News

‘Back to business’ for changed Chamber

‘We’re still here,’ leaders tell group at annual session


Outgoing Chamber Chair Debra Jackson (standing) presides. From left, secretary Denise Brock and directors Michael Lopez, Mike Walko (incoming chair), Dave Phillips, Cindy Jerman, Joyce Ford, Bob Wilson, Pat Watson. 
Reportr/Mike Brown Outgoing Chamber Chair Debra Jackson (standing) presides. From left, secretary Denise Brock and directors Michael Lopez, Mike Walko (incoming chair), Dave Phillips, Cindy Jerman, Joyce Ford, Bob Wilson, Pat Watson. Reportr/Mike Brown Leaders of the Rockdale Chamber of Commerce had two messages for members attending the group’s annual meeting Thursday at Fair Park.

“We’re still here” and, “It’s back to business.”

The first was necessary because of recent changes in the Chamber’s funding, the second a pledge to refocus the organization on local businesses.

“That’s always been our first priority,” Debra Jackson, current chairperson, said.

Jackson and incoming chair Mike Walko addressed members in a luncheon session at the New Salem Clubhouse.

“I know there are people who think the Chamber of Commerce is no longer in existence because of the recent changes,” Jackson said. “That is definitely not true. We’re not going away. We are here and we’re going to continue to do some more good for the Rockdale business community.”

TAX FUNDS—In November, Chamber directors voted to no longer administer the hotel-motel tax funds which had represented a significant source of revenue for the 61-year-old organization.

Those funds are now being administered by the city. Treasurer Bob Wilson reported that the Chamber transferred $77,446 to the city as a result of that decision.

Earlier this month the Chamber applied to the city for, and received, hotel-motel tax funds to keep its rock house visitor center open and to maintain a website.

CHANGES—There are a couple of major changes resulting from that situation.

The Chamber will no longer have a two-person paid staff. The office of president (manager) has been eliminated. That position has been vacant since Deedra Jacob resigned in October.

Jackson noted that due to the city’s recent approval of funds, the Chamber’s rock house headquarters, staffed by secretary Denise Brock, will remain open regular hours.

But the Chamber won’t be administering several events through the year, including the large Tejas Book and Art Festival this spring.

“We’ve enjoyed putting on all those events,” Jackson said. “But we’re going to get ‘back to business’ in 2013, focusing on Rockdale’s businesses and what we can do to help them.”

Jackson said the Chamber will continue to have its annual banquet this spring. “Most of the money to fund that event comes from the ticket sales, so it won ‘t be affected,” she said.

NEW CHAIR—Walko will become the new Chamber chair at that banquet.

The owner of Absolute Floors, and a Marine Corps veteran, Walko pledged to work hard for the Chamber and its members during the upcoming year.

He suggested the Chamber compile a membership directory. “I’d like to see it on every coffee table in Rockdale,” he said.

The Chamber of Commerce currently has 259 total memberships, including 18 new members joining in 2012.

RECOGNITION—The following were recognized during the brief program:

Outgoing direc tors— Michael Lopez, Bob Stephens, Joyce Ford, Jeff Martin.

New officers—Walko, chair; Bob Stephens, chair-elect; Joyce Ford, treasurer.

New directors—Tia Garrett, Lopez, Stephens, Ford, Cindy Jerman.

Holdover directors—JacksonDave Phillips, Mitul Patel, Bob Wilson, Pat Watson, Cyndia Ingram, Tia Garrett, Rebecca King (associate director).

Jackson also recognized Brock, Chamber secretary.


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2013-01-17 digital edition



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