The Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce and West Lincoln area Chamber members are working together to develop a West Lincoln Area Council. The group met Thursday for a luncheon meeting at the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s building on East Main Street. Chair of the Board David Boyles, Chamber President Ken Kindley, Vice Chair of East Lincoln Relations Keith Gaskill and Chamber staff member Shirley Smith were present to meet with the following West Lincoln business members: Sam Houser of Houser Transport, Jamie Houser of Turner Insurance Group, Mansour Zand of Willow Creek Inn, Crystal Mitchem of West Lincoln Veterinary Hospital and H.D. Reid of Peoples Bank. Other representatives that were invited but were unable to attend the first meeting included Henry Helms of Helms Tree Farm, Chad Mason of Tar Heel Concrete, Glenda Miller of Red Bone Willy’s and Deborah Mason of Reepsville General Store.
Currently, Lincolnton and East Lincoln both have council groups. However, over the past several months, West Lincoln Chamber members have expressed an interest in forming their own council to better address their area’s needs.
“We’re a nice little community, but there’s a disjoined feeling in West Lincoln, and that bothers me,” Mitchem said.
“We’ve gained a good number of West Lincoln Chamber members, but we don’t have nearly as many as Lincolnton and East Lincoln do,” Kindley said. “The West Lincoln Area Council will provide an opportunity for our western end business members to have more of a voice and serve as an important recommending body to our Chamber’s Board of Directors. We want to be a chamber that supports everybody.”
Gaskill, serving as Chamber Vice-Chair, facilitated the council’s initial meeting to develop the council’s objectives, strategies and meeting schedule. Members also said there has been significant growth the western end of the county over the past several years.
“We have a lot more going on in West Lincoln than people think,” Reid said. “More and more commercial and retail businesses have moved here over the past few years.”
Jamie Houser agreed with Reid, stating that West Lincoln business owners needed a platform to share their concerns and ideas.
“We do have some retail growing,” Jamie Houser said. “We’re not Denver with Highway 16, but we do have Highway 27 and Reepsville Road. We don’t have the lake either, but we do have the beautiful view of the mountains. West Lincoln people want to have a voice. We could be that avenue for them.”
During the meeting, Gaskill worked with members to nominate a West Lincoln Area Council Chair. Sam Houser was nominated and agreed to serving in this capacity.
“I feel that this council will be good for the western end of our county and the Chamber businesses located there,” Sam Houser said.
One of the first tasks the new council plans to work on is recruiting West Lincoln poultry and agricultural farmers as members of the county’s Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s only one farmer that’s currently a member of the Chamber,” Mitchem said. “We need farmers to join, because agriculture is such a large part of West Lincoln.”
“We have a long, narrow county,” Kindley said. “Each area of Lincoln County is a little different, but when we all come together, we can make things happen.”
The West Lincoln Area Council’s second meeting is scheduled for Mar. 13 at noon at the Willow Creek Inn in Vale.