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Attention all champions of local places

Do you have a favorite local historic place? The Clayton House, Bonneville House, Miss Laura's, Drennen-Scott House, our historic downtowns? Any of the amazing places with compelling and relevant stories to tell?

A recession can be something we fear or something we embrace - as a chance to engage and share experiences right here at home.

Think about the opportunities we'll enjoy this coming spring and summer. How can we seize the anticipated family decisions to stay home and explore the places they live?

We have January, Feburary, and part of March to take a good, honest look at our favorite non-profit places and make sure our product - and its story - is in order.

Let's communicate a message about our favorite historic place that meets people where their interests lie. How can we bring artists to the Art Center? How can we entice attorneys to want to spend time at the Clayton House? Dare we celebrate the history of tattoo artists on Garrison Avenue?

We'll never continue to preserve these places for another generation by guilting our friends and neighbors into caring. However, if we make a connection between people long gone and professionals yet to be born, we'll never be able to halt the enthusiasm and passion.

You know the best part? It doesn't cost much to tell a good story.

Note: Chris Atkins, Vice President, Corporate Communications at Standard & Poor's, predicts a "big rise in the appeal of so-called 'stay-cations next spring and summer.'" Source: FirmVoice.com

 

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One of my favorite places to

<p>One of my favorite places to soak up the rich history of our area is <strong>atop the Ferris wheel </strong>at <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">West End</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Park</st1:placetype></st1:place>, at the foot of <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Garrison Avenue</st1:address></st1:street>. Every time my seat comes back around to the top, I try to gaze 360 degrees (that takes being brave enough to&nbsp;twist in your seat), from back to the right, with beautiful Miss Laura&rsquo;s, along the river, over to the grounds and buildings of the Fort Smith National Historic Site, and then along Garrison Avenue all the way to the icon steeple of Immaculate Conception church. I love that ride and wish I could do it a lot more often!</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">I would like to share a thank-you note here to all of the historic places in our area &ndash; well, a lot of them, and the people who keep them alive. The Leadership Fort Smith Class of 2009 began its education with a session on our area&rsquo;s history. Our region is blessed with dedicated and talented citizens who carry the torch of maintaining our cultural heritage. I thank them for shining a light on the fascinating stories that are ours. Our region has enough historical attractions in this area for a family to take oodles of vacations without having to drive even 30 minutes.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; text-indent: 0.5in; line-height: 200%">For our wonderful day, I thank:</p><ul><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Tom Wing</b>, director of the Historical Interpretation degree program (the only such one nationwide) at UA Fort Smith, for the life he brings to history lessons;&nbsp;<span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;</span></li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Fort Smith National Historic Site</b> Park Ranger <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Jeremy Lynch</b> for his superb story-telling and 1817 Rifle Regiment demonstration; Park Guide <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Kerry Vogelpohl</b> for taking us back to the 1860s to get a figurative &ldquo;whiff&rdquo; of &ldquo;Hell on the Border,&rdquo; the nickname of the federal jail (1872-1887) that makes such an interesting tour; and Superintendent <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Bill Black</b> for sharing with us the tremendous story of the park&rsquo;s development and exciting future plans;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Leisa Gramlich</b>, executive director of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Fort Smith Museum of History, </b>and her staff<b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"> </b><span style="mso-spacerun: yes">&nbsp;</span>for our visit to the 1920s Soda Fountain and Pharmacy and her presentation on the wonderful future of the museum now being initiated;</li><li>Staffs of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Spiro Mounds Archeological State Park</b>, <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Clayton House</b>, <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Bonneville House</b>, <st1:placename w:st="on"><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Fort Smith</b></st1:placename><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal"> <st1:placename w:st="on">Trolley</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Museum</st1:placetype>, <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">Lake</st1:placetype> <st1:placename w:st="on">Fort Smith</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">State Park</st1:placetype></st1:place></b> and the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">A &amp; M Scenic Railway</b> for sharing the histories and missions of these historical treasures;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Clara Jane Rubarth</b>, <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Carole Barger</b>, <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Joe Wasson</b> and <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Al Whitson</b> of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Fort Smith Historical Society, </b>the &ldquo;voice of history&rdquo; for our region, for their presentation on The (award-winning) Journal (see <a href="http://www.fortsmithhistory.org/"><font color="#800080">www.fortsmithhistory.org</font></a>), website, and World War II veteran oral interviews;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Graham Sharum</b>, chair of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Belle Grove Historic District Commission</b>, for his explanation of this 22-square-block neighborhood with more than 20 different architectural styles;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">The Honorable Jim Spears, </b>who inspired us with the story of U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves and the project to honor his life with what will be the only equestrian statue in Arkansas;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Bradley Martin</b>, executive director of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Fort Smith</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">Trolley</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Museum</st1:placetype></st1:place>, for a ride on a lovingly restored 1920s electric streetcar;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Jayne Hughes</b>, coordinator of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Central Business Improvement District</b> of the City of Fort Smith; local historian <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Chuck Girard</b>; <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Richard Griffin</b>, who has restored downtown buildings including the Adelaide Hall (circa 1871); and <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Phil White</b>, who also has done so much to preserve our history and make downtown a place where families can have fun, for their presentation of <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">&ldquo;Garrison Avenue: Its Past, Present and Future;&rdquo;<o:p></o:p></b></li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Brenda Andrews</b>, senior planner for the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">City of Fort Smith</b>, for her insightful tour of our fascinating Belle Grove Historic District;</li><li>The <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">City of Fort Smith Transit Department</b> for our ride on the rubber-tired Trolley through the Historic District;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Miss Laura</b> (aka Carolyn Joyce), who warmly welcomed us into her delightful riverfront abode and gave us a tour of the only former brothel listed on the National Register of Historic Places;</li><li><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Claude Legris</b>, executive director of the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">Fort Smith Convention and Visitor&rsquo;s Bureau </b>(located in Miss Laura&rsquo;s), for his inspiring presentation of the reasons we all should help preserve and share our region&rsquo;s unique, colorful and lovely history.</li></ul><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">Julie Moncrief</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt">Leadership <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Fort Smith</st1:place></st1:city></p>

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