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Chamber looking to future

<p>Saying so long: Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Hixson (right) visits with Martha Parsons (center) and Pam Baumgartner (left) at a farewell reception held in Hixson’s honor last Friday.</p>

Saying so long: Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Hixson (right) visits with Martha Parsons (center) and Pam Baumgartner (left) at a farewell reception held in Hixson’s honor last Friday.

Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Board President Jason Shook, manager of Arvest Bank in Paris, said last week he hopes to have a new Executive Director for the chamber by the first of the year.

Meanwhile, former Executive Director Linda Hixson spent part of the day last Friday saying goodbye. A come-and-go reception in Hixson’s honor was held last Friday, her last day on the job, at the chamber building on West Walnut Street.

However, before the chamber’s board starts taking applications for Hixson’s former job, Shook and other board members are going to talk to members of the Paris City Council first, Shook said. That’s going to happen because the city is the largest investor in the PACC, Shook said. The city pays the chamber $50,000 a year under an economic and tourism development contract.

“We’re going to talk with the City Council to get their input on what direction we want to go on hiring someone,” Shook said.

That meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

“We’d like to use this as an opportunity to really define the direction we want the chamber to go,” Shook said.

Shook added that the board wants to takes its time in making a hiring decision.

“We don’t want this to be a quick decision by any means,” he said. “It takes a very special person to do this job.”

In the meantime, the PACC office will be staffed by volunteers, Shook said.

Hixson said she left to become a personal assistant to a couple living in northern Logan County. She joined the chamber in 2007.

Although, Hixson is gone from the chamber, she will still play host to a tour group scheduled to be in Paris in late November, will help in hosting a meeting of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission in mid-November and will help coordinate the annual Christmas Parade and Lighting Ceremony in late November.

Shook said once the organization’s board meets with the City Council, it will probably start accepting applications for the Executive Director’s job.

“Hopefully we can have someone in place by Jan. 1,” Shook said. “That may be pushing it, but we’ll see.”

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