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Chamber hires interim executive director

The Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has made the decision to hire an interim executive director in light of the departure of former executive director Darrell Sarmento.

This decision was made after the board received a large response of qualified applicants for the position.

“The board decided that they really wanted to take their time because it’s very important to choose the right person,” Sarmento said. “They have decided to hire Craig Light to be our interim Chamber executive director for however long it takes for them to go through the resumes and the interview process.

“Craig is from the Urbandale area where he was a local business leader, president of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce and was the interim Chamber Executive Director of Newton in 2010, before I was hired. Craig is very familiar with the Newton area and has a lot of friends in the Newton community.”

Sarmento has spent the week updating Light on the new procedures that have been implemented since Light left the Chamber in 2010.

“It has been a great four years, and I just want to thank everyone for his or her support of the Chamber,” Sarmento said. “I am very excited to be helping to keep things moving forward. All Chamber events will move forward as planned. We have been meeting with Main Street Executive Director Andrew Bassman and making sure that all (city business) leaders know each other and are working well together. Craig has had the chance to meet all of our key city leaders, sat through a Chamber board meeting already, so the Chamber won’t miss a beat.”

Light said his previous time in Newton made the decision to return an easy one.

“It feels fabulous to return to Newton because in 2010, I had the opportunity to meet many new great citizens, Chamber members and business owners,” he said. “I was treated very kindly and I had a fabulous experience. When I was asked recently to come back again, I was very excited as it’s truly a testament to the experience Newton gave me in 2010.

“Because if I hadn’t been treated well, the answer would have been ‘no,’’ but I was treated so well that I am honored, excited and looking forward to reacquainting myself with previous friends and businesses as well as being able to meet new friends and new businesses.”

Although he has been away, Light has noticed some things that have happened in Newton since his departure.

“I am very pleased with all of the changes that have happened in Newton,” Light said. “I know all of the processes that were put into place before I left here in 2010. Being able to work with Darrell this week, he’s been able to show me all of his enhancements and all of the great work that he has done for the last four years. The Chamber itself was much better than it was four years ago because of Darrell’s efforts.”

The Chamber Board of Directors will have another spot to fill due to Skiff Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Steve Long accepting the same position at Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield, Ind.

“Steve Long is our current past board chair,” Sarmento said. “Steve leaving is a big loss to our community, and I know I can say on be half of the board that we’re sorry to see Steve go. I know that they will work hard to fill Steve’s position for the balance of this year by possibly talking with some of our past board members, asking them if they could come in for a year and help to provide leadership in the transition as well. He has been a tremendous asset to the Chamber of Commerce and we will miss him.”

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