The TDA discussed its new opening for a director at its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. The previous director, Dave Smith, resigned, and the board hopes to fill the position within the next few weeks.
Rufus Getzen presented details of the upcoming Carolinas Writers Conference to the board, filling them in on the various workshops and storytelling sessions that will be offered. The conference, which is presented by the Anson County Writers’ Club, the Union County Writers’ Club, and South Piedmont Community College, will include various presenters: Robert Dunn, a biologist and author; Marjorie Hudson, a published author; Robert Macomber, an award-winning writer; Angela Knight, a New York Times bestselling author; and Lt. Michael Woodcock, Knight’s husband and a 24-year veteran police officer and hostage negotiator.
Other presenters will include storytellers Michael Reno Harrell, Martha Reed Johnson, Tyris Jones, Randy Rayfield. With these workshops and sessions to offer, Getzen said the conference will have a good schedule but that the small admission fees — adults, $5; students $2; and children 10 and under, free — will not be enough to cover their approximate $1,200 expenses. The TDA responded to Getzen’s request for funding with $700 for the conference.
TDA chairman Jessica Anderson apprised the board of her experience at the Governor’s Conference and felt that the trip was beneficial. Anderson learned about state advertising, occupancy rates, the demand for rooms, and state and national park attendance, learning about state tourism and interacting with other TDAs.
Vice chairman Jeff Boothby provided the financial report. There has been a positive change from this time last year to this year. Although there was a 7 percent decline from December to January, it was a much lower amount than the 21 percent decrease last year. “We’re making a big improvement on our downturns of the seasons,” Boothby said.
Although the general increase has slowed, it is still over the state average. Additionally, the TDA has collected $21,000 in yearly collections, earning $365,000 in total revenues from lodging facilities. There is approximately $16,000 left in the budget. Although the board has spent a lot on advertising, Boothby said that with the over 1 million people accessed through it, tourism will hopefully increase.
Anderson updated the board on the blueway project. One boat launch site has been determined so far and will be located where Plank Road crosses the Rocky River. The Department of Wildlife and Resource Commission looked at the site and found it ideal, according to Anderson.
Anderson is also working on the membership plan. There is no set number of people who have to be on the board, but two-thirds must be in the tourism-related industry and one-third must be in occupancy tax establishments. Anderson will send a letter out to many in the community to see if they will be involved.
Boothby created a list of different TDA boards with admirable websites. He suggested that the Anson TDA members compare the websites on the list with their website and come up with suggestions to update the Anson TDA website.
The board plans to hire a new director within the next few weeks to replace Dave Smith following his resignation. Anderson and Boothby will review the applications and narrow it down to a short list of applicants the TDA members can interview; the short list will be provided to the board at the next board meeting in April. At least one application had been received by the time of the board meeting and the board hopes to receive several others.
The board went into closed session to discuss personnel before adjourning. The next meeting will be on April 10 at noon at the Ladybug Family Restaurant in Wadesboro.