"Clinton, Langley chambers to merge"

"Clinton may lose its independent Chamber of Commerce -- a fate to which few if any of its members seem to object.Plans are in the works for the Clinton Chamber to be merged with Langley's chamber, which since this spring has operated under the name Langley South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce.Don Pinter, formerly manager of the InterWest Bank branch in Clinton, has headed the Clinton Chamber for the past three years. He recently took a new job at a bank in Tacoma.Pinter said Thursday that the Clinton Chamber is planning to give our assets to Langley. He estimated that includes about $700 in cash and the Visitors Kiosk which was built several years ago for $9,000 thanks to a tourism enhancement grant from Island County.The Clinton Chamber has only a dozen or so dues-paying members, Pinter said, but a mailing list of 147 businesses. A questionnaire in a recent mailer asked whether the Clinton Chamber should merge with Langley.It was 50/50, laughed Pinter. The mailer produced only two responses. One wanted to retain an independent chamber, while the other preferred to join Langley. Pinter has also personally asked a number of Clinton merchants about retaining an independent chamber. Most didn't feel there was a need for it, he said.This week, Pinter sought more public comment by writing a news release announcing the plan to merge with Langley. Unless there's an outpouring of opposition the merger will proceed.Loretta Martin, manager of the Langley South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce, said that chamber's board would welcome Clinton. Clinton merchants have been assured they can play an active role in the combined organization, with a Clinton area committee. The Clinton Chamber's one annual public event, the Easter egg hunt, could still be organized by that committee, Pinter said.Assuming there is no large group of Clinton area business owners stepping forward in the next few weeks to take over the operational duties of the Clinton Chamber, the merger with the Langley Chamber should be completed by the end of August, Pinter said.Martin said the Langley South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce already reaches far beyond Langley for its membership, which now totals 187 businesses, each paying dues of $175 per year. The Langley Visitors Information Center operated by the chamber offers referrals to businesses throughout the area, and due to its full staff can better serve the Clinton community, Pinter said.Clinton businesses that purchase health insurance through the chamber can continue to do so through Langley. The merger would leave South Whidbey with two chambers, including the independent Freeland Chamber of Commerce.Pinter asks that comments regarding the proposed Clinton/Langley merger be sent to P.O. Box 317, Clinton WA 98236. "

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