Tourism post may go full-time

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Osage County commissioners talked Tuesday about possibly converting the county tourism director position from a part-time to a full-time job.

The commissioners tabled their vote until at least next week, to give them an opportunity to take legal advice about details of the move, but they seemed openly to favor making the change in order to keep current Tourism Director Kelly Bland.

Bland, who has provided tourism-promotion services for the county for the past year, is scheduled to complete a degree program at Oral Roberts University in May and her contract with the county expires at the end of June.

Bland was present Tuesday to give a report, but left the room to allow a candid discussion of whether to make the director position full-time.

Claud Rosendale, president of the Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce and a member of the county’s Tourism Oversight Committee, and Christy RedEagle, who chairs the Tourism Oversight Committee, gave Bland glowing endorsements during the Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

“I just don’t want to lose her because she is very good,” RedEagle said.

Rosendale was of the same opinion. He commented that committee members don’t want Bland out on the job market, “for fear of losing her.”

“We don’t want to lose her either,” Darren McKinney, chairman of the commissioners, told RedEagle and Rosendale. “You can go ahead and say that.”

During the discussion, Rosendale explained that he thinks making a move to retain Bland on a full-time basis will lead to better administrative tracking of activities and expenses, and potentially to Bland and committee members being able to collaborate on the creation of a new county-wide tourism event.