Wheeler plans new events, projects to get visitors to area

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By Jeff Moore

Misty Wheeler is busy getting ready for the year of activities ahead as the new executive director of Carrollton/Carroll County Tourism and Convention Commission.

Wheeler’s been on the job since Nov. 18 and spent her first month working with former executive director Rhonda Riley, who left to work at Tandy-Eckler-Riley Funeral Home with her husband.

“Rhonda did a great job. I hope I can follow in her footsteps,” Wheeler said in a Jan. 2 interview.

Tourism Commission chairman Kevin Craig said Riley agreed to stay on the job until a new person was hired so she could work with the new hire. “It’s been a good transition,” he said.

There were 13 applications for the opening, Craig said, explaining the board narrowed that to five for interviews. Three were called back for presentations — all had some kind of experience linked with tourism and were good candidates, he said.

Wheeler has been involved in a lot of activities in the community and had tourism experience through her job as manager at General Butler State Resort Park, Craig said.

“She will be a real benefit to tourism,” he said.

Wheeler is getting geared up for the first trade shows of the year. She travels to Columbus, Ohio, at the end of January and then to Indianapolis, Ind., during February to spread the word about what the community has to offer visitors.

In addition to those preparations, Wheeler said she is figuring out the day-to-day work of the office and then she plans to take off on projects. This will include building on Riley’s work on the annual Bands and BBQ festival.

Wheeler is working with Carrollton Police Chief Mike Willhoite on an event he is putting together for May. The Three Rivers Motorcycle Festival will drawmotorcycles to the Carroll County Fairgrounds, building the Shop With a Cop poker run fundraiser. It will feature the poker run, a car show, food and music at the fairgrounds over a weekend.

“We’re hoping to get people to come and stay in our county and spend money,” she said.

Wheeler said tourism is supporting this new event.

Other projects she is working on include the new tourism information banners for downtown and the Kentucky River Water Trail project, which is connected with the local Park-to-Park Trails effort. Wheeler is working on that project with Brent Leite, owner of Two River Adventures, and Bob Yoder, executive director of Carroll County Community Development Corporation.

Wheeler, who served as manager at the state park for about eight months last year, said it is nice to be on this side of tourism so she can work to bring visitors to downtown.

Craig said she is the first tourism director they’ve had who has managed the park, one of the community’s biggest tourism draws.

Wheeler has been extremely active in the community, he said, through the park and her previous positions at 21st Century Lighthouse and Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County.

Wheeler plans to put her collaboration skills to work now on the tourism front.

Local residents are encouraged to connect with the tourism office through Facebook, Twitter, email, the tourism website or to simply stop by or call her. She looks forward to having input on the projects and efforts that tourism is undertaking in 2014, as well as new ideas she is developing.

Wheeler said local residents who hold events that draw people to visit and stay in the community should contact the tourism office to have them listed on the calendar of events.

Wheeler said she enjoys working with the tourism commission board. “They are wonderful, very supportive, very encouraging,” she said.

Craig returned the praise for Wheeler’s work so far. “She’s done a good job,” he said.