Task force may help determine fate of See Lancaster

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By Jesef Williams

A recently developed committee will play a role in determining the focus and fate of See Lancaster, the group that promotes tourism throughout the county.

A 10-member task force has been discussing See Lancaster’s aim and ways to make the group more effective and valuable.

The idea of the task force was suggested by Jay Rainey and Eric Rowell, who both serve on See Lancaster’s board of directors. The task force held its first meeting last month.

Since its formation, the task force has heard a presentation from Bennish Brown of the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Rowell said Brown’s information was valuable, because that group has had similar ups and downs and growth patterns as See Lancaster.

“We’re just doing some brainstorming,” Rowell said about the task force. “It’s been positive.”

County Administrator Steve Willis, another task force member, said the group is in the information-gathering stage.

More changes to come?

In 2008, See Lancaster’s then-executive director Frank Keel resigned amidst allegations of accounting irregularities. Since then, City Council has had more oversight of the group and now allocates funding periodically versus once a year.

The most recent funding was $28,500 for January and February, City Administrator Helen Sowell said.  She said the goal is to “make sure the monies are spent in a way that best serves the community.”

Some in the community have been critical of See Lancaster, questioning whether tax dollars spent to support the group are worthwhile.

Rowell points to a number of events such as the Santa Train and last fall’s open air market as some of See Lancaster’s bright spots.

He said some people oppose See Lancaster spending money on advertising outside the county, but he believes that will help draw more people to the county.

“We just are a working board and the members are very passionate about Lancaster and want to see it grow,” Rowell said.

Sowell said the city won’t decide what course to take before hearing what the task force has to report.

The committee plans to present to the See Lancaster board of directors  later this month and to City Council in March, Rowell said.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152