“This is way over due,” said Bell County Judge Executive Judge Albey Brock. “This is something that should have been done a long time ago.”
Brock stated that in order to move the community forward, these organizations will have to join forces.
“I’m not insinuating that tourism puts its money in with the fiscal court, and I’m not saying that the fiscal court share its money with Middlesboro city government or that the economic development board takes the money that it has in its bank account and puts it with the chamber,” stated Brock in reference to a suggestion made by Gerald Cook at the recent economic development meeting. “We are going to combine our resources, but not in that way.”
The mission of the task, as displayed at the summit, is to focus the efforts of all entities, combine and target resources, identify and prioritize short and long range goals, and to aggressively seek funding to assist in implementing defined community growth projects. The full mission statement will be determined by the full board at a later date.
There are multiple organizations that make up this focus group. Health Care Partners named to the board included Milton Brooks of Pineville Community Hospital and Mike Slusher from Middlesboro ARH. An additional public health board member will be determined by the local board.
Pineville Superintendent Mike White and Middlesboro Superintendent Rita Cook will serve on the board as education partners. Each of those school boards will also have an appointee to the board determined by the respected groups. Victor Adams will represent KCTCS on the task force as well as another member who will later be determined. LMU will also hold a spot on the task force.
Tourism will be represented by Judy Barton and another member from the tourism board. The mainstreet programs will be represented on the task force by Casey Thomas (Discover Downtown Middlesboro) and JoAnna Foley (Mainstreet Pineville). Both will have another member determined by each mainstreet board.
Both Pineville and Middlesboro mayors will be on the task force as well as Brock, State Rep. Rick Nelson, and State Senator Brandon Smith. The mayors will have two appointees, and the city councils and fiscal court will have one member chosen by the respective groups.
Other local organizations such as the historical society, chamber of commerce, Pine Mountain Regional Industrial Development Authority, and the Bell County Economic Development Board, will also be represented on the board.
Brock stated that each member of the task force will need to be in attendance at all task force meetings. He also stated that anyone who wanted to have an input is welcome to attend the meetings.
Coverage of the summit will continue in the Friday paper. Topics will include Adventure Tourism, Bell County Tourism, and the unveiling of the new Bell County logo.