The Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism Commission met for its first meeting of the year, welcoming new board member Jim Huffman.

From left, new tourism commissioner Jim Huffman learns about the commission while board members Jo McCullough, Nickey Patel and Frances Irving, executive director Lynn Dorsey and outgoing board member Kerry Easley listen in. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
From left, new tourism commissioner Jim Huffman learns about the commission while board members Jo McCullough, Nickey Patel and Frances Irving, executive director Lynn Dorsey and outgoing board member Kerry Easley listen in. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

Huffman, owner of Huffman House Bed and Breakfast, has been in the hotelier business for roughly 30 years and says he is excited to contribute to the tourism commission.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to become more involved in my community. As a 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, hopefully, I can bring some things to the table for us all to help us grow and develop our events.”

The commission also elected officers for the 2016 year. As Chairman Kerry Easley rolls off the board and out of the chairman’s seat, vice chairman Jerry Madden was tapped to take the chairman’s position.

Madden was out due to illness Tuesday, but board members agreed he would lead them well. Nickey Patel will serve as vice chairman, with Frances Irving serving as secretary and Ty Pendergrass will once again to serve as the commission’s treasurer.

In other business, Pendergrass gave the financial report, saying the commission finished its year ahead of budget in terms of revenue.

“We didn’t spend all of what was budgeted, which is prudent financially,” he said. “We had a good year last year. With the downturn in oil and gas, we’ll have to be mindful and keep a close eye on our revenue this year.”

The total budget for 2015 was $360,000, with actual revenue at $368,733.63. Figures show total expenses for the year were $282,374.66.

Executive Director Lynn Dorsey reported the commission has spent about $1 million in advertising funding to promote Webster Parish. In 2015, promotions went as far as New York in Times Square, all the way to National Geographic Traveler Magazine.

In new business, the board approved a request to Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardeners for the Trails and Trellises for an advertising grant in the amount of $1,000.

Some housekeeping issues were also dealt with such as bank signature authorities as the chairman and vice chairman have been changed. Also, Jamieson, Wise and Martin was chosen to handle the commission’s annual audit.

The commission discussed appointing chairmen for the tourism committees – personnel, advertising and grant – but it was tabled until the April meeting.

The next meeting is set for 8 a.m., Tuesday, April 26 in Springhill.