February 2016 Meeting Minutes


Attending from Board: Sue Clary, Jay Kerr, Laura Mitchell, Donna Orlyk, Rose Ann Savage, Angela Sturgis. Members: Wendy Bordwell, Meg Southerland

President Sue Clary called the meeting to order at 5:07.

Wendy Bordwell, coordinator of the The Georgi on the Battenkill Community Museum and Park, came to offer sponsorship opportunities to the board and to our members for an upcoming event. The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council has provided support for a weekend of art and activities, “Fairies in the Hamlet,” June 18 – 20, 2016.  Regional artists are creating fairy houses and dwellings, which will be exhibited in the Community Park, opening June 18 @ 11 AM.  Events and festivities commence on Monday evening, June 20 @ 6 PM with a Firefly Walk and Luminary Launch, featuring SusiShoes Dancers and the Metawee Theater Company. More information is available at thegeorgi.com or by calling Wendy at 518.321.0479.

Thanking Wendy, who left shortly after the only male in the room asked, “Why fairies?”, Sue entertained a motion to accept the minutes of the two January meetings (regular board and General Membership), proposed by Donna Orlyk and seconded by Angela Sturgis. We dispensed with the Treasurer’s Report, noting our jealousy that the treasurer was enjoying the Florida sunshine.

The Marketing Committee (Ms. Sturgis and Mr. Kerr) spoke of the progress of the marketing arm of the three Southern Washington County chambers (Cambridge, Greenwich, Salem) and the new online presence of the website, thebattenkillvalley.com and thebattenkillvalley.org (go just once: it opens to the same site). Angela had submitted member businesses to be listed. The group has been meeting to strategize an approach to the county Board of Supervisors, who chose to eliminate the post of Tourism Director as of January 1, and to fill the void by doing nothing until they hire a consultant to do a study — for which the required legislation has yet to be drafted. The involuntarily-retired Tourism Director created the washingtonnycounty.com site, which publicizes any and all local events submitted to it and has historically placed event-driven and generic ads regionally and nationally, with county funds matched by the state, to bring consumers into the county, benefitting both tourism-based businesses and the local businesses patronized by the visiting tourists.

[On Friday, February 19, Jay Kerr from Salem and Suzanne Becker, president of the Greenwich chamber, double-teamed the supervisors in expressing arguments for being more serious about their approach to tourism. They were accompanied by President Clary, VP Sturgis, Cambridge Chamber president Sara Kelly, and Kathy Nichols-Tomkins, Secretary of the Greenwich Chamber. The meeting is accurately described in the Post-Star’s summary here: http://poststar.com/news/local/group-urges-washington-county-supervisors-to-increase-tourism-focus/article_7fa5dad6-b470-55eb-a967-7a70a596dcce.html

The same team appeared Monday at 1 PM at the smaller Agriculture, Planning, and Tourism Committee meeting, with less fanfare, little appreciation, and even less success. Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, who doesn’t believe that the county benefits by investing advertising dollars to bring consumers to the county or its towns and villages, had visited thebattenkillvalley.com and printed out its pages and distributed them to the rest of the committee, stating that the three chambers were doing nicely on their own and didn’t need the county’s help. The greatest takeaway of the experience was learning that, in general, supervisors like being addressed by title, not first name. A notable exception, other than Seth, whom we all know as Seth, is Supervisor Campbell, from Hebron. Brian is not a member of that committee but an attending supervisor supporter of tourism, asked that the committee not punish businesses whose survival is based on tourism.]

Sue, who seems not to mind when we refer to her by first name, floated invitations to all attending board members to participate in chamber committees. In her absence, Kristen Preble was nominated to marketing and membership committees; in her absence, we suggested that Tammy Butler would be the perfect head of an Events committee.

Sue wants to plan at least one quarterly meeting for general membership.

As a shining example to our county Board of Supervisors, as easily said as done, Sue announced that our next general membership meeting, also open to the public in general, will be Tuesday, March 8, at 6 PM at Proudfit Hall, where Supervisor Seth will bring a representative of Barton and Loguidice to explain and answer questions about the Main Street Grant.

With brief discussions about the annual Cheese Tour held the weekend after Labor Day (it may or may not happen) and our sponsorship or non-sponsorship thereof, and the knowledge that we could not vote on anything because our quorum dissolved when Laura Mitchell left when the meeting should have ended, with unofficial motion to adjourn by Donna, unofficially seconded by Meg Southerland and Rose Ann Savage, the meeting ended at approximately 6:20 (having heard more about fairies and talked more about supervisors than anyone should have to, I left quickly without looking at my watch).


Respectfully submitted,

Jay Kerr

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