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Ashley News Observer- Features

Carousel-themed art created for Carousel School
A trio with a love for art and children came together to benefit a local pre-K school, The Carousel School, and as a group, they produced colorful artwork designed to bring additional life and excitement to the school and its children.

Dena Judge, Naomi Bivins and local teen Weslie Burt produced 16 large pencil drawings of carousel horses, a couple of poster sized drawings and several smaller drawings in black and white but mostly color.

“Shalonda (Thompson) is good at what she does and the school is special,” Judge said. “She has a heart for what she does.”

What Thompson does is manage the school as its director.

Judge said the children at the school are “special children, special” and “she wanted to help.”

Consequently, Judge came up with the idea of drawing a few colorful carousel animals for the school to put up on its walls. The few became 16 primary works and other small and much larger ones.

Judge said she is an amateur in the area of arts and crafts, but she explained that she and Burt focused on the task - and all three women are proud of what they produced.

“The kids and Shalonda have a special place in my heart,” Judge said. “She really works wonderfully with children.”

Judge said she didn’t do much and credited the energy she received from “Naomi and Wendy,” for what was done.

“Everybody likes carousel horses,” she said. “They are pretty and cute.”

(Full story in the Ashley News Observer)

Work is child's play for new Crossett pediatrician
For Dr. Kenneth Richards, his job is much like play time.

“It’s great,” he said. “I come to work and play with kids all day.”

The newest member of the Ashley County medical community, and the only pediatrician in the area, is now at work – or play – in the Ashley Women’s Clinic on Fred LaGrone Drive, adjacent to Ashley County Medical Center.

Richards said one of his major inspirations was, in fact, a pediatrician that he knew while growing up in American Fork, Utah, south of Salt Lake City.

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” he said. “My pediatrician was a big influence, and I always wanted to help people. And then when I took a biology class in high school, that made the interest even stronger.”

After high school, Richards went to Utah State University for his undergraduate studies, followed by medical school at the University of Louisville and then a three-year residency at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria.

He had been in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina for the past four years, and first heard of Crossett when his parents, Arlyn and Colleen Richards, moved here.

“My dad is in the IT department at Georgia-Pacific,” Richards said. “And my mom taught Dr. (Alan) Wilson’s kids piano lessons, and then he started asking about me.”

Richards said he finally decided to see Crossett himself, which he did just over a year ago.

(Full story, photo in the Ashley News Observer)

Ministry continues to support Wilmot
The uncertainty over the future of Wilmot Elementary School and a mid-summer move by the Hamburg school board to re-open the school for the upcoming school year had very little impact on Eagle Family Ministries.

The Bentonville-based religious organization never gave up on the Delta community as it maintained its annual plans for a week of building and support activities in the Delta community on behalf of the small elementary school.

Steve Tucker, president of Eagle Family Ministries, said his organization adopted Wilmot in 2000 and it has spent a portion of its summer in the small Ashley County town for the past 13 years.

An annual element of the summer project crafted by Eagle Family members is to bring and distribute school supplies to students at the elementary school. The organization also provides supplies and materials to Wilmot’s schoolteachers.

Tucker said his organization would still have come south to Ashley County and brought school supplies for the children of Wilmot even if there were not a Wilmot school.

He explained the students would have still needed the supplies; they just would have used them at a new school elsewhere in the county.

“We were still bringing school supplies for the children at Wilmot,” Tucker said.

(Full story, photo in the Ashley News Observer)

Haley Creek Boys still pickin' after almost 40 years
Classical music in New York City may mean Bach and Beethoven; but in Arkansas, classical music is gospel and blue grass.

The sound of guitars, mandolins, fiddles and a stand-up bass is the music of the south – particularly Arkansas.

In Ashley County, particularly in the Promise Land community, the Haley Creek Boys have long been spreading the word and playing the music that best represents classical southern culture – bluegrass and gospel.

The group came together in 1975 and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in just a few months.

Over the years, membership has changed and there have even been a few girls mixed in with the Boys; but the current 11-member singing group keeps alive the music and spirit that the original membership sought to represent.
The oldest member of the band is one of the original members, 83-year-old Ed Watt (mandolin, vocals).

The youngest is 37-year-old Jared Brooks (lead guitar, vocals). Despite being the youngest, Brooks knows the band’s legacy because he joined it as a youngster – 12-years-old.

(Full story in the Ashley News Observer)

Former Crossett resident collects first Super Bowl ring
What began as an internship for Lane Gammel has led to a job as director of communications for the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks – and a Super Bowl ring.

Gammel, a 1993 graduate of Crossett High School, was in town last week to visit family and friends, with two top prizes in tow – the championship ring and his new daughter, almost four months old.

“It has been a big year,” he said. “We won the Super Bowl February 2 and we had our first daughter March 20.”

Gammel said he graduated Crossett High School with no thoughts at all of being in his present field.

He attended and played football at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeastern Louisiana, and considered following in the footsteps of his father, local pharmacist Billy Gammel.

“I went to pharmacy school since my brothers didn’t and I thought I might go into the same field that my dad had,” Gammel said. “But then I just realized I wanted to do something in sports. I had stopped playing (football) after two years at Northeast Louisiana but I still wanted to be in sports. I thought maybe I wanted to be an athletic director. Then I found out that our athletic director at the time had majored in public relations.”

Gammel said he had considered “public relations” to be a media job, not something that an athletic director would pursue.

“I didn’t want to be in the newspaper business, but when I saw our AD had been in public relations it gave me something to think about,” he said, “so I changed my major after I realized that I could have a public relations degree and still work in sports.”

Gammel initially went to Seattle in 1997 as an intern with the Seahawks.

(Full story in the Ashley News Observer)

© Copyright 2005 Ashley County Publishing, Inc.