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Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce

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					      Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
                                         1907-2007

                                                  The Early Years
“A Step Forward – A Chamber of Commerce Formed. Citizens determined to Place Healdsburg in Ranks of Progressive
Cities.” The Healdsburg Tribune, Thursday, November 21, 1907.

As reported in the Tribune, a “large and enthusiastic” group of local citizens organized the town’s Chamber of Commerce
on Monday, November 18th, 1907. The assemblage felt the need for an organization that would “tend to the building up
and the advertising of this section of Sonoma county, in a direct and practical way.” Dues were set at 50 cents per month
and the following officers were elected: J.T. Coffman (President), W.B. French (Vice-President), J.M. Alexander (Secre-
tary) and Ralph Williams (Treasurer).

These civic-minded businessmen were proud of their town and “its grand California spirit”. The organization’s name
evolved over the years and was originally referred to as the “Business Men’s Association and Chamber of Commerce”.
Formally incorporated in 1912, the Chamber’s early membership rosters read like a “Who’s Who” of town leaders:
Garrett, Rosenberg, Hayes, Cerri, Truitt, Harmeson, Langhart, Imrie and Frampton.

Its early slogan was the somewhat lengthy, “Healdsburg: The Leading Wine, Grape, Hop and Fruit Section of Sonoma
County”. That evolved into “The Home of the Triplets: Prunes, Grapes, Hops”, as personified by three healthy, round-
cheeked young girls. In 1920 the town boasted “two banks, five large canneries and three packing houses.” It was touted
as the “playground of Northern California”. In 1924, the Chamber sponsored a contest for a new slogan and chose the
winner from over 2,500 entries: “Healdsburg, The Buckle of the California Prune Belt.” Merrill Miller of Visalia, a for-
mer Healdsburg resident, won the $100 cash prize. Local Lucille Dutro won an honorable mention with her snappy
“Where Opportunity Never Knocks-She Walks Right In”. Mrs. Jack Toomey suggested “Where They Challenge the
World to Grow Better Prunes”.

As early as 1919, the Chamber contracted with G.E. Pryor, leader of the Healdsburg Municipal Band to perform summer
concerts in the Plaza. The Chamber paid the sum of $60 for each concert, agreed to pay for the board and lodging for any
band members that needed it and graciously purchased new music for the season, but only if the cost did not exceed $30.


                      The 1930s – The Depression and Pre-World War II Years
“Progressive City Plans West St. Public Building.” The Sotoyome, November, 1935

In the austere years following the Depression and the end of Prohibition, the Chamber resurrected itself and buoyed the
local business community as well. In November, 1935, Chamber representatives presented a proposal before the City
Council to erect a new building to house the Chamber. The building was to be constructed on a lot owned by the City.
Plans called for a 2-story reinforced concrete structure, containing a public lobby and office, private office and women’s
restroom downstairs with a committee room and men’s restroom upstairs. In 1936, this Mediterranean-style civic building
financed by the WPA and local boosters was completed at 217 “West Street” (now Healdsburg Avenue). It remains the
present site of the Chamber. The new Chamber building was officially occupied in February, 1938.

The Depression years were hard on Healdsburg. In 1937, 65 business and professional men met at the American Legion
Hall to consider a plan to revitalize and reorganize the Chamber. Forty men signed up as members that night and commit-
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

ted to pay dues of $24 a year. One early issue faced by the reorganized Chamber was lack of parking spots in front of
stores, a persistent issue throughout the years.

The Chamber of the late 1930s worked to draw Bay Area visitors to blossom time in town. It formed a recreation district
on Fitch Mountain for the purpose of installing a summer dam, implemented a community trade day and rallied other area
chambers to erect a highway sign. The sign was eventually placed between “Ignacio and the Black Point cut-off” at a cost
of $13.50 per month. To assist with the summer visitors, the Chamber also paid $7 a month for two WPA lifeguards at the
River and Del Rio Woods.

The area naturally lent itself to a Harvest Festival in the 1930s and ’40s. Co-sponsored by the Chamber and the Eagles, the
1938 dance and party had local girls competing for the title of “Goddess of the Harvest”. The winning “Goddess” that
year, Alta Badger, won a chaperoned trip to Hollywood and a screen test!

Attendees to the Festival party that September ’38 night sported Spanish, pirate and Western attire and watched exhibi-
tions of the latest dance craze, the “Suzie-Q”. The Festival itself had doll displays, cake baking contests, a golf tourna-
ment, and agricultural exhibits.

The Pomo Indians, led by Chief Coo-Nay, performed a rare, sacred ceremonial fire dance for the 1939 Festival. This was
only the second time in 27 years that it was performed publicly. Turning again to rural roots, in 1941 a rodeo was added to
the festival activities.

Thinking globally, the Chamber sent a delegation to “Healdsburg Day” at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition
held on Treasure Island. There, the group hosted an open house in the Redwood Empire Building. In December that year,
the Chamber looked after the town’s “small fry” and hosted a free matinee for children at the Plaza Theater. After the
show, Santa Claus handed out candy to over 500 eager and happy local kids.


                                          The 1940s and the War Years
“C. of C. Dinner – Scott Relates Experiences; Annual Report Presented. Approximately 150 citizens of Healdsburg and
the surrounding community attended the annual dinner meeting …to hear a talk by Commander A.W. Scott, noted world
traveller. Commander Scott reminded his listeners of the tremendous value of the tourist industry to this section of the
state. In all the world, he said, there is no country that has the equal magnificence of natural beauty of your own Califor-
nia.” The Healdsburg Tribune and Enterprise, Friday, January 31, 1947

By 1942, a search began for a full-time manager. Owen Sweeten was hired for the job and received a salary of $150 a
month. The Chamber telephone number was “244”. Activities and promotions increased after Sweeten was hired. The
Chamber sponsored an ad campaign to buy local bread. “Buy Bread Baked in Healdsburg”, “Support Home Industry – It
Supports YOU” and “Bread Like Mom Used to Make” declared the ads placed in local papers.

Local farmers were asked to pledge to grow 200 acres of tomatoes towards the prospect of a canning firm coming to town.
Sweeten pushed to have the War Board and Mining Engineers group examine local properties to determine if tin deposits
existed for use in the war efforts. Band concerts were discontinued during this somber time and the Chamber proposed a
“credit plan” for membership dues, to be paid after the war was over.

To acknowledge Germany’s surrender in Europe, the Chamber presented a V-E Day program in the Plaza in May, 1945. It
included music, an invocation, address and benediction. Over 1,500 people attended that day.

Post-war expansion and activity had businesses and municipalities looking for ways to stimulate the economy. Also in
1945, local tavern owners met at the Chamber office and formed the North Sonoma County Tavern Association. Since the
old quip was there were “an equal number of bars and churches” in town at that time, it must have been a substantial
committee.

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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

The County Supervisors allotted funds to county chambers for post-war expansion. Healdsburg’s share was $410. A
newly published book on “County Economic Data” was also used to promote postwar possibilities.

Reaching out to the greater community, Sweeten and the Chamber called a meeting of civic leaders to discuss establishing
a youth activity center or teenage canteen. The Chamber also participated with other civic groups in the “Phone Home”
fund, enabling injured veterans at Hamilton Field to telephone loved ones.

Another sign of a hopeful, recovering economy was the extended hours at the Chamber office; Monday through Friday, 9
to 5 and Saturday, 9 to noon. They were planning for a “tourist boom” and surveys were sent to local businesses to deter-
mine issues and needs. Merchants responded by suggesting a need to improve the local shopping center. A “Shop in
Healdsburg” campaign began in earnest. Sweeten courted “big industries” from Eastern manufacturing firms to our area.
The Chamber partnered with the Santa Rosa Chamber for a National Affairs Clinic and sponsored an employment service.
Employers were urged to contact the Chamber when they had open positions.

And, it was time to revive the Harvest Festival that had been discontinued during the war.

Future town growth, the Chamber declared, was dependent on an adequate water supply, so a new system of reservoirs
was advocated. Looking ahead, Chamber boosters urged the Postmaster to designate addresses by use of highway names
rather than by use of route and box numbers. Parking meters were installed downtown…and promptly vandalized by irate
citizens.

1946 was the year that Santa flew into Healdsburg’s airport, at Norton’s Skyranch. He was officially met by Chamber
President Ken Howard and Slim Price, Mayor.


                                   The 1950s – Aloha and Local Biz Boom
“Hawaii Tour Leaves On Friday Night. The Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce sponsored Hawaii Tour will leave tomor-
row aboard a Pan American flight…from International Airport, San Francisco. A get acquainted coffee party was given
by Mrs. Harper at the home of Mrs. Chambers…” The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, October 16, 1958

Healdsburg’s Centennial arrived and with it the “wooden nickel”. The Chamber issued commemorative wooden nickels to
be used around town. Board meetings were held at the Hush Puppy Restaurant in the mid-1950s. When a campaign in
1957 for a new City Hall did not stir up much interest, the Chamber turned its attention to organizing a Junior Chamber of
Commerce. That diligent group was involved in many projects, including painting house addresses on curbs, for a dona-
tion of $1. Funds received were used to purchase a “mistigen” oxygen tent for Healdsburg General Hospital.

“Let’s Clean Up West Street!” was a recurring cry. Locals were concerned about the “ghost town” look south of the Plaza.
The Chamber printed a calendar of events bulletin, new brochures and maps. To make it even easier for tourists to find
their way north, the Chamber was instrumental in having white lines painted on the road between Healdsburg and Santa
Rosa. The first ribbon cutting for “Hiway 101” happened, with local politicians in attendance. A need for directional bill-
boards in town was proposed.

It was almost mandatory to fly to the Hawaiian Islands (soon to be our 50th state). A 10-day trip to Hawaii took place in
1958; the Healdsburg contingent brought a gift of prunes to the President of the Honolulu Chamber. They flew via the
modern Pan Am Clipper, at a cost per person of $350. Expanding horizons locally, in 1956 G.F. Miller, Chamber Presi-
dent, attended the first run of Northwestern Pacific’s new streamlined daylight train to Eureka, named “The Redwood”.

Involvement with a joint school/business partnership began, with Business/Education Day at Italian Swiss Colony.
Eighty-two teachers were present for the event. The Chamber submitted a 123-acre parcel as a possible site for the new, 4-
year college being planned for the county.


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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

The first Chamber “Citizen of the Year” award was presented in 1958 to Arnold Santucci, owner and editor of The
Healdsburg Tribune. Byron Gibbs was the second recipient. Chamber membership stood at 122 during this time.

Capitalizing on summer activities, the Chamber sponsored an annual swim meet, boat show and beauty contest and paid
for half the beach equipment at Memorial Beach. A new “Recreation in Healdsburg” flier touted fun activities like bowl-
ing at Healdsburg Bowling Lanes, hunting, swimming, golf and more. We were, after all, “Where the Redwoods and
Redwood Highway Meet”. Callers dialed ID. 3-2756 for more information.

There were “Dollar Days” sales and the Chamber requested City approval to install redwood flower boxes in front of
downtown stores, to spruce things up. When Santa arrived in December, 1958, he stayed downtown for seven days.

The Chamber devised a Merchant’s Warning Network for bad checks. Phone calls were made to alert merchants about
bad checks and “other lawbreakers”.

The 1958 Hawaii trip was such fun that 1959 saw a trip to Mexico, co-sponsored with other chambers.

The busy decade ended with new fliers being distributed: an Organizations List, Church Services and Places to Stay. The
town population was 4,450.


                                             The 1960s - 101 North!
“Ronald Reagan to be Guest Speaker at Chamber Dinner. ‘Surprise guest’ at the annual Healdsburg Chamber of Com-
merce installation dinner Saturday, Jan. 22 at the Villa Chanticler is – many Republicans hope – the next governor of
California, Ronald Reagan.” The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, January 6, 1966

Progress. The Chamber started 1960 with a budget of $9,245. The new Highway Committee urged highway construction
north of Geyserville to Cloverdale. Kay Harper was the busy Chamber Secretary until 1964. A Miss Healdsburg contest
was held to recognize Chamber of Commerce Week. In addition, a telegram arrived with the good news that Healdsburg
won awards from the California Chamber for outstanding observance of Chamber Week. The Swim Meet and Water Fes-
tivals continued to be big draws. Furthering that, the Chamber backed the purchase of land at Memorial Beach to expand
camping, picnicking and room for trailers for the Swim and Ski Festivals. Wanda Gren, Miss Healdsburg, prettily pre-
sented the trophies to the 1960 Swim Meet winners. Bob Skover warmed up for the 1965 Water and Ski Meet by skiing
barefoot.

In the early 1960s, it was time for a new City Hall. The Chamber supported the City bond election for funds to be used for
that purpose. A new Senior Center and the use of a landing strip for a City municipal airport were also endorsed.

The Division of Highways was petitioned for a directional sign: “Healdsburg Recreational Area – Next Exit”. President
Donald Moore reported that a survey of members showed that residents wanted their future to be “residential and recrea-
tional”. There was a concern about too much growth though, and the Chamber encouraged the hope that the “town would
grow…only more appealing!” To herald the holidays and Santa’s arrival, 1,000 coupons from local merchants were
dropped by plane over downtown.

An historic occasion occurred, as well. For the first time, not one but three women were elected to the Chamber Board, for
the 1961 fiscal year: Eva Behney (of Healdsburg Credit Bureau and Healdsburg Bonded Adjusters), Frances Carson
(Fairview Motel) and Mrs. Paul Benzmiller (Precision Machine Co.). 1962 was the first time a woman received the Citi-
zen of the Year award, as well. Marie Cox had that distinction.

The 1st Annual Prune Blossom Tour took place and the Chamber distributed maps for that March event. Looking to con-
nect more with the populace, the Chamber began a column in The Healdsburg Tribune entitled “Chamber Made Chatter”.
Over the years, these informational columns would be called “Thursday Talk”, “Comments from the Chamber” and
“Chamber Chatter” (in the 1970s) and “Chamber Notes” (in the 1980s).
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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007


Visitors and shoppers must have created a lot of litter. A major litterbug campaign was underway. Membership was up to
134 by 1962, and there was talk of reviving the summer concerts again. Co-sponsored with Rotary, the first of many Hal-
loween window decorating contests was held. It was to become a favorite activity for town kids over the years.

The freeway between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg was dedicated on November 1, 1962, and the Chamber was there!

By 1963, the proposed “Dry Creek Dam” was a hotly discussed issue. By 1965, the Chamber had established a committee
to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop land-use facilities at the dam. The Chamber was present for the
dedication of the site in August, 1967.

The City airport was dedicated in September, 1963 and in honor of Aviation Month the following June, the Chamber ar-
ranged to have a plane taxi down Healdsburg Avenue. In keeping with the aviation theme, Santa arrived by plane at the
airport that year. He also took calls at the Chamber office for two nights. Kids could phone in from 6-8:00 p.m. and speak
with the big guy directly.

In 1963, the Chamber staff entertained and served free coffee to 474 visitors touring the Geysers. Naturally, a Chamber
map dubbed the Geysers “The 8th Wonder of the World”. L.E. Duncan was named Chamber Manager at that time.

Sidewalk Sales promotions grew. For the “Outdoor Living – Vacation Days” theme promotion, merchants filled a car to
the top with local goodies. The Chamber-sponsored Swim Meet and the Ski Fest continued to be popular events. In con-
junction with the Kiwanis, an employment bureau for teens was established.

An Agri-business “unit”/committee was formed. The young Prune Blossom Festival drew 1,500 visitors in 1965. Mem-
bership reached a landmark of 200 by late 1965. However, a tight financial market put the Chamber’s finances in a slump
by 1967; only 50 members had paid their dues on time that year.

The Chamber investigated elimination of those pesky parking meters. It was decided to “hood the meters” for 90 days
over the holidays, as a gesture of goodwill. That decision earned a mention by the famous San Francisco Chronicle col-
umnist, Herb Caen.

January 1966 brought Ronald Reagan to the Chamber installation dinner at the Villa. He was the Republican candidate for
governor of California at that time. The dinner was limited to 300 attendees, and the event was sold-out. It was catered by
favorite local chef, Buck Nardi. Following Reagan’s speech were “skits, musical numbers and just plain shenanigans
staged by local talent” from a St. John’s Variety Show.

1968 saw the Chamber going to bat for property tax relief. Perhaps in empathy with the “bear market” of the late sixties, a
real bear wandered into the north end of town, near Healdsburg High School.

A need for new housing was discussed and the Chamber endorsed a mobile home park bordering the Russian River.


                                        The 1970s – Starting Traditions
“Wine Fest rules switched again, Council to act.” The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, April 27, 1972

“Nine wineries will have their new and old wines for introduction to the fast-growing public awareness of fine wines.”
The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, May 4, 1972

The gentle rivalry between north county towns continued. Healdsburg and Cloverdale competed with each other to turn in
“the” giant orange for the Citrus Fair.


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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

A new event was born in 1972 that would continue for the next 25 years: The Wine Festival. After an initial setback when
the ABC balked at issuing a permit, the City Council came through with a special day permit. Lead by Chamber President
Lloyd Decker, the Wine Fest began with nine wineries, some music and food. Charter wineries were: “Trentadue, Martini
and Prati, Italian Swiss, Simi, Korbel, Windsor, Foppiano, Pedroncelli and Cambiaso”. Wines were sold for 20 cents a
glass for standard varieties and 30 cents for premiums.

In the fall and winter of 1972, the Chamber sponsored a Halloween Parade and the new Christmas tree lighting in the
Plaza (even agreeing to purchase the tree lights). Santa showed up and stayed in town for 11 days.

San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto appeared as the keynote speaker at the Chamber’s 1974 installation dinner. In 1975,
President Gerald Ford toured the Geysers.

The Wine Festival grew to 13 wineries in 1974 and 15 in 1976. The Blossom Tour was rechristened and became the
“Spring Blossom Tour”.

Taking note of the “jogging craze”, a marathon race around Fitch Mountain was organized. What became known as the
Fitch Mountain Footrace was later turned over to the Kiwanis Club.

The lack of street parking and other issues and concerns about traffic congestion continued to be a downtown irritant, and
the Chamber got involved. A bad-check alert system was reinstituted for the benefit of local businesses.

The Chamber’s theme during this time was “For a Better Community”. Healdsburg took part in an Economic Develop-
ment “Industry Week” along with other county chambers. Helendale Barrett was hired as the Bookkeeper and Reception-
ist in 1976; she would later become Executive Director of the organization. Longtime Chamber Manager, Frank Thrall,
retired; he had served in that capacity since 1964.

The Chamber endorsed two entrants in a countrywide Powder Puff Derby. The ladies took off from the Healdsburg Mu-
nicipal Airport, traveled to Carlsbad, California, then on to New York.

The first Harvest Hoedown took place in October, 1977, continued for a few years, but never took off like the Wine Festi-
val. One major change was implemented during the 1978 Wine Fest; no more cups! An official wine glass was approved
for use during the event. The third annual Wine Symposium took place in 1978, reflecting the importance of the wine in-
dustry in the area.


                          The 1980s – New Leadership, Economic Challenges
“Chamber bids a fond farewell to Barrett.” The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, June 18, 1986

“Chamber hires executive director. New emphasis on promotion.” The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar,
1986

The decade began with attempts to revamp the Blossom Tour - it needed “new life”. Looking to identify itself as the
town’s visitor bureau and economic anchor, the Chamber developed more committees and groups with that aim. The town
was moving toward the burgeoning grape and wine industry. There was a new look at tourism as a viable, economic
source. The 1981 Wine Symposium included wine industry notables Zelma Long and Millie Howie - the topic was “In-
volved from Vine to Glass”.

In 1981, there was a panel discussion on industries most likely to shape Northern Sonoma County: Warm Springs Dam,
wineries, the Geysers and the growth of the area were discussed. There was a “sell-out crowd”. The panel results indicated
that Healdsburg did not have “the facilities to attract a fair amount of tourism”. There was a “shortage of hotels and res-
taurants, plus the absence of an attractive, well-defined shopping area…” It was agreed that the town “had potential” but
“must protect its small town charm”. The key, all decided, was “quality planning”.
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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007


An active Merchants’ Committee convened and a Small Business Report now appeared in the Chamber Newsletter. After
Chamber Manager Carey Marshall resigned in 1980, Helendale Barrett was named Director and remained as head of the
Chamber until her retirement in 1986.

Summers were busy enough that the Chamber office was open Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 to 3 each weekend. A
high school student was hired to cover the phones and greet visitors. The Chamber made a donation of $1,000 towards the
new town pool and hosted a free weekday, noon-time concert in the Plaza.

Promotional ads gave “7 Reasons Why You Should Plug into the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce”. The Architectural
Heritage ordinance was fully endorsed by the Chamber and a Beautification Committee took shape. That committee spent
a few years promoting Healdsburg as the “Petunia Capital of the World”.

Always willing to facilitate, the Chamber acted as a drop-off point for letters to Santa. Children could just drop their notes
in a special holiday mailbox placed in front of the office.

More legislative action was taken on issues in the 1980s. The Chamber participated in regular City Hall and Planning
Commission meetings and was represented at Sonoma County Economic Development Board meetings. A representative
from the City was also invited to attend Chamber Board meetings. Not everything went smoothly between the City and
Chamber; in 1982 the City “irked” the Chamber by hiring a staff person to work on tourism promotions. Perhaps to make
amends, in 1983 Mayor Paul Dix and the City Council granted the Chamber free use of the Villa for two days each year
for fundraising purposes.

The Plaza hotel plans were proposed, and the newly-formed Promotions and Marketing Task Force recommended that the
City hire a Marketing Director. In an on-going effort to support the wine industry and to encourage the City to establish an
identity, the Chamber sponsored a logo contest. The new “grapeleaf” logo, created by local graphic designer and artist
Kathy Heflin, was chosen and promptly adopted by the City, too. Kathy was awarded $400 for her ubiquitous design, used
by the Chamber until 2007. A new sign was posted out front in 1986, displaying this grapeleaf logo.

In one year, Chamber staff helped over 2,500 visitors who called or stopped by the office. Minor triumph: Healdsburg
finally won the giant orange competition against Cloverdale! This feat was accomplished again in 1986, when Mr. and
Mrs. Mort Weed contributed that year’s winner.

The economic “depression” had reverberating effects. The Chamber Directory encountered problems when the publisher
went “belly-up”. The Chamber felt the obligation to its members to publish the piece anyway and absorbed the cost.

The Board and staff scrambled to find profitable new fundraisers. In place of the Hoedown, they tried a Fiesta Night and
Gold Rush Night, but these were eliminated in 1986. An Art Auction was added. Looking for something fresh, the Cham-
ber sponsored a Community Calendar for sale, listing all events sponsored by local organizations. The purchaser’s name
was to be entered in daily, weekly and monthly drawings for cash and prizes. The “donation” was $20 per calendar.
Launched with a lot of publicity, this project came to a “sad end” and was cancelled by the Board due to lack of participa-
tion.

1986 was to be a year of big changes and transitions. Broadway dancer-turned-vintner Rodney Strong spoke at that year’s
Annual Dinner. The Board addressed plans to complete the freeway sign project, co-op marketing of Healdsburg and sup-
port for commercial flights out of Sonoma County Airport. They strongly supported the hotel project, formed a standing
Government Relations Committee, encouraged a “Shopping Healdsburg” campaign and endorsed agribusiness. Finally, a
Litter Control committee was appointed, too. In hopes of drawing more attention here, there were movie production com-
pany promotions and a photo library; it paid off! Local businesses were seen on a television show, “Bay Area Backroads”.

The Newsletter was now entitled “The Business Grapevine” and was published every two months. Newsletters included
copies of The Small Business Advocate. Businesses were notified that all retail members of the Chamber were automati-


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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

cally members of the Merchant’s Committee” and should make an effort to attend the monthly meetings at Giorgio’s. In a
switch, it listed members who chose to NOT renew, in a column titled, “We Regret…”!

Also on the home front, there was a goodwill basketball “Tournament” between the Chamber Board members and the
Boys and Girls Club Directors. There is no record of who “won”.

In defense of tourism, there was an article on the economic impact of tourist dollars to the City, and how they brought in
“new money” and required “few services.” “We all benefit from tourism…,” it added. As a tie-in, a new “Hospitality
Column” called “Tourist Specs” appeared which outlined actions by the Tourism Committee. By 1986, Tourism Commit-
tee members attended trade shows throughout the state and actively sent out Press Releases promoting the town. Fifteen-
second advertising spots were filmed and aired on TV 13, promoting Healdsburg as a warm and friendly shopping desti-
nation.

By mid 1980s, the Wine Festival had grown to an event featuring three dozen wineries, pouring 90 different wines. A
souvenir glass and three tickets cost $7.50. Local wineries also made an outstanding showing at the Orange County Fair
and won an impressive number of gold medals.

A new committee was formed, called “Watchdogs”. It had no meetings and no chair! “Members” were given business
envelopes addressed to the Chamber. If a member spotted any item in a business, trade or major publication (i.e. tips on a
company planning to relocate to area, ideas to adapt for local use, governmental actions, pending legislation, etc.), they
clipped it out and forwarded it to the Chamber.

A proud moment for the Chamber – it qualified to fly the new, volunteer, presidential “C-Flag”. This 3’x5’ red, white and
blue flag had the motto: “We Can. We Care”. The Chamber qualified due to its program providing DMV services in town
for seniors and handicapped. It further noted that the Chamber handled all signups, and this filled a real need in the com-
munity. The Chamber staff also hosted Business After Hours in April, 1986 to show off the newly painted and decorated
offices.

It was a sad “good-by and thanks” to Rosenberg and Bush, Healdsburg’s department store. Rosenberg’s closed its doors
after over 100 years in Healdsburg. They were a member for 34 years.

Reaching out to a broader market through a special program, the Chamber began distributing merchant coupons and bro-
chures to Sonoma County conventioneers. There were hopes for a banner tourist season in Healdsburg, since “travel
abroad has been somewhat curtailed”.

In recognition of June’s Chamber of Commerce week, an editorial from James D. Johnson, Executive VP of TV 50, was
reprinted in the Newsletter: “Chambers of Commerce are coming back in style. For years during the 1960’s and 70’s,
those anti-establishment years, Chambers of Commerce were looked upon with suspicion by the flower children and the
media as representing the poser of big business. But in the past few years, most people realize again that the business
communities of each city and town are the life’s blood of that community…the source of most jobs, most salaries, and
almost all of the many benefits of which each of us are so proud...”

The hotel idea still looked promising. It was announced that work was progressing on the downtown Willow Creek Inn
Hotel project. Developer Roger Post hoped to start construction in spring 1986, but it was not to materialize.

The Chamber drafted a proposed Developer’s Guide and advised members that the City Redevelopment’s Agency has a
façade program to improve commercial buildings. Owners and tenants were urged to consider applying for a grant.

In another issue, the Chamber offered to handle voluntary contributions made to help pay the legal expenses in the fight to
maintain adequate water flow in the Russian River.

Longtime staffers Meredith Dreisback and Sue Hockert moved on. In July, 1986, the Board bid a warm farewell to Direc-
tor Helendale Barrett. Helendale retired to “play golf and travel”. At a farewell dinner at The Rex, past presidents Dick
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        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

Saxton and Jinx Biasotti heralded her loyalty, hard work and ability to get along with people. Bill Kreck of the Russian
River Wine Road presented her with a bottle of wine from every winery represented by the Wine Road Group.

The Flea Market fundraiser was postponed to September while the search was on for a new Executive Director. Board
President Mark Decker commented that in searching for Helendale’s replacement, the goal was to find someone to “act as
a cheerleader for the city and its promotional arm”. A five-person committee screened applicants for the position: commit-
tee members included Mark Decker, Cindy Abilay, Dayle Puckett, Eric Ziedrich and Carol Mascherini. Their goal was to
locate a person with a background in promotions.

Ultimately, Lynn Woznicki was chosen as the Chamber’s top staffer. It was noted that “a good portion of Woznicki’s en-
ergy will go into her specialty – marketing – and Healdsburg will be the product she sells.” In conjunction, it was also an-
nounced that the City, Chamber, DBA (Downtown Business Association, later known as the Downtown Business District)
and Vineyard Plaza Shopping Center planned to pool their resources for a city-wide promotional effort.

When Lynn was hired, Mark Decker advised that the Chamber hoped to “forge a promotional alliance with City Hall, the
DBD and other entities”. Under a plan ratified by the City Council, the DBD contributed $7,500 towards Lynn’s salary
and in return, the Chamber would provide 32 hours a month of staff time coordinating “DBD” activities. Lynn was off
and running.

1986 wrapped up with the wording for town signs being discussed. Favored for the northside was “Visit Historic Healds-
burg” and for the southside, “Healdsburg – Premium Wine Country”. A new 3-day event for spring 1987 was planned,
called Spring Faire. A board retreat was scheduled and there was talk of a new Citizen of the Year Award at the installa-
tion. The Tourism Committee was renamed in 1987, to “Marketing and Promotion Committee”. Staff member Adrienne
Gowing came onboard to assist Lynn - it was a two person office at the time. A busy year ended with the Chamber host-
ing “Photos with Santa” at J.C. Penney’s.

The Chamber held a DBD work session and over 50 members attended with Mayor Ben Collins presiding. Membership
Development Chairs worked with Ambassadors and Directors on the new “Chamber Connection Program”, a means to
communicate better with Chamber members. A 1987 Program of Action was published, “Healdsburg and the Cham-
ber…..Partners for Progress”. There followed a plethora of committees: Business and Economic Development, Commu-
nity Affairs Development, Finance and Budget, Membership Retention, Membership Development, Governmental Af-
fairs, Marketing and Promotion, Special Events and Fundraising.

In April, the newsletter became “The Business Grapevine…Your good business network.” It had a modern look, with new
paper and font. Businesses buying ad space included Western Boot, R.H. Durler & Son, Giorgio’s and Chris Kobe, D.C.
Short items about members started showing up in a column called “Grape Notes”. New Members and their bios were
listed under “We’d Like You to Meet…”.

A new fundraising event was born, the Bicycle Tour. As an avid cyclist, Lynn saw the potential for an event to raise funds
and draw people to the area. The Invitational Golf Tournament was still in place and the Wine Festival continued as a vi-
able resource. There were jokes about having a “drive-through” Chamber.

In a nod to rural roots, Miss Debby Burgess and her horse, “Sunny Saten” delivered the Future Farmers Country Fair and
Twilight Parade entry forms to the Chamber. The horse clopped into the office and up to the desk to say hello.

Also in recognition of the past, the Chamber honored veteran members of up to 40 years as part of the annual “Operation
Thank You” project. Honorary Chamber Members were also recognized, including the property owners of the sites of the
Highway 101 signs, Sanford Trefethen and Phil Edmunds.

Spring Faires were touted as “fun for the whole family” and included pet parades, an art auction, carriage rides, the Easter
Bunny and puppet shows. The DBD Summer Concert Series began with, “Picnic in the Plaza” and eight events from July
through September.


                                                             9
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

To promote the “Bike Tour”, the newsletter printed an article promoting cycling as a sport and how Healdsburg was
catching on with the cycling tourist. It encouraged businesses to keep the “wheels of profit” spinning in their direction.

Bob Gluck headed the newly revitalized Ambassador Committee. Jeanne McCutchan regularly won the Ambassador
Membership Drive - one of her prizes was a jet-ski rental. Evidently, one countywide Chamber drive was quite unforget-
table, “during which Healdsburg dazzled the crowd of over one hundred with its singing, live grape cluster performance.”

The Chamber was answering about 85 calls a day for tourist and relocation information and new business development.
Businesses were encouraged to display brochures and business cards at the Chamber. And members were admonished
“Don’t keep your Chamber Membership a secret.” A new committee was formed, the Community and Economic Devel-
opment Coalition, to strengthen the Chamber’s role as “the business person’s liaison with city government”.

There was a Mardi Gras theme for the newly launched 1988 Northern Sonoma County Business Trade Show. Fee for reg-
istering was $20 plus a raffle donation or $25 without a donation. Booth fees went up to $60 the following year. Trade
Show themes became a popular means to motivate booth participants and have some fun. “Healdsburg goes Hollywood”
recurred a few times. Another year, a South Seas Adventure brought cheer to a dreary February. Attendees grew from
400-500 to a record 700+. Healdsburg “Made Headlines”, and “Business Bloomed”. Mark Gladden was a secret “celebrity
psychic”…who promised to “give YOU the business!” The 1997 Trade Show was “Like No Udder” and a tribute to our
agricultural heritage. From earth to space, there was “Charting our Future; Going where no other business community has
gone before”. Trade shows were “Grape for Business” and “Business went on Safari”. Co-sponsors included The Healds-
burg Tribune and 95.9 The Bridge – Hits from the ’70s and ’80s. “Viva Las Healdsburg!”

Concern about health care in 1988 created access to a “moderately priced health insurance program”. It was a benefit of
membership. So was inclusion in the new, pink, one page Wine Country Weddings brochure. One caterer and nineteen
wineries were listed on the inaugural piece along with other pertinent member businesses. It tied in with the “Available
Meeting Facilities” guide. A slick, 4-page Business and Professional Directory was published as well.

Then Board President Kathy Cookson reported in her Economic Outlook article that “Experts are optimistic” about So-
noma County. She reported that tourism was on the upswing, too. There was the observation that though in 1986 dairy
farming was the strongest agricultural area, the predictions were that grapes would soon take over.

Members were asked for input regarding a citywide smoking control ordinance. The results favored no smoking. It was
quite a switch from the days when Chamber fundraisers were gents’ “Smoker” cigar parties.

In 1988, the Chamber changed its name to Healdsburg Area Chamber of Commerce to reflect the greater area served by
the office. The Picnic in the Plaza series grew and offered nine concerts, including Elmo and the Hi-Rise Hillbillies, Hi-
Jinks and the Community Band. Marketing & Promotions sponsored a poster contest for local artists to create designs for
the Spring Faire and Chalk Fest, Wine Road Barrel Tasting, Wine Festival, Bicycle Tour, and Fitch Mountain Footrace.

In 1989, as Marketing & Promotions Chair, Peggy Rawlins reported that at the first public meeting for the General Plan, it
was “perfectly clear that people want to retain the friendly, small town atmosphere that draws people to beautiful Healds-
burg.” By then, the Wine Festival had 40 wineries participating. There were extensive talks about how tourism directly
supported local businesses and brought tax dollars into the City. Members were asked to welcome tourists “to your town”.
It was reported that Healdsburg outpaced all other county cities in 1988 in retail sales growth. Sales per capita also ex-
ceeded the level of all other cities in the county. Exciting expansions occurred when the Carnegie Library became the new
Healdsburg Museum, and the Sonoma County Wine Library opened in the Healdsburg Library.

The Chamber Board voted to oppose passage of AB 350, the mandated Health Insurance Bill, saying the passage would
force many small businesses to cut back on individual employee hours or close their doors.

A “Chamber Connection” speaker’s bureau program was initiated. Early speakers included Ann Jost DeKay, CPA, Doug
Vadnais of Vadnais Deluxe Foods, Cindy Abilay and Mike Fairchild of Cloud 9, Kurt Hahn, City Finance Director and
Ted Etheredge of Edw. D. Jones.
                                                             10
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007



                              The 1990s - Soggy, Salutes and The Commons
“City flooding caused by Foss Creek. Healdsburg officials declared a state of emergency Sunday as six inches of rain
swamped the city, causing Foss Creek to run over its banks and creep into cafés, bars and the new Raven Film Center.”
The Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar, Week of Jan. 11-Jan. 17, 1995

1990 began with the news that Marta and Pete Peterson and Charles J. Brown of Raicor were remodeling the corner of
Matheson and Vine Streets. The major construction was to include a parking lot and site development with two new build-
ings. The “Peterson Building” was built first. Called an incubator concept, it offered a starting place for businesses and
offered affordable space and secretarial services. The large building housing Passalacqua, Mazzoni and Gladden soon ap-
peared across the parking lot; two anchors on a once unsightly corner.

The Chamber office had a major facelift inside and out. It was announced that the Chamber saved more than $12,000 nec-
essary to renovate the building’s exterior and interior. Awnings were funded by the City’s redevelopment façade grant.
Business up-dates were now noted under the “As the Chamber Turns…” column. Membership was up to 425, due to the
“organizational skills and unyielding drive of the Executive Director, Lynn Woznicki,” according to Chamber President
Cathy Harvey.

Monthly Business After Hours continue at varied and sundry venues, including the Healdsburg Airport. Free flights were
provided “weather permitting”. Disappointing adventuresome members, changes were later made in the City’s insurance
liability requirements, prohibiting free airplane rides at the yearly Airport After Hours.

The Chamber’s 40th Annual Installation Dinner was held in June at the Villa Chanticleer, with Mark Gladden as the M.C.
It was catered by Western Boot Steakhouse, and members had two dining choices: $21 per person for teriyaki chicken or
$23 for top sirloin.

In a sign of changing times, employers were warned that there are “mixed signals” from the courts regarding drug testing
for employees. Guidelines were provided by the Chamber.

A request for more interaction between the Chamber and city schools resulted in an advisory position of Schools Repre-
sentative on the Board. The Adopt-A-Class Program was also born. The 1990’s Program of Action included support for a
planned growth in town, continued “Chamber Notes” column in The Tribune, and assistance with the administration of
the Cultural Center Trust Fund Program. The Chamber also actively participated in the county Chambers of Commerce
Economic Development Coalition. There was concern over the wine industry facing a proposed, huge hike in state/excise
tax. The Board opposed the tax increase and members were asked to vote “no” on Prop. 134 the Alcohol Tax Proposition
and “yes” on Prop. 126.

The 1990 population within the city limits reached almost 10,000 and additional housing lots just “weren’t enough to meet
the demand”. A Healdsburg Bucks program, used to buy merchandise in town, was touted: “Give as holiday bonuses!”
“Self sufficiency makes us strong and keeps us from falling prey to that monster called recession,” said President Cathy
Harvey.

The Chamber followed the trend away from the “big dinner party” and held an “hors d’oeuvres and no host bar” Christ-
mas Party at the Villa, for only $7.50 person. Busy Santa made his appearance.

The Healdsburg Business and Professional Women’s Club honored Lynn as their 1990 “Woman of the Year”!

In 1991, The Chamber began another special event, “Healdsburg Salutes Industry”, to pay tribute to the town’s diverse
economy. It featured booths, a BBQ, industry-related raffle questions and a cross section of business leaders. About 30
businesses were invited. A second “Salute” followed the next year.

                                                            11
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

Newsletter fliers and inserts at that time attested to the diversity of local businesses. Fliers proclaimed the news: the Busi-
ness after Hours was at Pelton’s Floor Coverings, Western Boot had a new lunch menu, HELP Foundation advertised its
Historic Homes House Tour, the Future Farmers Fair chili cook-off challenged all comers, Kelly Schwartz was the new
Farmers Insurance Agent, 5 Oaks listed their cleaning supplies, Shubel Chevrolet-Olds bragged about their cars and the
new Jimtown Store introduced itself. The Chamber officially became a “24-hour information Center” with brochures and
information available in outside display racks.

In an atmosphere of global economic uncertainty, this area fared better over the post-retail shopping season. However,
Healdsburg did not completely bypass the nationwide recession and effects of the Persian Gulf War. There were important
considerations for future business planning. Business Action Today (BAT) was an outgrowth of the Business & Economic
Development Committee, and this broad based coalition worked on local issues. The Chamber hosted a special session
with members of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. Rollie Atkinson was the Chair and Supervisor Nick
Esposti also attended.

Information was provided on SB 198, the Senate bill mandating a written “Injury and Illness Prevention Program” that
had to be in place by July 1, 1991.

Parking was still a problem; signage was finally erected in 1991 stating 7-day-a-week parking enforcement, “in the hopes
of discouraging those longterm abusers”. (They knew who they were!)

By ’92, The Business & Professional Directory had grown to eight pages. A membership survey was conducted: “5 min-
utes is all we ask!” The results showed that members wanted the Chamber to work for economic expansion.

After almost six years and at the Chamber’s request the contract for professional services between the Chamber and the
Healdsburg Downtown Business District came to an end on July 1, 1992. They agreed to work collectively to avoid dupli-
cation of services. Six years later, District members asked the Chamber to resume the contract and again provide leader-
ship to the Downtown promotion group. After a few organizational changes were made the Chamber agreed to the request
and signed on the dotted line.

The Ambassador Lunch Bunch was looking for new Members. The Chamber staff had grown and included: Lynn, Marie
Butler, Rosanne Polidora, Noel Musselman and two weekend assistants. A new program, “News at Noon”, was initiated.
Billed as an informative, fast-paced lunch-time program on current events, this popular news “bite” continues through
2007.

A ground-breaking event was planned that would have long-term positive effects. Healdsburg Commons was scheduled
for January, 1993. Its purpose was to draw together a representative group of up to 100 citizens to consider, “What should
Healdsburg look like in 10 years?” Charter Committee Member John Holt envisioned “an opportunity to create, dream, to
disregard the constraints of today – real or imagined.” One hundred-fifty individuals participated and a “wealth of ex-
change occurred”.

There were changes in the 22nd annual Wine Festival - a new logo, a new look. Arts and crafts booths were interspersed
with 40 wineries. A fine arts section and café-style seating were added. The event struggled with issues in its “old age”
and efforts at resuscitation were failing.

There was a salute to past Chamber Presidents at the annual installation at a Villa Annex luncheon. The Citizens of the
Year awards were moved to the new “Best of Healdsburg” program in September. The Best of Healdsburg Trade Show
gave 12 awards (+1), called the “Distinguished Dozen +1”. Winners that year were: Tim Fincher (Auto Body Experience),
Jerry Eddinger (Barn Raisers), Karen Mead (Body Works), Dianne Delfino (Classic Closers), Doreen Merrick (Good
Works), Renee Kiff (Green Thumbs), Tammy Hampton (Growing Minds), Ralph Tingle (Hosts with the Most), Cassie
Call (Money Movers), Kathy Johnson (People Works), Judith Stadler, Atty. (Preferred Professionals), and Mike Neal,
DDS (Vital Signs). Don Hyde was the lucky 13 “Write-In” vote.



                                                              12
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

City Arborist Matthew Thompson announced a Historic Tree Tour in the works and “Twilight Tuesdays” was unveiled.
This was a local shop promotion by the DBD. Merchants agreed to stay open until 8:00 p.m. every Tuesday in conjunction
with Farmers’ Market. Proliferation of the sandwich sign billboards was discussed at the Coalition meeting. They were
not legal but there was no enforcement either.

There was a disturbing trend of businesses closing or for sale in 1994. “Shop locally!” everyone declared. Downtown
retail rents had been raised to “prohibitive levels”, and the question was should the town look at rent control. An emer-
gency brown bag discussion was held at the Raven Theater on “Does Healdsburg have an economic crisis?” There were
serious concerns: Wal-Mart was coming to Windsor, the City talked about cutting services and it was rumored that the
Parks and Recreation Department might be eliminated.

There was a Brown Bag Roundtable to discuss the city’s proposed Utility User tax and the city revised its plan as a result
of Chamber efforts. An Economic Development Office was created; John Holt and Jack McCarley assumed joint duties.

The 1994 Commons was an even bigger hit than the 1993 one. It evolved from “what we want to happen” to “how do we
do all this?” A Volunteer Center, computer information superhighways, a TV/radio station for Healdsburg, information
kiosks and bike trails were among some of the action items mentioned. As Rollie Atkinson, Editor of The Tribune said,
“Healdsburg is a verb! Healdsburg is not just a place to live, it is a way of life.”

1994 also saw recognition of 19 long-standing businesses that had been Chamber members for more than 40 years. They
were: Aladdin Cleaners, Bank of America, R.H. Durler & Sons Insurance Services, Fairview Motel, Garrett Hardware,
Healdsburg General Hospital, Healdsburg Machine Co., The Healdsburg Tribune, Luciani Pump Co., McConnell Chevro-
let Olds, Pacific Bell, Pacific Gas & Electric, Passalacqua, Mazzoni & Gladden, Redwood Oil Co., Salvation Army Lyt-
ton ARC, W.C. Sanderson Ford, Sauer’s Properties, Silveira Pontiac-Buick GMC Trucks and Fred Young & Co.

The Board voted to change the Chamber’s fiscal year to January/December to better complement the business cycle.
Chambers of Commerce in Sonoma County sponsored emergency preparedness and recovery workshop to get ready for
“an impending earthquake”. The City Council voted to annex “area A” north of town, along with plans for new businesses
and residential homes there.

The successful Bicycle Tour was again catered by Randi Middleton of Oui Cater. This annual fundraiser grossed over
$36,000 in 1994 or “nearly 20% of the Chamber’s annual operating budget”. There was a second, gourmet bicycle tour in
September, called “Splendor in the Saddle”. While great fun, it did not net the profits of the July tour and was not re-
peated.

Torrential rains in 1995 caused flooding in downtown. There were sandbags everywhere. It took a toll on local businesses
and some were struggling to make ends meet. Townspeople were urged to support the businesses by their patronage.
“Think Healdsburg!” Locals were asked to spread the word to people outside the area that Sonoma County was open for
business. That year the Directory grew to 20 pages and included a cover photo by Marian Murphy showing Chamber
staffer Liz Smart strolling by the office with an umbrella.

Attendance was so great at the Trade Show that soggy year (nearly 700 visitors) that parking was an issue. Pure Luxury
Limousines and Tour de Vine shuttled people down the hill to Powell Avenue and back. It was one of the best attended
shows in years, despite the weather (or perhaps residents had “cabin fever”). The 1995 Distinguished Dozen winners
were: James Schieffer (Classic Closers), Mary Bianchi (People Works), Herb Steiner (Vital Signs), Mila Mintun (Body
Works), Malcolm Yuill-Thornton (Green Thumbs), Ken Roux (Auto Body Experience), Helenmae Herzberg (Growing
Minds), Jerry Eddinger (Good Works), Cassie Call (Money Movers), Ernie Palmieri (Hosts with the Most), Jim Brush,
CPA (Preferred Professionals) and Scott Cavallo (Barn Raisers).

Employability Plus arrived. It was a program developed by the Chamber and the High School to prepare students more
adequately for the world of work. Utilizing the volunteer efforts of more than 50 business people, 19 students took advan-
tage of the pilot program.


                                                            13
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

The Chamber sponsored the national speaker and author, Padi Selwyn, for an evening to share her marketing savvy. Local
businesses were invited to participate in the Sunset Magazine’s “Taste of Sunset” Trade Show in San Jose by displaying
brochures or products in the City of Healdsburg booth. “Business is Brewing” premiered in August, sponsored by the
Ambassador Committee. It was an early morning program that combined Business After Hours with News at Noon in a
before-hours format. The new City Manager, Chet Wystepek, was introduced to members at “News at Noon”.

The Board of Directors conducted a critical evaluation of its sponsorship of the Russian River Wine Festival. In view of
declining attendance and revenues and competition from so many other wine and special events, the event was reviewed.
It was decided to continue through the next year’s 25th anniversary of the event. It was inevitable, however. The Board
announced the decision to discontinue the Wine Festival in 1997. The wineries decided to withdraw from the event and
the Chamber wanted to “take a hiatus” after 25 years.

The annual holiday party was now graciously hosted by local businesses. Costeaux French Bakery, Windsor Vineyards,
Pedroncelli Winery, Hotel Healdsburg, Alderbrook Winery and Bear Republic Brewery among many others all took their
turns at entertaining members over the next few years. Santa found the party sites and made an appearance each year as
well.

In a unique move, the City and Chamber signed an agreement to provide economic development services to the City. The
Chamber was to design an economic development program. The total contracted amount was $50,000 for a twelve month
period. The “M&P” Committee sponsored “Healdsburg in Pro-Motion” and over 50 business people and city representa-
tives attended. The goal was to identify and review current promotional efforts and where to go from there.

In a sign of the emerging influence of the internet, the Chamber, City and School District worked with a website devel-
oper to create a “Healdsburg WebSite on the Internet”. A 4-color map was designed by the Chamber that year and mem-
bership was up to 500. Business After Hours was held at the new Healdsburg City Hall.

Summer concerts continued as “A World of Music”. In 1996, the board acknowledged Lynn’s 10 years as Executive Di-
rector and commended her for her “commitment, loyalty, hard work and enthusiasm.”

The Economic Development Committee sponsored a series of forums on the Urban Growth Boundary Initiative. The
Board took a stand against Measure I and urged its members and citizens to carefully consider the initiative. Economic
Development Officer Jack McCarley also reported that the Vineyard Plaza and Mitchell Center vacancies remained a
great concern.

On the positive side, the Membership Drive brought in a whopping 80 new members! Looking to offset expenses, “spon-
sorships” were offered for News at Noon programs for only $175.

The mail must go through. The Chamber spearheaded a letter writing campaign asking for an afternoon mail pickup in the
City’s business district.

“Biz Bits” was a newsletter column that had news snippets about member businesses. In one column, members were
alerted that: Rosalie Hope sold the Hope-Bosworth and Hope-Merrill houses to Cosette and Ron Sheiber, Bob Altieri of
Aerostat Adventures added a new balloon to his fleet, and the Healdsburg Police Dept. had a “house check” program
available to residents on vacation.

The Chamber helped promote the Farmers’ Market Zucchini Festival races, encouraging businesses and local celebrities
to enter a zuke in the car races. As hoped, the Chamber entry “squashed” the competition.

Ed Haworth was named the new Economic Development Coordinator. He reported to members that the second Swenson
building was under construction and the hotel finally received final design approval by the City. The Media Munch Series
kicked off with a seminar on “10 Steps to Increasing your Profit Margin”. A new group representing vacation rentals was
formed to discuss common topics of interest.


                                                           14
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

1998 was not too early to acknowledge the “Y2K” scare and members were urged to look ahead, be ready for the next
century and update credit card terminals and computers.

The Education Committee was restructured and called the Business/Schools Partnership Committee. The Trade Show of-
fered a “Healthy in Healdsburg” expo as part of the event.

The Directory had become a major marketing tool. More than 4,000 copies were distributed. A special luncheon program
for women in business was held, called “Having Your Business & Having it All”. The Home-Based Business Task Force
presented the City with a list of suggested revisions to the new zoning ordinance. The goal was to encourage home-based
businesses to “come forward” and become active members of the community.

The hospital was in trouble. The Chamber reported on the crisis and a need for a viable plan to save Healdsburg Hospital.
At a Chamber-organized emergency town meeting, over 400 area residents attended, all worried about the hospital’s po-
tential closure and the impact on town. Dr. Daniel Rose stepped up to find a way keep it open. At the same time, The
Small Business Advocate discussed rising health insurance premiums for employers.

There were worries that the downtown customer base had shifted from locals to tourists. An Area Merchant’s Forum
raised additional concerns: cleanliness of retail areas, filling store vacancies, need for parking enforcement, more 30-
minute green zones, needs of locals, lack of public restrooms, maintaining a diversity, and competition from Windsor.
Long’s Drugs moved into the Molsberry Market space in Mitchell Center. It was reported that three to four new restau-
rants were eyeing space downtown, too.

As the year began in 1999, the Chamber faced a serious loss of $10,000 in county funding, a long-time subsidy. The oper-
ating budget was $176,000 with “no fat left to cut”. The Chamber looked at new opportunities. Later in the year, the City
contracted with the Chamber to resume management of the DBD, originally formed in 1985. There was a renewed focus
on retail promotions.

Longstanding Members were honored at a “Business After Hours” hosted by Silveira. There were 149 businesses men-
tioned that had supported the Chamber for 10 or more years. Membership stood at 606.

In exciting news for the millennium, the Chamber had its own website: www.healdsburg.org. It also sponsored a work-
shop for novices wanting to learn the basics on website development.

The Board sent a letter to County Supervisors concerning a proposal that would limit wineries and private estates from
conducting weddings and corporate events, citing a positive trickle down effect to our economy from these events.

Fa-la-la-la-la; the Chamber, DBD, and Healdsburg Tribune sponsored the first “Community Caroling Night in the Plaza”
in December”.

Who knew what the new century would bring?


                                      2000-2007 - Celebrating 100 years
“Healdsburg Chamber Celebrates 100 Years and Salutes Longstanding Members”. Business Matters, September/October
2007

The year 2000 arrived with no computer disasters or major glitches - business went on as before. The Board Officers and
Directors beginning this new century were: Chairman, John Lloyd, Big John’s Market; Vice Chairman, Michael Skurtun,
Healdsburg Nursery; Chairman-Elect, Barbara Gruber, Healdsburg Country Gardens; Treasurer, Mark Decker, Exchange
Bank; Immediate Past Chairman, Bob Austin, Eason Technology; Corporate Secretary, Lynn Woznicki, President/CEO.
Additional Board Members were: George Christie, Lake Sonoma Winery; Rand Dericco, Syar Industries; Mark Gladden,
Passalacqua, Mazzoni and Gladden; Jan Kiely, Kaiser Permanente; Aaron Krug, Best Western-Dry Creek Inn; P.J. Lenz,
                                                            15
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

Quaker Hill Development; Jeanne McCutchan, Investors Trust Mortgage & Investment Corp.; Kent Mitchell, City of
Healdsburg; Richard R. Norgrove, Bear Republic Brewing Company; Nancy Seppi, Costeaux French Bakery; Kay
Schultz, Healdsburg Schools; Jim Tubb, Delta Computing.

The Chamber launched a citywide web portal for the new century. Visitors were able to access Chamber, City and School
District sites. As a sign of the times, there was also a seminar on “Working Smart at a Computer”. The Chamber building
received an upgrade to create more room and efficient working space.

Newsletter inserts cost $60 and reached 700 area businesses. Fliers in 2000 included: a promo from The Rex for Martini
Madness evenings, Mill Creek Vineyards’ touting Harvest Weekends, Cosmic Copies’ discounts to Chamber members,
and Felix and Louie’s restaurant announcement that Ralph Tingle was “back in the kitchen”.

The Sonoma County Tourism Program hosted 50 travel writers to the area. The hotel finally broke ground in 2000 and the
long-awaited Healdsburg promotional brochure became available. The Planning Commission asked the Chamber to col-
lect and provide input on “transient lodging”, including bed and breakfast inns, vacation time shares and vacation rentals.

The DBD, led by the Chamber, coordinated or sponsored holiday events including the Downtown Merchants’ Open
House and Tree Lighting, horse-drawn carriage rides, the charming (yet short) Santa Parade, Community Caroling Night,
and more.

Herb Liberman was selected as new Economic Development Coordinator in 2001. The position was brought about
through a joint partnership of the Chamber and City of Healdsburg.

News at Noon continued with timely “hot” topics and new Mayor Jason Liles was introduced. The youngest elected offi-
cial in the State, Mike McGuire, an HUSD Trustee, also spoke. Rich Thomas, Director of SRJC Viticulture Program,
Press Democrat Business Editor Brad Bollinger and Fred Euphrat were also speakers. Music on the Square was the new
name of the concert series. Concerts had an international flavor with Aire Flamenco, Bob Stewart and Sons Jazz and Ma-
riachi Jalisco.

The Hospital was still faltering, and the Chamber supported Measures G & H, to help “save Healdsburg Hospital”.

Healdsburg participated in the countywide “Spirit of Sonoma” business recognition awards. Jerry Eddinger of Eddinger
Enterprises was the Healdsburg Chamber’s selection for Businessperson of the Year in 2001. Others followed: John and
Kim Lloyd of Big John’s Market in 2002, Eric Ziedrich of Healdsburg Lumber in 2003, Rich Ryan of Rich Ryan Con-
struction in 2004, Ken Rochioli, former owner of Western Boot Steakhouse, in 2005, Mark Gladden of Passalacqua,
Mazzoni, Gladden, Lopez and Maraviglia in 2006 and Herb Liberman, Healdsburg Economic Development Coordinator
in 2007.

SOB? There was an active Save Our Beach campaign and petition drive. Lynn and 40 other concerned individuals ad-
dressed County Board of Supervisors about saving the Memorial Beach Dam. It was in danger because of state and fed-
eral regulators’ belief that it hampered the migration of endangered salmon and steelhead. The county also wanted to re-
lieve itself of operating the facility.

In 2002, the City and Chamber partnered to open an outreach office of the Redwood Empire Small Business Development
Center. There was also a “Visit Healdsburg” off-season promo that included heightened visibility for the Chamber web-
site. The website received a new look and format, thanks to Buttitta Design. There was even a new sign for the front of
office as the old sign had been seriously damaged during a wind storm the previous year.

Merchants were told to recognize and reward loyal customers and find ways to make them feel special and important.
“Start today!” Halloween got its fair share of attention in the Chamber events calendar: there was a Howl-o-ween Dog
Parade, Pumpkin Festival at Farmers’ Market and St. John’s Haunted House.



                                                            16
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

In ’03, websites had moved to the top of the list as a critical marketing tool. With that in mind, the Chamber sponsored a
special workshop at City Hall. Broadcast emails took the place of the old phone tree. Emails were used for a Merchant
Crime Alert Program to warn businesses of phony travelers’ checks being passed. The Chamber rallied members by
phone and email about the proposed noise ordinance. Folks packed the City Council meeting and the ordinance was post-
poned.

The Promotions Coalition and the Russian River Wine Road held a “Healdsburg Celebrates Wine and Chocolate” promo-
tion for the month of February. The Chamber’s Map and Winery Guide won a Gold Award for design and overall excel-
lence by the Yosemite Area Club of Printing House Craftsmen. A Healdsburg Pro-Motion Jam was held, led by Chair
Lucy Lewand.

Construction on the new Alliance Medical Center was underway. Max Dunn was deeply involved and addressed members
on the role Alliance would take in Northern Sonoma County. The board voted to support the “Hospital Turnaround Plan”,
a 12-point plan that included a parcel tax increase.

Say “Chardonnay”! The first town picnic and photo took place in June, in the Plaza. Over 1,300 people joined in for a
concert and photo. The big band sounds of The Moonlighters and saucy Mariachi Jalisco entertained the crowd.

There was a ribbon cutting at the new Amtrak bus stop, located at the Singletree Inn Café. The event took place right in
front of the longstanding, unofficial “South Chamber of Commerce” sign.

Parking seemed destined to perpetually be a hot issue. The proliferation of sandwich signs downtown was in the news
again, too. Stronger enforcement was to be expected, according to Police Chief Susan Jones. The Chamber lobbied and
won additional 3-hour parking slots downtown, up from the limited, 2-hour slots. New, improved signs for downtown
restrooms were created, too, as a result of complaints by merchants.

To perk up a quiet winter in 2004, the Chamber dedicated its website home page to “Winter Specials” offered by members
to jumpstart activity in a slow period.

Threats to local viticulture were discussed at News at Noon. Other programs covered Santa Rosa’s sewage problems and
the impact on the Russian River and how to avoid identity theft, the “crime of the new millennium”. There was a forum
held at City Hall regarding a proposed increase in transient occupancy tax (T.O.T.). The Chamber objected to the City
Council’s move to place a 2% increase in T.O.T. tax on the November ballot. However, the Council voted 4-1 to move
ahead with the plan. The Chamber also co-sponsored a Candidate’s Forum at the Raven in October.

There was a new format for the Summer Music Series, “Tuesdays in the Plaza!” Lynn led the charge to abandon the tradi-
tional Sunday afternoon format in favor of a Tuesday evening venue. Support from merchants, locals and the Healdsburg
Certified Farmers Market was garnered. The change created a more neighborly, mid-week gathering at a cooler time of
day. Record crowds speak for the continued success of the new Tuesday date.

In a wise internet decision, the Chamber acquired “Healdsburg.com” and “Healdsburg.biz” domain names. The “Healds-
burg.com” domain name was previously held by a competing business and often had outdated or inaccurate information.
After serious review, the Board purchased that name for the hefty price of $15,000. The Healdsburg.biz domain was also
acquired for a nominal amount.

A new “Downtown Holiday Party” held the day after Thanksgiving provided horse-drawn carriage rides, live music and
entertainment, merchant open house and, of course, a visit from Santa. It was a huge hit—and a new tradition was born.

Sold! Silent auction contributions alone brought in over $4,000 at the ’05 Trade Show, a favorite event for locals.

Nationally acclaimed chef Charlie Palmer, owner of the Dry Creek Kitchen, spoke at a News at Noon. The program
started to change venues and traveled out to the Fred MacMurray Ranch on Westside Road for a special agenda with host-


                                                            17
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

ess Kate MacMurray. News at Noon was on the move, with later years’ programs at Seghesio Winery and the Krug Event
Center.

The City Council approved a measure to fund a new promotion plan. The Chamber’s Lodging Coalition vowed to raise
$50,000, to meet a 2 to 1 match by the City to help further fuel city promotion efforts. The City contracted with the Cham-
ber to serve as administrator of the newly created Healdsburg Lodging Coalition.

“Tuesdays in the Plaza” continues to be a huge community success. Concerts included Stompy Jones and Norton Buffalo.
The Chamber hosted a September Social and Outdoor Movie night on the Chamber lawn, too.

Total visitors and page hits on the Healdsburg Chamber’s site increased 40% compared to the two prior years. The web-
site got a fresher look and a revised, more flexible structure. New features included a Photo Gallery, Press Room, an
online Lodging Availability service and a store. There was a new look for the newsletter, too. It became a double-sided,
glossy folder, with inserts. Regular columns included: Business Bulletins which provided updates on members, Healds-
burg Chamber Member Spotlights, Membership Renewals, Business After Hours alert, Business Calendar and pertinent
articles.

The 2005-06 Chamber Directory and Community Resource Guide was expanded to a record 104 pages, accommodating
more advertising. Printing was also increased to 26,000 to better satisfy product demand.

Members of the Healdsburg Lodging Coalition launched a plan to attract visitors to town in the off-peak season. The Coa-
lition’s annual budget was $160,000. To spruce things up, the Chamber lobbied to have the City banners re-printed. 144
banners were printed at a cost of $15,000 and were expected to last 10 years. WiFi was up and running in the downtown
area.

Herb Liberman conducted a shopping survey in August. Herb and Lynn also met with visiting representatives of the State
of Michigan. Reps were visiting selected Bay Area cities to find out how promotional and economic development pro-
grams were managed.

Locals were encouraged to “stay home for the holidays” and enjoy the 2nd annual downtown party, a real “community
happening”.

Lynn began a newsletter column in 2006, “Hello, Healdsburg!” The newsletter was now published bi-monthly in an ex-
panded format, and it was augmented by broadcast email announcements and alerts.

The Board approved taking action to expand the Chamber’s office facility to accommodate a growing staff and visitors
services. The board’s first choice was to seek an expansion at the existing site at 217 Healdsburg Avenue—home to the
Chamber since 1936.

The Healdsburg Harvest Century Bicycle Tour celebrated its 20th anniversary and remained a major fundraiser. Chamber
CEO Lynn Woznicki also celebrated 20 years with Chamber, “a remarkable achievement in an industry where Chamber
leaders last about three years.” From two people and an operating budget of $90,000, the Chamber grew to six staff mem-
bers and annual budget in excess of $300,000 in 2006 that consistently ran in the black. She was recognized for her man-
agement of another $300,000 in contracts for economic development and marketing and promotions.

There was only an electric typewriter and an avocado colored, rotary dial phone when Lynn started her career with the
Chamber in 1986. The Board honored Lynn for her 20 years of leadership at a reception at the Hotel Healdsburg. The City
Council honored her by proclaiming August 1, 2006 “Lynn Woznicki Day”. Said Lynn, “I have watched and participated
in the last 20 years of Healdsburg’s evolution – including 3 name variations for the Chamber! I believe that…Healdsburg
continues to be a place that people visit and dream of one day calling home for their families and businesses.”

Support grew for a new Plaza Park Gazebo project. Healdsburg citizen and Tribune columnist (and Lynn’s husband) Ray
Holley took on the volunteer task of coordinating the design, construction and fundraising for a new Gazebo—built by
                                                            18
        Historic Highlights of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau 1907-2007

and for the community by volunteers in an astounding 15 weeks. The Chamber assisted with communications through its
website and broadcast emails, and helped rally and serve as a drop off point for financial contributions. It was completed
in time for the Celebrate Healdsburg sesquicentennial celebration in August, 2007. It was “a dream come true!”


              2007 - Happy 100th Anniversary to the Chamber; 150th to Healdsburg
The Chairman of the Chamber Board for this illustrious anniversary year is Gary Sumner, of Coldwell Banker, PPM. The
year saw a new Chamber logo; a “more classic and timeless look that will serve as well into the future,” commented Lynn.
The newsletter was renamed, too: “Business Matters”. Workshops, seminars and programs designed to assist local busi-
nesses continued.

A very special Business After Hours reception is planned for September 19, 2007 at the Healdsburg Museum and Histori-
cal Society. A “Salute to Longstanding Members and the Chamber’s 100th Year” will be part of the event. It will be an
evening “celebrating past and present”. In 2007, this organization currently has over 750 member businesses, thirteen of
which have been in good standing for over 50 years.

“The Chamber has always been proactive on matters affecting businesses. It’s been a privilege and an honor to be
such an integral part of the community and nurture its growth,” declared Chamber President/CEO, Lynn Woznicki.
With over 20 years of leading the Chamber, Lynn has been there through 20% of the Chamber’s existence.

Conclusion:

In the April 28, 1982 “Chamber news” column in The Healdsburg Tribune, then Chamber Director Helendale
Barrett posed the question: “When we all gather for that big New Year’s Eve Party in the year 2000 to usher in the
21st century, will Chambers of Commerce still exist?” Helendale pondered the development of Chambers, growing
from “Boards of Trade” to current, modern organizations dealing with the issues of economic development, socio-
economic programs, volunteers and inflation. She decided, “If chambers are dragged kicking and screaming into
the 21st century, they will probably self-destruct. But if we and our members are smart enough to adapt to the fu-
ture…then the answer will be an unequivocal ‘yes’.” As Helendale so aptly concluded, “Who among us can visual-
ize the world without Chambers of Commerce?”




                                                          #####


Credits:
Compiled and written by Marie Butler, Pen for Hire
Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau Archives
Healdsburg Museum Archives




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