STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce is still mulling its options in the wake of the death of famed composer Marvin Hamlisch, scheduled to be the keynote speaker for its annual membership dinner.
Hamlisch, 68, died Monday in Los Angeles.
"We hope to have something by the end of this week or early next week, but that's being extremely optimistic," Chamber President Sue Hershey said. "Reaching speakers is sometimes difficult. We have people contacting various agents for various speakers.
"Every year when the committee meets, we have a list of people we think would be great speakers for our annual dinner. We contact the speaker and hope the speaker (we choose) will accept our offer and sign a contract with us. In the event we can't get a speaker, we go to one of the other individuals (on our list). We do have a working list, but at this point in time a lot of it just depends on availability."
The banquet is currently slated for Sept. 24 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville, but, depending on the speaker's schedule, Hershey said it's possible the chamber "may have to do a slight date change."
"But right now, it's still scheduled for Sept. 24 and for the speakers we're attempting to communicate with, at this point in time, that is the date we're asking them if they're available. If so, the date will be the same. If we have to change it one day or even to the following week, that's something we'd need to consider in order to accommodate the speaker's schedule."
Hershey, meanwhile, said the chamber was "deeply saddened" by Hamlisch's sudden death, saying his passing "left the world in shock and disbelief."
"Selfishly, we regret that our community will not have the opportunity to experience personally Mr. Hamlisch's storytelling, his humor and, of course, his talent," she said in a statement released this morning. "This was such a special opportunity that we so anticipated."