BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A tourism video being compiled by a Fort Madison man that features tourist, retail, and historic locations in the city is close to becoming a reality.
Mike Killoren, a military veteran, data management specialist, and former college instructor and administrator, has compiled about a five-minute video and presented it to the City’s Tourism Commission on Thursday night much to the delight of commission members.
Plans for the video include looping it at City Hall, on the city’s website, at area hotels, and possibly even doctor’s offices and Fort Madison Community Hospital where captive audiences are accessible.
Fort Madison Public Library Director Sarah Clendineng narrates the video.
The video rolls through hundreds of photographs of businesses, architecture, parks, the riverfront, the prison, and more.
Fort Madison Mayor Brad Randolph, who chairs the commission, said the city dragged their feet on the project, but he’s glad to see a version of the product.
“Mike has offered his talents and service for quite some time and we’ve been somewhat slow on taking him up on his offer, but better late than never,” Randolph said. “I can’t thank you enough for the time and effort you’ve put into that. But just at first blush, that really puts an awful good light on the town.
“This is the kind of thing we’re hoping we’ll get movement with in City Hall on a running loop, and in hotels, the city website…it’s just really a great tool for us and I appreciate that,” Randolph said.
Killoren said Clendineng’s partnership was very valuable in the process.
“She was all in from the first time I approached her on it. She was perfect,” he said.
Commissioner Mark Lair said this is something that’s been missing from the city’s tourism toolbox.
“I, as a city councilman and a tourism commission member, thank you very, very much because this has been needed for a long time and it seems to be an excellent tool,” said commissioner Mark Lair.
Commissioner Brian Wright said he liked that Killoren got so many events and places in the short video.
Wright wondered if the new American Cruise ships could include the loop on their televisions an hour or so out of Fort Madison.
City Tourism Director Jean Peiton said the city could look at that and could also approach Amtrak about putting the loop up before trains arrived at the depot.
Killoren said he’s also talked with Fort Madison City Manager David Varley and Dr. Eugene Watkins, the Old Fort Director, and Peiton about a series of short videos on the Fort aimed at different populations of souvenir buyers.
“When a bus load of kids come they may want a certain one and we’re trying to tailor it and we’re starting to work up a script on that,” Killoren said.
“The next generation (of that project) will be having the script and putting action against the magic words. And Dr. Watkins has plenty of information and we’ll have plenty of options.”
Some of the video is of the inside of the old prison. Killoren said the video is footage from when the state moved the inmates from the old prison to the new prison. He also has footage from private tours he took as well.
Killoren said the video is an MPEG-4 format which is the same format used in any standard DVD that you buy off the shelf. Peiton said the video can be downloaded onto a USB drive and plugged into any USB ports on televisions.
Killoren has recently produced two hour-long historical documentaries about Fort Madison and a shorter documentary for the Des Moines County Historical Society Heritage Museum. Prior to that he had produced over three dozen private family history videos including those of WWII combat veterans as well as 16 short (8-15 minutes) humorous videos for two service clubs and the Friday night in the park lead-in for Lights Camera Action!
In other action, the commission voted 5-0 to approve spending up to $3,500 for an analysis of tourism data from a company called Tourburst, out of Nauvoo, Ill.
The company, owned by Matthew VonTrapp, created a tourism app that is currently available as free download that newcomers to the areas of Nauvoo, Quincy, Hannibal, Keokuk and Fort Madison can use to access information on the region. He said to date about 5,000 people have downloaded the app in that region. The commission is currently paying VonTrapp approximatley $3,500 annually to be a part of the Tourburst app.
VonTrapp has agreed to be part of welcoming committees for the new American Cruise Lines as well as set up at RiverFest and the Tri-State Rodeo to do surveys and promote the app. As part of the agreement, VonTrapp would turn over the results of the data to the city.