Keck ends tenure as officials continue to debate restructuring
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Local merchants are giving the town's outgoing tourism director high marks for her tenure in the post even as town officials debate how the position will be structured in the future.
Jennifer Keck has resigned as tourism director after holding the job since 2007.
As the director, Keck was responsible for marketing, office work and relations with tourists coming to the Front Royal-Warren County Visitors Center.
Town officials are discussing whether to combine the functions of the position with that of a marketing coordinator.
Keck said she's "sad about the timing" of her resignation and noted that she had not finished all the work she started in the post.
"When people come to the area, they don't see the political lines," she said. "Front Royal is part of Warren County, which is part of the Shenandoah Valley. You have to promote it all."
Keck said that she greatly enjoyed her work, and hopes to find another job like it in the future. Keck had little to say about her reasons for leaving the position, only that she wants "to stay on the higher road and leave it at that."
Numbers related to tourism show just how well Keck did in the job, said Mayor Tim Darr. In 2010, more than $105 million in visitor spending was generated by tourism alone, according to local officials.
"She was certainly committed to her work," Darr said.
Keck recently hired Katie Kerns to work at the center, and the new employee said Keck was there pretty much every day interacting with visitors and promoting local businesses and attractions.
"She always told people how Front Royal is a great destination to unwind and relax, and it offers a little bit of everything," Kerns said.
Andrew Napier, wine manager at J's Gourmet on Main Street, said many people who come to the restaurant and shop are referred there by the Visitor's Center.
"Jennifer was always very good to us, not to mention she was a regular patron here," Napier said. "Whatever she was doing was working."
Craig Laird, president of downtown business Royal Oak Computers, said he's sorry to see her leave the post.
Since Keck took the tourism job, she has brought cohesiveness to the area's marketing effort and "always maintained a level of professionalism in the department," he said.
As the area looks to develop its tourism economy, the position becomes that much more important, he said.