New board management for ranch

New board management for ranch

O’Keefe Ranch announces Jenelle Brewer as new board president effectively immediately

A North Okanagan “million dollar enterprise” is undergoing management changes.

Sherrilee Franks, board member of Historic O’Keefe Ranch, approached Vernon council Monday seeking the first of two $50,000 payments for the city-0wned property, and took the opportunity to inform council of board changes.

“We completed our annual general meeting April 5, which resulted in a fantastic turnout, and, on April 19, we had an organizational meeting,” said Franks.

Jenelle Brewer is the new president of the board. Franks is a returning board member, as is Janice Hoggarth. Carolyn Farris has been named secretary-treasurer, while Norbert Martens and Mollie Bono have been named new directors.

“We are actively recruiting to fill in the final vacancies,” said Franks. There are four spots to fill.

The ranch, a popular North Okanagan tourist attraction which celebrated its 150th birthday in 2017, is slated to open for the new season on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13.

“There is so much potential in that ranch. What we’re doing is help it realize that potential,” said Coun. Scott Anderson, the city’s ranch representative. He said the ranch is changing directions to reach its full potential.

“I think it’s a million dollar enterprise, people on the board think it’s a million dollar enterprise and the consultant (Linda McGrew, also on hand Monday) thinks its a million dollar enterprise. We’re trying to realize that vision and make it so that it’s self-sufficient. And not only self-sufficient but making a profit.”

The changes, said Anderson, will be done without affecting the character of the ranch.

“We’re retaining the cultural heritage of the ranch, that’s very important, it’s the reason it’s an attraction,” he said.

Coun. Catherine Lord – former ranch manager – asked Franks about what she thought was a low number of events scheduled at O’Keefe. The ranch’s website shows only five events planned for 2018.

“We have no intention of cutting back our events at all,” said Franks.

The ranch hosts the immensely popular Field of Screams fundraiser at Halloween, and also opens for a Victoria Christmas weekend during the holiday season.

The city earlier announced it’s reducing its annual grant to the ranch. O’Keefe will receive $100,000 this year, $50,000 in 2019 and $10,000 in 2020.

Council unanimously approved a $50,000 payment Monday.

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