By Julie Wiessner
She has been on the job for just eight months, but Holbrook Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathleen Smith has already accomplished a lot. Plans are in the works to do even more.
“I like what I’m doing,” said Smith. “This is an opportunity to get to know different people from various organizations from around town. It really is all about the people.
“I’m excited with the progress we’ve made so far this year. We have increased membership, revamped the offerings for members to give additional benefits to them, provided extra advertisement, have improved use of the marquee, given further sponsorship of events, and put more ads in our newsletter and community guide.”
The new community guide tells of points of interest around Holbrook, and includes some history, a directory and a nice map. The chamber has also had new light pole banners made, and Smith hopes both the guides and the banners will be available by the beginning of November.
The chamber website has been completely revamped and now includes an interactive Google calendar to make it more user friendly. Smith is working to make the calendar a community calendar, once the word gets out there’s one available.
“We are hoping that when there is an event in the community, people will go to the chamber website and put it on the Google calendar so others in the area will know about it. It is for locals, but also for tourists passing through who are looking for something to do,” she explained.
Smith is also working toward creating a downloadable Holbrook application for electronic devices that will contain points of interests and the interactive calendar.
Chamber mixers are now routinely scheduled near the end of every month.
“Chamber mixers are a great way to get together to meet, reconnect and network with other like-minded business leaders, which helps build and strengthen our community bond. It also gives the host a chance to share what their organization does,” Smith explained.
This month Ranstrom and Company, Certified Public Accounting will host a mixer on the Affordable Care Act. It’s a question and answer session for small business leaders scheduled at 12 noon on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Route 66 Auditorium at the Historic Navajo County Courthouse.
Fall into Fun is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Hunt Park, located at 550 Park Street. Smith is looking for clubs, nonprofits, vendors, families or individuals who want to provide a fun booth for the kids. Booth space is free, but all items must be sold for one dollar or less.
Booths have already been reserved by the Bread of Life Mission, Holbrook High School Swing Thing, missionaries from the LDS church and the Horsehead Crossing Group, which will hold stick-horse races for the kids. Pumpkin painting and decorate your goody bag will also be offered.
Looking to December, the Parade of Lights will be held a week later than usual on Saturday, Dec. 14. Smith wants to make sure everyone knows about the change. The chamber board made the decision to change the date to avoid time conflicts with the Pat Kenny Invitational wrestling tournament held each year.
“Some people have told me they have not been to a parade in 10 years because it is always on the same day as the tournament,” Smith commented.
She has also arranged for a 20 to 25 foot community Christmas tree from Sitgreaves National Forest to be placed at Gillespie Park, and intends to seek community and school involvement on the decorations. A simultaneous lighting of the courthouse and the tree is scheduled on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
“Holbrook has been invited to enter a community float for the Fiesta Bowl Parade on Dec. 28. I will put this on (the chamber) Facebook to see how many people want to participate. It will be a Holbrook theme,” Smith said.
She will be absent from the chamber’s October meeting, as she will be taking the Route 66 tour and plans to visit all of the sites shown in a small booklet called Passport, Arizona’s Historic Route 66. The passports are made by the Route 66 Association of Arizona and are available at the historic courthouse. When a tour of the Arizona stretch of historic Route 66 is completed, with all of the appropriate stamps in the correct places, a certificate of completion is given to the individual. This guide shows where to go to visit all the places that were usual stopping points when Route 66 was in its heyday.
Smith has also worked with Mike O’Dell to create a Hidden Cove Park brochure. It is completed and should be available by the middle of October. Private tours are available of the bird sanctuary and petroglyphs, and there is also wildlife viewing at the park. To make an appointment to see the park, call the city office at (928) 524-6227.
She has already begun planning some exciting events for next year, including a mud run. Toward the end of the school year, the city will host the Dirty Bird 5K Mud Run by teaming up with HHS Swing Thing to create seven different obstacle courses. Smith is already asking for volunteers for this event.
Smith and her husband David have twin daughters, Ashley and Courtney, who are currently attending Arizona State University’s Graphic Design. The couple also has a 10-year-old son, Kaleb. “He is loving his newfound freedom living in a small town,” his mom noted.
Smith was born and raised in Holbrook, and graduated from HHS in 1991. She moved to Mesa for about 18 years, then made her way home and is very happy to be back.
For more information on these events or to become a volunteer, contact Smith at (928) 524-6225.
By Julie Wiessner