Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tourism Commission looks at upcoming events

J-E News Editor
Nearly three years after it’s conception, the Providence Tourism Commission continues to struggle against misinformation and a plain misunderstanding of it’s actual purpose and abilities. Last week the commission invited the public to attend it’s bimonthly meeting, moving the location to the Providence Municipal Golf and Recreation Center in order to accommodate more guests. Less than a handful of guests attended.

“There has been some misunderstanding,” commission member Carol Hill told guests who were curious about the commission’s invitation to the public. “All of our meetings are open to the public. We just put this one in the paper to help clear up that controversy.”
The Tourism Commission is the official sponsor of two annual events, the city’s 4th of July Celebration held at the Golf and Recreation Center, and October Fest, which is held the second Saturday in October. The group pays for all of the fireworks for the July event, which totaled $9,200 last year.
When asked if the commission would consider adding more events to their schedule, members said they would love to, but were hesitant to do so.
“Whenever we look to do a function, we are hesitant because we are the ones who have to do it,” said member Jennifer Gobin. “But we would love to have more people take part.”
“The more people we have to help, the more things we can do,” said Hill.
Tourism Commission members are appointed by Providence Mayor Eddie Gooch, but members are more than willing to welcome anyone who is interested in helping.
“I think you should look at adding Memorial Day to your calendar,” suggested Myra Scott who was on hand to represent the Rosenwald Center, which hosts an annual Memorial Day Weekend celebration near the school’s former location. “It’s not an exclusive white or black thing. Providence is never going to come together as long as we continue to do things separately.”
The commission suggested that event organizers submit a request for funds to the commission so that it could help support the event.
The tourism commission, which as of January 31, 2014, had $211,522.06 in it’s bank account, has to follow certain guidelines set by the Commonwealth of Kentucky on how it can spend it’s money. Any event or organization that wishes to get money from the group must submit a request to the commission, in writing, highlighting how the funds are to be spent and how such expenses will either generate tourism or help to beautify the city of Providence.
Commission members said that one of the common misconceptions was that they should be spending money to pave the streets in the city, but under Kentucky law, they are not allowed to spend funds on projects that are already government funded.
KRS 91A.350 allows for the creation of a tourism commission to “promoting convention and tourist activities and facilities.”
“Tourism is economic development,” said Tricia Noel, Hopkins County Tourism and Convention Commission Executive Director. “The business of attracting outside dollars into the community is very important. That’s the whole mission of a tourism commission.”
Noel said that projects like the 4th of July Celebration are huge events for Providence.
“That’s how they attract people to the community,” she explained. “Once they are there, hopefully they will spend money in local restaurants, stores and gas stations. Those businesses need outside money.”
Another upcoming event that Noel said should be huge for Providence is the Highway 41 Yard Sale. The 150 mile yard sale will run right through the city on US 41A. The event was created when tourism commissions and county governments from Henderson, Webster, Hopkins,  Christian and Todd Counties joined together.
“I had a gentleman from Florida call me last week,” Noel said. “He and his wife just happened upon the yard sale last year, and they plan on making the trip back from Florida this year. If they drive that far they will probably drive the whole 150 miles. There is a good chance they will probably spend money in Providence. That’s how tourism works.”
At last week’s meeting the commission spoke with John Garrett, the director of the Municipal Golf and Recreation Center. After some discussion it was agreed that the commission would sponsor two free swim days over the summer. The center will hold two free sessions on the second Saturdays of June and July. Due to pool capacity there will be a 50 person limit in each session for free swimmers. Spots will be first come, first served.
The commission is also looking for vendors who would like to set up at the annual 4th of July Celebration. These would include those who sell crafts or items such as Mary Kay or Tupperware, not yard sale items.
The commission currently has a list of other projects that it is looking to take on. They include:
•New welcome signs at the city limits.
•Repairs and renovation to the mini-park.
•Repairing tennis courts in the city park.
•A mural of a 1940’s coal mine by artist Dana Kolb schedule to be painted up-town.