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Chamber director leaving Nov. 8

Linda Hixson, executive director of the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce since 2007, has resigned her position effective Nov. 8.

Hixson informed the organization’s Board of Directors at a regularly scheduled meeting held on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Hixson said she is going to become a personal assistant to a couple living in northern Logan County.

Hixson described her decision as “retiring from public service and going into private service.” She also said her decision wasn’t about the chamber. “It’s about Linda,” she said.

“This is an opportunity for me,” she said. “I’m at a point where I can cut back. I just turned 61 years old and I gave myself a birthday present and I’m excited about it.

“I’m not leaving the community and I’m not falling off the face of the earth or anything like that,” she said.

During her time at the chamber, Hixson came up with the idea of Paris Without A Passport, a program that provides a tourism experience for bus tours coming to the community. The program, which began in 2008, was one of three finalists earlier this year for the Community Tourism Development Award given by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism under its Henry Awards Program. The other two finalists were Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and the Sculpture Garden in Little Rock. The winner was Crystal Bridges and the award was presented at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in March.

Hixson called Paris Without A Passport her biggest achievement while at the chamber.

Under the program, Hixson dresses in costume as Marie Antoinette to welcome the tour group to the community. Hixson made the costume. Members of the group are entertained and visit area attractions, such as the Logan County Museum, Coal Miners Memorial and Museum, Subiaco Abbey, Cowie Wine Cellars and the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum and Mount Magazine State Park. The experience is customized for each group. Sometimes, the group is entertained and has a catered meal.

“I’ve entertained probably 1,600 people over the last five years,” Hixson said.

Although, Hixson is leaving Nov. 8, she will put on the costume again for a tour group scheduled to be in Paris in late November, will help in hosting a meeting of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission in November and will help coordinate the annual Christmas Parade and Lighting Ceremony in November.

Hixson also complimented the current chamber board of directors, calling them “wonderful people.

“I look at this as an opportunity for the chamber and the city,” Hixson said. “It’s an opportunity to define goals, expectations and a vision for the chamber.”

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