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Haler hired as P'dale downtown manager

PORTERDALE -- Teri Haler is Porterdale's new downtown manager, and she's got lots of ideas about how to make the city a recreation destination, increase tourism, assist and attract businesses.

Haler will be assisting the city as it seeks Main Street accreditation, along with planning and marketing downtown events, working to recruit new businesses and helping the ones already in existence.

Haler said she will be heavily focused on developing and promoting recreational opportunities in Porterdale. That fits in with city officials' hopes to capitalize on the city's location along the Yellow River. More people are starting to utilize the river for kayaking, and Haler is betting that those folks would love additional recreational activities.

She hopes to make the city more pedestrian friendly and bring in an ultimate frisbee tournament. She also hopes to start a campground on city property near the river and planned trailhead at the old depot. Eventually, she'd like to develop camping facilities. Haler has been researching "glamping," a term for camping done in a more luxurious setting versus pitching a tent in the woods. She envisions having replica box cars to serve as cabins for campers, possibly getting locals to help with construction.

"I think it's easy to build on what we already have," she said about Porterdale's recreational opportunities. "It just needs a little polishing and promoting."

Haler said she wants to assist existing businesses with marketing and financing options and whatever they need to help them grow. She'd also like to attract additional businesses such as an Outdoor Outfitters and more retail.

Long-term, Haler said she'd like to establish an art district near the Porterdale Mill Lofts, where artists could reside, give workshops and possibly sell their wares.

Haler is excited about an incentive program to attract home buyers that was approved by the city council. She hopes that word of mouth will spread that Porterdale is an affordable community in the midst of a revitalization.

"We are very fortunate to have such a proactive group of people that care about Porterdale as a whole," she said.

Haler said one of her challenges will be raising enough funds for the downtown program. She hopes revenues can be generated from the campground and plans to start an annual 5K fundraiser.

Mayor Arline Chapman said Haler's background in business, web design and graphic arts, along with her energy, made her the right choice for the job, adding she had the most versatile abilities among the applicants.

Haler is a Newton native. Her mother, Jordye Bailey, was born and reared in Porterdale, and was coached in basketball by the legendary B.C. Crowell. Haler said she feels she's had a long-term connection to the city, having grown up hearing stories about her mom's childhood.

Haler and her husband Chris own Current Events Productions in downtown Covington and are active volunteers in the community.

Haler was a member of the Main Street Covington Board of Directors from 2007 until February of this year. She is a member of the Tourism Advisory Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and chaired that committee in 2010 and 2011.

She has an associate's in arts degree in visual communications from the Art Institute of Atlanta.