Wasson named interim Fort Smith CVB director; process begins to hire new director

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,403 views 

Longtime journalist and community promoter Lynn Wasson has been named interim executive director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) following the March 20 resignation of former director Tim Jacobsen.

Jacobsen notified members of the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission, the CVB governing authority, on March 17 of his decision to resign.

“I am offering my resignation effective Monday, March 20th as the Executive Director of the Fort Smith Convention & Visitor Bureau. My resignation is based on being offered a 2 month severance package to include full pay including the increased amount that was already approved effective in April through the remainder of the 2 months of severance. My resignation is also based on the severance package including my current insurance being paid through the 2 month severance period. My resignation is also based on full payment for outstanding vacation I have. My resignation is also based on an agreeable separation agreement.”

Jacobsen was hired in November 2020 with an initial salary of $115,000. Prior to the Fort Smith job, he was executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau in Osage Beach, Mo.

A&P Commission members met Friday to name an interim director. Commission member Storm Nolan told Talk Business & Politics that Jacobsen’s sudden departure did not come at a good time. He also said the commission is working with the city of Fort Smith to begin the process to seek and review applications for the next director.

“The timing could be better, especially with the (U.S.) Marshals Museum opening coming up, so the goal is to get an interim in there quickly so we don’t drop any balls,” Nolan said.

Construction of the approximately 53,000-square-feet U.S. Marshals Museum was completed — except for exhibits — in early 2020. Exhibit completion is ongoing and museum officials have said they are targeting a summer opening. The facility is on the Arkansas River near downtown Fort Smith. In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum.

Wasson told Talk Business & Politics she is plans to apply for the full-time job when that process begins.

“I am delighted, excited and very thankful to again take an active role in promoting the myriad of enjoyable opportunities Fort Smith offers to visitors, tourists and group travel guests. Fort Smith is so many kinds of fun!” Wasson noted in a statement. “After 22 years of illuminating all Fort Smith’s assets through Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, I’m very familiar with the vibrant variety of experiences that can be enjoyed here by all sorts of people. Every month, we published all the fun we could find to offer and profiled the engaging people who make our town so interesting.”

Entertainment Fort Smith published its last edition in July 2022 after a 22-year run.

Wasson said the CVB is responsible to broadcast all that the Fort Smith region has to offer tourists and other visitors, and she is eager to work with CVB staff to do that.

“I’m joining the excellent CVB staff at the very moment we can trumpet the much-awaited opening of the U.S. Marshals Museum, a fresh and absolutely unique, national attraction – and that’s on top of the rich array of opportunities we have always offered. We’ll proudly lead many messages with this new, world-class attraction,” Wasson said.

Hospitality tax revenue in Fort Smith, generated from a lodging tax only, was $1.13 million in 2022, up 18% compared with 2021. The revenue funds CVB operations and marketing efforts.