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After 13 years in the dark, sign spotlights county

July 11, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

In a continuing effort to spotlight tourism in Washington County, officials brought a piece of tourism's past out of the shadows on Thursday.

A 13-year-old sign for which the county tourism office paid $1,010 but never used, was put on display at Williamsport's new satellite information center on Thursday.

Ron Stansbury, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he discovered the sign on Monday when he went to GS Images to have a new sign laminated.

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The 3-foot-high by 4-foot-long sign, which stands on poles about 10 feet high, is a map of the county listing various tourism attractions.

The sign shows its age by listing the Black Rock Golf Course as the Ditto Farm Regional County Park and doesn't show Interstate 68.

Doug Wright Jr., president of GS Images, said the tourism office ordered five of the signs in 1984, but never erected the one designated for the Williamsport information center in the parking lot of McDonald's on U.S. 11.

Wright said Bob O'Connor, who was then head of tourism, wanted to plan a special presentation of the sign for McDonald's owner Murray Levine.

"It just never got done," Wright said.

O'Connor couldn't be reached for comment.

Levine's daughter, Cindy Levine-Frankel, said she got goosebumps when she saw the sign with the "You are here" designation at Williamsport.

Levine-Frankel already had plans to take over the Williamsport tourism information center from the county, moving brochures into the McDonald's restaurant.

The county's tourism center, a trailer in the parking lot, closed on June 1 as part of a restructuring to shift the tourism board's financial emphasis from salaries to marketing.

The partnership will save the tourism office $45,000 since the office will no longer need to staff the center, officials said.

The Levine family has not charged officials rent to have the trailer on their property.

Employees at the Williamsport McDonald's will be trained to assist tourists who are looking for local attractions, she said.

This is the first of what tourism officials hope will be several private-public partnerships to provide satellite information centers in every Washington County municipality and at local tourism attractions.

The sign will be displayed in the flower garden in front of the fast-food restaurant, said Mark Levine, Levine-Frankel's brother and owner and operator of the McDonald's.

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