Friday night, January 8, the Santee Chamber of Commerce held its annual Installation Dinner to honor outgoing Board members, welcome incoming members, and generally have a good time. Several dozen local business owners, political representatives, and community members gathered at the Carlton Oaks Country Club for the event. Dan Kitchen of North Island Credit Union acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
The evening started with a networking mixer, giving everyone the chance to reconnect with friends and meet and welcome new members. In addition to the “usual suspects” (i.e. Chamber board members and officers), Santee council members John Minto and Jack Dale and Mayor Randy Voepel attended, along with representatives from state and county government elected officials. State Assemblymember Joel Anderson was unable to make it in time for the mixer, due to another commitment, but he did arrive in time for dinner and awards. Of course Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke, were there to add that touch of class every event needs.
The kitchen at Carlton Oaks Country Club put on a great spread, and several guests took advantage of the chance to go back for a second run through the line. I didn’t try the chicken, but the beef was tender and delicious, and the red potatoes were nicely done. The gustatory highlight, though, was a huge ‘serve yourself’ peach cobbler with whipped cream. I probably put on another pound just writing about the meal.
Although the mixer and dinner were fun, the main event was the ceremonial send-off of the outgoing president and welcoming on the new president and board. Rob McNelis, the 2009 Chamber President, is going to be a tough act to follow, although his successor John Olsen is certainly up to the task. Perhaps the biggest project he helped to push last year was the first annual Santee Street Fair. This event was conceived, coordinated, and brought to fruition in less than 6 months, and this was due in part to Rob’s continuing support. The hope was to attract maybe 3,000-5,000 people for the one-day event; the final estimates were closer to 40,000. To say this was a success is putting it mildly.
For his leadership on the Chamber and in the community, Rob McNelis received several awards. Congressman Duncan D. Hunters office presented him with a certificate and a flag that had been flown over the Capitol building. State Assemblyman Anderson and Ellen Malin from State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth’s office presented a state proclamation commending Rob on his leadership. County Supervisor Diane Jacob’s office read a County resolution proclaiming January 8, 2010, as “Rob McNelis Day” in recognition of his achievements. The final recognition came with a good deal of friendly joking as Mayor Randy Voepel and Councilmen Jack Dale and John Minto presented Rob with a City of Santee proclamation.
The remainder of the evening was taken up with honoring members of the 2009 Chamber Board of Directors, introducing and swearing in the 2010 Board, and incoming President John Olsen’s remarks. This new year looks to be another busy one for the Chamber, so watch for coming events.