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Thurmont's Main Street manager
 resigns from job

Courtney Pomeroy

(12/16) Thurmont's Main Street manager has resigned after a year and a half on the job and the town is looking to replace her quickly so as not to lose out on state grant money to develop the town's business district.

Nancy Gregg Poss's last day was Monday; she will now serve as the marketing and communications specialist for The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg.

The town's first Main Street manager, Vickie Grinder, resigned in June 2008. Town officials allowed the position to sit vacant for nearly a year before looking for a replacement and eventually hiring Poss.

John Kinnaird, the town's Economic Development Committee chairman and Main Street board president, said the town lost out on grants during that period. Thurmont had to forfeit $60,000 in money earmarked for town businesses by the state, in part because it had no Main Street manager to oversee spending. With volunteers in charge, there were also "missed deadlines on submitting paperwork" for grants, Kinnaird said.

A $150,000 grant was recently earmarked for Thurmont's Main Street program from Maryland's Community Legacy Program. The program's Frederick County representative, Jenifer Almond, said Poss's departure won't affect the grant even if the position is not filled right away.

Kinnaird said the funding will hopefully go toward turning the old Thurmont Branch Library building into a headquarters and downtown anchor for the Main Street organization.

Although that funding is secure, "it's nice to have a Main Street manager in position to manage the program," Kinnaird said. He hopes the replacement process won't take as long as it did last time.

"I also hope we get someone that is as interested and enthusiastic as Nancy was," Kinnaird said. Her greatest accomplishments during her time with Thurmont were drawing people downtown with events and concentrating on long-term projects that would "reinforce the Main Street, the traditional downtown area," he said.

Thurmont has had both successes and failures regarding the town business community in the last few years. In 2006, a coffee shop called Cool Beans opened downtown. It changed ownership in 2008 and then folded in 2009. At least one business moved out of downtown and reopened outside of Thurmont.

But in 2010, a few new businesses moved into town or reopened under new ownership, Kinnaird said. There has also been an increase in Economic Development Committee membership, he added.

"This is a small town that does a whole lot," said Timeless Trends Boutique owner Virginia LaRoche. Her shop opened in September 2009. She appreciated Poss's efforts, especially the institution of Saturday Strolls, a monthly summertime program that included participation from downtown businesses and restaurants, live music and activities and games for children. It was modeled after Frederick's First Saturday and Brunswick's First Friday events.

"The businesses here in Thurmont are willing to do those kinds of things," she said, noting that she's been pleased with the atmosphere of the town's business community.

Poss also instituted a dues system for the Economic Development Committee, Kinnaird said. There are currently about 60 dues-paying members.

The Town of Thurmont funds the part-time Main Street manager position and is responsible for finding a replacement. Commissioner Bob Lookingbill said they've gotten about 20 applications so far.

"We'd like to have somebody by the end of the year," he said.

Before being hired in July 2009, Poss had worked in public relations and communications. She had previously worked at Mount Saint Mary's University, various nonprofits and as the public information officer for the City of Frederick during former mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty's term.

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