05/07/17 — County hires ag center director

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County hires ag center director

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 7, 2017 1:45 AM

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James B. Ward Jr.

James B. Wade Jr. has been hired as the director for the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center now under construction.

Wade was most recently the director of ticketing and events for Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky

He will begin work May 15 with an annual salary of $92,000.

The $20 million Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center remains on schedule to open March 1, 2018.

County Manager George Wood announced the hiring during Wayne County commissioners' Tuesday morning session.

"We had a committee made up of four people," Wood said. "It was the chairman (Commissioner Bill Pate), myself, Assistant County Manager Craig Honeycutt, and also Jerilyn Lee, our HR director," Wood said. "We interviewed, I believe it was seven people, for this position.

"Mr. Wade was, clearly in our view, the most qualified. So this is a unanimous recommendation. He is experienced in virtually all facets of running convention."

Wade has worked in several location in Kentucky and has more than 30 years in the entertainment and event production and management business.

He began his career after Marshall University with five years of traveling the road working for Feld Entertainment's Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Promotions and Marketing Department, where he worked in all 48 contiguous states, most major U.S. cities and Japan.

"I am very much looking forward to living, meeting and working with the residents of Wayne County," Wade said. "I appreciate being selected to assist with opening this new facility, which will be a great asset to the community."

Wade has launched and operated four new facility openings -- Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky; KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky; The Corbin Arena in Corbin, Kentucky; and Eastern Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville, Kentucky.

A native of Charleston, West Virginia, Wade studied journalism/public relations at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

While in college, he wrote and produced two children's television specials for the local PBS station. He worked his way through college by doing comedy magic shows for public, private and corporate parties.

"He has done everything from hiring personnel, buying the furnishings, setting up ticketing operations, scheduling the events, marketing the facility," Wood said. "He has experience in all of those areas.

"I think you all are going to be very pleased with him and his background. We look forward to having him join our team."

Pate said the county was lucky to have gotten three or four applicants who could have done the job.

"But it was clear he was the top guy," he said.

Duties are being split on the center, Wood said.

Wood said he would continue to be involved in working with the architect and contractor as far as getting the facility built.

Honeycutt will work with Wade in overseeing policies and "getting everything started up," he said.

"We have quite a few policies to get in place," Wood said. "We have got to have a rate schedule so we know what we are going to charge for various things. We have been waiting to get a qualified professional in here to help us with that.

"Then we will start the marketing. We have made some decisions on furnishings, but some of that we were waiting on him. There are just a hundred details they need to work out and get all of the policies done. Craig will be working hand in hand with him on that."

Wood said he would also have some involvement in that area.

The center on North Wayne Memorial Drive at New Hope Road will be home to the Cooperative Extension Service, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Wayne County Soil and Water and have classrooms and a large lobby.

The center will be 1.5 acres under roof, and its assembly hall will seat 800 in a banquet setting and more than 1,500 when set up for a speaker.

It will hold 70 booths for a trade show or similar event.