Homestead President moving to another Omni

Last week, Bath County said goodbye to a friend and an advocate when David Jurcak, left Hot Springs to move to Austin, Texas and the Omni Barton Creek Resort there. In part one of this pair of stories, he reflected on a few of the changes he’s left behind. Now he offers some thoughts on the future.

“March for the last two years we ran 38% occupancy, and this March we ran 50% occupancy. So all of the things we’re doing are working. You know we’re working to drive more business to Bath County. I know that over time the occupancy is going to continue to grow, and I hope that merchants see that; I hope that small entrepreneurs will see that; I hope that people believe there is a future for Hot Springs, downtown Hot Springs. “

During his time here Mr. Jurcak volunteered locally, attended church, and some football games and supervisors meetings. Again David Jurcak,

“Being a part of that community let me really see kind of the insights of some things, and the feelings that people have in this community, and there is an enormous pride in Bath County.   When people say they love their community, and they love Bath County, you know I’m a Texan, and I love Texas, but these people are much different. They LOVE Bath County.”

And, it’s natural when you love something to want it to stay just the same. So I asked Mr. Jurcak if he thought sometimes a resistance to change might hold back progress locally, starting with economic sustainability.

“The more and more people I’ve talked to, they do want to change Bath County. They do want to see some changes; they don’t want drastic changes. Nobody, including an outsider like me, wants a Wal-Mart in the middle of Bath County. Nobody wants that. But people want jobs. And I, as the president of the Homestead for the last two and a half years, love that we have high school students that will come work for us, we have community that will come work for us, but one thing I don’t like about that is that there isn’t to me another option. And if I had a magic wand, or a crystal ball, and I could stay here for more and more years- that’s why I think Hot Springs, downtown Hot Springs is important because there has to be an alternative. You have to have a choice. And so if you’re a graduating senior, and you don’t want to go to college, or you don’t want to move away, if you don’t want to go to the mill, or you want to go to some other spots, there have to be options.   And our Board of Supervisors need to recognize, and our county government needs to recognize that economic development isn’t a bad thing.”

So David Jurcak said goodbye at a gathering of around 200 Homestead employees, the “economic engine” of the county. And while each Omni hotel must certainly be unique, it’s hard to picture another with surroundings like Hot Springs, and the National Forest. Yet, he has family in Texas, and closer by in Colorado, so the draw is strong, and this community can sincerely wish him well in his next one.

“Professionally, this is my 9th Omni Hotel, I’m going to. So personally and professionally, it’s all working out.”


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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