The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

August 7, 2012

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: JoElla O’Connell

CLINTON — When JoElla O’Connell, 53, of DeWitt, was laid off from her job as director of the DeWitt Chamber of Commerce she was already planning how to continue directing tourism to the Clinton County area. Instead of looking for a new job, she decided to create one: Clinton County Tourism Director. For the past few months she’s been seeking city and county government support to create and award her the position.

“I want people to come to Clinton County. There’s just so much it has to offer,” she said.

O’Connell started at the Chamber nearly 19 years ago as an office assistant performing clerical work. She became captivated by the tourism aspect of the organization she worked for.

“I fell in love with it. It became my life,” she said.

She served as the director of the Chamber for the last eight years. Last fall she looked into what communities in the county had websites, what they had to offer and if it was promoted.  O’Connell saw an opportunity for improvement and collaboration.

“We need to expand. We need to work as one,” she said.

On May 1, O’Connell was informed her position would be eliminated as the Chamber was combined with the Economic Development arm in DeWitt.  On May 31, she hit the ground running.

She said she’s spent countless hours researching responsibilities of a tourism director. After compiling a detailed job description to strengthen her case, O’Connell focused on finding more support, including monetary.

O’Connell collaborated with Clinton County Conservation to apply for a grant through the Clinton County Development Association. If awarded the grant, the money would go towards starting an office for the position, she said.  She hopes to find a match for the grant to fund the salary.

Since she started pursuing the position, she and her husband, Joe, have spent weekends discovering all of the tourist attractions the county has to offer, many of which, O’Connell said, are not being fully promoted. As the County Tourism Director she would work to promote attractions and events throughout the county, region and state, she said. Weekly e-mail blasts, brochures and glossy booklets would be among the tools O’Connell plans to  utilize.

“This is an exciting thing to get the county working on as a whole. Tourism is economic development,” she said.

When she’s not researching, O’Connell enjoys baking and decorating cakes, sewing, cross stitching and gardening.

She and her husband  have two grown children, a son and a daughter.

1
Text Only
Features
  • Women's Expo set for Tuesday at Wild Rose CLINTON -- It is time again to gather the girlfriends and head out to the Ultimate Spring Women's Expo at the Wild Rose Event Center in Clinton. The third annual expo from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, hosted by the Clinton Herald, offers an opportuni

    April 14, 2014

  • Fulton housing loan Program to assist Fulton resident FULTON, Ill. -- Brian Hollenback and Beth Payne delivered good news last week, traveling to seven cities, three counties and two states, ending their journey in Fulton. Hollenback, who is the Northwestern Illinois Housing Coalition president, and its

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stutting Camanche native tapped to head North Scott schools CLINTON -- A Camanche native will return to his roots this June, after being selected as the new superintendent for the North Scott Community School District. Joe Stutting, a 1987 graduate of Camanche High School, has been away from his hometown for

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • preview-1.jpg Luau raises funds to support programming

    CLINTON -- Hundreds of supporters and volunteers gathered Friday night to endorse a lifesaving organization in the Gateway area. The 10th annual Gateway Area Red Cross Luau kicked off the night at the Tuscany Event Center at Rastrelli's with a buffet

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anderson Meet Your Neighbor: Gardening serves multiple purposes

    CLINTON -- For Kathy Anderson, gardening is something she has always enjoyed. "For as long as I remember, I have been obsessed with being outside," Kathy said. "My mother never had to ask twice for me to go outside and play." At 5 and 6 years old, Ka

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • Longman.jpg Stars and stripes to fly at half-staff

    Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. today until 8 a.m. Monday in honor of a World War II airman, whose remains were recovered more than 70 years after being killed in action.
    Lt. Louis L. Longman, a 26-year old at the time he was last seen April 16, 1944, was a Clinton native. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps Air Force and when he was last seen, his unit was returning from a B-25 bomber escort mission over Hollandia, New Guinea.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Lego League A worldwide honor CAMANCHE -- In their first year of competition, the Camanche Elementary School Jr. LEGO League team has accomplished more than they ever imagined, capping off the season with a worldwide honor. The six students of Sheryl Kennedy's Jr. LEGO League tea

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-10-14 Take Back the Night photos 04 Take Back the Night seeks change CLINTON -- Marcia Lathrop and Kris Ayala have witnessed and experienced sexual abuse and domestic violence. According to Clinton YWCA Executive Director Shannon Sander-Welzien, someone is raped in this country every 1.3 seconds. On average, a child w

    April 10, 2014 5 Photos

  • Heels for Her secondary Not an easy walk CLINTON -- Ashford University's bravest men on Tuesday strutted their stuff in 6-inch, stiletto heels to raise awareness for victims of sexual and domestic abuse. Students, faculty and staff took part in the second installment of the "Heels for Her"

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Facebook