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Parkways Authority selects new Tamarack director

By Whitney Burdette, Capitol reporter
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The West Virginia Turnpike Authority has selected a new executive director to lead Tamarack, Beckley’s arts and conference center.
COURTESY PHOTO Jim Browder has been named Tamarack’s new executive director. He recently served as president of the Lexington, Ky., Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The West Virginia Parkways Authority has selected a new executive director to lead Tamarack.

Jim Browder, who most recently served as president of the Lexington, Kentucky, Convention and Visitors Bureau, was tapped to lead the tourist destination. Jason Pizatella, chairman designee of the Parkways Authority, said the board is hopeful Browder can use his 30 years of experience to help Tamarack overcome a slump in revenues and visitors.

“He’s been to Tamarack, he’s visited with the staff and I think he knows exactly what we need to do to take Tamarack to the next level,” Pizatella said.

Browder’s career includes many stops in the hotel and resort industry nationwide, mostly in sales and marketing.

Tamarack Deputy general Manager Dwight Trent said he hopes to tap into Browder’s experience to turn things around.

“The people who are coming in are still buying the same things,” Trent said, adding people still come to the arts and crafts center but don’t necessarily make purchases.

“I know in his interview and presentation, Jim has made a career turning around properties,” Pizatella said. “One of the things we’re going to ask him to do is come up with a business model that will hopefully reverse that trend for Tamarack. Once he gets here and gets on board, it will be a busy first few months getting acclimated. He’s no stranger to Tamarack, he’s no stranger to West Virginia, but until he gets in there and sees what the challenges are specifically, we’ll have to revisit that in a few months.”

Parkways General Manager Greg Barr and Parkways general counsel Dave Abrams will soon begin negotiating Browder’s contract. Pizatella said he doesn’t foresee any problems and anticipates Browder can start work Oct. 1.

“Just like the employees at Tamarack are not state employees, the general manager is not either,” Pizatella said. “He’s an employee of WC Workshop Inc., so even though Parkways pays the salary, he’s not employed by Parkways. We’ll go through the contract negotiation phase within the next few weeks and I don’t foresee any problems.”

Browder will replace former executive director Cheryl Hartley, who retired in June after 14 years with Tamarack. More than 100 applicants applied for the open position. The authority’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee entered executive session for about 30 minutes prior to the board meeting to make its final recommendation. The full Parkways Authority board accepted the committee’s selection unanimously.

“This was an extremely thorough search,” Pizatella said. “We had more than 100 applications from all across this country. We think we recommended a candidate who represents the mixture of retail, hospitality and tourism skills necessary to be the next executive director of Tamarack. We think Mr. Browder represents all those things. I’m certainly pleased ... to recommend Mr. Browder and I think the authority will be well served.”

Pizatella said Tamarack employees and staff were involved in the decision.

“One of the more interesting parts about this search was the tremendous amount of interest we got from existing employees and staff from Tamarack, who are as devoted and as dedicated as any group of employees I’ve ever been around,” he said. “They want to see Tamarack succeed and they know it will succeed.”

Board member Bill Seaver said Browder’s hiring will be a good thing for Tamarack, and he’s confident Tamarack will succeed under Browder’s leadership.

“I just really feel like this is a positive for Tamarack to move in a direction we’ve long been seeking,” Seaver said. “I look for great things.”

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.


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