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Changing of the guard in store for Haywood tourism board

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority will see unprecedented turnover on its board this month, with five of the 12 seats being filled by newcomers.


Haywood County commissioners will make the appointments this week. That part isn’t unusual. Every January in fact, four seats on the board come up for appointment. But the person in the seat sometimes seeks reappointment and remains on for another term. 

But this time, term limits have caught up with three board members, forcing them off. A fourth has decided to step down despite being eligible for reappointment.

The fifth seat, held by Canton Town Manager Al Matthews, wasn’t technically up for appointment this year. But Matthews retired this month, creating a vacancy for that seat as well.

Two of the board members stepping down helped found the tourism authority 30 years ago — Matthews, who was Maggie Valley town manager at the time, and Cataloochee Ranch operator Alice Aumen.

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“The complexion of the board will definitely change,” said Lynn Collins, executive director of the tourism authority.

The Haywood tourism board controls $1 million earmarked for tourism marketing and initiatives. The money is raised through a 4 percent tax on overnight lodging.

The commissioners will make the appointment Tuesday evening. Check and click on this story to see who was named.

One applicant from each category will get picked.

Lodging business, with 20 units or more

• Twinkle Patel, works in family business managing five large hotels in Haywood with a combined gross of $5 million.

• Ken Howle, Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.

Lodging business, with 20 units or less

• Angie Leatherwood, assistant manager of The Swag Country Inn in Jonathan Creek.

• Tammy Wight, owner of The Clarketon Motel in Maggie Valley.

Tourism industry, non-lodging

• Michael Graham, owner of Juke Box Junction restaurant in Bethel

• Gene Monson, owner of a purchasing co-op for restaurants.

• Vicki Hyatt, editor of The Mountaineer.

• Scott McLeod, publisher of The Smoky Mountain News.

Canton and Clyde

• Town of Clyde representative: pending recommendation from Clyde town board

• Town of Canton representative: pending recommendation from Canton town board



The following people were selected by the Haywood County Commissioners at their Jan. 21 meeting to serve on the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority:

• Town of Canton — Mike Ray, Canton mayor

• Town of Clyde — Laura Leatherwood, Haywood Community College

• Lodging business with more than 20 units — Ken Howle, Lake Junaluska Assembly

• Tourism Related Business — Michael Graham, Juke Box Junction restaurant, Bethel

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