Fact: The Bluffton Community Preschool was the main event at the December breakfast meeting of the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce. Fact: A visit from Santa can upstage just about anyone, even in a room full of adults.

When I arrived on the 3rd floor of town hall, I was immediately greeted by Santa. He noted that I was among those choosing the “good” option of using the stairs, rather than the elevator. He didn’t exactly say using the elevator put you on his “bad” list, but it was implied.

Santa also had something to say about the breakfast, which was provided by Rafael Arciga, owner of Don Jose Mexican Restaurant in Bluffton. Santa approved of the generous spread of several types of scrambled eggs, potatoes, refried beans, migas, and red and green chilaquiles. Responding with a loud burst of applause, the other attendees were clearly happy with their breakfast, too.

Announcements are always an important part of chamber meetings. This month, I was happy to announce that I’ll be hosting hands-on workshops to help local businesses and organizations improve their online visibility. Two dates are scheduled: January 15 and 29 at the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs (learn more and sign up here).

It was great to see a new Bluffton author introduced: Janette Benroth Reineke. A Blufftonite who has shared her love of art in many ways–including presentations at the elementary school and styling the window displays at the Etcetera Shop thrift store, as well as teaching art at nursing homes –Jeanette has now published Fear No Art, which is available through Amazon.com. I took a look through this “manual of ideas, lesson plans, and creative skills for teaching art” and love the central idea that we can all express ourselves through art, regardless of age or experience. Want to see her in action? Janette will be teaching a class at the Bluffton Public Library in the new year.

When it was–at last–her turn, Bluffton Community Preschool director Shelly Matijevich taught us how the organization has changed since my kids went there some years ago. Perhaps most importantly, the school is now at 116 Church St., which was highlighted on refrigerator magnets that we all took home. The preschool is also evolving with input from the board and teachers, and as required by the state. Shelly noted that Montessori techniques are part of the school’s approach, as well as technology like Kindles. Preparing three- and four-year-olds for kindergarten now includes introducing them to concepts like algebra. Using scrapbooks that document the school’s history, Shelly noted that while they are still using some of the furniture pictured in the 1960s, that time doesn’t stand still when it comes to technology, curriculum materials, and costs.

The meeting was the last for the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce for 2015. As CEO Fred Steiner noted, current membership numbers and board member involvement are excellent. Projects ranging from fireworks at the National Night Out in August to way-finding signs for local businesses are receiving strong support. I think Santa would say the chamber has been very, very good this year.