The Hope Tourism Commission met Thursday September 12th in the McLarty Room of the Hope Visitors Information Center.
The meeting began with a look at August Revenue and Expenditures. The Commission voted to accept the reports as presented.
Dolly Henley spoke to the Commission on behalf of the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council. She talked about some of the upcoming programs including the Glenn Miller Orchestra and a proposed program by the Four Tops. She noted the arts council series has risen from attracting around 5,000 patrons to about 8,000 in the most recent season. Henley asked for $10,500. This includes $8,000 for their advertising (which is half the cost), $1,000 as a sponsor, and $1,500 for in-county school programs. There was discussion among the Commission. The Commission had already budgeted $2,500 towards the arts council. The Commission voted to fund $8,000 to cover half of the series advertising.
Eddie Garcia made a presentation to the Commission. He explained he has published the “Amigo” Spanish newspaper and has done so for 18 years. Garcia’s presentation was on the presentation for the proposed Latino Heritage Museum. Garcia explained there are currently on 18 such museums in the US. He noted that many entities have promised to help fund the museum once it has a physical location. Porfirio Guiterrez also spoke to the Commission and noted the organization also hope’s to house other non-profits in their building. He noted the museum would also work with new Hispanic arrivals to the US and help them transition to society. Guiterrez also noted, in answer to a question from the Commission, that the organization has very little money. Chairman Sharon Caldwell thanked Garcia and Guiterrez for speaking to the Commission. No action was taken.
Beckie Moore of the Hope/Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce gave a report on the Watermelon Festival. She noted there were 19 concessions and that appeared to be a good number. She said the two stages were packed with entertainment and activities. Moore said the Shreveport Municipal Airport sponsored the music on the two stages (not the concert) and the Kids Zone. She said t-shirts are still selling. Moore said one of the best things they did in preparation was to spray for fire ants. Moore said the overall net excluding the concert was $49,000 to $51,000. She also noted the festival attracted over 500 volunteers. Moore specifically cited the contributions of Jerome Underwood and Pat Rhoads to the festival. She also cited the contributions of the Civic clubs and a number of other individuals and organizations to the festival. Moore said Diamond Rio was well-recieved. Overall she said it was a great festival.
City Manager Catherine Cook spoke about the Tourism tax permit application. She said ten of about fifty businesses have submitted their applications and cited how easy it turned out for the “Pineapple Tree” on South Main to complete their application. Cook said they have updated addresses for the restaurants and motels and will send reminders to those who haven’t come in. Cook said there are still several businesses not paying the tourism tax and probably the first entity prosecuted for non-payment will be a difficult situation;. however, Cook thinks the new process will be much better than the previous situation.
Vice-Mayor Don Still gave an update on the Atwoods property. He noted the lot adjacent to the Kopecky property is valued at $43,000. He also noted the Clinton Birthplace will help with a flag pole on the small part of the property the city keeps. The Vice-Mayor also gave details on the proposed parking area and bus turn-around for the Atwoods property. The Vice-Mayor says if the city buys the Atwoods property and donates it to the National Park Service, the Park Service will develop the site.
Mayor Steve Montgomery gave an update on the status concerning the statues planned for the Hub Pavilion property.
Paul Henley talked about the location of giant Christmas balls planned for downtown. Sharon Caldwell said she hopes to see them on a prominent corner downtown for a photo of area.
Paul Henley asked about possibly getting a sign for Pavilion Park downtown. Catherine Cook talked about a three-dimensional sign that she’s seen that Arkansas State University has. She is seeking information on how much the sign cost and also finding out if welding students at UAHT can create the sign. Cook said they need to know cost before going further.
Paul Henley gave an update on the new playground equipment. He said it has been ordered. He also noted the iconic elephant at Fair Park has been taken up and will be refurbished. In answer to a question about the old equipment, Henley noted it could be reused or even sold.
Randall Ross spoke to the Commission about the proposed chicken houses planned for 16th Street and their proximity to Fair Park. He gave a rundown of the facilities at the park and noted all these facilities attract people. Ross is concerned about the possible smell generated by the houses. Ross said the houses are a 35 year commitment and it will have ramifications possibly affecting the park.
Jim Hunter told the Commission work is continuing to enter into an agreement with the city to use the Paul Klipsch City Hall auditorium. Hunter also noted the Klipsch Museum is attempting to secure the Talbot Field house on Division and asked for help. Commission members voiced concerns about being able to fund facilities for museums.
Mark Ross thanked the Commission for helping with the roof of the Lions Den at Fair Park. He also gave an update on some benches planned. The meeting then adjourned.