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Thurmont Business group installs new leaders to promote local economy

Jeremy Hauck

(8/28) The Town of Thurmont has received 16 applications for the position of Main Street manager, including one from Commissioner Glenn D. Muth's daughter.

The part-time, town-funded position requires its occupant to promote Thurmont as a Main Street Maryland community. It pays $37,000. Thurmont's elected officials will select the candidate for the job. Muth has announced that he will recuse himself from the hiring process, as a result.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development created the Main Street Maryland program in 1998 to foster downtown revitalization, according to the department's Web site. Frederick, Middletown, Brunswick and Thurmont are among 24 participating municipalities in the state. The program mandates that towns fund the program and hire a manager to run it for at least three years. Thurmont joined in 2005; the town's first Main Street manager, Vickie Grinder, resigned her post this year.

Grinder also resigned from her post as head of the Thurmont Economic Development Committee, and more than 50 members of Thurmont's business community ushered in a fresh slate of officers Aug. 20.

The group's mission is to promote local businesses.

Bill Blakeslee, Thurmont's chief administrative officer, became chairman; John Brown, owner of Brown's Jewelers, became vice chairman; John Kinnaird, owner of R.S. Kinnaird Memorials, became secretary, and Tammy Green, manager of a Thurmont PNC Bank branch, became treasurer. Ross Smith, of Hillside Turkey Farms, and Carole Robertson became at-large directors. The committee promotes downtown "gallery strolls," an annual business expo and "Christmas in Thurmont."

The gallery stroll will not take place this fall; members agreed to hold it only in the spring, saying a fall stroll would be redundant with the Christmas event. The stroll will no longer be called the "gallery stroll" because downtown business owners told Robertson they felt the word "gallery" put too much emphasis on one particular business, Robertson said at the meeting.

Blakeslee said a brochure for Thurmont is about 85 percent complete and at the printer, awaiting a few more ads before publication after two-and-a-half years in the making.

The committee hosted Randy B. Gray, business development specialist for the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, Chris Olson, a consultant with the Maryland Small Business Development Center, and Christopher E. Haugh, scenic byway and special projects manager for the Tourism Council of Frederick County.

Haugh told the audience that a documentary on Thurmont's heritage is due for release next year, adding that there is a "tremendous story to be told up here."

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