Senator John Boozman made a stop in Booneville last week during a two day tour of western and southwestern Arkansas.
Boozman’s stop here on Monday was to tour the Stirling Soap Company, located on Broadway, and followed stops in Fort Smith at the River Valley Food Bank, Rheem Manufacturing and the fire station at the Fort Smith Airport.
Here, Boozman talked with Stirling owners Rod and Mandy Lovan about their company’s history and witnessed the creation of both bath soap and the company’s primary product of shave butter.
“We could not have been more honored to have Senator Boozman choose to stop by and spend time with us,” Rod Lovan said. “He and his staffers were extremely personable and we enjoyed giving them the tour of the shop and explaining what we do and how we got to where we are today.
“It was good to have someone in his position show a real interest in small business in rural Arkansas.”
Following the tour Boozman took photographs with the Lovans as well as the entire staff at the manufacturing firm.
In a tweet with photos from the visit, Boozman said, “It was pleasure to meet the entire team, and learn more about this business and all the interesting elements that go into it.”
Rather than campaigning during the Congressional break period, Boozman said the purpose of his visit to the area was to merely chat with people about multiple topics, including making a first trip to the Fort Smith fire station which he said was was the result of a collaboration between community and military leaders.
Boozman worked with transportation and military officials at all levels to support operations at both the Fort Smith Regional Airport and the area’s military facilities after the station was set to close.
The National Guard’s 188th unit had provided fire rescue for the airport but when the 188th mission changed to one of unmanned craft, the service was pulled, leaving the airport in a bind.
The Rheem visit came just days after the firm marked its the 49th anniversary of Rheem’s original heat and air production line in Fort Smith.
While at the food bank, the senator talked to business owners and elected officials about the Farm Bill that was passed by Congress in 2018.
“You know, the majority of the Farm Bill actually has to do with you all,” Boozman said. “Only about 20 percent of it has anything to do with farmers. Most of it’s a trillion dollars spent, so it’s a lot of money, but most of that is in the nutrition part of things. We’re also in the process now of trying to get the child reauthorization nutrition program done. That’s kind of on autopilot, but we’d like to improve it.”
The Times Record contributed information used in this report.