Monday, July 29, 2013

Chamber Honors Berg & McLaughlin Chtd.

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Berg & McLaughlin Chtd. This law firm is deeply rooted in the community and their emphasis on supporting non-profits does not go unrecognized. They work as a team, with six attorneys ensuring that each client gets the best result for affordable fees. The firm's areas of practice include civil litigation, business law, real estate, probate, estate planning, bankruptcy and family law. Three of their attorneys are Sandpoint High School graduates who returned home to practice law.

Watch them accept their award, click here>>

Berg & McLaughlin is a stellar law firm with the depth of experience and talent you want on your side, said Chamber Board Member, Amy Whalen. "Having dedicated, skilled and passionate representation is immeasurable, when you need it".

They are involved in the Panhandle Alliance For Education, Idaho Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Sandpoint, Friends of Pend Oreille Bay Trail, Bonner Community Housing Agency, Bonner Community Food Bank, Panida Theater and Relay for Life.

‘We find it important to be a part of this community and everyone is encouraged to have some sort of serious non-profit activity, be on a board or leadership position, because we want to be a part of the community, we think it is good for our business and the community,’ explained Bill Berg.

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Berg & McLaughlin Chtd. for their success and thanking them for their commitment to our community. For more information, visit their office at 414 Church St, call them at 208-263-4748, email them at or visit  

In photo: Liesa Wood, Michele Hutchings, Toby McLaughlin, Stephanie Allen, Bill Berg, Stan Birnbaum, Stephen Snedden, Sue Shelledy, Amy Whalen (mostly hidden), and Kirsten Noll. Not pictured: Megan Johnson and Andra Nelson.

Chamber Honors Paul Graves

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce honored Paul Graves as July Volunteer of the Month. Paul moved to Sandpoint 25 years ago to become the pastor of Sandpoint United Methodist Church and later decided to make it his family’s special life-long home. After retiring from the parish ministry, he has refocused his purpose.

Watch Paul accept his award, click here>>

Since 1996, he has written a faith-and-values column for the Spokesman-Review. He later started writing two age related columns contributing to the Bonner County Daily Bee with the, Dear Geezer, and United Methodist Conference newsletter, Nurturing Elders, since 2009. In January of 2012, Paul started hosting biweekly Geezer Forums which explore and discuss aging issues. In 2006, Paul helped develop the Bonner County Circles Initiative, a relationship-based strategy for getting people out of poverty. For the last six and a half years they have held weekly dinner meetings with people in poverty who have the intent to develop their inner and community resources so they can become more economically, socially and emotionally self-sufficient. The other part of their mission is to reach out to community groups to advocate for changes that will eventually eliminate the complex barriers to keep people in poverty.

‘Service in the community has always been part of who I am, from my teen years until now,’ said Paul. He added, ‘I count it a high privilege to be in community with other persons and we have so much to learn from each other and to honor each other with our caring for one another.’

Paul’s efforts are large and his roles are vast. He is also a founder of the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, and served as a volunteer chaplain for Bonner Community Hospice for 22 years and a City Councilman and Mayor of Sandpoint. He is currently part of a multi-disciplinary team focused on elder abuse and domestic violence.

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Paul Graves for being honored as the Volunteer of the Month and thanking him for all of his contributions to our community. From the Greater Sandpoint Chamber, as well as the whole community, Thank You! 

Photo: Paul Graves accepts the award from Chamber President Kate McAlister.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Future Management of the Business Improvement District (BID)

By Kate McAlister

With the change in management of the BID, I wanted to take time to start the communication process.

After attending various meetings and hearing comments over the speculation of the BID Management and the Chamber’s role going forward, we put together this FAQ to answer some of the reoccurring questions. The Chamber appreciates how engaged everyone is in the process and welcomes this engagement going forward. After reading this, if there are any other questions or comments you’d like us to include in future communication briefings, you can submit them anonymously through the following link (,  or you can email them directly  to Kate at

The following questions were put forth at the three open forums that were held as well as from emails and phone calls we have received at the Chamber.  Again, if we haven’t answered your question, give us a call or send me an email.

Are the DSBA and Chamber combining?
No.  As of September 30, the Downtown Sandpoint Business Association (DSBA) is dissolved in its entirety. There will be a new name and logo for the new organization through the strategic planning process. It is anticipated on October 1, the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce will be awarded the management contract from the City of Sandpoint for the administration and management of the Business Improvement District. A new organization will be put together, with a council of new individuals leading the way. 

Who will make up this new Council?
Members of this new council (similar to a Board of Directors) will be made up of nine business sectors and their representatives.  These sectors include:  Food & Beverage, Education, Real Estate, Professional Services, Health Care, Lodging, Retail, Arts/Entertainment and a Member-at-Large.   Each representative will communicate with the BID members in their sector in regards to strategic planning, input and issues. There will also be four non-voting ad hoc members representing the City of Sandpoint, Chamber of Commerce, Bonner County Economic Development Council and Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency. Once the new council representatives have been identified and confirmed we will publish their names and contact information.

Will I still have to pay the BID fee?
Yes.  Those parameters will not change. The BID fee is an assessment. An assessment is a unique self-imposed fee to benefit a specified area for improvements, economic vitality, revitalization, beautification, and other identified projects.  A new business is given a one year grace period before they are assessed.  It is the business owner who is assessed not the building owner.

Will The Chamber impose the BID Assessment?
No. The Chamber will not impose or collect the assessment fee. The City of Sandpoint will continue to collect the assessments and pay it to the organization who manages the BID. It is anticipated beginning October 1 this will be the Chamber, who in turn will use the funds for identified projects from the new council’s strategic plan.

**You can read the City Council meeting minutes starting with the June 2000 minutes through October of 2000.  The members of the BID elected to form the organization in 2000 with the help of the City of Sandpoint and a vast array of supporters. The BID fees are a self-imposed assessment to help fund downtown projects and enhance economic vitality of the downtown core. 

Will the BID funds go to the Chamber?
The BID Monies will be kept separate from the Chamber accounts.
Similar to what the Chamber already does with a $120,000 grant from the State of Idaho, the Chamber will keep a separate budget specifically for the BID funds and it will not mix it with the Chamber’s General Budget or ITC Grant Budget.  The Chamber will receive an administrative fee, as it does with the ITC grant, for the additional work Chamber staff will be taking on as part of managing the BID. 

Does the Chamber decide how the BID Monies are spent?
No. The BID monies are paid by BID members and they are the ones who ultimately decide how monies will be spent through representation on the above mentioned Council (similar to a Board of Directors). It will be the BID Manager’s responsibility to implement the strategic plan developed by the council. 

Who will the BID Manager report to?
The BID Manager will report to the Chamber President/CEO who will manage this position, and offer support and resources when needed.

Are BID Members automatically Chamber Members?
No.  The BID Members will be members of the BID organization.   In order to receive Chamber benefits and have the ability to support and get involved with the Tourism Sandpoint organization, BID members, as they do now, will need to join the Chamber.  Currently, a little over a quarter of the BID members are also Chamber members and four directors on the Chamber Board of Directors have businesses in the BID.  They are still two separate organizations. 

Will the Chamber President run the BID?
No. The Chamber President’s role is to create transparency so BID members will be able to see where their monies are going, what projects are being worked on, manage the manager, keep the lines of communication open and provide leadership for the organization. They will not have a voting seat on the council but will be involved in the day-to-day operations.

Will the BID continue operating in the same way?
No. Many things will be different and a few will remain. A brand new organization will be created to manage BID funds and new players will be brought into the mix. The goal is to create a strategic plan and evolve the BID into a stronger organization, moving forward with new council members and new ideas to create stronger economic vitality for businesses in the BID.

Will we still have the Flower Baskets?
Yes. This is one of the things remaining the same.  When asked, BID members told us they wanted to keep the flower baskets, the annual Christmas Tree lighting festivities and Winter Carnival.

Is this a new idea, having a Chamber of Commerce manage a BID?
No. BIDs have been created all over the United States and many of them reside within the local Chamber of Commerce’s walls. It allows collaboration, cost savings, leadership and accountability. Coeur d’Alene is the closest example of this organizational structure.

Does the Chamber have skin in the game?
Yes. Our Board of Directors did not take this decision lightly and the support of the City of Sandpoint has made this process go smoothly. Over a quarter of the BID Members are already Chamber Members as well and the Chamber’s role of listening to their members will be enhanced through this process. The Chamber’s main concern will always be the vitality and prosperity for our business owners and the surrounding communities. Through this change in administration of the BID, the Chamber feels it is parallel with this goal.

Does the City of Sandpoint have skin in the game?
Yes. The City of Sandpoint plays an important role in the BID. The Chamber has requested the City of Sandpoint be involved in every step and already identified representatives to take part in the planning. The City has promised to stay engaged and take a leadership role in the development and revitalization efforts of the downtown core. Recently, the City of Sandpoint received a Community Review Grant from the Idaho Rural Partnership. This grant will act as a catalyst for many positive changes to come in the future and has shown positive results for other communities in Idaho.

Will BID Members know where their money is going?
Yes. In an effort to show the BID Members how their assessments are being spent, the budget will be transparent and members will be able to view it at any time. The Chamber requires full transparency and fluency of BID monies. The Chamber will publish the budget for BID Members in an effort to gain trust of the process.

What about the other communities the Chamber represents?
We have served the Greater Sandpoint area for many years and we will continue to support our local businesses in Ponderay, Kootenai and Dover.  Beginning January 2014 the Chamber’s monthly General Membership Luncheon will be held at the Ponderay Events Center every other month.  We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate and support our surrounding communities.

I hope this article will shed some light on what is going to take place in October.  A 3 to 5 year strategic plan will be developed and will be made available for everyone to see.  This will provide a roadmap for the future and accountability for the new council.  Once the planning begins be prepared for to be asked for input on a number of topics.  I highly encourage all of you to participate.  This is your money, it has always been your money and your involvement is critical in going forward. 

See you around town!  Wear sunscreen!

Kate McAlister

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Leadership Sandpoint and CAL team up to help Kinerhaven

Kinderhaven has a new base for its play area, thanks to the Leadership Sandpoint Class of 2012-2014 and a generous grant from the Community Assistance League. Leadership Sandpoint, a program of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, has a goal to motivate leaders toward greater involvement in our community and make a direct impact through projects. Assisting Kinderhaven with a much needed upgrade was a proud moment for the current Leadership Sandpoint class.

On July 2, eleven Leadership Sandpoint class members provided over 50 hours of hard labor, on what was the hottest day of the summer. Over 10,000 pounds of rubberized mulch was moved and spread. A forklift donated by Sun Rental of Sandpoint assisted, but each bag then needed to be hoisted over a fence and another 50 feet to the 43 x 22 foot play area. After the site was cleaned of old mulch and prepped with weed-proof fabric and new edging, then the new mulch was spread.

The rubberized playground mulch provides a safe play surface, doesn't decompose and never freezes, which means it will be around for a long time.  Additionally, the 130 feet of new rubberized edging replaced the old decaying wood edging, making the play area safer and keeps the new mulch in place.

“This project is especially meaningful to Kinderhaven because our play area offers the wonderful opportunity for unstructured play, which is extremely therapeutic for the children in our care,” stated Phyllis Horvath, Kinderhaven Executive Director.   “Abuse leaves deep wounds in its aftermath, affecting areas such as brain development, self-concept, and the ability to form healthy attachments.  Play is so essential for the development of all children, and especially so for ours.  It helps them begin to heal and, at the same time, have fun — just getting to be kids!” continued Horvath.

The project was funded by a 2013 grant from the Community Assistance League, which also provided a 2012 grant for the swings, monkey bars, and rings, in the play area.  So the entire play area was funded, built, and finished by community members.  

“This project was a great opportunity for the Leadership Sandpoint Class to work with Kinderhaven to provide an important improvement to their facilities,’ stated the Class President Eric Grace.  “The programs offered by Kinderhaven are vital to our community, so it was great that we could help out in this small way.”

Leadership Sandpoint is a program which identifies leaders in the Greater Sandpoint area and provides them an interactive experience to gain an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a citizen-leader in our multi-faceted community. Each class selects one service project to be completed during the program and fundraises to benefits their project or a cause the class chooses to support. For more information, contact the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce at 263-2161 or

Photo: Leadership Sandpoint class and Kinderhaven employees pose for photo at Kinderhaven taken after the project was completed. In photo from left to right; Matt Diel, Daniel Moering, Stacey Darley, Crystal Gunter, Mandy Evans, Geraldine Lewis, Karen Robinson, Phyllis Horvath, Tami Stormo, Darcy Bilbo, Eric Grace and Steve Holt.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chamber Welcomes Cornerstone Physical Therapy

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is excited to welcome Cornerstone Physical Therapy & Aquatic Center. Christina Rust-Hefley, better known as Tina, is a hometown girl who was raised right here in Sandpoint, Idaho and the owner of Cornerstone Physical Therapy.  Cornerstone is an outpatient physical therapy and aquatic center. They specialize in orthopedic rehabilitation, injury prevention and management, rehabilitative pain management, medically supervised exercise for weight management.

Cornerstone offers preventative care for athletes, as well as rehabilitation. They specialize in advanced orthotics with our Foot Maxx Gait Analysis software. They are also a direct access provider so please feel free to call to set up an evaluation. They feel their aquatic center sets them far apart from the competition.

‘We have a 22’ x 32’ warm water therapy pool,’ explained Tina. She added, ‘the aquatic environment allows patients with ambulatory issues greater range of motion, less pain and various resistance levels due to the unweighting effect of the pool. This is exceptionally helpful for patient’s post-surgery, managing obesity or managing constant pain.’

Tina graduated from Sandpoint High School and played on the 1985-86 State Championship Volleyball teams. She attended Carroll College, in Helena, where she played volleyball and completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree. In 1993, she was accepted to graduate school at Creighton University in Omaha, NE and successfully finished in the top 5% of her class, proudly achieving one of the first Doctorate of Physical Therapy degrees in the United States.

She then moved quickly back to the Pacific Northwest and worked for several years in the Coeur d'Alene area.  Professionally, Tina helped pioneer the introduction of Aquatic Therapy to the rehabilitation community and developed the Inland Neuroscience and Spine Center in Spokane, WA with Sacred Heart and St. Luke's Rehabilitation Hospitals. In 2001, Tina moved home to Sandpoint with her four children.  She is proud to announce that along with her husband, Sean, they have successfully rehabilitated the warm water therapy and re-opened Cornerstone Physical Therapy on North Division. Tina continues to specialize in client education and intervention decisions for all orthopedic diagnoses and injuries.  Her expertise remains in Aquatic Therapy and Spine rehabilitation. Tina is also a certified Functional Capacity Examiner (FCE).

Cornerstone is a preferred provider for many insurance companies and accepts all of them. Also, they offer a cash pay discount for those who do not have coverage.

‘If you are in need of therapy do not feel intimidated. We can find a way to help.’

Right now, take advantage of free screens and/or assessments for sports related injury or injury prevention. Sports may include anything from baseball to golf and all ages welcome.

Please help the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce welcome Cornerstone Physical Therapy to the Chamber and wish them success. Please stop by 1301 N Division to meet Tina in person, say "Hi" or check out their beautiful, full-size warm water therapy pool, as well as the gym and private treatment rooms For more information, call 208-265-0610, email, visit, or connect

Photo: left to right Peggy Shadel, Mike Davis, Seamus and Nicole Buratto, Angie Reynolds, Christina Hefley, Sean Hefley, Jen Stevens, Johnny cook, Stefan Buratto and Carol Warren. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Word is….Networking

by Kate McAlister, President/CEO
Networking (n) – The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions.

Whenever the Chamber puts out a survey asking our membership what they would like to see more of, we always hear ‘Networking’.  Which we offer at least three opportunities a month with the Women In Business lunch the first Tuesday of the month, our General Membership Luncheon the second Thursday of the month,  and our 5:01 Business After Hours the last Wednesday of every month, hosted each month by a different Chamber member business. In addition to these regularly scheduled opportunities we also have events throughout the year also offering networking opportunities through volunteering and attendance.

Beyond the items identified above, there are a multitude of FREE opportunities throughout your day and week to informally network with others.  Every time you are anywhere, it’s an opportunity to tell people about your business. Informal networking includes friends from a former job, people you meet when recreating, volunteering and community events.

You can also join networking groups online like LinkedIn, where you can connect or link your business and personal contacts as well as join a group specific to your business and interests. In writing this article I went to Google search and typed in “online networking groups”, the Google machine came back with, and I’m not kidding, 129 million results. Now that’s a lot of networking.  Some groups required a fee to join, but most were free and out of 129 million results I’m sure there is something for everyone.

If you don’t know where to start, or you are a little shy, you can follow Dale Carnegie’s basic rules for networking:

  • Smile – be approachable.  If you walk round always looking serious and scowling, no one will want to talk to you.  Be friendly, people like to talk to friendly people.  Say ‘good morning’ when you meet someone on the street or at a restaurant or  while attending a community event.
  • Ask a question – Think of a question of interest and pose it to the group. It will start a conversation and you never know what the outcome will be.
  • Listen - This is often the most difficult lesson since we all like to hear ourselves talk about what we want to talk about.  If you can actively listen and get others to discuss their experiences and opinions you will be amazed at what you might learn about business and even yourself.
  • Business Cards – Always, always, always carry your business cards.  You never know when you might need them.  Have your 30 second commercial ready to go.  How do you expect others to understand what you do if you can’t articulate it in a concise manner?  See yourself.
  • Remember and say the person’s name – People like to hear their own name.  When you meet someone, use their name, maybe several times during the conversation.  It makes the other person feel more comfortable and willing to share information if you attempt to get to know them.

With all these opportunities available to Network, you will make strong connections wherever you go. 

See you at Farmin Park on June 27th for Sandpoint’s kickoff to summer, the Summer Sampler.  Let’s Network!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chamber Honors Jon Sayler as June 2013 Volunteer of the Month

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce honored Jon Sayler as June’s Volunteer of the Month for his service to our community and many of our non-profit organizations. Jon brings his passion for a project into everything he does, whether it's designing someone's dream home, assisting in the design and building a medical facility in Swaziland, raising funds for exchange student programs, installing lighting and advising on building issues at his church or making the dream of community access to a lakeside trail a reality.

Watch Jon accept his award, click here>>

‘Jon's passion is like a force of nature and his joy in the project sweeps his friends and colleagues along with him. Before you realize it, you've rolled up your sleeves alongside him and are in the middle of something wonderful.  He doesn't coerce, wheedle or bribe, his enthusiasm invites you to be a part of something and you find yourself as enthusiastic participant. Case in point, this woman standing before you refuses to apply anything to her car that requires a razor blade to remove and yet my car proudly displays a "Friends of Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail" sticker on the back window.  I guess you could call Jon Sayler the Pied Piper of volunteerism,’ said Anita Aurit.

Jon's community mind set is a gift to Sandpoint. He's that rare form of volunteer, a servant leader. He’s someone who's motivated by a passion for the cause and determined to put project above ego and self-promotion, rolls up his sleeves and invites others into the opportunity to serve. 

Jon's vision and passion has moved a dream of many to make the scenic Pend Oreille Bay Trail accessible to all into a reality. His ability to bring the right people together to make the project happen has resulted in a $75,000.00 grant, a $12,000.00 recent trail fundraiser and the momentum continues. Recently, they were awarded a large influx of grant funds totaling more than $650,000 and the dream of a community lake access trail is far closer than ever before.  

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Jon Sayler for being honored as the Volunteer of the Month and thanking him for all of his contributions to our community. Jon’s hard work has done a lot for many organizations in our community. From the Greater Sandpoint Chamber, as well as the whole community, Thank You!

Photo: Jon Sayler accepts her award from Anita Aurit.

Chamber Honors Rotary Club of Sandpoint

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Rotary Club of Sandpoint as June’s Business of the Month. Sandpoint chapter of Rotary International is striving to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. In 2011, Sandpoint’s Rotary Club has 70-plus members and is part of the larger Rotary International organization, with 1.22 million members in 33,976 clubs in more than 200 countries. The Rotary Club of Sandpoint has two states and two countries in their district.

Watch Rotary Club of Sandpoint accept their award, click here>>

‘When Sandpoint and Nelson, BC became Sister Cities, the Rotarians became dearest friends,’ explained Jerri Anderson, Past-President of Sandpoint Rotary Club.

This year, they have stepped up to take on and facilitate the CHAFE 150 bike ride, benefiting the Lake Pend Oreille School District. They give $12,000 a year in scholarships for high schoolers. Recently they gave $48,000 project in India to provide medical equipment to those in need. Currently, they are embarking on a $10,000 Friends of Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail and a SPOT Bus Shelter project. Also, they donated and built the beautiful Bandshell in Farmin Park, recently turned over to the City of Sandpoint.

Among the many local past projects they’ve completed are playgrounds at Travers Park, the patio at the library, stairs from Bridge Street to the boardwalk, outdoor bathrooms at Farmin Stidwell, the clock tower at Farmin Park, assisted with funding for bathrooms at Jeff Jones Town Square, assisted with patio installation at The DayBreak Center, and a picnic shelter at Memorial Field. Host the Great Sandpoint Flatwater Regatta.

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Rotary Club of Sandpoint for their success and thanking them for their commitment to our community. For more information, connect with them on Facebook They meet Wednesdays at 12:00 PM in the Panhandle Bank Community Room, located at 414 Church St.

In photo: Sean Fitzpatrick and Jerri Anderson accept the award with Chamber President, Kate McAlister.