CA Welcome Center in San Bernardino to close doors


It's exactly what Australian tourists Stewart Rerd and his wife were looking for.

"We came in here to get some information about traveling. We are heading out towards Joshua Tree State Park and looking for information," he said.

But, it's the end of the road for the center and visitors bureau. By Friday, it will cease to exist.

"The situation with the city, there is no money to fund us anymore and that's what really caused us to make these decisions," said Jim Gerstenslager, chairman of the convention visitors' bureau.

Funding for the organization came from the city of San Bernardino's economic development board which the state dissolved last February.

As a result of that and the city's bankruptcy troubles, the visitor's bureau had to cancel its annual classic car show, the Route 66 Rendezvous.

It's a crushing blow for Shelly McNaul, who for the past 16 years has helped organize the event for the visitors bureau.

"It's been more than a job, it's been my life. So, it's sad to seeing all the car guys coming in and out wishing us well," she said.

While Thursday was McNaul's last day on the job, Ed Foster still has a few more days left to operate Our Town, his memorabilia shop, inside the welcome center.

"We see 60 to 80 people a day through here from all over the world, and it's put San Bernardino on the map. So unfortunately we are going to have to hold the map for a while," he said.

But Foster admits it will be difficult not to see the people who helped put the area on the map as they stopped in along their travels.

"It becomes family and right now, it's really hard on us, it's because we're going to lose our family," he said.

Foster's memorabilia shop will be open until Saturday before he takes it sales to the web. Organizers are hoping another organization will come in and take over the Route 66 classic car show.

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