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Westerville Uptown Merchants Association is being revived

Thursday, June 16, 2005

By LIZ PECEK ThisWeek Staff Writer

The Westerville Uptown Merchants Association (WUMA) is making a comeback.

Members have been meeting for approximately six months, and most recently met on June 2.

Scott Hrabcak, who had been serving as WUMA's acting president in recent months, said the organization has a new look and a new feel. He added that bylaws were adopted and the organization's nonprofit status was reinstated.

"It's still building," Hrabcak said of WUMA, adding that new members are being sought.

In elections held this month, Doug Winbigler was chosen to be the group's new president, D. D. Osborn was elected vice-president and Elaine Reid was chosen to be treasurer. The post of secretary is open.

Goals of WUMA -- which had approximately 20 members when the group met earlier this month -- include increasing business opportunities for members and promoting Uptown as a destination.

Hrabcak, an area property owner and a commercial and investment real estate specialist for GroupOneRealty Inc. in Worthington, said participation in WUMA isn't limited to Uptown merchants.

"It's those people who are also in support of what the Uptown merchants are trying to accomplish," he said.

Heartland Bank and Great Harvest Bread, both located on South State Street outside of Uptown, are WUMA members. "I believe in it and I want to help it," said D.D. Osborn, Heartland Bank assistant vice president and branch manager.

Westerville Visitors and Convention Bureau coordinator Glenda Mihaly said WUMA's acting board members did an excellent job of laying the groundwork for the organization. The bureau is a WUMA member.

"We're there with our support," Mihaly said. "What WUMA needs now is more support from more merchants ... A thriving Uptown is going to help everybody."

WUMA never officially dissolved, but became inactive approximately three years ago, according to Renee Kropat, president of Gallery 202, Partners in Art Inc. She's been serving as acting secretary for the group.

Amish Originals owner Doug Winbigler said he thinks the group will bring excitement and energy back to Uptown.

He said everyone needs to do their part to make it happen. "The success will rely on the enthusiasm of the members and their eagerness to participate," Winbigler said. "It's going to take each and every one of us."

WUMA is hosting its annual Uptown sidewalk sale on June 18.

The organization has a Web site, www.uptownwesterville.org.














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