To the point week of 5-5-11

380

Libya

To the Editor:

Thomas Jefferson once declared, “We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country.” If Mr. Jefferson was alive today, he would be disheartened by America’s present leadership who no longer seeks his informed counsel. Today our government spends over a trillion dollars a year funding our military industrial complex, spread out across the globe in over 130 nations. No longer does the United States abide by the traditional foreign policy principles advocated by our founding fathers of self-determination, diplomacy, and non-interventionism but instead pursues a foreign policy of nation building, preemptive war, occupation, and intervention.

In the International Tribune of London, President Barack Obama co-authored an op-ed backing action in Libya. President Barack Obama promises a low key role in the Libyan War but if history plays a role, further escalation of U.S. financial and troop support seems like a forthcoming plot. Already the U.S. has engaged in acts of war by supplying arms to the rebels and imposing sanctions upon Libya.

Engaging in acts of war almost always have unintended consequences. In the 1990s our no fly zone and trade sanctions the United States and United Nations imposed on Iraq, increased hostility and led the Iraqi citizenry to become more dependent upon the rule of Saddam Hussein. In 1996, after five years of Iraq sanctions CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked our Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright: “We have heard that half a million children have died in Iraq? Is the price worth it? And Mrs. Albright replied: “We think the price is worth it.”

Texas Congressman Ron Paul has given speeches on how U.S. involvement in the Afghan Soviet War has now come back to haunt us. In the 1980s the United States allied with Afghanistan’s Mujahideen, whom Bin Laden was a part of. Our CIA supplied them with weapons and training to help end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Today, a lot of t he Afghan rebels that our government supported are members of the Taliban, who now use guerilla tactics to oust the Americans from their homeland.

The price isn’t worth it. Our intervention around the world has only led to more spending, borrowing, taxes, deficits, conflicts, and inflation. In the book “For a New Liberty,” Economist Murray Rothbard scribed, “In the name of combating “aggression” everywhere – of being the world’s “policeman” – it has itself become the great and permanent aggressor.”

Clarence Leatherbury

Salem

Tourism

To the Editor:

It is an impossible task to maintain an inventory of daily chit-chat in small-town America when you have a larger picture to focus on. This is true whether you are here in Vevay, Indiana or over in Ghent, Kentucky or upriver in New Richmond, Ohio. It’s part of the pains, but otherwise joy, of living in small-town and rural America. My purpose in taking the time to write this letter is to inform the residents of Switzerland County of some short but distinguished facts about the beauty of its tourist destination agency. It is proud of a track record that is consistently recognized by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development as being one of the most effective convention and visitor bureaus in the state.

Why is that distinct characterization often mentioned, as it was most recently by an editor of Midwest Living Magazine, during Indiana’s annual Hoosier Hospitality conference in Indianapolis? It’s because of proud moments that took a lot of effort that obtained Budget Travel Magazine’s designation of Vevay as America’s Fourth Coolest Small Town in 2006. It’s because of a unique marketing coalition with our neighboring counties and the Belterra Casino Resort & Spa that allows for tourism destination and group bus tour companies to visit our area. It is also likely one of several reasons why Switzerland County became the sixth fastest growing county in Indiana according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The tourism development model set in motion by my predecessor, David Attaway, allowed for a $348,000 grant to be obtained from the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority. The purpose of this grant, and as stipulated within the guidelines of that particular state agency, was to enhance the value and use of real estate. State funds, not locally generated tax revenue, were used by the commission that I represent to renovate and improve buildings in downtown Vevay and later sold to the private sector. That is the exact, intended outcome by the agency that awarded the funds. Some local residents have been critical of the use of those funds but the fact is that the awarding agency was so pleased with the investments and results of the program that it has made a new pledge of $100,000 to support a new (low interest) revolving loan fund program for small business and entrepreneurs. The program will be launched late this year if additional funds are obtained from the federal government. The opinion of that particular state agency is what counts and matters from an accounting and fiscal perspective. But it is also the residents and existing business owners that this organization also hopes to add value by way of utilizing state dollars.

Switzerland County is a premier, legitimate destination attraction. It is the primary function of this office to attract visitors and keep them here as long as possible. I’m pleased to report that a high percentage of the visitors that my staff and I interact with become repeat guests. Almost 23 percent of the commission’s annual operating budget is used on advertising and marketing efforts not seen by its residents. You might ask why. The answer is that the organization used its marketing funds to advertise in Midwest Living Magazine, Indianapolis Magazine, Cincinnati Magazine, and countless other publications throughout the country in hopes of bringing new visitors to Switzerland County. That is the beauty of our revenue – collect a fee for those who stay overnight here and use that revenue to, in turn, advertise in media all over the country to attract more tourists. It’s a fascinating win-win source of revenue that places no burden on your income or property tax liability.

A secondary function of this organization has emerged into a small business, retail or tourism business related development office. The commission now also has a pilot lease subsidy program in place as an incentive for existing small businesses to expand or as an incentive to attract new private enterprise. This is new and exciting while unprecedented in Switzerland County.

I am also excited that the Swiss Bucks gift certificate program has been created allowing for residents and businesses to purchase the new gift certificates for friends, family members or employees that can only be redeemed at participating businesses in Switzerland County. This is another initiative that reinforces our commitment to the community’s business sector while also encouraging local spending.

It is this organization, in cooperation with the Switzerland County Council, that arranged for another Switzerland County/Vevay day at Great American Ball Park and a Cincinnati Reds Winter Caravan visit to Vevay. An added convenience has been added this year with tickets being sold in Vevay at the Visitors Center – all as part of an effort to expand the value this agency provides to its residents.

In closing, I’m so proud that every county auditor in Indiana will be visiting our community in May as part of its four day conference. They will stay at the Belterra and will spend one evening in Vevay. I’m excited that another group is visiting this summer to visit Patriot and various locations throughout the county. I’m tickled to death that Midwest Living Magazine honored Los Bandidos as one of the Top best new places to dine in the Midwest and also tapped the Schenck Mansion, both in Vevay, as one of the Top 30 Bed and Breakfasts in the MIdwest. Did you see that 73-pound catfish caught in the Ohio River? That was us – we brought Cabela’s King Kat two-day $10,000 tournament to our community. I’m also very proud of the fact that our commission authorized a partial renovation of the 1860-era Phoenix Hotel downtown for administrative offices, two retail stores and a renovated visitors center. None of this would have been possible without the efforts of the members of the commission and its staff – it’s that simple.

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman put more focus on Vevay by selecting it as one of only a few that appeared on her website to promote community development week. That type of recognition is the result of an effective marketing effort and maintaining very strong ties with state officials.

It’s the potential visitors and those who travel here that we primarily focus on. It is our responsibility to focus on getting them here and making sure they are treated very special during their stay. That is our core mission and always will be.

T.J. Justice, Executive Director

Switzerland County Recreation,

Tourism and Convention Commission