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By Linda Emley
On Oct. 10, I attended the Annual Chamber of Commerce Dinner with the Ray County Historical Society board. This is an event I never took the time to attend, but this year it was different because the Ray County Museum was honored to receive the 2013 Achievement Award. It was nice to know that our efforts are appreciated by the Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce.
We’ve been a member of the Chamber for a number of years, but I really didn’t know much about what they did. I always send in our dues and ballots for the yearly board member elections, but last spring I decided to find out more and join some of the members on a day trip to Jefferson City.
Our Richmond mayor, some city councilmen and other city of Richmond personnel also attended. It was a very interesting day sharing our pride of Richmond with anyone in our State capitol who would take the time to listen.
Rep. Joe Don McGaugh and Senator David Pearce hosted our event and made sure we got a taste of their daily world.
While reading old newspapers, I’ve run across articles now and then that mention the “C of C,” which has been promoting business in Richmond for many years. I still don’t have all the details, but I do have a few fun stories to share.
I pulled out the 1973 Ray County History book and page 171 had a couple of pages that told about the “Chamber of Commerce of Richmond, Mo.” The current chamber was created in the summer of 1968, but there were other chambers before that one. The first annual banquet was held September 1969 at the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs.
The guest speaker was Ewing M. Kaufman, president of Marion Labs of Kansas City and owner of the Kansas City Royals Baseball team. The history book’s article talked mostly about the chamber years of 1968 through 1973, when the book was published. Another interesting note from this time period was that Senator Thomas Eagleton was the guest speaker for the 1973-74 banquet that was held at the Golden Buffet in North Kansas City.
This article also mentioned that “Richmond has had a Chamber of Commerce intermittently for many years as Articles of Association were granted in the October Term, Circuit Court, in 1947, with B.M. Alder, President and Thomas Goliaday as Vice President.”
The 1947 Richmond News had several good stories about the “C of C.” The issue of Sept. 22, 1947 started this story on the front page: “ORGANIZED MEETING. All members of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce are urged to attend an organization meeting at the courthouse Monday evening at 7:30 o’clock. Election of permanent officers will be held. Officers recently elected were given a temporary term of office in order to get the organization started.”
As promised, the officers were elected and the Septs 24 headline read, “C of C Election Was Held Monday. Name Bill M. Alder as President of Newly Organized Association. The first general meeting of the newly formed Richmond Chamber of Commerce was held in the county courtroom Monday night with some 35 members present.”
Bill M. Alder and Tom Golliday kept their offices. Gerald Lillard was installed as treasurer and Oliver Schindler as secretary.
Two committees were formed. Levan Thurman was chairman of the committee to see if they could put together a beauty queen contest to select a local girl to represent Richmond at the upcoming American Royal. I’m going to check with Levan on this one and see if I can find a newspaper article about our American Royal girl. The other committee formed was the Christmas decorating committee.
The membership committee reported that over 100 memberships had been sold. The group also voted to incorporate the club, and Wilson D. Hill, chairman of the legal advisory board, agreed to do the work without compensation.
The local group paid a $25 fee to the State Chamber of Commerce and became a member of that organization. They didn’t waste any time in getting the ball rolling and soon had a committee working with fire chief Melvin “Brick” Hicks for National Fire Prevention Week.
They also assisted in getting the fire zone in the business district cleaned up. This same committee met with Richmond City Council to discuss the garbage disposal proposition.
A new committee was formed for agriculture. I found this amazing because there wasn’t any farm land in the city of Richmond, but there were many farm owners who lived in town.
Plans were started for a fall festival for the following year because it was already too late to have one in 1947.
The group decided to have a director’s meeting twice a month and a general meeting once a month. They also announced that they would join the State Chamber of Commerce.
The article also told about how the chamber would deal with everyday life in Richmond. “Any solicitors who desires to work in Richmond must be approved by the investigating committee, and if approved, will be given an authorization to solicit. The Chamber of Commerce wants it understood that while prospects they will grant cards to are only those appearing to be substantial and worthy of consideration; the purchaser or donor must use her own judgment.”
On Oct. 24, 1947, the details were finally published about the holiday season activities. “B.M. Alder, president of the local organization, reports a representative of the Earle F. Hammond Eskimo Show and Christmas parade was in town this week and the Chamber of Commerce has agreed to sponsor their show here.
“The show will be within the second week of December and will include 14 floats, approximately 115 to 125 Ray
County pupils, reindeer, midget mules, Eskimo dogs, Llamas, a Santa Claus and school bands from Ray County schools.
“George David Lile, chairman in charge of Christmas Decorations, says the arrangement of the decorations has been definitely decided and the materials are in order. Decorations will consist entirely of street lights and will be in place by Saturday, Nov. 22, ready to turn on if so desired.
A Christmas Home Decoration contest has been planned by the Chamber for this year. Judging, by persons selected from surrounding towns, will take place Friday evening, Dec. 19. Prizes will be first place, $15; second, $10, and third, $5.”
Now back to 2013 and a few of the Chamber events that are going on in Richmond. Chamber President Christal Milligan and Christmas Extravaganza Chairman Felicia Farabee are inviting everyone to the Christmas Extravaganza before hours on Nov. 15 at 7:30 a.m. at the Chamber office.
You can buy chances for the Christmas trees, wreaths and baskets that area business have created for this event. The items will be on display at the Chamber office through Dec. 5. The winners will be announced after the Christmas parade that evening. The Mayor’s Christmas tree lighting will also be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at city hall.
Another fun event is the Christmas Open House coming up this weekend, Nov. 15-17. Each year, this local open house is held on the same weekend that deer season starts. There are seven local merchants who are part of this event. We can visit the Die Brot Pann Bakery, Lynne’s Gifts and More, Blair’s Furniture and Antique Mall, Linda’s Floral and Gifts, The Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, the Crop and Shop party at the Richmond United Methodist Church and the last but not least, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, which will be open for the Festival of Trees.
I was talking to a friend about how many businesses are members of our Chamber of Commerce and you might be surprised to know I counted 80 inside the city limits of Richmond. This is counting banks, stores, insurance companies, law offices, doctors, dentists, restaurants, radio stations, salons and many other businesses and organizations.
The Richmond Chamber of Commerce is still going strong after all these years. We all need to shop locally and do our part to help keep our town of Richmond on the map.
If you’d like to tell Linda a story, about the Chamber or any subject of interest, write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.