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Vernadel Peterson resigns as executive director of the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce

Vernadel Peterson has resigned as executive director of the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce. She is moving back to Chehalis, where she will promote the Lifeline program at Providence Centralia Hospital. Her resignation is effective Oct. 31, but with vacation time her last day on the job will be Oct. 15.  - Contributed photo
Vernadel Peterson has resigned as executive director of the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce. She is moving back to Chehalis, where she will promote the Lifeline program at Providence Centralia Hospital. Her resignation is effective Oct. 31, but with vacation time her last day on the job will be Oct. 15.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Vernadel Peterson has resigned as executive director of the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.

She is moving back to Chehalis, where she will promote the Lifeline program at Providence Centralia Hospital. Her resignation is effective Oct. 31, but with vacation time her last day on the job will be Oct. 15.

Peterson joined the San Juan Island chamber Oct. 6, 2009, succeeding Debbie Pigman, who retired. Peterson had been executive director of the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce, where she got high marks. "I enjoyed working for her," Centralia-Chehalis Chamber Marketing Director Brittany Voie said at the time. "She's good at building a team atmosphere. She's very easy to work with, no matter what kind of personality you are. You know what you're getting with her."

But Peterson's one-year stint here was a mix of challenges and successes.

She moved here during the height of the recession, as local spending dropped to 2004 levels. An effort to start a Friday Night Street Fair failed when the Friday Harbor Town Council and key downtown businessmen feared the impacts on traffic flow and parking. Like so many of its members, the chamber had to reduce staff, cutting a part-time position.

A local donor pulled funding from the annual Fourth of July fireworks show, but the chamber raised the money — $12,000 — through a community fund-raising campaign. The chamber had its first annual banquet. San Juan Island Style, a business showcase, is scheduled for Oct. 9 at Spring Street Landing. The chamber upgraded its membership database, enabling members to manage information about their businesses and promotions on the chamber website. The chamber boosted its e-mail marketing program, sending e-mails to about 700 people each week. The chamber also has a Facebook page.

The chamber has 300 members, with some off-island.

"I've enjoyed living here," Peterson said. "I'm disappointed that we were not able to get the street fair going because we had a strong contingency of people working on it. It's a good event that will hopefully happen in some other point in time."

Chamber President Julie Corey said the chamber will begin recruiting a new executive director immediately. The position is full-time, with salary and benefits.

The San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce is located at 135 Spring St., Friday Harbor. The phone number is 378-5240; the e-mail address is chamber@sanjuanisland.org.

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