ARCHIVED  April 1, 1997

Wyoming Business: Laramie voters will decide fate of capital facilities tax

LARAMIE — Laramie and Albany county voters will go to the polls May 6 to consider extending the county’s optional one-cent capital facilities tax for two packages.

One package contains a recreation center and money for a senior center, and the other includes a sewage-treatment operational fund, water improvements in Rock River, new fire trucks and other county needs.

Albany County Commissioner Pat Gabriel said the commissioners decided to split a $28 million total request into two packages because of voter concerns, especially over the recreation center.

Cheyenne experienced similar resentment to a rec center on its capital-facilities tax last year, and the whole package went down to defeat.

One package includes a proposed $8.1 recreation center for Laramie, a $1 million endowment for maintenance and operation, $580,000 for buses and a garage for the private, nonprofit Eppson Senior Center, and $2.4 million for debt service for both.

The other includes an $8 million operation and maintenance fund for Laramie’s new $16 million wastewater-treatment plant that is under construction, $2.1 million for county road and bridge equipment and facilities, almost $900,000 for rural fire trucks and equipment, $1.2 million for a water line to the Laramie Regional Airport, $2.3 million for water improvements in Rock River and $1.5 million for debt service.

The current one-sixth-penny tax is set to expire in July after raising some $18 million for a new county jail, the Wyoming Territorial Park and an earlier Rock River water project.

UW football kickoffs moved back

LARAMIE — The opening kickoff for the Wyoming Cowboy football team’s 1997 season is still months away, but there’s already been one winner — Laramie’s retail businesses.

University officials have moved the kickoff time from noon to 3 p.m. for the first three games, and that’s good news for retail merchants who have long complained that the early starting times have left them on the short end of the score.

“I think it’s a real positive step for the community as a whole,´ said Tim Rubald, director of Laramie’s Downtown Development Authority. “We need to maximize having the university here, and this is a real strong step in the right direction.”

Whether noon kickoffs have helped or hindered attendance over the last decade is open to debate, but there’s no doubt that Laramie’s retail merchants were the big losers as out-of-town fans rushed to get to War Memorial Stadium for pre-game tailgate parties and were on the road out of town before 4 p.m., often without ever spending a dime outside the stadium.

The new kickoff time will provide incentive for shopping and lunch before games and meeting friends for dinner and a night on the town afterwards, and that’s a score for Laramie’s retail and tourism businesses.

Tourism bolsters Laramie economy

LARAMIE — While we’re on the subject of tourism, there’s no question that it is important to all of Wyoming, not just the major destination areas of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, Jackson Hole and Cody.

Laramie, for example, is perfectly poised as one of the Northern Front Range’s prime jump-off points for hunting, fishing and mountain recreation, winter and summer. But it also draws visitors for its own cultural and historical attractions as well as University of Wyoming sporting and cultural events and academic conferences and meetings.

A new study of Wyoming’s $1.2 billion tourism industry by UW economics professor Shelby Gerking and Jackson tourism consultant Mike Morey reveals the importance of tourism across Wyoming. They note that lodging establishments in northwestern Wyoming generated the most sales-tax collections last year, $4.6 million, but southern Wyoming’s Interstate 80 corridor was close behind, with $3.2 million.

Frontier Mall adds stores

CHEYENNE — With more than 5 million visitors last year, Cheyenne’s Frontier Mall was the place to be for many shoppers, and 1997 looks even better.

Led by the opening of Dillard’s, the mall has added five new stores this year, and traffic counts so far are running ahead of last year, according to Frontier Mall marketing director Jodee McClure.

Joining Dillard’s are four specialty stores: Pacific Wave, an active wear and clothing store with seven stores in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota; Tradehome Shoes, the first Wyoming venture of a chain that operates 67 stores in eight Midwestern states; Athletic Fitters, an athletic shoe and clothing store, is the first Wyoming store in an 80-store chain that started in Minnesota; and Computer Nutz, a computer store.

Of course the growth is not without a down side. Since the beginning of the year, Stage, Maurice’s and Little Country Store have departed.

Enterprise Center welcomes tenant

CHEYENNE — The Laramie County Enterprise Center is welcoming a new tenant — Ruth White, who will be district sales manager for Avon Inc. in Laramie County.

White, who held a similar position in Findlay, Ohio, will help support more than 130 home-based Avon sales representatives in Laramie County and help them build their independent Avon sales businesses.

The Enterprise Center is a small-business incubator located at Laramie County Community College and provides counseling and logistic support for entrepreneurs and startup businesses.

Dennis E. Curran can be reached at (307) 778-3666 or by fax at (307) 778-3600. His e-mail address is denncurran@aol.com.

LARAMIE — Laramie and Albany county voters will go to the polls May 6 to consider extending the county’s optional one-cent capital facilities tax for two packages.

One package contains a recreation center and money for a senior center, and the other includes a sewage-treatment operational fund, water improvements in Rock River, new fire trucks and other county needs.

Albany County Commissioner Pat Gabriel said the commissioners decided to split a $28 million total request into two packages because of voter concerns, especially over the recreation center.

Cheyenne experienced similar resentment to a rec center on its capital-facilities tax last year, and…

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