Attracting and retaining business from conventions, events and tourism to the Fort Smith region relies heavily on the efforts of both the community and members of the region’s tourism and hospitality industry. That is why, each year, the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) takes the opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to those who have played an important role in accomplishing this goal. Please join us in congratulating—and expressing gratitude to—the following 2018 Hometown Hospitality Heroes
Bradley has served as the President of the Fort Smith Trolley Museum for the past six years and has been intimately involved in the establishment and growth of that institution since its creation in 1985. This past year Brad took the lead in attracting the members of the National Heritage Rail Association to hold their annual convention in Fort Smith, which will take place next April, bringing 195 conventioneers and their families to downtown Fort Smith. Not only will this make a wonderful impact on our local economy, but will certainly create 195 new ambassadors for Fort Smith. So we encourage others to follow Bradley’s lead in inviting their professional colleagues to town and express our appreciation to him as a Hometown Hospitality Hero.
As President of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce for the last 8 years, Tim Allen has certainly played a significant role in the continued development of Fort Smith and the surrounding region. Tim also did his part as the President of the Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives organization, by bringing their statewide annual conference to Fort Smith this past summer. About 200 of Tim’s colleagues took a firsthand look….and got to experience what they have been hearing about from Tim, and other Fort Smith folks for quite some time now. He tells us that the most common observation of his friends from across the state was that Downtown Fort Smith looks GREAT and is a very cool place….and while we all knew that….it’s still nice to hear. Thanks to Tim for being a Hometown Hospitality Hero.
FORT SMITH PARKS & RECREATION
Our next honorees are probably some of the most UNSUNG heroes of our City……the crew from the Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Department. Director Doug Reinert’s staff includes 23 full time and 36 seasonal and part-time laborers, who not only take care of 7 miles of trails and 7 miles of “sharrow” bike lanes throughout town, but take fabulous care of our 30 parks, including a municipal swimming pool, a wading pool, 4 splash pads, five community centers, 27 street medians and one cemetery! The staff says they love the fact that no two days are the same. Their favorite project is preparing and installing the City’s Christmas decorations….which takes two full months….in fact they get OUR decorations out even before some of the Department stores……just ask their Supervisor for Parks, Jim Mackey…….he’s only been doing this for the past 37 years! And they all certainly earned the title Hometown Hospitality Heroes, with their mammoth task of recovering from this year’s massive floods particularly with Fort Smith Park and our River Parks facilities JUST in time for a very busy event season.
HEROES WE WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER
We have very mixed emotions about our next four Hometown Hospitality Heroes. While we are very happy to pay them tribute, we will all miss their magnificent contributions to our City and our industry because they are no longer with us.
William (Bill) Neumeier Jr. was an absolute trailblazer in the revitalization of Downtown Fort Smith. Among many other projects, Bill was the owner and operator of two of Fort Smith’s most popular restaurants to this day, Papa’s Pub & PizzarIa and Neumeier’s Rib Room, one to tonight’s GRIT Award nominees for Restaurant Partner of the Year. But that’s only a small part of Bill’s legacy. Without his creativity, courage and commitment, there would probably be no Fort Smith Blues Festival, and Peacemakers Art and Music Festival—just to name a few of his most recent accomplishments. Fortunately his legacy as a Hometown Hospitality Hero lives on through the hundreds of like-minded individuals who learned many lessons from their dear friend and colleague.
Linda Seubold was certainly a legend in our community for many reasons……she was an award winning, hard core reporter and columnist for many years with the Southwest Times Record and of course co-founder and publisher of our GRIT AWARD partners at “Entertainment Fort Smith” magazine. Linda was a true dreamer and served as an inspiration for us all. Two of her favorite projects were the Historic Chaffee Barbershop, the site of the “Haircut Seem ‘Round the World” and a dedicated supporter of the Fort Smith Blues Society and Blues Festival, and yes, the US Marshals Museum.
Robert (Bob) Redo: Though he hails from Queens, New York, Bob and his wife Kim have made the River Valley their home for many decades. Bob was destined to be a cowboy and he and Kim played a leading role in the establishment of the local Cowboy Mounted Shooters organization and have always been very active in the sport. Bob and Kim, along with their best friend and kindred spirit Park Ranger Cody Faber at the National Historic Site always took it upon themselves to act as Fort Smith Ambassadors, brining clients who came to town from all over the country to buy horses to all of Fort Smith attractions. Bob was “head wrangler” in the film “The Riot Act” and was very active with the Lawbreakers and Peacemakers reenactment group—-and as a driving force in the construction of the western town, called Judgment Town. He wasn’t one for notoriety but was always there to make sure the job got done. His loss will be felt far and wide, but he left a legacy which all of us should strive to achieve.
Brenda Payne was one of our best hospitality partners, having worked at the Holiday Inn City Center in various capacities for almost 20 years, and playing a major role in the opening and development of our Parrott Island Water Park. Brenda mentored and inspired employees, co-workers and business colleagues alike with her unwavering smile and amazing hugs. Her loss leaves a big void in our Fort Smith hospitality sales team but she wanted very much to be remembered with joy. She is also the only person who now is the recipient of not one but TWO Hometown Hospitality Heroes recognitions. So at her direction we remember her many contributions not with sadness but with joy.
We are fortunate to have been blessed with these four individuals who all played a true role as Hometown Hospitality Heroes—-Heroes we are all honored to never, ever forget.