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Tourism volunteers: Carpe diem

It was clear that the county economic development director caught some members of Marion County Economic Development Council by surprise May 19 when she said she was no longer going to be associated with the volunteer group; at least she caught me off guard.

It’s a sad day in Marion County when a paid professional cannot get along with a group of volunteers — some of them her peers — and vice versa.

After observing much of this strife the past several months, there has been a common denominator in this mess and that has been the involvement of the county. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. The fact remains that whatever happened in the past continues to fester. Something has to be done to unite the county, particularly for the sake of tourism — even if it means change.

But enough of that, let’s look at what less county involvement means for the tourism group.

This means the group can get back to the business of networking and collaborating. This means the group is responsible for its own success, just as it should have been from the beginning.

Animosity should take a break.

There are no “small” towns or “large” towns — there’s Marion County.

What was interesting to me at the most recent meeting was that some members of the group continue to blame Marion representatives. Why keep rehashing the issues that continue to divide? These past issues should be dead, buried, never to be mentioned again. It was obvious to the rest of the group — especially some newcomers — that the majority of the members wanted to move forward.

If the group wants to find success — and I hope it does — it will have to find a way to get past these issues and get on with what it is supposed to be doing — promoting Marion County. Changing the name of the group might be a good start.

Since that meeting, the county commission has decided that maybe the economic development director should remain as a liaison with the group to oversee county money — all $8,000 of it. There is a sizable grant involved with the group that should be administered, however.

I still see this as an opportunity instead of a demise.

Marion County tourism members, seize this opportunity. Take control of your destiny. I hope the director assists in every way possible because that is what she is paid to do. I want to see volunteers enjoy the benefits of their hard work. They deserve it.

Most of all, don’t give up.

— susan berg

Last modified May 27, 2010

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