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Hotel debt reduced

With its eye toward the future and its feet firmly planted in the past, the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association updated members on its financial health and progress on renovating its largest asset, the Boulder Dam Hotel, during its annual meeting Friday.

Brent Runion, president of the association’s board of directors, said in the past four years the association has been able to reduce its debt — accrued primarily from acquiring the hotel in 2005 and renovating the restaurant in 2007 — from $940,000 to $198,000. That enabled it to reduce its monthly loan payments from about $9,000 a month to $1,300.

He credited Leslie Woodbury, the museum’s development director, for obtaining key donations and helping establish a trust program, and community support for paying down the association’s debt.

“We had been struggling year to year just to keep our doors open and twice we had to cease operations. It’s been a challenge to raise money and many people were reluctant (to donate),” he said. “It’s now safe to say we will be around for generations to come.”

The hotel’s operating profits provide $94,000, 44 percent of the $214,000 annual budget needed to operate the museum and its programs. Woodbury said another 37 percent comes from public sources such as grants from Boulder City and Clark County, and the remaining 19 percent comes from private sources such as contributions from members, donors and sponsors.

The nonprofit organization saw an overall 1.14 percent increase in assets and liabilities for the fiscal year that ended June 30. It reported $1.05 million in assets and liabilities.

Runion said the hotel and museum are an important part of the community and downtown, and the board takes its mission to preserve and restore the facility seriously.

With the reduction in debt, the board has reprioritized its efforts to preserve the building, obtaining more than $100,000 of in-kind donations to repair masonry and roofing, paint the exterior, do electrical work and upgrade landscaping.

According to association records, nearly $500,000 has been spent renovating the interior and on its heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical operations.

Woodbury said her plans include working with the Nevada State Historic Preservation office to obtain a matching grant to rehabilitate or replace the hotel’s windows. This is slated for the capital campaign’s third phase, set for 2018-22.

Roger Shoaff, operations manager, grants and finances administrator, said the hotel is operating with an 80 to 85 percent occupancy rate, with a gross income of $607,380.

The museum’s income for the same period, July 2013 through June, was $36,083.

For now, the most pressing challenge for the association is to replace Laura Hutton, museum manager, who resigned to focus on her education.

“There’s really no way we could replace Laura,” said Cheryl Waites, who serves on the museum’s board.

But Waites said they’ve found a solution to keep the museum running in the wake of Hutton’s resignation.

“We have someone that has decades of experience,” Waites said. “He has been with the museum for years, so we just decided it was in our best interest that we’d be able to use his expertise and knowledge and move him into the archival area.”

Although she did not give his name, Waites said he will help train the museum’s four staff members and five volunteers on how to properly run the museum.

In one of her last official duties, Hutton updated association members about upgrades to the archives, getting photos and documents scanned so they can be accessed digitally, as well as noting the museum assisted with more than 100 research requests and had more than 10 researchers on-site in the past year.

She also said volunteers have started inventory on the museum’s collection of ephemera that provides a realistic look at daily life in Boulder City.

There were 11,904 visitors to the permanent exhibit last year, and 18,421 through the hotel, Hutton said.

She also spoke about education outreach programs and the association’s participation in community events such as the holiday and Damboree parades and said volunteers worked 1,490 hours at the museum last year.

Steven Slivka contributed to article. Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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