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LTVA awash with applications

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority closed the door on accepting candidates for its executive director position, after receiving 66 applications, the board announced Thursday.

About half live in Lake Tahoe.

The top spot was vacated by Terry LeBan due to mental and physical disabilities in December, a month after she survived a tragic car crash that killed Debra Kirk, the agency’s former controller.

The two women were named in an audit released earlier this month for allegedly misappropriating funds.

No criminal charges have been filed, but the case has been sent to the El Dorado and Douglas County District Attorney’s office.

LTVA board members hope to narrow the search to perhaps 10 people, depending on the applicants, and conduct interviews on Feb. 14. The board hopes to bring the director on board in March.

The salary is $65,000 to $85,000.

“I’ve had people calling me from out of the woodwork,” Chairwoman Deb Howard said, after the LTVA board meeting.

People made calls to her from as far away as New York and Florida.

“There’s interesting talent out there,” she said.

The job requires juggling the knowledge of tourism and marketing, along with office management skills and an understanding of civics. The LTVA serves two states. Experience in gaming and skiing industries is a plus.

“It’s not an easy task,” Howard said.

Board member Tom Davis added leadership quality to the list, “especially with redevelopment coming on board.”

The LTVA is also shopping for an advertising agency with the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority.

The board also approved Thursday a request for proposal package that details a timeline for selecting the agency. A marketing ad hoc group consisting of members from the agencies recommended both agencies align their budget planning process and marketing message in an effort to cohesively work together.

Collectively, the group feels it’s “critical the two organizations adopt a parallel planning calendar.”

Interested advertising firms have until Feb. 21 to respond with a written proposal. Oral presentations may be given to a joint planning committee March 4 and 5.

TDC Advertising has been working with LTVA for seven years.

Speaking for the ad hoc group, Harrah’s Vice President of Marketing Skip Sayre said the committee “sees the organizations as continuing to do what they do now.”

Suggestions of the two groups merging were made at the SMG Tourism Conference held Tuesday.

“I think the SMG Tourism Conference stressed the need to get a cohesive message for the lake,” Howard said. “We’ve got to look at the big picture.”

Howard emphasized the need in sustaining an economy in a challenging climate since Sept. 11.

In other business, the LTVA:

n Heard a report that December call volume from its Central Reservations line fell by 9 percent, reservations were down 21 percent and revenue generated dropped 12 percent. January reservations were down by 18 percent.

— Heard a financial report from its accounting firm Jack Marcarelli of Zephyr Cove. It has been matching cancelled checks with the check register, among other financial practices of checks and balances. The firm hopes to have a comprehensive audit completed in March.


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