Within the same week of a finished contract between the city and the Chamber of Commerce, a long time chamber employee gave her resignation.
Gordona Rowell, executive director of the Shawnee Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), which is run by the Greater Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce of behalf of the city, gave notice of resignation effective Thursday, Jan. 31.
Rowell, who had been with the chamber for 12 years, said she had an opportunity to do sales with TS&H. She said she had wanted to see a new contract put in place between the chamber and city.
A new contract was required after the previous city commission took action to end the 18-year contract with the chamber to promote tourism through the CVB.
The chamber's tourism promotion is funded through a Hotel Occupancy Surcharge, an additional tax charged on hotel rooms in Shawnee.
The chamber filed a lawsuit against the city for breach of contract after the city took action to create a new entity to promote tourism. After a city counter-suit, District Judge Cynthia Ferrell-Ashwood granted an injunction to the chamber, keeping the 1994 contract in place.
Shortly after, the current city commission was seated and negotiations changed to allow work toward a new contract.
The contract was approved by the Shawnee City Commission Monday, Jan. 7.
"I am extremely proud of what Gordona has accomplished during her 12-year tenure with the Chamber," Chamber CEO Nancy Keith said in a statement. "The City of Shawnee and our business community have profited from her dedication, enthusiasm and passion for her profession and those she served. She will be greatly missed."
Dane Pollei, former Chairman of the Tourism Advisory Committee who worked closely with Rowell, said he believed this would be good for her.
"I know Gordona just felt it was time," Pollei said.
He added that Rowell helped the chamber and CVB run smoothly, which helped him tremendously in his job with the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art.
"Gordona and the rest of the staff were very easy to work with," Pollei said. "They are a tremendously important part of our marketing plan."
"She'll be a hard person to replace," he added.
Marta Land, former chairwoman of the chamber board also worked closely with Rowell.
"I'm very sad," Land said.
"I think she's been through a lot in the last year," Land said, referring to the chamber lawsuit and new city contract.
"I really, really liked her as a person, but more than that – I really respected her as a professional," Land said.
Rowell issued a statement regarding her departure.
Page 2 of 2 - "Although this has been a difficult decision, it is one I truly believe is best for me and my family," she said. "I leave with no regrets."