Michelle Marino is Berryville Main Street’s new board president. Under her leadership, the organization wants to start promoting and helping businesses in all of Clarke County, not just those in the town’s central business district.

BERRYVILLE — Financially speaking, Berryville Main Street is back on solid ground, new board President Michelle Marino asserts.

She attributes that largely to work by the former president, Kim Ragland, and new board members recently installed.

Former board member and interim executive director Christian Miles Bentley was arrested in January 2019. He was charged with felony credit card theft and felony embezzlement in connection with more than $4,400 being charged to the organization’s credit card, according to Berryville Police Department and Clarke County General District Court documents.

Bentley was also charged with misdemeanor embezzlement in connection with at least $120 in cash being taken to purchase products for resale, the documents showed.

The court ultimately handed a four-year suspended sentence on the embezzlement charges to Bentley, who pleaded no contest and agreed to make full restitution.

Ragland was the Berryville Main Street board’s treasurer before she became its president. She recently resigned to move to Iowa, resulting in Marino — who was vice president at the time — assuming leadership.

Following the embezzlement, Ragland “really did a good job of building up our finances,” Marino said, despite the COVID-19 pandemic basically bringing the organization’s activities to a halt.

Money from Bentley’s restitution payments has been coming in, she said. So has revenue from Berryville Main Street-sponsored events that have resumed, such as the Summer’s End Cruise-In classic car show in August and the gigantic yard sale downtown in September.

The organization also has fully repaid a $35,000 loan it received from Clarke County in 2009.

Marino said Berryville Main Street is in the black, so to speak, financially.

The goal is to keep it that way.

“We’re stable and secure now,” said Marino. “We’re very cautious to maintain” that stability.

Berryville Main Street traditionally has operated with an annual budget of approximately $60,000, including contributions from local businesses and government.

But “I don’t believe a budget was in place” last year, Marino said, due to the pandemic stifling operations and activities.

“We had no income for a year,” she said. “A lot of our events are free (to the public), and we couldn’t even offer those.”

One of Marino’s priorities, as the new president, is to develop a budget for 2022. Berryville Main Street operates on a calendar year basis, rather than fiscal years that begin somewhere within a calendar year.

There will be no unnecessary spending, she pledges.

That includes — for the foreseeable future, anyway — not hiring a new executive director. Marino said the organization simply can’t afford one, even on a part-time basis.

The all-volunteer board will be responsible for doing all the work.

Marino estimated she currently is spending about 30 hours a week on Berryville Main Street business. That’s in addition to her 40-hour job as office administrator for a local financial services firm, she said.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

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