Merger of Depoe Bay and Lincoln City Chambers canceled | New
DEPOE BAY – A plan to combine the Depoe Bay and Lincoln City Chambers of Commerce into a single entity apparently fell through this week as the director of the Depoe Bay Chamber announced on Monday that there would be no merger.
According to a press release written by Depoe Bay Chamber Director Melissa Sumner and posted on the official Depoe Bay Chamber of Commerce Facebook page on Monday, the Depoe Bay Chamber will not be dissolved and merged into the Lincoln City Chamber as planned, although both chambers plan to partner at various events and network in the future.
The announcement signals a complete change in direction for the two chambers, as Sumner and Lincoln City Chamber Director Lori Arc-Torres met with News-Times staff in March to say a merger would take place this summer, probably June or July when the new fiscal year has started for non-profit entities. The merger was also discussed publicly at a Lincoln City Chamber luncheon.
The Lincoln City Chamber also launched a new logo in its April newsletter, which was a combination of the two chambers’ previous logos and read “Rediscover the 20 Miracle Miles”, in reference to a slogan coined in the 1960s used to advertise the 20 mile stretch. from Depoe Bay Beach beyond Lincoln City in the previous attempt to merge the two chambers.
Sumner, planning to work as a co-director with Arc-Torres, closed the chamber’s Depoe Bay office and reportedly worked from the Lincoln City Chamber office in preparation for the merger. Once the merger was complete, Sumner intended to maintain a presence in Depoe Bay through several information kiosks the chamber planned to set up throughout the city, an idea first considered by his predecessor, Laura Furgurson. .
The merger came as a surprise to most members of the Depoe Bay Chamber, most of whom told the News-Times they either didn’t know a merger was even on the table or had only heard about it through rumors and networks with Lincoln City businesses.
Sumner told the News-Times that she sent an email on Feb. 15 to all members of the chamber asking them to vote on whether or not to go ahead with the merger and asked for responses by Feb. 18, but said only 15% of the 47 chamber members responded. by then.
After the News-Times attempted to contact all of the members listed on the chamber’s website, none of those who responded said they were aware there had been a vote, and several who searched their inboxes could not locate any of the emails.
Some chamber members, such as Jerome Grant, owner of Gracie’s Sea Hag and The Horn Public House and Brewery, have said they will fight the merger if it happens, either by contacting government agencies that provide funding or by withdrawing from their association with the chamber. .
The Depoe Bay Chamber Board also underwent major changes during Sumner’s tenure as director, which began in June 2021. Several board members left at this time, and Sumner held two seats void in recommending Arc-Torres and Lincoln City Councilman Mitch Parsons, neither of whom own a business or property in Depoe Bay, but have been endorsed by the rest of the board.
From there, several other council members resigned or were expelled from the council for allegedly failing to attend meetings. Wut Eick, the owner of Bay View Thai Kitchen who has served on the board since 2019, said he received an email from Sumner telling him he was being let go for missing three meetings, but said he did not even know these meetings were scheduled and received no prior correspondence prior to his dismissal.
In March, the only remaining board members were Arc-Torres, Parsons and Lori Galvin, the latter of whom is the sole Depoe Bay business owner on the board and who told the News-Times that she supported the merger.
Sumner wrote in the statement that she has since received five nominations to fill the empty council seats.
In addition to calling off the merger, Sumner said she would step down as director of the Lincoln City Chamber office by the end of the month, making her position as director of the Depoe Bay Chamber her sole responsibility.
“For personal reasons and my commitment to Depoe Bay, my employment with Lincoln City Chamber will end this month,” Sumner wrote in Monday’s statement. She also said the Depoe Bay Chamber’s mission going forward will be “to promote, support and advocate for business and community.”
The Depoe Bay Chamber office remained closed and virtually empty on Monday, and it is unclear where the Depoe Bay Chamber will operate in the future or if any of its previously discussed plans will change.
Sumner did not respond to a News-Times email requesting more information about the reasons for the merger cancellation and the Depoe Bay Chamber’s future plans.
Monday’s statement said the Depoe Bay chamber is currently working on a redesign of its website, so some members of the chamber may not be listed at this time.
Sumner also said the Depoe Bay Chamber is in the process of planning the return of the annual Salmon Bake, which has been on hiatus for two years. The Salmon Bake is scheduled for September 17, and those interested in volunteering are invited to attend a meeting at Depoe Bay Community Hall at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Additionally, an art contest for the Salmon Bake began Tuesday and will run until July 26. Contest entries can be sent to [email protected] or dropped off at the Tradewinds or ReMax office in Depoe Bay.