OTTUMWA — Main Street Executive Director Fred Zeisger wanted to surprise county supervisors Tuesday by giving them a full picture of how Main Street Ottumwa has changed.
Supervisor Jerry Parker was taken aback by the numbers. “This is very interesting because we don’t see all these figures in one spot at one time, you might get bits and pieces of it. Over the first nine years somebody invested $15,000 annually. That’s $135,000.”
Zeisger told supervisors within the Main Street district, there are 139 businesses. In all, they have a total of 854 full-time employees and 270 part-time employees.
Zeisger also reported 110 residential units downtown, up from 53 in 2006.
The purpose of sharing all these numbers is to track the progress of Main Street Ottumwa, which Zeisger said, aligns with the mission and purpose of Main Street which is to, “foster a vibrant, dynamic, and healthy downtown through community engagement and collaborative partnerships” and “be a hub for the entertainment, arts and businesses in the area.”
“We all have something in the game even though the route that it gets there may be different,” Parker said. “There isn’t any question that it isn’t a sizable contribution.”
Main Street volunteers have given 39,405 hours. Supervisor Brain Morgan said he appreciated the volunteer hours. “Thank you guys for everything you do,” he said. “There’s a lot of volunteer hours and a lot of what you do.”
Zeisger said the organization focuses on the four MSO priorities, which are organizational efficiency, financial stability, strength partnerships and then to further their efforts to tell their stories.
He’s also watching the streetscape closely. “Of course [we are] paying special attention to those that are directly affected by streetscape and trying to keep those doors open as much as we can and people going in there.”
The MSO board has also discussed changes they want to pursue. One is the formation of an economic vitality committee which is made up of business owners who desire to put out business promotions. Another change are endowment funds for Main Street.
“[They’re] trying to trying to get people into their businesses which is very, very good and decided to form a new economic vitality committee as well. We’re trying to get that committee formed. The endowment funds are for Main Street knowing that downtown belongs to all of us. It’s kind of the community’s front door for when people come to visit us. We got a lot of work there to get it looking better. There’s a lot more to do. The endowment fund is to keep that going.”
Other matters to come before the supervisors was the canvass of the January 21, 2020 Pekin election, the Proclamation of the 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration which was made into an official day in Wapello County Jan. 28, 2020, and the 6052 Madison Ave Property Cleanup Contract. The Supervisors agreed to discuss the cleanup contract at another time.
Here are the Pekin election results:
John Joseph Greiner won his race for the District 5 director with 40 votes (60 percent) over Katie Keith, who received 27 votes.
Jared Schultz won the race for the at-large seat with 49 votes (74 percent) over Jill Silvers with 14 votes (21 percent) and Shawn Echelberry with three votes (5 percent).
There are 372 registered voters in Pekin’s school district, and 67 ballots were cast, meaning that 18 percent of the registered voters participated in the special election.