TDC elects leaders for fiscal 2018

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TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

OKALOOSA ISLAND — The Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council on Thursday unanimously agreed to have Bruce Craul, chief operating officer of Legendary Inc. in Destin, serve as the council’s chairman through the remainder of fiscal 2018.

The nine-member council also was unanimous in its support to have Melissa Matern, marketing manager of ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals in Fort Walton Beach, serve as its vice-chairwoman for the same duration. Fiscal 2018 began Oct. 1 and runs through next September.

Thursday’s meeting was the first council session for new TDC members Heather Ruiz, director of marketing for Destin Commons, and Nick Sarra, chief operating officer of Saltwater Restaurants Inc. of Destin. The County Commission recently appointed them to their first four-year, unpaid terms on the council.

Sarra participated in Thursday’s meeting by speakerphone.

The commission also recently appointed Joe Guidry to another term on the council. He is the general manager of Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, Destin West Resort Management and Destin West RV Resort on Okaloosa Island.

Guidry’s first term, along with former TDC Chairman Dale Peterson and former Vice-Chairman Tom Rice, expired Sept. 30.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, county Tourist Development Department Director Jennifer Adams said the TDD is seeking a replacement for Bill Leaman, who retired Oct. 18 from his position as general manager of the Emerald Coast Convention Center. Leaman had served as general manager since 2002, the year before the center opened.

The TDD is working with the Stillwater, Minnesota-based SearchWide executive search firm to find a new general manager, who Adams said might be on board in January.

The salary range is from $55,577.60 to $74,214.40. Leaman’s final salary was $79,893.

In other business, the council agreed to conduct its meetings at 2 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month instead of the fourth Thursday of each month. The change will give county staff more time to place council-recommended items on the agenda for the County Commission’s first monthly meeting on the first Tuesday of each month.

The TDC’s next meeting is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Convention Center.

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