Waltner: Develop talents, abilities by David Lias The Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce perhaps couldn't have found a better person to address its annual banquet Feb. 8 than John Waltner.
Waltner, a banker from Freeman, left a capacity banquet crowd at the Eagles Club spellbound at times with his speaking style, his use of humor and his motivational message. "Be careful about what you choose to believe," Waltner said. "Choose carefully what you will believe. Get rid of your fears and hatreds and prejudices, and use your intelligence to make the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce the best Chamber of Commerce it can be."
Waltner told the Chamber members that even when they try their best to meet the above goals, sometimes they will still fall short.
"There are limits to our knowledge. We don't know the answers to all the questions," he said.
Those limitations shouldn't stop the Chamber of Commerce membership from developing their collective talents for the betterment of the community, he said.
"It's important for you to develop your talents and abilities and use them for the good of the Vermillion community, the good of the Vermillion business community, and for the good of your own families," Waltner said. "You all have many talents and abilities that many of you probably haven't found yet. Search your heart. Make them be a part of your personal development."
Bonnie Sorensen, manager of the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce, briefly addressed the crowd before Waltner was scheduled to speak.
"When I took this position last May, I also saw that we had a lot of work ahead for all of us," she said. "Number one was a decline in membership. In the last five years, membership has declined 11 percent, and that is (a decline in) dollars that run our program."
The Chamber, she said, has developed a new membership guide outlining membership, return on investment, plus services and what committees members could sign up for.
The Chamber's Membership Committee will be planning a large membership drive this fall. Sorensen said in 1999 that she and other board members will be visiting as many Chamber members as possible. Communications will also be enhanced, she said, through improvements in the Chamber's newsletter.
"Another goal will be to market Vermillion for hometown shopping," she said. This holiday season, Sorensen said, the Chamber sold $2,100 worth of Vermillion bucks.
"That's $2,100 that was kept in our community. The Chamber is also investigating what would be beneficial to attracting people to our town," she added. "The Chamber has developed an attitude, and that is: 'That was then and this is now.' We're not going to live in the past; we're going to benefit from it as we look toward the future of Vermillion."
"Every one of you is important," Waltner said. Every one of you is a part of the whole community, the greater Vermillion community. If you aren't a part of the team, the Chamber, the business community, your families, every one will be less than what it could be otherwise."