The Greater Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce has been under attack of being the entity that is banning illegal fireworks in the City of Crouch. Many event planning meetings at different times involved the Sheriff, the County Prosecuting Attorney, the Fire Chief and the land owner representative. The meetings included Chamber Board members. At those meetings it was made clear to Chamber President Diane Caughlin, that the land owners of the center of Crouch did not want the illegal fireworks activity on their property any longer.
The information was given to the media about that decision before the General Meeting of the Chamber, Thursday March 9th. A surprised Caughlin started to get calls prior to the meeting that evening from news organizations. KTVB news of Boise was present at that meeting reported on the discussions that the Chamber had after following up on the requests by city officials and land owners of Old Crouch Road which aired later that night with correct and positive information.
At that meeting, the chamber had two options after the landowners who are most affected said they no longer wanted fireworks on their property. Members were asked if the Chamber should hold the normal 4th of July Chamber sponsored events and continue forward, or shut the entire event down this year and do a re-set. Since the Chamber sponsors the Fourth of July celebration, they wanted to show they would be in agreement with city of Crouch and property owners to disallow the use any fireworks in the center of town. The chamber voted on those requests by a show of hands.
Caughlin says, “We, the Chamber, didn’t have any voice in that decision. We only delivered the message since we are the ones that organize the event every year. Unfortunately, the Chamber is taking the hit for something that is totally out of our control.” Caughlin goes on to say, “I read in last week’s paper that the question was asked if the Chamber was ‘the governing agency in Crouch’, with which she answered, “No, we are not and have never tried to act like we are. We are here to promote the businesses and community, period.” The City of Crouch is the governing body and has taken appropriate steps to prepare a citywide Firework Ordinance after listening to the land owner’s requests prior to the General Meeting of the Chamber.
Unfortunately, the Chamber has been singled out as the bad guy by some and hero to others. Many people agree with the notion that they can come back to Crouch and enjoy a family day/evening there without worrying over illegal fireworks sailing past them. The people that aren’t in agreement with the landowners decision seem to want to blame the Chamber since they were the “messenger” of that decision. Somehow, news gets misconstrued. The message rumored around town became, “They are not having any fireworks not even the Chamber sponsored fireworks.” This is certainly not true as the Chamber fireworks will continue as in years past.
Caughlin want to make sure the facts are straight by saying, “We are only doing what we have done for years. We are providing the celebration for our nations Independence Day. I am ONLY speaking of things that I am involved with while I have been the President from 2010-2014 and again starting in 2017. The Chamber has NEVER promoted the illegal fireworks in Crouch.
“If you look at the Fourth of July chamber posters and flyers we have produced over the years, you will see what we promote, the Pancake Breakfast by the Sr. Center, the EMS Golf Tournament at Terrace Lakes, the Flag Raising at GVP, Kids Games in the Park, the Duck Race, the Raft Race, the parade and chamber’s evening fireworks that is permitted by the Fire Department and provided by licensed contractors who volunteer their time and effort.
“This year we are trying to add a few more things too keep the families in the downtown area, to help them to gravitate towards the restaurants and shops and spend money! That is what we do!”
Caughlin has sent an email to key government employees, asking them to join in the planning, emphasizing, “We are all need to be on the same page so that we can make this transition as smooth as possible for the land owners and their wishes.”
To be a part of the decision making processes affecting your town or your business or region, become involved and try to attend meetings of the local districts, city council, chamber, planning and zoning. Otherwise decisions are left up to the few volunteers and committees. Involvement gives people a voice.
Written by Janet Juroch – BCC Staff