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Leadership Franklin County holds first graduation

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A graduation ceremony was held Tuesday, May 7, for the 2013 class of Leadership Franklin County – the organization’s inaugural class.

The ceremony was held at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, where LFC is housed, and saw 18 graduates receive commemorative plaques for their completion of the program. LFC develops current and emerging leaders to work together to serve the good of Franklin County, as well as the surrounding areas throughout the Arkansas River Valley. It provides four basic services to the communities and members: leadership development, in-depth knowledge of the county, community impact projects and networking. Former State Rep. Leslee Milam Post, who secured general improvement funds for a grant that helped launch LFC, was presented a special recognition plaque by Ken Warden, chief community and outreach officer for Arkansas Tech-Ozark. LFC graduate Jennifer Ree of Ozark was awarded the class’ distinction of “Outstanding Member,” which was voted on by her classmates. The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Daniel Shue of Fort Smith, 12th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney for Sebastian County, who gave graduates eight characteristics of a good leader, including paying attention to details. “The tiniest things make the biggest differences in people’s lives,” he said. LFC class spokesperson Eddie Melton of Altus presented the class’ group project: four Franklin County welcoming signs made from stone quarried from within the county. “There are welcome signs for cities, civic organizations, businesses, churches and schools, but it occurred to our group that we don’t have an official marker for our county,” he said. “These welcome signs will be inviting to visitors to our county and reminders to our residents that Franklin County is a great place to visit, live and conduct business.” Pending final approval from landowners and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, the signs will be placed along four major routes entering the county: Arkansas 22 West, Arkansas 23 South and North, and Arkansas 64 East. The proposed sandstone signs would be five-feet tall and four-feet wide. To date, nearly $2,000 has been raised from more than 20 donors, along with additional commitments for “in-kind” labor and materials, Melton said. LFC Director Marci Gage said, “The signs that Leadership Franklin County are proposing will serve as a long-lasting reminder of the unity of the county.  It demonstrates the capabilities of this group of leaders to work together. “Also, it will be a guide for future classes, who will be implementing their own class projects that will have an impact on the community. The members of this class are what made this year such a success.” Other 2013 graduates include the following: Kecia Berry of Ozark; Deborah Copsy of Paris; Clay Crowley of Charleston; Allison Davis of Charleston; Kevin Eveld of Ozark; Stacie Harden of Ozark; Frank Hug of Fort Smith; Cindy Kopack of Ozark; Aaron Mantooth of Ozark; Paul Post of Altus; Rob Ratley of Fort Smith; Laura Rudolph of Ozark; Jonas Shaffer of Charleston; Demus Shaw of Charleston; Brittany Standridge of Alma; and Cory Tedford of Altus.