Loudon County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Clayton Pangle is looking to step down from his position sometime within the near future to give his undivided attention to other endeavors he participates in to bring more tourism to the area.
Pangle said he turned in his 60-day notice of resignation to Loudon County Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bobo and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors Chairwoman Klair Kimmey on April 30 with the plan in mind to give tourism officials enough time to find a replacement.
“I think we’ve made some accomplishments over those five years, and but I’m also a person that feels strongly that, in tourism especially, it helps to have new ideas and new folks to carry out some of those ideas,” he added.
Kimmey said a five-person committee from the visitors center board, with one being from the Chamber of Commerce, has been assembled to begin a search for Pangle’s replacement. The search began in May, she said.
Pangle said he has offered to stay past June 30 if the position is still empty.
“I think it’s unreasonable to think we’ll have someone by the end of June, so definitely we would hope by ... July,” Kimmey said.
The deadline to turn in applications is Friday, Kimmey said. The committee will then review responses, begin to narrow down the search and conduct interviews.
“The step is we are already getting inquiries, and then so after the 19th we will meet, the committee will meet, we’ll review what we have,” Kimmey said. “We will contact people and see if those people are still interested after they hear even more information about the position.”
Pangle said he will miss seeing the visitors center employees on a daily basis that, while each of them has their own uniqueness, all of them share a common trait in making “people feel just so welcome and at ease when they walk in the door at the Visitors Bureau,” he said. He said he will also miss interacting with people from all across the world who visit Loudon County, including some that have come to the Lenoir City office from as far away as Bangladesh, Russia and Australia.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a great board of directors,” Pangle said. “Our board has changed over the years. It’s always been a great board to face in different ages of the Visitors Bureau, different challenges and problems, and we’ve managed to continue to grow through a little over 25 years of being in existence. I think we’ve done it during the last five years as well, and I think we’re going to see more tourism growth in the future.”
Pangle said he believes he is leaving the visitors center in good financial shape. Over the past five years, he has overseen an annual increase of about 8 percent in the year-end reserve balance, he said.
“In my opinion, he turned us around,” Kimmey said. “He got us back on firm ground. He is so familiar with our county that he had a great vision for the Visitors Bureau and has — he’s really turned it around.”
Plans on horizon
With his tenure nearing its closure, Pangle said he had projects lined up to still help play a part in bringing tourism into the county. He also hopes to continue his service as a member of the East Tennessee Regional Leadership Organization, an attorney for Southeastern Title Company and a member with “several regional boards.”
Three projects, two of which haven’t come to fruition yet, will have Pangle serving as a facilitator. One project includes a seashell museum in the city of Loudon, he said. Located in the old 10,000-square-foot Loudon High School off Commerce Street, the building will be used to house local Dr. Pete Stimpson’s collection of seashells. A time cannot be revealed as to when the museum will open, he said.
“Dr. Pete Stimpson has one of the largest privately held shell collections in the world,” Pangle said. “His collection will be moved to that particular building for purposes of educating kids of all ages. In that particular field of endeavor, he’s recognized worldwide as an expert in seashells.”
Pangle said he and others have shared an interest to make the museum a reality for about 15 years. He said the other two projects on which Pangle will serve as a facilitator are too early in the planning stages to divulge, but he said one could assist downtown Lenoir City as a “historical type attraction.” The third project is more of a long-term plan for the county.
“Sometimes projects are undertaken and people react and say, ‘Gosh, that was a really overnight success’,” Pangle said. “But the truth is most projects take a long, long time, and all of them that are pursued are not necessarily successful. You have to have a willingness to try to look forward to things, and if it seems promising, give it a shot and find out whether it can become a reality or not.”