TAKE ON TOPICS
By TRACI BARNES
Once again another year has gone by with lightning speed. I have always loved all the community events in our area. Unfortunately there is just not enough time to attend everything that you want to.
I was thinking back about this year and here are some of the things that stood out to me.
My CASC Chili Cook Off judge’s apron hangs in my office as a reminder of the event each year. The first year I took big bites. The following years the bites got smaller. This last year I came armed with Prilosec. I will have to say hanging with Jody Ray and the other judges does make for a good time behind the scenes and it is a great cause.
I also went to Spiro for their Chili Cook Off, everyone was a judge at this one. Some of the participant booths were quite amazing and really cute.
I persuaded Cindy Pollard to be my partner in crime with me at the Poteau Mainstreet Banquet. While most everyone else went as beautiful movie stars we went as Thelma and Louise, guns and all. Cindy loves beauty pageants. I knew she would go with me to the Spiro Chamber Banquet when I found out that the guest speaker was Alyse Eady, Miss Arkansas and first runner up in the Miss America Pageant.
This last year also held several great Veteran events. The LeFlore County Veteran’s Parade was absolutely packed this year. It was also nice to see Mike Kennerson, the City Manager at Heavener, named Veteran of the Year. They surprised him and he was “almost” speechless. It was well deserved.
The Patriot Flag was brought to Poteau and raised on Broadway Street in tribute. The 911 Ceremony at the Poteau Fire Station was very touching and sent chills up my neck besides putting a lump in my throat.
The LeFlore County DAV has a new headquarters on the north end of town adjacent to Sugarloaf Quarries. The building is great for their meetings and for some of the other events they have hosted. Just a few weeks ago the Veterans placed a new statue at the cemetery to honor fallen LeFlore County Vietnam Soldiers.
I attended a seminar with Dr. Daggett as the guest speaker in Muskogee. Dr. Daggett is with the International Center for Leadership in Education. This was very interesting and went over how testing would change in the next three years in our public schools.
This last year couponing was the big buzz. We had several coupon meetings in Poteau, Spiro, and Wister. This was fun for me to get to hang out with different groups that I don’t usually see at some of my other meetings. The coupon queens are some savvy chicks, and it was always fun!
I was invited to participate in a meeting at the Tourism Department in OKC with the US Marshals Museum and the Oklahoma Historical Society. While at this meeting , Mr. Dunn from the Marshals Museum, invited me to the private tour of the Crystal Bridges Museum before it opened. Of course I jumped on that opportunity! It is truly spectacular and since it opened on 11-11-11, it is already an international draw.
One of the best seminars I attended this year was in the auditorium at Carl Albert State College with Kirk Smalley. The Stand for the Silent Program about bullying was very eye opening. Smalley, who lost his young son when he took his own life, is not a professional speaker. He is just a hard working man with a heartfelt message. He was genuine and real and he touched every person in that room.
My brother-in-law, Terry Manlove, had been restoring his 1964 Blue Short Bed Chevy. So when he brought it out for the Wister July 4th Parade I piled in with them. In case you haven’t guessed, I LOVE parades! Someday I still want a motorized couch to drive in one.
I will eventually get someone to build one of these for me. This year I participated in the Veterans Parade, as well as the Wister, Poteau, Heavener and Monroe Christmas Parades. This was the first year for the parade in Monroe. I will have to tell you small town parades are always the best! Monroe had the most amazing food and brownies afterwards. I must confess I had been on a diet for about three weeks and that brownie was the best I have ever eaten.
I walked the Vike Hike at CASC, the Cavanal Killer, The Boo Run at Wister, and Thor’s Hammer at the Heavener Runestone Park. I always enjoy going to these and seeing the people that take time out of their busy schedules to support these events and causes.
I was excited early in the year to get to attend the Speaker’s Reception in Oklahoma City. The icy weather postponed it several times. The roads were still too dangerous for us to attend when they did finally have it. So I had a new dress hanging in the closet for months that I finally got to wear to the Dignitaries Salute in Tulsa.
I was privileged to get to help again this year on the Statewide Student Council Convention. Poteau also hosted it in 2008. I taught one of the breakout sessions all day on leadership at Carl Albert State College and really enjoyed being back in the classroom for a day. The District 4H Convention was hosted here for the first time. These were all great kids to work with!
I have also joked with my friends that I am the official “emergency speaker” for Kiwanis and the Rotary Club. They know I am always willing to talk about the Heavener Runestone or any of the other projects I love.
The new Donald W Reynolds Community Center opened this year. I attended the grand opening, the Bluz Brothers, Grace Cottage Banquet, Fort Smith Regional Alliance Meeting, and a town hall meeting with the Lt. Governor there. This is such an asset to our entire region. Thank you Mayor Jeff Shockley and everyone that worked on this project!
Some of the other local events I attended or volunteered for included the Josh Heupel Pit Camp in Wister, Domestic Violence Day, Cowboy Trade Days, Miss PHS Pageant, Music on the Mountain at Heavener Runestone, Heavener Runestone Radio Auction, Panama Christmas Tree Lighting, Wister Halloween Carnival, Poteau Bluegrass Festival, Big Foot festival, Women’s Biz, Gold Dust Gala, Phil Gardenhire Rodeo, and the Poteau Balloonfest.
Last but not least was the forming of the Friends Group for the Heavener Runestone Park. This was a new adventure for all of us. The park remains open and we will be releasing events for almost every month next year.
We get one extra day next year for leap year. So here is wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year.
Until next year…