Chamber Board discusses issues ranging from executive director vacancy to upcoming special events

By Tim Kessler

The Bradley County Chamber of Commerce board of directors met for their monthly meeting on Monday at Bradley County Economic Development Corp. and grappled with the issue of how to proceed without an executive director.

Ashley Foreman, who had served both organizations as executive director, resigned as of July 2 to take another job in Monticello.

Plans have been made to staff the Chamber office with volunteer help on a limited basis. Phone, email and mail messages will be answered, and bills will be paid.

Warren City Council rejected requests for funding each organization earlier this year. The Chamber has been especially hard hit as it has limited funds and only a few assets. BCEDC has about $100,000 in a CD plus owns about 20 acres in the Griggs Property. Another 20 acres was traded to the city for a plat of land in the Warren Industrial Park, which is intended for a regional jail. So far, the jail project has been put on hold while negotiations continue on a mix of federal and state prisoners.

Board President/Chairman James Wells and Vice President/Vice-Chairwoman Maribeth Frazer have sent a letter to the city Ways and Means Committee requesting inclusion of $20,000 in the 2022 city budget for the Chamber. Wells said at Monday’s meeting that he had asked the BCEDC board to put in a similar request to help fund the joint executive director’s position.

The letter states the Chamber would be contracted to provide community and economic development services for the city in the following manner:

  • The Chamber will continue to promote the City of Warren.
  • The Chamber will continue to hold special events throughout the year to stimulate economic success and community involvement in the City of Warren. Examples include the Pink Tomato Festival, the Bradley County Fair, fall and Christmas events, etc.
  • The Chamber will continue to be dedicated to improving the quality of life of our residents by being an advocate for member businesses and organizations in the City of Warren.
  • The Chamber will continue to support volunteer efforts to revitalize and/or enhance the image of our city, such as Make Warren Shine.
  • The Chamber will continue to participate in the Warren Forward Downtown Network (part of Main Street Arkansas).
  • Additionally, the Chamber is committed to continue close collaboration with the BCEDC in the spirit of cooperation and unity, and in continuing to work closely with the City of Warren and Bradley County.

In other business:

  • Wells announced a $3,000 grant was received from Main Street Arkansas and Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival Committee had reimbursed the Chamber $2,500 for use of its office and other services during the festival.
  • Special Events Chairwoman Deb Spencer said a Tent or Treat event would be held on Main Street from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 30. Included will be a balloon man on stilts, Immanuel Baptist Church giving away hot dogs, a Mutt Strut, Zombie Run at the courthouse, a fire house and possibly a hayride.
  • Christmas events are planned for Dec. 11 including a parade, Christmas market, tree lighting and Santa. For more information or to volunteer for the Halloween and Christmas events, call Spencer at 870-820-4574.
  • Mayor Denisa Pennington reported the first Market on Main event was a success and another one will be held from 8 a.m.-noon this Saturday at the old Martin’s Department Store lot. For more information, call Julie Hamilton at 820-6285.
  • The Bradley County Fair will be held at the fairgrounds on Sept. 15-17 with the Premium Show and Sale, Bradley County Riding Club events and other events.

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