Chamber luncheon spreads wealth

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At the Oct. 12 luncheon held at the Eureka Casino’s Grand Canyon Room, the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce spread the wealth among many of its members and the community.

In addition to a multitude of raffle prizes, more than have been seen in the past year at any one luncheon, checks were also presented to both the Chamber and to the Mesquite Reads program.

Earlier in the year, the Chamber partnered with Celece Seegmiller of Travel Connections in St. George to plan a travel event known as Tours of Ireland. With 32 people participating in that event, most of them from Mesquite, Seegmiller presented a check for $10,198 from the Chamber’s portion of the fundraiser. “The money comes from commission made from my agency,” said Seegmiller. “It’s important to give back… travel brings a lot of things in a lot of different ways and I’m just so happy to be able to present this to the Chamber today.”

The money kept flowing with Jeff Powell, who initially was accepting the Member of the Month Award on behalf of Jayne Kendrick, owner of JL Kendrick Company, Inc. Kendrick was unavailable due to a family emergency, but Powell was able to take her spot instead. At the September luncheon for the Chamber, Kendrick had teased the membership with upcoming ‘big news’ that would be shared. And big news it was, especially considering it had to do with assets the Chamber has. Powell came prepared with comparatives from the end of Sept. 2015 status to the end of Sept. 2016 status. The difference? A staggering $216,887.04 increase.

The cause for the increase, however, was something of a stroke of great luck for the Chamber.

In the 1990’s, the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce was a policy holder with EICN, a Mutual Holding company that provided workers compensation insurance. When EICN decided to convert its company to a publicly traded company in 2007, it ‘gifted’ all of its policy holders at that time with shares in their stock. At that time, the value was a mere $17 per share. With all of the changes that the Chamber has encountered with staff and board members since then, the assets were forgotten about.

Since that time, the Chamber had received dividend checks on a quarterly basis valued around $400 each. When questioned about it in 2015 by current Chairman of the Chamber Noel Smith, then board members Ken Cook and Scott Halvorson began investigating them. Smith continued the research into the checks with Kendrick, who also serves as the Chamber’s Treasurer and they found that the Chamber had 5,376 shares of EIG’s stock. As of Sept. 30, the value was set at $29.83 per share, giving the Chamber an asset of $160,366, which gives them a stronger financial foundation than they thought they had. “If you all remember, at this time last year many were thinking the Chamber couldn’t continue,” said Powell. “But we’ve changed our practices and started running the Chamber like a business and it has worked out for the better.”

With the shares expected to top out at $33 each this year, the Chamber board will be asking for input from the membership as to what the Chamber should do with their shares.

The final act of giving was presented by Keith Buchhalter, President of the Rotary Club of Mesquite, to Gerri Chasko, Director of the Eureka Community Initiative which is the parent of the Mesquite Reads Program. From proceeds earned at their annual Glow in the Dark Ball Drop and Car Show, the Rotary presented a check for $1,000 to benefit the program, which allows students in elementary schools in both Mesquite and Beaver Dam, to improve their reading levels over the summer where they can get more focused teaching. “We are devoted to investing in our youth,” said Buchhalter. “They are our future.”

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