As soon as a county mill levy to help fund historical organizations passed in November, the Tread of Pioneers Museum's board of directors went into action.
They met in a retreat to discuss near- and long-term plans, and set priorities for the new funding.
First priority: pay for operating costs, such as salaries, insurance and utilities. Next, spend a little less time on fund-raising and a little more time on cataloguing, recording and preserving the county's history. Then, develop some new museum displays.
The new 0.3-mill levy will provide the museum with about $118,000 a year. The museum also will have the chance to tap into grant funds for which it previously could not qualify.
Most of the remaining $220,000 funds will be divided among other county historical organizations, with $18,000 going to West Routt's Hayden Heritage Center, about $14,500 going to the Oak Creek and Phippsburg Historical Society, about $3,700 going to the Yampa Museum and about $7,700 going to North Routt's Hahn's Peak Historical Society.
For the Tread of Pioneers, the funding means it is time to examine the museum's operations, membership, donations and fund-raisers, museum director Candice Lombardo said.
"Everything we do here used to have to be money related," Lombardo said. "And now some of it can be based on a good programs and preservation."
Jayne Hill, president of the Tread of Pioneers Museum Board of Directors, said the funds primarily will go toward operating costs.
"We campaigned that we were going to use that money for operating, and we're going to do that," Hill said.
With a steadier source of funding for operations, museum workers will be able to spend time curating the facility's historic collections.
In the next year, the museum has plans to start a family history program to teach people how to write their family histories. All families, not just those with far-reaching roots in the county, would be encouraged to record their stories, Hill said.
This spring, the museum will present a new display called "Our Ranching Heritage."
Further in the future, there are plans to develop a historic collection initiative to collect items ranging from popular toys to bumper stickers, such as the "More Steamboat, Les Otten" and the "Stop the Brutal Marketing" stickers that were sported in the late 1990s when American Skiing Co. came on the scene.
A couple of years down the road, the museum hopes to build an outdoor artifact garden to display items such as a racing chariot used by John "Doc" Utterback, who was a vet, rancher, county commissioner and town icon in the 1970s and 1980s, Hill said.
In addition to the mill levy funds, the museum has received a $25,000 grant from the 1772 Foundation to do exterior repairs to its buildings, which are in need of fresh paint and replaced shingles. The city of Steamboat Springs also committed $15,000 last year to help with painting costs.
"The museum's looking faded, and we don't want to (have) that kind of look in this community," Hill said.
The mill levy won't meet all of the museum's needs, so the museum will continue to hold four popular annual fund-raisers and seek out grants. It likely will take some time to see whether community support for the museum stays strong after the mill levy passed, Hill said.
"For us, it's going to be a learning year, so we'll tread pretty cautiously," Hill said.