CVB looking forward to post-pandemic tourism economic development

The Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking steps to quickly transition to a new executive director and “tighten up” some policies so it can strongly emerge from the economic restraints that the pandemic has caused.

On Monday, the CVB Board voted to hire Jamee Payton as interim executive director to fill the vacancy left by Jennifer Kirchner in October. Payton is very familiar with the job because she was the assistant director until furloughed in April because of a sudden extreme drop in tax revenue the CVB collects, and the anticipation that events which normally would bring in tourists would halt indefinitely due to the pandemic.

“We feel like her experience makes for a very smooth transition and we don’t expect to miss a beat,” said CVB vice-chair Adam Gray in an email sent to other board members on Monday. “Having Jamee back on board is wonderful. As of this morning, she’s already picked up where she left off and has been emailing me getting things rolling.”

Gray said in an interview, “Jamee knows the ins and outs of all things happening at CVB so not having to train her will be important in keeping things moving forward.”

He added, “Once the pandemic subsides, I see a very bright future for tourism. I believe folks have grown very weary of virtual experiences and miss the days of getting together for a meal and a drink. I’m hoping that come March and April, we are all holding on to our hats, because things are moving so fast around here.”

In the meantime, the board will develop a new job description for the executive director position. “With Jamee’s input and help from other CVB boards around the state, we are looking to put together a job description so that everyone can be on the same page about what expectations are for the CVB executive director’s role. I have no doubt Jamee will succeed in this new role at CVB,” Gray said.

“My experience in working with the CVB has been invaluable in moving forward in the Interim Executive Director’s position. I was able to build so many great relationships locally and within my tourism family across the state.  I developed a great level of respect and love for my community with the work I have done in my time here with tourism. I certainly have to mention my recent Director Jennifer Kirchner in all she exposed me to and allowed me to participate in, along with our amazing board for the ongoing support that we have received in our efforts to promote Boyle County,” Payton said.

“As we continue to work through the pandemic and changing times we have a great opportunity to brainstorm ways to get Danville Boyle County back on the map for our visitors. Things certainly look different for us than they did this time last year but Boyle County still has so much to offer.  I have no doubt that we can find creative ways to extend the very best experience of Kentucky for our visitors.

The board is also in the process of nominating a member to be chair after Brittany Adams resigned from the post in September saying she wanted to spend more time with her family and was busy running her special business at Warrenwood, Gray explained.

“I think the board was very aware of the need to get an interim director in place so that there wasn’t a lag in leadership and duties being performed.  We held the meeting early to make sure we were doing our best to keep things on track. The board understands that CVB is its own entity and we want to make it the best that it can be. We see CVB as one of the key marketers of Boyle County and Danville. The tax that we collect will continue to be spent on creative ways to draw people’s attention and money to Boyle County and Danville,” Gray said.

In last week’s fiscal court meeting County Administrator Julie Wagner said while she was looking into the possibility of the county collecting the transient room tax from lodging establishments instead of the CVB, “I looked through the ordinances and found some things we might want to tighten up policies on. … I didn’t look for problems, I just started noticing some things.”

She stated that the any CVB employee, the board treasurer, and “whoever signs the checks” should be bonded through the county. It’s not being done, she said, but they should be according to the county ordinance governing the CVB.

Wagner also told the court that it was also responsible for choosing or approving the bank where the CVB collected tax money is held.

And, she added, when the board fills a vacancy, the process  should be that the county judge-executive and Danville mayor each receive a list of three nominations and they must agree on the final appointment to the board.

“I’m sure in time, people just forget, or they don’t know,” the correct procedures, Wagner said. “I”m not picking on anybody, I just think it’s things we can clean up while they’re (CVB) in transition.

Magistrate Tom Ellis said, “There is some very significant shortcomings even beyond the treasurer’s report in terms of how things were being operationally handled on a day to day, week to week basis, that we can now address here.”

Ellis reminded the court that they have “direct oversight” of the CVB. “We need to be able to exercise it without any impediments such as we ran into by one of the board members when he was told there was confidential information and he could not access that confidential information.”

After the fiscal court meeting, CVB vice-chair Adam Gray explained that board chair Brittany Adams resigned from the organization in September because she wanted to spend more time with her young family. Then Kirchner resigned to take another job in Frankfort. The moves were not related in anyway, Gray said.

Ellis’s comment about a board member not being given information he requested, stems from an occasion when board member Tim Montgomery, who is the county’s representative on the CVB board, asked to see documents listing the amount of revenue made and taxes collected from each motel and Airbnb, Gray explained.

He said only the CVB executive director, the board chair and the treasurer have access to that private information.

During the fiscal court discussion of the CVB, Magistrate John Caywood said he believed that the work the CVB does to promote tourism in this area “is a very important part of our economic development.”

He added that since Montgomery is fiscal court’s representative, it’s important for him to keep the court informed as to what it’s doing to bring more economic development here. “I feel its a very important part of our puzzle here.”

Magistrate Jason Cullen said he had spoken to Gray earlier about his plans to keep the CVB moving forward in tourism economic development, especially since Boyle County is now on the Bourbon Trail.

“He is on top of things,” Cullen said. “He’s on top of things. … The ship is still sailing.”

After the meeting, Gray said it may have sounded like something was not quite right at the CVB, then added, “There was definitely nothing illegal going on.”

Gray said he was ready to move forward with the work the CVB does to promote tourism. The pandemic has decreased the CVB’s budget by about 33% he said. That’s because people aren’t traveling and staying in local motels, and there are no special events and festivals to bring them here.

So, in the meantime, the CVB will start looking for a new executive director and board member. And it will continue collecting and saving the tax revenues that are coming in in preparation for marketing opportunities when people starting traveling again.

Gray said he isn’t worried about finding a new director, and is confident in how the board will work together to meet its goals for tourism.

“Everyone is a professional. We’re all grown up and we can make good, quick decisions.”