Marquette Council discusses tourism coordinator position


By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor


At its Nov. 19 regular monthly meeting, the Marquette City Council tabled a discussion regarding the city’s newly created business and tourism director/environmental education coordinator position, choosing to further consider and learn about the coordinator’s hours and duties before offering a full-time position.


Driftless Area Wetlands Centre Director Katrina Moyna has been serving as the city’s tourism and economic development coordinator since she was hired in August. The council extended her part-time (20 hours per week) position through the end of this year at its September meeting, while also agreeing to consider a full-time position before the end of the year.


In her capacity as Wetlands Centre director, some of Moyna’s duties have included organizing the Centre’s Friday Night Live farmers markets and the Winter Holidays Expo, forging partnerships with area entities like Effigy Mounds and the Fish and Wildlife Service in order to collaborate on events and presentations, researching and submitting grants, attending economic development meetings, and coordinating upgrades and additions to the Centre and the natural environment surrounding it.


As the city’s business and tourism director/environmental education coordinator, Moyna would be responsible for managing all of the activities and administrative duties associated with the marketing of the city of Marquette and the Wetlands Centre. She would also be responsible for the operation of the Wetlands Centre and its overall strategic direction. Some of her marketing duties would include:

· producing brochures, newsletters and advertisements

· managing the city and Wetlands Centre websites

· representing Marquette and its businesses at Clayton County Development Group meetings

· setting up promotional events for Marquette businesses.


Some of her program development and implementation duties would include:

· planning and executing programs, shows and speaking engagements

· developing and presenting environmental education programs

· recruiting and organizing volunteer employees

· assisting with the development and oversight of the Wetlands Centre’s operating budget.


Some of her fundraising duties would include:

· bringing in rentals and special programming to the Wetlands Centre

· grant writing

· meeting with individuals, foundations and groups in order to procure donations and sponsorships

· working toward the Centre’s fiscal sustainability.


In a nutshell, the position would work to serve as a replacement for the Chamber of Commerce, which the city no longer funds.


Councilwoman Mary Jo Pirc kicked off the discussion, calling into question the need for a full-time position.


“Do we have the need for another person working 40 hours a week?” Pirc asked the rest of the council. “I’m not saying she’s not qualified or on the ball. The Centre is doing remarkable things. But there needs to be more discussion.”


“It’s because of her that it’s remarkable. Otherwise it would just sit empty. She’s bringing 1,600 people to town,” Mayor Norma Mason said, referencing the Hawk Watch, which, normally held at Effigy Mounds, may hold some of its events at the Wetlands Centre in the fall. “It’s bringing people to town. That’s called tourism. Her work has spoken volumes.”


City Manager Dean Hilgerson said there is enough money for the full-time position in the current budget, which goes through June 30. It would be looked at again in the next few months as the next fiscal year budget is prepared.


Pirc was also looking for reassurance that, if Moyna was given the full-time position, her time would not be spent solely at the Wetlands Centre, but covering everything.


Council-elect Cindy Halvorson, who was in the audience, agreed with Pirc, explaining that she thought it was too soon to offer a raise and full-time position.


“If she’s going to be the Chamber Director, she needs to get out and meet the businesses and prove herself,” Halvorson said.


“We’ve heard it both ways—‘You need someone in place.’ Now it’s ‘what are you doing?’” said councilman Tracy Melver about the tourism position. “She hasn’t had a chance to get into the business part because that wasn’t part of her position.”


Hilgerson said the city’s personnel committee made the decision because it did not want to risk losing Moyna.


“We felt compelled to do it because we have a qualified and interested person,” he said.


Scenic overlook and boardwalk projects

At the meeting, the council also received word that the city’s scenic overlook and boardwalk projects have hit a snag, and will have to be pushed back a few months. Project Manager Tim Cutsforth, of H.R. Green, attended the meeting and explained that, after receiving the project check plans last month, the Iowa Department of Transportation determined that the project was too complex and should go through state, rather than local, letting. Cutsforth said his team used all the contacts it had to avoid state letting, but that the state would not relent. As a result, the check plans, which were 90 to 95 percent complete, had to be redrawn to state specifications and resubmitted.


The project, which was slated to begin this winter, will now be let in February. If the state letting goes off without a hitch, Cutsforth said construction will hopefully begin in April and last roughly 16 weeks, dependent upon the weather and the river.


Cutsforth said it is rare to have the state interfere with plans that far into completion and was confused about the timing.


“The complexity of the plans was evident in August,” he said, referencing when the preliminary plans were submitted.


“It was just a bizarre thing that happened,” said Hilgerson. “It was nothing the city or H.R. Green did wrong.”

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