Grand Mesa Nordic Council
November 14, 2023
Board Members Present: Dan Tille, Tom Ela, Christine Noel, John Traylor & Susie Attaway
Board Members Absent: Marguerite Tuthill, Larry Gruel
GMNC Staff: Christie Aschwanden, Melissa Newell, Debbie Cheeseman and Tigran Bailey
Dan Tille called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm and read the GMNC mission statement.
Public Comment Period. No guests tonight
October Meeting Minutes. Tom motioned to Approve minutes with suggested changes that were emailed to John from Marguerite. Susie seconded; motion was approved unanimously.
Finance Report. Covering September and October Financials since Christine was absent at the last meeting. Christine reviewed the financial dashboard included in the Board packet.
September’s expenses included the $25,000 snowcat bill.
Some items are off in timing from last year to this year:
Our Mesa County kick-off event was in October last year, November this year.
We had quite a bit of early snow last year, so people were up earlier.
We also hosted a Halloween event last year. As we’ve learned, a presence at the trailhead yields greater contributions.
In addition, our new sustaining memberships will show an initial lower monthly amount, for example, an individual annual amount is $75, but they could choose instead to become a sustaining member at $20 per month. Eventually this example equates to $240 per year.
A bright spot is in October’s first time donors:
Not only are we even with last year, which puts us a bit ahead,
The average donation amount per person is about 15% greater ($171.80 vs. $149.89)
Tom asked about map income and expense which expenses went up due to design costs but came in under budgeted amount and income was well above expenses.
This month Christine briefly discussed our balance sheet.
Next month I plan to briefly discuss the P&L statement.
Internal Audit update
Beth is currently completing the process narratives for the CPA.
Our January meeting will be a budget meeting to see where we are for the season and make any adjustments to our budget.
Community Outreach Director Report. Melissa reviewed her Community Outreach Director report included in the Board packet. Details she highlighted include:
The silent auction was a big success. We had over 104 donated items from area businesses and GMNC members and generated $8384.40 in auction revenue. We exceeded our goal of $7500 and only had eight items that didn’t receive any bids.
This past month, we had both our Cedaredge and Grand Junction Season Kick Off Parties. Both were well attended, and memberships/donations generated at these events were impressive. At the Cedaredge event, we raised $3550 in memberships (plus $215 in swag and a new basic business sponsorship), and at the GJ event, we raised $5228.15 in memberships (plus over $300 in swag).
Trail work is complete for the year. Rich and Eric did a few “touch-up” projects at County Line, and we had a big group workday at Ward in late October. We replaced all the poles along the snowmobile boundary / Skinned Horse and improved signage, poles, and posts along Skinned Horse, Sheep, and Finney. There is still work to be done on Ward’s backcountry trails, but it will have to wait until next year. Overall, the Ward trails system is in far better shape than it has been in years thanks to our volunteers.
Marketing/Event Promotion, starting tomorrow, November 15th, we hit the ground running with events. I have been working on creating promotional materials (flyers, social media images), working with KVNF Community Radio on advertising using our Alpine Bank grant, submitting press releases, web updates, and social media. As of 11/11/23 we now have 4063 Facebook followers and 1113 Instagram followers, up from 3238 Facebook followers and 770 Instagram followers on 1/1/23.
Dan asked about trail ambassador program status for the season which information/recruiting goes out November 15 in our newsletters.
Tom asked about our Ward Snowshoe trail packing day and wondered about the purpose. Tigran answered that this is an event designed to build the Ward community and pack the trails down to help protect our equipment. Lack of snow is a concern with this event.
Operation Report. Tigran’s Operations report
Before Tigran’s report Dan commented that both GMNC Snowmobile trailers are being stored in Junction at Rich’s house for the winter.
Snowcat arrived with all implements.
Webasto wasn’t quite working correctly but Rich and Tigran troubleshooted it and got it working.
Snowpack on all trails is very very thin due to lack of snow.
Learning area on Arroyo was groomed for lessons.
Scales lake road is still plowed out from the previous months logging work and no new snowfall since that work was completed.
Lack of snow is really preventing us from opening all trails fully.
Ski School Report. Debbie Cheeseman
Our 1st free learn to ski clinic of this season filled in hours. Silent Cycles is providing free rentals to all participants.
Christie let us know that all this season’s free learn to ski clinics were funded by a grant from a Donor advised fund through the WCCF.
GMNC instructor clinic this weekend
Sign-ups have already started for lessons and clinics
Executive Director Report. Christie reviewed her Executive Director report included in the Board packet. Details she highlighted include:
Lots of time on the phone this past month getting us up and to go for the season.
The season is underway. So far, everything is running smoothly. Paperwork with USFS is on track, grooming equipment is ready to go, and our programs are getting underway soon. Website is up to date, and weekly newsletters are going out. Membership money is down, but that’s almost certainly because our skiing hasn’t fully opened yet. Our other fundraising is beyond expectations, so we’re in good shape.
I’m receiving a lot of phone calls and messages from people interested in coming to the Mesa over the Thanksgiving holiday. Several junior teams will be here, and we are going to prioritize making sure that we have some good training terrain for them. With the trail prep we’ve done already; this should be achievable if the storm forecast for the end of this week materializes. We should have 5 or 6 collegiate and/or junior teams that have contacted us.
Tigran’s report covers the highlights. We are ready to go for the season. We just need more snow.
Tigran suggested that we introduce a snowmobile training policy that only authorized staff and board who have gone through his training are allowed to use the snowmobiles. Dan asked that they come up with a policy and bring it to the board meeting next month.
Memberships are down compared to last season but comparable to the season before which more matches our current snow amounts.
The logging project east of Kannah is now complete. Final inspection by the USFS was Nov 6. We will have exclusive use of Scales Lake Rd starting Nov 15.
I heard back from Ryan Fricke about our Annual Operating Plan, which I submitted on Sept 27. “The operating plan does not seem to have conflicts with the club’s special use permit. If USFS Lacie agrees with the trail/sign/maintenance aspects for the winter rec rangers to oversee then it should be ready for signatures.” It usually takes them a while to get it approved and signed, but we are good to start the season.
All USFS repairs (t-posts and blue posts) from last winter’s logging project are completed on Scales Lake Road. The USFS got this done just before our last snow.
After the board’s decision to make all ski instructors staff for insurance purposes, I worked with Marguerite to figure out how to make this work so that the ski school remains self-sustaining. Our solution was to raise the fee for an individual private lesson to $115 and raise clinic fees by $5 to $60. This may result in fewer one-on-one private lessons, but we were doing those at a loss previously. This fee schedule should encourage people to sign up for clinics, which are a better deal financially for us as well as for instructors.
I am working on an incident response plan to share with the ski instructors during their training clinic this Saturday. I worked with the Delta County Sheriff’s office and Dan worked with the Mesa County Sheriff’s office getting their recommendations. This is basically a formal protocol for what to do in case of emergency at our trails. It will instruct staff and volunteers on what to do, who to call, etc. Once finalized, it will be shared with all staff and volunteers and be publicly available.
Dan is working with Mesa County Search & Rescue on getting first aid training for our staff. We are hoping to get this done this month.
I spent a lot of time on the website last month updating everything, but it is now fully updated with clinics, races and other events.
No updates to the plan so Tom makes a motion to approve the strategic plan from last month. Unanimously approved and will be published to the website.
The Board then adjourned to Executive session.