Fire on the Mountain

November 30, 2009

Boots on the Ground!

Grab your gloves!  Button up that heavy coat!  Lace up those  boots! It’s that time of year again!  Now we separate the hardcore from the wannabes, the Yuletide veterans from the Christmas rookies, the Old Schoolers from the eggnog sippin’ posers.

Yeah, you’ve got your driving-to-see-the-lights, twenty-four hours of “A Christmas Story” on cable TV, maybe even taking in a Christmas pageant, but nothing, and I mean nothing, says “It’s Christmas, man!” like ringing the bell for the Good Ol’ Salvation Army. Head for the cold!  We’re talking heavy tradition!

The brainchild of Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee, who on a cold December day back in 1891 turned over an unused crab pot on the San Francisco docks, and with the slogan, “Keep the Pot Boiling,” raised money to feed the hungry, to the Kettle Campaign celebrating its 118th anniversary this year, the Salvation Army is marching along!

To the inexperienced, the uninitiated, Army bell-ringing might seem to be a rather obvious and tedious task, maybe even best farmed-out to paid workers, but to the eye of seasoned old warhorse of a true kettle volunteer, a range of factors presents themselves:  location, weather, kettle-craft, impression-management, and sheer commitment. 

First,  he/she will take a position between two doors of a store, if possible.  In doing so, the bell ringer can thereby cut off his prospects as they attempt to evade the bell ringer by using another door.

The old-hand also knows that the more miserable the weather, the more bracing of a spectacle for donors who might otherwise blithely pass by a warm bellringer.  Still, even the most scarred old hand will favor a station with southern exposure, so the cold will more slowly creep its way up the legs from the hard, cold concrete.  Nothing like sacrifice!

Then there is the craft:  the bell is  politely rung with a small forearm twist-action, conserving energy and not irritating the ill-tempered and the harried.  Opening a door is often a polite gesture.  A smiling and cheery aspect would be advised.  Moving around a bit wards off stiffness.

Impression-management is crucial.  The parent-child combination is irresistible.  Not only are you actually taking advantage of a rare opportunity to introduce your child into the unconditional selfless generosity that is the heart of Christmas, you also may awaken an innocence in the most hardened heart of the frantic Christmas consumer. 

Also, few activities top bell-ringing in introducing the young into important lessons of life:  the low-riding carful of bagging Hispanics stop and politely line up to stuff dollar bills into the kettle, shy Anglos climb out of their Mercedes and stride into the store, staring coldly straight ahead, pointedly ignoring any Christmas wishes.  Suburbanites sporting North Face brands glide by without apparent sentiment, while the poorly dressed smilingly contribute to the kettle. Experienced old bell-ringers are wise to these mysteries.  After all, who did Christ hang out with?

Finally, there is endurance.  Sometimes, frustrated from inattention, cold feet, and weariness creeping in, it can turn on a dime: shoppers will unexpectedly turn friendly and appreciative, young children will gaze with amazement at you as they timidly contribute to the kettle and suddenly, it will all seem miraculous.  Try out the tradition in your family this year:  to volunteer, call 521-2151 or log on at:  to reserve a time  slot.  The faint-hearted might start with a two hour slot, but the tough go for four or more . . .  Rediscover the real meaning of the season!


Community News

November 25, 2009

National Champs

It takes more than eating Wheaties for breakfast to be champion.  Discipline, hard work and time were what it took for two West Fork Martial Arts school students to bring home National Championships from a recent tournament in Springfield, Mo.  Joey Snow’s hard work won him first Place in Patterns and third in One Steps. Mrs. DeGraff won National Champion in sparring.

The Nationals are an annual event and mark the end of the tournament year.  “Everyone wants to get to it because we work hard all year to get to this tournament,” said Katrina DeGraff, owner of West Fork Martial Arts school.

“Everyone is a winner when they go to a tournament because just doing the work to get there and getting out in that ring teaches us a lot. It gives us great strength inside just knowing that we could do it”,  said DeGraff.  Besides the personal feeling of accomplishment that being a tournament winner brings, a first place winner can put “National Champion” on the back of his or her uniform jacket. 

from left on floor: Nicholas Dewyer, Daniel Dewyer, Dalton Byrum. top from left Michael Dewyer, Dylan Byrum

L to R: Daniel Dewyer, Nicholas D, Michael D, Reese Braff

Alyssa Robinson

front: Ben Ackley, back, Addison Adams, Joey Snow

Mrs. DeGraff and Ben Ackley

“When you see one of these young people pat them on the back or shake their hand and tell them ‘great job’”

Recycle Center

November 25, 2009

Santa Claus will be at the Renewable Resource Center in West Fork this Saturday morning from 9:00 to 12:00.  He will be on the porch and ready for visits with your children.  Bring your camera as well as your recycling.  His helpers will be serving hot chocolate and cookies.
As you open those cans of green beans and empty those boxes of stuffing set them aside to recycle.  Thanksgiving generates tons of recyclable material that can be made into something else instead of ending up in a land fill.  We take newspaper, cardboard, Christmas wrapping paper (minus the ribbons and bows), steel cans, aluminum cans, number one and two plastics, and all colors of glass. 
We could use some volunteers this weekend.  Are you wondering how you are going to entertain your guests on Saturday morning? Come to the recycling center and volunteer.  It is a great way for a family to bond, the kids to get involved in community service, and an opportunity for you to lead by example.  At the end of your three hours of volunteering you will have helped recycle about a ton and a half of materials, seen the nicest people in West Fork and will feel really good about yourself and our community.                                                                                                                              
 Here is the volunteer list:
 November 28th:  Caroline Griffith (we need more volunteers)
 December 5th:  Need Volunteers                                                                                                                                    
 December 12th  The Boy Scouts
 December 19th:  Need Volunteers
 December 26th:  The Heath and Vicki Franklin Family
 January Saturdays are all open!
The Active Citizen’s Group is an email information group intended to foster a sense of community in West Fork.  I would love to add more people to this group so please feel free to forward this to your friends and have them send me an email asking to be added.  This group reaches almost 300 addresses.  If you have information that you would like to share I would be happy to forward it for you. 
Patty Baker  (839-2924)

Community News

November 19, 2009

Community Churches Provide

 Feast to 1800

Last night, a line formed all the way out the door and made a double loop through the West Fork Community Center as folks lined up for the 10th annual Community Thanksgiving Feast.  But the lines moved quickly and by 7:00 pm, Unity Covenant Church’s Pastor Brian Bowerman said, “We will hit 1800 dinners tonight, easily, including about 350 takeouts to shut-ins and the homeless”.  Unity Covenant Church’s Extreme Impact Youth Ministry made the deliveries including 70 dinners that were taken to Mama Dean’s Soul Food in Fayetteville for the homeless.

Six area churches including First Baptist Church, West Fork Church of Christ, First Assembly of God, White River United Pentecostal Church, Zinnamon Church and Unity Covenant Church all pitched in to prepare and serve a free Thanksgiving dinner that included smoked turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, beans, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce, and an endless selection of desserts.  Charlie Boone, a member of Unity Covenant Church, fired up a massive smoker in the Community Center parking lot at 2:00 am Wednesday morning and led a team that tended the smoker throughout the night and day to cook 600 pounds of turkey breast.

 The churches each shared the costs and Butterball Turkey donated 600 pounds of turkey breasts.

Charlie Boone of Unity Covenant Church, pulls turkey breasts from the smoker. Boone began smoking the turkeys at 2:00 am.

Lines snake through the Community Center as about 1500 people are served a free Thanksgiving Feast.

Kandy Lichty and her daughter Landry, members of First Baptist Church, top pieces of pie with whipped topping.

Cindy Nesbitt, of Springdale, and her grandaughter McKenzee Roughton share a piece of pumpkin pie.

Community News

November 18, 2009

Profile:  Master Gardener Jan Hayes

If you have ever met Jan Hayes, then you know that gardening is never far from her mind.  But Hayes isn’t just passionate about gardening in her own backyard, she became a Master Gardener

Master Gardeners Jan Hayes, left and Debbie Reichert

eight years ago in 2001 and is one of 175 Washington County Master Gardeners that generously volunteer their time and talent to beautify many of the public spaces in Northwest Arkansas.  We recently asked Hayes about the program and how she got involved.

What is a Master Gardener?

A Master Gardener is a trained volunteer for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office.  Once a year classes are offered for 40 hours of training in horticulture.  The student agrees to return at least 40 hours in volunteer time in the first year for our projects.  After the first year, the minimum volunteer hours are 20. 

What kind of projects?

You have a choice of several projects which include really dirty gardening work to paperwork.  We work on 20 projects around the county.  They range from the Sensory Garden at the Botanical Society of the Ozarks to the West Fork Library.  We are also available to help other organizations in garden education training.  And a Junior Master Gardener Program was started last year.

Tell me about the garden work at the West Fork Library.

Thanks to the continued support of the Friends of the West Fork Library and a grant from the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, we have been able to design, build and maintain the gardens at the library since 2007. 

Are there other Master Gardeners in West Fork?

Yes, I am one of 8 Master Gardeners in West Fork.

Isnt’ the Master Gardener Program part of a larger national program?

Yes, the Master Gardener Program started in 1972 in Snohomish County, Washington.  Arkansas started the program in 1988 and it now exists in over half of Arkansas’ 75 counties.  Today, Master Gardener programs exist in every state in the U.S. and six Canadian provinces.  Each year a state convention is held in one of the counties and members come home with new friends and a lot of knowledge.

How did you become a Master Gardener?

I became a Master Gardener after I moved back to Arkansas because my best friend loved the program and wanted me to join. 

What’s the best part of being a Master Gardener?

The best part of being a Master Gardener is all you learn while volunteering, friends you make, classes and the conventions.  I have made so many wonderful friends and learned so much in the eight years I have been in the program.

When you’re not gardening, what are you doing?

When I’m not gardening, I am enjoying country life, reading, sewing, and traveling.

What if our readers are interested in becoming a Master Gardener?

They can call the Washington County Extension Office weekdays between 8:00 and 4:30 at 479.444.1755.  Our county leader is County Extension Agent, Berni Kurz.


Community News

November 15, 2009

 Community Thanksgiving Dinner

 Scheduled November 18

christian-thanksgiving-prayer-cardArea churches will host a community Thanksgiving feast on Wednesday, November 18, at 5:30 pm at the West Fork Community Center.  This traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, all the trimmings and dessert is offered free.  Delivery is also available to elderly or handicapped citizens and can be requested simply by calling one of the participating churches.  Unity Covenant Church’s Extreme Impact Youth Ministry, comprised of teens ages 13-18, will be making the deliveries.                                                                                                                                                                                thanksgiving-plate-entert1106-de1

This year’s event is being hosted by Unity Covenant Church, First Baptist Church, West Fork     Church of Christ, First Assembly of God, and Zinnamon Church.  The churches each share in the cost of food and each church is responsible for cooking or preparing part of the meal.  “Butterball donated all of the turkeys this year.  That was a real blessing to us”, says Unity’s  Secretary Marilyn Stokes, whose church is organizing the dinner this year. 

Last year’s community Thanksgiving feast was attended by 1200-1500 people.  “All of the churches and community gather together for one meal.  I think that’s amazing”, says Stokes.

City Government

November 14, 2009

Zephyr regrets this late report; internet service was down.

Council hears public,

stays course

Safe streets, Steve Caudle and the 2010 budget were the topics on the table at last night’s November City Council Meeting.   Many in the standing room only crowd were there to express disapproval of the city’s downsizing of the Police Department.  The department’s budget cuts resulted in the elimination of one police officer position.  About seven citizens spoke against the downsizing.  They cited concerns about public safety in a time of increasing crime.  

After the public forum the Council went into Executive Session for 40 minutes while the audience partook of the cool night air.  Upon returning Mayor Throgmorton announced that the council “did not take any particular actions.” 

As has been the case in for the last several years, the issue of Steve Caudle’s property at the corner of Main and McKnight was on the agenda.  After years of effort by the city, the condemned buildings on the property were demolished and removed in September.  There is a case in circuit court pending on the matter.  Before the council was a resolution establishing the amount of the lien to be placed on Caudle’s property to pay for cost of removal.  Mr. Caudle was present along with his attorney Rick Woods.  The dispute revolves around the cost of removing the building and associated legal fees.  Caudle’s position is that about half of the $14,000 cost of removal was unnecessary and legal fees should not ne included in the certified lien amount.   Although he presented a check for $7500, City Attorney Hudson recommended the check be returned and suggested the City had no reason to “back off “ the original $14,000 amount.   The resolution passed.  Mr. Caudle will have 45 days to appeal.  

In other public forum comments Ms. Black expressed concerns about erosion caused by bull dozer work and gravel piles in the Carter Park area.  Heath Caudle gave Park Director Sprick an “atta boy” for the good condition of the parks.

Departments, except Resource Recovery Center, presented reports.  Council member Anita Lowry who was appointed last month to be on the RRC committee said she has been a volunteer twice a month and reported that the Center is a “busy, busy place on Saturday mornings. “ Adding she was impressed by the amount of community involvement at the center. Fire Chief McCorkle emphasized the current fire danger conditions in the woods. He also suggested not using alarm systems to report a fire.  There was discussion of broken lights in the park pavilion and lights at the tennis courts which Councileman Harris pointed out seem to be malfunctioning.  Councilmember Shafer thanked the utilities department for repairing a three year old leak.  Police Chief Nelson announced that the Department has a new email address and is “trying out” an internet blog to improve the department’s communication with the public.  City Treasurer Kristie Drymon was recognized as having participated in the 2009 Municipal Clerks Institute Certification Program. 

An ordinance to annex the Finley property was approved.

Councilmember John Richards was absent.