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2015 Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | June 30, 2015

Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting

The Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting tends to emulate the organization itself.  We have a group  of super busy people that get together to honor productivity and offer thanks to those people making tangible improvements to the community, then we start working on making the future even better.  This year’s tribute to Steve Hanschu made the ceremony a little more emotional than most, but we had some fantastic volunteers, businesses, advocates and community members to honor.

With a new year comes new changes for the Emporia Main Street organization.  Below, you can find the slate of new officers, a new board member, and all of those that were recognized at the Annual Meeting!


President – Justin Mallon

Vice President – Julie Johnson

Secretary – Denise Landwehr

Treasurer – Mark McAnarney

New Board Member

Lauren Woolard

Volunteer of the Year – Emporia Police Officer’s Benefit Association

Emporia Police Benefit Association

The Emporia Police Officer’s Benefit Association is a group of officers and their families that take the “serve” portion of “protect and serve” to heart.  We are absolutely blessed to have a community minded force that interacts with our citizens cordially at a variety of different events and community activities in an effort to strengthen the cooperative bonds between our officers and area citizens.  But, there is a lot of service provided that you don’t see.  Officers and their families help set up and break down beer garden fencing at the Glass Blown Open, the Dirty Kanza and other events.  They welcome ESU and FHTC students at the Welcome Back Block Party, they man a booth at Cinco de Mayo, they help coordinate the Great American Market.  I know the news has been a little rough on our men and women in blue nationally, but our Emporia Police Officer’s Benefit Association is the epitome of volunteerism and good citizenship.

Advocate of the Year – Angie Baker

Angie Baker Java Cat

Advocacy stems from an individual’s ability to communicate a passion for a concept in an honest and direct manner.  Angie Baker constantly talks about upcoming events with her customers, details the impact of programs like Incentives Without Walls that aided her business with the purchase of a coffee roaster and relays the impact of community activities to our office.  As someone that is both energetic and very direct, we can always count on good, actionable information from Angie.  Not only does she advocate for Main Street, but she advocates for the community, many causes and a growing “cool” culture that is gradually enveloping the city.  During her acceptance speech, Angie let a packed room know that Emporia has been her family’s home longer than any other in her married life, and her family loves it here.  She also stated that, although she could go to Kansas City on a weekly basis to “hang out” (they buy green coffee beans from a wholesale outlet in the area), her family chooses to stay in Emporia and experience all that this community has to offer. This year’s Advocate of the Year, Angie Baker.

Business of the Year – Dynamic Discs

Jeremy Rusco Dynamic Discs Casey Woods

During a regular board meeting six years ago, Jessica Hopkins stated that her husband Brandon was an avid disc golfer, and that we should really go out and meet a guy named Jeremy Rusco who had started a growing disc golf company.  So, staff went out to a little store front on West Highway 50 to see the merchandise that had recently moved out of Jeremy’s home and into a commercial area.  The space was jam packed with every different type of disc you could imagine, and staff asked the simple question: “how can we help?”  Help started with the Glass Blown Open, then finding a downtown storefront, then a block party, then a world championship, followed by an expanded warehouse facility.  In all, Main Street has worked with Dynamic Discs on E-Community Loans, Capital Multiplier Loans, Economic Gardening and more.  What once was a small business that started in a dorm room is now one of the largest disc golf companies on the planet!  But the reason Dynamic Discs was chosen as business of the year has less to do with their growth and more to do with their community impact.  Hiring locals, bringing new jobs to the community, making Emporia the epicenter of the worldwide disc golf movement and exposing our community to thousands of disc golf enthusiasts each year means that when Dynamic Discs grows, Emporia wins.  In Emporia Main Street, we talk a lot about “Asset Based Development”- i.e.- finding those unique elements of our community, and placing resources at those assets to help create positive differentiation.  Dynamic Discs and the sport of disc golf is a unique community asset that sets Emporia apart, and we are ecstatic to honor Dynamic Discs as the Emporia Main Street Business of the year.  View the video of the Dynamic Discs award by clicking HERE.

J. Warren Brinkman Preservation Award – Steve Hanschu

Beth Hanschu Tyler Curtis

This year’s J. Warren Brinkman Award is awarded posthumously to Steve Hanschu.  Steve was quite possibly one of the most impactful volunteers the Emporia Community has ever seen.  Outside of his historical work, Steve was very active in his church, Emporia State University and a variety of community of organizations.  Inside the world of local historic preservation, Steve’s quiet and measured demeanor stood in stark contrast to his powerhouse impact on the community.  Without Steve’s influence, we probably would not have a historic district in downtown, and thus wouldn’t have the $3.8 million dollars in historic rehabs since its inception in 2011.  Steve worked on several of our “design activities”, often balancing precariously on a ladder to ensure that a window was caulked properly or that a decorative building structure received the appropriate treatment.  Steve served as the Emporia Main Street Design Committee Chair, essentially from our organization’s inception, and he worked to establish recognition for appropriate design and renovation.  He conducted historical research on buildings to aid in their rehabilitation.  He was instrumental in the “Adopt a Garden” program which beautified the community while bringing more volunteers to the downtown.  When the state discontinued Design Assistance, Steve stepped up and provided his advice for building rehabs like the new Sweet Granada facility.  He led historical tours for school children and adults.  He literally wrote the architectural history of Emporia in recently released books.  And, Steve served as a mentor for a new generation of preservationists.  I was hired as a Main Street director based on my Business Enhancement and Promotional experience; what I know of Design was imparted in large measure by the wisdom and unyielding patience of Steve Hanschu.  His positive impacts on this community will be felt for generations to come.  Accepting this award on Steve’s behalf is his wife, Beth.

Steve Hanschu Excellence in Design Award – Norma Kluthe

Norma Kluthe Tyler Curtis Casey Woods

Our very first recipient of the Steve Hanschu Excellence in Design Award goes to Norma Kluthe.  A lot of people don’t instinctively comprehend the impact that color has on a building, a business or a community. Color can reinforce a feeling, highlight an architectural detail, add a “well kept” look or even influence sales.  Each local architectural era and business type have their own color requirements to achieve their highest and best use.  When color is applied well, it reinforces a positive aesthetic.  When color is applied badly, it can create a distracting situation or create consumer avoidance.  Norma has provided color through her painting services that are so well regarded they have appeared in Kansas Preservation magazine.  Commercial property owners ask for her services continuously, and her eye for beautification has had a substantial impact on downtown.  We are honored to present the first ever Steve Hanschu Excellence in Design Award to Norma Kluthe.

Your membership, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, advocacy and support through Emporia Main Street makes a real difference!  It was wonderful having the opportunity to sit down to lunch with a bunch of people that “get it”, and it was awesome to watch people honor each other for sacrifices made and goals reached throughout the year.  Each year we try to do more, innovate more, achieve more and create those tangible impacts that make a real long term difference.  But, we can’t do it alone.  The Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting is a wonderful reminder that it truly takes a plethora of committed individuals that make their community a priority to achieve real, positive and lasting changes.  We were honored to spend part of an afternoon with a room full of people that exemplified a selfless ethos, and we look forward to serving all of you for another fantastic year.  Lets keep up the good work!

See this write-up and MUCH more in this week’s Emporia Main Street E-newsletter!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.