Reflecting on Sydney Southerland, from a sexual assault survivor

In the wake of this tragedy, I found myself murmuring to myself one night. “What a waste.” I was taken aback. What did I mean by that?

Last week, Sydney Sutherland, a 25 year-old woman, went jogging near her home in rural Arkansas along State Highway 18 near Newport and Grubbs.

Two days later, her body was found north of her residence.

Two days after that, August 23, 2020, Quake Lewellyn was charged with capital murder, rape, and kidnapping.

In the wake of this tragedy, I found myself murmuring to myself one night. “What a waste.”

I was taken aback. What did I mean by that?

I realized I had said the same words to myself, and maybe aloud to others, many times in the light of untimely deaths. In the light of global catastrophes. In the light of major losses.

What a waste of a life is what I think I meant.

But I hated how that sounded. I hated how it felt.

25 years lived vivaciously, beautifully, in service to others after nursing school… how is that a waste of a life? It’s certainly not. Not in any way at all. Just because a deviant perpetrator targeted Sydney Sutherland and opted to terminate her life abruptly does not in any way indicate that her life was wasted.

I vowed to stop using those words and to find new words, even if only to mutter to myself. What would those words be?

I reflected on my own incidences of sexual assault.

As a survivor of multiple incidences of sexual assault by multiple perpetrators over my lifetime (thank God none ended in death), I recall that vivid sense of purposelessness. Uselessness. Depravity. Feeling devoid of the desire to continue. Lack of hope. This often occurs in sexual assault victims after trauma; it lasts for varying lengths of time, depending on whether the victim seeks help or not.

Thankfully, I sought help, but not right away.

For years, I coped on my own terms. You can imagine how well that worked for me. Self-medication, self-help books, and talking to all the wrong people who give all the wrong advice will get you to all the wrong places. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was scared to trust anyone at all with what hurt the most.

I finally found a cobbled path to healing through Christian counseling and a recovery program. It’s a continual journey. Post-traumatic stress disorder reminds me of getting divorced. It’s supposed to be final and over, but it’s never really over. I paid the money and moved the turd out of my house. But I’m still stuck with the residue, the financial effects of our marriage, and the reminders every time those stupid Facebook Memories pop up. “12 years ago today: ‘Can’t wait to watch Biggest Loser with X and eat banana splits at the same time!” Barfarama.

Over the past few months, I’ve found it interesting to observe this surge of interest related to #SaveTheChildren—all things related to sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking. As a survivor who’s advocated, volunteered, and served in this realm for almost 20 years, I’m thrilled that the world suddenly cares.

I only hope it won’t stop at sharing posts and gory articles online. Let me reassure you if you’re only doing this much that there’s much more you can do to help save children’s lives, if that’s your genuine motive.

Locally, you can volunteer for the Rape Crisis Center operated under the umbrella of the Family Violence Prevention Center or for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Independence County.

If you’re interested in working to combat human trafficking, you can contact P.A.T.H. (Partners Against Trafficking Humans). In fact, you can attend their volunteer training for 20 hours to learn a wealth of information and then volunteer in numerous ways within their organization, too.

To support multiple global human trafficking organizations, select from a myriad of nonprofit organizations, some faith-based and others non-partisan, doing excellent work all over the world. You can volunteer remotely to manage social media, write articles, answer hotline calls, or perform a variety of other tasks. If you’re outspoken and comfortable with public speaking, many organizations need community representatives and educators. You can write a check if financial support is more your speed.

There are no limits to the ways these organizations need help—trust me. I personally align myself with two organizations—P.A.T.H. and The Asservo Project. I recently published a book and give $1 of each book’s proceeds to The Asservo Project. I’ll continue to look for ways—always—to support these organizations because the work they do changes lives, supports survivors, and brings perpetrators to justice.

Ultimately, we’re never doomed to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, victims, or survivors unless we choose to. There’s plenty of work to be done. We just have to choose to take action.

The work of organizations (and volunteers) ensures that beautiful souls like Sydney Sutherland’s are honored, that tragedies like Sydney Sutherland’s assault and murder are redeemed.

Bethany Wallace owns a consulting business, Bethany Wallace Communications & Consulting, and partners with mission-minded organizations to build better workplaces through soft skills solutions.

Bethany presents research at conferences and contributes to major publications and recognized podcasts, including Glassdoor, College Recruiter, Zip Recruiter, Jobscan, Flex Jobs, the New York Daily News, Business Tech, Human Resources Online, Life After Teaching, Love Your Story, 10 Minute Mindset, Everyday People, and more. In June 2020, she also recently  published a collection of original poetry, “Hindsight 2020: A New and Selected Poems by Bethany Wallace.”

Bethany earned her Master of Arts degree in English Language and Literature at Arkansas Tech University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Lyon College.

Pandemic: Reporter Angelia Roberts covers local changes

The reporter in me felt some of you might like to read what local medical Dr. Adam Gray and Gary Paxson with White River Health System have to say about the current situation.

By Angelia Roberts

Contributor’s note: The reporter in me felt some of you might like to read what local medical Dr. Adam Gray and Gary Paxson with White River Health System have to say about the current situation. I came away from the meeting feeling better informed.

“We’ve got something at our doorstep that we are going to deal with one way or another.”

Dr. Adam Gray

When Dr. Adam Gray, who serves as the Izard County Health Officer, and Gary Paxson, CEO of White River Health System, spoke to a small group of medical personnel, first responders, business owners, law enforcement and others Monday night at Ozarka College in Melbourne, seating was limited and everyone was screened before being admitted.

Paxson gave an overview of the Corona Virus saying there is a lot of noise on social media.

“The goal is to give you some facts, some reality of what is going on.”

“People are saying we are overreacting and it’s not real. I’m here to tell you it is real. It is a very real, very contagious virus.”

He explained it usually obtained through person to person contact which is why social distancing is so important.

Studies show the people most affected are over 65 years of age, but that doesn’t mean a 20-year-old can’t contact it.

“The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is telling us it is very likely it will hit all our communities.”

Paxson talked about safety measures the Batesville facility have already put into place as a precautionary measure.

He said 20 percent have the potential to be hospitalized, five percent could become critically ill, the importance of having the required staff and supplies are dwindling and very much needed.


In order to flatten the curve, a term that is being used to slow down the infection time-frame, schools are being closed, businesses are changing guidelines and social distancing is being urged. People are being told they should avoid large gatherings and with the latest number being no more than 10.

Paxson said the virus is extremely contagious and there is a limit to what the health industry can handle.

By shutting things down and asking people to self quarantine it can help spread that out over a greater amount of time.

“It is recoverable, but there is no vaccine for it. We are prepared and we have been talking about this like Dr. Gray said, for weeks. We have a plan that is set in place. We started screening before there was ever a case in the state of Arkansas.”

Paxson said he could not express enough the need for people to get correct information from reputable sources, such as the CDC, Arkansas Department of Health, the Surgeon General and others.

“We will probably have a patient at some point and at that point we will lock that unit down. We will most likely go to no visitors in our hospital. Our nursing homes are already there.”

—Gary Paxson

He also addressed people who are hoarding supplies saying, “It’s a terrible idea for our society.”

“We’ve had people who are business owners call and ask if one of their employees has been tested. If someone is tested and that test comes back positive we are mandated to report that to the Department of Health. He said that agency will do extensive questioning of who that person has come in contact with and track those people down to let them know they have been at risk.”

Those results are not immediate and can take as long as four days to get results.


In the meantime, people are being told to continually wash their hands and avoid as much contact with others, as possible.

Paxson said people should sing the Happy Birthday song twice while washing their hands and those who use hand sanitizer should make sure their hands are dry, because it doesn’t work if they are still wet.

He also addressed people who are wearing masks in public saying it’s a horrible idea and is not the required mask to give them protection from the virus, plus it’s causing a shortage in hospitals, nursing homes and first responders who need them.

“If you do contract this virus, research is showing the wearing of that (particular) mask is ineffective.”

While there is a growing concern of people wondering if they might have symptoms, Paxson said they need to understand they cannot randomly just test people at this time. “If you don’t have the symptoms, it’s not appropriate to do so. We have to preserve the resources we have.”

He said physicians are going to screen and rule out other sources before the OK is given to test for this particular virus.

“We feel like we are prepared. We’re treating this as if it is going to come. And, when it comes our staff is prepared and ready.”

—Paxson

“We are evidence based, and numbers driven,” Gray said.

The average person will give the flu to one and a half to 5 people.

The problem with this virus is that it affects an even high number with studies showing how one person can give it to anywhere from 6 to 8 people in about 6 days.

Gray talked about the math curve and how it doubles over a certain period of time.

Doubling time, in this instance, has been measured at about 6 days.

“Sixty days into this, at the rate it is going and with the known cases we have right now, we could potentially have 150,000 to 200,000 cases in the state of Arkansas within about a 30 day period.”

He gave an example of having 100,000 cases in 60 days and if 15 percent needed to be hospitalized they would need 15,000 beds. Arkansas has approximately 8,000 beds at this time.

“We can’t let it get there. We are not trying to scare anyone, we are just trying to stay ahead of it,” Gray said.

Looking at the statistics from China and Italy, Gray said we have an opportunity to learn from them.

He said China handled it very poorly and took a communist approach by quarantining 60 million people with guns pointed at them, “Which you can’t do here.”

Gray pointed out that Italy didn’t get behind the curve fast enough which caused it to spin out of control.

“Their health system got inundated and they are having to make choices that no doctor or family wants to ever have to make.”

Dr. Gray

“We are not freaking out. We know that probably 60 to 70 percent in the next four months is going to contract this and I would rather spread that out over 12 months instead of the next 60 days. This is a preparatory response, not a reactionary one,” Gray said.

Living in Arkansas does have its rewards, Gray said.

“I think Izard County Arkansas is the one place I want to be if something like this happens, because we are at the end of the world. They (Italy and China) are telling us, ‘Get people away from each other. Slow it down.'”

“Most of the people in this county, think alike really. We look alike. We think alike. We pray alike. Half think the government is out to get us and have been prepping for a long time. We have canned goods in our basements. We are prepared for this. We are gong to be fine.”

In closing Gray reminded everyone that we are all in this together.

“We have to lock arms and come together as a community and find out how to mitigate this. If we do the right thing – bend, don’t break – we will come out on the other side.”


Angelia Roberts served the Independence, Sharp, and Izard County areas as a seasoned reporter and the managing editor of the Batesville Daily Guard for decades. She is one of the most well-known, experienced, and APA-awarded news journalists in the state. She currently publishes Next Door magazine.

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!

Is the Ozark Folk Center in danger of closing?

For supporters of the Ozark Folk Center, now is the time to rally. Changes are coming.

In July, the Mountain View City Council voted to abolish the Ozark Folk Cultural Center Commission, surprising both the commissioners and the Arkansas State Parks Department.

The city council said the commission was not in compliance with one of its bylaws, which states two of the commissioners must live in the county.

Brooks Blevins, PhD, has researched and extensively documented the history of the folk center. He was on the commission.

“The abolition of the commission was completely out of the blue, from my perspective. And no one on the commission, as far as I know, has ever received a full explanation,” said Blevins. “I don’t know how the center has been affected by the change. Now that the commission has been abolished, I have no connection with the Center and have received no communication from anyone at the Center or at State Parks.”

Before it was abolished, the commission acted as a legal representative between the city and State Parks, approving the yearly budget and overseeing improvement projects at the park for 55 years.

The move was not the first of problems at the Folk Center though.

The park is not a money maker and administrators admit marketing attempts have failed to fill seats at concerts.

The mayor of Mountain View, Roger Gardner, wants to see the land used for a theme park.

According to an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Folk Center loses $2 million per year.

Explanations from responsible parties include:

The average concert hosted there costs more than it brings in, with attendees only taking up slightly more than 10 percent of the seats.

The county is dry and city council won’t approve an alcohol permit which would help draw attendees.

History on the center

The 600-acre cultural center opened in 1973 in Mountain View.

According to “A Brief History of The Ozark Folk Center”, published by the Regional Studies Center at Lyon College, the idea originated from John Opitz, who approached Mountain View leaders with a plan.

Mountain View needed a water and sewer system, and Opitz thought the town needed a music venue. He recommended the city apply for federal funds to build the auditorium, which would include funding for a water and sewer system for the venue. The town could then connect to the federally funded system.

After many years of efforts by Bessie Moore, Jimmy Driftwood, and others, the city was able to obtain a $3 million federal grant to build the center.

The park has continued to receive government money to offset expenses ($15.2 million from the state since 1996, which is equivalent to about 5 years of its total yearly budget of $3.2 million).

Sources:

http://web.lyon.edu/groups/mslibrary/rcol/folkcenter.htm

http://web.lyon.edu/groups/mslibrary/rcol/oralhistory.htm

Additional (Requires a subscription):

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/jul/31/folk-center-hometown-cuts-liaison-with-/

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/jan/18/agency-shortfall-at-park-is-2m-20200118/

County says lawsuit against Batesville is easiest way to solve ongoing issues

The issue of who should fund district court is one that the City of Batesville and Independence County have been at odds over for years, with the county currently carrying the whole cost.

Judge Robert Griffin and the Independence County Quorum Court declared that the county’s lawsuit against the City of Batesville–filed on Friday, Jan. 10–is the “easiest way” to solve the disagreement over district court and jail fees.

County Attorney Daniel Haney explained there is “no money” involved in the suit. Rather, it is a declaratory judgment asking the court’s clarification on the state statute regarding the financial burden of local district courts which serve both the city and the county.

The suit’s outcome will allow the county to proceed in determining Batesville’s specific financial obligation to the district court and the jail.

The issue of who should fund district court is one that the City of Batesville and Independence County have been at odds over for years, with the county currently carrying the whole cost.

“District court and the jail have come up in the same conversation over and over again, and in order to figure out one, we have to figure out the other,” said Haney.

He said there is not a court opinion on a district court “solely run” by the county, so the County needs interpretation. 

“Our position is that the district court is not [run solely by the county],” he added.

Griffin provided this statement regarding the suit earlier in the week:

“The suit asking for declaratory judgement in the Circuit Court, is an action to settle what the law says our District Court is, County only or a State Pilot District Court….How could 23 people [Batesville City Council and Quorum Court] decide what the law says when our two attorneys couldn’t come to an agreement?

“This same pathway to settle long standing issues will allow our two governing bodies to move forward in our new partnership with the City of Southside…we will have no reason to speak badly of one another…”

Upon Griffin’s request, the Court approved a motion authorizing county attorney Haney to file suit against the City of Batesville for additional matters that are currently in question as well — shooting sports and recycling.

Griffin explained that the County’s and City’s prior agreements regarding the city’s financial support of shooting sports and recycling were “not being followed.”

Justice of the Peace Jonathan Abbott said the motion was “jumping the gun” and that Batesville was upholding parts of these agreements. He voted against the motion.

Haney stated he would not file suits frivolously and would require approval of the Court.

Additional items at the January quorum court meeting:

1. The Court approved the district court’s and juvenile court’s plans for a 5 percent raise in 2020. The district court will increase ticket amounts, and the juvenile court will cut part-time hours and travel.

2. The Court motioned for County Sheriff Shawn Stephens to move forward with his application for a cop’s grant that would help the Sheriff’s Office replace two officer positions, contingent upon County Treasurer Bob Treadway finding funds to support the rest of the salaries not covered by the grant.

3. Treadway reported that all County funds finished the year in the black except for the Emergency 9-1-1 Fund. However, 9-1-1 surcharge fees of approximately $60,000 brought the fund into the black in January.

4. The Court reappointed David Thompson to the Independence County Library Board. It also appointed Kevin Rose and Brad Cheatham to the shooting range board.

5. The Court nominated and approved Abbott to serve as the Court’s delegate for the Quorum Court Association Meeting in April.

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.



Dinner with Georgeanne: Ann’s Spinach Dip

You know those best friends you meet in preschool who stay with you through all the awkward middle school years, into college, and then into the whole adult-and-having-kids phase of life?

That’s my friend Becca.

She’s been through it all with me.

And one thing as constant as Becca, is her mom Ann’s spinach dip. This dip has been on her table at every off-campus lunch in high school; it was sometimes the only edible thing in our fridge in college, and it has been a staple at every girls night, wedding/baby shower, or other general get-together for our friend group.

So as you can see, this spinach dip is more than a delicious blend of spinach and cheese, it’s truly soul food, laden with memories…

If you are looking for an appetizer, especially at Christmastime, this red, white, and green dip is perfect for any party or get-together where there are hungry humans!


INGREDIENTS

2 bags or boxes frozen chopped spinach
1 can Ro-tel, undrained
1- 8 oz. block cream cheese (2 blocks if you want a creamier dip)
2 bags shredded pepper jack cheese

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Thaw spinach in microwave according to package directions.
  3. While the spinach is thawing, let the cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, and Ro-tel sit in a mixing bowl or KitchenAid mixer to soften and let the flavors soak together.
  4. This step is the most labor-intensive but the most important: you must drain the spinach. Not just in a colander — you have to squeeze the water out of the spinach. If you don’t, it’ll taste too spinach-y.
  5. Combine the spinach with the other ingredients and mix (or stir) until combined.
  6. Put all ingredients in a 9 x 13-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Enjoy with Fritos, Wheat Thins, tortilla chips, on sandwiches, or basically any way you can!

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.

Trying to stay open, Humane Society makes changes, including board and director

Megan Trail, former supervisor of the Humane Society of Independence County, was recently named as the new director, and despite the organization’s financial hardships, she said she is happy to be asked.

“That place has my heart,” she said of the organization. “I love running a shelter. I hope to be there forever and ever.”

Trail’s passion is a reminder of her mentor and Humane Society founder Bev Finch, whose care for the animals and service to the humane society has been highly appreciated, and recognized by several media outlets throughout the years. Click here to read more about Finch.

Finch said Trail has worked at the shelter in all capacities, and therefore knows what to expect from the employees. She describes Megan as a “very passionate animal lover with a good head on her shoulders.”

“[Megan is] competent, hard-working, able to see the big picture, and wants what’s best for the shelter.”

OBSTACLES AHEAD

The average amount the humane society currently spends on an animal prior to its adoption is $265. They charged $50 per adoption in 2011, $75 per adoption in 2015, and now charge $100 for dogs and $90 for cats. In order to get closer to a break-even point, leaders say they have had to identify ways to cut expenses per animal.

“We met with the vets last week, and the first thing we changed are medical procedures,“ said Trail. “We don’t want to over-vet the animals. We have to decide what vet services are necessary and what can be put to the side.”

Additional reductions involve cutting the number of staffed positions from seven employees down to five, and two of the five are part-time.

FINANCIALS

Based upon comparable humane society organizations, Batesville’s has bled money at triple the rate as its closet bleeder, which is the Harrison humane society. The data is based on a six-year period of financials available upon Propublica (2012-2017).

This has led to a yearly decline of net assets.

See chart below for a visual of their change in cash and savings from one year to the next. Red means a decline, black means an incline.

Large, timely, one-time donations, as well as passionate volunteers like Trail and Finch, have kept the doors open until now. The shelter is hopeful for volunteers and donors to keep the doors open in the future. There are 11,000 more animals out there who may have to go without help in the absence of a place like the local humane society.