CHC Game Changers--Strategies

County Historical Commission (CHC) game changers are high-performing organizations who change the way CHCs and preservation are valued. These 2013 CHC annual reporting excerpts demonstrate how CHCs layer efforts in order to leverage relationships and opportunities. These CHC connect to larger efforts in order to broaden their audience and the impact of their work.

Chambers CHC: Our reputation for hard work and professionalism has earned the respect of our political officials at the city and county levels. We invite them to our meetings and share our minutes and agendas monthly with all commissioners, as well as our county treasurer, county auditor, and county clerk. We generally follow up by email updates to keep them informed on current projects. Our Facebook page generates interest and participation by allowing our county officials an opportunity to interact with our other readers, offer tidbits of information to our posts, and 'like' the pictures. We need to concentrate more on the city officials, because we do not reach out to them to the same degree that we do our county officials. However, our successful involvement with Gatorfest officials accomplishes this to some degree, because the city officials are also involved in the Gatorfest decisions. We did contact the City of Mt Belvieu requesting permission to hold a fundraiser to replace rotten wood, repaint, and fix up a historic barber shop. Instead of a response to our request, the city officials immediately got to work: the exterior has already been restored; the interior is in process of being restored. We followed up with a thank you note full of praise for their prompt action and willingness to protect and promote our rich historical heritage.

Franklin CHC: Heritage tourism is the largest tourism draw for Franklin County. The efforts of the Franklin CHC and the Franklin County Historical Association (FCHA) to maintain/operate four museum facilities for visitors to this area are paramount in that. Franklin CHC appointees/FCHA board members coordinate closely with these two entities (and others) to bring in tour groups (and individuals) to our downtown/local business area. Franklin CHC/FCHA volunteers serve as tour guides for all tours and informational sources for most all promotional materials that are put out about the county. This allows us to highlight the historical significance of the county. We have long had a strong public presence in our community when it comes to tourism. However, strengthening partnerships with the school has continued to open us up to our local community. We have been able to sustain sponsorship of newly recurring events/activities that continue to bring us into the spotlight on a local level. It has brought about a renewed awareness of our efforts to the minds of more locals when they see news coverage of the children’s activities that we sponsor and all the historic photos on our Facebook page.

Liberty County: Our CHC has made a concentrated effort to grow our preservation programs by engaging the County Judge and Commissioners. Our CHC Chair Jamison regularly meets with county officials and keeps them informed about the work and future plans of the commission. We appeared before the commissioners court and asked for the help of individual commissioners to clean up neglected and abandoned cemeteries. We presented a master plan of work that our CHC would like to do and a proposed budget. We asked the commissioners court for office space and to increase our county allocation from the general budget. Due to our efforts, they raised our annual allocation substantially and indicated the potential for additional funding for special projects. They also provided a two-office suite, furnished by the county in the new Liberty County Community Center for the CHC. We have been diligent in informing the public through public events and through the media, keeping a very public face on our CHC. Our officials have been attending our meetings and are enthusiastic about our work and potential, hence raising substantially our annual allocation and furnishing office space. We have had great interest from the public in general due to press releases and the radio.

Matagorda CHC: Our biggest focus in 2013 was the creation and implementation of an active Heritage Tourism committee. The first efforts were to get a web site and Facebook page in operation to reach local citizens while focusing on visitors to the county. The committee chairman made presentations to the following organizations: Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Matagorda County Retired Teachers Association, Palacios Chamber of Commerce, and Matagorda County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). The committee has partnered with the Matagorda County CVB, chambers of commerce in Palacios and Bay City, Bay City Historical Commission, Palacios Area Historical Association, Bay City Main Street, and many other organizations. The contacts attracted interest from Texas NOW magazine, which has a circulation from Galveston to Corpus Christi, and our CHC submitted five articles for publication. Advertising was placed in several publications and articles were printed in the local newspapers. The Bay City Downtown Walking Tour and the Bay City Southside Historic District brochures were updated. Tours were sponsored in the spring, led by CHC members wearing their new t-shirts printed with “Visit Historic Matagorda County…Where History Awaits You.” Five cemetery walking tours were created for the Historic Texas Cemetery recipients and tours were conducted each Saturday in October in partnership with the five cemetery associations. All tours including two Look Up tours for Bay City and Palacios were posted on the web site as virtual tours. A rack card and tour brochures were created and are now available in the visitor kiosk on the Bay City square as well as sites in Palacios. CHC members collaborated with Tenaris, an international company locating in Matagorda County, on creating a video about Matagorda County and its history. This heritage tourism effort was very successful in 2013 and has established a solid foundation to expand our outreach in 2014.

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