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Castleberry Fairs

Wolfeboro Chamber holds its first evening meeting

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News

WOLFEBORO FRIENDS OF MUSIC sponsored the Sept. 6 evening meeting of the Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce at the Wolfetrap Grill. Here Friends President John Sandeen displays the poster for the groupís 77th season with Chamber Executive Director Mary DeVries (left) and President Amy Piper. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
September 20, 2012
WOLFEBORO — The Wolfeboro Area Chamber of Commerce held its first evening business meeting on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Wolfetrap Grill & Raw Bar on Back Bay at 19 Bay Street.

According to Chamber Executive Director Mary DeVries, the Chamber had been asked in the past to hold its quarterly business meetings in the evening instead of the usual breakfast meetings, which begin a 7:30 a.m. to allow members to get back to their businesses by 9 a.m. The Chamber does hold evening socials once a month that run from 5 to 7 p.m., but those gatherings are held to encourage networking among business members.

The Wolfetrap meeting began at 5 p.m. and was held at the restaurant's patio building. The meeting was sponsored by Wolfeboro Friends of Music and moderated by Chamber President Amy Piper.

DeVries reported a significant increase in inquiries from people thinking of relocating to Wolfeboro. Visits to the Information Center at the Railroad Station were also up in the last quarter, and five member restaurants were featured in a network restaurant story on station WBIN, which broadcasts in Massachusetts as well as New Hampshire. Wolfeboro was also promoted by the N.H. Division of Tourism at the Eastern States Exposition recently.

DeVries reminded members present of the marketing resources available to them through the Chamber, including ads on the Chamber website, email promotions and the Chamber discount when using Constant Contact email services. She urged all businesses to make sure that the Chamber has current information and marketing materials. She noted that lodging members update the Information Center regularly on room availability.

She reported that the second Community Cash Raffle was a success with 40 businesses participating. Local resident Kathy Engel was the winner of the $1,000 prize, good for purchases in all 40 businesses.

DeVries said the summer space at the Railroad Station was filled this year but space is available for next summer.

The snowmobile winter access plan planned for last winter will be tried again this winter in the hope that there will be solid ice.

Meeting sponsor

The September quarterly meeting was sponsored by Wolfeboro Friends of Music. President John Sandeen spoke about the group's 77th season which will bring eight concerts to Wolfeboro from September through May that attract visitors to the area.

Chamber members sponsor the concerts directly and through advertisements in the program. Points North Financial is a Season Sponsor and Paul and Debbie Zimmerman are sponsoring two concerts. Sandeen said that individual concert sponsorships are still available.

For the first time the season posters, brochures and program same a single design. The distinctive art this year was found by doing a "music collage" search on Google. It was done by a 16-year-old art student in Romania, whom Past President Don Holm was able to contact through Facebook to get her permission to use the art in promotions. The Friends were so pleased by this process that they are planning a contest among Wolfeboro students for the graphic image for next year's promotions.

Sandeen then briefly reviewed the eight concerts planned for this season, including Michael Chertock in January playing the 1919 Steinway Grand that the Friends donated to the Kingswood Arts Center; "Piano Men" in October with Jim Witter playing songs of Billy Joel and Elton John, also at the Arts Center; Adrian Anantawan in November in a violin and piano concert at Anderson Hall; the PALS Children's Chorus of 60 voices in January at the Arts Center; Charlie Jennison's Jazz Quintet in February at Anderson Hall; The Clancy Legacy in March, playing Celtic and folk music at Anderson Hall; Daniel Heifetz returns to Wolfeboro in April with his Stars of Tomorrow at Anderson Hall; and "Rocky Mountain High" in May at Anderson Hall where Ted Vigil gives a perfect John Denver tribute concert.

Committee reports

Cecile Chase stood in for Tod O'Dowd to report on Membership Development and Retention. She said the committee was halfway through a contact initiative, asking members what is good and what needs improvement. A media relations initiative has also been started.

Zach Tarter spoke for the Economic Development Committee. Based on the surveys and focus groups held last year, the Chamber has held a customer service workshop and has planned a town employee customer service workshop. The town has put together a customer satisfaction survey that will be given to people doing business with the town. Finally, thanks to George Soderberg of The Wolfeboro Inn, tour buses coming into town are notifying the Chamber when they are coming and who is on board so that the groups can be met.

Selectman Chair Linda Murray gave a report on town actions since the last quarterly meeting. These included refinancing the 1996, 1996 and 2004 water bonds at a lower interest rate, reaching agreement with Fifth Estate to mount a public safety communication antenna on their tower, applying for Wolfeboro Business Park to be declared an Economic Development Zone and thus eligible for development tax credit from the state, and securing a 30 percent loan forgiveness on the water meter upgrade project. In other news the Friends of Abenaki gave the town $250,000 worth of snowmaking equipment for the Abenaki Ski Area, the Harriman Hill workforce housing project has applied for a grant for Phase II of three phases, and the town has applied to upgrade Middleton Road in a town-managed project that will be paid two-thirds by the state.

Murray listed the projects completed over the summer, including repair of the Public Safety Building, construction of a bathhouse for Albee Beach, upgrading Depot Square, and putting a new surface on the Bridge Fall Path. Still in process are the upgrade to the existing Glendon Street parking lot and reconstructing Glendon Street from Main Street to Depot Street. Front Bay Park, the town's newest public park, would be opening on Sept. 12 (see separate story). The first three scholarships were awarded from the Josiah Brown Trust, a scholarship source for Wolfeboro students that was tied up in legal proceedings until recently.

Murray said selectmen have set a goal of a zero percent increase in discretionary spending in 2013. The 2013 budget review starts in October, and the Capital Improvement Committee is now reviewing plans for the next 10 years.

In conclusion Murray reminded everyone that the new Voter ID law will require photo identification for the Nov. 6 election. If a photo ID is not provided the voter will have to fill out a challenge affadavit.

DeVries commented on the Depot Square project, which she said was not only well done but it achieved part of the goals of the Chamber's Our Town project by burying overhead wires in the square and adding attractive light posts. The square is also now much safer for pedestrians.

In closing Piper asked members attending to give their feedback on holding the quarterly meeting in the evening.

The next Chamber business meeting will be in December.

Garnett Hill
Parker Village
Martin Lord Osman
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