New president for chamber

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Some members of the new executive and board of directors of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce are, in the front row, from left, Steve Anderson, treasurer; Sherry DaRosa, president; Eileen Gross, secretary; and Joe Melanson, first vice-president. In the back row, from left, are Jane Groenewegen, past president; and directors Heather Coakwell, Angela Carter and Kandace Shaw.

Sherry DaRosa is the new president of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce.

DaRosa, the owner of GL Workwear Inc., was the only candidate for the position when the chamber held its annual general meeting on March 15.

She replaces Jane Groenewegen, who served a year as president and did not seek re-election.

“I just want to say I’m excited to take on some of the challenges that remain,” DaRosa told the chamber members at the annual general meeting. “We took on a lot this year, which has only ignited some more excitement. We need to take on the ones remaining and they’re all fairly small. So with everybody that we have on board today I see smooth sailing ahead.”

She had been the organization’s first vice-president for the past year, and a chamber member since moving to town five years ago.

“I think after being in the chamber for the last five years, involved in some way or another, it’s just a natural progression,” she said of becoming president in comments to The Hub.

She has been on the executive for three years, and has been involved in several projects, particularly the annual gala and awards ceremony.

“It was a challenging year for us,” she said. “We’ve taken on every challenge as a group and we’ve each taken our part of each issue and done what we can to work through it, find solutions. That’s kind of what the chamber does.”

Among other things, the chamber has been out of its office since Christmas when the building in which it is located experienced flooding.

“We’ve had a few hiccups, losing our office,” DaRosa said, noting the group’s executive assistant is working out of her home until she can return to the office.

DaRosa said she wants to ensure that chamber members have access to information that affects them.

“And that the Hay River chamber stands by its mandate to lobby for local business at all levels, working with the town and our MLAs to promote and build business in the Hub,” she added.

Groenewegen also told the membership that it had been a challenging year.

“I think that would be a good way to describe it,” she said. “But we made some good progress on some fronts.”

On the positive side, she noted the organization got its financial administration in order, but also experienced the problem with its office.

Groenewegen, the former longtime Hay River South MLA and before that president of the chamber of commerce, said she will continue to participate in chamber affairs.

“I think I may have jumped in a little bit early after having just so recently – I’m just being honest with you folks here – after being so involved with the MLA’s job,” she said. “And I jumped right into this, and I think I maybe should have taken a bit of a stand back and taken a little break. I jumped in fairly quickly because I’d done the job before. I thought it would be very easy to move into that.”
However, she said that, after being an MLA for 20 years, she got used to having an assistant all the times, while being chamber president was more hands-on and time consuming than being an MLA.

The other members of the new executive are Joe Melanson, first vice-president; Kelly Schofield, second vice-president; Eileen Gross, secretary; and Steve Anderson, treasurer.

The seven directors are Robert Bouchard, Kevin Wallington, Heather Coakwell, Angela Carter, Terry Rowe, Atai Mhene and Kandace Shaw.

An eighth person was nominated as a director, but was not in town at the time of the annual general meeting to officially accept the position.

Anderson, who was also treasurer over the past year, told the membership about successful efforts to get the chamber’s finances in order.

In particular, he pointed to the advertising signs projects at the entrance to the community.

“With the highway signs project, we have managed to stay in the black,” he said, expressing thanks to Melanson and the other members of the committee that oversaw the project. “This has really generated a lot of income for the chamber and certainly phase two will really help us along that path.”

Melanson noted phase two of the highway signs project is 80 per cent sold, with only five spaces remaining as of the annual general meeting.

–Paul Bickford