Grand Mesa Nordic Council
August 15, 2023
Board: Dan Tille, Tom Ela, Christine Noel, Marguerite Tuthill, Susie Attaway
Board Members Absent: John Traylor & Larry Gruel
GMNC Staff: Christie Aschwanden, Melissa Newell, Beth Klein
Guests: Dustin Dodson, Read Hunker, Denise Massart, Greg Randall, Ilene Roggensack
Dan Tille called the meeting to order at 6:06 pm and read the GMNC mission statement.
- Public Comment Period. The Board opened the meeting to public comment.
Greg Randall requested all actuals and tax returns from the last 5 years to be posted on the GMNC website. Christine shared the last 3 years prior to the 2022-2023 fiscal year 990s are posted on the GMNC website. The 2022-2023 fiscal year 990 has yet to be filed. Greg also asked if the strategic plan that was completed five years ago is posted on the GMNC website. Dan shared that there was no strategic plan five years ago. Dan also shared the Board will be having a retreat in September for strategic planning. Tom asked if there were minutes from the previous Board retreat. Dan will check if there are minutes in the Board drive.
Dustin Dodson commented about the importance of nordic skiing on the Mesa and the GMNC to his well being. He was worried about information being shared about GMNC being unsustainable. He would like to know if GMNC is sustainable or not. This is a big part of his quality of life and he wants to ensure it will be around for the foreseeable future. Dan responded the nordic trails are also key to his well being and that GMNC is sustainable. He mentioned the increase in donations. Dustin asked if there is planned gifting. Dan shared there is no planned gifting at this time but it is something Christie, Melissa, and the Board are working on. Grants and business sponsors are also on-going funding sources. Dan also explained how a big part of Christie’s job is grant writing and seeking out on-going funding sources.
Christie stated that GMNC is on a sustainable path, donations continue to go up, and GMNC is not planning for continued growth. Instead, GMNC wants to maintain current levels of membership to ensure a high quality of skiing. Christie also mentioned she understands that a large part of her job is fundraising to pay for operations because the organization size and needs have surpassed what volunteers can provide. Dan shared some additional steps taken for sustainability including an investment policy and hosting fundraising events to make raising money fun for people. Dustin suggested one non-Board member, or a group of representative members, be asked to attend the upcoming Board planning session to bring in the voice of the non-Board and to assist with the perceived transparency issues. Dan shared the Board outreached to founding members prior to the last Board retreat to gather their ideas and feedback and he is planning on taking those same steps.
Denise shared that she has been a member of GMNC for about 20 years and has previously served on the Board for a year. She stated her agreement to what Dustin said about the trails and Nordic Council’s positive impact on her quality of life. She has seen a lot of growth over the years and is impressed by the amount of work by the staff and Board that this takes. She mentioned that as an organization grows, costs go up. The concerns coming up are news to her but she thinks it’s amazing what the staff has been able to accomplish. The finances are strong, it’s going in a great direction, and she has no concerns about the finances, everything is above board. She has a lot of faith in the Board, the staff, and the finances.
Read Hunker is having computer issues and instead submitted a chat message via Denise: “Debbie Chesman and Read Hunker would like to convey their support of Christie and GMNC.”
July Minutes Approval. Tom motioned to approve the July minutes as submitted, Dan seconded, motion was approved unanimously.
Finance Report. Christine reviewed the financial dashboard included in the Board packet. Christine began by stating she forgot to include the total operating assets on the Dashboard, Total operating assets for July are $455,545.89 and there is no debt. July 2023 Financials: As you can see from our Dashboard, current month and year-to-date revenues are greater than last year’s figures, and current month and year-to-date expenses are below last year’s figures. We are currently in a strong position, financially, during this off-season period. Donation dollars are up significantly from this time last year. CPA update: We are signing an engagement letter with Travis Boyd, CPA, to prepare and file our tax return: Form 990. The tax filing deadline is September 15.
Executive Director Report. Christie reviewed her Executive Director report included in the Board packet. Details she highlighted include:
Operations Manager/Lead Groomer – Christie shared she has hired a new Operations Manager/Lead Groomer, Tigran Bailey. He has groomed for Aspen Ski Company and Ashcroft Ski Touring for 20 years and won awards from Colorado Ski Country USA. Christie did phone interviews with him and about a half dozen other candidates but felt the in person interview on the Mesa sealed the deal. Tigran will be going to Kässbohrer to check out the machine, he does have experience with this machine. His official start date is September 1st, most work during the off season will be around trail prep and putting together the grooming team for the upcoming ski season.
Snowcat – Christie explained that the plan when the snowcat was purchased was to replace it when it has about 6,000 hours left so there is a resale value, originally forecasted to be retired/sold in 2030. Christie feels GMNC is on track to meet the 2030 forecasted retirement date.
Major Development Plan – Christie is proud to report the Master Development Plan has been approved by the USFS. This means it can now be shared with the public and GMNC will do that. The sharing of this information will be partnered with sharing details on the building and strategic planning.
Fundraising – It sounds like GMNC is a good fit for the DOLA Nonprofit Infrastructure grant, this grant will assist with staffing costs. Christie is also working with Community Hospital to get their support on some events, Marguerite for some corporate sponsorship of events, and a Colorado Fish and Wildlife grant for trail building support. Alpine Bank submitted a surprise gift of $500 from the employees of Alpine Bank who chose where the money went.
USFS Update – The USFS is understaffed at the moment but Ryan is a great partner and Christie is optimistic about what they will be able to get done. She shared that many of the proposed new trails should be able to be built this year but possibly not all. Dan asked for details on the remaining steps in the new trail build process. Christie shared the USFS will need to complete a walk through with a wildlife biologist before final approval. Christie shared that Loren Paulson is retiring, likely this fall. Christie is working with Tina Wilson to complete the maps. Rates have been raised but GMNC is going to continue working with Tina on the maps. Christie feels the map ads will all sell this year.
Community Outreach Director Report.
Melissa’s report was included in the Board packet. Melissa shared her July and August minutes were limited but will begin to grow in September. Over the past month she spent time with Rich and others on trail maintenance planning. She is also working on the 23-24 events calendar and has secured locations for kick off parties. GJ’s event will be held at Edgewater Brewing on November 4th from 6-9pm, with a speaker. A virtual auction will be held prior to the event and then a Silent Auction during the Grand Junction event. The Cedaredge event will be held at Lost Mesa Grill on October 22nd.
Melissa has been working with the Nature Connection to plan out free rental events.
Olympic Games Event
Melissa has been working hard on sourcing donations and planning the silent auction event. She will also be reaching out to businesses for map ads, silent auction donations, and business sponsorships. And she is prepping multiple events for this fall including the Run for Snow and Apple Fest.
Dan asked about trail maintenance day scheduling. Melissa shared there are some additional details that need to be figured out but they are tentatively planning for volunteer days to be a mix of weekdays and weekends. She will send out a Signup Genius email to solicit final volunteer lists for these days.
Dan asked Christie when trees will be knocked out on the new trails. Christie shared a plan is in place and all participants will be covered by the necessary insurance.
Building Update. Dan provided an update on the building process. Dan has had a couple conversations with Winslow about the GMNC’s needs because the building designs continue to come in over budget. GMNC met with the architects and engineers to get the design within budget. Chamberlain Architects and Asset Engineering are going back to their contractors to get new bids to bring the design back into budget. Dan shared that the location of this project is making it difficult to find contractors who want to bid on this project because of the large number of opportunities in the Grand Valley. Dan has asked a concrete company for in-kind donations and suggested other contractors to reach out to about in-kind donations.
Miscellaneous Business. The Board added the following agenda items:
Non Harassment Policy – Dan explained GMNC already has a Code of Conduct policy that all individuals outside of volunteers sign (i.e., Board, staff, etc.). Dan is compiling examples and will bring a draft to the next Board meeting for review and approval. Marguerite shared she is glad the Board sought legal counsel on this policy and is glad the GMNC is putting this policy and the Employee Handbook in place to ensure GMNC staff are supported and protected. Christie will figure out a way to put the Non Harassment policy, the Code of Conduct, and Non Discrimination Policy on the website. Marguerite will work with Christie to see if there are any other policies that should be listed.
Public Comment Period – Dan shared GMNC has never formalized the policy around how the 30 minute public policy period runs. Dan reminded the meeting that in-person meetings have an 8pm cut off time because that is when Bill Heddles Recreation Center closes. The policy being discussed is to divy up the 30 minutes equally among guests. Dustin asked if the public comments should be moved to the end so guests can include discussions from the meeting in their comment. Christie shared the background on why the public comment is held at the top of the meeting, it’s because some people don’t want to wait through the entire meetings. Dan will compile a formal policy and the Board will review and vote on it during a future meeting.
Annual Board Officer Election – Dan explained that the Board made a mistake and completed its annual vote to approve executive positions during the May Board Meeting Executive Session because it was in a hurry to exit the Bill Heddles Recreation Center before it closed. Board acknowledges this was a mistake and has chosen to redo the vote during the August meeting. Tom motioned to elect Dan Tille President, John Traylor Vice President, Christine Noel Treasurer, Marguerite Tuthill Secretary, and Board Members Tom Ela, Susie Attaway, and Larry Gruel, Dan seconded, Board approved the motion unanimously.
The GMNC Board will meet next via Zoom on September 20th at 6pm.
Board then moved into Executive Session at 7:13 pm.