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Tourism cabinet reviews activities, future plans

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The following is a report by Patricia Luna, a Surface Creek Area representative on the Delta County Tourism Cabinet, on the cabinet's annual meeting.

The Delta County Tourism Cabinet (DCTC) held its annual retreat on Nov. 11 at Wisehart Springs Inn in Paonia. The meeting was well attended with Robbie LeValley, county administrator; Bruce Hovde, county commissioner; Kelli Hepler, director; Kathy Hirschboeck, president; and members Todd Sheets, Tony Vervloet, John Taylor, Yvon Gros, Wilma Erven, Edd Franz and myself.

Trish Thibido is a member at large and was present at the retreat. There are two members from each geographic area in Delta County and one member at large. Kathy Hirschboeck and I represent the Surface Creek area at these meetings.

The purpose of the retreat was to lay out accomplishments in 2015 and set goals and action items for 2016.

In 2015, Kelli reported there were five familiarization "FAM" tours hosted by DCTC, with a total of 19 writers visiting Delta County and 70 stories being published in multiple newspapers and magazines across the United States. Communities are encouraged to participate, hosting a tour in their communities for future guest writers.

Once each quarter in 2015, the DCTC members toured a community in Delta County which enabled members to get to know their neighbors. This year we toured Farm to Table and Living Farm Café; the Bee Hive, and Paradise Theatre in Paonia; the Eckert tour included visiting Fruitgrowers Reservoir to see the sandhill cranes and the new parking area. Kelli Hepler and Edd Franz shared their birding knowledge and informed of other projects that are in the works.

The group toured Drost's Chocolates and J&S Bakeria. Finally, a tour to orient DCTC to the Gunnison and North Fork River Special Recreation Management Area, Gunnison River Pleasure Park, and then a raft trip.

The first stop along the river was at Cottonwood Grove Campground, doing an assessment exercise so that the Bureau of Land Management could get input from elected leaders, local economic development and tourism entities. Then back on the river to the Relief Ditch diversion structure where Cary Denison from Trout Unlimited discussed improvements to that structure. It continued with a land-based tour focusing on existing and potential upland recreation opportunities in the Smith Mountain area.

Goals for the coming year include maintaining the agri-tourism scope, focus on outdoor recreation as a tourism and economic force and a local campaign of educating locals including businesses, vendors and lodgers of what there is to do and see in Delta County with primary focus of having people stay and visit longer and all of Delta County a destination location.

Robbie LeValley explained that a request for proposal for a Delta County tourism promotion plan from qualified individuals(s) or firm to assist in developing a marketing strategy to promote tourism in Delta County will be advertised in January.

Kelli Hepler has held this position since 2006 and is welcome to apply. It was stated that the RFP was no reflection on the great job Kelli has done for the county.

LeValley reported to the DCTC about the Delta County Fairgrounds Task Force and asked for people to join the task force. The Delta County Fairgrounds 2010 Master Plan was reviewed with attendees.

The next meeting is Jan. 4 in Hotchkiss at the Maloney House at the fairgrounds.

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Surface Creek
Hotchkiss, Paonia, tourism
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