Louis Cella of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and Bill Ott, a veteran media professional, will be inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame on Feb. 28.
They will be inducted at a noon luncheon, during the 48th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Fayetteville.
Cella began working in his family’s businesses, Southwestern Enterprises Inc. and the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in 1989. He has held numerous positions at both, including chairman of the board and president.
Cella is the fourth generation of his family to head Oaklawn. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington and Lee University in 1987 and law degree in 1990 from the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Other positions he’s held include chairman of the board/director of The Muny, St. Louis’ municipal opera theater; chairman of the board/director of Arkansas Cancer Research Center, now known as the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute; director of Myeloma Institute; management committee member for Equibase Co.; director of Thoroughbred Racing Association; director of Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau; director of National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; member of The Jockey Club; and director of Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation.
Cella was honored as the 2020 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sportsman of the Year for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also named Arkansas Press Association 2019 Headliner of the Year.
Ott began his career in 1975, as a KBHS Radio announcer. He was promoted to news and sports director there, moved on to Pittman & Associates as an account executive and creative marketing director.
He later became director of convention sales for the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce; and director of group sales, guest relations and media relations for Oaklawn Jockey Club as well as The Bathhouse Show in Hot Springs.
Ott recently retired as marketing and communications director of the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs, a position he held for more than 20 years.
His many other contributions include serving as a hometown liaison to national and international press during the 1992 presidential campaign and working with the Miss Arkansas Pageant.
He has also been involved in the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Club; Hot Springs National Park Rotary Club; Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce; Mayor’s Tourism Task Force; Eureka Springs Group Travel Committee; Historic Hotels of America; Eureka Springs Rotary Club; Eureka Christian Health Outreach; Eureka Springs City Council; Arkansas Municipal League’s Economic Development Advisory Council; and the University of Central Arkansas’s Alumni Association.
His accolades include the Hot Springs Community Service Award, Arkansas Parks and Tourism Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, being named Historic Hotels of America Ambassador of the Year and being named First King of Eureka Springs’ Mardi Gras.