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Tourism to court IDA, again

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By Bryan Marshall

The third time may be a charm for the Grant County Tourist and Convention Commission and the Industrial Development Authority.

The two group’s will meet April 26 to discuss the possibility of the IDA handling administrative duties for the tourism commission — a move that will save the commission $10,000 annually.

The meeting comes after what appeared to be an agreement during the commission’s February meeting, followed by an at-times hostile meeting March 9 that led the IDA to pull the proposal.

Wade Gutman, IDA director, took the proposal off the table because the vote was not unanimous.

“We’ve always been willing to cooperate,” said Gutman. “We’re unanimous on our side. We just want to have it the same way on the other side. Otherwise, it won’t work.”

The sole dissenting vote came from commission secretary Vanessa Rose.

Rose said the motion that she voted for during the February meeting differed from the one at the March meeting because the original motion stated the commission would be contracting with the Chamber of Commerce, not the IDA, and the position would be as a part-time administrator instead of a full-time director.

The commission voted in February to dissolve the position of director, relieving Judy Mullins of her duties.
During an April 13 meeting to discuss its future, the commission agreed to reinstate the position and open up talks again with the IDA to fill the position.

“What our whole discussion was before was about administrative services, which to me is a big difference than hiring a director,” said Rose.

“Are we hiring somebody to get us through the next year and get us through this basic administrative duties or are we hiring a director part-time after we just let one go?”

Members talked about the issue for about an hour with much of the discussion centered around the title of the person who would perform duties on behalf of the commission in a proposed agreement with the IDA.

In the end, the members, including Rose, agreed that they would not have a problem partnering with the IDA on a part-time basis.

“I just want it resolved,” said Cindy Reynolds, commission treasurer. “If they’re still willing to do it, we need to sign it and get it done.”

Member Ed Clemons agreed.

“If everybody’s in agreement, then we need to see if they are still willing to work with us,” he said. “Tell them that we’re willing to kiss and make up.”

Randy Slayback, who initiated the idea of an IDA partnership, was concerned about personal differences between Rose and Gutman causing issues.

“I think it would be ideal if we could do that,” he said about the agreement. “I just see problems coming up down the road.”

Vice chair Dennis Kenner said the members need to do what is best for the commission and the county.

“When you’re on this board, you’ve got to check your personal differences at the door,” he said.

Rose said she would be able to work with Gutman and Tracie Kinman Rothwell, who would serve as the part-time director if a contract is approved.

The initial proposal stated that the tourism commission would pay the IDA $1,700 per month to assume all administrative duties.

The fee would include Rothwell serving as director for the commission, monthly rent at the chamber of commerce/IDA office, use of all IDA equipment and space, operation of the commission separate from the chamber and IDA and a monthly report from the director to the commission.

Rothwell had already been performing accounting duties for the commission.

The agreement would be in effect for one year at which both parties would review the contract for renewal.
Gutman said the only change to the proposal would be the inclusion of an opt-out clause for both sides if there were any problems.

However, a six-month notification would have to be given.

“We’re going to meet with them and revisit everything,” Gutman said. “They gave us some assurances that we wouldn’t have any problems. It’s still on the table if they all are in agreement to it.”