Main Street to dissolve; top activities to remain

By Brian Sanders

When 2014 is gone, Holton Main Street will also be gone — but not forgotten.

That’s the word from Lynne Mulroy, Holton Main Street presi­dent, who said that some activities on Holton’s Town Square that are associated with Main Street, such as Jazz on the Square and holiday window painting, may likely con­tinue under the auspices of the Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

Holton Main Street also wants to do one last thing for the Square using remaining funds before it dis­solves at the end of this year, Mul­roy said, with one possible project involving replacing the railroad ties at the southwest corner of the Square with a more attractive-looking rock wall. She and other members of Main Street’s board of directors plan to meet with the Jackson County Commission in the near future to discuss such a pro­ject.

In the meantime, several Main Street-related events will continue through the end of this year, in­cluding this Friday’s “Cruise Night” event on the Square, as well as Jazz on the Square and the holi­day window painting. Main Street’s board of directors will meet later in August to determine which items on a list of activities put together for 2014 while Bob Carlson was still the group’s executive director will continue.

Even though it’s likely that many Main Street-related activites will go on once the Holton program has dissolved, Mulroy said there is still some “bittersweetness” about hav­ing to witness that dissolution after only six years of Main Street’s ex­istence in Holton.

“It makes me sick,” she said.

The program was first introduced to Holton in late 2007 when former Holton City Manager Glenn Rod­den, who had been involved with Seneca’s Main Street program asked representatives from the Kansas Department of Commerce, which at that time oversaw Main Street at the state level, to visit Holton. In January of 2008, Carl­son, who was then executive di­rector of Marysville’s Main Street program, also encouraged Holton to take a closer look at the program.

Carlson came on as Holton Main Street’s director in early 2011, and the Department of Commerce dropped the state program in Sep­tember 2012, but Carlson and other individual Main Street directors banded together the next May in Holton, where the state program was relaunched independently.

Carlson’s retirement as Holton Main Street’s director earlier this year had “thrown us for a loop,” Mulroy said, and no plans were an­nounced for a replacement. In June, the Main Street board agreed to continue on through the end of this year, but no formal announcement was made at that time that the progrram was being dropped.

But the general mood in recent weeks, Mulroy noted, is that Main Street’s days are numbered, and she confirmed in recent days that when 2014 ends, so will Holton’s pro­gram. Some of the program’s re­lated activites, such as Jazz on the Square, will be transferred to the Chamber’s control for 2015 and beyond, she said, while the future of other, smaller activities is un­certain.

Funds raised at this year’s Jazz on the Square event, set for Satur­day, Sept. 13, will be transferred to the Chamber with the intent of having those funds earmarked for future Jazz on the Square events, Mulroy said. The same will go for other Main Street events that are “money-makers,” she added.

However, she said Main Street would like to keep some of its money to put toward “something really nice downtown,” such as re­moving the railroad-tie retaining wall on the southwest corner of the Jackson County Courtyard and re­placing it with something more ap­pealing to the eye.

“What we had in mind was tying it into the stone with the court­house,” Mulroy said. “We’ll look and see how much money we’ve got left come Nov. 18, and then we’ll determine what we’re going to do.”

Nov. 18, Mulroy said, has been set as the date that the final Holton Main Street board meeting will be held “so that we’re not running into the holidays.” By that time, details of the annual painting of windows on the Square — one activity Mulroy said she did not want to see shut down — will be finalized. This year’s window painting theme will be “’Tis the Season,” and it will be geared toward children, she added.

The board is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Aug. 26, Mulroy said. One likely topic of discussion being what events to keep through the end of this year, such as the Veterans Day Parade and the 9/11 Remembrance.

“By then we should know what we’re going to continue with,” she said. “We’re all just hanging in and still doing our normal thing.”