|By Steve Vaughan, The Virginia Gazette,
WilliamsburgMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 17, 2012--YORK -- The Williamsburg Hotel-Motel Association still doesn't have a president, but it does have an executive director. Ron Kirkland, former manager of the Bluegreen-owned Patrick Henry Hotel, took over last week.
Kirkland said the office of president remains unfilled since Billy Scruggs resigned more than a month ago. His last act as president was to terminate the position of the executive director, Priscilla Caldwell, at the request of the board. The association had previously eliminated the reservations manager position, leaving only a handful of employees.
The loss of Scruggs and Caldwell threw the organization into chaos. The employees who answered the phones didn't know who they were working for.
Kirkland, who is no longer with Bluegreen, said he took the position as executive director to right the ship. "I thought I could help get the association though this trouble," he said.
Two of the last three executive directors have been sacked. The one who wasn't, Alvin Garrison, remains with the Hotel Association in an "accounting role," according to Kirkland. Garrison is a CPA.
"That's been his role for the last couple of years," he said. "There's been no change in that role."
As a former executive in the timeshare industry, Kirkland brings another perspective to the Hotel Association, which has at times blamed timeshares for its slump in occupancy.
Kirkland didn't know when a new president would be chosen. "The executive committee is sharing power until a new president can be elected," he said.
At the same time that Scruggs left, Scott Hart, manager of Ripley's Believe or Not! and chairman of the board overseeing the Tourist Information Center that shares office space with the Hotel Association, also stepped down after citing interference from the Hotel Association board.
As for the Tourist Information Center, "We're open 9 to 5, 7 days a week," he said. "We're now discussing if we should be open on holidays to help tourists who are in town."
Sources told the Gazette that Kirkland was "escorted" into his first board meeting by Garrison and former president Chris Canavos. "I don't know what you're talking about," Kirkland said. "So I can't really respond to that."
(c)2012 The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Va.)
Visit The Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, Va.) at www.vagazette.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services