If someone had told the younger, teenage version of me I would one day be doing this, I probably would not have believed them. As a self-proclaimed country girl, growing up in Cass County, I was only familiar with the Pine Country Bulletin and The Citizen’s Journal. Nonetheless, I remember always taking the time to check out the local stories and photos published each week. Any vague plans I may have had to become a nurse would never have prospered as I have discovered needles scare me to death, and I have always had a mind that never stops dreaming of new ideas and stories to tell. I have decided that my spiritual gift is talking, but somehow, I have ended up in a place where turning all that gab into written words on a page has become my destiny. It’s fun how sometimes life leads you down a path where, even along the journey, you are lucky enough to recognize the irony of the timing of things, but you are also fully aware that the perfect puzzle is being pieced together before your eyes.
I once heard somewhere, “Timing is everything, but there is never a perfect time for anything.” Let’s just say that the start of Texarkana Monthly from a timing perspective was pretty terrible. With a business proforma and spreadsheets in place, not a single formula accounted for a global pandemic. Like everyone else, we paused for a moment to re-evaluate the situation. During that pause, it was inspiring to see how many businesses were able to completely transform their operations overnight and how school districts pivoted to provide remote curriculum to students and continued to feed the families that counted on the meals they provided. Many local restaurants created new “To-Go” service platforms they launched overnight. Local retail made an immediate turn to make merchandise available online and allow shoppers to safely shop in person. Local medical providers remained on alert for emergencies so they could continue to provide their patients with the same care and attention we have become accustomed to receiving, even while being forced to change their practices. Texarkana, you are incredible!
This November issue of Texarkana Monthly is our first print issue. The timing is finally right, and we’re excited about its release. It’s special because it’s a nod to the many voices that represent our community. Getting people talking is what this magazine is about. We will endeavor to create a mix of stories, some meant to inform, others meant to entertain, and some that straddle both objectives. Every tiny aspect represents a decision we debated, sweated over and second-guessed until we ran out of time and had to send it off to the printer. What you see here is not a new formula, but it’s our beginning, imagined out of big dreams, and brought to life by acting on them. I didn’t arrive at this place via the most linear route, I’m up for detours, but I had determination, and an absolute passion for my hometown. There is a vital purpose in serving and celebrating this amazing community.
So, I sit back and marvel that I am doing this. Even with the initial timing seeming “off,” I wonder if this outstanding team—Leah, Terri, Kara, Molly, and Megan—and the many others who have made this possible, has been moving toward this exact moment for a long time. Maybe the stage was being set long before I could have ever known, pulling us towards each other for the past 15 years, to celebrate this moment together.
“Life is like a cobweb, not an organization chart.” —H. Ross Perot
The month of November leads us into a season of giving thanks. I cannot even come up with adequate words for the gratitude I have for countless people that have made this possible. So I will just say THANK YOU (yes, in all caps!) to my husband, Fred and our boys, my dad, the best coworkers ever (Terri, Leah, Kara, Megan, Molly and Matt), all the incredible writers (Bailey, Charles, Emily, Jeff, Patsy and Tonja), Mr. Dean Barry and his lovely wife LaCrecia, Michael Ulmer, Dwight Pruett, and every single advertiser. Please give them all hugs or elbow bumps and do business with every single one of them. And to you, the reader, thank you for taking time to enjoy the product of so much love and prayer.
That guy on the cover? He’s Texarkana’s very own Dean Barry. Yes, some may “love Agent Barry, because he’s cheap, cheap, cheap,” and some may know him because of his selfless and consistent service to our community, but anyone who really knows him knows that he is noble, giving and someone who brings joy to everyone in his presence. He is rooted in his spirituality, wise as an owl, and his stories could fill a library. Success like his may be simple in theory, but it’s much more difficult to execute. Sometimes in life, you’re forced to take action with little planning and unexpected roadblocks but watching icons like Dean Barry and witnessing all of you conquer a year like no other, has taught me that action is everything, and timing is mostly irrelevant.