By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — Otsego County Tourism is trying to revive its Ambassador Program this spring.
The singularly practical idea behind the program is to educate hospitality workers about other attractions so they can dispense advice that will keep tourists in the county.
“People who meet and greet and talk to our visitors on a daily basis, if they have actually have visited the Hall of Fame or the Fenimore Art Museum, they have first-hand knowledge of the product,” said Deb Taylor, director of Otsego County tourism.
The program was a success years ago, when it was conducted for four or five years with Schoharie County, but it was allow to lapse, Taylor said.
“We’re just doing it in Otsego County this year,” she said. “Just a test to see if it runs.”
The goal is ensure, for example, that a hotel desk clerk can accurately describe Ommegang Brewery to visitors, or an Ommegang worker can tell visitors about The Farmers’ Museum or restaurants in Oneonta.
The program will run from May 27 through June 6. Any staff member who has contact with visitors on a daily basis is invited to visit county attractions, restaurants and lodging facilities to gain first-hand knowledge of exhibits, amenities and the “feel” of attractions.
Attractions that charge admission are asked to provide two free tickets to these workers. All others are asked to provide a small incentive, such as a logo coffee mug or free beverage, to encourage people to stop in and learn more about their businesses.
Otsego Tourism points out that front-line, hardworking employees are the county’s best ambassadors, and that that the better the information visitors receive, the more they’ll enjoy their stays, leading to return visits and recommendations.
Attractions interested in participating can call Taylor at 643-0059 or email her at email@example.com.
The U.S. Mint has begun taking design entries for the obverse (heads side) of the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was on hand, as were Reps. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, for the launch announcement this week at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington. They were joined by Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson and Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown.
The competition is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents ages 14 and older. Entries will be accepted until noon May 11, or until the mint receives 10,000 submissions. The winner will receive $5,000, and the winner’s initials will appear on the minted coins.
A Kids’ Baseball Coin Design Challenge for children ages 13 and younger is also being held separately beginning today through May 23.
Three coins will be minted: $5 gold, $1 silver and half-dollar clad. The winning design will be the one judged to be most emblematic of baseball.
The $5 gold and $1 silver coins will be the first “curved” coins struck by the U.S. Mint, with the reverse (tail) side being convex to more closely resemble a baseball and the obverses being concave to provide a more dramatic design. The winning obverse design will be unveiled by mid-September.
For guidelines, rules and entry instructions, go to www.usmint.gov.
Among the rules are:
• The obverse design must be “emblematic of the game of baseball” and must include the inscriptions “Liberty,” “In God We Trust” and “2014.”
• Two-dimensional designs must be monochrome, not color, and three-dimensional models must be made using neutral plaster or a durable plastic material and should be approximately 8 inches in diameter.
• The designs can’t contain depictions or names of real players or persons — or real teams — so no pinstripes.
• No real stadiums, either.
RICHARD WHITBY is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 432-1000, ext. 221.