New president/CEO is in charge of Mendota Chamber

Mendota native Setchell takes over position

By BRANDON LaCHANCE

Staff writer

MENDOTA – Sam Setchell knew she didn’t want to be a stay-at-home parent any longer.

The brunt of COVID-19 and it changing the school schedule of her daughters Ryan (sixth grade) and Emery (third grade) was over.

Setchell didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do and wasn’t really actively looking for a job or career. Instead it found her as a family friend, Evan Wixom, Chair of the Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce Board, let her know about the president/chief executive officer opening with the chamber.

“I was so bored that I started reading books again and going to the gym. That’s how I was handling staying at home,” said Setchell, 32, who has lived in Peru for the last six years with her boyfriend of eight years, Brian Owczarek, and the two girls. “I’m glad to be working again, especially a job like this where I feel like I have a purpose and can make a difference.

“This is going to be the career. It kind of came out of left field and unexpected because I wasn’t actively searching for something. If the right opportunity came along, then of course I’d jump at it. I thought it was too good to be true.”

Setchell, a Mendota native and Mendota High School Class of 2009 graduate, began her duties as the Mendota Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO on Jan. 16.

It has been different than staying at home for two years or her last job as a radio voice for Studstill Media for five years.

All fun, but different kinds of fun.

“I still feel like they’re buttering me up. I’ve been here a little more than a month and I can’t believe I’m having this much fun,” Setchell said. “I’m waiting for that other shoe to drop. It’s been a lot of learning. I’ve met a lot of people. I thought I knew Mendota growing up here. I didn’t even know half of it. I’m really excited to have this position and be part of the community.

“I’m excited to be the fifth generation of my family to be involved in the chamber. As far as I know, I’m the only one who has been the president/CEO. It started with my great-great-grandfather Horace Hume being the second or third president of the board. I’m excited to keep it going in my family and being involved in my family.”

The four generations proceeding Setchell are Horace Hume, her great-grandfather James Hume, her great-aunt Julie Setchell and her father John D. Setchell.

“I have so much pride for Mendota. I was raised here. My family is here. My nephews are in Mendota schools,” Setchell said. “I want people who are not from Mendota to know that this is the world’s greatest little city.

“We take pride in our town. There has been tragedy as of late with fires taking a few of our buildings. As cliché as it sounds, we’re only going to come back stronger. We want to make Mendota as great as it can be. We want to bring in businesses and make sure the businesses that are here are happy and thriving.”

Setchell, the Mendota Sweet Corn Mini Queen in 1996, is excited about planning for events such as the Sweet Corn Festival, Fourth of July, Christmas, and others such as the first ever Easter Hop.

Although she is thrilled to have the position and take part in its responsibilities, it doesn’t come without nerves. Or inexperience.

Setchell is appreciative of her predecessor, Shelby Weide, who began her run as the president/CEO in September 2020, and others who have been helping hands.

“Shelby did a great job and I have pretty big shoes to fill. I’m grateful that she’s been coming in and checking on me. She answers the phone when I call her with questions,” Setchell said. “A big thank you to her and to Jesse Arellano, who has held my position before and is now on the board. I have a lot of support and everyone has been nothing but kind words and very helpful.”


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