|To the editor:
I am writing to express my personal opinion about the article in the April 7th Independent by: mariwinn While in full agreement with most everything else expressed in the article, there is one comment that really "got to me" and compelled me to write. I am a member of the River Valley Region Association. We will receive $100,000 of the $5 million FERC dollars to promote travel and tourism in our Region. There are over 80 tourism related businesses that have been devastated by the "incident". We live in an already economically depressed region.
Travel and tourism is the core for tax-based revenues and employment opportunities in our region. The reservoir breach and subsequent negative media reports about our river combined with the closing of Johnson's Shut-ins State Park delivered a knock-out punch for our tourism industry in 2005 that will continue into the future. The park generated in excess of 250,000 visitors to our area each year. In addition, the media reports portraying the damage to our Black River have caused a dramatic reduction in the number of tourists who come to our area to enjoy the recreational opportunities, campgrounds and float trips offered by many of our tourism businesses. Our businesses and the businesses who provide ancillary services to tourists report a reduction in revenues for 2005 of anywhere between 12% to 40%. Some have even been forced to close their doors. We can expect this decline to continue in to the foreseeable future. I personally take exception to the comment that an award of $100,000 for marketing and advertising our region as a whole is "self-serving" and is included on the list of "give-mes". With the costs of print, television and radio advertising these days, the dollars that have been awarded are just a drop in the bucket of what is needed to overcome these obstacles.
"Self-serving needs have replaced any environmental consciousness, as a three-page list of give-mes suggests. It includes funding for a travel and tourism promotion in the Arcadia Valley and Black River region, establishing a training facility for search-and-rescue dogs, a new roof and upgrades to the kitchen of a Centerville R-1 school, shuttle service for the Ozark Trail Association, a CT scanner for the Advanced Healthcare Medical Center, a new fire house for the Bunker Volunteer Fire Dept. and on and on."
While a great deal of media attention has been spent on Ameren, MDNR and the ongoing feud in Jefferson City, very little attention has been paid to the devastation to our regional economy and the effects on "the little guys" . . . . The "Mom & Pop" businesses that provide the economic stability and employment in our region.
River Valley Region Association