Kremmling Chamber director reluctantly resigns
Ryan Summerlin July 22, 2014
On Thursday [July 17], I announced my resignation as the Executive Director of the Kremmling Area Chamber of Commerce. It was a decision that stunned some in the community, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to others.
I accepted the position in December of 2013 after weighing the pros and cons of a lean, part-time salary with no benefits against leaving my husband’s business. We decided together for me to take the job because we are passionate about Kremmling and West Grand’s future.
My husband and I chose to settle in Kremmling in 2009. We were not placed here via a job transfer — we made a conscious decision to raise our family here because we liked the community and the schools. We opened a business on Park Avenue, and our two children are very active in the schools and sports programs.
I viewed taking on the Chamber role as an opportunity to share what I have come to love about Kremmling with the Front Range and others throughout the Western region. Hosting events was an opportunity to help our community and our people shine.
Growth for Kremmling means the infusion of people from other places, with different backgrounds, knowledge, education and experience — as it always has. Most communities would see this as a tremendous asset. It has been made clear to me through the actions and words of a few that Kremmling does not.
As our tagline implies, Kremmling is untapped and untamed. In my opinion, both economically and recreationally. It turns out the town is actually stifled by the small-mindedness of a loud minority.
With 20 years experience as a marketer and event planner, I know what it takes to make money and host successful events. I pushed hard to expand the beer gardens for Kremmling Days and the Fourth of July events because events that allow participants to responsibly enjoy alcohol and socialize is a standard expectation of mountain festival-goers.
That decision sparked a very heated debate in Kremmling, which led to me being bullied and harassed, receiving hate mail and having obnoxious, mysterious notes posted on the Visitor’s Center door. It is asinine to me that three days out of 365 caused such an uproar.
The fallout from my push for more mainstream events to bring visitors to our town (to consume food at restaurants, purchase things from our stores and stay in our hotels) has been nothing short of astounding. Every decision I made while being director was with the intention of helping Kremmling thrive; yet every decision has been met with obstinacy and inane criticism. It saddens me that there are so many people who are against progress and want to “keep (Kremmling) the way it was.”
A picture of Kremmling from the early 1900s is making its way around the West Grand Facebook community: Ah, if only West Grand never would have changed … an isolated community surrounded by dirt and scrub with quaint utilitarian buildings. I’m sure the family ranches could have sustained the community indefinitely. Obviously said tongue-in-cheek. The world and economy have changed in the last 110 years.
Growth for Kremmling means the infusion of people from other places, with different backgrounds, knowledge, education and experience — as it always has. Most communities would see this as a tremendous asset. It has been made clear to me through the actions and words of a few that Kremmling does not. (One only has to read posts and comments on the “You Know You’re Kremmling If…” group on Facebook to have it made very clear that people not born in Kremmling are not welcome here.)
It saddens me to leave the position, but I also have come to realize the Chamber is facing a battle up a steep, slippery slope. I wish my Board the best — they have been supportive of my actions and decisions. It is my hope that someday our Chamber Director will experience an open-minded, less hostile environment that allows for fresh ideas and forward thinking.