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Business Pulse - Chamber in search of new president
J.R. and Annette Herrin will be operating Hickory Creek BBQ out of a building instead of a food trailer in the near future. They will also be offering a free Christmas Day meal to those in need this Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their location in the Three Star Mall parking lot.

I discovered the Surprise Business News of the Week on Friday afternoon when I learned the McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce is currently accepting applications for Chamber president.

Sarah Fryar Cantrell has been filling the role of interim president for about a year now and I just figured, apparently inaccurately, she would be named our next Chamber president.

When I contacted Sarah after reading about the job posting, she told me she would not be applying for the job, but would be staying on board until a replacement is selected in hopes of providing a smooth transition.

Sarah has been with our local Chamber since February 2018 and she seems to have the friendly and outgoing personality the job requires. But it’s hard to hire someone for a job if they don’t apply so here is the job posting information for anyone interested.

The McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce is seeking a qualified individual to fill the full-time position of president of the organization. The position requires impeccable customer service skills and the ability to work closely with the Chamber staff, volunteers, and the Board of Directors. 

The applicant should be qualified to manage financial decisions of the organization, management of staff, execute the organization's mission, administer grants, develop an annual budget, manage membership accounts, and oversee various programs, events, and activities. The candidate must be highly organized, disciplined in managing their time, have attention to detail, and effective writing skills. Salary based on experience.


• Minimum of four-year college degree or equivalent work experience in the areas of Finance, Business Administration, Economic Development, Marketing, or Community Development.

• Proficient in Microsoft Office products

• All candidates are subject to background checks and credit reports.

Deadline to apply: Jan. 4, 2021

Resumes can be brought to the McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce or submitted via email to

Free Christmas 

Meal & more

With the kind of year 2020 has been, I’m sure there are a great many local residents who would benefit from a free Christmas Day meal.

Look no further than J.R. and Annette Herrin at Hickory Creek BBQ, located in the parking lot of Three Star Mall. For the third year in a row, J.R. and Annette will be offering a free Christmas meal. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Friday.

On the menu will be a traditional Christmas feast with turkey, dressing, potatoes, and all the trimmings.

“Last year we ran out of turkey and dressing so we served BBQ,” said J.R. “They liked the BBQ just as much as the turkey. It’s pretty bad right now on people everywhere and we just want to help those who are in need.”

Added Annette, “We’re not going to buy them gifts, but we can feed them a meal.”

The meal has increased in popularity the first two years and J.R. said he’s expecting around 150 this year. 

“We’ll keep serving till all the food is gone,” he said. “We don’t have kids so this is something we enjoy doing to help the community.”

Hickory Creek BBQ also has big news when it comes to its everyday business at Three Star Mall. J.R. has purchased a building and is in the process of getting it ready to serve.

“This is a much bigger space and it gives us the opportunity to get set up in a way where we can serve more people,” said J.R. “It’s got a drive-thru window which is something people have been saying they’ve wanted. We’re not going to allow anyone to eat inside. To do that we’d have to have a bathroom. They can come in and pick it up or use the window.”

Annette sees the building as a way to expand and offer breakfast.

“I’d like to open up for breakfast down the road and give people one of those good Tas-T-O breakfasts,” said Annette.

For those who may not remember, Tas-T-O was a popular donut shop located at Plaza Shopping Center. I’d guess it’s been closed for around 20 years, but an exact date is eluding my memory.

I’m not a donut fan and I probably haven’t eaten a donut in two years, but I did love those Tas-T-O donuts. 

Annette used to work at Tas-T-O and she wants to bring back that delicious gravy. What a gravy it was.

J.R. estimates it will take him a couple months to get the building wired and ready to go. It appears Hickory Creek BBQ is doing well at Three Star Mall. The business can be reached at 409-5887 or 409-6026.

Odds & ends

From IDB

I attended this month’s Industrial Development Board meeting via Zoom. Just as a general statement I want to say trying to cover a meeting via Zoom is a maddening situation where you hear about one of every five words spoken.

To figure out what happened, I had to call IDB director Don Alexander on Friday and he was nice enough to translate what had happened. In the part of the meeting where goals were discussed for 2021, the two biggest goals identified were finding a tenant for the new spec building and getting right-of-way access to the over 200-acre Elam Industrial Site in Morrison.

“We have a strong financial commitment in that speculative building that should be our top priority,” said Don. “We’ve seen a lot of tire-kicking going on. People are waiting to see what happens in 2021 before they make a multi-million dollar commitment.”

I wouldn’t think now would be an optimum time for a business expansion, but perhaps the climate will improve in the second half of 2021 if we can get this virus knocked down.

As for Elam Industrial Site, the board is still seeking road access to Highway 55. In the meantime, Don says he’s looking at clearing about 60 acres of timber on the back side of that property.

The board is going to invite forester Ben Myers of Panther Creek Nursery to its January meeting and see if they can use his expertise to help them get a prime price for all that timber.

The IDB also continued discussions on a move from the second floor of the Chamber building to the first floor. It was noted the move would reduce the IDB’s rent from $1,350 to $800 per month and also allow the organization to become ADA compliant.

“Along the optics line, we don’t want to appear small,” said IDB member Brent Nunley, who asked how often prospects use the nice IDB conference room. Don said he figures it’s only used about 20% of the time.

“The need for the conference room has diminished,” said Don. “It hasn’t been completely obliterated but it has diminished.”

Don said because time is always tight with prospects usually needing to visit several communities while in the area, the first meeting usually takes place at the site itself. Then he said the robotics center and Mechatronics program are often visited.

That’s all folks

May you have a COVID-free Christmas and safely enjoy time with your family. Merry Christmas!