“After a six-month process of combing the community we had several qualified candidates,” Main Street Portsmouth President Wayne Allen said. “We interviewed three and have selected Jennifer Foster of Wheelersburg.”
Most recently, Foster has worked as a substitute teacher at Wheelersburg, South Webster, Minford and New Boston. Before that, Foster worked at Southern Ohio Medical Center.
Foster has a master’s degree in secondary education from Grand Canyon University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Shawnee State. She is a graduate of Wheelersburg High School.
“She will be the public face of Main Street, because we are a volunteer organization,” Allen said. “And sometimes it’s difficult for us to do the work that is necessary for us to go where we want to go. So we hire a director to work on improving the image of downtown Portsmouth.”
Allen said MSP will miss current director Zoe Richards.
“She has been our director since we have been Main Street,” Allen said. “She has taken this organization to places we would not have been without her. And we hope that Jennifer can take us to that next step in helping downtown succeed. We think Zoe did an outstanding job, but she has submitted her resignation.”
Allen said Main Street Portsmouth has the largest Main Street district in the state, encompassing 38 blocks.
“We partner with other people as well,” Allen said. “Like the City of Portsmouth. We have partnered with the Museum in the past. They’ve got ideas and they know where to take them, but sometimes they just need our help.”
Allen said Main Street Portsmouth benefits the city because the Department of Development is understaffed, and through the partnership they have been able to assist the city.
“One of the goals we have at Main Street is to re-ignite that light that people had in the past of people cramming into sidewalks and stores,” Allen said. “It’s our ultimate hope that one day that can be re-created for us to have a vibrant downtown, and for us to even start that idea we have to start to get people to change their mindset that there’s nothing downtown.”
Allen mentioned the Farmer’s Market on the Roy Rogers Esplanade, which has been operating since May, and draws an average of 125 people and an average of seven vendors, every Saturday. He said again this year MSP will have their “Under the Tent Tag Sale” on Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Market Street Square. Allen said for information or to make donations, people may call the MSP office at 740-464-0203.
Allen said the downtown merchants and Main Street Portsmouth need to be a partnership.
“It’s a cooperation,” Allen said. “I don’t think they need us or we need them more than we need each other to bring a fresh new vision to downtown Portsmouth, because if we are going to survive as a community, that’s what has to happen.”
Foster says he believes her degree in history will be an asset in her new position.
“Southern Ohio is so rich in history. There are so many wonderful stories to tell. And so many people willing to share them. And there are so many significant events that have happened in this area,” Foster said. “And I think having a background in history really gives me the experience to appreciate it, and preserve that heritage in history.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.