WARRENSBURG — Warrensburg Main Street handed out awards to community members and businesses for their accomplishments throughout 2019 and celebrated the organization's 25th anniversary at its annual Evening of Excellence event on Thursday, Jan. 9, at Heroes Restaurant & Pub.
Executive Director Jill Purvis said that in 2019, 10 new businesses opened in downtown Warrensburg.
She also said more than $780,000 was applied to downtown private building improvements and more than 2,550 volunteer hours were logged with the organization.
Additionally, Warrensburg Main Street scheduled more than 20 community events in 2019 and has more than 30 planned for 2020.
At the end of the event, Purvis announced the winners of the four award categories.
The Business of the Year award nominees included RISE Crafts & Curiosities, Green Truck Bakery and Awesome Blossoms.
Green Truck Bakery won the award, with owners Carmen and Carl Schick in attendance to accept it.
"Green Truck opened in our downtown just a very short time ago after being a long-time vendor at our farmer's market," Purvis said. "They did a complete remodel of their building prior to opening. They have already increased their open hours in our downtown to accommodate a large demand from the community. Carmen and Carl are always big supporters of Warrensburg Main Street and participate in almost all of our events."
The Schicks said they felt "surprised, happy and proud" upon receiving the award.
"We were one of many good businesses and it was good to win, but I didn't expect to win," Carl Schick said. "It's incredible how much support there's been from our community and just having this recognition is really nice. It felt good and it made me feel appreciative of how our community has been treating us."
Carmen Schick also said it was a team effort to get their business to where it is today.
"Our efforts to bring quality products to our community involves a lot of people," Carmen Schick said. "Ryan Schick, our head baker, and his wife, Lara, Cricket, Brandon, Drake and Georgia; it takes that team to make all of this work."
The Volunteer of the Year award nominees included Jill McNaughton, Cindy Holmberg and Gina Carlyle.
Carlyle received the award for her work as a Warrensburg Main Street Board of Directors member.
"Gina has been a part of Warrensburg Main Street for many years," Purvis said. "She has had many roles including member of the board, promotions committee and orientation committee. She was also the chair of our Piccadilly Luau in spring 2019 that raised over $25,000 for our organization."
While Carlyle said she does not seek recognition for the work she has done with the organization, she said she was "surprised" as well as "embarrassed" upon receiving the award.
"I think it's really important that people support their local businesses instead of big businesses, so it's important that the downtown is thriving," Carlyle said.
The Heart of Downtown award nominees included Teena Simon, Colleen Hurd and Jason Elkins.
Simon received the award for "going above and beyond in helping downtown."
Purvis said Simon has served on the Main Street board, design committee, and is a current member of the advisory board.
Purvis said Simon also created the Farm to Table Dinner event and often asks how she can help and makes suggestions on how to make Warrensburg Main Street a better organization.
"I love everything they do," Simon said. "I love that they support small businesses. I love that they support the town and give the town things to do and be proud of. I love all the events, obviously, since I keep bringing more in. I don't think you have to leave town to find something to do with your family or friends. There's always something going on in Warrensburg."
The Community Partner of the Year award was a new category for the 2020 event and the nominees included University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg School District and Johnson County Economic Development.
The award was given to UCM, with Associate Vice President for University Advancement Molly Teichman in attendance to accept the award.
Purvis said that throughout the fall 2019 semester, the organization worked with three different classes at UCM.
One class created an event that Warrensburg Main Street will host in spring 2020, another class helped reorganize the downtown office to function on a higher level and another collected donations of more than $4,000 for the organization.
"More than anything, [I felt] an attitude of gratitude back to the organization itself because while we are happy to be partners and pleased to be a part of the work that's done downtown, we are very grateful for the opportunity for our students to be able to work in the organization, to learn what the community aspects are from the organization and to further their understanding and real world experience," Teichman said.
The award nominees were decided upon by the Warrensburg Main Street board and staff who picked people and organizations that helped them through 2019 during events or on their committees.
The board then voted on the nominees they selected to decide the winners.
"We look at which businesses have gone above and beyond," Purvis said. "Maybe they're bringing something unique to our downtown, sometimes they might be very active in our organization and sometimes they're really active in our events as well."
The Evening of Excellence event originally started as a partnership fundraising event, but over the years morphed into a partnership and volunteer recognition event.
During the event, Purvis recognized the Warrensburg Main Street 2020 Board of Directors, 2020 Ex-officio's, 2020 Advisory Board and 2020 business partners.
Purvis also took a moment to thank the previous board members and directors for their work in helping form the organization.
"Main Street has really come a long way in the past 25 years," Purvis said. "More building remodels and more unique businesses. The city did a huge streetscape project prior to when I got here, but it really changed the look of our downtown and it really set things in motion to start revitalizing the downtown."
Purvis went on to speak about the beginning of Warrensburg Main Street, which involved previous City Manager Jeff Hancock encouraging Nancy Kenepp to pursue the idea of having an organization centered around the promotion and improvement of downtown Warrensburg.
Kenepp went to the National Historic Preservation Office in Washington D.C. to help found Warrensburg Main Street and become the organization's first executive director.
"That is how the ball started rolling," Purvis said. "We thank Jeff Hancock for placing that bug in her ear and Nancy for being that pioneer to get those other downtown business owners working together to form this organization."
The 2020 Board of Directors President Katie Scully also spoke to attendees about the evolution of the organization since its creation 25 years ago.
"If it weren't for all of you people here, we wouldn't be here, our downtown would not look like it does and we would still be struggling to pay our bills," Scully said. "25 years ago when we started, our main focus, unfortunately, was figuring out how were going to pay our director."
2020 Board of Directors member Jason Elkins also spoke to the crowd, encouraging attendees to donate to the organization or even start their own business downtown, stating that "for every dollar you spend, we can multiply it by seven or eight and give it straight back to the community to improve the downtown."
"I believe in it so much that I donate my time and money to our Main Street," Elkins said.
Elkins went on to say that he thinks the organization still has room to grow even more.