Grant funds OK’d for wrestling tourney

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners approved $1,500 for the upcoming Mountain State Clash Wrestling Tournament.

Meeting with county commissioners Monday, Mark Lewis, director, and Cindy Sheppard. both with the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the wrestling tournament was requesting $5,000 from the county Innovative Grant Fund for the Dec. 27-28 event at Blennerhassett Middle School.

“Based on the number of hotel nights history they have we are recommending they receive the same amount of funding they have gotten in the past two years, which is $1,500,” Sheppard told the commissioners.

Sheppard noted the tournament anticipates bringing in about 30 teams from Ohio and West Virginia for the event.

“They don’t tend to have the number of hotel stays that they would like; hopefully, they will continue to grow and get more hotel stays,” Commissioner Blair Couch said.

“We will work with them and see if we can’t get those numbers up,” Lewis said.

Sheppard said the event had about 100 rooms booked for the first year of the event, and last year it was 75.

The Mountain State Clash is a two-day wrestling tournament. According to their grant application, event organizers said they expect around 2,000 people to attend, with 300-400 expected to spend the night in the area.

County officials said there is currently $40,000 obligated in the Innovative Grant Fund, with $46,000 budgeted.

“That number was based on anticipated revenue coming in, so if the revenue is up, there would be more available,” County administrator Marty Seufer told commissioners.

Lewis noted collections from the county’s hotel/motel tax are up over last year.

“We’ll have the final figures in January,” he said.

In 2008 the commission voted to increase the county’s room occupancy tax from 3-to-6 percent. After raising the rate the commissioners created and adopted guidelines for a new Innovative Program Grant/Special Promotions Fund to be funded through a percentage of the hotel/motel tax revenue that is set aside.

The grants are offered on a competitive basis. As part of the stipulations for the grant, event organizers are asked to provide documentation of increased numbers of visitors to the area as the result of their event, including overnight stays.

The Innovative Grant fund is made up of 8.5 percent of the county hotel/motel occupancy taxes.