City looks to fill tourism board seats

Holly Springs has had another first. The mayor and board of aldermen opened up the application process for persons wanting to serve on the Tourism and Recreation Bureau board of directors.

Mayor Kelvin Buck provided time in the board meeting October 1 for fiveminute presentations. Four applicants for the volunteer positions made public comments about what they think tourism’s role is in the community and why they want to serve.

Wayne Jones spoke first.

“Race is the elephant in the room that has to do with tourism,” Jones said. “When it comes to tourism, African Americans are ignored. When something is underemphasized, it needs to be overemphasized.”

Jones said people do not know their history, and they do not get to know each other.

“We don’t get to improve the community as far as tourism and economic development are concerned,” he said. Alderman Tim Liddy interjected.

“Tourism is an influx of outside money,” he said. “What do you think we have that would attract the most bang for the buck?”

Jones listed some recent initiatives – including the Behind The Big House Tour, held during Pilgrimage week, that highlights contributions of African Americans from the standpoint of enslaved persons.

“There’s so much potential here for history buffs,” he said. “Holly Springs could be a mini-Williamsburg. We have the history, but do we have the will?” He said Gracing the Table, the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum and Rust College are draws for tourism.

He said he has attended both city and county government board meetings.

Jim Moore, director of the Marshall County Historical Museum, was up next and Buck asked him for a statement about why he wants to serve on the tourism board.

As director of the museum he sees tourists every day, he said. Besides sharing what is in the museum, he said everyone is told about what the city has to offer.

“It’s probably one-sided and we need to tell more of the story,” he said, “from the Chickasaw to the antebellum South and to the 20th century.

“We have infrastructure – Behind The Big House and the Ida B. Wells Museum,” he said. “There was once a prominent Jewish community. All Jews were expelled by an order issued here in Holly Springs.

“I see people coming in every day and a lot of tours coming in. There is a big market just for the day tours. I was away 30 years and I came back with an outsider’s view. I want to see Holly Springs grow.”

Buck asked what Moore thinks the duties are as a director.

“We will decide where we will focus and what we will promote – a good cross-section of the community,” he said. “We have a neat little town. When I was growing up nobody knew who Ida B. Wells was until a postage stamp was made for her. I think tourism should try to bridge some of these gaps between groups.”

Jamaar Walton was up next. He said he wants to be on the tourism board to help transition.

“I’m excited about Holly Springs and the transition we are making to the 21st century,” he said.

He wants to keep all historic content but innovate with technology.

“DeSoto County population is growing,” he said. “If we can innovate and collaborate, we have a great opportunity to move forward. We can act as cheerleaders to bring energy and enthusiasm to push the city forward.”

Marie Bongiovanni, owner of The Bottomless Cup, said she thinks she is a valuable member of the community and could provide valuable insight to the board.

She sees a role for the tourism board of directors in promoting events and activities that bring people into the businesses and one that fosters participation.

She said it is important for the community to work together to keep moving the community forward.

“We want to encourage people to visit in the day and spend their hard-earned money here,” she said.

Tourism and Recreation executive director Tyrisha Battle said new tourism board members will be trained and know their responsibilities. They will undergo orientation after they are approved. October 28 will be their first day on the tourism board. They will be given manuals and bylaws and policies. Battle said she thinks it is fair to have people apply to serve on the tourism board.

Current positions either to be reappointed or appointed include:

Ward 1, Flora Isom Marion, chairman;

Ward 2, new appointment or reappoint Vinita Raimey, secretary/treasurer;

Ward 3, new appointment to replace Martha Thomas, who resigned;

Ward 4, new appointment to replace David Childers, who resigned;

At-large, new appointment;

Raj Guru, mayor’s appointee, one-year term;

Annie Moffitt, mayor’s appointee, three-year term;

Chelcey Malone, mayor’s appointee, reappoint or roll off;

Charles Terry, Main Street Chamber appointee, vice chair, four-year term expires 2021.

Other interviews that were to be conducted at an October 15 meeting included Carri Hutchens and Pam Zelman.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
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