A large group attended the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce banquet on Jan. 24 at the Highland Assembly of God. Along with appointing new officers, several people were recognized for their service to the community during the event.
Chamber President Debbie Gray welcomed the group, before Pastor Chris Clem offered the invocation for the meal prepared by church women.
The Charles Kunkel family, the 2012 Sharp County Farm Family of the Year, received a plaque recognizing their selection.
This year there were three nominees for the Wilson E. Green Award -- The Ladies of The Elks, Doris Johnson and Beth McEntire-Bess. Bess received the humanitarian award, and spoke to the group of her battle with leukemia and how thankful she was to be from such a wonderful community. She said she recalls being in bed with her illness at last year's banquet and listening to the presentation of the award on her cell phone.
The event's keynote speaker was Dr. Larry N. Williams. Williams is the Chancellor at Arkansas State University in Newport, and the chair of the Newport Economic Development Commission. Williams spoke of the importance of education as a foundation and something that will remain with a person for their entire life. He said, although many schools stress athletics, very few actually make a career in an athletic field. Williams said it important to make quality education a priority and allow it to serve as a platform for life.
Williams also talked about the importance of helping in the communities in which you live. He mentioned seeing recent headlines about the Sharp County decision to authorize alcohol sales. "This is the time to turn the water into wine. Whether you are for it or against it, we have to be willing to work together and take the high road and see what works best for us," Williams said.
Officers for the 2013 year remained the same, with Debbie Gray continuing as president, Larry McIntosh as first vice president, Doris Johnson as second vice president, Nancy Orr serving as treasurer and Betty Waser as Secretary. There were no other nominations and all agreed to continue in their positions.
Prior to adjournment, Gray presented Waser with a bouquet and explained, without her help and dedication, the banquet would not have been a reality. Waser received a standing ovation.
Gray announced the upcoming Chamber Guide and said Lauren Seibert with Steeple Chase Publishing would be visting area businesses. She asked for business support through buying advertising in the annual guide.
Another Chamber fundraiser was also announced. A Feb. 9 luncheon and fashion show will be held at Creekside Loft in Hardy, with the generous support of nine local businesses. Gray said New Beginnings Pregnancy Center in Ash Flat, Tri-County Farm and Ranch Supply and Walmart will provide items for the fashion show. In Highland, Kathy Austin Embroidery and the Hi-Lo Shoppe will also provide clothing to be modeled, and Jades and Mandy's on Main in Hardy will feature their clothing lines during the fashion show. Tickets are on sale for $15 for the luncheon event.
Highland Assembly of God Pastor Chris Clem announced a 2013 goal of 1,000 backpacks for the third annual Backpack Extravaganza, hosted at the church before school begins each year. The collaboration between the ministerial alliance and area businesses has continuted to grow, since beginning in 2011. Clem said, this year, the event also plans to have 1,000 pairs of shoes to help families in the area.
The Spring River Chamber of Commerce is an organization which promotes and advances the commercial, industrial, civic, tourism and historical interest in the cities it serves in Sharp County, including Ash Flat, Cherokee Village, Hardy, Highland. The SRACC also serves as an information center and pomotes economic development in the region.