Prestwood settles in as Chamber’s new executive director

Heidi Prestwood, the new executive director at the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce is settling into her new role nicely. Prestwood began in late May, replacing John Hendricks who had been with the Chamber since June 2017. 
At first, Prestwood had concerns about coming into the position due to the fact that it hasn’t been a typical year with the COVID-19 pandemic. 
“Being new with all of the COVID stuff going on, I was really nervous about coming on board, but so far everyone has been pretty understanding,” she said. “Having the experience, I had before coming into the position has been helpful, but it doesn’t even compare to the day-to-day stuff.”
Hendricks had informed the board of his resignation prior to the pandemic and posted the position right as the state closures were beginning and the board had to conduct interviews with the applicants through Zoom meetings. 
Coming into the position, Prestwood felt she had a bit of an edge as she already had an extensive background working with the Chamber. She has sat on different committees, the board of directors and chaired the Chamber’s Ambassador group. 
Prestwood was also integral in forming the Sparta Area Young Professionals and organizing Sparta’s Annual Fall Fest Celebration. In addition, she volunteers her time to several other events and organizations. 
Prestwood is a very family-oriented person. She lives in Cataract with her husband, Rob, and their two sons, Ethan and Aaron, who both attend the Sparta Area School District, where Prestwood also serves as a new member of the school board.
“My husband and my kids know that I’m doing things I’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t because I had kids at home,” she said. “Knowing I have their full support and their flexibility has been great.”
Prestwood has even enlisted the help of her oldest son to complete some of the projects that she would like to see happen.
She has no intentions of stepping into her new position and completing a total overhaul, she does however intend to spruce up the Chamber office by cleaning out spaces and improving some landscaping, which will include the addition of an edible landscape. 
“Right now, the big change is keeping in response to COVID,” Prestwood said. “Moving forward, we have to be mindful of changes with all of the events. Those will be changes we have to look at and implement as we go through them.” 
The first Concert in the Park is tentatively scheduled for July 15; however, the concert committee is scheduled to meet next week. The committee intends to work very closely with the Monroe County Health Department and the City of Sparta in making decisions. 
“I want to stay consistent with what the city is doing and the decisions that the city is making and I don’t want to do more than what the city is recommending,” Prestwood said. “With the concerts, we’ve got a couple ideas brewing on how and what that’s going to look like. We’re in contact with the bands to make sure they’re comfortable playing.”
The Chamber is also currently moving forward with its annual golf outing and there are discussions about Crazy Days and a possible downtown reopening event. 
“As of right now we’re just waiting for some of these things to get closer before we make any final decisions,” Prestwood said. “There are things that have been put in place for a long time and it works, it may need to be tweaked a little, but it works.” 
Prestwood intends to promote a sense of camaraderie within the community and continue to bring people back to the bike trail year after year, which will be made easier with the repairs to the bike trail that are scheduled to begin later this summer.  
“We’re going to do what we can to make Sparta successful and to keep it growing and to continually be successful,” she said. “How that looks right now is a little hazy, but I’m going to do what I can to continue the growth and the good stuff that’s going on.”

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