The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce has officially filled the two vacant seats on its newly revamped board of directors.
The new electees are Lou Adams and Shellie Manley, chamber CEO Tom Kaleta said, and board members Judy Miller and Meg Turlukis won re-election.
The chamber's nominating committee Greg Day, Patrick Willis, Barbara Bubnis and Blaine Kimball had two seats to fill: one vacated by Nathan Campbell, who resigned due to health problems late last year, and one vacated by Day, who had originally decided to run for re-election but dropped out of the race last month.
Adams is the owner and president of Adams Business Dimensions. A Payson resident since 1997, he spent the past year as the vice-chairman of the Rim Country Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee, and has been a member of the chamber since moving to Payson in 1997. Adams also served as president of the North Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and is a former member of the Phoenix and Scottsdale chambers.
Manley, a nine-year resident of Star Valley, is employed as the circulation manager of the Roundup newspaper. She promises to bring both business expertise and a long history of community-project involvement to the board's table.
"I'm really interested in positive growth for Payson," she said. "I think that the chamber is the key, since it has the money and the wherewithal for bringing people here with money, retirement funds, time and energy.
"Historically, the chamber has been a valuable tool to the businesses here in Payson, and I hope it will become that again," she said.
Adams chose to seek chamber office, he said, because "I've always found that what's good for my business is also good for the community, and I can effect that by being involved with the chamber."
He said he wants to address five major issues during his tenure on the board.
"Government affairs is an area I really like, because that's where we can become involved with our town government, county government and state government which is where we really have to work hard to get things done," he said. "The last time the state held (an Arizona chamber conference) on a major scale, Prescott had 15 or 20 people there, and we were lucky if we had two or three. This year, the big push is to get down there en mass Jan. 30 to say, 'Hey, we're here, we want to be listened to, we have things to say."
Improving rural health care should be another of the chamber's top priorities, Adams said.
"As part of government affairs, the one thing I would like to do is really push rural health care as something we really need to work on because if we don't get some decent rural health care up here, we're going to see a migration of people leaving," he said. "Maybe at least one-third of our population base."
Adams said he is concerned, too, about the ever-increasing flow of Rim country shoppers to the Valley for big-ticket items.
"I'd like to see some kind of revenue-sharing on sales taxes for big items that are bought outside of Gila County," he said.
Another way to bring money into the area, he said, is to capitalize on the Rim country's "great potential for eco-tourism. We have a lot to offer between Payson at 5,000 feet and the Rim at 7,000 feet; there's quite a shift in flora, fauna, habitat ... I think that can be shared in an environmentally-safe way."
The members of the old and new chamber board of directors will spend Jan. 24 on retreat at the Majestic Mountain Inn, where the first order of business will be the election of the executive committee a process that will be chaired by outgoing president Blaine Kimball.
Manley said she plans to approach her new position without any established agendas.
"I'm just going to be there to learn how to best serve on the board of directors for the chamber," she said. "Evidently, a major purpose of this retreat is to familiarize the new board members with the by-laws and on how to work within them.
"Until then, I won't know what can be implemented and what can't be implemented. I'm totally in the dark; the only thing I have now is energy and enthusiasm."
After the election of officers, Kimball will become an ex-officio member of the board and the new officers will conduct the remainder of the retreat, which will conclude with an orientation provided by chamber staff members.
Two years ago, the chamber board's election process was restructured so that screening power was taken from the members and given to the chamber's board and executives. Once the nominations are made by the chamber-selected nominating committee, the nominees are voted upon by the membership.