Pictured are Marshall Regional Arts Council President Kristal Jeans and Optimist Janie Moore. The optimists club is sponsoring this year’s Mini Monet art show, set for Thursday, April 22.

The Noon Optimist Club met online on March 31 under the leadership of President Ned Calvert, Vice President Julie Brock, Secretary Melissa Al-Ahmadi and Treasurer Michele Fuller to hear all about upcoming the Mini Monet Art Show.

Optimist Le Ila Dixon shared a “good news” story this week with a focus on one of the club’s canine friends. “Shoplifting and petty theft are no laughing matter,” she noted, “except when the culprit is a cute canine kleptomaniac determined to liberate a certain stuffed purple unicorn from the confines of a North Carolina Dollar General store.”

According to the store staff, the dogged doggo was a repeat offender—making five separate attempts to be reunited with his favorite cuddle-buddy.

“The store called and said they had a stray dog in the parking lot that kept coming into the store,” Joe Newburn, head of the County Animal Services Department, told McClatchy News. “He’d walk in, go to that unicorn and try to get it. He did it four or five times before they locked the door and called us to come get him. Maybe he had a stuffed animal like that in his original home. I don’t know, but he wanted that purple unicorn bad.”

The persistent “pup-a-traitor” was eventually collared but rather than the hoosegow, he found himself at the local animal shelter, where he was booked in as a stray and given the name Sisu (a nod to a character in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon).

While Dollar General might have been hard-pressed to sell a plushie covered in doggie drool, Samantha Lane, the animal control officer tasked with escorting Sisu to the shelter decided it was in everyone’s best interest to keep the pair together, so she purchased the $10 toy and took it along.

“He kept going to that one particular unicorn,” Lane said. “He likes to sleep on it, lay on it… He just loves his unicorn.”

Not long after his arrival, the shelter posted pictures of Sisu and a report of his exploits to their Facebook page, saying: “This is what happens when you break into the Dollar General consistently to steal the purple unicorn…but then get Animal Control called to lock you up for your B&E and larceny.”

Almost immediately, they were inundated with praise for the thoughtful animal control officer as well as interest from potential adopters.

Although he’ll have to wait out his stray hold, shelter updates indicate that Sisu has new pet parents waiting in the wings to bring him—and his BFF unicorn—home.

Along with a thank-you gift for Officer Lane and a pet food donation to Duplin County Animal Services, Dollar General plans to send a “few extra purple unicorns for the adoptive family,” company spokesperson Crystal Luce said.

“Now,” says Le Ila, “while as Optimists who support law enforcement at all levels, we firmly believe in the adage ‘crime doesn’t pay,’ for this heart-stealing hound with an unwavering devotion to his stuffed unicorn, we’re willing to make an exception.”

The business focus of this meeting was learning more about the plans for the Marshall Regional Arts Council (MRAC) upcoming Mini Monet (MM) art show.

Optimist Richard Magrill reached out to MHS art teacher Todd Camplin and Optimists Janie Moore and Le Ila Dixon met with Kristal Jeans of MRAC. Jeans noted that MRAC has been providing art, theater and music programs to the Harrison, Marion and Panola ISDs for 42 years with the help of the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Four years ago, Alaina Jones, now MRAC secretary, and MRAC president Kristal Jeans brainstormed having a children’s art show. It was brought before the MRAC board and shortly after Mini Monet was born. What sets Mini Monet (MM) apart from other student art showcases is its age limit. The show is for kindergarteners through 12th graders. The show’s title honors Claude Monet, the impressionist father of modern art.

Tri-county area art school teachers are contacted in preparation for the show in late fall and the competition is held in early spring. Each year the location has changed. The Michelson Museum in Marshall hosted the first one and Carthage High School hosted the second. Last year had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic but this year the third Mini Monet will be held at the Marshall Place Art Gallery (the former Marshall Mall) on the corner of U.S. 59 and Pinecrest.

MHS art teacher Todd Camplin shared his copy of the letter which specified the important dates: art intake on Monday, April 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; art reception and awards on Thursday, April 22, 5-6:30 p.m.; and teachers pick up art on Thursday, April 29, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. President Kristal Jeans on behalf of the Marshall Regional Arts Council expressed its gratitude “for all that our area art teachers do to inspire young artists.

Kristal noted that submissions from kindergarten through eighth grade should be 2-dimensional including paintings, drawings and photographs. For grades ninth through 12th submissions can also include 3-dimensional pieces such as sculpture, digital design, ceramics and pottery. There will be first, second, third, and honorable mentions in each grade division chosen by a panel of local artists.

New this year is the Noon Optimist Club of Marshall’s sponsorship of the event. The Optimist club shares the same enthusiasm for children’s art and will be giving out an Optimist Club award this year. “MRAC is honored to have this sponsorship for such a wonderful event, reflective of MRAC values and ideals,” says Kristal Jeans. “Mini Monet,” she concludes, “represents an effort for continued interest in the arts for future generations in this rapidly ever evolving technological world we currently live in.”

Optimist Janie Moore thanked Kristal for meeting with her and Le Ila and indicated that the club will be busy talking with its members as to the scope of the awards it will present.

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