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Ashley Hatfield

The Tug Valley Area Citizens and Visitors Bureau has hired a new full-time executive director following the resignation of Wes Wilson from that post almost a year ago.

The new executive director is Ashley Hatfield. She officially started her tenure with the CVB two weeks ago in time to attend the West Virginia state tourism conference recently held in Huntington and to participate in last week’s King Coal Festival.

Hatfield grew up in Williamson and moved to Ashland, Ky., about nine years ago where she worked in both finance and then special education. She returned to the area in April. She cited several reasons for her move back including her mother’s health after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I always wanted to come back here,” Hatfield said. “I was ready for a change and my boys were excited to move back.”

Hatfield has two sons one age 13 and the other age four.

“I wanted to make sure my boys had the same great experience I did growing up,” she said. “When I saw the ad for this position, I thought what better way could I do that and make a difference in this area at the same time than this. I thought I could be a good fit.”

Hatfield said with the tourism conference, King Coal Festival and this weekend’s WillCon (Sept. 24), she has hit the ground running and is excited to see what can develop. Hatfield had several ideas in mind as she undertook the new position. After attending the tourism convention, she discovered those ideas fell alongside statewide initiatives.

Hatfield said she is trying to learn about what is available in the area herself first hand so that she will be able to honestly talk to visitors about the activities.

“I recently learned about the swing installed by the Department of Tourism at Death Rock, and I thought I needed to see this,” she said. “I hiked it last week and it was tough, really tough, but I did it. This week I got a call from two women from out of town who were wanting to go there and needed information and I was able to tell them about the hike.

“One was 70 years old and because I had done it myself, I knew she would not be able to do the hike,” Hatfield said. “So, I started making calls and with local partnerships, we were able to find a way to get them up there. I had first-hand knowledge of the situation and I believe that is what is needed to give people coming to this area a great experience.”

Hatfield said she had her first side-by-side trip on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in April and is now looking forward to doing a float on the Tug River.

Networks and partnerships are crucial to the future of the Tug Valley Area CVB and other CVBs in Mingo County. Hatfield said she would like to open new conversations with the other CVBs and to create new partnerships with local businesses and tourism outlets such as the one she created with Trailblazers Outfitters in getting the two women to Death Rock.

“My number one goal is growth,” she said. “I have seen the growth that has already taken place here and I believe there is still a ton of potential. We have something special here and we have a lot to offer. I would like to expand on what we have.”

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