The Poteau Chamber of Commerce has been serving business and the community since 1912.
Officials at the chamber office like to say that they are a one-stop center for information on businesses, events, area attractions, maps, phone books, rental lists, industry lists, state information and statistics.
Karen Wages is the executive director; Shannon delaCruz serves as administrative assistant-events coordinator; and Patty Curry is the accounts manager.
Many volunteers assist throughout the year to help the organization get things done, and the executive board and board of directors help with business and event decisions.
The board of directors meetings, held at noon the second Tuesday of each month in the board room at the Chamber of Commerce office at 201 S. Broadway in Poteau, are open to the public. Members always are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Chamber members serve on several standing committees: Beautification, Events, Tourism, Education and Retail Recruitment. The committees complement one another and serve to encourage growth in the chamber and the Poteau area.
Annual chamber activities include the Membership Banquet, Citywide Trash-Off, Fourth of July Celebration, Cavanal Killer, Career Day, Golf Tournament, Quarterly First Friday Lunches, financial workshops, member appreciation Luncheons, the Poteau Christmas Parade, the Lights on the Island at Lake Wister and the Poteau BalloonFest, which, Wages said, drew 33,000 people to the LeFlore County Fair Grounds in 2012.
The chamber also co-hosts the Women fs Biz Workshops, the Legislative Breakfast and Leadership LeFlore County.
The economic development function of the chamber is the LeFlore County Development Coalition, which has a board of trustees that works with the Fort Smith Regional Alliance, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the city of Poteau to attract business and industry to the area.
â€śThe Poteau Chamber of Commerce exists to help promote your business and this community,â€ť Wages said. â€śWe are here to strengthen our members and stimulate regional prosperity. We are a professional staff, we are a resource for your success and we are a voice for your business.â€ť
The Citywide Trash-Off is set for April 20. A poster contest for fourth-grade students is held earlier in the month, as members of the chamberâ€™s education committee visit at schools to discuss the importance of the community clean-up event. The Poster Contest winners are announced at a reception at 6 p.m. April 18 at City Hall. Volunteers begin gathering on April 20 with check-in at 9 a.m in the All-Star parking lot. A donated prize of $100 will be awarded to the nonprofit group that has the most members participate.
The Cavanal Killer 5-mile walk/run is scheduled for May 11. Early registration is $20. Registration at the event is $25. Runners check in at 7:30 a.m., with the race starting at Poteau Primary School at 8:15. Walkers check in at 8:30 a.m., with the walk starting at 9:30. The pre-carb spaghetti dinner is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 10 at the Lowrey Hotel in downtown Poteau.
The Choctaw Country Club will be the setting for the 16th annual Poteau Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic on June 24. The event usually begins at noon with shotgun start at 1 p.m. The format for the tournament will be a four-man scramble with two-man teams. The second half of each team will be drawn at random with team drawings earlier at the Choctaw Country Club.
The chamber also is preparing for its annual Celebrating America, Poteau-Style event to be held at the amphitheater and parking lot of the new Donald W. Reynolds Community Center. The celebration will take place on Thursday, July 4, starting at 4 p.m. The event will feature carnival games, bingo, face painting, water slides, and a drawing for a free bicycle. In addition, there will be live music and a street dance starting at 5 p.m. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks will be available.
The biggest event for 2013 will be the annual Poteau Balloon Festival on Oct. 18-19. Events usually begin at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 18 with gBalloons Over Poteau, h when hot air balloons take to the air in the skies above LeFlore County.
For more information on the BalloonFest or any of the other chamber events happening this year, contact the Poteau Chamber of Commerce at (918) 647-9178. More information also is available by visiting the chamber website at poteauchamber.com or by following the Poteau chamber on Facebook.
PDN reporter Joe White contribued to this article. Some information was gathered from the Chamber of Commerce website at poteauchamber.com.