CHIPLEY — In spite of not having a quorum, the Tourism Development Council discussed several topics during Monday’s workshop — even if they couldn’t take any action on the items they discussed.
Web design was a recurring theme at the meeting. TDC member Scott Sweeney and Administrator Heather Lopez have been looking at redesigning the council’s website as well as creating a mobile website application for the TDC.
“We discussed redesigning the website to make it a little more up to date,” Lopez said. “We asked Sherry (Smith) to look at it.”
Smith is the president and owner of VTD inc., the technology design company that helped the TDC create its original website, Lopez said.
Smith submitted an outline and a cost proposal for design and development of the new website, estimating the cost of the redesign at $4,983.50.
Sweeney asked what amount the TDC could spend without being required to seek bids, and was told by Secretary Jim Town that $2,500 was the limit that the council could spend without requiring competitive bids. Anything over $10,000 and the TDC has to abide by the Washington County government policy on bidding.
“She might be right on on the costs,” Sweeney said of the proposal. Member Mary Richmond said she didn’t think the TDC paid that much for the original website work.
“We didn’t,” Lopez said.
“We will still need to get quotes,” Town said.
Sweeney said in the redesign process, the web pages should be more colorful. “They don’t charge extra for color,” he joked. Sweeney also said the TDC should consider also having a mobile web application designed during the reworking of the website.
“More and more people are surfing the net from their phones, they aren’t doing it from their desktop computers anymore,” he said.
“Our website needs to have some flash, we want to attract people from the cities who have money to spend,” Sweeney said. “We want it to look modern, so we can compete with Panama City Beach.”
Town, who was chairing the workshop, asked Sweeney and Lopez to come up with requirements and take bids so the website could be discussed and possibly voted on at the Oct. 22 meeting.
“We need to get this going, so maybe we can roll this out on Jan. 1,” Sweeney said.
The board members also discussed several logo designs that were presented as possible art for a new TDC logo. Sweeney said the TDC needs a logo that represents the organization, but also represents the region. Several examples were discussed, and some modifications were suggested to the sample logos before they will be presented again to the full board in October.
The Riverway South project is in the process of securing a grant to pay for 50 percent of the salary for a program administrator, Lopez reported. Advertisements have been placed in local newspapers and on the internet, and the search is being conducted through the Workforce Development office in Marianna. The goal is to have a candidate hired by Oct. 22, she said.
The TDC board, under its bylaws, was able to only set the date and time of the next meeting when the regular meeting convened Monday. The board did discuss whether or not to hold a special meeting to consider the grant request submitted by the Washington County Scholarship Trust, Inc., requesting $1,500 for the Pulling for Education tractor pull, to be held on Oct. 13. The grant request was submitted by Sandra Cook.
After discussion, the board decided that due to the late date at which the application was submitted, and the fact that the tractor pull had not been budgeted for funds this year due to the “weening” program the board had followed the last few years, there would not be a need to consider the grant request at a special meeting.
The “weening” process involved grants being handed out for less and less money over a period of years, Town said. Once an organization was at a zero balance, they could reapply for grants, even with the possibility of having an increasing amount of grant money, provided the organization could bring the TDC data to show they were bringing tourism to the county.
“I think they could have submitted this application much earlier,” Richmond said. She added that one of the requirements for groups applying for grants after they had been that the events have a “new wrinkle” when they reapplied. “This looks like the same event it always was,” she said.