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News:

Man returns to Millville to assist family business, help community

By JOYCE VANAMAN For The Press

Published: Monday, February 11, 2008

MILLVILLE - Eric Walter was once part of the "brain drain" group … people who leave their hometowns for college and don't return.

After a dozen years, Walter returned to Millville and is now account executive for his family's business, Graphicus Communications, and is active in youth sports, church and community service.

Walter, 37, moved to Millville from Northfield, Atlantic County, when he was in sixth grade. He played varsity basketball, football and baseball at Millville Senior High School, graduating in 1988. He then went to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, with a specialty in human resources.

"After 12 years out of Millville, I had enough of big business and decided to come back home where I could shape my own destiny," Walter said.

"One of the reasons for my decision was that I liked the positive changes in Millville - moving from the glass industry to professional and retail diversity," Walter said. "Millville is slowly becoming a location where people who go away to college think about coming back to establish their careers and families."

"I think the motor sports complex will be a positive thing for Millville and Cumberland County," Walter said. "This area will become more of a destination place, instead of a place for day-trippers."

Being a member of the Millville Planning Board means that Walter is on the front edge of almost everything that is going on now and in the future.

"I've got a lot to learn, and it entails a lot of on-the-job training and time," Walter said. He stressed the importance of considering the impact of proposed projects - whether industrial or residential - especially the impact on the schools.

After Walter joined the Millville Kiwanis Club, he persuaded his parents, George and Sandy, to join the club.

The current club president, Walter said the club has about 60 members, but usually just 20 to 30 show up at the meetings. Walter's focus is on getting more active participation at the meetings and with the club's special projects.

Serving the youth of the community and area is a particular interest to Walter. He and his wife, Denise, have a son, Hayden, 11, and daughters, Karlie, 8, and Addison, 5.

Walter cited the Kiwanis Club's long history of serving youth through sponsorship of the Cumberland County 4-H Favorite Food Show and the Millville elementary schools' Safety Patrols' trip to Washington, D.C.

"We have a good relationship with the high school's Key Club," Walter said. "One of the recent successful programs was filling stockings for needy children and having them distributed through the local Weed & Seed program."

Walter also cited other youth-oriented activities such as scholarships and hosting some Key Club members and high school students of the month at the weekly lunches during the school year.

"One of the things I'd like to start in collaboration with Shelly Schneider (Millville superintendent of schools and Kiwanis Club vice president) and with the schools is a Builders Club at Lakeside Middle School," Walter said.

The Builders Club is part of Kiwanis International's program that includes Key Club for high school students and Circle K for college students.

Walter feels it would be a good opportunity for the middle school students, which include sixth-, seventh- and eighth- graders, to become involved in community service.

The Kiwanis Club supports many worthwhile programs in the community, Walter said.

Walter is using his communication/technology skills to work behind-the-scenes at the new "Saturday Night Alive" services at First United Methodist Church and the 9:30 a.m. Sunday services.

The current vice president of the Millville American Baseball League, Walter has been a manager and an assistant coach. His son is a participant. "I want to be involved with kids as much as possible," he said.

Walter's mother, Sandy, vice president of Graphicus Communications, said, "It's a parent's dream to have their kids involved in a family-owned business. We are elated that Eric decided to come back to Millville and to become so involved in community service."

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