Jefferson Matters: Main Street, Home State Bank honored

Jefferson Matters: Main Street was honored with the “Game Changer” award and Home State Bank was recognized as one of two outstanding businesses at the 31st annual Iowa Main Street awards celebration Friday, April 7, at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. The program honored the efforts of those who work in downtown revitalization in Iowa.

Thirty-six people from Jefferson were among the 550 who attended the event. Among them were Jefferson Matters: Main Street board members Jamie Daubendiek, Amy Milligan, Carol Ahrenholtz, John Sawhill, Debra McGinn, Lynda Cochran, Angie Reese-Hueser, Amy Roberts, and Karen Lawton, Jefferson Matters program director Peg Raney; Harry Ahrenholtz, Gary Von Ahsen and Dave Sloan representing the city of Jefferson; Sid Jones, Milligan, Abby McConnell, Sawhill and Alicia Sloan representing Home State Bank; and spouses and other community members.

Main Street Iowa annually presents awards honoring outstanding accomplishments, activities and people that are making a difference in Iowa’s Main Street districts. Projects large and small are recognized and serve as outstanding examples of what historic commercial district revitalization is all about.

Fifteen projects and activities occurring in local Main Street communities were selected to be recognized from the 160 competitive nominations submitted. The honors were presented by Governor Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).

Jefferson Matters: Main Street received the “Game Changer” award for its Empty Buildings Tour, held April 16 and 18, 2015. According to the nomination, more than 100 people toured eight empty buildings in downtown Jefferson. The tour increased interest in the buildings. The city of Jefferson ended up owning three of them, and one was sold to a private buyer. One of the city-owned buildings was rehabilitated and sold in the fall of 2016. “This success story will be a model for the other buildings acquired by the city for further attraction of quality businesses to Main Street,” the nomination noted.

Accepting the Game Changer award are (from left) Jamie Daubendiek, Nick Sorensen, Deb McGinn, Amy Milligan, Lt Gov Kim Reynolds, Peg Raney, Angie Reese-Hueser, John Sawhill (back), Gov Terry Branstad, Amy Roberts, Gary Von Ahsen, Britt and Dan Meythaler and Harry Ahrenholtz.

“This Empty Buildings Tour was the beginning of great things. The city has an innovative incentive for interested buyers, the community got behind the idea of the importance of saving our buildings, and the city recognized Jefferson Matters: Main Street could successfully lead the charge on historical restoration,” the nomination stated.

The nomination for Home State Bank as an outstanding business highlighted not only other awards received by the bank, but also the commitment of bank employees to community service. Bank employees Amy Milligan and John Sawhill are officers on the Jefferson Matters board, and other employees are visible at Main Street events and activities. Bank employees are encouraged to donate their time, talents and money to charitable causes, with the Home State Bank Foundation matching employee contributions to organizations of their choice at a rate of 200 percent.

Home State Bank made a three-year pledge to Jefferson Matters: Main Street of $10,000 per year in 2012 and renewed the pledge in 2015. Additionally, the bank has sponsored cash prizes for the Ring Out for Art sculpture contest.

Accepting the outstanding business award are (from left) Peg Raney, John Sawhill, Lt Gov Kim Reynolds, Alicia Sloan, Abby McConnell (back), Sid Jones, Amy Milligan, Jamie Daubendiek and Gov Terry Branstad.
With the leadership award  (from left) Debi Durham, Lt Gov Kim Reynolds, Nick Sorensen, Gov Terry Branstad.

Each Main Street community can select a local volunteer to receive a leadership award. Nick Sorensen, Jefferson building and zoning officer, received the 2017 award. Sorensen serves on two Jefferson Matters: Main Street committees – design and economic vitality. “His idea of the city of Jefferson purchasing derelict buildings and turning them around to offer an innovative assistance for downtown buildings is a model for other rural communities,” the nomination form noted. He has spent more than 345 volunteer hours working on the buildings and organizing work sessions for other volunteers.

Kathy Hankel

The late Kathy Hankel was given Main Street Hero recognition, a posthumous award that recognizes inspirational leadership and volunteers who have made significant contributions to their local Main Street programs. The Tower View Team’s rooftop art installations, Sally’s Alley, and the Play Me Pleez pianos are examples of Hankel’s unbounded creativity.


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