MILESTONES: Velva native recognized for Jamestown tourism efforts
JAMESTOWN — A Velva native has been recognized for his work as Jamestown Tourism executive director in receiving the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Above and Beyond Award.
Searle Swedlund, who lives in Valley City, has devoted himself to the betterment of a community about 36 miles away. He calls it a little unusual, but it’s not out of place for someone who appreciates small towns.
“I work really hard to understand and integrate into the community, even though I am not from here. You grow up in a great small town, you learn that all towns have that same potential. It’s just fun to be part of the folks who make things better,” he said.
Swedlund graduated from Velva High School in 1994 and went on to earn a business degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He worked in Alumni Relations at Concordia until 2012, when he became tourism director in Jamestown. The position has drawn on his photography and marketing skills.
Tourism projects have included building a community calendar, restoration of Frontier Village, development of the Talking Trail that uses a cell phone app to provide audio stories at historic sites, creation of bike trails in partnership with a local mountain biking organization and a kayak trail.
Jamestown Tourism board member Paulette Ritter said Frontier Village has been Swedlund’s most notable project, both saving the village from relocation and working to organize the belongings and catalog historic information
“He has spent many volunteer hours with his staff fixing up buildings, arranging for some buildings to be moved, painting, getting estimates and the work never ends, not to mention the number of hours spent in meetings with city representatives, working to continue the survival of the Village,” she wrote in his nomination. “He has a passion to make this community a distinctive place to live and visit, and in many aspects, he continues to work to make Jamestown that exceptional place!”
His nomination letters described him as respected, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and determined. He’s been called a relationship builder who acts without seeking recognition.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich noted Swedlund’s example of leadership is not about being the best but making everyone else better.
“When the community faced the need for new leadership and management at the Frontier Village, it was Searle Swedlund who stepped up to fill that void. He did so without drama but rather with stability and professionalism demonstrated by his steadfast calming influence when it was so needed,” he wrote.
Swedlund also volunteers in other capacities in the community. He has served on the Chamber Ambassador Committee, Kiwanis Board of Directors and on several committees relating to promotion of Downtown Development and Tourism. He has been involved in organizing fundraisers and blood drives. He also serves on the board of the North Dakota Council of the Arts.
The Jamestown chamber announced its 2021 award winners at its annual banquet Jan. 20.
Milestones is a series that celebrates former area residents for recent notable accomplishments. Nominations can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.