The Neepawa Chamber of Commerce holds a banquet



Photo by Micah Waddell

The officers of the board of the Neepawa Chamber of Commerce were elected and sworn in on Jan. 29 consisting of renominated members and new members alike. The board is now as follows, Jeff Braun, Clinton Davie, Scott Dyke, Kevin Cook, Tracey Wehrhahn, Pam Miller, Kelly McGhie (filling in for Tammy Wilson), Marilyn Crewe and Mitch Hutton (not pictured). This group of outstanding individuals will be responsible for the operation of the Chamber of Commerce for 2018.

Jessica Morton
Neepawa Banner & Press

This year’s Neepawa and District Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Jan. 29 at the Neepawa Curling Rink. The evening started off at 6 p.m. with some refreshments and light conversation around the room as people started to arrive. Supper was announced at 7 p.m. by chamber past president, Scott Dyke, who also provided some entertainment/ trivia games for the night. Trivia question winners, with the fastest correct answers, were awarded $5 in Neepawa Chamber Bucks. Before supper began Neepawa’s mayor, Adrian de Groot, said grace.

A delicious meal of meatballs, perogies, mixed vegetables, roast beef, mashed potatoes, various salads and buns was provided by Jack’d catering. The event sponsors were Meyers Norris Penny, HyLife Foods and Neepawa-Gladstone Co-op. The wine sponsors were Neepawa Dairy Queen, RM of Rosedale, RBC, CIBC, BMO and Beautiful Plains Credit Union. General sponsors were Beautiful Plains Community Foundation and Knight Upholstery and Tent Rentals. After supper guest speaker Eileen Clarke, MLA for Agassiz,  said that many people knew her in passing but few really knew her life story. Clarke started out by saying “It’s a pleasure to be here tonight.” Clarke then told the crowd about how she was born and raised in Gladstone where she had three siblings. The values she grew up with were honesty, respect and the value of a job done correctly. Clarke babysat for a family that paid her 50 cents per hour, which was “amazing back then because all the other kids were only making 35 cents an hour”. As a teen, Clarke enjoyed school and spent her time envisioning the future as well as showing her strong work ethic by going door to door selling whatever was in season at the time (TNT Seeds in the spring and Regal Christmas cards over the holiday season).

One of the first jobs she had was at The Smart Shop where the owner, who was a very cautious guy when it came to business, trusted her by showing her his books for the business. Shortly after that Clarke moved on to her next retail job. She admits that she loved the retail business but after she finished her last retail job she went to work as a bookkeeper in Brandon that spring. In October, Clarke moved on to her next path in life. She and Bob were married by 19 and the newlyweds opened up a funeral service and a flower and gift shop in Gladstone. By the years 1975 and 1976 they had brought two children into the world. In 1979 Clarke and her husband sold a tent camper they had in order to buy a piece of property where they built their flower and gift shop. The couple later bought a funeral service in Kelwood and MacGregor but in the 1980’s there was a hike in the interest rates (as high as 24 per cent) and that added some pressure on the continuation of their businesses. In the 1990’s business was better and “It was so exciting to go to work everyday,” said Clarke, “The highlights of my business were the people.” In 1998 Eileen Clarke was nominated for, and won, the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Winnipeg and in 2003 she won the Women of Distinction Award in Brandon. In 2005 Clarke and her husband sold their flower and gift shop but Clarke didn’t take well to the retired life and a year later she was elected as mayor of Gladstone. Clarke never thought she would be involved in municipal politics but she stated that “The events in my municipal work are the highlights.” In closing, Clarke said “The future of Neepawa is so positive and empowering.”

The chamber also viewed a powerpoint presentation titled “About Amy”, the story of Amy Spring a local photographer. Brenda Kryschuk from the Beautiful Plains Community Foundation (BPCF) spoke about what the BPCF does for our community and for other communities around us. The BPCF is a non-profit organization in Neepawa and area whose goal is to preserve and advance the quality of life in our community. Since its formation the BPCF has distributed over $1.85 million in grants. The BPCF community covers Neepawa, Brookdale, RM of Rosedale, RM of Glenella-Lansdowne and the RM of North Cypress-Langford. In the year 2017 during the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign, Neepawa bought more cookies than the Tim Hortons locations in Brandon. Neepawa also ranked the fourth highest community foundation in Manitoba for the 24 hour challenge in which Neepawa raised $47,000. The AGM was called to order. Pam Miller read the 2017 financial report and it was approved. Jeff Braun read the presidents report. Members of the 2018 board are: Jeff Braun, Pam Miller, Kevin Cook, Marilyn Crewe, Mitch Hutton, Clinton Davie, Kelly McGhie (filling in for Tammy Wilson) and Tracey Wehrhahn. Mayor de Groot swore all the members in as Bill Martin, the reeve of the RM of Rosedale, joined Mayor de Groot in the swearing in ceremony. Jeff Braun adjourned the 2018 AGM at 8:55 p.m.