Central Arkansas community prepares to roll out red carpet for Kris Allen

A parade is tentatively scheduled for Friday in the central Arkansas city that is anxiously waiting to see whether or not the local worship leader will best either Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey or Allison Iraheta to advance from the final four.

“The amount of people involved supporting Kris is really remarkable,” Sonja Keith said. “A lot hinges on the results tonight, but ‘American Idol”s producers and scheduling people have been in contact with the city.

“Whether it is Friday or ends up being next week we want this to be a festive occasion for him and the town. We are very proud of him. It will most definitely be happening whether he moves on or not.”

Keith and two partners operate the 501 Advertising and Publishing Company which prints a monthly magazine highlighting faith and lifestyles in Central Arkansas. The agency is sponsoring tonight’s “Idol” watch party at New Life Church where Allen has performed as a worship pastor. It also backs the Kris Allen Kick Awesome Task Force and has acted as a liaison between local business and government leaders and the show.

“Conway and Central Arkansas has a lot of plusses and Kris and his success has helped shed a light on it,” Keith said. “Everyone can support this as a positive for our community. When something big like this happens to someone in our community, I consider them my neighbor.”

Allen’s success has been a welcomed feel-good story even though the recession hasn’t hit the region as hard as it has other places, Keith said.

With three local colleges–University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College–the impact of education on employment has softened blows felt by more manufacturing-based communities. Conway was, however, selected as the site for a new Hewlett-Packard sales and service center being built with an estimated 1,400 jobs, Keith said.

“While I’m sure we’ve had some impact from the recession, it feels a little insulated here,” she said. “We have a diverse economy and with a strong focus on education with three colleges and good public school systems, we have a quality of life that is a big plus.”


501 Life Magazine: http://www.501lifemag.com/

University of Central Arkansas: http://www.uca.edu/

Hendrix College: http://www.hendrix.edu/

Central Baptist College: http://www.cbc.edu/


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