Governor Mike Huckabee was in Leachville on Friday, Feb. 15, to celebrate Buffalo Island's achievement of being designated Arkansas community of Excellence Regional Partnership status.
The Leadership Buffalo Island (LBI) group is made up of members from Leachville, Monette, Manila, Caraway, and Black Oak who worked collectively to achieve ACE accreditation for the entire Buffalo Island area.
"ACE standards are set high on purpose," said Huckabee. "When industries see an ACE community or a region, it stands out. It is like winning the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Only a small handfull of Arkansas communities have achieved the ACE status, which puts Buffalo Island in a very elite group.
"The Leadership Buffalo Island group achieved the ACE status in just two years, when it takes most communities five years," Huckabee said.
"This is the first time that five communities have earned ACE status and only the second cooperative to do so. I would say that is quite an accomplishment."
"These people are a wonderful group to work with," said Renee Doty, community development consultant for the Arkansas Department of Economic Development.
Ronnie and Sandra Kennett, along with the family of Boe and Myrna Adams served as hosts for the more than 100 people who attended the special ACE ceremonies, held at the Adams Estate, in Leachville.
LBI president, Steve Suber, served as master of ceremonies for the event, assisted by Kima Stewart, LBI member and Principal of BIC West Elementary, in Monette.
Special recognition was given to Buffalo Island mayors, ACE application staff, LBI presidents, and members. Mayors of the five cities included: Melvin Browning, Manila; David Fletcher, Monette; Ralph Wells, Leachville; Danny Dunigan, Caraway; and Norman Williams, Black Oak.
Barbara Suber and Kima Stewart were praised for their major roles in
completing the lengthy ACE accreditation application. LBI presidents, present and past, included: Steve Suber, Kaye Hultquist, Byron Sparkman, Ernestine Harrell and Shirley Adams.
"LBI is composed of members all across Buffalo Island," said Steve Suber. "We have worked together as partners to earn the ACE
"You should be proud to have accomplished such a milestone," Gov.
Huckabee said. "The LBI has made a great step forward in establishing economic development. Your communities are working as a region, not just as a local community. It is the region that the work force is drawn from and that sustains the quality of life for it's people.
"There was no political pressure or undue influence put on anyone for Buffalo Island to win this award," Gov. Huckabee said. "It was a simple case of hard work and determination by the LBI to earn it. Each of you deserve a sincere congratulations, for a job well done."
Leachville Mayor, Ralph Wells, presented Gov. Huckabee with the key to
the city. Peggy Williams, represented her husband Norman Williams, Mayor of Black Oak, presented Huckabee with an autographed copy of "The Summons," by Black Oak's former resident, John Grisham.
A special noon reception was held in the formal dining room, following the ceremonies.