Community support and involvement in the police department has been strong enough to add a trained K-9 to the force at no expense to the city, Lonoke Area Chamber of Commerce members learned at the May 2 board of directors meeting. Presentation of "Max," a 9-month-old brindle Dutch Shepherd, and K-9 officer Doug Carter was the first "Everyday Hero" recognition by the Chamber.
Chamber members also heard a report of the past year at the Lonoke Exceptional Development Center by director Janie Sexton; job opportunities at the new Lonoke Waffle House; and coming changes at Little Rock Air Force Base.
New chamber president Leanna Rich, at the Chamber banquet in April, had announced the recognition of "Everyday Heroes" as one of the goals for her term. "Everyday Heroes go the extra mile for people," she said.
Assistant chief of police Randy Mauk introduced Carter and Max. Carter came to the department a year ago, and Max began patrol work March 30, Mauk said.
In fact, community support has been so strong that Max was purchased, his food is taken care of as well as medical and shelter, "At no cost to the city," Mauk said. "We really appreciate that," he said.
Adding a K-9 to the department was a suggestion by Carter soon after becoming a Lonoke officer, Mauk said.
Finding the department did not have a budget that could support a patrol canine, "[Carter] took it upon himself to go to every business he could, and every bank that he could, and came up with every bit of $10,000 to purchase this dog," Mauk said.
It has been a month since Max began, and he has already had an effect, Mauk said. "[Max] has made three arrests, for narcotics, and has assisted in tracking," he said.
"You are going to be seeing this guy quite a bit," Mauk said of Max, a brindle Dutch shepherd.
Mauk said that in the 18 years he has been at the police department, there had been only three K-9’s on duty. "And the community has been mostly involved in [Max]," he said.
In an interview, Carter said the community support for a K-9 has been very strong. "It didn’t take but a week and enough people had stepped up to help that there was enough to get Max, and take care of his food and medical. There is no expense to the city. Everybody has been real positive about it," he said.
The strength it will give the police department goes beyond having another officer on patrol, Carter said. "Just having a dog there sometimes is enough to make someone give up. That means officers are safer. It means everyone is safer. A bad situation can be stopped before someone gets hurt, or worse," he said."I think people supporting the department like they have is really great. It makes you proud to think about it," Carter said.
Waffle House representatives Barbara Bell, area people director and management recruiter; and Travis Long, regional manager, told of the preparations to build a Waffle House at Lonoke.
Long told of the history of Waffle House, and of the progress to build at Lonoke. Construction is expected to begin in late summer or early fall, he said.
There could be 20 to 30 people hired for the restaurant, Bell said. Much depends on the pace of the Lonoke business, she said.
Currently, emphasis is on finding a manager for the site, Long said. "We would love to hire our manager for that restaurant from this community," he said.
"We are looking for people with an ownership mentality. People that want to run the business in our guidelines but really own it and make it their own," Long said.
Bell said hiring the support associates, those who would cook and wait on customers, would begin about eight weeks before opening. "When you see us looking for those hourly associates you’ll know it is about a couple of months," she said.
"We are ready to hire a good manager today," Long remarked.
Waffle House employment information is available online at http://www.wafflehouse.com/whcareers, Bell said.
In other Chamber business, promotions committee chairman Bill Ryker reported that the 44th Lonoke Area Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Banquet was "fantastic."
"From what we have heard, it was one of the best we have had," he said.
Ryker said awards included a special recognition was given outgoing president Jo Liatsos for her community work; Teacher of the Year is Alice Bridges; Organization of the Year is the Interstate 40 Interchange Committee; Chamber Citizen of the Year is husband/wife Chris and Karen James.
FBLA scholarship winner is Madison Staton.
Ryker also reported that construction crews at the interchange site, "Are moving lots of dirt," and some pilings for the bridge supports have been set in place.
Lt. Col. Michael Donaghy, 19th Airlift Wing director of staff, said that the promotion of 19th Airlift Wing commander Col. Brian S. Robinson to Brigadier General is expected soon. However, Robinson is expected to be leaving the base in July for a new post that has not yet been announced.
Donaghy said that Robinson’s departure is part of "change-of-command season" at the base. A number of command positions, including Wing commander, are expected to be changed, including his own, Donaghy said.
He is expected to be named commander of one of the squadrons, and would be replaced as representative to the Chamber.
In other events, dedication of B-58 Hustler display would be the following day, Donaghy said. The ceremony is open to the public, he said. Speaker would one of the pilots who flew the bomber that is now part of Heritage Park, he said.
Date and time of the Air Base Memorial Day ceremony is to be announced, Donaghy said.
Lonoke High School Future Business Leaders of America report was given by Bailey Staton and Graycen Perkins.
Rich called for Chamber members to support the Everyday Hero program by nominations. Nominations can be made online, or at the Chamber office, she said.