Wednesday, February 6, 2019


The Gathering Place, Charleston Arkansas


The Charleston Chamber of Commerce met for the regular monthly general membership meeting on Wednesday, February 6 at the Gathering Place in Charleston. Local restaurant Del Sol catered the lunchtime event. President Donna Martin opened the meeting with a list of old business to discuss. She stated that we still need a lunch committee to help with monthly ordering, set up and clean up. The Charleston Girls Basketball team volunteered to help today and some school groups are willing to rotate. This is much appreciated by the Chamber members. Next she announced that a date has been set for the Annual Banquet to be held Saturday, April 13 at the Community Center. Committee members are Shannon McChristian, Tabitha Hester, Susie Potts and Lacey Neissl Clark. She also announced there will be a meeting of our newly organized Economic Committee on February 3 at 8:30 a.m. at the Gathering Place.


There has been some discussion of planning a “Tator Festival” in recognition of local landmark Potato Hill. This would be a city wide annual celebration of our history and heritage. If you have ideas or would like to get involved, please contact Misty Hawkins at the Charleston Public Library or Brooke Bell-Whitburn at Zoe Bug’s Boutique for more information.


Misty Hawkins also reported that The Growing a Healthy Charleston Organization met recently for lunch at the Library with 16 people present. They are planning a big kick off for the Farmers Market on May 11 and have interest in starting a Community Garden. If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact Misty or Miranda Curbow. This organization works on various projects to help improve the safety and health of Charleston and was recently recognized with an award for helping Charleston become an “Emerging Healthy Community.”


Last order of old business was to form a budget committee to help with Chamber goals and plans. Frank Hug will head up this committee. Any chamber members interested in serving, please see him or any of the officers- Donna Martin, BrookeBell-Whitburn, Lacey Neissl Clark or Shannon McChristian.


New business announced was a small dues increase to cover rising expenses. Individuals or businesses with 5 employees or less will pay $150 annually and will include 1 monthly meal. Businesses with 6 or more employees will pay $300 annually and will include 2 meals monthly. Guests are always welcome and will be charged $10 to cover cost of meal. Dues may be paid annually, semi-annually or by monthly $12.50 bank draft. Treasurer Lacey Neissl Clark stated that all invoices had been mailed to current members.


Local businesses were invited to share upcoming sales/news/events. Medisav stated that it is time for Flu shot boosters. Jeff Stubblefield, superintendent and Shane Storey, principal, announced upcoming Charleston School sports tournament details for all ages. Paul David Gramlich stated that the Catholic Church will be having an Re-Dedication/Open House this Sunday, February 10 to celebrate the recent renovation.


Miranda Curbow spoke briefly about the need for handicap equipment and access in our local parks. Growing a Healthy Charleston and the Chamber of Commerce will be partnering in the near future to help fill this need. There is a group looking into grants to help with this project, and the Chamber will be holding a benefit auction on April 13 at the banquet to raise funds for this. If you have something to donate, please contact Shannon McChristian at The Daily Dose on Main Street.


Terry Scott with Life Church announced an upcoming meeting on February 24 to benefit Christians United for Israel. He invited everyone to attend. Misty Hawkins of the Charleston Public Library handed out February Calendar of Events and talked about the library being recognized recently by Google. A film crew was in Charleston filming for a few days and plans to return in about two years to see our progress. The short documentary is now available online. The library will also be hosting a Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Workshop at the Community Center on March 2. Cindy Corley of Hug Chevrolet shared details of local businessman Frank Hug Jr. being recognized nationally in San Francisco for Community Service and Industry Accomplishments.


Susie Potts announced the United Way Day of Caring will be held on April 25. Local churches, businesses and citizens are encouraged to participate, and the city dumpsters will be open and free that day for city clean up. Brooke Bell-Whitburn with Zoe Bugs was present and talked about the new Spring line of clothing currently for sale at the store. Cody Sosebee with the Franklin County Quorum Court stated that he and Lacey Neissl Clark are working hard on Quorum business, especially that which concerns South Franklin County. He introduced special guests Bobby Ballinger from State Representative Bruce Westerman’s office and Tonya Baumgartner from the Paris Chamber of Commerce. Cody stated that he had appreciated serving as Chamber President for the past two years and is excited about all the positive changes taking place recently in our city and county. Shannon McChristian invited everyone to the Ribbon Cutting for The Daily Dose Book Store following todays lunch and stated that the store has lots of fun classes and workshops coming up. Sign up take place on the venue’s facebook page under “events.”


President Donna Martin introduced Guest Speaker Levi White of the Franklin County Sheriffs Office. Officer White spoke on the ongoing relationship of transparency and teamwork between city and county officials and citizens in fighting local crime. He recognized the importance of citizen safety and public awareness of criminal activity in our community. The Chamber appreciates our City and County Officers and all they do together for the good of our community.


President Donna Martin lead the Pledge of Allegiance and Damon McKenzie of First Baptist Church closed the meeting with prayer.


The next general lunch meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 6 at noon at the Gathering Place. We encourage local citizens and business owners to attend and get involved in making a positive difference in our local community and economic development of existing and new businesses.