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Heavener Runestone Park to Stay Open
By Tourism Industry Partner
On May 19th the Heavener City Council approved and executed the agreement with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) to operate the park from July 1, 2011 onward. We truly appreciate OTRD for their support and assistance, and allowing this opportunity to move forward.
The City Council has taken these steps as they believes that outdoor recreational opportunities enhance the quality of life and creates a healthier lifestyle for the area residents. Additionally, we believe that this project will enhance our city’s economic development posture as many businesses looking to relocate consider quality of life issues an important factor for their employees, and that influences their decision making of where to relocate.
The easy part of this process is over, while the park will remain open, we need it to become self sustaining. This will require the backing of the local community and county. In short, we will need your support to make this venture successful. The Friends plan on raising funds through individual and family memberships, and corporate and business sponsorships. If you are planning an event, consider the Runestone for such event. If you are like minded that the park is important to the community and county, become a member of the Friends of Heavener Runestone LLC. Details on membership will be finalized within the next week.
The City of Heavener looks forward to working with the Friends of Heavener Runestone vision to maintain entrance to the park as free to the public. The plan is to restructure facility user fees, and Gift shop merchandising to improve cash flow. In work is a marketing plan to promote the park as a destination across the mid-central and south-central United States. Future plans are to create additional features in the park to enhance the visitor's experience. While maintaining the natural beauty and vistas, the park will become a fun and educational place for individual and family visits. Fund raising events will be spread out to have something available to a broad range of visitors throughout the year.
The City’s next step is to work on an agreement with "Friends of Heavener Runestone LLC" which will be a non-profit organization to preserve, protect and promote the Heavener Runestone monument and the associated public park. The agreement will authorize the Friends to raise funds and help operate the park under the City’s responsibility for the park. The Friends have defined their purposes in the bylaws of which a part is provided below:
· To take all actions necessary and prudent to preserve the Runestone monument and park for future generations.
· To ensure current and future public access to the park and monument, thereby enhancing the quality of life and general welfare of citizens.
· To promote the park and monument into a sustainable tourist attraction that will have an improved economic impact on businesses, State of Oklahoma, LeFlore County and local municipalities.
· To conduct events and programs of quality educational purposes promoting the public awareness of the historical aspects of the monument and raise funds for the continuing operation of the park; and to advance the civic and cultural interests of LeFlore County communities.
The next meeting of the Friends will be at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall on 24 May 2001. The Public is welcome to attend. The Friends have established six committees: Membership, Fund Raising, Marketing, Merchandising, Maintenance & Upkeep, and Operations. Any citizens that desire to serve on or assist these committees are welcome. If you are interested please contact Chairman of the respective committee. Committee Chairmen are: Membership Chair - Mark Caldwell; Fundraising Chair - Lundy Kiger and Kenneth Corn; Marketing Chair - Traci Barnes, Gail Nichols, and Joe Le Roux; Merchandising Chair - Gail Nichols, Traci Barnes, and Joe Le Roux; Maintenance & Upkeep Chair -Kenneth Corn; Operations Chair - Roy Faulkenberry. A small sampling of events and features in planning are:
- Historic Interpretive DVD - Partner with Carl Albert State College videotograhy department to create 20 minute DVD’s of the Runestone from information in Mrs. Gloria Farley’s books on the subject. Allow viewing in the gift shop for free to provide an enhanced experience to visitors. Produce the DVD’s for sale in the gift shop as souvenirs. This would serve the park in three ways: enhance the visit experience, raise funds, market the park to visitor’s friends and families and maybe create more visitations.
· Breakfast on the Mountain - Set-up a spring and fall pancake breakfast. One on Easter Sunday, to cater to those who attend the sunrise service on the mountain. Another in the fall when the leaves are turning. Friends will promote in the local area and across the eastern region of Oklahoma.
· Music on the Mountain - This will be a series on events, possibly three to four a year with rotating themes. Themes being considered are: County - Blues - 50’s/60’s - Latin Flair (this includes Mariachi Bands, Cumbia and Ranchera bands). Friends will raise funds thru entrance fees, food concessions, event T-shirt sales.
· Dinner on the Mountain - Design; create a large deck down near the Runestone building. Obtain a caterer to provide a quality meal with mood lighting in the trees. This would be a great place to hold a family reunion, prom, sweet sixteen parties, etc.
- Vikings on the Mountain - This will be a family oriented festival that is thematic. Friends will have Viking characters dressed up to interact with the kids and parents. Friends will raise funds from the entry fee and food concessions. There will be competitive events that the kids can participate in and receive certificates.
· Water Fall feature - Seal the rock basin beneath the water fall, and keep it filled with water, place recirculation pump and piping so that it can be a feature on demand or all year long. This will enhance the beauty of the area, help reduce the heat down near the Runestone during the summer months, and will make a great picture spot for events, parties, and/or tourists. This works with the event platform described above.
- National Historic Site - We will work through the National Park Service to get the Runestone monument approved and placed on the National Historic Site list. With this will come more on-line exposure for the park and national recognition.
I hope this gives you a sense of the plans in-work, and the direction the park will take in the future. I have found that there is a tremendous level of support in the community and county for this project. With all of us working together we can turn this opportunity into a huge success for the City of Heavener and LeFlore County. We’ll put out more information in the future as plans are finalized.
President Friends of Heavener Runestone
Friends of Heavener Runestone