Gwen Stutler

Gwen Stutler, digital media manager for Sunrise Park Resort, gave a presentation at the joint work session of the Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside councils Wednesday night about planned improvements at the ski area.

PINETOP-LAKESIDE — The councils of the City of Show Low and the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside held a joint work session meeting on Wednesday night at the Pinetop-Lakside Town Hall. The meeting was an opportunity to share information on topics of interest to both councils.

Some staffers from each municipality were in attendance along with elected officials, with about 20 people in total attending. The meetings was information-only in nature, no votes on any issues were taken.

White Mountain Apache Tribe Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood was invited to the meeting, and was on the agenda to present an update on activities of the tribe, but she did not attend.

Sunrise on the rise

Gwen Stutler, digital media manager for Sunrise Park Resort gave a presentation on improvements underway at the ski area.

“Everyone is really passionate about bringing Sunrise up … making it a world-class resort,” she said of ski resort staff.

While Stutler acknowledged that the resort has a number of infrastructure issues, she said that management is working on completing a master plan for the business, as well as addressing a number of other issues, as well as creating a more effective marketing campaign for the resort.

Infrastructure improvements will include renovations at Sunrise Lodge, redevelopment of the campgrounds to reopen in 2020, and Eagles Nest and Apache Lodge to open this coming ski season. She said there are also plans to add a new small hotel at the base of the ski area, and “chondolas,” gondola-like cars that can run on the same cable as chairlifts. Sunrise has also upgraded rental skis and snowboards, as well as mountain bikes, she added.

Another improvement for the coming ski season is an upgrade to how lift tickets are handled. Skiers will be able to access and pay for lift tickets online, and use kiosks at Sunrise to validate their tickets, which should reduce waiting lines.

Show Low Mayor Daryl Seymore asked questions and made suggestions concerning partnerships with local ski shops and lodging outside of the reservation. He suggested Sunrise partner with other businesses in the community to offer ski and lodging packages.

Pinetop-Lakeside Mayor Stephanie Irwin echoed Seymore’s comments, noting that all businesses in the area are dependent upon each other

“Your success is our success,” she added.

Consolidated emergency dispatch

Commander Brad Provost of Show Low Police and Pinetop-Lakeside Chief of Police Dan Barnes each addressed the meeting individually concerning the process of integrating the emergency dispatch centers for the two communities. Show Low has been participating with integrated dispatch services since the project started in 2015. The project also involves Holbrook, Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District and and other area fire districts.

Pinetop-Lakeside voted to join the regional dispatch operation last May, and began the process of merging their police and Pinetop Fire dispatch operation with the regional center.

Barnes said that the staff dispatchers already at the center did not have trouble integrating local streets and location information — something he said had been a concern. Overall, Barnes seemed pleased with the outcome, saying it reduced response time and served the community better.

Show Low Police Commander Brad Provost said that the regional dispatch responded to 28,000 incidents last year, including 7,000 911 calls.

Both Barnes and Provost said that fully staffing the dispatch center has been problematic, even with dispatchers coming onboard from Pinetop-Lakeside. Provost noted that it isn’t only a local problem — nationwide there is a shortage of dispatchers, he noted, saying it’s a “tough job.”

White Mountain

Partnership

The final item on the agenda was an overview of the White Mountain Partnership from Paul Watson of Navajo County.

Watson said that the Partnership organization was formed in 1996 as a collaborative effort to drive tourism in the area, Navajo County and the City of Show Low are the primary partners, along with Pinetop-Lakeside.

Watson said that the Partnership, which is a nonprofit, hired a marketing firm from Phoenix, OH Partners. Watson handed out a couple of glossy booklets, one about the consulting firm itself, another about the White Mountains campaign.

The Partnership got started working with OH Partners in January. Their current goals are to help the Partnership organization to grow and the organization’s impact, as well as grow tourism and promote the White Mountains. OH Partners also produced a marketing campaign for Sedona.

The Partnership will be heavily focused on marketing though social media, Watson said, noting that they were offering a free visit this June to blogger and social media “influencer” Amber Fillerup Clark, who blogs and posts about style, family and travel on her “Barefoot Blonde” blog and numerous social media sites.

The partnership is hoping that Clark will enjoy her White Mountain visit and tell her millions of online followers all about it.

Reach the editor at tbalcom@wmicentral.com

Trudy Balcom is editor of the White Mountain Independent.

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