Smoke rises from the ruined structure of the main building at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp and Resort last year after fire destroyed it. — Herald file photo

Archived Story

Jellystone thriving in wake of 2011 fire

Published 10:03am Thursday, December 20, 2012

A little more than a year after a fire ravaged a local campgrounds, there are more than a few signs it has risen from its own ashes — and even prospered.

The new ranger station at Jellystone Park in April. -- Herald file photo

Out of the 78 Jellystone parks, Jellystone Campgrounds in Austin received the “Facility of the Year” award at a ceremony held in Kentucky on Nov. 11. It was one of several accolades that went to the family owned and operated park.

“We were surprised,” said Tammy Westrich, one of campgrounds’ four owners.

The other awards included the “Customer Service Award” and the “Pinnacle Award” — an accolade that recognizes the highest marks during an inspection on cleanliness and upkeep.

As part of the campground’s string of success, Westrich was named to the Yogi Advisory Council as a member of the board of directors, where she will help make decisions that affect all the parks. There are eight to 10 people on the board, and each term is four to six years.

“That’s a very big nomination,” she said. “You’re talking about all these different parks and what they’re worth and what they do.”

She also received recognition for her three years on the Care Committee.

“We make sure that all the parks are up to par on all of their rec activities and all their fun stuff,” Westrich said.

The family was devastated when its iconic lodge burned to the ground on Oct. 11, 2011. But instead of wallowing, they set forth rebuilding their dreams. Just six months later, they’ve done exactly that.

The owners have expanded many of Jellystone’s offerings and added others. The new lodge, known as the Ranger Station, is more spacious and houses a bigger kitchen, restaurant and arcade. It also has a banquet hall for events and an adult-oriented room with cable and WiFi.

Despite the fire, guests have not shied away from making reservations. Many are wowed by the changes.

“They still knew that we would rebuild and everything would be just as nice if not better,” Westrich said.

There are still a few finishing touches left. The owners have yet to put in a toddler pool, but they plan to have one by the time the campgrounds open on April 15. Reservations are already coming in.

“Everything is actually going wonderful,” she said. “We look forward to the 2013 season.”

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