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The show was an overwhelming success

By Debbie Wise
AAC Board President

It was such a joy to gather in Rogers/Benton County for the AAC’s 53rd Annual Conference in August. It warmed my heart to see all the smiling faces as attendees reconnected with friends and colleagues they had not seen in person since the start of the pandemic.

More than 500 people attended this year’s event. That number may be a bit lower than normal, but we aren’t living in normal times right now. However, I was proud of the safety precautions the AAC implemented, such as the distribution of masks to every conference attendee.

I must also recognize three of our exhibitors for their efforts to keep everyone safe. Homeland Safety Systems provided equipment for every attendee to have his or her temperature checked, and Your Disinfection Connection made sure every room we used was disinfected. In addition, I was pleased to see the Arkansas Department of Health offering a vaccination to every person who wanted one.

Of course, I am grateful for all our exhibitors and sponsors. We had 91 exhibitors and/or sponsors this year. Thank you to each of you — you make our conference possible. I appreciate your continued support of county government more than I can say.

The programming this year was outstanding. The topics discussed were diverse, ranging from the American Rescue Plan to cybersecurity to human resources. There was something for everyone. And I’m sure, like me, you all learned something new that will help you better serve your constituents back home.

The AAC staff brought together another distinguished group of speakers for this year’s conference. U.S. Senator John Boozman joined us to provide an update on issues including the federal infrastructure plan. National Association of Counties (NACo) Past President and Boone County, Kentucky, Judge Gary Moore spoke to what NACo is doing on a national level to help counties. Members of the Senate and House City, County, Local committees met to hear and discuss law enforcement challenges. Attorney Jerome Tapley provided insight on pending opioid litigation and what a settlement could mean for the state of Arkansas and its cities and counties. Finally, Gov. Asa Hutchinson took time from his busy schedule to speak to us and to answer several of our questions.

In this issue of County Lines magazine, you will see highlights from the event, starting on page 28 with our annual AAC scholarship winners. On page 30, you can read about the recipient of the 2021 Wes Fowler Advocacy Award — Conway County Judge and my fellow AAC Board Member Jimmy Hart. It was a pleasure to honor Jimmy for his years of dedication to county government. On the pages that follow, you can relive the conference and the annual Randy Kemp Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament through photos.

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