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Middleton is new chamber director

| Saturday, April 19, 2003

The Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce's search for a new executive director has come to an end with the hiring of Connellsville native Bill Middleton.

Middleton replaces Jim Schilling, who stepped down from the chamber in January after several years of service to take a full time position in Ohio.

Although many on the chamber's board of directors were sorry to see Schilling go, they believe Middleton will make a good replacement.

"Bill was a perfect fit," said Max House, president of the board. "He was already in the community, already on the board. He already knew everyone."

Middleton, 49, graduated from Connellsville High School in 1971 and attended Penn State's Fayette Campus for two years. He sat on the chamber's board for three years and was instrumental in the planning of Timber Days during that time. He has been active in the community for a number of years.

Because of his involvement with Timber Days, Middleton believes the chamber must do a better job of promoting the event and attracting people to Connellsville.

"We have great assets in the Connellsville area," he said. "We have to do a better job showcasing them."

Some of those assets, according to Middleton, include the low cost of living and convenient access to Pittsburgh. He would like to see the city marketed better than it has been.

Middleton worked as a financial adviser for 14 years and because of that background would like to see changes in the way the chamber operates.

"The chamber needs to be more of a business organization than just an organization of businesses," said Middleton.

In addition, Middleton believes there must be a change in Connellsville in order for the community to not only survive, but thrive.

"We need a new objective other than just trying to stop the decay," said Middleton. Connellsville is getting a reputation for being anti-business. We can't afford to get a reputation like that.

In addition to implementing some new things at the chamber, Middleton said he will continue to work hard to see that anything that could enhance Connellsville's attractiveness to businesses, families and tourists, including the proposed development at the intersection of routes 119 and 201, moves forward.

"I would be thrilled to find anything that generates interest in Connellsville," said Middleton.

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