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Webster tourism board to meet Tuesday

by Minden Press-Herald

The Webster Parish Tourism Commission will meet for its last meeting of the year and will be recognizing commission members coming off the board.

Kerry Easley, serving as board chairman for the last five of the seven years of his terms, will be handing over the reins to a fresh face Tuesday morning.

“I’ve been chairman since 2010,” he said. “I’ve done two full terms, and I’m not rolling off for any particular reason other than it’s time to let somebody else have it. I’ve done it for a long time, and we got it straightened out and we’ve had great success. It’s just time.”

Easley feels like some of the biggest accomplishments for the commission during his terms includes changing the application process for nonprofits applying for advertising grants to a line item. Another accomplishment is the film trail and the signage that goes with it.

The board also put together a retirement plan for the employees of the convention and visitors bureau.

“The important thing about that is when Lynn (Dorsey) decides to retire, not only will she have retirement, but anybody that we’re interviewing to try to fill that position, that’s going to help us get a higher quality person in there because we have a retirement plan,” he said.

One of the biggest accomplishments, he believes, is providing the grant to help The Farm construct restrooms on the property. Easley says they were also very influential in getting the visitors center at the Germantown Colony Museum constructed.

Revenue has increased over the years, he says, which meant more money could be given to the various events and festivals in Webster Parish. To date, the tourism commission has approved roughly $750,000 for festivals and events, he said.

He says he also just wants to spend more time with his 15-year-old triplets. They asked him to scale back on his activities, he said.

“I’m not pulling out of Minden, I’m not pulling out of the community; in fact, I’m probably going to be more involved,” he said. “My kids have requested more time from me. And they’re going to graduate in three years, then I’ll have plenty of time to do all this stuff.”

Tourism director Lynn Dorsey says she and Easley have had a great working relationship and is sad to see him rolling off the board.

“In January, we’re going to have to pick a new chairman, and I’ve gotten used to having someone I can depend on,” she said. “He’s been there a long time. We’re going to miss his leadership.”

Another board member stepping down is Jay Kumar.

Proposed replacements for Easley and Kumar will be submitted to the Webster Parish Police Jury in December for approval, and the new members will be sworn in at the January meeting.

Other business will be the approval of the proposed 2016 budget. Dorsey says revenue is up again this year, thanks to the hotel/motel tax revenue brought in by Muddy Bottoms ATV and Recreation Park in Sarepta.

They will also discuss amendments to the budget in order to finalize the 2015 budget, she said, in preparation for their annual audit. Next year, they will continue to focus on promoting Webster Parish, she said.

“We’re just focusing on bringing people in for events, and we’ve got things that they can do year round,” she said.

She says promotion of Webster Parish has skyrocketed with the increased number of magazine articles and advertisements they’ve done this year.

“I’ve got Iris Harper, of Harper Creative Services, doing our social media for us on a monthly basis,” she said. “And I’m hoping that we can put her in the budget for next year. It’s been a tremendous help to me for her to do all that. I’m just thrilled to have some help.”

Other items on the agenda include:
– approval of the financial report
– amendment of the 2015 budget
– grant report,
– approval of grant requests
– director’s annual review
– presentations to outgoing members

The tourism commission will meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, located at 110 Sibley Road in Minden.

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