The Clinton Main Street Program held its annual appreciation and awards banquet Tuesday night at Alfredo’s in Downtown Clinton, honoring the many who strive to make Clinton and Sampson County a beautiful place for commerce and the arts.
With nearly 60 elected officials, sponsors, partners, committee members, volunteers and staff in attendance, the Clinton Main Street Program celebrated its accomplishments for 2017 and recognized those who support the program. Clinton’s Main Street Manager Mary M. Rose shared the 2017 annual report and honored award recipients.
“The night was truly a celebration of how, by working together, we can strengthen not only downtown Clinton, but the greater Clinton area and Sampson County,” said Rose. “The program was particularly proud of partnerships with the Simple Gifts Fund and Sampson Arts Council this year, which enabled us to bring artist Denise Hughes to Clinton and Sampson County for a weeklong artist residency, which included Sunset Avenue School and Roseboro Elementary School.”
Rose also mentioned Small Business Saturday, a promotional event that offered businesses throughout Sampson County the ability to participate by encouraging citizens to shop local for a chance to win a $300 cash prize. She said that venture “exhibited the strengthening of partnerships.”
Main Street award winners
• Best Curb Appeal — Powell’s Insurance at 110 Lisbon St.
The award is given to a business owner that pays attention to the small details in an effort to capture a customer’s attention and improve downtown’s overall appearance. Powell decorates their windows for all seasons and holiday events, using tastefully decorated windows to draw customers in as well as offering a pleasing display for pedestrians who walk by their business daily, Main Street officials said. Powell’s façade has been renovated in a manner that “exhibits care for historic preservation” and shows that “pride and care” is taken for the office space.
• Public art partner award — The Simple Gifts Fund
The award is given to a partner who understands the importance of public art and contributes time or money to advance public art in downtown Clinton. Simple Gifts partnered with the Sampson Arts Council and the Clinton Main Street Program last year, donating grant funds to bring artist Denise Hughes to Sunset Avenue School and Roseboro Elementary School for a weeklong residency. With students’ assistance, and donations of plastic caps from the community, Hughes spearheaded a set of murals that are now incorporated into the Downtown Recycle Art Walk (DRAW) along Ferrell Street.
• Volunteer of the Year — Kay Raynor
Raynor, a member of the Clinton Main Street’s Promotion Committee, has been instrumental in getting local business feedback and promoting downtown events and activities, Main Street officials said. Raynor painted the three barn quilts along Wall Street as part of a partnership with the Sampson Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Barn Quilt Program. Raynor also serves as president of the Sampson County History Museum, working to create an impactful destination that can attract visitors from around the state to the heart of this county.
• Extra Effort Business Award — Deborah Thompson of Simply NC
Thompson, another member of the Clinton Main Street’s Promotion Committee, giving of her time and resources in the past year not only on that committee, but also the Small Business Saturday Committee formed in 2016 to promote shopping local. Thompson has also sold the most City of Clinton Christmas ornaments — a total of 70 from her business over the holidays — which raised $1,400 to benefit downtown projects. On several occasions, Thompson also extended Simply NC’s hours to provide citizens the opportunity to shop in the evening.
• Design Improvement – Mozell Faison and Steven Fennell, Quality Printing Plus
This award recognizes significant design improvements to a building or property “creating positive, aesthetic improvement to all of downtown,” making the façade improvement project at Quality Printing, 401 Vance St., a fitting recipient, Main Street officials said. Quality Printing, which marked 21 years of business in downtown Clinton in October, received a total exterior facelift last year. That included a new paint scheme, awning and front door improvements.
• The Thank You Award — Tammy and John Peterson of Hubb’s Farm
An award that can be given for any cause the Main Street wishes to recognize, this year’s winner was the Petersons for their contributions to the annual Christmas in the City hayrides, used to raise money for the Sampson County History Museum. Hubb’s Farm has participated in the Christmas in the City event since it began in 2012 and last year offered two hayrides along with two trains. Hubb’s Farm also participated in the Milling Around Late events in 2017, bringing their barrel train as a draw to families who shopped late in the downtown.
• Outstanding Legacy Business — Wilcare Facilities, Inc.
The “Outstanding Legacy” award is bestowed to a downtown business that has been open for more than five years and proven that they embody the essence of downtown: friendly, personal and neighborly, along with supportive of downtown efforts. Wilcare has been a presence in downtown Clinton since 1983. As the founder and owner of Wilcare Facilities, Inc. and developer of Court Square Executive Offices & Suites, George Wilson has been instrumental in redeveloping 11 buildings in the downtown, Main Street officials attested.
Wilson’s ventures began with the Good News Book Nook in 1983 and then the Court Square Executive Offices & Suites, which includes the Johnson Building on the corner of Wall and Main Street. Wilson was also responsible for the restoration of the old Post Office building on West Main Street, which serves as home to The Sampson Independent and will be exhibited upon the Main Street Program’s 2018 Christmas ornament.
Current buildings owned by the Wilson family house 25 different downtown businesses and the Wilson family “takes pride” in each of them, Main Street officials noted. Wilson served for many years on the Clinton Development Corporation Board and his daughter Regina Parker now serves on the board.
A previous Clinton Main Street Champion, Wilson and his Wilson Realty were honored in 2015 with a NC Main Street Award for Best Façade Rehabilitation Project for the work at 117 Vance St. As part of the last Christmas in the City event, the Wilson family donated the vacant space at 104 E. Main St. to host the Sampson Arts Council-sponsored gingerbread activities.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.