Calendar  |  Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County

Tourism bureau now under city governance

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[December 02, 2013]  On Nov. 26 the board of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County met for the final time as a county entity. Effective Dec. 1, the city of Lincoln has taken over as the administrative body overseeing the tourism bureau.

This comes as a result of the city taking over the hotel-motel tax collected in Lincoln. Members of city government determined to overhaul the organization to change and improve how Lincoln and Logan County are promoted as a tourist destination.

At last week's meeting, Alderman Tom O'Donohue was on hand, representing the city. After the regular business of the bureau was conducted, discussions turned to how the board would move forward.

After the city expressed interest in being more involved and potentially taking over the city's share of the hotel-motel tax, the tourism bureau's executive director and later several board members resigned.

By midsummer the members on the roll call were Charlie Ott as president, Gail Apel-Sasse as vice president, and members Andy Anderson representing the Logan County Board, Shirley Bartelmay, Darlene Begolka, Alberta Hellman, Ron Keller, Tom O'Donohue and Barbara Stroud-Borth. Ex-officio members were Brian Bergen, Sue McLaughlin, Bill Hoagland and Andy Meister.

On and off the roll call was Jean Bruner-Jachino. Bruner-Jachino had been a board member representing the hotel-motel industry as an employee of the Hampton Inn. When the sitting board members reviewed the bylaws of the bureau, it was determined that Bruner-Jachino could not be on the board because she was not a resident of Logan County. In August there was discussion to amend the bylaws to allow Bruner-Jachino as an employee of a Logan County business, but the board decided not to do so.

In November, the city of Lincoln asked the Logan County Board to establish the members of the tourism board effective with the Dec. 1 transition. On the list were Andy Anderson of Lincoln and Andy Meister of Mount Pulaski, each continuing to represent the Logan County Board; Darlene Begolka; Jean Bruner-Jachino of the Hampton Inn; Andi Hake of the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce; and Tom O'Donohue and Keith Snyder, both representing the city of Lincoln.

O'Donohue told the group last week that this board was a starting point for the tourism bureau and that new members would be added. He said the board should include a representative from both Lincoln College and Lincoln Christian University, as well as one more member from the hotel-motel industry.

He added that anyone who is interested in serving on the board should contact Mayor Snyder so that consideration can be given by the city council.

O'Donohue noted that the bylaws will be changed to accommodate the appointment of Bruner-Jachino and allow area businesses that may have employees living outside the county to participate as well. O'Donohue said that with this exception, there would be very few changes to the bylaws of the bureau at this time.

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The group also talked about what the city was going to do to impose payment of tax. It was noted that there is at least one motel in the area that does not report and pay taxes. O'Donohue told the group the city was aware of that, and their first action to combat this has been to impose a late fee on noncompliant businesses.

O'Donohue also told the board that the money collected from the motel in Atlanta would still be going to the county for disbursement.

At the September meeting, interim executive director Leslie Hoefle had said that she would be taking vacation in October. She expressed that upon returning, she did not want to assume the role of interim director but would be willing to stay on as a part-time employee and assist with those duties.

Last week, Ott told the board that while on vacation, Hoefle had changed her mind and did not return at all. Nancy Saul had been appointed as the interim director because the bureau has to have a director in order to receive some of its grant funds.

It was also noted that Saul and the one other part-time employee of the tourism bureau had received word from the city that they would retain their positions through the end of the year. O'Donohue clarified this by saying the two would not necessarily be unemployed come Jan. 1. The city had issued the letters to assure the employees of their position during the transition period.

Begolka, who currently serves as treasurer for the tourism board, expressed a new concern. The bureau requires two signatures on checks. She said that with the establishment of a new board, she did not have a second signer. She said the first concern would be for issuing payroll checks on Dec. 15. O'Donohue said he would address this on the city level and that the new board should expect to have their first meeting prior to that date so these kinds of details can be worked out.

At the end of the evening, some of the departing board members took time to express their appreciation for being a part of the board, and several talked about how long they had served on the board.

Of the departing members present, Charlie Ott has been a member of the board since its inception over 40 years ago. Gail Sasse said she had been on about 25 years. Ron Keller said he had served 10 or 12 years; Alberta Hellman, nine years; and Barbara Stroud-Borth had served 1 1/2 years.

The night ended with Keller saying it had been a pleasure to serve on the board with all of them, and Sasse noting that she felt the same way. She added that in her time on the board, she had learned a lot about tourism and marketing and that it had been a good experience.


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