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What happens at the first Chamber of Commerce board meeting after the Watermelon Carnival? Planning begins for next year’s carnival, of course.
Before moving on to where the Chamber is headed for the coming year, let’s take a look at how it began and how it works. The Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce was founded on February 9, 1964. Back then, you could get three pounds of ground beef for less than a dollar, Tide detergent was just 49 cents, and enough bananas to make a seven pound banana pudding was around a dollar.
While these prices sure sound good to us today, this was also the era when urban shopping centers like those in Memphis and some of the original discount stores began to attract customers away from hometown owned businesses. A group of business people and citizens decided that a Chamber of Commerce to promote the interests of the local business community would be a benefit to the town.
The original board was made up of Earl Fly, Ed Shearer, Judge Kermit Cofer, Dr. Rayford Edgar, Fred Kendrick, Albert Mott, LC. Stewart, Bill Trusty, Mrs. W.T. Williamson, Stanley Perkins, Herman White and Oscar Parsons.
Fast forward 59 years and hundreds of volunteers later, the Chamber and the board are still serving Water Valley. For 2023-24, the 12 board members are president Tonya Eubanks, vice-president Vickie Person, secretary Karen Turnage, treasurer Randy Goodwin, Curtis Todd, Tracey Varner, Hunter Edwards, Jackson Ward, Grant Thompson, Angie Hodge, Jessica Richardson and Courtney Daniels. Terms are staggered so every year four new board members come on as those who have served for three years roll off. This ensures the board retains continuity while encouraging fresh ideas and new energy.
In addition to the on-going work planning the 2024 Watermelon Carnival, over the next few months the Chamber will sponsor The Chamber Power Hour at host businesses Main Street Fitness/Water Valley Nutrition on Sept. 26; the Holiday Open House which will be held Nov. 11;the Christmas Parade (and the theme this year is Magical Winter Nights) on Dec. 1; Christmas in the Valley which will be Dec. 8; and a tour of homes on Dec. 9. More information about all of these events, and those scheduled after the first of the year, will be in future columns.
“The Water Valley Area Chamber of Commerce is a partner with businesses, community, civic organizations and citizens,” says chamber president Tonya Eubanks. “When a business joins the Chamber, they become part of a family that has come together to promote quality of life in our area through a healthy business climate. We take pride in our membership whose specialties range from local retail, commercial and industrial businesses, as well as our professionals and other citizens. As we have for almost 60 years, the Chamber remains committed to doing all we can to support Water Valley for years to come.”
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Chamber (there are business and individual memberships available) please contact the Chamber’s executive director Zandra Walker at (662) 473-1122 or email@example.com.