Hollidaysburg native Andrea Carnicella was hoping to find a way to return to her hometown, but a local job eluded her for much of her post-graduate career.
However, when the position of borough Main Street manager opened at the end of February, it created the perfect chance for her homecoming.
"For sure, Hollidaysburg is where I wanted to be," Carnicella said. "After college, I didn't get a job in this area, and I wanted to get back to my hometown. That's the big draw (of the job): to be here."
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Andrea Carnicella, Hollidaysburg’s new Main Street Manager, takes a break on Allegheny Street on the Diamond.
Carnicella said the first few weeks in her new position have been stressful, but she's getting her feet wet fast. Late spring is a busy time for the manager and members of the Hollidaysburg Community Partnership, as it plans for many of the year's events, she said.
"It's a little overwhelming, but I really like being out in the community," Carnicella said.
Getting the job
Carnicella graduated from Gannon University with a master's degree in public administration in 2011. Her undergraduate studies were in political science and history.
Upon graduation, she served as an AmeriCorps representative in the Office of Student Learning at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Carnicella then worked in the Greater Johnstown School District administration, reporting on the Pennsylvania Teacher Information Management Systems.
This experience made the transition to Main Street manager a logical one, Carnicella said.
"My education background is political science and public administration, so this is the perfect area to me," she said, "and I wanted to work with a nonprofit [organization]."
The Main Street manager plans several events each year in downtown Hollidaysburg. The manager also facilitates the borough's facade program, which allows landowners and businesses to approve their streetscapes, and interacts regularly with businesses in the borough.
The manager also sometimes serves as a liaison between borough government and businesses
Sean Burke, a Hollidaysburg attorney and president of the partnership, said making the final section for the Main Street manager was not easy.
A number of "great candidates" were up for the position, Burke said. But Carnicella's background, both professionally and personally, stood out.
"Her background was in public administration, and she had ties to the community," Burke said, "so all of those things may not have separated from her from each candidate, but collectively they set her above the other candidates."
The screening process was a collaboration between borough officials and representatives from the partnership.
The two organizations contribute half of the manager's salary, so both needed to have say in the final selection, he said. Borough Manager Mark Schroyer initially compiled the list of candidates.
Community members outside of the two organizations were also included in the hiring process, Burke said. A committee vetted the resumes and decided which applicants would be interviewed.
Carnicella said it was also nice to interact with Sarah Piper, Baser's predecessor as Main Street manager. She said this touch helped her see how dedicated the borough's leadership was to finding the right person.
"Obviously, (Piper) cares a lot about it," Carnicella said.
The borough also kept Baser on during the hiring process as a consultant and to make sure that planning didn't come to a standstill, Schroyer said.
Carnicella said she was alerted quickly to the fact that she was being offered the job. It just had to go through Borough Council first.
After four days running the show unofficially, council approved her hire on May 8.
"I knew what was going to happen," she said, "I just had to wait for it."
As the hiring process began, some borough officials expressed concern that the Main Street program wasn't shouldering enough work to justify the cost.
Borough Councilman Patrick Plummer said he thought the job should be changed to part-time to cut back salary costs.
"I don't feel there's enough activity going on up there to justify a full-time job," Plummer said at a February meeting, at which Baser's resignation was accepted.
He reiterated the point at the March meeting, saying he wanted the incoming Main Street manager to plan more yearly events in the borough.
Burke said applicants were not asked about expanding the position exactly but were polled on ways they thought the Main Street program could evolve.
Carnicella said she was unsure if she had been asked specifically about ways to expand or add more duties to her new job, but she said she already has a few new ideas for events.
"I'm also excited to bring new events to Hollidaysburg, once I get everything up and running," she said. "I'm definitely interested in doing a First Night-type of event for New Year's Eve and in maybe doing a Zumba-thon - that's just my own personal thing, because I love Zumba - so those are two things I've been kicking around."
The borough voted in March to agree to a five-year commitment with the partnership to continue the position. Burke suggested that officials consider an agreement because it would be hard to hire a suitable candidate if they could only expect job security until the end of the year.
The agreement would not go into effect until 2015, as council had already approved its contract for the Main Street manager position for this year.
Borough leaders will also be looking for better ways to fund its half of the manager's salary, as it is currently pulled together "piecemeal," Schroyer said.
Burke said members of the partnership were very relieved to have some security that manager's position will be retained in the long term.
"The partnership is very gracious to the borough for agreeing to support this position with the Hollidaysburg Community Partnership for the next five years," he said.
Carnicella said she could see herself moving into a municipal government position someday because of her educational background. However, living in Hollidaysburg is a long-term plan, as she said it's a great place to settle down and raise a family.
She said that she thinks the Main Street program will thrive because it's focused on helping the community grow. The people the Main Street manager works with regularly have those same goals, she said.
"We all have the same goal: to make Hollidaysburg a better place to live," Carnicella said.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.