March 5, 2008 Edition

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Frankly speaking . . .

For many years, Billy Joe Hoffman was an integral part of Wilcoxson's Department Store, which was located on West Main Street in Walnut Ridge. He was a true salesman, enjoyed taking time for people and believed in giving excellent customer service. He knew how to make the customer feel important and good about himself. I know that Hoffman, Frank Wilcoxson and the Wilcoxson's crew outfitted many area young men with tuxes for proms, formal dances and weddings in the 1970s and 80s, and probably much longer.

Billy Joe said he felt that the level of customer service of more recent times is not always what it should be. It bothered him to see the type of salesperson who is more interested in a personal phone conversation, while appearing oblivious or annoyed by the intrusion of a customer.

Hoffman was a regular visitor at The TD and always had a witty observation or comment to make. Many people in this area have their own fond memories of him and will miss him.

*******

A group of local citizens has met and organized to apply to become part of the Arkansas Downtown Network. This program is part of the Arkansas Main Street program but does not require quite the level of financial commitment. However, only three communities in the state will be added to the program this year. Letters of support and financial commitments are needed in order to be considered for the program. Letters and contributions can be sent to: Lorra Whitmire, c/o First National Bank, P.O. Box 509, Walnut Ridge, AR 72476. Present and former residents who would like to see downtown revitalization in Walnut Ridge are encouraged to lend their support.

********

Arkansas State University retired the Indian Family as its mascot, Thursday night. (See story on the front page.) Walnut Ridge's John Phillips was credited with being a major supporter of the Indian Family. He was a current Indian Family adviser and former Indian Brave and was recognized for helping bring back the Indian Family in the mid-1990s.

The current and final Indian Brave at ASU was Chris Saito, son of Dr. Kim and Robin Saito of Jonesboro. Chris' mother is the former Robin Smith, who graduated from WRHS in 1981. Chris' Walnut Ridge grandparents are Ruth Smith and the late Rev. Bob Smith.

The family of former ASU faculty member Dr. Gladys McPike Hudgins was recognized for her contribution to ASU as a long-time sponsor of and adviser to the Indian Family. She had previously taught at Walnut Ridge High School.

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