Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes
Reporter Photographer 

Chamber board discusses billboard options


Thursday night’s meeting of the Thermopolis-Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce saw plenty of discussion regarding the Hessenthaler billboard just south of town.

Board member Phillip Scheel noted the Hot Springs County Travel and Tourism Board also discussed the billboard at their latest meeting. Scheel said the idea is the billboard on the Hessenthalers’ property was given to the Chamber, and they pay a dirt lease to have access to it. Five or six years back, Scheel said, the Chamber offered the billboard to Travel and Tourism with a few stipulations such as inclusion of the Chamber logo.

There was a bit of an “ugly battle” over the billboard, Scheel said, which in part led to the sharing of services between the two non-profits — the Chamber and Travel and Tourism.

The Chamber again offered Travel and Tourism the billboard for the five-year lease — with a total $1,250 cost — and Travel and Tourism accepted, though the Çhamber logo never appeared on it. Through further discussion, it was revealed the Chamber acts as something of a “pass through,” accepting a check from Travel and Tourism with the money going to Hessenthalers.

Scheel noted there are three options when it comes to the billboard: offer it to Travel and Tourism, put out a request for proposals to determine if any local business want to use it for advertising or keep things as they are.

A committee of Scheel, Chamber Executive Director Meri Ann Rush and Vivian Buchart will look into the matter further.

Also during the meeting, the board looked over financial reports provided. Scheel asked about the $9,000 of property and equipment listed. Rush noted the line item includes things such as desks, chairs and computers. Scheel said outside the normal scope there are some assets people might not know about, such as the covered wagon which is brought out a couple times through the year but is stored in a hangar at the old airport.

Also, with regard to financial reports, Rush noted with the Chamber’s switch to using Quickbooks software the numbers still match those provided by the accountant. The board chose to switch to the software as a means to save money.

Rush and Board Chair Greg Willson agreed it’s been great using an accountant for the financial reports, though Rush pointed out in the past couple years she has been generating reports and the switch to Quickbooks makes that easier. Rush plans to do one more quarterly report through an accountant to allow time to gain more proficiency with the software. This also means the switch to generating reports strictly through Quickbooks will start at the beginning of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

With regard to the recent project of creating maps with Thermopolis on one side and Hot Springs County on the reverse, Rush said they are in the process of getting the ads and setting them up; various ad space sizes were available on the outer edges of the maps. Rush hopes to have the maps out to everyone by April 1.

The board approved two new board members — Dennis Nierzwicki and Kerri Manig. Scheel said it is “excellent that we have such good people wanting to join the Chamber, with great skill sets.” He encouraged the incoming members to work with a mentor on the board to learn the ropes a bit. The two will serve out the remainders of the terms of outgoing members, which end October 31.

Willson reported the Hot Springs County Economic Development Company (EDC) has switched over to a membership-based structure. He noted there is general membership as well as investor, with the latter available at $1,000 per year and providing an automatic voting position on the board.

The new structure is also aimed at more community outreach, so there are ex officio members from the Chamber as well as the Town Council and County Commission. Willson said it is a big step forward in how the EDC operates, in terms of business, transparency and community involvement. Willson asked for board members to consider membership on the EDC board.

A switch regarding the postage machine was approved. Rush noted the current postage machine costs $205.07 per quarter; ink cartridges for the machine cost $100 and lasts about a year.

Rush did some checking around, and found a company in Wyoming, out of Casper, which would provide a machine at $323.40 per year, with ink at about the same cost. Rush noted switching to a Wyoming-based company would save the Chamber $500 per year, though the lease on the current machine is up in July so there will be some higher costs initially, in order to finish out that lease. The board approved going with the machine from the Wyoming company.


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