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Prospectors' Annual Legislative Information forum, 120913, Part 9

Editor's Note: This is Part 9 of a multi-part series on the Prospectors' forum, which was held on Dec. 9. Then the holidays happened, and the rest of the articles did not get written.

The Silver City Arts and Cultural District was represented by George Julian Dworin, director.

"The arts and cultural district was established in 2007," Dworin told legislators. "Silver City was one of the two pilot arts and cultural districts. Today we are the model for others. We partner with local and state partners for sustainable tourism and economic development.

"One of our partners is the Silver City Clay Festival," Dworin continued. "We manage marketing for Silver City and partner with the Southwest New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce for the Visitor Center. We cross-promote with 16 arts and arts and cultural districts across the state.

"There are three new arts and cultural districts, bringing the total to nine arts and cultural districts in the state," Dworin said.

"There is a missing piece," he pointed out. "In 2007, the Legislature created an Arts and Cultural District Fund for streetscape projects, but the fund has never been capitalized by the state. We will ask for $1 million for the Arts and Cultural District Fund. It would make us eligible to apply for funds and matching federal funds.  It is on the town ICIP. We've done a lot without funding."

"So many things would be awesome with funding," Rep. Dianne Hamilton said. "I wish you well."

"Will MainStreet be asking for funding?" Morales asked. "That is two pots of money."

"There are two pots," Dworin confirmed. "We are distinct from MainStreet projects. We are under MainStreet as a separate fund."

"What do you think about the Department of Tourism New Mexico True campaign?" Morales asked.

"It is fantastic," Dworin opined.  "It provides us with a one-to-one dollar match and provides a reach to a national audience.  We're promoting on a regional basis."

The Tour of the Gila Race Director Jack Brennan presented on behalf of the bicycle race.

"We are asking for help finding funds for the Tour of the Gila," Brennan said. "The Tour of the Gila is regarded as the fourth most important race in the country, after the Tour of California, the Tour of Utah and the Men's Pro Challenge. The other three are men's only races and cost $2.6 million for TV coverage. They are multi-million dollar events.

"The Tour of the Gila budget is $280,000 to $300,000 and is for men and women, pro and amateur," Brennan said. "It's quite a credit to us to be in the top tier of races after 27 years. Our race is considered to be the hardest women's race in North America.

"Why are we asking for funding?" Brennan said.  "We are maxxed out. Our sponsors locally bring us mostly $100 to $250 each. We are always looking for other sponsorships. We ask for the state of New Mexico to sponsor us. We would like to spend money on Internet live streaming. For TV, it would cost us $600,000, which we don't have."

There are so many improvements in technology, the cost of live streaming is decreasing, he said.

"We would like to contract with Kent Gordis," Brennan said. "We met him at a United Sports Athletic Association promoters' meeting. He sees the benefit of live streaming. It would cost $100,000, which is still a lot of money, but we could showcase Grant County, Silver City and the Tour of the Gila.

"We see the Tour of the Gila helping to showcase all of New Mexico as a bicycling destination to bring bicyclists here," Brennan said.

"We all admire what you've done," Hamilton said. "How will you be able to view the race?"

"On our website, on cyclingnews.com on your smartphone or tablet," Brennan said. "Silver City is the title sponsor."

"In our travels we see so many cars with bicycles on them," Hamilton said.

"We want to see them here," Brennan said.

"As far as funding from New Mexico, is the Department of Tourism participating with you?" Martinez asked.

"No," Brennan replied. "It all goes to advertising in San Diego, Chicago, New York and Houston. I think that's wrong. We ARE New Mexico True, giving them an authentic adventure. We've been doing it for years and years."

"We see the Balloon Festival everywhere," Martinez commented.

"Not from Tourism," Brennan said.

"The Tour of the Gila is also economic development," Martinez said. "Haven't they come forward?"

"No, but we haven't reached out to them," Brennan said. "Just to Tourism."

"I think you should reach out to economic development," Martinez said. "By having the Tour of the Gila in the state, does it bring smaller races?"

"It makes us a bicycle-friendly community," Brennan said. "We have had a discussion about a 12-hour mountain-biking event at Fort Bayard."

Morales said he had an update. "We heard from (Tourism Cabinet Secretary Monique) Jacobson that she thinks some funding should go to operations. There is $600,000 in cooperative funding. We could get some here."

Armando Amador and José Ray, Vietnam veterans, represented the Forgotten Veterans' Memorial.

"We have been very creative about doing what we think is important for the community," Amador said. "We started the project in 1992. We have a request for $250,000 for flagpoles, a reflection center, benches for people who come to the memorial and solar system for the lights to be on 24/7.

"Now we are doing the groundwork," Amador continued. "What do we need? We want to be purchasing tractors. Our priority is a metal building for a workshop and as storage for equipment.

"We want to put in a fountain base, which helps release tension, with the soothing sound of the water," he said. "We want a tower like in Vietnam, which was holding the ground on the perimeter, and we want a World War II artillery tank."

He said veterans have cemented some of the area to control erosion. "We think we have done one helluva job. Keeping the memorial up helps us with PTSD. When visitors visit, it speaks to their hearts. Some donate time and monies. The Town and Country Garden Club built the rock wall as a donation."

"Why we feel comfortable asking for funding is because the community is supporting us," Amador said. "We feel blessed there. The bronze statue was donated. We continue doing our best."

"I was there for a ceremony, and I talked to a man, who sat there with tears, because of what it meant to him to find a wonderful place," Hamilton said.

"It impresses me that through volunteering what you do out there," Morales said. "We want to find an opportunity to find a good project to finish. I'm not so sure we can get the $390,000 needed to complete it."

"That's just a projection," Amador said.

"The state wants to see projects that are begun completed.," Morales said. "Make sure these are accurate numbers."

"I'm not sure a survey is required," Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments Director Priscilla Lucero said. "I'm not sure there is a request to Grant County lately. This one is from the 1990s."

"I talked to (County Manager Jon Paul) Saari, (County Commission Chairman Brett) Kasten and (Commissioner Gabriel) Ramos to be the fiscal agent," Amador said. "They said we are part of the county."

"Be able to show the paperwork," Morales said. "I would like to see it a completed project."

"You are a 501c. Are you a 4 or 5?" Martinez asked.

Amador confirmed the group is a 501c.

"I was not aware of the designation," Lucero said.

"The first time we had funding was with Rep. (Manny) Herrera," Amador said. "He said we could not do it except through Santa Clara, but it changes every year."

"Look at your bylaws," Martinez suggested. "I think you fall under the umbrella of the national organization."

More non-profit presentations will come in the last two articles.

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