Tourism manager sees silver lining in museum changes

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A series of staffing changes at Kilgore College have had an immediate impact on two of Kilgore’s key tourist attractions – including a temporary reduction in the hours at East Texas Oil Museum – while also laying the groundwork for growth.

While he’s somewhat concerned, for now, about the oil museum’s availability to out-of-town guests, Kilgore Tourism Manager Ryan Polk is looking forward to new opportunities there further down the road.

“We have a great relationship with Kilgore College as far as tourism is concerned,” he said. “We support them as they make this reorganization.

“I have a working relationship with all of the key staffers that are affected. I will continue to work with each and every one of them as it’s imperative that any destination marketing organization has a close relationship with a hometown university.”

Among various KC staffers taking on new roles (see Page 1A), ETOM Director Merlyn Holmes is moving into the Institutional Advancement Office. She’ll continue to helm the oil museum until a new director is hired.

In the interim, the attraction’s operating hours are being reduced from five to three days a week; it will still be open seven hours, but from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. It will also be closed on the college’s holiday calendar.

The reduced Fall 2018 hours are temporary, KC President Brenda Kays emphasized this week.

“It is expected that once a new manager is hired, those fall operating hours will once again be expanded,” she noted, and the college is taking applications for the post. “The facility is also expanding its event capabilities.”

On the tourism side, Polk said, the oil museum has been one of the city’s key destinations since opening in 1980. It remains Kilgore’s most active tourist attraction in hosting individuals, families, school tours, corporate visitors and a litany of other guests from around the world consistently – thousands of guests each year.

“Also, it’s one of the most noted attractions in East Texas because of its historical relevance. We do have a lot of inquiries about the museums, things to do in Kilgore and attractions. Temporarily, the limited hours will have a negative effect,” he allowed, but, overall, “The expanded operating hours is something to look forward to,” as well as any added event services.

Likewise, following the staffing change, the Rangerette Showcase now falls under Rangerettes Director Dana Blair.

“This move aligns the Rangerette Showcase to not only preserve the history and legacy of the Rangerettes, but to also serve as a support to the organization with regards to shows, camps and other special events,” Kays noted.

Fall hours for the Rangerette Showcase are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, tightening the current Monday through Friday availability and paring two hours off the daily schedule.

Notably, both the oil museum and showcase are also available for special events and pre-arranged tours.

“I’m very excited about the Rangerette Showcase Museum being streamlined with the Rangerettes,” Polk said, underscoring its role in emphasizes the line’s past glory and current glamour. “I think that’s in the best interest of everyone involved, including visitors. Who understands Rangerettes more than the director of the Rangerettes?”

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