County tourism to seek additional personnel


By Kevin Spradlin

Related coverage
* May 7: ‘I promise you it will work’
* April 14: TDA taps Pruett as tourism director
* Feb. 11: TDA adopts tourism plan
* Jan. 22: ‘A playground for the creative class’
* Jan. 22: County seeks tourism director

ROCKINGHAM — If Kelly Pruett’s going to do her new job right, she’s going to be out of the office quite a bit.

TDA_Logo-2015The problem, then, is that no one’s there to answer phone or in-person inquiries, or to handle other routine clerical issues that come with running an office. Pruett said on Tuesday during the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority’s monthly public meeting that she’ll address that need in her proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

It’s an issue TDA officials should “definitely broach much sooner than later about a physical body being here.”

Rockingham City Manager and TDA board member Monty Crump said it’d be nice “to at least have regular office hours.”

Crump said he envisioned the position working four hours a day, five days a week. The office hours could conceivably be filled by a mix of paid staff and volunteers. TDA board member Jyoti Patel suggested seeking interns from Richmond Community College.

Pruett agreed to terms April 14 and will be paid $55,000 for the first six months. She is eligible for a 5 percent salary increase after a six-month probationary period. Her salary will be split between the city of Rockingham and Richmond County governments’ shares of hotel/motel tax revenue.

Pruett also is entitled to a $250 monthly local travel expense and will be reimbursed for the current federal mileage rate for any out-of-town travel. She’ll also have a TDA-paid business mobile phone.

Pruett said she also is required to live in Richmond County within 12 months.

The meeting on Tuesday took place at the Visitors Center, located at the corner of Highway Business 74 and U.S. Route 1 South, or South Hancock Street. The building is to be used for tourism offices and as the hub of information for area attractions. As soon as this fall, it could house several artifacts of area railroad, industry and sports memorabilia after Pruett has display cases built and installed.

* * *

The TDA met without a quorum and was unable to take action on the few items on the agenda. Instead, members talked for about 20 minutes about what Pruett has accomplished since beginning her new position in mid-April.

Pruett said it’s mostly been reaching to stakeholders in key attractions across Richmond County.

Also of note:

* Pruett is spearheading the relaunch of the county tourism website. She hopes to have the new site live as soon as early June.

* She attended a North Carolina Main Street Community’s Downtown Association Community Program conference in Raleigh. It’s the 35th anniversary for the program, which works to stimulate economic development within the context of historic preservation and revitalization. It was agreed that the Main Street Program effort would be put on the back burner, at least for a year, in part because there is no formal plan for downtown Rockingham and proposals must be submitted by July 1. There also is a required $250 membership fee for the National Main Street Center.

* Pruett plans to attend the Congressional Summit on Travel and Tourism from June 16 through June 18 in Washington D.C. and Arlington, Va.

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  • Guest

    Amazing…First Meeting with new full time Director and not enough Board members show up to vote on anything. If that’s the new “logo” …someone should go back to the drawing board …Can’t read the most important word>TOURISM. Love the quote, “nice to have regular office hours”. well yea!. If the location is to be a “Visitors Center”, sure would be nice to have the door opened so out of towners could access and speak to a real person. Sounds like the Board is reinventing a Tourism Dept. Its all been done before and quite successfully across the country. Hopefully Pruett will show the former board members how its done. Haven’t seen any real effort in over 20 years. That’s astonishing considering the massive budget of $225,000. reported in a Jan. 22 PeeDeePost article. Read it…and see the interesting expenditures with not too much return on investment…..$5000. for a Farmers Market with no vendors. How do you spend that kind of money on a losing idea. Answer > the board voted on it. And $20,000 went to Discovery place.You’de “Think” they can afford to run their own operation. Lets see if the new director can change the way money is spent for positive results.

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