News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2006


Visitors Bureau picked right candidate for leadership role

Who better to lead the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau than Tammy Riest?

The bureau's search committee of Harvey Pride Jr., Kim Pritchard, Wade Weaver, Bill Briscoe, Jeff Dunlap, Jimmy Ray Smith and Andy Safiano were entrusted with a task vital to the county's future when they set out to replace former bureau president Pam Swanner, who resigned the position in June to take a tourism job in South Carolina.

Fifty applicants from across the Southeast applied to fill the vacancy. Ms. Riest, who was initially reluctant to apply, was the right choice.

Ms. Riest is familiar with the county's assets and needs. She served on the bureau board for 10 years and was on the search committee that hired Ms. Swanner 10 years ago. She has also served on the board of directors for the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and is chairman-elect for the Alabama Mountain Lakes Association. She is co-founder of the Decatur-Morgan County Hospitality Association and has helped establish a number of programs designed to attract tourism. She also manages four hotels and has proven she can lobby government to accomplish tasks beneficial to area tourism.

Ms. Riest said one of her initial goals is to build relationships with local businesses, the chamber of commerce and government entities so they can better work together. She also wants to develop a better way to track visitors to determine if the city is getting a fair return on its investment and to learn if there are things that can be done better to encourage return visits.

At this crucial time when Valley municipalities are competing for new residents (as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure decisions) and tourists, we can think of no one better suited to lead the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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