Ralph Stanley House government waste.
Typical Pork-Barrel Waste in Southwest, Virginia

Heartwood Artisan Center is a Joke

The so-called Heartwood Artisan Center in Abingdon has now been proven for the joke it is. Touted as "economic development" that was supposed create all kinds of great jobs has now been exposed. After the money has been spent, it turns out they have no real business and want Washington County and Abingdon tax payers to fund their employees.

Board of Supervisors meeting 9-22-10

Tourism at Heartwood Artisan Center Mr. Kelly explained the Heartwood Artisan Center will be opening in mid to late summer 2011. Mr. Todd Christensen, Director for the Heartwood, has asked the town to provide tourism related staff for Heartwood because they do not have staff to handle the tourism needs. Mr. Christensen's objective is to promote the downtown area to people coming off of Exit 14 to visit the Heartwood, and in turn get folks visiting downtown to go to Heartwood. Mr. Kelly reported that he discussed with town council and staff the possibility of providing some staff to Heartwood.

Subsequently, the town offers to provide one full time position and two part time positions. The issue now is the town does not have the tourism staff hired to meet the present needs of Heartwood. If the town were to hire the positions at this time they would have to secure the funding. Mr. Kelly presented a proposal to the Board for the county to partner with the town in providing staff to Heartwood. He commented Heartwood not only benefits Abingdon, but all of Washington County and the entire region.

Mr. Kelly stated this is a good opportunity for the town and county to partner to continue its partnership in Heartwood. Mr. Reeter explained that he is a member of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Committee Board of Directors. To his knowledge, the proposal of providing tourism related staff to Heartwood has not been presented to the board of directors. Mr. Reeter commented that the board of supervisors recently acted to adopt a Resolution to request legislative action to allow by ordinance an increase in the County's Transient Occupancy tax up to five percent. By law, counties are limited to two percent.

A county can increase to five percent if authorized legislatively to do so. He advised the additional three percent increment must be used for promotion of tourism in the locality. Delegate Joe Johnson has indicated a willingness to file the legislation. There is no guarantee the county's request will be approved. If the county is granted legislative approval, the board would have to enact an ordinance and conduct a public hearing to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax from two percent to five percent. The additional revenue would be used to promote tourism in the county, and could be used to pay for the requested positions for Heartwood.

This would be up to the discretion of the board. Mr. Reeter commented that the town and county have to keep in mind that Heartwood has a regional focus. There will be other localities that will benefit. Discussions ensued among the board of supervisors, council and staff regarding the proposal to provide tourism related positions to Heartwood. Discussion was also devoted to the recent Resolution adopted by the board of supervisors relating to an increase in the County's Transient Occupancy Tax. Mr. Kelly commented that Todd Christensen would like the positions to be in place a couple of months before the opening of Heartwood for training purposes. He stated a decision on the proposal is needed soon for the purposes of budgeting for the next year.