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story.lead_photo.caption Beverly and Ronnie Melvin play pickleball at the Heber Springs Community Center four times a week. Ronnie had open-heart surgery 15 years ago, and his doctor said being active reversed a blockage in one of his arteries. The Heber Springs Community Center will have its sixth annual Health and Safety Expo from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 13 to highlight local businesses, as well as the facility. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

HEBER SPRINGS — The Heber Springs Community Center started a health and safety expo six years ago to help residents and businesses, said Stacey Mills, director of the center.

“Each year, the event grows a little bit more and a little bit more,” Mills said.

The sixth annual Health & Safety Expo is scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the community center, 201 Bobbie Jean Lane.

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive, and a variety of vendors will set up booths on the gymnasium floor.

“Basically, it’s to show people here in Heber Springs and the surrounding area the businesses and open up doors for people to go to different doctors, or try different things out — show different aspects of the businesses people don’t see and other services they provide,” Mills said. “It opens up the door for people to look at different things and have an open mind.”

Danielle Stacks, events coordinator, said the fair is something she’s been passionate about since its beginning.

“It’s my baby; we do it every year. We try to get local businesses that have to do with health and safety,” she said. “We’re just trying to get the community more involved, and we think it’s a good thing because the vendors can speak on a safe and healthy lifestyle.”

Admission is free, “so anyone can come in and check out the health and safety expo,” Stacks said.

She said at least 200 people attend the annual expo, and many vendors return every year.

“Registration is still going on; we have 15 booths right now,” she said last week.

Vendors will include insurance agencies and physicians’ clinics. Vendors will give away information and prizes, if they choose, she said.

“Baptist Health will be checking your heart rate and blood pressure,” she said. “I think one of the hearing people will be doing hearing screenings.”

The expo is also a good time to show off the community center, she said.

“You don’t know how many people the community center has helped save their lives,” she said. “A lot of people have said, ‘I’ve been on blood-pressure pills forever, and now I’m off them and don’t have to take any pills now.’ People who could barely walk can walk now.”

Beverly and Ronnie Melvin can attest to the benefits of being members of the community center.

Beverly, 54, said she and her husband, 70, are avid pickleball players.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. They moved from Searcy to Heber

Springs about five years ago.

“We lived at Searcy for about 20 years and had a cabin up here at Heber; then with the community center, we thought, ‘We’re just going to make the move,’” she said. The couple play pickleball four times a week at the center.

She said her husband had open-heart surgery and five arterial bypasses about 15 years ago.

A few years ago, he had another blockage, which was not severe enough for surgery, she said.

“He went back to the doctor, and the doctor said, ‘You better keep doing what you’re doing.’ [The artery] had rerouted and opened back up because he was being active,” she said.

Beverly Melvin also said her mother, 85, and stepfather, 90, who moved to Heber Springs when she and her husband did, walk at the community center.

Melvin said she has not been to the Health & Safety Expo, but she believes it’s a good idea.

Stacks said community-center members have become like family, and the center is “a great blessing” for the community. Community-center patrons often say the employees and people they meet there have “made people’s day by talking to them,” she said.

“We hear that every day, and it’s such a blessing to have that facility here,” she said.

And the Heber Springs Health and Safety Expo is just a way the center can give back.

“It’s a real good community event,” Stacks said.

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

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