HEATHER MALARCIK: Main Street Kent looking forward to a busy year

IN PERSPECTIVE

By Heather Malarcik, executive director, Main Street Kent Published:

Did you ever notice the tagline underneath the Main Street Kent logo? "Everyone's Downtown" -- talk about a double meaning!

1. (Possessive) "Downtown Kent is for everyone" -- it sure is! Now more than ever, there is something for everyone in our downtown -- art galleries and studios, a farmers' market, dining options galore, kayaking, shops featuring local art, fair trade, gifts, clothing, toys, shoes, and gear of all sorts, children's theatre, yarn bombs, yoga and dance studios, live music indoors and out, year round events showcasing food, music and community …. which is why…

2. (Whereabouts) "Everyone is downtown." There was a time when our downtown didn't have much to offer beyond bars, restaurants, and a few shops. Now when you take a look around, you see families, college kids, dogs, townies, folks from neighboring communities, hippies, Kent State staff … and more times than not, people are smiling. They're smiling because they're happy to be here, and happy to be a part of what makes this place Kent.

A time for celebration

With so much to celebrate, Main Street Kent held its Annual Awards Dinner at the Pufferbelly Restaurant on March 5. It was a time to reflect on 2012 progress: The Adopt-A-Spot Flower Bed Program, Masterpieces on Main Art & Wine Festival, International Festival, Small Business Saturday, Downtown Holiday Lights, Chocolate Walk ... and take a peek into plans for 2013, repeating the successes of last year and tapping into some new areas of opportunity for the next.

Two amazing women were recognized for their contributions to Main Street Kent. The "Volunteer of the Year" award was given to Sue Whiting, a longtime board member who has devoted countless hours to various downtown cleanup initiatives. The "Ronald Burbick Award" was given to Michelle Sahr, the 2012 board president, for her exemplary leadership for a solid three-hundred and sixty-five days.

This amazing group of individuals, representing a coalition of organizations, agencies, businesses and individuals from the community has spent years leading the Main Street Kent organization, and each one of them deserves a round of applause:

Brian Bialik, 2013 Treasurer (Vice President, Hometown Bank)

Ron Burbick (Owner, The Burbick Companies)

Mike Finley (Owner, Hall-Green Agency)

Doug Fuller (Owner, Fuller Architectural Design Group)

Iris Harvey (Vice president, University Relations, Kent State University)

Tom Hatch (Executive director, Kent Historical Society)

Kevin Lewis (President, Portage Community Bank)

Larry Lohman, 2013 President (Owner, Lohman Consultants)

Tim Nightengale (Owner, Wild Earth Outfitters)

Pam Petrus (Owner, Diversa, Inc.)

Carolyn Raley, 2013 Secretary (Retired, Western Reserve Public Media) CIK:

Michelle Sahr (Owner, Off the Wagon)

Dan Smith (Economic Development director, City of Kent)

Nancy Whitehead, 2013 Vice President (Corporate Classified Director, Record Publishing)

Sue Whiting (Retired, Kent Regional Business Alliance)

David Wright (Vice president of construction, Metis Construction )

In addition to our board members, many other people give of their time, money and resources to fuel Main Street Kent in accomplishing its mission to revitalize the downtown area. Local companies and organizations sponsor our events, participate in activities, donate products, and give of their valuable time… all for the good of Kent. To see who all is on board with us, simply visit our website www.mainstreetkent.org/our-supporters.

Want to help?

If you'd like to become involved in Main Street Kent in any way, please contact us. We're always looking for creative, willing people to help with our efforts.

Main Street Kent is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Kent, and is an affiliate of the national Main Street program, and is a part of the Heritage Ohio program.

Heather Malarcik is executive director of Main Street Kent.

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