If the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce still plans to challenge the city's politically reeking ill treatment, it will do so without Teresa Schanzenbach. In what feels like a capitulation to political pressure, the Belle Fourche Chamber fired executive director Schanzenbach Friday.
If the Belle Fourche City Council had any consistency in its arguments against the Chamber's performance, it would be demanding an explanation of Schanzenbach's dismissal. The city has complained about a perceived lack of transparency in Chamber operations. Here the Chamber is firing a 14-year, award-winning director with no stated reason. Under Schanzenbach's leadership, the Chamber responded with a public accounting of its finances and operation of the city visitor center; will the Chamber similarly explain its firing of Schanzenbach?
Here's the read on the street: Schanzenbach is a forceful leader who gets things done. Belle Fourche, a tough town lying nine miles off I-90, just outside the Black Hills tourism sweet spot, needs a strong leader to keep the town from becoming just one big truck stop on the way to the Bakken oil field. But evidently exerting strong leadership and producing recognized results—and getting paid reasonably well to produce those results—don't sit well with some decision-makers in Belle Fourche. Evidently the vision Schanzenbach energetically promoted of a progressive Belle Fourche is too upsetting to the worldview of shot-callers who prefer not to be the center of the action.