Seeing nothing but positive changes at the popular attraction, a Vernon councillor motioned to grant O’Keefe Ranch the remainder of city funds owed for 2018.
Ranch transition manager Sherrilee Franks approached council asking for $25,000 of the $44,902 still owed to the ranch from the city from its 2018 budget. The city is providing $100,000 this year, and the city-owned ranch has already received $50,000.
Coun. Scott Anderson, council’s representative to the ranch, said the organization has finished all requirements for the city grant and didn’t see any point in having the ranch come to council a third time to request the remaining funds.
“I’ve been working with these folks for some time, and I’ve seen a huge change on the board,” said Anderson. “With (consultant Linda) Dr. McGrew’s help, Sherrilee’s input, city support and help from the board itself, I’ve seen it turn from a working board into a real management board.
“I’m just thrilled with the speed and competence of which its moved forward.”
Franks stepped down from the ranch board to assume the role of transition manager for the ranch. She helps assist with changes and implementing McGrew’s strategic plan for the facility, which Franks said the board unanimously approved on June 14.
The ranch opened, as per usual, on Mother’s Day, with more guests this year than last. Father’s Day events drew 500 guests and, as Franks pointed out, the summer will be busy.
“Our yoga with goats has sold out,” she said. “July 6 (today) is our first cowboy dinner. The summertime corn maze will open next week. July 22 is our first family water fun day. Aug. 19 is our country fair family day. Murder mysteries are set for Sept. 7 and 8 and our gala will be Sept. 15.”
The popular fall event, the Field of Screams, will return and will open Oct. 13.
Every weekend in July and August at the ranch will feature old-fashioned games, plain air art classes and craft Saturdays.
Franks also requested two other things from council: that bakery food services be allowed in the gift shop and around the grounds, and that bee hives be permitted around the site.
Both were unanimously approved by council.