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New Main Street director responds to complaints

Only nine months in the job, Cynthia Craig brushes off criticism from one business owner.

By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002


ZEPHYRHILLS -- After nine months on the job, Main Street Zephyrhills director Cynthia Craig already faces grumblings about her performance, at least from one prominent downtown business owner.

Marvin Matteson, owner of K & M Travel at 38507 Fifth Ave., wrote a letter to City Council members May 17 expressing disappointment with Craig's leadership.

Matteson wrote that at a recent board meeting, in which Craig wasn't present, board members passed a motion to inform council members of their concerns and give Craig 30 days "to improve or be terminated."

Matteson claimed in the letter that in a job evaluation, members of the board who actually own businesses on Fifth Avenue gave Craig a 20 percent to 40 percent approval rating.

People who didn't own businesses downtown rated Craig much higher, the letter states.

Craig took the criticism in stride Thursday, saying Matteson just had "his feelings hurt."

"There's always going to be someone displeased one way or another. That's just the price of life," she said. "I'm doing my job. I've been doing my job. I didn't even have a computer until two months ago. Slowly but surely, progress is being made."

Craig said she has made inroads throughout the community, trying to make people realize that the Main Street organization represents more than just two blocks downtown.

She also said that she has worked to increase membership rather than solely focusing on downtown festivals and events.

In the letter, Matteson also tells council members that there are better ways they can spend the $10,000 semiannual funding for Main Street that they are slated to discuss June 10.

He said that he would prefer the money go to build a skateboard park or to help pay for brick facades on downtown businesses. He wrote that "with proper leadership Main Street should be self-supporting."

Craig said the organization needs -- and deserves -- financial support from the city.

"I think we still need it," she said. "I fully expected when I was hired that it would take a year to get to a good starting point. I stick with that. It would be a shame to pull the rug out from under us at this point."

Craig, 43, was hired in August after beating out 15 other applicants.

-- Brady Dennis covers the city of Zephyrhills and crime in east Pasco. To reach him, call (352) 521-5757, ext. 23, or toll free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6108, then 23. His e-mail address is dennis@sptimes.com.

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