Marla Rose will bring the same enthusiasm and knowhow she has displayed during her 16 years as assistant cheerleading coach for Columbia High School to her new role as the City of Columbia Community Relations Coordinator.
Instead of helping high school students get the crowds at sporting events, Rose will be creating excitement about businesses and organizations in Columbia.
“I think of myself as the liaison between the businesses, the community and the schools and connecting them to promote our community,” Rose said. “I have already been out and about walking the streets introducing myself and asking what we can do at City Hall to promote local business and provide the businesses the people of Columbia are looking for.”
Rose was introduced as the city’s new community relations coordinator in August. She will in part fulfill the duties of Sue Spargo, who retired as Columbia’s assistant to the city administrator earlier this year.
“Connecting with the residents of Columbia is very important to us at City Hall. It is my responsibility to keep our calendars full and up-to-date on the website, the utility bill, the message center at the north end of town, the quarterly newsletter, and social media as well. We try our best to keep everyone informed as to the happenings in Columbia. I am also in charge of the soliciting and management of vendors and promotion of the Pop-Up Shop at the south end of town,” Rose explained.
She also works with organizations such as the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Historic Main Street Association and C.R.O.W.N.
Rose will fill a decidedly more external role through her position, bringing an outreach emphasis within the city as well as an aim to draw tourism to Columbia.
“The position of community relations coordinator also represents Columbia within the larger community of tourism in Illinois,” she explained.
“I am a member of both the Kaskaskia Cahokia Trail Coalition as well as IllinoiSouth Tourism Bureau. Both of these organizations promote tourism in Illinois featuring outdoor, historic, wine trail and many other adventures and festivals in the area,” Rose continued. “The events we hold in Columbia are opportunities to connect people – both residents and tourists – to our businesses and promote tourism within our community.”
She is no stranger to the area, either. Both of her parents are native Columbians. Her father’s side of the family has been farming in the area for over a century, and her mother’s parents once owned Kremmel Oil (now R&M Oil) in Columbia.
“I grew up swimming at the Columbia Bath and Tennis Club, riding my bike down Main Street and attending the annual Columbia Days as a child. I moved away to attend the University of Kentucky but moved back upon my graduation and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Rose said.
In addition to her coaching duties, Rose has been with the Columbia schools for a combined 15 years, serving as a paraprofessional, pre-school teacher and librarian at both Eagleview and Parkview elementary schools.
“What keeps me here are the relationships I have built with people, both native Columbians as well as new residents,” Rose said. “I enjoy learning what has brought people to Columbia and why they stay. It is a great indicator of what we are doing well and what changes need to be made. Growth is happening but we must encourage strong relationships within our community to keep that small-town feel. People are looking for a community they can trust.”
In addition to planning and executing events, Rose says she would like to find new uses for buildings and greenspace in Columbia.
“I hope to be a familiar face people trust when inquiring about the direction Columbia is moving and growing,” Rose said. “I hope to communicate effectively what is happening in our community and how we can all get involved.”
If her success with CHS cheerleading is any indication – four state titles – Rose’s addition to the city team will certainly pay dividends.