Schools are letting out for the summer and one of the most pressing questions for parents may be -- what in the world are my kids going to do over the next few months? I discovered an array of Summer Camps through the Summer Camp Academy at Arkansas State University Continuing Education and Community Outreach program. They have camps for just about everything including: Afternoon Tea Party, Howl 4 Health, Mini Olympics, Mad Scientist and Choir Camp. Now those are just a few. To see the full list you can visit our website at kait 8 dot com. Just search for A Better Region 8 and you will find the link in my editorial. You can also call 870-972-3052 to get additional information and pricing. This is an amazing and valuable resource parents can take advantage of and treat their children to a wonderful summer experience. Keeping your children engaged over the summer will make this A Better Region 8. www.astate.edu/ceco
The devastation and destruction we have been seeing from our neighbors in Oklahoma has been almost too much to comprehend. The loss of life especially those young children in their elementary school is a reminder that nature's fury does not discriminate. Those of us who call Region 8 home know all too well how destructive tornadoes can be. Many of you have lived through horrible storms like these. With that in mind, the survivors need our help. That's why we are asking you to give if you possibly can to the American Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting red cross dot org. You can also make a 10 dollar donation by texting RED CROSS to 9-0-9-9-9. Remember text messaging rates may apply. In addition, Region 8 News will take part in a campaign to raise money for the impacted people in Oklahoma. Watch Region 8 News all day Thursday and learn more about how you can help those hurt by these monster storms. Help Oklahoma and make this A Better Region 8.
I had a wonderful experience last week as part of the convoy that welcomed home the soldiers of the 1039th Engineer Company. 100 soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard have spent the past 9 months in Afghanistan. They have been conducting some of the most dangerous work that needed to be done in that war zone. These soldiers were responsible for locating improvised explosive devices. But now that work is behind them and they are home. Home to their families. Some of these soldiers even met their children for the first time. You can imagine the atmosphere at the homecoming celebration was filled with emotion. As this war has drug on over the years, it has become easy to forget there are many men and women still serving in Afghanistan and other dangerous parts of the world. This week I ask you to salute the members of the 1039th and always remember those still serving. Supporting our troops will make this A Better Region 8.
As you know, when I come across someone who inspires me, I like to share that with you. Such is the case with 18-year-old Raymond Walter of Mountain Home. Raymond graduated over the weekend from the University of Arkansas. So he's 18 years old and get this, he got 3 degrees from U of A. But that's not the most amazing thing, you see, Raymond is confined to a wheelchair because he has a severe case of Muscular Dystrophy. When I heard Raymond's motto, it grabbed my attention. He said his condition has forced him to get busy living or get busy dying. Obviously Raymond has chosen to make the most of his life despite his challenges. Raymond says he plans to continue his education at the University of Arkansas pursuing doctorates in Math and Physics. Way to go Raymond! We could all take a lesson from Raymond's example and get busy living. It's special people like Raymond Walter who make this A Better Region 8.
It's such a shame we live in a society where people are quick to sue and people, companies and organizations are so afraid of being sued, that decisions are sometimes made that hurt the youngest among us. Such was the case last week when a parent complained about having prayer at the graduation ceremony for *6th graders* in the Riverside School District. The district voted to cancel graduation in order to avoid the controversy. Luckily, the ceremony will still be held at an area church later next week. Another parent told Region 8 News, prayer had never been an issue in the town before. And it shouldn't be now. I was disappointed the voice of one could put the end to such a special time for so many of these young people. This should be a time to celebrate and not be the center of attention for something like a simple prayer. For once, wouldn't it be amazing if an organization like this stood up and said, we are going to keep our prayer. Standing up for what you believe in will make this A Better Region 8.
This weekend I had the chance to go to the ASU Farmer's Market and it reminded me about how terrific it is to support local businesses. The booths were full of locally produced products like jams, jellies, flowers and meat. But it certainly doesn't stop there. Our streets are lined with businesses that were grown on the backs of hard working people from Arkansas and Missouri. We have some of the hardest working farmers who make Region 8 home and produce food for Region 8 and all across parts of the country. Our network partner, ABC News, is the home to a spectacular segment called Made in America. These segments spotlight products and services that are made right here at home in the good ole U-S-A. We can support that notion by buying local and remember Made in Region 8 is just as special. Buying local helps make this A Better Region 8.
The arrest of a Region 8 mother this week has evoked strong reactions from our Region 8 viewers. Tiffany Smith was arrested after police say she left her 4 children home alone during the night. A neighbor reported Smith and when officers checked out Smith's apartment they found the 4 children sleeping. The oldest child is 11. When Region 8 News talked with Smith, she said she was just trying to take care of her kids and the only job she could get was the overnight shift. She said she didn't have enough money for daycare. My first reaction was -- wow, that's harsh. Couldn't we find a way to help Smith and not arrest her? We must find ways to help single moms get matched up with programs where they can get help. I strongly urge Judge Keith Blackman to see that this woman is not a criminal, but instead as a single mother who is trying to do the right thing for her children. She doesn't need jail time, and she doesn't need to be fined. Taking these instances on a case by case basis, and realizing and helping those who need and want help like this single mom, makes this A Better Region 8.