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Banquet Thursday

The 59th annual meeting and banquet of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce will be Thursday in the Commons Area of Van Buren High School.

A business fair promoting economic and business development in the Van Buren area will begin at 5 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center lobby. There also will be a silent auction.

The banquet will start at 7 p.m. and will be highlighted by the announcement of the recipient of the Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year Award, given to an individual or individuals who have made exemplary contributions of time, talent or resources to the community.

Lisa Huckelbury, chamber board chairman, will welcome those attending the banquet, followed by the invocation by Chris Johnson, senior pastor of Van Buren First Baptist Church.

The dinner catered by Golden Corral will be followed by remarks by outgoing board chairman Kenneth Fry, comments from Drew Williams of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the announcement of the 2013 chamber ambassador of the year.

Huckelbury will outline the chamber’s future.

Jim Petty of Strategic Realty Companies, last year’s citizen of the year award winner, will announce this year’s recipient.

Banquet sponsors are Arkansas Tech University - Ozark Campus and JMR/PFP Insurance, platinum; Citizens Bank & Trust Co., PAC Printers and Strategic Realty Companies, gold; and Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arvest Bank, BancorpSouth, Bekaert Corp., BOST Inc., Car Corner Auto Sales, City of Van Buren, Cox Business, Experian Consumer Direct, First Bank, Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, Hawkins-Weir Engineers Inc., OG&E, Press Argus-Courier, Progressive Business Systems LLC, SPMI - My HR Professionals, Summit Medical Center, Turf-Pro USA, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, United Federal Credit Union, US Bank, Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission, Van Buren School District, Williams/Crawford & Associates and Williams Florist and Gifts.

Business fair booths will include Alzheimer’s Association, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Arkansas Tech University - Ozark Campus, Fort Smith and Crawford County Optimist clubs, BancorpSouth, BOST Inc., Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, Bradford Udouj Realtors, Breeden Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, Car Corner Auto Sales, CASA, Center for Art and Education, Center for Hearing Ltd., Citizens Bank & Trust Co., Combined Insurance Co., Crawford County Volunteers for Literacy, Creative Furnishings by Jean, CV’s Family Foods, Experian Consumer Direct, First Bank, Fountain of Youth Adult Day Center, Friddle Dentistry, Gary Henry Allstate Agency, Heritage United Methodist Church, JMR/PFP Insurance, Keep Van Buren Beautiful, Massage For You, Oaks Manor Conference and Retreat Center, PAC Printers, Press Argus-Courier, Progressive Business Systems LLC, Rhodes Chevrolet, SPMI - My HR Professionals, Summit Medical Center, The Eye Group, The Guidance Center, The Paper Clip LCC, Trophies Unlimited/Trophy Printing, Turf-Pro, United Federal Credit Union, University Arkansas - Fort Smith, Van Buren Fine Arts Center, Van Buren Municipal Utilities, Van Buren Rotary Club and Western Arkansas Title Services.

Other previous winners are Press Argus-Courier Editor Kenneth Fry (2012); community supporter Mary Blount (2011); educator Lonnie Myers (2010); community supporter/nurse, emergency medical professional Susan McCartt (2009); community supporter/educator Donna Parker (2008); philanthropists Richard and Helen Hodo (2007); library supporters Ed and Shirley Yeager (2006); community supporter Alan Swaim (2005); community supporter Fred Williams (2004); Van Buren Mayor John Riggs (2003); community volunteer Debbie Thomas (2002); community leader Cathy Gifford (2001); former State Sen. Morril Harriman (2000); Realtor/developer Jimmy Bell (1999); businessman and school board member Dorvan Wiley (1998); former Van Buren Mayor Allen Ray Toothaker (1997); former retailer Susan King Skillen (1996); developer Dibrell Johnson (1995); retired optometrist Dr. Louis Peer (1994); Earl Robinson, founder of Robinson Real Estate (1993); Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission chairman Rusty Myers (1992); former Van Buren Mayor Gene Bell (1991); banker and businessman Raymond Allen (1990); longtime Van Buren Boys/Girls Club volunteer Jimmy Lansdell (1989); and retired Van Buren High School football coach Clair Bates (1988).

Gailene Park of United Federal Credit Union and Joe Ryan of Citizens Bank & Trust are co-chairing this year’s banquet. Ryan is business fair chairman.

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