New Nature Store debuts at Fossil Rim

BRENT ADDLEMAN Managing Editor
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Nature Store on Saturday morning. The new store is now open.

Risen from the ashes.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center debuted its Nature Center on Saturday morning in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by nearly 100 individuals representing organizations near and far.

Braving the steady rain, the crowd made its way inside the spacious new store where the Glen Rose/Somervell County Chamber of Commerce welcomed the organization’s newest jewel.

The previous store at Fossil Rim burned in a fire, but it was remnant garnered from the ashes that bridge the gap between the old store and the new store. Wood salvaged from that fire was used to build shelving inside the store and benches that surround the facility, according to Dr. Pat Condy, who served as emcee for the event.

According to Condy, who serves as executive director of the facility, the Nature Store was a three-phase project with the store combining with a larger parking area, a new suite of public restrooms and a new wastewater treatment system. The wastewater system is not quite completed.

The entire project carried a price tag of $1.4 million, according to Dr. Condy.

“Thanks to some wonderfully generous individuals at foundations we have not yet had to borrow a single cent,” Dr. Condy said to the crowd.

Dr. Condy cited two members of the Fossil Rim team who played an integral part in the project – Louis Pinaar and Daniel Brandham.

“They have project managed all three parts of this project,” Dr. Condy said. “We are very, very grateful to them. Not only did they manage this, but from the old store that burned down, from the ashes of the old store, they recovered some timber. All those shelves over there were made from that repurposed wood. All the benches outside the building were made in-house using some of that timber.”

Dr. Condy then recognized Donna Steakley, Fossil Rim’s director of tourism, and spoke of the 12 months her team was able to earn revenue while working in a temporary space within the park.

“It is her team that had to persevere over the last 12 months with a gift store in a double-wide temporary building,” Dr. Condy said. “They did so well over the past 12 months out of that funny, little building they were in, and they were able to generate 70 or 80 percent of the revenue the old store used to do. They did a good job, and now they have a new home here.”

Dr. Condy was quick to praise the board of directors who “have been giving us wonderful support, they stood behind us and they haven’t interfered.”

While two-thirds of the cost of the project came from the insurance policy on the old building, which also wiped out the organization’s inventory, Dr. Condy praised Pam Adams, chief financial officer, “who did an outstanding job working with the insurance companies.”

He also pointed out the “few fundraising projects” Fossil Rim did on its own, particularly the brick campaign organizations by Warren Lewis, director of marketing.

Dr. Condy then recognized the two lead contractors on the project – Staples Construction and Gosdin Dozer Services – along with the Moody and McDermott foundations for their efforts in making the plan come to fruition.

“Thank you to the Moody Foundation and the McDermott Foundation for everything you have done,” Dr. Condy said. “We thank you so much.”

Dr. Condy also spoke of how the park bolsters the local economy by partnering with local business, like it did on construction of the project.

“When we can, we do try and do that. The two lead contractors were Staples Construction, who built the Nature Store, and Gosdin Dozer Services, who done the parking lot and who are involved in the installation of the new wastewater treatment facility.”

Steakley praised park staff and also the merchandising companies the organizations works with for all their help in keeping the store open in the temporary facility.

“I’d like to thank the volunteers who also helped build this building,” Steakley said. “It was a team effort and it was wonderful. I want to thank Roy Arnold, who is with Arnold and Co., and he was able to rally the vendors together and they were able to give us donations, which were pure profit for Fossil Rim.”

Dr. Condy also praised the staff at the park for persevering and succeeding while the construction project was completed.

“All the staff in all our different departments, our financial and HR teams, our tourism department, education program was able to keep its programs going while all the bulldozers and all the noise going on up here. Especially a word of thanks for Chief Operating Officer, Kenny Snodgrass,” Dr. Condy said.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers. They are around. Some of them are outside. They go, always, they go the extra mile every day. We really do appreciate the way they have helped keep things going.

As a motivational tool, Dr. Condy has a bet with Steakley. If she can earn $1 million for the park, he will buy her two bottles of champagne.

Brent Addleman is managing editor of the Glen Rose Reporter. He can be reached at 254-897-2282 or email to brent.addleman@theglenrosereporter.com. Follow him on Twitter: @GRR_Editor.