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Stories by Lara Hightower

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Heart, Mind, Faith

Subscriber onlyThe Rev. Steve Sheely, pastor of Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, has a distinct memory of the moment he committed his life to Christ. The college student had just finished his freshman year at Oklahoma State University, and in the heat of an Oklahoma summer, he was trying to use physical exercise to work through the rough breakup of a relationship. He was discovering, that although he could tire his body, he could not tire his mind. Continue reading...

NWA Fab Lab Lets Creativity Run Wild

Subscriber onlyThanks to the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, makers across Northwest Arkansas have a space -- with commercial-grade equipment -- to encourage their tinkering. The NWA Fab Lab is 5,000-plus square feet of innovation and welcomes intrepid inventors, hobbyists and artists with open arms. Continue reading...

'Puppet Slam' First of Its Kind in NWA

Subscriber onlyThe Art Experience in Fayetteville, a nonprofit art therapy organization, hopes they will be starting a new tradition when they host a "Puppet Slam" at 7 p.m. March 24. Continue reading...

Spring break

Community programs offer activities for kids

Subscriber onlyNorthwest Arkansas public schools will celebrate spring break the week of March 19-23. While the halcyon call of "No school!" can be a thrill for the kids, finding activities for the younger set can be difficult for some working parents. Northwest Arkansas has you covered: The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found some great activities throughout the region, at all price points, that might be just the thing to make everybody happy that week. Continue reading...

DiaCon of the Ozarks Perfect Fest for Potter Fans

Subscriber onlyRest easy, Harry Potter fans: The team that's behind the first "DiaCON Alley of the Ozarks" -- a Harry Potter festival that includes 37 vendors, costumed characters, live performances and themed contests -- are determined to get every detail of the event right. After all, says Summer Allen, one of the co-founders, for her -- as with many fans of the fantastical wizard series written by J.K. Rowling -- the world of Harry Potter went far beyond the pages of a book. It was almost an instruction guide for life. Continue reading...

Find it on Facebook

Groups share tips, treasures with like-minded

Subscriber onlyIt’s almost spring — don’t be surprised if you’re suddenly struck with wanderlust or just an urge to get out of the house you feel you’ve been cooped up in all winter. The first symptom of wanderlust? The tendency to ask questions like these: Whose happy hour features a band in Fayetteville tonight? Where’s the best vantage point to watch the sun set in Northwest Arkansas? What Arkansas site might be the best place to dig for buried treasure? Where can I end a 3-mile hike with a cascading waterfall? Are there any abandoned country stores I can explore? Continue reading...

On The Highway Of Life

ACO brings classic ‘Miss Daisy’ to stage

Subscriber onlyAlfred Uhry's "Driving Miss Daisy," running through March 18 at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, made quite a stir upon its debut: The Pulitzer Prize winner opened off-Broadway in 1987 and ran for nearly 1,200 performances. The 1990 movie adaptation netted an Academy Award for Best Movie, Best Screenplay and Best Actress. Continue reading...

Not The Usual Heroes

Actors see themselves in Qui Nguyen’s ‘Vietgone’

Subscriber onlyWhen playwright and Arkansas native Qui Nguyen's semi-autobiographical play "Vietgone" opens March 14 at TheatreSquared, actor Rebecca Hirota says audience members may be surprised at what they see. Continue reading...

A Fond Farewell

Fayettevillians rally to remember, raise funds

Subscriber onlyIn an age where nearly every grocery store is owned by a corporate entity -- and they all look alike -- a true neighborhood grocery store like the CV's on the corner of Lafayette and Dickson stands out. That's why, when the news broke that the quirky store is closing later this month, many Fayettevillians expressed dismay. The store has, over the course of roughly 50 years, managed to retain its unusual charm through various incarnations that included a Safeway, IGA and a Saver's Club. And it has been an integral part of the lives of many who lived in the area. Continue reading...

Spring break

Community programs offer activities for kids

Subscriber onlyNorthwest Arkansas public schools will celebrate spring break the week of March 19-23. While the halcyon call of "No school!" can be a thrill for the kids, finding activities for the younger set can be difficult for some working parents. Northwest Arkansas has you covered: The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found some great activities throughout the region, at all price points, that might be just the thing to make everybody happy that week. Continue reading...

Debbie Jones

Every aspect of every child

Subscriber onlyHer childhood sounds like a plot from a movie -- the kind of movie where an American flag flies outside every front porch door and friendly dogs and adventurous kids roam the streets, confident in their safety. Born in Fort Smith, Bentonville Public Schools' Superintendent Debbie Jones and her family moved to a farm in the small community of Charleston -- population roughly 2,400 -- when she was a child. In addition to working the farm, her father was an educator and football coach, while her mom served as the assistant to the administrator at Mercy Hospital. The middle of three children -- all girls -- Jones was an excellent student who was active in sports. Continue reading...

In Their Own Words

In ‘Dear Elizabeth,’ passions of poets come to life on stage

Subscriber onlyWhen poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell met at a New York City dinner party in 1947, their connection was immediate and long-lasting. Their intimate friendship endured until Lowell's death in 1977 -- a bit astonishing, given that the pair were rarely in the same place at the same time. Instead, the couple exchanged hundreds of letters in the course of their 30-year friendship, a treasure trove of prose that illustrates, in their own poetic words, the depth of their affection for each other. Northwest Arkansas theatergoers will have a chance to hear those words performed on stage tonight in playwright Sarah Ruhl's "Dear Elizabeth," presented by ArkansasStaged at Bentonville's 21c Museum Hotel -- a forum as intimate as the letters themselves. Continue reading...

A Rare Respite

Watercolor captures short sabbatical in old Fort Smith

Subscriber onlyGiven that Fort Smith will spend this year celebrating its 200th birthday, the Fort Smith Museum of History has found the perfect image in celebration: Artist Samuel Seymour's 1820 watercolor painting titled "Fort Smith Arkansaw" -- the only known image of the original wooden Fort Smith, built by the earliest soldiers stationed in the area around December of 1817 -- will be hanging in the museum for viewing through March 31. It's on loan to the museum from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Continue reading...

Affordable aisle

Brides say ‘I do’ to style and charm without breaking bank

Subscriber onlyEvery year, the popular wedding website The Knot releases an annual poll detailing the national and state-by-state averages of costs of weddings. If you haven't planned a wedding in a decade or two, their findings might astound, so hold on to your hats: In 2016, the national average was just more than $35,000. Arkansas has the lowest average wedding cost, but at just under $20,000, it's still a sum that could pay for new car or a down payment on a house. Continue reading...

Bernice & Bryan Hembree

Subscriber onlyIt almost seems like fate that Bernice and Bryan Hembree met. The voices behind the popular and critically lauded musical duo Smokey and the Mirror blend beautifully while harmonizing, as though meant to be. As two-thirds of the team behind the Fayetteville Roots Festival -- their friend and partner Jerrmy Gawthrop is the other third -- it's obvious they work exceedingly well together. And the way they met was one of the most "small world" moments imaginable: A young man with whom Bernice attended high school in Mena met Bryan at Oxford while he was on a Fulbright Scholarship in England. Continue reading...