Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting
Wed, 04/27/2022 - 8:30am admin
The Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting on Wednesday, April 20 at the Wall Community Center. The meeting started with President Dustin Curr introducing the current board of directors: Vice President Kim Handcock, Treasurer Anne Jo Spotted Bear, Amanda Kjerstad, Gordy Kraut, Lindsy Reagle, Bobbi Dartt, Annie Tice-Poseley, and Hope Dennis.
An election by ballot was held for three positions on the Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Election results were announced at the end of the meeting with Lex Heathershaw, Ashley Kier and Gina Kraut being elected to replace outgoing directors Dustin Curr, Kim Handcock, and Anne Jo Spotted Bear.
Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kelsey Clark provided a Year in Review. Kelsey recently celebrated five years of working in her position as the Executive Director of the Chamber and in the fall of 2021, Kelsey was elected to serve as treasurer for the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association.
The Wall-Badlands Area Chamber includes 125 members in and around the Wall community, representing all sectors of business including agriculture, hospitality, retail, food service, and more. Chamber members have access to invaluable business resources and representation in branded advertising for the Wall-Badlands area. The chamber of commerce serves as a tool to promote your business through outlets such as the chamber newsletters, weekly email blasts, social media posts, and more. Local businesses are the backbone of the Wall-Badlands community. One of the promotions that the chamber uses to encourage community members to support local business is through the “Wall Bucks” program. The chamber gives “Wall Bucks” away during various events throughout the year. Community members and businesses can also purchase “Wall Bucks” through the chamber office to give as gifts. Last year, nearly $6,300 were kept in the Wall community through the “Wall Bucks” program.
Each year the chamber hosts a wide variety of events to provide local entertainment for community members and tourists. Some of the chamber’s events include the annual Wall Celebration, annual pancake supper, Wall Crawl, Chamber Holiday Sweepstakes, and more. Some of the other chamber events such as Community Clean Up Days, membership luncheons, and legislative cracker barrels provide services to our community and our chamber members. Many chamber events are made possible by the following committees: Retail, Tourism, Celebration, Beautification and Wall Crawl. Members are encouraged to join one of these committees.
The chamber of commerce also supports local organizations and events including local rodeos, Ag Appreciation Supper, Wall Area Booster Club, Country Cupboard Food Pantry, Wall beautification, The Big One Golf Tournament, and the Community Easter Egg Hunt, just to name a few. In 2021, the chamber donated over $31,000 to these community events and organizations.
Serving as the local Destination Marketing Organization, the Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce places advertisements across state, national and international publications, and marketing mediums. The chamber pursued opportunities to entice travel traffic to Wall as well as highlight the unique variety of businesses and attractions in the area. Last year, the chamber embarked photo and video project. During the meeting a video was shown that was produced from this project. The chamber will continue to implement the assets gained from the project throughout various publications and marketing mediums. It was announced that the Wall community will be featured on the cover of a special edition of the Black Hills & Badlands Vacation Guide. This will include a full-page ad on the inside cover. In 2021 the chamber invested more than $64,000 of general and tourism budget dollars to market the Wall area to the traveling public.
City sales tax revenue saw a five year high in 2021, with a total income of $1,700,000; this is an increase of nearly 34% compared to 2020. The BBB tax that is imposed on alcoholic beverages, eating establishments, lodging accommodations, admission and events saw an increase of 48% compared to 2020. Visitor spending increased by 50.29% over 2020.
The chamber then recognized community members and businesses for their outstanding work in the Wall area through the presentation of a variety of awards.
The Business Improvement Award recognizes chamber members who have made improvements to their facilities. The Wall Community Golf Course has made various improvements, including an addition to the clubhouse through mostly donated labor for storage and extra cooler space. The flooring has been replaced and clubhouse has been painted. The golf course members continue to make improvements by adding trees on a yearly basis and improving the greens and fairways. Mowing equipment at the golf course has also been updated. A few campsites have been added for overnight guests. The Pennington County Courant repaired the roof of the building as well as various structural repairs. Then new steel siding was installed, and painting was done on the exterior of the building. The west end of the Courant building has been developed into storage units. Don and Tami Ravellette have plans to continue the improvements of the building, including updates to the interior on the east end of the building.
The 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year is Ashley Kier. Kier came to Wall 11 years ago and accepted a ‘rural school’ teaching position at the Big White School. Wall was much more rural than her hometown and “looked like a nice district in which to relocate.” After four years at the Big White, she took a position in the Wall school as Middle School and High School Math teacher. Ashley then spent two years teaching 6th grade ELA. Aside from spending countless extra hours helping students with their math homework, she has been very involved in the Wall school district, spending many long days and weekends coaching track, cross country, middle school girls basketball, and organizing the Fields of Faith for FCA. She is also the 6th grade class advisor and teaches Friday academy and summer school when needed. During the school closure due to COVID-19, Ashley became a Zoom meeting expert. She offered classes to her students almost daily, special tutoring sessions when needed, and catered to the students’ and parents’ schedules. Before coming to the Wall School District, Ashley graduated from Milbank (SD) High School and then attended Augustana University. Ashley is the wife of Kailech Kier. They have three children, Alexis, Kobe, and Kelsey.
Each year the chamber gathers nominations from community members for the Golden Pineapple Award which recognizes an individual who has provided outstanding customer service. The recipient of this award makes the customer’s experience a great one by going above and beyond their duty to provide service. Pam Johnson got her first taste of customer service by working in the restaurant and drive-in industry during her school years and later when her parents owned a restaurant. She has worked in the County Assessor’s Office, Department of Social Services and as an insurance agent at the bank in Timber Lake. When she moved to Wall in 1998, Norbert Sebade hired her for a position in the First Western Insurance office, then as a teller for the bank. She eventually worked her way up to her current position as a Retail Manager for First Interstate Bank. Pam is very dedicated to her work at the bank and has been very involved in community activities over the years, including the First Lutheran Church Choir, treasurer of the First Lutheran Church, Wall School Board member for nine years (serving as school board chair for several of those years), and participating in the local Toastmasters group just to name a few. Those who nominated Pam noted that she is always willing to help others when she can. She goes above and beyond for both customers and her co-workers. Pam is dedicated to providing the best service she can, she puts others before herself, and it is felt that her exceptional service is because she cares greatly for each and every person. Pam is married to Dick and they have two daughters, Amanda and Shayla.
The Friend of the Chamber recognizes someone who has served the Chamber in various ways. Donna Curr has served the Chamber in various ways for many years. In years past, she has served as a board member for the Wall-Badlands Area Chamber and as the board president. She stays involved in the Chamber today by volunteering her time to the Wall Crawl Committee as well as participating in the Wall Celebration Rodeo & Parade. Donna also hosts the stick horse rodeo each year under the Wall Celebration tent. Not only has Donna been involved in chamber activities, she is very involved with other community organizations and serves as the secretary for the Wall Rodeo Booster Club.
The Volunteer of the Year recognizes a local individual who dedicates many hours of service to the Wall community without expectation of recognition. Bonnie Law was among a group of Wall community parents that restarted the Wall Area Booster Club, and she remains active in the booster club today. Bonnie is most frequently found behind the lens of her camera. You can find her at almost all school events, not only taking pictures of her children but also taking wonderful pictures of all students from kindergarteners to high school seniors. She also attends and takes pictures for many Wall community events including the Wall-Badlands Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meetings. She volunteers her talents to capture many special moments for so many people within our community and provides an electronic link to the images so that others can download or share them with family and friends. She has provided her outdoor and wildlife photos to various groups, including Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association and South Dakota Tourism, to help promote our area.
The Lifetime Achievement award recognizes an individual who has devoted many years of service to the Wall area. Judy Goldhammer was born into a family of educators and businesspeople who modeled profession and community service. Judy has always had her heart in service for her profession, the consumer she served, and her community. She has been a role model through her kind, sincere, and authentic approach to work, parenting, and life. Judy served the insurance community in many ways. Not only did she provide excellent service to her clients, but she was involved in various associations at local, state, and national arenas during the many years she was involved in the industry. Civic affairs have long been a calling for Judy. She has been involved in Wall Community Leadership in various ways including the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Beautification Committee and Tourism Committee to name a few. Additionally, she has been engaged in local activities for the Wall public school and regularly attends sporting events and drama activities. As a leader, Judy is unselfish and humble. She has dedicated countless hours of volunteer service to the betterment of the Wall Community and the surrounding areas. Judy is proud of Wall and has generously and gladly offered her service. Judy is the wife of Paul and mother to three children. She enthusiastically endorses the activities of her church community, their youth, and organizational needs. She also serves as a member of the Badlands History Association and is an outgoing advocate for Wall and the Badlands.