By JOHN PURCELL
Recorder News Staff
Representatives from the Fort Plain Museum made a presentation to the Montgomery County Legislature last week regarding a new marketing effort to bring tourism to the county.
Norm Bollen, an organizer of the Mohawk Country initiative, delivered a presentation to the legislature at the Feb. 14 meeting about the initiative, which would seek to promote, preserve and protect historic sites throughout the county. The campaign could also potentially stretch into Fulton County to market historical assets in both counties.
“Montgomery County is blessed that we have a multitude of historic sites, but we haven’t always taken very good care of them,” Bollen said.
Bollen said unlike Colonial Williamsburg where a lot of history is condensed to a small location, Mohawk Country unifies historical sites spread across a wider area. He said extensive research has been done on historical sites by prior organizations, but no agency has unified efforts recently.
Bollen said he looking to get official recognition from the legislature, which would provide a good marketing tool and add importance to the initiative.
“This is something that makes sense for this county,” Bollen said.
He suggested forming a committee to work in partnership with the chamber on taking ideas of Mohawk Country and incorporating it with ongoing tourism efforts in the county.
Legislature Chairman Roy Dimond said he believed the county could assist the organization with grant applications to secure funding, such as possibly through the state’s consolidated funding application (CFA) process.
“If we could put a plan together and talk about a CFA that maybe I could work with some people on, then I think that would be real icing on the cake if we could make something happen for all these sites,” Bollen said.
County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said after the presentation the county must build upon its strengths, which includes Revolutionary War historical sites.
“If you’ve never seen the busses of people that come in to visit these sites, you might think nobody ever goes to these places but they do,” Ossenfort said. “You have to make it easier and more attractive for people to do that and have them not only visit the site, but stop at a restaurant and have a bite to eat.”
Ossenfort said he believed the county could work together with the organization to build upon the proposal in the future.
District 6 Legislator John Duchessi asked Bollen why tourism for Revolutionary War attractions is not as great as CIvil War attractions. Bollen said he didn’t have a solid reason but the Civil War had a bigger role in American history in terms of the amount of combatants, casualties and states affected.
The Mohawk Country initiative would be separate from the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce’s tourism program for the county, but Bollen said he has worked with the chamber on existing efforts. While the initiative originally started to promote the Fort Plain Museum, it has grown to include historical sites across Montgomery and Fulton counties.
Gina Dabiere-Gibbs, tourism director for Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, said if legislators and the county executive want to incorporate Mohawk Country into its tourism efforts then there would need to be discussions. She said the brand “made of something stronger” would have to be worked into Mohawk Country efforts. She said there would also have to be discussions with other parties affected by the proposed promotion initiative.