"I feel so blessed to have been hired for this position," said Roberta Jean Buehler sitting in her new office at the Welcome Center on Main Street in Ridgway, "And I hope to bring a new set of eyes, with a uniquely Ridgway outlook to the Chamber, our members, and the Community in general."
Roberta Jean Buehler is one of ten children of Robert and Norma Buehler of Ridgway. Most people in the area are very familiar with her family and their long history of service to both the secular and religious communities all over Elk County. While Roberta only moved back to the area a little over a year ago, most of her family remain in the area, with his sister Mary (Fritz) Lecker being elected in 2019 to her first term as an Elk County Commissioner after serving as retired Representative Matt Gablers local aide for many years.
While Fritz was always the political one, Roberta concentrated on writing and community service, beginning as a teenager when she volunteered as what was then known as a "Candy-Striper" at the local hospitals. After college, she moved from the area, spending most of the last two decades in a small town in Louisiana about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. For the past few years, Roberta has worked on small newspapers in the region but never lost her love of community and helped with a weekly festival in the region on the banks of the Mississippi River. Music, food, crafts, and community events were celebrated all summer long on the muggy Louisiana weekends.
"I would love to see that sort of atmosphere here along the Clarion River," said Roberta, never missing a step to promote local businesses, "and the Lazy River Fest featuring over a dozen bands at their location in downtown Ridgway on July 23 and 24, is a great example of what I would love to see in the area."
Buehler's first big event will take place this weekend, and it's one of the biggest ones of the year in Ridgway, at least in the area it covers. The Community-Wide Yard sale takes place all over Ridgway from downtown to Dewey Circle and all the way up Boot Jack, with over 50 registered sales for the event on Saturday taking place from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.
"This is such a great event, and gives neighbors and friends a chance to reconnect after the last year spent apart," said Roberta, "And I already know what I am having for breakfast, with Ridgway's Trinity United Methodist Church setting up right outside the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center at 300 Main Streeet, I'm getting one of their famous apple dumplings!"
But it's not all about food and fun for Buehler, as she works to reconnect with current and past members of the Chamber who, along with everyone else, had more on their minds for the past year. Buehler is dedicated to reconnecting with the Members of the Chamber of Commerce, both current and past, and hopes to add new ones with local businesses opening up from restaurants to shops to lodging as restrictions are eased.
"Unlike many other drivers of the economy, Chambers of Commerce were explicitly excluded from COVID-19 relief funds," said Chamber Secretary Michelle Bogacki, "It is only thanks to our members, from businesses to individuals, that we made it through 2020 intact, with our beautiful downtown location open daily, And thanks to Roberta and our dedicated volunteers; without them, we would have closed like so many places across the county."
With Buehler at the helm and staffed by many volunteers, including RASD Youth Development members, the Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce has a full event card this summer and is always looking for the next event, the next fundraiser, the next community needs and is a great location for anyone seeking to relocate to the region. The Welcome Center on Main Street in Ridgway is open from 10-4 Monday through Friday and 10-2 on Saturdays. Membership has its privileges, and anyone seeking more information should check out their main website at: ridgwaychamber.com.