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Tourism supports White Cloud preservation

The Jamestown Tourism Board on Monday unanimously approved funds for the National Buffalo Museum to be applied to the White Cloud preservation project.

The board approved $2,500, which is half of the funds remaining from the annual lease of White Cloud, the albino bison that was part of the museum herd for most of her 19-year life span. In May, White Cloud was returned to her owner at Shirek Buffalo Farm in Michigan, N.D., where she died Nov. 14.

"Now that White Cloud has passed the National Buffalo Association is starting a preservation project for her," said Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism.

About half of the lease funds were remaining since White Cloud's return to the Shirek farm and that loose end had never been resolved with the museum, Swedlund said. The 6-0 vote directs the remaining $2,500 toward the estimated $70,000 fundraising effort now underway to preserve White Cloud.

"The project would also provide an appropriate and climate-controlled space in which to display White Cloud," Swedlund said.

Pam Phillips, board member and City Council liaison, asked if there was a lease for Dakota Miracle, the white bison offspring of White Cloud. Swedlund said Dakota Miracle is part of the museum herd and does not require a lease.

The discussion turned to community events that involved the iconic name of White Cloud, such as the annual parade and festival celebrating her birthday. Ex-officio board member Becky Thatcher-Keller said there is support for the White Cloud festival and parade to continue with the possibility of moving it later in the summer when it would compete with fewer events.

Board members Taylor Barnes, Beth Dewald, Tanea Clocksene, Janna Bergstedt and Rory Hoffmann were not present.

In other business, the tourism board approved a Talking Trail form for the public to submit ideas for new sites to add to the existing 70 locations in and around Jamestown. Each site has a marker with a digital audio story that can be heard by dialing a phone number.

"The form helps us take a community idea and process it in a systematic way," Swedlund said.

In his board nomination committee update, Swedlund said there are currently three recommendations for the tourism board.

Paulette Ritter, Jamie DeSai and Frank Balak are to be considered at the annual meeting in January, he said. Outgoing board members in January are Beth Dewald, Liz Hunt and Clocksene.

The board will also vote on the grant and executive board recommendations for leadership positions. The recommendations include Matt Woods, president; Barnes, president-elect; Mitzi Hager, treasurer; and Bergstedt and Tena Lawrence, at-large members.

The board had a strategic budget planning discussion following a source funding forecast from Swedlund. The discussion focused on revisiting its long-term grant spending with consideration to events, projects, special exhibits, advertising and marketing, overhead and payroll.

For the past three years Frontier Village, the Jamestown Civic Center, Fort Seward, the Stutsman County Museum, National Buffalo Museum and the Arts Center have represented 65 percent of spending, Swedlund said.

The board discussed work to identify a cultural connection to an event that is important to Jamestown but also creates more interest outside of the community. That would be a signature event such as the Wishek Sauerkraut Day or the Potato Days in Barnesville, Minn., he said.

"Maybe we haven't found that niche yet and that is a void in the model," Swedlund said.

Board members said one event might emerge from smaller events working together.

"We need to get past the silos and come into the room and find what's truly best for the community," Thatcher-Keller said.

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