Former mayor, first lady to be honored as top citizens
Blooming Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce Vice President Miranda Camery had some special news to bring before a group of 50 members and guests on Nov. 20.
Camery, chairing the meeting in the absence of President Dan Peach, announced that former Blooming Prairie Mayor H. (Harold) Peterson and former First Lady Jean Peterson have been chosen as the 2019 Blooming Prairie Chamber's Citizens of the Year.
The Petersons will be honored at an annual recognition banquet on Thursday, Jan. 16 at the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club.
Camery said the Petersons have continually given volunteer time and have made a positive difference in promoting Blooming Prairie. Mayor H served as mayor for 19 years.
Last week's annual meeting had a special flare to it. The venue was the Pizza Cellar, transformed into a banquet hall. The tables were covered with white table cloths, and Chamber members were treated to celebratory beverages.
Pre-meeting music was also provided by Jesse Smith, a member of the Sondog band from Austin.
Surprise mystery guests turned out to be Blooming Prairie High School football cheerleaders. The cheering types led the room in two sets of cheers.
Vice President Camery procedurally went through a prepared agenda, which was framed in lamination to look especially attractive.
Retiring Chamber secretary Sarah Esplan presented minutes of the Oct. 16 meeting and then gave members a pep talk about the community's Fourth of July celebration.
She said it was amazing what a small community like Blooming Prairie could accomplish with its Fourth of July celebration. "It makes wonderful family memories," she said.
Esplan said Barb and Jerry Kaplan will no longer sponsor the Fourth of July car show. She said she was hopeful that someone else would come forward to chair this event.
It was also announced that Karen Forarge will no longer chair the parade after this year.
Nick Schiefert has also resigned as Chamber chairman of the Fourth of July. Esplan praised him for his work as chairman, sandwiched in between owning a business (Dairy Queen), serving as a firefighter and serving as a school bus driver.
Schiefert was presented an Awesome Award for his work with the Fourth of July.
Bonnie Coughlin of the Civic/Ambassadors/Promotions Committee reported that plans have been finalized for Small Business Saturday on Saturday, Nov. 30. Karen Peterson, Greg Johnson and Miranda Camery are also on the committee.
Jackie Vorlicek of the Beautification Committee said four new flower pots have been purchased for the downtown.
Mayor Curt Esplan reviewed city projects and said Highway 218 will be redone in 2023. He urged Chamber members to make their voices known on this major project.
Esplan was asked about the possibility of a new water tower being built in Blooming Prairie. He said it is possible a new tower may be built in the next three years.
Linda Klemmensen reported on the Junior Entrepreneur program, most recently completed with second graders at Blooming Prairie Elementary School. The program will be continued for fifth graders next spring. Klemmensen was assisted by Rachel Klemmensen and Michelle Vigeland.
Past Chamber president Greg Johnson thanked retiring Chamber gambling manager Amanda Schumacher. He introduced her successor, Darla Skalicky. Johnson said gambling project helps supplement the local chamber.
Jamie Klemmensen gave a report on creating a new Chamber website. She said it is still a work in progress.
Blooming Prairie police officer Jake Peterson was the featured speaker for the evening. He currently is a police officer, ambulance volunteer and firefighter. He is also widely known as being the leader of the Stix of Fury drum corps.
Peterson reviewed his path from wanting to be a nurse to being a police officer. "My passion is to help people," he said.
Chamber members also elected officers for 2020: Dan Peach, president; Miranda Camery, vice president; Jackie Vorlicek, secretary and Lisa Noble, treasurer.
Camery urged members to be thinking about a vision for the chamber for 2020. "The biggest thing is how do we keep local business local," Camery said. "Take a look around before you go out of town," Camery said.
Jackie Vorlicek said the Chamber needs to promote bringing out of town people into Blooming Prairie as customers.
The Chamber is continuing to grow with the announcement of 19 new members.
The new members are: Hen House & Co., Women of Today, Stix of Fury, Saddle Butte & Ag, Blooming Prairie Quarterback Club, Blooming Prairie Backpack Program, Karen Hofstad, Jake & Alecia Peterson, Just Take the Cake, Kruckeberg Services, Amy Snider, CJ Home Inspections, Emily's Beauty Bar, Epic Contracting LLC, Geneva Bar & grill, Pam and Don Hameister, Pat & Kyle's Reclaimed Wood, Prairie Home Floral, Decor & Gifts and Emily Kay Photography.