Wednesday, November 15, 2006

First Day On The Job

The day started at 7:57 a.m. when I pulled into the Pavilion parking lot.

Almost 13 hours later it ended when I pulled out at 8:53 p.m.

Welcome to the life of the new executive director of the Williamson County Tourism Bureau, which would, uh, be me!

Actually, it was a very good day. Jeanette Sollami has been acting as interim director for the last two-and-a-half months will stay on for another couple of months to help with the transition.

The Williamson County Tourism Board held their annual Thanksgiving meeting for lunch with turkey and all the trimmings. Tonight for dinner Jeanette and I attended a meeting at Giant City Lodge where we had the family style chicken dinner.

Of course the meals did put us in a fowl mood.

Sorry, I've been making that lame joke all day. I hesitate to think how many times Jeanette has heard me use it.

Tonight's meeting dealt with the new Illinois Travel Guide with Joan Sharp, a representative of Madden Preprint Media on hand to highlight their offerings.

Had a chance to sit down and speak with Vickie Cummiskey, Harrisburg's new economic development director; Stephanie Rhodes, executive director of the Southern Illinois Tourism Development Office; Sheryl Durham, coordinator of the Illinois section of the Ohio River Scenic Byway; and Angelo and Janice Fiorino, owners of Murphysboro's Apple Tree Inn, which I learned tonight they purchased from Southern Illinois tourism pioneer Wayman Presley.

Earlier today the tourism board approved three main goals for me during the first year:

  • Bring the Williamson County Pavilion into the black (or at least very dark gray). We're close to breaking even, just not close enough some months.

  • Bring the website up-to-date and expand it.

  • Develop new attractions and events to expand Williamson County tourism.

I also made a short presentation on how we might go about accomplishing the third goal. Information on that will be announced next month, but I'll offer one hint now. We won't do it alone. It's going to require grassroots efforts.

In terms of the first goal the tourism board approved a proposal by Dwight Hoffard, John A. Logan College's representative on the board to co-sponsor a new late winter boat show the first weekend in March at the Pavilion.

I'll have more on the new Southern Illinois Boat & Fishing Show as details are announced. The Youth Outdoor Education Foundation will be the lead co-sponsor of the event.

The dates are March 3 and 4, which is the weekend after the Motorcycle Show (last weekend of February) and the weekend before the Home Builders Expo (the second weekend of March).

UPDATE: The newspapers have now covered the hiring. Cherri Flinn's for the Marion Daily Republican is here and Ashley Wiehle's for the Southern Illinoisan can be found here.

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