Marietta Main Street holds training session

A formal training session was held for nearly 30 Marietta Main Street volunteers on Friday morning in the upper floor of Austyn’s.

Jean G. Farmer, executive director for Marietta Main Street, said the training was provided because of “Main Street” status.

“Additional training is provided in the first year to get us up and running and give the community a vision,” she said.

The organization formerly known as ReStore Marietta was given the designation of a “Main Street” community last summer by Heritage Ohio, which oversees the neighborhood revitalization program, after more than a decade of pursuing the title. More than 20 other Ohio communities share the honor.

Farmer said volunteers will be attending a design meeting in Wooster in March and an operations meeting in June at Heritage Ohio.

“We may do more training (like this) in a year or two,” she said.

Those present at the training included those on committees with Marietta Main Street, business owners and merchants, volunteers and some from organizations like the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Hidden Marietta.

One guest speaker, Frances Hamilton, executive director of Main Street Delaware in Ohio, said one of the most important things in a Main Street program is having a succession plan for officers.

“You want fresh, new ideas on a routine basis,” she said, but added that officers of committees would “want to know there’s an end in sight.”

She suggested three years of service as an executive officer in order to set up a vice president making the transition into president.

Hamilton said Main Street Delaware has quarterly meetings in addition to regular committee meetings, where new people and volunteers are welcome to show up and express their ideas.

“The whole year is already planned (at committee meetings),” Hamilton said. “It’s great when someone comes with a new idea, but it’s up to you not to derail what you’ve already got planned.”

Hamilton stressed the importance of getting people like photographers and design professionals to donate time to the organization to help with promotion.

She said it is important to have get togethers to “draw people in.”

Frank Quinn, associate director of revitalization for Heritage Ohio, stressed the importance of the design committee in the facades of buildings downtown.

He said a lot of building owners choose to install vinyl, double pane windows to replace the older wood with single panes because of heat loss. He said the change changes the face of the building and that heat loss through doors and windows is only about 20 percent of total heat loss.

He said it is the design committee’s job to educate owners before they go about making a change.

“Maintain and respect what you have already, but write the next chapter of what the future downtown will look like,” Quinn said, adding, “What will your legacy be 50 years from now? The people doing business in your business and living in your homes, will they appreciate the decisions you make today?”

Matt Wiederhold, executive director of Main Street Medina, commended the efforts made thus far with Marietta Main Street and the city itself.

“You have a vibrant downtown because the community supports it,” he said. “There’s lots of things to do…You have a vibrant program and visitors bureau; make the link to the Internet. Take (the information) and plaster the Internet with it.”

Wiederhold suggested owning that Marietta was named after French monarch Marie Antoinette and that there are earthworks.

“You’re named after Marie Antoinette, why aren’t you using it?” he asked. “Have a costume ball. Plan some event around it. You also have a mound built around 800 B.C. It’s a whole other opportunity. (The mound was here) before Columbus came around; talk about that.”

He said heritage tourism, which revolves around the past, had staying power, where people would stay longer and shop more.

“Every town has a history; you guys are 225,” Wiederhold said. “Every place has a story and every site has a reason to be; why are you here and how do you use that to your advantage…The bottom line is to have fun.”