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Chamber of Commerce leader finalists picked

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The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce board of directors' list of potential leaders is down to two.

Jill M. Bettinger and Peter J. Whitmore have been named as finalists for the president and chief executive officer position vacated when Karen K. Delmonico resigned in January.

John B. Johnson, chairman of the chamber's search committee, said more than 50 candidates from across the country submitted resumes for the position.

The candidates will present their vision for the chamber and be interviewed by the agency's 17-member board of directors today at the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St., said David W. Mance, interim president and CEO of the chamber.

Ms. Bettinger is the dean for continuing education at Jefferson Community College and has a masters of business administration degree from Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Whitmore is the director of corporate relations at Jrecks Subs Inc., and earned a bachelor's degree from SUNY Cortland. Both candidates live in Jefferson County.

"Both candidates have backgrounds and prior work experiences that demonstrate their ability to develop internal personnel, develop team planning and event organizing," Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said the six-member search committee created a criteria matrix used to judge each candidate against the chamber's needs. The committee then interviewed the top three candidates, eliminating one of them.

"They'll each be on the hot seat for about an hour today," Mr. Mance said.

He added: "The majority of the candidates were right from this area, and as it worked out, the process has helped us find two great local people that are up for the job."

Mr. Johnson said it will be up to the candidates to determine what areas of the chamber they would like to strengthen.

"There are a number of different people who have varying ideas on that board," he said. "The key of the new CEO will be unifying that body and focusing the members toward a common goal."

The finalists will be introduced to the chamber's membership at 11:30 a.m. May 4 at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington St. The cost to attend is $15.

A vote, Mr. Mance said, will take place that day to determine the next chamber president.

"I'm sure the board will get together right after that session and they should have a decision shortly thereafter," Mr. Mance said.

Mr. Johnson is vice president for sales and marketing of the Johnson Newspaper Corp., parent of the Times.

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