Chamber welcomes all-new board
Membership, event expansion in works
August 28. 2012 7:00AM
With an all-new lineup of board members, the Dell Rapids Chamber of Commerce met last Tuesday to discuss the direction of the group, including initial plans for chamber-hosted events and ways in which to garner membership and volunteers.
As of mid-July, the chamber board had lost most of its members, with the plan being to seek out new voices to run the operations.
“(I) feel it is time for some new people to take over and bring new ideas to the board,” former vice president Shellie Yetter said at the time.
The Aug. 21 meeting at Old 77 Bar and Grill served as a changing of the guard for the board, as the four official roles in the organization were assumed by newcomers.
The group elected Katie Luttman, owner of the Jabberwock and Pretty Please, president of the board, with Jacqueline Nemmers from the Wells Fargo branch in town elected as vice president.
Additionally, Crave Photography owner Ashley Horton was elected secretary of the board, and Tylene Schwebach, Wells Fargo branch manager, was named treasurer.
Previous chamber board members Seth Severston and Yetter both plan to stay on as directors, volunteering their time as needed for chamber events and planning, and Video Plus owner Dan Ahlers will act as coordinator until the board is able to hire someone in a paid position.
Changes on the docket for the newly formed chamber board included a location for the group’s office. Most recently housed on Fourth Street in joint occupancy with Trish’s Tailoring, the office must now find a new site.
Coordinator Ahlers said that among the options for space was the Dell Rapids Museum. He said he’d approached museum board members about the possibility of co-oping space, though he thought storage space would be at a minimum.
The chamber had previously hired a part-time coordinator to keep office hours who since left the role. Since then, Yetter said that the board tried to keep hours of 10 a.m.-2 p.m., amounting in 20 hours a week.
Yetter said that maintaining office hours had become difficult with only three board members, as each had full-time jobs and families as well.
To properly run the chamber, Ahlers said that the organization should have a full-time person, but the salary is not financially feasible at this time.
“To really find someone with that kind of capability and those skills is difficult,” Yetter said of the search for a chamber coordinator.
And money saving and raising options were a major part of the Tuesday meeting. With the move from the downtown office, Yetter also suggested the board consider switching from a landline phone to cellular in order save additional money.
She also stressed the importance of sending out membership letters in order to generate more income. The chamber’s operational fund was at about $3,400 as of the meeting.
Ahlers said that the graduated level of membership has been problematic, as benefits based on level choice were unclear.
“It’s always been a point of contention,” he said. “It’s been difficult to get people to sign up. If you go with a graduated level, then you have to look into differences of benefits.”
The coordinator plans to research other area chamber fee and benefit schedules to help the clarification. He also hopes to reinstate the “welcome packets” the chamber previously distributed to newcomers to Dell Rapids.
The packets included city information, as well as donated items from local businesses, which Yetter said would have to be solicited to fill the “packets.” She said that board members would need to start “pounding the pavement” to accomplish this.
Director Severtson said that plans such as these were discussed previously, but finding the volunteers needed to finish projects proved difficult.
“Everyone was in favor of doing that, but when it came time for volunteers, no one was there,” he said. Severtson said that mixers, speakers and year-end events were tossed around as ideas, but the volunteer lineup wasn’t there previously.
To act as a volunteer director for the chamber, you must be a member or work for one.
The board will seek volunteers for three committees, established at the meeting last week: Marketing and Advertising, Budget and Membership and Events.
Ahlers also touted the importance of regular meetings for chamber members.
“Bringing the quarterly meetings back is key,” he said. “One of the most important things for members is professional development.”
Other business from the meeting included a discussion on upcoming events. President Luttman moved that Christmas at the Dells be officially set for Dec. 8, while Ahlers suggested expanding the celebration to include a Friday, Dec. 7 event.
The newly formed board also approved June 21-23, 2013, for next year’s Quarry Days festivities.