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Emporia Main Street’s 31st Annual Meeting

Jessica Buchholz by Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator | July 25, 2022

Honoring those that are working hard for the region.

The 31st Annual Meeting of Emporia Main Street gave us the opportunity to look back over the past year, honor some folks that have done great work to advance our region, and look forward to the coming months. Our general annual meetings are a less formal affair that is focused on recognizing the good in others. In that vein, please view some of those that were honored in this year’s Annual Meeting:

Advocate of the Year
Jim Witt has a storied career in public service throughout Kansas and Texas. In Emporia, Jim has helped facilitate buildouts through developer agreements, worked with legislators to enhance entrepreneurs’ ability to finance projects, and he continues to provide steady leadership that pays dividends for the entire region. The respect Jim has earned through decades of highly productive service opens doors for our region to capitalize on opportunities that wouldn’t exist without his involvement. Jim has worked closely with and advocated for Emporia Main Street as we seek to sustainably develop our community and county. Without Jim’s involvement, we probably wouldn’t have a state initiative that augmented the Rural Housing Incentive District policy to include upper story developments. As a city point person on several complex projects, he has the ingenuity and work ethic to get developments over the finish line. Jim doesn’t need more “wins” to prove his stellar career, but he works hard anyway to leave things better than he found them, often toiling behind the scenes in ways that are hard for citizens to appreciate.For his efforts in partnering with Emporia Main Street to find innovative ways to better our region, we recognize Jim Witt as the Emporia Main Street Advocate of the Year.
Volunteers of the Year
This year’s first Emporia Main Street Volunteer of the Year is Diana Delgado.Diana Delgado has a drive to make things better in our community and is always willing to help with a project. Whether it is coming downtown to assist with the Emporia Main Street table at a block party, helping with The Taste, running a carnival booth for the Junior Worlds Celebration, or organizing several of the awesome Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow events you see in Emporia – Diana is always ready to get involved. Diana has been key in building partnerships with members of the Hispanic Community and Emporia Main Street, giving our organization the opportunity to work with a variety of businesses owners and volunteers. Staff at Emporia Main Street appreciates everything Diana has done for the community, and we look forward to working with her in the future. 
Our next Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to Mike SchumannRecognizing Mike Schumann for his efforts seems long overdue. When the downtown streetscape project was planned more than 25 years ago, no one could have envisioned the growth of events in our community core. Small sidewalk sales were replaced with six block long Great American Markets. Street basketball tournaments that brought a few hundred people downtown were replaced with the Dynamic Discs Open and Unbound Gravel event that bring several thousand people to our core each year. All these events require a tremendous amount of power to facilitate food, sound, and supplementary amenities that support functional activities. Simply put, we could not hold the events we hold without the help of Mike Schumann. His power pack extensions, facility support, intelligence, and labor allow the events that Emporia has become known for to exist. Mike supports local businesses through his expertise, gives generously to local causes, and donates his time to efforts like the local fireworks display. Our region would be less without the behind-the-scenes efforts that Mike Schumann provides. We are so very appreciative of everything Mike Schumann does for Emporia Main Street and this region, and it is our honor to recognize him as the Emporia Main Street Volunteer of the Year.
Business of the Year
We have two related businesses that we are honoring this year, the first of which is: Gravel City Roasters. Not only does Gravel City Roasters help keep the Emporia Main Street caffeinated (which is a full-time job in itself), Angie and her staff go above and beyond in creating a fun & inclusive environment in the heart of downtown. Throughout the year, Gravel City Roasters participates in multiple Main Street events, takes part in several community initiatives, and supports other businesses by featuring local products on their menu. Whether this is the place you start your morning or end your day studying for a test, you will probably see a familiar face at Gravel City Roasters. 
Over the years, Angie has worked with Emporia Main Street on a variety of financing options including one of our low interest loans to purchase a roaster for the business. This has enabled Gravel City to be able to roast their beans inhouse, allowing for them to perfect their distinctive blend. Angie is also a graduate of Destination Bootcamp, a program supported by Emporia Main Street through our partners at Network Kansas. 
One of the things that people love about our downtown is the unique vibe that our businesses create, we can say without a doubt that Angie and her staff have largely contributed to this environment. The Staff at Emporia Main Street are extremely thankful for all the Gravel City Roasters has accomplished this past year and we are excited to see their business continue in our community.

The second related business, because they share a space, that we are honoring as business of the year is Trox Gallery and Gifts.Kaila Mock is a phenomenal example of what working hard, taking advantage of local resources, and building a team can do to create something truly special. She has been an capacity builder in the local art scene through her efforts at ESU and the EAC, and she used her experience to enhance newer artists through the development of the Emporia First Friday Art Walk. She formed cooperative ties between local artists and businesses to enhance business traffic and art sales in a successful bid to generate more interest in professional art.
Kaila is a graduate of the Start Your Own Business Class, was the first incubated business in the Emporia Main Street Incubator, was a recipient of a Trusler Business Loan, and has participated in a plethora of local events. Her business has grown tremendously over the past few years despite some really tough conditions; she opened just a few weeks prior to a pandemic shut down. She now acts as a conduit for over sixty artists in her storefront, with additional artists showcased through EFF activities.
In a world where some try and absorb the spotlight and dominate the market, Trox Gallery and Gifts empowers others to make a living through art, exposes people to new art experiences, supports other local businesses through mutually beneficial partnerships, and has a sustainable business model that adds consistency and stability to the local art scene. Plus, her place is just awesome, and when people travel to Emporia they want unique local products, which Trox Gallery and Gifts provides. We are so proud of how far Kaila has come, but we are even more excited about all the good she will undoubtedly accomplish. Your Emporia Main Street Business of the Year, Trox Gallery and Gifts!
This year’s recipient of the Steve Hanschu Excellence in Design Award goes to Little Place Tax Service. We cannot adequately present this award without telling the story of 407 Commercial Street; a building that Alma Guillen and her family saved from demolition. The 407 Commercial building had a wall adjacent to the alley that was failing. Its proximity to night life in the immediate area, and its interconnection with Town Royal on the south, and an office building to the north, presented a complex engineering problem. If the building remained untouched it would continue to deteriorate and could injure people in the local area. If the building were demolished, it would undoubtedly harm both neighboring buildings and present an eyesore for the 400 Block, but who would take on the project to save the building and put it into productive use?
The building changed ownership several times, went through the condemnation process, and then the Guillen family stepped in. Little Place Tax Service had a location on 6th Avenue and they were looking to move downtown. They formed a plan, worked with the City, utilized Emporia Main Street loan products, took advantage of historic tax credits, and they converted a building on the brink of collapse to one of the most stunning building interiors in downtown Emporia. This Herculean effort generated beautiful and functional office spaces, while stabilizing a back wall and preserving several historic details.
Little Place Tax Service not only saved a building that some thought couldn’t be saved, but they made the building a business destination for needed services in our community. And, they still have plans for more enhancements in the future! The namesake of this award, Steve Hanschu, was known for his preservation mindset and work ethic. The Guillen family preserved a building through their hard work, and produced a stunning positive outcome that should inspire others. We are honored to recognize this year’s Steve Hanschu Excellence in Design Award to Little Place Tax Service.
The recipient of the J Warren Brinkman Award for Historic Preservation is the Lyon County History CenterThe National Main Street movement has its roots in the preservation world. We understand that downtown buildings, if constructed properly and maintained with longevity in mind, are great repositories for local memories. Proper preservation requires quality historic images, context, and information conduits to contextualize how our past impacts our present. 
The Lyon County History Center is a valued partner with preservation research, they serve as a host for some of our “Past-Meets-Present” art projects like the quilt block project, and they worked cooperatively with Emporia Main Street on the playing card project that focuses on significant elements of our local area (hopefully, we will see the second pack in the near future). 
History is being made every day within Lyon County, and the Lyon County History Center is a valuable asset in preserving our past, highlighting items that create pride in our present, and building a sustainable future. Please join me in congratulating this year’s J Warren Brinkman Award winner, the Lyon County History Center. 
 Election of Officers
Jeremy Johns was elected as President, Aaron Sewell as Vice President, Tracy Weltha as Secretary and Lane Massey as Treasurer for the Emporia Main Street 2022-2023 membership year.
Election of new Board Members
Emporia Main Street elected Dr. Caron Daugherty, President of Flint Hills Technical College, for the open Board of Directors position.
Thank you to those that could attend the Annual Meeting, and all of the Emporia Main Street investors and volunteer that make a difference in our region every day.

About the Author

Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator

Jessica Buchholz is the Community Development Coordinator for Emporia Main Street in Emporia, Kansas. She specializes in event planning, volunteer recruitment, alternative marketing, media/public relations and fundraising. During Jessica's tenure at Emporia Main Street, she has helped grow events to an international level and she has created a series of new activities to meet organizational goals.


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