BEDFORD — Dennis Tice’s passion for Bedford County is evident in the way the Everett native talks about the community and in his creative approach to promoting the area as director of the Bedford County Visitors Bureau.
It’s his “good mind” and dedication that has expanded the visitors center outreach, said office manager Tina Pittman.
“There really was not much going on before he started as the director,” said Pittman, who has worked with Tice for 18 years. “It is amazing what he has done” to bring the bureau up-to-date through its website, brochures and walking tours.
Tice retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1996 and quickly transitioned to the visitors bureau.
With experience in advertising, promotion, television and radio while in the Air Force, Tice said the job was “right up my alley.”
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Once he took the helm at the visitors bureau, Tice found there wasn’t enough money in the budget to hire someone to do design work on brochures and advertisements, so he invested in a good computer and Photoshop and learned how to do it himself.
The end result of that is a wall full of brochures promoting everything from the covered bridges of Bedford County to Gravity Hill. Brochures with driving maps take visitors to the county’s orchards, wineries and breweries or on a GPS quest. There’s information on the Whiskey Rebellion and the role the county played in the French and Indian War.
He is always thinking of what he can do to better promote Bedford and the businesses in the county, Pittman said.
Allen Harr of Altoona First Savings Bank in Bedford, credits Tice for being invested in the community.
“Dennis is a very community-invested person who is always looking for ways to better his environment,” Harr said. “He does this with the people he associates with, his historical wisdom and his love for Bedford County.”
Harr said Tice is always striving to market the county and share his wealth of knowledge with the people who visit.
For his part, Tice said he enjoys being creative and designing all the materials at the visitors bureau and it’s a job that hasn’t gotten stale.
His office doubles as a video production room, equipped with theater lights and a green screen where all the video spots are filmed.
He produces videos for YouTube, and also walking tours on Historic Bedford and Everett, on the architecture and monuments found around the county. Visitors can then access the tours on their smartphones, he said.
Tice also has a studio in his home basement where he can do the audio work without distracting background noises.
Kellie Goodman-Shaffer, CEO and president of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, said his ideas for video production were very forward-thinking.
“His ideas have always been creative and ahead of the curve,” she said.
Tice said Bedford’s visitors are divided into four categories: those who are there already, those who pass through the area, those within a two-hour radius and those outside of the two-hour radius.
The majority of the budget is spent on the first two categories — on literature such as the visitors guide and other brochures to help cross-promote other points of interest in the area.
“So, if someone just came here to go to the Old Bedford Village, our visitors guide and website can help them want to come back to see other points of interest,” he explained.
Bedford was built around travel, Tice said, with the British traveling through, U.S. presidents staying in town and the construction of the Lincoln Highway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, both of which travel through the county.
“It has been a passing-through kind of thing,” he said. “Our mission is to get people off the Turnpike and make them want to stay.”
The visitors bureau has six billboards along the Turnpike and promotional materials can be found at the rest stops.
Those help attract people from surrounding areas, such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
If he had to put a name on what draws people to Bedford, it would be Small Town America.
“We never tried to make ourselves like a city, only smaller; we think the benefit is that we aren’t,” he said. “Some people are looking for slower, simpler times.”
On a day-to-day basis, Tice can be found talking with visitors and making recommendations for things to do and places to eat.
One of the biggest draws for visitors, other than the annual Fall Foliage Festival, are the county’s covered bridges, something that has repeatedly surprised Tice.
“I grew up around them, and it never occurred to me that it was a big deal,” he said. “When I came into this position, I found out that they are one of our most iconic things.”
Goodman-Shaffer said Tice really does have a heart for Bedford and the community.
“From big businesses to small shops, he thinks about all of them and does his best for everybody,” she said.
Goodman-Shaffer added that even though Tice’s focus is on the small town aspects of Bedford, none of the projects he does are small.
“He does not cut corners on any of the details,” she said. “He has a tremendous legacy here.”
Tice said he puts a lot of work and thought into what he does in the community, not only through the visitors bureau, but also with some side projects, such as the Veterans’ Grove. (See related story)
He also is a member of the Acapella Kind of Guys, formed in California for a contest. The group ended up winning and got to go on tour for a year until their assignments took them in different directions. Today, the members — all retired from the Air Force — live in different areas but meet up once a year to perform at the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival.
As for Tice, he said he’s happy to be in Bedford County.
“As I got older, I came to appreciate what we are and we aren’t,” he said of the county. “I love my community.”
Mirror Staff writer Cati Keith can be reached at 814-946-7535.
The Tice file
Name: Dennis Tice
Education: Everett High School, Class of 1977, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1980, music education
Career: Band director at James Buchanan High School, 1981-83; full-time “Morning Man” on WBFD radio, 1983-84; U.S. Air Force 1985-96; Bedford County Visitors Bureau since 1996
Family: Wife, Stacey; three children and four grandchildren