Herald/MASON W. CANALES - A cake with Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce President Marty Smith's likeness sits on a table during her retirement party on Thursday. Several hundred people attended the event honoring Smith.

By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE - Area residents welcomed Betty Price as the interim president of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and said goodbye to former president Marty Smith.

"It has been hard," said Price, former chamber vice president, at a farewell party for Smith on Thursday. "It is so hard to see her go. I have enjoyed working with her and learning from her."

Board chairman Mark Peterson said Smith provided a great service not only for the chamber, but also for the city by encouraging a relationship with Fort Hood, providing financial stability for the chamber, and increasing membership and community involvement in its programs.

"She has put the chamber back on its feet," said John Hull, Copperas Cove mayor, after Peterson noted the chamber was $60,000 in debt before Smith took control. "We will miss her as chamber president."

Peterson said the chamber will remain in good hands because Price will serve as interim president for six months before possibly taking the position full-time.

Smith had been president for seven years and Price has been working there for five, said Peterson. Price has organized several events for the chamber, and also worked to promote the city and its businesses.

"Betty is my right hand and my left hand," said Smith, noting that Price is very fit for the job. "She also is my best friend, and I will miss the daily talks we had."

Though Smith is retiring as chamber president, she said she will continue to serve on its military affairs committee and attempt to start a political action committee after she spends some time traveling.

Smith said she will miss "the people" most as she moves forward.

Smith is known in Central Texas for her positive attitude, her aptitude to help small businesses and her ability to talk to people, said Marcus Carr, business resource center manager for the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce.

Several hundred people attended the event, including state Sen. Brian Birdwell, who presented Smith with a flag that was flown above the Capitol on Dec. 15 in her honor.

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