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Chamber debates political agenda

Collin Smith

In other action

The Chamber of Commerce:

• The Chamber plans to host a customer service seminar for members and nonmembers at the Holiday Inn on Oct. 4. It is still looking for sponsors.

• The Chamber Nominating Committee plans to meet next week to make Chamber board nominations official. Any Chamber member, or its employees, can run for a board seat. Members will vote on a ballot mailed to them in the fall.

• The Chamber needs volunteers for the upcoming mud volleyball tournament at 10 a.m. Aug. 25, and also for Crabfest in November.

In other action

The Chamber of Commerce:

• The Chamber plans to host a customer service seminar for members and nonmembers at the Holiday Inn on Oct. 4. It is still looking for sponsors.

• The Chamber Nominating Committee plans to meet next week to make Chamber board nominations official. Any Chamber member, or its employees, can run for a board seat. Members will vote on a ballot mailed to them in the fall.

• The Chamber needs volunteers for the upcoming mud volleyball tournament at 10 a.m. Aug. 25, and also for Crabfest in November.

— Gene Bilodeau, Craig Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors president, had a simple question for his board.

“Do we take on a whale first, or do we take on some dolphins?” Bilodeau asked.

The board settled on dolphins.

The Chamber should be a political leader, but should not pursue controversial agendas that would potentially divide its members, the Chamber decided Thursday during its monthly board meeting at the Holiday Inn.

Executive Director Christina Currie said the Chamber had discussed becoming more politically involved for a long time.

“As the Chamber, we’re an advocate for local business,” Currie said. “But we also represent the community.”

The board decided unanimously to seek more of an advisory role than an activism role.

“Since we don’t want to offend one member over the other, we could focus more on the education of things coming up,” board member Rebecca Greenwood said. “This is more of a direction on information than this is a political stance.”

When the board does decide to endorse an initiative, it plans to take a majority vote that would not need to be unanimous, Bilodeau said.

One topic broached was gas exploration in the area, specifically drilling around Roan Plateau and Vermillion Basin.

“In my personal opinion, I think Gov. (Bill) Ritter needs to hear from this community,” board member Bryce Jacobson said. “Gov. Ritter has done amazing things with his mouth, but not so much with his hands,” he said, acting as though he was writing legislation.

Jacobson and board member Jonny Sherman discussed whether Ritter’s stance was based on exploring clean energy or conservationism.

“If they want to move Colorado to more green energy, then that might change my vote,” Sherman said.

Bilodeau felt energy exploration was a good issue for the Chamber to “step up on.” The board debated whether the issue was appropriate, eventually agreeing that education was the best route to take.

Another debate circled around being more vocal about funding community goals, such as a recreation center.

If the community has a need, there needs to be a funding mechanism, Currie said.

The board discussed raising additional money through such programs as modifying the sales tax, adding a use tax on goods and services purchased elsewhere but used in Moffat County and increasing the lodging tax.

“With some funding in place, we could get matching grants from the state or elsewhere,” Currie said.

The board does not plan to move forward on tax initiatives in the near future.


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