Lonoke Area Chamber of Commerce members heard of an array of businesses preparing to open and outreach to the community at the June 5 meeting held at the Lonoke Depot.

Sonya McCall conducted the meeting.

Executive director John Garner, announced that Destiny Hall, secretary for the Lonoke High School chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, would be stepping as the new Chamber intern. "We are happy to have her."

Garner promoted the Chamber Web site, www.lonoke.com "It is a resource that needs to be used more than it is now," he said. The site averages 23 "hits" a day, with an average stay of one minute and 16 seconds. "That’s good," he said.

"There is not another Chamber our size that has its own Web site," Garner said

In other business, members heard that Waffle House is set to open the on June 12; Holiday Inn is set to open the August 15.

Garner also told of the May visit to Lonoke by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, where they conducted their regular meeting on May 7.

New member Terry Murphy, One Stop Diesel Shop, was approved. Murphy said his shop works on big trucks, tractors, trailers and associated equipment at their location at Interstate 40 exit at Kerr Road.

Vikki Parker, director of Options Pregnancy Center, formerly A Woman’s Place, with offices at Lonoke, Cabot and Beebe, told members about how the Center is changing to remain pertinent to its mission.

"Every year the conditions change because children are changing, teens are changing, young adults are changing. For them to understand that we are what they need, we have to change."

Changing the name to "Options" let the Center open its ministry to young men, Parker said. "As ‘A Woman’s Place’ a lot of times [men] thought, ‘I can’t go in because I’m male. They wouldn’t feel welcome,’" she said.

The name fits because the Center offers options to young fathers in the life choices they make, too, Parker said.

This year Options has begun using "Choosing the Best," an abstinence program Parker said, noting that Arkansas has gained the No. 1 spot in the birth rate to teen-age mothers. "Not pregnancy rate, but birth rate. That is a little bit different," she said. "It means fewer babies are lost to abortion, but it also means we need to beef up the abstinence education."

Abstinence is not only in regard to sex, but also in learning boundaries that extend to drugs and other life choices, Parker said. The program is not only presented at the Centers, but in school classes also – making good choices empowers teenagers, she said.

Rita Hill, director of Red Oak Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, told of the work done at the Center. "My goal is to make Red Oak the best nursing home this side of Little Rock."

Anyone with suggestions or concerns can come anytime to speak with her, Hill said.

Katie Rhoden, who graduated in May, was recognized for her two years of service as the Chamber intern. "I thank you…for all the help you’ve been," McCall said.

Lt. Col. Dawson Brumbelow, Little Rock Air Force Base – Lonoke community liaison, reported that another new J-model C-130 has been received at the base, and another is expected in a month.

There will be no Chamber meeting in July; the next meeting will be Aug. 7.