Zelienople native takes over Butler County tourism bureau

| Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Rodney Schaffer has lived his entire life in Butler County and says he still is surprised by all the activities that go on there.

“When you grow up somewhere, I guess it is easy to overlook things,” said Schaffer, the new chairman of the board of the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau.

Schaffer grew up in Zelienople and is a 1978 graduate of Seneca Valley Senior High School. He served as vice chair of the tourism bureau and replaces Jackie Gillespie-Ralston, who accepted a job near Pittsburgh International Airport.

Since 1983, Schaffer has worked for Yeager Spice Co., where he is the company's director of technical services.

The company was founded in 1928 on the North Side and moved to Zelienople in 1983 to expand operations. Schaffer was a carpenter who helped build the new building and was hired by the company.

“I stayed on here longer than I ever thought I would,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer, 53, of Cabot has been a member of the bureau's board since 2009.

“He heads our agritourism group. He's been in management with his company for years and knows the county,” said Jack Cohen, the tourism bureau's president.

The bureau's 13-member board is somewhat unusual, Cohen said. Each member works in a specific business that is related to tourism.

“Each is knowledgeable about tourism based on their work in hotels, agriculture, bed-and-breakfasts and other jobs,” Cohen said.

It's an arrangement Schaffer likes.

“This board is made up of people who are in the business. They know what works,” he said. “The board provides vision for the staff. You get some out-of-the-box thinking.”

Butler County is home to two summer fairs; a paid symphony orchestra; an annual Jeep festival; museums; and Moraine State Park, which is the second-largest state park in Pennsylvania.

“We benefit from being close to Pittsburgh. This area also draws visitors from Akron and Cleveland,” Schaffer said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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