2016 12-Month Progress Report

Friends and chamber members,

Happy New Year!  Whew! It has been a busy and award winning 2016 for the volunteers of the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce!  Thanks for all your contributions to our success.  Let’s stay together and keep striving for even greater success in 2017!

Governors conference 4

Darryl Treat

The Greater Searcy

County Chamber of Commerce

12-month Progress Report (Jan – Dec 2016)

(Supporting our members and the economic progress of Searcy County!)

 

  • Chamber membership grew to 181 members!
  • Increased Facebook Friends from 5,376 to 6,951
  • Supported Searcy County events and Chamber businesses on Facebook
  • Technology Coordinator Lee Walsh maintained a Chamber website
  • Helped multiple local businesses in their quest to fill job openings by giving exposure to the openings
  • Solicited new business for Searcy County with official letters from Chamber president
  • Used the Arkansas Group Travel On-line Sales Leads Distribution System to target emails to potential tourists and tourist agencies
  • Mailed literature through US Postal Service to persons interested in Searcy County
  • Chamber president answered “numerous” phone calls on an almost 24/7 365-day basis!
  • Chamber president assisted the Searcy County Economic Development Corporation by monthly confirming the status of the properties currently listed on the Entergy Economic Development Site Selection Center website
  • Lee Walsh established SEARCY COUNTY WEATHER station reporting on our Website.
  • Established a Chamber Instagram Account. @searcycountycc
  • International Mountain Biking Association representative Steve Schneider met with Chamber President Darryl Treat & Leslie Mayor Talitha Hardin about mountain biking in Leslie
  • Continued a cooperative agreement with the Kenda Drive-In to show commercials promoting Searcy County at the drive-in
  • Continued to conduct monthly chamber meetings primarily in the Petit Jean conference room
  • Chamber president spoke to the Searcy County Republican Party regarding economic issues
  • Helped spread the word to find nominees for the 76th annual session of the Arkansas American Legion Boys State
  • Helped initiate and conduct the 1st Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee Searcy County Championship Thursday 26 January at Petit Jean in Marshall for children in 3rd through 8th grades in Marshall, Leslie, and St. Joe schools!
  • Worked with Kristine Puckett, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, to help us acquire contact information to attract a new hotel to the county
  • Updated the 2016 Manufacturer’s Directory for the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce
  • Met with representatives from the Ozark Byways regional network at Big Springs Restaurant in St. Joe. The group shared ideas for regional events and reviewed the draft of the 2016 Ozark Byways magazine. Among those concepts discussed were mountain bike trails, quilt trail, agri-tours, and day-tripping.
  • Chamber president addressed Leslie City Council meeting asking for support for disc golf and Bike Park within the Leslie City Park. Received council endorsement to proceed
  • Chamber compiled, maintained, and published Events Calendar for Searcy County
  • Promoted that The American Red Cross is giving away and installing free smoke detectors with 10 year batteries!
  • Advising chamber members to ask their customers to go to Trip Advisor and leave a review! Great idea from Michael Economopoulos.
  • Organized a meeting in Leslie of some key Searcy County officials with a representative of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission
  • Chamber president answered questions of Julie Blair, CEA-Staff Chair, Searcy County, before she attended a workshop about Local Economic Development opportunities
  • Promoted Searcy County to KY3 TV of Springfield, Missouri
  • Created and printed 8,000 of the 2016 Community and Relocation Guides
  • Relocation Guides provided for Arkansas Tourism Welcome Centers, Little Rock AFB, and around Searcy County
  • Held successful 3rd Chamber Banquet & Awards Ceremony on 25 Feb in Marshall
  • Recognized Business of the Year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Spirit of Searcy County Award, and gave out a Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Paid out $750 to award-winning Agriculture, Business, and Science/Technology students from around the county
  • Chamber president helped the Division of Community Service and Nonprofit Support understand the contributions that volunteers made to our organization by completing the 2015 ARKANSAS VOLUNTEER IMPACT SURVEY.
  • Member of the Ozark Mountain Region, a recognized Arkansas Regional Tourism Association
  • Maintained welcome signs along US Highway 65 toward north and south ends of the county and occasionally changed the signs message
  • Two board members and chamber president attended Chronic Wasting Disease meeting in Marshall
  • Promoted awareness of bed bug problem to chamber members
  • Hosted meat processor owner Andy Shaw to show him the need in Searcy County
  • Attended 42nd annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
  • Winner of the Bootstrap Award, Arkansas Parks and Tourism Henry Awards!
  • Set up a booth at the MHS Chocolate Roll Festival
  • Donated eight pizzas and water for the Buffalo River Trail Crew while they worked to complete the trail between HW 65 and the South Maumee Road.  David and Cynthia Garmoe represented the chamber.
  • Purchased full page Ad in the 2016 Ozark Byways magazine at the cost of $1,000
  • Purchased an Ad in new regional magazine “Our Ozarks Magazine,” ½ page for $250
  • Working to help J & H Custom Furniture of Pindall sell their factory to someone who will keep manufacturing here in Searcy County
  • Sent a letter of support to help the grant application for Mrs. Judith Branscum, Marshall High School College and Career Coach
  • Mersady Redding represented Searcy County at the Miss Teen International Competition April 22-24 in Maumelle. Chamber sponsored for $100.
  • Steven Newby was selected as the new chamber of commerce secretary
  • Established a new trails committee with Darryl Treat, Victor Boyd, Dirk Merle, and Laura McCarty
  • Worked with University of Memphis grad student Elizabeth Treat to produce a map of the entire Ozark Grinder Trail
  • Worked with City of Marshall, the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, and Searcy County to acquire grant money for a bicycle trail and bike park in Marshall
  • Chamber President Darryl Treat selected by the Rural Community Alliance as a “Champion of Rural Arkansas”
  • Encouraged Marshall to start marketing itself
  • Sponsored one hole of disc golf in Leslie for $325
  • Laura McCarty manned a booth for the Chamber at the 6th Annual Searcy County Health & Safety Expo
  • Partnering with the North Central Adult Education Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy (WAGE) Program! Involves serving on the WAGE Advisory Committee.
  • Very first chamber of commerce in the state of Arkansas to have 6,000 Facebook friends!
  • Chamber president spent all day conducting a Searcy County Tour for Tracy Morales, Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Parks & Tourism and Casey Cesare, Director of Ozark Mountain Region Tourism on 31 May!
  • Chamber purchased an ad in the Leslie Homecoming book and the Searcy County Fair book
  • Chamber President Darryl Treat and Laura McCarty helped the Buffalo National River and the Ozark Highlands Trail Association celebrate National Trails Day on June 4, 2016 at Tyler Bend. Chamber purchased chocolate rolls for the event.
  • Chamber agreed to spend up to $500 for the new Stem Rock Natural Area at Oxley
  • Helped the City of Marshall put out the word for a Public Hearing on 14 June at City Hall in Marshall regarding a proposed city park
  • Helped the City of Marshall by spreading the word of Marshall’s need for letters of support for grant money for a sidewalk/bicycle trail project in Marshall
  • Chamber president attended Civil War Historical Marker Dedication, ribbon cutting, and Potluck on 2 July in Witts Springs
  • We renewed dues to the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism for $160
  • Chamber agreed to spend up to $500 to acquire signs and equipment for the new Ozark Grinder bicycle trail
  • Chamber approved $100 sponsorships for the Pedestal Rock Bicycle Ride at Witt Springs, the 3rd Annual Hog Wild Days in Marshall, and the Ozark Mountain Shootin’ Hoops For A Cause in St. Joe
  • Chamber president spoke at the Arkansas Trails Council Meeting at Tyler Bend, Saturday, July 16
  • Chamber Secretary Steven Newby and President Darryl Treat completed and filed the 2016 Annual Report for Nonprofit Corporation to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office
  • Chamber President Darryl Treat participated on 19 July in the Mountain Home Retiree Recruitment Luncheon with other like-minded area organizations
  • Purchased “Welcome Wagon” type canvas bags from Sozo Graphics. Ideally, for giving out to new employees who have just moved to Searcy County.
  • Chamber assisted in promoting a Community Night of Prayer in support of our law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel!
  • Chamber ordered and 911 Coordinator Gary Ragland installed about $415 of Bicycle Trail & Bicycle Route signs for the Ozark Grinder Trail
  • Helped Royal Oak Charcoal obtain an Average Wage Survey for Searcy County and then shared it with our chamber of commerce.
  • Chamber president welcomed new hires to the Searcy County School District on 5 August and gave out Welcome Bags
  • Lobbied and informed key politicians of the impact of a Presidential Executive Order that caused the loss of the local gunsmith at R&C Arms of Marshall
  • Chamber advertised in the Marshall Mountain Wave supporting the Farm Family of the Year and the Searcy County Fair
  • Chamber purchased booth space at the Searcy County Fair in Marshall. Booth manned by Sara Davison.
  • Chamber donated to the Searcy County Fair Premium
  • Chamber of commerce president volunteered by picking up trash at South Maumee, Buffalo National River, on August 20, 2016
  • Chamber member Lee Walsh submitted photos to the Arkansas Educational Television Network of the Wiley’s Cove barn near Leslie and the Smith barn near Marshall for consideration in a show about barns of Arkansas. AETN adopted both barns in its show “Back Road Barns,” an AETN original production that aired on Thursday, August 25th at 6:30 p.m.
  • Chamber president volunteered by using his chainsaw to take out some nuisance trees at the Searcy County Civic Center in Marshall
  • Chamber president and some other chamber members attended a meeting with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in Marshall on 23 August addressing small business issues
  • Invited chamber members attended the National Park Service 100th birthday party at Tyler Bend on 25 August
  • Continued to push the “Shop Local” campaign on Facebook and in the chamber of commerce Community and Relocation Guide
  • Organized and promoted Junkfest! Purchased $100 of Junkfest Advertising on KCGS radio
  • Promoted horseback riding in Searcy County and the 37th Annual Falling Water Trail ride
  • Chamber president spoke about “Organizing the Greater Community” to the Regional Revitalization Networks Training, October 4-5, Leslie-Marshall-St. Joe, held by Rural Community Alliance
  • Chamber president spoke and served on the “Chamber Panel” of the CTE Regional Partnership Council Summit III at the Durand Center in Harrison on October 26th
  • Chamber board member Billie Reed volunteered to go to the 7th Annual Hiking the Ozarks Outdoor Rendezvous at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, located near the Buffalo National River, in Jasper on 22 October to promote Searcy County and our members
  • Rod Corley of Aux Arc Wilderness Cabins of Zack volunteered to do a Market Analysis Class for rental lodging operators to maximize their rentals.  Rod is a graduate of the Institute of Real Estate Management, CPM.  Some of his clients were John Hancock, Massachusetts Mutual, Connecticut Mutual, Bank of New York, LaSalle Partners, and Wells Fargo!  Rod recently completed a Searcy County Rental Market Survey.  That survey has already helped Rod!
  • Assisted Zack McCannon, Producer, AETN-ArkansasIDEAS, with a documentary, Music in Arkansas. Origins tracks the development of Arkansas’s rich musical heritage
  • Helped McClain Forestry by providing 2015 Average Hourly Wages for Searcy County by sector and advertising their hiring party
  • Chamber president attended Mountain View Trail Coalition Meeting and spoke about the Ozark Grinder Trail
  • Worked with Parks & Tourism to find a restaurant in Marshall for travel writers from Mexico who were visiting Gilbert
  • Helped promote the “Buy it Where You Burn it” campaign to stop the movement of firewood into Searcy County and the possible spread of forest-damaging pests
  • Chamber members participated in the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District (NWAEDD) and the Institute for Economic Advancement (IEA) at UALR Strategic Assessment meeting on Monday, September 19th at 3:00 p.m. at Petit Jean in Marshall
  • Some chamber members volunteered to maintain a section of the Buffalo River Trail from the South Maumee Road to the Spring Creek Road
  • Buffalo National River calculated 2,543 people were at the chamber-sponsored Ozark Folklife Festival at Tyler Bend! Chuck Dovish filmed at the festival.
  • Pushed entries for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame
  • Called at the request of Shepherd of the Ozarks who had their Windstream phone line cut by accident but was not getting the line repaired in a timely fashion. Call resulted in a quick repair helping the largest lodging facility in Searcy County!
  • Submitted Fall Foliage Reports to Arkansas Parks & Tourism
  • Helped the Quitman Jeep Junkies get information on places to conduct Jeep riding
  • Worked to help Ozark Mountain Wood Pellets in their effort to set up manufacturing north of Pindall
  • Lobbied Petit Jean about applying a rural electrification model to broadband internet access
  • Educated chamber members on tools to use when promoting Searcy County in a Customer Service Economy
  • Submitted an Outstanding Volunteer Service Award Nomination for the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce, a Parks & Tourism Henry Award.
  • Successfully got Leslie added to the Antiquing page on Arkansas.com as a Hotspot!
  • Supported increased National Park Service funding that could help with a deferred maintenance backlog of $12.7 million in needed repairs on the Buffalo National River
  • Submitted some major upgrades to Arkansas.com for Leslie and Witts Springs
  • Donated $50 for use of the Veterans Memorial Hall in Marshall
  • Established a Go Fund me site for the purchase of a Country Music marker for Elton Britt, for both tourism attraction and heritage preservation
  • Approved up to $200 for more bicycle trail signs for 911 Coordinator Gary Ragland to put up for the Ozark Grinder Trail
  • Robert Duggan, Recreation Program Manager Forest Service Ozark-St. Francis National Forests gave verbal approval on Friday, 9 December for Searcy County to place bicycle signs on highway right of way within the Ozark National Forest along the bicycle trail
  • Approved the purchase of Christmas lights to light up the old historic jail in Marshall
  • Chamber president working to help Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce make progress in their county
  • Conducted ribbon cutting ceremony at Acceptance Now inside Roten’s Furniture on 18 November in Marshall
  • Participated in the Courthouse Square Lighting Ceremony on 25 November
  • Helped a Marshall family obtain assistance for Christmas
  • Helped the Searcy County Judge determine the largest non-government employers in Searcy County
  • Worked with State Representative David Branscum to get a letter sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson petitioning for Elton Britt’s inclusion in the Arkansas Entertainer’s Hall of Fame
  • Donated $100 to the family of the late Rock-n-Java proprietor Shawn Henderson
  • David & Cynthia Garmoe represented the Chamber in the Christmas Parade on 10 December in Marshall
  • Technology Coordinator Lee Walsh and Treasurer Alesha Collier established a PayPal account for the Chamber
  • Received a letter of recommendation for Elton Britt’s inclusion in the Arkansas Entertainer’s Hall of Fame from the Rackensack Folklore Society Pulaski County
  • Submitted some upgrades to Arkansas.com for Marshall and Gilbert
  • Promoted on Facebook to take unwanted prescription drugs to the sheriff’s office in Marshall for collection
  • Worked to help find office space for a new Searcy County resident
  • Ran an end-of-year 15 Searcy County Attractions Countdown on Facebook!
  • Budget Committee proposed budget for 2017

Advertising                                       $4,000

Booths/Events/Sponsor.                   $3,500

Banquet                                            $2,000

Housekeeping                                   $1,600

Old Jail Office                                      $500              

Total                                                $11,600

 

Onward to 2017!!

 

It’s Elk Viewing Season!!

3-majestic-elk-bulls-10-16-16

Fall is here and the Elk are on the move in Searcy County.  You may have not heard, Searcy County has Elk!!  And we have a lot of them.  Arkansas Game and Fish’s official numbers total about 600 elk in the state,  Most are in Newton and Searcy County.  And even though Newton County has an annual Elk Festival, Searcy County can boast that we’re the “Elk Hunting Capital of Arkansas”, because for the past 2 years, more have been killed in Searcy County than any other county in the state.   Arkansas Game and Fish very carefully manages the herd, and a very limited number of tags (Normally about 20% of herd total) are drawn for hunters every year.

fighting-bulls-1

Searcy County’s elk are mostly in two main areas of the county.  The Richland Valley in the western section of the county, and along the Bear Creek valley just west of Marshall.  Many visitors and travelers see the Bear Creek herd regularly in that 4 mile stretch right along Highway 65.    These are the two main areas, but elk might be seen just about anywhere along the Buffalo River, and some have recently been reported between Gilbert and Maumee South, along the river.

elk-wearing-some-decorations-10-16-16

So get out and enjoy our beautiful Searcy County fall scenery, and keep your eyes open for those beautiful elk!!

Leslie Has Disc Golf!

The Leslie City Park now has the first public 9-hole disc golf course in Searcy County!

The course overview slide approximates course layout, not exact. Come check it out!

Disc Golf Course Review has an overview of Leslie’s course on their website.
http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=8492

If you need discs to play disc golf, check in at Elk and Eagle Trading Post in Leslie.
They have discs for sale.

leslie-disk-golf

Leslie City Park Nine-Hole Par 3 Disc Golf Course Sponsors & Distance

1. Leslie Area Merchants Association & Rural Community Alliance 299′
2. Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce 243′
3. First Service Bank of Marshall 248′
4. Simmons Bank of Marshall 271′
5. The Chadwick Family 161′
6. First National Bank of North Arkansas 248′
7. American Legion Post 131 & VFW Post 12127 278′
8. Wiley’s Cove Lodge #524 F.&A.M. 253′
9. Jackie and Gordon Ard 462′

disk-golf

disk-golf-hole-2

Junkfest – Bargains Alive on 65 Sept. 21-24

 

 

Junkfest/Bargains Alive on 65 is coming 21-24 September!

It’s also part of the region-wide Ozark Byways Buydays on 24 September.

This Wednesday through Saturday event is from Leslie to Marshall to Pindall and on side roads along the way.

Don’t miss this huge yard sale extravaganza and sales at local businesses! For more information, please call the chamber of commerce at 870-448-2557.

 

 

 

 

Ozark Buyways

Ozark Buyways Regional Event

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The Ozark Folklife Festival!!

FolkLife Festival Poster

The Ozark Folklife Festival is Saturday, October 1st from 10 AM till 8 PM at the Tyler Bend Campground, Buffalo National River, near St. Joe.  It’s a heritage event reflecting life 100 or more years ago in the Ozark Mountains of Searcy County in celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday!  Food, crafts, and music!  Demonstrators include: Storytelling, History of Searcy County, Spinner, Felter, Hymn Sings/Shaped Note Class, Trapper, Flint Knapper, Native American Flute Player, Corn Husk Dolls, Old Time Children’s Games, Lye Soap, Quilt Tying, Burial Customs, Dutch Oven Cooking, Firearm display, Folk Dancers/Storytelling, Blacksmith, Tomahawk Throwing, Pre-Civil War Encampment (1840s or prior time period) Early Arkansas Reenactors Association, Quilt Display, Dairy Goat Milking and possibly more.

Still on Hill

Still on the Hill

We have a great lineup of music!  The Michael and Jennifer McLain Band from Tennessee, Still on the Hill from Fayetteville, The Rackensack Folklore Society of Pulaski County, Mark Jones of Mountain View, Buddy Case of Enola, Possum Juice of Leslie & Mountain View, Jeff Stansbery & Breez of Leslie, The Burlesons of Lead Hill, Nathan Eaton of Marshall, and Skymeadow Fine Arts of Yellville.

Possum

Possum Juice

Rackensack

The Rakensack Folklore Society

Buddy Case

Buddy Case

 

We also have a great lineup of food!

Pinto beans, ham, cornbread:

BBQ, cole slaw, Biscuit : Ruby’s Diner James Elliott ( Food Truck)

Fried Catfish, hush puppies: Larry Davenport

Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Rolls, Skylark-Joy

Hand Dipped Ice Cream- LobLolly Creamery (truck)

 

Special donations of money to help pay food vouchers for the musicians by: Sweepin’ Home Cleaning Service and Palms & Oil Massage Therapy of Tilly, the Marshall Mountain Wave, Witt Springs Community Voices, Gayla Feist, Director of North Central Adult Education of Leslie & Clinton, Starlight Cabin, LLC of Cozahome, Friends of the Searcy County Library, Ozark Byways, The Committee of Marshall, Ozark Opportunities, and Simmons Bank of Marshall.

 

Searcy County Chamber Wins the Bootstrap Award

Bootstrap award

 

 

We did it!  Our collective hard work was recognized at the state level!  Arkansas Parks & Tourism knows who we are!  Thank you to all our chamber members for your contribution of time and money!  Let’s keep our momentum going and let us reach for the sky!

The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce is the winner of the Bootstrap Award in the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Henry Awards!  The 2016 Henry Awards winners were revealed at the 42nd Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism held in Springdale on March 15th. Chamber of Commerce President Darryl Treat accepted the award for the Chamber from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.  The Henry Awards honor Henri de Tonti, the man historians consider to be among the first “Arkansas Travelers.”  The Bootstrap Award is presented annually to an individual, organization, or community that has achieved significant success “on a shoestring,” having limited means to work with, either in resources or finances.  The Henry Awards Ceremony began at the 7th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism in 1981 and has become an important part of this gathering of tourism leaders and one of the most prestigious tourism industry awards in Arkansas.

If I got the story correctly, Representative Kelley Linck said in his 15 years as being the Executive Director of the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association, we are the only Henry Awards winner from the Ozark Mountain Region!

Congratulations to all of us!  Well done!

I hope we can display our trophy one day soon in our office in the old jail.

Bootstrap award

Governors Conference 1 Governors Conference 2 Governors Conference 3 Governors conference 4

 

2016 Chocolate Roll Festival – Bigger and Better!!

 

Chocolate Roll 1

The 5th Annual Chocolate Roll Festival and World’s Best Chocolate Roll Contest is coming soon…..get those recipes ready!!

Come out on Saturday March 19th, 2016 at 10 am at Marshall High School for all the fun.

Be sure to purchase your ballot where you can sample all the chocolate rolls and cast your vote for the World Champion Chocolate Roll.

The 4th Annual Marshall High School Art Club Chocolate Was a Huge Success and the 5th annual 2016 Edition should be even better!!

This year’s event will be held on Saturday March 19th.   Be sure and check here and the Chambers Facebook page for upcoming information and to enter your chocolate rolls in the World Championship Chocolate Roll Contest.

To Enter the Contest check out the Event Facebook page.

There are some new events this year as well…..Highlights include:

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 19, 2016!  It’s a new year and the MHS Art Club is already planning the 2016 Chocolate Roll Contest and Festival. We will again be having  a 5K walk/run and a classic car show with a Parade of Cars at 10am.

Chocolate Roll 2

5k walk/run @ 8am. Classic car show begins at 9am with parade of cars at 10am. Chocolate Roll contest begins at 10:00 am. You pick the winner of the best chocolate roll. Art show, vendors, Make and Take chocolate roll workshop, and entertainment. Something for everyone!

carshow1

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2014 Chocolate Roll Festival a great Success!!

For just the 3rd year of the festival, the event was a huge success, and a great fundraiser for the Marshall High School Art Club who sponsored the event.

The declaration of Searcy County as theChocolate Roll Capital of the World by the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce in late 2012, and promotion of the event by the chamber of commerce brought in visitors from all over the state.  There were people from Hazen, Huntsville, Springdale, Russellville, and more.   The weather was beautiful, and the car show, with 27 entries was well attended also.

There were  14 entries  competing in the contest this year!!   Nearly 250 people voted for their “favorite chocolate roll”, by purchasing a punch card, and then visiting all the chocolate roll stations, where they got a sample of each contestant’s creation.  Chocolate rolls were also available for sale at the festival, but went very fast.

The voting was very competitive, and the chocolate rolls were delicious.  It was truly a festival atmosphere, with Music, arts and crafts, and two chocolate roll classes that were also well attended.

 

Event coordinator Brenda Smyth commented, “The MHS Art Club would like to thank the volunteers who helped with the cutting the samples, conducting baking classes, organizing the arts and crafts, getting the fantastic car show organized, and the musicians who did a great job entertaining.  They really helped make it a huge success.”  Smith said a great big thank you to the sponsors for their participation.  You helped make it great!   Thanks also goes out to the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce for donating money for the prize money this year and for all their promotion of the festival.   Smith also thanked all who donated, including Kenda Drive In, Sonic, McDonalds, Daisy Queen, Boston Mtn. Market Pizza, First National Bank of North Arkansas, First Service Bank, Ozark Hardwood Flooring, Elk and Eagle Trading Post LLC, Girl Scouts, Simmons Bank and Homebank for door prizes at the car show.

Several people at the festival and several who took baking classes commented that they plan to enter the contest next year, so we expect the 3rd Annual Chocolate Roll Festival to be bigger and better than ever.  Everyone better hone up their recipes as the competition will be fierce.

Click on the pictures below for a slide show of festival photos.

 

 

 

 

Upcoming 2016 Searcy County Chamber Banquet and Awards Ceremony

The 2015 Chamber of Commerce Banquet and Awards Ceremony was a great success, and with the addition of nearly 70 new members since 2013, we expect this year’s event to be special as well.   This years Banquet will be held on Thursday, February 25th 2016, at 6:00 PM at the Searcy County Civic Center in Marshall.

This year’s theme of the event is, “Building a Healthy Searcy County”.

We plan to have 2 special guests and speakers this year.  Former Searcy County resident Dr. Jay Geoghagan from North Little Rock will be the first featured speaker.   Deputy Parks Superintendent Laura Miller will be our second featured speaker.

Again we will be presenting awards for Chamber Business of the year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the year (which can also be a group) and in the Student Category,  Agri Student of the year, Business Student of the year and Science / Technology Student of the Year, and an overall award for Community Service in the county called The “Spirit of Searcy County” Award.

Watch for more information about the Chamber Banquet on the Chamber’s Facebook Page.

 

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2015  Banquet and Awards Ceremony a huge Success!!

Banquet1

The Annual Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce held it’s Banquet and Awards Ceremony last night, February 26th, 2015, at the Searcy County Civic Center.   Nearly 200 were in attendance for the event, and it was a great success.

Keynote Speaker Mr. James Johnston

 

 

“The Spirit of Searcy County Award”: Searcy County Sheriff’s Deputy Lang Holland and State Police Officer Buster “Buckey” Rinks
Lifetime Achievement Award: Kenneth Fariss
Business of the Year: Ratchford Farms –  L.C. Ratchford
Employee of the Year: Amanda McCoy – Marshall Medic Pharmacy
Volunteer of the Year: Keith Karnes
Business Student of the Year: Victoria Passmore 1st, Mersady Redding 2nd, Court Turney 3rd
Agriculture Student of the Year: Laykyn Rainbolt 1st, Logan Boyd 2nd, Grace Pepler 3rd
Science/Technology Student of the Year: Seth Stephenson 1st, Taylor Irwin 2nd, Domonique Baheza 3rd

3 of the Student winners (Seth Stephenson, Victoria Passmore and Mersady Redding) were not available for the photo because of a event conflict and are not shown.
(Photo by Bob King Photography)

Award Winners

 

Spirit of Searcy County Award Winners.

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2014  Banquet and Awards Ceremony a huge Success!!

On Thursday, February 27th, 2014 the Officers and many members of the Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce celebrated a banner year for the chamber with the 1st Annual Searcy County Chamber Banquet and Awards Ceremony.   The re-organization of the Searcy County Chamber is 5 years old, and we passed a landmark this past year with over 100 members.  We decided it was time to celebrate.  Around 140 were in attendance for the event and everyone had a great time.

The old Searcy County Chamber was disbanded in the mid 1990’s and previously held a couple banquets during that earlier period, but current chamber member and previous member Bob King said this was by far the best attended event, and the chamber is stronger than ever.

Big Springs Trading Company catered the event with great food, and the food was served by the Girl Scouts.

The keynote Speaker was Lavina Grandon from the Rural Community Alliance.  Lavina, is the past recipient of the Teacher of the Year award, and the Arkansas Rural Person of the Year in 2004.  Lavina gave everyone a rousing and entertaining speech complete with props from the older days of the county, invoices from her birth, and what people paid for various items in past years.  She told of the history of the area, where we are now, and where she things we’re going.

Awards were given in several categories including, Employee of the year, Business of the Year, and Volunteer of the year.  School awards were given for Agri Students of the year, and business student of the year.

See the award winners below.  (Photo by Ron Gillispie of the Marshall Mtn. Wave)

2013awardwinners

Winners from Left to Right are:

  • Shelby Treat   —    Second Place  Agri Student of the Year
  • Clark Taylor   —      First Place  Agri Student of the Year
  • James Housley —  Honorable Mention Agri Student of the Year
  • Charmaine Seaton  – Director of the Searcy County Civic Center  – Volunteer of  the Year
  • Nancy Jones, Jeanie Horton, Teresa Jackson, Amanda McCoy, Kelsey Whitelaw  (Medic Pharmacy) — Business of the Year
  • Grace Pepler  — Third Place  Agri Student of the Year
  • Foy Whitelaw with his son Finn — (Ozark Hardwood Flooring)  — Employee of the Year
  • Susan Verhegge  — Business Student of the Year

 

Jack Treat was also presented  his award of Lifetime Achievement for his work with the community and the Searcy County Chamber of Commerce by Chamber Vice President Lee Walsh

Jack Award

 

2015 Searcy County Chamber Progress Report

Facebook Capture 2016

The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce

12-month Progress Report (Jan – Dec 2015)

(Yes, we need to have more significant accomplishments, but where would we be without all the effort we put in as detailed below? Thanks for all your support!!)

 

  • Chamber membership grew to 169 members!
  • Increased Facebook Friends from 2,783 to 5,376
  • Supported Searcy County events and Chamber businesses on Facebook
  • Maintained a Chamber website
  • Relayed a survey of utilization of the internet in business operations to Chamber members
  • Helped a Chamber member in a quest for better internet in a part of rural Searcy County
  • Solicited new businesses for Searcy County
  • Used the Arkansas Group Travel On-line Sales Leads Distribution System to target many emails to potential tourists and tourist agencies
  • Mailed literature through US Postal Service to persons interested in Searcy County
  • Chamber president answered “numerous” phone calls on an almost 24/7 365-day basis!
  • Chamber president assisted the Searcy County Economic Development Corporation by monthly confirming the status of the properties currently listed on the Entergy Economic Development Site Selection Center website
  • Chamber compiled, maintained, and published Events Calendar for Searcy County
  • Promoted Searcy County for a Feature to The Harrison Daily Times, The Log Cabin Democrat, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Arkansas Living Magazine, Arkansas Life Magazine, Jill Rohrbach, the travel writer for the Arkansas River Valley and Ozarks regions of The Natural State. Arkansas.com, Southern Living Magazine, Inarkansas.com, KARK TV, THV 11, KATV, Fox 16, AY Magazine, and Country Magazine
  • Helped promote an informational meeting for Marshall’s new Odd Fellows Lodge
  • Actively promoted Searcy County as a future movie location
  • Paid for refreshments at an informative meeting of Searcy County Lodging businesses and Agri operations interested in profiting off of Agritourism tours
  • Promoted area job openings on Chamber Facebook and email
  • Updated 2015 Manufacturer’s Directory with Searcy County manufacturers
  • Established a reciprocal associate membership with Arbiz.net and they provided us with additional web exposure
  • Purchased a fabulous tradeshow backdrop for use at chamber events and trade shows!
  • Held successful 2nd Chamber Banquet & Awards Ceremony on 26 Feb in Marshall
  • Recognized Business of the Year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Spirit of Searcy County Award, and gave out a Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Paid out $900 to award-winning Agriculture, Business, and Science/Technology students from around the county
  • Joined the Ozark Mountain Region, a recognized Arkansas Regional Tourism Association which makes available matching grant funds from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
  • Lee Walsh and Darryl Treat added as administrators on the Ozark Mountain Region Facebook allowed them to further help promote Searcy County
  • 41st annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism March 8-10th in Texarkana.  The registration and hotel combined was $425.  Funded Ruth Pepler for $500 to represent the Chamber at the event!
  • Promoted new Searcy County Events List for 2015 on Chamber Facebook & Website
  • Set up a booth at the MHS Chocolate Roll Festival
  • Thanked trail builders at a potluck for crew members working on the Buffalo River Trail
  • Chamber president attended a CTE Regional Partnership Council Summit on March 20
  • Chamber president supported the Rural Community Alliance’s effort to raise money from the Arkansas Community Foundation who sponsored an on-line giving event for Arkansas nonprofits called Arkansas Gives. On that day anyone who gives to a registered Arkansas nonprofit will have their gift matched dollar for dollar by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as well as some matching by the Arkansas Community Foundation.
  • Started producing and running Searcy County commercials at the Kenda Drive-In (Thanks to Bob King, Gordon Ard, and the Kenda Drive-In)
  • Performed a ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Dance Academy in Marshall
  • Hosted a Buffalo River Partners event in St. Joe and provided some breakfast and snack items
  • Purchased full page Ad in the 2015 Ozark Byways magazine at the cost of $900
  • Manned booth at 2015 Ozark Expo in Harrison promoting Searcy County & Businesses
  • Created and printed 8,000 of the 2015 Community and Relocation Guides
  • Relocation Guides provided for Arkansas Tourism Welcome Centers, Little Rock AFB, and around Searcy County
  • Bob King sent photos to help Governor Hutchinson showcase our one-of-a-kind locations in the county
  • Initiated an “Invest in Searcy County” poster campaign with Shop Local, Eat Local, Invest Local, and Explore Local themes
  • Steven Newby worked to gather information needed to start a Spelling Bee for Searcy County. Achieved! Searcy County now has a Spelling Bee!
  • Updated Congressman Crawford’s information about Searcy County for his website
  • Updated paragraph for Searcy County at the Association of Arkansas Counties website
  • Met with Beth Anne Rankin about the Section 529 GIFT College Investing Plan account program and facilitated the placing of entry forms in Marshall banks for a $529 prize
  • Chamber president met with a representative from Sen. Tom Cotton’s office on 23 April
  • Conducted a Facebook contest with Sweet Honeysuckle Boutique of Marshall to promote Searcy County businesses and shopping locally
  • Chamber member Debbie Harmon of Poison Ivy Soap Company, manned booth at the 5th Annual Health and Safety Fair April 25 at the Civic Center
  • Performed a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Searcy County Rural Help Center in St. Joe
  • Hosted Arkansas Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan at chamber meeting in May
  • Purchased Searcy County Fair Association 2015 Fair Catalogue Ad
  • Working with Searcy County Fair Association to help them acquire a Hub Commercial Kitchen for the Searcy County Fairgrounds aiding them and area small farmers
  • Chamber advertised in “Living in Arkansas Magazine” with matching funds from Ozark Mountain Region. The Ozark Mountain Region saved the chamber 40% or about $1,200 leaving us about $1,770 owed for the Ad.
  • Worked with MHS EAST Club to develop literature for motorcycle routes. 1,000 brochures purchased.
  • Offered to loan our sound system to the Historical Society for the 26th Annual North Ark Ancestor Fair in Marshall
  • Agri-Tourism Committee flyers have been prepared describing six tours. S.C. Agri tourism has a Facebook page and tours offered for $20 per family
  • Working on establishing Country Music Monument for Elton Britt in the county as tourism attraction and heritage preservation
  • Invited the Arkansas Military Veteran’s Hall of Fame to consider a permanent location for the hall of fame here in Searcy County!
  • Working to help J & H Custom Furniture of Pindall sell their factory to someone who will keep manufacturing here in Searcy County
  • Chamber participated in a bridge dedication for the largest privately owned suspension bridge in Arkansas!!! Ribbon cutting ceremony in Zack was June 29th with Aux Arc Wilderness Cabins
  • Chamber president and board president participated in a round-table discussion with visiting Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on June 29th
  • Chamber members Lynda Hensley and Darryl Treat completed and filed the 2015 Annual Report for Nonprofit Corporation to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office
  • Purchased three literature racks to get out chamber member literature in the county
  • Provided inputs for the Arkansas Tour Guide listing for 2016
  • New Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors: President Lynda Hensley, Board Members Billie Reed, Jeff Stansbery, Lee Walsh, Thomas Pepler, and Bob King
  • Procured economic statistics from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to support the Searcy County Economic Development Corporation
  • Purchased Marshall Mountain Wave Advertisement highlighting Chamber members
  • Pursued hosting the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame in Searcy County
  • Chamber members Lee Walsh and Darryl Treat worked on tennis courts at the Civic Center.  Ribbon cutting ceremony held.
  • $100 check given to the Searcy County Premium Livestock Association for their Jackpot
  • $100 check given to the Marshall Grade School for the School Store
  • Supported Farm Family of the Year and the Searcy County Fair by taking advertisements
  • Chamber member Trena Patterson and L.A. Salon of Leslie promoted Searcy County and Leslie at her booth Aug 14 & 15 at the 11th Annual Mountain, Music & Motorcycles & 4th Annual Car Show at Mountain View!
  • Richard Groves and Matt Pinson manned our booth at the Searcy County Fair
  • Chamber president filmed for Ratchford Farms Film Project
  • Ribbon Cutting: Ryan’s Main Street Grill in Leslie 12 September
  • Ribbon Cutting: Mossy Oak Properties between Marshall & Leslie, 23 September
  • Promoted Ozark Byways Buydays (Junkfest)  23-26 September. Spent $100 on advertising on ESPN radio
  • Helped host the 8th Annual Flying Jam, 3 October in Marshall
  • Chamber of commerce engagement resulted in Parks & Tourism combining our two motorcycle routes and putting them in their 2016 Arkansas Motorcycle Guide and on their website!!!!
  • Updated Marshall page for Arkansas.com
  • Worked to help market old bank building on the square in Marshall
  • Designated $200 contribution to help fund Fall Homestead Days in Cozahome
  • Designated $150 sponsorship of the 1st Annual Pedestal Rock 20 & 40 Mile Bicycle Ride in Witts Springs
  • Designated $25 sponsorship of the Leslie Mountain Man Rendezvous
  • Purchased $50 advertisement in the St. Joe Yearbook
  • Purchased 200 new chamber of commerce window stickers from Sozo Graphics for $110
  • Purchased 1,000 additional motorcycle brochures from Sozo Graphics
  • Donated $100 to the St. Joe Depot Museum in memory of former St. Joe Mayor John Henley
  • Gave a $75 sponsorship to support the Great American Smokeout BBQ Cook Off
  • $100 donation to the Searcy County Rural Help Center in St. Joe to help make sure that all children at the St. Joe school receiving a Christmas present.
  • Approved a budget for 2016

Advertising                         $5,640

Booths/Events                   $1,800

Banquet                              $1,680

Housekeeping                    $1,080

Old Jail Office                     $1,800

Total                                   $12,000

  • Submitted a nomination for the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism Bootstrap Award, for achieving significant success on a shoestring having limited means to work with, either in resources or finances.
  • Gave a $100 sponsorship for The Teddy Bear drive that is collecting Teddy Bears 18″ and under at the door for distribution to area First Responders, Fire Fighters, and Police Officers for gift to children touched by the auto accidents, domestic violence, fires and other sudden, life-altering tragedies.
  • Purchased Christmas lights for the SC Courthouse and promoted lighting ceremony
  • Chamber entered into a 2-year lease of the old jail in Marshall
  • Coordinated with the IOOF Marshall Lodge #1 to hold a Community Thanksgiving in Marshall
  • Lobbied to have Searcy County included in the Arkansas Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
  • Purchased 1,000 business cards
  • Agreed to pursue production of a Searcy County Coloring Book based on Loni Kelley’s idea. Designed by Steven Newby. Book Ad purchased for $300
  • Chamber president interviewed on 9 Dec. for the Rural Community Alliance newsletter
  • $100 sponsorship and radio time on “Searcy County Natural Flow” on KABF radio 88.3 FM in Little Rock promoting Searcy County. Chamber president interviewed by Jeff Stansbery on air 11 December. Ruth Pepler promoted Agritourism on 18 December. Kristen Dornburg of STAR Entertainment on the 25 December broadcast.
  • Working to get a Jefferson Lines bus stop in Searcy County and cooperate with them to promote their business and tourism in Searcy County
  • 2016 Chamber Officers elected: President:  Darryl Treat, Vice President:  Bob King, Treasurer:  Alesha Collier, Secretary:  Matt Pinson, Historian:  David Garmoe, and Technology Coordinator: Lee Walsh
  • Adopted “Buffalo River Historic Jail” for our coming attraction in the old jail
  • Worked with Rep. David Branscum to push for the timely completion of the Buffalo River Trail
  • Ran a Facebook “Attractions” countdown of 14 Searcy County attractions

 

Onward to 2016!!

 

Red Curtain Theater Comes to Leslie with 3 New Shows

The Red Curtain Theater of Conway is bringing three great shows this year to Leslie and the Ozark Heritage Arts Center! First off, the Leslie Area Merchants Association and the Red Curtain Theater present the children’s musical “Alice & Wonderland Jr.” on Saturday night, 27 February at 7 pm! Tickets will be $10 for Adults and $5 Children (12 & under). If you enjoyed their production of “Seussical Jr.” and “The Little Mermaid, Jr.”, you’ll love this! Don’t miss it! The Music Man musical is coming Saturday night, 23 July and as part of the 2016 8th Annual Sugarplum Festival in Leslie, the children’s musical “Elf Jr.” will be held on Saturday night, 3 December! For more information, please call 870-448-2557.

Red Curtain 1

Red Curtain 4

Red Curtain 2

Red Curtain 3