By Alex Bridges
NEW MARKET -- Brittany Clem says she wants to bring the New Market community closer and to draw more visitors to the town.
As the town's first events and marketing director, Clem gets to help put New Market on the map while coordinating activities with community leaders. Clem started working in the newly created, part-time position on Wednesday.
"I have a lot of ideas," Clem said while standing along Congress Street downtown. "I think, overall, I could say that I want to enhance the quality of life in New Market as well as its historical character."
As a New Market native, Clem recalled going to July 4th celebrations put on by the town. Now she wants to bring ideas for more events like this to the table. Clem noted that she expects to talk more about these ideas with Town Manager Evan L. Vass, Town Council and other community leaders. But people she has met so far have been very supportive, Clem said. Clem broached the idea of creating a committee of people interested in helping to enhance New Market's quality of life.
Clem also sees a greater benefit to bringing the community together beyond the town limits.
"You have to love yourself before others can love you and I think that if I make people within New Market love their community I think that we can attract a lot of ... visitors," Clem said. "I think to start off it's very important to keep the community working for itself to begin with and then maybe they can broaden that circle of supporters."
Town Council in December endorsed the creation of the position and to fund it through a 1-cent increase in the rate on the local lodging tax. Council also helped craft the description of the position and expressed a desire to see it expanded to full time in the future.
"I do understand that it will be a part-time position for now but I will treat it personally as if it is a full-time position," Clem said. "I will be here every day and I will be walking the streets every day, thinking up ideas and I will be contacting people. I really want to be out in the public and hear what ideas people have and see how they might be able to help out the community."
Clem recognized the need by the town to start the position at part time to see how it might need to grow. Clem said she hopes to talk with other government officials in the area and to share ideas about enhancing the town's qualities.
"I do think it's going to be a little bit of a challenge at first since it's a new position, but I'm game and I'm very excited to bring what I've experienced to New Market," Clem said.
Clem said she expects to market the town's attributes and enhancements, such as the recently completed downtown streetscape project.
"It's looking better day by day and I think that's one of those most important things we need to begin with," Clem said.
Clem, 27, grew up in New Market and Edinburg and graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School. She went to Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., to play volleyball. Clem then transferred to James Madison University to pursue an education in the school's sports management business program. Clem received a degree in kinesiology with a focus on sports and recreation marketing and a minor in business.
Clem did her practicum with the Woodstock River Bandits, a Valley League baseball team, and the team
s General Manager Robert "Porky" Bowman, mainly working on marketing and serving as a commentator during games. She also did marketing for the Packsaddle Ridge Golf Club in Keezletown.
"I'm mainly interested in marketing and I love the area," Clem said. "I've enjoyed New Market and growing up her and I've wanted to give back what New Market has given to me."
Clem also has strong family ties in the area. Her father, Mike Clem, serves as the chief of the Edinburg Police Department. Her sister Angela Clem works for Woodstock as the assistant town planner and risk manager.
Vass said Clem's connection to the community did not play a strong role in her selection for the job among the six people interviewed for the position.
"I think what set her apart was the energy level," Vass said. "I don't think it hurts that she's intimately familiar with Shenandoah County. ... I think it has a lot more to do with personality, with fit, with energy level, with vision and I think that's what Miss Clem brings to the table."
Vass noted that the town received applications from highly qualified candidates and that he was impressed with the response to a newly created, part-time position. Vass, who leaves his job in mid May to become the assistant county administrator for Shenandoah County, said he will work with Clem as the position evolves.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org