Trip to tout Route 66 will be tax money well spent (Guest column)

This is not your typical European vacation

Recently the Kingman City Council approved a recommendation from the TDC for the reimbursement of travel expenses associated with my attendance in the first European Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen, Germany. I am honored that the city sees merit in my attendance and is willing to invest in my participation.

This letter of clarification is somewhat delinquent and for that I apologize. I should have responded sooner to the letters to the editor published shortly after the city councils' decision.

I fully understand the concerns expressed, and frustration with what appeared to be a frivolous use of city funds. However, resultant of my published work and involvement with the international Route 66 community, I am in a unique position to represent the city at this historic event. From this perspective, the funding is an investment in Kingman tourism and economic development.

The initial news story about approval of funding published by the Kingman Daily Miner was picked up by numerous media outlets, including a newspaper in Albuquerque, N.M., and the Washington Times. In turn, this led to requests for interviews about Route 66 as a catalyst for revitalization and economic development, and to speak before chambers of commerce in other communities about developments in Kingman.

The festival itself, which will include an information center for the distribution of an array of area promotional materials, and a presentation on Route 66 in Arizona is but one of the promotional opportunities associated with the event. Arrangements have yet to be finalized but I have been asked to address a secondary school in Germany about Route 66, its history, the renaissance, and how international interest in the highway is affecting communities.

I have also agreed to represent the National Park Service: The Road Ahead Initiative at a conference of European Route 66 associations convened to establish an international Route 66 development advisory group.

Press releases pertaining to the festival will be distributed throughout southern Germany, and through Route 66 associations several weeks before the festival. It will contain personal contact information for interviews. In addition, I have agreed to make myself available for interviews while in Germany.

Even though I will be promoting Route 66 as a destination, my primary focus will be on the "160-Miles of Smiles" that is the Route 66 corridor in western Arizona, and area attractions. This segment of Route 66 as well as the ongoing revitalization of the historic district have been the subject of numerous presentations in recent months. Many of these, as well as the trip to Germany, are made possible by subsidizes from Ramada Kingman, Grand Canyon West, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, Inc., and Grand Canyon Caverns.

In closing, a final note of thanks must be given to Josh Noble, our tourism director, and the community of Kingman. Thank you for the support and encouragement. I am honored by this opportunity to promote my adopted hometown.