Cham­ber wel­comes new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor

Serve Daily - - FOSTERING GROWTH - By Clark H. Caras

Edi­tor’s note: Clark H. Caras was re­cently named as the new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Span­ish Fork-Salem Area Cham­ber of Com­merce. He re­places Cary Hanks, who served as the cham­ber’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for five years and left to pur­sue another em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity.

If there ever was the case of a small town boy re­turn­ing home, then this is most def­i­nitely it. But the kink in the works is there re­ally isn’t a small town to re­turn to when it comes to Span­ish Fork, Salem and the other com­mu­ni­ties whose fam­ily DNA and life­lines flow to those two com­mu­ni­ties.

Yet then, af­ter spend­ing a few days back on Span­ish Fork Main Street and fol­low­ing the flow to the busi­nesses and home ar­ter­ies feed­ing off the Main Street and along High­way 89 into Salem, I’m find­ing more and more to my de­light the small town is here ... it’s just found among the peo­ple who are the ones I went to high school with and grew up with and now their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren along with the new­com­ers who have blended a won­der­ful old and new and man­i­fest a love for their adopted home­town and its val­ues.

I am Clark Har­ri­son Caras, born in Payson, Utah. I at­tended el­e­men­tary schools in Ben­jamin and Lake Shore, and then along with all the other “coun­try kids” found our­selves be­ing bused to the “Big City” of Span­ish Fork for mid­dle, ju­nior high and then high school for what can only be called the culling of the herd, as some of us made it and oth­ers went on to cho­sen paths more of their lik­ing.

And now af­ter that 1977 grad­u­a­tion of high school and years of travel, pol­i­tics - on both sides of the aisle - and the rub­bing of shoul­ders with men who would be gover­nors, am­bas­sadors and a few who would be pres­i­dent hope­fully some­day, I am back to white sauce at Glades, drop­ping neph­ews off to fish Salem Pond and help­ing to feed cat­tle and sheep on the Caras Ranch in Ben­jamin. I’m be­gin­ning to feel the arms of home­town stretch­ing around me.

Yet, so very much is gone, such as Sonoma’s, Gift Fair, Orr Elec­tric, Pre­mium Oil and, of course, my Grandpa Har­ri­son and Un­cle Tom’s Page’s Inc. But two weeks ago as I had the reins of ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Span­ish Fork-Salem Area Cham­ber of Com­merce placed in my hands I could feel the his­tory of all of those busi­nesses and the safe place they cre­ated for me in this area of south­ern Utah County.

Span­ish Fork and Salem and the busi­nesses here have given me eas­ily one of the great­est hon­ors I will ever have in my life. They have in­vited me to come home. I could list de­grees, places worked and seen and a few hope­fully de­served ac­co­lades I have ac­quired along the way. But those you can read on­line or just ask me about per­son­ally.

For now, what I will list are these things: I am a Caras from Ben­jamin, I am a Har­ri­son from Span­ish Fork. This is the town and peo­ple who be­cause of, I earned my Ea­gle Scout badge. It is also the place where I had the guid­ance of won­der­ful coun­selors and ad­vis­ers in 4-H and FFA. Main Street here is where I shopped and worked for the first time off the farm, that place be­ing the Ital­ian Place.

What I am try­ing to say is - this is my home. And I’ve come home. To friends and fam­ily and feel­ings fa­mil­iar, and I’m ex­cited to get to know those who are not yet in my cir­cle of in­flu­ence. On my first day of work I was able to sign up my first new mem­ber: the Caras Ranch. And yes, I will soon be knock­ing on your door if you are not yet a mem­ber. And I’ll do it be­cause there is a feel­ing of safety and home­town in this place. So please, as I come around and in­tro­duce my­self, just know I won’t be leav­ing un­til I thank you for al­ready be­ing a mem­ber or telling you it’s time to join.

Clark H. Caras

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