Peggy Kiefer

Grove Sun

The Grand Lake Sail and Power Squadron (GLSPS) was awarded Grand Laker of the Year at the Grand Lake Association Banquet held Monday night at Cherokee Yacht Club on Grand Lake.

The GLSPS not only helps the GLA with boat safety workshops but also works at the GLA Visitor’s Center on the weekends directing tourists to the wide range of activities available in Northeast Oklahoma.

More than 100 members turned out for the event to hear keynote speaker Lt. Governor-elect Todd Lamb encourage members about the future of Northeast Oklahoma tourism.

In his first speech as Lt. Governor-elect, Lamb recounted the first time he saw Grand Lake.

“The first time I saw Grand Lake I was 22 and I thought this is why they call it grand.

“Grand Lake is the crown jewel of Oklahoma,” he said.

Lamb told the crowd that he and Jones both played football in college. Lamb was a receiver at Louisiana Tech and OSU and Jones played at Ole Miss and University of Tulsa.

And, as Jones served Oklahoma Legislatures Floor Leader and Lamb, as his counterpart they worked together on the same team.

“I want to have the same relationship with Tad that we had on the floor," Lamb said. “He is the quarterback and I am the receiver.”

Lamb explained that he will catch whatever vision Jones throws at him and do something with it.

Lamb continued to explain to the 100 plus members and guests of GLA, “You can’t talk about economic development in this state without talking about tourism.

“Tourism is the third largest industry in our state, behind oil and gas (energy) and agriculture,” he explained.

Lamb excited the audience when he stated that when OU beat Texas, it was the front-page headline in The Oklahoman.

“That’s a challenge I think we have as Oklahomans.

“It’s time we beat Texas at something other than football,” he said.

“The greatest days of Grand Lake are upon us. This group of people is a testament to that,” he said.

“Tad is a great general. You are the soldiers and with Tad at the helm, I look forward to watching all of you make Grand Lake the destination in Oklahoma."Tad Jones is the Executive Director of GLA, which represents Ottawa, Delaware, Craig and Mayes County tourism efforts. In his short time here, he has made many changes.

“The first thing we did was look over all the website so we can track everyone who visits and where they are coming from, because 80 percent of tourist in America are going to our website,” said Jones.

Under Jones’ direction, GLA has also designed a new look for their Visitor’s Guide and initiated a fundraiser for a new sign for the front of the visitor’s center in Grove.

“People need to know where we are. How are they going to use our services if they can’t find us?” he asked.

To emphasize the need for these changes, Jones explained that in the last couple months alone, GLA has grown by 30 new members.

Also honored during the evening was Miami Chamber of Commerce, was awarded the Grand Lake Event of the Year for Miami N.O.W.

Grand Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Dan Brown, and the Grand Supporter of the Year was Ed Townsend and Bank of Grove.

GLA recognized outgoing board members and introduced their new board members for 2011. Incoming board members are Ray Claggett, Michelle Robertson, Nicole Benedict and Ian Drake. Current members that are staying on the board are Earnestine Helmick, BJ Mooney, Lori Starks, Sharon Davis, Dave Helms, Donna Belt, Amanda Davis, Marty Follis and incomin president Chuck Perry. The outgoing members are Wayne Crouse, Bart Montgomery and Art Box, current President.