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Family-friendly apartments net award for manager

October 19, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Hopewell Manor Apartments had just opened when Virginia "Ginny" Weir moved in 14 years ago.

Her two sons, now 27 and 30, were still at home at the time, Weir said.

And the complex, off Hopewell Road between Hagerstown and Williamsport, proved an excellent place to finish raising them, she said.

Since Weir became resident manager of Hopewell Manor seven years ago, she said, she has strived to keep it a family community where residents take pride in their surroundings.

The complex's 64 one- and two-bedroom apartments have a mix of traditional families, single parents and their children and elderly residents, she said.

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The fact that it is restricted to low- and moderate-income residents because it was financed by a federal loan is all the more reason to try to keep it a clean, nice place to live, Weir said.

"I'm pretty sure all my residents can say they are proud they live at Hopewell Manor," she said. "The word project isn't even in my vocabulary. There's a big difference between a project and a community, and this is not a project, this is a community."

Weir's successful efforts were recognized three times this year.

First, in April, Hopewell Manor Apartments's management company, Insignia Residential Group, named the complex Property of the Year for the region.

Last month, Weir was honored in Annapolis as Maryland's Multi-Family Housing Manager of the Year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

That was a real honor, she said, because she was competing against management agents from the other 108 properties in Maryland financed by Rural Development, and nominations were solicited from the other agents and residents.

Weir got yet another stroke last month when she was nominated for Washington County's Most Wonderful Citizen award.

Though she didn't win, Weir said, she was touched by Hopewell Manor resident Nancy Anderson's nomination and recognition certificate signed by the Washington County Commissioners.

Anderson, 52, said she loves living at Hopewell Manor because it's so well-kept and quiet, and she feels very safe.

The grounds are manicured year-round, with landscaping improvements being made all the time by both the management and tenants, said Anderson, who has been living in the complex for three years.

It has some of the best tenants, she said. You never see the police being called to the complex for fighting, drugs or loud music.

"A lot of apartments are not like this because the management doesn't see to it. She keeps it this way," said Anderson, who moved to Hagerstown from Staunton, Va., seven years ago.

Based on her previous apartment rental experiences in Hagerstown, she said, she thinks she would have moved back to Virginia by now if she hadn't found Hopewell Manor.

Weir takes a very human approach to the way she manages the complex, said Anderson, who remembers the angel Christmas card Weir hung on her door the first year she was there.

Every resident got one, she said.

"She's friendly to everybody. She doesn't show any favoritism. She treats everybody the same," Anderson said.

Weir said she thinks that living at the complex gives her an advantage in getting residents to buy into her vision of Hopewell Manor.

"I try to instill in my residents that this is your home and I want them to take as much pride in their home as I do," Weir said.

She said she sees that pride reflected in the small amount of trash there is to pick up around the complex, in the way residents decorate the outside of their apartments for holidays and in the enthusiasm residents show for the annual Halloween party.

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