By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
Attracting parents, coaches, and swim teams during this year’s Region 5 High School Swim Meet was a major concern at Monday’s Barbourville Tourism Commission meeting.
The meet will take place at the Stivers Aquatic and Wellness Center Thursday through Saturday. According to Tourism Director Denise Waiscott, the tourism commission has advertised the event and encouraged everyone to be prepared to welcome up to 500 swimmers as well as their parents and coaches.
Board member Larry Cain expressed concern over the previous year’s tourism turnout, with only six rooms at Barbouville’s Best Western occupied.
“Everybody lost out last year,” Cain said. “Bad.” According to Cain, Best Western alone lost $7,000 through the lack of guests, and he said that wasn’t counting the revenue restaurants lost.
“Let’s not pretend they’re going to stay overnight in Barbourville,” Wainscott said when Cain lamented that hotel rooms in Corbin filled last year.
“They can walk to four different restaurants within 100 feet here,” commission member Randell Young said. “We have better rates.”
“We should advertise special rates for coaches,” commission member Carol Valentine suggested. Valentine suggested Corbin’s appeal was the fact that alcohol is sold in the city, but Cain disagreed.
“These are swimmers,” he said. “They shouldn’t drink.” Wainscott suggested “goody bags” for coaches and judges.
“We need to step up our efforts,” she said. It was suggested that swimmers wouldn’t frequent local fast food restaurants because they had to eat healthy, and Cain suggested a solution of a “goody bag” with fruits and other healthy foods for swimmers.
“If you get the coach, you’ll get the whole team,” Valentine said. “This was a learning experience for everybody.” She then suggested a billboard to welcome swimmers and feature the logos of the businesses that support them.
In other commission news:
–Ed Craver attended the meeting to pitch the idea of a dog park in Barbourville to the commission. He envisioned a park with the equipment necessary to have dogs in a public setting, such as scoopers, along with a fence and accessible parking.
“This is not a tourism thing,” Valentine said. “I don’ think it’s a recreation thing, either.”
“If it’s a park, it would be recreation,” Young said. Craver suggested they could look at the nearest dog park for ideas.
“I see them in urban areas all the time,” Wainscott said. Young suggested Craver bring his idea to the recreation board. He then said it might be a good idea, because he knew of complaints about dogs in local parks acting up, and complaints of owners failing to clean up after their dogs. He suggested that existing parks could create a section for dog owners, but redirected Craver to the recreation board once again.
–The state audit brought two suggested revisions from the administrative review committee. The first suggestion mandated documentation if a higher bid was chosen over a lower that explains why the lowest bid wasn’t chosen. The second was a suggestion to revise the mayor’s position on the tourism commission so that he did not have voting rights during meetings.
–The commission was given notice of re-appointment dates coming up for members. Wainscott explained that members had three-year terms. She noted that most of the members are to be re-appointed this year. Wainscott said that she would explain re-appointments and terms more fully in the next meeting.
–Wainscott announced the Appalachian Gateway Initiative will be meeting as a group to begin work. The Appalachian Gateway Initiative is a collaborative effort among the towns of Knox and Bell counties in Kentucky, Lee County, Va., Claiborne County, Tenn., and the town of Cumberland Gap to become a tourist destination.
Wainscott outlined some goals for the year, including developing an inventory of their collective assets and creating a uniform brand and message. Wainscott said that the areas are brought together by natural beauty, trails, local art events, and the rich heritage of each area.
–Belinda Pritchard with the Health Coalition received a $4,000 grant to improve the trails in the Sandy Bottoms Hike and Bike Park. The project should be completed this spring or early in the summer, according to Wainscott. She went on to say that the tourism commission will be in charge of the grand opening celebration.
–Wainscott, Thompson, commission member Charles Frazier, and Union College cycling coach Sean Trinque attended a workshop by the Cumberland Valley Area Development District on Connecting Communities through Bike and Pedestrian Facilities. In the workshop, attendees learned how to get safety signs for bicycle routes. According to Wainscott, Thompson has already submitted a request for bicycle/share the road signs for routes known to experience frequent bicycle traffic, which are Sharp’s Gap, Walker Park Road, and South Hwy. 11.
–Upcoming community festivals were discussed at the meeting. The Redbud Festival has its promotional ads in place with Viamedia TV commercials. The Barbourville Barbecue Competition is set for June 20-21. According to Wainscott, several applications have been received from barbecue cook teams as well as from certified judges.
“I’m really excited about that [the barbecue competition],” Wainscott said. She stated that the commission had to address issues with parking and music.
“I talked to Blossom Ridge and they said they’d come,” Wainscott said. She said that plenty of volunteers would be needed who will cater to the needs of cooks.
“We need someone to give coffee and donuts late at night while they’re cooking,” Wainscott said. She also said that the commission needed other events tied to the barbecue competition. She bade the commission to call or email her ideas for additional events.
“It’s boring to sit and watch people cook for two days,” Wainscott said of the need for other activities for tourists drawn to the competition.
Wainscott added Barbourville needed accommodations for incoming judges. Cain said he would try to give judges a good rate at Best Western.
“This could turn into something really big,” Cain said.
–Four local vendors have provided quotes for leasing or purchasing a copier. According to Wainscott, the commission wants to upgrade existing copiers to be more efficient and be able to print larger size stock, such as promotional flyers. No action was taken, and folders of the quotes were passed around for review by the commission.
–The Main Street program’s start-up and reorganization luncheon will occur Feb. 26 at noon at Forcht Bank Community Room. Invitations will go out this week, and RSVP is requested.
By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
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