Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Tourism Update: A new board president, a new interim director, a new board member, a new logo, a commitment to UOC

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[July 24, 2014]  LINCOLN - Over the last several weeks, there have been several changes taking place at the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County.

A new board president

When the city of Lincoln took over administration of the hotel/motel tax in December of last year, the restructuring of the bureau began with new board appointments and officer elections. At their first meeting in December, Logan County board member, Andy Anderson was elected to serve as the board president.

On June 24th, Anderson resigned as president and a new election was held. In the end, Tom O’Donohue was elected to the position of president.

Anderson spoke about the decision to resign saying that he has several committee commitments in his position on the Logan County Board, and there are scheduling conflicts. He said he felt that because of this, he was not an effective board member for either entity. He recently told LDN, “It was the right decision to make for everyone. The tourism board is in very good hands with Tom O’Donohue. It was the right thing to do.”

A new interim director

Since the resignation of Geoff Ladd as tourism director last year, the bureau has gone through a number of interim directors, all hired with the understanding their job would be only temporary while the board worked on a reorganization plan.

At the first July meeting of the board on the 10th, it was decided that Andi Hake would be appointed as the interim executive director until a permanent full-time person is hired.

As a result of this, Hake had to resign from the tourism board, and is no longer a voting member.

A new board member

With Hake resigning from the board, there was an opening available for a new member. At the meeting on July 10, Keith Snyder said he wanted to fill that position with Kristi Powell. The board approved his recommendation, and it went before the Lincoln City County on July 21. They also approved the recommendation.

At the July 22nd meeting of the tourism board, Powell attended her first meeting and was welcomed to the board.

Powell is well known in the community as an active member of the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce, Associate Director of Heartland College’s Lincoln Center
Enrollment Services, one who volunteers for many local events and projects, and wife of local businessman Deron Powell.

A new logo

The board continues to work with marketing specialists DCC Marketing in creating a new brand and image for the bureau. This week the board approved a new logo for the bureau.

The goal of the bureau is to make Logan County a "destination location" for tourists. The logo is simple and to the point; “Destination Logan County Illinois.”

Tuesday evening the last decision to be made was the color scheme of the logo. Board members looked at two options, dark blue background with bright green lettering or bright green background with dark blue lettering. They chose the latter. The new logo will start appearing publicly in the near future.

In addition, though there has been no official name change of the bureau, the board is steering away from “Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County” and now more often referring to itself as the “Logan County Tourism Bureau.”

Tourism endorses UOC

At this week’s meeting, O’Donohue asked for a motion regarding the endorsement of the United Organizations. When he opened the floor for discussion after the motion, Anderson commented he felt like the topic had been discussed thoroughly, and all the board needed to do now was take the vote. By nod of the head, board members agreed. A vote was taken and with all seven members present, and passed unanimously.

Hake offers update on the search for permanent Executive Director

Hake told the board that the search for a new executive director for the bureau is coming down to the wire, and she is hopeful an offer can be made to a candidate by August 1.

She said there were several applications received, and it had been narrowed down to four candidates. She said she had conducted telephone interviews with two of the four on Tuesday and would do interviews with the other two on Thursday, July 24.

She said the interviews on Tuesday had been with “outstanding candidates” and added that if the other two were equally as good, the board would have a tough decision.

She asked for permission to make appointments for face-to-face interviews with the board members and candidates on July 31. Three board members; O’Donohue, Powell and Jean Bruner-Jachino committed to being available for those interviews.

If an offer is made, the position will be full-time with a one-year contract.

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Update on grant

The bureau receives a grant through the State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

The bureau is expected to file quarterly reports on the expenditures of the grant. O’Donohue said Tuesday there had been some issues with the grant, but emails received this week from the state indicated those were worked out.

Hake went on to say she had talked with people at the state, and the state is “okay with our position.” She said she had asked about a quarterly report that is due next week and learned there would be someone available from the state to assist her in preparing that report.

She also indicated the state has a stringent deadline of July 30, and missing that deadline could have dire consequences. “I will not let us miss that deadline,” she said. “And here’s what happens if we do miss it. One day, one and two and probably three and four, we will get inundated with not friendly emails, and on day five we get locked out.”

Hake said that she had come to realize that there had been no recent tracking of the grant expenditures. But in talking with the state, she now knows what needs to be gathered together. She said she was confident that everything will be ready on time.

Changes in financial reporting to the board

Hake discussed the financial reports now being offered to the board. Robin Keyes has been contracted to do the tourism's accounting. The board will now receive each month -- a profit and loss statement, copies of bank reconciliations, and a list of bills to be paid. She said to save paper she will not be supplying copies of the bills to board members, but will have a copy available at the meetings for inspection as needed.

O’Donohue also discussed Keyes roll in tourism. Keyes works as a part-time employee for the chamber, but also does independent contract work as an accountant. The bureau has hired her to do tourism accounting, and this position is in no way connected to the chamber.

As Keyes began working on the tourism financials, there was more to be done to get an accounting system setup than expected; so Keyes first billings were higher than originally expected. Now that records are in better order, her hours will go back to what had been originally projected.

In addition, O’Donohue noted Keyes can do the tourism payroll and quarterly reports. Therefore, the bureau no longer needs the services of Abbott and Associates for those tasks. It was also mentioned that the bureau does go through a year-end audit, and Abbotts may be candidates to perform that audit.

Tourism booths at fair and festival

The bureau will have booths setup this year at both the Logan County Fair and the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival.

Tuesday evening Hake said she had spent $1,900 to order 450 T-shirts to give away at these two events. The bureau will have a “duck pond” with a number of gifts marked on the ducks, including the T-shirts.

In order to draw a duck from the pond, one must fill out a card with contact information and indicate they are interested in being a volunteer for tourism at future events.

At the July 10th meeting, O’Donohue had told the board members that he wanted to see 100 percent involvement from them in the bureau, including volunteering to serve at local events. The first opportunity would be to volunteer to spend time manning the booth at the fair.

This week, Hake said the board had come through pretty well. Between board members and tourism staff, most of the time slots for the fair booth were filled. O’Donohue said once everyone had who was able to commit had done so, he would take on the slots that are left empty.

Board will meet only once in August

As the last order of business Tuesday night, O’Donohue suggested that in lieu of all that will be going on in the community in August, perhaps the board should meet only once that month. It was decided they group will hold their August 14 meeting and cancel the meeting slated for August 26.


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