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Huffman plans county chamber

Staff writer

Marion County Commission gave Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman the go-ahead to try to start a Marion County Chamber of Commerce.

A countywide chamber of commerce would benefit towns without a local chamber, she said. The proposed chamber would not accept out-of-county members. She anticipates most volunteers will come from small communities.

After the meeting, she said the proposed chamber would operate out of her county office, at least to start. She would be thrilled if it grew enough to need its own office space.

“The smaller communities are more willing to help each other,” Huffman said. “Marion and Hillsboro will pitch a fit. I know.”

She expects a countywide chamber would help businesses in Hillsboro, Marion, and Florence, which have their own chambers of commerce.

“I’m not planning on taking anything away from them, at all,” she said.

During the meeting, Commission Chairman Dan Holub asked what a chamber’s relationship would be with Marion County Economic Development Council. They would be separate entities, she said.

The next step will be finding volunteers, Huffman said. Commissioner Bob Hein said it is more difficult to find volunteers than in the past.

Commissioners approved Huffman moving forward with her efforts.

Huffman also will ask countywide chambers elsewhere how they are organized.

Edwards County Chamber of Commerce was created when Kinsley Chamber of Commerce was reorganized about five years ago, president Karen Gilkey said. Several smaller communities previously were excluded, but they now play a bigger part.

The change has been for the better, she said.

Huffman hopes to have members and an organization plan by the end of this year. To volunteer, contact her at (620) 3813920 or thuffman@marioncoks.net.

In other business:

  • Commissioners approved a $2 hourly raise for interim planning, zoning, and environmental health director Tonya Richards, effective Aug. 26. The decision came after meeting in closed session with Richards for 15 minutes.
  • June sales tax proceeds were $55,810, up 10 percent from 2008. Total sales tax through eight months was $401,450, up $27,548 compared to the same period in 2008.
  • Commissioner Randy Dallke said several county residents urged him to install video and audio recording in the appraiser’s office, to see how Appraiser Cindy Magill interacts with residents. Holub was already investigating possible systems and said such a system would protect county residents and employees from false claims.

Because of Labor Day, the next commission meeting will be Tuesday.

Last modified Sept. 2, 2009

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