By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – The Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce met Monday to discuss various matters, including the upcoming Coal Dust Run 5K and Hatfield-McCoy tourism.
The first matter on the agenda, however, was to discuss purchasing flowers for prominent community member and chamber member Joyce Roddy.
Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce President Charlie McCoy said he felt that mentioning Roddy was far more important than other issues on the agenda and said he knew the issue was weighing heavily on the minds of chamber members that day.
McCoy said, “It is with a heavy heart that we are sending condolences to the family of Joyce Roddy. Joyce’s family is in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
The chamber then switched gears and began discussing business matters, starting with the upcoming Coal Dust Run and various sponsors of the event.
The Coal Dust Run is set for Sept. 13 and is being sponsored by the following businesses: Consol Coal, Wllliamson Appalachian Regional Hospital, Chafin Funeral Home, First National Bank, Coal-Mac, Southside Mall, Kerri’s Beauty Shop and 7th Engineer Vietnam Veterans.
After announcing the date of the event and sponsors, TVCC Executive Director Natalie Young said the event could use “more volunteers to throw coal dust” and those interested could contact the TVCC for more information at 304-235-5240.
Pineville, Kentucky, native and Season 8 “America’s Got Talent” third-place finisher Jimmy Rose will be performing at the event.
Rose is known for his original song “Coal Keeps the Lights On,” which he used to audition for “America’s Got Talent.” In a meeting last month, chamber members said they felt that Rose’s background in coal mining, vocal support of coal and Kentucky roots were all good reasons to consider booking him for the Coal Dust Run 5K. The decision was made in favor of paying for Jimmy Rose and his band to perform at the event.
The Coal Dust Run’s popularity has been increasing rapidly since it began in 2012. Young has previously stated that more than 80 runners participated the first year, while approximately 390 participated the following year.
Early registration for the Coal Dust Run is $20, while late registration costs $30. Included with registration is a custom shirt, bib, goggles and a finisher’s medal.
Hatfield McCoy tourism was also discussed at length, with the chamber sharing the sales numbers for last year compared to this year.
Last year (from January to Aug. 11), the total sales for Hatfield-McCoy tourism totaled $40,392.13.
This year (from January to Aug. 11), the total sales for Hatfield-McCoy tourism is $10,312.72, a notable and sharp drop from last year’s numbers.
“Our sales have been down quite a bit from last year,” McCoy said. “It is considerably less than what we were making. It may be time to consider other avenues to promote tourism, and we are open to ideas right now. It does take money to make these things happen, but that is the struggle of our economy and where we are right now, unfortunately.”
South Side Mall owner Diane Hannah was present and said that the focus has been on providing free entertainment for far too long.
“People are too used to free around here,” Hannah said. “If it’s not free, they don’t want it. Free is good, I’m not saying it isn’t. We have to generate an income, though.”
The chamber discussed possible ideas for raising money and promoting tourism in the area, including more 5Kruns, mock feuds and obstacle courses.
“What do you do when you go somewhere else?” Hannah asked, prompting the chamber to consider how other areas promote tourism.
Hannah herself was the first to respond, saying, “I know I like to eat and shop.”
The chamber was unable to reach any decisions during the meeting, which had a lower turnout than usual. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8 at noon. Chamber meetings are held at the Thoroughbred Steak House in South Williamson.