Chamber executive director has big goals

Deborra Brannon
Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Richard Dinges takes a moment to talk about his approach to spreading the word about Dunsmuir’s events and opportunities.

Events and opportunities in Dunsmuir are going to be well known from Medford to Anderson if Richard Dinges has anything to say about it.

Dinges, who retired last year from his position as general manager of the McCloud Community Services District, became the part-time Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce Executive Director about four months ago.

“Some months after I retired, I started to get a little bored,” he said. “I realized that work is actually my hobby.”

He’s been a busy man.

“Dunsmuir is like a secret treasure here in the mountains. I’ve been delighted to launch marketing efforts to bring visitors, potential residents, and businesses in,” he said.

Dinges has been marketing events along the northern stretch of Interstate 5, talking with local Chamber and visitor center staffs along the way. He said he has left brochures and hung posters in as many places as possible and brought information from many other cities and towns back to display in the Dunsmuir Visitors’ Center.

He said the folks he’s spoken with during this effort have liked the idea of “mutual marketing,” and he believes it’s working well for Dunsmuir.

“We’ve had a lot of visitors this season so far, folks who say they’ve seen our posters or picked up our brochures between Anderson and Ashland,” he said.

Events already established in Dunsmuir are shifting a bit under the leadership of Dinges and his team.

He said he’s been talking to some of the younger business owners in Dunsmuir about what the Chamber has been doing. They ask themselves as a team, ‘How do we make this better?’

This year, the Big Fish program includes a bounty contest designed for catch and release anglers. In addition to rewarding the angler who catches the biggest fish, the program offers rewards to those who catch and release a tagged fish.

“There’s now a bounty on the tagged ‘big fish’ and bounty licenses are available at the Dunsmuir Chamber. All catch and release anglers need to bring in is the tag – not the fish,” Dinges explained.

Each tag is worth $100 or more for the angler who turns it in - but only if he or she has purchased a bounty license.

“If they don’t have a license, they’ll just get something small like a stapler or a balloon,” Dinges said with a grin.

The Dunsmuir Chamber has posters up along I-5 and ads in various magazines publicizing the new ‘Big Fish’ program.

“We’re looking to bring even more folks up from Redding, Sacramento, and the Bay Area,” Dinges said.

Dunsmuir’s Brewfest on August 23 will look a bit different as well.

Last year, according to Dinges, five breweries participated. This year 25 breweries have signed on.

The majority of brewers who expressed interest in last year’s Brewfest were contacted about coming this year, and the Chamber looked for a date that would work for everyone, he said. “We looked at the logistics carefully, and then set a date that didn’t conflict with other brewfests.”

Revenue from the Brewfest will be distributed not only to the Chamber, according to Dinges, but to Dunsmuir’s schools, its Growers Market, and toward next year’s Brewfest.

Dinges said he’s looking forward to reinitiating an alliance of Chambers of Commerce throughout the county.

“That way we can work together to help bring people into Siskiyou County,” he said.

When Dinges first worked with the Dunsmuir Chamber as a volunteer board member, he helped with such tasks as creating a budget and writing the job description for the executive director position.

When interim Dunsmuir Chamber executive director Nora Silber left her position, Dinges accepted the job.

His background includes a 12 year stint as manager of the Stinson Beach county water district and years of experience working in engineering firms.

He said he’s glad to be able to serve the Dunsmuir community in his present role.