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.


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.”

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.

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.

Pesticides in the Hive

Stephen Jones

Chemicals have been used for decades in order to ensure the growth and survival of crops essential to everyday life, but many of these chemicals are possibly affecting organisms outside of their intended targets, including the bee; an insect essential to the reproduction of various flowering plants. The chemicals scientists believe to be harmful to bees are known as neonicotinoids. These chemicals are synthetic derivatives of the widely used, naturally-occurring pesticide, nicotine.


Bee populations are dramatically on the decline, and scientists are looking for what factors could be responsible for said decline. Dr. Chris Connolly and his colleagues conducted a study at Dundee’s School of Medicine consisting of a sample population of bees, and the conclusion suggests the decline in the bee population is partially due to neonicotinoids. In the study, Dr. Connolly found exposure to low levels of neonicotinoids caused a 55 percent reduction of the live bee population. Dr. Connolly states, “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees.” Even though the pesticides did not kill the bees, the effects of the neurotoxins could still be seen through the examination of the bees’ brains and cells. As mentioned before, the bee population was exposed to low levels of neonicotinoids, resulting in the shutdown of mitochondria, the failure to recognize the scent of a flower, and the inability to remember their way back to the nest.

What is important to remember about the study is the scientists are not suggesting that insect neurotoxins are wholly at fault; but when looking at the results of this study, it is hard not to believe the aforementioned pesticides are not partially to blame. Dr. Connolly’s analysis is only one of many experiments looking into the side-effects of pesticides, and with the number of studies steadily growing; various national governments have started to take action concerning the use of pesticides within the environment. This past September, a US court reversed the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, due to data the court called “flawed and limited.” Although the court denied the use of sulfoxaflor, most neonicotinoids are still approved for use within the US; the situation is the polar opposite in the EU. The EU currently prohibits the use of most neonicotinoids and, as of July, allows the use of sulfoxaflor, even though the European Food Standards Authority believed the lack of information on sulfoxaflor does not exclude the possibility of a negative impact on the already deteriorating bee populations.

The unwanted influence of insect neurotoxins on bees is one of many factors we must look at when examining humans’ usage of chemicals in agriculture, but finding out whether or not these pesticides are significantly hurting bee populations is essential in ensuring the survival of many plant species we rely on every day.


Behind the Bucking Chutes

Laney Davis

The smell of cotton candy and rough stock animals filled the air, sounds of classic rock vibrated the bleachers, and hearts pounded awaiting the start of the rodeo. Four States Fair and Rodeo (FSFR) held their 71st annual rodeo September 16-19.

FSFR hosted four nights of rodeo. The rodeo was sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Women’s Pro Rodeo Association. Competitors came from all over the United States to win the first place title in their event. The performance was action packed with cowboys and cowgirls competing in rough stock event s and timed events.

This rodeo is different each year. Not only are there different competitors, but there is a new specialty act. This year the FSFR hired Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill as the rodeo clown. Lerwill is a 6-time PRCA Comedy Act of the Year. He keeps the crowd laughing and entertained the while the rodeo is going on. Toward the end of the rodeo, he and another person perform a skit with a dirt bike, and Lerwill jumps a horse trailer and dually truck. Lerwill does not just keep the crowd laughing. He keeps them on their toes as well.

To make the rodeo even more special each year, there are two young ladies crowned with the titles Miss Four States Fair and Rodeo Queen and Miss Teen Four States Fair and Rodeo Queen. At the last performance of the rodeo on Saturday night the young women are presented with their new titles and crowns. They will represent the fair and rodeo locally and nationally as ambassadors for the 2016 year.

Now the Ferris wheel is down and the rodeo dirt is being hauled out of the arena. Another successful Four States Fair and Rodeo is in the history books.

Rodeo on the Road

Laney Davis

Hands waving in the cool, Fall breeze and children’s laughter filled the air Saturday the 12th on the streets of Downtown Texarkana. The 71st annual rodeo came to town and to kick it off they held their famous Four States Fair and Rodeo parade.

Early that morning the parade route was being set by the police and people were putting final touches on their floats. The parade started on Broad Street and intertwined throughout Texas Boulevard, Third Street, ending on State Line Avenue. There were over 100 entries in the parade — drill teams, school bands, cheerleaders, businesses, radio stations, rodeo queens, and even the newly crowned Miss Four States Fair and Rodeo Queen waving to the crowd on the packed side walks.

As with the previous annual parades, you could follow it on local cable TV and even on Facebook though Texarkana Today. Behind the cameras was a table full of judges commentating and judging the parade. Around noon the parade ended and the President of Four States Fair and Rodeo President pronounced it a success.