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OB Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Change

Oyster Bay Chamber Holiday Fundraiser Monday, October 26, at Wild Honey

Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce President Alex Gallego announced at the Sept. 28 Business After Hours that this will be his last term as president of the group. “I will not accept the position of president again,” he said after five years in office. Mr. Gallego said he was not worried about the health of the chamber saying, “We’ve had strong leadership over the past five years. You go through periods of expansion and contraction that allow an organization to grow, and to take on new ideas. We want new ideas,” he said. “Tell us what you don’t want us to do. Tell us what you do want us to do so the chamber will always be prepared and ready to work in the future.”

The Business After Hours event was held at the Stifel Nicolaus offices of President Gallego. The evening was catered tastily by Canterbury Ales owner Mark Fox and featured Oyster Bay Town Historian John Hammond who did a book signing of his newest tome, Images of America: Oyster Bay published by Arcadia Publishing.

Mr. Gallego began his talk by saying, “Even in this economy, the chamber has done so well,” as he introduced Mr. Fox and Mr. Hammond. He thanked the board members and committee chairs who provide that leadership he was talking about. They included Secretary Michele Browner; Treasurer John DeLillo; board member Dottie Simons who has been involved in beautification; event coordinator Catherine Drabin; and marketing chair Les Schachter. Mr. Gallego stressed the importance of volunteering saying, “However you help the community it is better for it. If it is by donating toward the garbage cans; or snowflakes; or volunteering to help in another capacity - it is so important, at this time, to step up and get involved with the committees.” He said Dorothy Simons of Dodds & Eder is working on the Snowflakes decoration project, cornstalks and “I volunteer as the scarecrow.” The fall and winter events need to be planned, and need leadership and partnership. He has reached out to the East Norwich Civic Association to get their view about extending the electric Snowflakes into that area.

Modern Media

Mr. Gallego said the chamber has stepped into the wide world of media with Mr. Schachter getting them on Facebook and Twitter. “We are modern and are promoting the chamber and your businesses, so get yourselves to the sites.”

He urged, “Start relationships and friendships here in the chamber.” He also acknowledged that Pat Aitken, acting director of Friends of the Bay and John Specce, president of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, were there that night. Isaac Kremer of the Main Street Association arrived later.

He said the chamber is partnering with the Main Street Association and the Oyster Bay Civic Association. He said openly, they didn’t always agree and struggled to outmatch each other – but said, “It is a good thing and the town benefits.”

The chamber has added items to the streetscape, and he said to look behind Chrison & Bellina to see the vintage bike racks there. “We are testing it out, near the fountain in what we are calling Renaissance Plaza. It is the first of many bike racks,” he said. “Why can’t we be like Europe where they leave bikes out for people to take and use (and return).” “You don’t have to speak French,” someone commented.

“We have also put in cigarette disposal containers,” on Audrey Avenue. It is a way to prevent smokers from leaving cigarette butts on the pavement in the light of smoking bans in offices and public spaces.

He credited Sally Robilotto of Aflac Insurance for spearheading the recognition of businesses that take an interest in keeping their areas well maintained. This year Nobman’s, Stifel-Nicolaus and Dodds & Eder have received recognition for their efforts.

Vice President Paige Dawson was also thanked for her help with the chamber work. “She always makes me look great. Paige Dawson is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.” She is thinking of re-locating to Connecticut where her daughter lives, and commuting to work here for Renaissance Properties, he said, adding he had been hoping she would be the next president of the chamber but her new plans stalled that idea.

Promoting Oyster Bay

President Gallego introduced John Hammond who has produced his new book, Images of America: Oyster Bay for Arcadia publishing.

Mr. Hammond said 60 years ago, when he was 8 years old, his grandfather gave him a Kodak box camera that used paper film and made great images.

“I was too shy to ask people to pose for me, so I photographed buildings.” When he showed the pictures to his relatives, they prompted discussions and family members told him stories of the past. He became the family historian, collecting information and photographs. His family has been here since 1653, “There are a lot of stories,” he said. Add to that his column Village Views on Oyster Bay history published by the Oyster Bay Guardian, and the several books he has written on local topics, and he was right for the job of author of Images of America: Oyster Bay printed by Arcadia Publishing. He said to do the book, they needed from 170 to about 270 photographs and Mr. Hammond had 2,000 of his own to chose from. He chose the year 1920 as a cut off place for the book – so he has more for another volume.

Mr. Hammond said he was able to choose the cream of the crop of the old pictures. He was helped in his search for TR material by Wallace Dailey, curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at the Houghton Library at Harvard, as well as Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Superintendent Tom Ross.

“My biggest partner was the collection of the Oyster Bay Historical Society. About half the images are mine; half are from the OBHS and all the rest from others,” he said, acknowledging that the count would be over 100 percent.

The book is doing very well, he said. It went into a second printing before the first one was in the bookstores.

Best of all, he said, 100 percent of the net proceeds go to the Angela Koenig Research Center of the Oyster Bay Historical Society to be matched by the Charles Dolan grant. “Please buy one of the books,” he added. He had a good number of them available to be signed personally.

The next event for the chamber is their annual light up the holidays event to be held on Monday, Oct. 26, at Wild Honey restaurant, said Michele Browner. It is a fundraiser for the fall and winter hamlet decorations. They are doing wreaths and banners to add color to the Townsend Square and Audrey Avenue areas. There will be a tree lighting event at the bandstand in December. She said chamber administrative assistant Darcy Tobako, who she warmly thanked, was in charge of every mailing and guest list for chamber events, and was doing an “eblast” for the fundraiser. You can call the chamber office at 922-6464 to be included on the list.