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Chamber History

The Chamber’s early history is recorded in the following manner in Elizabeth Porter’s book, “A History of Wetumpka”, page 166. “The Chamber of Commerce is not one of the oldest civic organizations of Wetumpka, but it is one of the strongest, being composed of men who are also members of one of the three civic luncheon clubs. These men have confidence in Wetumpka and feel that it is really helping any one who is looking for a place in which to locate an industry to show him the advantages that he can have by locating it here.”

"The Chamber of Commerce has entered its fifth year; it was organized in 1952 with Ellis Austin as its first president. Mac Freeman was president the second year; in its third year Judson Landrum, Sr., served as president; Mrs. J. L. Young is the executive secretary."

"The board of directors is composed of ten men who meet monthly. There is an annual dinner for the entire membership. Two interesting brochures containing valuable information about Wetumpka have been published, and another brochure is in the making. The membership of this organization is composed of men who are capable and enthusiastic, men who have faith in the future of Wetumpka. In 1956, at the annual dinner for the club, Tom McDow was elected president. He was also elected “Man of the Year.” This meeting of 1956 proved to be a very enthusiastic meeting as many plans were made for bringing in new industries. In 1957 Silas Martin was elected president and Mac Freeman, Jr., “The Man-of-the-Year.”

In 1987, the committee to reestablish the Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce was set in motion at the behest of then Mayor Jeanette Barrett. She commissioned a four man committee composed of Bill Gray, Art Bolin, John Lazenby, and Ferrell Long to prepare the organizational structure. The Wetumpka Merchants Association, led by Jack DeVenney became a part of the Chamber organizational project. The committee set about to organize and filed incorporation papers on February 24, 1989, to establish the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. By Laws had become official on February 3, 1989, and William M. Gray served as the first elected president through March, 1988. Alma Leak, assistant to Mayor Jeanette Barrett acted as the Chief Staff Executive with headquarters located in the Alternatives building at 110 East Bridge Street. The Chamber incorporated as a 501 (c) (6) and contributions to a 501(c)(6) are not tax deductible as charitable contributions, but they may be deductible as a trade or business expense.The first year saw inclusion of approximately 50 charter members in the organization. Janice Cash was hired as Executive Secretary in December, 1989, and the Chamber’s new home became 108 Company Street and later still 108 East Bridge Street. Jackson Thornton & Company, Principal Dennis Fain, has faithfully provided the services for accounting, reporting, and auditing throughout the life of the Chamber. Jan Wood came on board in December, 1992 and began to concentrate on visibility, growth, and community impact. Lacking the big dollars to recruit in the industrial market, the Chamber has sought to forge its role as promoter—especially of attractions, tourism, and retiree relocation. The Chamber is a nerve center for information for tourism and business referral, with its chief responsibility being to provide the venue or format for local business and community leaders to meet together to share information and promote community interests and projects.

Early in 1995, the Chamber sought a permanent home and gathered commitment from its membership, made a leap of faith and purchased the historic building at 110 East Bridge Street where it had residence in 1987. This two story white masonry location originally constructed in 1905 of limestone was the Bank of Wetumpka. After the demise of the bank in the years of the Depression, the historic building served to house a variety of business ventures—barber and beauty shops, jewelry store, insurance and accounting offices, gift shop, restaurant and eatery, drug prevention and treatment program and finally, June 1, 1995, as the home of The Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

Since that date the Chamber has promoted various fund raising efforts to support the improvement and repair of the building in such a manner as to maintain its historical integrity.  Major projects have included replacing the roof, painting the interior, placing marble tile front steps, repairing window framing, cleaning and painting the exterior surface and awnings, and polishing and reinstalling the sliding copper and brass doors at the front entrance. In 2005 and in 2016, new carpet and furnishings were added to the building.

The growth of Chamber participation and membership has been substantial with broad based participation ranging from retired individuals who seek to serve their community to the largest high-tech manufacturing firms located in our area. In 2012, Executive Director Jan Wood retired, and Vanessa Lynch was hired as Executive Director and created 'Craterfest" an annual family music festival to replace "Riverfest". In 2014, a major capital campaign was initiated for the renovation of the entire Chamber block in which, 1.4 million was raised and the Wetumpka Business and Innovation Center was established next door to the Chamber. It's purpose serves as a small business incubator with affordable rental space and mentoring for new businesses.  

 

 It is our desire to be responsive to the perceived needs and wishes of the area citizenry as well as our mission to promote the best and most equitable economic endeavors for the City of Wetumpka and Elmore County.


 

Wetumpka Chamber Time Line

History:

1987 to 1988

Four man committee commissioned by Mayor Jeanette Barrett  

William M. Gray, Art Bolin, Ferrell Long, and John Lazenby to reestablish a Chamber of Commerce for the City of Wetumpka

February 3, 1989

By-Laws Filed  

February 24, 1989

Incorporation Official

Original Incorporators  Dennis Fain, Art Bolin, and Ferrell Long  

 

Presidents/Chairmen:

1987-1988

William M. Gray  (Deceased)

1988-1989 

Art Bolin, Art Bolin (Retired)   

1989-1990 

Ferrell Long, Dan River Mills 

1990-1991 

Deanna Macon, New York Life 

1991-1992    

Jack DeVenney  (Deceased)

1992-1993  

Bill Miller, Walmart 

1993-1994   

John Enslen, Judge John Enslen   

1994-1995 

Travis Cosby, III, First Community Bank of Central Alabama (Retired) 

1995-1996  

Dennis G. Fain, Jackson Thornton CPA's (Retired) 

1996-1997

Jimmy Stubbs, Jr., River Bank and Trust

1997-1998

Thomas R. Edwards, Attorney

1998-1999

Rita Lewis  (Deceased)

1999     

Mark Presnell , Mark's Service Center and Body Shop 

2000                               

Darrin Chatham,  Edward Jones Investments

2001                               

Margie Newbrough, First American Title Insurance Company   

2002

Travis Cosby, III, First Community Bank of Central Alabama (Retired)

2003

Dean A. Mack, Turner Oil Inc.

2004

Teresa S. Johnston, UBS Wealth Management

2005

Kenith W. Hammock, Collier Ford

2006

James B. Collier Jr., Collier Ford

2007                  

David Sanders, Alabama Power Company

2008

Regina B. Edwards, Regina B. Edward Law Firm

2009 Brandt Wright, Century 21 Brandt Wright Realty
2010 Mark Shaw, Mark Shaw Insurance
2011 Dennis G. Fain, Jackson Thornton CPA's (Retired)

2012
Randy Morgan, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative

2013

Barry Chrietzberg, Chrietzberg Photography

2014Cody Williamson, Wind Creek Atmore Casino & Hotel
2015Keyesta Sherman, Keyesta Sherman State Farm Agency
2016Joel Hunt, PrimeSouth Bank
2017Lee Macon, Elmore County Revenue Commissioner
2018Eric Hyde, Edward Jones Investments
2019Tracy Hart, Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino & Hotel

 

 

Chamber Executive Directors:

2/3/89 – 10/31/89  Alma Leak (Deceased)   
12/6/89 – 12/9/92  Janice Cash  (Retired)
12/7/92 - 12/31/11  Jan Wood  (Retired)
1/1/12 - 4/1/16Vanessa Lynch, River Bank & Trust
5/1/16 - Present Gerry Purcell

 

Administrative Assistants/ Associate Director: 

 7/98 - 7/06 Margie Jones-Barrett (Deceased)
 8/1/06 - 10/11/06 Stephanie Knapp
 10/20/06 - 9/4/07 Angie Briggum
 9/5/07 - 7/22/11 Terri Teague
 10/10/11 - Present Jamie Young, Associate Director
 

Volunteer Awards:

March 28, 1991 Watt Jones, Jr.  (Deceased)
March 19, 1992 Jack DeVenney  (Deceased)

 

Community Involvement Citation Recipients: 

Community Involvement Citation

For those volunteers demonstrating a high degree of unselfish civic service to the citizens of Wetumpka, Alabama in multiple ways and for an extended period of time.


March 23, 1993 Kathleen Speer  
March 24, 1994  Jack DeVenney  (Deceased)
March 23, 1995 Jake Strickland  
March 12, 1996 J. E. Dunn, Jr., M. D.  (Deceased)
March 11, 1997 C. S. Bazemore  
March 19, 1998 Janette Chalker  (Deceased)
January 26, 1999     C. E. Weldon, Jr.  
January 20, 2000 Ben & Janet Barrett  
January 23, 2001 Edward W. Enslen  
January 17, 2002 Dennis G. Fain, (Retired)
January 7, 2003 Larry R. Teel, Elmore County Food Pantry
January 13, 2004 Barry Chrietzberg, Chrietzberg Photography
January 27, 2005 William M. "Bill" Gray (Deceased)
January 26, 2006 Carolyn Osborn (Retired)
January 11, 2007 Julie Bridgman
January 24, 2008 Dr. Joseph R. Benson
January 22, 2009 Judge Maura Culberson (Retired)
January 21, 2010 Gwendolyn E. Turner (Retired)
January 20, 2011 Joe Allen Turner, Elmore County Museum & Historical Society Historian
January 19, 2012 Kathleen Holt (Retired)

January 17, 2013

Martha Dykes (Deceased)

January 16, 2014Rebecca Thornton (Retired)
February 24, 2015Mary Peck (Retired)
February 9, 2016Larry Dozier (Retired)
February 9, 2017Rea Cord, Humane Society of Elmore County
February 8, 2018Kristy Meanor, Wetumpka Depot Theatre
February 5, 2019 

 

 

William F. Sahlie Volunteer Award: 

William F. Sahlie Award

For Outstanding Volunteer Service to the Chamber


March 11, 1997  Margie Jones  (Deceased)
March 19, 1998  Tom Clark, Alfa Realty   
January 26, 1999 Dorothy W. Welden (Deceased)
January 20, 2000 Sam C. Turner, Turner Oil   
January 23, 2001 Sylvia McConnell  (Retired)
January 17, 2002 Cathy Sanford (Retired)
January 7, 2003 Tom Overton, Overton Properties
January 13, 2004 Kathleen B. Holt (Retired)
January 27, 2005 Dean A. Mack, Turner Oil
January 26, 2006 Patricia Harden (Retired)
January 11, 2007 Regina B. Edwards, Regina B. Edwards Law Firm
January 24, 2008 Kennith W. Hammock, Collier Ford
January 22, 2009 Lisa McNeil, Will Parsons / Christoph Inc.
January 21, 2010 Cindy Hilyer, River Oaks Apartments
January 20, 2011 Marilyn Winborn, Marilyn Winborn Insurance
January 19, 2012 Dennis Fain, (Retired)

January 17, 2013

Missy Rhoades, Wetumpka Water Works

January 16, 2014Randy Morgan, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative
February 24, 2015Jimmy Stubbs, Jr., River Bank and Trust
February 9, 2016Cody Williamson, Wind Creek Atmore Casino & Hotel
February 9, 2017Joel Hunt, PrimeSouth Bank
February 8, 2018Lee Macon, Elmore County Revenue Commissioner
February 5, 2019 

 

Elmore County History & Heritage Award:

January 7, 2003

Joe Allen Turner, Elmore County Museum & Historical Society

 

 

Service Award for 15 Years as Treasurer:

January 21, 2010

Sylvia McConnell (Retired)

 

Ambassador of the Year:

 2003 Kathleen B. Holt (Retired)
 2004 Patricia Harden (Retired)
 2005 Cheryll Fochtmann, Market Shoppes
 2006 Lisa McNeil, Trail of Legends Association
 2007  

 2008

Cindy Hilyer, River Oaks Apartments

 2009 Missy Rhoades, Wetumpka Water Works
 2010 Debbie Brown, Tallassee Bank

 2011

Tracy Hart, Wind Creek Wetumpka Casino & Hotel

 2012

Vanessa Rohan, Max Credit Union

 2013All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2014All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2015All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2016All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2017All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2018All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2019All Ambassadors Received Recognition

 

Senior Ambassador of the Year:

 2006 Kathleen B. Holt (Retired)
 2007 Pat Harden, (Retired), Kathleen B. Holt (Retired) and Margie Jones-Barrrett (Deceased)
 2008 Pat Harden (Retired)
 2009 Margie Jones Barrett (Deceased)
 2010

Martha Dykes (Deceased) & Kathleen B. Holt (Retired)

 2011 Kathleen B. Holt (Retired)

 2012

Marlene Goodman (Retired) & Pat Harden (Retired)

 2013All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2014All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2015All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2016All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2017All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2018All Ambassadors Received Recognition
2019All Ambassadors Received Recognition

 

 

Annual Meetings:

Date Location Caterer Speaker
3/24/88 Quail Walk Taste Temptors  Edgar Welden  
3/23/89  Wetumpka HS Taste Temptors Alva Lambert
3/22/90  Wetumpka HS  Taste Temptors Bob Ingram
3/28/91 Wetumpka HS  Taste Temptors Fred Donaldson  
3/19/92   Wetumpka HS Taste Temptors Jon Chapman
3/23/93 Wetumpka HS Taste Temptors Henry P. “Hank” Fowler, Jr.
3/24/94 Fain Com. Cent. Country’s BBQ Dr. John Ed Mathison  
3/23/95 Heartland Dance Catfish Country Grass Harp Auction/M.Darity
3/12/96 Wetumpka HS Weddings by Mary E. Paul Ott Carruth, Singer
3/11/97 Wetumpka HS Moses & Crawford Rev. Robert “Bob” Baggott  
3/19/98 Wetumpka HS Moses & Crawford Aubrey Miller
1/26/99 Wetumpka HS Moses & Crawford Annie Crenshaw
1/20/00 Wetumpka HS Cajun Grille Sonny Hornsby
1/23/01 Fain Com. Cent. Cajun Grille Awards & Presentations
1/17/02 Fain Com. Cent. White Wings Awards & Presentations  
1/7/03 Fain Com. Cent. White Wings Awards & Presentations  
1/13/04 Fain Com. Cent. White Wings Awards & Presentations  
1/27/05 Fain Com. Cent. Academy Events/Catering Awards & Presentations  
1/26/06 Fain Com. Cent. White Wings Awards & Presentations  
1/11/07 Wetumpka Civic Center White Wings Awards & Presentations  
1/24/08 Wetumpka Civic Center Catfish Country Awards & Presentations  
1/22/09 Wetumpka Civic Center Academy Events Awards & Presentations  
1/21/10 Wetumpka Civic Center White Wings Awards & Presentations  
1/20/11 Wetumpka Civic Center Incredible Edibles Awards & Presentations  
1/19/12 Wetumpka Civic Center Creek Casino Wetumpka Awards & Presentations  

1/17/13

Wetumpka Civic Center

White Wings

Awards & Presentations

1/16/14Wetumpka Civic CenterWind Creek WetumpkaAwards & Presentations
2/24/15Wetumpka Civic CenterWind Creek WetumpkaAwards & Presentations
2/9/16Wetumpka Civic CenterWind Creek WetumpkaAwards & Presentations
2/8/17Wetumpka Civic CenterWind Creek WetumpkaAwards & Presentations
2/8/18Wetumpka Civic CenterWind Creek WetumpkaAwards & Presentations
2/5/19Wetumpka Civic Center Awards & Presentations