It’s early on a Tuesday morning and the Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce isn’t even open yet. Chamber Director Jessica Hamin busies herself around the office, getting ready for the day.

Another woman steps out from behind a desk and extends a hand.

“Hi, good morning! I’m Jennifer,” she says warmly. “How are you?” Collins flits into the room and out again, inquiring about coffee.

“Did you want some coffee?” the woman asks this office visitor, answering her own question as quickly as she utters it.

“Oh, yes, you do,” she asserts before leading the way into the chamber’s meeting room, where Collins is pouring herself a mug of coffee from a freshly brewed pot.

The woman, Jennifer Dryer, is the chamber of commerce’s new executive assistant. She joined the chamber staff just in time for its annual Caddyshack Classic Golf Tournament held in mid-May.

“She is wonderful, she hit the ground running,” says Collins, gushing about Dryer’s experience, skills and apparently glowing personality. “She has a ton of personality.”

Dryer moved 18 years ago to West Plains from Gainesville in Ozark County to attend school at Southern Missouri State University, now Missouri State University-West Plains. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in general business.

Prior to her employment with the chamber, she worked 18 years for heavy construction equipment dealer Hart Equipment. In fact, her prior employment is how she became familiar with the West Plains chamber, as she worked with Collins and Collins’ predecessor at the chamber, Joanne White.

Dryer’s face lights up when she talks about her first month on the job.

“It’s been wonderful,” she declares.

Dryer’s duties so far include working on the chamber’s weekly calendar, helping to answer the phones and attending ribbon cuttings and special events, says she is impressed with the activities available in West Plains.

“There is a lot going on in this community,” she says. “There is always something happening.” She rattles off a list of upcoming chamber events, including the Ozarks Medical Center groundbreaking June 25, ribbon cutting ceremonies and milestone celebrations.

Thus far, she says, her new role has already given her a fresh perspective into the West Plains business community and she has met many new people — and is excited to meet more.

Collins says the timing of Dryer’s addition to the chamber has worked out ideally — summertime means a slower pace, as business owners travel for family vacations and chamber events slow down for the season. Dryer agrees: Her transition has been more leisurely and when the busy fall season ramps up, she’s confident she’ll be ready.

When she’s not at the office, Dryer keeps busy as a drummer in the band Half Step Down, spending time on local lakes and crafting.

The public is invited to welcome Dryer to the “chamber family” by dropping by the Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce office, 401 Jefferson Ave., calling 256-4433 or sending a welcome note to

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