PUBLISHED: 1:20 PM on Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Spotlight: Dayle Tennison

Dayle Tennison is retiring from her position as manager of Centennial Hall on January 31. Centennial Hall celebrated its 20th anniversary in June of 2000; Tennison started working there in 1985. Tennison opened up the catering from one to a list of approved caterers; and she also started the Community Garage Sale held every October. The CCW met with Tennison last week to talk about her years at Centennial Hall, her accomplishments, and the future.

CCW: Did you come in from the outside as a manager?

DT: No, I did not. I started at Centennial Hall as a clerk/typist. Through experience, I went to a secretary, then to administrative assistant, and then to manager.

CCW: How has the use of Centennial Hall changed over the years?

DT: I think our priorities, maybe, have changed through experience, because Centennial Hall was so new to the community. When we first started, we were anticipating lots and lots of conventions bringing the new dollars to town. And that was our mission statement, to bring new dollars to town. And after 20 years, we see that we are really valuable to the community as more of a community hall. It is called a Convention and Civic Center. So if we're not able to bring the new dollars to town through conventions, we are able to supply a facility for local people, for both large and small events.

We have events like Audubon society will come and meet here and have their monthly meeting or annual meeting; we'll have the Folk Festival which is a full week of goings-on everywhere; and Celebration every other year. And some of our local people have commented that we're outgrowing Centennial Hall.

I think Centennial Hall is a really important service to the community - we have the Health Fair, Kids Safe, things that are also a community service, as well as the entertainment.

CCW: So do you think we are outgrowing it?

DT: We have two or three events a year that could use more space - but does that then warrant a larger facility? It would be nice; maybe if we had a larger facility we would be able to attract larger events, but I honestly don't know. A larger space takes more maintenance, so you have those additional expenditures as well.

CCW: How many people are employed at Centennial Hall?

DT: We have four full time employees, two three-quarter time employees. Those are all benefited positions. Then we have seven what we call "Event Assistants" that come in and work preparing and cleaning up and working the events, and those are non-benefited positions; we call them in when we need them. The management study that was done for Centennial Hall shows that the workstaff we have here is by far leaner than any other convention center that we found in the state or any of those that the management study personnel interviewed. That was kind of nice, because I get lots of compliments on how clean the facility is - and for its age, being 20 years old, it looks very nice.

We keep trying to make improvements every year. Some of them, the public doesn't see, like, we have to replace ice machines, dishwashers. We've recently redone our ballroom floor. We're in the process of replacing our 12-foot doors that come in to the ballroom. We have lists that we work from. We just replaced our lighting and sound equipment.

CCW: What has your favorite event been?

DT: I don't have one favorite, but I think my favorite events are those where the community comes in and is able to enjoy our facility, such as the Folk Festival and those that benefit our community as a whole - not maybe monetarily, bringing all this big money, but a place to have their event. Kids Safe, the Folk Festival, Celebration, those type of things that have large community involvement.

It's also nice to have the smaller rooms so people can come in. Local non-profits can rent a small room for $30 for four hours; to me, that's important, too.

CCW: Are you from here?

DT: No, I've just lived here for 20 years. My husband is from Petersburg. When I moved to Juneau, the only person I knew was my husband. It was a real eye-opener because I had lived 42 years in Lewis County, Washington, and knew everyone there. It was a small community such as Juneau. So when I came here, and would say hi to people just because I like the interaction with people. I'm a people-person. Now, of course, there's no problem, having lived here for 20 years..

CCW: And in this job, you've probably met everyone at least once?

DT: Probably. I do like that people contact, and that is what makes this such a fun place to work. It's a positive environment; people come here to have a good time, and our job is to make sure they have a good time while they're here, while maintaining the safety of the building.

CCW: So after 20 years...

DT: What am I going to do? We do play golf, and that's what we plan on doing. In the short term... my husband is not retiring, my husband works for the state. He's not retiring when I am, which will give me an opportunity to do some volunteer work, to give back to the community. Our long-term goal is to move back to where my family is, which is anywhere from Nevada, California, Washington, the West Coast. But Juneau will not be forgotten. People here... they become almost part of your family. I've had lots of calls with congratulations - that does feel very encouraging to know that you are appreciated.

CCW: What will you miss the most?

DT: The people. Definitely the people, the people contact.