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Hope Star - Hope, AR
  • Lawrence concert gets tourism boost

  • The Hope Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission assured University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Foundation Director Jill Bobo on Monday that it will support the upcoming Tracy Lawrence concert at the Watermelon Festival in August.
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  • The Hope Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission assured University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Foundation Director Jill Bobo on Monday that it will support the upcoming Tracy Lawrence concert at the Watermelon Festival in August. “We recently signed the contract with Mr. Lawrence and I have come to you today to ask for sponsorship,” Bobo said. “You have helped the Foundation in the past and I appreciate that.” Bobo said the Foundation is focusing on the local market, because Lawrence is from Foreman, and has performed many concerts in the area, including at the Four-States Fairground in Texarkana. “We have $5,000 in the budget to help with that,” Paul Henley, secretary for the commission, said. “We won't even have to vote on it.” Henley reported that approximately 150 people went on the inaugural Amtrak Texas Eagle train ride April 4 from Hope. “We had the soft first stop of the train on that date,” Henley said. “We are planning a grand celebration on May 18 with a dedication time tentatively set for 10 a.m. We are currently looking for entertainment and we will have a tailgating contest. The individual tailgaters will prepare a meal and will be judged. Then, the meals will be shared with the public who come out for the celebration. It should be a fun day all the way around. “National Train Day is the Saturday before in Little Rock,” he said. “The celebration in Little Rock is from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. The celebration in Hope includes four cars that will be parked for the whole day so people can tour them.” The board voted to spend $3,000 for the celebration. Henley said the scheduled Amtrak stop is already being utilized with several tickets being sold since the opening. A couple from Chicago took the train to Hope, got off and went to Old Washington to tour the town, he said. After they had toured the historic buildings, they came back to Hope, via taxi, and got back on the train that night to head back to Chicago. The Kelly Fields baseball complex was the next issue discussed. According to minutes from the February meeting, the press box, bleachers covers, and dugout covers have all been removed. Tournament games are continuing at Kelly Fields during this construction phase. “The brick work is done,” Henley said. “We are using split-faced cinder blocks which have to be painted.” The Hope Fair Park Coliseum arena was the next topic. Ten inches of soil from the arena floor has been removed with a dozer, and sugar sand from the Red River will be added to try and get the proper texture for firmness. The Northside Park Community Center was the next item discussed. The break-in and fire at the community center has rendered it unusable, Henley said. After cost estimates for repair are received and insurance money determined, the city board will make the decision on the future of the Northside Park Community Center. A familiarization tour of Hope and Southwest Arkansas will be held April 24-26 in Hope, Henley said. Employees of the Arkansas Welcome Information Centers will be touring the state getting familiar with the different sites that they give information on when travelers stop at one of the centers. The Tourism Commission is providing a meal on April 24 at Williams Tavern Restaurant in Washington at 6 p.m. The tourism tax table was included in the agenda packets that were handed out to board members, and all but two of the businesses in Hope have paid their taxes, which were received in March. That number is compared to eight businesses that did not report any tax in February. The February and March monthly reports for the Hope Visitor Center and Museum was also a part of the packet. The Visitor Center recorded a total attendance of 275, compared to the February 2012 total of 324. The top five states in terms of visitors include Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan. Three foreign countries were also represented. They included Canada, Germany, and Israel. The McLarty Conference Room was used by the National Park Service and the Hope Tourism Commission meeting. The March report included 506 visitors, compared to 625 visitors in March, 2012. Five top states in terms of visitors included Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, California, and Missouri and Michigan were tied. Three foreign countries were represented, including Canada, Australia, and Ireland. Group visits included Calvary Baptist Church Merry Makers, of Little Rock, and a group from College Station, Texas.
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