Unfriendly Chamber Policies Causing Rift In The Community


At a meeting recently conducted at the chamber of commerce for the volunteers, I asked why the Rim Country Museum brochures were pulled from the racks in the visitor center. I was told that (the museum) was not a member of the chamber of commerce and was therefore not entitled to have them there. [I understand an agreement has now been reached.]

I then asked why any nonprofit organization had to pay to be a member to place their information in the chamber. I was informed by the present CEO, that "this was a board decision." In fact, (for just) about everything I questioned, I was informed, "It was a board decision."

These nonprofit organizations rely on public donations to operate, and they give many things back to the community.

The $100 each is charged to put information in the chamber of commerce would go a long way toward helping with their community endeavors.

One hundred dollars would pay the water bill at the Time Out Shelter for five months. One hundred dollars would be that much more for the Payson Art League to put into the school art program, and so on.

Then the subject of the rodeo buttons came up and did this open a bag of worms. We were informed the words "World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo" could not be used on the buttons or any other merchandise sold by the rodeo committee unless it pays the chamber a royalty. (The chamber) owns the copyright to it, and no one else is allowed to use it another board decision. As to whether the buttons would be sold at the chamber visitor center, the CEO could provide no answer; probably the board had not made a decision on that subject.

All the money taken in on the buttons goes to pay scholarships for the Payson school kids. How many scholarships does the chamber give?

When the subject of selling the rodeo tickets at the chamber office was brought up, the CEO said they would be willing to sell them there but the chamber would more than likely charge $1 on each ticket that was sold there.

The volunteers working for free for the chamber would be the ones selling the tickets. Does this make business sense to the merchants, motel and restaurant owners? The Circle K's and the (Tonto Apache) Smoke Shop have agreed to sell them for no compensation, but only to help this community. Hats off to them for their support.

It appears from what was said at that meeting that the present chamber board is more interested in making money than supporting and being a service to the community.

The visitor center gets the services of 30-plus dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers for free. Many have been there for several years; eight years for me.

The present CEO stated that when he started, the chamber was broke and at times could not meet its payroll, and now it is back on solid footing. This is commendable.

Why can't calmer heads prevail and we all pull together for the good of every organization and the people of this community?

Pray tell why would the chamber board allow this division between the chamber and the people of Payson to happen and continue, or has the division between the two gone so far that it can never be repaired? These issues have widely divided this community and there will be no winners; only losers in the end.

The board may not be totally responsible for everything that is going on or has happened, but someone has to make a move to try and establish harmony.

It is time the voting members take a careful look at the next slate of candidates for the chamber board at the next election and vote to make some changes and get a more community oriented board back.

Editor's note: According to Chamber President Blaine Kimball, the board had sound reasons for making those decisions.

First, the board requires nonprofit organizations to join the chamber before they can display their literature in the visitor center so chamber staff members don't have to decide which nonprofit organizations the chamber will and will not represent.

Secondly, Kimball said, the board had to charge a royalty for the use of the name, "The World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo" to protect the chamber's trademark.

"According to our attorney, we must charge a royalty to protect our trademarked name, otherwise we could lose it," Kimball said. "The rodeo buttons are sold (to raise money) for scholarships. We offered to give the (royalties) back in the form of a scholarship in the name of the chamber and the jail scholarship committee. We made the offer, but haven't received a formal answer.

"The chamber has no interest in making any money on the buttons. We were just trying to follow our lawyer's advice and retain our trademarked name."

And finally, he said, the board, which doesn't always charge to sell tickets for community events, decided to charge the rodeo committee to sell rodeo tickets based on the amount of work involved. "We have to bring in a lot of extra people (for the rodeo)," he said, "and it requires a lot of extra staff time."

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