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Special service district grants large award to musuem for projects

Sun Advocate community editor

A representation of what a musuem dinosaur sculpture on 100 East and 100 North would appear like.

On Sept. 13 the Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District gave a big boost to the fortunes of the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum when they appropriated $165,000 plus for various requests the museum proposed to them.

"It was a good night," said museum director Reece Barrick as he left the meeting with a smile on his face, knowing that his organization would now have money to fund their business plan, put up a promotional sculpture on the corner of 100 North and 100 East, be able to pay for design work for a new facility addition and acquire badly needed vehicles.

During the meeting Barrick had presented the four needs in a half hour presentation, explaining each one individually to the board.

"One of the situations we have had to deal with continually is that employees must use their own vehicles to do museum business," Barrick said. "We have nothing of our own in which to haul large cast fossils from the field to the labs and we have no way of transporting large numbers of people to the quarries and other sites."

Barrick specifically asked for a three quarter ton pickup to do the hauling, a large four wheel SUV to haul people and equipment and a 15 passenger van to transport people who come in groups to work at the quarry or go other places the museum has field operations going on.

"This summer we had a fairly large high school camp and last week we had a number of legislators and their families here, and the only way to get them around was by private vehicle," he told the board. "We want to increase the number of camps we have each year, the number of activities and the number of people we are hosting and that will mean we need ways to get them where they need to go."

The board was all for purchasing the vehicles, but they also had some suggestions.

"Personally, I feel for what you want to haul with that truck you need something more heavy duty," said board member Richard Lee. "How do you get those heavy casts into vehicles now."

Barrick explained that they usually pull the casts with a winch when they can and then just use manpower to lift them into private trucks and that sometimes it "takes a lot of people" because they weigh so much.

Lee suggested at least a ton flat bed truck with some type of lift or lift gate to take the load off of the personnel.

"I think if we are going to purchase something, it should be exactly what you need and not just half of what is required," he said. "Let's do it right."

The board agreed and told Barrick to look around and come up with specific vehicles that fit the requirements and that they would then review them and fund them as needed. Board member Dennis Christensen suggested that the museum look at state bid for the vehicles, because he found in another bidding process that the state price had saved over $7,000 on a recent car purchase.

However County Commissioner Bill Krompel suggested that there is an argument for shopping for such items locally, even if they do cost more. He explained that the county commission has a "10 percent" rule which they use that allows locals to be above quotes of outside bidders. There was also some question about insurance costs and maintenance on any vehicles that might be purchased, but Barrick assured the board that while the museum had no direct line funding for that, they do have a transportation fund which would be more than adequate to handle such costs.

In another area of request, Barrick told the board that while the museum is mainly an educational environment, most people come to it and bring their families there because it is a recreational opportunity.

"Museums are a safe and quiet place for families to go," he said. "And so along that track we need to do more to get people into the facility."

Barrick cited the fact that the museum had 35,000 visitors last year and that those are a big factor in the local economy, but he also pointed out that a lot could be done to bring even more people in.

"We want to put up something to draw people to the museum and to Main Street as well," he explained. "That's why we are proposing a sculpture be put on the corner of 100 North and 100 East to bring more attention to our museum."

The board discussed the various ways of placing such a sculpture, which museum officials are proposing be created by local artist Gary Prazen. They even presented a digitally enhanced photo of how such a sculpture would look.

"Obviously we haven't checked on codes as to how close to the street it could be, but this is a good idea of what we want to do," Barrick said as the board passed the image around. They liked the idea and suggested some other changes in placement and presentation, but overall agreed to the $75,000 it would take to do the project.

The board also agreed to an $80,000 appropriation to match a grant the museum appears to have secured for prearchitectural design for a museum expansion, but not before a few questions were forwarded to the director.

"I am wondering where this new addition will go?" asked board chairman Pace Hansen.

"It will be built toward where the old school (community center) now stands," stated Barrick. The paleontologist showed models of two of the dinosaurs that would be represented in the new part of the facility while he was telling the board about the museums plans.

The board asked for a letter from Price City (who owns the community center) that would confirm a plan to tear down the old facility. In addition, they also told Barrick that the approval for the grant the CCRTSSD was matching would have to be confirmed before the district's money could be released.

The board also wondered about who the architects might be for such an expansion. Barrick told them that there were only a couple of design firms in the country who specialize in museum architecture and he would like to see one of them in the mix to do the project. He did tell the board that initial estimates on the planning could be done by state architects who have already committed to help on the project.

"I think because of the unusual mission of the museum it would be best to hire a firm that specializes in museums," said board member Sam Quigley.

The board also agreed to $10,000 to help fund a business plan the museum has been putting together.

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