Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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Tourism bureau is alive and well in Logan County

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[December 11, 2013]  Monday the new board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County had its inaugural meeting at the Brickyard Grill & Pub in Mount Pulaski.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to establish officers and check-signers for the organization. However, the meeting spilled over into other topics as well.

The board is starting out with seven members, with four returning from the old board.

The four returning members are Andy Anderson, Darlene Begolka, Andy Meister and Tom O'Donohue. New additions to the board are Jean Bruner-Jachino, Andi Hake and Keith Snyder.

At the beginning of the meeting, O'Donohue asked if anyone would object to him opening the meeting, because there were no officers in place to do so. Everyone agreed and the first order of business was then to nominate and elect officers.

The officers for the new board are Andy Anderson, president; Jean Bruner-Jachino, vice president; Darlene Begolka, treasurer; and Andi Hake, secretary. Snyder will serve as an alternate for the secretary.

With the officers elected, the meeting was then turned over to Anderson as the president of the board.

The board also authorized Begolka and Anderson to be the check-signers for the tourism bureau and appointed Hake to serve as an alternate in the absence of one of them. According to the bylaws of the organization, each check must be signed by two people.

The board also approved a new set of bylaws for the bureau. O'Donohue provided copies to all the members and offered a quick overview of the changes that had been made. He said that in most cases, it was a change of language, changing the governing body from the Logan County Board to the city. He said the language in most cases would say something to the effect of "by the mayor of the city of Lincoln, with the advice and consent of the city council."

There was also a change made in board member eligibility. O'Donohue said the language had been changed to allow membership of people who do not live in Logan County but work for a business in the county.

Finally, the bylaws implement a change in the fiscal year of the bureau. O'Donohue said the fiscal year had previously been designated to coincide with the Logan County Board year; it will now coincide with the city of Lincoln's fiscal year; May 1 to April 30.

As the board reviewed the new bylaws, Hake, who has extensive experience with not-for-profit organizations through her role as executive director of the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce, said there were language issues she would like to see changed. She said none of the issues were such as to prevent the board from approving the new bylaws immediately, but there were items she wanted to address with them later and perhaps make some changes.

She told the group that primarily, she is interested in assuring that the bylaws are written so as to protect the bureau and its not-for-profit status.

In addition, she told the board that the paragraph defining removing members from the board should probably be looked at carefully. In that rule it states that the board can remove one of its members with a 30-day notice. Hake said that was not required by law. She said allowing a board member to stay active for 30 days after a termination could be detrimental to the bureau and board. She said she would suggest they consider changing that. But again, it didn't have to be done right away.

Other business the board discussed included the payment of bills, work that was done on the World's Largest Covered Wagon, and a renewal of contracts with Abbott & Associates for accounting services.


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Nancy Saul, interim executive director, also spoke to the group about attending a tourism convention. She said she would be willing to go if they wanted her to. The group talked about how important attendance at the convention is. Saul said it was an important meeting to be a part of and Bruner-Jachino agreed. The group also talked about whether or not one or more board members should attend, and that was also considered to be a good idea. Tentatively O'Donohue and Snyder both volunteered to attend, but said they wouldn't be able to make a solid decision until they had reviewed their schedules.

The board also talked about the future of the board itself. Snyder told the group that he and Hake were on the board now during the transitional period, but they could step off if others are interested in filling the seats.

The group talked for a while about people whom they feel would serve the board and bureau well, and who could be approached to join.

The topic of monthly meetings also came up. The old board had established a standing monthly meeting at 4:30 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month. Discussion around the table indicated that members thought the starting time was too early. Most seemed to agree that the fourth Tuesday was OK if the meetings could start later. Because the city council also meets on the fourth Tuesday, the group decided to back the starting time off by only 30 minutes and begin the meetings at 5 p.m.

Snyder said that with the decision, the next step was to establish and vote on a specific meeting schedule.

The group also talked about meeting locations. O'Donohue said he was interested in seeing the board meet at locations outside the city of Lincoln. He emphasized that the meetings didn't need to move every month, but he felt that throughout the year, meetings should be conducted in all the Logan County communities.

It was also mentioned that with this meeting being on Dec. 9 and the next meeting not scheduled until the end of January, that was possibly too long to go for the approval of paying bills. It was decided that the board would have a brief special meeting on Jan. 2 at 5 p.m. at the Hampton Inn.

In other discussion, Saul told the board she felt the group needed to make an effort to get the word out that the tourism bureau is remaining open and will continue to serve the Logan County communities. She said that many are assuming that the bureau has been shut down.

Since April of this year, there has been a great deal of discussion on the future of the bureau, with many assuming that once the city took over the hotel-motel tax, it would dissolve the bureau. Theoretically, the city doesn't have the authority to dissolve the bureau, but the bigger concern was whether or not the bureau could survive without funding from the tax.

Throughout this process, the city has stated numerous times that it was not their desire to see the bureau suffer. Their only desire was to see the organization function more efficiently and be more productive in drawing "heads in beds" tourism to Logan County.

The group talked about this misconception and asked that Saul prepare news releases to update the community on the status of the bureau. Hake was asked to assist in preparing those releases.

The group also talked about the expectation that it will be a while before a new full-time executive director is hired. Begolka said that for the bureau to keep its state funding, it must have a director in place. Currently Saul is filling that position on an interim basis.

The board decided they should discuss this in executive session and called for that to occur. Media and Saul were released from the meeting, with no further action to be taken.


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