The county economic development department, looking for someone to burnish its image, has hired a public relations specialist who has tried to do the same thing for the County Commissioners during the past 18 months.
Cynthia Marie Parr, a 38-year-old Finksburg resident, joined the department yesterday as marketing director.
Attracting new businesses to Carroll and retaining old ones and expanding the county's commercial tax base are some of the county's top priorities.
"We need a more concentrated effort in that office to use public relations and communication skills," said County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown.
"She works well with people in high-profile situations," said Commissioner Richard T. Yates. "We wanted a professional to work with [economic development director] Jack Lyburn and his group to promote Carroll County to the business world."
Technically, Parr will be under contract to the commissioners until June 30 and will be "on call" if needed, Brown said. She will begin her $32,700-a-year job officially July 1.
But in reality, Parr is actively writing and producing a videotape designed to sell Carroll County to prospective businesses.
Towson State graduate
For Parr, who earned a degree in mass communications from Towson State University in 1980, producing a tape for the economic development department is a return to an old love -- video production.
One of her first jobs after leaving Towson State was as a television producer for the NBC affiliate in her native Hagerstown, where she specialized in news shows and other local programming.
She followed that with a stint at Martin Marietta Corp., the defense contractor, where she wrote scripts and produced training tapes for the Navy that dealt with ship-based guided-missile launchers.
It was while working on those videos that she met her husband, Thomas, who had come from Orlando, Fla., to assist in the project.
"After lunch, he began talking about fly-fishing" -- an interest she shared -- "and it was love at first sight," Parr said, despite what she claims is her superior prowess at casting a fly rod.
"My husband tells the children -- three daughters -- that the way a woman's wrist is designed enables her to fly-cast better," she said with a laugh yesterday.
Parr played varsity basketball for Hagerstown Junior College and Towson State University before quiting to join Towson's intramural league.
Earlier, she had been forward on a winning South Hagerstown High School girls' basketball team that went to the state regionals her junior year. She also played shortstop and third base on the girls' softball team and continues to be an avid tennis player.
Athletics, however, were just part of her extracurricular milieu. Parr also was homecoming queen and class thespian. She played the trumpet in her earlier years and switched to French horn -- an experience that enabled her to participate in concerts in Florida and Canada.
"I jumped feet-first into everything -- just like I do now," -- a trait she thinks will be an asset in her new job, Parr said. "I'm back
into something I love to do," she said. "I love dealing with people."
Parr worked as a free-lance journalist for a local newspaper and The Sun before taking the job with the commissioners. She said the thing she is proudest of during her work with the commissioners "is that I gave them an opportunity to see the human side of someone who was in media."
She said she hopes she "had some effect on people's understanding the role of county government -- of bringing the county a little bit more to a person's table."
She wants to do the same thing for the economic development office.
"This office does an excellent job now," she said, "but I want to help the public understand the importance of economic development -- maybe bring it home a little more, as I tried to do with county government."
Parr said working with the commissioners changed her perspective about elected officials as well and allowed her to see the human side of the political persona.
"I know it sounds corny," she said, "But I really appreciate the opportunity given me by the County Commissioners. It was they who opened this door for me."
Pub Date: 3/21/97