Members from the West Liberty Chamber of Commerce board reflected on the past year during the dinner.
Outgoing board president Kara Kruse told everyone she joined the chamber board in 2021 as the representative for the West Liberty Community School District. She was nominated to fill a vacancy as a representative for the United Methodist Church when West Liberty School District Superintendent Shaun Kruger joined the board.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to be able to serve as president for this past year,” Kruse said. “I’ve learned so much about our members, about our community overall. It just has been a very exciting time.”
She thanked her fellow board members, Executive Director Charles Brooke and Chamber of Commerce members for the great year they had.
“I wouldn’t have made it through this year without you,” Kruse said. “We started off the year feeling unsure about how 2022 would be on the heels of the pandemic but we finished the year strong. I feel a new energy in West Liberty and I really hope that all of you feel it as well.”
Kruse quoted Carolyn Cawley, the U.S. Chamber who said behind every thriving community are businesses fueling opportunity and prosperity. Together the message is being spread on why businesses matter, what they need to be successful and what impacts they’re having on society.
“It’s no different here in West Liberty,” Kruse said. “West Liberty is thriving. This year alone we’ve held seven ribbon cuttings and our message is spreading. Shop local first.”
When Kruse was done speaking, she introduced the 2023 West Liberty Chamber of Commerce President Cassie Rottink to everyone.
Rottink said she was excited to take on the role as president. She came to West Liberty two and a half years ago, works at Big Imprint and is coach of the 12U Liberty Bell’s team.
Since Rottink has come to West Liberty she said she has enjoyed getting to know the community and businesses.
“I have seen some amazing growth in the two and a half years that I’ve been here and I can’t wait to see what is to come in 2023,” Rottink said.
She announced the 2023 Chamber of Commerce board officers to everyone. The vice-president is Donna Alberti, secretary is Mary Larson and the treasurer is Kira Achen. Other board of director members include: Kruger, WeLead representative Ken Brooks, city representative David Haugland, Amber Hahn, Father Guillermo Trevino Jr., Jason Feldman, Kayla Stumpf, Mary Jo Lugo, Heather Wisman and Chief Operating Officer Charles Brooke.
Outgoing board member Larry Miller was thanked by Kruse and the rest of the chamber board for his service.
“Larry Miller has served on the chamber board, the membership committee and he has helped us with pretty much all of our events,” Kruse said. “Thank you for your dedication to the chamber and to our members. We are going to miss you at our board meetings but we know we’re going to see you around town.”
Brooke was the next person to speak. He started off by reviewing everything the Chamber of Commerce accomplished in the past year.
He said it could have been a record to have seven business grand openings in West Liberty last year, but West Liberty also saw Jan’s Flower Yard close after 41 years of business.
The golf tournament, Holiday Open House, First Friday, blood drive, WMT Tractorcade and Picnic in the Park were some of the events Brooke’s mentioned that were held last year.
There were a couple of changes the Chamber of Commerce made last year. Brooke became the chief operating officer and the bylaws were rewritten.
In 2023, Brooke’s goal is to have a brochure available of the businesses in West Liberty. The deadline to be included in the brochure is Jan. 31 and will be hopefully available in March.
“With our brochure there’s a QR code that will take you to our website that will put the consumer closer to you with your information, website, whatever it may be,” Brooke said.
The chamber would like all businesses in the community including brick and mortar and people with businesses in their home.
Some of the events being held in 2023 include the Comet Gala being held at the community center March 4, which will celebrate the fundraising done for the school district’s athletic complex; opening of the racing season at the racetrack May 6; the all school reunion from July 14 -16; Muscatine County Fair Parade and Picnic in the Park July 16; the golf tournament Aug. 24; Trick o’ Treat on the trail and the Holiday Open House.
A new event will be held Feb. 7 at the WeLead building in the morning, Brooke said. Lisa Wertzbaugher will be talking about how to effectively market your business on social media online. It is the first Chamber A.M.
2022 Chamber Award Winners
The evening ended with the announcement of the 2022 Chamber Awards.
The New Kid on the Block Award for retail went to West Liberty Auto Parts Car Quest. New Kid on the Block Award for food and beverage was awarded to El Jibarito Bakery.
The Betterment Business Award went to Frank Wagner and Emily Geertz.
Cliff and Cara McFerren were awarded the Selfless Servant Award.
Jackie Henderson received the Educator of the Year Award and the Spirit of West Liberty Award was Lisa Wertzbaugher.