The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

Tourism Director Retires

 

January 26, 2022

In June 2018, Kevin Howard was hired as the new tourism director for Cheyenne County.

He came with the presence of a man who sits down with a stranger and a cup of coffee and later get back on the road as friends. In exchange, that random driver with a curiosity prompted by the welcome sign may stop at other locations in the county, or on his next trip through.

In the Jan. 18 Cheyenne County Commissioners meeting, Howard announced he is reaching the point where he is more interested in fishing than telling people where to fish.

Howard said he intends to retire and spend more time with his grandchildren.

“Dad always told me teachers and preachers need to move around once in a while,” Howard said before the commissioners.

He said his target date is February 26. He added he is willing to stay to help with the transition or if it takes a little time to hire a new director.

Commissioner Phil Sanders commended Howard for the work he put into the Tourism program in the last 3 ½ years.

“When we hired you, I never dreamed you'd do as well as you did,” Sanders said.

The commissioners then asked Howard if he would meet with them in executive session. He said he would but they won't change his mind.

“It's time for me to go fishing,” Howard added with a smile.

Howard later credited the Tourism Board with the achievements during his tenure. He said tourism numbers in Cheyenne County fell 43 percent from 2015 to 2018. When Howard took on the duties, he got to work.

“Basically, I just implemented what the committee had decided,” he said. “By 2019, we started back up.”

Then COVID-19 entered the picture, with all of the restrictions. The 2020 numbers were down 18 percent from 2019. However, 2021 provided another change... for the better.

“A lot of people wanted to move again,” he said.

With people getting active on the roads, Howard did likewise, encouraging the return of traffic on the highways to make planned stops in Cheyenne County. He said there is an average of 7,000 vehicles pass by Sidney daily on Interstate 80.

“I started more marketing to keep it going,” he said.

With the return of travel, the goals are to maintain interest in Sidney and Cheyenne County, and to encourage visitors to see what the rest of Sidney and the county have to offer.

Howard has also worked with the Visitors Committee to establish a new grant process and a sporting event grant.

By now, he sees 2022 as time for a new point of view.

“It's time for fresh blood to come in and take it (tourism effort) to where it needs to go,” he said.

He said he and his wife consider Sidney home with no plans of leaving. They do hope to spend more time with grandchildren and set their days according to their wishes, not the responsibilities of an office.

Howard came to Sidney with a long history in tourism. He was the tourism director in Alliance for about seven years, tourism director for Scotts Bluff County and had a chuck wagon cookout, wagon train vacation, canoe rental and RV park near in Bayard near Chimney Rock.

 

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