I was first struck by the beauty of Lake Charles, Louisiana, when I glimpsed the town from the top of the West Lake Bridge headed east.

The alarm comes alive with a jarring noise. It would be easier to roll over and go to sleep, but she knows it won’t make her feel any better. So she drags herself out of bed, knowing that across town her friend is doing the same and will be waiting on her. A quick ponytail and brush of her teeth, and she climbs into the car. The clock on the dash reads 4:30 a.m. as she notices the quiet, empty streets of the Brookhollow subdivision in Lufkin. When she pulls up to a home, another woman is waiting in the driveway. It’s time to run.

Editor’s Note: First observed in 2010, Small Business Saturday serves as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some of the largest shopping days of the year. As a registered trademark of American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to visit locally owned brick-and-mortar businesses.

Editor’s Note: Sadly, as we were going to print with this issue, we learned that this gentle giant had passed away. We were so grateful to meet Doug and spend an evening with him and his foster mom, Dianna Hale. He was such a good boy and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

From a menagerie of stone animals out front to rooms of countless handmade gift items, Fortney Home has something for everyone.

Five years ago, Beckie Compton — a woman wearing many hats at Angelina College as an instructor of music, teacher of two choirs, the AC Chorale and the AC Singers, music appreciation, piano, fundamentals of music and music theory, when needed — was thinking of a new theme for her annual holiday concert.

As a 9-year-old girl, Sandy Schmidt’s mother taught her how to sew. She made her sisters’ clothes growing up and has made dozens, if not hundreds, of finely detailed quilts.

Why vote? Because every election matters. Because your choices matter. Because these choices have a serious impact on your life and your community.

Women comprise 15% of active-duty military and 18% of the National Guard and Reserve. As more and more women sign up to serve their country, there are also more women stepping into leadership roles after their time in the military is over.

Celebrating 40 years of protecting, sheltering and providing valuable services to some of the most vulnerable East Texans, the Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center is becoming more proactive in its approach to curbing the domestic violence epidemic, thanks in part to its leadership’s culture of creativity and innovation.

Axe throwing is a hot new trend gaining traction in communities around the globe.

Watermelons from Allentown. Honey from Hudson and Alto. Salsa from Lufkin. Fresh produce and yard eggs from Angelina and adjacent counties. Baked goods, jewelry, antiques and more. The Angelina County Farmers Market prides itself on offering a variety of handmade and locally grown products.

Galveston’s official population hovers around 50,000, but not all the island’s residents are counted in the U.S. Census.

Those who never venture beyond the neon hotel signs and casino lights of Shreveport, Louisiana will miss the real, vibrant and growing city.

I was pretty far out of my comfort zone. I’m not saying I’m a low-maintenance girl, but let’s just say my biggest treat to myself is getting my hair colored every couple of months. Of course, I had heard of medical spas before, but had never stepped foot in one until earlier this summer when I visited Premier Medical Spa in Dr. Alan Bassin’s office in Lufkin.