Wise said the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund was established in 1990 in recognition of the severe impoverishment of single-parent families in the state. Modeled on successful incentive scholarship funds in two northwest Arkansas counties, the ASPF's goal is to assist poor single parents complete their higher education in preparation for skilled employment.
Wise said single parents have difficulty getting degrees because they are busy raising families and trying to work to pay bills. In 2001 the Ozark Foothills Single Parent Scholarship Fund was established under the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships to enable impoverished single parents from Fulton and Sharp counties to gain marketable skills and achieve self-sufficiency through education. Supplemental financial assistance up to $500 a semester is provided to single parents pursuing a course of instruction, which will improve their income earning potential.
All donations to OFSPSF from Fulton County will be matched 100 percent up to $4,000. All donations from Sharp County will be matched 150 percent up to $6,000. These are tax deductible donations.
Those interested in making a tax deductible donation to the scholarship fund can contact Wise at 895-2691 or Clara Zeigler at 895-3309 in Fulton County or Sandy Carpenter at 994-2311 in Sharp County.
Any single parent with a child under the age of 18 living at home may apply for the scholarship. Applications may be picked up at the Fulton and Sharp County DHS offices or local health departments, or they can contact Zeigler.
In other business, Chamber President Hans Oliver said the tourist information center still needs volunteers in order to extend the hours of business. Karen McFarren is doing an outstanding job organizing volunteers to keep the center open, Oliver said.
Tourists from all over Arkansas have signed the registration book. Oliver said the center has a small meeting room that seats about 15 people comfortably. Those interested in scheduling an event may contact McFarren.
Effective Jan. 1, 2003, the board of directors approved a small increase in membership dues. Dues for businesses will be $75 and individual members dues will be $35. The board said the increase would help achieve the goal to continue to improve and add to the community development projects, Oliver said.
For the past eight years chamber members have not had any increase in dues. But it has added to the list of programs it supports as community development projects. Some of the projects include the Fourth of July celebration, the new tourist information center, upgrading the Christmas lights at the downtown square, promoting and organizing the annual fall yard sales, and promoting and updating the Salem Web page.
Oliver said the chamber would continue to support such events as the Fulton County Fair, Fulton County Homecoming, the Annual Awards Banquet, the college scholarship program to local students, the Kelly Miller Circus, the children's softball league, the Mighty Mite Football program, the 4-H program, and the quarterly promotion of Salem in state and regional tourist magazines.
In the past year the city has seen a large increase in traffic for the Web site. Hundreds of people from all over the country are visiting the site every month. Oliver said the chamber mailed an information packet to a small business in south Texas that will be relocating to the area.