While there has been much local buzz about Hempstead County's bicentennial in 2018, the Hope Rotary Club also happens to be celebrating 100 years, and with the concurrent celebrations, the Hope Rotary Club announced Tuesday afternoon that former Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will return home for a Rotary Centennial Banquet on Tuesday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m.

While there has been much local buzz about Hempstead County’s bicentennial in 2018, the Hope Rotary Club also happens to be celebrating 100 years, and with the concurrent celebrations, the Hope Rotary Club announced Tuesday afternoon that former Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will return home for a Rotary Centennial Banquet on Tuesday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m.
The Rotary’s celebration banquet will be held at the Hempstead Hall Conference Center at UA-Hope, where Huckabee had announced his last bid for President in 2015. Tickets for the Rotary banquet will be available at Hempstead Hall (hempsteadhall.com) or by calling 870-722-8565.  Individual tickets are $50 each.  A sponsor table of eight seats with preferred placement is $500.
In addition to serving as Arkansas’ 44th Governor from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee has been a two-time GOP Presidential candidate, and he has gone on to fame as both a television and radio political commentator for Fox News and Cumulus Media Networks as well as talk show host.  Huckabee has also authored several best-selling books, and locally, he is known as an ordained Southern Baptist minister and a musician.
Huckabee was born August 24, 1955 in Hope, and he graduated from Hope High School in 1973 as student council president. His roots in ministry started at Hope’s Garrett Memorial Baptist Church in 1972, and he graduated college from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.
In the announcement, Rotary Club President Terri James said, “During the upcoming Rotary Centennial Celebration, the Hope Rotary Club will present the Hope Rotary Club Governor Mike Huckabee Servant Leadership Scholarship to one graduating senior at each of the Hempstead County high schools -- Hope High School, Blevins High School, Spring Hill High School and Garrett Memorial Christian School.”
Funding college scholarships has been a focus of the Hope Rotary Club for many years, according to James, and Huckabee, who was a graduate of Hope High School, actually received the Rotary Scholarship in 1973.
James said, “That scholarship was a benefit to Huckabee in his first year at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. Huckabee agreed to participate in the Centennial Celebration in order to give back to the Rotary Club in appreciation for the scholarship he received years ago.”
Tuesday’s statement from the Rotary also detailed much about the history of the local Rotary chapter.
The Hope Rotary Club, sponsored by the Hot Springs Rotary Club, was organized by Hope citizens on February 10, 1918, in a meeting at the legendary Barlow Hotel. The original club charter represented 38 local businessmen who took part in weekly meetings discussing “vocational talk.”
James noted that the original Rotary motto, “Service Above Self,” remains the club’s motto to this day and the Hope Rotary Club has impacted the Hope community through a multitude of service projects over their 100-year span.
Other traditional Hope Rotary projects include donations to the Rotary International Foundation, funding for local youth programs, funding for Girls State and Boys State, providing dictionaries to third graders in Hempstead County schools, and funding for local students to attend Rotary Youth Leadership Academy.
Hope Rotarians have also participated in the construction of walking trails at both Medical Park Hospital (now Wadley Regional Medical Center) and Huckabee Lake in Fair Park, and in the installation of windmills at Huckabee Lake, all in Hope, according to the press statement.