Visit Natchez official: We expect to have new director by end of summer

Published 10:39 am Friday, May 24, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Receiving keys to the Depot on the Bluff was a big event last week for Visit Natchez officials and staff.

They are busy working to convert the historic depot into a convenient downtown Visitors Center.

However, expect more news from Visit Natchez in the coming months, said Helen Moss Smith, chairwoman of the Natchez Convention and Promotion Commission. That commission oversees Visit Natchez.

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Smith said she expects a new executive director will be leading Visit Natchez by the end of the summer.

Executive Director Devin Heath resigned in October 2023 to accept a similar position in Fayetteville, N.C.

“We are in the process of vetting candidates for the executive director position now,” Smith said. We expect to have a decision made by the end of the summer.”

Lynsey Gilbert, director of sales, is also operating as interim director.

“Lynsey is doing a fabulous job, and is not in the running for the director’s position by her choice. She is somehow managing to continue her sales position and management of Visit Natchez at the same time,” Smith said.

In addition, the Natchez Convention and Promotion Commission, which is a city-appointed board of six members, has been operating short-handed, missing two of its board members.

“We are expecting to have two new commissioners on the board very soon.”

Members Katie McCabe and Dana Wilson, who had served on the commission since 2016, resigned their seats in 2016 before the departure of executive director Devin Heath.

In the meantime, the Visit Natchez staff will focus on creating a new downtown Visitors’ Center.

“The handing over of the keys will be simply that: A handing over of the keys. We are still gathering furniture and other needs,” Smith said. “We do hope to have it open in a week. We won’t have everything we plan to have in there, such as decor on the walls, but we will have a greeter there, the bathrooms will be open and we will have a place for people to sit.”

Visit Natchez was once located at the former Visitors’ Center at the corner of Canal Street and John R. Junkin, near the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge. However, that facility is now owned by the National Park Service and is closed for at least another year for renovations.