The Hope Tourism Commission met Thursday March 14th in the McLarty Room of the Hope Visitors Information Center. The meeting opened with a look at finances. The commission noted the 2% tax on prepared food and lodging showed receipts of $46,961.87 in January and $41,036.12 in February. Both of these figures were up considerably from 2018 when receipts were approximately $41,000 and $37,000 respectively. The Commission discussed what to do with local businesses who are not up to date on their taxes. Spectacular Gary Chambless suggested the Commission publish the names of those who are behind in the newspaper. It was decided by acclimation to send warning letters to those who are behind and possibly release names to the media in the future.
The subject of food trucks came up. There was discussion on how to collect the hospitality tax from these trucks. The Commission also discussed bringing the matter up at City Board.
The Commission discussed the updated Bill Clinton sign for the depot area downtown. The new 5 foot by 8 foot sign will cost about$4,000 and will feature a photo of the President as opposed to the current artist’s rendering.
Vice-Mayor Don Still gave a report on the Kopecky/Foster house. He noted Glen Spears is helping them on the matter.
Police Chief and Assistant City Manager J.R. Wilson gave an update on the status of the downtown Pavilion. He noted there is still some concrete to be poured. Chief Wilson said the pavilion will be called “The Hub” and the property will be “Pavilion Park”. Chief Wilson described the signage to come and the use of old brick from the Graves Building.
Paul Henley reported 42 teams were expected for the Debra McMaster softball tournament. The Commission voted to be a $500 sponsor for the tournament.
Keith Sullivan of the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department gave a report on the upcoming “Mud National” event set for March 27th through 31st at the Hillarosa ATV Park north of Blevins. 8,000 to 15,000 people are expected. The sponsor, High Lifter, has agreed to pay for extra security inside the event area. Sullivan said High Lifter has declined to pay for an Incident Coordinator to be on the grounds for 109 hours. Also, a minimum of 12 extra hours patrol for 2 deputies is needed Wednesday through Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday. Sullivan noted in a written report that the need for the extra deputies and incident coordinator is expected to be about$5,200. JP Jame Griffin of District 1 asked that the Tourism Commission fund $2,000 of that amount. Griffin said this will stress the county budget. It was noted the owners will post signs prohibiting firearms. Griffin says there’s no way to force the owners to pay for security outside of the event. The Commission voted to fund $2,500 the outside security.
The Tourism Commission looked at funding fourteen hotel rooms and one meal for a “Fam Tour” in April. The tour features workers from Tourist Information Centers from around the state. Jim Hunter noted that day the Klipsch Museum at the airport will hold a ribbon-cutting that day (April 25th) and suggested the fam tour participants might want to come. The Commission voted to provide the rooms and meal for the Fam Tour participants.
The Commission looked at buying some new Christmas decorations. Some new lighted elves have been ordered and the Commission looked at ordering some 42 inch Christmas Balls but took no action on them.
Paul Henley showed some Hope, Arkansas license plates that he wants to buy. He said 300 of the plates would be about $700. He said what he wants is to offer them free at a public event such as at Train Day. He also said they would put them on the cars. The Commission agreed to purchase the license plates.
Paul Henley suggested the Commission publish a dining and lodging guide to be distributed to local entities. Henley said all the local restaurants and motels that collect the tax would be featured free of charge. The size of the ads would be in relation to the amount of the tax collected. The details were discussed and agreed upon.
Paul Henley gave an update on the Texas Eagle Marketing and Promotional Organization. Henley noted the former President of AMTRAK, Joseph Boardman has died. Boardman was instrumental in getting the Hope AMTRAK stop. Henley noted the new AMTRAK President is Richard Anderson and he is not supportive of the long-distance AMTRAK trains such as the Texas Eagle that serves Hope.
Commission member Dr. Trevor Coffee noted the Beautifcation Commission and the Chamber Leadership group intend to install a $2,500 sign offering a welcome to downtown Hope. Greg Wolf has designed the sign. The Commission approved the outlay.
John Akin asked about some six-year lights and Henley noted they had purchased $550 worth.
The Commission discussed trying to obtain a sign on US 278 for the Diamond Mine exit in Hope. The meeting then adjourned.