Museum board gets good start

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The Routt County Museum and Heritage Fund Advisory Board has held its initial meeting, and board members said they are looking forward to the work ahead.

"I think it's going to be a great board," said Pete Wither, who was elected chairman of the board at the Jan. 13 meeting. "Everybody is very enthusiastic about its future, and it certainly looks to me like it's going to be very productive."

History has always been an important part of Wither's life, as his aunt and mother started and ran the Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs. Wither, a past president of the museum's board of directors, is one of two advisory board members representing the Steamboat Springs Area District.

Wither also was crucial in the campaign to pass the Museum and Heritage Fund, a resolution approved by voters in November that imposes a countywide 0.3 mill levy to help fund museums and historic organizations and that created the advisory board.

The $210,000 a year the tax will generate will be divided among the county's museums and historic groups according to school district boundaries and populations. One-tenth of that money will go into a grant program.

The advisory board members, chosen by Routt County commissioners earlier this month, will create criteria for the grant funds and help monitor how museums and historical organizations use the tax dollars they receive.

"If somebody's paying their hard-earned taxes for this thing, then they better be sure we're doing a good job," said Bob Baker, vice-chairman of the advisory board.

Baker said he felt the board's first meeting went well, as all board members attended and were excited about starting work.

The board likely will meet several times each month for the next few months to establish criteria for awarding the grants, he said. Before the next meeting Tuesday, advisory board members are researching granting guidelines used by other historical societies.

Another positive characteristic of the board is that its members represent the entire county and a variety of backgrounds, Baker said.

"We're true believers in historical preservation," Baker said. "We believe in our communities, and we believe historical preservation is an important part of those communities."

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