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DHDC director resigns





Traci Stanford, executive director of Downtown Hays Development Corp., announced Wednesday afternoon she has resigned from her position, effective later this month.

Stanford has been leading the organization since May 2011. Her husband, Jerrod Stanford, has accepted a job offer in Jackson, Tenn., which is prompting the couple to relocate. The move will be bittersweet, Stanford said.

"It is definitely a love-hate relationship right now with having to leave, but yet I'm excited for the new opportunity," she said.

Stanford, a native of Spearville, is a graduate of Fort hays State University. She worked at two downtown businesses -- Simply Charmed and the former Bildschon Haus -- while attending college and fell in love with the city's downtown district, she said.

When the DHDC position became available in 2011, Stanford jumped at the opportunity.

"My husband, then fiance, and I were in Kentucky at the time the position opened, but I knew it was an organization I wanted to be a part of," Stanford said.

Her last day with DHDC will be Sept. 20, less than a week after the organization's annual fundraiser, Wines and Steins, which is set for Sept. 14.

"I didn't want to leave before that event happened, but it will definitely keep me busy," Stanford said of her last few weeks on the job.

Her husband, who will be assistant men's basketball coach at Lane College, already has made the move to Tennessee. The couple married in May.

During her tenure with the nonprofit organization, Stanford helped implement the Downtown Hays Market, which began in early June and features locally grown produce and crafts. The market is open Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings and already has attracted 31 vendors, she said, noting that has been a highlight in her time with DHDC.

"The downtown market was a very large accomplishment," she said. "I never thought I would be researching regulations on produce or anything like that, but it's been a true blessing to be part of that."

The organization also celebrated its inaugural Core2Campus event Aug. 29. The event was intended to make Fort Hays State University students more aware of what the downtown district has to offer.

"That's a vision that's been going on since I came, to connect the university with downtown more," Stanford said. "It's important to me these students experience what I experienced in college."

The DHDC board of directors is hoping to fill the position before Stanford's departure to allow some time for training, said Sandy Jacobs, board president. The job listing was posted online yesterday, and the organization already is getting calls from interested candidates.

"The executive board met last evening to begin our planning," Jacobs said. "We're very focused and very confident we will have the position filled very quickly."