January 7, 2009 Edition

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Allen to lead Chamber

John Allen, new chair of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board, leads his first meeting on Tuesday.

Gretchen Hunt

John Allen of Hoxie, the new chair of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board, said he is hopeful for a good year in 2009, despite all the obstacles facing the country.

"I'm looking forward to a great year," he said. "I am really honored to be in this position. I'm very excited about the opportunities and challenges that present themselves here in Lawrence County."

Allen, who said he believes he is the first Hoxie resident to hold the position, pointed up toward a framed collection of photographs of past chairs and stated that it meant a lot to him "to have an old Hoxie boy be up here and be following these past chairmen."

A graduate of Hoxie High School, Allen worked in Little Rock for approximately 15 years, retiring as state director of rural development with the USDA.

His wife, Elaine, retired as a program specialist with Farm Service, Inc. in Little Rock. She had originally worked at the local office.

"I was glad that I got to choose a place like Lawrence County in which to retire," he said.

Allen said one of his goals now is to see the county be a place where residents' children and grandchildren can live and work as adults.

"I have three grown children, who all work in Arkansas, but none of them live in Lawrence County," he said.

His son, Matt, who lives in Rogers, is a senior director for Wal-Mart in the corporate division's treasury department. Matt's wife also works as a senior director for Wal-Mart.

Another son, Andy, who lives in Jonesboro, is co-owner of Black Sheep Computing in Jonesboro and Hoxie and is also co-owner of the soon-to-open Save-A-Lot in Hoxie.

His daughter, Andrea, of North Little Rock serves as director of family readiness for the Arkansas National Guard at Camp Robinson.

Allen is in his third year on the Chamber Board, and previously served on the board several years ago. His service has included terms on two U.S. Transportation Committees in Washington, D.C., and two terms on the Hoxie City Council in the 1960s.

He is currently working with Hoxie on its ACE (Arkansas Community of Excellence) program and has been appointed to the Northeast Arkansas Regional Water Authority Board.

He is also on the Lawrence County Children's Shelter Board, a position for which he takes much pride.

Allen said some of the most exciting things he has been involved with had nothing to do with his work. He cited his and his wife's two trips to Israel, including one with their daughter, and a mission trip to Russia.

He recalled being baptized in the Jordan River while in Israel and having two people he spoke with in Russia profess their belief in Christ.

During Tuesday's Chamber Board meeting, members filled three other positions on the executive committee. Lorra Whitmire was selected as chair-elect, Adam Staples as vice chairman and Bill Wilcoxson as member at large. Allen and Past Chair Junior Briner will serve on the executive committee, as well.

Allen made several committee chair appointments. They are as follows: Events, Lorra Whitmire; Membership, Mike Montgomery; Quarterly Meetings, Kari Shanks; Marketing, Vickie Mitchell; Transportation, Clay Sloan; Tourism, Brett Cooper; and Economic Development, Milton Smith.

He also asked Debbie Spangler to serve as chaplain for the board, and Debbie Smith to continue as financial adviser to the Chamber.

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