Commonwealth Journal

January 17, 2014

Chamber gavel passed to Girdler

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — The new president of Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce believes the best way to the future is create the future.

Chris Girdler challenged the community Thursday night as he accepted the gavel, symbolic of chamber leadership, from outgoing President Leah Taylor. The chamber’s Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet was attended by a record crowd of nearly 700 at The Center for Rural Development.

A surprise visitor, Hank Phillips, deputy commissioner of Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourist, expressed amazement at the size and intent of the community event to celebrate local businesses. Phillips presented awards to Carolyn Mounce, executive director of Somerset-Pulaski Convention & Visitors Bureau and to Tiffany Bourne, community development director for Pulaski County, for her direction of the Master Musicians Festival.

Girdler, vice president of Business Development and Commercial Lending for Citizens National Bank and state senator from the 15th Senatorial District, will lead the chamber during 2014. He said the chamber of commerce has the opportunity, platform and ability to mold the community and region.

Claiming a vision for this community, Girdler is confident the vision can be brought to fruition if the chamber of commerce acts as catalyst and facilitator for a Community Strategic Plan. He wants the chamber to coordinate town-hall-type meetings to get a consensus of what people of Somerset and Pulaski County want for this community. He suggested the meetings will take place at various communities in the county.

“We can start these town-hall meetings in late spring and continue throughout the year,” said Girdler. “We all want good things for our community.”

Girdler believes that from the somewhat controversial United Government Study, a report of which is due next week, will come ideas that could be basics for a Community Strategic Plan.

“The ideas –– maybe 10 great ideas –– gathered from the United Government Study and series of town hall meetings should be written down, on paper,” said Girdler. “From these ideas we can develop a community vision plan, set realistic goals and hold ourselves accountable.”

All types of community interests –– education, the arts, tourism, public safety, agriculture, all aspects of the community –– should have a part in coordinating a Community Strategic Plan, Girdler said. “No longer can we allow politics and turf wars to hold back this community,” he insisted.

It is easy to sit back and say, “Somebody needs to do something,” said Girdler. “We are that somebody,” he declared. “I firmly believe in this community ... I firmly believe in the chamber of commerce,” he added.

“Plan and work with our plan,” Girdler continued. He emphasized the chamber of commerce already has many vital programs in progress and said he will continue to support these efforts.