The Hotchkiss Visitor Center now offers a warm and inviting location for tourists and DMEA customers. Last Wednesday, Feb. 20, was the grand opening of the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and the DMEA Payment Center.
The center was open for business with DMEA staff preparing lunch and demonstrating to their customers how simple it is to make a payment at the self-service kiosk.
The center on Highway 133 by the Hotchkiss Inn is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Payments will immediately be applied to customer accounts. If the customer's electricity has been shut off, it will be turned back on automatically without having to dispatch a utility worker.
Customers can still pay online, have automatic payments set up or use the drop boxes at Don's Market in Paonia, City Market in Hotchkiss and Delta and the DMEA offices.
This is the first payment center outside of the DMEA headquarters in Montrose and Read.
The project was started about eight months ago, with a couple of months spent working with an architect and the chamber. Construction began last November.
"We wanted the center to be secure, comfortable and inviting," Lenny Rose of DMEA said.
Greg Hobbs of DMEA noted the center is in a good central location close to the Hotchkiss City Market. "Plus it was a good opportunity to work with the chamber of commerce up here and the visitor's bureau. We thought it would be a great location. People could get pamphlets but also pay their utility bill," Hobbs said.
To use the payment center, people just bring in the bottom part of their bill which has a bar code. The customer holds the bar code by the scanner which reads it and brings up the proper account.
Customers can pay by cash, check or credit card. The machine does not give back change. Instead the change will be credited to the customer's account.
Customer's blank checks are read automatically for their checking account number. The customer keys in the amount of the payment.
Instructions are posted next to the pay center.
The lighted center is secure with cameras and alarms. Doors automatically lock at 9 p.m. and re-open at 6 a.m. Should a customer complete their transaction and the clock strikes 9:01, the customer will be able to exit through the door and won't have to spend the night.
Rose said DMEA removed a wall to make room for the payment center and the chamber's map and television.
The Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce is excited to have additional services provided at the center for tourists.
A phone will hopefully be installed by May which will link visitors with member lodging.
"Essentially it will be a speed dial system where people can press a number and will be directed to a member lodging business," Nathan Sponseller, chamber president, said. "Initially it's for lodging, but we hope to extend it to the wineries, farms and any business off the beaten path which would benefit from being easily reached [by phone] from here," Sponseller said.
The television shows scenes from the North Fork Valley. The Visitor Center has many brochures and tour guides of the local vacation spots and wineries.
"We're very thankful for the DMEA's assistance in renovating the Visitor Center. It's far better than it was. They were very generous in their contributions to make it happen. We think it was a good partnership," Sponseller said.blog comments powered by Disqus