By Stephen Smoot
The Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau met last week to discuss a range of issues, each of which will help to expand the impact of its efforts.
The board first heard reports from the grants, then the marketing committees.
Annie Humes and Lindsey Kazarick both spoke on behalf of the grant committee. Humes opened by discussing the board’s conversation concerning Appalachian Forest Natural Heritage Area grant opportunities. With the deadline looking at the end of July, the committee encouraged urgency.
Humes suggested that “we concluded it would be best to write a grant to plan.” A planning grant seeks funds that will help an organization to lay the foundation on which a project can be built. Funds can help with research, organization, technology, and infrastructure, as well as outlining future projects that might use the planning grant product as a base. Planning grants help to organize and focus activities of the intended project.
A CVB planning grant, Humes added, would help to determine the scope of work and skill building, as well as “to be well-informed and strategically implement plans.”
Kazarick agreed, explaining that “this is very common to do with a grant project. We (Future Generations University) do this a lot for work out in the field.” She added that “we are going about this project with more intention and not just go out willy-nilly.”
The planning grant will also help the team to vet various ideas that the CVB has developed to see what will serve as the best use of resources, starting with a goal “to learn and listen” to other individuals and groups.
Amber Nesselrodt, executive director of the CVB, suggested that “we could leave it to the discretion of the grants committee to pursue more information.” Subsequent discussion focused on possible training options that could be funded by the grant, including for part time professional interpreters.
Kazarick explained that FGU will be certified to work with interpretive guides next spring, whether they are seasonal, part time, new hires, or volunteers.
Next the board heard from members of the marketing committee and reviewed the draft of the Adventure Guide. Brian Williams, board member, exclaimed, “This is the best promotional material I have ever seen for Pendleton County.”
Discussion then moved to businesses and other entities that are and are not represented in the guide. Nesselrodt echoed a suggestion from Mike Alt, chief of the Upper Tract Volunteer Fire Department, that local hospitals and other medical establishments be included.
Williams then asked, “Does this talk at all about lack of cell phone service?” Nesselrodt responded that in most areas lacking service, one could still make an emergency call, but suggested identifying places that have service available to the public with a Wi-Fi icon.
Janice Lantz, outgoing board president, implored the group to “promote the uniqueness of Pendleton County. There’s a lot of little details that are important,” and added that “we need to be as thorough as we can.” She gave examples, such as adding more information related to fishing on the North Fork. Lantz also said, “Falls of Seneca is a unique place and it’s on the State Waterfall Trail.”
Finally, as required by law, the board held its annual meeting component of the day. Nesselrodt explained that “every year, for the CVB to be accredited, we need an annual meeting to review the code of conduct and board responsibilities.”
After Nesselrodt reviewed the required materials, the board discussed the slate of officers that will govern the board over the next year. Kazarick will replace the outgoing Lantz as board chair. Sam Wood will serve as vice chair. Humes stated that she would accept a combined secretary and treasurer position.