Friday, August 30, 2013

Ranch Seeks Public Support

Written by Peter McIntyre 107.5 KISSFM  Friday, 30 August 2013 17:45 
OKeefe RanchThe public is being asked to rally behind the O'Keefe Ranch.  The city of Vernon plans to start reducing its annual $150,000 grant to the heritage attraction, which it owns, in 2016. The subsidy would sink to $100,000 starting then, and be down to $10,000 by 2018. Councillors would like to see the ranch become more self sufficient, instead of relying on government funds. Ranch Manager Glen Taylor says the community needs to stand up and say no to the cuts. He was asked if losing the funding would mean an end to the ranch. "I would like to say no. I would hope that we would try and source out other (funding) avenues, but it's very tough out there." Taylor says they've been applying for other grants, but funding sources say they won't support it if the city isn't willing to back it's own property. Taylor says the 146 year old ranch is an important piece of history and creates economic activity for the whole area. He says the public should be contacting their local politicians. "Say no to the city cutting funding to the O'Keefe Ranch. Send a message back to city hall that says we support it and we think it's an important part of the valley's history." Taylor says the ranch employs 18 seasonal and part time staff, and has catered to 75,000 students and over 625,000 guests the last 25 years. "Our current operations budget for O'Keefe Ranch is approximately $500,000 with the ranch receiving $250,000 from grants of which $150,000 is received from the City of Vernon. Revenues from admissions and all other sources are budgeted for $250,000. The City's portion of the funding has been reduced approximately 1/3 from $240,000 in 2009 to $150,000 in 2013.  Because of those budget reductions, staffing levels, hours of operations, and maintenance have been reduced, and the length of the season has been shortened accordingly," states a news release from the Ranch.

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