Tourism remains strong in Jones County

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “Tourism is alive and well and busy in Jones County.”

     Those were the sentiments shared by Bob Hatcher, Jones County Tourism director, as he presented his annual report to the Jones County Supervisors during their Jan. 16 meeting.

     Hatcher requested the county consider appropriating 100 percent of its hotel/motel tax to the Jones County Tourism Association (JCTA) for FY 2019. In the past, this amount averages $15,500.

     For FY 2017, the county received $93,268 in hotel/motel tax. This is a 16 percent increase. Hatcher said there was also an increase of 2,150 overnight travelers, which can be attributed to a new hotel, Boulders, in Monticello.

     In 2017, visitors and tourists to Jones County spent $21 million. Hatcher explained the state economic development commission keeps track of the figures across the state.

     “Our goal is to bring people through the doors,” Hatcher said.

     Also last year, JCTA served 16 bus tours throughout the county, six of those from coast-to-coast.

     “They were surprised by all there is to see here,” commented Hatcher.

     Car tours were also a big thing in Jones County in 2017, with groups of five or more cars literally touring the county together. Hatcher said there were 11 car tours. With the tourism office located on E. Main Street in Anamosa, about 850 travel parties stopped in to seek information last year.

     “That’s about the same as in the past,” recalled Hatcher. “People are requesting more and more information online or through social media.”

     One of JCTA’s goals in 2017 was to increase overnight stays in Jones County. Statistics show that people who stay over one night in any location spend about $250 a day, not including the hotel costs. Hatcher said places such as the National Motorcycle Museum are offering evening tours to assist in keeping people in the county overnight.

     “We’re also working on staycations,” offered Hatcher, giving locals options of things to do and see right in their own backyard.

     This leads to JCTA’s familiarization tour for those who work in the tourism industry, seeing and talking to visitors on a daily basis. Hatcher said it’s just as important that our own people in the county be familiar with what’s here.

     Another goal looking ahead is to expand JCTA’s advertising another 50 miles.

     “We’re hitting a broader area and getting more people interested in Jones County,” said Hatcher. “We’re getting a large share of people coming from Wisconsin.”

In other county business:

     • The board approved a temporary easement with a landowner on County Road E-45 for improvements to the driveway approaches. Secondary Roads is requesting .3 of an acre at $8,500 an acre.

     • County Engineer Derek Snead reported an accident on Jan. 16, at around 8 a.m. involving a county plow truck and a private vehicle on Ford Street in Anamosa. He said while the truck was making a turn, a parked vehicle pulled out in front of the truck. Minor damage was reported.

     • The board filed the Weed Commissioner’s Annual Report for 2017.

     With the weed control spraying done in house by Weed Commissioner Wes Gibbs, Snead said the county is saving a lot of money. In the past, between $55,000 and $70,000 was spent contracting the spraying out to a private company. Now, with it done in-house, he said it’s around $15,000. Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach commented that since Gibbs started taking over the program, the supervisors have received fewer complaints.

     For 2018, Gibbs said the spraying schedule would focus on the west half of the county.

     “We usually cover 400 miles a year,” he said.

 • Supervisor Wayne Manternach provided an update on the county’s participation in ECICOG’s Derelict Building Program to deconstruct the former Dirks oil station in Wyoming. Manternach said the county might have to pay to have an environmental assessment done on the property. He said one positive is the fact that there are no more gas pumps left standing on the property.

     • The board approved of the hiring of Stuart Siebels as a courthouse janitor. The county received 10 applications and interviewed three candidates.

     • The board adopted the annual Construction Evaluation Resolution (master matrix) regarding application for confinement animal feeding operations in the county.


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