MARTINS FERRY While he was still a councilman, Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller attended a grant-writing seminar and informational session put on by a member of then U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson's office.
While preparing to take his mayoral office, he began running down the list of people he'd like to join his administrative team.
When it came to development, he remembered an upbeat presenter from the congressman's office who was a wealth of knowledge and full of energy.
So he placed a call.
"I was thrilled that he remembered me,'' said Kathy Gagin, the city of Martins Ferry's new supervisor of development. "He attended one of the seminars I put on throughout the district and he liked my ideas. He gave me a call, and here I am."
Gagin, a lifelong Jefferson County resident who currently resides in Steubenville, has more than just a few years working for Wilson's team under her belt.
She has 30-plus years in grant writing and development, both for private and non-profit entities to go with her tour of duty as a grant specialist with Wilson.
"I love working on grants,'' Gagin said. "Some people may get overwhelmed at all the work, but to me, it's like putting together a puzzle."
Now in her third week on the job, Gagin has gotten a chance to talk to different leaders in city government and the various departments that help run Martins Ferry.
"I've went out questionnaires to all the department, seeing what everyone wants, what their wish lists are,'' Gagin said. "Then we can sit down, look and see what grants are out there and are geared toward what they'd like and find them some help."
But grants are only part of Gagin's new job.
A quick tour through downtown Martins Ferry will yield a vision of empty storefronts brimming with possibility. There are businesses to be courted, jobs to be secured and development to stimulate.
She's wasting little time getting that ball rolling as well.
Without going into detail, she's been in talks with multiple interested parties on more than a few pieces of property in downtown Martins Ferry.
Another bonus that should assist Gagin in bringing new businesses to Martins Ferry is the numerous contacts she made through working at Wilson's office. She's kept the information on all of them. She remembers what companies were looking for certain types of property and/or opportunities.
Now that she's working for the city, she can concentrate on improving one town instead of the many the more than 10-counties she helped previously.
"My main purpose is to promote the city, both for new businesses and for the current ones we have. We can't forget about them," Gagin said. "I feel I'm up to the task."
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