Resident outlines visitor center proposal to county commission

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At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, Feb. 2 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 3-0, voided warrant resolutions for the month of February totaling $672.75.

• Approved, 3-0, an addendum adjusting various rates with Prather Productions of Craig and the Moffat County Department of Social Services for the core services program’s life skills services.

• Approved, 3-0, an addendum adjusting various rates to the Colorado Works Program’s personal job coaching services with SLD Group of Hamilton and the Moffat County Department of Social Services.

• Approved, 3-0, a yearly music license renewal with BMI totaling $309.

• Approved, 3-0, a monthly treasurer’s report.

• Approved, 3-0, amendments to the county’s group insurance coverage with Great West Healthcare.

• Approved, 3-0, a request to vacate 570 feet of Moffat County Road 222 running through the Norman property.

• Discussed various wellness program options with human resources director Lynnette Running.

Moffat County resident Melody Villard presented a set of ideas Tuesday she hopes will boost the role the Moffat County Visitor Center plays in the county’s tourism promotion efforts.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, Villard outlined a plan for working with the Moffat County Tourism Association to develop a “complete and focused visitor center that could bring in more visitors to Moffat County through distribution of all businesses, activities and events rather than just those within a membership-driven entity.”

The Moffat County Visitor Center currently shares a location with the Craig Chamber of Commerce on West Victory Way. The Chamber board recently submitted a proposal to the commission asking to oversee the lodging tax fund currently managed by MCTA.

“The Chamber opened some communication that I think was vital to have, and I think they threw an option out there that maybe hadn’t been explored before,” she said after the meeting. “I definitely would say it spurred our wanting to step up and show that it is not the only option.”

One of the options Villard presented included the relocation and construction of a “stand-alone visitor center to a site that will be devoted to meeting the needs of visitors.”

Villard’s presentation states “the tourism board would be better served to take charge and improve communication and vital relationships within the trinity of the (Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership), Chamber and MCTA by taking the responsibility for a stand-alone visitor center.”

“I don’t want to say that the boost is in making it better, it is making the relationship behind it work better,” she said after the meeting. “If that discussion leads to a new building somewhere else where all three are housed, that’s an option. Or, if it leads to a stand-alone visitor center that is a non-membership driven base, then maybe that’s the discussion that needs to happen.”

Villard also presented information about the website she helped develop for Gateway to Moffat County Visitor Center — visitmoffatcounty.com — as a customer extension of the Craig Campground.

Villard said she thought Gateway to Moffat County Visitor Center could also be a valuable asset for both entities and would provide an opportunity for partnership.

“It is not to say there isn’t good customer service in several different sectors, but that there definitely is room for improvement and there is room for more education and room for more discussion,” she said.

During the meeting, commissioner Tom Gray asked Villard about the continuing role the Chamber naturally plays with the visitor center.

“It seems like there is a place for a mix there and probably some of the issues that keep coming up are, ‘What is that mix and how’s it handled?’ Are you saying you want to work on that mix?” Gray said.

Villard agreed, adding it is “vital” that mix with the Chamber remains.

“I think it is just getting back to the actual essentials of each board’s responsibility, taking a look at what their actually responsibility is with that, whether it is the tourism, whether it’s the business stability or the long-term stability,” she said after the meeting.

The proposal also outlines what ideal features the visitor center should have and that it needs to partner with organizations like the Chamber, EDP, Colorado Division of Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, local museums and county tourism events.

“The center should be devoted to being visitor friendly through ample parking, visitor friendly hours, displays and interactive kiosks spanning all age groups, and educating visitors of our natural resources, coal mines, energy producing plants, wildlife opportunities and outdoor recreation, all of which is abundantly available within our county,” the proposal reads.

Villard agreed to discuss the matter with MCTA at its next meeting.

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Comments

unbelievable6060 3 years, 10 months ago

Very confused by this one, it sounds like to me Ms. Villard has MCTA in her back pocket, where is the connection? People seriously think about this one. The BOCC made a decision over a year ago to not reappointment Ms. Villard to the MCTA board and yet she is asking them to put her in charge basically of their marketing and move forward with a huge capital expense? Wrong decision! I feel there is way too much going on behind the scenes which is starting to surface and many people are undermining established proven entities in Moffat County/Craig. I hope the BOCC really considers what is on the table and weighs the pros and cons and doesn't worry about their public relation moves, after all it isn't an election year.

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MoCo4life 3 years, 10 months ago

How soon people forget. Melody applied for the tourism director job twice, got turned down twice and applied to be reappointed to the MCTA board but was not selected. Didn't she respond by putting up a "visitor center" sign on a private business to compete with MCTA? (I have to say that is good business sense. Every business should say they're a visitor center to increase their traffic). Now she wants to be friends with MCTA again? Think she's looking for a job? I remember seeing the visitor center building going up and the number of people who put in time and money to make that happen. I helped on the campaign for a lodging tax. Does anyone remember who led that campaign? The Chamber. If that money is not being used right, the Chamber should be concerned. It's about time someone is. I'd like to see what that money's ever done to increase tourism. Why would we waste taxpayer money to build a different visitor center? Melody seems to think the more visitor centers the better. Read the paper, MCTA has four people who have gone three months without a president because they couldn't stop fighting amongst themselves. You think they should run a visitor center? Say bye-bye to tourists coming to Moffat County.

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grumpy 3 years, 10 months ago

Wow! Did someone hit a nerve? I have wondered for some time why the chamber does no longer do member visits. Perhaps they are spending too much time worrying what other people are doing for the community and have lost sight of what their mission really is. At the BOC meeting I heard the word used was backbiting. It is now obvious what that was about.

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GreyStone 3 years, 10 months ago

What’s wrong with just setting up a tent, hand out some flyers as the tourists drive through town, rather than building a glorious castle for some bureaucrats to sit in and drink a latté.
A very nice tent. Keep it uncomplicated.

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Melody Villard 3 years, 9 months ago

It is soon we forget, I was reseated as alternate but resigned when I realized that the communication was not going to improve from inside the board structure. However, I continued to attend the meetings and continued to be an active citizen to improve Moffat County, just as I have done with other community boards (Northwest Colorado Products) and tourism efforts (NW CO Cultural Heritage Tourism) for almost 8 years now.

My proposal to the BOCC is for more communication to take place before making ANY other decisions. Part of my responsibility as Director of the Gateway Visitor Center is to offer our services for more communication and research. If anything we are not undermining established proven entities in Moffat County, rather providing another layer of available information. A cooperative layer of information that is free of charge no less.

The problem with this line of communication is that it is deadlocked. The role of the Chamber with regards to the Visitor Center is to work closely with the tourism board. Rather than having the crucial conversations between the boards the chamber frequently circumvents the situation and attempts to go to the next step in a process. For example, the two boards could have come to the table with a facilitator to work towards the common goal of making sure the tax dollars are spent appropriately, rather than skipping that conversation in favor of an option that puts further strain on an already ruffled relationship. When a process is not given a full chance to achieve desired results without skipping the more difficult steps it breeds mistrust and miscommunication. When that happens neither board is willing to bend and therefore is not able to be effective.

It is true that the Chamber has opened a line of communication with a solution that has not previously been explored. Our response that, a new expense of an interactive visitor center is also only one option to be explored. It may well be that after thoroughly working through all of the options and scenarios the findings are that the visitor center is right where it needs to be. Perhaps aligning the responsibility for the visitor center with the board whose ultimate responsibility is tourism is the only change that needs to take place. Servicing the visitors to Moffat County is not what is in question the relationship behind the scenes is of more concern. to be continued...

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Melody Villard 3 years, 9 months ago

It is often easy to hide behind a screen name on this site. I have no idea who any of you are, but I do hope you are not on either of these boards. You have taken the chance for communication and made it completely personal. You have both formed an opinion before the conversation has even started. Unfortunately your opinion has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. If you would like to inform yourself more on the issue you can download the presentation that the commissioners received you may do so on our website www.visitmoffatcounty.com />

You may also get involved in the discussion and solution by attending the MCTA meeting this morning at 11:30am (regular meetings are the first Wednesday of each month at 11:30am) at the MC Courthouse as well as the County Commissioners meetings every Tuesday in the same building.

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hummers 3 years, 9 months ago

Unbelievable6060 and MoCO4life, have you attended MCTA meeting? Your comments are grossly missinformed. Melody had applied for director twice. After not being chosen the first time, she stayed on the board and was voted chairperson by the other board members. At the cleaning out of Pat McCaffery and Diane Brannan, the commissioner Audrey Danner appointed Melody as an alternate, Melody did not apply and not get reappointed as unbelievable6060 states. She applied againfor director and after the dog and pony show that accompanied that appointment, which she did not ge. She was offered a job by a private business to promote Moffat County toursim. She and Pat McCaffery have been busy promoting toursim at no cost to the County MCTA or the Chamber of Commerce. What is wrong with that. Free enterprise affords lots of choices. There are more than 1 resturant, more than 1 carpet store, more than one grocery store in Craig. Why not more than 1 visitor center. Why is the Chamber of Commerce so worried about Melody promoting toursim, Their main job is serving their members.

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