Monday, December 30, 2013

Chamber Honors Sweet Lou’s

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Sweet Lou’s as December’s Business of the Month. After opening their first location in Hope in April 2011, they have loved being a part of our community and give back in numerous ways. In February of 2012, Sweet Lou’s in Ponderay is now their year round location with the same great menu and standards as their Hope location but with a family sports-bar angle.

“At Sweet Lou’s, I make great food and excellent customer service our top priorities,” explained owner Chad Foust. He added, “During training, I stress to my employees the importance of a satisfied customer, not only with their meal, but their entire experience while in the restaurant.”

They realize the importance of giving back to the community that has given them the opportunity to live out their dream as business owners. While they wish they could give to all organizations, they are strategic in their philanthropic efforts. We focus our giving efforts on local children, public education, cancer services, youth sports and the Panhandle Animal Shelter. A few of the organizations they support to include the Long Bridge Swim, 24 Hours for Hank, local sport teams, Hope Memorial Center, Relay For Life, Bulldog Bench, Susan G. Komen Foundation, EXCEL Foundation, The Festival of Trees, SHS Grad Night and Kinderhaven.

“We are reminded daily with how blessed we are to live and work in beautiful Sandpoint, ID,” added Chad. “Our town has provided us with great business opportunities, but more important, it has provided us with a home and a lifestyle that can be based around family and we are eternally grateful.”

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Sweet Lou’s for their success and thanking them for their commitment to our community. For more information, visit their Ponderay location at 477272 US Hwy 95 or their Hope location at 46624 Hwy 200, call them at 265-5999 and 263-1381 respectively, visit Like them on Facebook,

In photo: left to right, Carol Warren and Chad Foust.

Chamber Honors Allen McClelland

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce honored Allen McClelland as December’s Volunteer of the Month. Allen’s contributions to the community are very influential for many organizations. He lends in a hand in a variety of ways and undertakes a leadership position when he can.

 Allen’s impact in our community is extremely large. Currently, Allen is the Race Director for the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce’s Scenic Half Marathon, which he has held since 2010. Also, he is the Assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America Troop 117 and he has been involved with them since 1991. He’s a Board Member of the Bonner Community Foodbank and volunteers his time with Jacey’s Race and the Long Bridge Swim. He has also been a Ponderay since 2005 and was president in 2010 and 2011.

“I love, Love, Love Sandpoint!” exclaimed Allen. He added, “ [I] count my blessings every day to live in this wonderful place with wonderful people.”

When he’s not involved with community service, he can be found supporting his kid’s activities (cross country, dance, soccer, basketball, volleyball, piano, choir, etc.) or enjoying the local mountains. In the past, he was a Sandpoint Leadership Grad in 2006, Chamber Ambassador 2005-2007, former Board Member for the Ponderay Bay Trail in 2010-2011 and Board Member for the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation in 2010-2011.

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Matt Mire 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 of Commerce, as well as the whole community, Thank You! 

Photo: left to right, Kate McAlister and Allen McClelland.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Looking Back at 2013

by Kate McAlister, President and CEO

The lights are up and the snow is on the ground; must be Holidays in Sandpoint.  As we bring our year to a close it is always fun to look back at what happened throughout the year.  I don’t know about you but I run so fast sometimes I forget to look back and remember. 

Let’s start with all the press we received last year.  We once again had a number of accolades in the national press, “Top 10 Emerging Ski Towns”Nat Geo; “Snow Trax: My Own Private Idaho”The New Mexican; “Top 5 Places in the World to Get Married” [Schweitzer Resort] – Birmingham Press U.K.; “10 Picture-Perfect Mountain Towns”USA Today; “Idaho’s Hippest Mountain Town”Men’s Journal; “Is This The Prettiest Town in America?” – Steve Winston for World Property Channels (seen in 120 countries).

In January we watched it snow as we continued to move into our new ‘old’ location out here on the highway.  We LOVE it here.  One day we promise we’ll have an open house but we have not stopped running since we moved.

February delivered one of the most successful Winter Carnival’s in a few years.  Town was alive with visitors and locals as well. With events and happenings going on in Jeff Jones square, the Granary District, and of course up at our favorite ski resort, Schweitzer, a good time was had by all.

Besides St. Patrick’s Day, March brought the Idaho Tourism Council (ITC) to town for their quarterly meeting.  Schweitzer hosted the three day event for this panel of governor appointed tourism specialists to showcase our wonderful area and all we have to offer.  This is the group who manages the Idaho Department of Commerce tourism grants of which we received $111,000 in 2012 to market our town outside of the area.  They were very impressed with us, as they should be.

Keeping with the tourism theme in April, Sandpoint hosted the North Idaho Tourism summit at the Sandpoint Events Centers and it was one of the best attended in a number of years.  Quite a few of our local restaurants and recreational businesses participated such as, Trinity, Pend Oreille Pasta, MickDuffs, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, Scotchman’s Peak and others.

In May, we welcomed our favorite event “Lost in the 50’s” and all the prosperity it brings to our little town in the midst of the ‘shoulder’ season.  Thank you Carolyn Gleason for all your hard work and dedication for our community over all these years.

June kicked off the summer with the Chamber’s Summer Sampler, our ‘local’ kick-off to summer event.  We enjoyed wonderful food from restaurants and caterers, from Sagle to Ponderay, as well as another rousing Chef Cook-Off sponsored by one of our local favorites, Litehouse.  Reese Warren from Eichardt’s took the title home for the second year.  Next year, hopefully in April, we are going to put him up against a chef from our Sister City, Nelson B.C., when we sponsor the first International Chef Cook-off.  I’m betting on Reese.

If you love a parade, then of course our annual Lions Club, 4th of July parade is for you.  The community came out in droves and lined the downtown streets for the parade.  We also hosted another very successful Wooden Boat Show and I was honored to participate in the Friday night boat parade.  It was spectacular with all those beautiful boats out on the water with their noses up and carving through the water. Can’t wait until next year!

August rode in with 350 bicycle riders in the Ride Idaho group.  Our area showed them a great time and they spent their free day enjoying our area and all we have to offer. 

We were honored in September to have the Idaho Community Review team here from the state of Idaho and for three days we listened to our community as we held focus groups and listening sessions all over the area.  This team of experts came here after the City of Sandpoint wrote and received a grant from the Idaho Rural Partnership to come and assess our area and add to our comp plan.  It was an enlightening three days.  The state team took all the information and have been analyzing and putting together a presentation with their recommendations and will be giving us the full report in early January.  This report will also include other grant opportunities for small towns like ours and other possible partnerships. 

The Scenic Half also took place in September with over 1,000 runners participating.  Only a little more than one-fourth of the runners were local.  Thirteen states and two countries were represented and again it was a stellar September day for the run and to showcase our beautiful area.

October was a big month for the Chamber, we officially took on the administrative management of the Sandpoint Business Improvement District and hired Kim Queen as the new manager.  It is a big undertaking and the Chamber staff will be working very hard to make this a success for all concerned. 

November and December brought holiday decorating all over town, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, Saturdays with Santa on Cedar Street Bridge, and so much more.

The Chamber, well Mack, held quite a few well-attended Social Media classes at the Holiday Inn Express in Ponderay and we will continue to do so in 2014.  If there are other classes you would like to see, let us know.

All in all it was a jam packed year of great success.  Starting in January the Chamber will start holding every other luncheon at the Ponderay Events Center and we encourage everyone to attend.

As we say good bye to 2013 we can say it was a good year, and we look forward to 2014 and all it will bring our way. I hope the new year will bring you and yours great opportunities, prosperity and fun.  Don’t forget the fun.  Take care, see you in 2014.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chamber Welcomes Lover’s Getaway/Spiritual Retreat

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is excited to welcome the Lover’s Getaway/Spiritual Retreat, a private residence which serves as a vacation rental. This retreat is about experiencing a love affair, whether with source, significant other or self. This intimate space allows one to rest, renew and reflect in the expanse of nature. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, privacy, and an inspirational and renewing retreat look no further. This cliff side home is built on mountainside rock overlooking Lake Pend Oreille where you view nothing but water, mountains and the animals that make it their home.

“Size matters when it comes to view and this view is unsurpassed,” explained Ginny Hendren, manager for the Lover's Getaway.

At Lover’s Getaway, nature envelops you. You can watch eagles and osprey compete for food as you lounge in the hot tub or deck. Hear the cry of a loon. Watch sunsets from the comfort of the outdoor fire pit on an infinity deck that gives you a bird’s eye view of this nature retreat. Winter affords a snow globe experience as the floor to ceiling windows puts nature at your feet.

"This is the time of year the locals discover us.  Since we're so easily accessible and so private we're seeing more stay-cations when weather makes for challenging travel.  This getaway provides that needed perspective and intimacy a special occasion calls for without the long distance travel.  IT's the best of all worlds" Says Ginny

You will wake up and go to sleep to the most inspirational setting you could wish for. Of course, nearby there are a host of activities and attractions however many guests never leave the premises. After all, you want to  rest after doing nothing all day.  As it’s a private residence the
kitchen is fully stocked with every amenity needed for your comfort and convenience. Spa robes and linens all provided. Just remember your toothbrush.  

“This home was built with love, crafted by an artist/designer and inspired by spirit,” Ginny added. “This isn't a home, this is an experience.”

For more information, visit them online at or contact Ginny at  for reservations.

Please help the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce welcome The Lover’s
Getaway/Spiritual Retreat to the Chamber and wish them great success.   

Photo: Kate McAlister, Tim and Fran Potter, Ginny Hendren, Ashley Kearns and Kim Queen. 

Chamber Honors Matt Mire as Volunteer of the Month

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce honored Matt Mire as November's Volunteer of the Month. Matt's contributions to the community are very influential for many organizations. He lends in a hand in a variety of ways and undertakes a leadership position when he can.

Giving back to the community is clearly a large value of Matt's. He volunteers his time to teach Junior Achievement in the schools, assists the Upward Basketball program and coaches youth t-ball and basketball. He organizes and participates in community projects through Mountain West Bank such as their recent annual Day of Caring. This year, they painted a house and completed various projects for Head Start. As of the moment, he is currently the Bulldog Bench's Treasurer and the Hospital Foundation Board of Director's Treasurer. 

“Sandpoint is where I was raised and where I call home, I suppose those are the primary reasons why I enjoy volunteering and giving back as I’m forever grateful to the many teachers, coaches, and community members who played important roles during my youth," explained Matt. He continued with, "now that I have young kids I feel even more vested in our community.”

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Matt Mire 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 of Commerce, as well as the whole community, Thank You! 

Photo: left to right, Matt Mire and Barbara Schriber.

Chamber Honors Bonner Community Food Bank

The Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize Bonner Community Food Bank as November’s Business of the Month. The Food Bank is a non-profit service organization dedicated to providing nutritious food sources. The ministerial association, along with concerned citizens, organized the Bonner Community Food Bank in 1980. There were many locations the Food Bank called home until 2011 their present location at 1707 Culvers Drive was purchased.

The community of Bonner County is blessed with a Food Bank that is the only one of its kind in Idaho. When the new building location was purchased, it was with a new format in mind for the delivery of its food services called a market. The ‘Market’ format was established in November 2011, and has proven to be a brilliant way of food delivery for food bank recipients. Each individual that is head of a household is given 70 points to spend as cash in the food bank. Each other individual in that same family gets another 10 additional points. These points are used the same as money in a regular store. All of their clients have expressed how much they like this system, reserving their independence and integrity. 

Sometimes the choice is between buying food and paying the rent, buying medication, or other vital expenses. The Bonner Community Food Bank seeks to alleviate the stress of hunger and not knowing where the next meal is coming from, better equipping their clients to be able to deal with all of life’s challenges.

“Now, the Food Bank Board, staff and volunteers want to extend our heart-felt thanks to those who have made our success possible through contributions of time, goods or money,” said Alice Wallace, Director of the Food Bank. “Without your generosity we would not be able to help those who are truly in need in our community. The Food Bank relies on your support. Our funding comes from individuals, businesses, local organizations and grants. The current economic climate has created an urgent situation of reduced funding, a sharp drop in donations and a significant rise in the number of families who are turning to us for assistance. Without your generous support, we could not reliably provide food for our neighbors in Bonner County.”

Please join the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce in congratulating Bonner Community Food Bank for their success and thanking them for their commitment to our community. For more information or if you are able to make a financial donation today, visit them at 1707 Culver Dr in Sandpoint or call to be a volunteer at 263-3663.

In photo: left to right, Carol Warren and Alice Wallace.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Schweitzer’s Birthday Weekend, December 13-15

Community Day, Founders Day, Sunday Solution

Sandpoint, ID – Schweitzer Mountain Resort turns 50 years old this December and would like everyone to join in for their birthday weekend, December 13 – 15. Guests can ski all three days for less than the price of a typical adult lift ticket.

The weekend starts December 13 with Community Day, a fundraiser for Bonner Partners in Care and Community Cancer Services of Sandpoint. That Friday all lift tickets will be just $10 – with all proceeds benefitting those two organizations. Guests can select which organization they’d like to donate to by purchasing online at Tickets will also be for sale at the resort ticket windows on Friday morning.

The big birthday party, Founders Day, is Saturday, December 14. Schweitzer will be celebrating with $19.63 lift tickets in honor of their 1963 opening season. That afternoon; complimentary birthday cake will be served as supplies last, a re-dedication ceremony will take place to honor key figures in Schweitzer’s history, followed by live music in Taps Lounge and the opening of Schweitzer’s 25 year old time capsule.

On Sunday, party goers can sleep in and take advantage of Schweitzer’s Sunday Solution. Sunday afternoon tickets will be just $25 when purchased online.

“Schweitzer Mountain Resort want’s to celebrate our 50th anniversary with the people who matter most, our loyal guests” said Tom Chasse, Schweitzer’s President and CEO. “This weekend is about helping the community, celebrating 50 years of service, and exceptional skiing”.