April 21, 2010 Edition

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Don House of Walnut Ridge (left) and Dana Kelley (right) of Jonesboro, formerly of Walnut Ridge, were honored recently as Champions of Rural Arkansas. With them at the ceremony are their wives, Mary House and Kelly Kelley.

Champions of Rural
Arkansas recognized

Two area residents were honored as Champions of Rural Arkansas at an awards ceremony in North Little Rock on Friday.

Jonesboro resident Dana Kelley, formerly of Walnut Ridge, received a Champion of Rural Arkansas award, and former State Representative Don House of Walnut Ridge received the Lifetime Achievement Award as a Champion of Rural Arkansas.

Rural Community Alliance selects individuals from five different regions of Arkansas and presents the Champion award biennially. RCA acknowledged Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas for their sponsorship of the reception.

House was recognized for a lifetime of dedication and support to rural Arkansas and its people. As a state representative he sponsored the bill to provide funding for Arkansas Department of Education's model Distance Learning Center that has greatly helped rural school districts.

He sponsored anti-bullying legislation, which brought attention and prevention to the issue in Arkansas schools. He also sponsored legislation that resulted in the Choose Life license plate to support adoption programs in Arkansas.

He was a key sponsor of the 1999 non-interstate highway bill, which funded improvements of many rural Arkansas roadways. He was also lead sponsor on the act that established the homestead property tax credit.

House was a formidable opponent to former Gov. Mike Huckabee's plan to consolidate schools under 1,500 and organized the statewide fight against it. House also sponsored and passed legislation to provide isolated funding for rural schools.

In addition to his legislative endeavors, House has spent his career in the ministry, Christian education and as owner and director of House-Gregg Funeral Home in Walnut Ridge. He credits his wife, Mary, with being his partner and great supporter over a long career.

He is a member of the Crowley's Ridge College Board and Arkansas Good Roads. He has one son, Jim Ed House of Walnut Ridge, and a daughter, Kerri House, who is deceased.

Kelley was recognized for his journalistic efforts, which reflect his understanding and value of rural Arkansas. He is the owner, creative director and president of TRUE-Visionary Marketing in Jonesboro and also writes a weekly column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A recurring theme of his column is the notion that, rather than seeking to urbanize our rural areas, our state should embrace its rural nature and innovatively develop policies that result in a "best rural practices" model for other similarly populated states. Kelley encourages rural Arkansans to continue to stand up for what is right.

Kelley currently serves on the board of Williams Baptist College. He and his wife, Kelly, have five children: Mary Kate, Maggie, Franklin, Lee Thomas and Susannah. He grew up in Walnut Ridge where his parents, Frank and Karen Kelley, still reside.

Other Champion recipients include Talitha Hardin of Leslie, Juanita Weston Burton of Eudora, Cyndi Moorman of Okolona-Delight and Ron Crawford of Little Rock.

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