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

SMART Board of Directors Meeting – September 2023

SMART Board of Directors Meeting – September 2023

Board of Directors Meeting
September 26, 2023
12pm – The Garage Showroom

Members Present:  Jodi Varner (President), Krista Nemitz (Vice President), Karol Zachmann (Treasurer), Sharon Gookin, Kevin Dukart

Members Absent:  none

Public Present:  Steve Zachmann (Mayor of Baker)

Staff Present:  Vaughn Zenko (Executive Director), Shannon Johnson (via phone)

Meeting called to order at 12:04pm by President Jodi Varner

Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes:  The board reviewed the minutes from the August 28th monthly meeting.  Kevin made a motion to approve the minutes as written. Alyson seconded. All in favor.  Minutes for the August meeting approved.

Public Comment (3 minutes each):  Steve Zachmann mentioned that he had heard through the grape vine that the Fallon County Commissioners had some concerns about the possibility of SMART hiring a remote or hybrid worker for the open position. He said the Commissioners would be more amenable to hiring locally in Fallon County.

Financial Reports:  There was a noted discrepancy between the presented Statement of Financial Position and the Statement of Activity. President Varner pointed out that the Statement of Financial Position was almost $70,000 less than what was actually in the SMART operating account. Vaughn suggested this may have been due to direct deposits from the Department of Commerce that were not reflected in the Quickbooks statement when it was printed. Shannon Johnson assured the board that everything in Quickbooks was properly reconciled.  Jodi stated that she wanted to make certain the books were in order and that she, Rachel’s Accounting and Treasurer Karol Zachmann should review the books to make sure everything is accurate.

Director’s Report:  Vaughn informed the board that SMART had applied for another operations grant with the Otto Bremer Trust. We had been funded at $10,000 in 2022, and Vaughn is hopeful that funding goes up this year based on how much SMART was able to accomplish during the grant period.
He also told the board that the Pizza and Puzzles event was, by all counts, a success. SMART made $265 from the event.
Vaughn also attended the Montana Child Care Business Connect Annual Summit in Fairmont Hot Springs September 11-15. He said it was a great opportunity to network and he gathered lots of great ideas to address the child care crisis in Fallon County.
He also attended the Montana Nonprofit Association’s Annual Conference in Missoula September 18-21. He said the most exciting aspect of the Conference for him was learning how to better utilize Artificial Intelligence to benefit SMART. He also met with a group called Firespring to discuss options to redesign the SMART website to focus more on tourism and information. SMART is currently using Flipcause for website things and Vaughn has not been overly impressed.

Old Business:

            Visitor Center Interior Design / Operation:  Steve Zachmann commented that he had been involved with some logistics on the Visitor Center remodel project. There were only a few more things that need to be completed.  Bob Parker with Design & Construction will be in town this week to go over the punch list of what remains to be completed. 
Krista Nemitz said that she had not worked much on possible interior design options.  The board agreed that it’s best not to work on the interior until the roof project is completed. They also generally agreed that SMART should push to buy local, when possible, for any interior design options.
Vaughn brought up the possibility of the Chamber of Commerce moving in to and operating the Visitor Center, as it’s a natural fit. Vaughn invited both the Chamber Director and President to the SMART meeting, neither attended. He reported that at his last meeting with them, the Chamber doesn’t feel they can pay any more than $400 per month in rent. The Director also brought up SMART paying the Chamber for operating the Visitor Center.  The SMART board did not like that arrangement and, after discussion, concluded that it may be best for SMART to move operations to the Visitor Center. Vaughn said he would discuss the idea more with the Chamber Board at their next meeting on October 4th

Visitor Center Concrete Landings (tabled from previous meeting):  Vaughn pointed out that the concrete landings needed to be completed before the Visitor Center could be opened. Steve Zachmann said that SMART may have to raise the back door of the Visitor Center so that it is above the drainage area for the park, otherwise runoff will stream into the building. 

SMART Halloween Haunted House / Escape Room:  Vaughn informed the board that SMART had received only $2,000 in donations for the Escape Room, far short of the $10,000 goal. The board suggested Vaughn and Shannon move forward with designing the Escape Room ourselves, utilizing that $2,000 budget previously approved.  Sharon suggested possibly utilizing AI to design the Escape Room. Vaughn said he’d look in to that.

Project Update:  Baker State Bank Building Roof:  Vaughn informed the board that the roof project is scheduled to begin on October 9th with Perfect 10 Roofing out of Miles City, subcontracting for Bob Parker Design & Construction of Big Fork.  They’ll work on the BSB roof first, then complete the Visitor Center roof.

Project Update:  World’s Best Pocket Park:  Vaughn asked the board if they wanted to try to complete anything else on the Pocket Park, or just leave it as it is for the winter. The board generally agreed that it’s best to leave the park as it is and complete work in the Spring.

Other Old Business

New Business:

Junction 39 Lease Agreement:  Junction 39’s one year lease agreement expires in October. Representatives were invited to attend the SMART meeting, instead they sent a list of questions. They asked about SMART fixing the windows on the North Side of the building. Vaughn said that was a big project and couldn’t be completed without grant support. Junction 39 is currently paying $600 per month and indicated that they could only go as high as $800 per month for the new lease.  The board reviewed SMART costs on the building including insurance, utilities, mortgage and the line of credit.  Vaughn said that, in any case, SMART is going to be losing money on the building, even with the rent at $800 instead of $600. Jodi requested more detailed information on what exactly does SMART pay for insurance on the building and what is the interest expense on the loans before making a definitive decision. The issue was tabled until the next meeting.

SMART Involvement in Public Broadcasting Project:  Vaughn informed the board that the project was at a point of either go forward or not. He assured the board that, by law, the public station would not compete with the Newell Media. The public station would not be allowed to run commercials and would be required to run a certain amount of educational programming on a weekly basis.  He also reminded the board that SMART’s involvement in the project began at the request of both Baker Schools and Fallon County DES, who would both likely be the primary uses of the station. Karol suggested that the radio station be on board with this idea. Jodi asked if the Fallon County Commissioners were in favor of the idea also. Vaughn said that he would talk again with the School and the County Commissioners about their continued involvement in the project before going forward.

Other new Business:  Based on the public comment received earlier, the board discussed the Commissioners’ reported concern with SMART hiring a new employee from outside the area.  Vaughn said that, of the six applicants, only one was local. The others were either remote or would likely be some form of hybrid employee.  The Board decided that all applicants need to be given at least an interview. Interviews are scheduled for tonight and tomorrow, September 27th.  The board set a date of October 3rd to meet and make a decision based on the hiring committee’s recommendations.

Having no other business to attend to, Sharon motioned to adjourn. Kevin seconded. All in favor.  Meeting adjourned at 1:21pm

The scheduled hiring meeting is October 3, 2023 at noon at Compass Coffee
The next scheduled monthly meeting is October 24, 2023 at Thee Garage Showroom

Respectfully submitted:

______________________________                         _____________________________

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