January 18, 2016 Edition

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TD editor is new chair of Chamber

Gretchen Hunt (right), new chair of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board, works on the Chamber's 2017 budget with John Householder, Chamber board member.
TD Photo ~ John Bland

John Bland
Publisher

Gretchen Hunt, editor of The Times Dispatch, has begun her term as the 2017 chair of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Joining her on the board's executive committee are: Dina Rose, past chair; Aaron Andrews, chair-elect; Lorra Whitmire, vice chair; and John Householder, member-at-large. Fran Cavenaugh is continuing to serve as the executive director on a volunteer basis.

Kathy Bradley, administrative assistant, continues as the Chamber's only paid employee. "Kathy manages the office, maintains communication with our members, helps with numerous events throughout the year and so much more," Hunt said, adding, "She is the glue that holds everything together."

"I am privileged to have been able to serve two terms on the Chamber Board and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve as chair of the board in 2017," Hunt said. She also serves as chair of the membership committee.

"I believe this is an exciting time for Lawrence County," Hunt said. "Not only are we seeing business development, we are also seeing new housing and community improvements."

"I look forward to working with local businesses, community leaders, elected officials and regional organizations throughout the year," she said.

"Lawrence County is an amazing community full of amazing people, and I hope I can serve the county well during my time as Chamber chair," she added.

"We want our members to know that we are here to serve them. If they have a need, we will do our best to assist them or put them in touch with someone who can assist them," she said.

"We have a wonderful business base in Lawrence County, and we want to do everything we can to not only recruit new businesses but also support our existing ones."

"My focus for the year is going to be on growth. I obviously would love to see growth in Chamber membership, but there are many other areas where I hope to see growth including new businesses, community involvement and services provided to existing businesses," she added.

In addition to the Chamber Board, which is made up entirely of volunteers, the organization has several committees that strive to provide programming, events and assistance for businesses in the county.

Among those committees are: Economic Development, Membership, Agriculture, Education, Transportation, Finance, Legislative, Shop Local, Community Revitalization and Beautification, Tourism, Business Expo and Leadership Lawrence County with more than 50 individuals serving on the committees.

"We are blessed in Lawrence County to have so many who are willing to give of their time to help make improvements, plan events and provide services," Hunt said. "In addition, I am so grateful for our Chamber members who consistently volunteer and support events throughout the year."

Hunt is a 1998 magna cum laude graduate of Arkansas State University, with a degree in community journalism.

She is married to Jason Hunt, and they have two sons, Conley, 13, and Colter, nine. She has been employed at The TD since May of 1998.

She previously worked as a sports writer for The Paragould Daily Press and served as editor of The Herald at ASU.

Gretchen is a graduate of the 2012 class of Leadership Lawrence County.

Other capacities that she has actively served in with the Chamber are:

Several years of service on the festival committee,

Serving several times on the banquet committee and helping put together photos for the PowerPoint presentation, and

Heading up the "Tye-Dye the Town" contest to promote the Beatles at the Ridge festival.

She and her family live in Paragould and are members of Brookland United Methodist Church, where she serves as lay leader. She is also a volunteer 4-H leader in Greene County.

Hunt also serves on two committees for the Lawrence County Cooperative Extension Service.

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