Turner resigns as leader of tourism commission

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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A Clark County native, Nancy Turner has long served in the community. 

However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. 

After nearly 25 years as executive director of the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission, Turner is stepping down from the position. 

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She will be taking a new role in Frankfort as the deputy commissioner of Kentucky Tourism. 

“I have been offered an amazing opportunity…that first came about in a phone call in February,” she said. “As much as I love this job and the community, what a gift to expand my career at this stage in the game!” 

While the announcement was made beforehand, thoughts about the positive contributions Turner has made were shared at the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission meeting on Tuesday, April 30. 

Among those to speak were Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed, who has known Turner since she was a teenager. 

“On behalf of the city of Winchester, you have brought a lot of sunshine [and] a lot of light into this community,” said Reed, addressing Turner. “Things have been done correctly,,,they’ve been on time, and you’ve brought so much to this community.”

Elizabeth Chalfant, who serves as chair of the Winchester-Clark County Tourism Commission, also spoke. 

“We thank her for her dedication,” Chalfant said. “It was her push and information that…[got us] where we are today.”

By Turner’s own admission, she started involvement in tourism when she was still a youth. 

“My very first tourism gig was when I was in fourth grade,” she said. “It was the very first Pioneer Festival…and the tourism office was in a trailer [near] Rural King.” 

During the festival, Turner was given multiple tasks, which included stuffing information packets. 

“‘Who knew that all these years later I would be here?’” Turner asked rhetorically. 

After graduating college, Turner worked for different organizations including the University of Kentucky Basketball Museum and – upon her return to Winchester – the Bluegrass History and Heritage Museum. 

When taking over the position in the early 2000s, Turner definitely wanted to hone in on certain points. 

“We really had no attractions that were open and the first eight years were basically tourism development, trying to create activities for people to come in and see and do,” Turner said, noting that the plan was a success. “These last few years, it’s been a blessing to see all the entrepreneurial efforts in tourism. [It’s been a] good ride!” 

Asked what she’s enjoyed the most, Turner didn’t have to think long. 

“I’ve met amazing people in this community to learn from [and] to be mentored by,” Turner stated, noting former Mayor Ed Burtner as one such example. 

While noting that she will also miss the community of Winchester, Turner states that she looks forward to her current position and adds that the community is in a solid place. 

“I feel confident that my successor will be guided by wonderful people, and that they’ll do great things!” she said.