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Pateros revives chamber after two-year hiatus

New officers take over to support organization

— More than two years after the Pateros Chamber of Commerce went dormant, a new group of people is bringing it back to support the local business community.

The chamber has been revived with four new officers: President Michael Zoretic, attorney and owner of Zoretic Law; Vice President Rikishi “Rikki” Grow of Century 21; Secretary Karen Wagner, who works for Coldwell Banker Lake Chelan Properties and co-owns Alta Cellars Winery in Woodinville; and Treasurer Jenna Miller, who has a background in marketing.

“I’m a new business owner here in Pateros. I opened my law firm in June,” Zoretic said. “I think that Pateros has a whole lot of potential to get more events on the schedule and to really show off all the great things about this area.”

Former president Joni Parks said she was approached several months ago by Grow and Wagner, who wanted to restart the chamber but weren’t sure of the next steps to take.

“When we had the election of a new mayor I thought, you know, this is a good time to do this,” Parks said. “With new blood – there’s some new business owners downtown – there’s no time like the present.”

Parks spoke to business owners to determine if they would support reviving the organization, and a meeting Thursday had a turnout of about 15 people and resulted in the election of the new officers.

The city is already home to the annual Apple Pie Jamboree, hydroplane races and now a motorcycle rally. Zoretic said some new ideas include outdoor athletic events, such as a triathlon and cycling, as well as some music-based gatherings.

The chamber will send a newsletter to business owners this week, and the next meeting is set for 8 a.m. Feb. 5 at Rivers Restaurant, 245 Lakeshore Drive.

Members plan to meet the first Wednesday of each month, Parks said.

An evening meet-and-greet is planned for sometime in February – a cheese and wine tasting that will likely be at The Central Building events center, 207 Pateros Mall, Zoretic said.

The chamber will also work on reestablishing its online presence through its old website, which is now operated by the city. Zoretic said there are also plans to develop a theme for Pateros – not as “elaborate” as the Western theme of Winthrop or the Bavarian look of Leavenworth, but something centered around the Columbia River and outdoor recreation.

“It’s kind of exciting to see the enthusiasm and the new ideas,” Parks said. “Three of the four board members are from Alta Lake, which is really exciting because we’ve never had Alta Lake participation.”

Zoretic said he thinks the new members – along with guidance from former officers – will be a “good combination.”

The chamber was declared inactive in September 2011 when longtime leaders Parks, Rebecca Meadows and Judy Brown announced they no longer had the time to dedicate to running the organization. No one stepped up at the time to take over.

Officers preserved the non-profit status and left $1,400 in the chamber’s coffers before disbanding, Parks said, noting that the new officers will have to learn how they can spend incoming 2 percent hotel/motel tax revenues.

There was some discussion of joining with the Brewster chamber, but officers there said they didn’t have the resources to serve both towns.

Brewster’s chamber has since completely changed its leadership after the resignation in August of all four officers and two board members. The new officers are President Karl Word, Vice President Shan Miller, Secretary Alex Thomason and Treasurer Sabrina O’Connell.

The new board members are Leno Marino and Greg Austin. They joined the remaining board members, Eric Driessen, J.D. Smith, Dan Webster and Pedro DeLaCerda.

“It’ll be really fun, because there’s so many new faces” on both chambers, Parks said.


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