Trade show prep moving along

Work on the annual trade fair is right on target.

Work on the annual trade fair is right on target.

That was the word from Les Jaster, executive manager for the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

“Preparation for the trade fair is continuing. This year’s theme Star Wars is garnering a lot of excitement about this year and gaining us some referrals,” Jaster explained to the small crowd gathered at the Kinsmen Centre.

As of the time of meeting, there had been 52 booths paid for with Jaster hopeful about 80 per cent being sold out by the middle of March. A number of sponsors for the fair and various events have also been secured, though he is continuing to search out other opportunities.

He added there will be a bit of a different look this year as they are moving the market square and creating something interesting toward the main entrance of the fair that will feature a Star Wars-themed activity.

“It’s going to be great,” he said, while also putting out the call that more volunteers are going to be necessary for this year’s fair due to the extra events and activities that are planned.

Jaster also stated that membership activity remains steady.

End of year financials

Past president Jim Hamilton spoke on the changes and challenges facing the Chamber in the 2016 budget while also presenting the audience with the final numbers from 2015.

One big issue was that they made nearly $7,000 less from the 2015 trade fair than was budgeted, but Hamilton stated they are optimistic the new theme, and the fact that they are on pace in selling booths, can help them achieve at least the $10,500 in revenue that has been budgeted for this year.

The other difference is that there will be no $5,000 grant from the Town of Ponoka in 2016.

Hamilton explained the money was to help the Chamber with operating funds and since the group is now on more stable financial ground, the grant has been eliminated.

However, that loss has been more than offset by the Chamber office moving last year to free space provided at the Ponoka County municipal building. The Chamber was previously in the Visitor Information Centre and was paying $9,000 in rent annually.

Some of those savings, though, are now being spent on storage space the Chamber no longer has available at its office, as well as a small increase in travel expenses for Jaster to attend the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual meeting that is being held this year in Regina.

Featured speaker

Shannon Boyce-Campbell, executive director of Family and Community Support Services in Ponoka was the guest speaker at the meeting and talked to the crowd about an important, but not well known, project that FCSS operates.

Through their participation in the Ponoka/Rimbey Palliative Care Council, FCSS provides reusable items such as sheepskin overlays and low pressure air mattresses to patients and families giving care to someone who is terminally ill. They also assist individuals in finding any specialized equipment that isn’t covered under other programs and work with people to provide palliative care training for volunteers.

“We help people who have made that decision to be at home and with a definitely aging population in the area, our role is now even more important,” said Boyce-Campbell.

She added that while the programs are there, they are not as visible to the majority of the public and presently they feel they are being underutilized since a lot of people who could use them are not aware they are available.

That includes a pair of funds that provide money to people for services that aren’t covered in other fashions as well as to help cancer patients with certain expenses.

“We have a couple of unique funds that serve to provide access to items and services that people who need medical help can’t otherwise pay for plus help those going through cancer treatment and diagnosis with related expenses,” she said.

FCSS also has funds available for those suffering from MS and diabetes with Boyce-Campbell giving a nod of thanks to Shoppers Drug Mart for the tremendous fundraising support they have received from the store for these programs.

She concluded stating, “If you or someone you know in need with medical issues, please contact us and also help spread the word that these programs are available.”

For more information about these programs, contact Ponoka FCSS at 403-783-4462.