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Belle Fourche Chamber Fires Strong, Effective Executive Director

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.


  1. interested party 2013.10.27

    White trash and JBS: what else would you expect, Cory?

  2. interested party 2013.10.27

    Max Main, Rod Woodruff and Blaine Pummel's heirs: earth haters all.

  3. Cranky Old Dude 2013.10.27

    If my experiences in Belle are any indicator, they better take the Truck Stop route. I have tried repeatedly to spend money in that burg and been usually foiled.

    The town appears to be a classic example of the "Norwegian Businessman Syndrome": when you walk into a business, they either ignore you or run into the back to the store and refuse to come out. The attitude seems to be "How dare you come in here during business hours and try to give us money!" They can go back to rolling drunk sheepherders for all I care.

  4. grudznick 2013.10.27

    Belle is a town with a sub-par breakfast joint. They claim to be the swirling center of the north america and as such are a holy place to the indigenous peoples of the region. It should be preserved as it is, an example to all.

  5. dale b 2013.10.27

    there are a lot of natural resources in the ground in that area, I think this is somehow tied to the uranium mining fiasco. I remember reading in the past about how Haliburton ran mines up in that area.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.28

    Uranium up around Belle? If there is some glow in the ground, I'd think the Chamber would be all about promoting... unless they're worried about bad water and increased cancer rates.

  7. Dana P 2013.10.28

    Well......she "dared" to run against Betty Olson in 2010, so she was probably put on some enemies list after that...

  8. FireBreathingDragon 2013.10.28

    The city council and mayor have become bullies and continue to work their magic on anyone they don't like. Now that they have "the so called enemies" out of the way. I wonder how long until they start eating each other?

  9. FireBreathingDragon 2013.10.28

    What I mean by "that is it's obvious that the city council And mayor are working their magic" is that they have bought people with lobbying efforts to do the work of firing the executive director from the chamber of commerce organization and have gotten them to do their dirty work. I wonder if the city council rep on the chamber board got a vote as well? Who is that Francis Hays?

  10. Concerned Citizen 2013.10.29

    The city council rep is Greg Rasinen. Not sure if he had a vote. But I am going to bet the Chamber is now staying in that building....... well, at least not going to be forced out with an eviction. The entire city is intimidated by Teresa's success and motivation.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.29

    So the whole eviction fracas and the complaints about "accountability" are simply cover for a personal vendetta?

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.29

    ...but it took them three years to get back at her for running against Betty Olson? Good grief, if you want to get back at someone, and you run the town, why wait?

  13. Rick 2013.10.29

    Another case of 'partisan cleansing.' Welcome to South Dakota. Don't plan to stick around long.

  14. Stacey Raisanen 2013.10.30

    It amazes me how everyone wants dirty laundry hung out for all to see. While there were a lot of wonderful things accomplished during Ms. Schazenbach's direction of the Chamber, there were local issues that were not being dealt with for many years. There is a difference between "forceful" and "strong" and maladministration. This had absolutely nothing to do with Betty Olson (where in the world did that one come from?) Things have been simmering for over four years and finally came to a halt. Please, allow Belle Fourche to regroup and move forward in a positive manner. One person can direct a vision, but it takes many to make it happen. No one is irreplaceable, me included!

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.30

    Is the laundry dirty? The City Council has made the issue public with its public vendetta against the Chamber. The City Council has made statements that don't make sense or that don't have evidence to back them up. The City Council has an obligation to explain itself to the voters and taxpayers. The City Council can't demand public accountability from the Chamber, then hide its own motives and issues.

  16. "D" 2013.10.30

    Alot of speculation (opinion based on incomplete information: a conclusion, theory, or opinion based on incomplete facts or information) a lot of assumption (something taken for granted: something that is to be believed without proof) going on. What's done is done. I agree that Belle Fourche should be allowed to regroup and move forward in a positive manner. The 'blame game' does not provide for moving forward a positive and effective manner.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.30

    The City Council calls for public accountability, then declines to offer any coherent explanation of the problems its sees to justify its public actions? Please, don't come here with a fake name and tell me that Belle Fourche doesn't have to answer for its actions. "Regroup in a positive fashion" is all management-speak baloney for "We don't want to have to admit that what we're doing is wrong, so we're going to try to make the people talking about us sound like the bad guys." Come clean": what exactly did Teresa Schanzenbach do wrong?

  18. concerned [Sock puppet!] 2013.10.30

    The Chamber Board voted... [TWEET! Sock-puppet foul! This comment comes in from the same e-mail address and IP of a previous commenter using a different name. That's sock-puppetry, and we'll not have it. Comment deleted. —]

  19. "D" 2013.10.30

    I don't get the whole demanding answers from the City regarding Teresa's termination. It was the Chamber board who made that decision. Interesting....the City simply made a decision to have the Chamber vacate their offices.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.30

    Oh, the obvious dodge. The city demanded accountability. The city pressured the Chamber to achieve this result. Why did the city exert this pressure? What was the city unhappy about? Why did the city make that decision?

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.10.30

    (And "D", check your e-mail, please: I want to know we're not having a sock-puppet debate here. You know who I am; it's fair that we know who you are, just as Stacy is willing to share her name.)

  22. FireBreathingDragon 2013.10.30

    "D". Eviction and loss of funding, remember?

  23. Stacey 2013.10.30

    The Chamber Board voted unanimously to remove the Director. This decision was made based on what they felt would be best for the organization as a whole. The acted in accordance with their by-laws and it is their right to do so. Perhaps we should all just wait and see what they do.

  24. Gloria 2013.11.05

    The Chamber Board vote was NOT unanimous. Two voted NO and one ABSTAINED. There is no doubt Theresa's firing was a result of a personal vendetta against her. The reasons are unfounded, proven by the lack of either the city council (in their decision to deny funding and evict the Chamber) or the chamber board (in their decision to fire Theresa) to produce any real or valid answers. It will also come to no surprise when the 'eviction notice' is no longer valid and the Chamber is 'allowed' to stay in the building; won't that show how wonderful the city council is?!

  25. Alice 2013.11.06

    It seems apparent the board is being manipulated or "threatened" by the city council. It amazes me the "power" the council has in this town! Does no on e see what's going on?
    Meanwhile, the poor folks that are supposed to be carrying on with the Visitor Center, are left in the dark as to what is going to happen to them and they must carry on with no idea what is expected of them at this point in time.
    These are people, our people, that are being told they are not doing their jobs well enough by people who have never bothered to come to the Visitor Center and see who they interact with the visitors. After all of the junk that has been going on in these past weeks, I would be hard pressed to go to work and be "happy" while working with the visitors, yet, these folks do that exact thing of being pleasant everyday!
    While all of this is going on, do people really understand the massive loss that is going to occur for tourism in Belle since there is no longer anyone there to negotiate ads in the various tourism magazines!! I'm afraid next summer is going to be somewhat dismal.

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