Jim Dailey, Chair
Shash Goyal, Vice Chair
Department Staff Present:
Kane Webb, Executive Director
Kris Richardson, Executive Assistant
Grady Spann, Director, Arkansas State Parks
Joe David Rice, Tourism Director
Ron Maxwell, Deputy Tourism Director
Jon Brown, Operations Manager
Randy Roberson, Planning & Development Manager
Jeff King, Chief Park Planner
Kelly Farrell, Program Services Manager
Robin Gabe, Field Interpreter
Joe Jacobs, Marketing and Revenue Manager
Monika Rued, Public Information Officer
Tom Stolarz, Region 1 Supervisor
Tony Perrin, Region 2 Supervisor
Marcel Hanzlik, Region 3 Supervisor
Shea Lewis, Region 5 Supervisor
Leah DiPietro, Communications Manager
Kristine Puckett, Tourism Development Manager
Tiffany Knox, Welcome Center Administrator
Miranda White, Research Manager
Erik Holbrooks, Administrative Specialist, Tourism Division
LaJeana Carroll, Administrative Specialist, Parks Division
Representative Brent Tally
Representative Kelley Linck
Hannah Ray, Governor’s Office
Paul Henley, Mayor, Hope
Christopher Thomason, Chancellor, U of A, Hope
Brandon Owen, Superintendent, Historic Washington State Park
Billy Nations, Historic Washington State Park
Janelle Shepherd, Historic Washington State Park
Melissa Adams, Arkansas Welcome Center at Texarkana
Sheila Nickels, Arkansas Welcome Center at Red River
Mike Wilson, Superintendent, DeGray Lake Resort State Park
Mike Farringer, Superintendent, Cossatot State Park
Tamara, Daisy State Park
James Howell, Superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park
Meghan Moore, Trainee, Crater of Diamonds State Park
Chair Jim Dailey called the meeting to order at 8:30 am on Thursday, January 21, 2016. Kris Richardson called the roll.
Approval of Agenda:
Jim Dailey requested approval of the Agenda.
Shash Goyal moved to approve the Agenda. Montine McNulty seconded and the motion carried.
Presentation of Minutes from Previous Meetings:
Jim Dailey requested approval of the Minutes from the November 19 and 24 meetings.
Mike Mills moved to approve the Minutes from the November 19, 2015 and November 24, 2015 meetings as presented. Danny Ford seconded and the motion carried.
Kane Webb stated that Richard Davies recommended he familiarize himself with the state by exploring as many state parks as he can and visiting the different regions. Webb plans to join Joe David Rice and Grady Spann on a Northwest Arkansas tour mid-February. It was announced that Grady Spann was promoted to State Parks Director, LaJeana Carroll promoted to Administrative Specialist, and Shea Lewis promoted to Region 5 Supervisor.
Superintendent Brandon Owen welcomed commissioners, staff and guest to Historic Washington State Park. Owen commented on the Trial by Jury the evening before and that it was enjoyed by all. Commissioner Bill Barnes asked how many visitors Historic Washington sees. Owen stated that the park saw around 70,000 visitors in 2015.
Representative Tally welcomed everyone to Hope and Historic Washington State Park.
Mayor Henley welcomed everyone to Hope and Historic Washington State Park.
Christopher Thomason, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, welcomed everyone to Southwest Arkansas. Thomason stated that travel and tourism is an extremely important piece of the puzzle to Southwest Arkansas. Thomason informed the commission that the U of A at Hope is one of the top three colleges for growth in the state.
Cynthia Dunlap presented the year-to-date financial report for the period ended December 31, 2015. The expenditures were: Parks Division, $43,471,368; including construction and grants; Tourism Division, $6,342,016; Keep Arkansas Beautiful, $233,979; Administration Division, $1,671,859; and History Commission, $958,383. Expenditures for the Department totaled $52,677,605 an increase of 13.5% over the same period FY15. The year-to-date operating revenue Parks Division totaled $15,313,848 an increase of 14% over the same period FY15; 1/8% Cent Tax $15,467,871 an increase of 2.36% over the same period FY15; and 2% Tax $8,760,918 an increase of 9.0% over the same period FY15.
Jim Shamburger moved to approve the Financial Report as presented. Kalene Griffith seconded and the motion carried.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Approval of 2016 Per Diem:
Kane Webb stated by law, the commission must approve its per diem at the first meeting of the calendar year. The per diem approved in 2015 was $65.00.
LeRoy Dangeau moved to approve the 2016 per diem at $65.00. Mike Wilson seconded and the motion carried.
Kane Webb announced that the Hampson Archeological Museum is on schedule and is proud of what the Lawrence Group is doing for the town of Wilson. A new brochure, made by the Lawrence Group, was distributed to the commission.
USS Hoga Presentation:
Joe David Rice presented John Gill a Certificate of Appreciation for all his hard work and dedication on the relocation of the USS Hoga.
Advertising Agency Contract:
Rice stated that it was the staff’s recommendation to keep the contract moving forward with CJRW, keep the rates the same as the previous year, make account services non-billable, and move Brian Clark to an hourly rate.
Jim Shamburger moved to approve the contract with CJRW, keep the rates the same as the previous year, make account services non-billable and move Brian Clark to an hourly rate. Montine McNulty seconded and the motion carried.
Governor’s Conference on Tourism Update:
Ron Maxwell stated that the 2016 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held at the Northwest Arkansas Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Springdale March 13-15. The theme will be “Spring Training: Preparing for a Winning Season.” The Early Bird Reception will be hosted by the Springdale Chamber on Sunday evening. The Hall of Fame Luncheon will be Monday, with the auction that evening and the Henry Awards Luncheon will be Tuesday. All commissioners are invited to attend, and ADPT will cover the registration fee. Maxwell also informed the commission that he, Tiffany Knox, Kaya Hardage, Tracy Morales, and Erik Holbrooks recently toured the facility and had an informative meeting with the hotel staff. Agendas were distributed to the commission.
Rice stated that Tracy Morales was unable to attend the meeting to report on her section. New Motorcycle Guides were distributed to the commission.
Rice asked the commission to approve $5,000 to go towards promoting Arkansas within Funway Tours. Funway Tours is based in the UK. Arkansas’s main focus in advertising with Funway Tours will be to promote motorcycle trails, the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the Clinton Presidential Library.
Bill Barnes moved to approve $5,000 appropriation to the Funway Tours. Shash Goyal seconded and the motion carried.
Leah DiPietro announced that both Kerry Kraus and Chuck Haralson have retired. Katherine Stewart has been hired as the new Central Arkansas Travel Writer and Digital Content Coordinator. Kirk Jordan replaces Haralson as the Chief Photographer. Mary Osteen, who was previously the Administrative Specialist II for Communications, has received a new title as Public Information Technician.
DiPietro informed the commission that the Communications section has had its first staff meeting of 2016.
DiPietro shared that the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. The National Park Service Chief will visit Central High School in Little Rock on February 2.
Lastly, DiPietro presented media coverage of the Trail of Holiday Lights, along with top social media posts and pictures of December activities.
Jim Shamburger stated that Best Westerns of Arkansas have developed a webpage promoting the 100 years of the National Park Service.
John Gill remarked at how many publications Arkansas is mentioned in, and acknowledged DiPietro’s hard work.
Miranda White shared that the Research and Information Services Section processed 4,455 requests for travel information during December 2015, an increase of 10.05% from December 2014. The calendar year 2015 inquiry total increased 11.0% over 2014.
Online media requests accounted for 49.8% of all inquiries in December 2015, while traditional media requests were 50.2%. Calendar year 2015 saw significantly more online media request, 66.9%, than traditional media, 33.1%.
A total of 4,523 fulfillments were completed in December 2015, and the average number of pieces (including the vacation kit) mailed per day was 146. Overall, 2015 had 116,475 fulfillments with an average of 319 pieces mailed out per day.
The total number of vehicles stopping at Arkansas Welcome Centers increased 15.37% compared to December 2014. The total number of visitors increased 13.82% from December 2014. 2015 total visitors increased 8.25% and vehicles stopping increased 9.07% compared to 2014. The ratio of travelers to vehicles for December 2015 was 2.19. There was an average of 2.27 visitors per vehicle in 2015 compared to 2.29 in 2014.
Tiffany Knox introduced Sheila Nickels and Melissa Adams to the commission. Nickels is the Red River Welcome Center Manger. She stated that construction had begun and June 7, 2017 is the projected open date. Adams, who is originally from Hope, is the Texarkana Welcome Center Manager. She shared that visitation to her center is up 21% for the overall year. She stated that this is in-part due to the new desk at the restroom entrance, to give a more accurate visitor count.
Knox revisited the idea of the dog-park at the Welcome Centers. Kane Webb stated that he spoke with Governor Hutchinson about the idea and that he and the Governor love the concept. The Arkansas Department of Highway and Transportation, who owns the centers, has not approved the concept.
Knox shared photos of the new-and-improved Holiday Hog. She stated that children loved the new look and were less frightened of the improved Holiday Hog.
The Welcome Centers went above and beyond with decorating their centers for the Christmas holidays, photos were shared.
The first Managers Meeting took place at DeGray Lake Resort State Park at the beginning of January.
Knox shared that the Tourism Gift Shop has been brought to the Governor’s Conference for several years. In 2015 Knox brought in new merchandise, and thus has brought in more sales. The 2014 calendar year brought in $6,682.03 in sales, while the 2015 calendar year totaled $13,283.82 in sales. It was mentioned that Erik Holbrooks plays a huge role in the inventory and bookkeeping of the Tourism Gift Shop.
Auction forms for the Governor’s Conference on Tourism were distributed to the commission.
Kristine Puckett informed the commission of the program overview of the Festival Advertising Grants. Applicant cities must have a population of less than 10,500; have a $150,000 budget from the 2% tourism tax annually, a 2/3 matching grant and a minimum of $500 with a maximum of $2,000. The first grant year received 19 applications: one retracted, two ineligible, three incomplete, one denied and 12 funded. Puckett announced that $18,100 has been awarded with $131,900 remaining.
Puckett announced that Montine McNulty and Bill Worthen are the Hall of Fame inductees for the Henry Awards that will take place at the Monday luncheon during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in March. This is the first year that inductees were announced before the conference to give the family of the inductees notice so they could attend the ceremony. Puckett also shared media coverage with the commission.
Brian Kratkiewicz presented the following Fall/Winter digital plan results:
Fall 2014- $250,000
Fall 2015- $264,000
Fall 2014- 65,933
Fall 2015- 73,499
Fall 2014- $3.72
Fall 2015- $3.47
Fall 2014- 91,710
Fall 2015- 101,113
Fall 2014- $2.67
Fall 2015- $2.52
Joy Phillips presented the Spring/Summer 2016 digital plan recommendations.
Phillips stated that more aggressive digital marketing would be used for 2016 because people now spend more time with mobile versus desktop. Several goals that Phillips mentioned were to build awareness by generating complete video views and create impact through video, increase mobile presence, and create cost-efficient engagement. Phillips listed digital and print ad publications that would be use for the 2016 plan.
Jim Shamburger moved to approve the Spring/Summer 2016 digital plan recommendations as presented to the commission. Shash Goyal seconded and the motion carried.
Jennifer Peper gave the performance and production report for Aristotle. There were 315,985 visitor sessions for the month of December, a 1.7% increase over the previous year. 191,650 of the total visitor sessions were using a phone or tablet device. This is a 10.7% increase over December 2014. Sixty-One percent of all traffic is using a phone or tablet device. The month of December saw a sales lead total of 120,692, which is 3,893 per day and 755% above the national average. Sales leads of 54,791 were through a phone or tablet device.
Matt Shull shared how beacon technology could be used at museum state parks. He informed the commission that there are over 850 million visits to museums in the U.S. each year. Millennials want interaction within a museum. Beacon technology gives information through an individual’s smart phone when the individual is in a certain spot within the museum. The cost is $43 per beacon, $20 a month, and the hardware is $150. Historic Washington State Park and Aristotle set up a prototype the day before where commissioners could experience beacon technology first hand.
FY17 ANCRC Grant Request:
Jeff King presented the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) proposed projects grant request that has been funding Arkansas State Park (ASP) improvements since 1987. Over that time ASP has received over $300 million in grants for State Park improvements; ASP is requesting $10.2 million for 45 projects in 31 park locations this year. $5.7 million was received of the $9.6 million requested by ASP last year. This year’s request started with 114 projects estimated to be about $24 million worth of requests. Discussion ensued about percentage of repair and renovations versus new constructions and Jeff King responded it is part of the legislation to look at restoration and repair of facilities before newer facilities are constructed.
Cindy Smith moved to approve the FY 17 Arkansas Natural & Cultural Resources Council grant request as presented, totaling $10.2 million in projects for Arkansas State Parks. Jim Shamburger seconded and the motion carried.
Wilhelmina - Mountain Glory Station & The Glory Train Request:
Joe Jacobs reported on The Mountain Glory Station since the takeover in 2013 just prior to closing down the lodge from the prior concessionaire. The current contract includes a bi-annual payment of $2,750. The concessionaire fee was waived until the lodge was re-opened in July 2015; with the first bi-annual payment due November 2015. ASP received an email in November requesting the State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission (SPRTC) waive the concessionaire fee for 2015. In addition, the concessionaire notified ASP in January that they would like to cancel their contract. The current contract is effective until December 31, 2017; and requires 60 day notice for termination. Discussion ensued. Grady Spann recommended SPRTC approve waiving the $2,750 payment.
Jay Bunyard moved to approve waiving the second half of the yearly fee of $2,750 for the Mountain Glory Station. LeRoy Dangeau seconded and the motion carried. Jim Shamburger opposed.
After further discussion, Grady Spann stated that ASP should come back with a recommendation on how to proceed with property after visiting with the concessionaire and exploring the options.
DeGray Lake Resort State Park
Randy Roberson reported Structure l: the entrance station (Building No. 14.22/AASIS No. 120005685) is a 256 square foot structure that was built in 1971 to serve as a camper registration office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is presently used as storage for DeGray's Interpretive Services. The building serves no other useful purpose. DeRoche Ridge Campground, the area where this structure is located, will undergo a complete renovation in the spring of this year. Removal of this structure will make space for needed parking improvements.
Structure 2: The golf course restroom (Building No. 14.38/AASIS No. 120005696) is an 80 square foot frame structure. This deteriorated structure will be replaced with a new prefabricated restroom unit as part of an effort to meet requirements for the listing of the course on the Natural State Golf Trail. Purchase and installation of new restroom facilities is being funded by the ANCRC FY 15 grant award.
Millwood State Park
Randy Roberson reported on the Millwood State Parks pavilion (Building No. 33.111 AASIS No. 120006008) a 1,400 square feet, open structure. ASP recommends removing the pavilion from the park's building inventory due to severe flooding in June 2015. It has been determined that replacing the existing structure with a pre-fabricated steel structure will provide a long-term solution for this flood-prone park at a cost comparable to that of renovation of the existing building.
Ozark Folk Center State Park
Randy Roberson reported The Ozark Folk Center State Park Herb Shop (Building No. 39.51/AASIS No. 120006250) is a 240 square foot, two room frame structure utilized for sales and storage. Ozark Folk Center State Park plans to replace the existing structure as part of the renovation of the lower Craft Village (Phase II) utilizing funding from the FYI 6 ANCRC award. The structure has outlived its usefulness. A replacement structure will allow for better access for park visitors and park maintenance and will comply with current barrier-free accessibility standards.
Jim Shamburger moved to approve based on the information presented; the commission finds the structures obsolete notwithstanding their insured value and approves the removal from Arkansas State Park inventory as follows:
- Camper registration office (Building No. 14.22/AASIS No. 120005685) from DeGray Lake Resort State Park
- Golf course restroom (Building No. 14.38/AASIS No. 120005696) from DeGray Lake Resort State Park
- Pavilion (Building No. 33.111 AASIS No. 120006008) from Millwood State Park
- Herb Shop (Building No. 39.51/AASIS No. 120006250) from Ozark Folk Center State Park
Montine McNulty seconded and the motion carried.
Mt. Magazine – Use Permit Agreement; Corley Mountain Rural Fire Association:
Randy Roberson requested approval for the Second Amendment of the Use Permit Agreement (UPA) with The Corley Mountain Rural Fire Association (CMRFA) and ASP entered into an agreement February 1, 2004 through January 31, 2009, whereby CMRFA is allowed to provide/maintain a fire substation within the facility and permit area provided by ASP. That agreement was amended and extended through January 31, 2014. The Permittee may have the option to renew the permit for an additional five years under mutually agreeable terms and conditions, proposed "Second Amended Agreement" that will extend the term through January 31, 2019.
Shash Goyal made a motion to approve the Second Amendment for Use Permit Agreement for The Corley Mountain Rural Fire Association and Arkansas State Parks as follows: The Corley Mountain Rural Fire Association is allowed to provide/maintain a fire substation within the facility and permit area provided by Arkansas State Parks. Mike Mills seconded and the motion carried.
Mt. Nebo – Use Permit Agreement; Arkansas Highway Transportation Department:
Randy Roberson reported since 1990, ASP has granted the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) a land use permit for a communication tower equipment building, and associated utilities located on the West 1/2, of Lot 3, Block 32 of the Original Town of Mount Nebo. The permit was originally executed for 25 years with an option to renew for an additional 25 years. Prior to the expiration of the current permit, AHTD expressed interest in acquiring a new permit for a different site. Failing to find an agreeable alternative location, AHTD has expressed their desire to continue use of the existing location and, subject to ASP Director approval, will erect a new 160' free-standing tower to replace the existing installation. The current permit agreement expired December 31, 2014. The proposed "First Amended Agreement" would retroactively extend the term for another 25 years from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2040.
Shash Goyal made a motion to retroactively approve the First Amendment for a Land Use Permit for Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to replace the existing free-standing communication tower equipment building, and associated utilities located on the West 1/2, of Lot 3, Block 32 of the Original Town of Mount Nebo. Jim Shamburger seconded and the motion carried.
Discussion inquired about the tower blocking the view and distracting from the park. Randy Roberson described the tower’s location on the edge of the mountain.
Certificate of Appreciation:
Grady Spann requested approval for a certificate of appreciation for Herman Tolliver, Assistant Superintendent at Lake Chicot State Park, with 38 years of outstanding service to Arkansas State Parks.
John Gill moved to approve a certificate of appreciation for Herman Tolliver for 38 years of service with Arkansas State Parks. Shash Goyal seconded and the motion carried.
Jim Dailey noted his experience from the Region 1 superintendent meeting. Grady Spann invited the commissioners to visit any of the regional meetings and Jim Daily encouraged others to attend meetings if possible. Kane Webb invited the commissioners to join him as he travels the state visiting Arkansas State Parks and around the state.
Flood Report / Storm Damage:
Jon Brown reported on the flooding caused by heavy rains December 26, 2015 through December 30, 2015, in total 13 ASP affected during the storm event. Emergency action plans and the preventative actions taken by the park staff limited the damage to $5,000; only four of the 13 parks affected currently experiencing closures.
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) requested Law Enforcement Emergency Support, typically these callouts involve a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) event and ASP is reimbursed; currently $163,423 is outstanding awaiting reimbursement from previous events. Discussion followed regarding Millwood State Park as ASP is working to replace the current structures with flood resistant facilities. Jim Dailey requested that ASP work with Kane Webb to evaluate and report back to the commission with future thoughts. Discussion ensued about labor and cost associated with the emergency action plans being reimbursable by FEMA.
First Day Hikes:
Kelly Farrell reported that this is the fifth year that ASP has participated in First Day Hikes (FDH). FDH is a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to get people outdoors where state parks offer a variety of free guided hikes on January 1 and provide a great opportunity for visitors to make a healthy start to the New Year. ASP had 33 parks offer 53 hikes resulting in 694 hikers hiking 1124 miles throughout Arkansas. Farrell highlighted that Arkansas ranked number eight out of all 50 states on the number of hikes offered. ASP complemented the coordination with the Marketing and Revenue Section and park staff promotion via media releases in their local communities. Farrell presented a PowerPoint of selected parks and hikers and noted she will share a link to the YouTube video with commissioners via email.
Quarterly Report for Capitol Improvement:
Randy Roberson reported that $55.6 million in projects have been completed or underway with several major projects near final completion.
Marketing and Revenue General Revenue Numbers and Occupancy:
Joe Jacobs reported on the revenue that can be controlled in ASP, showing a trend with an increase $7,223,764 over the last ten years. The increase can be attributed to the establishment of Region 5 and working with the lodges and restaurants operations to build up the revenue and discussion ensued.
Ozark Highlands Radio:
Monika Rued reported on Ozark Highlands Radio, the professional radio program produced by ASP staff onsite at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, which debuted on January 8, 2016. ASP used special advertisement, several forms of social media and launched the OHR website on December 31, 2015.
Grady Spann mentioned an article in Signcraft featuring David Thompson, ASP sign carver, highlighting state park signs. ASP signs are very unique compared to other states.
Spann noted the Ozark Highlands Radio is produced completely in-house by park staff. All music is from the Ozark Folk Center State Park stage.
The State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting adjourned at 11:42 am on January 21, 2016, at Historic Washington State Park Washington, AR.