Jimmy Ray Smith leaves Decaturís tourism board
By Paul Huggins
Tourism efforts have never been more productive in the 16 years Jimmy Ray Smith has served on the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Thatís why he figured now was the right time to leave the board. Thursday was his last meeting.
ďI always said I would stay on the board until we had things running smoothly, and I think the Convention and Visitors Bureau board is running as smooth as any time Iíve been there,Ē Smith said.
He also listed a need to open room for new board members with fresh ideas and honor commitments to other boards that demand his time. Smith serves on the state State Products Mart Authority of Morgan County board, and Gov. Bob Riley appointed him to U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Alabama Department of Senior Services boards.
Smith joined the Convention and Visitors Bureau board in 1991, shortly after it left the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce to become its own entity.
The biggest obstacle during the years was getting all the key city and business leaders on the same page with tourism officials, he said.
Thatís no longer a problem, he said, noting that bureau President Tami Reist can, at any moment, call and have the attention of Mayor Don Kyle, Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, or Riley. And now itís easy to get good leaders to serve on the board, he added.
The highlight of Smithís tenure was getting Bassmaster to stage a tournament in Decatur and seeing it grow into multiple tourneys per year, which led to the creation of Ingalls Harbor, he said.
The biggest disappointment Smith mentioned was that Decatur still lacks a destination, high-end hotel with a marina on the river.
Smithís term ended Thursday, as did Andy Safianoís. Forrest Keith and Dana Murphree will replace them. Keith is human resource manager at Daikin America and Murphree is manager at Comfort Inn and Suites.
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