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Alaskan Bicyclist Challenges Town Council

Beau Bassett concludes 1,100 mile Youth Volunteer Promotion Bicycle Ride at Town Council Meeting: (l to r) Councilor Jose Ray, Jr., Councilor Cynthia Bettison, Mayor James Marshall, Councilor Polly Cook, Bicyclist Beau Bassett, Councilor Mike Morones.

Photo and article By Charlie McKee

During the Public Input portion of Tuesday evening's Town Council meeting, Alaskan Robert C. ("Beau") Bassett challenged Mayor James Marshall and the Town Council to join him next year on Sept. 11, 2014, in promoting the National Day of Service and Remembrance.  Bassett vowed to return to Silver City on that day to begin his third long-distance bicycle ride to raise awareness of the importance of teaching and encouraging youth volunteers in leadership, service and community. He intends to ride from Silver City to South Bend, IN, next year.

Bassett just completed a 1,100-mile bicycle ride, which began on Sept. 11, 2013, from Santa Cruz, CA, to Silver City.  He has spent the past three days meeting with Grant County school principals, counselors, and youth volunteer organizations to share ideas regarding youth volunteerism.  Bassett espouses the philosophy that "a rising spirit raises all people's spirits" and believes that the 2014 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is an opportunity for youth in Grant County to participate in raising our spirit.  The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States' largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service, and Bassett has promoted it at all his stops along his bicycle route.  Bassett encouraged the Mayor and Council to help raise awareness of this program, which leverages partnerships for success with local organizations such as The Volunteer Center of Grant County, the 4-H Club, the Red Cross, and local secondary schools.

During the Reports portion of the Council meeting, Cissy McAndrew of the Green Chamber of Commerce gave the Council a brief update regarding visitor statistics with respect to recent park closures.  McAndrew informed the Council that the Visitor Center did not see any reduction in the number of visitors to Silver City in October compared to last year, in spite of the closure of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  She noted that volunteers at the Visitor Center have been consistently encouraging visitors to take advantage of events and museums in town and that visitor numbers at the museums are up from last year.

George Julian Dworin, Director of the Arts and Cultural District (ACD), then gave his report to the Council regarding recent successes in Silver City's advertising campaigns, promoting Silver City and its surrounding area to tourism.  Dworin informed the Council that he is in the process of developing a "Tourism Report Card," comprised of consistent meaningful metrics that will give the Council a better picture of measurable progress going forward.  He then displayed several ads in a "show and tell" of successful advertising campaigns in Sunset Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, Desert Leaf, and Zocalo, as well as passing around the new "101 Things To Do in Silver City" ad and poster.  The "101 Things" poster will also be produced as a postcard to be handed out by local businesses. Dworin underscored the happy coincidence of the recent New York Times article about Silver City, which highlighted Jean Robert Béffort's colorful mural of Billy the Kid in concert with the ACD's New Mexico True ad of similar theme.  Dworin also noted that the ACD's outside advertising expenses had been significantly reduced, by bringing approximately $60,000 worth of graphic design in house through his and Michelle Geel's efforts.  He thanked Michelle, who "makes it happen," for all her efforts in making the ACD successful and thanked Jessie Thetford for her major contribution to the redesign of the ACD's website and its extensive calendar of events.

Mayor Marshall informed Dworin that he would soon be receiving an email invitation to participate in a meeting of core groups, including the Mimbres Region Arts Council, Silver City MainStreet, the Silver City/Grant County Chamber of Commerce and others.  The Mayor stated that he wants to foster an atmosphere of collaboration among the groups that will leverage their strengths in promoting Silver City tourism.

Lastly, during the New Business portion of the meeting, the Council approved the Mayor's reappointment of Becky Smith as Chair of the Historic Design Review Committee.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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