Main Street Merchants Win State Accolades

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Payson's Main Street program generated three first place winners Friday at the Governor's Rural Development Conference in Lake Havasu City, second only to Sedona's four awards.

Rim Country Printery bested Apple Tree Square Apartments in Sedona for Best Facade Renovation under $25,000; Rim Country Classic Auto Club's Main Street Car Show tied with Casa Grande's 125th Anniversary Celebration for Best Special Event; and Body Elegance Day Spa took top honors for Historic Rehabilitation of Significance over Hummingbird House and Tractor Shed, both in Sedona.

The awards, which were presented at the annual Governor's Luncheon by the Arizona Department of Commerce, honor cities, towns and individuals in 12 categories for work that revitalizes Arizona's downtowns.

"These awards reveal the challenges faced by civic leaders and residents working against great odds to revitalize their commercial business districts," Joe Yuhas, commerce deputy director, said. "In the case of the Arizona Main Street Program, appreciation for the unique character and history of our smaller cities and towns is bringing new life downtown for residents and visitors alike."

Payson Main Street Project Manager Carol McCauley, who attended the conference with a contingent of Payson officials, thought the town acquitted itself well.

"We had three first places and three finalists out of 10 submittals," she said. "We had a couple people come up to our table afterwards and say kiddingly, ‘Wow, Payson really cleaned up this time.'"

A closer look at the three Payson Main Street winners:

Best Facade Renovation Under $25,000

Rim Country Printery -- Originally a dance hall, this 1882 building came complete with gun ports and doubled as a fort that locals retreated to when warnings came of Apache renegades on the warpath. During Prohibition, it was a pool hall known as "The Dive," with moonshine for sale in the back room. It was the building's storied past that led Rim Country Printery owners Tom and Nicole McCorgary to buy it.

"With help from the Main Street Program, a Community Development Block Grant, and their own money, and steely determination, they took the old and tired building with a glorious, yet sometimes shady, past and turned it back into a viable, living entity," McCauley said.

Best Special Event

Rim Country Classic Auto Club Car Show -- With its normal venue, Mazatzal Casino, unavailable, the Rim Country Classic Auto Club staged its 11th Annual Charity Car Show right on Main Street. With 287 entrants, the show attracted 4,000 spectators and raised $11,500 for 11 different charities.

"The club is committed to returning to Main Street again next year," McCauley said.

Historic Rehabilitation of Significance

Body Elegance Day Spa -- When Shelley Wayland and her husband purchased the Stewart house to relocate her expanding business, the house and grounds were in great disrepair. Rehabilitation of the home paid attention to preserving its historic features. Items of interest in the red sandstone house, such as original wall coverings and old newspaper editions, were framed with historic notations to show the home's heritage.

"The preservation and beautification of this old home creates a snapshot of the area's early housing," McCauley said.

The other three Payson finalists were Dick Wolfe, Main Street Individual of the Year; Town of Payson Design Review Regulations for Best Public/Private Partner; and Sawmill Crossing Center for Business Excellence.

Winners in the other categories were: Main Street Individual of the Year: Richard Lake, Florence; Best Interior Renovation: Sedona Sport, Sedona; Best Promotional Materials: Parker Main Street Shopping Directory, Parker; Best Public/Private Partner: Dairy Queen, Casa Grande; Best Economic Restructuring Story: Red Stone Cabin, Sedona; Best Facade Renovation over $25,000: Country Store, Williams; Best Public Improvement Project: Jordan Road Sidewalk Project, Sedona; Business Excellence: Calvert Shell State, Buckeye; and New Building Project: tie between Amara Creekside Resort, Sedona, and Main Street Family Practice, Florence.

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