Liftoff at airport

Cross-Yampa Valley information project begins

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— Officials made the first step forward on a joint Yampa Valley Regional Airport information center at an informal meeting Thursday.

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association officers Sandra Evans-Hall, executive vice-president, and Paula Loveland, visitor center manager, met at the airport with Christina Currie, Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director, and Tammie Thompson-Booker, Moffat County Tourism Association board president.

By meeting's end, the group made tentative plans to better use of the current information desk space, and Loveland agreed to meet Thompson-Booker at the airport Jan. 24 to receive the first batch of fresh Moffat County brochures.

The airport can be used beneficially for everyone, group members agreed.

"Yampa Valley Regional Airport is what it says it is, and that's what we are," Loveland said.

It will take some time to construct real plans for including all the various communities, Evans-Hall said.

"We want to bring Hayden, Craig, all communities together, all the Chambers together, to see how we want to manage the space and how we want to staff it," she said.

Progress could be stifled by ongoing airport expansion projects.

Evans-Hall expects the airport to begin Phase 3 of its remodeling sometime around 2009 or 2010, but those dates can change, she said.

Phase 3 will remodel the baggage claim and information desk areas. Until that is completed, any work done at the airport's information center is somewhat temporary.

"Right now, we've made some moves to get by and make it the best possible experience for our passengers," Evans-Hall said.

Project funding should be clearer next year, and that will clarify the project's timeline, she added.

Moffat County residents may have believed the joint information center project to be further along toward implementation than it is currently.

Contrary to statements made at Craig Chamber and MCTA meetings, neither group has contacted the Steamboat Chamber for at least a year, Evans-Hall said.

The Steamboat Chamber vice-president said she met with Currie about a year ago and until speaking with Thompson-Booker last week, had never conferred with an MCTA representative.

However, everyone present was happy to get the process going.

Although Evans-Hall does not want to sacrifice space on the Steamboat Chamber's rack for nonmember businesses - such as Craig Chamber businesses - she said the Craig Chamber and MCTA were welcome to bring other brochure racks to display their literature.

Her concern did not apply to general Moffat County information, such as the Welcome to Craig publication, which Thompson-Booker plans to bring to her next visit with Loveland.

The airport in Hayden is an important piece for tourism across the Yampa Valley, Currie said, and it's good to be in a place where Moffat County and Craig can take advantage of that.

Recent expansions and growing flight schedules have made the airport more valuable than it has been in the past, Evans-Hall added.

"This airport has been very critical to this valley for a long time," Currie said. "We really neglected the airport as a tool for outreach, the county in general."

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