Payson's Main Street project garnered 10 nominations for the 2003 Main Street Awards competition.
The annual competition, held in conjunction with the Governor's Rural Development Conference, is open to the state's 20 designated Main Street communities. Winners will be announced during a special dinner during the conference, which will be held the first week of October in Prescott.
Since the town is currently evaluating candidates for the Main Street manager's position in the wake of Karen Greenspoon's resignation, Main Street secretary Cathy Boone prepared the entries this year.
"Each one required photos and other research," Boone said. "I also sent them newspaper articles from the Roundup. In the absence of a Main Street director, this was two months of my life."
The Payson nominees are:
Payson Main Street Christmas Tree
Best Public Improvement category
Two years ago the town's official tree for the first annual Main Street holiday celebration was a 30-foot blue spruce donated by a local couple. It proved to be less than satisfactory.
"Our first Christmas tree was beautiful, but what an ordeal -- from the minute it was cut until it was taken down," Boone wrote in nominating its replacement.
The original tree had to be tilted to decorate it, and later blew over several times and had to be redecorated each time.
"In order to turn the lights on or off, a person had to crawl underneath the tree," Boone said.
The solution was to plant a living Christmas tree and install underground wiring and an automatic timer.
Plant Fair Nursery owner Glen McCombs ordered the tree -- an 18-foot Arizona white fir, and then traveled to Colorado to inspect it. The tree was paid for by the town water department and private contributions, while Shane Owens, owner of Tree Pro, volunteered his time and equipment to get the tree in the ground at Green Valley Park.
Payson Tree Dedication and Lighting
Best Special Event category
The tree dedication and lighting at Green Valley Park, which followed the Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade, was the conclusion to what Boone called "a picture-perfect evening."
It featured carols by four singing groups that performed along the parade route combined into a single chorus, plus a live brass band. They were joined by Santa Claus, who rode at the end of the parade.
The focal point for the festivities was the town's newly planted official Christmas tree. The switch illuminating the tree was thrown by Cucina Paradiso Italian restaurant co-owners John Posteraro and Gerardo Moceri who had recently received the National Restaurant Association's "Restaurant Neighbor Award" for serving 30,000 meals to victims of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire at the evacuation center established at Rim Country Middle School.
Main Street Entry Monuments
Best Public/Private Partner category
Marking the entrance to "Historic Main Street" at its intersection with Highway 87, the 16-foot-long curved stucco gateway signs are framed on the ends by Ponderosa pine logs and topped by a black metal cowboy atop a bucking horse. They are located on both sides of Main Street at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce office and Whiting Brothers gas station.
The cowboy represents the Main Street origin of Payson's August Doin's rodeo, the logs represent the logging industry and Sawmill Crossing, and a peak at the center of the sign represents the Rim country.
The signs are illuminated by solar pack high intensity lighting. They were designed and built by McIntyre Construction at a cost of $11,752 -- entirely paid for by private donations.
Mad Dawg's and Mel's
Economic Restructuring category
Madeline Manchio and Melanie McCarthy opened Mad Dawg's and Mel's, a 1950s-themed diner featuring hot dogs, brats and Italian sausages, in the Payson Auto Classics building at 407 W. Main Street. Within six months it had outgrown the facility, and a lack of parking made it doubtful that it could ever realize its full potential.
When the opportunity came to move across Main Street to the restaurant previously operated as the Mogollon Grille in the historic Journigan home -- with much more seating capacity and a larger parking lot -- the partners jumped at it.
With Mother Hubbard's Consignment Furnishings sharing the rent, the enlarged Mad Dawg's and Mel's is still cranking out its famous hot dogs, but has expanded its menu.
In addition to live music on the patio, the new occupants of the Journigan house hope to add to the culture of Main Street by offering artists and authors an additional venue for their works. "Artists can sit outside with their art, and they can also leave it here on consignment," Mother Hubbard's co-owner Joanne Colceri said.
Renderings of What Could Be
Best Promotional Materials category
"Because Main Street is located in an economically declining area of town, we felt it necessary to create visions of what could be," Boone wrote.
Through a grant, Main Street officials were able to study and target specific properties critical to the future of the program. Local engineers and artists then created renderings depicting what could be done with the properties, including:
- A unified streetscape design showing how Main Street might look in the future.
- A rendering of an existing historic mansion brought back to life.
- A rendering of an existing business with a new facade.
- A rendering of a vacant parcel developed into a mini-western town.
The town plans to incorporate the renderings into a brochure that will be used to attract new businesses to Main Street.
Cuts & Stuf
Best Facade Renovation Under $25,000 category
Drawn to Main Street by its charm and history, Cuts & Stuf owners Minette and Michael Richardson purchased their building 12 years ago -- at a time when not many people could visualize what they did.
The Richardsons put their own money into interior renovation, including new plumbing and wiring. They also stripped the floors and restored them.
With the help of a $10,000 Community Development Block Grant, the exterior was also completely redone, including new siding, landscaping and a fresh coat of paint, maintaining the original territorial architecture as much as possible.
Most impressive, the improvements have already made a difference in business, which is up $17,000 over the previous year.
Ox Bow Saloon and Hotel
Best Historic Rehabilitation category
Ox Bow owner Beverly Nethken plans to "bring the old gal back to the original."
When the Ox Bow was built in 1932 with logs cut and hauled from the Mogollon Rim, the facility had nine rooms upstairs and a kitchen, restaurant and bar downstairs. Rooms were $2.50 a night and meals cost 50 cents.
At the end of World War II, a series of rooms was added to form a courtyard in the back, which opened onto a patio and swimming pool. In recent years, several owners had struggled to keep the doors open.
Included in Nethken's plans are replacing logs that have been removed from the front of the historic hotel and saloon, repairing a gap between the chimney and the building, and adding a balcony over the courtyard. With the old saloon once again open, Nethken hopes to convert adjoining rooms into meeting facilities, open a dinner theater, and convert the rooms that face the courtyard into shops for artists, gifts and crafts.
Meanwhile the Oxbow has been declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of properties considered worthy of preservation.
Pine Country Animal Clinic and Homespun Memories
Economic Restructuring/Business of the Year category
The new building that houses Dr. Patti Blackmore's veterinary clinic and the scrapbook store that opened earlier this year, has already proven a boon to both businesses. Blackmore has experienced a 45 percent increase over the previous year, and Homespun Memories is already hiring additional employees.
The 3,200-square-foot building features a veranda and parapets consistent with 1890s architecture. Its exterior colors, warm yellow with rustic red accents, were chosen to provide a warm and welcoming environment with an eye-catching touch. Low water use landscaping was designed to further accent the colors of the building.
Total cost of the land, building, equipment and furniture was approximately $450,000.
Risser-Thomas Eye Clinic
Best Interior Renovation category
Two eye doctors purchased the 1930s-vintage residence that had most recently housed The Oaks Restaurant. Originally built by J.W. Boardman who owned Boardman's General Store on the site of the town's new history park, two additions were made to the house when it was converted to a restaurant, according to Dr. Christian Risser.
With its expansive lawn and giant oak trees, the property has an exterior charm that required much less "renovation" than the interior. In fact, the goal was to "keep it looking like an old residence," according to Risser.
While his partner, Dr. Robert Thomas, was interested in the property as an investment, Risser said the primary reason for the move from the clinic's current location on Highway 87 was space.
"We needed more room, and this gives it to us," Risser said. "We are going from 1,800 square feet to close to 3,000.
The doctors invested about $200,000 of their own money on a complete interior renovation, including converting the kitchen and large dining areas into five examination rooms and a large waiting area."
Individual of the Year category
In her second year as chairperson of the Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade, Wolfe is also on the Main Street board of directors.
Boone calls her "a major spark plug in our Main Street engine."
"She does it all with a fantastic positive attitude and a beautiful smile," Boone added. "Her love for her town and the Main Street program is unfaltering."
In the 2002 competition, the Main Street/APS Electric Light Parade was named Best Special Event and Payson Auto Classics took top honors for Best Facade Renovation Under $25,000. In the 2001 competition Payson's Green Valley Park was named Best Public Improvement Project.
The state Legislature established the Main Street Program with the Arizona Department of Commerce to stimulate the preservation and revitalization of downtown areas in smaller communities statewide.