INA - The Pinckneyville Chamber of Commerce has chosen Larry West to serve as its next President.
West, 52, was named to a two-year term on March 28 to replace longtime President Charles Dobrinick. West is the Vice President of Finance and Administration at Rend Lake College where he oversees the financial operations of the main campus in Ina, its satellite campuses in Pinckneyville and Mt. Vernon, numerous departments and a budget of roughly $38 million.
He moved back to the area toward the turn of 2007 after accepting the vice president position at RLC. The move from dean of budget and finance at the University of South Carolina's Salkehatchie campus meant a return to his roots. West is a Pinckneyville native and was a member of the PCHS Class of 1974, along with his wife, the former Kathy Brostmeyer.
In addition to Past President Dobrinick - who was selected as Pinckneyville's Person of the Year in 2008 - West's Executive Team at the Pinckneyville Chamber of Commerce is made up of First Vice President Nathan Meagher, Second Vice President Peggy Sims, Treasurer Toni Engelhardt, Secretary Erna Barczewcski and Executive Director Joan Smith. He will be working closely with this team and Chamber Board members Jeanne Bathon, Cheryl Bigham, Dan Breslin, Dan Cheek, Tom McDaniel, Kevin Pyatt, Craig Williams and his wife, Kathy West.
West is also serving as chairman of the Chamber's Strategic Planning Committee, where members of the Chamber Board work alongside the city tourism agency and the Pinckneyville Foundation, spearheaded by Irl Engelhardt. West identified a number of initiatives aimed at promoting tourism in the area.
"We will be implementing some marketing this summer which includes video on ESPN and other sports channels to promote our great outdoor activities in the area," he said.
"It's a challenge, but its a challenge that I look forward to," West said of coming up with ways to keep Pinckneyville viable and visible in a weak economy. "Pinckneyville is such a tight community with some key strengths and good core individuals. It has always managed to maintain and I think it will continue to do so. There are some excellent people who belong to the Chamber and who are dedicated to doing what is best for the community."
According to him, the Chamber will also be involved in working with former Pinckneyville High School state championship basketball coach Dick Corn on enriching local sports history with the establishment of a basketball hall of fame. It will be looking to bolster the Thresherman's farming event with Charlie Greer, gather local artifacts for a Rural Heritage Museum and tout Pyramid Park, located approximately three miles south of the city, which is the largest state park in Illinois.
Plans include promoting all of the above and positioning Pinckneyville as the Southern Illinois destination for cottage industries like crafts and museums, West said. The Chamber intends to hold at least one chamber-sponsored major event each quarter, he explained. A tentative schedule includes a golf scramble in June, Mardi Gras festivities in October and mystery theatre in the winter, in addition to smaller events scattered throughout the year, West added.
There is also a tenant search underway for the former Technicolor Universal Media Services plant. Upcoming use of the facility is a good sign, he said.
"[The Chamber is] trying as much as we possibly can to assist the city to find a tenant or a new owner for the Technicolor building. Hopefully we will get that. Rend Lake College is going to have a welding technology program in conjunction with Prairie State and Bechtel at the facility in May or June."
According to him, the Pinckneyville Chamber of Commerce is rather large, in terms of membership, for a city of its size and population. The Chamber operates with revenue from its business and individual members, fundraising activities and local support. The Chamber is a membership-based association of young professionals working in a variety of different industries throughout the Pinckneyville area. It provides members with the opportunity to pursue professional development through interesting and exciting activities - both professional and social. The Chamber can be found online at www.pinckneyville.com.