Tourism board won’t fund FV managerThe Buffalo City Tourism Foundation unanimously voted Friday to approve grant funding for Frontier Village’s summer staffing — except for its manager.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
The Buffalo City Tourism Foundation unanimously voted Friday to approve grant funding for Frontier Village’s summer staffing — except for its manager.
“I don’t think that they have shown enough responsibility. I don’t think that they’ve really provided the things that give me confidence,” said Pam Phillips, board member.
Frontier Village Association had requested $33,743 for its summer staffing, and the BCTF executive board agreed to grant the funds for paying maintenance workers and greeters, but not funds for paying its manager.
The position of manager is currently held by Tina Busche.
“We have to have a manager. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Charlie Tanata, president of the Frontier Village Association, contacted after the meeting. “We’ll probably have to have a special meeting.”
Busche, also contacted later for comment, said she felt frustrated and let down by the BCTF’s decision.
“I really feel like they have a personal vendetta against me, and at this point in time, I feel like they have more or less gone through the back door to get me fired,” Busche said, after she learned about the BCTF’s decision. “They (BCTF board members) have fired me, not my board. My board has not fired me.”
In December, the BCTF unanimously approved a vote of no confidence in the board and manager of the Frontier Village Association, shortly after a majority of the FVA board resigned, leaving the FVA with no way to make a quorum.
The BCTF is FVA’s largest source of funding, and in October requested an audit of the FVA. Later the BCTF instead opted to fund a forensic accounting report on Frontier Village itself.
That report was presented at Friday’s BCTF meeting by Brett Johnson, manager of Eide Bailly of Fargo.
Eide Bailly identified $275 in cash withdrawals without supporting documentation and one Frontier Fort invoice for $24.74 paid for by Frontier Village. It also assessed Frontier Village’s fraud risk as “moderate.”
Areas of concern centered around a lack of a computerized accounting system and a lack of segregation of duties involving money — a problem common in small organizations, Johnson said.
In addition, background checks have not been performed on all employees, there are no regular financial reviews and an anonymous fraud reporting system is not in place, according to the report.
The Frontier Village Association has already begun addressing some of the issues in the forensic accounting report, Tanata said at Friday’s meeting of the BCTF.
At the meeting, he handed out a list of ways FVA is attempting to address issues outlined in the Eide Bailly report.
In it, Tanata says he has run criminal background checks on all employees and new hires, and adds that in the future, “this will be addressed by our new ‘hiring’ committee appointed by myself and our Board of Directors of the Frontier Village.”
Tanata also writes that the treasurer has set up a computerized accounting system for proper documentation. Two signatures will be required on Frontier Village checks, and the treasurer will be keeping the financial records.
“If you have any questions on anything, give me a call. And I promise you, things are going to be better,” Tanata said before leaving.
After presenting the grant requests, Tanata and other FVA representatives left the public meeting, and the BCTF discussed them.
BCTF board member Beth Dewald emphasized that if there was not an improvement in the relationship between the FVA and the BCTF, the BCTF should stop funding the FVA. Dewald said Busche’s behavior was “not even passive-aggressive anymore. It’s aggressive.”
“To me, that position doesn’t fit the person,” said Scott Hare, BCTF treasurer.
During an interview following the meeting Tanata said he was not aware of any aggressiveness on Busche’s part.
“We wouldn’t have everything in order and et cetera if we didn’t have her doing it,” Tanata said.
Busche said that remark should have been sent to her board of directors, and said she has never been aggressive with anybody. She also said she worked very hard to make Frontier Village a nice place and to promote tourism in Jamestown.
Tanea Clocksene, BCTF board member, noted that the FVA can return to the BCTF board and resubmit another grant application should its situation change.
The BCTF also dealt with some other grants Friday, including some from the FVA and some from other organizations.
* The FVA requested $6,812 for its Pioneer Days celebration. That request was tabled because the BCTF would like the FVA to retool Pioneer Days to a more compact two-day event rather than a three-day event.
* The FVA asked for $5,681 for amphitheater entertainment.
It was granted $3,000 to pay for the entertainment and $1,000 for advertising that entertainment, in the hope that the FVA would have three major events in its amphitheater rather than many minor events, which have not been well-attended in the past.
* The FVA requested $11,700 for horse and stagecoach care, which was granted — contingent on producing the attendance records from 2011 and continuing to produce records for 2012 and beyond.
* The Main Street Downtown Association requested $1,500 for street banners, which was approved, with the requirement that the BCTF logo be on them, and that the financial information is given to the BCTF.
* Fort Seward asked for $9,500 for summer staffing, which was approved with the proviso that salaries would be paid only through the week after Labor Day — unless school groups are scheduled to visit the Fort Seward in September.
In that case, the BCTF will consider additional funding.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at