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Chamber staff sings praises of Ripon

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Chamber staff sings praises of Ripon

Ripon Chamber of Commerce Executive Assistant Sam Carhart, left, and administrative assistant Lauren Bitters, right, look over the 2010 Ripon Chamber Magazine.

DENNIS WYATT/ The Bulletin/

POSTED April 6, 2010 3:19 a.m.
RIPON - Call the Ripon Chamber of Commerce and you’ll get one of the three most enthusiastic people on the line when it comes to singing the praises of Ripon as a place to live, work, or play.

Among them is Lauren Bitters whose first-hand experience growing up in Ripon can easily convince folks who are thinking about relocating their families to choose the community.

“It’s a place you can feel safe as a kid,” said Bitters, who serves as an administrative assistant for the chamber.

Bitters related how growing up in Ripon it seems like everyone was helping to keep an eye on her noting that if you started going astray your parents would find out about it before you got home.

That, though, doesn’t mean there aren’t things for kids to do.

Bitters can rattle off a long list of fun and wholesome activities for kids and teen alike: the skate park - praised by skater magazines as one of the best in California, the expansive Mistlin Sports Park, roller hockey rink, church and school activities, river access, and even ideal places for kids to hang out such as Pizza Plus.

The picture Bitters - as well as executive director Dorothy Booth and executive assistant Sam Carhart - paints of Ripon as a Norman Rockwell small town - comes from the heart.

“Ripon is a town that takes care of its elderly just as it does kids,” Bitters said noting how the community not only encourage housing for seniors clustered near downtown such as the Bethany communities but strives to include them in community activities.

The chamber, though, is much more than an organization that provides those who are considering living here, locating a business here or even schedule a sports event here with information they need to make a decision. They also help connect people with businesses, businesses with businesses, and help foster community unity.

A strong sense of community is what attracted Booth to Ripon.

“The people in Ripon are great,” Booth noted.

It explains why she looks forward to helping coordinate Ripon’s two major events - which also happen to go through the Ripon Chamber of Commerce - the Almond Blossom Festival and Main Street Days. Both events serve as community homecomings and community gatherings.

“Main Street Day is great because you see friends and neighborhoods getting together to have a good time downtown,” Booth said.

The Almond Blossom Festival offers the same appeal - and much more. For nearly a half a century families, friends, and neighbors have been lining the streets to enjoy the parade as well as to take in old-fashioned activities such as spaghetti dinners, pie sales, diaper derby, tractor pulls, carnival, and such.

Carhart will tell you that the chamber staff often is viewed as the de facto Ripon Answer People.

That means they not only get calls about what are good places to take a car to have worked on or if they know anything about Caswell Park, but they’re asked what to do about a clogged sewer line.

Staff will refer them to city hall on the sewer question but as Booth noted it underscores how people view the chamber.

“We’re the source of information for Ripon,” Booth said.

Given the historic place of chambers in communities it is understandable why someone will call up the chamber to have them recommend a mechanic, restaurant or some other venue for services or goods. The chamber recommends from their membership list and - if a member doesn’t offer what the caller needs - they will point them in the right direction.

The confidence in chamber of commerce organizations is understandable. Members tend to be solid businesses with strong ties to the community.

The chamber has 225 members including a number of non-profits and churches that also belong. The chamber office at 929 West Main Street near the entrance arch is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can access the chamber website (an updated website design is coming soon) at, send an email to or call 599-7519.

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