The Madison County Chamber of Commerce met for its first luncheon of 2019, Feb. 7.
Denny Ward from Marquand Development Corporation (MDC) gave an overview of what MDC is and does along with an update on the Sitzes Homestead.
Ward said MDC has taken on community projects and raised funding in order to do things the city itself was unable to encompass.
"During our time, MDC has built the community center which is a wonderful structure," Ward said. "It took a couple of abandoned houses that needed to be dispositioned and looked at the land then decided the community really needed the community center."
Ward said the space is used frequently and the organization strives to keep the rental fees low in order to provide the facility to as many as possible.
Chamber Vice President Allison Boyer took this time to present Ward with a check in the amount of $396 to help with the restoration of the Sitzes Homestead which was damaged in a fire in October.
"We have been collecting money from the coin sales for the Sitzes Cabin because actually the cabin is on the bicentennial coin," Boyer said.
Ward said he is grateful to the community for its support and, thanks to generous donations like this one, MDC has raised close to $3,500 to restore the cabin.
Chamber President Tessa Rehkop reminded members renewals were sent out in January and will be due March 31
"It is important to renew on time so we can keep our directory up to date and also so we can plan out our activities for the year, which are based on the funds we get from renewals," Rehkop said.
The chamber has six new members since its last meeting. They are Cowbell Cafe, Flawless Esthetics Med Spa, Reese Financial Group, Mid-West Marketing, Edward Jones-Madison Brown and Leona's Porch Boutique.
Rehkop said she would like 2019 to focus more on the live and work aspects since 2018 was more play.
"Since last year was the bicentennial we were celebrating with so many events throughout the year," Rehkop said. "We want to continue the events that were successful. However, we also want to make sure we are dedicating an even amount of focus on the 'live' and 'work' aspects of our motto."
Rehkop said ideas on how to accomplish this include a community service day, business skills workshops and advertising opportunities for businesses.
"Last year a group got together to organize a community cleanup day the Saturday before the Azalea Festival," Rehkop said. "This group included Fredericktown High School STUCO students painting picnic tables and fire hydrants, the Boy Scouts spreading mulch and other community volunteers picking up trash."
Rehkop said she would love to grow this every year by getting more organizations or teams to work on various projects around town and making it a tradition the Saturday before the Azalea Festival.
"Hopefully we can start getting donations of things like paint, brushes, landscaping materials etc.," Rehkop said. "This event is a great way for the community to come together to clean up our town and have fun doing it."
As for the "work" aspect of the motto Rehkop said she is open to suggestions and encourages businesses to reach out and tell MCCC how it can help improve the workforce.
"We were thinking of working with the Missouri Job Center and MU Extension Office to create business education programs for community members, especially students," Rehkop said. "Things like 'Dress for Success,' resume writing and just basic financial planning advice. It's surprising that some people don't know how to do things like fill out an address on an envelope."
Rehkop said she has also heard from businesses that they would like more advertising opportunities and now that the memberships is back up MCCC can provide a wider audience.
MCCC will hold its next Perk Before Work event at 7:30 a.m., Feb. 19 at Safe Harbor Hospice.
The next Madison County Chamber of Commerce luncheon will be 11:30 a.m., March 7 at Black River Electric Cooperative's meeting room.
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at email@example.com