Commissioner polls visitors to squash rumors

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By The Staff

Tourism Commissioner Kenny Marrett said he wants the commission to get a bang for its buck and is concerned that too much money is being spent to promote packaged getaways to Lebanon, such as a Valentine's Day getaway that was promoted earlier this year. Marrett asked Hamilton to give him specific information regarding how much was spent to promote travel packages, such as the Valentine's special, and how much those travel packages generated. Hamilton agreed to compile that information.

Marrett also said that he called the visitors who purchased the Valentine's Day packages because he heard that some of them were dissatisfied. Hamilton said he was very uncomfortable with Marrett doing that. "I highly recommend not polling our visitors," Hamilton said. "That's my job." Marrett said he had heard rumors that visitors were dissatisfied and that, after talking with the visitors, he found out that the rumors were not true. "What I did was squash a rumor..." Marrett said. "I'm serving two roles here. I get complaints from the general public. I have to follow-up to see if that stuff is true." In addition to serving as a tourism commissioner, Marrett is also a Lebanon City Councilman. Tourism commissioner David Winebrenner, Jr., asked Marrett why he didn't just call Hamilton and ask about the rumors. According to Marrett, some of the rumored complaints were about the tourism office, Hamilton specifically, which is why he couldn't contact Hamilton directly. Tourism Commissioner Jim Richardson said that the tourism commission has public meetings and if people have complaints, they should attend a meeting and discuss their complaints. By polling the visitors, Richardson said Marrett crossed the lines of being a director and being a part of management. "Our charge is to make sure our office is managed properly," Richardson said. "We do that by hiring good management... We set the framework and let the manager run the show." In addition to discussing the packaged tourism getaways, Marrett also mentioned that he would like the commission to look into possibly developing smaller attractions. The commission plans to set up another planning meeting to discuss those potential attractions. At the end of the meeting, Marrett also discussed his desire for the commission to support the local Dickens Christmas festival and made a motion to include it in advertisements for the Heart of Kentucky Holiday Festival. Marrett's motion was seconded by Tourism Commissioner Tom Lund. Tourism Commissioners Carlotta Brussell, Nancy Higdon, Dan Lawson, Richardson and Winebrenner voted no. The motion failed.   Quilt show to be a new addition to bluegrass festival Bluegrass music is a tradition that continues to thrive in Kentucky, as does quilting, and both will be featured during the 2011 Kentucky Bluegrass Music Kickoff, which will be held in Lebanon in January. The Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission approved a $950 grant request from the Marion County Extension Homemakers Association during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday of last week. The homemakers are planning on working in conjunction with the Kentucky Bluegrass Music Kickoff and having a quilt show during the event. The show will offer two divisions, an open category (18 years old or older) and a junior category (younger than 18). First, second and third place awards will be given in each category and a "best in show" award will also be given. According to Elizabeth Creed, the Marion County Extension Agent for the homemakers association, and Martha Potter, a member of the association, the quilt show will attract visitors from as far away as Ohio, especially since there will be prize money awarded. During the KBMK event, all of the quilts will be on display. In conjunction with the quilt show, there will also be a "Creative Barn Quilt" contest for the county's fourth and fifth graders. Art teachers will promote the contest as a project in class and first, second and third place winners will also be awarded. The artwork will also be on display during the KBMK event. "Heritage demonstrations" will also be included during the event, such as basket making, quilting, wool felting, rug making and barn quilt square painting. Keynote speaker Karen Keowne of the Kentucky Heritage Council will also be featured during the event, speaking about the history and culture of bluegrass music, quilts and Kentucky life in general. The commission hopes, with the addition of the quilt show, the attendance at the KBMK event will increase.