Riford to head visitors bureau

February 19, 2004|by TARA REILLY

A Washington County man with a background in marketing and administration has been named the new president and chief executive officer of a local nonprofit tourism agency.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau on Wednesday announced Thomas B. Riford as its new leader, effective March 8.

Riford will be in charge of the visitors bureau administration, marketing and public relations and finances, according to a written statement from the bureau.

Riford, a Cornell University graduate, is the marketing director for Associated Engineering Sciences Inc. in Hagerstown.

He said he applied for the tourism job because he's always had an interest in promoting Washington County. He has been a member of the visitors bureau for nearly 10 years.


"I truly grew to love this community," said Riford, who has worked in the county for years and volunteered on several boards. "I know that sounds clich, but I really did."

Riford said some of his goals as the new visitors bureau president include increasing the public's awareness of the role of the agency, increasing the bureau's membership and bringing more visitors to Washington County.

Riford replaces Ben Hart, who was forced to resign on Oct. 27 amid allegations he stole $15,526.49 from the bureau. The money was taken between Dec. 30, 2002, and Oct. 13, 2003, the Hagerstown Police Department said.

Hart is accused of writing checks from the bureau's petty cash account, police said. He was charged in December with one count of felony theft.

If convicted, Hart faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a fine of $25,000 or both.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the county welcomed the announcement of Riford's hiring.

"Tom Riford has been very active in marketing Washington County, and he is very involved with the local business community," Snook said in a written statement. "I am very pleased to see the county's Convention and Visitors Bureau moving forward in this direction."

Before his job with Associated Engineering Sciences, Riford worked as the marketing director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

He has also served as chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce's Business and Community Development Committee, and he is on the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce, according to a written statement.

Riford is on the board of directors of Black Rock Golf Course and the board of directors of the Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland Scholarship Foundation, according to the statement.

He was a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent several years in journalism, winning the 1989 CBS Radio News Affiliate Reporter of the Year award, the news release states.

The Herald-Mail Articles