A young man with a love for his county, enthusiasm, goals, and a fresh approach hit the ground running when he accepted the position of Patrick County’s director of tourism in 2015.
Joseph Quesenberry, working with county administrative staff, the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and citizens of the county implemented and completed several projects, bringing change and growth to our county.
Unfortunately, on October 31, Quesenberry will leave here to become town manager for Warsaw. Located in Richmond County, the town of Warsaw is about the size of Stuart with approximately 1,500 people.
Quesenberry has always asked himself, “What can I do for the most positive change?” With a long list of accomplishments, he has proven his commitment by implementing several changes making Patrick “Virginia’s Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In addition to his county position, Quesenberry also serves as a Crooked Road board member, as a Covered Bridge Committee member, a member of the Meadows of Dan Community Association and on the Patrick County Coalition.
New tourism projects
People from Patrick and surrounding counties have visited and taken pictures of the LOVE sign that was erected at Stuart DeHart Park earlier this year. TAC voted to construct a LOVE sign which is now one of the largest LOVE signs in the state. The sign measures 9 feet in height, 16 feet in length and is located on an 18-foot concrete pad. Steps lead down to the front of the sign and to the observation deck.
Quesenberry designed the sign incorporating the county logo with the lines of Bull Mountain over the top of the word LOVE and Patrick County spelled out in the rock facade.
In an earlier interview about the LOVE sign, Quesenberry said, “This was incredibly important in terms of our marketing campaign within social media outlets.” Recently, he said social media traffic has increased by 1,600 percent.
Quesenberry said one of his biggest accomplishments is jump-starting the Meadows of Dan Revitalization project. It is important because Meadows of Dan is the tourism gateway for a large portion of both the county and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In June, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) stated in a letter, “We are pleased that your project has proceeded to this point (and) will make a total of up to $35,000 available to the county for developing solutions to identified needs.”
According to Quesenberry, this is the second of three phases for the revitalization project. Patrick County is on track to be awarded $1,000,000 in additional funds for the construction and completion of this project.
A TAC budget of $110,000 has allowed an extensive marketing strategy and has been used to obtain a global audience for Patrick County. New market areas have been targeted, such as Richmond, Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston Salem and Roanoke. The county was also represented at several festivals and other venues this year.
Quesenberry along with volunteers set up a booth at the Jeb Stuart Birthplace Encampment, FloydFest, Patrick County Fair, Front Porch Festival, Covered Bridge Festival, and the Meadows of Dan Folk Fair.
He has also advertised locally in The Enterprise and on WHEO. New county maps and brochures are being printed, and they will soon be available for distribution in Patrick County and surrounding areas.
Patrick County Tourism partnered with the Reynolds Homestead and the Crooked Road for the Mountains of Music Homecoming. The attendance was the highest in this zone, which includes Montgomery, Giles, Floyd and Franklin counties and was the highest increase in Southwest Virginia, according to Quesenberry.
Shortly after accepting the position of tourism director, Quesenberry began working with the Woolwine Covered Bridge Committee, the Woolwine community and Smith River District Supervisor Crystal Harris to raise money to rebuild the Bob White Covered Bridge.
Quesenberry created an online fund-raising campaign and has worked with the committee to (hopefully) host a radiothon in upcoming weeks. Thousands of dollars have been raised and TAC designates $10,000 each year to assist with the rebuilding. Recently, an engineer was contracted to complete a structural analysis report on the existing piling and abutments. He determined that everything is completely sound. Efforts to raise money for engineering plans will continue.
The Booking Engine, another goal of Quesenberry’s, has been completed. Patrick County has joined an elite few where people from anywhere in the state, the United States and other countries can book a room at one of 29 properties by visiting www.VisitPatrickCounty.org or Patrick County’s Facebook page.
Local business grants
Quesenberry implemented the first small business grant in county history. A total of $80,000 was pumped back into the community. He said, “$45,000 went towards all of the various events held in the county. That is a 1:1 matching grant that is to be used towards marketing your event, with a maximum of $8,000 per each county district. TAC decided to award $45,000 due to the fact of so many great applications that came in for funding.”
He said, “Next, we started the tourism small business grant, which was $5,000 for the entire county, to be used for facade improvements, marketing materials, items necessary to business function (i.e., debit/credit readers, certain equipment, etc.), and any other pertinent functions. The business must directly/indirectly relate to the tourism industry in the county. Due to so many applicable applications, TAC decided to award $25,000 to businesses across the county.
The citizens of Patrick County have benefited from the Dan River Park and Trail in the Ararat Community. The park offers tennis courts, basketball courts, a fully functional baseball diamond, restrooms and concession stand. There is a pavilion filled with picnic tables and a walking trail with a bicycling lane.
Expansion of The Mayo River Trail is nearing completion. The trail, which follows the path of the old Danville and Western Railway (“Dick and Willie”) in downtown Stuart, is frequently used by county citizens. It has 2,550 linear feet of asphalt smooth level surface and is a good trail for walking or bicycling.
This year at the General Assembly in Richmond, Quesenberry lobbied for the Meadows of Dan based business, Dry Fork Distillery, to have on-premises sales. The efforts continue and (hopefully) will be completed in the near future.
Patrick County Tourism, The Town of Stuart and WHEO have joined together to present the Patrick County Grand Illumination project. On the first Friday night after the Christmas Parade, 250 ornaments made by art students from the elementary schools will be placed on a 20-foot tree at the Patrick County Courthouse on Main Street in Stuart.
Other county projects that need completion are the Patrick County Visitor and Cultural Arts Center, the building of a hotel in Patrick County and the Patrick County Coalition, which is a continuing endeavor.