From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 49 - December 4, 2008
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County Commission hears Visitor’s Center discussion

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Members of both the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Board discussed the future of the Visitor’s Center with the Sublette County Commission during its Tuesday meeting.

“I can’t imagine [that building] is going to be anything else other than a visitor’s center,” Commission Chairman William Cramer said.

With the defeat of the lodging tax during this past election, the tourism board will stop receiving funding through June 2009. However, board member John Godfrey brought a plan before the commission to allow the tourism board to continue operation through 2010, when the lodging tax could go before voters again.

“This is a bridge budget — a transitional budget that will allow us to move forward,” Godfrey said.

The tourism board estimated that it could kick some funding into operation costs, while using a $135,000 promotional budget until 2010.

The Chamber also showed a desire to continue with the building, if the county were willing to help with possible future costs. At the end of this year the Chamber intended to incur $18,000 of costs not accounted for. Next year, without rent revenue that number could swell to as high as $66,000 — although the Chamber did expect to rent out at least one of its office spaces, if not both.

“Certainly some of that (the possible $66,000) is a trade for services,” Chamber President Forest Wakefield said.

For now, the commission asked the county attorney’s office to look at the legalities of the tourism board continuing after June. Each commissioner expressed a desire to keep the building running as a visitor’s center in some capacity.

“We’ll figure out in the next few months how to proceed,” Cramer said.

In other county commission news:

— The commission nixed the idea of further financial help for the projects underneath the Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET).

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s it,” Cramer said.

Board member Jo Crandall went before the commission looking to start a survey that could show what went wrong with the proposal and how to improve voter awareness.

“I think we, you and the community need to analyze that,” Crandall said.

However, the commission was wary of conducting a survey so far away from when another vote could occur.

“Will that tell us anything because the whole dynamic will change again [by the next vote],” Cramer said.

Commissioner Joel Bousman encouraged board members not to disband.

“I’m committed to the project, I’ve always been committed,” Commissioner John Linn added.

In the end, the commission agreed to at least broach the subject of a survey with socioeconomic analyst Michael Coburn.

— Sublette County Ice Rink officials met with the commission to discuss a possible new compressor for the facility.

With the continued increase in participation for its many offerings, the ice rink could use a new compressor to lessen the load of an increased skate season.

“That’s the big key for me, the wear and tear on the compressor,” said Jeff Lewis, arena manager.

A new in-floor heating system and a compressor would cost over $280,000.

“[Program involvement] is pushing us to stay open longer,” said Dawn Mitchell, ice rink committee member.

If the county was to replace the compressor, it could be used to keep the ice rink in Big Piney open longer, but at an added cost of installation and maintenance.

“Some of these problems appear to be scheduling,” Linn said, noting that summer camps were scheduled in August, the most difficult time to keep ice in the arena.

Commissioner Bousman asked the officials to prepare some more numbers and receive Recreation Board input, but the commission agreed to take a look at the upgrade during next year’s budget session.

— The commission took over operations on the Pinedale Transfer Station, but will contract out hauling from the site for two years. Garry Eiden had previously been in charge of the all transfer station activities.

— The commissioners approved a final plat request by John and Penny Chrisman. The request was for a subdivision near the intersection of Big Piney Calpet Road and Highway 189 that would consist of four light industrial and two rural residential 10 lots.

Potential buyers looking to use the land — if they want to use water for human consumption — will have to drill a well, test it, and treat it if necessary before the county will issue a building permit.

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