Another year has come and gone. It is very easy to sit back and say “Wow where did that go?” I was always told, as you get older time goes much faster. I am seeing the truth in that statement more every day. Not that I am getting older, but time is going faster. If you have ideas, or plans, be it professional or personal, do not abuse the gift of time. None of us ever know when that gift will run out.
The chamber came into the year of 2016, with many projects and goals. I think, we did OK. We did not accomplish every goal, in many ways that is easy to see. That’s pretty gentle, but many projects were accomplished. One of the best accomplishments in my mind, was the fact that more young people have stepped to the plate to work on our town. This certainly includes our Director Brent Jamison. Besides getting us well organized, his successful plan and execution of the Fall Festival was quite possibly the best project of the Chamber year. Our membership actually grew, and monthly meetings are now well attended. Our young business owners see the value of the hard work and involvement within our community. The organizing of the town wide 50/50 raffle promises to be a good fund raiser for many groups within the community. Another successful kickoff to a yearlong project. The Chamber implemented and disbursed funds for a signage and façade program. Kirsten Johnston, V&C construction, and others made sure we had new attractive signage produced in Walnut to welcome people down Main street. Chamber continued some of the past projects as well, with a little twist to update them. The July 4th Celebration was certainly a success, while Chamber cannot take credit for the entire project, we were certainly involved.
Any Chamber, anywhere is charged with promoting home town business, as well as helping grow new business. The promoting end is pretty easy to do, especially with the many successful business’s we have in town. If we talk to any of our major employers in town, they will tell you, business is good. Lots of good people employed, and lots of hometown talent in demand. Yes, promoting and saying good things about our diversified business group is easy, and a privilege. That said, we still have a couple of looming problems / issues, that can and will continue to haunt the town.
One being main street. Main street continues to fall into disrepair and in many ways apathy. This issue is going to continue, unless we get cooperative leadership and realizations that things will not get any better unless all branches get involved, and accept that leadership role. I am not going to beat this drum now, but be it known that the Chamber is always open and encourages cooperative actions on this embarrassing problem.
Next challenge, is the continuing challenge of losing our branch of the Bureau Valley learning centers. Yes, if you have not heard, there is a movement to move everything to Manlius. While there is a proposed referendum to be placed on the ballot in April that would leave Walnut’s building and K - 8 in place, that referendum is being challenged. The Chamber board is in complete agreement, that maintaining our building and location is an absolute for our town and surrounding community. Our children are receiving a good education, as well as opportunities. The financial ramifications are huge if a total campus would come to Manlius. The bid for that campus far exceeds the borrowing power of the district, or would saddle tax payers for many years to come with debt. Lastly, the impact on our village of losing that school would pound a very big nail in our looming coffin. Stop and think how much traffic goes through our town during a school day. How many people come to town for events at the school? How many people are employed at our school? How much of a waste would it be to destroy that building? When over 70% of the recent survey supported by the school board said no central campus, how does this happen? Again, the Chamber will support keeping the school and building in our town, this will be a focus for the year to come along with our other goals and projects.
Our next open meeting, will be January 17. I invite all members to attend our first meeting of 2017. A new year always gives hopes and opportunity to all that want to work for it. Nothing good ever comes out of planning to be given something. Our town is alive, and offers many opportunities. Let’s make a plan and commitment to work together for the betterment of our town and its citizens. Now is your opportunity. Thanks for your efforts people, let’s make 2017 one for the books.