Thursday evening about eighty community and business leaders gathered at the Oakhurst Community Center to enjoy a wonderful tri-tip dinner with all the fixings. The dinner was hosted by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce and was an opportunity for everyone to hear what the Chamber is up to.
After a half hour or so of socializing, current Chamber President Janet Stanovich welcomed the crowd and acknowledged her appreciation of the Chamber membership and her Board of Directors. She mentioned that she appreciates the energy and commitment of the Board saying, “they are very dynamic, we have really vocal meetings now and I like it.”Janet talked about the challenges of this busy year which included settling into new offices, staff changes and updating the Chamber by-laws. She looks to the future with optimism as things continue to move forward in very positive ways.
The evening’s next speaker was Chamber Executive Director Darin Soukup. Darin opened by saying, “We all do business together and it’s nice to see us getting together to network and just visit with each other.”
Continuing on President Stanovich’s theme, Darin took some time to share with the audience how busy his year has been and then outlined the great events that are planned for the remainder of the year. These events include three more Mini Jazz Festival Evenings, a meet-and-greet event with Congressmen Tom McClintock and the ever popular Fall Festival in October.
This year’s Fall Festival, formerly known as the Chocolate and Wine Festival, will be bigger and better than ever. The Festival’s Planning Committee is enthusiastically working to bring more wineries, more restaurants and even some breweries to this fun afternoon of tasting culinary delights. There will even be pony rides for the kids.
On the business side of things, Darin reminded Chamber members that they are always welcome to stop by his office with questions, concerns or suggestions.
After enjoying dinner prepared by local Rotarian Dale Miller and his crew, including Ernie Bender with a little assist from Doug Reeves and Jim Watkins, many folks enjoyed a sumptuous dessert from Sweet Dreams Cakery before hearing the evening’s guest speakers.
Dwan Foster from Sears Hometown Store in Oakhurst was the first speaker and she shared her story about how husband Ron and she got to Oakhurst.
The economy over the last several years has not been very supportive of local business and Dwan shared some of the additional challenges she faces with the recent passing of Ron and the restructuring of Sears.
Even with all this Dwan showed her commitment to her staff, her community and to her family by stating, “We are up and running and here to serve you.” She continued by saying, “I believe in our company, our produces and our service. Come by and see us.”
Dwan was followed by Brad Ditton and Kenny Buller from Century 21 Ditton Realty. After joking about getting older, it was Kenny’s 60th birthday, and Brad not being able to hear very well, the two proceeded to shed some light on the local real estate market. We all know that things have not been great and Brad went on to give a few specifics that confirm this feeling. Home prices are currently at about 1990 prices, listings are down 47% from last year and in the Oakhurst/Ahwahnee area there are only 57 homes listed for sale.
Brad proclaimed, “We need more houses to sell.” Buller continued by saying, “Construction has taken a real hit. There are no new houses being built.” They did share some optimism saying that homes are on the market for a shorter period of time, interest rates are historically low and more agents are joining Ditton Realty.
Brad closed by saying how important it is for Ditton Realty and for all business owners to “spend money locally and build this town.”
This festive and informative evening came to a close with thanks going out to sponsors; Nemeth & Petrushkin – Ameriprise Financial, Sierra Tel – A Family of Companies, Sullivan’s Tire Pros and Yosemite Bank for the evening’s financial support.
Also, thanks to Dale Miller and Ernie Bender for cooking dinner, Laura Graham and the Oakhurst Community Center for a wonderful venue and Chamber members and their guests for making the evening special.