Interim VCVB director Stamps resigns post|[3/29/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The interim director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau who was passed over for the top job resigned on Tuesday, said Tim Darden, chairman of the tourism development agency.

Clara Ross Stamps, who directed the bureau for most of 2005, will be leaving her post as director of sales on April 14, Darden said.

Neither he nor Larry Gawronski, local director for Compass, the management company hired to direct VCVB operations would comment on her reason for leaving.

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Stamps, who had applied for the executive director’s position, has been with the bureau for eight years. She began her career in the tourism and hospitality industry more than 15 years ago. Before joining the staff of the VCVB, she worked at the Mississippi State Welcome Center in Vicksburg and at the Vicksburg National Military Park as a park ranger interpretive specialist. She is a certified travel marketing professional.

During her tenure at the VCVB, she researched and developed Vicksburg’s first African American Heritage Tourism brochure.

The VCVB board was divided 6 -5 over whether to hire Compass or Stamps as executive director. The Iowa-based firm was given a two-year contract with the bureau for professional services. Officials said no one would be placed in the executive director position and Compass will oversee the operations of the bureau.

Compass renewed its contract with the city, created in 2001, earlier this month to run the Vicksburg Convention Center and Vicksburg Auditorium for about $131,000 a year.

The VCVB’s contract with Compass is for $1 a year. However, the board decided Thursday to pay Compass $30,000 a year to take over additional services in the areas of accounting and public relations.

The bureau’s public relations and special events manager, Samantha Hosemann, also left in the last month. Board Member Jo Wilson resigned, leaving a vacancy on the volunteer panel whose members are appointed by city and county boards.

Compass has pledged to develop and present a plan to increase tourism in Vicksburg and Warren County and include specific measurement of its effectiveness.

The VCVB was created by the Legislature as a freestanding agency in 1972 with its own funding via a 1 percent tourism tax. Past directors have been individuals. The decision to contract out management was made during a series of confrontational meetings that began in the fall and continued through January.