The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
I often make a point to drive south on Holden Street to see the fine historic murals painted on buildings at successive corners (Gay Street, Market Street). In these murals, artist Jim LeGrande captured much of the essence of Warrensburg's early years. Even better, the murals were funded privately, not by tax money.
That's why I turned with great anticipation to page 34 of the latest January/February issue of Midwest Traveler magazine. That's the official magazine of the Auto Club of Missouri, the regional affiliate of AAA; a mention in this magazine can really bring tourists. I thought that with our murals, we would certainly be included somewhere in an article entitled "Big Art, Small Towns." Well, we weren't.
Cuba (pop. 3230), along Route 66, was the lead town; it has 7 murals and plans several more. Louisiana (pop. 3863) has 15 and an official mural organization. Other featured towns include Cape Girardeau (pop. 35,349), Chillicothe (pop. 8968), and Mountain View (pop. 2430). Other towns mentioned in the article include Liberty, Boonville, Sweet Springs, Higginsville, Nevada, Brunswick, Lake of the Ozarks and Lee's Summit; in several of these towns the mural isn't even done yet. A secondary sidebox lists additional murals in Carthage, Clinton, Defiance, Hamilton, Sedalia, Sikeston, Slater and Washington.
So why was poor old Warrensburg left out again? I suspect that it's because nobody knows we have murals. I doubt if they've been submitted to any state tourism resource inventory. Matter of fact, I doubt if there is a thorough tourism resource inventory for our town and our county.
The Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center (GWACC&VC) gets around $60,000 a year in room tax money; by state law, it's supposed to be used to promote tourism. The city, however, allowed 20% of the money to be skimmed off the top for "Chamber uses." At one time, the GWACC&VC charged the tourism function an additional amount for overhead and utilities; I don't know if that's still going on, since the advisory and oversight board doesn't publicize its activities. I also wonder if the GWACC&VC is charging the tourism fund for the costs of its "newcomers package" distributed at Whiteman AFB and if it is crediting the fund for the time spent on non-tourism functions for the GWACC&VC.
It's about time for some public visibility on the tourism tax, especially where the money goes and what results we have seen from it.
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