ALAMOSA — San Luis Valley Museum Board President Dorothy Brandt shared museum issues, successes and thanks during a recent Alamosa city council meeting.
“Thank you for everybody who has worked with us over these long years,” she said.
Brandt told the city council she and the board are still working towards receiving the museum’s share of lodging-tax supported marketing district revenue.
“We have been fighting for this for a very long time,” Brandt told the council.
She added she was not criticizing individuals but said the system was “messed up.”
She said when the voters approved the marketing district, 90 percent of the revenues were to be divided among the San Luis Valley Museum and visitor/convention bureau. She said the language was clear, and residents voted to approve the district and associated lodging tax based on that language.
“The vote is sacred in my opinion,” she said. “I will keep fighting for this.”
She said she would be talking with the Alamosa County commissioners to remind them of her determination to obtain the museum’s due funding.
The museum turned its annual budget in to the marketing district board earlier this month. During that meeting out-going marketing board member Jeff Woodward suggested that since revenues were up, the marketing board should provide more funding for the museum, but he did not specify an amount.
“I see it as an investment,” he said.
He said the museum needs someone to help clean and change out displays, so the district might consider a specific amount for that purpose.
During the marketing district meeting, marketing district board member Matt Abbey said the museum was accomplishing quite a bit for the funding it receives. The marketing board budgeted $34,000 for the museum in 2016 and $48,000 in 2017, with the museum board requesting $63,000 for 2018.
Marketing board member Jeff Owsley suggested the district could provide matching dollars for grant funds for specific purposes.
Marketing District Board President Rob Oringdulph said he would like to receive more information from the museum, such as visitation numbers, but was agreeable to giving the museum an increase for its 2018 budget.
During the July 19th city council meeting, Brandt gave credit to the group of volunteers and supporters who keep the museum and its programs going including the city, Adams State and the county. She said the museum has had a permanent home downtown due to the generosity of the late Ralph Outcalt who donated the museum’s current building. As it could, the museum board has improved and expanded the building and outside area and is proud to be able to say there are no outstanding debts associated with those improvements, Brandt told the council.
“We don’t make bills for somebody else to pay after us. Everything you see in that museum is paid for,” Brandt said.
She added that the museum has been the recipient of several grants, which have also helped to beautify the site and enrich its programs.
In addition, individual donors have supported the museum over the years, Brandt said. After her husband John died, a couple sent $10,000 for the museum as a memorial contribution.
“That money will keep us from ever being broke,” Brandt said. “We can spend it anytime but we never will.”
Alamosa Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley told Brandt, “I think you’ve done a great job with the museum.”
She said as director of Adams State’s MBA program, she and MBA students had worked with the museum in the past. Hensley added that something like the museum provides a quality of life benefit to the community that “you can’t put a dollar figure on.”
She added it would be detrimental to the community if it ever lost its museum.
Hensley said she appreciated that Brandt was fighting for the museum “but fighting with grace and dignity.”
As the city council’s liaison to the county-appointed marketing board, Hensley said she was aware the museum’s budget was presented to the marketing board, and she was impressed how small a budget it was. She said the marketing board would be reviewing it, and she would be glad to tell the marketing board about Brandt’s presentation to the city council.
Councilman Charles Griego commended Brandt for her hard work over the years.
“You and John worked countless hours trying to make this happen,” he said.
He said the museum does provide quality of life but also brings people to the area so is part of the local economic development efforts. He suggested there might be a way to market the museum more.
“I appreciate your passion,” added Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero. “We support you.”
He said perhaps the city could provide a letter of support for the museum.
“We appreciate and honor everything you do for the museum and for our community,” he told Brandt.
Brandt thanked the mayor for his support and for showing up at the museum at a moment’s notice when school children came for a tour. She said the students were impressed that the mayor of the city would come and talk with them.
Brandt concluded her presentation to the city by saying that in working together the museum and community can make a difference.
“We don’t have to fight about it,” she said. “Peace is better.”
Caption: During a recent museum event, San Luis Valley Museum Board President Dorothy Brandt, right, thanks long-time supporters Charlotte Bobicki, left, and Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero, center. Courier photo by Ruth Heide