The Hope Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission got quite a bit of business done in the first meeting of the new year. Hope Parks and Tourism Director Paul Henley gave an Amtrak loading platform update.

The Hope Advertising and Tourism Promotion Commission got quite a bit of business done in the first meeting of the new year. Hope Parks and Tourism Director Paul Henley gave an Amtrak loading platform update. “The 6 X 6 X 10 inch treated wooden boards have been approved to provide the 6-inch extension of the platform,” he said. “They are to be provided by our engineer on the project. Both Union Pacific and Amtrak have signed off on the wooden extensions. Now, insurance, flagmen, and installation options will be obtained for the final completion of the loading platform.” That was in December...flash forward to the last two weeks. Bobo and Bain, the contractors for the project began working on the concrete at the Amtrak site. “There is a two-stage epoxy that is to be used for the concrete there,” Henley said. “One stage of the epoxy was not on site, so they had to wait for the other stage to begin completing the job. Then, drills which were being used were blowing fuses, so they had to bring in a generator. Now, the weather is too wet for the epoxy to set up. They hope to have it finished soon. We are real close to opening.” Under new business, last meeting, Dolly Henley, Hempstead Hall director, provided a detailed operation and types of facilities available at Hempstead Hall. The Board met at Hempstead Hall for their December meeting. Henley then asked support of several operations connected to Hempstead Hall and the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope. One of the requests was the financial support for advertisement and promotion of Hempstead Hall. The Board discussed the matter and tabled it until further information could be gathered. Another request from Henley was the financial support toward a Baldwin grand piano, which would sit on stage at the facility. After discussion by the board, it was voted unanimously not to help with the financial support of the piano. The third request by Henley involved financial support for the opening celebration of Hempstead Hall in January. The board discussed the matter and decided to wait and see what is presented as the final plan of the celebration. Another request for support was brought before the board by Jennifer and Luke Methvin at the last meeting. The Methvins requested financial support for the Hope High School Band to attend the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D. C. on Monday, May 27. The board denied the request. The final item of new business was from Paul Henley, who had been approached by local individuals about the appearance of the fences and ditches along the Clinton Bypass. Henley asked the commission if this was an area they needed to be involved. After a brief discussion, it was determined that no action was required on the board's behalf. A request from the City of Hope to match funds on the outlay of the ball fields was brought up. “The city and the tourism board would match funds, totaling $50,000, to fund improvements to the ball fields,” Henley said. The board voted on the matter and approved $25,000 to be matched from the tourism board to improve the fields. The VIC/Depot Museum monthly report was given by Guy Royston, VIC manager. According to his report, for the month of November, 2012, the Visitor Center recorded a total of 400 visitors. Attendance for November, 2011 was 542. The top five states in terms of attendance for November were: Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, California, and New York. The foreign countries represented were France, with one visitor; Belgium, with two visitors; Italy, with four visitors, and Australia, with two visitors. The December, 2012 monthly report also noted a slight decrease in visitors, compared to 2011. The Visitor's Center recorded a total of 337 visitors in December, 2012, while attendance in December, 2011 was 396. The top states in terms of attendance were: Arkansas, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, and California and Tennessee were tied for fifth. Two countries were represented in December. Canada had two visitors and Mexico had two visitors. “We are kind of a part of a trend in lowered museum visits for the year of 2012,” Royston said. “I was reading recently that Mt. Vernon, which was George Washington's home, and Monticello, which was Thomas Jefferson's home, had markedly less visits than in years past. I am sure it had to do with the economy and I'm sure it will get better.” Group visits to the facility included Clinton Primary School, which had 50 people in the group, and Peoria Charter Coach, which had 53 people in the group. In some of the declines in figures for revenue for Hope's Fair Park, between 2011 and 2012, Henley explained that revenues were down for the RV park because when the Turk Plant workers left to go home, the RV park lost quite a few people. In reference to improvements to the coliseum, work has been done to improve the arena area. “Sugar sand from the Red River was shipped in to the coliseum arena area recently,” Henley said. “The dirt taken from the arena floor will be taken to the ball fields, so that won't be wasted. We bought 450 cubic yards of the sand for $1,000, and it will improve the surface and won't pack down as bad as it was.” The budget for 2013 was approved and included: Income: •There will be an increase of one percent for 2013. • Coliseum rental will continue to drop due to Hempstead Hall. • The RV Park saw a big decline from 2011 to 2012. Special Projects: • Fair Park improvements for 2013 will come from reserve funds. • VIC maintenance salary will be cut by $6,000. It was budgeted for $14,000 for 2012. Actual for 2010 was $12,000; 2011 was $8,000, and 2012 was $1,000. • VIC utilities and phone budget is cut by $500. This leaves a reserve of $8,300. Some major payout next year is for improvements at Fair Park as well as the ball fields, which will be taken out of reserves.