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Friday, August 29, 2014, 7:24 a.m.
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Heber Springs chamber job draws 14 applicants

By Tammy Keith

This article was published May 29, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

HEBER SPRINGS — Fourteen people have applied to be executive director of the Heber Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, and someone could be hired within two weeks, said Jayson Jones, chamber board president.

“We’re hoping to have this done within the next two weeks or so,” Jones said. ” I can’t say for sure that will happen, but that’s our goal.”

Friday was the deadline to apply for the position.

Former Executive Director Melisa Gardner’s last day was May 19. She left to take a position as assistant to the president, Troy Wells, at Baptist Health. Wells will replace Russ Harrington, who is retiring July 1, Gardner said Monday.

“There is lots to learn, but it’s a great working environment here,” Gardner said.

Gardner said she had been employed with the Heber Springs Area Chamber of Commerce since January 2010.

She said three main attributes are needed to lead the chamber: “Definitely leadership skills, people skills and to be very flexible — those are three keys.”

Gardner said she is still in Heber Springs but plans to move to Little Rock.

Jones said he thinks the position is attractive.

“We do think that Heber Springs has a lot to offer,” Jones said. “It is a small town but has a lot of good things going for it — industry, a good number of churches, a good school system.

“It is very attractive for somebody to move to Heber Springs just to live here, or if they’re interested in the chamber position,” Jones said.

He said the chamber’s busiest time is coming up in July with the Fireworks Extravaganza on July 5 and the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races races later that month.

“We need to get them on board and get them up to speed,” Jones said.

Ina Brown, volunteer coordinator for the chamber, said the events are “a handful to hand to a new director.”

She said at least 50 volunteers work on the Cardboard Boat Races, usually the same ones every year.

“It’s just wonderful,” she said.

Brown said most of the planning for the events takes place in the spring.

Gardner agreed that most of the preliminary planning has been done.

“We had our sponsors and activities in place and themes and things already done,” Gardner said.

Brown said she teased Gardner by singing “Lucille” to her, which has the lyric, “You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.”

“She is so funny,” Gardner said of Brown. “I don’t know if there’s ever a good time to leave; there’s one event after another there.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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