Maroun still vying for tourism funding for Tupper
MALONE – Paul Maroun has some competition for the money he wants for an events coordinator.
Maroun, Tupper Lake’s village mayor and representative on the Franklin County Board of Legislators, announced in December plans to try to get the county to help fund the position, which was paid for last year by a mix of village, town and Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce money. That came after the county pledged $25,000 to Saranac Lake for tourism marketing, which drew ire from some Tupper Lake officials, asking why Tupper Lake wasn’t included in Saranac Lake’s plan to contract with Essex County’s Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.
Maroun offered a resolution at the end of January that would have allocated $25,000 to the chamber for the position; then he tabled it to discuss the idea more with his colleagues. He pulled the resolution at a board meeting last week, saying he needs to get one more vote to pass it.
The problem is that the county appropriated about $50,000 in extra tourism funds in the 2013 budget beyond what Franklin County Tourism needs for its normal work. The money was talked about during the budget process as two pots of $25,000 that could be invested in whatever tourism initiative the board chose, and was initially considered to be slated for a fishing program and an initiative to create an agritourism program in the county.
Saranac Lake is now expected to get the first of those pots, and the second is slated in the budget under a line for agritourism. Bernadette Logozar, the county’s rural and agriculture economic development specialist, approached the county board last week asking for the money to be allocated to Cornell Cooperative Extension to fund her position so she can develop and implement a plan for agritourism.
She said it’s a huge draw and has a lot of potential for the county, which is already has an economy largely reliant on agriculture and tourism. The county already has many of the elements in place like farm stands, farm tours, harvest festivals and farmers markets, and she wants to coordinate those efforts and work to market them.
Logozar has been doing some initial work on the initiative with Susan Fuller of Fuller Communications, who Logozar said was instrumental in putting together a similar plan in Vermont that has been successful.
“It’s a growing trend,” Fuller said at last week’s county board meeting. “People want to get back to what’s real basic about life.”
The board did not take action on Logozar’s request at their meeting.
At the end of the county board’s meeting last week, Maroun told the Enterprise that he has time to wait for the money since no one had started in the position yet.
“It’s not an immediate issue,” Maroun said.
But Michelle Clement started as the Tupper Lake chamber’s events coordinator Monday, though she still has to complete some commitments to Mountain Communications, the Saranac Lake business she’s leaving for the new job.
Clement will make $35,000 a year on a contract basis, the same salary that Faith Bedore earned when she was in the position. Bedore was the chamber’s first events coordinator in recent years, and she left the job for a position at The Wild Center.
Chamber officials expressed optimism about Clement.
“I think she’ll be great,” chamber President David Tomberlin said Monday.
Maroun said he wants Clement to work with Jim McKenna and his staff at ROOST to come up with a plan for one or two more major events in Tupper Lake. Maroun said Tupper Lake needs more things for visitors to do in winter and spring, and he touted the idea of package deals for tourists to experience all three of the Tri-Lakes.