10 W Fallon Ave Baker, MT 59313
Fallon County of Montana

SMART Board of Directors Meeting – October 2023

SMART Board of Directors Meeting – October 2023

Board of Directors Meeting
October 24, 2023
12pm – The Garage Showroom

Members Present:  Jodi Varner (President), Krista Nemitz (Vice President), Karol Zachmann (Treasurer)-via phone, Kevin Dukart, Alyson Lineback

Members Absent:  Sharon Gookin

Public Present:  Deborah Walraven-Wenger

Staff Present:  Vaughn Zenko (Executive Director), Cheyanne Dame

Meeting called to order at 12:06pm by Vice President Krista Nemitz

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes:  Lacking quorum, the approval of the minutes was tabled until later in the meeting.

Director’s Report:  Vaughn welcomed SMART’s newest employee, Cheyanne Dame, who was hired as the Director of the Visitor Center and general Economic Development Specialist.  He also mentioned several projects she was already taking on, besides the Visitor Center, in her first week on the job, including trying to create an informational pamphlet and survey for hunters and work on “The Plevna Jamboree”, a large event possibly planned for the Spring in Plevna.

12:10pm:  Board member Alyson Lineback joined the meeting.

Director’s Report (cont):  Vaughn announced that SMART had received the prestigious Impact Award from the Montana Economic Developers Association for our work on the Baker State Bank Building. He was unable to attend the award ceremony due to the weather. 

Vaughn relayed information about the Childcare Resources Roundtable in Baker on October 12th and his meeting with Megan Torgerson from the Red Ants Pants Foundation on October 4. He said both meetings were very productive, and the biggest thing to come out of the meetings was the idea of collaborating more with other communities in Eastern Montana.  Vaughn also reported that he had begun working with Eventgroove, a Montana based company that can handle event tickets and direct mailings for SMART. There is no cost unless we use the service.

Vaughn went on to report that former Chamber of Commerce Director Melissa Higbee had indicated that the Chamber was no longer interested in moving in to the Visitor Center as their office. He said that, at their last meeting, the Chamber board was amenable to rent at $400 to $600, but Melissa had stated that the Chamber was interested in SMART paying the Chamber for their assistance with running the Visitor Center, and could not afford to pay any utilities. Melissa also stated that the space would not be large enough to accommodate the Chamber. With Melissa resigning as Director, the arrangement could be re-addressed, but with the other conditions, it might be best for SMART to explore options for moving operations to the Visitor Center. After an invite was extended, neither the Chamber Director nor the President was able to attend the SMART monthly meeting to discuss possibly re-addressing the idea.

12:17pm:  Board President Jodi Varner joined the meeting and assumed presiding officer duties from Vice President Krista Nemitz.

Financial Reports:  The report prepared by Shannon Johnson showed SMART with $372,294.18 in total assets, $109,643.88 in total bank accounts, and $70,273.45 in the SMART general account. President Varner noted there were still some discrepancies that she was concerned about. Vaughn stated that Rachel’s Accounting had looked at the Quickbooks and found nothing out of the ordinary other than an instance where the Bank of Baker accidentally deposited in to the wrong account.  Jodi said she and Shannon will work together on cleaning up the financials and simplifying.

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes:  With quorum now attained, President Varner took approval of meeting minutes off the table.  The board reviewed the minutes for both the September 26 general meeting and the October 3 special meeting. The board identified some spelling errors in the October 3 minutes.  Alyson motioned to approve both sets of minutes with the noted corrections.  Krista seconded.  Meeting minutes for September 26 and October 3 approved.

Old Business:
Project Update:  Visitor Center:
Vaughn noted that construction the Visitor Center is expected to be wrapped today, other than some noted punch list items that still need to be addressed by Bob Parker Design & Construction. Krista then presented her vision for the Visitor Center design to the board, including flooring samples.  Krista suggested SMART embrace a more industrial theme, but rustic. She also suggested a wood-look floor, with a neutral, lighter color on the walls. She also suggested adding some metal elements to the design to give it the desired industrial look.  The board also discussed specifics for Visitor Center displays, including displaying the names of different organizations in Baker as well as a camp fire setting where visitors could watch informational videos. The idea of including displays dedicated to local sports also came up.

Project Update:  Visitor Center Roof:  Vaughn noted that the roof should be substantially completed on October 31, other than any areas that SDI Architects + Design feel still need to be addressed before signing off on the project.

Project Update:  World’s Best Pocket Park:  Vaughn said that the work from Razor Edge has been completed.  Other amenities must be added, including the planter box benches. With the changing of the seasons, a Spring grand opening is planned.

SMART Halloween Haunted House / Escape Room Update:  Vaughn said that the Escape Room is going forward from October 30 through November 4. He said that he will be gone for Baker sports for the weekend, so assistance from the Board will be necessary to help with taking tickets and leading people through the Escape Room. He presented the board with the times needed and asked that they get ahold of him as to which days they would be available to help.  Krista noted that she could help any time except for the Wednesday and Thursday shows during the daytime.

Junction 39 Lease Agreement:  Vaughn reported that the Junction 39 board had agreed to SMART’s request to raise the rent to $800 per month.  Kevin motioned that SMART and Junction 39 enter into a new lease agreement at that rate.  Alyson seconded.  SMART will raise Junction 39’s rent to $800 per month, effective November 1.

Baker Documentary with BEK News:  Revisting the proposal from Mary Graner of BEK News from the October 3 Special Meeting, the board decided that cost of such a sponsorship was not in the SMART Budget for 2023. They told Vaughn to tell BEK that SMART may be open to the proposal, but not until the new Fiscal Year 2024 Budget is finalized in January.

New Business:

New SMART Board Member:  Deborah Walraven-Wenger presented the board with a letter of interest for joining the SMART Board.  President Varner moved to have reviewing Deborah’s LOI added to the agenda. There were no objections. The Board reviewed Deborah’s LOI. Krista motioned to accept Deborah’s application to join the SMART Board. Alyson seconded. Deborah Walraven-Wenger was added to the SMART Board, with her term expiring in January 2026. SMART still has two open board positions.

SMART Website Update / Switch Host from Flipcause to Firespring:  Vaughn said that he has been disappointed with Flipcause as the SMART website host and was impressed with the group from Firespring that presented at the Montana Nonprofit Association Annual Conference. He said that set up of a new website through Firespring would be roughly $3000, but SMART would get up to a $2900 credit back from Flipcause for what we’ve already paid for 2023-2024.  He noted that with the new Visitor Center, SMART would need a complete redesign and rebranding for the website and this was a good time to to change web hosts. Deborah motioned to make the switch from Flipcause to Firespring for SMART’s website in December after SMART’s Community Theater production of A Christmas Carol. Alyson seconded. SMART will switch webhosting to Firespring in December at a cost of $3000.

SMART Board Terms:  President Varner requested an update on Board Member Terms be prepared for the November monthly meeting.

1:14pm:  President Varner, Treasurer Zachmann and Board Member Kevin Dukart left the meeting.  Vice President Krista Nemitz took over as Presiding Officer.

Winter Fundraisers:  Vaughn noted that, in addition to the upcoming Escape Room, SMART also has two big events planned for the Winter:  the second annual “A Country Christmas” coming up on November 25th and the Fallon County Community Theater presentation of “A Christmas Carol” December 1, 2 and 3. A Country Christmas will feature the band The Lucky Valentines out of Fort Benton and will also include a silent auction, with the proceeds going to the Baker Arts & Culture Council. Vaughn noted that he will be tied up representing SMART at Baker’s Christmas in the Park on the 25th, so any board assistance that day for the fundraiser or at Christmas in the Park would be helpful.  He also noted that the Community Theater will need people to take money and tickets on the three nights of the play presentation, and that SMART board members should mark that on their calendars to assist.

1:20pm:  Alyson Lineback left the meeting.

Winter Fundraisers (cont):  The question of the next edition of Pizza, Puzzles and Pints came up after the first event was a success. Krista suggested Black Friday as a possible day and to make the puzzles Christmas themed. Vaughn said that it may be too short notice to have puzzles made and to promote the event. Board members present agreed that sometime in the new year may be a better time.Having no other business to attend to, Deborah motioned to adjourn. Krista seconded.
Meeting adjourned at 1:34pm

The next scheduled monthly meeting is November 28, 2023 at Thee Garage Showroom

Respectfully submitted:

______________________________                         _____________________________

s\ Jodi L. Varner, President                                                  s\ Vaughn Zenko Jr, Executive Director