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County board approves tourism grants
April 04, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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In the near future, a digital electronic billboard at the South Mitchell Highway and Highway 26 will be announcing local events in Mitchell and beyond.

Brenda Leisy, director of Scotts Bluff County Tourism told the county board they had been approached by the Mitchell Chamber of Commerce about the project, which would cost about $43,000.

“Through our grant regulations we can give them $21, 500,” Leisy said. “They want to erect a digital billboard at 1463 19th Ave. About 9,000 vehicles a day drive by that intersection.”

Leisy told the board the Mitchell Chamber wants to use the billboard to promote local events, as well as county-wide events like Oregon Trail Days, the Sugar Valley Rally and the county fair.

Commissioner Steve Stratton said he approved the idea, but was concerned about the size of the sign. In the past some “jumbo-tron” signs with flashing graphics have been distracting to passing motorists.

“It’s a great concept to have all that information available to the public, but sometimes you can create another hazard in the process,” Stratton said. “I’d hate to see this approved and the Department of Roads tell us it’s too big of a distraction.”

But Commissioner Ken Meyer said the sign wouldn’t be as large as a jumbo-tron, and there are already several digital billboards along the highway through Mitchell.

Leisy said the project has already received all the necessary permits from the City of Mitchell and Chamber members have discussed it with Department of Roads representatives.

“We’ve done several projects with Mitchell and really enjoy working with them,” Leisy said.

Commissioners also approved $10,000 in funding from the Tourism Committee’s budget for the county’s participation in the Expo the day prior to the second annual Monument Marathon, coming up this fall.

“The marathon organizers are expecting an even bigger group this year,” Leisy told the board. “Our booth provided tourism information for participants, who might want to return later to visit. Our name will also be on all the sponsorship materials and media releases.”

Leisy also told the board the number of requests for information from their tourism website has increased dramatically, from about two a month to close to 100. She said a lot of that traffic came from advertising they placed in several national magazines, including Country Living and True West.
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