LOCK HAVEN - The Clinton County commissioners applied some $28,000 Thursday to local events and activities designed to generate tourism in this region.
The list of requests and grants was an eclectic mix, whittled down by a committee consisting of Clinton County Economic Partnership President CEO and President Mike Flanagan, Clinton County Planning Director Tim Holladay and Commissioner Joel Long.
Long said the committee received $51,380 in requests for many worthy endeavors, but had to make some hard decisions to bring the donations in line with available funds.
The vote to approve the committee's recommendations was unanimous, with commissioners Pete Smeltz and Jeff Snyder joining Long in the vote.
As in the past, the large majority of grants went to annual activities designed to make Clinton County a weekend or holiday destination for visitors.
While the grants were approved by the county board, the money actually comes from an account run by the Clinton County Economic Partnership (the Tourist Promotion Agency's umbrella organization), by way of the hotel tax.
Although that money is allocated by the commissioners - separate from the hotel tax revenue - it's carried on the Partnership's books to bolster the agency's efforts to obtain matching funds from the state.
Clinton County's 3-percent tax on hotel, motel, and bed-and-breakfast rooms has been very kind to the local Tourist Promotion Agency's ledgers, especially in recent years where hotels and motels have seen a surge in business as a result of the spike in Marcellus shale natural gas exploration and drilling industry activity.
That surge appears to have stabilized, at least for a time, due to lower natural gas prices. The county government's grant program sees only a portion of the revenue, which generates about $350,000 a year.
Locally, a great deal of the money goes toward staff costs, tourism promotion brochures and pamphlets, and the TPA's portion of financial support for the Partnership headquarters and administration.
Long noted the continuing effort builds on the board's efforts to provide "seed" money" to various agencies until they can stand on their own, by including donations toward infrastructure costs that might not otherwise be covered, and encouraging events where no charge is made to visitors.
The list of grant recipients:
- City of Lock Haven, free concerts at Triangle Park and J. Doyle Corman Amphitheatre in the city, $3,500
- Central Pennsylvania Street Machines, car show, $1,000
- Clinton County Fair Association, Christmas in the Barns, $2,000.
- Fair association, Farm-City Family Festival, $2,000.
- Millbrook Playhouse, Tourism bus tours, advertising and brochure, $1,500.
- Downtown Lock Haven, Main Street Program, $5,000.
- Western Sportsman's Association, Hyner Challenge, costs of additional tables and chairs for participants, $1,500.
- Lock Haven Jaycees, Labor Day Regatta and June boat races, $2,500.
- Sentimental Journey Fly-In, $1,000
- Flaming Foliage Festival, program and promotion, $4,000.
- Lock Haven YMCA, Strong Man Competition, $1,415.