The Batesville City Council met virtually at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The city was unable to get their plan for an in-person meeting with more than 10 people approved by the Arkansas Department of Health, but will be submitting those plans for future meetings.

An ordinance waving the bidding process for purchasing used equipment, motor fuel, leased equipment, water treatment chemicals, hot asphalt, cold asphalt, Badger radio read meters, property insurance, and employee health insurance for 2021. The competitive bidding is being waived this year as unfeasible and impractical statewide during the statewide health emergency due to COVID-19.

Crystal Johnson, chairman and CEO of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, presented a comprehensive Advertising and Promotions Commission report including the impact of having the LED-lighted Ferris wheel at White River Wonderland.

“Once we determined the water carnival would be cancelled, we adapted by securing the Christmas Capital of Arkansas brand, capitalizing on visitors coming to see the lights with a shop local campaign called Keep the Cheer Here, a hospitality campaign called Check Inn to Grinchmas, and we added the LED-lighted Ferris wheel to the White River Wonderland,” Johnson said.

The chamber purchased a dedicated domain online, along with a Facebook presence, and worked with the Arkansas Department of Tourism.

Shelly Hendrix, membership director with the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, shared some of the analytical data from the combined promotional effort. It reached 343,000 people through 38 posts and 10,200 page “likes.” The new logo post for the event was shared 200 times, the opening day information post was shared 168 times, and information about the LED-lighted Ferris wheel post was shared 120 times.

There were 4,934 rides on the Ferris wheel. Most of those were reserved online, 525 were purchased onsite, and 15 percent of riders returned again.

The cost of the LED-lighted Ferris wheel was $10,000 for the seven days it operated. At 42 percent that was the most expensive part of the event. Staffing, logistics, PPE and contactless ordering, and marketing were other costs associated with the event.

Council members thanked Johnson, Hendrix, and Johnny Abbot, Batesville’s landscaping supervisor, for their combined efforts in making the event a special time for families in the area. The event was recognized in December by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The council approved procedural rules for future meetings, which will be at 5:30 p.m., the second Tuesday of each month, at the Batesville Municipal Building. Special meetings can be called with two-hours advanced notice. The public can address the council during the comments from citizens period on the agenda. Each comment should not exceed three minutes. Citizens can also address the council during new business or unfinished business discussions. Calling ahead is appreciated.

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