The Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce wants to make its annual meeting a firm tradition including awards to those in the community who deserve to be recognized for all they do.
President Nathan Sponseller gave a chamber update at the annual meeting held last Thursday evening at Memorial Hall.
The chamber has 100 members which means the organization is the largest it's ever been and the most diverse.
The Hotchkiss chamber is not political. It is focused on bettering the economy in the community. Serving on the seven-member board with Sponseller are vice president Bill Long, corresponding secretary Katherine Colwell, treasurer Rhonda Duclo, Elaine Brett and Marsy Moore. In the election held during the meeting, Tom Wills was elected and Brett and Moore were re-elected to the board.
The chamber has improved its presence on the Internet with two websites, www.hotchkisschamber.com and www.northforkvalley.net. The latter is a joint website with the chambers of commerce in Paonia and Crawford.
The Hotchkiss chamber has been in existence since the early 1950s, but has never been incorporated. They are in the process of applying for 501(c)(6) non-profit status.
The chamber hosted the Colorado Grand this past September. It is always a great fund raiser for the chamber which cleared $2,500 after providing lunch for the drivers. The Colorado Grand gave $5,000 toward a scholarship for a Hotchkiss graduate.
Ride The Rockies brought 2,500 people to the town in June. Sponseller said it couldn't have happened without the co-operation of Carrie Coats and Hotchkiss K-8.
The chamber plans to renovate the Visitor Center which is located by the Hotchkiss Inn. The chamber is working out a deal to share the space with DMEA. In addition to the tourist information, DMEA will use the center for a customer service and payment kiosk. The chamber will have a phone system so people can call for lodging in the area. "We have plenty of rooms. They are just hard to find sometimes," Sponseller said. A flat screen television will provide tourist information.
Tom Wills and Mary Hockenbery of the chamber are working with the town on downtown improvement and beautification.
King Robertson gave a presentation on Memorial Hall which was built as a gift from World War II veterans to the town in the early 1950s. It was a memorial to all the vets who didn't make it home after the war. The board is installing new windows thanks to a $25,000 donation from Oxbow Mining.
Elaine Brett gave an update on the Heart and Soul Project which started with a grant from the Orton Family Foundation. The foundation believes in small towns, Brett said, and believes the small town culture must continue into the future. "They see that small towns are constantly disappearing," Brett said. "They are either getting incorporated into larger metropolitan areas or they are becoming strip malls on a highway."
The project is engaging in conversations with residents and business owners about the North Fork Valley and what people want their communities to look like in the future.
Brett quoted Mike Ludlow of Oxbow Mine who wrote, "The North Fork Heart and Soul is a group of volunteers striving to identify the common values of the diversified groups that live and work in this valley. By identifying these common values, we will be better able to plan for our future in the valley. These identified values will be communicated to the leadership of Paonia, Crawford, Hotchkiss and Delta County to assist them in managing economic growth while preserving the way of life that is important to the people of this valley. Without growth, the valley cannot continue to prosper. Planned growth [is] essential to manage that growth. The best way to predict the future is to create it!"
Sponseller presented the awards for Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year. The Rose is the Business of the Year. Elsie Winne Edstrom has owned The Rose for four years. Edstrom has contributed great ideas to help the town while running a successful small business during a down economy. She has been instrumental in Hotchkiss Happenings, Hotchkiss Bucks and for creating enthusiasm for downtown projects. Edstrom uses social media to promote her business.
Carrie Coats, Hotchkiss K-8 principal, is Citizen of the Year. Sponseller said she oozes with enthusiasm. Her heroes are her two daughters, Mae and Natalie. Her students inspire her. Coats has been in education for 21 years and has been at Hotchkiss K-8 for 13 years. "We truly live in the best town," Coats said.
Bill Long presented the Hotchkiss Lions Club with the chamber's Non-profit of the Year award. They do amazing work with just six members. They give three $1,000 scholarships to graduates, offer vision screening for students, purchase musical instruments for students and other projects. "I'm overwhelmed with the work you've done," Long said.blog comments powered by Disqus