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Director's Report January, 2002
- To a large extent the new Bicentennial license plate was a main focus during most of this month. The plate finally went on sale statewide on January 2nd. During January I attended a tour of the license plate processing area at the state prison in Deer Lodge (the tour was VERY interesting!). I participated in two press conferences this month that presented opportunities to promote the new plate. One was in Missoula on the 15th to thank Senator Fred Thomas for carrying the legislation in 2001, and second in Great Falls on the 16th to announce the Discovering the Big Sky National Signature Event. Press packets and insert announcements were sent to regional commissions, chapters and Indian contacts to encourage additional publicity.
- The development of the Case Statement for the emerging fundraising campaign also was a big focus this month as Sara Groves, a "reading committee," and I reviewed and offered comment on drafts of this document. Sara and I also worked to generate a list of high profile businesses, corporations and individuals who we would like to be interviewed as a part of the Commission's new fundraising program. John Bentz will offer a progress update during the February 12th Commission meeting in Dillon.
- Mike Oliver and I took a three-day trip along the Highline on the 8th, 9th and 10th. We first stopped in Fort Belknap to visit with Darrell Martin, one of the newest state Lewis & Clark Commissioners, and just recently elected as vice-chair of the Fort Belknap Tribal Council (congrats Darrell!), and Ken Lewis the newly appointed Tourism Coordinator for Fort Belknap. We then traveled east to Poplar to make a presentation to the Fort Peck Tribal Council. We were joined in that Bicentennial update by Gerard Baker and Otis Halfmoon with the NPS's Corps of Discovery II team. The council was very receptive and interested. Our trip also included a stop at the site of the new interpretive center at the Fort Peck Lake, and in Billings to visit with the Bureau of Land Management. We spoke to the Recreation Planners and were given an update on the development and funding plans for the new interpretive center at Pompeys Pillar.
- On January 11th the Confluence of Cultures Symposium steering committee met in Helena to pursue its planning efforts for this symposium to be presented at the U of M in May of 2003. The symposium's format and content was refined and a lengthy "to do" list created. The next meeting of this committee was set for Dillon on February 11th.
- January 18th was OFFICE RELOCATION DAY! By now you should have been updated with regard to our new street address (515 North Sanders, Suites 3B & 3C). Our mailing address and phone number remain the same. Our new fax number is: 406-444-2686. For those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting Rita Cortright, the Commission's Administrative Assistant, it will come as no surprise that the move went VERY smoothly (I helped pack some boxes and hung some pictures.); we left our old location at 8:00 AM on the 18th and were totally "Open for Business" by 3:00 that same day! Thanks Rita!!
- Mike Oliver and I have been meeting to discuss strategies for the second half of the 107th Congress. We are presently working with Montana's Congressional delegation to lay the groundwork and to generate the appropriate appropriation requests. More on this effort will be shared in the upcoming Dillon Commission meeting.
- On the 23rd I was panelist with Pam Gosink from Travel Montana and Stewart Doggett with the Montanan Innkeepers Association during the Montana Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Business Day at the Capitol. We all three addressed how tourism affects the state's economy and offered some respective insights into the future of tourism in Montana. In general, those insights and glimpses into the future were very positive.
- As January was coming to an end, I was in numerous discussions with my counterparts in North Dakota, Idaho, Washington and Oregon regarding two issues. First was the question of whether it is now time to conduct a follow-up research study to get a better, more defined estimate of Bicentennial visitation; How may people are we expecting to visit? The general feeling amongst the states I talked with that "yes," let's proceed with some type of visitation study, but no specifics were decided on. The second issue centered around a very recent request from the National Park Service's Corps II planning team for more information on possible host sites for this 'traveling classroom.' While we as state coordinators are interested and willing to partner with the NPS to gain this necessary information, it was eventually agreed upon to have a conference call to discuss the proposed information gathering and site selection process. More on this evolving topic in the regional commission/tribal representative meeting in Dillon on February 11th.
- January 31st was the deadline for submittal of Challenge Cost Share grant applications to the National Park Service....so on January 31st I was still getting requests for support letters, etc. I don't presently have a total of the number of applications submitted from Montana for a portion of this $5 Million grant program, but I know Montana will be very well represented with requests. I wouldn't be surprised if up to 35-40 came from Montana alone.
- The Montana Tourism & Recreation Initiative (MTRI) Bicentennial Focus Team met at the Helena National Forest headquarters in Helena on the 30th. This interagency team agreed to continue to work on the implementation of the Interpretive Sign Strategy and to create a new "Stewardship" message that could be made available electronically and in print. Numerous partners including the MSU Extension Service may well be involved.
- And finally, on January 31st I made a brief Bicentennial Update to the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees.
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