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HEARNE Crossroads Of TEXAS HEARNE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2005 - 2006 TOURISM REPORT This report identifies the Hearne Chamber of Commerce’s tourism-related activities over the period January 1, 2005 through the end of August 2006. CROSSROADS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2005 Events The 2005 Crossroads Music Festival and Crossroads Championship BBQ CookOff, which were originally scheduled for September 2005, fell prey to Hurricane Rita. The BBQ event was cancelled entirely. The music festival was re-scheduled for November 6, 2005. It featured entertainers Gary Allan and Kevin Fowler. This music festival pulled in several thousand people from Robertson County and from within a 100-mile radius of Hearne. 2006 Events Excitement is starting to build for the 2006 Music Festival and Crossroads Championship BBQ Cook-Off. Both of these events will be held on Saturday, October 28. This year’s BBQ event is already drawing interest from BBQ cookers throughout central Texas. It promises to bring 60+ several-person teams to Hearne; This year’s music festival will feature: Kevin Fowler, Aaron Watson, Cory Morrow, and Billy Joe Shaver. It is expected to be the biggest event in Crossroads Music Festival history. Both of these events will generate significant numbers of attendees and significant positive media attention to Hearne. A special website at www.crossroadstx.info will be promoted. Every page on the chamber’s website at www.hearnetexas.info contains advertising for these events. The Chamber applied for and received Texas Department of Agriculture Texas Yes! matching funding again this year. This means that the State of Texas will match, dollar for dollar, every approved advertising expense up to $10,000. Here’s an example of how this year’s $20,000 advertising budget will likely be spent: Radio Television Billboards $10,200 $3,250 $2,500 Newspapers Signs Banners $2,000 $1,000 $500 Take-Ones Table Tents Posters $250 $150 $150 Hearne and its crossroads events will be promoted through the above advertising reaching from Navasota to Waco, from Round Rock to Buffalo, and everywhere in between. 304 SOUTH MARKET STREET Building During the first two quarters of 2005, the building at 304 South Market Street which houses the chamber and economic development offices underwent a massive transformation. The much-improved building now serves as the hub for tourism and economic development activities. The building is a very important gateway to Hearne for tourists and economic development prospects. The renovated, ADA-accessible building hosts Hearne 4A board, 4B board, Airport board, Chamber board meetings as well as meetings of the Robertson County Historical Commission, high school class reunions, and other local groups. A counselor from the Rape Crisis Center of the Brazos Valley holds office hours there on Friday mornings. Blinn College recently started offering Certified Nursing Aide classes in the chamber conference room. A Blinn-sponsored Certified Medications Aide course of study will begin in the chamber conference room in October 2006. In 2006, the parking lot next door to the chamber building became available for chamber and economic development parking. The roof of the chamber building was resurfaced and improvements were made to the alley to improve its appearance. The renovated chamber building is a place of which we can all be proud. This spruced-up structure also graphically demonstrates the renovation potential that many of Hearne’s old commercial buildings possess. The chamber hopes its renovation efforts will encourage new businesses to take the time and effort for refurnish other old commercial buildings in town. Local Contributions Of Furnishings In early 2005, the chamber had very little usable furniture. When building renovations were complete, the chamber director loaned his own furniture to the chamber to furnish the office in a professional manner. But, display cases and other items were needed to furnish “Hearne Hall” and provide display space for the Camp Hearne Exhibit. Bart Lockhart loaned a table and two massive mahogany and glass display cases to the chamber. Cathy Lazarus and Roll Call: Friends of Camp Hearne purchased another large mahogany and glass display case. Dale Werlinger loaned the chamber a huge display cabinet. The Robertson County Historical Commission recently donated a display cabinet identical to the one provided by Werlinger. Many of these items have been or will need to be refinished. Dr. Marc Catalina brought over a desk. The City of Hearne donated several old glass and chrome display cases which were used to create a double, back-to-back display case. Almost all of the above items are turn of the century pieces of furniture which were formerly used in Hearne and Robertson County retail establishments. Local Contributions Of Display Items Lots of people have been contributing items relating to historic Hearne, Camp Hearne, and the Hearne Depot. Bart Lockhart has loaned the chamber an old pushcart with wooden wheels that was used at the Hearne Depot. Cara Freeman and her family donated a wooden and cast iron pushcart that was formerly used at the Hearne railroad icing rack. Several paintings of the Depot, including one painted by a paraplegic using a head stylus, have been donated. Several Camp Hearne items have been donated or are on their way from private collectors. Letters, photographs, military uniforms, and items from the Camp are routinely donated to Roll Call or the Chamber. Hearne ISD is donating two Camp Hearne barracks. Other barracks have been offered or are being considered. A Camp Creek couple donated several sets of old windows which were in their now remodeled lake house. These will all be featured in the Camp Hearne Exhibit. 100+ old Hearne photographs and postcards from the early 1900s through the 1940s have been donated to the chamber. These will soon be featured in an historic Hearne photographic exhibit. A large collection of old Hearne High School yearbooks, City of Hearne annual reports, and other items has also been donated. Nunzio Randazzo and his family loaned the chamber an old residential streetlamp which now graces the wall of a chamber office. Another one of these old streetlamps is in the process of being donated to the chamber. Local residents and people with ties to Hearne and Robertson County are urged to donate local memorabilia. The outpouring of support has been so great that storage space will soon be rented to warehouse contributions. CAMP HEARNE PBS “History Detectives” For months leading up to January 2005, the Hearne Chamber of Commerce funneled information and photographs to PBS headquarters in New York City. With much of the legwork already done before the PBS film crew hit Texas soil the last week in January 2005, a full week was spent filming in Hearne and the surrounding area. A special 20minute episode of the popular PBS series “History Detectives” aired in early fall of 2005. Reruns of this program routinely appear on PBS. Brazos Valley Museum Exhibit In mid-2005, the Hearne Chamber of Commerce and Roll Call: Friends Of Camp Hearne began working with the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History to help create an exhibit on Camp Hearne. This exhibit was displayed in Bryan from October 1, 2005 – May 31, 2006. Items from Texas A&M’s Camp Hearne Collection, the Museum of the American G.I., the Hearne Chamber of Commerce (including the scale model of the camp), and from local private collections were on display in Bryan for eight months. Hearne Exhibit Roll Call and the chamber were able to help get a Camp Hearne exhibit put together by museum professionals at a fraction of what this might normally cost. Portions of the Brazos Valley Museum exhibit have started making their way to their permanent home in Hearne. Some of the exhibited items now occupy “Hearne Hall” (the chamber’s large reception area). By early October, the Camp Hearne Exhibit will be complete. A grand opening is planned for Saturday, October 7 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Camp Hearne Site At the same time an in-town Camp Hearne exhibit is being created, efforts are underway to reclaim parts of the Camp Hearne site for public use through joint funding from Hearne’s 4A and 4B Sales Tax Boards. The Camp Hearne Pump House was recently freed from massive undergrowth of vines and other vegetation. The much smaller Camp Hearne Well House, which the city still uses, will hopefully be rehabilitated in the near future. Two large areas (one near the entrance to the fairgrounds and Wichita Metals; the other near the Airport Road entrance) have been bulldozed and are still being cleared. Efforts are underway to work with the county, city, and Hearne ISD to pile up trees and limbs from the Camp Hearne site and incinerate them as part of Hearne High School’s upcoming bonfire. Clean-up efforts out at Camp Hearne have created significant numbers of new parking spaces for events held at the Robertson County Fairgrounds. $250,000 Direct Appropriation Congressman Chet Edwards was able to get a direct appropriation of $250,000 in the House Appropriations bill. This measure has yet to be signed into law. If this funding is ultimately approved, it will make the dream of a Camp Hearne visitors center a reality. With this funding in hand, Roll Call, the chamber, Hearne’s 4A and 4B Sales Tax Boards, and the City of Hearne should be able to acquire additional funding for Camp Hearne from other sources. TEXAS A&M TOURISM PROJECT Working with Texas A&M professors and graduate students, the chamber is helping develop a heritage tourism plan which incorporates the depot, Camp Hearne, downtown commercial buildings, and historic residences. Texas A&M representatives have already developed an inventory of Hearne’s historic structures. They have also created the core elements of a clickable, interactive Hearne map in ArcGIS format. When the inputting of data on this sophisticated mapping program is complete, online visitors will be able to tour historic sites of interest, click on available commercial properties to view photos and statistics, view traffic patterns on local highways, and use these maps for a variety of other purposes. Two Texas A&M graduate students will be working (part-time each) in the chamber office during the Fall 2006 semester. They will be helping create the artifact displays for the Camp Hearne Exhibit; scanning and digitizing Camp Hearne photographs; taking photos, scanning, and digitizing a “Then & Now” photographic exhibit of Hearne structures; assisting with the creation of a “Guide to Hearne” for new businesses, new residents, and visitors. TOURIST INFORMATION DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES The Hearne Chamber disseminates a variety of local tourist information materials in response to the 40+ phone calls, faxes, walk-ins, e-mails, and letters it receives on a daily basis. CROSSROADS REPORTS The executive director of the Hearne Chamber writes weekly Crossroads Reports which appear in the Hearne Democrat every Wednesday. These reports cover a variety of chamber, tourism, economic development, historic preservation, history, and other topics of interest to Hearne and Robertson County. Eight-five Crossroads Reports have appeared in the Hearne Democrat since January 1, 2005. The Hearne Democrat shows up in 2,500 households every week; each copy of the paper is usually read by two to three people. Since Crossroads Reports are archived on the chamber website, they remain available for reading by online visitors to Hearne. HEARNE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WEBSITE The Hearne Chamber Of Commerce website at www.hearnetexas.info continues to be one of the easiest-to-use and most comprehensive websites of its kind. It utilizes “best practices” found in a survey of other central Texas town, city, county, regional, and chamber of commerce websites. This website, which presents Hearne in its most favorable light, heavily promotes local tourism and economic development. Online since April 15, 2003, in the first three-plus years of its existence, the Hearne Chamber website has generated almost 43,500 hits from online visitors looking for information about Hearne. This means that almost ten times the current number of Hearne residents have visited the Hearne Chamber website in the past three or so years. In the past 40 months, the site has consistently raked in roughly 13,000 online visitors a year; almost 1,100 online visitors per month; and 33 or so online visitors per day. LOCAL TELEPHONE INFORMATION HOTLINE The local telephone information hotline at 979.280.5500 has been operational for the past year and a half. This telephone number appears on half of the new highway banners. During noncrisis periods, this communications device provides all sorts of local information, including tourist and economic development information. In times of peril, this number could easily be converted and used by law enforcement and other officials to broadcast timely information to local residents and visitors. In late 2004, Hearne’s 4A Sales Tax Board approved funding to purchase a telephone system which would accommodate a local hotline. This system, complete with a battery-operated backup, is housed at the chamber. A script for this telephone hotline was created and recorded in early 2005. Recorded messages are periodically updated as circumstances warrant. Before and after office hours, on weekends, on holidays, and at times when no one is available to answer incoming calls, the local information hotline fields calls and provides information to callers. BUMPER STICKERS & BANNERS In an effort to boost Hearne’s visibility, the Hearne Chamber launched a local advertising campaign which utilizes a combination of bumper stickers & highway banners. Bumper Stickers Red, white, and blue bumper stickers touting the message “Have You Been To www.hearnetexas.info?” serve as mini portable billboards urging folks to visit the Hearne Chamber of Commerce website to obtain tourism and other information. These colorful bumper stickers, which are now in their fifth 1,000-quantity printing, have proven quite popular. These bumper stickers are often spotted on vehicles around town. They are available for pick-up by individuals and companies wishing to place them on their vehicles. Pick-up locations include the Hearne Chamber office, City Hall, as well as several local merchants. The City of Hearne and the Hearne ISD have placed these bumper stickers on most city and school vehicles. The Chamber routinely gets calls from local merchants requesting additional bumper stickers for their patrons. People often call or drop by the chamber to ask where they can “buy” these bumper stickers, which are given away for free. Given the high rate at which these bumper stickers are being picked-up by visitors, another bumper sticker order will soon be placed. Highway Banners Roughly 17,000 vehicles a day pass through Hearne. This figure is significantly greater on holiday weekends or when area universities host football games, hold graduations, sponsor music, entertainment, and other events. In early 2005, Hearne’s 4B Sales Tax Board approved the purchase of highway or avenue banners promoting Hearne. In early February, forty-four highway banners were placed on all of the city-owned light poles from the overpass south of town to the current depot location as well as on TX 79 from GATX to the intersection of Brown & Market Streets. These banners are in two background colors – red and blue – with white writing. Both versions proclaim Hearne as the Crossroads Of Texas. The blue banners contain the www.hearnetexas.info website address. The alternating red banners contain the 979.280.5500 local information telephone hotline number. To keep business as local as possible, these banners were purchased from Rockdale Signs. None of these banners were hung over the TxDOT rights-of-way on highways through town. The TxDOT right-of-way extends about eight feet along the roadside to roughly where the city’s light poles are positioned. Since these banners were placed on the sides of the light poles which are NOT over the TxDOT right-of-ways, commercial messages like website and phone numbers can be used. Highway banners are a good way of communicating with people passing through town. Due to the repeated impressions of seeing banner messages all the way through town, people may likely remember the local website address when booking their next local hotel reservations or may remember the local phone number and call it to obtain information about local restaurants and other sites. People traveling through town and local residents alike might well remember the website address or phone number and utilize them during a natural disaster, accident, or terrorism emergency to obtain the latest information. Chamber & Economic Development Office Banners Two banners hang outside the chamber and economic development office. The blue banner has large letters which read “Hearne Chamber Of Commerce;” the large letters on the red banner read “Hearne Economic Development.” These banners make it easy to give directions to people coming to the office. They also alert visitors to the presence of the chamber and economic development office. PLACES TO STAY The Hearne Chamber of Commerce developed a countywide “Places To Stay” take-one which encourages tourists and travelers to stay overnight in Robertson County. It includes information about motels/inns, bed & breakfasts, and other accommodations throughout the county. The information included in this brochure can be viewed online by clicking “Places To Stay” at www.hearnetexas.info. To help defray publication costs for the Places To Stay brochure, the Hearne Chamber conducted a membership drive to get as many bed and breakfasts, hotels, and motels in Robertson County as possible to become Hearne Chamber of Commerce members. As a result, most accommodations providers in the county are now Hearne Chamber members,. The Hearne Chamber is now trying to bring together and represent the collective interests of the county’s lodging industry representatives. As such, the chamber and accommodations industry representatives plan to meet periodically to plan activities to promote putting “heads in beds” in Robertson County. BETTER HEARNE PROJECT CLEAN-UP CAMPAIGN Starting in 2005, the chamber and economic office spearheaded efforts to make Hearne more attractive by cleaning-up high visibility railroad & highway rights-of-ways. A community-wide effort was made that included funding from Hearne’s 4A & 4B Sales Tax Boards, Keep Hearne Beautiful, companies which maintain and operate pipelines, electrical & communications lines, and fiber optic lines cables through Hearne. The Better Hearne Project (BHP) was created to serve as the clearinghouse for local clean-up efforts. Utilizing Texas Workforce Commission summer program workers, prison labor from the TDCJ unit in Marlin, public service workers, donated labor, and other workers, BHP was able to deep clean most of the major railroad and highway rights-of-ways coming into town from the north, south, east, and west. 4A, 4B, and the City of Hearne jointly purchased a new John Deere tractor and boom shredder to maintain these rights-of-ways. CHAMBER-SPONSORED EVENTS & OTHER ACTIVITIES As a public service and as a show of patriotism, Hearne Chamber board members place U.S. flags on downtown streets on major national holidays – Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, th Memorial Day, September 11 , Presidents Day, and other important dates. The chamber also sponsors the annual Christmas parade. This year’s parade is already being planned. The chamber also sponsors periodic events. In July 2005, the chamber sponsored an open house at its newly renovated headquarters which was attended by several hundred people. On October 7, 2006, the chamber plans an opening luncheon and reception for the Camp Hearne Exhibit. The chamber also promotes various events throughout the year, like the Glover Rodeo in September, the Robertson County Fair in March, other events at the Robertson County Fairgrounds, Hang-Gliding events, model jet rallies, walks, and other activities at the Hearne Municipal Airport. OFFICIAL DESIGNATIONS Texas Yes! The City of Hearne and the Hearne Chamber of Commerce are both proud community and business Texas Yes! members. Texas Yes! is a new initiative from the Texas Department of Agriculture designed to spotlight rural Texas and promote rural Texas tourism. The Hearne Chamber of Commerce is expected to receive $10,000 in funding from Texas Yes! in 2006 to advertise the 2006 Crossroads Music Festival. Preserve America Status Due to the efforts of Cathy Lazarus, Chair of the Robertson County Historical Commission, Hearne is one of fourteen Texas towns/cities and two Texas counties to receive the coveted Preserve America community status. Preserve America is a White House initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture, & U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The program recognizes communities which protect and celebrate their heritage, use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization, and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs. Texas Brazos Trail Hearne is part of the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Brazos Trail which incorporates seventeen central Texas counties. This heritage tourism initiative is designed to promote historic and cultural tourism in Texas. In spite of the best efforts of the Chamber and the Robertson County Historical Commission to showcase Hearne and Robertson County, the new Texas Brazos Trail brochure doesn’t even mention Hearne (but it does provide a link to the www.hearnetexas.info website). Certified Local Government Program The Texas Historical Commission’s Certified Local Government Program is a local, state, and federal government partnership for historic preservation. It is designed to help cities and counties protect a wide range of important historic properties – from ornate courthouses to working-class neighborhoods. Since such a designation would make Hearne eligible for funding opportunities for which it would not normally qualify, efforts will likely be made to get Hearne approved for this program. HERITAGE TOURISM Given the significant economic development benefits of promoting heritage tourism, the Hearne Chamber of Commerce plans to lead the charge in developing an aggressive campaign to promote Hearne and Robertson County as a heritage tourism destination. These efforts will be coordinated with the Bremond, Calvert, and Franklin Chambers of Commerce to create a seamless heritage tourism campaign that covers the entire county. To be created in conjunction with the Robertson County Historical Commission as the “Robertson County Heritage Tourism Trail,” this new outreach will feature the following Hearne attractions: Hearne’s turn-of-the-century, arrow-shaped railroad depot (being restored in large part by a series of TxDOT TEA-21 grants); Camp Hearne (the World War II Prisoner-Of-War Camp located just outside of Hearne on property adjacent to the Hearne Municipal Airport); Hearne’s 1950s Municipal Airport; & Hearne’s historic commercial and residential buildings. This campaign will also include a series of driving tours which showcase the local area’s historic and agricultural roots. The following tours (beginning and ending in Hearne) will be available in both print and online formats: Brazos Bottom (Hearne, Benchley, Mumford, Valley Junction, FM 485 to Hearne); River Road/Calvert (Hearne, FM 485 to Goodland, Calvert, Sterling, TX 6 to Hearne); OSR/Wheelock (Hearne, Benchley, OSR, Wheelock, Black Jack, Hearne); Franklin/New Baden (Hearne, Franklin, Owensville, Bald Prairie, New Baden, US 79 to Hearne); & Wootan Wells/Bremond (Hearne, Wootan Wells, Bremond, back to Hearne). GENERAL TOURISM Convenient Location Hearne’s convenient location makes it an ideal spot from which to explore central Texas. Hearne’s strategic location needs to be stressed in all tourism materials. Railfanners & Train Buffs Since Union Pacific's north-south/east-west routes cross in Hearne and two other railroads pass through the nearby Brazos bottom, the Hearne area is a rail-fanner and train buff paradise. Hearne needs to be promoted as a logical place for such enthusiasts to meet and explore railroading in the Brazos Valley. Special railroading events need to be organized. Outdoor Activities Hearne offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including golf, swimming, tennis, baseball, softball, basketball, football, volleyball, jogging, picnicking, dog-walking, and more. These attractions need to aggressively promoted to potential tourists. Current Hearne recreational facilities that are open to the public include the following: Eastside Park Hearne Municipal Golf Course Hearne Swimming Pool Guy Edward Chandler Park Hearne Junior High School Hearne High School Bob Jones Park & Playground Baseball Fields Blackshear Elementary School East Side Elementary School Northside Park New Sports Complex Local Venues To Rent A concerted effort needs to be made to book and keep local public and private venues booked. Significant opportunities exist to bring tourists to the area via this means. To quote from the text narrative on the Hearne Venues To Rent webpage: “If you are looking for a place to host a major outdoor event, like a concert, rodeo, livestock show, or religious revival, the Robertson County Fairgrounds in Hearne may suit your needs. If you are hoping to schedule a more airy event, the Hearne Municipal Airport may be the logical spot to schedule your next fly-in, hang-gliding competition, model airplane event, hot air balloon show, air show, rocket launching or other aeronautical event. The wide expanses of pavement at Hearne Municipal Airport are also ideal for soap-box derby races and similar land-based events. On a less grandiose scale, if you crave an intimate spot to host a swimming party, family gathering, high school reunion, wedding reception, bridal shower, baby shower, bachelor party, business function, dinner, Christmas party, birthday party, anniversary party, retirement party, wake, or other special event, Hearne offers a variety of public and private venues that are available for rent.” Local rental venues include: Robertson County Fairgrounds Fairman’s Hall Hearne Municipal Airport Hearne Swimming Pool Clubhouse Eastside Pavilion Northside Pavilion Teal Center Moody Center Horseshoe Club V. F. W. Hall St. Mary’s Hall Given the Robertson County Fair Association’s interest in renting out the Robertson County Fairgrounds to increasing numbers of events, the Chamber plans to create a special webpage for the local Fair Association. Complete with photographs, map, pricing and contact information, this webpage will showcase and promote this important Hearne venue. Sporting / Nature Much more needs to be done to promote Hearne and Robertson County as logical destinations for hunters, fishers, boaters, hikers, nature enthusiasts, and others wishing to explore the great outdoors. Robertson County boasts some of the best hunting and fishing in central Texas. Hunting opportunities include squirrel, deer, ducks, geese, doves, teals, rails, gallinules, woodcocks, and snipes. Fishing opportunities within a 25-mile radius of Hearne include Lake Limestone, Lake Bryan, Brazos River, Navasota River, and many private lakes. Within a 100-mile radius of Hearne, there are twenty lakes and reservoirs which offer bass, catfish, crappie, bluegills, readear, sunfish, red drum, and other species of fish. For the non-gamesman, opportunities to observe nature abound, including the spring dogwood trail, bird watching, and butterfly watching (about 20 different types of butterflies (including swallowtails, white & Sulphurs, Goassamer-wing butterflies, Brush-footed butterflies, & skippers) call Robertson County home.) Cultural / Educational / Entertainment Activities Nearby cultural, educational, and entertainment activities need to be promoted. Two presidential libraries, 20 universities and colleges, a wide variety of museums, memorials, libraries, state parks, and other interesting things to do are all within a 100-mile radius of Hearne. Special music events in Robertson and neighboring counties, including brand-name entertainers as well as theatrical road shows, offer a variety of entertainment options to satisfy a diverse palette. HOTEL / MOTEL TAX ISSUES State Law Under Texas law and relevant legal interpretations, the use of local hotel occupancy tax revenues must satisfy both components of a two-part test. The first qualification under this test is as follows: Expenditures must directly enhance and promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry. In addition to the first qualification, every expenditure must also clearly fit into one of the following six statutorily provided categories: 1. Funding the establishment, improvement, or maintenance of a convention center or visitor information center; 2. Paying the administrative costs for facilitating convention registration; 3. Paying for tourism-related advertising and promotions of the city or its vicinity; 4. Funding programs that enhance the arts; 5. Funding historical restoration or preservation programs; 6. Sporting events which majority of participants are tourists in cities located in a county with a population of 65,000 or less. Items 3 and 4 above are relevant to the Hearne Chamber of Commerce. Item 3 is selfexplanatory. The legal narrative for Item 4 states: “This section authorizes the expenditure of hotel occupancy tax revenues for a variety of art-related programs. It allows funding for the encouragement, promotion, improvement, and application of the arts including instrumental and vocal music, dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture, design and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, motion pictures, radio, television, tape and sound recording, and other arts related to the presentation, performance, execution and exhibition of these major art forms.” Given the presence of the Camp Hearne and Hearne Depot historical restoration/preservation projects, the legal narrative for Item 5 is included here: “This section anticipates that a city may want to spend its hotel occupancy tax revenues to enhance historical restoration and preservation projects which would likely bring tourists to the city or to its immediate vicinity. The funding must extend to a project or activity located in the city or its immediate vicinity. Expenditures may include the costs for rehabilitation or preservation of historic structures, as well as the cost of advertising and conducting solicitations and promotional program to encourage tourists and convention delegates to visit preserved historic sites or museums.” For cities with populations of less than 125,000, the “Additional Limits On Expenditures” section of the legal narrative is relevant. It reads as follows: “A city of under 125,000 may, in certain cases, need to allocate at least some of its hotel tax money for acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining, or operating a convention center or a visitor information center. If a city fails to allocate money for this purpose, the Tax Code prohibits that city from allocating more than 50 percent of its hotel occupancy tax for historical restoration or preservation projects.” In a section entitled “Delegating The Management Of Funded Activities,” the legal narrative states: “The governing body of a city may, by written contract, delegate the management or supervision of programs and activities funded with revenue from the hotel occupancy tax. This delegation may be made to a person, another governmental entity, or to a private organization. The delegation of this authority is often made to the local chamber of commerce or to the convention and visitor bureau.” City Of Hearne / Chamber Of Commerce Funding Agreement On January 9, 2001, the City of Hearne entered into a “Funding Agreement” or contract with the Hearne Chamber of Commerce. The relevant part of Article II of this contract reads as follows: “CITY hereby agrees to divide equally with the CHAMBER funds actually collected and received by CITY from the Hotel/Motel occupancy tax in consideration for CHAMBER’s promotion of tourism and convention and hotel industry through attracting, promoting, developing, presenting, producing and encouraging visitor and conventions to come to the community.” Chamber Of Commerce Position The Hearne Chamber Of Commerce believes that the tourism activities outlined above are important steps toward creating a tourism program that is tailor-made to Hearne and its unique public relations and marketing needs. An over-riding goal of the envisioned program is to “put heads in beds” at local hotels, motels, inns, bed & breakfasts through a variety of creative and innovative means. The Chamber is confident that its plans to promote tourism as outlined above conform to both the letter and the spirit of the Texas Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax law and its legal interpretations as well as the requirements placed upon the Chamber in its contract with the City Of Hearne. Unless otherwise indicated, all of the references to “Texas law and relevant legal interpretations” and “legal narrative” above are to the Handbook On Economic Development Laws For Texas Cities, produced by Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott, “Chapter IV: Economic Development Through Tourism,” section on “The Local Hotel Occupancy Tax,” pages 127 – 137, 2002 edition.
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