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Get ready for the Chamber’s annual meeting

The Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and celebration is slated for Saturday, Jan. 22.

In July of 1976, the Chamber of Commerce was incorporated. Therefore, 2011 marks a very special year for this organization — our 35th birthday — and one that will be filled with great events all year long!

We kick off the celebrations with a 35th birthday party, better known as the annual meeting. This year, the festivities return to our longtime annual meeting site, the Pagosa Lodge. Mark your calendars for Saturday, Jan. 22, from 6 to 11 p.m. for an evening of dining and dancing.

Since this is an anniversary celebration, the theme for the annual meeting, of course, will be a birthday party. Come out and have some fun at a birthday-themed table — from the frivolous to the fancy — many including past Chamber event and party motifs.

The Pagosa Lodge is pulling out all the stops to provide a fantastic prime rib dinner, with all the accoutrements. Along with a birthday cake, there will also be delicious pies. The new chefs at The Lodge, Danny and Carol Schofield, were the former owners of The Pie Shop, and they will provide some of their delectable desserts. A cash bar will also be available.

After exciting announcements of Chamber plans for 2011 and awards including Citizen and Volunteer of the Year, there will be an evening of music and dancing.

Also new this year is a silent auction with lots of opportunities for attendees to walk away with discount coupons provided by member businesses.

Businesses will offer discounts that will extend through the winter and spring months. This will be a win-win situation: the businesses will be able to promote sales during some of the slower months of the year and the public will enjoy local savings.

It will be a fun evening all around, with much to celebrate. Tickets go on sale soon and are $35 per person. Treat your employees — buy a table and reward everyone with a night out on the town. Or, better yet, sign up for a Chamber sponsorship package so your annual meeting tickets are included in your sponsorship package. Enjoy the tickets yourself, invite a loyal client, or offer the tickets to your staff as a thank you gift for all their hard work.

This will also be the last chance for members to vote for three of six candidates running for the Chamber Board of Directors. The candidates this year are Pam Barsanti with Prudential Triple S; Jennifer Burck, owner of Wind Wranglers Balloon Company; Mark Monaco, owner of Liberty Theatre; Bob Moomaw, friend of the Chamber; Todd Stevens, co-owner of Alley House Grille and Farrago Market Cafe; and Aurora Wright, owner of Mud Shaver Car Wash. Members are invited to vote early; ballots are available at the Chamber until Jan. 22. There is one vote per membership. You can pick up a candidate bio sheet or refer to the one that was in your December Chamber newsletter.

We are looking forward to a gala evening in a great location with plenty of parking, and space to enjoy the evening’s festivities. For tickets, stop by the Chamber.

SBDC classes

It’s hard to believe that 2011 is right around the corner, but as we make plans for our annual meeting, other organizations are planning their upcoming year as well.

One group that is always out in front is the Southwest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), headed up by Joe Keck.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, SBDC offers the Leading Edge Entrepreneurial Training course. The class includes 12 sessions geared at helping businesses develop a new or expanded product. The class is held every Wednesday for 12 weeks from 6 to 9 p.m. and will be held at the Ross Aragon Community Center. The cost is $280 for the class.

There will be three scholarships offered this session. Many thanks to Region 9 Economic Development District, the SW Colorado SBDC and the Lindblad Group for their generous scholarship offers. To apply for a scholarship, download the application from the SBDC website at http://soba.ftlewis.edu/sbdc/seminar.html. You can then mail or fax the application with a one-page written narrative describing your business background, why you need the scholarship, and how it will help you achieve your business goals. Submit the application and narrative to Lynn Asano, SBDC, 140 Education Building, 1000 Rim Dr., Durango, CO 81301.

The spring Marketing for Smarties class is also just around the corner. The classes begin Thursday, March 24, and continue for three weeks — April 14, April 28 and May 19. All classes will be held at the Chamber Visitor Center. Registration forms will be available after the first of the year, but as your business finishes budgeting, see if you can’t fit these workshops into your schedule. Look for more information soon.

LED rebate

If you have been purchasing LED holiday lights to cut down on your electric bill, La Plata Electric Association is back with its rebate program.

Customers will receive $1 back for each strand of 49 bulbs or less and $2 back for every 50-plus bulb strand of LED lighting. The Chamber has rebate forms available. The deadline to file your rebate request is Dec. 31, and rebates will be credited to your LPEA bill. For more information, contact Ray Pierotti, LPEA Project Specialist, at (970) 382-7770.

We do not have the free LED lights available this year from LPEA, but please take advantage of this rebate program. There is no limit on the number of strands purchased!

Membership news

Don’t forget we have a ribbon cutting on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the newly re-opened Boulder Coffee Company located in the Aspen Village Center. We welcome new owners Jerry and Debbie Hilsabeck as they prepare delicious coffees and food items to be served in their comfortable facility with free WiFi, or take your goodies out with you.

We have renewals to announce this week: High Mountain Consignment and Gifts; Next Door Decor; The Decorating Lady, with Kim Hamilton; Brilliam Engineering Services; American Legion Post 108; and in the insurance and annuity world, we welcome back Mike Dalsaso — based in Durango but serving many clients in Pagosa Springs. Our Friends of the Chamber renewing are Bob and Janis Moomaw, John Ramberg, and Fred and Mary Webb. We appreciate all the renewals this week and every week.

Don’t forget to fill out your nomination forms for Volunteer and Citizen of the Year awards. We have great candidates in this town; take a moment to thank those who give so much to our community.