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Killdeer Town Criers call it quits

As of today, Killdeer will be without the Killdeer Town Criers, the town's unofficial chamber of commerce, officials said Friday.

"I think we all have really sad feelings about it," said Vicki Pennington, a Killdeer Town Criers representative. "The organization has been really active for such a long time."

The Town Criers informed city officials in November it was dissolving effective Dec. 31, Mayor Don Dolechek said.

The Town Criers organized more than 40 years ago. The organization was founded to serve as Killdeer's version of a chamber of commerce.

After a lack of participation from its members, which includes several business representatives in Killdeer, the group decided to call it quits.

Thorris Sandvick, who was also a member, said participation was never a problem, until about five years ago when it began a slow and steady decline.

He added membership was not down, but he was disappointed with the lack of participation.

"I felt that the businesses in Killdeer ignored them," he said. "It just got worse all the time."

The organization tried to get more participation from the businesses by changing meeting times to meet the needs of the group, Pennington said, but the results were minimal.

"It was hard to know if the group wasn't meeting the needs of the business community anymore or if everyone was just plain too busy and didn't have any time to give to that group anymore," she said.

Dolechek said he thought there would be more interest in the community-oriented organization.

"While they were together, they were an excellent organization," he said. "It surprises me that they didn't get more participation when they were trying to."

The Town Criers promoted current businesses and welcomed businesses new to the area, Pennington said. It also put on several events, such as the Christmas Extravaganza, the Halloween Pumpkinfest and the Fourth of July parade.

The city is looking into options to find a solution to the problem, including working with Dunn County to create a full-time position.

"It wouldn't just be a Killdeer (position)," he said. "It would be a countywide position."

Sandvick said he would like to see something started, but he didn't think a replacement would be found.

"What's going to happen now when they don't have anyone to do what they did?" he said. "They didn't show enough interest to keep it going. It ain't never going to work."

Pennington said she hopes a group is started to replace the Town Criers. With businesses coming into the area and populations in southwest North Dakota growing from an oil boom, she said this is the time the city needs a chamber of commerce.

"I feel so bad for the people that have started it and put so much time in it over the years," she said. "It was down to just a few bunch of people just trying to do things."

Pennington added she was supportive of the decision, and Killdeer is a city that "gets things done."

"You want community spirit, and Killdeer is a great community," she said. "I hope people will see the need and say, 'Hey, we need this organization,' and get things rolling again."