KEARNEY — Only three paid staffers remain at the Great Platte River Road Archway, which is trimming expenses to the bare minimum after emerging two weeks ago from bankruptcy.
The archway has been operating with a volunteer executive director since Gary Roubicek left the attraction two months ago.
Last week, the departure of two other paid staffers left three people on the payroll.
Leonard Skov is the archway’s interim executive director.
Joel Johnson, chair of the Great Platte River Road Archway Foundation — which will own the structure after $100,000 in bankruptcy debts are settled — said the staff now counts only the people who are essential to daily operations.
Efforts continue to enlist more volunteers. A roundup Tuesday resulted in three more volunteers signing up, bringing the total to about 20.
Johnson said the archway’s belt-tightening is necessary for two reasons.
First, the attraction possesses only about one month of operating funds and, with winter approaching, attendance revenue likely will drop.
Second, archway supporters intend to approach the Buffalo County Board of Supervisors and Kearney City Council to request $200,000 from each for the next three years, when long-term funding, marketing and governance plans for the attraction are decided.
Johnson estimates that staff reductions have trimmed operating expenses by about $100,000.
Archway Business Manager Sharm Loeffle said 2012 operating expenses were $1.1 million.
Operational revenues in 2012 were $676,621, including turnstile attendance, gift shop and other income. Other miscellaneous revenues, including $150,000 from the Kearney Visitors Bureau, amounted to $365,611, for total revenues of $1,042,232.
“We’re really living month-to-month,” Johnson said. “The problem is that October is about the last good weather month. Traditionally, attendance goes down when the weather turns bad.”
Although attendance will likely dip as fall turns into winter, the archway posted some encouraging attendance figures in September, following the opening of the Interstate 80 exit one mile east of the attraction.
September 2013 attendance of 5,401 is 23 percent better than September 2012, when 4,380 people visited the archway.
“And that increase was without any advertising,” Johnson said.