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DSA in search of new director

The town of Sylva plans to start advertising soon for an in-house director for the Downtown Sylva Association.

Julie Sylvester, the current director of the promotional group that runs Sylva’s Main Street program, does not plan to apply.

“I’m going to concentrate on my family,” said Sylvester, who has served as DSA’s executive director for almost three years and is now the mom of twins. “That’s a job that takes a lot of time and energy.”

The job of DSA director has moved under town control. Previously, the DSA director was solely answerable to the DSA board, made up of Sylva business owners, but will now be a town employee.

The change comes in response to a request by DSA for more money from the town, from $12,000 last year up to $25,000 this year. Town leaders compromised, opting to pay a DSA director $15 an hour for 20 hours of work a week (just less than $20,000), but only if the director gets placed under the town’s umbrella as an actual employee.

DSA had stated it faces “solvency” dangers without additional town money.  DSA is dropping what it said was an unsustainable funding method — raising money directly from merchants.

Moving the DSA executive director position in-house shouldn’t pose difficulties for the group, board member John Bubacz said. The coffee shop owner, who is also running for a spot on the town board in this fall’s election, said that having the position in-house “has been done before in other towns. We’re not breaking new ground — we’ll be looking for models and seeing how to make it work for Sylva.”

Town Manager Adrienne Isenhower said the job description will be modeled after the one used by Franklin for its Main Street program, where the director is also a town employee. She said the town would be seeking an individual with tourism experience, public relations skills, grant-writing abilities and some background in economic development.

Isenhower plans to form a committee to help her make a selection.

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