One year later

Sandy Van Der Veen sat at her desk, scrolling through her various event calendars and advertisements.

Alisa Boswell: Portales News-Tribune

Portales MainStreet Manager Sandy Van Der Veen, left, tells Daniel Wray and Natalie Robertson about some of the Yam Theatre's highlights during a tour of the building Wednesday afternoon. The couple is considering the building for a wedding. Van Der Veen said the building was rented 26 times last year but has already been rented and booked for 20 events this year.

Most who work with her know, she's rarely without a list of scheduled events.

June marks the one year anniversary since the newest Portales MainStreet manager and chamber of commerce promotions coordinator began her job.

Van Der Veen, 23, was fresh out of New Mexico State when she began both positions one year ago.

"Her first year was really characterized by the fact that she hit the ground running," said chamber executive director Karl Terry. "She wears a lot of hats and for someone with very little experience, straight out of college, she has done a great job of wearing all those hats and has learned very fast."

Terry and Van Der Veen said the MainStreet Program and the chamber have initiated a lot of new changes and events in the last year.

Van Der Veen said two events she brought to life in the last year were the MainStreet Program's Fifth Fridays and Yam Music Series.

Fifth Fridays is an event held on the last Friday of every five-week month in which business around the Portales Town Square remain open late, proving entertainment, free samples of food, discounts and activities.

The Yam Music Series is a musical concert held at the Yam Theatre once a month with a different performer and musical genre each time.

Van Der Veen said both have proved to be a success.

"It's very family-oriented and it really does bring people downtown," said Van Der Veen, who is from Artesia.

Van Der Veen said she feels the chamber and MainStreet have both accomplished a lot in the last year.

She said the chamber is currently putting out bids to companies to build a New Mexico centennial sign for the corner of First Street and South Avenue A.

She said the sign is being paid for from money left over from a grant used to do a study on how to restore or move the Portales Depot.

Van Der Veen said although restoring the depot came to a dead end for now, she hopes it can be restored in the future.

"I'm pumped," she said. "I can't wait to see what the next year holds. I think I've done well with my first job out of college."

Van Der Veen said one of the most successful chamber events last year was Cannon Appreciation Day, which was held for the first time and honored Cannon Air Force Base personnel and their families.

"It was just so much fun," she said. "Now we're knowledgeable in the annual events and what they entail, so we know what to expect next year."

Van Der Veen said along with the centennial sign, which will include a picture of the depot with some of it's history, she is also beginning the Adopt-a-Pot program in which Portales residents and business owners will be asked to adopt a plant on the square to maintain its care for the city.

She said she will begin advertising for the program in the next week.

She said the chamber will also be taking over the Peanut Valley Festival this year and combining the Portales beer festival and wine festival into one event called The Main Event.

"We have a really good team here and great board members, who are also very active," Van Der Veen said of the chamber and MainStreet's success.

Terry said he has been impressed with how quickly Van Der Veen developed relationships and rapport with local business leaders and the community.

"She learned some lessons the hard way as we all do but when she learns those lessons, she takes them to heart," Terry said. "I can see that in her. She always makes sure she learns from those lessons. I could take a page from that."

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