Change is a good thing! And we have a lot of it happening here in St. Helena!

This is my last First Thursday as President and CEO of the Chamber. I have decided to make a life change and leave my position at the end of this month. I do so with a sense of satisfaction that we have established the organization that is not only professional, relevant and resourceful, but also one that is a respected voice for business in our community. I am proud of our accomplishments, the services we provide to our members and our continued commitment to the community toward improving our way of life. I know the new CEO will have a strong foundation upon which to build.

Thank you to the Chamber Board of Directors, the St. Helena business community, my co-workers, my family, my fellow St. Helenans, and those involved in city’s process for allowing me to put my heart and soul into this opportunity.

Chamber’s Summer Social

The Chamber is hosting our annual social to recognize our outgoing board members and welcome the new. This year, we will also host St. Helena’s new City Manager Mark Prestwich at the event. We will toast my departure and I will have the opportunity to thank the organization for the amazing opportunity to represent them for the last six years. Join us at one of our city’s newest hot spots, The Charter Oak, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16. The event is open to the public as everyone is a prospective Chamber member.

New board members

A hearty welcome to our newest additions to the Chamber’s Board of Directors: Ahren Trumble, KC Garrett and Tracy Sweeney! In June, Chamber members approved the slate of candidates, per the Chamber’s Bylaws, who will serve a three-year term.

Ahren is co-owner of Sportago, now on Main Street, and has been an active, contributing member of our community. With his many years as a resident and successful retail merchant, Ahren will bring his Main Street perspective to the board. With Ahren’s election, he will maintain a Main Street presence, opened when Sara Chappellet stepped down after selling Heaven and Earth salon. While we will miss Sara’s tenacity and positive attitude, we know Ahren will be an awesome asset.

Also serving her first term is KC Garrett of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley. As a local Realtor, mom and wine wife, KC has her finger on the pulse of the community and our economy and we are looking forward to her insights and input.

Tracy Sweeney, general manager of Beringer and Sterling Vineyards, rejoins our board after completing a term on the city’s Planning Commission. Tracy represents one of the most historic properties in St. Helena and one that is vital to who we are as a city. A longtime resident and civic-minded leader, Tracy will bring a seasoned and respected perspective to the board.

Also new to our board, filling in a vacant spot, is Ericka Iten, director of strategy for St. Helena Hospital. When not at a community event like Musical Picnics, Ericka can be found dominating at the Crane Park tennis courts.

As we welcome these new members, we also say farewell to some who have completed their terms. One of our longest-serving directors, Katie Somple of Lifestyle Properties, served eight years holding various leadership positions including chair of our Community Enhancement Committee and serving on our Executive Committee and as chair of the board for two years. Katie was frequently the face of the Chamber as she served as our Master of Ceremonies at Celebrate St. Helena and moderator of our candidate debates. Her wisdom and thoughtfulness will be missed.

We also say goodbye to Jim Aldred of Aldred Insurance, who served four terms on the board and also served as treasurer of the St. Helena Renaissance Foundation. Jim and his wife have moved recently to Colorado to be near his grandchildren. Farewell to Katie and Jim!

Welcome to new businesses

Welcome changes to St. Helena this summer include two new shops on Main Street and two hot new restaurants taking critics by storm. New West KnifeWorks has been crafting high-end culinary knives for more than 20 years and when it came to deciding where to put their store, St. Helena was chosen over Sonoma because of our “foody” culture. Thanks for agreeing that St. Helena is the culinary capital of the region.

Chris Cosentino’s Acacia House at the Las Alcobas has opened and is quickly becoming a favorite gathering place for locals. The bar is comfortably elegant and the food is fabulous. St. Helena’s own Christopher Kostow opened The Charter Oak last month after much anticipation. True to their pledge, the food is approachable and simply delicious. Not only did they get the food right, the vibe is pretty awesome. We are also enjoying our newest watering hole, The Saint, at 1351 Main St. Its opening gives us one more cool, new spot to gather.

Congratulations to all these new businesses and welcome to St. Helena!