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Thank you to our Members and Volunteers

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | October 5, 2017

Emporia Main Street celebrates the passing of each membership year with our Annual Meeting. The meeting highlights the accomplishments of the past year, sets goals for the following year and recognize the volunteers and businesses that stood out. We sincerely appreciate the contributions of our members and volunteers as we continue to build a more vibrant community. Below are some highlights from the meeting:

Advocate of the year:

We often joke with Becky Smith that her best attribute is: “you never have to wonder what she is thinking”. That genuinely honest attitude comes across as Becky communicates to a variety of individuals that shop her business. Becky created an internal “cool things you can do in Emporia” list that she hands out to the many out-of-town shoppers that visit her business, she highlights community activities at Twin Rivers events, she sits on two Main Street committees (Design and Promotion), she helps coordinate the Veterans Banner activities, and she still finds the time to tell the Executive Director of Main Street exactly what he’s doing wrong on a weekly basis… Becky is an invaluable resource to the entire region that people look to for information on a variety of topics, and her advocacy for the Main Street organization, Main Street ideals and other Main Street businesses have helped contribute to this wonderful community. It’s rare in the world of advocacy that the advocate is also such an active participant in engaging others cooperatively to make changes, but Becky Smith is that and more. The 2017 Advocate of the Year- Becky Smith.

Volunteer of the year:

Scott Oliver provides the Main Street office with critical human resources for a variety of our events and initiatives. Many of you have probably received a phone call from Scott, or a mailer that he put together for the office. As a Main Street staff of two, with some wonderful interns filling in, we have very limited time for some communication activities that are vital to event and organizational success. Scott balances his job as a very talented piano tuner, family time, and community participation with critical volunteer work. We’ve seen the positive results of Scott’s assistance, and staff is constantly talking about new ways to get Scott involved. We are so very thankful to have Scott as an Emporia Main Street volunteer, and it’s always a little surreal when Scott thanks us for the opportunity to help. ALL OF US can do something to help our community prosper, and the world would be a better place with more willing volunteers focused on how they could help others, like Scott Oliver. Your 2017 volunteer of the year- Scott Oliver!

Business of the year:

One of the questions we ask ourselves when discussing potential “Business of the Year” is- are they a destination? Do-B’s participated in the Destination Boot Camp in Longmont, Colorado with other Main Street member businesses, and the improvements they have made since “graduating” have been phenomenal. Specialty menu items that fit specific dietary restrictions pull people into Emporia from a geographic region WELL beyond our traditional trade area. They service an area of the community that was in need of a signature business that could consistently pull traffic. They work collaboratively with other unique food vendors in an Eat, Drink and Be Local group to support food events and philanthropic food endeavors. Anyone that has ventured into Do-B’s on a consistent basis over the past couple of years has seen a dramatic transformation in aesthetics, but you can’t update your look without great food and, friendly service. We are happy to recognize the 2017 Emporia Main Street Business of the Year, Do-B’s!

J. Warren Brinkman Award:

Preservation starts at home. In the case of the Krestinger family, that is a literal statement. When we look at the Southern edge of Commercial Street, we see an area that promotes some of our most sacred areas and cultural traditions, while supporting some historic homes that have been a part of our community almost since our formation. For those that live with their history through living IN history, they can see the difference in craftsmanship, detail and character- but they know the history, the lives, the stories and the community slivers of time that are captured for others to enjoy through their work. Emporia Main Street has an on-line historic photo album, and everyone that flips through can recognize the “Soden” area. Families rarely work across generations in rural America to preserve their history, so we treasure those that go above and beyond to share theirs. This year’s J. Warren Brinkman Award winners- John and Claudia Kretsinger.

Steve Hanschu Award:

People with successful business enterprises have the ability to invest their earnings however they choose. Rex and Debbie Williams, and by extension, their entire family, have decided to purchase and rehabilitate several downtown buildings. Some building purchases have resulted in a phenomenal home for destination businesses. Some purchases have “flipped” into new opportunities for other downtown advocates, and some are still in development. All have seen dramatic and positive changes. It is one thing to own a building, but it is something else to make the investments necessary to improve a building’s value. While many rural communities see business people that make their money in a community, followed by a move to an affluent neighboring city, the Williams family is leading a local reinvestment model by example. Their investments are making a difference for buildings throughout the downtown. I considered Steve Hanschu a mentor, and I think he would be excited to see some of the things the Williams family have achieved. Please help us recognize this year’s Steve Hanschu Excellence in Design Award recipient- Rex and Debbie Williams.

Election of Officers:

The following officers were elected at the Emporia Main Street annual meeting: Kevin Nelson as President, Cassie Crotts as Vice President, Julie Johnson as Secretary and Mark McAnarney as Treasurer for the Emporia Main Street 2017-2018 membership year.

New Board Members:

Lisa Kirmer of Flint Hills Technical College and Mark Runge of Emporia State University were elected to the Emporia Main Street board of directors.

Emporia Main Street honored Justin Mallon as an outgoing board member and Julie Johnson as our outgoing board president.

Thank you to everyone that attended the Annual Meeting. Your continued support of the Emporia Main Street program is appreciated.

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.