County Council Report 3/28/2011
Cowboy Poetry Gathering
A quarter of the year is behind us. Here is an update on a few projects the county is working on. First, Is Cowboy Poetry Dead? In a meeting held last week, members of the Wasatch County and Heber City Councils met to discuss the future of Heber Valley’s Cowboy Poetry gathering. This event grew from a dream Tom and Linda Whitaker had when they attended other gatherings in the west. It started 16 years ago as a modest number of Western enthusiasts met for a one night party in the Midway Town Hall to what is now labeled as the best cowboy poetry gathering in the west. I might mention that there is more western music than poetry. Maybe the name should be different. However successful it has been, the recent sluggish economy has taken its toll both from attendees and sponsor support causing Tom and Linda to use personal recourses to balance the books the last two years. It was this reality that caused their committee to decide it might be time to hang up the spurs. (A little western touch) With both councils in attendance, it was decided that we would try to find a way to carry on with the gathering. Tom and Linda Whitaker and Mary and Brent Kelly and their committee have agreed to give it another try. Their committee will be joined by a member of the County Council and one from the Heber City Council to help shape the Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering for the future. The very positive economic ripple through our business community during the gathering is worth saving.
The Heber Valley Historic Railroad.
The Heber Valley Railroad is also in financial crisis mode. Ridership and lack of usable rolling stock has been cited as the problem. Government mandated maintenance programs on their steam engines are also very expensive. The train’s control board is working hard to find a way to bring it back to a sustainable financial state. County Councilman Steve Capson represents the county on that board. His training as a government auditor gives him unique qualifications to help the train determine where they are and devise a plan to overcome is financial troubles. The train is another economic draw that is worth saving. More about this plan as it develops.
The Wasatch County Events Center.
The Events Center’s expansion is well underway. The new horse stall barn is nearing completion as well as a covered warm up arena that integrates the indoor and outdoor arenas. Once completed, this facility will continue to grow as the economic engine it was designed to be. The Center is popular for equestrian and non-equestrian events alike.
The Wasatch County Event’s Center is not funded by property tax general fund revenues. It has been built and will be maintained by revenue from hotel/motel room taxes and restaurant taxes predominantly paid by visitors to our valley and donations made by developers for the purpose of supporting recreational activities.
Wasatch County Recreation Center.
The County Recreation Center is growing in popularity. Tom Bonner, the Parks and Rec. director, reports that over eleven thousand people paid to use the facility in the months of January and February. (11,000 each month) While summer weather will slow down attendance a little, we expect continued strong use all summer long. It’s fun to hear from someone who visited the center for the first time and amazing to see how many great activities have been provided at the center. Along with the many activities they have, you can rent space to have a birthday or family party there as well. If you haven’t already stopped by, you need to come and see what you are missing. If you have any questions, I invite your questions and comments.
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BY MIKE KOHLER