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Tourism officials say new system is sound investment

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Can you hear me now? In the works for more than a year, a new downtown Greenfield sound system was funded primarily by the Hancock County Visitors Bureau. The Riley Festival also contributed $2,000. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)
Can you hear me now? In the works for more than a year, a new downtown Greenfield sound system was funded primarily by the Hancock County Visitors Bureau. The Riley Festival also contributed $2,000. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — A new sound system in downtown Greenfield will help keep visitors in the loop on activities at festivals, county tourism officials say.

The system, which was installed just in time for last week’s Riley Festival, was a point of discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of the Hancock County Tourism Commission.

Member Greg Carwein, who is also on the board for the Hancock County Visitors Bureau, said groups can now start using the system when they hold festivals to inform the public of activities or emergency situations.

The system has been planned for over a year. The visitors bureau funded most of the project by chipping in roughly $38,000. Director Dave Scott said that was honoring a commitment the group had made two years ago, before major changes in tourism funding happened that put the visitors bureau in flux with regard to how much money it receives annually.

The project was also installed with a $2,000 contribution by the Riley Festival, and with manpower of Greenfield city employees.

A.J. Fager, owner of Force Technology Solutions, which designed and helped install the system, said there are now 12 speakers in downtown Greenfield on electric poles, light posts and on top of city hall. There was also about 6,000 feet of cable for the system strung overhead and running back into city hall.

He said people can now hear music and announcements throughout the downtown district for not only the Riley Festival, but for other events downtown.

“I feel like everyone was very pleased,” Fager said of reaction to the system at last week’s festivities. “We got compliments all week from everyone at Riley Days, and we also got a lot of people in passing that knew we did the installation tell us how clear it was.”

Tom Billings said he, too, was pleased with the new system. Billings, president of the Riley Festival board, said for years the festival had used a system that didn’t work well due to its age. Some visitors would say it was too loud; others couldn’t hear announcements at all.

The new system, Billings said, is clear throughout the downtown district. While he doesn’t think it had to be used for an emergency at the festival, Billings said he is glad the system is in place.

Carwein told the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Families United for Support and Encouragement about the project Tuesday, and suggested they start using it at next year’s Taste of Hancock County.

F.U.S.E. and chamber officials gave the tourism commission an update on the inaugural food and music event in September. The commission gave the groups a $16,000 grant to promote the event.

“Having that seed money to get started was just huge,” said Amy Borgman, development director for F.U.S.E., who said about 1,200 visitors came to the event.

Borgman was receptive to using the sound equipment next year. Carwein said he would also like to see the sound system expanded to reach the Pennsy Trail, so events along the trail can utilize it.

One thing the tourism commission did not discuss Tuesday was its 2013 budget. The budget, which also includes rent money for a new welcome center, has been a point of contention among members. The county council told them last month to work out problems among themselves before it would approve next year’s budget.

President David Dellacca said a committee made up of himself, Carwein and Joni Romeril-Cox has not been able to find the time to meet yet. They plan to meet at the end of this month before coming back to the county council in November.

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