News Column

Tourism to talk with city about next year's 4th of July

July 9, 2014

By Jeff Noble, The Times-Tribune, Corbin, Ky.

July 09--Could next year's Independence Day celebration in downtown Corbin be held on July 4th, instead of July 3rd?

It was batted around during the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission's regular meeting Tuesday -- five days after this year's "Independence Day Block Party" with fireworks was held downtown.

In that session Board Chairman Alan Onkst gave Assistant Director of Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel the authority to meet with Corbin City Manager Marlon Sams, to discuss the possibility of changing the yearly event from July 3 to July 4, starting next year.

That was after board members discussed how this year's event went. When asked about the celebration of music, food, fun and fireworks in downtown Corbin, Kriebel noted, "It was the biggest crowd I've ever seen in town all summer."

When asked by Onkst about moving it a day later, she added, "I think we need to do it on the 4th of July. The fireworks, the works, everything."

He agreed, saying "I think the more support we get, it would be better to go to the city and get their blessing. Since we support the biggest part of it (the fireworks), let's lead the way."

This year's celebration was sponsored by Corbin Tourism, along with the City of Corbin and the Downtown Corbin organization. It began at Nibroc Park and featured two live bands, along with food and craft vendors, inflatables for the children, and capped off at sunset with a fireworks show put on at Campbell Field which was seen by hundreds of people -- and possibly 1,000 -- in the downtown area.

Last Thursday's event was the first Fourth of July celebration of the fireworks in Corbin in three years. In 2012, the fireworks were cancelled due to a drought and a burning ban in the region. A year later, heavy rain and thunderstorms cancelled the celebration.

In recent years, Corbin's celebration of the 4th of July has been held on July 3, while celebrations in London, Williamsburg and Barbourville were staged on July 4.

For the record next year, July 4 falls on a Saturday.

While the block party and fireworks went over well last week, Onkst said there were some small concerns.

"Apparently, there was some miscommunication with the cleanup of the event afterwards. We had some shell casings from the fireworks that wound up in the pool, and shell cases that landed in the field. We'll cover the pool and the football field next year, and we'll have our people clean up our parts of the show next year. No one was upset about it, and it was a learning experience," he pointed out.

One thing Corbin Tourism plans not to change is their present location on the Cumberland Falls Highway, which they moved to in January of this year.

That was after Onkst told the board that the city offered Tourism the building that formerly housed a branch office of PNC Bank.

Located on the Cumberland Falls Highway across from Cash Express and across Forest Drive from Cumberland Valley National Bank, he said the 30,000-square foot, two-level building had an asking price of $435,000.

"Adapting that building to our needs would be a significant investment. I don't see the practicality of even taking a second look," noted Onkst.

As for the building that used to be Corbin Tourism's home -- the old L & N Train Depot on Depot Street -- a fact-finding mission to three old depots in Pennsylvania that are being used as railway museums will be made this fall by Kriebel and Jeffrey Cawood, a Corbin Tourism intern who's with the Department of Sociology at Eastern Kentucky University.

One of the museums to be looked at is the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, They'll also be in the northeast Pennsylvania city of Scranton, which is home to the Steamtown National Historic Site and the Electric City Trolley Museum.

"What we're trying to do is to research. To sit down with the directors of the museum, ask questions, tour the museums, and find out what makes those museums successful and what can Corbin do to make the old Depot successful," Kriebel said.

With estimates on whether to fly or drive, she brought out the possibility of making the trip to the Keystone State to the board. She cited the two making the trip by ground would cost $2,758, while the plane trip for two would be $2,266. Board members approved the trip for Kriebel and Cawood by air.

As for the work on the old Depot in becoming a Train Museum, Kriebel said Tourism has applied for two grants from both Jackson Energy and Norfolk Southern, and will be having a task force committee meeting next Monday at 4 p.m. at the Tourism Office on the Cumberland Falls Highway. Onkst added the commission needs to approach the City about a lease agreement on the old train depot, saying, "We need to have the assurance of the city administration, and their support."

It was mentioned at the meeting that plans for a "Gallery Hop" in the downtown area are gearing up for the night of Friday, August 22.

Kriebel said the event would feature live music played at Sanders Park being the stage for the band, while artists and craftspersons from the area, Kentucky and the region would be in the downtown merchants' shops, showing off their works and selling them in the city.

She stated 20 downtown merchants have committed to the project, and is also working on possibly having restaurants downtown provide one food item (such as an appetizer) in which Corbin Tourism would purchase. In return, they would give the artists samples of the food during the Gallery Hop.

Kriebel said she's locking at booking the band "Silhouette" which is a favorite among people in the London area. After asking for authorization of $700 to finish up work on the Gallery Hop, board members approved the request.

Also in her report, Kriebel told board members that the brick pavers have been put in, the concrete work is done, and the Elks' Alley is done at the site of Sanders Park in downtown Corbin.

"We're moving right along," she said.

Earlier in her report, Director of Tourism Portia Gosser cited the success of last month's first Cumberland Valley Cruise-In, which brought hundreds of people to the downtown Corbin area, and also brought over 150 classic and antique cars to the streets to be seen and admired. She added another cruise-in is set for this Saturday afternoon.

Gosser pointed out that a meeting to discuss plans for the Corbin Arena with Sams, Kriebel and the Arena's Director, Connie Hunt, had been scheduled for Tuesday morning, but had to be postponed, due to an accident involving Hunt's family members. It would be rescheduled to a later date.

In addition, updates were given on the city's new tourism brochure, the new tourism website, and the tourism's marketing campaign.

The financial report was also approved. CPA Kyle Perkins, who advises the board on financial matters, said the final results of the 2013-14 Budget showed the actual total income coming in at $1,183,705, versus a budgeted total income of $1,249,500.

"I think our budget planning sessions are working," he noted.

The commission also saw a total net income of $63,302, versus a budgeted net income of $2,658. Perkins mentioned that brought $60,544 more than what was expected, and came from not budgeting some of the special events that were budgeted before.

Also, he said the cash position in June was $455,361, plus an additional check of $10,187.

Before going into executive session, a motion on a request from the Whitley County Fair for $2,000, to be used for sponsorship, died from a lack of a motion. In addition, a request from the Southern KY Robotics team for $7,000 for competition at the Corbin Arena and on the field, was tabled, as it was at the last meeting.

Later, the board went into executive session, to discuss personnel issues. When they came out around 7:28 p.m., they discussed personnel issues, and on the classification of policy ruled that employees need to be working for a one-year period before taking vacation. No other action was taken.

Before adjourning, they heard from the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's Executive Director, Bruce Carpenter, on behalf of the chamber's marketing effort. He asked for support of a $5,000 donation from the Tourism Board, as had been done in the past, for the chamber's marketing efforts. Board members approved the request.


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