Residents, students turn out for “Home Town” rally

by Geoff Fox

Students gathered in the gym at Hancock Middle-Senior High School last Thursday for part of a rally to get the HGTV show “Home Town” to choose Hancock to get made over next season.

Residents and students turned out last Thursday to take part in a community rally for the HGTV Hometown Makeover contest entry video at Hancock Middle-Senior High School.

Members of Main Street Hancock, town officials, residents, representatives from Del. Mike McKay and Sen. George Edwards, and students all came together to cheer and make it known they want the network to bring their show to Hancock.

Members of the Hancock community, first responders, town and county officials, representatives from Del. Mike McKay and Sen. George Edwards, Main Street Hancock members, and students and staff from Hancock Middle-Senior High School gathered in the school’s courtyard as part of a rally in hopes HGTV selects Hancock for the restoration show “Home Town.”

Non-school folks were gathered in the community gym while students gathered in the main gym.

In the main gym, students from grades six through 12, along with Little Panthers, collected on the hardwood holding blue and white balloons with those in front holding cards with “HGTV COME TO HANCOCK!” written on them.

From the bleachers, J Loren, president of Main Street Hancock, directed the students to shout the slogan from the cards and the Panthers Band to play the fight song.

The activities moved to the courtyard in front of Hancock Middle-Senior High School with the students and community members joining forces to encourage HGTV to select Hancock.

From the school’s roof, again Loren led the charge.

Overall, there were close to 100 people in attendance.

Mayor Ralph Salvagno said the turnout for the rally was great.

“You got a cold, wintry day and people came out here at 3 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. It’s a wonderful thing and obviously people are excited about it,” Salvagno said.

Town Manager Joe Gilbert added the support from the school, band, and students was “fantastic.”

Gilbert said the rally could put Hancock “head and shoulders above” above other towns in the competition.

“This is a competitive thing,” he said.

The application isn’t just submitted and the town gets the makeover, there are multiple municipalities across the country vying for the HGTV show “Home Town” and hosts Erin and Ben Napier to come to their towns.

“I think a demonstration like this and to show the enthusiasm support of the town is going to put us that far ahead of other competitors,” Gilbert said.

Main Street Hancock member Thomas Taylor noted he was really excited about the turn out for the rally as well as other events, notably the Miracle on Main Street event in December.

“We hope we win HGTV, but if we don’t, it’s just showing another way the community can show its spirit for Hancock,” Taylor said.

Hancock Middle-Senior High School Principal Christopher Cline said he wasn’t surprised with the way the students reacted to the rally because he knew they’d be excited.

He and Assistant Principal Brad Delauter had talked to different classes and to the students to make sure they were talking about it. Cline added they expressed their excitement about the rally and the contest.

“They realized it’s a great opportunity,” he said.

Salvagno said the amount of people turning out for the rally, which was around 100 people counting community members and students, showed it means people are still excited about the town and possibilities.

He also said he thinks the people who showed up could now get involved because they realize there is “now a critical mass” of people now involved in the project.

While the project is still in its infancy, the mayor said it has to grow through each stage and as it moves forward, more people will get involved.

Taylor echoed the mayor’s sentiment about the people’s excitement about what can happen in town and the future of the town.

“And that’s the best part, I think, of the whole event,” Taylor said.

Cline said the school is grateful for the support from the community and believe the school is the hub of the Hancock community.

Without the community support, Cline said Hancock Middle-Senior High School wouldn’t be as successful as it is, “so I had no doubt the community members would come up and support us and be here to take part in this landmark event.”

Cline added the school is hopeful everything works out and it helps the town of Hancock.

“That was our main goal,” he said. “We wanted to support this initiative.”

Gilbert noted there has been support from Del. Mike McKay, Sen. George Edwards, and the governor’s representative for Western Maryland.

“There’s a lot of support for not just this, but the direction Hancock is headed,” Gilbert said.

For those who weren’t at the rally but want to get involved with the Main Street Hancock’s efforts of revitalizing Hancock, Gilbert said the best thing to do is get involved and there’s no age or experience limits.

He said to get on the Main Street Hancock’s social media page. He also said people can volunteer as well.

“If you’re enthusiastic and you want to take part in this, this is a movement,” he said. “This is a groundswell of people who live in Hancock who want better, who want their lives to be better, who want the economy to, who want businesses to come to make this a hipster, foodie, touristy destination.”