Tuesday, November 4, 2003
The Hayden Heritage Center will get much-needed improvements, thanks to the Routt County voters who approved Referendum 1A.
However, the majority of Hayden residents did not support the referendum. In Hayden, 200 people voted against the 1A and 162 voted for it. With all but South Routt voting precincts counted Tuesday, Hayden voters were the only ones to vote down the .0.3-mill property tax increase. Countywide, the measure passed with about 58 percent of voters supporting it.
Approval of Referendum 1A establishes the Routt County Museum and Heritage Fund through a 0.3-mill countywide property tax increase. It will provide money to all the county museums, including more than $18,000 annually to the Hayden Heritage Center, Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said. The .3-mill levy will raise property tax by $2.28 per $100,000 of residential property.
The 87-year-old railroad depot that houses Hayden's museum is structurally sound, and its collection is well protected, but the building could use some work and be better secured. It also could use an expansion, said Donna Hellyer, Heritage Center tour guide and chairwoman of the Hayden Planning Commission.
Admission to the Heritage Center is free, so the museum relies on donations from the town of Hayden, visitors and volunteers. The heritage fund now will provide the money needed to expand the museum and to fund several other improvements.
"(Referendum) 1A is important to the historic climate of the whole county," Hellyer said. "What we have is wonderful. It's just an exciting place. I love it. It could be so much more, though."
"If it weren't for this museum, the history of this area would be lost, and we need to preserve our history," Hayden Heritage Center Board President Gary Stone said earlier this year.
Hellyer said the money will be used for many improvements, including rewiring the outdated electrical system; landscaping; implementing a newer, high-tech security system; improving structural elements; increasing advertising; and hiring a full-time curator to keep the museum hours open longer and help organize and archive pieces.
"The bottom line is, we need more room," Hellyer said. "Right now, space is very limited."
More room is needed not only because the museum's collection already is larger than its space, but also because the board wants to continue to expand its collection, Hellyer said. Another goal that is now attainable thanks to Referendum 1A is to increase advertising and public relations for the museum, which might encourage more people to offer their own historically significant items to the museum, Hellyer said.
"We need brochures placed throughout the area because we're off the beaten path, off the highway," Hellyer said. "A lot of people don't even know the museum is here. More intense (public relations efforts) and ads would be good."
During the winter, the Hayden Heritage Center is only open for private group tours. Regular hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Memorial Day to Sept. 29.
Exhibits at the museum include fossils, rock collections, an Old West exhibit with several old saddles, an antique threshing machine and the original printing press from the old Routt County Republican newspaper.
"The thing is, it's a heritage museum," Hellyer said. "It has the significance of agriculture and mining and it has the significance of why Hayden is here."