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Wood County Industrial Commission

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Meeting in regular session Thursday, May 6 at Fairhaven Winery on FM-2859, the board of the Wood County Industrial Commission (WCIC) toured the Fairhaven Winery near Hawkins and Holly Lake and approved funding for an advertisement on the "East Texas Reflections" web site.
R.L. Winters, owner and founder of Fairhaven Winery hosted the meeting and led board members on a tour of the wine making facility that officially opened just this year with the first production of "Fairhaven Vineyards" wines from grapes grown in the adjacent 11-acre, 4,000 plant vineyard.
Winters said he and his associates were "stunned" when their Merlot blend won a gold medal in the Dallas Morning News International wine competition this spring. Fairhaven was represented by just four of the winery's dozen-or-so labels. A second Fairhaven entry, Lomato, produced for the first time in more than 100-years, garnered a bronze. There were 3,000 wineries and more than 16,000 labels from around the world in the competition. Two gold medals were awarded to products of Russian wineries.
While Fairhaven is in its first year, the vineyard has been planted and nursed into production mode over the past several years. Winters, an agronomist and horticulturist who has been in the nursery business for more than 30 years, has been starting grapevines for several years and has now become the largest supplier of grape vines in the state. He has also been called upon to install those grape vines into other vineyards.
The board members approved $1,000 expenditure for ads on a local magazine web site known as East Texas Reflections (Easttexasreflections.com). The vote was split in a committee set up to consider participation and among the board as a whole, but the majority on both favored the expenditure.
Laurie O'Neal, the Governor's East Texas Regional Representative for Economic Development and Tourism advised board members that the county must be involved with web presences to attract tourists and new businesses. She discussed the Go Texan program directed at tourism which she said "is a huge industry for our state." O'Neal said the Comptrollers Office will be conducting a high profile campaign for the annual "Unclaimed Money" program she conducts.
WCIC Executive Director Gary McKinley's report included the negative news that sales tax records show retail sales this year are $820,000 behind the pace of 2009 throughout the county. The positive news is that Texas was selected by CEO Magazine as the "Best State To Do Business In." McKinley also reported the return of $2,000 in WCIC approved funding from the Innovation Fair in Mineola. The event was cancelled.
Board member Rodney Duplechain, a Holly Lake/Hawkins realtor said rental housing is very much in demand in the area as a result of the 2-to-3 year construction projects at Exxon/Mobile and Praxair.
The June meeting of the Wood County Industrial Commission will be held on Thursday, June 3 in Winnsboro at the Methodist Church for the annual "Spaghetti Dinner" fund raiser.