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Chamber President's Message: Update on Chamber activities

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By JOHN SHUFF

Hope we all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and were able to extend that joy to other families that are struggling right now.

The Chamber just completed our second annual food drive resulting in 1,385 pounds of food distributed by Second Harvest. Thanks to all participants, especially St. Marks Powder, for all that you did.
In this same vein we have Christmas right around the corner. Bruce Ashley with the Wakulla County Coalition for Youth is leading the Operation Santa initiative for a second year. Bruce gave the Chamber Board a heartwarming presentation on their successes last year; we need to help make Bruce successful again this year in putting a little sparkle in the eyes of some of our needy families here in Wakulla County.

Call 926-3526 for more information. We need to see more kids on new bikes this year!
Every year the Chamber of Commerce reaches out to its membership in search of revitalization for our Board of Directors. Though it is an honor to be selected, it is also a call to serve your community. Making our community a better place to live establishes the foundation for a prosperous business community. This year the following people have agreed to step up to the plate, we hope they all exceed our expectations!
Vice-President – Kevin Vaughn of Wakulla Insurance.
New Board members:
Susan Brooks Shearer of Brooks Concrete;
Richard Bruce of Inspired Technology;
Tara Keiser of Synovus Mortgage Corp.;
Scott Nelson of Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office;
Rachel Sutz Pienta of Democratic Coalition;
Bill Russell of volunteer firefighters;
Alan Wise of Preble-Rish Engineering.
As you will notice these are not all “business” people; as stated earlier, we feel that making our community the best it can be, is the best thing we can do for our business community.
Our Board of County Commissioners held a very civil and productive meeting on Nov. 7. Mike Stewart was nominated to continue as chairman but stepped down, and Alan Brock was elected to serve in this difficult capacity -- our best to Alan for taking on this challenging position, and thanks to Mike for what is often a thankless job.

We got a report on the recycling efforts of many organizations in the county, which was heartening, but we were struck by the increases in collected recyclables caused by the new garbage collection system Wakulla County implemented. The correct course of action was taken and we are just starting to see the benefits.

It seems that the Tourist Development Council issues have abated also with Pam Portwood’s contract being worked out and the “TDC Plan” nearing completion.
I would have to say that this board has operated this past year with seemingly fewer hidden agendas and more forthrightly -- it has been refreshing. We need to continue to move forward!
Two workshops were held on Nov. 10, one was about dealing with the lack of infrastructure in the historic subdivisions. I had the pleasure to serve on the county’s citizen infrastructure committee several years ago and realize better than most how difficult it would be for Wakulla County to provide sewer, stormwater, and paving in these areas. To ask the rest of Wakulla County to bring these subdivisions up to reasonable standards would not be fair, but to offer these subdivisions an opportunity, through an MSBU just for their area, has merit. When one also considers that more than half the lots are owned by investors the MSBU method makes even more sense.
The other workshop had to do with transportation needs for Wakulla County and how the Capital Regional Transportation Planning Agency (CRTPA) can best work with Wakulla County to solve our traffic problems along U.S. Highway 319. The Spring Creek Highway also became part of the conversation and the need to establish that as a corridor to Tallahassee. This entire conversation was refreshing in that the two groups were trying to work with each other, and working toward the goal of implementing the Our Town plan.
We just had the first committee meeting for our second annual Low Country Boil. This year the event will be on March 10 at the 3Y Ranch. We hope to make this event even better than last year so mark those calendars! We will be funding scholarships again as we did last year and raising money for furnishings for the Old Courthouse.
While on the subject of the Old Courthouse, we just wrote and submitted a grant application to the Bureau of Historic Preservation for window shades pledging some of the money raised at last year’s Low Country Boil. If successful, we will be able to do the entire building at one time. If we are not, then we will hope to add funds from the second Boil to the first to get the job done.
The Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors would like to wish all of our membership and the entire community a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a New Year that will be more prosperous than this year that just flew by! Enjoy!