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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

Tourism Preps for Increased Travel


In early 2020, the coronavirus was announced and resulting health precautions. By spring and early summer, schools were hoping to reopen, posting modified schedules as they adapt to health agency directives. Meanwhile, popular parks and attractions in the region were sitting empty as crowding was prohibited and social distancing encouraged.

Restaurants, hotels and recreation areas went from breathtakingly busy to some becoming financial victims of the virus. Cheyenne County Visitor Center Director Kevin Howard sees the tide changing.

“This year looks a lot better globally,” Howard said. “As we get through this pandemic, a lot more people will be moving. We need to be ready.”

Howard said to expect more people driving than flying as the summer season takes hold.

Howard attended the May 3 meeting of the Cheyenne County Commissioners regarding the proposed transfer of $100,000 from Visitors Fund 995 to Visitors Fund 990, from improvement projects to promotions.

The proposal was approved 3-0.

The commissioners also met as the Board of Equalization. County Treasurer Shelly Bowlin presented an Exemption Application for Tax Exemption on Motor Vehicles owned by Qualifying Non Profit organization. The exemption application is in reference to three ambulances Regional West Medical Center has in Sidney.

The commissioners also met with County Assessor Mel Keller while seated as the Board of Adjustment. The requested changes regard changes in valuation, and a tract of land donated to the City of Sidney.

Returning as the board of commissioners, Keller discussed with the board expanding the GWORKS contract. GWORKS is a mapping program the county is purchases.

“You can add more layers as you go,” Keller said.

The “layers” are, for example, when images of towns can be placed over images roads and highway over images of geography.

The program can be used for tasks including property searches, deed search, weed tracking, asset management, risk mitigation and district layers. She said layers can be added that would not be accessible by the public.

Keller also discussed with the commissioners the possibility of hiring another employee for the office. She said there are Legislative bills pending that are expected to add more work to county assessor offices. Commissioner Randy Miller encouraged Keller not to worry about a new employee until the bill passes. Miller continued, voicing frustration with the State making mandates without framework or funding. He added he is concerned the number of clerical mistakes brought before the commissioners is a result of overwork, of assessor office staff doing too much. He said some of the burden of tax responsibility needs to be with the landowner.

The commissioners also discussed the County's health insurance plan. County Clerk Beth Fiegenschuh said rates are increasing at only 3.2 percent.

The commissioners approved the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan 3-0. Fiegenschuh thanked the commissioners for offering quality insurance.

The commissioners also discussed the parking lot at the county annex where the county attorney and Extension offices are housed. The condition of the parking lot is becoming a liability issue, according to the commissioners. The question is to patch it, or strip it and replace it.


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