Chamber: Save horse carriages |

Chamber: Save horse carriages

Eileen JoyceDave Vertin, Nevada City Carriage Co. president and president of the city's chamber of commerce, grooms a horse at the outfit's barn.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada City’s Chamber of Commerce is about to mail letters seeking donations to save the city’s only horse-drawn carriage company, representatives said Monday.

“(People) should expect some communication from the Chamber of Commerce urging residents and businesses in Nevada City and in the Nevada City area to support the carriage company,” Cathy Whittlesey, executive manager for the chamber, said. “That’s our job … promoting businesses.”

Donations will go directly to Dave Vertin, president of the Nevada City Carriage Co., Whittlesey said.

Vertin, the newly installed chamber president, said last fall the carriage business had lost as much as $10,000 a year since its inception 16 years ago.

The company could fold by the end of the year, he said.

Vertin owns the sole horse-drawn carriage franchise in Nevada City and his company’s demise would leave the downtown area without one of its distinctive tourist attractions.

Mimi Simmons, the chamber’s past president and a real estate broker in Nevada City, recently led a series of meetings to save the company.

An earlier letter asking for donations was discarded Monday after some complained the chamber should not be collecting money on behalf of a business.

The letter suggested donations from $28 to $10,000 and promoted membership in a newly formed “Nevada City Carriage Society.”

“It doesn’t smell good,” Victoria Johnston, a Nevada City resident, said at a meeting Simmons organized Monday. “It’s like Friends of PG&E and Friends of Enron.”

Board member Rod Byers said he supports the horse-drawn carriage company, but the chamber should not act as a conduit.

In the meantime, Vertin said he intends to continue to operate the horse-drawn carriages in Nevada City.

He also wants the City Council to lower his franchise fee from $1,000 a year to $250, and hopes city officials will give him permission to rent an assembly hall and an apartment at the carriage house he built in the late 1980s on Uren Street.

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