Town of Albion Plan Commission Chairman Kim Olson has been appointed as a commissioner to the newly formed Edgerton Tourism Zone. Along with Albion, the zone includes the town of Fulton and city of Edgerton.
Olson was appointed during the Albion Town Board of Supervisor’s regular meeting held Nov. 5.
She joins Town Board of Fulton Supervisor Andy Walton and Edgerton resident and former city council member Mark Wellnitz on the commission. According to state statutes, the three will meet and appoint a chairman. The chairman will appoint two more commissioners from within the hotel and motel industry.The full five-member board will then name a tourism agent to provide manpower and develop programming to promote tourism across the zone.
Commissioners serve one-year terms.
Monies to fund tourism initiatives will come through a 5% room tax which the three municipalities in the zone will begin collecting Jan. 1.
While a first meeting has not yet been set, the three newly appointed commissioners recently gave the Milton Courier some insight into local tourism, their role as commissioners, and the direction they thought the commission might take.
Said Wellnitz: I think, as a committee, we just are trying to bring more tourism dollars into the community by taking advantage of the attributes we have, like the lake and the downtown, to draw tourism into the area one way or another, and to help people in the area that have a link to it.”
He cited area campgrounds as a draw for tourists.
“The area gets a lot of revenue from campers and I believe they are a big attribute to tourism in the area,” he said.
He viewed the commission as “a positive step forward.”
Said Walton: “Tourism is very important to this area. My understanding is that the commission is in charge of finding a promotional or marketing firm to promote our community. My assumption is that we are to find a marketing firm — I hope it will be a local one that knows our area and will be sure that the money is spent properly — and that we get the best bang for our buck.
“I’d be going into this open-minded and I’d like to see all our options.”
While he noted the importance of campgrounds in the area, he said focus, too, should be placed on the area’s motels, hotels, and what he described as “vacation-by-owner kinds of places,” citing them as sources of the zone’s room tax revenues.
“I think a goal is to promote off-season tourism. We have a strong summer season. I don’t know if this is an opportunity to promote off-season, but I think it is a goal to shoot for,” Walton said.
Said Olson: “From the Albion perspective, we want to highlight and promote what I call our hidden gems.”
She pointed to the community’s parks, golf courses, campgrounds and a museum.
“We have a winery and vineyard. We have art festivals and car shows. I don’t know that many people know about those things. We are right off of the interstate. I hope people will stop in and see what’s going on instead of driving straight through,” Olson said.
Among unique area offerings, Olson cited Silverwood Park, 771 Silver Lane, Edgerton, a former farm used today as a learning center for agriculture.
“We have to promote the entire area because we are all neighbors,” Olson said.
She sees value, she said, in connecting the assets within each community to provide a broader experience for tourists coming to the area.
“We have to work together to get them here and show them what we’ve got,” she said.