The Marshall County Tourism Commission met Thursday in the Marshall County Blueberry Festival office, conducting their first public meeting.

The first order of business was the election of officers.  Brian Teall was elected President, Wyatt Stephen was elected Vice President, Tracy Houin as Treasurer and Angle Balsley as Secretary. Other members in attendance were Jim Hartung and Matt Hovermale.  Mark Damore was unable to attend the first meeting. 

County Attorney Jim Clevenger attended the meeting and gave a brief history of the Convention Recreation and Visitors Commission.  In 1991 the commissioners adopted an ordinance establishing a uniform innkeeper’s tax along with a 7-member commission with representatives from each community.  The appointments were one from the County Commissioners, one appointed by the mayor of Plymouth, one by the Argos Town Council and one by the Bourbon Town Council.  The Chamber of Commerce from Bremen, Culver and Plymouth also had appointments.  The initial innkeepers tax rate was established at 3%.

Shortly after the commissioners established the ordinance the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau Inc. was formed, as a not-for-profit corporation.  Clevenger said the non-profit is still active and officers of that corporation are President Mark VanDerWeele, Vice President Debbie Sayloff, Treasurer Linda Rippy and Secretary Kim Berger and Operations Director Jessica Beatty. 

Clevenger said in 2010 the Marshall County Council passed an ordinance increasing the innkeeper’s tax to 5%. 

Just a few years ago a group including some from Culver began to question if the innkeeper’s tax was being distributed equally to those communities where much of the tax was being collected. At that point it was also discovered that the state statute had changed, and the make-up of the county board was not in compliance.  A majority of members were to be involved in tourism and appointed by the County Commissioners and mayor of the largest municipality in the county. 

The new tourism commission asked the county attorney to request information from the original commission including minutes of the meetings, financial details and information on the ownership of the website. 

The Marshall County Tourism Commission motioned to retain Jim Clevenger for a short term as their attorney to help get the commission up and running.  Clevenger will also assist in determining the status between the new Tourism Commission and the non-profit 501C6 that still exists.  Members also reviewed insurance for the board and discussed acquiring a post office box for mail since they don’t have a permanent location and banking details.