Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission members selected former commissioner Tim Freeman as their choice for who should fill a recently vacated seat on the volunteer group.
The position became available when commissioner Bill Lyle resigned in August after taking a job in Bentonville. State law requires Fayetteville A&P commissioners to live and work in Fayetteville. Coincidentally, Lyle was appointed as a replacement for Freeman, who was also required to resign when he accepted a job in Little Rock in 2010.
Freeman, who recently returned to Fayetteville where he owns United Hotel Management, served as chairman of the commission before his departure, and was the driver behind a policy change aimed at addressing a somewhat controversial issue regarding commissioner-related contracts.
Other applicants included Jim Huson, owner of Doe’s Eat Place; Shellie Morrison, co-owner of The Event Group; and Michael Andrews, owner of Fresco Cafe & Pub. Andrews was not present for his scheduled interview on Monday. Two other people applied for the position, but were deemed ineligible due to residency and voter registration issues.
The three candidates were each interviewed for 10 minutes and fielded questions about what they’d bring to the group and any suggestions they had for the commission. The group was most impressed with Freeman and Morrison, but said Freeman’s experience combined with his knowledge and enthusiasm for Fayetteville tourism put him ahead of the other applicants.
“I thought Tim was more up-to-date on a lot of the events here,” said commissioner Hannah Withers. “Shellie made a lot of good suggestions, but some of them are already happening.”
During the interviews, Freeman gave a few pointers on how the group could encourage more events like First Thursday and the Block Street Block Party, while Morrison suggested creating a tour of the local breweries – a project the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau launched three weeks ago.
Commissioner Bobby Ferrell said he was most impressed with Freeman’s answer on how he’d handle deciding between helping to fund events that appeal to locals as opposed to those that attract visitors.
Freeman said fostering unique, high-quality events that locals want to attend will also bring visitors to town once the word gets out.
“I don’t really see an underlying conflict there,” he said. “A great event is a great event.”
If his appointment is ratified by the City Council, Freeman could serve as a commissioner through April 2016.