In the beginning
The present day Phelps Chamber of Commerce had its origins at the Old Mill Hot dog Stand during the lit summer days of 1986. Several local business owners had expressed a need to promote Phelps and stimulate commerce by forming an organization.
Ray Lindner (Lindner TV – formerly Johnnie’s Radio Shop), Dorothy Meath (Whitson Pharmacy), and John Sweeney (Sweeney Insurance Agency) met several times in June and July at the Old Mill for a “working lunch” to begin planning.
An informal meeting of five people was held on July 14 at Fashions for You (Ann Webster and Charlotte Howard)- Objectives, advertising and fund raising was discussed. The organization name was to be the Phelps Merchants Association, with the promotional slogan of “PMA = PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude = Phelps Merchants Association).
The initial organizational meeting was held July 28 at Fashions For You; with sixteen people in attendance. To expand the apparent scope of membership, it was decided at this meeting to change the organization name to Phelps Business Association. Many proposed details were discussed as we prepared for our first “official” PBA meeting.
Our organizational meeting was held on August 11 at the Masonic Hall on Ontario Street. With twenty-two people attending, we elected temporary officers and committee chairs, and discussed by-laws and project ideas. Plans were made for our first official membership meeting 5 and four people who paid the $25 annual dues became our first members: Ramon Howard (Howard’s Home Improvement); Dorothy Meath (Whitson Pharmacy); Karen Moracco (Style Hut); and John Sweeney (Sweeney Insurance Agency).
The first official meeting of the Phelps Business Association was held September 3 at the Masonic Hall, with thirty people attending. By-lays were adopted and the following officers were elected: President – Ray Lindner (Linder TV); Vice-President – Pat Warrick (Country Florist); Corresponding Secretary – Dorothy Meath (Whitson Pharmacy); Recording Secretary Grace Carlson (Cheerful Valley Campground); Treasurer – John Sweeney (Sweeney Insurance Agency).
Nine additional businesses became paid members at this meeting, bringing our total to 13. It was decided to make our first fiscal year go from October 1, 1986 to October 1, 1987. Charter membership was defined as those who were paid members starting August 11, 1986 through October 1, 1987. At the end of this period, we counted 49 charter members. During this first year, there were nine board of director meetings and seven general membership meetings.
At a general membership meeting held on September 3, 1987 at the Steak Out Restaurant in Manchester, we voted to change the organization name to Phelps Chamber of Commerce. To begin our second year, a meeting was held at the Phelps American Legion on October 28, 1987. Carl Flewelling (Integrity Building & Improvement Supply) was elected President. Beginning January 1, 1990 we changed our fiscal year to a calendar year.
As 2003 ended, we had a total of 70 members. The following 14 members are charter members who have maintained continuous membership: Fleet Bank; Howard’s Home Improvement; Oak’s Garage; Ontario Telephone Co.; Perkin Elmer Fluid Sciences; Phelps Cement Products; Phelps Machine Inc.; Phelps Sungas; Phelps Veterinary Hospital; Daniel Rosinski, DDS; Mary Ann Rosinski; Sweeney Insurance Agency; Ann Webster; and Whitson Pharmacy.
Five years later we had more than 100 members and our list continues to grow as we have stepped into 2009. Active leadership at both the board and officer levels has helped raise awareness for the organization, as has its presence on the web. For our growth to continue we will need more of our local leaders to participate and share their ideas with us. It’s crucial that we continue to offer more and build on our successes and develop from within. With the momentum we have built up over the past few years and the appreciated support of our members the sky is certainly the limit for us.