New chamber manager eager to learn

New officers at the chamber are not the only change there, executive manager Lana Johnson is stepping down and a new manager

Les Jaster looks forward to his new role as executive manager for the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce. He takes over for Lana Johnson.

Les Jaster looks forward to his new role as executive manager for the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce. He takes over for Lana Johnson.

New officers at the chamber are not the only change there, executive manager Lana Johnson is stepping down and a new manager has been hired.

Johnson has worked for the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce since November 2009 and intends to spend extra time with her family business. This is for the short term as Johnson hopes to pursue a career with her degree in human resources. “I’d like to explore possibilities in that field.”

She has enjoyed the experience with the chamber. “It’s been really good…It’s really a multi-faceted position.”

There is a small overlap between Johnson and Les Jaster, the new executive manager, which gives him time to learn the information needed to continue the role.

One aspect of the job entails working directly with chamber members and Johnson’s advice for Jaster is to continue to work with the community for their support.

She asks the community to keep supporting the chamber’s events such as the trade fair and Almost Midnight Madness and feels the new manager is going to be able to continue her work.

It is not a one-person job however and Johnson thanked Barry Neath who showed her the ropes in her job, and chamber members for their support. “Without them the job wouldn’t have been possible.”

Volunteers are also integral in keeping these events going and she thanked the community for their support of her and the chamber. “It’s endless, the amount of work volunteers do.”

She looks forward to Jaster, 60 and a resident of Ponoka for 15 years, taking over and sees his experience in the community as an asset. “I think he’ll bring a different perspective.”

“I am excited about this job,” stated Jaster.

He is from Saskatchewan and worked in banking since 1971. He planned on retiring from the work about a year ago and feels this job was ideal, he explained.

Jaster was also a member of the Kinsmen in Saskatchewan and he feels this is a tool he can bring to the job. He is not too nervous either, “I’m, too old to be that.”

“The first thing I want to do is work on the learning curve,” he stated. “I’m a real booster for small business.”

One of the things Jaster enjoys about Ponoka is the friendship and amenities. “Great golfing, great curling.”

He also hopes to work closely with community members and bring forward ideas to the chamber executive. “Ears to the ground, be out and about and be aware of what’s going on.”

He intends to prepare himself as much as possible before Johnson leaves.

“We’ve got the trade fair coming up…I’m sure there are lots of balloons in the air when you’re dealing with that one but Lana will lead me through that,” he explained.