New Chamber director follows her heart to Grant County

<I>The Eagle/Tina Cook</I><BR>Marlene Eccles is looking for Chamber volunteers.

Marlene Eccles considered herself a weekend resident of Grant County for the two years while she was dating her sweetheart, Terry Eccles. Terry is the Public Works Director for John Day. They married Dec. 31, 2004, and she became a full-time resident.

In December, she became the new executive director for the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. She replaced Arelene McGetrick, who retired after 12 years.

"I'm excited about working in Grant County. I love Eastern Oregon and the people. I'm hoping my skills will assist them in their plans and dreams," Marlene said.

Marlene moved here from Salem. She directed two departments for the Oregon Tourism Commission. She was the internal operations director and the industry services director, where she managed more than a dozen different programs. She hopes to use the skills she learned doing this to help the county's economic development.

"It's important as we move forward to maintain our true identity, not alter who we are but how we do things," she said.

Marlene is also the CASA Director for Grant and Harney County. She plans to keep this job for the time being because she feels committed to finishing things that she started.

Marlene is looking for chamber volunteers to greet visitors, answer phones, document events, maintain the social calendar, do yard work and landscaping. Volunteers get to go on special field trips and potlucks. Having volunteers take on some of these responsibilities will help Marlene do her job better because she'll have more time to be in the community.

She would like to get out and meet the business owners, so that they can work together to find ways to build the economy, she said.

Linda Cook is a regular Monday morning volunteer. Betty Sheedy does occasional volunteer work and the newest recruits are Rhonda Vickers and Liz Pope.

Besides volunteers, she is looking for donated items that will add character to the visitors center. Antique chairs, lanterns, a braided rug and old photos are on her list of items.

"We're going to make the visitors center an experience of its own," Marlene said.

Marlene and Terry are avid hunters and spend as much time outdoors as they can. This year, Marlene shot a buck, which she laughingly called "toothpick" because of his small horns.

They also love to ATV and write feasibility studies for ATV riding areas. They attend Living Word Christian Church.

Marlene likes the "Man from Snowy River" movies. She doesn't have a favorite song, food or kind of music.

"It just depends on my mood," she said.

Her favorite thing is to see other people be successful, Marlene said.

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