County to develop more events to spur tourism

QUEENSBURY - More special events may be held in Warren County if two new positions created this week by the Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Committee are endorsed in two weeks by the full board.

The committee's actions call for creating a post of a special events coordinator, a $50,000 position which would be dedicated to pursuing and recruiting large-scale events to be held in Lake George village, as well as other large venues in the county, according to Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Luisa Craige-Sherman.

The county leaders also advanced plans to develop small-scale grassroots events throughout the county.

The Occupancy Tax group voted to establish a position of Wilderness Heritage Corridor Events Coordinator. The WHC Coordinator will be working with local people, primarily in upcounty communities, to help them launch small-scale events that will boost tourism and commerce. The towns of Warrensburg, Thurman, Chestertown, Stony Creek, Lake Luzerne and Johnsburg - through which the tourist rail line runs through - are particularly targeted for event development. Other upcounty towns, including Bolton, Hague, Horicon, and Lake George, will not be overlooked, county leaders have said.

The Wilderness Heritage events coordinator position will cost the county $28,000 in its first year and will be supplemented by state funds, county Planning and Development Assistant Director Wayne LaMothe said.

"There is a huge need for someone to be there to pick up the phone and work through the event process from start to finish," said Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Luisa Sherman. "Until we start marketing the entire region as a single entity, we will remain divided."

The two positions have been competing for potential county funds for several months. Throughout, supervisors have questioned as to why the two positions couldn't be combined into one.

"I am just concerned that the special events position is Lake George-centered," said Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed.

Goodspeed's sentiments were echoed by other supervisors who threw their support behind the Wilderness Heritage events coordinator position.

"I am taking this position because I am from a small town," Lake Luzerne Supervisor Eugene Merlino said. "It's so tough for the small towns - I like the idea of trying to draw people into the smaller communities."

Both positions have been stalled in the Occupancy Tax Committee for three months, but pleas from the sponsoring parties brought the issue to the floor. Both resolutions passed 5-1, with Committee Chairman Bill Kenny dissenting in both instances.

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