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Board brings in PR firm to pitch community center in BH

SHERIDAN — The SCSD 1 Recreation District board held a work session Wednesday afternoon in Sheridan to hear recommendations from Pascal Public relations with a plan for pitching a new Big Horn community center.

Kelly Pascal gave board members a plan to re-try the failed Big Horn community center, in the same location.

“All of the parents I’ve talked to say ‘that sounds like a great idea, now tell me more,’” Pascal began the work session, explaining that she thinks the project is a good idea, but the board needs a more transparent approach this go round.

Board members believed part of the reason the first pitch to the Sheridan County Planning Commission failed was due to the fact that the commission believed the board had not properly disseminated their plans to what would be the affected community.

This time, Pascal said the board needs to commit to a clear path for the center, put it in writing, garner feedback and most importantly facilitate better neighbor engagement.

With the goal of building the center in the same location as first planned, minus a tennis facility as a basic community center, they hope to submit a plan to the commission in February with the possibility of building in the summer or fall 2014.

Pascal said she would work with the board to distribute surveys via texting and email because that would give them something concrete to show the commission. She also believed that approach garners more of a response than public meetings.

Board President Zach Cummins brought up the point that they need to be prepared to hear that this might not be a wanted proposal.

“We need to evaluate if there is a not a need for it, too,” Cummins said. “Would you use this facility?”

While a detailed plan was not presented Wednesday, the facility could include things like a community meeting area, a gym, preschool and after-school programs run by District 1.

The Tongue River Valley Community Center provides after school programs for that side of the district, and the school board wants that in Big Horn as well.

“We need to make sure Tongue River understands what we’re doing,” board member Greg Benzel said. “I’m all for this, it’s very important, it’s one way we stay balanced. Taxes come from both sides, to get programs for Tongue River we must have programs in Big Horn.”

The recreation district board ends up sitting on money if they cannot equally distribute it through programs on both sides of the district, and one of the principal visions for this community center is to level that playing field for the recreation district which caters to Big Horn and Tongue River, with Tongue River benefiting from having the TRVCC.

They suggested a public meeting at TRVCC to let that side of the district know about their plans.

“We’ve done everything we can do on our own,” board member Larry Crouse said, explaining that spending money on the public relations option is in their best interest at this point.

“And I think if this doesn’t work, I think we put it behind us,” Benzel said, to the agreement of the rest of the board.

The recreation district board’s meeting will be Jan. 8. They agreed to discuss plans with Pascal in the meantime and then take action on the professional services contract with Pascal Public Relations at that time.

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Brad Estes

Sheridan Press sports editor

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