Chuck Shea: The end of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce?
Has the 100-year-plus organization finally succumbed under the burdens of the draconian state mandates due to COVID-19? Or something else?
Recently the board of directors (only three directors) voted to eliminate the executive director’s position, not because of failure, or mismanagement but for a petty, transient and personal issue. This action also caused volunteers who supported the chamber to quit and just walk away.
We now see a sign in the office window: “Chamber is closed indefinitely.”
Cathy Whittlesey, as the executive director, has been steadfastly holding the Chamber together and bringing success to Nevada City businesses for 36 years.
Cathy has developed and led a team of outstanding capable volunteers through each major event over these many years and frankly has kept the Chamber alive and strong over every economic downturn the city has faced.
This uncalled-for dismissal of Cathy Whittlesey was done without a plan to continue operation of the Chamber offices. No plans to replace the volunteer staff or to meet the needs of those remaining events for 2020, like Victorian Christmas.
Recently over 80 members of the Chamber, many of whom are active business owners currently struggling in town, are also very concerned about the negative actions of these three rogue members to directly damage the Chamber. They have become so concerned, that they have sent a written demand for their immediate resignation.
However, these three rogue directors are refusing to step down and are now threatening legal action to remain in place. They need to step aside for the good of the town. They need to stop being “dogs in the manger” (a dog can’t eat the hay, but won’t let the horse eat).
If these three, Gretchen Bond, Jesse Locks and Celine Negrete, continue to block the efforts of the membership to restart the Chamber, well, one must ask why they want to wreck the Chamber and damage the town.
The goal of the broader membership is to take back control of the Chamber, reopen the offices, invite all the many volunteers to come back to re-energize the Chamber and plan for the many events for the rest of the year.
If the members have to fight to get these people off the board and out of the Chamber, there will be no events this year. So, how sad this is.
Is this the end of the Nevada City Chamber Of Commerce, or merely a severe bump in the road?
Chuck Shea, former business owner and carriage driver in Nevada City.
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Darryl Berkheimer’s Aug. 28 column, “Mill St. trims convenience,” addresses the new downtown Grass Valley plaza realistically, citing relevant statistics and trends, not just sharing another opinion.