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The Difference Is in the Details

The following is the monthly column written by Alan Robinson, program director, Jefferson Matters: Main Street, that was published in the Jefferson Herald newspaper on June 26, 2014.

If someone were to ask me to sum up the Jefferson Matters: Main Street program in six words or less, I would quickly respond, “the difference is in the details.”

Our Main Street program is focused on a four-point approach: Organization, Design, Promotion and Business Improvement. Further, Main Street focuses on eight guiding principles: Incremental, Comprehensive, Quality, Partnerships, Changing Attitudes, Identifying/Focusing On Existing Assets, Self-Help, and Implementation.

Let’s look closely at that first guiding principle—Incremental. All new Main Street communities are encouraged by state and national Main Street leaders to “begin with basic, simple activities.” Then, as confidence grows, each Main Street community “is able to tackle increasingly complex problems and more ambitious projects. This incremental change leads to longer-lasting and dramatic positive change.”

I interpret incremental changes as those little details that clearly do make a difference. These details are now very visible in our downtown Main Street district:

*Hanging Flower Baskets: A collaboration between our Design Committee and the city of Jefferson came to fruition in mid-May when hanging flower baskets were placed on the new Victorian street lamps surrounding the square. When the city set out to enhance the streetscape with new lampposts, it had every intention of making them multi-purpose with interchangeable parts for flags, banners, hanging baskets, and speakers for a dynamic sound system for the downtown. Funding was limited, however, but the speakers were added. Flags are on display for the patriotic holidays of Memorial Day, Flag Day and July 4. But funds were scarce for banners and baskets. Working together, Jefferson Matters: Main Street and the city of Jefferson were able to secure the baskets, brackets and flowers, and additionally recruit volunteers to not only hang the baskets, but do a general clean-up of the downtown district on May 17.

*Historic Bronze Plaques: When the city of Jefferson approached our Design and Promotion Committees with a request to help move forward on a project to place historic plaques on the brick columns erected as part of the new streetscape, we responded to the call most affirmatively. Our committee members teamed up with the city’s committee, and with additional volunteers, we were able to move the project ahead. As of June 20, we have installed five of the historic plaques planned for the first phase of the project: Albert Head, Mahlon Head, Guy C. Richardson, Eva Leonard and Dr. George Gallup. Still to come are three more plaques featuring father and daughter doctors form early Jefferson, the Lincoln Highway, and the historic Scranton water tower.

*Mini-Grants for Façade Improvements: Another collaboration between the city and our Design Committee resulted in the creation of mini-grants of up to $250 for painting and other improvements to our downtown building facades. So far, KGRA radio station has been given a fresh coat of paint; Breadeaux Pizza has upgraded its façade with a new shade of blue to enhance its signage; and the front of Twiin’s ice cream shop has been repainted. Plans are in the works to put a new coat of paint on the plywood window covers on the upper level of the former Linda’s Fashions building at 111 East Lincoln Way.

*Sally’s Alley: The Tower View Team of JMMS had previously made improvements to 111 East Lincoln Way when it provided the paint to improve the window coverings on the east side of the building, which forms the west side of Sally’s Alley. The opposite side of the alley features the specially made, enlarged bird photography of the late Sally White of Churdan installed in the covered window spaces of the Lincoln Building. The alley is a tribute to the talents of a lifetime Greene Countian and the bounty of nature found in our own backyards. This two-year project of our Tower View Team culminated in a dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 7, that drew 200 people to the downtown square. Along with Sally White’s photography, the alley showcases the business acumen of Ogren Graphics of Jefferson, the firm entrusted with transferring the photos to enlarged, weather-resistant panels. It also demonstrates a wide-ranging level of cooperation among the owners of the both buildings that form the alley in addition to the support and collaboration of Class of 1965 of Jefferson High School, who raised funds to commission a bench for the alley; Greene County Master Gardeners, who provided the labor for all new plantings; Kathy Hankel, for her artistry in selecting the photos; city of Jefferson, for providing a lamppost and installation of new wrought iron fencing; Marc McGinn, for building the Little Tweets lending library; Industrial Technology class of Greene County High School, which designed and built the Little Tweets stands that feature local poetry; and all the wonderful volunteers who comprise the Tower View Team. Many, many little details went into making Sally’s Alley a wonderful asset to our downtown.

*Restaurant Table Tops: The Promotion Committee of JMMS has been working quietly for several months to create table tops for all our downtown food establishments. Each two-sided, cardboard table top features a photograph of an historic building on one side and the present use of that historic building on the other.

So, yes, the details are many. And these key incremental steps are leading us forward to more ambitious projects and to longer-lasting and dramatic positive change.

Volunteers are welcome to join us and be part of the exciting developments of the Main Street program in downtown Jefferson. If you would like more information, contact Alan Robinson, program director, Jefferson Matters: Main Street, at 515-386-3585 or director@jeffersonmatters.org.

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