Chamber welcomes new executive director
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