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Economic development and tourism are two vital initiatives for any community. And because of that, agencies for both should work together to improve the appearance, opportunities and perceptions of our county.
Tourism is what brings people to Taylor County. The Economic Development Authority brings industry, and with that comes jobs. Combine the two together ... and people can stay in our community permanently.
It's a shame that there appears to be a tense working environment between the two. They should have open communication, especially working so close together.
And "close" is the operative word. It's a little ironic that both offices are in the same building - literally feet apart - yet at least one of them feels the other isn't cooperating.
Mark Johnson with the EDA told members of Fiscal Court last Tuesday that he has tried to cooperate with the Tourism Commission, yet doesn't feel that effort is being reciprocated.
"We need a little better input with the tourism commission," he said. "I've not had a whole lot of success in chatting with those folks and really I was just hoping for some intervention basically."
Though it was too late for publication, Marilyn Clarke, who is director for the local Tourism Commission, said Wednesday afternoon that she wasn't at the Fiscal Court meeting and was surprised at the allegations against the Tourism Commission.
"We have always cooperated with other agencies in Taylor County," she wrote in an e-mail. "We are looking forward to meeting with the magistrates and judge in the near future."
Johnson also told the Court that he had requested some information two weeks ago from the Tourism Commission, pursuant to Kentucky's Open Records Law, and has not yet heard from the Commission. According to state law, open records requests are to be answered within three business days.
We take seriously requests for open records and concerns about open meetings. That's a large part of our job. But the law is not just for the media; it's for the public as well. Johnson's request needs to be taken seriously, as would anyone's.
Clarke says the Commission has always cooperated with other agencies.
Let's hope everyone feels the same way, for the good of the community.