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CVB president search narrows

January 06, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A search committee will begin this week narrowing down a list of more than 30 candidates who have applied to be the new president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau's former president, Ben Hart, was forced to resign on Oct. 27 amid allegations that money was taken from the nonprofit organization's coffers. Hart was formally charged in December with one count of felony theft of more than $15,000.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Board Chairman Ron Vitkun said Monday he hopes to fill the position by Feb. 1.

Vitkun said his organization had received 32 resumes by Monday from local candidates as well as from candidates in Canada, California, Florida and upstate New York.

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He said he and search committee members Washington County Commissioner Doris Nipps and Michael Metz, with Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust, are to begin whittling down the list Thursday.

Vitkun said he and the other search committee members expect to begin interviewing candidates Jan. 12 and to conclude by Jan. 23. He said the best one or two candidates likely will be presented at the board of directors meeting Jan. 29.

Vitkun said the search for a new corporate executive and president is "extremely important."

"There are a lot of issues that are pending," Vitkun said.

After Hart's departure, the bureau was criticized by state politicians for not being open about its spending process.

Vitkun said Monday that they are looking for someone who is "financially sound," who has experience in preparing budgets and meeting budget requirements and overseeing staffs.

Vitkun said the board also is interested in someone who is good at communicating broadly with local business and tourism agencies and government officials.

He said the board did not do a good job of promoting its successes, and "there's no question that we can't operate in a vacuum."

Vitkun said the Convention and Visitors Bureau's budget in 2003 was approximately $850,000. The bureau is a nonprofit organization with 178 dues-paying members.

Vitkun said 70 percent of the bureau's revenues come from a portion of the county's 6 percent lodging tax, and the remaining revenues come from state grant money, membership dues and other outside revenues such as event promotions.

Including the president, there are four full-time bureau staff members and two part-time workers, Vitkun said.

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