Ann’s a Phenom, Said Governor Patrick at the RMV/Visitor’s Center

Today Governor Patrick saluted Ann Hamilton, the longtime director of the Franklin County Chamber, by calling her “The Phenom.”

He was in town to officially open the newly renovated Greenfield Visitor’s center that’s been combined in one state-owned building with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The governor called it a great example of ‘win-win’ a partnership that fills two vital needs…and he cheered when it was mentioned that the site won’t cost the state any rent. I’ve spent time as a volunteer in the center, back when its future was in doubt and Ann put out a call for chamber members to put in time to man the desk and help travelers by giving them information about the county’s attractions.

This kind of people-to-people reaching out is how tourism develops, and tourism is a major economic engine. It was just plain wrong to have to close the place, and this innovative solution means it can stay open so we can tell people passing through on 91 and Rte 2 about the great things the county has to offer them.

For a while it looked grim, there was a budget freeze and no money was forthcoming to pay to keep it open. Then, as Hamilton described it, ‘one of the volunteers had an idea. Why not move the registry into this nice new building and turn it into a dual use facility?’ She sent the info on to Boston and they liked it. Now there are brochures, two spacious bathrooms, plenty of parking and a way to promote our local attractions…and registry customers can easily get in and out too. Phenom indeed!

Governor Patrick and Ann Hamilton, far left, at the opening of the Visitor's Center and RMV in Greenfield yesterday.