Essays/Opinion

Recent Articles

The Use of “Emergency Powers” May Be Just Another Test of Control

Opinion: There has been a lot of talk about government overreach and control recently. Government overreach and control was especially seen during the three months of “shutdown” and “stay at home” orders of the pandemic. People debated, discussed, and worried that the government was exercising excessive overreach and control. Like many, I believe in some areas; officials did overreach the limits of their power. I also think those instances of overreach will need to be discussed, reviewed, and someone will have to deal with the consequences of overreach. Continue Reading →

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Fireworks Should Not Launch Near Animal Shelter

Opinion: As we draw close to the Fourth of July weekend, I searched on social media and other outlets to determine when and where Sparks in the Park would be this year. What I found has somewhat disturbed me. Texarkana United, which appears to be an exceptional organization in Texarkana, is holding a Fourth of July event in downtown Texarkana. According to their Facebook page, it will be to celebrate God and our country. In a video released by the group, they stated there “will be fireworks over the city of Texarkana” during the event downtown on the 4th of July. Continue Reading →

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The “Abolish the Police” Chant Fails to Consider Evil

Opinion: “Abolish the Police” is the latest cry from Minneapolis and across the nation. Still, this radical idea fails to take into consideration evil, and as a result, the answer is a resounding “No!”  While the nation and cities can certainly consider reform, new training, and new guidelines, the one thing that will be overwhelming a key point is that the nature of evil will not change.  Just because a city does not have the police force, evil will not suddenly say, “Oh, well, that’s no fun anymore, let me go find a city with the police!”  Evil does not work that way. The groups wishing to abolish the police seem to believe they are breaking new ground and moving in new directions.  They have good ideas – get rid of poverty, elevate citizens, educate, and have “Community” intervention groups to deal with problems.  As good as it sounds, it’s not new.  History is dotted with examples of where societies have tried to take away things viewed as the core problem of crime, such as poverty, inequality, unfair treatment, etc.  Each time this has been implemented, it has failed.  The idea sounded good on paper as they discussed how removing all these issues would bring out the positive attributes of humanity.  The idea was fundamental in that people would see how good they have it, and suddenly they would become peace-loving, happy, and content members of society.  It did not work.  The reason it did not work is back to the root of the problem, and that is evil. Evil does not leave towns without police, or cities with open-minded and fair citizens.  If it did, then every western town of the United States expansion period would have been a perfect haven for law and order.  They were not.  Wherever you look at history, a town, city, state, etc. organized without police has had critical, deadly, and dire consequences.  Towns without police were overrun, tormented, burned, and pillaged throughout history.  Even when those towns attempted to introduce police, often those police were outnumbered by those wishing to push evil into the area.  It took years of work, and sometimes entire groups of people deputized into law enforcement to bring law and order to the western expansion. Continue Reading →

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Yes, We Are Opening, But Should We Have Ever Closed?

Opinion: For the most part, there are two camps in the opening debate running across the United States.  One camp says, “Open.”  The other camp, maybe a little too obvious, says, “Don’t Open.”  The arguments each way can go on for hours.  Some say it’s too soon; others say it should have been done sooner or we should never have closed, and still, others say open now.  Let’s face it: there is no consistency, nobody knows the long term outcome one way or the other, and without businesses in operation, we will continue to spiral financially out of control. The Consistency Factor –Since the start of the pandemic, each Governor, mayor, county, or parish judge, and in some cases small-town groups have been in charge of deciding what gets shut down and what does not.  In some states, churches seemed to be the first target to shut down, but craft stores were left open.  In other states, sections of stores were closed off or hours were cut while in some states the entire store was wide open.  Many argued that there were more people at the local mega-sized shopping center than there would have been at the small-town church.  Orders ranged from no closure of churches, to complete closure with a ticket if anyone even set foot on church property.   This lack of consistency, and in some cases, extreme measures unseen in other parts of the country, caused many Americans to feel their rights were being trampled.  Let’s face it, trample our rights, and we Americans get upset.  The argument is sound – if Mississippi closes all churches, even parking lot meetings in cars, but Texas leaves all churches open, how is that fair?  Is COVID-19 transmission less in Texas than in Mississippi?  Even in the local area of Texarkana, one side of the border had a curfew, while the other side had a shelter in place.  Regardless of which measure you supported, the lack of consistency could be seen across the street.  

Without consistency, we cannot exalt the extreme hashtag of #AllInThisTogether because to be blunt…we are not, or at least we are not equally in this together.  Imagine if, during WWII, there had been no consistency in air raid responses in the United States.  What if one town decided when an air raid sounded, they would turn off their lights, but another city decided they would not?  Imagine if those towns were as close as Texarkana, Texas, and Arkansas.  What would have happened in Texarkana had an air raid been real, enemy planes flew over to bomb, and Texarkana, Texas had all lights on while Arkansas was dark?  We would have all suffered because of the lack of consistency.  The lack of consistency has undoubtedly hurt us in a period that we really needed to be “All In This Together.” 

The Nobody Knows Factor –The last major pandemic to have such a sweeping impact on the United States ended in December of 1920.  The Spanish Flu spread and dominated the world from roughly January of 1918 through 1919.  It was still be tracked in places as late as the December 1920 date, which causes debate still as to how long it lasted.  Regardless of how long it lasted, those people that dealt with that pandemic from a government point-of-view are long gone.  Our current generation has no idea what the long-term outcome is going to be for COVID-19.  We could have a vaccine and pull out in a month, or it could be years of COVID-19 sparking up in areas around the world.   We do not know if opening today makes a difference or if opening up six months from now would make a difference.  We do not know if closing made much of a difference at this point, although numbers do seem to be rising since the opening phases started.  Overall though, we will not know the outcome of opening up right now until years from now.  We will study history and science behind this pandemic, and at some point, likely many years from now, there will be a verdict on the actions we take today.  That future review will indicate that we either made the right choices or the wrong choices.  Hopefully, that information will be used should there be a future pandemic.  Whatever the outcome is, we will have 20/20 hindsight vision, and right now, we have no idea what that 20/20 vision is going to show us. The Without Business Factor- Business makes the world go around.  It always has, and it likely will always make our societies function and thrive.  Without business, no money is made.  Without money, at least for our society now, nobody can pay for anything from food to shelter or utilities.  You don’t work, and you don’t pay the electric.  The electric company doesn’t get paid, and they cannot pay workers or keep plants running.  Those people at the plants do not get paid, and they cannot pay their bills.  So goes the cycle.  Also, in that vicious little cycle is a thing called taxes.  If you don’t work, you don’t pay taxes.  You do not pay taxes, and then the government does not have money.  While we may all marvel at the idea of not paying taxes, we must also accept the consequences of not paying taxes.  Without taxes, you have no educational money, Medicaid, Medicare, Police, Firemen, road repairs, new roads, military, state parks, federal parks, rules or regulations on utilities or limits on what they can charge, no city government, county government, state government, or U.S. government.  While some of that list may not worry many of us, the fact is while you’re not working, and the government has no income, it ultimately will not be able to pay your unemployment benefits.  So without business, failure sets in on a governmental level that will eventually affect all of us. It only takes a few minutes to scan the news, and you will find incidents of the government already suffering from a lack of tax revenue.  Naturally, elected officials made the hard and difficult decisions in many states.  They did not cut their salaries or benefits they felt are essential…no.  The first cuts announced were education – grants, loans, funding for schools, etc. – the next area was Medicaid – funding for healthcare for seniors, disabled people, poor, etc.  Please make no mistake, without business functioning, society as we know it will continue to break down.  Grocery prices will continue to soar, unemployment will continue to rise, and ultimately the government will continue to make cuts that will eventually affect you and me.  The business factor simply means we have to have the business open to move forward. Continue Reading →

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Drive-In Theaters Could Bring Back Movies During COVID-19

First Drive-In Theater in the United States from Wikipedia

Opinion: Drive-In Theaters could be our answer for movie cravings during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. In 1933, the first Drive-In Theater opened in the United States and started a long tradition that would not die off until the early 1990s. The concept was simple as you drove into a parking lot after paying an entry fee, selected your spot, and pulled the speaker into the car to watch the latest and greatest movie. Once the movie started, you viewed it on a giant screen and listened to your speaker as the action unfolded. When the movie was over, a somewhat orderly retreat out of the parking lot took you safely home with memories, popcorn in the seats, and often a joy-filled evening where you rarely left the confines of your car. Continue Reading →

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Regional Man Publishes New Book on Trump

Jarrad Shelton published “2016 How Donald Trump Saved America.” Jarrad Shelton has never been one to hide his opinions when it comes to political issues and it is apparent in his latest book. In “2016 How Donald Trump Saved America,” Shelton does not apologize as he adamantly and systematically puts his case for President Donald Trump saving America to paper. Shelton is no stranger to writing since his first book “The Intolerant ‘Tolerant’ Party” was published in 2017. That book directly confronts what Shelton’s sees as a party that refuses to tolerate others while preaching and promoting their platform as tolerant toward everyone. Continue Reading →

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A Field of “Donuts” at Smith Park

Opinion: On 4-17-2020 a video feed at Smith Park recorded several trucks running around the park area, and two of the trucks decided to do a few “donuts” in the field. The tires on the trucks are large and the video clearly showed grass and dirt flying up as first the red truck spun around. Within a moment, the red truck was joined by a black truck. The “fun” and donuts continued for a few minutes before the trucks drove away. County Judge Cathy Hardin-Harrison posted the video online with the following message:

Hey Folks, do you recognize the vehicles in this video? Continue Reading →

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God is with US!

Cross

cross silhouette

Opinion – This morning as I reviewed the updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, looked at the facilities I work with in Texas, and listened to reports, I heard the first report of a death in the Texarkana area. Like many others in the area, while not surprised as we expected this would happen, I was certainly struck at the heart. I felt a sense of loss for the family, our nation, and for our area. This loss was not someone from New York or another place, it was someone here in our hometown area. This person died right here in Texarkana, USA from COVID-19. Continue Reading →

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The Most Powerful, Overlooked Tool Against COVID-19

Praying Hands

Opinion – We see a lot on television and the Internet right now about ways to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even today a postcard arrived with information from the CDC and the White House on how to slow the spread. The postcard is titled “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America” and it clearly outlines things like what to do if you feel sick, working from home, and keeping social distance. The many suggestions we see are powerful and helpful guides as America and the world face a pandemic like never before. But, in my opinion, it seems that a lot of people are forgetting the most powerful tool we have against this virus…prayers to God. Continue Reading →

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Leading Miller County, Arkansas

The First Female Judge of Miller County Answers The Call of Leadership During a National Crisis

Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin-Harrison

Miller County, AR – On January 1, 2019, Cathy Hardin-Harrison was sworn in as the first female county judge for Miller County, Arkansas.  From the start of her campaign to the day she started work, Harrison knew she wanted to be a different kind of county judge.  Traditionally, county judges in the area had focused on roads.  One former county judge even used the catchphrase, “We fix roads.  That’s what we do.”  Harrison felt there was more a judge could do and should do for a county, and she set out to prove it.  Not only has her administration focused on county roads, but she has also had a focus on grants, revitalization of the county park, improvements in business development, and working on a state level for improvements to the county.   Now facing one of the worst national emergencies the country has ever faced, Harrison has had to rise to be a leader for the county, a voice of comfort and a voice of support for the citizens as the county, state, and nation faces an uncertain future. 

Fortunately for the county, in January 2020, Harrison was
appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness.  The group of select emergency leaders from
around the state places Miller County in a unique position to be on the inside
track for preparedness.    The
appointment means that Harrison is not only involved when disasters or emergencies
like the COVID-19 are being faced on a county level, but she is also active on
the front lines working on plans for the entire state.  

Cathy Hardin-Harrison is at the mid-term of her first time
as a county judge.  Already parks are
being updated, grants are being provided to the county, the industry is being
encouraged and grown, and cooperation between the county and cities is
improving.  Harrison has also worked to
help improve the volunteer fire departments across the county.  During all the on-going work, the COVID-19
emergency rose. Even before there was a joint operation with daily briefings
and updates, Harrison was online reaching out to citizens.  The county has had a website for a long time,
but Harrison has taken it a step further and developed a county judge page
where updates are feed directly into social media for citizens.  It was on this Facebook Page that Harrison
first reached out to reassure citizens. On March 13, Harrison broke previous records for the page
with a post that started “Citizens of Miller County.”  Harrison went on the reassure, encourage, and
layout the plan clearly to citizens.  Her
message was direct that the county was working and on top of the crisis.  The post reached over 13,000 people, had
2,794 engagements, and was shared over 120 times on social media posts.  It was one of the first posts made by leaders
in the community, and it was appreciated. 
Responses from citizens were as simple as “Thank you” to
“Thank you for such a great message,” and “God bless you.” Since the March 13 message, Harrison has continued to
provide updates on the page and through the media with other community
leaders.  She has answered questions,
taken calls, and provided information from the state, national, and local level
physicians and professionals.  Harrison
has maintained constant vigilance and, on more than one occasion, directly
interacted with citizens.  She has
provided leadership, confidence, and information in a way that has remained
compassionate and understanding.  Like
all community leaders, she has taken some criticism as well, but that comes
with any elected official’s office. Despite everything going on and all the projects happening in the county, the citizens of Miller County should be thankful that Judge Cathy Hardin-Harrison has a broad view of the duties of a county judge.  When the crisis arose on a national level, she has proven her ability to stand and lead the county forward even in what some might consider the darkest of hours. Continue Reading →

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