Berryville Chamber Banquet: Annual awards are presented
Before attending the Berryville Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Thursday, Oct. 15, Steve Clark and his wife paused to watch children play soccer outside the Berryville Community Center. That sight, Clark said during his speech at the banquet, encapsulates the spirit of Berryville.
"The parents were having more fun than the kids. They were talking about getting ballet lessons. That's a soul," Clark said. "That's Berryville."
Clark, who is president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, described what soul means to a resident of Fayetteville. In Fayetteville, Clark said, people say, "Keep Fayetteville Funky."
"What that means is we like being who we are. We're not perfect. We're not infallible, but we like being who we are," Clark said.
In Berryville, Clark said, he sees that same spirit. He recalled how welcoming people attending the banquet were, saying he and his wife were met with hugs and warm greetings. Clark spoke about how a city's chamber can foster this type of spirit; the goal of any chamber of commerce, he said, is to better a community.
"This is the best job in the world, because our job is to make this a better place. Maybe I say hello to someone. Maybe I make sure a parade gets scheduled. Maybe I make sure there's leadership from the junior chamber," Clark said.
Preceding Clark's speech, businesses in Berryville were honored with annual awards. The late Gordon Hale was named "Tom Earls Distinguished Ambassador," and his son Nathan Hale accepted the award on his behalf.
The award is presented annually to an individual whose life and work promote the area, through media or through contact with others. The winner should always be willing to lend his or her time, skills and resources to promote the community.
Nathan Hale said his father embodied everything about the award.
"He was larger than life. He was friends with a lot of people here. He was my best friend," Hale said. "Just in general from Boone County, Madison County, Washington County -- he knew everybody."
Jerica Russell was named "Youth Ambassador," an award given to a person 18 years or younger who has demonstrated leadership in the school setting, involvement in the community and academic excellence. Russell graduated from Berryville High School in 2015 and is attending North Arkansas College.
The Berryville Restoration Committee and Mary Nell Billings won the Community Beautification award. The award was created specifically for the committee after the restoration of murals in the city. The chamber credited the project with leaving an impact on the city.
Economy Drug won the Business Beautification award for its recent remodel, and Derek Bell State Farm Insurance Agency won the Noteworthy New Business award.
Chamber president Cody Qualls said the chamber is happy to honor the businesses in town, saying his goal is make Berryville the best it can be.
"We want to be part of the solution. We're making strides and moving in the right direction," Qualls said.