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Washington County business leaders host newly elected officials

December 06, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown's new mayor, David S. Gysberts, left, talks with David and Norma Layton on Thursday evening during a meet-and-greet at Potomac Walk in downtown Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Many local business and community leaders turned out Thursday night for a meet-and-greet with their newly elected City of Hagerstown and Washington County Board of Education officials.

Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event, estimated about 100 people attended the welcome reception at Potomac Walk in downtown Hagerstown, next to Bulls and Bears on South Potomac Street.

After each election cycle, it’s key for the local business community to reach out to its new officials to become acclimated on the issues that are most important moving forward, Poffenberger said.

“That’s what tonight’s really all about,” he said. “Long before there are motions and legislation and resolutions, we wanted to just meet and greet, break bread, enjoy each other’s company a little bit, and there are a lot of people who haven’t met all the newly elected.”

Representatives from across the county attended the gathering, including Hagerstown’s new mayor, David S. Gysberts, and several Hagerstown City Council members, as well as members of the Board of Education and other state, county and municipal officials.

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Several attendees seated near the door cheered as Gysberts and City Councilman Donald F. Munson arrived together shortly after 5 p.m., a sign of the excitement in the change in Hagerstown leadership, Poffenberger said.

“It was quite a warm reception,” said Gysberts, who was constantly mobbed by people eager to speak with him. “I was very pleased and happy to be here.”

Munson said events such as Thursday’s are “a place where ideas occur” to help move the community forward.

“You start talking to people and they start saying things about the future of the community and it makes things happen,” he said. “These events are really where a lot of good things are created in a community.”

In addition to the business community, education plays a significant role in the future of Hagerstown and the county as a whole, according to newly re-elected Board of Education member Donna Brightman.

Brightman said about one-third of all county schools are located within the city limits, including several with students facing the most difficult socioeconomic challenges in their learning environments.

“The relationship between the city and the school board is very important,” she said. “We need to work together.”

Gysberts, a high school guidance counselor by day in addition to his new duties as mayor, was quick to lend an attentive ear to those who approached him to hear their concerns and ideas.

“I’m always interested in listening to all of the stakeholder feedback because I think that’s the only way we can get the best ideas for moving Hagerstown forward,” he said.

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