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Carbon County tourism trend on the rebound

Published October 30. 2010 09:00AM

The Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau announced that operations are looking up.

During the Carbon County Commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Carl Wilgus, president and CEO of PMVB, presented the board with the bureau's annual report for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

He said that he was happy with the statistics and showed that 2010 has been a positive year to date.

"Let's reflect on last year, which ran from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010," he said. "It was a tale of two halves."

Wilgus explained that last year's economy was severely depressed, which meant less money being spent on tourist attractions because people were losing their jobs or fearing that they would.

He also noted that the area experienced a "very cold, wet summer and fall."

But, Wilgus said, since December 2009, the trend has changed drastically.

"We've started to see a rebound again," he said.

Wilgus also highlighted some of the things PMVB has accomplished in recent months, including the increase in tourism in Carbon County due to better weather and a strong marketing campaign; an updated website and the development of a mobile website; making PMVB a social media presence on outlets such as Facebook and Twitter; and streamlining operations to cut down on costs without sacrificing quality.

There is one change though that will affect Carbon County in the upcoming years.

Wilgus announced that Jack Kalins, past chairman of the PMVB board of directors and current board member, is resigning from the board at the end of the fiscal year.

"Jack decided that it was time to start working less and enjoying life more," Wilgus said, adding that Charles Dickinson will fill Kalin's seat.

Another point Wilgus highlighted during his presentation was the brand enculturation program, which educates tourism attraction employees about the area so that they can better serve the region.

Over 2,000 people have graduated from the program, but only 24 individuals have received a gold pin through the program.

A gold pin is given to an individual who has completed the program and has demonstrated their extensive program knowledge while on the job. They must be nominated for the award.

This year, Wilgus said, Jane Kohler, travel counselor for the PMVB at the visitor center in Jim Thorpe, located inside the train station, received the gold pin for her outstanding customer service that went above and beyond the call of duty in helping visitors experience an unforgettable trip.

The commissioners commended Kohler for her dedication to the county and her job.

Randall Smith, county administrator, added, "Jane is the anchor that holds that place down and she represents the county very well. We're really happy to work with her."

In other matters, Penny Kleintop, a Towamensing Township supervisor, acting as an area resident and not in official capacity, asked the commissioners if they could help her in a possible animal cruelty case.

She said she spoke with the county's animal cruelty officer, Donna Crum, about a case in Towamensing Township involving dogs, horses and a few other animals, but she was told Crum didn't have the authority to go onto the property and investigate.

Smith said it was his understanding that Crum has the authority to investigate any complaints about animal cruelty.

Kleintop said the animals have not been fed in days and are being neglected. She also noted that the K-9 shelter in Carbon County did not help her neighbor when she called to complain about the animals. Instead, Kleintop said, she was told to contact state police.

Commissioner Charles Getz said Crum has asked about being able to go out on cases such as this, and noted that she is doing this on her own time and not getting compensated for it.

He suggested that the commissioners enter into a contract with Crum so she could get paid for her services. Commissioners Wayne Nothstein and William O'Gurek, said that it wasn't possible.

Nothstein said he wasn't sure why Crum didn't have the authority because they were under the impression she did because she is court appointed.

Getz also said he was upset by the fact that the county-run dog shelter would not help in this matter. The commissioners said they would talk to Bruce May, the dog warden, about why nothing was done when the shelter was contacted; and instruct him to go see what conditions the dogs are in.

They also said they would talk to their solicitor to see what else the county has the ability to do.

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