Chamber Seeks Tourism Grants for New Fiddlers Jamboree Stage and Enhancements to County Complex Theater

July 28, 2020
By: Dwayne Page

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is making application for two Tourism Enhancement grants each in the amount of $75,000 on behalf of the City of Smithville and DeKalb County governments.

Should the grants be approved both the city and county have committed to put up the required 10% match of $7,500.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams addressed the mayor and aldermen July 13th.

“The grant for the city would be used to purchase a brand new Fiddlers’ Jamboree stage including the backdrop, artwork, lighting, an Americans with Disability (ADA) compliant ramp, etc. The new stage would have a similar look to the one we have now but it would provide everything we need to make it even more beautiful and safer for the 50th anniversary of the Fiddlers’ Jamboree next year,” said Williams.

If the city grant is approved Williams said the $7,500 local match would be repaid by the Fiddlers’ Jamboree Board of Directors. The Smithville aldermen unanimously voted in support of the grant.

Williams addressed the DeKalb County Commission Monday night, July 27.

“ This grant would be for the community theater at the county complex to install programmable lights, enhanced sound, and an environmental screen to where we don’t have to build all the sets and with the touch of a button we could have any backdrop we want,” she said.

Originally, Williams said she thought the Chamber could only apply for one $75,000 grant which she intended to divide $50,000 for the Jamboree stage and $25,000 for the community theater project.

County Mayor Tim Stribling said $2,500 had already been budgeted for the $25,000 grant match but the remaining $5,000 could be appropriated from other county complex charges in the budget to apply for the $75,000 grant.

The county commission voted 11-3 to commit up to $7,500 total for the grant match. Commissioners voting in favor were Julie Young, Sabrina Farler, Myron Rhody, Jenny Trapp, Janice Fish Stewart, Dr. Scott Little, Jerry Adcock, Anita Puckett, Matt Adcock, Jeff Barnes, and Beth Pafford. Those voting no were Dennis Slager, Bobby Johnson, and Bruce Malone.

Tourism Enhancement Grants are designed for cities and counties seeking to invest in local tourism infrastructure assets. Eligible projects include stages, signage, enhancement to attractions or venues and other resources that target expanding local tourism.

“Tourism is an important factor for economic development in Tennessee. This program provides valuable opportunities for growth in our important rural areas,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Our partnership with TNCED allows us to invest in development resulting in increased visitation and more funds coming back into the community.”

The Tourism Enhancement Grant program is funded through the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, which is designed to improve the economic indicators in rural communities across Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Williams has also applied for a $10,000 Tennessee Arts Commission Grant on behalf of the city to fund a large mural project for downtown Smithville on the highly visible west wall of the Savvy Scrubs building. The local match is $2,000, half of which will be funded by the city if the grant is approved. Williams said she would raise funds for the rest of the grant match.

Williams said the county is also getting a $3,500 Telework Grant to outfit the conference room in the county complex for Zoom type meeting/training/class space .

Meanwhile the bidding process will soon begin for equipment at the Alexandria Playground funded through a Three Star grant program.