The event, typically held during the winter, had been pushed back to the end of May due to construction at the restaurant, DDA Manager Tara Currier said. Last year’s award ceremony saw approximately 50 guests, she added.
“This is unbelieveable. The DDA has been doing these award programs typically in late winter of every year ... Thirty to 40 was a good turnout. ... But 172 people RSVPed. I’m thrilled about that. So I know that there were downtown property owners and even businesses that I haven’t been able to engage with and get involved. We’re a little overwhelmed at the number of people ... but what a great opportunity for these people to network with each other,” Currier said.
The following business owners and DDA members were recognized during the ceremony:
• David Wayland, owner of Suresight Eyecare, won a Golden Nail Award.
• John Lewis, a downtown property owner, won a Golden Nail Award.
• Leon Berry, Tip Holland and Frank Kenney, owners of Mellow Mushroom, won a Golden Nail Award.
• Lonnie and Ron Goss won a Gold Nail Award for their work on White Columns.
• Will and Mary Sprague, owners of Louie’s Cafe, won a Golden Nail Award.
• Outgoing DDA board members Abbey Agan-Ross and Saunders Jones III were recognized for their work.
• Richard Osborne, Cartersville city planner, won the Good Government Award.
• Sandy Lusk won the Downtown Champion award.
• Earline Burke, a DDA board member, won the Chairman’s Award.
The number of Golden Nail Awards, Currier said, was in light of the increase of renovation projects going on in the downtown area.
“It really varies from year to year. I feel like definitely since 2012 we’ve seen a few more. We kind of hit that rough patch where people weren’t really making that investment. Maybe they couldn’t have even afforded to buy the building or the business to get started, and so we’re seeing the economy turn around and we’re seeing people loosen up their wallets a bit more and be able to come into downtown,” she said.
In addition to the award ceremony, Currier gave an update on planned improvements to the downtown area, which include the installation of Wi-Fi, building a covered pavilion on Friendship Plaza and improving signage in the area.
“Actually the covered pavilion in the plaza is something that was on Cartersville’s master plan from several years ago,” said Currier after the ceremony. “That’s been kind of on the hearts and minds, I think, of a lot of people. I know when I started [as manager] I was sort of naive in thinking it would happen quickly, but these things take time. It takes getting the downtown support and raising the funds and finding the right financial avenues to get those done. Wi-Fi is something that really just in the last year people have been saying they want and they need and a lot of other downtowns are doing it so why can’t we be one of them?”
Looking toward the rest of the year, Currier said the DDA was planning a number of events, such as the farmers market starting in June, the continuing First Friday series and the bluegrass festival. DDA Special Events Coordinator Catherine Woods said the farmers market would see a few special events including a kid’s activity day and a tomato festival in July. Downtown businesses are becoming more involved in the events, she added.
“Some more so than others. I think we’ve come a long way this year already. I’ve definitely seen over the past couple of months more and more businesses want to come along and participate, especially when they see an event go well they want to get their foot in the door as well. Participation has definitely increased this year,” Woods said. “... I think it’s just going to increase throughout the summer as well. The more people we can get downtown here now that school’s out and families are wanting something to do, I think the more people that are down here the better the participation is going to get throughout the year.”
Currier noted the award ceremony’s turnout was partially due to the interest around Mellow Mushroom coming to Cartersville. She hoped, though, the turnout was also due to the DDA’s efforts in improving the downtown area and drawing visitors.
“I hope that people can continue to be this excited about one business. I hope that can translate to excitement for all of downtown. We’ve just got a great cross section,” Currier said. “When I started a lot of people commented like, we should be more like this city or that city. Now I’m going to conferences and events and people are saying, ‘We should be more like Cartersville.’ It gives me chills to say, so I think we’re on the right track.”