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Tourism Council promotes activities, events

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Juanita Jennings, city of Roswell public affairs director, is seen here talking to members of the Roswell Tourism Council on Monday at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. Jennings is holding the award the city recently won for its “Roswell Tourism: Believe” campaign at the New Mexico Hospitality Association’s Top HAT Awards Gala in Albuquerque. Also pictured is RTC member Larry Connolly. (Christina Stock Photo)

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The Roswell Tourism Council met on Monday at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives to discuss upcoming events.

Don Weld, from the board of directors of Friends of Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, talked about the upcoming Cranes & Cocoa event taking place Nov. 30. He handed out flyers with the details.

While the event is free of charge, the presentation at 3 p.m. is limited to 50 people — and he recommended calling 575-625-4011 to have a spot reserved. “After the talk, we head down to see the cranes fly in,” Weld said. According to Weld, the refuge had a record count of more than 22,000 cranes in October. “Some of those cranes won’t stay long, some only overnight before heading further south,” he said.

State Rep. Phelps Anderson said that event organizers should contact social organizations, such as the Rotary Club, to have flyers at their meetings about the events. “We (at the Rotary Club) have more than 100 attending every Thursday, with exception of the upcoming holiday week,” he said.

Amy McVay-Davis, executive director for the HSSENM, gave a report about the annual Heritage Dinner, which celebrated the local dairy industry and its history. She said she appreciated the New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe Academy’s help in getting the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds commercial building — which had housed dinosaur exhibits a day earlier — ready for a “seated event.”

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She said that presidents from a multitude of dairy companies came to Roswell to celebrate.

Elaine Mayfield said that she almost missed being honored during the Heritage Dinner. She said she was busy volunteering at the silent auction booth when they pulled her up to the stage. Mayfield received the Mary Lou Glass Heritage Volunteer Award.

Edie Stevens, president of the Roswell Hotel and Hospitality Association, reported that new hotels are opening this year, including the former Sally Port Inn. She said that Clarion Suites is planning to keep the historic name Sally Port “one way or another in the name.” The new motel behind Buffalo Wild Wings will be a Home 2 Suites by Hilton for extended stays, she said.

According to Hilton’s website, Roswell is the third location for the chain’s Home 2 Suites.

Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the city of Roswell, talked about an issue she was made aware of: an organization wanted to have a meeting at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, but they decided to relocate to Hobbs instead. She said their reason for relocating was that they were unable to book 40 rooms in a single motel for four days.

Stevens explained that most motels and hotels have half of their capacity reserved for their established, returning guests, some being in rewards programs. “If I have only 50 rooms, I can’t block more than 25,” she said. Only hotels and motels with larger capacities would be able to offer this.

Karen Arnold, general manager of Hampton Inn, said the motels and hotels would work together when larger bus tours come to town. “We divide it up,” she said.

Stevens announced that new officers for the Roswell Hotel and Hospitality Association will be elected in January and she accepted email addresses from those interested in joining the quarterly hotel association meeting.

Wendy Cook, communications and events coordinator of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, talked about the museum’s upcoming events. She explained the procedures for its larger pieces, such as the “Pow-Wow” painting by Willard Midgette. “It is too big for storage,” she said. “It is now in the Made in New Mexico exhibit.”

Cook invited the members to attend and visit the RMAC and its current exhibits, including its upcoming holiday open house, taking place on Dec. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Jennings shared her experiences — which she compared to the Oscars — while attending the New Mexico Hospitality Association’s Top HAT Awards Gala. The city’s campaign, “Roswell Tourism: Believe” won first place after years of participating.

“When they called our name, they sounded surprised,” Jennings said. “Then, Roswell MainStreet won Top HAT Award for Best Social Media Campaign. It was a great day for Roswell. I was super excited.”

Jennings reported that the city is going to change two temporary part-time positions at the visitor center into two permanent part-time positions, and is looking to fill these positions as soon as possible.

Jennings also spoke on the changes and restructured pricing at the Roswell Civic & Convention Center, which now has conference packages instead of itemized services.

She said she appreciated the opportunity to advise its management company, Spectra, during the hiring process. Jennings pointed out that it is important to remember the staff is new and event organizers need to sign a contract to have their date held, even if their event recurs annually.

Jennings also talked about an organizational shift at the Spring River Zoo. A new party package service is available for renting a room to host private birthday parties at the zoo, which would include two animal encounters.

“It’s an educational program,” she said, where children can meet two of the zoo’s animals. There are plans to open up the birthday room for bigger groups in the summer.

The council meets every third Monday, 10:30 a.m., at the HSSENM Archives. The public is invited to attend.

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

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