I knew a lady, Ellen Graf, who was a poet. She was a friend of my mother’s, and she once wrote a poem with the line, “Imagine me, at 80, .. ‘with’ book.”
I’m now understanding that line. As one gets older, learning becomes, somehow, more surprising and joyous than in those years when schooling and learning were mandatory.
As readers of this column know, I regularly attend meetings of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). I go because invariably I learn something about the area I now call home. Here is some of what I learned last Tuesday:
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will remain LVCVA Board Chairman only until his term as mayor concludes in early July. After that time, Commissioner Tom Collins will take over to fill out the Chairman’s two-year term. LVCVA’s officers for the next two years took their oaths of office at Tuesday’s meeting swearing to “protect, support and defend the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Nevada against all enemies domestic and foreign”. This oath, methinks, needs updating. The mission of the LVCVA, printed on the Board Room wall, is “to attract visitors by promoting Las Vegas as the world’s most desirable destination for leisure and business travel”. Seems to me, those words should be part of the oath, rather than the words of a chief of state. But oh well…..
During a presentation on the evolution of gaming and tourism taxes in Nevada, Jeremy Aguero of consulting firm Applied Analysis, reminded Board members that twice in our state’s history, gambling was outlawed. The first time was 1861 when Nevada was still a territory and the second time was 1909. Nevada finally made up its mind in 1931 when the Wide Open Gambling Bill was passed.
Jacob Snow, General Manager of the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), began an LVCVA report on RTC activities saying that a serious accident had occurred earlier that morning on I-15 southbound, closing the freeway for several hours. Fortunately in Las Vegas, he explained, all the organizations that would be involved in dealing with rerouting traffic in such a situation are located in one Traffic Management Center located right next to the Nevada Highway Patrol. In other cities, he explained, several separate traffic emergency sites must coordinate efforts, and time is wasted.
Snow also noted that the RTC uses means such as cameras and radar flow detectors, to monitor traffic flow. He urges drivers and riders to check the RTC website for a new service providing area roadway alerts. Drivers and riders can also subscribe to automatic freeway alerts sent to their email addresses.
Among the news that was quite personal to this reporter, Susan Martinovich, Director of the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), who also gave a transportation report at the meeting, noted that among NDOT’s many projects, the bridge over I-15 at Sunset Rd. opened this week. The work does not include entry to the highway, but provides easy access to the many businesses across the highway.
For our Chicago friends in Las Vegas, the LVCVA Marketing Division announced another Big League Weekend Spring Training baseball series March 12 and 13 at Cashman Field. The games will feature the Chicago Cubs against the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The expected media value of these games (TV, radio, etc.) is $2.3 million. The cost to LVCVA (after revenues) about $200,000.
The LVCVA audience always expects a question from Board Chairman Oscar Goodman when Brenda Siddall, Vice President of Finance, finishes her reports. Brenda handles LVCVA finances, including room tax revenues, and knows if times are good or bad, and Goodman is always looking for good news.
“So how do you feel? (about the future)” he asked at Tuesday’s meeting.
“So so”, she answered.
“But it’s better this month than last month?” he offered.
“No,” she answered. After a delay, she added, “But it’s not worse.”
“Have a seat,” Goodman said quickly to laughter in the room.
Next on the agenda, Las Vegas Events President Pat Christiansen presented his regular quarterly report, putting particular emphasis on December’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) which he called “the template for future events”, noting Las Vegas would love to have a number of similarly popular happenings. Attendance at the “world’s greatest rodeo” was 177,000. For its 26 years in Las Vegas, the rodeo has had 240 consecutive sold-out performances. (Please see some fabulous NFR photos here.) More than 20 host hotels welcomed the cowboys; 46 properties received the satellite feed.
As a follow-up, Board member Susan Holecheck, Mayor of Mesquite, NV noted that two events in her community had international repercussions. The RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship held in October and November in Mesquite has been shown on TV in 40 countries. In December, she said, Mesquite and the CasaBlanca Event Center hosted something new, the World Armwrestling Federation 2010 World Armwrestling Championships USA. The week-long event drew 1300 competitors from 70 countries. Not quite an NFR….but 70 countries is impressive.