Once a quarter, our staff selects a member of the Fort Smith community to be named a Hometown Hospitality Hero.
Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry. Often, Fort Smith attracts these conventions, events, and tournaments after individual local citizens decide they’d like their group’s event to be held in Fort Smith and take the initiative to bring a potential event to our Convention & Visitors Bureau’s attention. We work with these citizens to win the bid, attract attendees and help their idea come to life. The citizens that our staff feels have brought the most positive exposure and economic impact to our city we name Hometown Hospitality Heroes. We appreciate these people and all of those who help us bring more visitors to Fort Smith more than we can say!
Our newest hometown hospitality hero is Bill Hollenbeck, Sheriff of Sebastian County. Bill was instrumental in bringing the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association Convention for 2013 to Fort Smith on
July 9 -11, 2013 at the Holiday Inn City Center. Last summer, 2012 the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association was held in Harrison, Arkansas. It was during last year’s convention that Bill sought out Ronnie Baldwin, Executive Director for the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association. Bill began to speak with Ronnie about the rich history of Fort Smith. He told Ronnie that Fort Smith had been selected for the home of the United States Marshal’s Museum and he gave Ronnie lots of good information on all there is to see and do in Downtown Fort Smith and the adjacent historical district. He also spoke to Ronnie about the many western traditions regarding law enforcement and how the historic site, gallows and Clayton House would be of significant interest to a law enforcement group.
Bill piqued Ronnie’s interest enough that Fort Smith was invited to submit a proposal. The Arkansas Sheriff’s Association Convention had been previously held in Hot Springs, Little Rock and most points east. Building on Sheriff Hollenbeck’s excellent ground work, the Fort Smith hospitality team created a proposal that was affordable, met the Association’s specific needs and provided enticing attractions and activities for this group to enjoy in our city.
The relationships that Bill established over the years in working with his colleagues resulted in the great enjoyment of his peers at the convention and significant economic gain to the City of Fort Smith. This event brought 300+ attendees and about 225 room nights stays at our local hotels. Sixty eight vendors were exhibitors at this event including Arkansas Crime and Information Center, Children’s Advocacy Center of Arkansas, Fleet Safety Equipment, Montgomery Technologies and many more! The direct economic impact of the convention is $33,750. The total economic impact is $101,250.
Ronnie Baldwin, Executive Director for the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association tells us: “Bill did a fantastic job on this conference. The activities and hospitality experiences he organized were second to none. Everyone especially enjoyed all the law enforcement history and proximity of the historic exhibits!”
Thank you, Bill Hollenbeck, for your hard work in initiating and supporting the local efforts to bring the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association to Fort Smith for their annual summer convention! We also want to acknowledge his staff’s hard work and support that made the convention such a tremendous success!
These folks are: Linda Williams, Fran Hall and Chief Deputy Mike Blevins. Quorum Court member Linda Murray and Sheriff Hollenbeck’s wife Karen hosted the sheriffs’ wives with a special southern tea served at the Clayton House. William Henry Harrison Clayton, the federal prosecutor in the court of celebrated frontier Judge Isaac C. Parker was the owner of this Victorian home. Special acknowledgements go out to Judge Jim Spears, Jeremy Lynch of Judge Parker’s National Historic Site and all the staff, Dr. Kevin Jones UAFS for everything they did to make the event memorable for our guests.