By day, Ron Reeves has served as Chandler Chief of Police for more than 30 years.
By night, Reeves is one of the best craftsmen in the area.
It started with a simple design out of a bar of soap when he was a pre-teen and now, more than 40 years later, Reeves can carve just about anything into any surface imaginable.
“Since I was a young child, I have always been interested in art – drawing, sketching,” Reeves said. “I picked up a bar of soap one day and just thought, ‘I’ve seen people do this before.’ I was not even a teenager yet. I was a young kid. I carved out a statue like I had seen in school where the arms and legs were off. I’ve still got that bar of soap.”
From that point forward, Reeves knew he could carve anything he set his mind too.
“That showed me that I had a talent in carving if I wanted to explore it,” he said.
Reeves explored other artistic avenues during his teenage years before turning his attentions back toward carving in his late 20s.
“After I had become chief and started working here, there was an elderly gentleman that had a walking stick. He had several items carved on it that someone had done for him,” Reeves said. “There was a turtle, a lizard, a frog and a snake. I saw it and thought, ‘well, I can do that.’ So I went and got a stick and started my first walking stick.”
Like many of Reeves’ projects, there is a story behind that first walking stick.
“Me and chief deputy Dan Parker, when he was a Henderson County deputy, were out in an area where marijuana was suspected to be growing. I saw this tree growing that was growing up twisted with vines on it. We were creeping through the woods and I whispered, ‘I want that.’ He asked why and I told him I wanted to carve it.”
Reeves said the two had been quiet the entire time they were hunting for the marijuana patch before Parker broke the silence to help his friend.
“All of the sudden the quietness broke. He got his automatic rifle and let loose,” Reeves said. “He shot the base of the tree and took down the limb. We gave the hunt up after that.”
Inspired by the place where the limb was growing, Reeves carved leaves and vines into the stick with a pocket knife.
“From then on I was always looking for the sticks with the natural twist,” Reeves said. “I was somewhat amazed what I actually turned out on my first attempt with the pocket knife. A lot of my carving I started out with all I used was my pocket knife.”
The simple design has led to dozens of walking sticks since.
“After I started doing the sticks I started getting requests from other people. I call those, life sticks. They are all about the person who the stick is being created for,” Reeves said. “I include everything they want about their life, career or other items that memorialize their life.”
As he progressed in life sticks, he changed tools and his creations have become even more elaborate.
Now he uses a wood-burner where needed to burn in darker coloring while using utility knifes, X-ACTO knives, Dremel tools and of course the pocket knife.
It takes anywhere from 35 to 45 hours to complete one life stick depending on the amount of detail requested.
“There is a lot of time invested in it. It is all hand made with the hand tools that I have. I do not use computers or those things that do the carving for you,” he said. “A lot of people will ask me how I know what to do and I thought I was being original when I said, ‘well I saw what was in there and took everything away that didn’t belong.’ Come to find out that must be a common saying for woodcarver because I hear everybody saying it now.”
Over the last year, Reeves has branched out and started carving on surfaces he had never considered before.
Some of those mediums include pumpkins, deer antler and animal bones.
“One of my favorite mediums before I got into antlers was actually borrows off of trees,” he said. “All I do it take the knot off the tree and carver random items into it.”
He started antlers in late 2013.
“I saw someone had carved an antler and thought to myself, ‘I bet I can do better.’ I picked it up and ran with it,” he said. “It is one I have to be careful with because the dust off of it smells like burnt hair or burnt born. It is horrible smelling. I can really stink up a place.”
While he enjoys carving for others, Reeves has yet to sell a piece. Most of his carving have been gifts for others. He is open to working on commission, but some do not understand the amount of time that goes into each piece and balk at pricing.
After a tough day at work, Reeves simply slips into his workshop and allows the cares of the day to fade away.
“To me, it is my way of slipping into my own world and doing what I have to do to gain peace of mind... that is until I cut myself,” he said laughing. “I have scars all over my hands and some healing up now that are fresh.”
His favorite mediums are the tree knots and antlers because they are a harder surface and allow for more details without the fear of breaking the piece.
Nearing 62, Reeves has hoped to find someone in the family with the same passion for carving as he has possessed since he was a child. He grandson is showing interest.
“Fishing, being outside and spending time with my family are some of the things I enjoy. The one thing that I have wanted to see and haven’t seen until recently, is my grandson, Peyton Smith, who has actually shown an interest in carving. My daughter Stephanie has done some pumpkin carvings and she is good, but she has never carved anything else. Peyton has shown an interest in carving and wanting to do that.”
Like any grandpa would, Reeves bought his grandson the tools he needs to continue the family tradition.
From a young age, Ron Reeves has had a knack for carving
By day, Ron Reeves has served as Chandler Chief of Police for more than 30 years.
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Volunteers now needed for Athens Soup Kitchen
Athens resident Terry Mayhall walked through the doors of the Athens Soup Kitchen asking if he could just volunteer. Mayhall now spends his Thursdays cooking soup for people who are hungry.
Athens Soup Kitchen, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The mission is to feed those who are hungry. The facility that feeds 30 to 63 people weekly, opened its door in March 2014.
Coston named chamber president
After a diligent search, the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board has named Mike Coston president.
“The chamber board selected a search committee, which consisted of Chamber members, community leaders and business owners,” Ashley Adams McKee, Chairman of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Board, said. “Our committee knew that we wanted to take our time to find the most qualified person to serve as our new president. We had more than 10 applicants and in our first round of interviews we were all equally impressed and excited about Mike's experience and passion for chamber business.”
Update on restaurant projects given
City of Athens officials gave an update on some ongoing projects and financial information at a meeting on Wednesday.
Director of Planning and Development Gary Crecilius said progress on the Cotton Patch Cafe has slowed considerably with the discovery of a possible environmental hazard. The restaurant is being constructed east of the Walmart store on East Tyler Street.
HCPAC announces ‘Mattress’ sales
Why would HCPAC be selling mattresses? Actually, the “mattresses” are tickets to “Once Upon a Mattress,” which opens Thursday, Aug. 7.
The 26th Annual Youth Summer Musical stars 24 very talented area students, ages 10 through college, and tells the “fractured fairy tale” version of the “Princess and the Pea.”
Gearing up for Celebrity Waiter event
The Rotary Club of Cedar Creek Lake is gearing up for its annual Celebrity Waiter event. The Celebrity Waiter committee met on Thursday to discuss last minute items. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 at Athens Country Club. This will be the 18th year the CCL Rotary Club has hosted the fundraiser. For ticket information call Erin Osborn at 903-887-7486.
Paul Harris recognition
Rotary of Cedar Creek Lake President Erin Osborn presents Rotarian Bill Burnett with his second Paul Harris recognition. Rotarians are given a Paul Harris recognition when a Rotarian donates $1,000 or more to the fund outright. Benefactors receive a certificate and insignia to wear with a Rotary or Paul Harris Fellow pin.
Sanders suspended indefinitely
Two University of Texas football players were arrested and charged Thursday with felony sexual assault after a female student said she was raped in a campus dorm room last month.
Wide receivers Kendall Sanders, of Athens, and Montrel Meander were arrested and later released on personal recognizance bonds. According to an arrest affidavit, Sanders and Meander texted each other during earlier interviews with police to "get their story straight" and Sanders also faces a charge of improper photography tied to the alleged assault on June 21.
Thunderstorms take their toll on counties
A line of thunderstorms rolled through Henderson County on Wednesday, snapping tree branches and power lines along the way.
The winds that accompanied the storm resulted in thousands of people in North Texas without electricity and roads broken by falling trees or debris.
Council considering Burton's severance package
The Athens City Council, by a 3-to-2 vote, tabled a budget adjustment on Wednesday to fund a severance package for City Administrator Pam Burton who’s stepping down at the end of the year.
Eustace ISD approves tax rates
The Eustace Independent School District Board of Trustees held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday in the Eustace High School Library.
Several reports and agenda items were considered by the board, and all were passed or approved. Board Secretary Ashley McKee was absent.
The board was presented with the superintendent's reports on revenue, expenditures, payroll and taxes.
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