MCTA Board briefed on Maybell event cancellation

In other news:

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Moffat County Tourism Association Board:

• Approved, 7-0, $7,000 in funding for the Colorado Welcome Center in Dinosaur.

• Approved, 6-0, $7,300 in funding for the 2011 Colorado State Barbecue Championships in Craig. Board member Bryce Jacobson abstained from the vote.

• Approved, 7-0, $5,000 in funding each year for the 2012 and 2013 Colorado State High School Rodeo Championships, contingent on Craig getting the host bid.

• Approved, 6-0, funding not to exceed $21,910.40 for the 2011 Colorado Hunter Magazine, which is created by the Craig Daily Press. Jacobson abstained from voting.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Moffat County Tourism Association Board was given specific information regarding the cancellation of Maybell Cultural Heritage Days.

Rose White, one of the event’s organizers, told board members that a safety matter prompted organizers to contact law enforcement.

“We were so successful for so long because (Sombrero Ranches) graciously allowed us to tag along to their horse ride,” White said. “This year, after reviewing everything we had last year, we knew we had safety issues, that somebody was going to get hurt.”

The event was cancelled last month due to what Lisa Balstad, another event organizer, described as permit issues.

White told the MCTA Board there was a concern over liability because event attendees are on or near the highway during the horse drive.

“(People) were laying down on the pavement as the horses were coming at them to take pictures, there were women coming out there with babies and strollers in front of the horses, and we could see a disaster happening,” she said.

Given the safety concerns, White said organizers went to the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and asked that a deputy be present to keep people off the highway. The sheriff’s office then directed the information to the Colorado State Patrol, she said.

Last month, Cpt. Jack Cowart, Colorado State Patrol Troop 4B commander, said he talked with the Maybell Cultural Heritage Days organizers about issuing a special event permit in February. The application for the permit requires a $25 fee, insurance, 60 days prior notice, paperwork and a list of plans, routes and possible road closures needed, Cowart said.

Additionally, there exists a possibility that one or more troopers would have to be hired at a cost of $56.40 per trooper per hour, he said.

White said organizers tried to work with Sombrero Ranches to help cover the costs related to the permit but an agreement never materialized.

Cowart said a permit would not be needed this year for the horse drive because Maybell Cultural Heritage Days was cancelled.

White said event organizers have tried to keep from putting too much “heat” on Sombrero Ranches because the organization could avoid using the highway for the horse drive.

“They could take their horses all the way on the back roads, they don’t have to go through Maybell,” she said. “Keeping that in mind, I’m not going to do anything to impede them.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray told White that he would not get involved in the discussion unless Sombrero Ranches is “on-board.”

MCTA Board members said they would be willing to help negotiate with Sombrero Ranches if needed.

“For this event to potentially go away would be very sad, not only for tourism, but culturally and in the community,” board member Tammie Thompson-Booker said.

White said there will not be a definitive answer on whether the event will take place next year until organizers meet with Sombero Ranches.

“If Sombrero will allow us to tag on again next year, we’d like to try it again, but it will be up to them,” she said.

MCTA to host workshop regarding director opening

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Marilynn Hill

The MCTA Board will host a workshop at 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss how to fill its executive director position, which will be vacant in May.

Current executive director Marilynn Hill announced her resignation Sunday. Her last day will be May 19.

A personnel requisition letter will have to be presented to the Moffat County Commission before a new staff member can be hired.

Gray said there is a job description that can be used for the position, but Hill recommended the MCTA Board discuss the description to make it more specific and current.

Board members are hoping to get the issue dealt with as soon as possible, but changing the job description will require board approval.

MCTA Board members, including Tom Mikesell and Craig Daily Press Publisher Bryce Jacobson, also expressed interest in looking at other options, including eliminating or reducing the responsibilities of the position.

Scott Schlaufman can be reached at 875-1792 or sschlaufman@craigdailypress.com.

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