Leona Hemmerich can rattle off the scientific names of the nine species of dinosaur fossils found in Dinosaur National Monument.
Allosaurus. Camptosaurus, Ceratosaurus. Stegosaurus. … She recites them with confidence and energy for anyone who comes into her business, the Bedrock Depot in Dinosaur.
“It energizes me, serving people,” Hemmerich said. “It just goes back to educating people. There are a lot of things up here that people could find out about this area. I’m into educational tourism.”
It’s that approach Hemmerich hopes to bring to the Moffat County Tourism Association Board, to which she was appointed Tuesday during a Moffat County Commission meeting.
The commission approved, 2-0, the appointment to replace former MCTA board member Cindy Looper, who resigned March 3.
Melody Villard, a former board alternate and finalist for the MCTA director position, also resigned in March, however the commission did not appoint an alternate to replace her.
Hemmerich said she hopes to bring her knowledge of western Moffat County and her background in tourism to the board.
Hemmerich managed the Colorado Welcome Center in Dinosaur from 1998 to 2005, and bought the Bedrock Depot, a sandwich, ice cream and gift shop, in 2003.
“My interests are that I feel like this end of the county has not been well-represented when it comes to tourism,” she said.
MCTA director Marilynn Hill said she looks forward to the diverse and unique viewpoint Hemmerich could bring to the board.
“It’s really nice to have someone from over in that part of the county,” Hill said. “Moffat County is so large and diverse. I think it just gives us a unique opportunity to revisit the county acre by acre. It’s such a large county, and you could live here your entire life and never see the whole county.”
Hemmerich has lived in Moffat County since she moved from Idaho Springs in 1995.
She grew up in Titusville, Penn., where one of the first oil wells was drilled, familiarizing her with an energy-driven economy like Moffat County’s.
“I’ve seen the boom and bust,” she said. “But tourism is one of those things that if we made it work with other things in this economy, we could have a really good blend of things to offer people.”
She said she has seen the face of tourism change during the recession, and she knows the county cannot rely on it. Still, she said it could be a supporting industry in a county that has many wonders to share.
“I would just like to see simply the whole thing of tourism integrated,” she said. “I could help the people be thinking more of an overall picture.”
With Hemmerich’s busy summer schedule and distance from Craig, she wrote in her letter of interest to the county commission she was unsure if she’d be able to make to every MCTA meeting.
She said she was willing to telecommute or use a computer program to communicate with the board.
However, Hill said not every MCTA board meeting has to take place in Craig.
“We should be touring around Moffat County,” Hill said. “It’s not the Craig tourism association. We just had our first board meeting at the airport, and we got to take a tour and everything. I think we could have meetings all over the county. That way you have the whole community involved.”