Town’s new promoter jumps into role with zeal

WOODSTOCK – The town’s new enhancement coordinator says she’s excited to carry the torch for her predecessor.

Katie Mercer took over the part-time position last month for Jane Beasley who stepped down after 14 years. Mercer’s tasks include marketing the town, planning events and supporting economic development.

Mercer said her excitement and enthusiasm give her the drive to move the position forward and take it to the next phase for the committee.

“I’m ready to explore what we can do further and what we can continue to do ’cause Jane did a lot of great things,” Mercer said. “There are things she did 10 years ago that I’m learning about.”

Town Manager Reid Wodicka spoke highly of Mercer.

“Katie’s fitting in really well and has a lot of really great ideas and is going to accomplish a lot of things,” Wodicka said Wednesday.

Mercer, a Bath County native, worked at The Omni Homestead Resort and Spa for a little more than a year after she graduated from Virginia Tech with a marketing degree. Mercer moved to Shenandoah County and worked in Shentel’s marketing department for about four years. Mercer then worked for four years with the Shenandoah County Family Youth Initiative – a group that promotes substance-abuse prevention in the community.

“Then I heard about Jane retiring and I was like ‘oh this would be wonderful; I would love that job,” Mercer recalled.

Mercer is familiar with the goals of the Enhancement Committee that created the coordinator position 14 years ago. She served on the committee for three years. But Mercer acknowledged that even as a volunteer she couldn’t know all the work Beasley did.

“I wish I could download all of her knowledge into my brain,” Mercer said, noting that Beasley has stayed on to help her during the transition.

The Enhancement Committee will continue to hold popular events such as the summer concert series, Vintage Woodstock, Light Up Woodstock, Halloween and July 4 fireworks. Mercer said she would like to see the committee add more community events to the town’s calendar, especially during the first few months of the year.

Mercer said her first goal is to recruit more volunteers to serve on the Enhancement Committee. The committee’s board currently has about six members but should have 10-12, Mercer said. Several subcommittees work on specific areas of enhancement.

The coordinator position also works on economic development and promoting businesses in town. Mercer she wants to fill empty storefronts with “new, fresh businesses” to compliment those already in town.

“I plan to foster new relationships with the business owners who are already there and continue to serve them,” Mercer said.

The coordinator said she hopes to see increased attendance at the Enhancement Committee’s small-business seminars and to hear from owners about their needs.

The committee also continues to accept applications for its facade-improvement grant program and funds are available. Beasley will continue to coordinate that program for the near future, Mercer said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com