By Stephen Smoot
With longer and warmer days on the horizon, the Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau met to prepare for its first tourist season as an independent organization.
Initially, Amber Nesselrodt, executive director of the Pendleton County CVB, raised the discussion of changing the bylaws. Currently, they set the number of board members at seven. Tasks and duties have expanded beyond the current board’s capacity, leading to the proposal of its expansion.
Board members first proposed that the number simply be raised, but it was later decided to set a minimum and maximum number of permanent members to ensure flexibility. Bylaws require that changes be read through two meetings before officially passing. New members will not be able to participate until May’s meeting at the earliest.
The board invited Jennifer Taylor-Ide to provide an update on the reinvigoration of the Treasure Mountain Festival. She shared copies of the half-century-old articles of incorporation for the Treasure Mountain Festival and read from the list of potential tasks of their board.
She then said “It is big. This blew my mind. That’s a very big scope.”
Many of the tasks listed by Taylor-Ide involved promotion, marketing, and coordination of different entities. She stated that “this is primarily what you guys do,” then added that it was likely because no CVB existed in 1973. Board members explained that the purview included promoting tourism 50 miles and further from Pendleton County. They shared that they could help with marketing, but not coordinating businesses.
Additionally, she shared ideas on how to expand the Franklin based festival farther out into the county to get other areas involved. She also referred to desires among many who have attended for years to bring some of the old attractions back.
Taylor-Ide added that the TMF meeting also discussed changing its non-profit status, as well as the pros and cons of switching to 501 © 3. The main advantage, she said, is that “we can accept tax deductible donations.”
Nesselrodt then introduced the board to some of the design features in the Pendleton County Visitors Guide. She explained that “they will create the visitors’ guide at the direction of the CVB board.” The guide will illustrate activities and attractions in the county while also featuring advertisements. Nesselrodt said that the CVB will print and distribute 5,000 guides to areas where it will produce the most benefit.
Next, discussion turned to promotion of the “On the Rocks Craft Beverage Trail.” Currently the trail runs from near Harman in Randolph County, through Pendleton, and into Highland County, Virginia. Pendleton County is home to two of the four producers.
Nesselrodt shared that she wanted to erect a metal map of the trail, created by marketing partner New South Media, at the CVB office. Board member Janice Lantz inquired, “can we put signs up at Seneca?” The board agreed with the idea, but questioned where they could be placed.
The Pendleton County Economic Development Authority had previously published a brochure that included a QR code linking to a website. The website explains the participating distilleries in more detail. Originally, the EDA paid for two-thirds of the brochure while participating businesses covered the rest.
Additionally, the board came to an important decision regarding internal policy. During a discussion in which the board agreed to sponsor the non profit “Gravel Ride Up Spruce Knob,” (or GRUSK) board member Jeff Munn suggested that the group craft a policy to only sponsor non profits working for the good of the county.
He explained that problems could arise should the CVB sponsor one for profit enterprise entity or event, but not choose to pay to sponsor another. Lantz added that the board needed to assemble a policy book for long-term guidance.
Nesselrodt agreed, saying “let’s start one and make that the first policy.”
Munn then stated that the board could recognize a difference between other activities and sponsorship, saying “we can promote, advertise, and attend without sponsoring.”
The board agreed to sponsor GRUSK, especially since the event “supports local emergency service providers.”
As tourist season arrives, Nesselrodt told board members to expect changes to the outside of the CVB office. There will be a permanent rack with information cards, metal maps of attractions, and a QR code on the door that links visitor phones to the CVB website and attractions.
She added that the local department of highways will erect official blue signs to identify the CVB office to motorists.
Finally, Nesselrodt shared that Pendleton County is a finalist for which county will provide the official United States Capitol Christmas Tree. Regardless of where the tree is cut, a special truck will make stops in Pendleton County as it makes its way to Washington, DC.