November 26, 2008 Edition

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Chamber holds annual banquet

Chamber Board Chair Junior Briner (left) presents Mike Montgomery with the Man of the Year Award during the annual Chamber banquet on Thursday night.

Lorra Whitmire (left), vice president of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, presents the Woman of the Year Award to Cathy Harthorn.
The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet on Thursday night. The event included updates on projects the county is involved in and an overview of the Chamber's year, as well as the presentation of several awards.

Wayne Gearhart, who is spearheading the effort to establish the Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority, was the guest speaker.

He told attendees that to get things done in this day and age it has to be done regionally. The authority involves both Lawrence and Randolph counties, as well as the cities of Walnut Ridge, Hoxie, Pocahontas and Corning.

"I have been very impressed with the spirit of cooperation," he said. "This enables us to bring together all the tools that an industry needs in one location."

While the intermodal facility will be located at Walnut Ridge, Gearhart said other communities will benefit, as well, because the authority provides the ability to locate facilities off site.

The formation of an authority will allow for funding through grants, donations and bond issues, according to Gearhart, but seed money, as well as grant matches will have to come from the local level.

"Encourage your elected officials to stay with this," he said. "I am completely sold that this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it, for our children and our grandchildren."

Tim Scott, executive director of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce accompanied Gearhart and also briefly addressed those in attendance.

"It's not going to happen overnight, but it is going to happen," he said. "The next step is getting the seed money and getting this launched off as early as we can in 2009."

Sherry Moore, a member of the Chamber Board, presented a PowerPoint presentation featuring highlights of the Chamber's year including ribbon cuttings, business after hours events, quarterly meetings and special events.

Retiring board members Terry Ryan and Clay Sloan were recognized during the meeting, as were Kerry and Mary Jane Callahan, the 2008 Lawrence County Farm Family of the Year.

Several awards were presented throughout the evening, as well.

The Industry of the Year Award went to Eagan Manufacturing of Black Rock, and Wal-Mart of Walnut Ridge was named the Business of the Year.

Don and Fran Cavenaugh were presented with the Community Service award.

The evening ended with the announcement of the Man and Woman of the Year. Honors went to Cathy Harthorn and Mike Montgomery.

Harthorn, who is a leader in the Downtown Walnut Ridge organization, was selected for efforts to ensure the town's acceptance into the Arkansas Downtown Network, as well as other community service.

"She is always willing to help, always cheerful and never negative," Lorra Whitmire, vice president of the Chamber Board, said while presenting the honor.

Montgomery, who is completing his second year on the Chamber's Board of Directors, was selected for his contributions to help make Chamber events, including the Iron Mountain Festival, a success.

"He is always ready to help where needed and always has a smile," Chamber Board Chair Junior Briner said. "He is an asset to the Chamber Board of Directors."

John Allen, chair-elect of the Chamber Board, spoke briefly about his hopes for the future.

"I'm looking forward to a good year next year," he said. "I believe good things are going to happen in Lawrence County."

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