Excellence on Main Award

Port Townsend 30th Anniversary

Awardee: Mari Mullen and Amy Smith Howard

Award: Outstanding Special Project

Year: 2016

City: Port Townsend

The Port Townsend Main Street Program was founded in 1985 as one of the first five pilot Main Street programs in Washington State. With thirty years and countless economic, design, and promotional successes under their belt, the Main Street Program board rolled out multiple projects and celebrations in 2015.

From a declaration from city council proclaiming August 30th “Main Street Day” to gathering hundreds of citizens in front of an historic building downtown to take a “family portrait”, it was a very visible and memorable year for the program.

In 2015, the Main Street Program coordinated 26 successful events, sold out their Insiders’ Building Tours, launched a “Look Here First” campaign, attracted new sponsors, collaborated with many partners, and accomplished many other organizational goals.

The board of directors and other volunteers stepped up tremendously to put the spotlight on the program in 2015. Thirty volunteers came together to host “Celebrate Main Street”, a cornerstone anniversary event that included the Family Portrait Town Photo and an “al fresco” picnic dinner on Taylor Street. The photo included 752 people, seven dogs, and a seagull. The dinner was attended by over 200 guests, some of whom had been involved with the program since its inception, and others – such as PTMSP’s first Executive Director, David Kahley – who made a special trip back to Port Townsend to celebrate the program’s anniversary.

For a program with a thirty year track record of significant contributions to the community, the Port Townsend Main Street Program’s year of impact and celebration set the bar high for creativity and volunteer commitment. Congratulations and cheers to the next thirty years!

Excellence on Main Award

Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance

Awardee: Alliance Board President Pat Schmidt and Executive Director Mary DesMarais

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2017

City: Gig Harbor

The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance was formed in 2008 after three forward-thinking citizens attended the National Main Street Conference in Seattle the previous year. They adopted the Main Street Approach, formed a nonprofit, and achieved state designation as a Washington Main Street Community in 2011 and National Accreditation by 2012.

Today, the Alliance is a well-oiled machine, boasting four strong and active committees overseen by an engaged board of directors and a highly capable staff of three: Mary DesMarais, Josh Sherwin and Heidi Gerling.

Volunteerism and passion define the people that together make up the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance. In 2016 alone, the Alliance logged nearly 4,000 volunteer hours.

The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance is a leading example of Main Street principles at work: local people working together to make change. The Alliance’s impact on Gig Harbor cannot be overstated.

As one downtown shop manager put it, “The Downtown Waterfront Alliance works hard to bring our waterfront district together. They help us make the most out of ourselves and our neighboring merchants.”

Excellence on Main Award

Greg Hafner

Award: Excellence on Main Award

Year: 2017

City: Kent

The Excellence on Main Award, the highest honor presented to one community, organization, or person each year, recognizes outstanding projects and people that reflect an attitude of perseverance and dedication to community revitalization in Washington.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of talking with Barb Smith about her passion for her community knows that downtown Kent has an abundance of outstanding people. And tonight we are honored to be recognizing someone she describes as the board member that all executive directors dream about.

Greg Hafner is an avid volunteer who has made a long-term, community-minded commitment to his downtown. He has been a steady, positive force in downtown Kent’s revitalization efforts for more than a decade, serving in key roles such as legal counsel and board member.

As board president in 2016, Greg made it his mission to learn more about staff responsibilities and to better understand the scope and nuances of the organization. By doing so, Greg became even more of an advocate for the program and its staff, taking on more projects and encouraging other board members to do the same to help relieve the workload on the staff of two.

As Barb puts it, Greg inspires, empowers, and accomplishes a great deal without expecting recognition. He not only plans the event or design project but is the first one there to set-up and the last one there tearing-down.

Whether it’s help with a city permitting process or a recommendation for a good locksmith, Greg is consistently sharing information and offering his assistance to small business owners. When Greg learns about issues facing downtown, such as a historic property that has potential to be preserved and fully utilized, or the noise pollution from the trains that run through downtown Kent several times a day, Greg immediately seeks solutions, putting together working committees or advocating to the city for necessary changes. He is known for his positive attitude and follow-through, which serves the Kent Downtown Partnership extremely well as he acts as one of their strongest spokespeople.

We all know that downtown revitalization does not happen overnight, but rather takes long-term commitment, passion, and innovation – all of which Greg Hafner has in spades.

Excellence on Main Award

Wenatchee Downtown Association

Awardee: Steph Grubich and Linda Haglund

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2016

City: Wenatchee

The Wenatchee Downtown Association has fully embraced an important principle of any successful downtown revitalization strategy: partnerships!

One such partnership is with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, the two organizations established a joint membership program and a scholarship program that allows a new business to become a member of both organizations at no cost their first year in business. New businesses also have opportunities to be connected with an experienced business owner through the joint mentorship program. By working together, rather than competing, the WDA and Chamber are offering important services to local entrepreneurs.

Downtown Wenatchee is now a brighter place thanks to a partnership forged between the WDA and the City of Wenatchee to update downtown’s aging street lights. The WDA and the City joined forces to purchase 114 new LED lights for downtown, which has created a warmer, safer, and more appealing commercial district.

Community partnerships have resulted in several other successes for WDA in recent years. By connecting with a local elementary school, the WDA engaged students in an art competition, asking them to draw images depicting their favorite things about downtown Wenatchee.  Sixteen of these images were turned into beloved new “Why I Love Downtown” banners now hanging prominently along Wenatchee Avenue.

The business community’s support of WDA is clearly evidenced by the high turnout and contagious enthusiasm found at their Annual Dinner. WDA’s annual celebration includes the awarding of “Downtown’s Best”, which recognizing locally-owned businesses. The awards are highly valued by the business owners, in part because the community at large is invited to cast their vote.

Executive Director Linda Haglund puts it best, as only she can: “We are the heart of this community…I dare you to come downtown and not feel that.”

Excellence on Main Award

Camas & Journey

Awardee: Ellen Scott of Journey Community Church, and Caroline Mercury, Dawn White, and Carrie Schulstad of Downtown Camas Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2016

City: Camas

When the Downtown Camas Association learned in 2009 that a key property was to be converted to a church, they were, at first, apprehensive. Journey Community Church’s location in downtown Camas is a marked exception to the logic that churches don’t belong downtown, due in large part to the incredible partnership Journey and the DCA have forged over the last six years.

The building Journey purchased was once the JC Penney department store. The building had fallen into disrepair and required a great deal of investment by the time Journey hired a local architect to bring the building back to life. Valuing the history of the building, great efforts were made to preserve the original brick and wooden beams, and repurpose other historic materials. The multimillion dollar renovation was completed in late 2009 with a great deal of volunteer labor from congregation members invested in the new space.

DCA’s partnership with Journey makes year-round, free community events feasible in downtown Camas by providing a large venue during poor weather, volunteers to help run promotions, and activities for children. Events like Girls’ Night Out, Camas Car Show, Plant & Garden Fair, and even DCA’s Annual Awards Dinner rely on the unique community space. At the annual Spring Clean-Up and Planting Day, Journey provides not only lunch for 50-75 volunteers, but also recruits congregation members and their children to serve their community.

In addition to events, Journey has impacted commerce and activity downtown. Using their public art fee required with all downtown improvements at their level, Journey worked with DCA to provide 8 locally made artful bike racks through downtown. When the church purchased the building next door, which had two vacant storefronts, they turned down multiple applicants as they waited for tenants that would add to a vibrant business mix downtown, knowing that DCA’s recruitment goals focused on restaurants and retail. Today, these storefronts house two successful businesses – a bakery and a dance studio – that bring people downtown at all hours of the day.

Excellence on Main Award

Mari Mullen

Award: Leadership on Main

City: Port Townsend

In 2018, Mari Mullen celebrated her 20th year as Executive Director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program. With two decades of experience, Mari is the longest-standing Executive Director of a Main Street Community in Washington’s history. However, her claims to fame include much more than longevity alone.

As the director of a Main Street program, Mari is responsible for all aspects of the organization, from managing programs, volunteers, promotions and engagement, to serving as an advocate for the historic districts and downtown business community. Along with support from her board of directors, volunteers, and program coordinator Dawn Pierson, Mari has led the organization with abounding energy and determination over the last 20 years.

PTMSP is known statewide as a leader in successful promotions and business support programs. Among these are Merchant Coffee Talks, the creation or resuscitation of numerous special events such as Concerts on the Dock and the Uptown Street Fair, loan programs to support business and property owners, and disaster preparedness plans for buildings.

Mari is a tireless advocate for the historic business districts. The Port Townsend Main Street board credits Mari’s patient, positive, and never yielding leadership for the organization’s strong partnerships and standing in the community.

One example is currently visible on Water Street. With another major street project looming, the City approached PTMSP to help them proactively mitigate construction impacts. PTMSP stepped up to manage a widespread communication plan, including volunteer management and promotional initiatives to benefit the business district during construction.

Mari is known across the state for her Main Street know-how, dedication to preservation, and for the business leaders and successful promotions she has patiently cultivated over the years. Above all, we know Mari for her solutions-oriented attitude and her willingness to mentor others, traits that benefit all of us who know her.

Excellence on Main Award

Partnership for Historic Chelan

Awardee: Linda Van Lunsen, Erin Peterson, and Erin McCardle from the Historic Downtown Chelan Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2018

City: Chelan

Recognizing their shared goals around Chelan’s heritage and historic treasures, the Historic Downtown Chelan Association and the Lake Chelan Historical Society forged a partnership in 2016.

First, the two organizations worked together to institute Chelan’s first historic plaque program. In its initial stages, the Downtown Association’s Design Committee selected four historically significant downtown structures, all of which are over 100 years old and have maintained their historic integrity: Campbell’s Resort, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, Woodin Avenue Bridge, and Ruby Theatre. The Historical Society Manager, Ron McGaughey, served as an advisor on the program and coordinated Society volunteers to find historic photographs of the properties. The two organizations jointly designed and presented the plaques at a media-covered event in 2017.

The historic wrap program draws attention to historic aspects of the town by covering a modern necessity with historic images. The project, another collaboration between the two organizations, is located at a key intersection downtown. Images were selected for their historic significance, cultural relevance, and reflection of life in downtown Chelan during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Each side of the wrap takes a different look at Chelan’s history, with themes including wood-framed buildings, legacy businesses, homesteaders, and life in a frontier town.

The Downtown Association and the Historical Society plan to continue both the historic plaque and wrap programs in the future, and have also begun developing a walking tour to provide additional opportunities for the public to learn about Chelan’s history and built environment.

This partnership has elevated the preservation ethic in Chelan through community pride and education, and has resulted in increased interest among downtown building owners. These projects illustrate the importance of partners coalescing around shared goals.

Excellence on Main Award

Langley Partnerships

Awardee: Langley Main Street Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2015

City: Langley

The Langley Main Street Association (LMSA) and the City of Langley have worked together on a variety of projects, often gaining support from other community partners as well as the strong volunteer base in the Langley community. Such projects that came to fruition in 2014 include the Langley Whale Center, a downtown banner project, and a complete overhaul of Second Street that included bump out garden beds with an accompanying electric watering cart.

The Langley Whale Center began as a vacant and overgrown historic building downtown until LMSA and the City teamed with the Orca Network, the Port of South Whidbey, Mystic Sea Charters, and over twenty volunteers to create a whale information center with a strong tourism draw of over 6,000 visitors its first year. The center also provides office space to LMSA and has improved perception on economic development in Langley.

Economic vitality in Langley was also enhanced in 2014 by way of the banner project implemented through the LMSA Promotion Committee, the Langley Chamber, the City of Langley, and many non-profit and for-profit community organizations. The project oversaw the installation of 12 banner poles throughout town, and organizations provide promotional banners for events. The community attributes combined sales tax and hotel/motel tax revenue increases of over $30,000 in large part to the banner project.

Expanding on a previous edible garden project between the City and LMSA, the curb bump out gardens completed the Second Street renovation and spared the City $9,000 in potential landscaping costs through the use of volunteers and wholesale plants. An electric cart used to take visitors around town now also pulls a water tank to make upkeep manageable and sustainable.

Excellence on Main Award

Ellensburg Downtown Association

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2015

City: Ellensburg

The Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA) is a grassroots local non-profit working to preserve and revitalize Ellensburg’s historic downtown core. The EDA formed in 2004 and is a nationally accredited Main Street program. While they have been a Main Street program since 2004, the list of accomplishments over the past several years is truly impressive. Staff has increased from one to three employees, and the organization’s budget has more than doubled.

The EDA’s partnerships within the community have contributed to the rehabilitation of four historic buildings and the construction of two new buildings, including apartments. Partnering with the Rotary led to the creation of the Elmira Downtown Event Center. The venue includes two storefronts: one features a serving area/bar, restrooms, and a commercial kitchen while the other features 2,000 square feet of usable space with a sound system, projector, screen, stage, and sound booth.

The most dramatic project downtown has been the overhaul of the historic Geddis Building, an iconic building in the core of downtown. Working strategically with the “Downtowners” – a collaborative community group, which included representatives from the EDA, the Ellensburg Business Development Authority (EBDA and the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce – the City of Ellensburg was able to purchase the building. Now, the building is almost fully leased, and the upstairs apartments are full. In fact, there are only four retail spaces currently available downtown.

The holidays are brighter downtown thanks to the addition of 180 lighted snowflakes on light poles throughout the district, and this year the EDA is completing roofline lighting. During the nicer months, residents and visitors enjoy beautiful new planters, trash receptacles, and benches designed and manufactured right in Ellensburg. Events have continued to grow and now include Buskers in the Burg, a fantastic celebration of busking throughout downtown; Hoedown in the Downtown in partnership with the Rodeo; and Fashion Night Out, featuring clothing and jewelry from downtown retailers. Hometown Holidays expanded to cover the entire month of December, and Girls Night Out is flourishing, bringing in over $50,000 in revenue for downtown merchants this year.

“Under the leadership of Executive Director Carolyn Honeycutt and a fantastic board of directors, the EDA has grown tremendously,” said Sarah Hansen, former Washington State Main Street Coordinator. “The impact of this Main Street organization on downtown Ellensburg cannot be overstated, and we continue to be blown away by their innovation, passion, and record of success.”

Excellence on Main Award

John Baule

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2020

City: Yakima

For over a decade John Baule has worn so many hats and taken care of so many tasks, that he has become a beloved public face of downtown Yakima. If you aren’t a Downtown Association insider you may not know he hosts their annual Christmas party in his home every year (for which he prepares many delectable dishes), but you would certainly recognize him as the “Wrist Band Man” keeping the entrance to the Downtown Summer Nights concerts running smoothly.

Even before the Downtown Association of Yakima was formed, John was treasurer for a preceding downtown effort from its first day to its last. Once DAY was founded, John continued to serve as treasurer… and bookkeeper, payroll manager, budget planner, tax expert, and more! He quietly takes all this on himself, reliably putting in volunteer time every week.

In addition to his board leadership, John is active in DAY’s Organization Committee and as a consummate event volunteer. Aside from the gate at Downtown Summer Nights, you’ll see John doing double shifts selling scrip at festivals, checking IDs during Sip & Stroll, answering questions at the farmer’s market information booth, and is often seen hauling tents or weights at  – as DAY executive director Andrew Holt puts it – the tender age of 71. He is also a major player in DAY’s flower program, working diligently with staff in the selection and purchase of flowers, volunteering on planting day, and acting as the City liaison on the program.

John makes serving as an ambassador of DAY to city, public, and other stakeholders look easy, partly because he brings his credibility and knowledge of Yakima history from over 25 years he spent as executive director of the Yakima Valley Museum. Having John’s leadership on the DAY Board and Organization Committee is second only to having his corny humor and overriding sense of good will to brighten them.

By taking the lead in so many aspects of Downtown Association of Yakima’s work and giving so generously of his own expertise, John does what all good leaders do – he enables the rest of the DAY team to do more work more effectively in its mission to strengthen downtown.

Excellence on Main Award

Waterfront Farmers Market

Awardee: City of Gig Harbor, Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance, and numerous volunteers!

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2020

City: Gig Harbor

In 2015 a partnership was struck between the City of Gig Harbor and the Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance to create a Waterfront Farmers Market. It had a meaningful but modest goal to connect people to fresh produce, but within the last five years has developed into a hub for everyone from farmers and entrepreneurs to nonprofits and musicians. One of the market’s greatest accomplishments is also its greatest asset – 250 volunteers who make the market a reality on Thursdays throughout the summer.

For five seasons running, the Waterfront Farmers Market has had a dedicated Market Manager, Heidi Gerling, responsible for the development of that strong volunteer network which has proven key to its success. Held in Skansie Brothers Park right along the water, the park provides a beautiful space for market-goers – but not an easy spot for farmers and vendors to unload. Cue the volunteers!

Vendors are greeted curbside every week by a group of volunteers, ready to help unload the vendor’s goods and displays and ensure each vendor has all the set-up assistance they require. When unloading is complete, the vendor drives their car to an off-site parking location where a volunteer-run shuttle service meets them to return them to the market site. The reverse service is provided at the end of the market. The partnership is a win-win – vendors love having the help, and the volunteer group of the week gets a booth to showcase their community involvement. In 2019, this included the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor, Harbor History Museum, Millville Pizza, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club, Gig Harbor Mid-Day Rotary, and the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team — to name a few.

Thanks to the positive partnerships between the Alliance, the City, Pierce Transit’s Summer Trolley, farmers, vendors, and volunteers, the Waterfront Farmers Market has grown into a vibrant weekly event with live entertainment, children’s activities, cooking demos, local history and more.

These partnerships have proven indispensable as the Alliance staff, volunteers, and vendors have made necessary accommodations to open the market amidst public health concerns this summer. The market continues to prove its value as an essential economic driver and community space in Gig Harbor.

Excellence on Main Award

Colville Together

Award: Organizational Excellence

Year: 2020

City: Colville

Newly designated a Washington Main Street Community just this year, Colville Together has emerged as a standard of quality and cooperation.

At the encouragement of the City Planner, a Main Street team began coming together in 2014. This effort was spearheaded by a steering committee of community volunteers, the Chamber of Commerce, Tri County Economic Development District, and the City of Colville. They were focused on learning more about the Main Street Approach and eventually joining Washington Main Street. As the committee gained momentum, funding became a hot topic. The group knew they wanted to hire an executive director, but the ability to hire staff felt like a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum.

The answer came in the form of formalizing the partnership as an independent but unified nonprofit now known as Colville Together, which then was able to apply for Lodging Tax dollars and other funding. In 2018, Colville Together hired Rosemary Shaw as its first executive director.

Momentum has truly been building in Colville, with much credit to the strong alliance that came together to form – and continues to support – its Main Street organization. As Rosemary puts it, “Working together makes any goal achievable!”

Excellence on Main Award

Northwest Maritime Center

Award: Sustainable Future

Year: 2020

City: Port Townsend

Operating out of the first LEED Gold building on the Olympic Peninsula, the Northwest Maritime Center views environmental stewardship as integral to its mission as a nonprofit organization that awakens a sense of wonder, connection to, and understanding of the Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest. From their buildings and interaction with the ecosystem to their programming and practices, Northwest Maritime Center walks the talk.

LEED designation in and of itself denotes a commitment to our shared sustainable future. The Northwest Maritime Center campus,

located at the intersection of downtown Port Townsend and Point Hudson, was designed to minimize impact on the environment, reduce energy and water use, lower operating costs, and make the most efficient use of materials and resources. The campus includes solar panels, a super-efficient water pump system, and electric car charging stations. The Center’s dock – which is often used by historic vessels, recreators, and students – was part of a coastal restoration initiative to protect the Port Townsend bay ecosystem.

The Center hosts an extraordinary number of programs, events, and educational opportunities each year, including Marine Thrift, which takes usable boat parts out of the waste stream; the renowned Wooden Board Festival; and hands-on environmental education opportunities known as the Salish Sea Expeditions Program – just to name a few. Northwesterners of all ages benefit from the Center’s programming that connects us to our maritime heritage and a strong sense of place.

The local community is also buoyed by having Northwest Maritime Center as a neighbor. In addition to the beautiful event facility, educational offerings, and waterfront access, the Center is also leading a community-wide charge to adopt sustainable approaches to operating venues and events. They look at all aspects of their business practice – down to the use of plastic cups and other single-use products – and continually strive break down barriers and find creative solutions. Their example and their willingness to mentor others benefit and inspire fellow organizations, the city, and residents to do the same.

Excellence on Main Award

Barb Smith

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2019

City: Kent

A leader is someone who inspires others, who lifts others up and provides them with the direction, resources, and freedom to accomplish their goals and be part of the team. For these reasons, and many more, we are pleased to recognize Barb Smith with our 2019 Leadership on Main Award.

Barb was hired as the Executive Director of the Kent Downtown Partnership in May of 2009 and will be celebrating a successful ten years and a well-deserved retirement later this summer. Under her leadership, KDP has improved the appearance of downtown, created and honed its promotions, developed a solid fundraising strategy, and successfully recruited small businesses to the district.

While none of this is insignificant, if you ask me, Barb’s greatest legacy in Kent is the team that she has developed, led, and inspired over the years. She has become a student of the Main Street Approach and worked to educate the KDP board and volunteers about its merits. While she is integrally involved in all of KDP’s committees, she has mastered the art of leading volunteers by empowering them to be creative, productive, and focused on what inspires each of them to serve.

Barb has emphasized partnerships in everything she has done for KDP – the great relationships the program has with the city, downtown business and property owners, volunteers, and donors can all be credited to Barb’s relationship-oriented approach to community revitalization.

Barb loves to celebrate her people and their successes. She is quick to acknowledge the hard work of others and slow to take any credit for herself. It is this type of leadership that leaves a true legacy. KDP is an organization with many leaders, not just one – and each of them has risen to the occasion because they have been inspired by Barb.

As long-time volunteer Greg Haffner puts it, “Barb has organized us, inspired us, motivated us and kept us focused on improving Downtown Kent and preserving the history there. The pride within the organization reflects Barb’s leadership and is visible downtown.”

Excellence on Main Award

Downtown Planter Partnership

Awardee: Ellensburg Downtown Association & Elmview

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2019

City: Ellensburg

The plants in downtown Ellensburg were dying. The 65 planter boxes, planted annually and maintained by the Ellensburg Downtown Association and the City of Ellensburg, weren’t looking so hot… or rather, were looking overly hot, amidst 100-degree summer days in Central Washington. The City was no longer able to water the planters at the frequency needed due to staffing and budget limitations. And the community was taking notice.

Realizing an additional partner would be the only solution to the issue, the EDA’s Design Committee approached Elmview, a local non-profit that connects adults with disabilities to job opportunities. With interest, mission alignment, and both parties at the table to work out the details, the EDA and Elmview determined the type of equipment and the watering schedule necessary to adequately maintain the planters.

With support from the City, a watering truck was purchased, and the EDA was able to enter into a contract with Elmview that created paid positions for the daily watering shifts. Elmview’s involvement made an immediate impact downtown, with the planters well cared for and vibrant throughout the season. The partnership between the City, the EDA, and Elmview is slated to continue in 2019 and beyond due to the success of the program for all parties.

While the healthy planters are the obvious outcome, the impact of this partnership runs much deeper. Not only did the partnership allow the City and the EDA to solve a recurring problem, but it also allowed Elmview to create more meaningful, community-centered jobs for their clients. This is the power of Main Street partnerships – coming together over complimentary goals and finding that quality of life is something that grows exponentially when nurtured.