Ann Nemanic brought a snow shovel to the State Theatre Center for the Arts in Uniontown where $469,122 in grants were recently presented to 26 Fayette County tourism-related businesses and organizations.
Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau's executive director joked but noted, “There are those who thrive on the experiences they are able to have here in the Laurel Highlands and in Fayette County during the winter months.’’
She stressed, “That white stuff translates into green for all of you.’’
In fact, this is Fayette County’s third largest distribution of tourism grants, a program funded by 50 percent of revenues generated by its 3 percent hotel room tax. The awards are granted annually as determined by a review committee and administered by the Fayette County Commissioners and LHVB.
Nemanic reported Fayette County saw a 12.4 percent increase in hotel occupancy and 10.2 percent increase in hotel revenue in 2018.
“This is success because of you – our tourism partners who have applied and utilized the grant funds to enhance your marketing efforts,’’ said Nemanic. “You’ve taken the money and improved your facilities and your operations.’’
The county commissioners offered their thanks to the grant recipients.
Dave Lohr said he recently spoke with the state secretaries of transportation secretary and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, who have both visited Fayette County's recreational activities.
“Harrisburg pays attention to Fayette County and the greatest thing, for me, is they’re paying attention to us in a very positive and very wonderful way, and a lot of that has to do with all of you,’’ said Lohr. “You put a face on our county for people who come to visit that’s very positive and very entertaining but also very warm and welcoming. I want to say thank you for that because you are a vital part of our economic growth.''
Angela Zimmerlink said, “Remember, we would not be here redistributing this money if it weren’t for you. These monies come in because people fill the beds and they fill the beds because they want to see the tourist attractions that you all help promote, preserve and protect so thank you very much for doing that.’’
Vince Vicites commended the work of everyone involved in promoting Fayette County tourism.
“But if it wasn’t for your projects, the things you’re doing in your respective communities, we wouldn’t be able to grow this fund as well as we have,’’ Vicites said. “It’s really a team effort, all of us working together.’’
Camp Christian, Mill Run, $7,501 marketing grant and $4,978 operational grant for software, desktop computer and other equipment.
Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville, $5,000 capital grant to develop an improved library museum focused on local culture and heritage, create a STEAM learning environment and MakerSpace in partnership with Fallingwater; and $5,000 marketing grant.
Christian W. Klay Winery, Chalk Hill, $17,500 marketing grant for events and banquet/wedding facilities.
East End United Community Center, Uniontown, $5,650 tourism education grant to raise awareness of the contributions of the African-American community. Projects will include tours of the Underground Railroad tunnels at John Wesley AME Zion Church, development of an oral history tour, promotion of the annual breakfast to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a historical display.
Fayette County Agricultural Improvement Association, Dunbar Township, $35,564 marketing grant for the Fayette County Fair, $37,563 capital grant towards renovating the main gate restrooms, and $3,463 education grant for STEAM activities, agricultural-themed escape room, expansion of the embryology project and purchase of a 360-degree camera for 4-H youths to create a virtual reality experience of the fair.
Fayette County Cultural Trust, Connellsville, $1,491 marketing grant to promote Connellsville to cyclists on the great Allegheny Passage, and $25,684 capital grant for installation of signage, bike racks, benches and trash receptacles along Crawford Avenue.
Fayette County Historical Society, Menallen Township, $13,781 contingent capital grant for roof restoration for the Searight’s Tollhouse and $4,688 operating grant.
Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, North Union Township, $9,902 marketing grant to continue partnership with U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association and Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus in hosting the USCAA Basketball National Championships, and $5,000 operational grant for website development, event programs and directional signage.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater/Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Mill Run, $24,919 marketing grant. The Laurel Highlands is home to four Wright-designed houses that will partner on a marketing campaign: Fallingwater, Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, Duncan House and soon-to-open Mantyla, the latter two in Polymath Park in Acme.
General Braddock’s Fish Club, Connellsville, $28,485 capital grant, to repair and enhance two fish nurseries for this non-profit, which raises and stocks more than 8,000 trout in the Youghiogheny River every year at no cost to visitors, the community or fishermen.
Great Allegheny Passage/Allegheny Trail Alliance, southwestern Pennsylvania, $17,208 marketing grant, for a new website, mobile app and social media advertisements and an updated map and brochure.
JAMES Photographic Studio and Gallery, Uniontown, $1,864 market grant to promote monthly art immersion tours of the downtown to group tour operators.
Jumonville Christian Camp & Retreat Center, North Union Township, $6,122 marketing grant, and $5,000 operating grant to upgrade internet and phone services.
Mount St. Macrina/Sisters of St. Basil, North Union Township, $12,292 marketing grant to promote the religious community’s 100th anniversary and annual Labor Day weekend pilgrimage that includes creation of a documentary and promotional video.
National Road Heritage Corridor, $5,000 operating grant for this state heritage area that promotes resources along the National Road.
Nemacolin Castle/Brownsville Historical Society, Brownsville, $32,359 capital grant to restore the facility’s exterior facade.
Neubauer’s Flower and Market House, Uniontown, $30,000 marketing grant to develop a monthly Laurel Highlands Day on KDKA-TV's “Pittsburgh Today Live,'' including a live broadcast from the market house and showcasing Uniontown and other tourist attractions.
Pleasant Valley Golf Club, Bullskin Township, $5,815 marketing grant to promote the facility as well as its sister property Aaron’s Building, a private event facility in Connellsville.
Point Marion Volunteer Fire Dept., $29,696 capital grant to purchase rescue equipment for the department that provides services to the area, including Friendship Hill National Historic Site and the Sheepskin Trail.
Regional Trail Corp., Yough River Trail, $13,000 capital grant for a ditch and bank mower to maintain its section of the Great Allegheny Passage.
Seams Like Home Quilting Retreat B&B, Vanderbilt, $2,700 marketing grant for directional signage and website redesign.
Springfield Township Volunteer Hose Co., $4,995 operational grant to improve efficiency at buckwheat pancake fundraisers and meet the growing customer base.
State Theatre Center for the Arts, Uniontown, $33,240 marketing grant, and $4,659 operational grant.
Touchstone Center for Crafts, Farmington, $13,500 marketing grant for brochure creation, digital and print ads in arts and crafts publications and attendance at national art conferences, and $5,000 operating grant.
Township of Perry, $8,500 marketing grant for the Traveling Vietnam Wall, a three-fifths scale model of the Washington, D.C., memorial that will be displayed at Frazier High School Aug. 7-12.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 265, Uniontown, $12,005 capital grant to install landscaping, fencing and signature bricks at the commemorate site at Uniontown Mall.
Entities receiving grants were happy.
Eileen Beveridge of Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville, said, “We’re just thrilled. We’re really appreciative for this to help us revitalize our museum.’’
Keeley Forrestel, executive director of the East End United Community Center in Uniontown, said, “We’re so excited. It will raise awareness of the strength and beauty and diversity that lies within the East End.’’