Volume 104, Number 14 - April 5, 2007
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New visitors, chamber center close to opening
The timing looks good, especially with the early warm weather, as the new Sublette County Visitors Center and Chamber of Commerce nears completion. Hammers and saws have been in motion seven days a week at the Pine Street and Tyler Avenue location — and everyone associated with bringing cash-filled visitors and customers to Pinedale and the county couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’re hoping to move in at the end of May and have the grand opening the first weekend in July,” said Kim Andrews, executive director of the chamber. “We’re really excited about having such a nice permanent location right in the middle of town.” The land and building were purchased by Sublette County and will house the chamber and its displays for local members, along with the office of Mindi Crabb, marketing director for the Sublette County tourism board.
Crabb plans to have lots of information — traditional and interpretive — for visitors checking out the new digs. Oh yeah. There will be plenty of bathrooms downstairs in the two-story setup for those making the warm-weather trek through town to Yellowstone and beyond.
The chamber will manage the new building, adding several part-timers during the peak season, thanks to a contract with the tourism board, which is funded by a county lodging tax.
A small gift shop is also in the works for the center, which is projected to cost close to $1 million and is being built by Chambers Design-Build in Pinedale. “Our goal is to get visitors to stop long enough to go to our local businesses, to shop and have lunch, along with local sightseeing,” said Andrews, who started her local chamber job last July after a similar role in Tucumcari, N.M.
Crabb, a veteran in state and western tourism circles, said the object will be to get folks to take side trips off of Highway 191. “We want them to see how accessible the Winds are,” she said. “A four-mile drive to Fremont Lake and you’re wowed. Or to go see the Mountainman Museum just up the drive.
“If we can get people to spend even one or two extra hours in our county, maybe they’ll plan ahead next time to stay even longer.” Chamber president Cally McKee called the new center “a valuable resource for the entire community, not just for people coming through.”
“It’s going to be a beautiful building and a great presence.” Bonnie Chambers, of Chambers Design-Build, said the center has been a labor of love for her and her husband Tony. “Tony and I both really wanted to have a project right downtown,” she said. “It didn’t happen overnight, but so many people did a great job of persevering.” Chambers said the building should be near completion by mid-May.
John Godfrey, chairman of the tourism board, said the new center will help promote something that has always been in Sublette County: beautiful surroundings. “Gas and oil have changed the landscape somewhat for now,” he said. “But we’re still one of the most beautiful places in the world. “This will give us a chance to provide information on the area and to reflect on the beauty that surrounds us.”
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