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Clarksville Council joins tourism effort, mulls request for EMS transport billing

SoVaNow.com / February 05, 2020
During their regular meeting in January, members of Clarksville Town Council agreed to spend $2,500 per year for three years to participate in a marketing campaign developed by the Mecklenburg County Tourism coordinator Tina Morgan.

According to Morgan, the goal of this digital media campaign is to target outdoor enthusiasts from the Richmond, Raleigh, Durham, Norfolk, and Washington, D.C. areas and increase regional awareness and bookings at local hotels and motels by driving visitors to online sites.

Morgan said the campaign messaging will encourage visitors to sign up for an e-newsletter promoting area happenings, and increase the number of local travel guides and other informational materials downloaded by potential visitors.

Visitors to the area are growing younger, more affluent and more tech savvy, and the social media presence of Mecklenburg County and its towns has fallen behind what that audience needs, Morgan suggested.

Town Manager Jeff Jones said the Clarksville Lake Country Chamber of Commerce has agreed to participate in the initiative along with the town and will pay one-half of the cost to participate.

The fee to participate in the campaign is $5,000 per year for three years. The Chamber will cover $2,500 of the yearly expense, leaving the town to pay the balance of $2,500 per year.

Jones said Morgan plans to build a unique trip planner for each community with an online calendar of events, a custom blog, suggested tours, an e-newsletter, videos, and photography unique to the town.

The annual fee also includes professional creative development, and media purchases as well as monthly reports reviewing the number of visitors to the site and other relevant data.

Morgan’s presentation materials did not indicate, and Jones did not say who would be responsible for writing the blog posts or the content for the e-newsletter. The presentation materials state that “each community that participates will receive total media that will reach over 1.5 million visitors each month.”

In other business, Council members took under consideration a request by the Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department to bill insurance companies for emergency transport services. Councilman Bruce Woerner asked to table the request while the town investigates the impact that a claim by the fire department may have on the insurance premiums of people who require emergency transport.

A letter sent to Town Council from the members of the Fire Department explains the need for new revenue sources. “Over the past few years the cost to operate our department, outfit our members, and train them for emergency situations has continued to rise. Our organization is researching every avenue to increase funding for the department.”

Departments across the country, including ones in South Hill and Chase City, are billing for transport services to offset operational costs.

There is a company in South Hill, Integrity Billing Service, Inc. owned by Donna Stokesbury, that files claims for both the South Hill and Chase City fire departments and Southside Rescue Squad in South Hill. According to information presented by the Clarksville Fire Department, the company calculates the bill using a standard billing rate for the service rendered. The bills go directly to the appropriate insurance company or government provider.

Citizens of Clarksville and surrounding areas who require emergency transport by the fire department will not be directly billed or sent a statement requesting payment.

Town Council plans to revisit the fire department’s request at the next meeting in February.

Jones informed members of Council that he, in his capacity as zoning administrator, has received a request for a special exception permit to install solar panels on the roof of a building at 405 Fifth Street. A joint meeting of Town Council and the Planning Commission to discuss the request has been scheduled for Thursday, at 6 p.m.

The town is soliciting bids for a general contractor to make upgrades to the Clarksville Police Department and Clarksville Lake Country Chamber of Commerce buildings. The upgrades will include the installation of new A-frame roof systems on both buildings. Bids are due at Town Hall no later than Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.

The town continues to work with CHA Consulting, an engineering firm with offices in Richmond and Blacksburg, to review and make changes to the town’s Spill Response Plan. The company has reviewed potential risks to Clarksville’s water supply, as well as potential emergency management resources available, options for protecting the water supply and a plan for water conservation management.

Jones said he expects to receive a draft of the firm’s findings before the next meeting of the Council in February.

Council member Mike Sizemore said the town is still seeking contributions to cover the cost of a new roadside welcome sign. It will be located on Route 15 South near the on/off ramps for the U.S. 58 bypass. The design will match the sign on the east side of the 58 Business Bridge near the A Plus gas station and convenience store.

Construction and materials are expected to cost around $7,000. Contributions of any amount can be mailed or dropped off at Town of Clarksville 321 Virginia Avenue, PO Box 1147, Clarksville, VA 23927. Checks should note that the money is for the sign project.

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