Rio Grande Commissioners approve tourism board candidates

SOUTH FORK- Commissioners have been working with South Fork town officials for the past month and a half to come to an agreement pertaining to the Rio Grande Tourism Board.

It was decided during a meeting last month, that South Fork would be allowed to select two individuals to serve on the board to fill two vacant seats. The South Fork Board of Trustees passed a resolution approving local business owners Christian Grill and Kim Krahn to represent the town and asked commissioners to appoint them to the tourism board.

Commissioners conducted a public interview of Grill, owner of the Ute Bluff Lodge in South Fork during their meeting on March 13. Commissioners welcomed Grill and ask that he explain his background and how he would be a benefit to the Rio Grande Tourism Board.

Grill is the owner of the Ute Bluff Lodge and Campground in South Fork and comes to the area from all over the world. Grill stated that he is fluent in four languages, including English and has experience as a marketing director for several national sales companies.

Commissioner Karla Shriver spoke on behalf of the board stating that she for one, was impressed with Grill’s credentials and felt that his international experience would be a direct benefit to the tourism board. “I think having someone with your world view would help us see things outside the every day norm and would be happy to have you a part of the board,” Shriver said.

“I advertise with my friends outside of the US and have had many people come here from all around the world,” Grill said. “The power of word of mouth is very affective and when people come here I tell them to tell their friends and it has paid off.

“Sometimes, when you come to a small area like South Fork or the Valley, a lot of the people here get focused on one way of thinking and I would like to help you with that,” he said.

Commissioners made a motion to approve Grill and fellow applicant Krahn, owner of the Malt Shoppe in South Fork to fill the two vacant seats on the board. South Fork officials hope that having representation for the town on the board will aid in making sure lodging tax funding collected by the tourism board is delegated correctly to the communities that benefit from the fund.

Funding collected by the tourism board is set aside to help with marketing expenses in the three communities in Rio Grande County, Monte Vista, Del Norte and South Fork.

South Fork officials maintain that their community has received less of the funding over the last few years and is seeking a higher allocation due to the fact that 72 percent of the lodging tax is collected in the 81154 zip code.

Commissioners have yet to decide whether or not they will choose to dissolve the tourism board per a request made by the Town of South Fork in a resolution passed two months ago. For the time being, the two entities have agreed to place both Grill and Krahn on the tourism board and see how things work out from there.

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