Kirk Powell cited for unselfish support of community projects in Green Forest
GREEN FOREST ---- Kirk Powell was named Person of the Year at the Green Forest Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Saturday night.
When presenting the award, Chamber President Laura Greer said, "He's always there to lend a helping hand to all community, civic and scholastic organizations, and he's very instrumental in the annual Agri Appreciation Day celebration by unselfishly donating his valuable time and resources."
Powell, who operates Powell Farms and is one of the stockholders who resurrected the North Arkansas Livestock Auction barn, graciously accepted the award, given by the Chamber, KTHS Radio and the R.T. Powell family, in memory of the late R.T. Powell.
Nearly 150 people were on hand for the award presentation, dinner and program.
State Rep. Phil Jackson was the featured speaker.
He spoke of the 84th General Assembly's special session on education that concluded after a grueling 61 days.
"The governor called lawmakers into special session on Dec. 8 ---- just barely three weeks before a Jan. 1 deadline set by the Arkansas Supreme Court to make education reforms," Jackson recalled.
He said lawmakers faced four main goals when they set out to do their work: how, or whether, to restructure public schools; adopting a new school-funding formula; holding schools more accountable for their performances; and, raising more money for public education.
During the session, he said, many tasks were accomplished, including consolidation of administrative units of school districts with fewer than 350 students, and adoption of a new school-funding formula, which called for a $417 million increase, to be raised with a seventh-eighths of a cent state-wide sales tax hike.
Jackson said added monies will fund teacher pay raises with starting pay increased from $21,860 to $27,500 and average teacher pay scales increased by five percent.
On accountability, he said lawmakers passed Act 35 that requires additional student testing and informs the public of each school's financial and academic progress.
"We'll be testing students but we want to make sure teachers don't teach to the test," Jackson said. "We want balance."
Green Forest Mayor Leonard Tidyman also spoke to the group, promoting a business retention and marketing program he hopes to create to "make Green Forest stronger."
Tidyman said he needed five good, dedicated people to get the program started and was looking for volunteers.
Tidyman also mentioned that he may seek a half-cent sales tax to fund park projects.
Last November, voters turned down a tax initiative that would have paid for an aquatic center and other park projects.
"I may go back for the half cent tax again," Tidyman said. "It was narrowly defeated last time."
Several checks were presented during the evening. Marilyn Bonham, representing the FBLA organization that was on hand to help serve the meal, accepted a $50 check from the Chamber, and Ted Larimer accepted a $50 check on behalf of the American Legion.
Also, Jackson presented Tidyman and Fire Chief Chris Trask with a $514 check for firefighting equipment.
At the conclusion of the banquet, Greer said she considered the evening a success. She said money raised from ticket sales will go toward "Welcome to Green Forest" signs to be erected along U.S. Highway 62 at the east and west entrances to the town.
Greer said there were more tickets sold than actual people in attendance and attributed the empty seats to either fire and medical emergencies that occurred that afternoon or rainy weather that dampened the day.
"It went well," she said. "I heard lots of positive comments afterward, and think we did a good surprising Kirk (Powell)."