Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tourism looks ahead to 2015

J-E Editor
Tourism is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Webster County, Kentucky. The Providence Tourism Commission has spent the last several years striving to change that mentality, but despite several successful events, a general misunderstanding of the organization’s purpose and abilities still persists.

The Tourism Commission is not a bank for the city of Providence. Although it is funded by the city’s “tourism tax”, a $0.03 tax on food that is prepared and sold within the city limits which generates $20,000-$25,000 quarterly, or close to $100,000 per year, the law requires those tax dollars to go to the commission. The commission board, not the city council, mayor or city clerk, has the final say over how those funds are spent. But that spending is closely monitored by the state, and limited by Kentucky law.
Tourism dollars can only be spent for two purposes:
•City beautification projects
•Programs or projects that will generate tourism for the city

Even if there is a road that needs to be paved, a waterline that needs to be repaired or a group wanting to have a fund raiser for a family whose house burned down, the Tourism Commission cannot legal provide money for any of those things regardless of how important or worthwhile it may be, unless the event or project is tourism related.
In the past the commission has provided funding for Octoberfest, the Uptown Park, Veterans Plaza and light pole banners for Christmas, spring (etc.). In addition, the commission makes an annual payment of $5,000 for Providence Municipal Golf & Recreation Center.
The commission also picks up half the cost of the fireworks display on July 4, and all of the entertainment for that celebration.
In 2014 the commission funded Dana Kolb’s coal miner mural ‘up town’, purchased an electronic sign for the city building for advertising purposes, funded advertising and entertainment for the annual Memorial Day Rosenwald Celebration, two free swim days at the Municipal Golf and Recreation Center and put on the Uptown Fall Festival among other things.
The commission also sponsored the first Providence Literary Festival, paying to have New York Times Best Selling Author Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead novels appear.
In the coming year the commission looks to keep up many of their annual traditions, as well as landscaping and restructuring the minipark, purchasing an awning and lights for the uptown Coal Miner mural, holding a Free Kids Day in May and sponsoring a ‘local restaurant appreciation day’.
Tourism Commission members are appointed by Mayor Eddie Gooch. Currently those members are: Ben Leonard, Carol Hill, Jennifer Gobin, Mary Powell, Kristi Higdon and Nancy Palmer.

 at 270-667-2068 or

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