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Clinton man named state’s Tourism Person of the YearOriginally Published April 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 5, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.
Ross Moore of Clinton, executive director of the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Association, was named Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year. Moore said he started coming to the lake when he was a boy, “when Highway 92 between Drasco and the town of Greers Ferry was gravel.”
Ross Moore grew up in Mississippi County, but distance didn’t stop the allure of Greers Ferry Lake from reaching his family.
“My granddaddy and uncle found the lake,” Moore said. “The dam had just been built, the lake had pretty much been filled, and we started coming up here in the mid-’60s when I was 6, 7, 8 years old,” he said.
Moore, 55, who lives in Clinton, said his family would visit Greers Ferry two or three times each summer.
“We’d just come up and enjoy the lake,” he said. “It kind of became a second home to us.”
His relatives bought a motel and restaurant there, and Moore later owned and operated it.
Moore, executive director of the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Association for the past 17 years, was honored in March as the Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year.
“It was a complete and total surprise to me,” he said.
He received the award at the 39th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism Henry Awards Banquet in Hot Springs.
The title is voted on by individuals in the tourism industry, his peers, Moore said.
“That’s what makes it so special, that they would choose me,” he said.
He has a long association with Greers Ferry.
Moore said his father, Charles Moore, was a farmer in Luxora when Moore and his sister, Laura, were growing up.
His sister, father and mother, Sarah Moore, now live in Blytheville.
Moore said that in the early 1960s, his aunt and uncle bought the Narrows Inn and Restaurant in Greers Ferry.
“I had been up here working in the motel and restaurant,” he said.
Moore, along with his parents, bought the business in 1983 and operated it for almost eight years.
“I met a lot of good people. It was an educational experience working with the public like that,” he said. “Was it fun? I don’t know — it was different,” Moore said, laughing.
He was too busy working to fish or ski on the lake.
The motel still exists, but the restaurant is no longer there, he said.
Moore said he and his wife, Susan, had been involved in the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Association prior to his taking a paid role.
“We were either on the board, or Susan was president. We were involved in it quite a few years,” he said.
He said the association works in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
Moore said the state is divided into 12 tourism regions, and the region he serves includes Cleburne, Van Buren, White and Woodruff counties.
“Our primary purpose is to promote our region; the state just can’t promote everybody,” Moore said.
The state provides matching funds to the associations.
“Of course, we have to follow criteria to get it,” he said.
In 1989, a 2 percent tourism initiative was approved by the Arkansas General Assembly to give the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism more money to advertise, he said.
“We kind of have to fight to hold onto that money,” he said.
Moore said his goal is to let people know about Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River — “the cleanliness of the water; the people.”
“Greers Ferry, the whole area is growing. It could probably be growing at a faster pace,” he said.
“When we first started coming up here and were part of the Narrows Inn and Restaurant, one of the main things you did to promote — I remember going to a boat show at the Convention Center in Memphis.
“Used to, we’d carry this big old tank that had this big old fish in there — I don’t remember what kind it was. It stunk like all get out,” Moore said.
“It was something fun and different. It just takes promoting. And that takes money.”
He said funds come from membership in the association and advertising in its publication, along with matching funds from the state.
Moore said his challenge is getting more people involved in the association.
“I look at our membership and the publication we put out, and there should be three times the number of people as far as membership, as far as advertisers. We could be doing so much more if we just had more participation,” he said.
He’s working on a big promotion now. October marks the 50th anniversary of the Greers Ferry Lake Dam. President John F. Kennedy dedicated the dam, one of his last public appearances before he was assassinated.
The event will be held Oct. 3.
“It corresponds with the exact day John F. Kennedy was here,” Moore said.
He said the association is working with nearby chambers of commerce to plan the commemoration. Media days will be held in May “to generate some pre-excitement,” he said.
“We’re just trying to highlight the fact it has been 50 years and the change that has occurred before all this happened. There was hardly nothing here before. You can look at the growth and see what all; if it hadn’t been for this, no telling where we’d all be,” Moore said.
“It’s really interesting — somebody gave me one of our [association’s] brochures from the first or second year. It was fascinating to see the changes in the ads and who was there then and who is there now. Lindsey’s Resort is about the only one there then that is still here.”
Billy Lindsey, an emeritus board member of the
association and managing partner of Lindsey’s Resort, said the business is in its 49th year of operation.
“I’ve been on the board since I was a teenager, I guess,” Lindsey said.
He praised Moore’s leadership.
“The work that he’s done for Greers Ferry Lake, Little Red River Association, I can’t say enough about it,” Lindsey said. “It’s such an integral part of what we’ve done and been. … His name is synonymous with the lake and river association.
“This award was well-, well-deserved, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Lindsey said.
Moore said he plans to continue to “spread the word” about Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River.
Sometimes that’s in unexpected places.
He said his home on four acres in Clinton used to be a field.
“Somebody will come back there and drive real slow, and I’m thinking, ‘What are they doing?’”
He said one day some visitors said, “We’re looking for Greers Ferry Lake.”
“I guess they were Googling it or something like that, and this was the physical address.
“They think the lake is right here,” he said, laughing.
“I handed them a book and answered their questions,” he said.
If a Mississippi County boy can find the lake, anybody can.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or email@example.com.