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Main Street chief is stepping down

August 23, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Main Street Martinsburg is losing its main man.

Jeff Curtis, director of the organization that encourages downtown revitalization, is resigning effective Sept. 2.

Curtis said over the next two weeks he will make sure the organization is smoothly transitioned out of his hands. He could not speculate on who might be hired to replace him or when that could happen.

Curtis, who took over as the organization's director around 21/2 years ago, said he plans to take some time off to write poetry and pursue other interests. He declined to discuss other job possibilities.

A number of events have been created or grown under Curtis' leadership, including a chili cookoff, concerts, a classic car cruise-in, a Christmas celebration and Bike Night, a motorcycle event held last Saturday.

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None of the events, however, surpasses what he feels is his biggest accomplishment.

"I think the biggest thing I'm leaving here is a sense of pride in downtown Martinsburg," Curtis said.

Pride can be seen in elaborate window displays, flower baskets and other decorative items store owners place on the sidewalks.

"Everybody needs to keep up the momentum," Curtis said.

Friendliness is innate with store owners toward visitors, who are discovering a new downtown.

Curtis said that on Saturday he was walking down a sidewalk behind two women whom he estimated to be in their 60s. One remarked to her companion, "'I never knew there were all these nice stores in downtown Martinsburg,'" Curtis said.

Main Street Martinsburg's membership also has grown, and now has 114 members, including 110 businesses.

Several new stores have opened recently downtown, including two chain stores - Merle Norman Cosmetics and Daily Grind, a coffee shop.

Both Curtis and Martinsburg Mayor George Karos said that support from city government helps Main Street Martinsburg succeed.

Karos said he told Curtis the city is losing an asset when Curtis told him of his resignation Monday morning.

"To sum it up in one word - outstanding," Karos said of Curtis. "Second word, fantastic. Conscientious. Just one great Main Street Martinsburg director."

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