City looks for ways to welcome visitors

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By Molly Haines

A temporary Owen County welcome center could find a home at Owenton City Hall.

The Owenton City Council met March 2, where Leadership Owen County alumni David and Joy Morgan were present.

David Morgan discussed the need for a welcome center and tourism director with council members and Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier.

Morgan said the county is ineligible for some programs and grants due to its lack of a tourism director.

Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith was also present at the meeting to discuss tourism within Owen County and the city of Owenton and a possible transient room tax.

If the county were to enact a transient room tax, those renting rooms on a daily basis – such as occupants of motels and hotels – would be the ones taxed.

The money from the tax would be marked for community development, which could go toward funding a welcome center and tourism director.

“The city has got to go along with this for us to make it work,” Keith said during the meeting. “I feel like we’ve been doing a disservice to the people in this community who have committed to having a business here when people can’t go somewhere in the county and find information on these places.”

The idea of placing a temporary welcome center at Owenton City Hall was discussed during the meeting.

Wotier said some things would need to be ironed out and discussed further before any action could be taken.

Since the Owenton Police received a grant from Homeland Security, public access to the entire building has been restricted, Wotier said. “We have to make sure that we stay within our security guidelines before we can do anything.”

Wotier said the council could possibly vote on the idea at its April 6 meeting.

“I think I’d feel better if I had their stamp of approval,” Wotier said. “I want to make sure that they’re all on board for it.”

If the council moves forward with a temporary welcome center at city hall, Wotier said it is likely that literature on Owen County and its businesses, maps and other reading materials would be made available to tourists. City hall employees would be available to answer most questions.

Wotier said he felt a welcome center would be a great asset to the community.

“I think it would boost some fresh life into our city,” Wotier said. “It would be like a shot in the arm for tourism. We have a lot to offer around here and this would be a place where people from out of town would be able to come and learn about those places.”

Wotier said the idea of a welcome center is not a new one.

“This is something that has really been around for a long time,” Wotier said. “I think Leadership Owen County has provided us with some great insight into the future of this county. They have a lot of great visions and ideas. We need to start implementing some of those visions, and I think a welcome center is just the beginning of that. There’s a lot of interest in this idea right now and we need to strike while the iron is hot.”

The council also discussed the purple house on East Perry Street that is facing foreclosure.

“We have to go through all of the legal work first,” Wotier said. “It could be 90 days before we get something done there.”