The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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July 20, 2013

Main Street Program director leaves for Hutto

HUNTSVILLE — Huntsville’s Main Street Program director Kim McAuliffe has found a new home.

McAuliffe is leaving Huntsville to become the new Downtown Manager for the city of Hutto, according to Hutto’s website.

Huntsville City Manager Matt Benoit said on Friday that he doesn’t believe the downtown Main Street Program will be eliminated without its director. However, the ability to fund the program is something to consider in replacing McAuliffe.

City staff and council want to pass a budget without raising taxes for the second straight budget session, so looking at every expense is a necessity.

“I think the City Council sees some great value in having a Main Street Program and an emphasis in business retention and recruitment in the downtown area,” Benoit said. “The difficulty becomes, along with a lot of city services we provide, every time you have a vacant position you’ve got to take a long look at the service you’re providing and figure out if you can continue.

“I’m sure there is going to be something. I don’t think that that program and that service is going to go away. But I think in the budget process, it is going to become very clear.”

Community and Economic Development Director Aron Kulhavy worked closely with McAuliffe since October, when the Main Street Program officially became part of the economic development department.

“We had the opportunity to work really close together,” Kulhavy said. “We got a lot of things done in that time. She was always a pleasure to work with; thorough, conscious about what she was doing, did the right things and always a very hard worker. So I hate she’s not going to be around to see the finished product of some of the things we were working on together, but she really helped put us in a position to succeed.”

In Huntsville, McAuliffe was responsible for working towards the revitalization efforts for the city’s downtown area.

Under McAuliffe’s leadership, the city received National Recognition for the past three years, as well as an award for a Texas Capital Fund Grant for downtown improvements for $150,000 and a Houston-Galveston Area Council grant for $25,000.

Business owners at last week’s Huntsville City Council meeting expressed a high level of appreciation for McAuliffe’s work focusing on downtown businesses and pleaded with council to keep focus on the downtown business area.

Kathryn McKenzie, owner of downtown’s 12th Street Antiques, told council she didn’t want them to forget McAuliffe’s contributions to the city.

“Sometimes we just take it for granted,” McKenzie said. “But we ourselves are busy with our individual businesses. For her to be able to pull things together for us is just a wonderful thing. She also helps keep down a lot of fuss, because I fuss when all the lawyers (going to the Walker County Courthouse) park right in front of my place and stay all day long. I fuss because I don’t like it. So there’s a lot of things that Kim does behind the scenes that you just have no idea about and we need her. The city of Huntsville needs someone like her.”

As the Downtown Manager of Hutto, McAuliffe will work in a similar capacity as she did in Huntsville, helping the existing businesses and property owners located in the Old Town Historic District create a lively downtown area where individuals and families can go to shop, dine, and have a fun place to gather.

She will also be working with other community organizations and businesses to attract visitors to Hutto, shop in local stores and dine in local restaurants. The city of Hutto considers McAuliffe’s position to be significant in helping develop Hutto’s sense of community, the downtown as the heart of the city, and creating a central and safe gathering place for festivals and events.

McAuliffe, who holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Business and Management from Sam Houston State University, also plans to start on her Master’s in Public Administration within the next year, according to the city of Hutto’s website.

Attempts to reach McAuliffe were unsuccessful.

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