Fire on the Mountain

August 30, 2009

from Guest Columnist

The Little Plausibility Structure in the Wildwood


We raced up Highway 71 to the top of Mount Gaylor, trying to make Sunday Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Ozarks.  As we crunched into the graveled parking lot in front of the little stone church surrounded by trees, we noticed a few more cars than usual.  Probably it was because of the visiting “Baby Priest.”

Fortunately for us, the “Baby Priest,” Father James Paul Melnick, apparently was also running a little late, driving up the mountain from the opposite direction like an old-time circuit rider, fresh from celebrating Mass in Van Buren.  In a state less than 3% Catholic, hen’s teeth are a commonplace compared to priests.  And, Catholics view newly minted, freshly ordained priests such as Fr. James virtually as wonderful marvels in themselves, practically akin to passenger pigeons, whooping cranes, Ivory-billed woodpeckers or roses blooming in the snow.

Just as in any family gathering, the elders of the tribe cluster around to cluck admiringly at a new arrival, so too do parishioners greet a newly ordained priest with barely disguised pleasure and interest. Farmers wearing jeans and short-sleeved cowboy shirts revealing fading tattoos on leathery arms crowd around with their wives, children piling on grandchildren, as the new priest’s dusty car pulls in and parks by the side of the Shrine.  

Inside, parishioners crowd into old and worn, yet oddly comfortable, wooden pews to participate in the Mass.  The brown wood paneling in the church contrasts beautifully with the brightly vivid blue-tinted sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows.  During the service, amid the whirring of window fans, children grow restive and hungry babies squall as apologetic parents and grandparents struggle with them, just as at any family reunion.  All the while, grizzled farmers sat with families, tall rawboned sons, a girl and her doll wearing matching dresses, all listening to the tall young man with the light brown hair dressed in his new vestments discussing Joshua’s declaration:  “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  Yes, indeed.

The sociologist Peter Berger argued that the strength of any faith lies in its “plausibility ourladyoftheozarks_winslowstructure,” or the way that members of a faith community embody the principles of their faith in their community and reinforce it through their interaction with each other.  Or in other words, as Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples: if you have love one for another.”

After the Mass, Deacon Dan Dailey announced that zucchinis and tomatoes were free for the taking in the Parish Hall next door.  As families and neighbors crowded around outside the church, one lady related us with evident satisfaction on the work she put into powerwashing the statues spaced around the church.  (And, as Catholics would tell you, they do not worship statues any more than we worship pictures of our relatives that we keep in our wallets.)

Sometimes lost in the larger drama of politics, contradictory social mores, and controversies in the Twenty-first Century, we forget the modest, humble, everyday and less assuming small communities and families that form the barely visible iron framework for the sustaining of unshakeable religious commitment.

Steven Worden, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas.


me, me, me

August 30, 2009
Zephyr reporter searches for news.

Zephyr reporter searches for news.

One of the challenges of  having a small town newspaper is keeping readers interested when it seems to have been a slow news week.   But we know West Forkians are busy all the time.   As Tom T. Hall reminds us. . . .when there’s nobody else around we talk about ourselves.   So, let’s spend a few paragraphs talking about us, the Zephyr.

We’ve made some changes in the Pages recently.  The School Page  was added to serve primarily as a directory of  information and contact numbers for all education facilities, public and private, in the area.  We also hope to include school related news articles on this page.

The Features Page has a new article by Susan McCarthy, “Family Bonding” which reminds us of the wonders of nature and unexpected moments with our loved ones. Remember readers are invited to submit original work for publication.  Where are the  poets of West Fork?

We have added a Video Page  exclusively for videos.  These clips are pulled from our Posts and other websites and assembled in one place. Again, videographers are invited to submit their work.

The Zephyr needs news for its  Sports Page.  We are still trying to recruit an intern writer (that means no pay- which is the same as the rest of us) to help  report on this essential part of community life. 

The Church Page  is also developing .  We envision this as a directory of West Fork church locations, hours of services and contact numbers available to visitors and newcomers to our town.  We include a picture of the sign and the Church. 

The Stuff for Sale Page is slowly beginning to actually have some stuff for sale.  Despite free advertising space the page doesn’t attract many sellers.  What it does attract is shoppers. 

One of the curious aspects of a website is that it allows the publisher to know what the reader is looking at.  The “Blog Stats” reveal the number of “pings” a particular page or post has received on any given day.  It displays that data in graph form.  The Stuff for Sale Page is consistently a highly viewed page.  

How many people are reading the Zephyr?  The number of pings  fluctuates daily, but has continued to steadily rise since we began in June.  The Zephyr averages about 400 pings per week .   It is hard to discern a pattern in the data.  The only item that clearly generates a spike in the number of readers is the report of City Council meetings.   Evidently, West Forkians want to know what’s happening at City Hall.

Enough about us,  it can’t always be about me, me, me. What about you?  What do you want from us?  We imagine ourselves as the eyes, ears and voice of West Fork, but its Community- we can’t do this alone.

  Leave a comment online.  Submit articles, announcements, photos, kudows, suggestions and yes, complaints to:          or     P.O. Box 844, West Fork Arkansas 72774

The Bikes of West Fork, Part I

August 28, 2009

The winding asphalt roads around West Fork and Winslow with their low traffic and scenic vistas have always been a destination for motorcycle enthusiasts. But in a month from now the area will literally swarm with them.

For those unfamiliar with this annual event, it involves about a zillion motorcycles converging on Northwest Arkansas and Fayetteville particularly for a weekend that has grown into one of the largest motorcycle festivals in the country.

Bikes and riders will be everywhere; riding solo, in twosomes, in groups, whole convoys and, of course, the Parade of Power down College Ave. in Fayetteville. The papers and teevee will overflow with photos and film of photogenic machines and free spirits.  There will be interviews with every sort of bike rider from everywhere.  We’ll hear stories of adventure and excitement, struggle and victory, perseverance and accomplishment.  We’ll learn about  the doctor/lawyer/stock broker who rides for a hobby,  the artist who creates with steel and chrome, the inked grandmothers and the regular guy.

Motorcycle jargon will flow like synthetic oil.   We’ll hear about choppers, flatheads, trikes and hogs. Reporters will compete to present the most colorful slang saturated stories- like the one about the guy flogging his sled on one of those 71 twisters, doing a ton,  gets bit by a road gator or a yard shark, he couldn’t remember, and horizontally parks.  His bike got hosed. Eating the asphalt wouldn’t have been so bad if he had his skid lid.  The cherry top came and ticketed him for not keeping the shiny side up. Get it?

The kids will be practicing their impersonations of that distinctive Harley sound( say potato-potato-potato real fast).

We’re here to help Westforkians get cranked up for this spectacle because as with all things Zephyr, we put the spotlight on West Fork.  All West Fork – All the Time.

So in the next few weeks we will feature some of our own local motorcycles and their owners.

We’re kicking off the series it by showcasing a classic Yamaha we happened upon in the West Fork Library parking lot.

81 yamahaIts a 1981 Yamaha XS 1100 touring bike. It has a four stroke  in-line four cylinder engine, four carburetor, power plant that churns out 95 Hp at 8500 rpm .  This model has a top speed of 133 mph and,  if you want to stop,  it is equipped with dual disc front brakes and single disc rear brakes.  The five speed gearbox pushes a shaft drive.   To read about the history of this machine, click here.

West Fork resident Carlton Riggs is the proud owner.  Carlton is retired, he likes to ride.  He’s not a waxer (motorcycle owner who spends more time washing and waxing than actually riding).


Public Service Announcement

August 28, 2009

West Fork Areamegaphone

Golden Age Club                                     

The West Fork Area Golden Age Club meet for a Pot-Luck Lunch, 11:00 a.m., at the Power House Bldg., West Fork First Baptist Church, 246 N. Centennial Ave. (U.S. 71). West Fork.  Call 479-839-2388 for information and directions. A program will follow the Lunch. Visitors are welcome.

MEETING SCHEDULE & PROGRAMS (Programs subject to change)

Tuesday, Sept. 1st :   MedicAlert – a non -profit organization protecting and saving lives when an emergency occurs: 24-hour emergency response service, 24-hour family notification service, 24-hour access to your medical records, & a medical wallet card. Free with membership area choice of  bracelets, necklace, & dog tags.
    MedicAlert provides instant information to emergency first responders and hospitals by a toll free call and your private ID number.
   Speaker: Wes Eckles, Jr., MedicAlert, Community Ambassador Volunteer, MedicAlert Foundation: 1-800-609-3035,

Monday, Oct. 5th :   Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranch that provides abused, abandoned, & neglected children a future.
   Speaker: Mr. Chris Knife, Conway, AR.

Monday, Nov. 2nd :   How to keep your home computer running fast & safe. Common mistakes that users experience.
   Speaker:   Mr Jerry Forsberg, Razorback Computers, Greenland, AR.

Driver Program – You may reduce your insurance premiums by taking the one day 55Alive Driving Program sponsored by the AARP.
When: Sept. 17th, 9 am – 3 pm Where: Pat Walker Center for Seniors Auditorium at North Hills Blvd. and Appleby Rd. Cost: $12 for AARP members (must bring Mbr. Card for discount) $14 for nonmembers. Coffee & light lunch is included. Call now for reservation 463-1178 or 1-800-442-9762. Class is limited to 30.

public meetings

August 27, 2009

The Renewable Resource Center committee will meet  at 12:30 on Thursday the 27th at the West Fork Café. 

The WestFest committee will meet at 10:30 Friday the 28th in the conference room of the City Administration Building

West Fork Library News

August 25, 2009

maintenance manThe West Fork Library will be closed August 31st through September 7th for repairs to our floor. 

No items from the library will be due during this period, but you can return items in the book drop.  Items belonging to other libraries must be returned on time in the book drop.  The book drop will be emptied every day and checked in.

 We will not limit numbers of items you may check out, so be sure to stock up for this period.    

       Vicky Mesplay


Library worker Vicky Mesplay gestures the height of the new check out counter for the library to be installed after floor repairs are completed.



Zach Tucker



Ninth grade scholar Zack Tucker uses one of the library computers to access the world wide web.

breathe deep

August 24, 2009

 breath deep Times2NWArk Times 8/22/09

breath deep3          breath deep3                                                                                                                                      

bright idea

Dear Ms. Williams,

I read in the newspaper about how you are helping Fayetteville make their dreams come true.   In my little town ten miles south of Fayetteville we have dreams, too.  Our dream is the removal of  Steve Caudle’s condemned buildings in the center of town. Many people feel eliminating blight in the center of town will strengthen our economy. We have been using the legal method for several years; passing ordinances, notices of code violations, law suits, counter suits and attorney fees.  We’ve been in circuit court, federal court and the court of public opinion.  Nothing has worked.  The buildings are still there. We’re ripe for ground breaking alternative action.

We have plenty of citizens here who would be more than willing to close their eyes, breath deeply and envision  a future of our town without those buildings.  As for the technique of using only half of our brain to accomplish that goal, well, there are plenty of us that can do that. 

For me personally, the movie title  and theme song to envision the future would be “Nightmare on Elm Street” to the tune of “Burn Down the House”. 

So, if you would, please advise us on how to acquire you services. Is there a fee?  We are a small town and obviously don’t have the same abundant resources as a neighbor to the north.  But we still want to set our dreams in motion.

Yours Truly,

W.F. Zephyrus