Steamboat Springs Barbara DeVries was surprised to learn that she wouldn’t be able to reserve space on the Wells Fargo marquee next year to let residents know about the 2012 primary election in June on behalf of the Routt County League of Women Voters.
Instead, the Steamboat Springs resident was told the marquee would be coming down.
“As far as I know, I’ve been here 42 years, and it’s been there the whole time,” she said Tuesday. “It’s been a real community service to have a list of things going on.”
Retired bank employees said the marquee went up with the sign that also includes the time and temperature when the building for Routt County National Bank was constructed in 1970.
Wade Gebhardt, market president for the Steamboat Springs branch of Wells Fargo, said the marquee would be removed by the end of the year. He said the time and temperature portion of the sign is being upgraded and will remain.
Gebhardt said the marquee required maintenance that was cost prohibitive. He said other issues, including complaints and customers thinking that an organization’s event listing implied the bank’s endorsement of it, led to the decision to take it down.
“It’s become a challenge to manage the process in an equitable manner with all of the community groups that are interested,” he said. “We would prefer to focus our efforts on the volunteerism of our team members and employees and the dollars that we are able to give to the community.”
Gebhardt said the bank contributes more than $100,000 per year to community causes and that its employees are active volunteers.
Geneva Taylor, former Wells Fargo senior vice president, worked there through four name changes after starting at Routt County Bank in 1961. She said that when the new building was constructed, the marquee was part of the plan of then-bank President and CEO Del Scott.
Throughout the years, it has provided information about local events, fundraisers and community activities. Gebhardt said it provides 104 free advertising opportunities each year — events remain on one side of the marquee for a week at a time — for local groups in the order they are requested.
Partners in Routt County Executive Director Libby Foster said the marquee provided great free exposure for its annual Java & Jazz fundraiser in addition to allowing Partners to get publicity for its youth-mentoring services.
“I think looking at that sign was a part of almost every Steamboat resident’s daily routine,” she said. “So it will be missed for organizations like Partners.”
Suzi Mariano, spokeswoman for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said her organization used it to advertise clinics, fundraisers and locations for flu shot clinics. She said the marquee is one of several ways the VNA can provide information to residents, but unlike other options such as banners over Lincoln Avenue, it doesn’t cost anything.
“I hope somebody else will pick it up downtown,” she said.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said her group has discussed other ways to provide information to residents but hasn’t needed them in the past. Options include public kiosks, light pole banners and even a digital marquee somewhere downtown.
But Barnett said those options cost money, which Mainstreet doesn’t have. And she said they haven’t been researched.
Yampa Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said the hospital has used the marquee during the years. She said it was such a simple way to reach people.
“I think it’s harder and harder to reach people because we get so many messages from so many people each day,” McKelvie said. “That was just a real quick glance, another reminder or sometimes the only message we would see about an event.”
If it were up to Taylor, the Wells Fargo marquee wouldn’t go anywhere.
“I think we need to do something about that,” she said.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com