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Van Thomas retires after years of service at White River Planning and Development

One important job has been filled recently and that’s the Executive Director’s position at White River Planning and Development in Batesville.   

After 49 years serving the district, most of those years as executive director, Van Thomas retired Jan. 31.

Thomas told White River Now’s Gary B. that Jan Smith was selected by the organization’s board of directors in early December to move into the Executive Director’s position when he retired. 

Smith has been at the Planning and Development District for many years and can handle any of the jobs there, just as most of the employees can, Thomas said.

Thomas added he feels White River Planning and Development District, under his leadership, has done a good job of, “…reading and then following directions on state and federal programs and funding, and staying out of the limelight and letting the politicians be out front.”

Thomas said retirement gives more time for his wife, Nancy, and her battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He also said he needs to do some of the “deferred maintenance” on their farm, and maybe work on a couple of antique vehicles.

Van Thomas is to be recognized at Tuesday night’s Batesville City Council meeting.

Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. and Ozark Newsline on Arkansas 103.393 KZLE, and other W.R.D. Entertainment radio stations. If you have a news tip or event to promote, email White River Now at

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