Ozark Gateway Region Adds Travel Writer to the Team
“We are so excited to announce that we have recruited Lacy Mitchell to join our team as the Ozark Gateway Region Travel Writer,” said Crystal Crow, OGT Board President. “I’ve known and worked with Lacy for several years, especially at her full time reporter job. She is a lot of fun to work alongside. She has the ability, a spark if you will, to make each of her stories come to life. This gift is bound to create inquiries and more interest in our region as she travels, blogging about her experiences in our eight county region. In fact, her passion for writing is why she’s a perfect fit for our board. We have an amazing group of people on our board that work together promoting our region, each with his/her own set of talents. Each one is passionate about what our area has to offer visitors and how we can continue to grow tourism in our corner of the state.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Lacy Mitchell, 34, spent most of her life in the hills of Lawrence County. Today, she lives in Cave City, the home of “World’s Sweetest Watermelons,” in what’s known as the Prince Matlock house.
Its former owner, Charles Prince Matlock, helped create what’s known as the Cave Courts where the city’s cave lies above the Crystal River. He fashioned his home in another part of town out of the same rocks and materials that are found among the cave’s property, and she feels blessed to now be its caretaker for many more years to come.
A lover of the past, who can often be found perusing the flea markets and junk shops that make up the Ozark Gateway region, Lacy, former reporter for the Batesville Daily Guard newspaper, is excited to join the tourist council as its newest travel writer.
“I am so excited at the opportunities that await and those that are sure to come by surprise in this new venture as I find ways to highlight what I believe are some of the beautiful things this region has to offer, all while having fun. “I might even surprise myself and learn something I never knew about our wonderful region,” Mitchell says.
Although created under a generic name, the roots of the Ozark Gateway Tourist Council can be traced to 1961, when the first multi-county organization was created to promote springtime travel in Stone, Independence, Sharp, Izard and Fulton counties.
First called the “Area Tourist Committee,” the tourism panel operated with volunteers from each of the five original counties serving as a non-profit agency promoting springtime tourism during the dogwood season. The tourism board was part of a University of Arkansas-sponsored Area Development Council, which had been formed in 1959 as a national pilot program to help rural America. Leo Rainey (1932-2004) was the agent in charge, stationed in Batesville. His office was the headquarters of the group during the first ten years.
Ozark Gateway Region was the second regional tourism group recognized by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. The Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Association was the first. The Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism now features 12 regional associations across Arkansas.
The current region is non-profit and comprised of 8 counties, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp & Stone Counties in North Arkansas and their goal is to promote this area to help increase visitors and individuals interested in relocation to the section of the state.
For more information about area attractions or being included in the upcoming 2019 region magazine call 1-800-264-0316 or visit www.ozarkgateway.com
Cathy Drew is a lifelong resident of the region that she loves to promote. As a matter of fact, she was born in downtown Batesville in the late ’60s, which is in one of the eight counties she now enjoys encouraging people to visit.
Jeff Drew is her husband of almost 29 years. They have a son, Jonathon (Jon) Drew, his wife Devyn Stewart. Drew is also grandmother to Jon and Devyn’ s son, Jase Drew.
However, Drew can’t skip the other part of her family: the pets! Lady Bird (a stray dog welcomed into their home in June 2012) and of course, Howard – – a puppy compliments of Lady Bird shortly after arriving at the Drew home. They also have Kasha whom Drew inherited when her mother passed in 2016, and they adopted Bullet, a stray in November of 2016.
Drew, became associated with the Ozark Gateway Region in 1990 while working at the ad agency (The Media Market Inc.). The agency handled marketing for the regional association where she along with her co-workers produced an annual tabloid publication. She began work as the director of the Ozark Gateway Region In June 2000.
After Drew became director, she took the region to the next level by helping the tourism organization create a new website and moved it from the old newspaper paper tabloid publication to a color magazine format.
Over the years Drew has helped the organization meet new marketing goals, such as in- and out-of-state marketing, assuring that all 105,000 copies of their magazines are distributed each year.
Drew also helped the region create a heritage trail map that is still on posters in many establishments across the region and Arkansas. She oversaw development of a motorcycle route map that folds into a credit card format for riders, as well as those seeking scenic routes to enjoy the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
She has attended several AARP Shows across the U.S., representing Arkansas. She helped open a visitor center for the Ozark Gateway, allowing visitors to pick up information from across the entire state 24/7.
In 2016, she assisted creating the first Ozark Gateway Region Golf Classic and the tournament continues to grow each year, allowing the organization to grow its co-op program, helping each county have dedicated promotion. Drew stays busy at Ozark Gateway as the ad sales manager, magazine editor, day-to-day office operations, trade show representative, as well as magazine distribution representative all while making sure that the region is represented all over Arkansas and southern Missouri.
Drew has been featured in several local and statewide publications over the years as well as the 1997 cover of the Ozark Gateway Region tabloid along with her then 4-year-old son, Jon. She has received several awards such as the Batesville Rotarian of the Year in 2010 as well as a three-time Paul Harris Fellow.
She also has served as an Independence County election commissioner for several years and now serves as their co-election coordinator, helping with behind-the-scenes management of voting equipment, day-to-day election deadlines as well as poll worker training.
Drew serves on the Arkansas Travel Council Board of Directors, Ozark Foothills Film Fest Board of Directors, Batesville Rotary Club Past President and is the Rotary Clubs current publicity chair.
In March of 2018, Drew was honored with induction into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame for her many years of dedicated service to the tourism industry.