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True West Magazine lists area in top 10
December 18, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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For the second consecutive year, the community has been recognized by True West Magazine as one of the top 10 True Western Towns of 2016.

The area will be listed in the February 2016 issue as Scotts Bluff/Gering, Nebraska, but the award covers a much wider area. “I explained to the people at True West we’re Scotts Bluff County, so that’s how it’s spelled,” said Brenda Leisy, Director of the Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau, “but we cover the entire county. I also included Gering in the description because many of our historic sites are there.”

Leisy said people aren’t just going to come to Gering, but will take in sites in Scottsbluff, Lake Minatare, Agate Fossil Beds in Sioux County, and more.

“True West didn’t just pick us because we’re wonderful, which we are,” Leisy said. “We went through an extensive written and verbal interview process to even be considered.”

The first step is filling out a large application. Some of the basic questions include population and visitor base and why the site should be considered. True West also wanted to know what aspects of the community makes old west history come alive and how they’re promoted.

“Scotts Bluff National Monument and Legacy of the Plains Museum were huge determining factors in our acceptance,” Leisy said. “They also love that we have local celebrations like Oregon Trail Days and the Old West Balloon Fest. We sent them pictures of our longhorn steers. They eat that stuff up.”

Another major section of the application process includes what the community is doing to preserve its historic sites. Because of all the museums, the area ranked high on the magazine’s list. That section included questions about the area’s archeology and what’s being done in the way of restoration projects.

Leisy said she had her Gering High School intern, Ashlyn Lang, fill out the application. “She’s a high school student, so I think it’s important for her to know as much as possible about the community. That helps her when she’s greeting visitors. She’s also able to take some pride in the award.”

Leisy did the verbal part of the interview with True West, elaborating on what was included in the application and sharing more detailed information. One observance she pointed out was the Lake Minatare lighthouse, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“This is a huge recognition for our area,” Leisy said. “Lots of people love old west and frontier history and that’s what we’re all about. “It will definitely attract more visitors.”

The February 2016 issue of True West Magazine hits the newsstands on Jan. 5, 2016. While the Scotts Bluff area normally gets a large number of leads from the magazine, those usually spike when the top 10 list is announced.

“If we were doing our own publicity, this would cost thousands of dollars,” Leisy said. “This award is important because we’re reaching thousands of subscribers who are part of our target market. The magazine also has a huge international base, a presence on Facebook and the Internet. This will reach hundreds of thousands of people.”

True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell said that after 11 years of awards, choosing the top 10 western towns becomes a challenge. “These communities really stand out. They maintain and celebrate their remarkable histories. These are the towns that we and others enjoy visiting.”

Joining Scotts Bluff/Gering on the list are Florence, Arizona; Lincoln, New Mexico; Pinedale, Wyoming; Amarillo, Texas; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Prescott, Arizona; Buffalo, Wyoming; and Dodge City, Kansas. The top town for 2016 is Lubbock, Texas.

“Many of the top 10 are larger areas that put a lot of effort and funding into promoting their communities,” Leisy said. “It’s rewarding to know we can be right up there with them.”
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