Hanold resigns from Chamber

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 7:01 PM
Stuart Hanold is giving up the Dolores Chamber job after seven years to devote his time to his church.
Stuart Hanold holds up a vase donated by Mane Shipping as Scott Cooper calls for bids. Money raised from the auction goes for scholarships for Dolores students.
Stuart Hanold, back, often served as master of ceremonies at ribbon cuttings - or "tube cuttings" in the case of Lizardhead Cyclery. In 2012, Nicholas Ian Tyson Jones cut an old bicycle tube in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his store Lizardhead Cyclery.

The friendly face who for years greeted tourists and promoted local businesses in Dolores is stepping down.

Stuart Hanold is resigning as director of the Dolores Chamber of Commerce after serving for seven years.

Hanold was the first director of the chamber, and manages the Dolores Visitors Center. He held monthly meetings with area businesses and tirelessly promoted the attractions and benefits of Dolores.

"It's been a good experience working for Dolores. I love this town," Hanold said. "The Chamber board has been very supportive, and I thank them and the town for helping us succeed."

Hanold cites several accomplishments of his tenure. His focus on improving membership paid off, boosting members from 55 in 2007 to 140 members today.

Tourists and locals stopping into the visitors center has also increased, "although it goes up and down depending on the economy," Hanold said.

In 2007, the Visitors Center had 1,857 people stop by. In 2008, it shot up to 2,681 visits and was 2,538 visits in 2012.

Total Dolores inquiries, including Visitors Center numbers, Facebook, emails and Go-Colorado requests also increased during Hanold's term, going from 58,774 in 2007 to 64,820 in 2013.

Hanold said tourism in Dolores is an important part of the economy, but not just for vacationers. The quaint river town - adjacent to the state's second-largest lake and national forest activities - draws visitors from Montezuma, Dolores, and La Plata counties.

Farmington, Durango and Moab cyclists are drawn to the Boggy Draw trails. Water skiers love McPhee. Railfanners love the Galloping Goose. Fishermen try their luck on the Dolores River. And boaters flock to the rapids of the Dolores River during spring runoff.

"We really are unique, a hidden gem. People in Cortez promote Dolores for our forest trails and McPhee," Hanold said. "For residents, we are close to the desert and the mountains with a great river running through town."

Regional archaeology, including the nearby Anasazi Heritage Center, is also a huge draw for people visiting to Dolores, he added.

What does the future hold?

"It is important to maintain the focus on tourism," Hanold said.

The reason is that tourism promotion helps to bring in funding for the chamber through the lodgers tax. The Dolores Chamber receives $30,000 per year from the lodgers tax fund, which is administered by Montezuma County.

The tax is a major portion of the chamber's annual $50,000 budget.

The chamber contributes to Mesa Verde Country ($1,200), and Go-Colorado ($1,000) to help direct visitors to town, and Hanold said it is working.

But more effort is needed to promote the town attractions, especially McPhee Reservoir.

"It is really under-utilized. Ever since the marina burned down, it has been less of a draw," he said.

More lake activities such as bass fishing tournaments would benefit locals and be fun for tourists. Other ideas include kayak racing, a triathlon, outdoor racquetball courts, or regulation outdoor volleyball courts in the park.

Hanold said it was a tough decision to step down. He said working two jobs was taking it's toll. Hanold is also a full time pastor at the Cortez Family Worship Center.

"I'll miss it, but I'll still be around," he said.

The Chamber is currently seeking a replacement to take over Hanold's duties. The job pays $20,000 per year. Contact the Chamber at 882-4018.

"We've appreciated the good job he has done, and we wish him luck," said Larry Engel, treasurer of the Dolores Chamber. "We will re-evaluate, and look at what has worked in the past and what we can do better in the future."