Home of Heroes
Board of Directors
Michael D. Reese serves as the CEO of American Moving and Storage, Inc., specializing in Department of Defense logistics. He is also a partner in numerous other businesses to include: commercial air charter, real estate development and commercial and residential rental properties. In 2006 he was one of the founders of Fort Polk Progress and became the chairman.
Reese is a member of the Leesville Lions Club, Association of Defense Communities, Association of the United States Army, Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, Beauregard Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, serves on the Board of Directors of Merchants and Farmers Bank, the Board of Trustees of the Rapides Foundation, the Board of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, and he is a charter member of the Louisiana Military Affairs Council.
In December 1993, Jon W. Grafton was appointed the Executive Director of England Airpark in Alexandria, La. England Airpark is a 3,000 acre mixed use redevelopment of the former England Air Force Base. He reports to a 10-member board whose responsibility is to chart the future of England Airpark.
During Grafton’s term as executive director, the England Authority team activated a commercial service airfield, increased enplaned air passengers by over 100 percent, captured jet service, developed three new air service terminals, leased over one million square feet of commercial space, secured Foreign Trade Zone designation; filled 325 units of housing; facilitated over 2,000 jobs and public/private investments of over $800 million.
The England Team of public and private entities have generated over $7.3 billion in additional business sales and over $1.8 billion in additional household earnings for residents in the eight parish CENLA region since 1992.
Since 1993, the England Authority has been awarded: The All-America City Award(component project); The NACO Achievement Award for Base Reuse; The NAID Marketing Excellence Award; F.A.A. Outstanding Louisiana Airport Award; The Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Base Reuse; The NAID Facility of the Year Award; The F.A.A. Southwest Region Airport Safety Award; the EPA/DEQ Ready for Reuse Award; the Department of Transportation Award for promoting Disadvantaged Business; and the Wildlife Habitat Council Recognition of the OakWing Golf Course Project.
Grafton serves as the Vice Chairman of Fort Polk Progress.
Avon H. Knowlton, a resident of Beauregard Parish, has been in the Chamber of Commerce business for 10 years. In January 2011, she joined the staff of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance / Chamber SWLA in Lake Charles, La. as Director of Membership and Investor Services and the Director of the Beauregard Alliance office. Formerly the Executive Vice President of the Greater Beauregard Chamber of Commerce, she has broadened the Chamber SWLA’s regional efforts and has driven member and investor participation in the Chamber SWLA and Alliance programs, projects and services.
Knowlton has served as the 2011 Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives President and a board member for the last four years, was named the 2008 Chamber Director of the Year and received recognition as a 2008 Under 40 and Rising – Outstanding Leader from the Times Southwest Louisiana Magazine. Under her leadership, the Greater Beauregard Chamber of Commerce was named Chamber of the Year in 2008 and as part of a highly talented team, saw the Chamber SWLA receive the same award in 2011. Knowlton serves on the Governmental affairs committee at the Alliance SWLA.
Knowlton is the President/CEO of Knowlton Consulting Service, LLC. and works with other Chambers of Commerce and communities across Louisiana as a facilitator for economic and community development, strategic planning and project management. She serves as the Treasurer of Fort Polk Progress.
Clarence Beebe has served as Mayor of Hornbeck since 2000. He also served as an alderman from 1997-2000 and from 1987-1991. He has served on the Louisiana Military Advisory Council since 2012 and has been a member of the Louisiana Municipal Association since 1987, serving as an executive board member since 2011 and the Distirct “D” Vice President since 2012.
He’s served on the Louisiana Municipal Gas Association Board of Directors since 2000 and as an Executive Committee Board Member since 2010.
He’s been a member of Fort Polk Progress since 2010.
Leroy D. Cooley, a graduate of Northwestern State University and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University, has more than 30 years experience in the banking industry and is currently the senior vice president of Merchants and Farmers Bank.
Cooley, formerly the mayor of Anacoco, La. for 12 years, currently serves on the Economic Development Committee for the Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce. He is also a board member of the University Parkway Development District Planning Commission and a team member of the Regional Growth Management Team.
Ron Roberts has served as Mayor of DeRidder since 2006.
A fifth generation native of Beauregard Parish, Roberts great grandfather served on DeRidder’s first city council.
Roberts has taught in three universities and served as a college coach, athletic director, development director, and public relations director. In 1979 he opened DeRidder’s first Edward Jones office, and from 1992 until his retirement in 1997, he was the Director of Corporate Relations at Amerisafe.
In 1988 he served on the Governor's Transition Team for Education and from 1988-92 he served on the Board of Trustees for Louisiana Colleges and Universities as well as the Board of Trustees of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In 1992 he served on the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry's Council on Education. He is a past member of the Development Board Louisiana College and the Alumni Board of Baylor University.
Born and raised in Leeville, Rick Allen was electedmayor of his hometown in 2014. He has worked in the construction industry since he was 17, and, in 1998, opened Rick Allen Construction Management. Later, in 2007, he opened a second business, Leesville Motor Sports Park, a custom motorcycle and classic car restoration shop.
James B. “Jim” Tuck has been President of the Vernon Parish Police Jury since 2007. He served as Vice President of the jury from 2004 to 2006, having first been elected to the jury in 1992.
He’s the owner of JB Tuck Heavy Equipment & Construction Company and JB Tuck Equipment & Auction Company. He has served as a past president of the Vernon Parish Police Jury and has also served as vice chairman of the Regional Growth Management Team. He serves on the boards of the Leesville Lions Club, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and Fort Polk Progress.
He also is a member of the Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and the Vernon Parish Arena District.
After 25 years of total service, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Williams retired from the US Army in 2011. His career concluded at Fort Polk as the Chief of Staff of JRTC and Ft. Polk and the Installation Command Inspector General. He is currently employed by Cubic Applications as an instructor at the Joint Readiness Training Center’s Leader Training Program. He is currently the Chairman for the Military Affairs Committee for the Greater Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce a life member of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and has received numerous awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and five Meritorious Service Medals.