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Musician, volunteer to head MainStreet Roswell


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MainStreet Roswell has chosen one of its volunteers who is also a musician and radio host as its new executive director.

Marie Manning, the new MainStreet Roswell executive director (Submitted Photo)

Marie Manning was selected Tuesday by the organization’s board of directors and will begin her position on Monday.

She said that she was “ecstatic” to be joining the organization and looked forward to continuing its success while working with the group’s board and its many community partners.

“This opportunity is a blessing to grow as a community member and become a new voice, guided gracefully by a mentor I have volunteered next to for years, Kathy Lay,” she said.

Lay had been the executive director for about four years. She resigned effective April 30 to pursue other opportunities. Lay said at the time that she expected to help the new director become familiar with the organization, and Manning confirmed that she plans to work with Lay in the coming days.

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Manning said that she has volunteered with the organization for about five years, including as a coordinator of music performers for its First Friday events and the UFO Festival that it had organized in previous years.

She said that while she does not consider herself an expert on the nonprofit, she feels strongly about downtown businesses.

She said she told the selection committee, “I cared about what MainStreet Roswell did and that, no matter who they ended up picking, I wanted to make sure that somebody was passionate about the downtown Roswell business area and making sure that local businesses stay open and vibrant.”

Manning said she has lived in Roswell for about 20 years. She moved here from Texas at age 9 and has remained here for most years except for a brief time in Albuquerque.

She said that she plans to continue to work for Majestic Communications’ KBCQ (97.1) while she heads up the MainStreet group.

Some in the area might also know Manning as a singer, songwriter and music promoter. One of her songs was chosen as a finalist in a state music competition. She also has toured in various states and recorded in Nashville, Tennessee.

Manning has earned two associate’s degrees, one in university studies from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and one in psychology from Eastern New Mexico University. She also earned a certificate as an emergency medical technician from ENMU-R. She continues her studies in film and other subjects at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque.

MainStreet Roswell works to preserve and restore the historic downtown business area, which has west-east boundaries of roughly Lea Street to Railroad Avenue and south-north boundaries of Walnut Street to Eighth Street. The group, which has earned national accreditation with MainStreet America, also works to support and promote downtown businesses through events, building facade grants, legislative efforts and community development projects.

The executive director is the organization’s only paid staff member, receiving a starting salary of $40,000. The director manages an annual budget of about $170,000, works with an eight-member board of directors and oversees volunteers who help with projects and events.

In addition to the monthly First Fridays to encourage visitors to come to the downtown area, the group’s regular events include an annual holiday parade, downtown holiday lights and decorations, the Chile Cheese Festival and a seasonal Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Market.

This year, the city of Roswell and an events firm it has hired will coordinate the UFO Festival in July, but MainStreet Roswell will participate with “AlienFest.” That is planned as a passport program where people will earn stickers and possible prizes for visiting downtown businesses and venues.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.