Gage County may have a new tourism director hired in the coming weeks.

Lora Young, Director of the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce, said the process of hiring a tourism director has been moving quicker than expected, and multiple qualified candidates for the position are being considered.

Interviews will be conducted next week and, as early as the following a week, a decision may be made concerning who will head tourism efforts in the area, working to draw visitors to Gage County.

The previous tourism director, Lisa Wiegand, announced last month that she had accepted a position with Gage County as the emergency management director.

And while the process of rehiring the position has moved quickly, members of the County Board of Supervisors questioned why the position has had a high turnover during Young’s quarterly report to the board on Wednesday

“It seems like a revolving door in that position down there,” said Supervisor Gary Lytle. “Is that normal for that position?”

When the new hire is announced, he or she will be the fifth tourism director in Gage County since 2013.

Young said one reason the position has been vacated regularly is the lack of enticing benefits, and the position does not offer full medical coverage.

The other driving factor, she said, is the salary.

“The salary that we’re paying, it’s low,” she said. “In the industry, Gage County tourism director is the very bottom. Almost every other county has access to the improvement funds to supplement salary. Almost every county uses them because that’s what they’re for. We’re not, and that keeps us low.”

Young said the current salary, including a medical stipend, is around $30,000.

While Young said the salary is among the lowest of the 12-13 tourism directors in the state, board member Erich Tiemann stressed that the figure needs to be based on Beatrice’s market, and not a statewide comparison.

“If you look at the Beatrice market, which is what we have to look at, not anywhere else, in the Beatrice market you’re right in there in pay,” he said. “You can get a heck of a good person in the office at that pay level. We have to be realistic of that, too. We’re always working with other people’s money and it’s dang easy to spend it. We have to be cognitive of that, too.”

Reach Scott Koperski at scott.koperski@beatricedailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKoperski.

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