Part III: Customer Service Symposium
Allen Henrie is the city manager for Panguitch. He spoke at the Customer Service Symposium held in Green River. "My wife is from Price so we come through this area a lot. I noticed the breathtaking flower pots along the streets in Emery County. It's very impressive. What are we doing in Panguitch? It's a small town. About 1,500 people we're a suburb of Bryce Canyon. Ruby's Inn is currently expanding. That will hurt us because we get the flow over from Ruby's Inn. We have worked to make it so Panguitch is a destination spot. We are 6,600 feet so we can't grow watermelons. We have some interesting things and old historic homes. We refurbished the hospital, courthouse, modernized it; plays are held in the social hall and they play basketball there and hold weddings. In our downtown area, some of the businesses are closed down, its frustrating. Most of our businesses are tourism related," said Henrie.
"In Panguitch you can't buy shoes or levis. But, you can get a Panguitch T-shirt. We've tried to slow the traffic down through town. We have a Main Street Committee, for 10 years now they have been a great help. They have installed flower pots and after the flowers freeze they put in fall fake flowers," said Henrie.
They applied for a grant through the department of transportation and installed historical lighting. In the center of town they installed a four way stop. "We have great people in Panguitch, but there are great people all over. Our people looked at ways to cooperate and look to other people to accomplish a goal. We took the old school and turned it into city offices and a library. With everyone working together you can accomplish a lot," said Henrie.
Henrie said, "The fire station is a historical building; they were able to get that because of a donation from the Lions club and fire department fundraisers, they turned every penny to make the fire station; they went and got grants from CIB, Garfield County and Community Development Block Grants. Get people to buy in. We have a historical theme with our businesses and we have been able to get people to buy into that.
Our business incubation center was a partnership with many groups.
Twenty kids went to Iraq and we decided we need something to honor these kids who have gone to Iraq. A couple of ladies, just get out of their way, they installed a giant flagpole and bricks with the names on them in tribute to those who went to Iraq. The high school couldn't get enough money for a digital sign, so they joined with the hospital and now they have a beautiful digital sign which also advertises where the hospital is located. Working together you can accomplish anything," said Henrie.
Henrie said ATVs and popular trails, surround Panguitch so they made a parking lot and nice restrooms for the trailheads. An example of working together was for new playground equipment. The Lion's Club donated $5,000 and the city donated.
"Work together and use volunteers. There was a group that said we need a baseball field, before long they got a couple of grants and worked with the city and the county. Now we have one of the prettiest baseball fields and host many tournaments there. We've hosted four southwest regional tournaments there, people are amazed that a small town can put on an event like that.
"One of the big things we've done, is the indoor arena; it took dedication and hard work. The city and the county co-oped together, now we have a beautiful indoor arena for equestrian events and wrestling tournaments and concerts are held there. Charlie Daniels came one year and a community New Years Eve party is held there each year. We just thought what can we do to make Panguitch a destination not just a pass through.
"That's one of the reasons we've built these facilities. We hold a high school invitational rodeo, team roping and barrel racing. One of the most successful events is a balloon festival started several years ago. The first year we had five now 35 balloons come. It's one of the great events, they go up in the morning and in the evening have a glow along Main Street. It's beautiful. Thousands crowd the site. It took June, which was one of the slowest event months; and made it one of our best months, it's a fun event. One of the things we have that happened as you come up with your own ideas, people will copy you, now balloon festivals are being held elsewhere.
"We have the hog rally. We love them in Panguitch, we've never had any problems at all, it's really good in the community. There are three major rallys. Motorcycling is the thing to do and becoming more popular all the time. Down through Bryce it's beautiful motorcycle riding country. It's a fun way to see the country. We also have our quilt walk festival.
"When settlers first settled Panguitch they had no food. Some men were sent to Parowan to get food, they got part way and there was snow deep and drifting. They were stuck and didn't know what to do. This is a true story; they knelt on quilts to pray because they didn't know what to do, as they knelt they didn't sink into the snow. They used quilts to place on top of the snow to finish the walk to Parowan. We have a play, a quilt show, quilt classes; it's a neat thing in June. There is a monument that tells the story of the quilt. We also have an Indian powwow and dance.
"We wanted a cowboy ancestor festival, but we couldn't get the support. With the advent of TiVo and remote control it's hard to get people to come. We have more participating events and have built a lot of things in Panguitch.
"We passed a resort tax and have been able to do some things; make the payment on the arena and ball fields; without that resort tax we would have been hurting.
"We have many new and upcoming businesses. Last year sales tax revenue increased by $30,000. There is a trickle down effect. Our people are living better because of that. We still have issues. At the end of September things just die; we don't have any industry and small amounts of agriculture, our sawmill closed because of the environmentalists. We don't have a lot, but tourism and some of what we have done has helped that and made it better for our community. We are proud of the people, if we lost three-five people some of those events would go away, we try to spread that around; the quilt walk uses different volunteers and at the ball field different volunteers to help spread it around. If we lose key people it could go away.
"We are not different, I'm just an old cowboy, our community has been able to join together and form partnerships. We have been able to work together to form a common goal. It can be discouraging, just keep working at it. It takes people like you to accomplish it; there are ideas out there, I am not an idea person, but I can help get your idea accomplished. The BMW people come, some 300-400, and they want to camp, some stay in motels. The hog people when they come they are on vacation and they want motels, they want showers," said Henrie.
Henrie was asked if they host events that are just for their community. He said they have a 24th of July celebration, but you can't just depend on your own community. All money is the same, we don't care where you come from. We've been involved with the state co-op money too for advertising. We printed our brochure with the co-op money. You have to let people know what you have, if you don't it's not going to happen. There are some people who don't want to see the tourists come, but overall most of them are very good.
"In doing things for our communities the number one thing to remember is that all of your community can use them. All our people use the ball fields, someone is always there playing ball. Your community deserves it and uses it, you need things just to make your community a nice place to live too," concluded Henrie.
Lou Sansevero, economic development council chairman encouraged those present to use innovative partnerships. In Panguitch they have invented events such as the balloon festival. Sansevero would like to see a kite festival in Emery County because there is a lot of wind.