By Ron VandenBoom
The doors of the Heritage Center opened early Tuesday morning to accommodate a crowd of approximately 30 supporters of Havre and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce for the kick-off of a new public image campaign Havre ... Its the People.
The new, year-long campaign is designed to unite the community, link the chamber more closely with the community, and focus the communitys attention on positive events, people, and happenings, that showcase the best Havre has to offer.
The campaign will work in conjunction with The Havre Daily News to provide monthly features that will focus on agriculture, government, MSUNorthern, churches and nonprofit clubs and organizations, Northern Montana Hospital, area youth, seniors, the BNSF, tourism, recreation and business.
We truly believe in the community and we just want to showcase the wonderful, positive things that are happening around us and get our mind-set off the things that have happened in the past that we cant change, Debbie Vandeberg, manager of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce told the crowd.
Havre Chamber President Debbie Hedstrom welcomed the guests to the kick-off and extended special thanks to Terry Schend, Kevin Keim, Julie Holt, Dr. Kirk Miller, Rick Sedahl, Jason Barkus, Moe Coryell, and Havre Mayor Phyllis Leonard.
Hedstrom said they were among many, many community members who are consistently out there trying to do positive things for our community.
And ultimately I know that thats going to make the difference, she added.
Hedstrom went on to explain that the Havre ... Its the People, campaign was initiated from a Chamber of Commerce Board retreat held in February where Schend, Miller, and Sedahl developed the idea.
According to Miller, that idea came from the results of a community survey taken more than two years ago. One of the questions asked in the survey was, What do you like most about Havre.
Paging through the hundreds of responses that came in, he said, almost every one of them said, Its the people. The reason I like living here is the people.
The board adopted the idea and developed what Miller called the three Cs of helping to build our community. They are: communication, cooperation and commitment.
He described the first C as a chance to gain community buy-in to inform the community on what the chamber is doing, to better inform the community of chamber projects and activities (and) to promote a positive feeling about our community and whats going on.
The second C was described as a chance to keep communication open and be informed about our role (the chambers role) in developing a community plan, Miller said.
He elaborated by adding the additional responsibility of keeping the chamber board informed about what is happening in the community by inviting community leaders to come to board meetings to report on their activities.
The final C is commitment to the community. A goal described by Miller as a need for the chamber to get out and inform people that the chamber is working on something.
There has to be a physical project attached to that, he said.
Board member Terry Schend told the crowd that the chamber currently has two primary projects it is working on.
The first thing they are working on is the revitalization project on First Street and secondly to continue our efforts to bring new business into the mall, he said.
The revitalization project Schend referred to consists of efforts by the chamber to create a tourism friendly park along the south side of First Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue. The plan is for the park to extend as one continuous property from Third Avenue to property that is currently owned by Bear Paw Credit Union on the corner of Fourth Avenue.
Schend said difficulty in obtaining one piece of the property was a stumbling block that as yet prevents the project from being completed.
The time frame has been disrupted, Schend said, explaining they originally hoped to begin the project in the fall of 1999, but now it may be next spring.
Schend continued to explain that what is really important about the project is that were committed to seeing this project completed, whether we get it finished this year or we get it finished in the spring next year its going to be done. It will show the community and the people in Havre who we are. Were here to stay and were going to bring this thing alive.
The object of the park is to give a better picture of Havre as being an alive and vital community, Schend said, adding that the project would show our commitment to the community.
We feel that our contribution to the community is to show them that we actually believe in it (the community). To show we are willing to put our time, our money and our energy into it.
Rick Sedahl told the crowd that Havre ... Its the People was also an effort to unite the community as well as an opportunity to showcase some of the people of northcentral Montana and positive events in the area.
Its going to be just a nice effort by the whole community, he said, adding that it also will be a nice opportunity for the chamber to focus on the business aspects of the community and the fact that businesses do care about the community.
The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce is asking the community for input.
We need your support, Vandeberg said. We cant pull this off, this is a huge, huge, endeavor. We cant pull this off by ourselves.
Vandeberg asked for ideas from the community regarding the areas that will be covered in The Havre Daily News features.
We are a very small group and we dont touch every facet of the community, she said, so we need the input from you.
Anyone with ideas, articles about people, pictures or ideas for pictures, is encouraged to contact the Havre Chamber at 265-4383.