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Belle Fourche Boots Chamber of Commerce for Supporting Agriculture

With one of the higher cowboy-hat/belt-buckle concentrations in the state, Belle Fourche seems like a town that would go all out to support the ranchers and farmers that support its economy. But I could be wrong: Belle Fourche may dislike ranchers as much as it dislikes its Chamber of Commerce

In my continuing search for some explanation of whose dog the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce kicked, I find Belle Fourche city council member Chrisann Mateer caroming from assertion to evasion before grasping for this short-sighted, impolitic, and dare-I-ironically-say provincial excuse:

"Why do we need them out of the building is just ... because I would say conflict of interest," Mateer said.

...Mateer said that she and the other "task force" members on the council, Greg Raisanen and Gloria Lamphere, had found three other cities in the United States that have made a similar move to defund their chamber of commerce's visitor center operations.

...Mateer said that during the past eight months the museum staff has had problems with the chamber offices.

She said she would prefer that the museum staff take over visitor center operations because they already are in the building and also are trained to work with visitors.

..."The 'why' just came down to accountability," she said.

She said visitor center funds, for example, should not have been used to help cover costs of the ag banquet that brings in farmers and ranchers from outside the city.

"When they throw chamber events into visitor center things, it's really hard to separate it," she said... [emphasis mine; Milo Dailey, "Belle Fourche Chamber, Council Member Disagree on Fund Cut, Eviction," Rapid City Journal, 2013.10.10].

If the Belle Fourche city council thinks thanking country folks for working hard and coming to town to spend big money is outside the Chamber of Commerce's bailiwick, Belle Fourche needs smarter city councilors.

It makes me dizzy to do this, but I cite the Madison Chamber of Commerce to back what I'm saying:

The Ag-Committee and the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce realize the importance of Agriculture in our area. It is important to help promote the #1 industry in the state. Area businesses realize without Agriculture in our area, it would be very difficult for them to stay in business. Chamber member businesses appreciate area Ag Producers choosing to do their business locally in Madison [Kevin Jaspers, "Ag Committee Presents South Dakota Ag in the Classroom," Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce newsletter, April/May 2013].

The Madison Chamber has held agriculture appreciation banquets, granted ag scholarships, even handed out free tickets and Dairy Queen coupons to farm families at the bull-riding event last June at Prairie Village, which is (gasp!) outside Madison city limits. I doubt it's ever crossed Mayor Lindsay's or Commissioner Delzer's mind to cut the Madison Chamber's funding or kick them out of the depot for such farm-friendly activity. Producers may not grow their corn and graze their cattle in the city limits, but they don't spend their money out behind the stockdam. Madison understands the butter ag brings to town for its bread; does Belle Fourche?

Let's hope Dailey and others keep asking the Belle Fourche city council questions about their vendetta against the Chamber. Apparently unable to articulate the real reason for their power play, the councilors will ke


  1. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.13

    So the Belle Fourche City Council thinks the Chamber is working for Agenda 21?

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