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Cowboy Hall of Fame makes bond payment

North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame board members rounded up enough cash to make a bond payment, and they are hoping to get back to business as usual.

Kathy Miller, manager for The Center of Western Heritage and Cultures: Native American, Ranching and Rodeo in Medora, told The Press in January that it was "dire" board members raise enough money to make the payment.

After meeting the Jan. 31 deadline to pay $104,000 toward construction debt, board members are now "focused on shaping the next chapter of the Cowboy Hall of Fame," said Phil Baird, North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame president, Wednesday.

The theme of the next chapter involves hiring a new executive director for the organization.

Baird said there are six applicants for the open position, and the board hopes to hire someone by the end of February. He added that in order to ensure the future financial stability of the NDCHF, the board is keeping an eye out for someone who has "fund-raising experience."

The organization's operations are supported largely because of donations from hall members, or "cowboy angels," Baird said. "We very much appreciate the support of our members and trustees."

In addition to finding an executive director, the board is also preparing to introduce the names of new hall nominees at the NDCHF annual meeting, which is Feb. 25 at the Seven Seas Hotel in Mandan.

Baird said he has not yet seen this year's nominees list, but he expects there are Dickinson names attached to it.

Aaron Lyles, director of finance for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in Wolfe Point, Mont., is glad the NDCHF made its bond payment. He is also pleased the organization can continue to honor cowboys from the area.

"It's never good to see a friend in need," Lyles said.

Lyles added that the two organizations have been "collaborative" and "good neighbors" in recent years.

Baird said the MCHF and NDCHF share some "common themes," and the NDCHF board has helped the MCHF evolve into the organization it is today.

"We've advised them about how we got things started and organized," Baird said. "They're following suit."

The MCHF does not have a main building for their hall, but Lyles said he and his fellow board members hope to draw up plans for a structure once a location is set. He added that in a little more than two years, the building could end up in Wolf Point, Big Sky, Big Timber, Livingston or somewhere in Madison County.

In the meantime, Lyles is just happy the MCHF and NDCHF are around to honor cowboy legends. He is also hopeful more states will gain a taste for cowboy history.

"There's been some conversation about a cowboy trail," he said.