Tourism committee reviews director applicants

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Osage County Tourism Committee last week reviewed application materials for two candidates to fill the post of Tourism Director.

Kelly Bland, now Kelly Bland Hurd, vacated the post by resigning last March, during a period of controversy. The committee recommended Mary Beth Moore to the county commissioners as an interim director, and Moore is currently managing Osage County’s tourism promotion activities.

Wayne Ray Mitchell, chairman of the Tourism Committee, on Wednesday, Jan. 11 said the panel on Jan. 10 held an executive session discussion of candidates for the appointment. He said there were two candidates and the committee will likely make a decision in its February meeting about which candidate to recommend to the county commissioners.

The candidates reportedly are Mary Beth Moore and Kelly Bland Hurd. Members of the Board of County Commissioners received copies of candidate application materials Jan. 9 from County Clerk Robin Slack.

When the committee met Jan. 10, it heard briefly from Charlie Cartwright, the new District 3 commissioner. Cartwright voiced support for the activities of the group.

“I want to express the gratitude that we have for you guys who serve on this board,” Cartwright said. He expressed a desire on the part of the Board of County Commissioners to support the decisions of the committee.

Mitchell said in the meeting that Osage County Tourism currently has an overall financial surplus of some $350,000, which would be roughly enough to support the activity for three years in an emergency. Mitchell said the goal is to develop a reserve of $500,000.

Moore gave a report Jan. 10 that indicated online interest in Osage County as a tourism destination continues to grow. Her report cited Facebook activity figures for December 2021 and December 2022. Moore was scheduled this week to attend a tourism expo in McAllen, Texas.