Zions First National Bank is putting its name on literally thousands of checks to help fund Salt Lake City's bid for the 1998 Winter Games through the sale of a specially designed series of checks featuring art of Olympic sports.

The Salt Lake City Bid Committee for the Olympic Winter Games will receive at least $25,000 from the sale of the "Winter Sports Series" checks, Zions officials said Wednesday.The bid committee, which still needs to raise about $1 million before the site of the 1998 Winter Games is announced in June, will receive a total of $4 from every order of the checks.

"We hope we will see thousands of these little billboards circulating," the bank's president and chief executive officer, Harris H. Simmons, said during a press conference called to announce the donation.

Simmons presented bid committee president Tom Welch with both a check for the $25,000 guaranteed minimum contribution and the first book of the new checks.

"This is not only appreciated for the money it generated but more importantly, the enthusiasm in the community," Welch said, adding that seeing the checks may encourage other Utah businesses to contribute.

As part of the promotion, customers who open an account and order the Olympic checks before the International Olympic Committee's June 15 decision will get free checking through the end of the year.

Zions' contribution will exceed $25,000 if more than 6,000 orders of checks at a cost of $12 for 200 are purchased. The bank is donating $2 from the price of the checks and matching that for a total contribution of $4 an order.

Four local artists were commissioned by Zions to paint pictures of Olympic athletes participating in downhill skiing, ski jumping, speed skating and hockey.

The four artists, Ken Baxter, Earl Jones, Bonnie Posselli and A.D. (Arch) Shaw, each earned a total of $1,000 from the bank for their artwork and the rights to reprint it.

Zions had previously contributed more than $20,000 to the bid committee, according to Ronald Hanson, vice chairman of the bank. Simmons has previously served as a fund-raiser for the bid committee.

Last year, bid committee officials said they needed to raise $1.7 million to bring IOC members to visit Salt Lake and meet administrative expenses. Welch said Wednesday about $700,000 has been raised.

He said he believed the remaining $1 million would be collected before the IOC selection is announced. "I've got the confidence we're going to raise the revenues we need," he said.


(Additional information)

Shell shells out

Shell Chemical Co. of Houston has donated $25,000 toward the Salt Lake City bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

The check was given to Jon M. Huntsman, a member of the local Olympic Roundtable Committee. Huntsman's company, Huntsman Chemical Corp. in Salt Lake, is a customer of Shell.

The money will be used to bring members of the International Olympic Committee to visit Salt Lake.