Hospitality is as hospitality gives … thanks, Olivia Orme
Last week while Harrison County CVB folks were sitting around the highly polished conference table in the Blaine Wiseman Room at the library in Corydon, a familiar face stood out among the crowd.
Olivia Orme, a charter member of the CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau), sat quietly but attentively. She was in her element, even though she’s no longer a board member.
‘This is my first love,’ she said, earnestly. ‘This is special … I love the hospitality industry.’
And she is especially excited to see the work now underway by the once poor little stepchild of county government.
She’s not by herself, given the varied tourism market in Harrison County. There is, of course, the riverboat at Bridgeport, and there are the caves, the historic buildings and grounds, and even a newspaper office that’s been operating here since 1856, some 150 years. That’s us, The Corydon Democrat, and it is Harrison County’s oldest business. We have some interesting relics here, dating back to typesetting days.
The CVB hasn’t been around quite that long.
The agency was established on Nov. 17, 1987. The bylaws define the purpose: ‘To develop and promote a program to attract visitor spending for the economic benefit of Harrison County.’
Olivia Orme was an original signer. Others were Judy Hess, Dave Harmon, Gerald L. Uhl and Bud Bennett. The board serves as volunteers, like most of those other unpaid dedicated persons in Harrison County who serve the community in so many ways.
To accomplish their goals, the CVB’s five-member board started out with a whopping three-percent innkeeper’s tax at their disposal. In those lean days, there were few inns (or hotels or motels) to collect and pay the traveler’s tax. But it was better than nothing. Seventy-five percent of the money was to be spent attracting visitors; 25 percent was to be set aside for spending at the discretion of the board, as in a capital projects building fund.
The bylaws were updated in 1997, when the tax was increased to four percent. Things were definitely looking up, and Caesars Indiana hadn’t even dug the first footer yet for its 500-room hotel. The casino itself didn’t open until the end of 1998. But that, too, meant a big shot in the arm for the CVB because the state contributes 10 cents of its $1 share of admissions taxes toward the promotion of tourism.
Unlike the old days, the CVB now has plenty of money ‘ about $1 million a year ‘ to accomplish its goals. Understandably, the Harrison County Council keeps a sharp eye on the agency’s spending.
‘No one cared about us when we had no money,’ Orme noted.
Orme and her husband, Larry, former owners of the Best Western ‘ Old Capital Inn in Corydon, operate food booths at carnivals far and wide, so she’s now out of town during many of the CVB’s meetings. The Ormes also stand ready to travel to emergency sites, such as the Gulf Coast in the wake of last year’s devastating hurricanes, and provide meals for crews while they are working to restore power and other services.
She resigned last year, after she had been called to the Gulf.
At the July meeting, the CVB board chair, Michael Wiseman, presented Orme with a plaque, ‘a small token of appreciation for 19 years service and commitment to the CVB.’
Later, Wiseman said: ‘She was always worried about what decisions we made would do five to 10 years down the road. She wasn’t just in it for short-term benefits.’
While she was still connected with the Old Capital Inn, Wiseman said her decisions weren’t aimed at self-interests. ‘She was always looking out for the best interests of the county, especially as it related to tourism.’
For the record, Olivia, we at O’Bannon Publishing Co. have always thought the same as Wiseman. So add our name to those who wish you nothing but the best for the future.