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L to R: FBI Little Rock Citizens Academy Alumni Association Board Member Wes Booker, classmate and Senior Writer for Gov. Asa Hutchinson Jay Grelen, Grelen’s wife, Candace Rankin

Congratulations Candace!

Farmers Bank & Trust Community Specialist & Assistant Board Secretary Candace Rankin graduated from the prestigious FBI Citizens Academy program on June 7, 2022.

The FBI Citizens Academy gives business, religious, civic, and community leaders an inside look at the FBI. Candidates are nominated and then selected to participate by the special agent in charge of the local FBI field office.

“I have always had respect for law enforcement, but this experience really opened my eyes to a lot of things I was unaware of. The level of respect I have for them now is even greater,” Rankin said.

“The FBI Citizens Academy is an excellent curriculum to connect the FBI to our local leaders and difference-makers in Arkansas,” Farmers Bank Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Anderson said. “Candace has been instrumental in the Bank’s relationship with the FBI, by connecting them to the communities we serve.”

In her role, Rankin organizes various Bank and community events including the annual FBI Community Awareness Program luncheons where law enforcement from all departments across the state get together with community leaders for a presentation and brief training.

“Farmers Bank & Trust’s former Chairman & CEO Bob Burns went through this program many years ago and our CEO Chris Gosnell has gone through it as well,” Rankin said. “I’m honored the Bank nominated me for this opportunity and that I was able to attend.”

Once a week for eight weeks Rankin drove from Magnolia, Arkansas to Little Rock for class. Topics covered during the academy include cybersecurity, active shooter training, negotiation, domestic and counterterrorism, weapons of mass destruction, stop the bleed training, and more.

“I believe everyone who works in customer care should learn this information. It’s potentially life-saving,” Rankin said.

For more information about the FBI Citizens Academy, visit HERE.

Candace with classmate Alicia Evans of Arkansas Department of Labor

Rockhounding is the hobby collecting of rocks, fossils, and geologic specimens from a natural environment. Arkansas has an environment that led to it being one of the best places in the world to rockhound for quartz crystals! In fact, it ties with Brazil for the quality of the quartz specimens.

The Ouachita mountain range in central Arkansas is home to some of the best quartz veins in the entire state and there are plentiful mines, both commercial and public. The commercial mines regularly produce museum-quality specimens for both private collectors and museums around the world. But, the beautiful quartz crystals can also be dug out by the general public at several of the mines. One of those places is free to explore, and located just outside of Mt. Ida, Arkansas!

Crystal Vista is an abandoned commercial mine that is now open to anyone to explore and hunt for quartz crystals. The four-acre, crystal digging area sits atop Mount Gardner and there is a .8-mile trail that leads to the top. The trail to the top is very steep, because, remember, you’re hiking up to the top of a mountain! Once you’re at the top of the trail, take a moment to enjoy the incredible scenery before you focus on the ground. The crystals can be found through two methods: surface hunting, and digging into the mountain. Both methods can produce great results, especially after fresh rain!

Here are a few tips to enjoy your crystal digging experience at Crystal Vista in Mt. Ida!

What to bring:

  • Sturdy hiking shoes for the hike up and down the mountain, sandals are not recommended due to the rocky terrain.
  • Clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, long sleeves and pants recommended for sun protection but also to protect from thorns, sharp rocks, insect bites, etc.
  • A hat and sunglasses, plus sunscreen and bug spray.
  • A five-gallon bucket to hold tools on the way up and tools plus crystals on the way down.
  • A small, clear bag or container to hold your smaller crystals and keep them safe.
  • Hand gardening tools, such as a trowel and small, hand rake.
  • A long, flat head screwdriver, and rubber mallet if desired.
  • Lots of water, plus extra water to leave in the car for afterward.
  • A picnic lunch plus snacks.

Things to keep in mind:

  • There is spotty or no phone service in this area. Bring a satellite communicator if absolutely necessary (I personally recommend the Zoleo satellite communicator).
  • Beware that it can get VERY hot in the summertime, so plan accordingly.
  • The weather can change quickly in the spring, and storms can pop up fast so be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
  • You are exploring a wild area, and there may be wildlife in all forms including the possibility of snakes. Be aware of your surroundings and look before you pick up or move any rocks or logs.
  • Please practice Leave No Trace principles and pack out what you pack in.
  • There are no bathrooms, bring your own toilet paper and please pack it out.

On Thursday, May 19, at 10:00 a.m. the public is invited to attend a celebration of the grand opening of the newly renovated Hempstead County Courthouse, located at 200 E. 3rd Street in Hope, Arkansas. A free catered brunch will be provided by Farmers Bank & Trust.

“Farmers Bank & Trust is proud to align itself with the voters of Hempstead County to bring this to fruition. The building is paid off and I believe it will serve our citizens well,” Farmers Bank & Trust Hope Market President Jacob Jones said.

Speakers for the event include Farmers Bank & Trust CEO Chris Gosnell, Hempstead County Judge Jerry Crane, and Justice of the Peace Steve Atchley, who is the project manager of courthouse improvements.

Farmers Bank & Trust sold the building to Hempstead County in 2017. To learn more, click HERE.

Have you ever heard of an Acrocanthesaurus atokensis? Did you know that it’s actually the state dinosaur of Oklahoma? You can see a cast of the most complete specimen ever found of this dinosaur on display at the Museum of The Red River, in Idabel, Oklahoma. The actual specimen was discovered just ten miles from the museum, in Atoka, in 1940.

Inka Predecessors, on display through June 5, 2022

This quaint museum in the small town of Idabel is worth a visit. It was built in 1974, thanks to the efforts of Quintus and Mary Herron. The government was conducting archeological surveys in the area during that time, and they had no place to store the artifacts they discovered.  The Herrons felt strongly that the history should be archived and preserved for everyone to learn from and enjoy. Thanks to their efforts,  the Museum of the Red River was officially established.

Native American Art

A vast collection of Caddo pottery inside the Museum of the Red River.

The Museum of the Red River is home to one of the largest collections of Native American and cultural archeological artifacts within a 150-mile radius! The many pieces of art and artifacts come from around the world but also give special recognition to Native American contributions.  When you enter the museum, you’ll go through the Don and Mary Etta Heron Reception Hall, which features beautiful sculptures and murals by Oklahoma and Texas artists, as well as art from indigenous artists. The Gregory H. Perino Archaeological Study Area is home to prehistoric stone tools and points, as well as a vast collection of Caddo pottery.  There are also rotating exhibits housed in the Mary Bratton Curtis gallery, and it currently features a collection of Inka pottery from South America! The exhibit is called “Inka Predecessors” and will be on view through June 5th, 2022.

Blog Writer Nichole Holze and family posing with the Oklahoma State Dinosaur, Acrocanthosaurus atokensis.

Community Programs & Events

The museum also has programs available for school groups, homeschool groups, and small group tours. Each tour has the option to add a hands-on pottery-making experience.  Throughout the year they have various festivals and celebrations, their biggest and most well-known is the Acrofest, which is usually held in March. This dinosaur-themed festival has something for the whole family including great food vendors, live music, face painting, balloon artists, various crafts, and sometimes life-size dino replicas! The museum also hosts art classes, lectures, and many opportunities to learn and experience one of the most enriching museum experiences in the four states area.

The Museum of the Red River makes for a great stop on your way to the Broken Bow area from Texarkana. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Sundays from 10 AM to 3 pm. Check their Facebook page and website for any upcoming events. Be sure to subscribe to their newsletter HERE to be in the know for the next Acro Fest!

How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money?

If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.

The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.

Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:

At the bank

  • When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest, and how an ATM works. Ask the manager for a tour, and open up a savings account!

On payday

  • Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food, and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.

At the market

  • It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons, and store brands.

Chores and allowances

  • Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.

Paying bills

  • Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, paper or by check, electronic check, or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.

Using credit cards

  • Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill, or online. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit, and credit cards.

Browsing the Internet

  • While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them, and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.

Planning a vacation

  • Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.

Remember

Always encourage your children to ask questions about money. If you don’t know the answer, research it together or ask your banker. Find a Farmers Bank & Trust location near you HERE.

For more resources to help your youth understand money concepts that will set them on the path to a smart financial future, visit HERE.

Click HERE for more information on how to open your child’s first savings account.

For 50 years, the city of New Boston and surrounding areas have come together to celebrate the end of summer with New Boston Pioneer Days. With the pandemic canceling the popular event in its 50th year last year, this festival is sure to be a hit! Farmers Bank & Trust is a proud silver sponsor of the event.

This weekend, August 13-14, the Pioneer Days Rodeo kicks things off. Click here for all the rodeo details. The “Hottest Festival in Texas” is presented by the New Boston Chamber of Commerce, and there is fun for the entire family spanning four days, August 18-August 21, 2021. 

“We’ve got an ideal place for entertainment downtown with the covered pavilion, stage, and sound system,” New Boston Chamber of Commerce President Tim Graham said. “We can already tell from the response we’ve received from vendors and sponsors; they’re going to make sure this thing is a success this year.”

Fun for the Family

Johnson Brothers Amusement will be setting up carnival rides on the midway, along with arts and crafts and food vendors. Live music is happening every night. Admission to concerts is free to the public, and free parking is available. The Chamber encourages people to bring their own lawn chairs as seating is limited under the pavilion.

Destroyer-KISS Tribute Band will be performing Thursday night, and the Street Dance will be Friday at the festival grounds under the T&P Trail Head Park Pavilion with JoeDale & Friends performing at 8:30 p.m.

“I grew up here in New Boston, and this festival has grown a lot,” Graham said. “We used to have a big street dance and that was always really popular so we’re bringing that back this year.”

Headliner John Schneider, aka “Bo Duke”

John Schneider / Photo courtesy of New Boston Pioneer Days Facebook

Saturday morning, the New Boston Volunteer Fire Department serves a big pancake breakfast, followed by a Hazzard County, USA-themed parade at 10 a.m. To keep with the theme, this year’s headliner is John Schneider & The Hazzard Band. John Schneider is well-known as Bo Duke in the action/comedy series The Dukes of Hazzard.

“School is about to start back up and this is one last chance to end the summer with a bang,” Graham said.

For more event details, visit their Facebook page here.

Tucked away down a country road in New Boston, TX is a hidden gem. It’s a greenhouse and garden center, but it’s also much more than that. Little Country Greenhouse, owned by Bruce (the self-proclaimed “bloomin’ idiot”) and Patricia Pardue, is a family-friendly gardening destination. They have multiple greenhouses filled nearly year-round with beautiful plants for your home or garden.

It’s been a tradition of ours to visit the greenhouse almost once per week, year-round, for the last few years. We’ve grown to love this place. So much so that we had our daughter’s birthday party there, a fairy garden celebration. Our favorite greenhouse is the one that houses a beautiful koi pond, the parakeets, and some beautiful staghorn ferns that are thirty years old! My children love watching the parakeets and checking on the koi, while I browse their excellent selection of house plants.

Butterfly Cottage

During the warmer months (summer into early fall) the garden center also hosts a butterfly house! This tour is free, just be sure to call ahead to reserve a slot. It’s enchanting to walk slowly through the enclosure, noting the caterpillars munching away, the chrysalis’ near the sidewalls,  as the fully mature butterflies float all around you. Please do not touch the butterflies, chrysalis, or caterpillars. There is a place for donations at the end of the tour and I’d encourage you to add a small donation to keep this beautiful gift to the community going.

New this year, they have added a country store with a wide variety of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, a hydroponic growing system, and some Brahma chickens! The rooster for the Brahma, once fully mature (which takes up to two years) will be nearly 36 inches tall! You can walk around the chicken and rooster enclosures, and be sure to say hello to Big Man.

Inside the Shop

Our favorite way to cap off our visit is to head inside the shop, which is also home to their old-fashioned candy shop and ice cream store! They also have coffee, which I grab in the cooler months to enjoy while walking around.

Little Country Greenhouse is a wonderful, family-friendly, destination year-round. I’ve even heard that Bruce has a special connection to Santa Claus and he sets up a workshop right on site! All of the employees are very helpful and Bruce and Patricia are always happy to help answer any plant and gardening questions. Be sure to follow them on Facebook HERE to catch some of their weekly videos, which will be sure to put a smile on your face.

Five things to see at Little Country Greenhouse:

  1. Big Man the rooster.
  2. The Butterfly Cottage in the summer.
  3. The parakeets.
  4. The Koi fish and pond.
  5. The (seasonal) selection of carnivorous plants.