Shark teeth in the Sulphur River? Yes! In fact, I’ve even found a Mosasaur tooth! Located near Ladonia, Texas, the North Sulfur River Fossil Area is a paleontologist’s dream. An ancient sea once covered east Texas and specifically in Ladonia, the conditions were perfect for fossil preservation. Additionally, the Caddo Indigenous population inhabited the area for centuries prior. It’s a beacon for fossil hunters, both professional and amateur alike.
Ironically, the fossils were discovered by accident. In the 1920’s, the North Sulphur River was significantly smaller and more shallow. It was a narrow and winding river that was prone to flooding. In an attempt to create more tillable farmland and improve water flow from storm runoff, a channel was dredged in the middle of the river. Originally only twenty feet wide, it accelerated the erosion problems in the river and it’s now over three hundred feet wide. However, that dredging failure is how the fossils were discovered. The fossils in the Ladonia Fossil Area on the North Sulphur River date back to the Cretaceous period and up to the Pliocene epoch. There are lots of marine bivalve fossils such as ammonites and baculites. There are even shark teeth and most excitingly, mosasaur teeth.
We have been several times and I would recommend saving your expedition for the cooler weather of the fall, winter, or spring. Summer is just too hot and dry to safely explore. Remember your “ten essentials” anytime you’re headed out for an adventure.
There are a few things to remember as you prep for your fossil hunting adventure at the North Sulphur River:
1) Check the river level before you go, a simple Internet search for the “North Sulfur River water level ” will take you to the Army Corps of Engineer’s website. The water level needs to be two feet or below to safely dig. The area is prone to flash flooding, so check the weather as well.
2) The ramp down to the riverbed can be slick and potentially muddy.
3) There is no shade on the riverbed and because of that it can get exceedingly hot and dangerous. Take more water than you think you need, wear sun hats and sunglasses, and consider bringing an umbrella to give shade for younger children. We all use a Camelbak water bladder in our backpacks while we hike and dig. Leave extra water in your car for the drive home.
4) There are also no bathrooms, so be prepared to squat behind some trees. Please practice Leave No Trace principles and pack out any toilet paper if used.
5) Pack a lunch and lots of snacks. Snacks are a powerful bargaining chip for tired kiddos to gain you some extra time to fossil hunt.
6) Wear waterproof shoes with good grip, or an old pair of running shoes. The riverbed can be very slippery and simple rain boots are too slippery. Plan on getting wet.
7) You do not need any special tools, though a screwdriver may be helpful if you are wanting to dig out of the clay and mud on the walls of the riverbed. Bring along a container to protect your fossil finds.
8) A comfortable backpack to carry everything in, one you don’t mind getting dirty.
9) You’re in nature. There will be wildlife. We have only seen one small, non-venomous snake, however in the hot summer months there may be snakes of all kinds as well as hogs. Be aware of your surroundings and consider bringing a hiking pole or stick. Or, in our case, an old nine iron. It works great for moving snakes or using to get up and down the steep embankments.
10) Have fun!!! There are few places in the world where you can legally collect fossils and we are lucky enough to be only two hours away from a prime paleontology hotspot!
The best time to go is just after a hard rain, once the waters recede. Please remember to be respectful of other fossil explorers and keep pets on leash when there are other people around, keep loud music to a minimum, and carry out all trash. Happy adventuring!
There is no fee to visit. For more information, look up the “Ladonia Fossil Park” on Facebook or check the Dallas Paleontological Society’s website HERE.
Ladonia, TX is about two hours west of Texarkana and a little over an hour northeast of Prosper, Texas.
In countless towns across the land, everyday heroes can be found anywhere – even in the smallest of places. And in one tiny southwest Arkansas community of only 285 residents, it’s no different.
Janet Choate has been a part of the Blevins, Arkansas, community for decades and still calls the small town home today. For a day job, she makes the 15-mile trip to Hope, Arkansas, where she serves as a commercial loan officer with Farmers Bank & Trust. In her spare time, though, she and her husband, Tim, spend much of their lives at the Blevins Fire Department, where they volunteer as local first responders and firefighters. Tim is chief of the two-bay station, while Janet helps respond to fires and emergency and medical situations of all sorts. Both are trained emergency workers with countless hours of training and real-world experience under their belts.
For 20 years, Janet has been a part of the Blevins Fire Department. She joined the agency in October 2002 and has responded to hundreds of emergency and rescue calls during that time. Since Blevins FD is an all-volunteer service, the 12-person roster is tasked with responding to emergency calls within and around the small town. Sure, the agency has mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities and towns, but the immediate response often lies at the feet of the dedicated few within Blevins.
“We respond to almost anything,” said Janet. “We’ve even helped a get a cat out of a tree before.”
The small fire department, however, is not without resources. The department contains two pumper trucks, a tanker truck, a service truck, and even a new side-by-side ATV for hard-to-reach wooded areas.
“We’ve been really lucky,” said Janet. “Tim and the fire department have been able to get us so much equipment through donations and grants. We can handle a lot of situations here in Blevins.”
Janet and Tim are also right in the middle of the action in Blevins. The couple resides directly next to the town’s largest and most well-known attraction, Hillarosa ATV Park. The 2,000-acre recreational area and tourist destination has hosted multiple large-scale events over the years, including Mud Nationals 2022, which is one the biggest ATV celebrations in the region. That means lots of people flock to Blevins for these events, but that also means there are plenty of opportunities for emergency calls during the festivities.
“We see plenty during those big events,” said Janet. “We live right next door, so we are always pretty close to the action.”
Farmers Bank & Trust, where Janet spends her time during the work week, has also been a big supporter of the Blevins Fire Department. The Arkansas-based lender, through its charitable foundation, recently donated $5,000 to the agency to help equip the new side-by-side ATV for off-site fire and rescue tasks. The move will help Janet and the rest of the rescue team access hard-to-reach areas of the ATV park and its surrounding rural acreage.
“Sometimes, there can be accidents and injuries at the park, and we’re able to get to them pretty quickly, especially now,” she added.
The bank has also accommodated Janet when an incident occurs during the day. When she was previously the branch manager at the Farmers Bank & Trust location in Blevins, she was always allowed to respond to calls should an incident occur.
“If we had an emergency call and we had to staff to cover, they would always let me leave to go respond,” she said.
One of Janet’s more memorable experiences as part of Blevins FD actually came from a child who retained a few life-saving tips from a fire-prevention class held at the station. The program is performed annually for school-aged little ones, and during each session, the firefighters instruct kids on how to plan for and execute an evacuation from their home.
“We just try to tell them to set up an escape plan ahead of time, so if you ever are in a hurry, you already know what to do,” she said.
That particular fire-prevention session paid off in a big way.
“We had just held a class that day, and then a two-story house burned that afternoon,” said Janet. “The kids were able to get everyone out using what they had learned earlier in the day. The kids even had their parents set a ladder to the second floor. It was truly a life-saving event. I don’t know if everyone would have gotten out without what they had just learned.”
NOT SLOWING DOWN
With two decades already under her belt, Janet, along with Tim, is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
“I guess we will stay with the fire department until we can’t really do it any longer,” said Janet. “It’s just been such a part of our family and our lives for so long now.”
And a family affair it is. The desire to be a first responder is not limited to just Janet and Tim. The couple’s son-in-law is also a full-time professional fireman in Conway, Arkansas.
“I guess we’re just all over the place,” said Tim. “We probably wouldn’t have it any other way.”
As we enter into a season of gratitude, this podcast episode is focused on our Bank interns! We’re thankful they chose to come and experience all departments at Farmers Bank & Trust.
While they’re here for the 12-week program, their main areas of focus are Retail and Lending. They spend a few days in other areas like Marketing, Human Resources, and Training. At the end, they complete a project to share takeaways with the Executive Management team. However, it’s not the banking experience they say impacted them the most.
If you’re interested in an internship with Farmers Bank & Trust, be on the lookout for a posting on our websitenext Spring 2023 for a Summer internship opportunity.
Farmers Bank Foundation has donated $5,000 to the Blevins Fire Department for equipment purchases at the all-volunteer agency.
The Blevins Fire Department will use the new funds to help outfit a department side-by-side ATV with life-saving fire and rescue attachments. These attachments will aid in hard-to-reach wilderness area calls.
The Blevins Fire Department is responsible for incidents across five square miles of primarily rural territory. It includes wooded areas that cannot be easily accessed by traditional fire trucks and roads. The Blevins Fire Department also responds to emergency incidents in nearby communities via mutual aid agreements.
“After we purchased the side-by-side, we had to equip it with medical and fire equipment,” said Janet Choate, firefighter and first responder at Blevins FD. “That means we had to get two separate units for emergency calls.”
The Blevins resident also noted that the new equipment would make first response times much faster and more efficient for hard-to-access incidents.
“Sometimes, we’ve even had to rely on other means of transportation to get to wildfires, but now we can get there and respond much quicker,” Choate added. “This donation will help our community and the surrounding areas immensely in search-and-rescues, wildfire suppression, and rural accidents. We appreciate Farmers Bank for supporting our volunteer fire department.”
Farmers Bank Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Burns Anderson said: “It is always a pleasure to help local first responders in any way we can. We hope that these funds can make a real impact on fire and rescue efforts in Blevins and its neighboring communities.”
Join us at our upcoming Halloween community events!
Many Farmers Bank & Trust employees will be celebrating Halloween on Monday, October 31, 2022 by dressing up in costume and handing out candy. Be sure to stop by your local branch and see us!
Have a safe and Happy Halloween– from all of us at Farmers Bank and Trust!
Farmers Bank & Trust is a sponsor of the Monster Madness 5k & Kids Fun Run benefiting Bryant Boys & Girls Clubs, and will have a booth at the event on Saturday, October 29th from 5-8 p.m. For a list of all Saline County Harvest & Halloween events, click HERE.
Farmers Bank & Trust in Magnolia located at 200 E Main Street will be a Safe Stop from 6-8 p.m.
Farmers Bank & Trust will have a booth set up to pass out candy and cotton candy.
Nashville, AR / Malvern, AR / Ashdown, AR / Texarkana, TX & AR
Pumpkin Decorating Contests are happening inside the branch. If you’re local to one of these communities, stop in and vote for your favorite! Here are a few:
Farmers Bank & Trust located at 5600 Richmond Road in Texarkana is hosting a Fun Friday from 3-5 p.m. with trick-or-treating, candy, and family fun activities. For a full list of fall festival and Halloween activities, visit Texarkana Parent’s guide HERE.
Trunk or Treat downtown Main Street on Saturday, October 29th.
Farmers Bank & Trust will have a table set up at the “Fall”apalooza and will be handing out candy from 6-8 p.m.
Cullendale Assembly of God located at 3250 Cash Rd. in Camden is hosting a Trunk or Treat from 5-8 p.m. with bouncy houses, carnival games, face painting, candy and Farmers Bank & Trust is sponsoring a petting zoo.
Mt. Ida, AR
Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Trunk or Treat on Monday, October 31st from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Farmers Bank & Trust will be handing out treat bags.
Glenwood Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Trunk or Treat on Monday, October 31 from 5-6:30 p.m. and Farmers Bank & Trust will be handing out treat bags.
The Brass Tap, located at 790 N Preston Road #80, right behind our Farmers Bank & Trust Prosper location, will be having a Halloween Party on Saturday, October 29th. There will be a costume contest at 7 p.m., live band at 8 p.m., candy for kids and a scary movie on a big screen at 11 p.m.
Tips & Tricks to have a safe and happy Halloween!
Stay alert for oncoming cars when walking through neighborhoods.
Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
Carry a flashlight or glow stick so you can see and be seen better by drivers.
If you’re driving, slow down in residential neighborhoods.
Eliminate distractions while driving.
Sort and check candy for expiration dates and any sign of tampering.
Home equity…Everybody wants it, but what exactly is it, and how do you get it?
Equity represents the degree of ownership an individual or entity has in an asset after subtracting any debts against the asset. To say someone shares equity in a company means they would share in any assets remaining after all debts are accounted for.
For example, if your business has sold $500,000 worth of product this year, but you have rent, operating expenses, and a business loan payment totaling $400,000 for the year, you have $100,000 of equity in your business. Equity changes as the value of your assets and debts change.
Home equity works the same way. When you take out a mortgage to purchase a home, your home is collateral on the mortgage loan, so the outstanding mortgage principal must be deducted from the value of the home to determine your home equity.
In most cases, you make a down payment when you purchase your home. That down payment is your initial home equity. If you pay a 20% down payment on a $200,000 home, you have $40,000 equity when you close on your purchase.
Your Equity Grows
As time goes on and you continue to pay down your mortgage principal, your equity grows. Usually, the longer your own your home, the more equity you gain because you are paying down your mortgage. However, any debts you take on using your home value as collateral, such as a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC), decrease your home equity.
The changing real estate market also influences your equity. If you paid $200,000 for your home, and two years later the homes in your neighborhood start selling in the $400,000 range, your theoretical equity increases. (Theoretical because you don’t realize your home equity until you sell your home and pay off all debts against it.) You can also lose equity if the market takes a dive but be patient and it should recover in time.
Equity also grows if you make improvements on your home that increase its value. Let’s say you add a swimming pool and all new appliances. You have increased the value of the home. Your equity doesn’t increase by the amount you spent on the improvements, but on the value you get upon resale. This is an important point when considering making improvements prior to putting your home on the market, and one that is often misunderstood.
Let’s say Joe spends $50,000 on upgrades to his home. He might tell his neighbor, “I have $50,000 in my home,” but when he goes to sell, the current market dictates how much he will actually get in return. If Joe ends up selling for $40,000 more than he originally paid, his $50,000 investment got him $40,000 in home equity.
Some things you can do to increase your home equity include:
1) Make a large down payment when you purchase your home. The more cash you put down, the more equity you begin with.
2) Make increased or extra payments on your mortgage principal. Adding to the principal portion only on your monthly payments, or making extra payments when you are able, helps chip away at your outstanding debt.
3) Be smart when making home improvements. Not all improvements build equity. Some improvements may be personal preferences that don’t necessarily add value for resale. Improvements such as a new HVAC system, new appliances, or a new roof are usually more reliable investments than a fountain in the front yard or surround sound speakers throughout the house.
4) Don’t borrow against your home equity unless you must. Home equity is often a homeowner’s biggest asset, and can help to build your retirement nest egg, but it can also come in handy if life throws you a curve ball and you need to borrow against it for an unforeseen emergency. Be careful not to borrow against your equity for frivolous purposes, so it will be there if you really need it. Only use it to pay off debt that is higher interest or higher monthly payment.
5) Sell when the market is favorable. If you are counting on your home equity to help finance your next home, pay for your children’s education, or add to your retirement funds, try to sell during a seller’s market when inventory is needed in your area.
Need to talk to a lender? Start your application HERE.
Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts, and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. And in this time of expanded use of online banking, the problem is only growing worse. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s report on fraud estimates that American consumers lost a staggering $5.8 billion to these phishing schemes and other fraud in 2021 — an increase of more than 70 percent over 2020.
It’s time to put scammers in their place.
Online scams aren’t so scary when you know what to look for. And at Farmers Bank & Trust, we’re committed to helping you spot them as an extra layer of protection for your account. We’ve teamed up with the American Bankers Association and banks across the country in a nationwide effort to fight phishing—one scam at a time.
We want every bank customer to become a pro at spotting a phishing scam—and stop bank impostors in their tracks. It starts with these four words: Banks Never Ask That. Because when you know what sounds suspicious, you’ll be less likely to be fooled.
These top 4 phishing scams are full of red flags:
• Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
• Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from your bank, but it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
• Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number. No! Banks never ask that. If you’re ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust.
• Payment Apps: Beware of text messages from someone claiming to be your bank saying your account has been hacked. The scammer may ask you to send money to a new account they’ve created for you, but that’s a scam! Banks never ask that.
You’ve probably seen some of these scams before. But that doesn’t stop a scammer from trying. For more tips on how to keep phishing criminals at bay, including videos, an interactive quiz, and more, visit www.BanksNeverAskThat.com. Be sure to share the webpage with your friends and family.