Chamber president Dan Hadden of Dan’s Boot & Saddle Repair got right to the point as he welcomed about 25 people to the hastily-called meeting.
“We apologize to you,” he said. “We feel the chamber of commerce has been on a downhill slide these last months. We’re going to turn it around.”
Hadden didn’t elaborate on the decision to fire the chamber’s executive director, Kim Dillivan, just one week after the annual chamber banquet on March 24. Dillivan was hired in early May 2010, and he assumed chamber management duties in June after completing the academic year as an instructor in agribusiness at Northwest College.
“As of Thursday (March 31), we dismissed the office staff. They’re gone,” Hadden said.
That included Gina Vogel, membership programs coordinator, who resigned.
Hadden said reasons for Dillivan’s termination would not be released to the general public. Only the chamber’s board of directors is privy to the situation, he said.
In answer to a question, Hadden said the release was not brought on by financial considerations. The chamber has the resources to hire a replacement, though no salary range has been set, he said.
The chamber president emphasized that the organization is committed to full-time management. Before hiring a new director, however, the board wants to hear from members about what they’re looking for in a chamber manager.
“What are you guys looking for? We want to hear from you folks,” said Hadden, who announced that board members will be making contact visits with the approximately 200 chamber members.
Hadden has his own ideas about what is needed in an executive.
“We want a director meeting and mingling with people on an everyday basis,” he said.
Several chamber board members joined in endorsing a member-first, turn-around strategy.
“We’re a board, elected by you, for you,” said Trevor Nelson, new owner of Lights ‘n Such. “We clearly are out to do the best for you.”
Charise White of White Ink Printing said, “We just feel the chamber has been a little bit detached from you people.”
The chamber office presently is staffed with temporary help, said April Rodriguez of KPOW Radio. “We are still receiving phone calls and sending out relocation packets,” she said.
“We’re ready to move forward in a positive direction,” declared Kay Dooley of Northwest College.
No timetable has been set for hiring a new chamber director. But board members emphasized the chamber will be fully able to meet the terms of a Park County Travel Council grant to provide visitor center services in Powell for the coming tourist season. The possibility of adding Saturday visitor center hours is being discussed.