Chamber President Beth McEntire-Bess welcomed the large crowd and updated them on the first night of the Chamber Auction. She said the event had raised over $11,000 with donated items being sold for an average of 68 percent of face value. One lady said she had purchased a spay and neuter for a cat and didn't even own a cat, because the auction funds go to such a great cause and is one of the Chambers major fundraisers for the year.
Two guests were present for the meeting, Jan Ziegler, who is running for State Representative and Carla Rush's husband Fred Rush. Carla is seeking the Izard County Judge position. Chamber member Clint Wiles gave an update on the 3-A State Tournament hosted at Highland. Wiles told the group the event went well and said he heard a lot of bragging on the facility. He said he heard many say there wasn't a hotel available in a 50 mile radius. Bess said the economic implications from tax revenues from the tournament on the area would not be realized until the end of April.
Chamber Board member Donna Cruse introduced Kathy Nix, who has been the Sharp County Assessor since 1997. Nix spoke to the crowd about Act 1185 of 1999.
Act 1185 states that each county in the State of Arkansas shall be required to appraise all market value real estate at its full and fair value at least once every three years. If after reappraisal the assessed value of a parcel has increased, then one-third of the increase will be added to the assessed value of the parcel in three consecutive years beginning in the year prior to the reappraisal.
Nix also told the crowd that the appraisals in Sharp County are approximately 20 percent of market value and gave individual figures for the respective cities within the county. She said Ash Flat property appraises for 22.5 percent, Hardy at 17.5 percent, Highland at 14.5 percent and Cherokee Village at 18.5 percent. Nix also told of the Homestead Credit many take on their primary residence.
Nix reminded the crowd of the assessment period from Jan. 1 through May 31. She said taxpayers must assess their personal property during this time period or face a 10 percent penalty.
Alisa Black, Sharp County chief deputy clerk then spoke to members of the chamber and guests. Black spoke about the upcoming May 18 election as well as the election process.
She said that there are 12,090 registered voters in the county and that this year is the largest ballot in Sharp County history. Black said there would be a run off, which is set for June 8.
Black also told the group of a new law in the state that allows voters, who are registered in a specific region to transfer to another region in the state up to four days prior to the election.
She reminded those who were not registered to vote that the deadline is 30 days prior to the election, or April 18 in Sharp County. She said those coming to register must have a valid driver's license.
Black then went on to tell about the new electronic voting machines. She said each polling place would also have one that was designed for vision and hearing impaired voters.
The security of the machines was discussed in detail by Black. She told the group none of the results are ever transmitted over the Internet and assured voters that each machine was checked both before it leaves the office and when it arrives at the polling locations.
She said a state law requires testing of the electronic machines and invited the public to come out when they test them. The dates and times of testing will be announced at a later date.
Black also encouraged early voting to avoid long lines and the waits associated with persons who may not know how to use the machines and require help casting their ballot.
She said the Clerk's office will have extended hours for early voting two weeks prior to the election. She said the office will be open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Bess then informed members of the free tickets for the Kelly Miller Circus that will be held April 11 in the field between Tri-County Farm and Ranch Supply and Sears at Ash Flat. She encouraged anyone with remaining tickets to be sure a child receives them.
Bess gave an update on paid members of the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce, stating there were 76 paid members.
Nelson Gatewood was the winner of the drawing and donated the money back to the scholarship. He also announced that the VFW would be selling Boston Butts at Walmart March 27 as a fundraiser.
Donna Cruse announced the Spring Gun and Knife Show, hosted by the Main Street Hardy organization, on March 27-28.
The meeting was adjourned and it was announced that the April meeting will be held April 20 at noon at Deep Creek Catfish in Ash Flat. The public is invited to attend.