Writing Samples

The following are a few news and opinion columns I have written over the years.

Lawn mower racers put on show for Jonesboro crowd

http://www.jonesborosun.com/archivedstory.asp?ID=9813

Story Date: 6/26/2004 11:39:36 PM

By Dustin Faber 

Sun sports writer 

While a lawn mower’s main purpose is cutting grass, lawncare didn’t seem to matter to these drivers.

The second Northeast Arkansas Mow-Down Show Down, sponsored by STA-BIL and the Jonesboro Firefighters Local 3718, took place Saturday at the Craighead County Fairgrounds.

The event is part of the STA-BIL National Racing Series, which has been featured on ESPN and the Discovery Channel. It features blade-less lawn mowers that race around a one-tenth of a mile track, at speeds of over 30 mph.

While the racers don’t have multi-million dollar contracts and big-name sponsors, the few hundred in attendance didn’t seem to care, cheering loudly when the checkered flag was waved, and buzzing with disbelief when Florida racer Thomas Ast saw his lawn mower go up in smoke.

“It was a great turnout,” said Kinley Gatewood, the president of the Arkansas Lawn Mower Racing Association. “The crowd was great, the racing was great. Everything was great.”

Winners of the races included Tim Hamilton of Alabama, who won the A/P race, and Steve Sherwood of Illinois, who won the F/X race with an average speed of 23.26 mph.

But the day’s big winner was George Herrin. After taking first place in the S/P race, Herrin immediately hopped on to another lawn mower, and took the checkered flag in the B/P race, winning it by a difference of 7.29 seconds.

“I need to be about 10 years younger. It takes a lot of luck,” Herrin said about his back-to-back first-place finishes.

Herrin, who’s lawn mower has a Team Jesus sticker on the back, runs over 45 races a year, including the national racing circuit and other independent races.

A four-year veteran, Herrin always competes in two classes, usually the B/P and S/P, because he says they are the most enjoyable.

“I do it just for fun, and for the camaraderie amongst the driver,” said Herrin, who makes his home in Hohenwald, Tenn., and will head to the Buckeye State Rumble in the Grass in Delware, Ohio, for a race this Saturday.

Another racer who showed dominance on the track was David “The Thrill” Hill. Hill’s fourth-place finish in the S/P race was preceded by a qualifying run that saw him lap all the drivers.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Hill said. “We were the first to show up yesterday to start practicing. Hill, who drives a Murray lawnmower named Gran Turismow and hails from Keller, Texas, is now in his second season of lawn mower racing, and is the current points leader in Texas. While some of the racers in Texas may need help catching up to him, Hill was the one who needed help after last year’s Mow-Down Show Down.

After seeing a wreck in front of him, Hill decided that crashing into a hay bale would be better than crashing into another driver. Hill got out of the car and got on top of the hay bale, but due to excessive dust in the air, other drivers didn’t see him and crashed into Hill’s hay bale, sending him to the hospital in an ambulance.

“I was back at the party last night, so it wasn’t too bad,” Hill said, laughing.

Column: Putting on holy running shoes

http://thecabin.net/stories/111708/opi_1117080012.shtml

Published Monday, November 17, 2008 in The Log Cabin Democrat, Conway, AR

By dustin Faber

When’s the last time you ran after someone?

Maybe they took your wallet. Maybe it was a woman who took your dignity. Or maybe it was the guy driving the ice cream truck, and you just had to have that highly overrated Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream bar.

I’ve done my share of running after people (and skating after the beautiful Allison Madara in sixth grade). Have I ever chased someone down in the name of the Lord?

No. If God wanted me to do that, I’ve always reasoned, he would have made me a better athlete.

While I’ve never done the chasing, the script was flipped on me Sunday morning.

Someone decided to chase after me.

Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I ended up leaving Mass before it ended on Sunday. As part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults process, those wishing to join the Catholic church usually leave before the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) and go into another room to reflect on the readings a little more. I ended up leaving, and apparently that part got cancelled. So instead of going back into church like a goon, I decided to walk to work (the car is in the shop again).

While walking past the construction for the new police station on Front Street, I heard someone yell at me. This really cute woman with glasses (I didn’t get a name, so we are going to call her Jennifer) was running down the street towards me.

I stopped in my tracks, wondering why this person was running towards me. Did I drop my wallet? No, it was in my pocket. Did I drop any loose change? No, I’m poor.

At a loss for words as to why this person could be chasing after me, she approached me, and asked if I wanted to go to church.

I had passed the Fellowship of Champions Church on my walk to work, and apparently she saw me and my backpack walking by.

I was honored. Nobody had ever chased me down in the name of the Lord before, at least not in the literal sense. “Jennifer” said that she had seen people walking by before, but never thought to invite them to church, thinking they were too busy to be bothered by invitations to the house of the Lord.

I was able to tell her that I had just gotten out of church (30 minutes too early), but I thanked her for actually running out of church just to ask someone to come into church.

“I think we need more Christians literally running for God,” I told her. We then exchanged goodbyes and invitations to our respective churches.

Running is biblical. Elijah ran faster than King Ahab’s horses to Jezreel after humiliating Baal’s prophets in 1 Kings. Paul uses a running reference in a letter to Timothy, saying, “I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

After “Jennifer” ran after me, it made me wonder when the last time was that I had ran for the Lord. It really made me think of how I live my life, what I do that lets people know that the faith is important to me. It definitely made me realize that I need more exercise.

Sunday morning was motivating. And inspiring. “Jennifer” brings to mind the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.”

Sunday morning, Jennifer took St. Francis of Assisi’s words to heart.

She used her legs.

Black Friday crash severely injures woman

Originally published Dec. 2, 2009 in the Waldron News

By dustin Faber

Black Friday took on an ugly meaning early in the morning last week.

A wreck on Highway 71 outside of Abbott resulted in one woman being airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and a car being torn in half.

A Honda Civic driven by 20-year-old Justin Dow, of Mena, was traveling south, heading back from Fort Smith just before 8 a.m. Dow allegedly fell asleep at the wheel and tried correcting the vehicle, only to rotate into the opposite lane, where the car collided with a Yukon driven by Randall Watkins.

The collision sent Dow’s vehicle into a ditch on the northbound side of the highway, where the rear part of the vehicle was ripped away and sent crashing into a white fence owned by Kyle Parker.

Dow’s passenger, Stephanie Stroud, a 19-year-old from Mena, idenfified as his fiancee, suffered a broken neck, two broken legs, broken ribs, and a cracked skull. She was laying beside the vehicle when paramedics arrived on scene, and was airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital in Hot Springs.

As of Monday afternoon, Stroud was in critical condition, and was responsive to verbal stimulation, according to Arkansas State Police Cpl. Shannon Mac Davis, although the mood on the accident scene was extremely grim when it came ot her chances of surival.

“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” an anonymous witness said.

Dow was also taken to the hospital due to an allgedly dislocated pelvis. Watkins was not seriously injured in the accident, but one of his passengers, Lillian Rachelle Watkins, Randall’s wife, was transported to Mercy Hospital in Waldron, with injuries that didn’t appear to be life-threatening.

Both drivers and all passengers were wearing seat belts.

Stroud was assisted by two nurses, Sandy Armstrong and Barbara Williams, who stopped at the wreck scene and went to work trying to save Stroud’s life before paramedics arrived.

“She was in really bad shape,” Armstrong said. “Whenever you come across a wreck, you automatically wonder if there is anything you can do to help.”

Armstrong, along with Williams and others helping Stroud, repeatedly told Stroud to “stay with us!” Dow was also pleading with her to hold on, and was praying out loud throughout most of the ordeal.

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