Dane County offering jobs at zoo with new vendor as Zoo Society presents new contract proposal
MADISON, Wis. — Dane County is formally offering jobs to staffers in facilities at the Henry Vilas Zoo Friday, at the same time that the Henry Vilas Zoo Society is asking the county to come back to the negotiating table on a contract.
County officials announced in a statement that beginning Friday, county staffers will be visiting the Glacier-Grille, zoo gift shop and zoo carousel to be offered county employment. Currently, those workers are employed by the HVZS, which operates those facilities and is the main fundraiser for the zoo.
” These individuals have been great partners of the zoo, ” Deputy Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo Director Joseph Darcangelo said. ” For those who want to continue being a part of this zoo experience, we want to make sure they know we are very much interested in their ongoing service to our zoo and community. ”
Meanwhile, the HVZS released a statement saying it is offering a new proposal to the county for a contract, which would shift the operation of the ground facilities, including the gift shop and concessions to the county. The Zoological Society would continue to raise money from the zoo, as well as handle marketing and events.
” Although we have been at an impasse with the county, the HVZS is hopeful that we can reach a solution that preserves and enhances our beloved Henry Vilas Zoo, ” the statement said.
In a statement in a subsequent news release, county officials said they met for nearly 7 hours with representatives of the Zoological Society regarding the transition of operations, and said it intended to hire an independent consultant who works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to advise what the structure should be of any partnership going forward.
The county’s release notes that additional staffers from the society will be offered positions pending county board approval of a resolution that allows the county to fill nine new full-time positions, which are required to ensure the zoo retains its accreditation.
The county also announced Friday that it had selected a new firm to coordinate concessions at the zoo, which also currently operates concessions for the Alliant Energy Center.
Centerplate is now going to run the facilities, which the county says will allow the employees to have jobs during the winter months.
WISC-TV has a joint marketing agreement with the Friends of the Henry Vilas Zoo, which includes various things like sponsorship of zoo events and the weather camera that you see on the air.
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