Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WMWO Chamber makes donation to Smiles Park at Kiroli


The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce had an incredible opportunity to help support a new addition to the community.
The Chamber recently made a monetary donation to the new West Monroe Civitan Smiles Park project. The park will be a new inclusive children's playground with a handicapped-accessible pavilion and restrooms built within Kiroli Park in West Monroe.

At the Chamber's Annual Banquet on December 8, a $2,500 donation was presented to the West Mornoe Civitan Club on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce and Chick-fil-A. Carrie Kurlander, vice president of public relations at Chick-fil-A, served as the keynote speaker at the Chamber's Annual Banquet. In appreciation for Chick-fil-A's generous support of the banquet, the Chamber wanted to make a donation in the company's honor to a program that would enhance the West Monroe area for families.

The Civitan Club, organizers of the annual Ark-La-Miss Fair, is the major sponsor of the project along with the City of West Monroe. The Civitan Club has worked for two years with Shane's Inspiration, a California-based non-profit organization, to design Smiles Park.

Matt West, Committee Chairman of the park project, said playgrounds such as these are for all children of all abilities to play on. The misson of the project is to create social inclusion for children with disabilities through the vehicle of inclusive playgrounds and programs.
The Civitan Club hopes to raise approximately $1.2 million to complete Smiles Park. Funds raised to date are $350,000 of which the West Monroe Civitan Club is contributing $270,000 of its own funds. The goal is to finish fundraising as soon as possible and begin construction on the park sometime in 2015.

To learn more about Smiles Park, you can visit www.wmcivitan.com. The park also has a Facebook page where updates are posted on fundraising and construction plans. Check it out at www.facebook.com/WestMonroeCivitanSmilesParkatKiroli or call (318) 884-9810.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

WMWO Chamber announces award winners at Annual Banquet

The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the winners of several awards presented at the Annual Banquet held on Monday, December 8.

The two highest awards presented by the WMWO Chamber are the A.O. Evans Award and the Entrepreneurial Success Award.

The A.O. Evans Award is presented annually to an individual who has made lasting contributions to the West Monroe and West Ouachita areas.  The award is named after the founder of the Chamber of Commerce - A.O. Evans.  The 2015 Award Winner is Johnny Huntsman, founder of Johnny's Pizza House.

The Entrepreneurial Success Award is presented to a WMWO Chamber business that exemplifies a true entrenpreneurial spirit in three areas - employees, management style and entrepreneurial spirit. The Third Annual Award was presented to Linda Silmon and her team at Silmon Cash & Carry, Inc. of West Monroe.

Other awards presented at the Annual Banquet include Diplomat of the Year, which was presented to Jeanette Hrafnsson of Cheeks Air Worx. Four public safety officers of the year were also recognized. Those winners include City of West Monroe Police Department - Detective Matt Graves; City of West Monroe Firefighter of the Year Captain Christopher Long; Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Deputy Todd McLain and Ouachita Parish Firefighter of the Year Captain Michael Young.

Congratulations to all of this year's winners!

An online photo gallery of this year's Annual Banquet and winners was provided by Amanda Leigh Photography and can be found at:


Monday, December 1, 2014

WMWO Chamber Banquet & Silent Auction December 8

A trip to Cancun - one of the amazing trips offered at this year's silent auction.

The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce will host a silent auction as part of this year's Annual Banquet on Monday, December 8 at the West Monroe Convention Center.

The silent auction will open to bidders beginning at 6 p.m. at the Convention Center, and bidding will be allowed until 7:30 p.m.

Several wonderful packages are being offered at this year's auction, many of which feature local products, goods and services. The packages are themed and include "Girls' Weekend Getaway," "Family Adventure," "Taste of the Bayou" and "Sportsman's Paradise."

If adventure is your passion, there are several packages waiting just for you. Up for bid is a plane ride for two to New Orleans where you can watch the New Orleans Saints play from a suite in the Superdome. For the outdoor lover, there is a guided duck hunt up for grabs as well as a guided fishing trip, provided by the ULM Fishing Team.

For the travel lover, we have seven destination packages ranging from tropical getaway to exciting big city adventure. Some of these packages include a Classic Wrigley Field Rooftop Experience, an Amazing New York City Weekend, Napa Valley Backroads and Railways and tickets to see the Country Music Awards or the ESPY Awards.

To learn more about the seven destination packages, please Click Here.

Tickets are still available to attend the Chamber's Annual Banquet and Silent Auction. To learn more about these silent auction items or to purchase tickets, please call the WMWO Chamber of Commerce at (318) 325-1961.

Napa Valley Backroads and Railways Silent Auction package.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Support Small Business Saturday on November 29

Ready to do some holiday shopping after Thanksgiving?

When making your holiday shopping list this week, be sure to think small - as in Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses throughout the United States. The day was founded by American Express in 2010 and is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year's Small Business Saturday will be celebrated on Saturday, November 29.

The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce encourages shoppers to think small when making this year's holiday purchases. Consumers play a key role in helping small businesses become successful. By shopping or dining at a small business, you show support for small businesses while reinvesting in the community we call home.

This area is home to hundreds of small businesses that offer unique items that can't often be found in larger retail stores. To learn about some of the small businesses found in this area, visit the Chamber's web site at www.westmonroechamber.org.

For more information about Small Business Saturday, check out this video:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ouachita Green to host America Recycles Day event November 15

Ouachita Green will celebrate America Recycles Day on Saturday, November 15 with a free recycling event for the entire community.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Monroe Civic Center plaza.

This is a great opportunity for area residents to recycle items from their households. Items that will be accepted include tires, office paper, magazines, card board, white goods and scrap metal, automobile batteries and electronic waste (such as computers, monitors, assorted computer accessories, printers, scanners, VCRs, DVD players, TVs, cell phones or anything with a cord).

Goodwill Industries will be on site this Saturday to accept such household items as clothes, shoes, jewelry, working electronics, games, furniture, home decor, working appliances, etc.

The collection is for households only - large quantities from businesses or commercial operations will not be accepted.

PROHIBITED Materials include the following items: Glass, household chemicals, pesticides, paints, stains, motor oil, infectious/medical waste, radioactive materials, compressed gas cylinders, ammunition, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and explosives.

For more information about Ouachita Green, visit www.ouachitagreen.org.

For more information about America Recycles Day, visit www.americarecyclesday.org.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chamber seeking nominations for two annual awards

Each year, the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce presents two annual awards that recognize an outstanding individual and business in the community.
These awards are the A.O. Evans Award and the Entrepreneurial Success Award, which will be presented at the Chamber of Commerce's Annual Banquet to be held on Monday, December 8 at the West Monroe Convention Center. Guest speaker for this year's Annual Banquet is Carrie Kurlander, Vice President of Public Relations at Chick-fil-A.
The A.O. Evans Award and Entrepreneurial Success Award are the two highest honors presented by the Chamber of Commerce. Nominations are now being sought for both awards. 
The A.O. Evans Award recognizes one individual in the area each year for outstanding contributions to the West Monroe and West Ouachita area. The person cannot be an elected official who currently holds office nor can they be on the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber Board of Directors.  This person must have made several contributions to the betterment of the community.

The A.O. Evans Award was first presented in 1976 to Mr. A.T. Mitchell.  When considering a name for the new award, the Chamber Board decided to name it in honor of the founder of the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce – A.O. Evans.

The Entrepreneurial Success Award honors a current WMWO Chamber business member or individual member that exemplifies the true entrepreneurial spirit in three areas – employees, management style and entrepreneurial spirit. This year marks the third time the award has been given. The first two receipients were Johnny's Pizza House and Linda Lavender School of Dance, respectively.

Nominations are due by Monday, November 17. We strongly encourage the business community to take time to nominate an individual or business that has shown leadership and dedication to this area. Please call the WMWO Chamber Office at (318) 325-1961 for a nomination form or to get more information on either award.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tips for businesses this Halloween

Halloween is just days away and that means thousands of children will be walking up and down streets in our community. For those businesses in a high foot-traffic area, Halloween is a greaty way to connect with the community.

There are some safety tips for businesses to keep in mind on Halloween:

Clear the Runway - prepare your business for trick-or-treaters by clearing your entrance, lawn and sidewalks of any tripping hazards.

Flame Off - avoid using Halloween decorations with real flames - use battery-operated lights instead.

Shine a Light - even if your business isn't participating in Halloween, turn on your exterior lights for the big evening, which will help reduce the risk of vandalism and help pedestrians navigate sidewalks safely.

Drive Safely - if your business employs a substantial number of drivers, emphasize safe driving habits. Slow down, especially in neighborhoods.
For more ideas on Halloween safety, visit:
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Early Voting in Ouachita Parish through October 28

Early voting for the November 4 election begins today and continues through October 28. There are several high-profile races in this election including United States Senator and Congressman for the 5th Congressional District.
Some voters may not realize there are also 14 proposed amendments to the Louisiana Constitution.  Those amendments include:
Amendment No. 1 - Medical Trust Fund and Provider Base Rate
Amendment No. 2 - Hospital Assessment, Trust Fund and Fee Formula
Amendment No. 3 - Sales of Property with Delinquent Taxes
Amendment No. 4 - Fund Transfers for an Infrastructure Bank
Amendment No. 5 - Elimination Mandatory Retirement Age of Judges
Amendment No. 6 - Higher Millage Cap for Police and Fire Protection in Orleans Parish
Amendment No. 7 - Property Tax Exemption for Certain Disabled Veterans
Amendment No. 8 - Artificial Reef Development Fund
Amendment No. 9 - Tax Exemption Reporting for Permanently Disabled Residents
Amendment No. 10 - Tax Sale of Vacant, Blighted or Abandoned Property
Amendment No. 11 - Increases the Number of State Departments from 20 to 21
Amendment No. 12 - Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Membership
Amendment No. 13 - Orleans Lower Ninth Ward Vacant Property
Amendment No. 14 - Tax Rebates, Incentives and Abatements
More information about these proposed amendments can be found at the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana's web site at www.parlouisiana.org
Early voting takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day through October 28 except for Sunday. In Ouachita Parish, early voting can take place at the Registar of Voters office at 1650 DeSiard Street, Suite 125 in Monroe or at designated times at Chennault Aviation Museum. Call the Ouachita Parish Registrar of Voters office at (318) 327-1436 for more information.
For a complete list of races taking place in Ouachita Parish, visit the Louisiana Secretary of State's web site at www.sos.la.gov.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 2014 Member2Member Profile - Landrys Vineyards

The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce celebrates its October Member2Member Profile - Landry Vineyards.

Landry Vineyards was established in 1999 by Jeff and Libby Landry and their four sons - Ethan, Kohen, Noah and Micah along with the loving labor of family and friends. Landry Vineyards was licensed as a Louisiana Native Winery in 2003.

Originally from south Louisiana, the Landrys moved to Northeast Louisiana soon after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The Landrys used the opportunity to relocate to higher ground. They now reside in the beautiful hill country of West Monroe on a 20-acre site including a new winery, vineyards and beautiful tasting room.

The Landry family strives to produce quality Louisiana wines that are distinctive to the region while complimenting the rich flavorful Cajun foods of their French Acadian heritage. Landry Vineyards wines may be purchased in 300 stores throughout Louisiana, from their web site or by visiting Landry Vineyards.

Be sure to visit Landry Vineyards for yourself for a tasting or make plans to attend one of their popular outdoor concerts.

Landry Vineyards
5699 New Natchitoches Road
West Monroe, Louisiana 71292
(318) 557-9051


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival October 4

One of Northeast Louisiana's most unique and interesting festivals will celebrate its 10th Anniversary on Saturday, October 4 in West Monroe.

The Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games will take place on October 4 at Kiroli Park in West Monroe.  The all-day festival is family friendly.  There is no admission to attend the festival, but there is a 50 cents per person fee to enter into Kiroli Park.

The festival features a day filled with authentic Celtic music performed by well-known bands such as The Pure Drop, Emerald Accent, Traveling Murphys and a special performance by the Jackson Irish Dancers.

Not familiar with Celtic music?  Check out the link below as our very own WMWO Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Tom McCandlish and his pal Josh Madden performed at a recent Brown Bag Lunch Concert.  The duo played a selection of Irish tunes that had toes tapping.


The festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Besides musical performances throughout the day, there will be plenty of food vendors and crafters.  One of the highlights of the festival is the sanctioned Scottish Highland Games, where athletes in kilts compete in such events as the caber toss and throwing telephone poles.

The Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival is one of the oldest and longest-running festivals in the Northeast Louisiana area.  Bring the family and experience first hand the unique food, music and traditions that are part of Celtic heritage.

For more information, call the WMWO Chamber of Commerce at (318) 325-1961 or "like" the Celtic Festival on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NELACelticFest

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ouachita Green will host annual Water Sweep on September 20

Ouachita Green and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host the 9th Annual Water Sweep this Saturday, September 20 at boat landings throughout Ouachita Parish.

The Water Sweep event is held every year to raise awareness about the cleanliness of our local waterways, particularly along the Ouachita River, an area that brings economic development to the community while providing recreational activities to the public.

Members of the ULM Fishing Team and Ski Team have stepped forward as spokespeople this year to let the public know the importance of a clean waterway.  Not only does a clean waterway have aesthetic appeal, but it creates a safe environment for boaters and marine wildlife.

Volunteers are asked to participate this Saturday by removing litter along the banks of area waterways and debris that may be floating in the water.  Those who can volunteer can work by land, but those with boats are greatly needed along the waterway.

Various boat landings will be equipped with cleanup supplies and water for volunteers.  Staging sites will be set at Lazarre Park, Moon Lake, Forsythe Boat Landing, Bawcomville Recreational Area, Sterlington, Bayou DeSiard and Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge.

Staging sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.  To sign up as a volunteer, please visit:
There are a number of sponsors for this year's Water Sweep.  Sponsors include Angus Chemical/Dow Chemical, Coastal Conservation Association, The Radio People, and the organizations that make up Ouachita Green - Keep Monroe, Keep Ouachita Parish and Keep West Monroe Beautiful.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series kicks off in September

The West Monroe Brown Bag Lunch Concert series continues during the month of September.

Every Wednesday during the lunch hour, a local band will perform at the Pavilion located at 7th Square in West Monroe, directly behind the West Monroe Farmer's Market.

These free concerts are a great way to take a break during the work day and enjoy fresh air and the company of other business and community leaders and area residents. 

Local musicians perform each week, offering a variety of musical styles.  The Waterboys will perform a mix of classic favorites and alternative hits on September 10; Strauss Youth Academy of the Arts performs Broadway hits on September 17 and Josh Madden and Tom McCandlish perform on September 24 with a tribute to Celtic tunes and American rock 'n roll standards.

The concerts are conveniently located in the heart of West Monroe and amenities are provided to help you relax and enjoy the music.  Each week, local sponsors and partnering organizations provide beverages and light snacks for concert goers.  Refreshments such as bottled water, cookies and coke/rootbeer floats are provided to attendees at no cost.  If you don't want to bring your own lunch, food trucks are on site to sell you lunch.  The Pavilion offers plenty of shade, and the City of West Monroe provides chairs.

The concerts are organized by the City of West Monroe and West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce.  Sponsors are the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Centric Federal Credit Union and Ouachita Valley Federal Credit Union.

Make plans to attend this month's Brown Bag Lunch concerts and listen to some of the great musical talent found right here in our own community.  If you need more information, call the WMWO Chamber of Commerce at (318) 325-1961.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

WMWO Chamber to host Congressional Candidates' Forum Sept. 2

The West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce will host a Congressional Candidates' Forum on Tuesday, September 2.

The forum will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the West Monroe Convention Center.

Candidates who have qualified for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District race are invited to attend the forum.  Each candidate will given a set amount of time to address the audience, introduce themselves and explain why they want to be this district's next Congressman.

With the 5th District being large in geographical size, some of the candidates live in other parts of Louisiana.  This forum is an opportunity for voters of northeast Louisiana to meet the candidates in person and learn more about them and their platform.

The election is Tuesday, November 4.

The cost to attend the forum is $15 per person. Reservations will be taken through Friday, August 29 at noon.  To reserve a seat, call the WMWO Chamber of Commerce at (318) 325-1961 or email reception@westmonroechamber.org

Monday, August 18, 2014

Adopt a School during the 2014-2015 School Year

School bells are officially ringing in Ouachita Parish!

Our public schools enjoyed their first official day of school today.  As our children, teachers and faculty and staff begin to set goals for themselves this school year, the West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce encourages our local business community to consider taking an active role in the success of parish educational system.

The WMWO Chamber, in partnership with the Ouachita Parish School Board and Adopt-a-School Committee, hosts the "Adopt-a-School Program."  The goal is simple - connect at least one adopter with each of the 36 public schools in Ouachita Parish.  Adopters can be businesses, large or small, or even non-profit organizations, service clubs, churches or individuals.

What does it mean to adopt a school?  It means that as an adopter, you take time throughout the school year to check on your adopted school to see what needs they might have.  Perhaps they need a volunteer reader, a judge at the social studies fair, a cookie tray for Teacher Appreciation Week or someone to simply encourage the school and let them know they are doing a good job.

How do you adopt a school?  Contact the WMWO Chamber of Commerce if your business or organization is interested.  There is a minimal fee - $25 per new school adopted.  After the first year of adopting that school, there is a $10 renewal fee.  You choose the school you want to adopt, or we can help match your organization with a school in need.  Schools may have multiple adopters!

With all the changes in our state educational system this year, the WMWO Chamber feels it's even more important to show our support of our public schools.  Our children are the future workforce of this community.  There is no better investment to make in Ouachita Parish.  We strongly encourage our local businesses and organizations to consider adopting a school in Ouachita Parish and positively impact the lives of our children.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WMWO Chamber offers group travel to Ireland this spring

The WMWO Chamber of Commerce and the Ruston-Lincoln Parish Chamber of Commerce are partnering with Collette Travel to offer a group travel to Ireland in April 2015.

This "Shades of Ireland" trip offers a 10-day tour of Ireland.  Highlights include Limerick, Killarney, Blarney Castle, Waterford Crystal and Dublin.  The price of the trip is as low as $3,049 per person which includes round trip air fare, accommodations and meals.  The trip is scheduled to take place April 20-29, 2015.

If you have dreamed of going to Ireland or a trip abroad, we encourage you to attend an informational meeting at the WMWO Chamber office on Monday, August 4 at 5:30 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served.  There is no obligation by attending this meeting.  It's a free and informative gathering of people who are interested in learning more about this trip.

For additional details about the "Shades of Ireland" trip, we encourage you to check out this video:
Be on the look out for information on additional group travel opportunities.  The WMWO Chamber will offer a "New England Fall Colors" tour in Fall 2015.  Contact the WMWO Chamber at (318) 325-1961 for more information!

Monday, July 21, 2014

WMWO Chamber of Commerce joins the blogging community!

The West Monroe-West Ouachita chamber of Commerce is excited to delve into the blogging community! 

Through this blog, the WMWO Chamber hopes to reach a greater audience and continue to provide valuable tips and information to our members.  We'd like to share information with you on everything from tips to marketing and use of social media to information you need to know about upcoming events, community happenings, tax issues and much more.  If you're looking for information on a particular topic, let us know and we'll research it and share it on this blog!

This blog is another tool the Chamber can use to reach our members.  With nearly 600 members belonging to the WMWO Chamber of Commerce, our primary goal remains connecting members to members and giving area businesses the tools they need to be successful in our community.

Over the next several weeks, you will be hearing about several of the events being hosted by the WMWO Chamber including community festivals, concerts, networking opportunities and free trainings.  If you're not already a WMWO Chamber member, we hope you will consider joining.

For more information about the WMWO Chamber of Commerce, find us at www.westmonroechamber.org or on social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.