Kimberly’s Internship Reflections

What an amazing summer I’ve had in Williston! If you would have asked me how I was feeling before I came to North Dakota, I would have said several things:

I’m worried my internship won’t be enjoyable. I’m worried I won’t be able to meet my co-workers’ expectations. I hope I won’t be bored in Williston. I’m nervous about making new friends with the interns.

Looking back now, it’s comical how stressed I was over an experience that has turned out to be so incredible. As the Events & Marketing Intern at the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce this summer, I have experienced invaluable learning opportunities and have been encouraged to take initiative at every turn. I have attended countless committee meetings, seen every step of the event planning process, produced various types of marketing communications, and met so many community members whose support for one another is truly inspiring. I have learned that in Williston, if you don’t directly know someone who can help you get the job done, guaranteed there is someone you do know who knows a guy, who knows a friend, who will absolutely help you.

Though I’ve had the privilege of participating in many community events and activities throughout my internship, I do have a few favorites:

  1. Getting to take pictures on the Media Tour on Lemonade Day: Even though I was force-feeding myself after two straight hours of sugar consumption, it was incredible to see how professional those young entrepreneurs were! The fact that they opened their stands despite the rain was awesome! Lemonade Day inspired me to stock my glovebox with $1 bills, so whenever I passed a lemonade stand on the street, I was prepared to pull over and visit.
  2. Rockin’ Ribfest: This event felt like my baby. I loved seeing all the Chamber’s and the Ribfest volunteers’ hard work come together into such a successful community event! And the ribs were pretty fantastic. All the Gonzaga interns enjoyed themselves!
  3. Ribbon Cuttings: It was exciting for me to be part of a new business’ successful opening in Williston. When I visited those businesses later, it felt more personal since I had been there at their Ribbon Cutting.
  4. Working with such an energetic staff with a mentality of “failure is not an option” inspired me daily as an intern. When a plan didn’t pan out for an event, my co-workers always took the news in stride and immediately hatched a back-up plan. Even with no Chamber President, one full-time staff member out with an injury, and a Gonzaga intern on the way, my Chamber staff made it work and somehow kept everything on track!

A lot of community members have asked me how I’ve liked Williston. Now, I can respond honestly and say I have truly enjoyed myself. I’ve come to love custard from Culver’s, I’ve gotten so much coffee from Caffeinated that Precious (best barista ever!) memorized my order, I’ve looked forward to playing sand volleyball every Wednesday night at Spring Lake Park, and I’ve come to understand why everyone from Williston freaks out about the ARC – it’s awesome. I’ve confirmed that people from North Dakota really love Theodore Roosevelt (like A LOT). I’m still not exactly sure what’s in knoephla soup, but it’s pretty yummy. Lastly, I will forever be a little obsessed with prairie dogs.

Overall, this internship was a one-of-a-kind experience. You can be sure that I will practically preach about my incredible time in Williston to my fellow Zags when I get back to campus.

In the true spirit of North Dakota, I’d like to end with a quote that truly captures my experience in Williston this summer.

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

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Thank you to my co-workers, my fellow interns, and all the incredible people I’ve met along the way for leaving footprints in my heart and making Williston such a hard place to leave.

Much love,

Kimberly Lonowski

Gonzaga University Class of 2020

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Back to School!

Can you believe that it’s August tomorrow!? Although there are still a few weeks left of Summer, the start of August always seems to be the time when we get excited for cool Autumn days and Back to School! If you haven’t already noticed, Wal-Mart and other local stores have been in Back to School mode for a couple of weeks already: school supply lists are on display, and orange and black attire has hit the shelves.

I grew up in Williston, and for most of my life it was very common to take a trip East on Highway 2 any time we needed to do some major shopping – and especially for Back to School! We’d always leave after Church on a Sunday and make it to our destination by the time stores opened at Noon, armed with our school supply lists and ready to find the best First Day and Picture Day Outfits!

Luckily, Williston has grown a lot since my elementary school years! 😉 There is such a common misconception that Williston cannot offer the shopping opportunities of a larger city, but I’m excited to tell you that is not true!

Everything you need for Back to School at any age can be found right here in Williston. School & Art Supplies, Clothing & Backpacks for your elementary student; Locker Décor for your middle schooler; Technology for your WHS Coyote and everything you could need to make a dorm room home (click here for our Dorm Shopping Guide)!

So, there is really no longer much of a need to drive two hours to shop; and now, our locally owned businesses are making it even easier for you to Shop Local – especially if you want to keep your Sunday shopping tradition alive like I do!

Shop First Sunday allows you to shop on your time, in your town. Your favorite retailers are now opening up the First Sunday of Each Month to give you the chance to shop on your only day off, spend a relaxing afternoon with your family, or just enjoy me time before the start of busy work week!

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This weekend is the First Sunday of August, and the perfect time to get a head start on that Back to School shopping! Check out our Facebook event to see a full list of participating businesses and their hours (some will open at Noon, some at 1:00pm). We can’t wait to see you out and about, enjoying your local retailers this Sunday!

–Rachel

Williston Area Chamber of Commerce Holds Rockin’ Ribfest

The Williston Area Chamber of Commerce held Rockin’ Ribfest on July 14th at Williston State College. Community members came out to enjoy the many food and craft vendors, live entertainment, and of course, ribs! This year, there were eight rib teams: G-Style Transport, Purity Oilfield Services, Nemont, KLX Energy Services, ACME Tools and E&M Services, Target Lodging, Western Area Water Supply Authority, and Whiting Oil & Gas.

Throughout the day, attendees were entertained with live music from The Jensen Sisters, Jade’s Agenda, and the Dirty Word band. The kids zone was also a big hit, as it featured inflatables, laser tag, water games, face painting, and an obstacle course. Other events included the Little Mr. and Miss Rockin’ Ribfest baby pageant, bingo, and the Rib Eating Competition. For this competition, each rib team sent one representative to the stage to eat as many ribs as possible in six minutes. After six minutes, there was a 3-way tie at 14 ribs, and so the three contestants went into a 1-minute sudden death round. Slater Williams from KLX won by a landslide, and he was crowned Rib Eating Champion! Famous Dave’s sponsored and emceed this event. Rib Teams also competed in a corn hole tournament, which Western Area Water Supply Authority won.

Shortly before 4pm, ribs were presented to a panel of five judges. This year, judges included Mayor Howard Klug, Meghan Wittmis, Allyson Helde, Mark Owan, and Sean Scott. The judges scored ribs based on appearance, tenderness, and taste.

At 4pm, over 1,400 pounds of ribs were ready to be served to the public for tasting and fan favorite voting. The ribs sold out by 6pm!

At 6pm, after the Ribfest raffle, the following awards were announced:

Best Ribs (based on judges’ scores)

1st Place: Target Lodging

2nd Place: Nemont

3rd Place: Purity Oilfield

Fan Favorite (based on public votes)

Whiting Oil & Gas

Best Decorated Booth

1st Place: ACME Tools and E&M Services (Rock n’ Roll theme)

2nd Place: Whiting Oil & Gas (Hawaiian theme)

Breadwinner (most raffle tickets sold)

ACME Tools and E&M Services (345 Ribfest raffle tickets sold)

With a variety of food and craft vendors, live entertainment, delicious ribs, and an abundance of activities throughout the day, Rockin’ Ribfest 2018 was a great success. The Williston Area Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all our sponsors, donors, and volunteers for supporting this event!

Rockin’ Ribfest 2018 Sponsors:

Ideal Option • ONEOK • Williston State College • Williston Fire & Safety • Williston CVB  Williston Herald • Twisted J Field Services • Ackerman-Estvold • API Williston Basin Chapter • Basin Safety Consulting • Cups Drug Testing & Occupational Health • ACME Tools/E&M Services • American State Bank • Nemont • G&G Garbage • Crude Cuts Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative • Dakota Outdoor Advertising • Gravity Oilfield Services • John Voll – Re/Max Bakken Realty

Lemonade Day

It may have been raining on Saturday morning, but that did not discourage our young entrepreneurs from setting up their stands and proudly serving the Williston community unique blends of lemonade and sweet treats! The Lemonade Day media tour tasted some wonderful flavors, from lemonade with frozen fruit serving as ice cubes to a tangy coconut lemonade. There was no shortage of sweet treats either; we ate our fair share of banana bread, Rice Krispies, cookies, and rhubarb dessert!

The Lemonade Day participants offered excellent customer service and hospitality at each stand. The media tour particularly enjoyed seeing multiple themed costumes, clever lemonade names, and families working together to serve each customer. The kids’ determination to keep their businesses open, rain or shine, made Lemonade Day that much sweeter.

It was amazing to see an increase in participation for Lemonade Day 2018! There were 205 kids registered this year, in comparison to 166 in 2017. Additionally, 68 kids took advantage of the Brand Your Stand feature on the website to put their stands on the map. We hope to see an increase in contest participants as well.

For our young entrepreneurs: now that you have successfully made it through Lemonade Day, don’t put on the breaks quite yet! There are still many contests that all participants can easily enter. The deadline to enter is June 20th.

Best Stand Contest:

Send 2-3 images of your stand on Lemonade Day to lemonadedaywilliston@gmail.com

Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Contest:

Submit your Business Results form on lemonadeday.org/williston and check the box that says “Yes! I want to be entered into the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Contest!”

Most Successful Business Contest:

Submit your Business Results form on lemonadeday.org/williston

Most Creative Business Theme Contest:

Email your pictures to lemonadedaywilliston@gmail.com

Don’t forget to attend the Awards BBQ on June 26th from 4:30-6:30pm at Harmon Park. All attendees will have the chance to win some awesome prizes!

Thank you to our generous sponsors, active parents, and everyone who made Lemonade Day 2018 a great success!

 

 

 

One last blog…

As I was considering my final blog and the message I wanted to leave you with, I was reminded of a letter we received at the chamber.   Without giving you the details, it stated that a couple both living and working in this community sent out a shower invitation with registration at online sites only, much to the surprise and disappointment of the author.

The point is valid.  And it is why we at the Chamber have been focused on promoting and educating everyone about the importance of supporting and shopping local.  No doubt, the online battle is one being fought throughout the whole nation and our community is impacted like everyone else.  Even the Supreme Court is at odds as to how to handle sales tax on online purchases.   But the fact that this matter is in their court shows how big of an issue this is particularly in this day and age.  Retailers are trying to adapt to their finicky customers, but the fact remains that we need businesses here so that we can get our goods same day.  We need to support our local businesses who provide those tax dollars which support us all.

Perhaps it could be said that sometimes online shopping is convenient, and that there are some things better suited to be purchased in that way.  But, the fact remains that there are plenty of stores, plenty of options, and plenty of reasons why supporting local businesses needs to be at the forefront of people’s minds.  Local businesses are the backbone of our community:  the same community in which you call home.  I have talked to dozens of people who have recently moved their families to our area and they all say the same thing.  They love it here!

I may be leaving the chamber, but I am not leaving this wonderful community.  We have so very much to be thankful for already and much to support so that our community can continue to grow, evolve, and support us as well.

I will leave this blog with how I answered the letter:  please pass the word to your friends and family on all that the Williston Area has to offer: the shopping, parks and recreation, employment and business opportunities, a community hospital, a community college, friendly neighbors, and caring leaders.  And most importantly, spread the word on the importance of supporting our local businesses.

-Janna

Spring! And another change…

This week I blogged how spring is finally here, and this weekend’s weather should leave no doubt that it is finally upon us.  The grass turning green, buds sprouting on trees, the baby calves out in the fields, the sunshine warming our faces and our moods:  nature has a way of reminding us about change.  It reminds us that it comes regardless of what we do.  Like the warm weather after a long cold winter, nature reminds us that change is welcomed.  I have often blogged and written about change because as humans we often resist change and for many it is a difficult reality.  As soon as you get used to one change, another comes.  And often while the ‘ink is still drying’ on your attempts to deal with that change, more may come unexpectedly.   It can be frustrating, but as a good friend pointed out to me, it’s important to think about cheese.

Who moved my cheese? is a business fable illustrating attitudes and actions that people can take when confronted with change.  A good short read, I highly recommend for anyone who hasn’t read it.  The point is, though, that change while hard, should be expected, welcomed, and sometimes chosen.

Here in the Williston market, we should be particularly accustomed to it.  With the remarkable population growth and the infrastructure projects needed to accompany that, there have been and continue to be countless changes.  Some small, like an updated storefront, some large like the US2 road construction last summer.  It was hard to wait patiently through these seasons where roads were being created, widened, adding lights for safety and traffic flow, and more.  Some people may not have even known about the water treatment plant until it was completed but you were directly impacted whether you realize or not.

Back to change.  This week, I informed my Board of Directors and my staff of my resignation from my position as President of the Chamber as of May 23rd.  And I wanted to take this time to tell our members and the community.   I wish I could tell you all in person how I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the business community and lead such a great organization.  It is bittersweet for me, knowing that I leave while there is still work to be done, but I look ahead toward the opportunity to contribute to the community at another important organization, our hospital – CHI St. Alexius Health’s Foundation.

My time at the Chamber has been full of change.  But change is good.  And while a change in leadership at the Chamber may be accompanied by changes in other leadership throughout the community after the results of election day on June 12th, I have full confidence that we are headed in the right direction.  Last week I also blogged about how well positioned we are for the future.  I could write another whole article or two about how that is true despite our area’s growing pains…maybe another time!

The Chamber has a strong focus on its mission to ‘Champion the United Business Community’.  It has great staff and a strong board, and I am confident that it will remain steadfast on its path to advocate and work for the business community.  Our valuable programs, events, and committees will continue to provide opportunities to connect and grow your business.  The Chamber’s strong partnerships with other entities will continue to unify us.

Because I know and see it’s potential, I will persist in promoting and serving this wonderful growing, evolving community, just in a different role.

-Janna

Spring…Finally!

Although today isn’t one of the sunniest of days, there is no doubt that spring is finally upon us.  The snow has melted, and last weekend was so beautiful I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy being outside.  My son has a good start on his farmer’s tan already.  And although today could be considered a bit gloomy, the forecast for this weekend is absolutely amazing.  As 17th century American poet Anne Dudley Bradstreet aptly penned “If we had no winter, spring would not be so pleasant”.

Just like the improved moods of everyone living around here, the increased activity around the Williston area is tangible.  Even the cows having their calves remind us that change and new growth is not only inevitable but it is welcomed – just like spring after a long winter!  And there’s nothing better than good old nature to remind us of that.

At the Chamber, we are busy with the candidate forums this week.  Even though the results of the elections are yet to be determined, I find myself excited to be involved in the process and the possibilities that lie ahead.  No matter what the outcome, it is refreshing to see new people and new faces becoming involved and running for these positions.  Our elected officials have an extremely important job to do and are responsible to our businesses and the residents of this community.

Despite what some people (not familiar with our area) may erroneously believe, the Williston area is far from ever busted.  It is poised for the future.  Our very growth alone is evident in the birth rate, our school enrollment, and the plentiful job opportunities.  But it doesn’t stop with numbers.  It’s about the people.  It is about our evolving community and shaping our future to what we want it to be.   Which is especially vital for those in positions elected to represent us to remember.  The Williston area may have had a few growing pains along the way, but I have full confidence that we are on the right track.   After the long hard ‘winter’ of being hunkered down while infrastructure improvements were completed, our business community has endured and found efficiencies.  I trust that our elected officials will do the same.

I cannot urge you enough to be involved in the process of electing those who will represent our community.  Make your voice be heard on June 12th and then sit back and enjoy the pleasant spring.

-Janna

Almost Election Time!

One of the privileges of being an American is the right to vote.  We are blessed to live in a county where our government is run by elected representatives.  I would venture further in saying that is more than a privilege – it is our duty to vote for these representatives.  And while not everyone may agree upon who is elected, the important process is there nonetheless.  Come June 12th, just a few short weeks away, are some important elections for our local community.

Being involved in our local elections are just as important for our community as supporting our local businesses.  Therefore, I urge you to get informed and vote and your Chamber is here to help!  The Chamber’s Government Affairs committee in conjunction with the Williston Herald will be hosting forums for voters to get to know some of the candidates in the upcoming elections.  Three forums will be held at the Williston ARC from 6-8pm and will feature those running in races where there are more candidates than open seats.   Please plan to attend one or all of the forums:

  • April 30th – District #1 State Representative – Republican
  • May 1st – District #1 County Commission and City Commission Seats
  • May 3rd – District #1 and District #8 School Board

Questions for the candidates can be submitted online.

To determine your voting district for the County Click Here.

You input your address in the search bar in the top left of the page. It will immediately show you what district you reside in. Then, if you click anywhere on the map it will show a new window that will list your polling location. Scrolling through using the arrows will also display what city limits you are in as well as contact information for your district’s County Commissioner.

Again, our upcoming forums are not for all the races – only those with more candidates than open seats.  We will be hosting more forums in the Fall before the general election.

I think it is wonderful to see so many interested candidates.  It reinforces what I already know about the potential for our community’s progress!   Participate in supporting those that will directly impact the growth and evolution of our community.   I urge you to be involved, get informed and get out and vote.

-Janna

Almost graduation time!

One of the more discreet programs that the Chamber runs is the Leadership Williston program.  It silently transpires over the course of 6 months using the community as a classroom.  It teaches leadership skills, develops awareness of issues and challenges facing our region, inspires participants to influence others, and motivates them to become involved in the community.

Although it may be more intimate in nature, having only 10-15 participants per year, it is still impactful.  Over a dozen influential people in the community arrange different days which inform the participants on various issues and topics specific to our economy.  Developed and implemented by the Leadership & Education Committee of the Chamber, the LW program’s history of developing leaders dates back over 20 years.  Along with the instructional part of the program, the participants each tackle a project.  They often identify a need or lack in the community or focus on something that may be near and dear to their heart.  Some past projects include:

  • Marketplace for Kids
  • Frisbee Golf at Spring Lake Park
  • Dog Park at Spring Lake Park
  • Junior Achievement
  • Little Muddy Recreation Area
  • Childcare at Good Shephard Lutheran Church
  • Keep Williston Clean
  • Lemonade Day
  • Williston Parks & Rec Trail System
  • Downtown Improvements
  • Numerous clothing drives, kid’s camps, walks/5K’s for various fundraising efforts

This is just to list a few!  There are many more projects, some lasting, some once and done, still others in progress or continued by others.  Yet, every single one has made an impact on this community.  The full list of alumni cannot be listed here either, but many alumni now sit on boards around town or have employment as executive directors and executive vice presidents.  Even a current City Commissioner can claim LW Alumni status!

At the Chamber, we are very proud of this program, its legacy, and its future.  Our Leadership Williston Alumni are influencing and advancing our community.  Consider attending the graduation at the end of this month to learn about some projects and how you can help.  Consider applying yourself or having one of your employees apply to the program next year.  While a significant time commitment, you are certain to receive a benefit for investing your time to complete the program.  Not to mention the value you provide the community – when you help others you inevitably help yourself as well! To learn more, you can visit our website and see some of last years projects.

It has been said that true success and leadership is about influencing others to achieve their own greatness.  I consider the Chamber’s Leadership Williston program a lasting success.  I look forward to being a part of honoring the newest alumni for their hard work and dedication to themselves and this community.

-Janna

Official from the Mayor!

Last week, Mayor Klug proclaimed June 16, 2018 Lemonade Day Williston.  This will be the fourth year that kids in our community have been learning how to run a business through this fantastic program.  This year, we have another chance to empower our young entrepreneurs and teach life skills.  Additionally, we are excited about some changes which are sure to improve upon an already successful program.

  • Contests – a new judging method will be implemented for all participants. Contests include:
    • Entrepreneur of the Year
    • Best Stand
    • Best Tasting
  • Best Tasting will be judged on June 12th – participants will have a chance to practice their recipe before opening to the public. They also get a chance to present their business plan to the judges.
  • BBQ – the kids get to celebrate their success through the program and day of selling at a fun picnic on June 26th. Awards for the contests and prizes for many participants will be handed out at the BBQ.  A very special thanks to Williston Community Builders who have supported this program by providing the food and cooking for the BBQ each year.

More details on the program will follow as we get closer to Lemonade Day, but first, kids need to register!  Participants can start signing up for this free program on April 16th  – you stop by the Chamber or visit https://www.lemonadeday.org/williston. We will also have a booth at Kids Day Out April 21st at the UMV Fairgrounds.

The foremost objective of Lemonade Day is to inspire and educate our youth to become productive members of our society – the business leaders, social advocates, volunteers, and forward-thinking citizens of tomorrow.  It is a wonderful community event that not only teaches our youth but develops our community.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to be involved before, I highly suggest you do this year!  Sign up your kid or sign up your business as a safe stand location and simply come out to support the entrepreneurs of our community.

As the Mayor said in his proclamation:  all residents of the greater Williston area can participate and have a role: either selling or buying lemonade on June 16, 2018.

-Janna

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