VCVB backs Alliance, assigns director as delegate

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 28, 2004

[5/28/04]The Alliance got an endorsement from the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau board Thursday, but the VCVB will send a new delegate to the fledgling community group’s meetings.

Eric Biedenharn, chairman of the VCVB board, was in on the groundwork for the Alliance. Without offering specifics, he asked Thursday that a new representative from the VCVB be selected.

“I have some concerns. Some of them were addressed and some of them were not,” Biedenharn said.

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He said his reason was that he currently has too many obligations, but also said he abstained from a vote last week on the Alliance board to approve the organization’s new structure.

Biedenharn recommended that the VCVB continue to be a part of the organization, a move also endorsed by Emy Wilkinson, VCVB executive director, who will be the new delegate.

Last week, the Alliance board approved new bylaws and the creation of a 25-member board of trustees. Biedenharn said that his biggest concern was that the member organization would have no vote on the board of trustees and would have limited power to remove members from that group.

Lamar Roberts, also a VCVB board member, said he also had concerns about the Alliance organization, but also did not state what those concerns were. He was the only member of the VCVB board to vote against the VCVB remaining a part of the Alliance.

“I’m still opposed to it,” Roberts said.

That drew a reaction from Bobby Bailess, who is a member of both the VCVB board and the new Alliance board of trustees. Bailess said the biggest problem was that most people do not understand the purpose of the Alliance.

“I still don’t understand why Lamar is against the organization other than he doesn’t understand what the Alliance is trying to do,” Bailess said. “There’s nothing sinister or out of order.”

The Alliance was started as an umbrella organization that would bring together members from various other public groups to share information, create a single direction for the community and reduce duplications among organizations.

Bailess said that mission hasn’t changed.

“What it’s really going to do is be an advocate for this bureau if it thinks this organization is doing the right thing,” he said.

Wilkinson, who moved here this year from a North Mississippi area where an alliance of community organizations has worked cohesively for years, said that once the Alliance here is off the ground, it could even be an opportunity for additional funding to the VCVB or a way to help direct other efforts to attract tourism.

“I came from an Alliance and I know how beneficial it can be,” Wilkinson said.