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Main Street programs, ads in bills top Thurmont agenda

Ed Waters Jr.
Frederick News-Post

(8/7) Thurmont officials are considering new ways to attract visitors.

Vickie Grinder, Thurmont Main Street manager, presented proposals this week for bringing in tourists and boosting business.

The plans ranged from a "Getaway to the Gateway" brochure, referring to the town's motto of Gateway to the Mountains, to an arts on Main Street project and "presidential tours."

The brochure, which could cost an estimated $2,500 for about 10,000 copies, would include ads for area businesses, maps and information on what to do in Thurmont and the surrounding area. Copies could be placed in Maryland welcome centers, as well as in Gettysburg, Pa., Grinder said.

"Sixty percent of our business comes from outside of town," she said.

Another publication, a biannual destination guide, is also being considered.

Grinder has talked with area artists and an arts program could be in place by next spring, she said. Artists' work would be displayed in the library and in various businesses at no cost to the town.

"To be successful, most Main Streets have an art program," Grinder said.

Also being considered are tours focused on wine and local history, as well as one focused on presidents that would include the Camp David Museum at Cozy Restaurant and the Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg.

Town officials approved applying for a $40,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for benches, bike racks, trash receptacles and a new town bulletin board.

Ads in bills?

Mayor Martin Burns proposed putting a sheet of coupons from local businesses in residents' utility bills.

The project would be low-cost and effective, Burns said. Interested businesses would put money in for a possible placement. The businesses on the sheet would be picked at random by town officials.

Town Commissioner John Kinnaird opposed the idea, saying it would seem the town is endorsing the businesses. Bill Blakeslee, Thurmont's chief administrative officer, agreed with Kinnaird.

"It would lend credibility to the businesses, and taxpayers would be paying for town staff to fold and insert the sheets," Kinnaird said.

Burns and commissioners Bill Buehrer and Wayne Hooper said the sheet could include a disclaimer stating the town was not endorsing any specific business.

The town supports local businesses through the Main Street program, Burns said.

Kinnaird responded that Main Street promotes all Thurmont businesses, not specific ones.

Burns said he would have the town attorney look into wording for a legal disclaimer. The proposal would involve no extra postage expense, he said, as the bills would be going out anyway.

"We can try it twice and if it doesn't work, we can end it," Burns said.

That could seem unfair to businesses that wanted to be in the ad sheet, but then had no chance to do so, Kinnaird said.

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