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New Smithsburg council member ready to serve

July 02, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - Donnie Souders Jr. has some strong convictions about his role as a newly elected Smithsburg Town Council member.

In the recent town election, Souders garnered 125 of the 156 votes cast, despite the fact that he and his family have lived in the town for only three years.

Souders recently was elected vice president of the council.

He and his wife, Blakeley Jackson, are the parents of Hayden, 2 1/2. Blakeley, a published author, also has a 9-year-old daughter.

"We came here for the schools," Souders said.

A Hagerstown native, Souders, 34, ran for Hagerstown City Council in 2005, but didn't make it through the primary. In 2006, he was elected to the Democratic Central Committee.

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A sales manager for the tobacco company Swedish Match North America, Souders has the flexibility to be available for town business when needed.

Recently, Souders and Councilman Jack Wenthe accompanied Bill Loughridge, director of public works, on a tour of the Smithsburg water and sewer systems.

During that trip, Souders said he learned more about the water pressure issues in the Mountain Shadows development.

"I'm new, so I can ask dumb questions," Souders said with a wink. "I do research when I don't know the answers."

There are all kinds of issues in Smithsburg, Souders said, ranging from barking dogs to the daunting needs of a growing population.

Souders would like to see Smithsburg's downtown rejuvenated and stressed that smart growth is the key.

"In some small towns, growth can be a troubling word," he said.

Souders would like to keep Smithsburg's hometown flavor while boosting foot traffic and sales. On the day of the election, Souders said he was approached by someone who wants to open an Internet caf downtown.

A new business already has opened in Smithsburg - the Village Emporium, which offers home-dcor items, candles and vintage crafts.

In addition, Souders said there is a plan to open a collectible model train store in the front portion of the Emporium property at 2 W. Water St.

Voluntary recycling, less dependence on Hagerstown for water, better communication between town officials and townspeople, and an upgraded Web site are on Souders' wish list.

"Maybe we can also explore a community center downtown for our youth," he said.

A longtime basketball official, Souders also works with the South Hagerstown High School music program. He said he has met a lot of people through those associations.

"I found that out when I was going door to door," Souders said. "It's a small county."

Smithsburg residents with questions about town issues can send e-mail to Souders at Dsouders4council@aol.com.

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