CUMBERLAND — “It’s the patriotic duty of everyone to shop local,” said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot during his visit here Monday.
Franchot started his downtown shopping visit with an 11 a.m. stop at the Fort Cumberland Emporium.
“These businesses employ our friends and neighbors,” said Franchot.
City Council member Mary Beth Pirolozzi and business-woman Becky McClarran met Franchot at the emporium to show him around so he could shop for some Christmas gifts.
“It’s time for people to get off the Internet and get down here and shop,” Franchot said.
After leaving the emporium, Franchot went to the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 172, then to the Barkin’ Basement and The Book Center before lunching with local government and business people at Ristorante Ottaviani.
Franchot bought items from each place he visited.
“It’s wonderful. It’s nice he is showing an interest in what we are doing here,” said Barkin’ Basement manager Anna Dyche.
The Barkin’ Basement is a nonprofit that sells items donated by the public with proceeds given to the Allegany County Animal Shelter.
Among the many items bought by Franchot on his spree were prints, wall decorations, a cigar and a book on Thomas Jefferson.
Franchot pointed out at the luncheon that two-thirds of all business is small business.
“Private-sector growth and employment we are weak on,” he said, “despite the reports that you hear.”
State Sen. George Edwards, newly elected City Councilman Dave Caporale, Downtown Manager Jennifer Light, Shawn Hershberger from city economic development, Terry Michels of Queen City Creamery along with several others carried on a discussion over lunch with Franchot.
“It’s important for me to have him here,” said the restaurant’s owner/manager, Tony Ottaviani. “These people work for us.”
“To have them show their faces and be in the trenches with us is really, really important,” he said.
Topics brought up by those at the luncheon including gambling at Rocky Gap, broadband access, economic development as well as other quality-of-life issues.
Franchot listened as they gave their views.
“He is sort of a middle-of-the-road guy, which I like a lot,” Ottaviani said.
“If their idea of government is they are here to help versus here to be in your way,” he said, “to me, he’s got my vote.
“He’s that kind of guy as far as I can tell,” added Ottaviani.
Greg Larry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.