Tourism funds shared among 19 local groups

There were plenty of thank-yous to go around Tuesday at the World of Little League Museum as officials from 19 local groups claimed their share in $134,000 Lycoming County travel and tourism grant dollars.

Organizations are to use the funding for advertising and promoting their products in out-of-market media outlets and for tourist product development.

The lion’s share of the money went to nine organizations set to receive $10,000 each.

Funding allocations started at $2,000.

“I’m excited because this is our 25th year,” said Bonnie Tallman, secretary of the Billtown Blues Association, which received $10,000.

Tallman said the dollars help her group spread the word about the blues and provide more quality entertainment.

This year’s funding total pushes the dollar total to just over $1 million for the 15 years the money has been distributed, according to Lycoming County Visitors Bureau Chairman Bill Nichols Jr.

The funds, allocated by the county visitor’s bureau, represent 15 percent of proceeds from the county’s room tax.

Nichols noted that the county has a lot to offer in the way of travel and entertainment, and many of the events sponsored by the different organizations serve as catalysts for tourism.

The awards, he said, are given on a competitive basis.

This year, 83 percent of organizations requesting funds were given money, including three first-time recipients.

In 2013, 20 groups shared a funding allocation of $142,000 – the highest amount ever.

Lycoming County Historical Society’s Thomas T. Taber Museum was among the $10,000 recipients this year.

Historical Society Executive Director Gary Parks noted that officials are hoping to revamp the museum’s lumbering and logging gallery.

Preservation Williamsport’s Victorian Christmas is an annual event that showcases the city’s historical homes each November, according to Nan Young, chairwoman of the organization.

She said her group will use its $5,000 allocation to further promote the event.

Judy Shellenberger, business manager of the Repasz Band, said the $5,500 allocation for her group is most welcome for a volunteer organization that never charges for its concerts.

White Deer Golf Course, another $10,000 recipient, will use its funding for advertising to attract golfers from outside the region. In addition, improvements will be made to the White Deer website.

Janet Harris, executive director of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, noted that the group will be promoting audiences to attend its upcoming concert series.

“We are trying to increase our attendance from outside the area,” she said.

The complete list of organizations and funding allocations are as follows:

$10,000 – Billtown Blues Association, Community Arts Center, Hiawatha Inc., Lycoming County Historical Society/Thomas T. Taber Museum, World of Little League Museum, Lycoming County Fair Association, Pennsylvania College of Technology/Wildcat Comic Con, Rotary Balloon Fest/Air Show 2014, White Deer Golf Course.

$9,000 – Muncy Historical Society.

$7,000 – Loyalsock Valley Antique Machinery Association.

$5,500 – Repasz Band.

$5,000 – Preservation Williamsport/Victorian Christmas, Susquehanna Fanny Float.

$3,000 – West End Babe Ruth, Williamsport Symphony Orchestra.

$2,500 – Susquehanna Greenway Partnership/Bicycle & Riverfest.

$2,000 – Crystal Lake Camps, Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy.