Welcome Center’s supervisor is ‘fired’

Published 12:00 pm Friday, June 10, 2011

Elmerree Bradley, the long-time supervisor of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Warren County Welcome Center, has reportedly been fired.

“Elmerree Bradley is no longer employed with the Welcome Center,” said Jennifer Spann, public relations manager with the MDA’s Tourism Division, the oversight agency for the state’s 12 welcome centers. “Other than that, we really don’t have any other comment since it is a personnel matter.”

Bradley, who did not respond to requests for comment, was a 28-year veteran at the center overlooking the Mississippi River bridges.

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Ann Jones, owner of Mississippi River Tours, which runs the Sweet Olive boat tours from City Front, said Bradley called her early this week as she returned from Jackson after being terminated. Jones said many people involved in Vicksburg tourism were shocked and saddened by the news.

“A lot of people in the tourism industry are very upset about the process,” Jones said. “Everybody is having trouble getting answers.”

“We’re in shock,” said Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau board member Shirley Waring. “We’re wondering what brought this on.”

Waring said Bradley was widely respected by local tourism professionals, and provided a welcoming, gracious atmosphere for visitors.

“I have dealt with her extensively over the years,” Waring added. “She’s extremely qualified, extremely professional and has been doing an excellent job for the community. She’s a true tourism professional.”

In 2006, Bradley was appointed to the volunteer VCVB board, the 11-member city-county organization established by the state Legislature in 1972 to oversee about $1 million annually in tourism dollars collected through an extra 1 percent tax on restaurants and hotel rooms.

After she served several years, part of the law was changed, making state employees ineligible to be voting members of the local tourism boards.

Bill Seratt, executive director and one of three paid staffers at the VCVB, said Thursday that he had heard Bradley had been fired, “but that’s all I’ve heard.”

“It’s a personnel issue,” he said. “I know people at MDA but even if I called them, they would not discuss it.”