Long to-do list for Route 66: The Road Ahead group

The Route 66: The Road Ahead Partnership exited its second annual board of directors meeting Feb. 15-17 in Tulsa with a lengthy to-do list — including a Route 66 navigational app and funding for preservation project — for the months ahead.

In addition to approving a 2018 budget and a five-year budget, the group approved funding for several projects for the Route 66 initiative:

  • A soon-to-come Route 66: The Road Ahead credit card that mostly will give funds for  preservation projects, plus some money for state Route 66 associations.
  • Creating a turn-by-turn Route 66 navigation app. Students from Illinois State University’s arts technology program will develop the program.
  • Developing a multilingual online survey for international tourists on their challenges, needs and wants while traveling 66.
  • Researching and gathering case studies of successful Route 66 initiatives in select towns and give the facts to other communities along the Mother Road.
  • Eight short videos and a social-media campaign by graduate students to increase awareness and interest of Route 66 to young people.
  • Updating the Rutgers University Route 66 Economic Impact Study from 2012.
  • A six-month campaign to tell the public on what Route 66: The Road Ahead is doing.
  • Creating a reserve fund for long-term projects.

The group also heard a progress report about the Route 66 National Historic Trail legislation in Congress. The measure unanimously advanced through a committee and is ready for a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. The goal is to have the bill passed by Congress and signed by the president before the end of 2018

Front row, from left, Scott Piotrowski, California Historic Route 66 Association; Melissa Lea Beasley, New Mexico Route 66 Association; Grant Stevens. National Trust for Historic Preservation. Middle: Amy Webb, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Renee Charles, Kansas Historic Route 66 Association; Dora Merony, Old Route 66 Association of Texas; Bill Thomas, Route 66: The Road Ahead; Sharlene Fouser, Arizona Route 66 Scenic Byway; John Conoboy. National Historic Trail Task Force; Kaisa Barthuli, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Back: Bill Kelly, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway; Steve Mandrgoc, University of New Mexico; Aaron Mahr. National Park Service; Jeff Fulgenzie, Mahan Filling Station owner in Springfield, Illinois; John J. Miller, Illinois Route 66 Association; Dries Bessels, Route 66 Association of the Netherlands; Tommy Pike, Route 66 Association of Missouri; David Bricker, California Department of Transportation.

The entire news release from Route 66: The Road Ahead’s annual meeting can be read below the jump.

The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership held its second Annual Board of Directors Meeting on February 15-17, 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Highlights of the meeting include:

The Board heard an update report from John Conoboy, Chairman of the Road Ahead’s National Historic Trail Task Force, and Amy Webb and Grant Stevens, representatives from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who were on hand to share information regarding opportunities for the Road Ahead and the Trust to work together to ensure Route 66 is designated a National Historic Trail. HR801, the Federal legislation to designate Route 66 a National Historic Trail, has unanimously passed out of committee and is now ready to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. Efforts are underway to initiate legislation in the Senate. The goal is to have HR801 passed by Congress and signed by the President by or before the end of 2018.

The Board approved a budget for the 2018 fiscal year, as well as a projected five-year budget for the Road Ahead Partnership that extends through the 2022 fiscal year. In addition to approving basic administrative costs, the Board discussed and approved funding for several expenses related to achieving specific strategic goals established by the organization including:

Economic Development Working Group – $5,000 was approved to help communities across Route 66 learn how to leverage Route 66 for economic development purposes by researching and assembling case studies of selected towns that will share the stories and tools each used to improve their local economies via Route 66. Funding of up to $10,000 was also approved to conduct additional research in conjunction with work being done by Rutgers University to update its 2012 Route 66 Economic Impact Study.

Research & Education Working Group – $3,500 in funding was approved to increase young people’s awareness of, and interest in, Route 66 by creating a set of eight short videos and a social media campaign conducted during over a six-month period. The project will involve a trip across Route 66 by a group of graduate students who will document their travels, then manage a social media campaign that utilizes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Metrics will be collected to determine the reach and effectiveness of the project.

State Route 66 Associations Advocacy Working Group – $3,300 in funding was approved to improve the Road Ahead’s ability to inform and educate Route 66 stakeholders and Roadies regarding what the organization is and what it is doing. A six month campaign will focus on the dissemination of press releases, Facebook posts, email blasts, news articles, etc. through communication channels used by state-based Route 66 Associations, such as their newsletters, magazines, websites, Facebook pages, etc.

Preservation Working Group – The Board approved a funding mechanism designed to support preservation projects on Route 66. An announcement will soon be made regarding the availability of a new Route 66 Road Ahead credit card that will provide a rebate to the Road Ahead. The Board allocated 90% of its share of this rebate to support preservation projects. 10% of the rebate will be used for general administrative expenses of the organization. A portion of the rebate will also be used to support state-based Route 66 Associations, in exchange for their assistance in promoting the new Route 66 Road Ahead credit card.

Promotion Working Group – $4,950 was approved by the Board to help address one of the most frequently reported challenges faced by Route 66 traveler’s, i.e. navigating the Route. Funding will be used to design and develop a Route 66 navigation app in conjunction with the Arts Technology Program at Illinois State University.

International Advisory Group – Up to $1,300 in funding was approved by the Board to support the creation and development of an online survey designed to identify challenges, needs, and wants of international visitors traveling Route 66. The survey will be translated in multiple languages. Data will be collected, analyzed, and then shared with the Route 66 community, with the aim of improving the traveling experience of international visitors.

Executive Committee – The Board, upon a recommendation from the organization’s Executive Committee, approved steps to ensure the longer-term financial sustainability of the Road Ahead by allocating $14,500 as an initial deposit into a reserve fund. This fund will set aside excess revenue after expenses from the 2018 budget. The reserve will be called upon as needed, pending the organization’s ability to raise additional corporate sponsorship funding and secure future funding via the five-year cooperative agreement currently in place between the National Park Service and the Road Ahead.

Throughout the meeting, the Chairmen/women of the Road Ahead’s several Working Groups, Task Forces, and Advisory Groups, presented updates to the Board, the details of which are presented in the minutes of the Annual Board Meeting.

Mr. Patrick Tuttle, Director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, made a presentation to the Board and requested a letter be sent from the Road Ahead to the Missouri Department of Transportation in support of its efforts to have the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials designate a bicycle route across the Missouri as “US Bike Route 66”. The Board approved writing/sending such a letter of support.

Discussions were also held by the Board regarding the possibility of enhancing/expanding the work of the organization’s Research and Education Working Group by partnering with the Research Route 66 group, formerly the Route 66 Archives and Research Collaboration. Tentative approval for doing so was made, pending input from the Research Route 66 group after it meets in March.

Board members enjoyed the opportunity to become better acquainted by going out to dinner together and by traveling east from Tulsa to visit a true Route 66 icon in nearby Catoosa, the Blue Whale.

Finally, officers of the Board for 2018 were elected: Bill Thomas, Chairman [Illinois], David Bricker, Vice Chairman [California], Renee Charles, Secretary [Kansas], Bill Kelly, Treasurer [Illinois]. Officer terms are for one year.

When completed, minutes of the 2018 Annual Board Meeting, a copy of the Treasurer’s Report, the approved 2018 Budget, and the Projected Five-Year Budget will be posted on the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership’s website, accessible at: www.sites.google.com/site/66roadahead

Members of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership Board of Directors in attendance at the Annual Meeting included:
• David Bricker – Chair of the Preservation Working Group
• Melissa Beasley – New Mexico Route 66 Association
• Renee Charles – Kansas Historic Route 66 Association/ Route 66 Association of Kansas
• Steve Mandrgoc – Interim Chair of the Research & Education Working Group
• Sharlene Fouser – Arizona Route. 66 Scenic Byway Program
• Jeff Fulgenzi – Chair of the Economic Development Working Group
• Bill Kelly – Chair of the Promotion Working Group
• John Miller – Illinois Route 66 Association
• Brad Nickson – Oklahoma Route 66 Association
• Tommy Pike – Route 66 Association of Missouri
• Scott Piotrowski – California Historic Route 66 Association
• Bill Thomas – Chairman of Board

Also attending/presenting at the Annual Board of Directors Meeting were:
• John Conoboy, Chairman of the National Historic Trails Task Force
• Aaron Mahr, National Park Service
• Kaisa Barthuli, National Park Service
• Amy Grant, National Trust for Historic Places
• Grant Stevens, National Trust for Historic Places
• Ashley Bollhorst, Arts Technology Program, Illinois State University
• Patrick Tuttle, Director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau
• Russell Earls, Ottawa, Oklahoma County Commissioner

Board Members/Advisory Group Representatives not able to attend the Annual Meeting include:
• Brad Nickson, Oklahoma Route 66 Association
• David Dunaway, Chairman Research & Education Work Group
• Emerson R. Vallo, Chairman – Tribal Advisory Group

Shortly following the conclusion of the Annual Board of Directors Meeting, members of the Board hosted the First Annual Route 66 Stakeholders Reception and Update Event, to which any and all members of the public interested in Route 66 were invited. Approximately 25 stakeholders attended and engaged Road Ahead Board members in a discussion of their interests and questions. The Board of Directors looks forward to holding the Second Annual Stakeholders Reception and Update meeting following its 2019 Annual Board of Directors Meeting that will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 22-23, 2019.

For additional information contact:
Bill Thomas – [email protected]
The Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership
Post Office Box 166, Atlanta, Illinois 61723

(Image of Route 66: The Road Ahead officers courtesy of Bill Thomas)

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