|Allen Henry, city manager for Panguitch spoke to the Emery County Chamber of Commerce.|
Ideas for funding and Main Street development were brought to the forefront at the Emery County Chamber of Commerce luncheon for September. City planner for Panguitch, Allen Henry came to Castle Dale to discuss some of the projects they have been able to accomplish in their town.
Sharon Earl, Chamber coordinator welcomed Henry to the meeting. Henry began by saying he noticed the planters along the Main Streets in the county and how they add to the beauty of the communities. He comes through the area quite often as his mother-in-law lives in Price. He said he was roommates with Eric Bunderson of Castle Dale in college and stops to visit with him sometimes when he's in the area.
"Panguitch has done some neat things that we are proud of. I grew up in Panguitch. I left to pursue a degree in animal science. Thirteen years ago, I was given the opportunity to go home and I have been the city manager for 13 years. We redid the Panguitch Main Street and we decided our Main Street could be more than just boarded up stores. We undertook a sewer system and a major water project to modernize these systems. We asked the question, 'What do we have that's unique to Panguitch?' We have a lot of tourism and people passing through on the way to Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell. We have a small town with approximately 1,500 people. We have 300 motel rooms and six-eight cafes. We wanted to make Panguitch a destination with people coming to Panguitch for an event and spending time here.
"We had a group of good people that thought of some ideas. We are a red brick pioneer historic town and we opted to capitalize on our pioneer heritage. We built a new firestation which is red brick. We constructed baseball fields and host tournaments there. We bought the old high school for a dollar from the school district and turned it into a business incubator center. The old middle school became the library and the city offices. We built a large indoor arena to host livestock events and it doubles as a convention center. We have hosted two concerts there, Charlie Daniels and Restless Heart, and wrestling tournaments. An old LDS church building became a place where we host community plays and events.
"We used UDOT enhancement funds to place historical lighting along our Main Street. We placed entry ways to our town. In the center of town, we have a four way stop and the roadway is made up of red bricks, (dyed concrete) to enhance the historical look of the town. We have a lot of community pride," said Henry.
Henry spoke of the festivals they have begun in their town. They have an annual Quilt Walk commemorating the pioneers and a historic trek to obtain food for the starving pioneer community. There is a craft fair in conjunction with this event and quilting classes are taught which increase the visitation. A balloon festival is held each year, and one night the balloons set up along Main Street for a glow. "We have an old time fiddlers competition held in Panguitch each year, 'The Cowboys Ain't Dead Festival,' which brings people into Panguitch. We have a countywide New Year's Eve party which attracts hundreds of people. We have local entertainment and food. We host the event at the Triple C Arena. We have been able to fund some of our improvements with the resort community tax which we qualify for. We have applied for grants. There is a lot of competition out there for grants and we have been very fortunate in obtaining grants," said Henry.
Henry pointed out that Garfield County has virtually no industry. Ruby's Inn, the school district and hospital are among the largest employers. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument shut down any opportunities for mining the vast coal reserves which lie within the monument. Panguitch has a 100 bed jail which houses state inmates which has helped the economy.
Henry said they have been able to obtain some CIB grants which helped them put lights on their baseball field and bought playground equipment. A lot of the grants come with a commitment for partial matching funds from the city. In Panguitch some entities have partnered in obtaining the grants like the Lion's Club which added funds to a grant for the firestation.
Henry said they are experiencing some burnout among the volunteers who have helped to get things going. They are thinking of moving towards paid staff to take care of events and festivals to take some of the burden off the volunteers. Henry recommended talking to Bim Oliver on avenues of funding with the Main Street Project.
Henry said that with the events of September 11, 2001, visitation to Ruby's Inn dropped, but the festivals the city has held actually increased the transient room tax during that time. Henry said they advertise their events locally and with radio ads. The Quilt Walk is advertised nationally. Some of the people attending the festivals are from the Las Vegas area. One event that brings people back to town is the annual Homecoming Rodeo where people who grew up in Panguitch return home.
A Harley Davidson motorcycle state convention was held in Panguitch with 900 motorcyclists attending. They stayed in the motels and ate in the restaurants. The BMW club also held an event in Panguitch. Henry said they are trying to get their downtown area on the National Historic Register which brings in more visitors and opens up more grants. "Find your niche and don't give up," advised Henry.