Seven individuals who either individually or through their workplace are members of the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce are seeking one of three board of directors positions that begin in 2013.

The Chamber membership election is scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the Windows to the West meeting room at Budget Lodging. All businesses may cast one vote for any three nominees.

The seven candidates are Matt Beeson of Plaze Inc.; Teresa Connelly, who has an individual membership; Lori Gratzer of Studio 66 Salon; Kira Long of Firehouse Signs & Designs; Frank Stokes, retired from Monsanto; Laura Sullivan of Farmers & Merchants Bank; and Nathan Tate of Main Line Hauling Co., LLC.

“This is a critical time for our Chamber as we are working to position the organization for great things to come,” Executive Director Angela Crawford said. “All seven candidates have very diverse backgrounds and skill sets and would make a great addition to our board.”

Through the voting process, Chamber members will select three of the seven to replace Charlie Butler, Paula Dace and Debbie Mitchell. Butler’s and Dace’s terms expire at the end of this year while Mitchell resigned from the board earlier this year. Current board Secretary Bethany Perryman, of Plaze Inc., whose term also will expire at the end of the year, was appointed by the board to fill Mitchell’s one-year vacancy. She will serve until the end of 2013.

Chamber members who cannot attend the Nov. 28 meeting but wish to vote may do so by absentee ballot. People can visit the Chamber office, 920 Plaza Drive, Suite F, before the end of the day on Tuesday, Nov. 27, to turn in a ballot. Ballots must be in a sealed envelope. They will not be opened until all votes are counted on Nov. 28.

“Remember, only one vote per business,” Crawford said.

The three who are elected will serve three-year terms beginning on Jan. 1, 2013.


Beeson is the director of operations for Plaze’s St. Clair facility, which handles contract packaging. He has lived in St. Clair for 35 years and worked locally for 20.

“I would like to be on the board to help St. Clair grow to its fullest potential,” he said.

As far as suggestions to make the Chamber more relevant to its members and community, Beeson mentioned additional exposure.

Connelly has lived in the St. Clair-Union area for nine years.

“I have found that there were many interesting and vibrant members of both the Chamber and merchants organizations who shared a similar vision of how they wanted to move St. Clair forward with citizen involvement and collaborate with businesses,” she said. “I like to be around people like that. I met many business owners who are creative and have great ideas and truly want to see St. Clair prosper and grow.”

Gratzer owns Studio 66 Salon in St. Clair and is the chairperson of the Chamber’s Merchants Committee. She has lived locally for 43 years.

“I want to help make a positive difference for the St. Clair area businesses and community,” she said, adding that she would lead by example and be “very community involved.”

Long, owner of Firehouse Signs & Designs, has lived in St. Clair since 2004 and has owned her business for a year.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to be on the board because I love the idea of sharing thoughts and opinions about where and how our community needs to grow,” she said.

As far as making the Chamber more relevant, Long said, “Network, network, network. It’s very important that the Chamber reach out to all the businesses in the community and find out their likes, dislikes, needs and concerns.

Stokes has lived in St. Clair for 30 years and said he has found the St. Clair area a wonderful place to live.

“I want to contribute back to the community I call home,” he said, adding. “I look forward to learning in more detail about the needs of the community and of the Chamber’s members before I make any suggestions.”

Sullivan is the human resources manager at Farmers & Merchants Bank and has lived and worked in St. Clair for two years.

“I would like to become more involved with the businesses and the people who work within the St. Clair community,” she said. It will be a mutually beneficial experience to work toward continued growth, and I am hoping to provide a positive influence.”

Sullivan added that if elected, she hopes to “find ways to help promote future and continued growth, which will help open up new job opportunities. I would like to encourage volunteerism and community involvement, too.”

Tate is the sales manager of Main Line Hauling, and also is an alderman for the city. He has lived in St. Clair his entire life.

“I want to help further the business community in St. Clair,” he said. I feel there has been a lot of progress made in the last year, and I want to help propel that momentum. ... If we can be more active with each other, and with prospects for the Chamber, I feel it will benefit all the members with more business and growth of the Chamber and the St. Clair business community as a whole.”

Tate also said as far as making the Chamber more relevant, he suggests “a closer working relationship between the city and the Chamber.”

For more information, contact the Chamber at 636-629-6000, extension 3.