Tuesday, November 27, 2007

11/21 - Jekyll director headed north

The Florida Times-Union
November 21, 2007
Times-Union Correspondent

Jekyll Island will soon lose the man who has directed the state park's operations for the past 10 years.

Gov. Sonny Purdue Tuesday recommended that Bill Donohue, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority, become the new executive director for the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority in northeast Georgia.

Donohue's expected departure comes just as plans to modernize Jekyll's hotels, convention center and downtown district come to a controversial peak. Stakeholders have bitterly debated whether Jekyll ought to be transformed into an upscale beachside resort or a more limited middle-class vacation spot that protects existing natural areas.

"I'm really sorry to hear he's going to be leaving, particularly since we are going through a transition period with all this new development," said Ed Boshears, a member of Jekyll's governing board.

The Jekyll Island Authority also recently lost its chief financial officer, Laura Bonds. Boshears said Donohue's departure means Jekyll will lose its top two administrators just at a time when they are needed the most.

"Mr. Donohue does a very good job and he is extremely knowledgeable about everything on Jekyll," said Boshears. "A new person will have to learn about the situation on Jekyll right in the middle of the revitalization process."

Jekyll resident Tise Eyler, a 10-year board member of the Jekyll Island Citizens Association and president for the last four, says he has worked closely with Donohue. He described Donohue as an outstanding hands-on leader who worked well with Jekyll's diverse community.

"He was like a quasi-mayor of this little town," Eyler said. "Bill always did an astute job of walking that thin-ice boundary between serving our residents, visitors and companies and hotels. He will be missed."

In a prepared release, Jekyll Island Authority board chairman Ben Porter credited Donohue with managing the update of Jekyll's master plan, initiating Jekyll's popular Shrimp and Grits Festival and guiding the creation of the Sea Turtle Center.

Donohue was not available for comment on the new Lake Lanier Islands position.

Donohue would replace the resort's outgoing executive director, Kevin Clark, who is leaving to fill a vacancy with the Georgia Building Authority and State Properties Commission.

Northeast of Atlanta, the 1,100-acre Lake Lanier Islands resort has amenities similar to those Donohue has managed on Jekyll including a convention center, hotel, lakeside cottages, golf courses, camping and horseback riding.

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/112107/geo_219329816.shtml.

No comments: