Greenbrier County Commission delays approving request for tourism dollars to see county through 2017

200px-Map_of_West_Virginia_highlighting_Greenbrier_County.svgTuesday’s Greenbrier County Commission meeting room was filled to capacity with supporters for a crisis marketing response strategy presented by Greenbrier County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Kara Dense. Revenue lost from the cancellation of The Greenbrier Classic and thousands of hotel room cancellations has put the employers and employees all over the county in a tough spot. Many county residents rely on jobs created by the tourism industry, and a strong marketing campaign would help save those jobs, Dense said.
For the second time in two weeks, Dense requested the commission approve a transfer of $450,000 from the county’s hotel occupancy tax fund in a joint effort to bolster the critical tourism industry and get visitors to return to Greenbrier County.
The impact of the flood damage to Greenbrier County cannot be understated, said Dense. “It is imperative to offset the negative images of devastation with a promotion of a healthy, active, safe community that visitors will want to experience.”
Gasps of disapproval could be heard all over the room when Greenbrier County Commission delayed a vote to approve Dense’s request and instead opted to “consider” the funding request at a special commission session, which was later set for Friday, July 29, at 10 a.m. McClung said the reason the commission could not consider the request, was because the item had not been listed as an action item on the meeting agenda.
The disappointment and frustration in the room was obvious. “It’s been a month now since the devastating floods hit Greenbrier County,” Dense said. “Our citizens have lost loved ones, homes and possessions, businesses … and some even their jobs.”
“Lucky for you,” replied McClung, “We’ve squirreled away ($2.7 million), so your ‘partner’ will loan you some money.”
Dense was left to reconvene with the CVB board members to await the Friday special session.
In other business:
Homeland Security and 911 Emergency Center Executive Director Al Whitaker gave an update at the meeting:
• Curbside pick-up of debris will continue through Aug. 11.
• Sixty percent of the clean up effort has been completed on the eastern side of the county. Only 40-45 percent on the western end is done so far.
• Demolition and debris removal through federal assistance can be set up for those who need to schedule for removal service. He asks people to call the 911 Center for more information.
• All misplaced people now have moved out of the shelters.
• Starting on Monday, August 1, the 911 Center will return to regular hours
• FEMA will be making assessments throughout the county to determine those homes and businesses that have been substantially damaged.

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