Over two dozen Spring Grove Lions and Commercial Club members gathered on Monday, Jan. 20, to discuss the future of the two groups. Here, Spring Grove Postmaster Patty McManimon-Moe discusses the possibility of joint meetings and operations between the Spring Grove Commercial Club and Spring Grove Lions Club. PHOTO: DAVID STOEGER/SPRING GROVE HERALD
Over two dozen Spring Grove Lions and Commercial Club members gathered on Monday, Jan. 20, to discuss the future of the two groups. Here, Spring Grove Postmaster Patty McManimon-Moe discusses the possibility of joint meetings and operations between the Spring Grove Commercial Club and Spring Grove Lions Club. PHOTO: DAVID STOEGER/SPRING GROVE HERALD
The Spring Grove Commercial Club has had its share of challenges in the past few years. With dwindling participation, the group has struggled to find new ways and meeting times to get individuals and business owners involved in the organization.

On Monday, Jan. 20, the Commercial Club held a meeting to discuss the future of the organization in which over two dozen interested individuals participated. There an idea was proposed to combine the major efforts of the Commercial Club with the Spring Grove Lions Club.

"(We) have been talking about ways to sort of rejuvenate the Commercial Club, and at the same time rejuvenate the Lions, Commercial Club, and the town celebrations; all of which are struggling to get enough volunteers...this is just an idea that maybe we can reduce the number of meetings, increase manpower and hopefully do all the good things these organizations do but with more people," said Commercial Club Vice President Sarah Schroeder.

It was noted at the meeting that there are many "overlaps" in what the Lions and the Commercial Club do in the community, and how it would be better for them to merge meetings and functions. "If you could at least have one organization running most of the events (in town), that's got to be a good thing," said Lions President JC Nerstad.

"A lot of this comes down, plain and simple, to enough volunteers in each organization. We just don't have enough...Lions Club does not have enough members in it and Commercial Club does not have enough members in it. We are all pretty much trying to do just about the same thing..." Nerstad added.

The proposed structure between the two community groups would include joint meetings of their members in three sub-committees, which would include an events committee, a finance committee and a special projects committee.

The Events Committee will handle matters regarding Homecoming, and possibly community festivals, along with other community events. The Finance Committee will handle matters regarding donations, commercial club charitable gambling, the United Fund, Spring Grove Dollars and raffles. The Special Projects committee will be charged with organizing Music in the Park, Festival of Trees, and possible renovations to parks and community buildings.

"This was just an idea to save the Commercial Club a little bit...hopefully you (will) get some Syttende Mai members, some UffDa Fest members to be part of this conglomeration of Lions and Commercial Club...because it sort of seems all the same people are all at the same meetings anyway - so why not just get together..." Schroeder added.

Another major advantage for the Commercial Club is the insurance policy the Lions Club carries through Lions Club International. "The big bonus I see, especially for the events and anything the Commercial Club would do for an event is that the Lions has an insurance policy that can cover a lot of these things that would save a lot of money (because) the city requires insurance for all these events," Schroeder said.

"Many of the groups that ask for donations come to both the Lions and the Commercial Club for the same exact request. It would just be a more efficient way of running both groups and you get more members...and lighten the load. Do all the same stuff we keep doing but do it better with more people."

Under the plan, the organizations will stay separate with different bank accounts and the Lions holding their insurance policy and the Commercial Club keeping their charitable gambling license.

One concern for Commercial Club members was if they would be required to join the Lions Club. Nerstad stated that the Commercial Club as an organization could not join, and it is up to individuals themselves to join and pay the dues - but encouraged Commercial Club members to join. "It makes more sense if you personally buy into being a Lion."

Commercial Club leaders were open to a possible full merger with the Lions in the future. "In two years, let's say this is working really, really well...I think it makes the most sense to say, all right, we are going to dissolve the Commercial Club and the charitable gambling money (and license) will be turned over to the Lions...if it works," Schroeder said.

The Commercial Club members present voted unanimously to hold joint meetings with the Lions Club on a trial basis and then to evaluate how the groups are functioning. Shortly after, the Lions held their monthly meeting and approved the idea themselves.

"I feel that this will be a positive thing for Spring Grove as a whole to ease some overlap and to bring two great organizations together. I am encouraged by the number of people that showed up for the meeting to get us to this point and now we all need to keep working forward to build our events and projects to a higher level," Nerstad said in response to the new relationship formed between the organizations.

The Commercial Club will hold their next meeting at Norski's Saloon to discuss the new structure and functions of the organization on Feb. 3 at 5:30 p.m. with the Lions Club meeting to follow with food starting at 6:30 p.m.