First off I want to swear I was not making a grand pronouncement when this photo was taken.
Really. I mean it.
Tom Kane took this photo on my first day on the job. Cherri Flinn and I participated in the conversation last week.
I'm serious about this job, but just ask the folks who work here at the tourism bureau. They know I don't normally wave my arms.
Seriously though, the Marion Daily Republican printed today their weekly conversation with someone. This week it was me.
At one point during the interview Cherri asked how many destinations or attractions we have in Williamson County. It's a good question and one I'm ashamed to say we can't answer.
We haven't done a very good job of engaging with the local public over the last few years and keeping track of what's been developing here in our own backyard. Instead, the bureau has focused the vast majority of its attention toward the operations of the Williamson County Pavilion.
We let too many basic tourism bureau functions slip to a secondary position as the staff stretched to keep up with the day-to-day operations of the Pavilion, but things are changing.
This summer the Williamson County Tourism Board created the position of a full-time Events Coordinator which despite a broader job description generally focuses on the day-to-day operations of the Pavilion.
Stacey Pearce, who previously worked part-time doing just that, now handles the full-time position; and from what I've seen these last few weeks she does it well. She's the person to contact if you're interested in renting a small conference, a ballroom or the Expo Hall.
In the next few days I'll be announcing our next step as we reach out to the residents and local businesses here in Williamson County as we ask them to become active with us to develop tourism here.
In a conversation today with the folks from the Arthur Agency in Carbondale, I outlined my goals and made clear my position.
I am not satisfied with the job we've done with tourism in Southern Illinois. I'm not satisfied with the job we've accomplished in this office.
I write these words now not to be harsh, but to be honest.
If we can't see the truth, if we can't speak it. We can't get the job done.
Southern Illinois has seen a number of accomplishments in tourism over the decades. It's my desire to build on top of those even greater accomplishments for us as residents of this region.
We deserve better.
But if we want to get it done, it's time to roll up our sleeves and start.