CLEARFIELD – A new board member was welcomed and discussion was held on marketing at Wednesday’s Clearfield County Recreation & Tourism Authority meeting.
John Shugrue was welcomed to the CCRTA board. Shugrue is a local attorney and once served as Clearfield County Commissioner. The board also accepted with regrets the resignation of Mark Burnett, who was relocated by his employer.
After a nearly one hour executive session for personnel and legal issues, Solicitor Andrew Gates advised the board to authorize its officers to sign the “answer in new matter” in regards to age discrimination suits filed by the former couriers for CCRTA, filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. An executive committee decision to authorize $8,200 for a forensic audit was also ratified by the board.
A six-month budget was also approved. Chairwoman Terri Cunkle explained that the budget is rough for now, but will give the staff a guideline for the rest of the year, July through December.
CCRTA’s budget had been a fiscal year budget, running July 1 through June 30; however, beginning next year the budget will run Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 to be in line with the county.
The estimated revenues for the budget approved Wednesday are $342,185 and estimated expenses are $277,021.85
An open house has also been scheduled for the public to come and visit the office on June 8 from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Director Josiah Jones updated the board on various marketing strategies he is looking at for Visit Clearfield County.
He said he has been meeting with various groups and said people are responding to outreach efforts of staff, especially on Facebook. “I feel like people are starting to come back,” he said.
Recently he and assistant director Sue Swales-Vitullo attended the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association meeting and he talked with different tourism promotion agencies and learned from them and got different ideas on how to market Clearfield County.
He attended the PA Wilds awards dinner and used the opportunity to network there, as well. Recently he attended the Clearfield County Convention of Township Officials and spoke to the audience and talked with many people.
He talked to the board about different marketing approaches he has looked at, including ads in various publications.
These publications include Guest Quest, where they can request targeting a certain area and will be targeting Canada with advertisements regarding the DuBois Harley Davidson shop, which has been very popular with Canadian visitors.
Ads are also being placed in Outdoor Magazine and Where & When, which reaches people as far away as California.
Jones also reported on a program called Star Reporting where they would be able to get information on where people who stay in local hotels come from and certain demographics.
After discussing the matter with the board, he said he would get more information on the program and report back, but later the board agreed to try the program and see what information VCC can glean.
Another venture is PA on Display, which CCRTA has been using to place travel planners at various locations on Interstate 80. The cost has been $4,000 per year.
He said he talked with the company and asked for them to put a contract together that will allow for 11 more spots in other locations around the state, including Interstates 79, 81, 476, 276, 84 and along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Shugrue asked about whether I-476 and I-276 would be good areas since they are short corridors around cities and suggested instead to have planners placed along routes 219 and 153.
Jones noted that some CCRTA partners along those routes have planners available and board member Sue Williams suggested trying the new distribution plan out and revisiting next year.
Some discussion was held on a plan to advertise with Fox/ABC on channels 8 and 23 (locally) to target areas outside of the county, though residents in Clearfield County would also see the ads. It was decided to table the idea for now, but to go ahead with an advertising plan with radio stations that are part of a new network called “Bigfoot Country.”
The tourism agency will also be advertising in the Steelers Yearbook and part of that package includes four tickets VCC can give away as promotions. Also, an ad will run in the Pittsburgh City Paper’s summer guide, which reaches 58,000 people. The ad will cost $900 for half a page.