Chamber looks to new interchange

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Ed Galucki Rick Pennington, owner of Lyons Drug Store.
Ed Galucki Mike Brown, director of the Lonoke Community Center.

Services at what is perhaps Lonoke’s oldest business, the status of the Lonoke Community Center and reminders of the upcoming Relay for Life were part of the Lonoke Area Chamber of Commerce meeting held Thursday, March 7, at the Lonoke Depot.

Also, members heard that part of this year’s Chamber Appreciation Banquet would be recognition of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Commission on the start of construction of the new Interstate-40 interchange with Arkansas Highway 89.

Promotions chairman Bill Ryker told of the plans for the 44th annual Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Banquet. The Banquet is set for 6 p.m., April 12, at the Lonoke Community Center, catered by King Kat, tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door, he said.

Outgoing Chamber president Jo Liatsos will present incoming president Leanna Rich, Ryker said. In Chamber tradition, the incoming president sets the theme of the banquet, and Rich has chosen “Everyday Heroes,” he said.

It also sets the tone for nominations of Citizen, Organization, and Educator of the Year, Ryker said.

Also at the banquet are recognition of Farm Family of the Year, and award of the FBLA scholarship, Ryker said.

Plans are to invite the Highway Commission members and AHTD director to recognize their part in bringing the new interchange to Lonoke, Ryker said.

The interchange site is now marked with survey flags and other signs of progress, “You get a nice view of where everything is going to go and how it is going to be … It’s all coming together; it’s all happening,” Ryker said.

Chamber members must submit nominations for Citizen, Educator and Organization of the Year, Ryker said. The nomination ballots will be mailed to members, he said.

Members at the meeting were given nomination forms attached to copies of the meeting minutes. Nominations can be emailed as well.

“Every year we hear the same thing after a banquet, ‘Why didn’t they have so-and-so as Citizen of the Year?’” Ryker said.

Too often, a nomination is not submitted on the thought that someone else would do it, Ryker said. “We might not be associated with the people, and you are, and you are a [Chamber] member … it is members who get to pick,” he said.

Some of the requirements are: nominee must have lived or been headquartered in Lonoke for no less than one year; community involvement should be in more than one event – community contributions over more than one year will be considered; and community contributions must be generally recognized.

Nominations will be kept confidential, known only by the panel of judges.

FBLA members Anna Bowie and Emily Ellis made FBLA report. The Lonoke High School FBLA chapter has been working on the March of Dimes project, which was done at the Primary and Elementary schools on Friday; totals have not yet been tallied. Book collection for the library is being done at the High School.

Community Center director Mike Brown recalled the success of the city saw in bringing the Center to reality 11 years ago, and the Center is still growing in services and recognition. “It does not seem like it could be 11 years already,” he said.

“When we opened the Center, the theme was, ‘A Center for All Generations,’” Brown said. “We have things for newborns up to 99 years old,” he said.

There have been people from as far as Russellville come to join the Lonoke Community Center, Brown said.

The Center has been, “the envy of Arkansas,” Brown said. “People call from other towns call or come in to find out, ‘How did Lonoke do it,’” he said.

“We are still here, and still growing strong,” Brown said.

Partnerships with a wide range of agencies, groups and organizations has been a strong point of the Center, Brown said. “If somebody wants to do something, I’ll partner up with them,” he said.

Banquets, driver testing, hunter education, HIPPY, Century League After Prom, boating safety programs, health monitoring programs, safe swimming program and others, Brown said. “We have opened the Center up to the community,” he said.

The swim team has led to a swim team at the high school, Brown said. “In the next couple of years we should see some kids that started [here] are going to be getting college scholarships, he said.

Basketball, soccer, a virtual triathlon are part of the center. Minor league basketball is attracting some star players, “We have a lot going on,” he said.

Possibly the best workout room in the state, is going to be revamped with new equipment, Brown said.

In the past five years the Center has spent nearly $200,000 for equipment, Brown said.

A digital sign similar to the Chamber’s sign is in the future, he said.

Rick Pennington told of new services being provided at Lyons Drug Store. Afterward, Pennington said the store was bought by John Lyons in the early 1940s, but there was a Lyons Drug Store at Lonoke in the early 1900s, he said.

“From what I understand, it started out as a saloon,” Pennington said.

But the store, now in the former McCrary’s store location, has progressed with the times and added, Pennington said.

Computers and social media are part of Lyons’ out reach, Pennington said.

A new line available at the store is diabetic footwear, he said. His wife is certified to fit the shoes, he said.

The Take Charge Lifestyle Plan weight loss and high BP chol can decrease BMI, which can also lower BP and cholesterol, Pennington said. It is a 13-week program that can be worked into other areas, he said.

Other services include in-store cholesterol checks, and a blood-pressure check that upload readings to one’s own website or to a particular doctor. It can also store the information in the store’s system to monitor regular BP checks, he said.

“We can also flavor medications for kids,” Pennington said. “We’ve done a lot of Tamiflu this year,” he remarked.

Special medications can be compounded in the pharmacy, such as rub-on gels for hormone therapy and pain medicine, Pennington said. Testing for hormone levels can also be done in the pharmacy. “If they are low, we can send the test to your doctor and he can recommend what you need,” he said.

The pharmacy website, www.lyonsdrugstore.com, is available with some services offered, Pennington said. A link is provided for a site where prescription numbers can be entered to be sent to the pharmacy, “We can fill [prescriptions] that way,” he said.

There is also a smart phone app available to use for filling prescriptions,

A newer site with more services is under development, Pennington said.

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