For all of her life, P.J. Wilhelm has had Armstrong County at heart. While she has had offers to move to other places, she has chosen to live just one mile from her parents near Rural Valley.
Earlier this month, P.J. took the reins as Executive Director of the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau. Yesterday on the WTYM radio morning show “David & Friends,” she described herself as a country gal who enjoys a good tractor pull.
It’s old-fashioned comradery. It’s a little ‘who’s better than who’ but there is no animosity. My dad is an Allis-Chalmers man – the orange ones. Our whole family is into it.”
In addition, P.J. is going to participate in “plow day” this Saturday.
“A local family hosts. Everybody goes. It’s a boatload of fun. They literally plow. Everybody gets their tractors out and their tires dirty. It’s a community day. People that enjoy their tractors take them out and plow. We plow for fun.”
P.J. said there are so many smaller activities that occur around the county, but nevertheless are significant to our rural culture. It is this sense of community that caused her to apply to become the executive director.
“I grew up here. I don’t plan on leaving the area. I look at it as a way to make it beautiful for my son, my niece, my nephew. They are the future of our county. So we need to preserve what we have so they can see the beauty of what I grew up with.”
P.J. had worked for the past four years in the Prothonotary’s office in the court house when the opportunity presented itself to move down the street to the Tourist Bureau location at the corner of Market and Jefferson streets.
“For me, this is what I went to college for – Business and Marketing. A friend mentioned to me that the position was available and suggested that I apply. And I did. I met with them, and they were happy to hear my ideas. They were okay to give me the chance to make some changes to revitalize and bring new life.”
P.J. is hoping to promote more weekend events held in the county.
“Hopefully we can get people from other areas to come and visit us. We want lots of family events. I’d like to see a kayak tour down the river or on any of our water sources. We have people here who have the knowledge and I can be the voice to get the word out there of what is happening.”
She is still learning the many activities that are scheduled in various areas of the county.
“People don’t realize all the things we have. There are things that I wasn’t aware of myself. The expanse of the Rails to Trails was my biggest discovery. My son and I love to bicycle, but we have always done it locally around home. There are so many places that he and I could go that’s safe, fun, and beautiful.”
P.J. has initiated a personal membership drive.
“I’ve been talking to people and let them know what the Tourist Bureau can do for them, getting their name out and advertise for them. There are a lot of people who would benefit from being a member, but perhaps they haven’t been asked or they are not familiar with the Tourist Bureau. So I have been working on talking to those people. We have memberships for both profit and non-profit organizations. They can stop in and see me and pick up the paperwork or call us and I can mail it or stop and visit them.”
P.J. said more information about the Tourist Bureau is available on their website at www.armstrongcounty.com. To reach the office, call 724-543-4003.