November 24, 2010 Edition

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Danny and Cara West (second and third, from left), representing Iron Metal Works, receive the first platinum record from the Tourism Committee of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, which consists of (from left): Brett Cooper, Jackie Snapp, Sue Gibson, Charles Snapp and (not pictured) Vickie Mitchell.

Tourism Committee awards
platinum record to Wests

Danny and Cara West have earned a platinum record on the Rock 'n' Roll Highway. And if a fund-raising effort in Lawrence County goes according to plan, there will be a lot more platinum, gold and silver records to follow.

Through the effort, donors to two planned Rock 'n' Roll Highway projects will be recognized just like the musicians they commemorate, with records of platinum, gold or other metals in keeping with their level of support.

The Tourism Committee of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce recognized the Wests and their Iron Mountain Metal Works as the first to achieve platinum donor status, with well over 300 man-hours already invested by the craftsmen and staff of the company.

The committee is planning a life-size tribute to the Beatles, in the likeness of their Abbey Road album cover, at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport's Swindle Field. A second project, to be built in downtown Walnut Ridge, will be a giant plaza in the shape of a guitar, lined with metal sculptures of the rock musicians who traveled and performed along Highway 67 in the 1950s.

Levels of giving noted

A platinum record indicates $2,500 or more of support for the projects. Gold records go to donors who reach the $1,000 level, and silver records are for $500 donors. The committee has also established a bronze level for $250 donations, copper level for $100 and aluminum level for $25.

The designation of Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67 through Northeast Arkansas launched the committee on its efforts to develop tourism in Lawrence County. The group has taken advantage of the county's unique contribution to the highway, with the Beatles having landed at the Walnut Ridge airport in 1964.

"'The British Invasion of the Rock 'n' Roll Highway' just seemed to come together," said committee member Sue Gibson. "Danny and Cara's contribution, along with the efforts of their staff, made the dreams for this project a reality."

Gibson added, "Not only are the Wests responsible for hand-etching the heavyweight aluminum model of The Beatles tribute that will be located on the Guitar Plaza in downtown Walnut Ridge, but they have also volunteered all the labor to construct the 20-foot wide, eight-foot tall sculpture that has been commissioned for display at the Walnut Ridge Airport."

In keeping with the music theme, the committee chose to present the Wests with the first platinum record award for their dedication and support of "The British Invasion of the Rock 'n' Roll Highway."

"What better way to recognize the major donors who support our musical heritage, than through the use of platinum, gold and silver records, just like the artists receive for their own outstanding achievements," said committee chair Brett Cooper.

The platinum record award will be displayed on the "Wall of Records" to be located in the downtown area, near the planned Guitar Plaza. As a platinum donor, the West family will also receive a duplicate award for display in their home or office.

'The Classmate Challenge' issued

"Individuals and businesses alike can make donations and we've even established a program we're calling 'The Classmate Challenge' to get WRHS, Hoxie and other area alumni involved with the fund raising," said committee member Charles Snapp.

Independent groups and organizations are welcome to join the Classmate Challenge, with their respective group. Each group will receive recognition by the level of donations they raised.

"Everyone is encouraged to help with the project, and we need volunteers to spearhead the fund raising for a particular class or group. We're here for help and to provide guidance with all the groups, and all donations are individually tax deductible through the IRS tax status as a 501(c)(3) donation," said Snapp.

The Tourism Committee is working in conjunction with the Downtown Walnut Ridge organization on the Guitar Plaza. Gifts to the plaza are to be made to the downtown group, a 501(c)3 organization, making donations tax deductible.

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