It takes a lot of work, but during its annual meeting Thursday Leavenworth Main Street Program President Chris Tucker pointed to a number of examples of Main Street’s impact.
There were facts and figures, of course — like the six new businesses and net gain of 17 jobs in downtown over the past year or the events like the Second Saturdays or the Buffalo Bill Days Festival that brought visitors to downtown — but there was plenty of anecdotal evidence as well. The segments highlighting about 11 local restaurants on Kansas City Public Television’s “Check Please!,” in part because of Main Street’s underwriting of the program; the fact that High Noon Saloon is able to distribute its locally brewed beer both regionally and nationally because of low-interest loans provided by Main Street; or the fact that Cafe Chilingo was able to cover the costs of its Main Street membership, pay costs and make a profit by serving as a vendor at a Main Street event.
In the background of Tucker’s comments is the fact that the Kansas Department of Commerce eliminated the Kansas Main Street program this year, though local organizations are continuing.
“Now, I’m not saying Main Street is the reason that this happened, but I am saying that it certainly was more economically feasible because of this,” he said.
However, Tucker said those examples do give some indication of the scope of Main Street’s work.
And members and volunteers fuel those efforts. The organization gave out a number of awards over the course of the meeting at June’s Cottage Northland banquet hall, to business owners who improved or redeveloped their buildings and to groups or individuals who supported the organization’s promotional efforts. Tucker and Main Street Executive Director Wendy Scheidt, however, singled out one Main Street member for her work during September’s Buffalo Bill Days for the volunteer of the year award, which is voted on by Main Street’s board of directors — Susan Pierce.
“For those of you who may not know, she actually came on board with our board this year, and played a very significant role in the production of the Buffalo Bill Days Festival,” Tucker said. “In fact, she practically moved her office into the Main Street office and sacrificed a lot of hours of time for her personal business.”
Pierce said pitching in is the least she can do.
“Leavenworth is my hometown, I feel like I own a part of it,” she said. “I’ve lived in other places, but I wanted to volunteer when I came back here.”
Pierce was also among three recipients of awards of Tucker’s own making for her efforts on Buffalo Bill Days alongside Scheidt and her assistant Cindy McGuire. He said two years ago, Main Street revived the festival following interest from the community.
Page 2 of 2 - “For the last two years, a festival coordinator was sought out and hired,” he said. “However, in both cases, upon seeing the vast amount of work necessary, stepped down from their positions.”
Tucker said this year the organization was placed in the position of having already announced the festival and committed funds to it, only to be without a coordinator. He thanked Pierce, Scheidt and McGuire for stepping forward to fill that role.
“They decided to assume all the duties associated with handling the festival,” he said.