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Answer Girl: Hilltop escalator goes up, down

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Answer Girl: Hilltop escalator goes up, down
Answer "Megan Lee" Girl rides the escalator down from the second to the first floor of Hilltop National Bank in Casper. Previously, she rode the opposite side from the first to the second floor. Screen from video by DANIEL CRAIG, Star-Tribune.

Hey Answer Girl -

Have you ever been in the Hilltop National Bank building on Country Club Road?

- About 30 Star-Trib Readers

The calls began at 6:25 a.m. last Friday.

Never before have I received the same question so many times within a single day. "Ever been in Hilltop?"

And until Monday, the answer was: "Nope. Never. The closest I've been is the Albertson's down below. I bank with Wells Fargo."

On July 18, I wrote that the only working escalator I could find in all of Wyoming was in the First National Bank building in Casper.

And while First National does, indeed, have a working set of escalators, so does the main branch of Hilltop National Bank, also in Casper.

On Friday, I received a friendly pink ticket in my email from Gary Trapkus, vice president of Hilltop.

"Admit One Answer Girl: Personal tour of Hilltop National Bank including escalator ride," the ticket announced.

So right away on Monday morning, I went for a ride on the Hilltop escalator. And it was great.

The shiny silver steps appear, seemingly from nowhere, and take the traveler to the building's second level. Then, after the traveler has completed his or her second floor business, the escalator delivers the traveler safely back on the first floor.

Trapkus said the escalators are a popular attraction for children, who can ride the moving staircase for free during business hours.

Hey Answer Girl -

Why is it that the Hogadon Ski Area can offer a 60 percent discount on a season ski pass and the Casper Municipal Golf Course just keeps raising its season pass? I was always under the impression that both are owned and operated by the city as enterprise accounts, so why are golfers not offered a similar discount package?

- Scott

Part of the disparity in prices for skiers and golfers in Casper has to do with the fiscal operation, according to Alan Kieper, special facilities superintendent for the city of Casper. He manages Hogadon, the golf course and Fort Caspar for the leisure services department.

Kieper said Hogadon is heavily subsidized by the city and the golf course is hardly subsidized at all. Also, of several golf courses in town, the Casper-owned course charges the lowest price.

"At the golf course, we're really the least expensive show in town," he said. "So we really haven't had to discount because we're kind of already discounting."

Each year, he said, the city analyzes costs and makes slight adjustments in fees based on the market and what the local economy can handle. Thus, the season pass price keeps increasing because operational and other costs for the facility go up each year.

Another reason for the Hogadon discount is popularity - while the ski area only sees up to 25,000 skiers (during a "really good year," Kieper said), the golf course can run from 45,000 to 60,000 rounds in any given year.

"That's a lot of golfers," he said. "It's kind of a numbers game depending on how many users are using the facility."

Contact reporter Megan Lee at (307) 266-0589 or megan.lee@trib.com

Ask Answer Girl

Answer Girl tackles your questions about Casper, the universe and everything else. Submit your questions by email to megan.lee@trib.com, or call Megan Lee at 266-0589. You can also write to Answer Girl, Box 80, 170 Star Lane, Casper, WY 82602.

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