- Special Sections
The Benton Area Chamber of Commerce has announced plans for the organization's annual banquet.
The banquet is scheduled for Feb. 5, 2013. Tickets may be purchased by contacting the chamber at 501-860-7004. Individuals tickets are $28 and tables for eight are available for $200.
The family life center at Holland Chapel Baptist Church will again serve as the venue for the annual gathering.
Keynote speaker will be Chad Pregracke, the founder of Living Lands & Waters, an organization dedicated to the preservation and cleaning of waterways in the United States.
According to the organization's website, Pregracke's desire to clean up the environment started early in life.
The Mississippi River was literally Chad Pregrackeâ€™s backyard while growing up near East Moline, Ill. The son of educators and river enthusiasts, KeeKee and Gary Pregracke, he and his older brother, Brent, spent the majority of their time on, in and around the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
At the age of 17, he started making calls to government agencies to notify them of river problems, assuming someone would take care of them. Year after year passed by and the problems only worsened. In 1997 Chad decided that, if no one else was going to clean up the river, he would be the one.Â
In 1998 at the age of 23, Chad founded Living Lands & Waters. Today, the organization has grown to include a full staff and fleet of equipment. The crew averages nine states a year along the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers, as well as many of their tributaries. Since the projectâ€™s inception, Chad, his crew, and more than 60,000 volunteers have collected in excess of 6 million pounds of debris from the nationâ€™s greatest rivers.
Most recently, he expanded the mission of the organization to include Big River Educational Outreach, The Million Trees Project, and the Adopt-a-River Mile programs.
Chad was the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Americaâ€™s version of the Nobel Prize, in June 2002. He accepted this award in the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., with other award recipients: Rudolph Giuliani, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Lilly Tartikoff.
Chad also is the author of â€śFrom the Bottom Up: One Manâ€™s Crusade to Clean Americaâ€™s Rivers.â€ť
Additional information on Pregracke and his organization is available at www.livinglandsandwaters.org.