Chamber members elect one board member, hear progress report

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce members re-elected Bill Baitinger to its board of directors Thursday evening, Nov. 19, at its annual membership meeting, held at the chamber office.

The board currently has four openings to reach its minimum size of nine directors, said Executive Director Katrina Crabtree. Since the annual meeting, one member turned an application in to the board, and two other persons were considering applying, leaving one opening if they do choose to apply.

Baitinger, a retired landscaping contractor from Oakland, Calif., has served on the board for about a year, completing Gus Gerson’s term. He will serve a three-year term.

Additional members of the board may be appointed by the board, which currently has three vacant seats.

Approximately nine members and visitors attended the meeting, along with the six members of the Sportsman’s Holiday Court and the Board of Directors.

President Pro Tem Dana Flores reviewed activity in the past year.

“You’re seeing a big one right here,” she said, gesturing at displays surrounding her in the main room. “And that’s the gift gallery.”

The chamber opened a new gift shop, featuring local artists, earlier this year in the Visitors Information Center.

The room used to contain desks and office equipment, Flores said. Today, it’s a gift shop that took volunteers a lot of work to put together.

The shop features a 2015 Sweet Home, Oregon, Christmas ornament for $15. The ornament is a limited edition, with 200 available.

“We have cleaned and reorganized the chamber and surrounding outbuildings,” Flores said. We’ve updated the conference room.”

The organization has updated its printer and telephone system and installed a flag pole out front, she said. The flag shows the chamber’s pride in the state and nation.

The Chamber has changed and stabilized Visitors Information Center hours and started opening on Saturdays, Flores said. During the Christmas season, it will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Afterward, it will be open until 2 p.m.

She said the chamber is making better use of its Facebook page, calendar and website, and chamber personnel have been attending and participating in more community activities and events.

“We continue to work on advertising and getting your business out there,” Flores said, and staff recommends member businesses to visitors.

Director Arlene Paschen said Sweet Home is featured in a statewide guide, including advertisements for local businesses, and it will continue to publish in the guide each quarter.

It’s inexpensive advertising, she said, and “people love the map. This is being very well accepted because they like the map.”

Paschen said the chamber fielded a call from a couple of Eugene men who wanted to know where McDowell Creek was located, something they had found in the publication. The chamber was able to provide them additional information.

In 2016, the chamber will join others in the community as part of an effort to make Sweet Home a bike-friendly destination, Flores said. After Hours events will continue on the fourth Wednesday of the month, providing members, new and existing businesses, an opportunity to reach out to each other.

The chamber is planning to continue breakfast and lunch forums and run them more regularly next year, she said. One of the benefits of membership is educational forums, like these.

After the first part of the year, the chamber will offer business seminars, Flores said. It will continue upgrading the building and improve its landscaping.

The chamber will continue to advertise businesses in Sweet Home, improve its lighting and update its website, she said. The chamber is considering a possible land purchase, the lot to the west of the Visitors Information Center, 1575 Main St.