry on top! He was high-fiving everyone at the gender reveal. My middle child, Faith, was born in February, and she is very upset the baby did not come in February. So, we are hoping for a March baby, so it splits the difference, and everyone is happy, but my kids are just excited and ready to have another cousin!” Hence, the process of Invitro Fertilization (IVF) began for Brooke. “IVF was difficult,” she said, “because they tell you that you will get a shot every day. It is painful. You’re over it. You do 15 weeks of shots before, and then you do it for 12 additional weeks. My husband was giving [me] the shots. He is not a nurse. He is a teacher. Meagan would come and save the day some nights. It was a lot of medicine that I had to take, a lot of shots. It was difficult.” Finally, on July 20, Brooke was implanted and got

(L-R) Parents, Darren and Lyndsey Leach, Aunt Meagan Beauchamp and Aunt Brook and Uncle Daniel Beall with baby Bryce.

eggs. Once again, Meagan earned the nickname “Fertile Myrtle,” which her sisters had always called her. While most women only produce two good eggs, she was able to donate six great eggs! Meagan’s husband, Zach, and family were also very supportive of her decision. “Hunter is so thrilled,” Meagan shared, “The baby is actually due on his birthday, April 8. Then the fact that it is a boy

a positive pregnancy test on July 30. Brooke’s greatest challenge came when she got COVID-19 just eight weeks into the pregnancy. She was very sick and still had to receive injections, which made it challenging. Brooke remained positive and expressed her only real concerns were the “normal pregnancy worries such as the delivery, recovery afterwards, the hormones being kind of all over the place

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and just all things typical of a pregnant woman,” she recalls. “Concerns with the baby going to Lyndsey or attachment issues?” she continued, “Absolutely not!” Lyndsey shared her favorite moment of the experience. “It was when we finally accepted Brooke was pregnant. We didn’t accept it after she got a positive pregnancy test for a long time because we had lost three babies at around nine weeks. So, making it to that 12-week mark was big for us because we had never made it that far! YES! We were finally going to have a baby!” The experience has been inspiring to share with the sisters’ friends and families. Most people are very touched by their sacrifices of love and support. Many tears have been shed in response to their story. Brooke laughed as she recalled her husband telling people, “My wife is pregnant, but the baby isn’t mine.” After an awkward silence, she would quickly jump in on the joke and say, “It’s not mine either!” Lyndsey said she has also had a lot of fun with it. When she

finally shared it with her team at work, many were immediately confused. “I am going to be a mom,” she would say, “but I’m not pregnant!” “I was getting a lot of funny looks at the elevator.” She would go on to explain, “I actually have a very special story. My sisters are helping me have this baby.” After the many years of struggle, waiting and praying, in God’s miraculous and perfect timing, the moment Lyndsey and Darren have been waiting for finally came! April 2, 2022, at 12:30 PM, a strong and healthy baby boy, Bryce Edward Leach, made his grand entrance at six pounds and twelve ounces and was 20.5 inches long. He is a dream realized at last and represents many answered prayers! One cannot imagine the stories this family will have to share around their holiday dinner table. Bryce will forever realize how much he was truly wanted and loved. Not just by his parents, but by the aunts, uncles and cousins who were all willing to do whatever it took to bring him into their family.

cover photo by Brian Jones

SCAN HERE TO VIEW THIS MONTH’S COVER STORY VIDEO

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T here is so much more to Texarkana than most natives realize. While many of us can’t imagine raising our families anywhere else we are often a bit surprised when someone new moves to town without being brought here directly by a job or family. It is even more surprising when we hear of someone coming simply to visit or explore. However, there are a growing number of successful vacation rentals right here in our backyard! For instance, this charming Craftsman bungalow that has been loved and updated by Jason and Kerry Eppinette is providing the best of Texarkana’s hospitality to its visitors. The story really started with the Eppinettes’ love of the historical neighborhood they live in. For years, they have looked out their front window and seen the sad shell of a Craftsman home, full of potential, just across the street. They reached out to the owner, who lived out of town, and expressed their interest in purchasing the home. Initially, the owner wasn’t ready to sell the house. Over the years, the Eppinettes reached out a couple more times, but each time the owner declined. Then, in 2018, a letter from the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, was sent out to all the neighbors stating the house had been added to their condemned list. “[The owner] was living in North Arkansas and her children had lived here off and on, but they probably had not been in the house for at least two years,” Kerry explained. Jason added, “As a result, it had become totally derelict. People had stolen the air conditioner, VRBO BUNGALOW BY TIFFANY HORTON, HORTON DES I GN STUDIOS PHOTOS BY MATT CORNEL IUS

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there was a hole in the roof from a tree branch that had fallen onto the house, and water had gotten in; there was even some graffiti.” However, as a contractor, Jason knew this house was not beyond repair and he felt it was certainly worth saving. Once the Eppinettes purchased the property, they started on their design plan and demolition. One area of the roof had been leaking for years, so they knew they would need to begin with their focus on repairing the roof and checking for any structural issues. They also decided that to maximize the house’s potential, they would take every wall down to the studs. “What allowed us to do such a good remodel is the fact that we just took all the ceilings out and all the walls out, so we could see clear to the roof trusses and through [the house] to the back of the brick walls. We had total control,” described Jason. As work unfolded at the house, the Eppinettes had a change of mind for the house. “When we first started trying to purchase it, we thought we would flip the house. But [when] we started traveling with our son doing golf tournaments and bringing

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VISIT TXKMAG.COM FOR EVEN MORE INTERESTING C NTENT

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his girlfriend along, this meant we needed separate rooms,” Jason said. “So, we started looking at Airbnb and VRBO houses in the cities we were traveling to. We stayed in one similar to this, and I just thought ‘That’s what we ought to do with the house across the street.’” As a result, Jason and Kerry shifted gears a little and focused on not only highlighting the historical qualities of the home but also creating something guests could enjoy as a rental. “We really are surprised. We didn’t know how well it would do, but it turns out that Texarkana is a middle ground for a lot of people. We’ve had a lot of [renters] that were in town for a wedding or a family reunion. We’ve had a few families here for funerals. During the week, most of our tenants are business travelers. Some of them are even repeats. For example, we’ve had doctors that come to our area for, say the first week of every month, to work at St. Michael’s or Wadley, and they’ll just go ahead and have us put

them on the calendar as a repeat guest,” Kerry elaborated. “In the spring and summer, we get a lot of families on the weekends that are here for baseball tournaments.” Jason thinks part of the draw to this property is its age. “People always comment, ‘Wow! This is a 100-year-old home that was saved; it’s really cool.’ I think the fact that this is a 1927 bungalow in the historic area on a red brick street just has a vibe to it,” Jason said. Kerry added, “It is a little different, and it’s a really quiet neighborhood. They can come in, sit on the front porch and get a little bit of that old-time feel. Plus, we’re really close to Downtown, Ed Worrell Park, and the fairgrounds. It’s a great location.” You might be surprised to learn that it is not just travelers from the surrounding areas coming to visit. In fact, the Beech Street Bungalow has hosted people from all over the United States and even international travelers. “We’ve had several families from Florida, guests from Hawaii and even a

British family,” who Kerry explained, “had young children and jobs that allowed them to work remotely, so they decided they wanted to show their kids the U.S. and that they wanted to make their way across the country staying at Airbnbs. They found us randomly but stayed here an entire week. They loved being in the historic district and sitting outside on the porch just taking in the neighborhood.” It is really no surprise that people would be drawn to this beautiful bungalow given its friendly feel and welcoming charm. Kerry and daughter, Erin, worked together on decorating the house in a spirit reminiscent of the 1920s, deciding that Americana would suit the delightful navy exterior and open gray and white interior. With its deep, shaded front porch, fun pops of color and historical nods throughout, I am sure this home, and Texarkana, will continue to draw visitors from near and far.

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