Pandemic: the second time around

By Courtney Beal

It was Wednesday, September 19, 2018. 

I disembarked, along with Reed, 7, and Ana, 2, from a flight across the ocean to meet my husband in Hong Kong.

He’d been there for a month already – which meant I’d been single parenting in Batesville and had now survived (the most accurate word I can think of) a 16+ hour flight with two young children on my own. We were, for all intents and purposes, moving to Hong Kong where Wesley was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach and research at the University of Hong Kong for the fall 2018 semester. 

I’ll confess that I was less than enthusiastic about this proposition, at first. There might not have been any place you could have chosen that would have felt more foreign to me at that juncture of my life than Hong Kong. I’d only ever left the continent of North America once – to visit London. You can imagine the mental space I was in as I disembarked from what seemed like a never-ending flight.

As I literally drag Reed down the corridor, with Ana and all the carry-on luggage I can manage piled into the stroller, we’re immediately met by a team of masked attendants wearing lab goggles and pointing temperature guns at us. They gestured for me to stop while they scan Ana in the stroller, then Reed, then finally me.

I can’t overstate, as a westerner, how intrusive this felt. I had a brief moment of panic contemplating what would happen if one of our readings came back slightly high. 

We were greeted with this same process two more times before we finally were allowed to exit the secure area of the airport: once before we were allowed into the baggage claim area and again before we entered the immigration and customs area.  It felt like we had emerged from the plane into a completely different realm – one that felt less like reality and more like some dystopian novel.

I remember, on one of our first outings into the city, Reed looking up and asking, “Why are all of these people sick? Are we going to get sick, too?” It took a minute for me to realize he was referring to all the people he saw up and down the sidewalks, on the subway, and in the shops wearing face masks. 

You don’t have to spend long in Hong Kong before you notice the prevalence of face mask wearing. Descending into the subway during rush hour, you’ll encounter throngs of people wearing them. For a westerner, it felt unusual at first, and I’m seeing some of the same reactions here in the United States.

While living in Hong Kong, I became keenly aware of how much I relied on facial expressions for communication – especially since I couldn’t understand the language. I was forced to really look into others’ eyes, even in casual interactions where I might have just relied on the other’s tone of voice or smile.  Maybe this is what feels so uncomfortable – this loss of a casual social “middle ground.” It becomes necessary to either not acknowledge anyone, or truly make eye contact and give your undivided attention.

Pandemics aren’t a new experience for the city of Hong Kong. Asia’s World City – as Hong Kong is often called – was the epicenter for the SARS outbreak of 2003, and you can still feel the aftermath and scars of that outbreak, even today. Temperature scans and mask-wearing are commonplace for residents there. Any time you move across a major boundary line (like taking the ferry to Macau, flying to Japan or “mainland” China, etc…) your temperature is scanned multiple times. 

For many Hong Kongers, face masks have become a part of their fashion, similar to picking out shoes, a hat, or another accessory. We saw regular medical masks, but also all manner of prints and solid colors. Children sport their favorite cartoon or movie characters. Reed was particularly jealous of Marvel character masks. What felt like another world upon our arrival in Hong Kong quickly came to feel routine. The sight of people wearing face masks just became a normal part of the landscape for us.

Beal’s daughter, Ana, in Hong Kong in 2018.

Fast forward to winter/spring 2020…headlines begin showing up in my Facebook feed. 

Headlines like:

 “Coronavirus Cases Rise Above 24,000”

“First Coronavirus Death”

“Coronavirus Strikes a Wounded City”

“Economists Warn Coronavirus Risk Far Worse Than Realized”

“American Airlines Extends Flight Suspensions … Amidst Coronavirus” 

“Containing new coronavirus may not be feasible, experts say, as they warn of possible sustained global spread.”

I’m sure these headlines seem familiar. They started circulating widely in the United States around early March. These specific headlines, however, were showing up in my personal Facebook feed starting at the end of January. The“wounded city” referenced is Hong Kong. 

Having lived in Hong Kong for the last half of 2018 and still having friends and connections there, I’d been watching this virus and the damage and chaos left in its wake for more than a month before it seemed relevant here. 

I’ve watched, via a Facebook group called “Hong Kong Moms,” families that live in much smaller quarters than the average American family (the average size home in Hong Kong is 484 sq ft – let that sink in for a minute…) trying to navigate quarantining and working and schooling at home since the start of February. Add to that school closures experienced due to the large-scale protesting Hong Kong experienced in the fall, and you have kids that have been out of school more than in this year. 

Their struggles are the same: finding enough time in the day, keeping children occupied long enough to conduct a remote meeting, finding new ways of entertaining themselves at home, feeling isolated from family and friends. They may be on the other side of the globe, but their everyday struggles look just like ours these days. 

Other headlines have been coming  through my feed this week:

“Hong Kong Reports No New Covid-19 Cases”

“Hong Kong Reports No New Cases for 2nd Time in a Week”

“Hong Kong Medical Experts Say Social Distancing Measures Could Be Relaxed in Early May As Infection Rates Slow.”

It isn’t an absolute drop off, but new cases for the last two weeks have been in the single digits. What hope that brings, to have even a single day with no new cases reported. 

Hong Kongers use a phrase: “Be water.” You may have seen it used in relation to the pro-democracy protest movement that swept Hong Kong in the summer and fall of 2019 (and is still brewing, under the surface, even now, but that’s another story for another day). It’s not so much a specific strategy as a general philosophy. It’s been particularly necessary to “be water” when handling this global pandemic. With the rapid rate of information changes, it’s been necessary to constantly adapt to new information and policies. Water can carry great force and brute strength. It can be hard as stone, but it can also bend and move around barriers with grace. It is flexible. It adapts. It can wipe out an obstacle in mere seconds or it can wear it down gently over time. Its sound can be both deafening and healing. I’ve found that places of water are often where I find my greatest restoration.

That dystopian world we emerged into back in the fall of 2018 seems to have crept into our own reality here. It’s been interesting watching our culture wrestle with these norms of the “other,” feeling the familiar uneasiness with practices we associate with “that other place.”

I’m curious to see if our own culture will hold onto any of these practices in the scars this pandemic might leave. Will we see mask-wearing become more commonplace? Will temperature scans become a regular part of entering areas with large crowds like airports, arenas, amusement parks, etc…? Will we see the disappearance of handshakes as greetings, replaced by an intentional meeting of the eyes and nod to acknowledge another?

Perhaps, and maybe this feels uncomfortable. Maybe it feels like there would be some sort of loss in this scenario, but I offer a different perspective.

I’ve watched my own community come together and find ways of caring for and connecting with each other – despite the physical distance. I’ve watched local individuals, school districts, groups and businesses step in the gap to support and hold each other up. I’ve watched the relationship between my own two children deepen in unexpected ways. I’ve seen people flow, adapt, and overcome.

There will definitely be scars left when we emerge, but I have hope and faith that we will all figure out the next right steps together. I believe that, together, we can adapt to the new world in which we will emerge.

Whatever the case, we still have time to shape how our story ends. Let’s meet this challenge with strength, but also grace. Let’s focus on taking the next right step together. It’s my hope that when we come out on the other side of this, we will rise up with a greater sense of “we,” rather than “us” and “them.” 

Let’s “be water,” my friends. 


Courtney Beal is the Assistant Programmer for the Morrow Academic Center – Lyon College. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood from the University of Central Arkansas, and moved to Batesville when her husband, Wesley, was hired by Lyon College to teach English. Her family spent a few months in Hong Kong in the fall of 2018 when Wesley was awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach and research at the University of Hong Kong. Originally from Conway, Courtney is currently the Vice-President of the Eagle Mountain Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization and is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Batesville. She loves to travel as well as being a mom to her children.

Pandemic: Living with a Nurse

I was awakened by the sound of the garage door opening this morning as I lay in bed…

This sound meant my husband was home from his night shift as a critical care nurse. 

I laid there sleepily wondering how his night went. I knew he would be in the garage for a few minutes before he opened the door to come into the house.

The garage is where he puts his scrubs in a plastic bag to be washed. Then he removes his shoes and does his best to disinfect them, placing them on a shelf. He leaves his wallet and his keys there, too. Then disinfects his phone before coming in the house and heading straight to the shower.

We have never been germaphobes. I’ve never been that worried before about what microbes he may bring home from the hospital. “Just wash your hands and throw your scrubs in the hamper,” I’d say. No big deal. They’d get washed eventually.

But last night he worked in the COVID unit of his ICU. And all of this began to feel more real. And just… weird. 

As I leaned in for a normal greeting, he backed away. 

I protested: “Christian, it’s gonna be ok. You had on PPE and you’ve showered and you are clean now. I’m not overly worried about it,” I said.

“This is all new and serious,” he said. “Our hospital has done an excellent job preparing in the midst of this crisis, but no protective system is perfect, Meg.” 

There was a part of me that wanted to sigh deeply and say, “You are overreacting. It’s fine, just come sit by me.” But something stopped me. For one, that’s just not a healthy way to respond to someone – dismissing their concerns. But also… I wasn’t there at the hospital.

I was at home in our safe house trying to make children sleep in their own beds so I could watch “The Morning Show” on Apple TV. I am aware of the seriousness going on in the world around me and have my fair share of anxious moments about it. But I am also more consumed with potty training that toddler boy and figuring out how on earth to “homeschool” the girls and keep these kids preoccupied and healthy. Truth be told, the coronavirus can sometimes feel more like this mythical creature rather than a real threat.

He was in the COVID-ICU unit where care is given specifically to presumptive and positive COVID-19 cases. He is learning new systems and protocols… looking into the eyes of fear-filled patients who ask him questions with the desperation that a sick child would ask a parent. But these weren’t children. They were frightened adults who were alone and he was the only direct human interaction they had. No family or visitors allowed.

He used to be a pastor. Looking people who are hurting in the eyes is not foreign to him. But this is different. It’s like a collision of spiritual and physical. And it’s… weird? Real? Raw? I don’t even know what word to use.

He’s also the one, between us, that understands disease and contagion and the science stuff. I trust his perspective. 

This afternoon, as he prepares for another night shift, and I make the kids tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches… thinking existentially about a poem I wrote about songbirds… my Enneagram 4 thoughts are interrupted by this realization:

I don’t get it.

I’m not dumb or unable to educate myself on what is going on in the world of this pandemic. But I don’t fully get it because I am not there staring it in the face. And thankfully, so far, it has not infected anyone that I love.

It is staring me in the face through the eyes of my tired husband, though. 

My longtime friend (and editor) Rachael said, “We are experiencing the same collective threat but our circumstances and personalities are making it so we are all experiencing it differently. I think telling your personal perspective on the situation might help others realize how different this is for everyone.”

As a nation… as a world… we are experiencing this together. It is shocking and dramatic and life-changing. 

This is traumatic. 

This is a collective grief. 

And, as with any grief, there are layers. And it comes in waves. 

And we all find ourselves in different spaces. 

Loss is everywhere, affecting us all in one way or another. 

It is important for us to have perspective, yes. But it is also important to not compare our specific grief to others. And it’s important to listen. Listen to people’s experiences. There is no better time than now to practice empathy and care and love for humanity. 

Comparative suffering is dangerous. Empathy is not finite. When we practice empathy, we create more empathy. The exhausted ER doctor doesn’t benefit more if you reserve your empathy only for her and ignore your feelings or withhold empathy from someone lower on the “suffering scale.” Hurt is hurt, and every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy, the healing that results affects all of us. – Brené Brown

So before I become impatient at the idea of my husband being nervous to be close to me and our kids after being around sick people… before I’m tempted to compare who is under more stress, him at work or me at home 24/7 with the kids, I need to look at his eyes, see his grief, and hear him.

It is important to trust the accounts of people who are on the “front lines.” 

My husband does not work in a metropolitan healthcare system. His experience is from a regional healthcare system in the south. He feels they are prepared, as much as possible in the current environment, and he has been very impressed with the leadership of his unit. But all things considered… this is a pandemic. Not a normal day at the office.  

I am not suggesting that we live in a state of panic and fear. That’s not productive. Nor am I suggesting we trust every article shared on Facebook. But I am suggesting that we listen to the people we trust who know and experience things that we do not.

So in a few hours, when he heads back to work, I’m going to listen to him. And I’m going to pray for him. And I’m going to look him directly in the eyes and hope that the care and support our family gives him can be supernaturally transferred, through all that life saving PPE, and be felt by the patients with whom he interacts. And I’m going to trust him when he says this is serious and real.

And I’m gonna remember to give myself grace so I can give others grace, too. Because this is all a lot. 

And I’m gonna stay home. 

God, have mercy.


Megan Baxter is a regular contributor on The Oddfellow. In addition to her writing ventures, she also is part of the women’s ministry team at Fellowship Bible Church in Batesville, Ark. She has a degree in Family Psychology from Williams Baptist University, and lives in Batesville with her husband, Christian, and their children.

Hell, Church, and the Sylamore

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Photo taken by Arkansas native Jonas Mark

In kindergarten, I would get off the school bus and walk down Sturrock Rd., the long, paved, country road to get home, and some afternoons I knew by the strong smell of asphalt and motor oil that a light rain shower had come through, and I had missed it. I liked school well enough, but I loved the rain. The ditch in front of my house had that red, chalky dirt that, when a little wet, became a young potter’s dream—molding bowls and cups and sitting them out to dry. But after a downpour, that clay became a hellish red color, and I didn’t trust it. I would submerge my bare feet in the mud, count to three, and immediately pull them out. Each second being a measure of courage. And one wet day, I walked the complete length of the ditch, talking to the Devil. My feet would sink low into the Earth, and I believed it was something or someone pulling me down to the pits of hell, grabbing at my ankles and chanting my name. These are the thoughts of a child who watched horror films with her father while occasionally attending Sunday service at her grandmother’s Baptist church. Hell was real and a layer of it was in the ditch of my front yard.

But hell wasn’t the only landscape. As early as I can remember I talked to God, along with the birds and anything else that would listen. It was all very simple really, I could feel that God loved me, and I knew I loved Him back. I felt very close to Him while knowing very little about Him, and I don’t remember a day I questioned if He was real. That came later. I had already chosen that belief for myself, I think. And without a lot of people telling me or showing me, I just gathered from my conversations with God that He was really kind and good. He was peace, and he showed up early for me in my life. I needed that.

But as I started attending church with my grandmother, my Nanna, it was no longer just me and God. Now other people were involved, other voices. Church for me was like finding a special, secret place to play, and then learning that is was open to the public. Church was like sharing the Sylamore creek. My time in the Sylamore in Arkansas is personal and very hard to share.

it was no longer just me and God. Now other people were involved, other voices.

I slowly hobble through water on visible stones below, avoiding any trench that would be too deep. My body is awake and my mind, alive, aware of deep meaning without deep thinking. I turn my body and my breathing toward the flow of the water, toward the bubbling brook up ahead. Clear, cold water. I can see where to place my foot, and I can see that it’s just me and the minnows that have come to nibble my toes.

After the Hymns and after the organ, I sit down in the pew and hear a car drive up on the creek bank. I hear loud hoots and hollers from a father and a mother corralling five, loud and whiny kids. I hear the sound of a large, middle-school-aged boy trying to squeak and twerk his way into his little sister’s intertube. On impulse, led by a charge, they all stampede the Sylamore waters. My minnows scatter, and the water gets murky; I lose my footing, and me — and my flailing limbs — flop into the breath-taking waters. But I hung around church long enough to see that the ripples eventually settle and the good things are often better shared.

Truthfully, I’ve never been able to sit in a church service and see right to the bottom of this whole metaphor. I’ve now learned to embrace the murky waters that we stir up, and I can speak to the value of inviting people in to my Sylamore church. But as a young child who learned God mostly from the East Texas pines, church was disorienting.

It became confusing because “Jesus was the way to God.” Okay yes, if Jesus is God in human form, I believe in Jesus. And so I learned more about Jesus; and I loved Him, too. He was also kind and good, and so I needed him. Done. But then “I had to first pray a prayer and ask him in my heart” and “I’ll know it’s time when it’s time. But do not tarry. Hell awaits.”

Although I began this process with gumption and fight, over time I began to question myself, and I don’t take myself lightly. Okay, Jesus, you can have my heart. I know you are good. Done. Let’s keep going. But I was met with faces that said “slow down. You might be too young.” All that peace tunneled into an underground pipeline, and I found myself pacing in that hellish red clay.

My spirit stayed connected to God’s spirit, and no one could tell me otherwise. I molded clay bowls from the left-over rain until I decided on my own I was His but just like going to school, I had to do some learning in the church or what they called Sunday school. Some of it I would benefit from and some would be garbage, just like school. But since I only attended church with Nanna, my ride to New Hopewell Baptist was limited to mainly holidays and revival week. So here’s what happened: sitting on my metal-framed day bed with my Holly Hobby sheets, alone in my room, I popped a VHS tape into the VCR, and fell in love with the stories of the Bible. A corny cartoon with two kids, their dog. and a robot named Gizmo were sucked into a “Super Book”, the Bible.

My Nanna saw my interest, or rather obsession, with the stories and bought me the whole series as they were released. I cried when Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, I cheered when David defeated Goliath, and I laughed when Jesus was born in a stable. And when I came to the crucifixion of Jesus, I turned the TV off, and never watched that tape again. For five more years, these VHS tapes were my church. I processed everything I learned with my younger sister and our naked Barbies. And for the bigger questions, like that one VHS tape I turned off, I saved those questions for my Nanna at her kitchen counter.

Today in my 30’s I’m making my way back to that little girl before she went to Vacation Bible School and Youth group and Bible College — she’s just as real and as important as the theology that followed her.

Follow Jonas Mark’s photo journey on his Instagram and at www.jonasmarksphotography.com

2019: A look back at Batesville’s top headlines

January

Citizen’s Bank opened its new headquarters on a main drag, 655 St. Louis Street.

February

The City built a new steamboat-themed playground in place of the old wooden playground located beside the train engine. Total cost: $100,000.

March

The Batesville Lady Pioneers won the state basketball championship for 4A.

April

Heritage House, the oldest gift store in town, located at the corner of Harrison and Fitzhugh Streets, closed its doors because the owner, Virginia Ketz, retired. It was the go-to for buying wedding and baby shower gifts, and in its last few years carried high end clothing and accessories for women.

May

Intimidator, in its sixth year of operation, completed construction on a building of more than 206,000 square feet taking up five acres at 1525 White Drive. Governor Asa Hutchinson and country music legend Neal McCoy attended its grand opening,

A one-hundred-year-old mural was repainted by the Lyon College Art Department under the direction of art professor Dustyn Bork. The students worked for an entire month restoring the classic Coca-Cola logo located in downtown Batesville.

June

Southside, established in 2014, completed construction of its City Hall building located at 2181 Batesville Blvd. It broke ground in June of 2018 on a 4,650-square-foot, $675,000 building.

The only local, daily newspaper, the Batesville Daily Guard, completed its first entire year under new ownership. (The Jones Family sold to Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Kentucky in June of 2018. At the time it was sold, it was the last non-chain family-owned daily newspaper in Arkansas.)

More than 800 people attended Batesville’s inaugural Pride Celebration in downtown Batesville.

The Batesville Community Center hosted two Pyramid Fights in 2019: on June 22, Justin Frazier defeated Benjamin Rowland, and on Nov 16, Solo Hatley Jr. defeated AJ Cunningham. As of the end of 2019, Cunningham of Batesville was ranked 5th in the state for his division, Arkansas Pro Featherweights.

The Arkansas Country Music Awards announced Tim Crouch of Strawberry, Ark., as Fiddler of the Year. Kenny Loggains of KWOZ Batesville was nominated for Radio DJ of the Year which was won instead by Del Hughes of KWCK in Searcy. KWOZ ‘The Country Super Station” in Batesville was nominated for Radio Station of the Year, but lost to KDXY “The Fox” in Jonesboro.

Two new coffee shops opened around the same time this summer: Nova Joe’s Coffee built a building beside the new Hampton Inn hotel on Harrison Street, and Blue Moon Coffee built across the street from the Riverside Conoco gas station.

Former Arkansas State Senator, Linda Collins, was found murdered in her home.

July

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences opened a new family medicine clinic beside Hobby Lobby, and started a new family medicine residency program, which will bring a total of 18 resident physicians and their families to Batesville when at full capacity.

Flowers Baking Co. of Batesville earned the 2019 Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, which means it scored in the top 25 percent of all U.S. commercial bread and roll bakeries for “improving energy performance through best practices and making cost-effective improvements,” according to a Flowers Foods press release.

Cave City celebrated its 40th Watermelon Festival with concerts by Shenandoah and Mark Chestnutt.

August

A study conducted by Background Checks.org concluded that Batesville ranked as the fifth safest city in Arkansas (based on FBI crime statistics of cities with a higher than 10,000 population).

September

Stan and Shanna Fretwell renovated the Maxfield-Wycough Building, built in downtown Batesville in 1897, to be a luxury boutique hotel, The Royal on Main. The bottom floor is a salon and clothing boutique, Main Attire.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded $500,000 to two Main Street properties in the United States, and one of them was The Adler Building, located in downtown Batesville. The grant specifies the money be used to renovate the building to include affordable apartments.

There were two National Merit Semi-finalists in Independence County this year. One was Batesville High School senior, Veronica Laslo. The other was 16-year-old Zach McClain, one of only two homeschool students in the state this year to achieve this honor.

More than 200 community members gathered to provide input to the City of Batesville and IMPACT Steering Committee on priorities for the town going forward. Riverfront development was mentioned the most.

Batesville Community Theater bought the old Van Atkins building at the top of Main Street, and plans to build a theater.

University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) saw a 10 percent enrollment increase in one year, from 2018 to 2019. Other news from UACCB for 2019 is that RegisteredNursing.org, based out of California, ranked its online nursing program eighth in the nation (among online licensed practical nursing to registered nursing school programs) due in part to national licensure pass rates. The college also hosted a concert by Lee Greenwood, who is known for “God Bless the USA” in Sep 2019, and a meet and greet with University of South Florida head football coach Charlie Strong in Mar 2019.

A new 80-room Hampton Inn hotel opened in Batesville, located across Harrison Street from the old White Rogers building.

Independence County voted to sue the City of Batesville for outstanding payment of jail fees.

October

Danny Dozier, alongside the Batesville Downtown Foundation, completed a playground at Maxfield Park using recycled materials from the old Riverside Park playground torn down in February. Dozier gave credit to local stonemason Lloyd Blake and master electrician Andy Edwards for helping with the project. The park also now contains the only public restroom downtown.

The Foll Family Farm, established in 1919 and owned by Stanton and Cheryl Foll of Stone County, was honored by the Arkansas Agriculture Department for having been owned by the same family for more than 100 years.

Ozark Mountain Poultry completed its first entire year under ownership of George’s, headquartered in Springdale.

Peco Foods, headquartered in Alabama with a processing plant in Batesville, created a new corporate director position to focus on health and safety. Peter Van Derlyke, with a Ph.D. in Safety Sciences, is the first person to fill the position.

November

Sulphur Rock Elementary earned a Grade of A on school performance for the third time in a row from the Arkansas Department of Education.

Local man, Larry Bentley, bicycled 80 miles on his 80th birthday. Story found here.

The Child Advocacy of Independence County completed its first full year in the house it renovated at 510 East Boswell Street, diagonal from the Post Office.

The North Arkansas Dance Theater performed their 15th annual Nutcracker ballet, and featured four professional ballet dancers, Leah Morris and Aldrin Vendt of Ballet Arkansas, and Jon Drake and Amy Turner.

Future Fuel Chemical Company’s net income for the first nine months of 2019 was down to $15.8 million from $51.3 million in 2018.

December

The cities of Batesville and Southside, and Independence County agreed collectively to buy Ramsey Mountain (19 acres) to preserve it for future generations.

Matt Smith bought the vacant movie theater located in the Oaks Shopping Center, and plans to renovate. Smith’s other theaters in the state offer luxury seating, an extensive food menu, and some serve beer and wine.

Independence County went from a ranking of 17th in the state in 2018 to 71st in the state in 2019 for how much important information its website contains, according to the report Access Arkansas: County Web Transparency released by the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics at the University of Central Arkansas. Independence County’s website is under construction. Jefferson County showed the most improvement, mostly due to its new stand-alone website.

Due to a lawsuit filed locally, the community learned a grandson of the former Vice-President and 2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden currently lives in Independence County.

Four out of four Lyon College students who applied to dental schools were accepted. Keifer Hartwig will be going to Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry, Vinston Van will attend the University of Florida College of Dentistry, Ayden Henry will attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, and Taylor Dale was accepted to five schools and is still undecided. In other news from Lyon, alumni Clare Brown, Ph.D., was interviewed by CNN about her article concerning the effect of Medicaid expansion on low birth weight and preterm birth published in April 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And…Lyon built a dog park this year and named it in memory of a beloved biology professor, Mark Schram, Ph.D., who passed away in 2017.

White River Health System (WRHS) now offers telemedicine via Ivanti, a computer software company with 1,600 employees, headquartered in Utah. Other news from WRHS in 2019 includes recognition from the Arkansas Hospital Association of Dylan Carpenter, MD, for being the first surgeon in Arkansas to offer minimally invasive anterior hip replacement (using Stryker’s Mako, a robotic arm); Dianne Lamberth for her work with the Independence County Child Advocacy Center; and Kevin Spears for his work in getting sleep chairs for Stone County Medical Center. Additionally, a local pharmacist, Erin Beth Hays, was selected to serve as President for the Arkansas Association of Health-System Pharmacists.

Cave City erected a new monument to honor veterans.

For the 25th year, the Southside School District hosted its highly successful and annually sold-out ‘Ye Olde Christmas Madrigal Feaste’.

First Community Bank opened three new branches in Arkansas: Newport, downtown Jonesboro, and Conway. Then the bank broke ground on an operations center addition off its main headquarters. The new three-story addition will be more than 28,000 square feet and house 125 employees. Also in 2019, First Community Bank partnered with television host P. Allen Smith to install pollinator gardens at 20 of its bank locations in Arkansas.

‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ actress headlines local fundraiser

On Thursday, Nov 14, she traveled to Batesville and spoke to a gathering of 111 people at the Cherish Life Gala.

Robia Scott was born in Queens, New York, and has toured Europe with Prince, acted in the first three seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, and appeared in “Beverly Hills, 90210”.

On Thursday, Nov 14, she traveled to Batesville and spoke to a gathering of 111 people at the Cherish Life Gala, a formal evening of fundraising for The Alpha Center, held at Compass Church.

Scott’s most recent acting role was in the movie “Unplanned“, which is based on one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the country, Abby Johnson. The Alpha Center offered a free preview of this movie at the local AMC Theater on March 28. The movie hit theaters the next day and has since grossed $19 million worldwide.

Scott shared about how the timing of the release of the movie coincided with the Reproductive Health Act in New York, and said it especially alarmed her to discover that more African American babies are being aborted in New York City than are being born.

She also shared about her conversion to Christianity, which occurred in her life while she was working on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer“. As a result, she subsequently quit Hollywood in order to become a minister, and did not go back to acting until “Unplanned”.

After Scott concluded her talk, a local resident shared via video testimony about her experience with The Alpha Center. She said when she found out she was pregnant with another baby, her initial plan was to abort. However, after seeing the ultrasound, and speaking to the local volunteers about her situation, she chose to parent the baby. When the video concluded, with the support of her family members who were also in attendance, she stepped onto the stage with her young baby and thanked those who support the organization.

The night marked the official end of Amanda Steel’s time as Director of The Alpha Center, as she handed the baton to the new Director, Danielle Adams.

Following in a long-standing tradition for this fall event, the dinner at the gala was prepared and served by John 3:16.

To read more about Scott, visit her website.

Both book authors, Robia Scott and Rachel Kelley pose together at The Alpha Center’s Cherish Life Gala on Nov 14 at The Compass Church in Batesville.

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:

MERIT AWARD

(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.


MERIT AWARD

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.


MERIT AWARD

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.”


MERIT AWARD

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.”


MERIT AWARD

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


HONOR AWARD

(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.”


HONOR AWARD

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


SPECIAL RECOGNITION

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.