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Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Meeting Minutes
255 South State Street, Unit B, Manhattan, IL 60442
September 10, 2019

Present: Donna Bateman, Kristy Byers, Mary Kay Cooper, Shari Fiocca,Tim McGrath, and Kevin Sing

Absent: Joe Regan and Administrative Assistant Peggy Kraatz

Shari called the meeting to order at 3:45 pm. Tim moved and Kevin seconded a motion to approve the August minutes. Motion carried. Donna’s treasurer’s report showed a checking account balance of $ 16,190. This amount is before the $7453 will be taken out to pay for the fireworks.The $3,840.22 from the soon to close HomeStar bank will be deposited into First Bank of Manhattan’s checking. Kevin moved and Tim seconded a motion to accept the treasurer’s report. Motion carried.

Membership: One new member joined, Midtown Wine and Bar with a class A liquor license. The Sanctuary Church that has been holding services at Wilson Creek will close Oct. 8 thus we will loose one member. Therefore, membership remains at 85. Ribbon cutting for Village Realty at 215 State St. will be Sept. 30 at 10:30 am.

Networking: The September luncheon is cancelled due to the late timing of getting the reminders out and planning food. Having Peggy handle the reminders for the event going forward was thought to be a necessity. The Chamber should reimburse those businesses that have paid for the lunches if they can provide a receipt. If a business pays for the lunch, they can decide whom to get to cater it. If the Chamber pays, then it must be a Chamber member who caters.

Labor Day fireworks: Donna had a survey from the fireworks company, which she asked for input. The group agreed that it was a nice display with the suggestions of publicizing an exact time and limit the number of the same fireworks right after one another. A new type of color or design was appreciated. It would be nice to coordinate an activity at the park before the fireworks such as a DJ and/or food truck so that it is more of an event than just a 12-minute show. Possibly a better fireworks time for next year would be Fun Day at the Round Barn. This year it is Sept. 21. Entrance to the Round Barn is now free, but attendees pay for the activities in which they want to participate. 

Labor Day Parade: Overall good comments were heard. It was disappointing that the Lincoln-Way band did not play in front of the judges. The sound system was not heard at the north end of the bank.  It was brought up if there was really a need for an announcer or judges. People still go into the street in front of vehicles to get candy. Cars were parking in spots where floats should have lined up before the parade. Children participating were gathered on the street instead of the parkway before the parade started and hindering the flow of traffic coming from both directions. It was a safety hazard. They had to be warned several times. Also warning participants about the gunshots may have helped that no one panicked. Floats unloading after the parade blocked traffic on residential streets. Lincoln-Way busses were on the wrong location for pickup.

Ideas for next year’s parade: Have the parade go in the same direction as Irish Fest if they don’t experience the same bottleneck of traffic as we do. Have the parade on Sweedler/Elwood Road and Gougar Road as was done many years ago. Have the parade go through the town’s residential streets and not tie up a state road. It costs the Village about $800 to feed all the help needed to block off many streets and roads. A Gougar Road parade would need to have only three streets blocked. Start the lineup of the parade on Eastern and continue on Thelma. Have one band on the ball diamond. Post signs and put up blockades for local traffic only. Have a Parade Marshall close 52 at Eastern and Second to 52 to allow only floats and residents down certain streets to unload and/or return to their starting point.

Scarecrows: This year the scarecrows will be exhibited in the Wabash parking lot.

Christmas Lights: The Wabash parking lot could also be used for decorated trees. Kevin is working on better visible decorations for along the fence. The group suggested big, clear bulb Christmas lights to hang from the rooftops in the downtown area. Kristy will talk to Matt at Ace about a quantity discount. Clear was favored since they could be up all year versus multi-colored which reflect Christmas time only. Based on the cost, the Chamber may fund the project. Finding an outside power source may be an issue.

Ladies’ Night Out: Kristy will help with the Sept. 18 setup at Central Park. Park District will have enough picnic tables in the pavilion. However, the seating portion of the table makes looking at the display awkward. Village has tables if needed. Kevin will check on how much to rent tables. Winners need not be present to win. The Chamber will have a table with applications. Will need to check with Peggy as to who has the newest brochures. The Chamber is offering a $200 prize and Kevin Molloy is offering a $250 prize. An idea of offering multiple drawings of smaller amounts spaced over the evening for the Chamber prize was suggested, but the group decided to stick with the original intent. Due to the need for a permit and liquor license, Gina’ s Tear Drop will not be serving sample mimosas. 

Christmas on State: If reminded Kevin will schedule more lighting in Time Square for photo ops with the characters. Kevin will also reach out to Irish Fest chairpersons to see from where Mickey and Minnie Mouse were secured. Renting costumes and having Lincoln-Way drama students or Madrigals fulfill their service hours as well as be a character was considered a good idea. Elves as characters would fit the holiday theme. Disney characters, who do not talk, would also be a big hit. Sponsoring the best decorated business and residential property was met with favor. Decorations could also be inside the business. The Village could provide a map of the decorated houses.

Letters to Santa: Kristy has an old time mailbox, which could work well in Time Square by the Christmas tree. Children would receive a template letter with a mini-candy cane, pack of hot chocolate or a sticker sent to their home.

October General Election Dinner: Oct. 22 at 6:00 pm was set for the annual meeting. Shari will contact Kat’s Café to see if they will do a private party supper. They are now open for suppers on Saturday and Sundays. The backup plan would be Roadhouse 52. Kevin, Donna and Village Realty are interested in the open board positions. To fill Laura’s position, it was suggested that the board wait until after the election to appoint a person but before January when he/her would take his/her seat. The BMO manager expressed interest if the meeting night was moved. Kevin Molloy and Joe Cerullo also expressed interest.

The meeting adjourned at 5:10 pm. The next meeting will be Oct. 8 at 3:30 in addition to the annual meeting.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Kay Cooper, secretary

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