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Highlights from 2020 provided by the Waconia Chamber of Commerce. (Photos courtesy of Waconia Chamber of Commerce)

The Waconia Chamber of Commerce announced its new board of directors at its 2021 annual meeting last Thursday and recognized two board members who served out their terms.

New board members include Jason Tollefsrud of Cabinetworks Group, Allen Cole of Island View Golf Club, Jamie Mackenthun of Mackenthun’s Fine Foods, and Dee DeLange of Waconia Brewing.

Andy Strong of Waconia Dodge Chrysler Jeep, is the new board chair, replacing Sarah Urtel of Ridgeview, who completed her term. Todd Hann of HomeTown Bank is incoming chair and Mona Platt of SLS treasurer. Departing board members recognized for their service include Gina Holman of J. Carver Distillery and Megan Van Eyll of Shape It Up Fitness.

The meeting was held virtually online this year due to the ongoing pandemic, which influenced many activities in 2020, cancelling or modifying traditional mainstay events like Nickle Dickle Day.

In fact, among the Chamber’s 2020 accomplishments highlighted at the meeting were serving as a source of information on COVID-19 impacts, CARES funding and other pandemic support. The Chamber also helped with the distribution of more than 58,000 masks in the area, noted Chamber president Christine Fenner.

Among some other highlights: Purchases in the community of $80,000 in “Chamber bucks” to support local businesses, support for “teachers in the workplace” internships, Chamber ambassador visits and ribbon cuttings. The Chamber currently has 260 members and 10,000 Facebook followers, Fenner reported.

Business leaders also heard highlights of the past year from city and county leaders.

Mayor Kent Bloudek and interim city administrator Jackie Schulze shared updates on housing, infrastructure projects, city finances, and the search for a new city administrator and fire chief.

The city approved five new housing developments last year, more than 250 new units, made improvements to Brook Peterson Park, and also completed a major infrastructure project while planning for others in 2021-2023. A virtual open house about upcoming downtown construction projects is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. Details and log-in information are available on the city website at www.waconia.org/downtown.

Meanwhile, the city’s operating budget stayed generally flat and the tax rate declined slightly, Schulze reported, although a Waconia home owner’s typical city tax bill is expected to see a slight increase of about $34 due primarily to an increase in taxable market value, she explained.

In terms of other projects, fundraising progress is being made on Waconia’s proposed Inclusive Playground for kids of all abilities, with more than $184,000 raised to date, according to Schulze. The next big fundraiser is a Lake Waconia Polar Plunge in tandem with Special Olympics Minnesota planned for March 20 at Lake Waconia Regional Park.

At the county level, Commissioner Tim Lynch, who represents Waconia, highlighted actions the county has taken to provide assistance to individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic.

Lynch also updated annual meeting attendees on area road projects, while Sam Pertz, parks and trails supervisor, shared an update on building plans for Lake Waconia Regional Park. 

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