McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce
Hello from the President!
Hello and welcome to the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce! This year has seen quite a few changes to the Chamber. We brought Ray Blair on board. Ray is our new Executive Director whose role will be to guide us as we develop membership, membership benefits, meetings for members and find out how the Chamber can better serve its members.
So far, Ray has brought in new members and increased membership by 25%!
We are looking towards exciting things from Ray as he continues to expand our relationships with business owners and residents of the McKenzie. Our new events, classes, webinars, information on the website are all new and exciting. Stay tuned for more and join us in the upcoming months ahead!
Nadine Scott, President
Meet our Members:
Patsy's Stage Stop
We visited Patsy Wilson, of Patsy's Stage Stop. Hearing her recall the story of her successful restaurant reminds us how much hard work, community support and good food has made her a treasured landmark here on the McKenzie.
“When I first got this place, it was eight hours a day, six days a week. I went six months without taking a day off,” says Patsy Wilson, owner and proprietor of Patsy's Stage Stop. "There was a Pepsi machine. There was a video machine. There was video poker machine and a deli case sitting there and there was dry rot. I moved the bar around. There were people sitting here and reading the paper. Some days I would get $27.00. I would get up in the morning and say, I am going to fix breakfast, lunch and dinner. All I had then was an electric skillet. You had to go through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. There was an old barn. I took the barn out and put the deck in. I in put the booths and the counters. I had a slim chance of making it.
On Friday nights, I started with Prime Rib. The community loved it. It took me three years of working with electric skillets. I do all my all of my soups and gravy fresh. Every bit is from scratch. I brought my sister out from Texas and we redecorated. The community came in. They brought me prop guns. Some people brought saws; some brought in wagon wheels from the 1800’s. It was amazing. I had been in the restaurant business in Eugene for years. I was born here. I’m 65 years old now. I just took to the business. I started out as a waitress. I worked for Bobby Fisher for 14 years, then I came here. I just took to cooking. I’m self-taught. I was working at a place and one night they didn’t have a cook. It was as simple as that. What I really like best are the people. I’ll talk to them. They enjoy the meals. It’s so nice. Valerie, my sister, has been so instrumental. She said, “if you take care of the front, I’ll take care of the kitchen.” There are a million downsides and I've made so many mistakes. But I’m still alive. The business is 's seasonal. Winter slows down. May picks up. My most famous dish? Sausage gravy. I make it from scratch. Then there’s my clam chowder; corn beef hash; hash browns and home fries. I’ll pick up a potato slice it and fresh. It’s all home cooking. Of course, there’s the fish and chips. It’s not pre-battered and it’s so good.
What’s in the future? “Spending more time with my grandkids now. I have two boys and they have kids. I’m 65 and it’s time to spend more time with them and my husband." "Come on down. You won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it!”
Find Patsy's at: 38491 McKenzie Hwy Springfield, OR 97478 Phone: (541) 741-7907
Chamber Celebrates 60 Years!
60 years ago, the Chamber began as a political action group formed by local businesses and residents to fight a dam proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would have formed a lake from mp 33 to mp 47.5 (Vida to Blue River). As a group of dedicated, hard working volunteers, they were successful in their efforts.
Since that time in 1957, the Chamber has grown and gone through many changes. Although data from the 1960’s is very sketchy, in the 70’s documentation was more available.
During the late 1960’s the office was a small recreational trailer that was moved up and down to different sites along the valley. Volunteers who handed out tourist information to highway travelers during the summer months manned the “portable office.”
During 1971, the Chamber moved into its first real office, an unused U.S. West phone company switching station in Leaburg and acquired its first staff person, a volunteer office manager.
In 1994 an agreement was worked out by the board with Lane County to receive a percentage of the room tax monies generated by lodging along the McKenzie corridor. This enabled the Chamber to implement a small marketing plan to increase overnight stays in the valley and to hire an office manager to respond to visitor requests about amenities in the valley.
In 1996 the Chamber, in partnership with Lane County, USFS, BLM, Army Corps, EWEB, State Parks, ODFW, and the US West Pioneers (retired telephone workers) moved the office to the Old McKenzie Fishery Hatchery on Leaburg Lake. The Chamber opened the first permanent Visitors Information Center at this location. This was all made possible by a USFS grant of $212,000 to Lane County and the Chamber to refurbish the historic buildings on the site.
By the year 2000 the hatchery site was in full operation with a paid office/tourist information manager and volunteers who worked on the site. By 2001, when the Lane County Parks Dept. became involved, the site was able to be open to the public year ‘round by the addition of volunteer camp hosts during the summer months.
Lane County room tax monies have also been helpful in providing many projects to increase overnight stays in the valley: These include indoor visitor annexes in Blue River and Rainbow; and outdoor kiosks in Walterville and the hatchery site; community “Welcome” signs in Leaburg, Rainbow, and McKenzie Bridge; hospitality training for employees at local businesses; advertising in state tourism campaigns, as well as Lane County and local recreation/traveler’s guides; full color geographical maps of the area; and an events calendar for McKenzie Valley community fairs and festivals.
Membership is Up!
"Memberships are up this year by 14 new members," says Ray Blair, MRCC Executive Director. "We have new members joining every month." We're looking for volunteers to help us support the community. If you have a desire to help out at events, create flyers, brochures, get on the phone, meet and greet people, just lend your ideas, come to our meetings. Perhaps you'd like to be a speaker or know of one. Are you a retired business person? Would you like to write an article? Speak at a meeting?
Hot Off the Press! Newcomers Guide to Life on the McKenzie
New Benefit for Members - Welcome Baskets
The Tourism Committee
The Tourism Committee is one of the most interesting and exciting committees in the McKenzie! This committee supports our Signature Events such as the Chainsaw Festival, McKenzie Frenzy, Wooden Boat Show and more. Do you have an event? Would you like to know more about promoting tourism? Come to the meetings the second Tuesday of each month. Get on the mailing list at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would you like your business to be featured?
Are you a member and would like your business to be featured on the Chamber's website? Let us know! Contact us at email@example.com.
Have news? Contact Chere Estrin