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By LuAnn Schindler

Chamber building upgrade gets the nod

Donation toward community center project on hold


November 17, 2022

The Clearwater Chamber of Commerce will continue to develop plans for a proposed building at the organization’s rodeo grounds. The size of the building is yet to be decided, following a vote of members at the chamber’s Nov. 1 meeting.

President Curt Thiele said the organization entered a purchase agreement, with Carla and Eli Jacob, for approximately 1.73 acres adjacent to the chamber property during July. Then, plans were devised to construct a 60-foot by 50 -foot building, which would house the rodeo office, kitchen, mechanical storage, meeting area and restrooms.

“The ladies haul all the food from the chamber room (downtown), all the ice from here. It’s a rat race,” Thiele said.

The building was discussed at the August chamber meeting, with suggestions to increase the size to 60 foot by 80 foot. In September, chamber members Tom Thiele and Marty Kerkman proposed a 60-foot by 150-foot structure at the rodeo facility.

When Clearwater Community Revival, formerly known as Sons of Clearwater, proposed building a community center on Main Street, Curt Thiele said the chamber scaled back it’s proposed building project to 60 foot by 80 foot.

Projected cost of the building will run between $145,000 and $150,000. Cement, plumbing and electrical work will be additional costs, Thiele said. Chamber members plan to supply labor.

“Our goal has always been to have a building at the rodeo grounds,” Thiele said.

Prior to the chamber meeting, CCR officers approached chamber officers about seed money for a Main Street Community Center.

“I know they are asking for $150,000 now and they want $100,000 after the rodeo,” Thiele said.

With planning underway for the 2023 rodeo and concert, funds will need to be earmarked for pre-event planning.

Rodeo co-chairman Jeremy Kester suggested setting aside $100,000 for the event, “in case something doesn’t work out,” citing weather unpredictability and the economy as reason for concern.

Tom Thiele said Clearwater Sons of the American Legion, a separate entity from CCR, has been “kicking around” the idea about a new building for a number of years.

“At some point, I think everyone in this room thinks there should be something a little more attractive here,” he said. “I don’t know how we raise the money, but I think there’s a way to do it, over a period of time, with this group in here.”

Bill Thiele said CCR members spent time trying “to envision a budget of how it could work for we, the community, to have both buildings and for it to happen this year.”

“The synergy is there this year for something to happen,” Thiele said. “Our proposal was to ask the chamber, if there is potential to give us $150,000 to kickstart fundraising for this building, as well as, is it possible to scale this (rodeo) building down to $100,000 to get what you need.”

That would allow “plenty of money” to provide an additional $100,000 toward a community center and an expansion of the rodeo building, according to Thiele.

CCR did not have a cost estimate for a community center.

“If this community remains a we group, as Clearwater as always been, and why we accomplish things, I think we’ll get more people involved,” Bill Thiele said.

Discussion ensued about the size of the chamber building and if it could be utilized as a community center. According to Bill Thiele, the infrastructure - paved parking and water hookup - exists on Main Street.

“If the community doesn’t want this and the chamber doesn’t support it, then nothing is going to happen here. I want to stay away from we versus they or this is what we want versus what they want. One hundred percent of this has to stay as a we, community conversation,” Thiele said. “It’s the community that’s raised this money and the community kept Clearwater different from everything else, so the community should be making decisions in the long run.”

Amy Thiele said the purpose of the chamber is to promote businesses. In addition to the rodeo, the chamber donates to the Clearwater Public Library, conducts an Easter egg hunt, sponsors the Old-Fashioned Christmas celebration and holds turkey giveaways during the holiday season.

“As a chamber, you’re asking for a sizeable donation ... What about all the other businesses in town that have done remodeling? The chamber doesn’t financially support those types of projects for other businesses, so do we, in such a great amount of money, support this new business? I’m not against a donation. What is the community center going to provide to the community every year, if we give all our chamber money to that?” she asked.

Kelly Kerkman, Sons of the American Legion president, said the organization reinvests its profits back into the community also. Sons of the American Legion pay for upkeep on the current Legion facility and have remodeled the building’s facade.

“If we build a building at the rodeo grounds, we’ll probably have to put off giving any money to the community center for a year. I’m sorry, but there’s just not enough money to go around,” Curt Thiele said.

Discussion about the size of the rodeo building continued. A motion to construct a 40-foot by 50-foot building, contingent on price, made by Jeremy Kester, was withdrawn.

Concerns were expressed about not making a donation toward a community center.

“We’re not going to make a motion to not donate the money,” Amy Thiele said. “Once the building is built, after the rodeo and there’s money, then we can come back.”

A motion, made by Bob Kester to build a building at the rodeo grounds - either 40 x 50, 50 x 60 or 60 x 80 - contingent on price, passed, 27-15.

Costs for each of the sizes will be presented at the December chamber meeting.


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