Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority

§ 15.2-5500. Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority

There is hereby established as a political subdivision, a body politic and corporate, the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority (the Authority) for the LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commissions. The Authority shall promote, expand, and develop the tourism industries of this coal-producing region as a whole.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.19; 1994, c. 160; 1997, c. 587; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 384.

§ 15.2-5501. Definitions

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Authority" means any the Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority created, organized and operated pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, or if such Authority is abolished, the board, body, commission, department or officer succeeding to the principal functions thereof or to whom the powers given by this chapter are given by law.

"Participating locality" means any county or city in the LENOWISCO or Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commissions with respect to which an authority may be organized and in which it is contemplated the Authority will function.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.18; 1994, c. 160; 1997, c. 587; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 384.

§ 15.2-5502. Directors; qualifications; terms; vacancies; compensation and expenses; quorum; records; certification and distribution of report concerning bond issuance

The Authority shall be governed by a board of directors of 18 representatives in which all powers of the Authority shall be vested and which board shall include eight Tourism Directors representing each county and the City of Norton, which will hold permanent seats on the board. If a Tourism Director position does not exist in a locality, the governing body shall appoint a representative, preferably from the government staff, chamber of commerce, or travel industry to represent the locality on the board of directors. The remaining seats shall be filled preferably by representatives from the travel industry from each of the eight governing localities. Each Tourism Director, working with the tourism committee from the localities, shall provide a slate of nominations to the governing body for selection of one representative, preferably from the tourism industry segment, which may include the chairman of the local tourism committee; a representative from lodging, restaurants, attractions, parks, or outdoor recreation; or a community leader. The board of directors shall create two ex-officio nonvoting board positions for representatives from the Jefferson National Forest Clinch Ranger District Office and Virginia State Parks. Appointed representatives shall serve a two-year term that begins on January 1 and may be reappointed for additional terms with appointments made at the year-end board meeting. The board of directors shall have the authority to appoint nonvoting tourism representatives and to determine additional seats as they deem necessary.

The directors shall elect from their membership a chair, a vice-chair, and from their membership or not, as they desire, a secretary and a treasurer, or a secretary-treasurer, who shall continue to hold such office until their respective successors are elected. The directors shall receive no salary, but the directors may be reimbursed for necessary traveling and other expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

The board of directors may remove from the board any appointed member in the event that the board member is absent from any three consecutive board meetings or is absent from any four board meetings within any 12-month period. In either such event, the local governing body shall appoint a successor for the unexpired portion of the term of the member who has been removed.

Ten members of the board of directors shall constitute a quorum of the board for the purposes of conducting its business and exercising its powers and for all other purposes. No vacancy in the membership of the board shall impair the right of a quorum to exercise all the powers and perform all the duties of the board. The board shall keep detailed minutes of its proceedings, which shall be open to public inspection at all times. It shall keep suitable records of its financial transactions and, unless exempted by § 30-140, it shall arrange to have the records audited annually. Copies of each such audit shall be furnished to the governing bodies of the participating localities and shall be open to public inspection.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.20; 1994, c. 160; 1997, c. 587; 2018, cc. 176, 321.

§ 15.2-5503. Executive director; staff

The Authority shall appoint an executive director, who shall be authorized to employ such staff as necessary to enable the Authority to perform its duties as set forth in this chapter. The Authority is authorized to determine the duties of such staff and to fix salaries and compensation from such funds as may be received or appropriated.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.22; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-5504. Powers of Authority

The Authority shall have the following powers together with all powers incidental thereto or necessary for the performance of those hereinafter stated:

1. To sue and be sued and to prosecute and defend, at law or in equity, in any court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the parties;

2. To adopt and use a corporate seal and to alter the same at pleasure;

3. To contract and be contracted with;

4. To employ and pay compensation to such employees and agents, including attorneys, as the board of directors deem necessary in carrying on the business of the Authority;

5. To exercise all powers expressly given the Authority by the governing bodies of the participating localities which established the Authority and to establish bylaws and make all rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, deemed expedient for the management of the Authority's affairs;

6. To borrow money and to accept contributions, grants and other financial assistance from the United States of America and agencies or instrumentalities thereof, the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision, agency, or public instrumentality of the Commonwealth;

7. To formulate a tourism development agenda for each participating locality in the LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commissions;

8. To receive and expend moneys on behalf of tourism development;

9. To coordinate the participating localities' individual tourism plans; and

10. To form corporations, limited partnerships or limited liability companies for the purposes of fostering or promoting tourism, job creation, economic development, or the sale of goods manufactured and produced in Virginia.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.21; 1997, c. 587; 2004, c. 806.

§ 15.2-5505. Establishment of local tourism advisory committees

Each of the participating localities in the LENOWISCO and Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commissions shall establish a local tourism advisory committee to promote tourism in the participating locality, participate and assist in the planning of the Authority, and develop a tourism destination plan for its participating locality.

The Tourism Director, working with the tourism advisory committee chair, shall provide a slate of recommendations to the local governing body for positions on its tourism advisory committee. The local governing body shall appoint five or more appointees representing the travel industry, which includes lodging, restaurants, attractions, outdoor recreation, events, and parks, or appoint community leaders. Terms of the appointees shall be determined by the local governing body; such appointees may be reappointed. The Tourism Director shall work with the chairman of the tourism advisory committee to facilitate regular meetings of the tourism advisory committee.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.19; 1994, c. 160; 1997, c. 587; 2018, cc. 176, 321; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 384.

§ 15.2-5506. Responsibilities and duties; local tourism advisory committees

The local tourism advisory committees established in § 15.2-5505 shall:

1. Promote and assist tourism development in their individual participating localities;

2. Develop and assist in the implementation of a tourism development plan to increase tourism revenue in their respective participating localities;

3. Encourage individuals and businesses and their local governments to invest in tourism development as an integral part of overall economic development; and

4. Assist the Authority in planning and implementing a regional tourism development plan.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.23; 1994, c. 160; 1997, c. 587; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 384.

§ 15.2-5507. Application for and acceptance of gifts and grants by local tourism advisory committees

The local tourism advisory committees are authorized to apply for, accept and expend gifts, grants or donations from public or private sources to enable them to carry out their objectives.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.24; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-5508. Provisions of chapter controlling over other statutes and charters

Any provision of this chapter which is found to be in conflict with any other statute or charter shall be controlling and shall supersede such other statute or charter to the extent of such conflict.

1993, c. 663, § 15.1-1399.25; 1997, c. 587; 2015, c. 709.