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City promotes downtown in electric bills

February 27, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown is trying a new way to promote its downtown: Inserting information about downtown attractions in the monthly bills of the Hagerstown Light Department's 14,000 residential customers.

The bills being sent out this week include brochures listing March events and attractions in downtown Hagerstown.

The brochures are the start of a city experiment that involves inserting information promoting downtown into electricity bills, city spokeswoman Karen Giffin said Wednesday. The city plans to do so about four times this year, she said.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman suggested the city put the information in the bills as a way to encourage people to shop and visit downtown.

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"We think we have a lot more going on downtown ... than people often realize," he said.

The first insert is a brochure with information on both sides. One side says "Downtown Hagerstown has something for everyone" and lists reasons for people to visit the downtown including, "Restaurants galore. One-of-a-kind shops. Spectacular music performances."

The other side lists events and attractions at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Washington County Playhouse, the Washington County Free Library, the Broad Axe and other places.

"The brochure is wonderful. We have needed a coordinated plan to promote organizations and events for downtown Hagerstown," museum Director Jean Woods said.

The city has used the electric bills to provide other information to customers but this is the first time the bills have been used to promote downtown, Giffin said.

The next downtown insert, which will be sent out with the bills in about three months, will list information about downtown businesses, she said.

Mary Baykan, the library's executive director, praised the city's plans.

"I think it is great the City Hall is promoting local events. I think it is also to the benefit of consumers who can learn about what is happening downtown," Baykan said.

"Hopefully it will spur more activity downtown and get people reacquainted" with downtown, she said.

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