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Tourism funds drag races, museum

by Tom LaVenture

Posted on 2/17/2017

The Jamestown Tourism Grant and Executive Advisory Board unanimously approved Thursday allocating grants to the Jamestown Drag Racing Association and the Stutsman County Museum.

The board voted to fund $7,500 of the $9,343 staff and greeter payroll for the Stutsman County Museum''s 2017 tourist season. This reflects a 50-cent raise to $11 per hour at 43 hours per week and 789 total hours for the season.

Tom Lindberg, president of Stutsman County Museum, presented the application, which said the museum had 1,499 visitors in 2016, which included 1,086 Jamestown visitors, 152 from other North Dakota cities, 258 from other states and three visitors from other countries. There were 1,617 recorded visitors in 2015 and 1,891 in 2014, according to the application.

Searle Swedlund, Jamestown Tourism executive director, said the museum is not a big driver to attract visitors, but it is an essential community preservation resource important to the visitor experience.

Janna Bergstedt, Grant and Executive Advisory Board member, recommended the museum take advantage of its proximity to the 1883 Stutsman County Courthouse. It would be a way for visitors to have two stops in one at sites with a similar purpose, she said.

Board member Taylor Barnes said the board should have a future discussion on setting a salary level for grants for consistency. She said as organizations increase salary amounts there should be a clear policy that Jamestown Tourism would be providing only a certain amount.

The board approved $7,700 in two grant requests from the Jamestown Drag Racing Association for its annual event July 15-16 on a runway at Jamestown Regional Airport.

A $6,000 grant will go toward advertising the event, and a $1,700 grant will go toward purchasing a public address system, cables and speakers.

Mike Trautman, Jamestown Drag Racing Association president, said the event has used borrowed or rented equipment each year. Purchasing the equipment helps the organization be more self-sufficient, he said, and will solve technical issues that occur from a lack of familiarity with borrowed or rented equipment.

Trautman said the event has increased attendance each year for the past 10 years. The 2016 event was the first to experience a rain cancellation for second-day races, but the first day still had 170 racers, which he said is a one-day record.

For 2017 the event expects to have 500 overnight and 1,000 day-trip racers and fans from around the U.S. and Canada. The economic impact should be around $225,000 for Jamestown businesses, he said.

In his report, Swedlund said the University of Jamestown is considering a request to host the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics wrestling tournament for 2018 and 2019. He is also in discussions with organizations to place improved signage on the area walking and biking trails.