Chamber of Commerce holds annual awards banquet

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet Tuesday night at the Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center, looking back on a sometimes tumultuous 2015 with an optimistic eye toward the future.

The chamber introduced Tammy Thurow as its new president and chief operations officer. Although Thurow's hiring was announced earlier this month, Tuesday's banquet marked her first public appearance in her new role, and she addressed the audience briefly.

"I am so excited to be a part of this city and this chamber," Thurow said. "We want to continue working with the community. ... We're going to have a great year. We're going to have a lot of fun."

Thurow, who currently serves as vice president of membership and development for the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, will officially begin working in Eureka Springs on Jan. 4.

Kent Butler, who will be chairman of the chamber's board of directors in 2016, praised interim director Damon Henke for his work on behalf of the chamber this year. Henke volunteered for the interim director's role after the chamber's previous president and chief executive officer, Mike Bishop, was fired in March.

"Damon has done a tremendous job this year of restoring confidence in the chamber," Butler said.

Butler also announced the formation of an ex officio advisory board that will meet four times in 2016 and consult with the chamber's board of directors. After an opening welcome by 2015 chamber board chairman Cathy Handley, Henke gave a brief review of 2015 and outlined the chamber's 2016 work plan.

Tuesday's banquet also featured a presentation from the Eureka Springs Community Center Foundation as well as a presentation on the city's trail system by Parks Commission chairman Bill Featherstone.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by illusionist Sean Paul and medium Juliana Fay of Intrigue Theater.

The banquet concluded with the presentation of the chamber's annual awards.

Melonlight Dance Studio was recognized as the Outstanding New Business. Molly Pinkley of Myrtie Mae's Cafe was presented with the Service Dedication Award. KJ Zumwalde of KJ's Caribe Restaurant received the Community Support Award, and the Reed family received the Community Foundation Award. The family operates Thorncrown Chapel, which was built by the late Jim Reed.

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