Commercial Club reboot
January 6, 2022
WAITSBURG—After almost two years of inactivity, the Waitsburg Commercial Club (WBCC) is taking steps to return to business, acting as the city’s Chamber of Commerce and encouraging economic development. The club held two meetings in December.
In March 2020, just before COVID-19 changed the way the world does business, Commercial Club members gathered and held an election for officers and board members. Club members present at the meeting elected new officers for president and vice president, secretary, and second vice president. Two new members joined the executive board, and other seats remained empty.
According to Commercial Club bylaws, The President and the Vice Presidents shall be elected from the Executive Board of Directors. Officers shall hold office until the next annual meeting, or their successors are elected and qualified. The secretary and treasurer shall be appointed from the corporation’s membership and shall be ex-officio members of the Board.
Unfortunately, pandemic restrictions prohibited most in-person gatherings, and the April meeting was not held. It would have been the opportunity to approve the minutes from the March meeting necessary to qualify the new officers. Approved minutes are also needed for the club’s bank to transfer financial control to the new leadership under non-profit rules.
A WBCC meeting was called by Joy Smith for December 2, 2021, to reconcile the club’s leadership and to discuss holiday events. Smith said she invited president-elect Jamie McMillen and vice president-elect Brooke Mikesell, but they were not in attendance.
At that meeting, club members discussed re-establishing an active Executive Board. Since the past and new leadership had not completed the necessary steps for a transfer power, it was decided the pre-election Executive Board and officers would continue in their roles. Joy Smith would step into the position of interim president until elections are held in 2022.
The second meeting was on December 30 at Ten Ton Coffee. Agenda items included recapping events at heARTfelt Christmas and selecting nominees for board members and officers.
Smith said that membership had dipped significantly from 2019. The membership was up to 75 members in 2019, dropping to less than 15 by 2021. She said invoices for 2022 memberships were heading out within the week.
Lane Gwinn, the owner of Ten Ton Coffee and The Times, reported that the newspaper hired Santa for December 18. With Santa in town on that date, early plans for a parade took shape. Before she contacted Smith and WBCC, Gwinn said community members had reached out to the newspaper to ask if there would be a parade. After spearheading a Christmas light competition, Cindy Daves offered to help coordinate a holiday event and joined Smith to pull the parade together.
Daves reported more than 20 entries participated in the heARTfelt Christmas parade on December 18. The parade was a last-minute effort to create a holiday celebration in the absence of the traditional Hometown Christmas weekend event. It enjoyed a successful turnout from both participants and spectators.
Smith asked if members wanted to continue with the name heARTfelt Christmas or return to Hometown Christmas. Daves said people she talked to had preferred the event go back to the first weekend after Thanksgiving. This would allow entrants to participate in all the other surrounding parades, including Walla Walla, Milton Freewater, and College Place. Daves said that she would be willing to take over the parade planning in the future. Members agreed to go back to the name and dates for Hometown Christmas.
Members present at the December 30 meeting brainstormed ideas for the annual membership banquet in April, including location and catering.
Smith led a discussion on future officers and leadership. She reported that Kim Smith of Prescott had expressed interest in serving as the vice president. Smith has spent the past couple of years working with Joy Smith, learning the club’s inner workings and its procedures.
Judy Bennett, co-owner of American 35, said that she would serve the group in some capacity, but no officers were elected.