Chamber meeting teaches residents to protect themselves and children

By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter

At the Chamber Luncheon on Nov. 13 Barbie Killion began by thanking the Harlem Ambassadors who came all the way from Billings and were understandably late due to horrible weather. Their show did not disappoint, despite the delay.

Killion gave an overview of what to expect and look for at this year’s Christmas Stroll. New this year is the Christmas Shop at Home Button Program. This program was started in an attempt to encourage people to shop locally. Purchasing a Christmas Stroll pin will get you discounts at participating businesses. The deals that most businesses are giving will essentially have your button paid for at one stop. Buttons can be purchased from the Chamber and some participating businesses for $10.

Twelve winning Conrad second graders provided the designs for the pins. This program will run from the time of the Christmas Stroll all the way up until Christmas. After purchasing a button you will be entered into a raffle to win $300 and $200 worth of Chamber Gift Certificates that can be redeemed at any Conrad Chamber of Commerce business.

Killion went on to mention that during the Christmas Stroll this year there will be a photo booth for family photos. Two different sizes of trees, wreaths, and smaller artificially pre-lit trees will be available to use as props. Photos will be emailed to the recipient to do with as they choose, or Christmas cards and prints can be ordered.

Police Chief Gary Dent mentioned that there has been a surge of scams lately, and also that Halloween was relatively uneventful.

The library will be displaying some art by Dale Sheldon who spoke at the recent Friends of the Library meeting about his new book. Photographic artwork by Erin Berzel will also soon be on display and will be available for purchase. Look for it on Dec. 23.

PMC announced upcoming price adjustments that may result in increases on some bills. After reviewing prices in surrounding area hospitals, the adjustments are considered comparable: not the highest, but not the lowest either.

Mayor Wendy Judisch thanked voters for heading to the polls. There was a slightly lower voter turnout than usual: 52 percent. She recognized Daniel Jones as a new councilman, and also mentioned that she signed up for the Hi-Line Hop. Aside from raising money for Special Olympics, Mayor Judisch’s participation is a bit of a friendly wager between her and two other mayors to see who can raise the most money. There was talk of grass skirts and coconuts for the mayor’s attire at the plunge, over a modest outfit, of course.

Pondera Health Department is still offering flu shots, though time is narrowing for the effectiveness of the shot. There have been six cases of whooping cough, and all those who have not done so are encouraged to get vaccinated or their booster shot.

Joel Farkell reported that the presentations at the schools during Fire Prevention Week went well. He also mentioned the CVFD are always on the lookout for new volunteers. Those in need of smoke detectors can contact the fire department. Also, it’s chimney cleaning time. The fire department will clean them for a fee, or they have brushes available to those who wish to do it themselves. Farkel will be the guest speaker at the next Chamber luncheon on Dec. 11, and he will be speaking about GMOs, the source of genetically modified foods.

Principal Tara Thielman was on hand to speak for the public school system. She reported that there are 36 kids in the after school program that runs from after school to 5 p.m. Class C schools have been mentioning that they would like to continue using Conrad’s facilities for tournaments. Harold Olson mentioned that tournaments always require volunteers. “Make sure to volunteer when you can,” he said.

Horizon Lodge is having a trivia night to help raise funds for the walking path they hope to build. They also mentioned that the proceeds from one entire round will be donated to Eric Norby.

Jane Christman, guest speaker with Ryan United, spoke about keeping neighborhoods safe from sex offenders. Christman’s son, Ryan, was kidnapped from his own backyard in 1987 before being sexually assaulted and murdered by a man that had recently been let out of prison early for molesting another child. He was living with a minimal amount of supervision.

This tragic event prompted her other son, Derek VanLuchene, to start Ryan United in an attempt to better educate people about sex offenders so that they are capable of protecting themselves and their children. Ryan United is also working towards creating better laws to keep track of sex offenders.

Christman mentioned she would like to see level three sex offenders implanted with a chip behind their eye so that they can be tracked. She went on to explain that a chip location on the arm or leg would make it easier for removal.

Using her own personal experience she took attendees through the dos and don’ts of keeping your children safe. Tips included knowing where your child likes to play and hang out so that you know where to look first should they go missing and also having a recent picture around.

She also mentioned that when kids are on the computer they are essentially absent from your house. Put the computer somewhere in the house where they can have privacy, but where you can also walk by from time to time to see what they are up to. One of the problems that has arisen in this technological age is how to keep children safe from the internet when they are now carrying it around in their pocket.

After encouragement from Christman, there was talk of getting the “Safe House” program up and running again. She encouraged the community to use natural resources such as retired citizens who are home more often than families with multiple working members.

Christman also took time to discuss the events that led up to Derek VanLuchene becoming a police officer, and what eventually led him to starting Ryan United.

Parents and other parties interested in learning more about child safety are encouraged to visit www.take25.org and www.ryanunited.org . Take 25 is an excellent resource for tips on how to keep your child safe, and also steps to take if you believe your child has been taken or molested. For those looking to get more involved visit Ryan United.

The next regularly schedule Chamber luncheon will be at noon on Dec. 11 at The Keg.