De-Stress Day 2017

As final exams approach, a college students anxiety level reaches its peak of the semester. It is important to take a step back, and give yourself a mental break. The Office of Student Life held its annual de-stress day on December 6th, where students had multiple options to relax and rejuvenate before exams hit.

Activities included a massage treatment line where students received machine heated back massages, a machine leg massage, and a full body water massage.

Senior Communications student Leira Moore said, “The massage stations worked wonders on getting my mind off of final exams!  With several stations set up to massage different parts of the body, it made for a very relaxing session. The water massage was my favorite part, as cool water jets gave a full body massage. I’m really thankful that the University offers this for their students.”

The puppy petting center and adult coloring books were also a big hit.

Sophomore Kinesiology student Brooke Rayburn said, “I absolutely love dogs! The puppies brought to campus were so happy, energetic, and sweet. It was nice to be able to take a break from my studies and play with the adorable pups.”

For tips about how to make it through finals week successfully, check out the article below written by Communications student Sharda James.

Best of Luck! Remember, keep calm and make it to Christmas break.


Texarkana Rocks

Have you seen painted rocks hidden around town? This growing trend started just to brighten people’s day.  I have stumbled across a few rocks myself, and I do enjoy seeing them. However, I leave the rocks where I find them for the stones to brighten up someone else’s day.  It is a light-hearted and harmless trend that is ever-growing. In fact, Texarkana even has a Facebook group called “Texarkana Rocks- Texas Official Group” where they gather to show off their rocks as well as discuss possible hiding places and reasons behind. The Facebook group although closed to the public is still is to join. By joining the group, I gained access to the hot hiding spots for painted rocks located in Spring Lake Park and Three Chicks.

   If you treat the painted rocks as a game, then the game is straightforward. First, you find a quilted rock that has passed through 20 different hands with everyone adding their personal touch, and then you paint it. Next thing you do is hide the rock someone for someone else to find. The person who finds it can either keep it, rehide it, or leave it be.  Now Texarkana Rocks Facebook group encourages people who paint the rocks to put the web link on the back of the rocks so others can find the group.  This is their way of trying to get strangers unaware of the trend to seek out the group and post pictures of the rocks they find. Mainly because that is part of their game and people get encouraged to paint and hide more rocks when they see their rocks being found. This trend across the ArkLaTex is allowing people to spread their creativity and encourages them to be part of a community. Some people even use the rocks as a way to send a message whether that message is a cause or just to uplift spirits. There are funny rocks, pretty rocks, and even location rocks.

This is one of the Quilt Rocks that is circulating around Texarkana. Photo Taken by Tonya Walker

   One trend that encourages everyone to play the game are the quilted rocks. Now the quilted rocks start out rather dull as they are painted a solid color with horizontal and vertical lines drawn on it. The person to paint the rock essentially only paints one square before hiding the wrong. The next person comes along finds the rock, paints an additional square and then hides it. The same goes for everyone that follows, so by the time all the squares are colored. The idea of painted rocks is brilliant because it invites everyone to join in on the fun to spread smiles across the ArkLaTex. It has become a treasure hunt where people are taking their kids to popular painted rock destination so they can even enjoy the fun. People enjoy finding the rocks just as much as the creators enjoy painting and hiding them. Both parties feel good by the end of the interactions.  

   Painted rocks are meant to brighten people’s day. They are harmless, lighthearted and meant to be fun. I invite everyone who reads this to join the Texarkana Rocks- Texas Official Group on Facebook.

Some of the rocks that can be found around town. Photo taken by Jen Phillips

Animal rescue, not for the faint of heart

There is more to animal rescue than puppy breath, furry faces, and unconditional love.  Animal rescue is a heartbreaking and oftentimes, painful undertaking.

Animal neglect and abuse are responsible for a large number of rescue animals. According to Whitney Harrison Stokes, Director of Ark-la-tex Animal Rescue, they get two or more calls a week regarding animal abuse or neglect. Recently, the rescue responded to several dogs abandoned in Nashville, Arkansas. In two separate yards, a total of nine dogs were left on chains to starve.

“There is a lot more going on in our rescue than just giving dogs second chances,” Stokes said.

Ark-la-tex Animal Rescue currently has 37 dogs in foster care. Stokes fosters six herself. With only 20 volunteer fosters, each volunteer has an average of two foster dogs. This rescue, and many others, are always looking for foster volunteers.

“Would it be a big deal to allow a dog to come stay with you instead of sitting terrified in a shelter, or starving on the streets, or neglected at the hands of some idiot,” Stokes pleaded.

Though fosters are severely needed, each volunteer has to be carefully vetted. This strict rule was invoked following a horrendous tragedy, where more than a dozen animals lost their lives at the hands of a once trusted volunteer and her boyfriend.

Unbeknownst to Stokes, an established volunteer, Whitney Smither, had been pulling countless animals from the animal shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, since June 2016. Smither and her boyfriend, Brian Moore, had pulled close to 130 animals.

“I can’t tell you how many animals she actually had in her possession,” Stokes said. “I keep hearing that she was pulling dogs from shelters all the way up in Arkansas.”

In November 2016, after receiving a call from a concerned neighbor, Stokes learned that Smither had skipped town, leaving countless animals to fend for themselves. When Stokes arrived at the deserted home, she was met with more than just abandoned animals. There were more than a dozen dead animals, skeletons, and tufts of fur scattered around the property. The bones told a cold and cruel story.

“If I had any inkling of an idea that she was doing this, I would have shut her down real fast,” Stokes said. “This kills me.  It’s devastating.  Sad.  Makes me mad.  There’s just not the right words out there.”

Smither has not been located to answer for her crimes. The boyfriend, Brian Moore, was charged with eight counts of cruelty to animals and is scheduled for court on March 14, 2018. He could face a fine or up to 10 years in prison for each misdemeanor charge.

Following this tragedy, the surviving animals from the property required veterinary care. In fact, every animal brought in to rescue usually requires some form of medical attention. The rescue spends an average of $500-$700 per month on vet care.

“We spend right at $250 just getting a dog their shots, a fecal exam, heart worm test, and their spay or neuter,” Stokes explained.

With the average adoption fee being $150 per animal, the vet expenses are rarely fully covered. Expenses must be covered in other ways; such as fundraisers and adoption events.

“Adoption events are fairly successful, but we really don’t want to do on site adoptions,” said Stokes. “We prefer to do the home check and interviews before anybody takes the dog home.”

Running an animal rescue is a lot of work and it comes with more than its fair share of heartbreak. However, Stokes believes it is worth it.

“My favorite part is getting updates on dogs that have been adopted,” Stokes said. “Some of them have the most amazing lives compared to where they came from. It takes my breath away.”

Trees Need Baths Too

Richardson Rutter-Reese

Local crepe myrtles have been home to a nasty infestation that has only been spreading. The pests are known as Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale. These pests invade the tree, and suck out tree sap. After the pests eat, mold grows on their secretions. This mold creates a layer over the tree, which slows the process of photosynthesis. Given enough time untreated, the tree will die.

On February 19, the city of Texarkana decided enough was enough. With the help of students at A&M – Texarkana and a few residents, the city tackled its infestation problem downtown. On a breezy Friday morning students showed up ready to clean their city. After a little instruction by a wildlife representative, students got to cleaning. All it took was warm water, some dawn dish soap, and willing volunteers. Over the course of two hours, trees were giving a bath, and got cleansed of their scales and mold.

Although downtown Texarkana trees were washed, the problem is not over. The Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale is an invasive species, and since it was first spotted in Dallas in 2004, it has spread over Texas, and to other states in Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The most active time for the species is in the summer time, so it is important to inspect any Crepe Myrtles before the have an opportunity to hatch and reproduce. It is recommended to give Crepe Myrtles at least one cleaning a year. This will not only keep local trees infestation free, but slow the spread of the infestation to other areas.

Organizations represented are, Phi Lambda Chi Fraternity, Omega Delta Chi Sorority, and the Student Government Association.

trees need baths too

Left to right is Erin Beach, Ruth Kliewer, Bryan Huynh, Michael Canales, Alex Claiborne, Kacie Gray, Emily Rios-Rojas, Elizabeth Vargas, Braxton Wood, Aaron Harp, Austin Greig, and Heath Coston.

Danger: Chemical Agriculture!

Allison Hall

A problem facing modern society remains the use of chemicals in agriculture. While they provide some benefits, the negative aspects far outweigh the positive. Chemically modified agriculture poses a threat to humanity by contaminating livestock, poisoning plant life and contributing to the international phenomenon of global warming.

Modernly, farmers and livestock owners use growth hormones and other chemicals to rapidly grow animals to disperse the meat in bulk and quickly. These methods are used not only to help the animal to grow but also to bump up the speed to which they grow to profit both farmers and corporations. These chemicals pose not only a threat to the animals but also possibly to the people ingesting it. If the thought of humans ingesting excess growth hormone does not terrify you, then the idea that factories use substances such as ammonia to sterilize meats should. The real points are the idea that these animals do not get the proper treatment and care that they deserve and the ingestion of this meat could result in dangers. Most chickens raised for their meat lack the ability to walk or see by the time they are slaughtered for profit. These steroids have the capabilities of working on humans the way that it works on any other mammal. It is impossible to tell whether the hormones in the meats eaten are natural or not. According to Renu Ghandi and Suzanne M. Snedeker, authors of “Consumer Concerns about Hormones in Food”, “… it is not possible to differentiate between the hormones produced naturally by the animal and those used to treat the animal. This makes it “difficult to determine exactly how much of the hormone used for treatment remains in the meat or the milk.” This obviously raises questions, such as whether these added hormones are contributing to ailments such as cancers or obesity.

In relation to the contamination to meats, plants are suffering as well. Genetic engineering, pesticides and weed killers are being used to kill insects and weeds and enhance plant growth; however, it is being done in excess and at times not even hitting the intended target. Instead, it partakes in run-off which adds to the contamination of both water outlets and, yet again, animals. These chemicals travel from the plants to other location via rain and normal hydration methods. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring says, “… chemicals sprayed on crop lands or forests or gardens lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one to another in a chain of poisoning and death.” Not only does this harm animals, but it harms animals that, once again, humans consume. This is not the only draw back to chemicals in farming. As far as chemically modifying plants, it would have the same effect as modifying animals. These growth hormones and chemicals are present in food consumed by man. The effects may not be drastic immediately, but a slow build up is sure to be a problem.

It is no secret that the earth’s atmosphere has been altered in ways that could be both artificial as well as naturally produced. In fact, Carson wrote “The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous lethal materials.”  These chemical contaminating, pesticides in particular, contribute to global warming. They increase the carbon levels in the atmosphere which plays a hand in the rising heat levels. Carbon creates this sort of blanket that traps in heat. With no escape the rays from the sun bounce around in the earth’s atmosphere and cause rising heat levels. Yes, other things have become a problem in this regard, but in trying to fix the issue, chemical agriculture should be looked at.

In conclusion, using chemicals in our agriculture lessens the health accountability for both our animals and plants while also playing part in the demotion of atmospheric stability. It may, at this point, not be a possibility to completely outlaw the use of chemicals, but alternatives could be found and in the mean time the use of these chemicals can be lessened.

The Crisis in Flint…Coincidence or Environmental Racism?

Anthony Hamilton

By now we are all aware of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. There are an unacceptable amount of people in the city who are living below the poverty level and also over 60% of them happen to be African Americans. Whole families have been poisoned by drinking water that was never fit to drink, yet they’ve been fed this water for a period of time, and now there are many health problems beginning to show up because of this.

This story is actually not as new as one might think. It was first broken in 2014 that there was potential contamination in Flint’s water system. Al Jazeera America was first to break the story. The story was then largely ignored until recently when Flint became news again with residents showing the news samples of the brown water they are expected to drink, cook and bathe with, and it doesn’t appear to be fit for any type of human consumption.

The homes of Flint residents have been tested and their homes show there are 10 times the amount of lead that is considered the norm. As a result of this, members of the community who would wish to leave will not be able to sell their homes in any move, because it’s illegal to sell a home that has lead issues.

In all of this, it’s amazing that the Governor of Michigan isn’t indeed facing criminal charges over this situation. According to an article in, Michigan has a 500 plus million dollar surplus, as well as a rainy day fund, yet the governor has said that removing the lead containing pipes is not even a priority to him. There is also strong evidence that he knew about the contamination as early as 2014 when he began shipping cases of bottled water to state employees but not everyday citizens.

When the first attempts to gather clean water for the residents of Flint, an amazing thing happened. Cher revealed, during an interview on CNN that she attempted to gather water for the citizens of Flint, and no American bottled water company was willing to donate any water to the poverty stricken, predominantly black community of Flint. Cher had to go outside of the United States to get water for them.

The Michigan National Guard was called in to distribute the water, but they declined taking it to the so-called worst areas of Flint, saying it would be too dangerous. This from people we would count on to help protect the U.S. during times of war.

The Flint police have also been using this situation to their advantage. According to articles on and, under the guise of delivering water filters to the residents, they are in fact taking advantage of the opportunity to arrest those residents who have warrants. As an ex-law enforcement person, I do not agree with their actions at all.

According to as well as, this disaster has indeed been labeled as a man-made disaster caused by the emergency manager that the state installed, in a cost-cutting measure that went horrible wrong, which again leads me to wonder why they are focused strictly on the emergency manager when he is simply a scapegoat meant to do the governor’s bidding.

When the change was made from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in 2014, the residents immediately began to complain about the smell and taste of their tap water, but they were largely ignored according to Now they can no longer be ignored because they’re too black or too poor to have a voice. The entire world is now aware of what has been done.

Judge Greg Mathis, in an interview with journalist Roland Martin on Newsone Now likened this ordeal to a terrorist attack. “Every day, our homeland security’s biggest fear is terrorists poisoning the water,” Mathis said. “The Secretary of Defense talks nervously about it.” Mathis continues, “In this case, the government has poisoned the water, causing permanent loss of health.”

Mathis also speaks on the possibility of criminal charges in what he calls the poisoning of an American city.

Now there are children experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning, including headaches, anemia, dental problems and their internal organs not functioning properly. Adults are experiencing hair loss, skin disorders, and seizures as well as weakening of teeth and bones along with many potentially fatal cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

This whole situation is remarkably similar to the response to hurricane Katrina where the upscale areas of New Orleans immediately received aid, but those who, like the majority of Flint residents were poor, and less fortunate were left to fend for themselves and die. The same can be said for the residents of Flint.

I read an article on about the General Motors plant in Flint having ceased using it for fear that it will corrode the metal, yet residents are expected to drink, cook and bathe in that water, and continue to receive water bills for water they can’t use.

I wonder how long this would have been allowed to go on and how quick it would be fixed were Flint an upscale community. Here’s to the hope that they receive justice, and those who perpetrated this tragedy upon the get what they deserve.

Adopt Don’t Shop

Jamie Williamson

Yesterday was National Mutt Day, and everyone should celebrate it by going out and adopting a dog. Adopting a puppy can be a truly rewarding process. The puppy gets a new chance at life and the people adopting get a sense of truly rescuing an innocent creature. If you already have a dog or pet then celebrate them being in your life and helping you live a happy live.

I have personally adopted a puppy hand given him a chance to know love and a good home. My puppy was a dachshund named Bingles we adopted him from Texas Star Rescue when they were outside of Petco one weekend. Bingles now enjoys a laid back home life with a big backyard.

Puppies from a pet shop are often from puppy mills and the puppies are often mistreated. Many shops are not aware of the puppy mills. This is not saying pet shops are wrong and you can not buy a pet from there. Adopting is often cheaper and is run by volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for finding the dogs and puppies foster homes. Adopting animals can help bring joy to both the owners and the pets.