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GMNC Board meeting minutes January 19, 2022, 6:00 – 8:33 PM

Our Mission Statement: “Grand Mesa Nordic Council is a community-supported, nonprofit organization of people who love to cross-country ski on the Grand Mesa in western Colorado. We are dedicated to promoting fun, safe, cross-country skiing experiences for skiers of all ages and abilities.”

Attending: Board members: Lynea Schultz-Ela, Joe Ramey, Dan Tille, Larry Gruel, Tom Ela, Denise Massart; absent Cameron Tyler. Key employees attending: Christie Aschwanden, Dave Smith. Guest: Susie Attaway

Lynea Schultz-Ela will keep track of time during meeting. Denise Massart will record this meeting.

  1. Guest Introduction – Susie Attaway is originally from Austin, TX, and has lived in CO over 40 years. She is 3 years retired from the pharmaceutical industry and has volunteered in the Grand Valley. She is interested in the Board Treasurer position. She is not familiar with 501c3s, but is interested in financing, and comfortable working with budgets and in spreadsheets. Lynea Schultz-Ela thinks it would be good to expand participation in the finance committee.


  1. Previous board meeting minutes – Denise Massart moves to accept the Dec 7th Tom Ela seconds. Motion passes. Dan Tille will post on site soon.


  1. Treasurer report – Larry Gruel discusses the December financial dashboard. Income is significantly better than Dec 2020. Compared to the budget, expenses are higher because we took on the Executive Director position and increased grooming expenses. End of year net income is 24K. Adding in additional ED expenses into original 21-22 budget, there’s a budget deficit of 51K. Expectations are that this budget gap will close in membership revenue if we keep at current donation level. Christie Aschwanden notes that we have double the amount of donations than at this point last year. Dan Tille, Christie Aschwanden and Kris Hjelle will meet to discuss donation process.


  1. Permanent Building Committee – Per the donor’s wishes, Dan Tille reports that GMNC gave the building donation back to the donor because the process had not been finalized sooner. At this point, we have a building list and picked out a location. Architect Ed Chamberlin has our building plans and will provide a drawing. The board approved drawing will go to the Forest Service. At this point, Joe Ramey urges the board to keep looking at the building design details and scrutinize, suggest changes, etc. If a Forest Service site survey exists, then we can get started, if not we will have to wait until spring for the site survey. The next step is investing in the project. Christie Aschwanden notes that we’ll have to start planning a stand-alone capital campaign for the building. Board suggestions on building details are due back to Building Committee by Jan 26th.


  1. Race & Events Committee – Dan Tille reports that the rescheduled Skyway Shuffle Race had 28 racers. The Jan 29th CMU Invitational Collegiate Sprint Race will be a much larger race with approximately 65 collegiate racers and over 100 people at the race. Christie Aschwanden currently has about 6 volunteers and is working on finding more. Steve Bennett agreed to do the timing again for the race. We are being mindful about the extra grooming cost for the sprint race and anticipate grooming contributions. Sunday, Jan 30th is the Grand Mesa Classic 10K with an added Vintage Ski Tour.


New promotional products for races (banner, tent, flags) cost approximately 3K and will be covered under the 5K grant through GJ Sports Commission.  Stoves and tables can be purchased under this grant as well.  


Monday, Feb 7th is the Firkin event at Grand Junction’s Kannah Creek. Lynea Schultz-Ela will volunteer at the event table.

The Jan 15th Moonlight ski and bonfire on was successful. At least 150 people were out skiing. Attendance was spread out throughout all event hours. Ops Crew set up the bonfire and cleaned up as well, which pleased the Forest Service. Because of this very popular event, another one is scheduled on February’s full moon on Superbowl Sunday.

  1. Lesson Program Committee: Dan Tille notes that Martin Wiesiolek has a lot of lessons planned. Community hospital grant will not fund lesson clinic series, but they would like to support GMNC from more of a wellness standpoint. Christie Aschwanden will find out more information on this. She is looking at another grant for the lesson program. A new Lesson Committee, comprised of Christie Aschwanden, Dan Tille, Martin Wiesiolek and Steve Bennett, will meet monthly to help communication and stay on top of user days, etc.


  1. Forest Service update: Christie Aschwanden reports on the Jan 18th Ward Trail meeting with Winslow Robertson, Art Trevena, Joyce Tanihara, Dea Jacobsen and Mike Jones & Lacy (?) from the Forest Service. The previously proposed Middle Ward Trailhead option is not viable due to wetlands issues. The Forest Service’s proposed Upper Ward trailhead isn’t suitable – issues include inconsistent plowing on the entry road and the trailhead location being on top of a hill. One solution is to expand the existing Ward parking lot and create a sledders’ parking lot across the highway.


Mike Jones is aware that we are waiting on the permanent warming hut design and that it will be coming soon. A Forest Service letter will be coming regarding details on a separate permit for lessons and the user days issue. There will be further discussions regarding Ward grooming and permissions with the Forest Service. We’re currently surveying skiers regarding Ward grooming preferences.


  1. Executive Director report – Christie Aschwanden reports that we surpassed 100K in individual donations in a single season. Extremely happy working with bookkeeper Kris Hjelle. Very pleased with Operations crew, they are doing a terrific job and are also taking safety into consideration. Has been a pleasure working with the team. Ward Grooming is the best it has been in years. Events and races are going great. Priorities in next couple of months are to push folks to donate and to give more. Previous push was to get everyone to join, and now it is to give a little bit more. Trying to find more ambassadors and push ambassador tables and get this going more and train them. Christie Aschwanden leading an ambassador training this Saturday.


Grant update includes receiving a 750 grant from Cedaredge Rotary Club, of which 300 is for grooming. Getting clarity on the 16,600 grant from City of Grand Junction. Alpine Bank wants to discuss the submitted grant application for 7K intended for picnic tables. Actively looking at a Timberline Bank grant and other grants.


Code of conduct policy created for all staff, instructors, Board members and non-board Committee members to sign.


Christie Aschwanden speaks to out of towners inquiring about a visit. More social media marketing can be done for out-of-town visitors. Dan Tille will bring a Google analytics report next month to see where donations are originating.


  1. Search and Rescue discussion and opportunity – Larry Gruel says there’s not specific incident coverage on GMNC’s liability insurance and will talk to broker to see what the company’s position would be on incident coverage. Dan Tille reports that within the last month, there’s been three Search & Rescue operations involving lost skiers on Skyway’s groomed trails. Martin Wiesiolek assisted in 2 or 3 of the incidents. Mesa County Search & Rescue (MCSR) created a phone tree with Christie Aschwanden and Dan Tille for issues on GMNC trails. MCSR will meet with GMNC folks to learn about the trail systems. MCSR wants GMNC to meet with Mesa Country Sherriff. MCSR will give us free wilderness first aid training taught by their trainer. We need to create an incident procedure and an organizational plan for manpower and effective communication. Need to determine how much GMNC would get involved, how much responsibility would be assumed.

We will continue to be clear that skiers ski at their own risk. We are not ski patrol but as individuals we will provide trail assistance if possible. Discuss with MCSR what our liability is if we are a volunteer helping out. GMNC can promote Colorado Search and Rescue membership to members. Christie Aschwanden would like GMNC to provide first aid training for Ops crew. We need to create a Search and Rescue committee and include someone with a legal background but possibly pursue legal advice on liability issues. Larry Gruel will follow up with insurance company, Joe Ramey will follow up with Forest Service, Dan Tille will follow up with MCSR.

  1. Snowmobile discussion – Christie Aschwanden would like to ask for 15K for a new snowmobile. Would like to increase the number from 3 to 4 for pair grooming. An additional snowmobile would help us towards our grooming goals, would be safer for groomers, and would be more effective and efficient for packing and tracking. Joe Ramey supports groomer Dave Smith recommendation on additional snowmobiles.


Christie Aschwanden would like to purchase one snowmobile at Weekender Sports or tracks for our Utility Task Vehicle (UTV). It’s possible to repair an old snowmobile now which would cost 3K, though this isn’t a long-term solution for snowmobile needs. Mesa County 30K grant is intended for operations and snowmobiles. Christie Aschwanden will do more research on UTV tracks to be sure this would make sense for our grooming needs. Joe Ramey wants Ops committee to bring UTV tracks information and snowmobile options to Feb Board meeting.

Lynea Schultz-Ela moves we approve purchase of one 15K snowmobile utilizing the Delta County 5K grant with a purchase at Hotchkiss’ Weekender Sports and that we review additional grooming equipment at February board meeting. Dan Tille seconds that motion. Motion passes.

  1. Board recruitment – Lynea Schultz-Ela reminds all that end of April is end of term where we vote for a new or continued executive team. There are still a couple of general board positions open on the board. We will need a full board if capital campaign gets created. Susie Attaway remains interested in joining the board as a Treasurer.

Lynea Schultz-Ela moves we push other agenda items to the next meeting and that we adjourn. Lynea Schultz-Ela moves we go into Executive Session.

Next meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, February 9th.

Dan Tille moves to end this meeting at 8:33p.m. Motion passes.