|Though the facade of the Western Mining and Railroad Museum in Helper will remain largely unchanged, museum staff and city officials anticipate construction to begin this year on an addition to the north of the museum. The completed addition will contain increased office space, fully-accessible restrooms, an elevator, state record repository and increased exhibit space. A funding approval for $70,000 in county restaurant tax monies represents some of the final funding for phase one of the project, which is expected to cost more than $850,000.|
The Carbon County Commission approved five requests for restaurant tax funding on Feb. 7.
The commission's approvals total more than $130,000, with more than $100,000 going to projects in Helper.
Two requests, totaling $22,000 were denied.
A decision has yet to be made regarding more than $200,000 in outstanding requests.
Requests are submitted to the county's restaurant tax board.
The board reviews the funding proposals, asks for additional information when needed and then makes a recommendation to county commissioners.
The county commission makes the final decision regarding the requests.
The largest funding request approved was for Helper's Western Mining and Railroad Museum to help cover the costs of renovation.
The museum will receive $70,000 toward the project, subject to confirmation that other funding sources have been finalized.
Total costs for the museum expansion are expected to exceed $1.2 million.
The first phase of the project is estimated at more than $850,000.
Another request in Helper totaled $26,890 for a billboard to be replaced at the north end of the city, just west of U.S. Highway 6.
The request had been approved some years earlier, but Helper officials had not used the funds.
The billboard will be the first sign motorists driving into Carbon County see as they leave Price Canyon.
Helper officials say they plan to use the billboard to encourage motorists to leave the highway and drive through the city's historic business district.
The Helper Arts Festival will receive $6,000 toward the replacement and repairs of the stage located in the city's Main Street park.
Restaurant tax dollars were used to build the canopy over the stage.
The total cost for the stage is anticipated to come to $32,300.
The county commission approved the restaurant tax board's recommendation with the condition that other funding sources are in place before the money is released.
A fourth request from Helper's community development committee for $12,000 was denied by the commission based on the restaurant tax board's recommendation.
The funding requested would have been used for post-construction items at the city's pool scheduled for opening later this year.
The restaurant tax board recommended denial because it did not fully fit the brick and mortar standard.
The county commission also denied a funding request for restaurant tax revenues from the Bryner Pioneer Museum in Price.
Because the museum is privately owned, the county is barred from allocating public funds to support the project.
Carbon County Travel Region, the area's travel bureau requested $25,000 for use toward promoting the region.
The county commission approved $10,000 with the remaining balance available after a review in six months.
County officials indicated that they wanted to ensure that funds would be used by the travel bureau specifically as requested.
As long as the travel bureau can demonstrate that the funds will be dedicated to approved uses, the county will fund the remaining $15,000.
Castle Country Regional Information Center requested $6,000 in restaurant tax revenues.
The information center is supported by various entities, including federal as well as state agencies and the travel bureaus in Carbon and Emery Counties.
The entities supporting the information center also include Carbon County Recreation, Price city and Castle Dale.
Funding from county restaurant taxes will be sued to help provide tourist information about the Carbon-Emery area at the center.
Four requests for funding are still pending action.
The restaurant tax board met on Feb. 8 to hear additional information from two funding applicants.
City officials in Price requested $25,000 in restaurant tax revenues to help fund the construction of a trail head on the county's multi-use trail.
The trail head will dedicated to equestrian users.
City officials explained that horses and motorized off-highway vehicles do not mix well. Therefore, providing a separate staging area for horses and riders will be a unique attraction.
East Carbon requested $20,000 for use in renovating the exterior of the Rasmussen building, which city officials hope to convert into a museum.
East Carbon City officials at the meeting explained that the city has collected many historical artifacts over the years.
Since the closure and demolition of East Carbon High School, community members have pushed to find a permanent home for the city's history.
The restaurant tax board had anticipated making its decision regarding a recommendation to the county commission.
However, when the members adjourned to deliberate the matter behind closed doors, the Sun Advocate protested the action.
The restaurant tax board subsequently adjourned the meeting without deliberating the matter.
A legal opinion from the county attorney's office is expected to clarify whether advisory boards are subject to statutory guidelines outlined in Utah's open and public meetings act.
The restaurant tax board members are expected to make the panel's recommendation regarding the funding request after the attorneys finish the review.
Two additional restaurant tax funding requests are outstanding.
One funding request is for $60,000 from Carbon County for promotion of the North Springs recreation area near Wattis and the events center at the fairgrounds.
The recreation area and county's events center are expected to open during the current year.
The College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum requested $100,000 toward a planned garden exhibiting plants which lived in the area millions of years ago.
The board has not set a meeting to make a decision regarding a recommendation on the county and college requests.