Progress on the Olive Hill Welcome Center is coming right along, and though it means the Chamber will be looking for a new place – or places – to meet, Chamber President Lisa Messer Conley is excited to get the center open.

At their regular January meeting last Thursday Messer Conley showed off new display cases with memorabilia from Tom T. Hall, and gave an update on progress with the construction of display cases for other content. She recently purchased the two display cases currently in the center. Other displays, she said larger, including slanted, shelf-style display cases, frames for art, and a custom case for the Tom T. Hall autographed guitar, are currently being worked on by students at the Carter County Career and Technical Center. She said students and faculty are donating their labor at no costs. The only cost to the Chamber will be for any materials needed. So far, however, she said they have been using reclaimed materials, at no cost to the Chamber.

Messer Conley also showed off an example of how they planned to display album covers from Hall and other local artists, with frames donated by Commercial Bank of Grayson. She said the example shown was not the final version, noting that they would probably change the mat to a darker color instead of white.

Messer Conley also referred to her recent leadership training at the Brushy Fork Institute, explaining that though Olive Hill is small, the local music traditions were something to build upon because they already attracted people. She noted that last year's Shriner's Bluegrass Festival had drawn people from across the country, and as far afield as Europe and Israel, to the town. Those are the same people, she said, who would be interested in visiting a Tom T. Hall display, and purchasing souvenirs. These people have already asked for Tom T. t-shirts and other memorabilia, she said, borrowing the language of Brushy Fork as she explained it was the “low hanging fruit” the city could pick first and build upon.

“People will come to see Tom T. Hall's home town,” she said.

Messer Conley also noted that May 2 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Olive Hill floods. She said she would like to see a celebration, to commemorate the event and the recovery.

“We want to show everyone how we have overcome,” she said.

Chamber member J.D. Rayburn said he would like to see something low key, where the community could, “just get together and be grateful.”

Tammy Moore suggested a display of photos and a video showing both the devastation and the recovery.

In that same spirit, Messer Conley also praised the local efforts to keep the town clean after recent community clean up events, noting that she as she came through town now she would see folks out with flat shovels scraping up remaining mud and debris, and keeping up with the clean up efforts that were already made.

“We can go past clean up, and go to the fix up phase,” she said.

Speaker Chimila Hargett, Olive Hill Clerk and Treasurer, also spoke to the Chamber about Olive Hill's business licensing requirements that were passed last year. She said that although letters were sent out to local businesses about the new requirement, which replaced an older unloading license ordinance, not every business owner had received the notice. She brought the necessary paperwork with her in folders for the Chamber members, so they could obtain their business license if they were not currently in compliance. Those same papers are also available from the City Clerk at City Hall, Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Chamber also recognized Lincoln Stamper as their volunteer of the month, Walker's Restaurant as member of the month, and Sally's Flowers with a special commendation for their 65 years in business.

Contact the writer at jwells@journal-times.com.

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