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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Executive Director of Lake County Visitors Bureau is a man on a mission

Bob Ulas is a man on a mission.
I would have said he is a man possessed, but that conjures up too many visions that might be considered negative, and there is nothing negative about Bob. So let’s just leave it on the “mission” theme.
He is the executive director of the Lake County Visitors Bureau, and his mission (obsession?) is to have the county get as much mention as possible — anything that will draw attention to Lake County and inspire others to visit here.
And if those visitors wish to buy a meal here, stay overnight or in any other way spend a couple of bucks here, in short, to promote Lake County in any way possible, so much the better.
He’s been doing that for the last 24 years, and a measure of his success is the annual increase in visitors who come here for whatever reason appeals to them.
The reason might be to visit the home of President James A. Garfield in Mentor, tour any of the dozens of wineries in the area, stop in at the historic Kirtland Temple and learn a little bit about the Mormons and their beliefs and traditions, or anything that appeals to them.
There are, indeed, many things for a visitor to do in Lake County, and Bob’s job is to bring those things to the attention of anyone willing to listen.
He is a major player in the effort to bring outsiders to the Cleveland area next year for the Republican National Convention because — guess what? — there will be many thousands of visitors coming in for the convention, which is a really big deal, and a good many of them will be spilling over into Lake County.
It is not the politics of the deal that appeals to Bob. In fact, I don’t have any idea what his personal political views are. The only thing that appeals to him is that the huge event will draw a lot of people here, and he will move heaven and earth to get as many of them as possible to spend some time in Lake County.
If he had enough pull, I am sure he would have wished the Pope would have stopped here during his recent visit. That, of course, would be asking far too much. But it is the sort of thing that crosses his mind.
I think he plans a lot of “what if” mental games in his spare time — if he has any. You know, as in “What if the Pope stopped here?” or “What if the Browns came back to train at Lakeland?” or “What if the Cleveland Orchestra came here to play?”
Well, here’s another “guess what.” Serious efforts are underway to make that orchestra event happen — and sooner than you may think.
But that project is still in the planning stages. There is something more immediate on Bob’s mind. It is the annual meeting luncheon of the Lake County Visitors bureau on Oct. 28 at Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe.
The reason for his excitement? The guest speaker will be Mike Cardamone, co-host of WKYC’s (Ch.3) “Live on Lakeside.” That connection, of course, means a lot of plugs on television, which is a situation Bob aspires to have happen.
Mike is a Lake County resident, and he was responsible for a great deal of publicity in this year’s YMCA Dream House campaign.
Channel 3 helped support and sponsor the 2015 Dream House project, and it was a huge success, which warmed the cockles of Bob’s heart.
“We heard a lot about Lake County on Channel 3 during the Dream House event,” Bob noted, “and it wasn’t about being in the Snow Belt. It was all positive stuff.”
He added, with a glow, “It was the first time in 24 years I have seen so much positive coverage of Lake County on
TV. I was really thrilled to see it.”
The combination of the Lake County YMCA, the Visitors Bureau and the opportunity for favorable mention on a major TV channel is a trifecta Bob finds irresistible.
I share his enthusiasm. I can’t wait to hear what Mike Cardamone is going to say at Pine Ridge.
You should want to hear his message, too. But wait! You can’t go there without a ticket.
They are $25 each and lunch will be served family style at 11:30 a.m. Reservations must be made by Oct. 21, you can call 440-975-1234, and one more thing: If you know anything at all about Pine Ridge, you know that the food service is by Dino’s Restaurant. That’s all I need to know on that subject. If there is any better food in Lake County, I haven’t found it. And I have been looking two or three times a week for decades.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you this — a personal note on Bob Ulas: He has four sons, ages 33, 30, 30 and 30. How can this happen? Well, the last three are triplets.
I don’t know about you, but the only other family I know with triplets is Don Shula’s. The legendary football coach has siblings who are triplets. And that’s the local trivia lesson for today.


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