• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Tourist Commission hires first executive director

At its monthly meeting Friday, Oct. 25, the Woodford County Tourist Commission voted unanimously to hire Emily Downey as its first executive director. Another unanimous vote approved Downey’s one-year contract, pending legal review of the agreement, which has a 30-day opt-out for both parties. Downey, a full-time Alltech employee who told the Sun that she’d continue to work there, will be paid $2,500 per month by the commission as a part-time independent contractor. The contract spells out dozens of duties, including occasional weekend, holiday and evening work, but has no requirement for a minimum number of work hours, which are “to be determined.” Downey will begin work for the commission Nov. 1, when the new visitor’s center in the Amsden complex opens. Commission Chair Maria Bohanan said Downey’s contract was modeled after the one the City of Versailles has with John Soper, who provides economic development services to the city. (Soper is unpaid for his work as chair of the Woodford Economic Development Authority.) Present were commission members Neil Vasilakes, Cortney Neikirk, Lee Howard, Aaron Smither and Bohanan. Commission member Ken Kerkhoff took part by phone, and did not vote. Bohanan, whose birthday was that day, began the meeting by noting that it was the commission’s first gathering in the council chambers of the Versailles Municipal building. Samantha Aiken, of Brainbox, which was hired by the commission for a “geo-targeting” advertising campaign and other internet-related work, briefed members on the work for which her company has been paid $3,818 this year. Other expenses include: A final payment of $540.83 to the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, which previously handled the books and meeting space for the commission. $1,025 to Cincinnati Magazine. $6,250 to artist Stephen Sawyer for his work on the two Lexington Street murals. $564 to Bluegrass Regional. $2,008 to Ohio Magazine. $137.51 to The Woodford Sun. Since Aug. 27, the commission also took in payments of $1,300 each from Godolphin, Blackwood Stables and Ashford Stud for the newer mural, which features racing silks from local horse farms. Encumbered funds include $575 for maintenance for the Woodford Reserve mural, $7,500 from the City of Versailles for both murals, and $1,000 for the remainder of the horse farm mural. The commission reported an Oct. 25 balance of $83,423.85. The commission is largely funded by hotel and bed and breakfast occupancy taxes, and has seen its revenue explode since the Holiday Inn Express and Suites opened nearly 15 months ago. Commission members are unpaid. The group’s regularly scheduled meeting is at 9 a.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the Versailles City Council chambers. Future plans Bohanan said next year, she wanted the commission to really establish a presence in Versailles and Midway, and suggested a grand opening for the visitor’s center during the Nov. 9-10 Versailles Christmas Open House weekend.

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