Local couple to restore building’s history

The building in question is actually two storefronts, which at some point in history were combined into one, and no photos can be located of the righthand storefront.

At 250 E. Main Street, the historic building that most recently housed Babb’s Upholstery and at one time was Harris’s, is going through another rebirth in its approximately 100-year life.

Stella’s Brick Oven Pizzeria and Bistro will soon take its place at the location as the newest addition to the ever-growing downtown district.

But first, owners Doug and Laurie Gottschalk are restoring the building to its original design — which, interestingly enough, is a mystery.

The building in question is actually two storefronts, and at some point in history were combined into one. Despite working with state preservation specialists, the local Main Street Batesville organization, and the Old Independence Regional Museum, no photos can be located of the right-hand storefront. Photos are usually readily available of most all downtown properties, but in the few that were located, the right-hand building is obstructed by parade floats, etc., or just out of view of the camera.

An old photo shows the building but is too blurry and obstructed by the parade to inform the construction. Courtesy of OIRM.
A photo of historic Main Street shows the lefthand storefront (circled) but not the righthand storefront. Courtesy OIRM.

The building(s) is currently covered over in aluminum, by means of a ‘slipcover’, a method used mid-century to try to make old buildings look more modern.

The building is suspected to be stucco or brick underneath the slipcover, although stone is a possibility as well, “so removal of the metal slipcover will be imperative to determine what materials exist and what restoration will need to be done,” the Gottschalks informed the city’s Historic District Commission (HDC), the approval authority on any changes to downtown commercial buildings.

The HDC approved the removal of the current metal slipcover to further investigate the situation, and commended the Gottchalks on their thorough research of restoration standards to ensure the building is properly restored to its original state.

“We love Main Street and we want to honor these two separate facades as they are intended to be,” the owner explained of the project, which on the exterior will once again be two separate storefronts, but on the interior, will function as one large space for the pizzeria.

They have also found a supplier of original “vitro lit glass” — a type of decorative tile found on several downtown buildings, including this one. They have ordered replacement glass that will perfectly match the originals, now broken.

The project is being completed by M&A Jones Construction Company.

Once open, the Gottschalks plan to serve Neapolitan style pizza — arguably the first type of pizza made in Italy. Neapolitan style pizza eventually gave rise to American adaptations of the pizza made by Italian immigrants to the United States in the early 20th century.

Also offered will be classic Italian desserts such as pizzelles and a gelato bar.

Work is currently in progress on the building. We will post updates as they unravel!

Local studio offers yoga instructor certification course

The 8-month certification course is the first of its kind in Batesville, with classes beginning in February and meeting one weekend a month.

Locals will soon have the opportunity to become certified yoga instructors, thanks to an upcoming 200-hour course offered by Yoga7, a Batesville studio.

The course is the first of its kind in Batesville, with training sessions beginning in February. It requires one weekend per month for eight months to achieve certification, and will feature master teachers.

All graduates will receive Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT®s) status from the Yoga Alliance.

“There are certain guidelines Yoga Alliance has if you want to be certified through them, and it’s really the best certification because then you can go anywhere in the world and teach — their certification is accepted everywhere,” Roman Plaks, owner of Yoga7, said.

February is coming up. Has there been any interest?

“I thought if we just got five or six people interested, I’d be happy as can be,” he said, and so far there have been 19 potential yoga students reach out.

Of those enrolled, interestingly, the majority are motivated to learn for purposes other than just to teach, Plaks said.

“There are so many different reasons. Yes, I have a couple that do want to teach, but there are other uses [for the certification],” he said.

Some examples: One enrollee works at a high school and hopes to incorporate the knowledge into the physical education curriculum. Another is a physician who wants to use it to help patients. And yet another is a retiree who wants the training to assist with a fitness group.

“And a lot of the people who have gone through yoga teacher training, it’s just for themselves,” said Jordan Tavernor, one of the studio’s instructors. “They may have no intention of teaching or even bringing it into their vocation. They just learn a lot about their own bodies and work on that mind-body connection. So it can be a personal thing instead of a professional investment.”

Enrolling in the course has no prerequisite for any yoga experience, and Tavernor says that’s a good thing.

“It’s actually cool when you get [students with no experience] in the teacher training because if you have everyone in the room that’s super bendy and super advanced in their practice, then sometimes you forget how to teach the basics and the fundamentals from the beginning,” Tavernor said. “It’s better when you have more diversity and people of different backgrounds.”

Throughout the course of the eight months, students will have hands-on classes, four required course resources, teaching practice, and more.

Why does it take eight months?

“It should take a long time,” Plaks said of the length of the class. Breaking it out into one weekend every month makes it more feasible for people, and also allows students time to absorb the material.

“These folks will be able to teach and lead a group, and they’ll be able to compose their sequences properly,” he said. “That’s the important part — in what order do poses go and why.”

More about Yoga7

Yoga7 recently opened as the first full-service yoga studio in Batesville, and offers 44 classes per week, most taught by the owner himself, to fit various schedules and abilities.

Besides traditional classes, the studio hosts special events like Yoga in the Park, Wine & Yoga, and has even conducted sports yoga to help area athletes including football players, wrestlers, and baseball players with balance and flexibility.

Newly added is Office Yoga.

“I do a 30-minute no-mat yoga class where I’ll go to the business and work with their employees,” Tavernor explained.

“It’s just 30 minutes, you can wear regular clothes. You don’t have to have a mat or anything, and everybody feels super good the rest of the day.”

Upcoming specialty workshops include a knee and shoulder workshop on January 26, and two others in February addressing hip and thoracic spine issues.

To learn more about how to become a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT®) without having to leave Independence County, click here. Or email Roman at roman.yoga7@gmail.com.

To see a quick overview of Yoga7’s prices, click here.

Organizer turns talents into a new local business

In less than two months, Beka McCormick has seen her professional organizing and home cleaning business, McCormick Maid, take off.

As Beka sits in the cookware-strewn floor and goes through the deepest reaches of the bottom kitchen cabinets for a client, she asks thoughtful questions:

“How often do you use this?”

“You have another one of these — do you need them both?’

“Are you attached to this?”

The answers to those questions determine where the object in question will go — within easy reach, out of sight on a higher shelf, or in one of the two big trash bags beside her: one for “give away” and the other for “throw way”.

As she makes her way through the kitchen, she is attentive the client’s lifestyle and everyday needs.

It’s all part of her process so that when the culling part is over, she knows exactly how to put the whole thing back together in the most efficient and functional way.

In fewer than two months, Beka McCormick has seen her professional organizing and home cleaning business, McCormick Maid, take off.

She’s always love organization, even as a teenager, she recalls.

“I’ve been doing this for myself and family about 5ish years but I just started doing it for people outside of family last month,” she explains. “I’ve had so many people asked me to come the more before and after pictures that I show.”

The pictures are admittedly gratifying. She posts photos of piled-high closets turned into perfect rows of clothes and bare floors.

“I would say people’s biggest problem areas are closets and cabinets, because that’s just a catch-all. It’s easy when you’re cleaning to just throw stuff in and not look at it.”

Beka, the mother of a 6-year old, a toddler, and a baby, is no stranger to just how quickly a house can become out of control. But she offers her main tips to keep things in check:

  • Pick up as you go
  • Clean things as you notice them. “If you open and a cabinet and you realize there are crumbs or dust, clean it right then instead of thinking you’ll come back later.” (“You won’t,” she advises.)
  • If you haven’t used it in the past year, get rid of it.
  • Eliminate duplicates. “Some things, I get it: you might need two large pots if you’re cooking a lot of food at once. But most things are unnecessary. You don’t need two sets of measuring cups. You don’t need two mixers.”
  • Keep things off the floor, and off the counters. “It makes the house look so much cleaner just to have those bare.”

“Most people just want me to do a de-clutter of their whole house, and we just work room by room,” she says of her process, adding that she also offers house cleaning. “But I enjoy the de-cluttering and organizing part way more than the cleaning part. So I’m trying to promote that more. This is definitely my zone.”

She says either way, it’s satisfying work to look back on the difference.

“It makes people happy and it helps people,” she said.

McCormick Maid is on both Facebook and Instagram and offers online bookings.

New summer festival coming to Batesville: “Big Fun on the Bayou”

Twenty-five volunteers from a cross-section of Batesville, many with personal stories to share of happy times spent on the bayou over the years, gathered today to begin creating a festival centered around the Poke Bayou.

The concept, introduced and spearheaded by Bob Carius and the Main Street Batesville organization, will be a day-long series of events on the bayou on July 26, culminating in an evening concert by ‘Trout Fishing in America’ at Maxfield Park. The band plays comedic songs for kids, as well as adult friendly music.

The recently finished Maxfield Park has been the first development on the bayou, an under-utilized asset for the town according the Carius, and provides a jumping-off point to more bayou activities.

The theme of the event, “Big Fun on the Bayou”, is drawn from the 1952 Hank Williams song ‘Jambalaya’.

“And there are a lot of things we can do with that besides just of course play the song,” Carius explained of the theme chosen by an initial working group, adding that watersports and triathlon-type contest could be part of the plan, but that “right now the slate is completely clean”.

A piece of property along the bayou near Maxfield Park will also be in play for the festival, thanks to its donation to the City of Batesville for such public-use development.

“The mayor and I visited the area about two weeks ago and it’s very overgrown,” Carius described of the work to be done. In the past, inmates have been utilized to clean up the bayou and could possibly be again for this particular parcel.

Anyone interested in being involved with planning “Big Fun on the Bayou” activities are invited to join the committee by contacting Main Street Batesville at mainstreetbatesville@gmail.com

Column: Secret is out

Any additional unnecessary layers of difficulty we lay on pregnancy need to go.

By Shannon Haney

Pregnancy just kinda sucks. 

At least it always has for me, and I don’t mind saying it. Some women love it and I wish I was one of them, but for me it’s being brutally sick for the first three months, followed by being highly uncomfortable and tired — both mentally and physically — the following six months. And I don’t look anything like magazine-cover-celebrity pregnancy. I do look like a public service ad for obesity. Or diabetic edema. Or the ‘before’ picture for epi-pens. Or maybe goiter.

That’s why I think any additional unnecessary layers of difficulty we lay on pregnancy need to go. (It’s NOT reasonable to have your body back three weeks after giving birth, there’s no IDEAL amount of weight to gain, you WON’T ruin your baby’s IQ and all future chances of health and happiness if you eat pizza instead of broccoli every now and then, etc.) Everybody calm down.

Enter the big ole secret-keeping rouse of the first trimester… Granted, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s considered a delicate time, most susceptible to miscarriage. Some of the baby’s most key developments can go wrong at this time. And for those reasons, and probably a lot of others, we observe this peculiar and unspoken custom in our culture where the parents go on guard of their news like they’re the gatemen for Fort Knox. And yes, it’s big news, but we act like we’ve been handed the recipe for Coca Cola instead of a blurry black and white ultrasound photo.

Some of the books and well-meaning advisers reason that if, God forbid, you lose the baby and no one knew in the first place, you’ve successfully kept the whole thing a very private matter and you don’t have to deal with the… the… what, exactly? Questions and scrutiny? I suppose that’s the implication, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that that’s the expected response to a miscarriage.  Sure, in the depths of a loss a person very well may not want to talk about it, and rightfully so. But to not want anyone to even know about the fact that you had a new member of the family, and then… didn’t? That could be the preference for some people, and if it is, absolutely fine. Totally your call. But to me, that kind of isolation would feel like a second tragedy on top of the first. 

It feels like a lot of other things, too. For me it feels like a fear-based approach. And it feels like postponing joy, or tiptoeing towards a blessing with skepticism. And maybe most unsettling, it feels like a decision to walk through any possible loss or pain in secret, without the support of friends and family.

And just like pregnancy itself, it may not feel like that to everyone. Maybe keeping things under wraps is truly the best decision for some families. But I’m not interested in keeping up this whole first trimester silence, or avoiding the early announcement taboo. I’m already too exhausted.

So here it is: I am nine weeks pregnant. 

All of you people who are ‘my people’ are now officially in this with me, for better or worse, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to observe a pregnancy custom I will be keeping: eating questionable/nasty stuff from Taco Bell. My pregnancy, my way.

The first ultrasound photo of Little Peanut III.

Author Rachel Kelley describes the long road to a published book

In her final version of her new book, Rachel Kelley chronicles several life events through the lens of faith — a life-threatening accident, an unexpected move from Tennessee to the hills of Mountain View, her path to raising 6 kids, seemingly impossible financial situations, and how the book itself would ultimately land in the hands of author John Grisham.   

On Saturday she will be presenting her book, Rachel’s Raft, a faith-based autobiography, to the public at a Christmas open house held annually by The Bread of Life bookstore here in Batesville.

But it took five years, and challenges she said she never expected to be so hard before getting to the final version.

Rachel Kelley wrote and wrote and wrote. She wrote for three years actually, grabbing any spare moment she could to churn out another page.

When she finally finished, she had a manuscript of about 150,000 words — more than 600 pages.

“It was huge,” she said of the first draft of her book. “It’s a snippet of my personal journey with the Lord through the last several years, and if it happened, it was in there.”

Kelley said the finished product was so overwhelming that she set it aside for two years, until someone suggested an editor, a local from Lyon College, who had assisted on other books.

Kelley said as they talked, the main story became clear: “How God led us [her family] through a process of whittling away more and more from our lives…and how God would give me small steps, and every step became increasingly harder.”

With her editor’s help, throughout the course of 4 months the book was gleaned down to a reasonable 50,000 words, she assures potential readers, but adds it was very hard to let go. “I just had to cut it and not look back.”

Her mom, an artist, designed the cover and then the whole thing was uploaded and self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing, which she says was the easiest part of the whole process.

“It’s so personal. It’s like releasing a diary to the general public,” she said of finally seeing her words in print.

The availability of self- publish options has motivated many unknown authors to share their work. The drawback to self publishing rather than going through the traditional channels is that it is up to the author then to promote and sell copies. But Kelley says she’s not going to stress about that.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain,” she says of the next steps. “I feel like I was faithful in writing it, and that’s the main thing… People have been really positive and genuine in their responses, and so the feedback that I’ve gotten — that’s the way He’s blessing me.”

Kelley will be signing her book from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Bread of Life bookstore on Saturday. Those wishing to purchase a copy can do so there, or at amazon.com.

Tomahawk Chop opens on Main Street

Tomahawk Chop Company is the newest business downtown, adding another entertainment activity to the growing district — and a somewhat unusual one at that.

“It’s an ax throwing entertainment center,” owner Mike Moss described of the new business, located next to door to the Main Attire boutique and The Royal on Main, downtown’s new luxury hotel.

He said Batesville is overdue for more activity-based businesses.

“You can go to the movies and you can go bowling or you can go to a bar… but there’s not much for people to do so we decided to do this,” Moss said, adding that his son Drew is involved in the undertaking as well, handling marketing and IT. Both have enjoyed ax throwing as a personal hobby.

“It’s gaining a lot of interest. It started in Canada, and has come down through the Northeast and is making its way across the United States,” Moss said. “It will garner enough interest to be popular for quite a while I think, because it’s easy to do and you don’t have to be great at it to have fun.” 

Moss said the fact that everyone can do it is one of the reasons he chose the building downtown: it has a wheelchair ramp and he wanted that accessibility.

“We looked around town at different locations… There were a couple on Harrison Street, and we thought about high traffic areas. But parking lots can be kind of hard to get in and out of, and this is kind of an eclectic activity, so downtown kind of made sense… People that come down here come for a purpose, and it’s growing here — you’ve got The Melba, several stores, 109 that’s about to be opened back up, The Pinto, Big’s… It fits with the vibe.”

The space is currently being built out with lanes, each one 10 feet wide and built according to regulation for the leagues associated with the sport:  World Axe Throwing League, International Axe Throwing Federation, and National Axe Throwing Federation. The center will offer about 5 lanes, plus a seating area and a snack bar. Patrons will pay for an hour of play, with the second hour discounted. Admission to the center will be limited to ages 14 and up, with all participants required to sign a waiver.

“You’ll go through a 10-minute safety orientation with one of our staff. They’ll show you how to do it, how not to do it, and make sure you have all the proper attire like closed-toed shoes and no loose jewelry,” Moss explained. “The axes weight between 1.8 and 2.4 pounds each, so it’s a little bit of a workout. You’ll use both hands most of the time, but we’ll have some little axes you can throw with one hand.”

Tomahawk Chop Company is detailing their progress on their Facebook page which has already garnered over 1,000 followers prior to even opening. 

Moss says he gets frequent calls from people anticipating their first visit.

Local historian releases latest: A History of the Ozarks, Vol 2

Brooks Blevins, notable local historian and author, released the second volume in his three-part series A History of the Ozarks and I have been eager to pick up this book ever since.

Volume 2 is subtitled “The Conflicted Ozarks” and deals with the time period surrounding the Civil War. 

Blevins’s thesis: in the period before, during, and after the Civil War, the Ozarks existed as a unique region that simply cannot be defined.

The complexity of the people tucked into the nooks and crannies of the hill region made it a place unlike the rest of Arkansas, unlike the rest of the South, and unlike the rest of the country, Blevins explains in the book.

It was marked deeply by the myriad of immigrants and American Indians who had made the place home. It was a place that due to both geography and intentionality, existed separately from other defined cultures of the time. The only consistent narrative is that there is no consistent narrative. The only stereotype is the complete absence of a true stereotype.

People were diverse, as far as backgrounds, beliefs, ways of life. And in the context of the Civil War, allegiances too.

Blevins emphasized this reality with the introduction of a strange character named Elias Boudinot, who was the son of a Cherokee leader and a white woman. He was born in the Ozarks, raised with the Cherokee, educated in the Northeast, and published a “pro-slavery rag that not only lambasted abolitionists but championed education and industrialization.” The only thing typical about Boudinot and his mish-mash of allegiances was that, in the Ozarks during this time, there was little in the way of “typical”.

"...the Ozark region was conflicted in the age of war and reconstruction. Occupying a liminal regional space, a cultural borderland, the Ozarks was part Southern, part Western, part Midwestern. Not completely at home in either the cultural South or the cultural North, the region fittingly and tragically found itself a literal borderland in 1861, straddling the line that demarcated the Confederacy from the Union but never neatly delineated secessionists from Unionists, thousands of each populating both sides of the old thirty-six-degree thirty-minute line as well as the hills of the Indian Territory. It was a blueprint for true civil warfare..."

The book does ask the reader to have a foundational knowledge of Arkansas history and geography. But it is still very much read-able and enjoyable even if you’re iffy about the strength of your local history chops. (This book will take you miles towards developing that understanding, to be sure.)

Brooks Blevins is a Lyon College alumnae, former Lyon College professor, and the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University. He is the author or editor of nine books, including A History of the Ozarks, Volume 1; Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South; and Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State.

A History of the Ozarks, Volume 2, is currently available for purchase at the Old Independence Regional Museum.

REVIEW: As usual, Blevins’s depth of research shows, and the author’s passion and experience with the subject matter is obvious. Overall, Brooks Blevins, as always, does the Ozarks proud as a representative native, and as one of the region’s current scholars. We are lucky to have both professional historians like him, and also the handful of amateur sleuths out there who have worked hard to preserve, understand, and tell others the real story of the Ozarks, one that exists beyond the hillbilly stereotypes imposed on the region.

Homes selected for 2019 Preservation Awards

Each year the Batesville Preservation Association (BPA) selects a small number of property owners to honor for their part in preserving unique architectural assets in the city.

At a ceremony held at The Royal on Main, a new luxury hotel downtown and the recipient of one if its 2019 preservation awards, the board of the BPA announced the full list of honorees for the year.

They are as follows:


(Recognizing long-term preservation of significant buildings)

Sleep Star Lite Building
147 South Broad Street

Built in 1929

Mission Style, reminiscent of Spanish Colonial buildings in the American southwest, with prominent feature of terra cotta tile

“We took him (the state expert) by and he said ‘that is the ultimate in Mission Style’,” Dr. Terrell Tebbetts said of the award committee’s review of the property. “They have maintained the terra cotta tile at the top, and they still have the paneled wood below the show windows.”

Owner Rodney Hall commented that the building was owned by the notable Hale family prior to his purchase of the property in 1974.


Stanley Wood Chevrolet Dealership Building
290 S. Central Avenue

Built in 1930

Mission style, reminiscent of the Spanish Colonial buildings with brickwork in a basket-weave pattern

“A couple of years ago a church approached us, and they’re using the building now,” owner Scott Wood updated. “They’ve done a lot of work to make the building better than it was and keep it going, and we hope they’re going to be there a long time. It seems to be working well for them, and they enjoy having a location that is downtown.”

“The building has been in the Wood family since 1939, so 80 years,” Myra Wood added.


The Stalker House
1580 E. Main Street

Batesville’s fullest example in Batesville of the Mid-Century International Style

“This one is a house I’d long, long admired… Scott and Stephen Stalker and sister Suzanne Magouyrk all grew up in the house, and Scott and his wife live there today,” Dr. Tebbetts said, adding that the home was a Freeman Mobley house.

“We haven’t done a lot to the outside. We remodeled the inside after we bought it after Dad passed in 2009,” Scott Stalker said, adding that his family plans to complete some exterior upkeep projects in the coming year. “We’re not going to do anything really different, but we’re going to update the paint and roof,” he described, recalling, “Suzanne was 3 and I was 2 when we moved into the house.”


The Musgrave House, owned by Karl and Terry Kemp
733 Vine Street

Ranch Style home with sleek, International style influence

“We were driving around the residential neighborhood when the state expert, Paul, noticed the Musgrave house on Vine Street. The Kemps own that and they had just put a new coat of paint on it,” Dr. Tebbetts said. “He said it’s a ranch style house, but that clean stucco surface makes it a very different type of ranch house than you normally see — more International Style. So it’s a Ranch Style with International influence. The Kemps have it now and they’ve done a wonderful job with it.”

“When we first bought the house and moved in, there was carpet all through it, and of course I knew Terry was just dying to see underneath the carpet,” Dan Kemp said. “We knew there were wood floors, but she really wanted to know what they looked like, so I guess really it was the first day, we pulled every stitch of carpet out of the house. The floors were in great shape…Mrs. Musgrave, we had been told, wanted to be able to take up the carpet if she didn’t like it. So we didn’t even have to re-finish them.”


Lyon College’s Highland House
2030 Bearette (the corner of Gwyn and Bearette)

Remodeled in the Georgian style by the Hathcock family in the 1960s


(Recognizing extensive restoration and renovation of historic buildings)

The Carly Dahl and Dustyn Bork Residence
1141 E. College

An interior renovation of the Craftsman-style McMahan Bungalow. The couple recently rebuilt the kitchen, remodeled and added baths, and installed drywall throughout the house, all while respecting and preserving the original elements of the house.

“This was the MacMahan House, and she moved to be with her daughter, and Carly and Dustyn Bork bought the house,” Dr. Tebbetts said of the recent project. “They have done a paint job on the outside, but what they’ve done on the inside is a total (rehabilitation).”

“We refinished the floors — they were beautiful, hardwood floors — and we updated (the layout) so that it went from a 4-bedroom/1-bath to a 3-bedroom/2.5-bath,” Dustyn Bork described. “We tried to keep as much of that 1921 Bungalow Arts & Crafts style because we’re big fans. There’s a lot of interesting trim, even on the ceiling, so a lot of nice architectural detail that we wanted to bring back to life.”


The Ned Metcalf Residence
679 E. Boswell Street

Remodeled at one point in the past in the Craftsman Style, owner Ned Metcalf recently completed a total restoration of the interior


The Royal on Main
187 E. Main Street

A Nineteenth-Century commercial building with a façade remodel in the Midcentury Modern style in the 1950s, the building has housed the Sterling Store and a furniture store in recent years. This year, owners Stan and Shanna Fretwell completed an adaptive reuse remodel for mixed use, with commercial space on the lower floor facing Main and suite rentals at the rear and on the second floor. The building has already received both Merit and Honor awards in the past, but was given the Special Recognition Award in honor of the hotel reuse adaptation.

“The Maxfield Building has already received Honor Award and Merit Award in the past, so we’ve run out of awards to give it!” Dr. Tebbetts explained. “But now, Stan and Shanna have done such an amazing job with this building, so occasionally the Awards Committee will give out a Special Recognition Award and this year voted to give one to the Maxfield Building, now The Royal on Main.”

“We kept everything original that we could, and re-used as much material as could, but also inside of that, we have modern amenities as well,” Stan Fretwell said. “It was a lot of late night working for a year and a half — Danny Dozier and I were working buddies, him working in the park and me working in here and we’d meet out back.”

“And a lot of the rooms are named after people who historically were connected to the building,” Shanna explained.

An unexpected life prepared director for new position at Alpha Center

“If I was applying for the job right now I don’t think I would get it — there were such great applicants!” Amanda Steel said of the search for a new director of the Alpha Pregnancy Center/My Choice Clinic nonprofit.

“So that was reassuring. I thought, ‘Okay, they’ve got this’.”

Steel will officially end her time as director of the nonprofit following the organization’s annual fundraiser, the Cherish Life Gala, set for November 14.

New director Danielle Adams has already begun familiarizing with her new role at the helm.

“This position is really close to home for me,” Adams explained of her desire to work in this field. “I was a teen mom. January of my senior year of high school I got a surprise I was never expecting, and it took a lot of community and a lot of encouragement and a lot of support to do what I did: I chose to parent.”

Adams went on to graduate high school and complete college, all while being a mom. She says it was not easy, and that has made her want to help others who face challenges due to parenthood.

“I got my degree, but there were times when I was exhausted and at my wits end,” she recalls. “He (her son) turned 16 last month, and he’s been my greatest blessing, but it was not without hardships along the way — many hardships that I needed my ‘people’, my ‘village’, to look to. So I was thankful for my community — when I went through that, it was my parents — and I’ve had so many people (provide support) along the way.”

Adams served as a Spanish teacher at Batesville High School for 8 years until an illness of her newborn daughter sent her home for several months during the recovery.

She said when the position came along, it was an answered prayer, but also something that fit so well into her own experiences.

“What drew me to the Alpha Center was: not everyone has the family that I had, or they don’t have it around them close by. And so the Alpha Center has many, many women making up the village it takes to raise a baby. They’re a support system, amazing women, strong in their faith, that can pray you through, and be there for you with practical help and advice.”

“My goal coming into the Alpha Center is to help provide that community for others that are in my situation. An unplanned pregnancy can happen at 17, it can happen at 30, and anything in between and beyond,” Adams said.

Adams said there is already great work happening at both the My Choice Clinic and at the Alpha Parenting Center — she wants her main focus to be making sure the word gets out.

The My Choice Clinic is a certified Pregnancy Response Clinic, offering counseling, information on options, free ultrasounds, and more. The Alpha Parenting Center offers resources after a birth, including parenting classes, baby supplies, formula, etc. All services are free.

Adams emphasized the services are for anyone, regardless of situation.

Danielle Adams holds daughter Shiloh while talking about the life experiences that led to become the new director of the Alpha Center.

“Babies are expensive. I’ve waited 16 years to have another one, and even being super-planned and at age 34, it is a lot. So I’m still thankful for my community… It’s tough being a mom, no matter how you become a mom or what that looks like.”

Adams and Steel are currently working together on the upcoming gala, after which Steel will be moving on to what she describes as her next “season”.

“I don’t have a ‘next’ yet and I’m really excited about that,” Steel said, adding that she and husband Chris have dreamed of taking on some sort of project, or non-profit work, jointly.

“I felt like I was supposed to be there for that season and that season is complete,” Steel said.

During Steel’s tenure the organization saw several areas of progress: updated parenting class curriculum; addition of a men’s curriculum named “Practical Fatherhood”; introduction of a sexual risk avoidance curriculum for high schools (currently offered at Cave City, with hopes of adding additional schools); and a new website, www.mychoiceclinicbatesville.com.

“I’m grateful for a chance to be part of that ministry, and to learn about a non-profit that is important to me,” Steel said. “And I’m super grateful we’re getting someone like Danielle to pass the baton to.”