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Producer/director returns home to speak at dinner

April 16, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The years between Mike Thomas' stint as a camera operator with the Washington County Board of Education television studios and his Emmy and Peabody award-winning career as a producer/director melted away Tuesday night as he spoke at the annual Industry Appreciation Dinner.

"All Hagerstown ever needed was somebody to appreciate it," Thomas said to the assembled business leaders at the Fountain Head Country Club. "It's you business people who stuck around Hagerstown while people like me went away looking for our fortunes."

The annual event is designed to recognize business and industry leaders in a Celebration of Business 2003 by the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

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Tim Troxell, executive director of the EDC, said the event is a way to thank those businesses that provide good jobs for the residents of Washington County by doing business in the county.

Doug Wright, chair of the EDC, lauded the businesses and industries who work hard and smart to better the entire community.

"You are all represented here, large and small, regional and local, and even some international," Wright said.

Aris Melissaratos, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, described Hagerstown as an All-American city.

"You are at the crossroads of Interstates 81 and 70 and you have managed to create a balanced economic development," Melissaratos said. "There is a great breadth of industry here and you should be proud."

The keynote speaker echoed that pride for his adopted hometown.

Now president and CEO of Production Avenue Inc. a television production company in Atlanta, Thomas started off his remarks by introducing himself as a West End boy.

"I remember when a trip downtown at Christmas time was magic with all the red and green lights," Thomas said. "In those days, there was Mack, Pangborn and Fairchild and that was it."

Thomas surveyed the room filled with business and industry leaders and told them they were all "George Baileys" from the famed Jimmy Stewart movie.

"It was you who created a scene from my 'It's A Wonderful Life' and I thank you," Thomas said.

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