Lindsay Chamber back up to speed

By C.J. Barbre

The Lindsay Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has changed its monthly meeting time to the last Tuesday of the month per a request from newly hired Executive Director Linda Dawyot.

Dawyot (pronounced Doy-it) took the position in late October. As president of the Visalia Sunset Lions which meets after work on the first and third Tuesdays of the month and holds its board meeting on the second Tuesday of the month, Dawyot is not available for the previously scheduled second Tuesday of the month chamber board meetings.

Dawyot is also takes a hand-built pottery art class at College of the Sequoias which only leaves the last Tuesday of the month open for her to attend chamber of commerce board meetings.

The November meeting was held beginning at 5 p.m. on Nov. 29 in the conference room at Sierra Vista Plaza.

Guests included Helen Easton on behalf of the Orange Blossom Festival Parade, Bill Drennen on behalf of the Lindsay Mural Arts Society and Kindon Meik, Lindsay Community Development Analyst, who will be taking the board position presently filled by Public Safety Director Bert Garzelli.

Easton was there to inform the board that she is stepping down as Orange Blossom Festival Parade organizer, a position she has held for about the last decade. However, she has lined up three people to take over on her behalf including Dawyot, Eddie Smith, new proprietor of Webb Sanders Funeral Home, and Cynthia Murray, wife of Mayor Ed Murray to assist.

&#8220We're going to change the parade route,” Easton said. Apparently a number of floats have had trouble negotiating the turns at the corner of Mirage Avenue and Honolulu Street and the next corner at Honolulu Street and Elmwood Avenue, so this next OBF Parade will start on Elmwood at Honolulu and not have to make any turns until the end when it turns in a gradual arc into City Park. Easton said Cynthia Murray is going to contact the schools and see if she can get some bands to participate. What is a parade without bands after all?

She said the big thing in January is to send out all the entry applications for the April parade which is celebrating its 75th year. Of course, arranging the parade line-up is another major responsibility and &#8220tough thing” according to Easton. &#8220I will stay on in an advisory capacity as long as I am needed,” she told the board. She noted that her first five years organizing the parade went really well, but the last few years have been a little rocky due to a death in the family, an illness and other factors.

Former Lindsay City Manager and chamber of commerce board member for 16 years, Bill Drennen, requested the chamber renew their partnership with the Lindsay Mural Arts Society (LMAS) they held prior to the board's decision to simplify the chamber's operation and cut back on expenses by eliminating the executive director position in favor of a part-time office manager, a policy it rescinded with the hiring of Dawyot.

Drennen noted that the mural program has been very successful and resulted in the holding of the California Mural Symposium in Lindsay in 2003, which had a great turnout with more than 100 participants from 14 states and five countries to Lindsay for the four-day event. It was at this event that the community helped create a &#8220mural in a day” with the painting of the Wells Fargo mural on the side of the Sundance Photography building on Elmwood Avenue.

The city now counts 15 murals around town as a tourism promotional that attracts &#8220step-on bus tours” and walking tours for folks from across the country and from other countries.

Drennen said the need for the partnership was so that LMAS could be covered for liability insurance as a subcommittee of the chamber, which it previously had been after being formed in 1997. He said this would be at no additional cost to the chamber and LMAS would become totally independent when it completed its 501C3 application and was officially designated a non-proift organization projected to take place by June or July 2006. He said for LMAS to get liability insurance prior to becoming a non-profit would cost an estimated $3,000 which was prohibitive. But the cost would go down to $1,000 once they were so incorporated which would be within their means.

Board president Mark Mann said the matter of liability insurance would be on the December agenda.

Next Dawyot gave the Executive Director's report. She said the chamber has collected $520 for the Angel Tree, which is actually sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints. Angels are available at a cost of $10 each. The money goes to buy a toy for a grateful child. Members of the LDS Church wraps and delivers the toys. For more information call the chamber at 562-4929.

The annual awards banquet sponsored by the chamber is coming up in January. Chamber members have until Dec. 16 to submit their nomination for Man, Woman, Youth, Organization, Business and Employee of the Year. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Lindsay Memorial Building. A banquet committee has been organized, consisting of Dawyot, Virginia Loya, Suzi Picaso, Sharon Dimmitt, Jean Hill, Eddie Smith and Dr. Bob Chiurazzi. This is apart from the Nomination Committee which is selected by the board.

Dawyot said the next ambassadors' luncheon is scheduled for today, Wednesday, Dec. 7. She said there are now about 20 ambassadors, most of whom have filled out the newly required application forms. Each ambassador will get a red, white, blue and black on white &#8220very traditional” name tag which will also have the name of the business where that ambassador is employed. Ambassadors will also receive a small gift in recognition of their contribution to civic participation in recognizing new businesses in town at the December luncheon.

Dawyot told the board the City of Lindsay Christmas tree was purchased at a cost of $200, half of which will be paid by the chamber. The 16-foot tree has been put in place on the lawn in front of City Hall and last week about 20 different school classes submitted handmade ornaments to decorate the tree. The official tree lighting will take place beginning at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 8. Hot apple cider and cookies will be provided as refreshment courtesy of the Lindsay branch of Bank of the Sierra and RE/MAX Realty on Hermosa Street. Pastor Paul Leavens will head up the program and Santa will no doubt be arriving on a fire truck as has been his preferred mode of transportation to Lindsay for this pre-Christmas visit.

Dawyot informed the board that she was invited to sit at the director's table and was introduced as the new Lindsay Chamber of Commerce Executive Director at the Tulare-Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Installation dinner in November. She said members of the Hispanic Chamber will be attending the Lindsay chamber mixer which will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19. Eagle Mountain marketing will also be in attendance. The mixer is open to all chamber members who are encouraged to take advantage of this networking opportunity and reminded to bring their business cards. Small Business Incubator businesses residing in Sierra Vista Plaza at 133 W. Honolulu St., including the Elegant Attic, an upscale consignment boutique for women's clothing and accessories; Friendly Flooring, a new flooring store marketing flooring products; and Michelle's Angels, a certified massage therapist operation will be providing refreshments. There will also be door prizes and raffles.

The last item on the executive director's report was a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m. today, Dec. 7 at C-SET on Honolulu Street across from City Hall.

In a later phone interview Dawyot was asked why she sought the position of executive director for the chamber. &#8220Actually what brought me to this place was I fell in love with Lindsay from working for the old Lindsay Gazette.” Dawyot served as an advertising account executive for the newspaper from August 2002 to October 2003. From there she went on to work in sales for Premier Color Graphics out of Visalia. &#8220I have a strong marketing background,” she said, which includes telemarketing and being a sales rep for MCR Printing and Foil apparently out of Santa Ana.

Dawyot moved into the catering business in the 1990s, operating her own business, Linda's Place and LD's Catering which she personally demonstrated by preparing a stellar meal for the Lindsay Business Women's Luncheon group while still employed at the Lindsay Gazette. Dawyot continued to participate in the luncheon after quitting her position at the Gazette and becoming more involved in Visalia.

Dawyot got a mention in Lewis Griswold's column in the Nov. 27 Fresno Bee as follows, NEW CHAMBER EXEC: Linda Garcia Dawyot has been hired as the new executive director of the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce.

&#8220I want to build up the downtown,” said Dawyot, who is bilingual.

That's helpful because the Lindsay Chamber puts on the weekly mercado in downtown Lindsay, which draws 2,000 to 5,000 people each Friday. The mercado will be dark December through February.

&#8220The best sales people are the people that truly believe in the product they're selling and I truly believe in Lindsay,” Dawyot said. &#8220I think that this town is going to have great things happen in the next few years. It's been on an upward swing and it's wonderful to be part of it.”

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