Commissioners of the Webster Parish Tourism and Visitors Commission were greeted by a slew of periodicals and video productions on Tuesday during their last scheduled meeting of the year.
Tourism Director Lynn Dorsey had a spread of magazine, newspaper articles and video pieces highlighting Webster Parish from media outlets far and wide waiting for the commissioners to peruse during the meeting.
"I think Webster Parish is definitely on the map, and people know who we are," Dorsey said, referencing the media display. "We have come a long ways from eight years ago when I started and people asked 'why would anyone want to come to Webster Parish?'"
On display were magazine and newspaper articles written in 2012 from local, regional, state and nationwide outlets. Dorsey also showed several video presentations commissioned by the tourism board to highlight the recreation, heritage, history and events offered by the parish.
"We have received positive publicity from so many different sources," Dorsey said. "Right now we are promoting the Springhill Christmas Parade, Christmas in Sarepta and more. It's all out there, and I think people are really taking a look at our area."
One of the videos Dorsey showed was a short feature on the Bluegrass Festival, which is held annually at the Germantown Colony north of Minden. She said the Louisiana Office of Tourism is making requests for more and more video, which can be displayed via television and streaming over the Internet.
Dorsey said now that these videos are being produced, they can also be used on the commission's own Web site to assist marketing efforts. Another video was recently produced, this one detailing the Fasching celebration held earlier in November.
"It's just been a great year and 2013 is going to be great as well," she said.
In other business, the commission approved its quarterly meeting dates for the upcoming year, approved its 2013 budget, decided to renew its cooperative endeavor agreement with the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce (the commission pays the chamber to house its offices) and also reviewed the commission's grant program.
Since its inception in 2003, the tourism commission has given out some $682,186 in grant monies to assist parish tourism efforts.
Some of the groups and organizations that have utilized the grant money most effectively include (all more than $15,000):
$115,000 to the Dorcheat Historical Association & Museum
$94,000 to the Springhill Lumberjack Festival
$80,000 to Cultural Crossroads of Minden
$53,900 to the Springhill Rodeo
$39,175 to the Scottish Tartan Festival
$28,257 to the Germantown Commission
$22,936 to the Krewe of Artemis
$20,750 to the Krewe des Ambassadeurs
$20,000 to the Minden Germantown Fasching Festival
$20,000 to Wiley Pevy Post #74
$18,500 to the Minden Community Chorus
$16,785 to the Heflin Sawmill Festival
Many other organizations have also been given grant monies since 2003. Commission Chairman Kerry Easley made note of how successful the grant program has become and encouraged organizations to apply.
"Our job is to put money on the streets and not hold on to it," he said.
There was one note of concern on the grant program, that being groups who were late in turning in their follow-up paperwork.
Special mention was made of four groups: the Springhill Rodeo, Minden Main Street, Scottish Tartan Festival and Brother's Keeper.
All four were either late with their follow-up reports or have not as of yet turned in the mandatory paperwork.
The commission has a stipulated 60-day time limit from the event date for organizations to turn in their final report. Included in the report are receipts, an evaluation, how the money was spent, ways to improve the event the following year, etc.
"We want to give these folks the funds to help promote their festivals and events, but we have to be within our rules and regulations," Easley said. "They have to operate within our guidelines if they want to continue to receive funding."