By Adam Pack
Members of the Greenbrier Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) were on hand to present their annual report to the County Commission Tuesday, Sept. 27. President and CEO of the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau Kara Dense, as well CVB board member Tammy Tincher (who is also a Commissioner), Lewisburg Mayor Beverly White, CVB Vice President Mike Dotson, and CVB Officer Manager Delilah Dixon were all on hand.
Dense began by speaking about their close involvement with the West Virginia State Legislature in 2021 in getting legislation for West Virginia tourism passed. She provided some details on Senate Bill 488, explaining, “We worked very closely with legislators to get this passed. There’s been an issue with [there being] so many different CVBs and waste throughout the state; there are roughly 75 CVBs registered with the state superintendent’s office, which in a state of 55 counties seems incorrect.” The bill would increase the oversight of CVBs by their funders, as well as the appropriate legislative bodies, and will require accreditation. Dense was proud to note that Greenbrier County has been accredited since 2006.
She also noted the CVB’s excitement about the beginning of Contour Air Service on Nov. 1, and stated that the CVB is setting aside funds to help advertise for the new air service. Dense also noted that through their partnership with a company called Epsilon, the CVB has been able to gather some very detailed information. After an investment by the CVB to the amount of $50,000, Epsilon generates online ads for the Greenbrier Valley. “They are able to track the people that see these ads, that click on these ads. They’re able to end up tracking their credit card information. They don’t know them personally, but they’re able to track that information and they can tell if they’ve actually visited the area and how much money they’ve spent here.”
Dense said this feature is “really cool, because CVBs have never really had that ability before, to be able to track, because we don’t particularly have a cash register, like a hotel, who can keep track of their reservations and all those types of things.” While information is not yet available for 2022, Dense reported that after the initial $50,000 investment in the spring of 2021, Epsilon was able to inform the CVB that roughly 945,000 people saw ads for the area, 2,700 came here to visit, and that about $878,000 was spent here in the area.
Dense summarized by saying that the CVB has a three-pronged focus for 2023: market and brand development, workforce issues in the hospitality industry, and advocacy for the tourism industry in West Virginia. Dense also noted that brand refreshing will be taking place immediately. “We’ll be putting a fresh new look and doing some work to the visitor’s center in order to get people to come in and ultimately to get the cash registers around the county ringing.”
In other news, the county also signed a proclamation declaring the week of Oct. 2 as Greenbrier County 4-H week. This is in conjunction with National 4-H Week. 4-H week will kick off with an outdoor movie and food at the State Fairgrounds on Oct. 1. The public is encouraged to attend.
Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan was on hand to report on the status of the sheriff’s department’s newest candidate for hire, Caleb Helmick. Helmick is not a certified police officer, and his hiring will be pending successful graduation from the state police academy.
Greenbrier County Clerk Robin Loudermilk presented the commission with the list of poll workers given to her by both parties. “I’m not really sure what’s going on in the political atmosphere, but I’m here to assure that it’s not happening during my time as chief election officer,” she said. “I want to assure that Greenbrier County has a fair and honest election for both sides, no matter what.”
She then asked that the list provided by the parties be approved, but that she also be given authority to make necessary changes to avoid any issues on election day. Loudermilk noted that this was partly due to the necessity of needing “a majority of people working in any precinct be experienced. I can’t have a majority of new poll workers in the precincts. I need at least two or three (a piece) who are experienced. If all five are new, that’s just going to be a disaster that day because there’s no way to train five new people to run a precinct.” Loudermilk requested authority to make changes to the list as necessary for the above listed reasons so that “the county can continue to have the stellar elections we always have.”