The Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission board
welcomed their two newest teammates Chuck Williams and Doug Olson at its
meeting last week.
Both men were appointed to the PCCRVC by the County Commissioners on
Tuesday. The Commissioners said they increased the number of board members
to focus on finding ways way to market and develop more opportunities for
amateur sports in the county.
Williams said the first step would be to explore what sports groups there
are in the county and see what their economic needs are.
He and Olson will lead a cabinet along with six PCCRVC members and community
members with sports expertise.
PCCRVC president Mitch Peters appointed board members Jesse Harper, Scott
Tuft, Len Clark and Richard Riley to the cabinet. They will also invite
Valparaiso Parks Director John Seibert and County Plan Commission Director
Robert Thompson, who has experience in sports coupled with his knowledge of
properties that may have the potential to be developed for sports
Williams said he is interested in developing sports “nuances” since the
county already has an abundance of baseball and basketball facilities. Some
of new additions to consider include swimming and ice skating.
PCCRVC Executive Director Lorelei Weimer said she recommends the cabinet
speak with the National Association of Sports Commissions who made a
presentation to the tourism bureau a few years ago on approaches to sports
Peters said he would like to take a look at what the Expo Center can offer
for sporting events. A feasibility study for the facility located at Ind. 49
and Division Road will be done soon now that the County Commissioners have
the CEDIT money to fund it.
Different ideas for the Expo and grandstands have been tossed around
including BMX Racing, horse shows, tractor shows, and tournament sports,
Weimer said. The center has been eyed as the county’s major tourist anchor
south of the Indiana Dunes which may be developed as a convention center.
PCCRVC member Mike Mantai said there are vacant land parcels north of Hebron
that he believes are suitable to be developed for sports.
Williams said he will talk with the Commissioners on a way to put funding
towards developing niche sports markets.
The board members spoke positively about their new charge.
“I think this is a great move for us. I’m really excited,” said member Judy
Visitor Center for rent
In other business Thursday, Weimer and board attorney David Hollenbeck
addressed the topic of allowing space at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to
be rented out to outside groups for events after hours.
Some informal events have been held already, Weimer said, and the plan now
is to put together a lease agreement covering issues such as insurance
liability and whether or not alcohol will be served.
The board granted approval to move forward.
Also, the board directed Hollenbeck to write to the County Commissioners
about including PCCRVC staff in the sick bank for County employees.
Vacation home ads
Following up on a concern raised last year, PCCRVC Assistant Director
Christine Livingston presented research she’s done on advertising vacation
homes on Indiana visitor commissions’ websites and said the results were
“all over the board.”
Vacation homes had been advertised for free on the Indiana Dunes Tourism
website, just like hotels and inns, which was called into question by staff
since they are not properties subject to paying the innkeepers’ tax by state
The board under a motion by Tuft ruled that the vacation homes will be
charged the standard advertising rates for businesses. Information about
vacation homes will still be given for free if a caller or visitor
personally requests it from PCCRVC staff.
The April 2013 innkeeper’s collection check was $71,942.42 which is a 13
percent increase cash basis and a 19 percent accrual basis from 2012.
Weimer said the collection checks continue to show increases due to
collection of unpaid back taxes from a few hotels.