Cumberland Times-News

Local News

October 3, 2013

I-68 welcome center sees 12,548 visitors in four months

Garrett County facility manned by Chamber of Commerce volunteers

OAKLAND — The Youghiogheny Overlook Welcome Center along Interstate 68 east of Friendsville has seen 12,548 travelers between May, when it reopened, and September, according to Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.

Of the 10,043 visitors who signed in, the top five states of origination were Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. County Commissioner Jim Raley said he was shocked at the number of visitors coming from the Midwest.

The welcome center is located at mile marker 6 between the Friendsville and U.S. Route 219 exits.

“Remember the welcome center is only on the eastbound side (of Interstate 68) so it’s only traveling west to east,” said Christian during her update at the commission meeting Tuesday.

The center has seen 157 international visitors. The top five destinations of travelers were Gettysburg, Pa., Washington, D.C., Ocean City, Baltimore and Annapolis, according to Christian.

Raley thanked the chamber for undertaking the welcome center.

“I know it’s another task on your plate,” said Raley. “It’s additional staffing, it’s additional monitoring, it’s additional everything. I think you know that was viewed as a pretty important project and something that I still think has very futuristic potential for our area.”

The National Road brochure is one of the most requested brochures at the center.

“The National Road is of particular importance because it does come into Garrett County and specifically goes through Grantsville and by the Casselman Bridge,” said Christian.

The Adventure Sports Center International is one of the most requested Garrett County brochures and the staff at the center has seen a lot of interest in the Deep Creek 2014: International Canoe Federation Canoe Slalom World Championships in McHenry, according to Christian.

The chamber is working on a system to track the number of travelers who have become visitors of the county.

“If our staff gives specific directions to a location in Garrett County, then we are counting them as a convert,” said Christian. “We just started doing this about a month ago and in September only, we converted 180 travelers to Garrett County visitors. That is not a huge number, but over the course of the year, if we are converting over 200 people a month that is going to make a huge impact.”

The chamber staffs the center, which is open Thursday through Sunday through Oct. 13 and Friday through Sunday from Oct. 18 through May 18.

In other news, the commissioners approved a rejection of a request for proposals for public relations/marketing services for Deep Creek 2014. Todd Copley, executive director of Deep Creek 2014, recommended the rejection because Deep Creek 2014 in collaboration with the chamber will handle public relations in-house.

Eight proposals were received and they ranged from $86,700 to $137,000, according to Brian Bowers, county purchasing agent.

The matter was discussed with the chamber board of directors and it was in agreement with the idea, according to Christian.

 The commission also approved and discussed the following:

• Awarded Jan and Judy Finkle as the 2014 Garrett County’s Most Beautiful People.

• Bid award contracts for winter abrasives.

• A recommendation for renewal of contractual snow removal services.

• Updates from the county’s Department of Engineering and Department of Facilities and Maintenance as well as an update from the University of Maryland Extension.

• Read proclamations for I Can Swim month and Garrett County Gives.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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