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Talent Chamber office open to public

TALENT — The two-year-old Talent Chamber of Commerce has an office open to the public for the first time. And the group has hired an experienced employee to staff it.

Willa Johnson worked at the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce information office for more than three years until May 2007. She will perform similar duties at the office in the Community Center building, 206 E. Main St. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

"We always wanted to have an office that's open to the public a few days a week," said Ron Ridgway, acting chamber president and owner of Tark's Market. "We are looking now to have some regular hours. It's a progression in our chamber growth."

The chamber previously employed a secretary, but the office was not open to the public. Johnson began her duties on Dec. 17. Budgetary constraints prevent additional open hours, said Ridgway.

"At this point it's always a risky business," said Ridgway. "We're (financing this) through our dues."

Johnson has several goals for the immediate future, including office organization, membership recruitment and a newsletter proposal. She previously edited the Phoenix chamber newsletter. The office has some brochures and maps, and Johnson plans to add more.

"There are people that would like to work on a volunteer basis," said Johnson. "We could keep the office open longer hours (with volunteers)."

On Thursdays, Carole Allen will take Johnson's place so she can volunteer.

The chamber now has about 60 members, said Ridgway.

"We believe we still have a ways to go," he said. "From where we are timewise, we have done some good things."

Chamber greeter sessions are held on the third Wednesday of each month at various locations starting at 8:30 a.m. For more, call 535-3837 or visit www.talentchamber.org online.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.