JOHN DAY – The Grant County Chamber of Commerce has eliminated its executive director position and will go with volunteer staffing as the organization seeks to regain its financial footing.
Craige McMillan, Chamber board president, said last week the board’s intent is to create a manager position, starting at part time, as soon as that is feasible.
The staffing decision is one of several actions the board is taking after a budget shortfall triggered the layoff in May of the executive director, Sharon Mogg, and a part-time office staffer. The board eliminated the part-time position first, and revisited the executive job at its June 19 meeting.
McMillan said he came out of the June meeting feeling good about the board’s efforts to reinvigorate the organization, round up volunteers, and recruit board candidates with business and finance experience.
Chamber officials have blamed the budget troubles on the lack of a major fund-raiser in the past two years, which compounded the ups and downs of its quarterly room tax revenue. The room tax, paid by visitors who stay in local motels and other lodging, goes to the Chamber to fund its tourism promotion efforts, with a portion used for grants to other organizations for tourism activities.
However, McMillan said the Chamber also needs to restore relevance to its members. He hopes to revive some business training programs and resume monthly membership meetings.
The Chamber recently sent out notices for annual dues and ballots for board elections.
Nominated for uncontested positions are Greg Armstrong, Bob Quinton, Wendy Shaw and current board members Jerry Franklin and Tammy Bremner. Current board members who are not up for election include McMillan, Delores Bagett, Sandie Gilson, Ruth Harris and David Hamilton.
The board has acknowledged the lapse of the Grantski radio auction played a big role in the financial troubles, one they hope to address with a business-based raffle.
Jerry Franklin said a number of businesses and individuals, both members and non-members, have contributed more than $3,500 worth of items so far for the raffle. The prizes donated so far include a truckload of firewood logs, dinners, a load of gravel, a juniper lamp, airplane rides, a stainless steel barbecue grill, and more, he said.
Tickets will cost $5 apiece or five for $20, he said, and he hopes to begin the ticket sales by mid-July.
The drawing will raise money for Chamber expenses.
In addition, McMillan said Tammy Bremner is working on a murder mystery dinner the board hopes will raise both money and visibility for the Chamber. If successful, the mysteries could be done several times a year.
In the meantime, he said, at least a half-dozen volunteers have stepped up to help staff the Chamber’s Main Street office. Current hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m., but he said the board wants to add Saturday hours in the future to better meet the tourism needs.