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Helper decides on new use for city hall: a visitor center

Sun Advocate associate editor

According to the rules of logic and the Utah Department of Transportation, highway signs directing people to the Helper Visitor Information Center will be permitted only if Helper has a visitor information center.

To UDOT, that means more than brochures in a kiosk. It means having human beings on hand to answer tourist and visitor questions.

So the city, anxious to take advantage of a chance to persuade drivers to exit US-6 and cruise down Main Street, has created such a facility. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, has public rest rooms and full ADA access.

Helper residents already know this facility as City Hall.

In presenting the case for having the municipal offices serve double duty, Mayor Dean Armstrong explained that the city has landed two of the state's scenic byways - the Energy Loop and Dinosaur Diamond. This has put the city in two separate brochures, which is good for tourism.

However, Armstrong noted, "The real key is getting [travelers] off the highway." To do that, the town would need UDOT signs at both ends of town, and to get those signs the city would need a real visitor center.

Once it has the center, the city would be able to put up promotional panels in City Hall or any other place it chooses, such as in the Main Street Park. The city has already invested in designing the three-panel display at the Tucker (Tie Fork) Rest stop, so getting reproductions for in-town use would not be all that expensive, the mayor said.

Before calling for a vote, the council asked city recorder Jona Skerl if answering visitor questions would pose any problems for staff.

"We're already doing that," she replied.

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