Nearly half the board members of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau have stepped down in recent months.
The resignations started in July with former CVB board chairwoman Pat Goodwin, said CVB Executive Director Beda Johnson.
Goodwin, however, said she took her leave in May and stressed that she was not chairwoman when she left.
Mark Herbert left in August. Sonny McDowell and Carolyn Tynan resigned in October. Larry Lynn stepped down last month.
Though admitting it seemed odd that so many members of the 12-member board would resign within such a short span, Johnson said no one stepped down because of ideological differences or conflicts.
"I'm sure they all had their reasons," she said.
Goodwin and Lynn said work obligations and commitments to other civic groups prompted their departures. Both said they were devoting several hours each week to the CVB and could not continue to do so.
Phone messages left last week for Herbert and Tynan were not returned.
However, McDowell countered Johnson's assessment and said he left over conflicts within the board as to the CVB's purpose.
"There were a lot of things happening," he said. "The one that troubled me the most was that there seemed to be a difference in opinion as to what the mission of the CVB was. There were some who thought the CVB should essentially be a promotional arm of county government. ...
"There was another school of thought that said the CVB should reach out and be its own entity by creating things and making new things happen."
McDowell said he was in the latter category, believing the CVB should devote its resources to developing events and attractions to appeal to people outside the county.
Whatever the reasons, Johnson said, the departures allowed new "forward-thinking" members to come on the board.
"The meetings are shorter," Johnson noted. "They're more to the point. They're not philosophical discussions. They're like, 'Here's our business. Let's get it done.' "
Johnson and McDowell agreed that CVB board meetings often lasted too long. McDowell added that the meetings accomplished too little.
"We seemed to spend more time than we should trying to figure out what our mission was," McDowell said. "We just never really came to a consensus. Meetings became unproductive. Activities and efforts became unproductive. I'm one of those people (who) can't afford to be unproductive."
That has changed, Johnson said, with new board members Amy Bailey, Laurie Vanover, Dale Wooten and Ellen Brosious.
"I think we nipped it in the bud before it got to that point," Johnson said. "If people were unhappy, then they left. We now have strong leadership."
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