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July 11, 1995

Some exciting discussions about Perry's future have been in progress the past few days as our town's Main Street program kicks into gear for its first year of operation. The dialogue started with a public forum one evening, in which a "vision" was developed through suggestions tossed around by a fairly large group of our citizens. The work continued the following day with separate meetings of various committees composed of the people who have agreed to accept the responsibility of seeing to it that things start happening to revitalize our downtown business district. None of those people are paid for their efforts, by the way.

A lot of abstract ideas were kicked around, but so were a lot of good, solid goals and objectives, most of them deemed reasonable for achieving within a year. If that happens, you will begin seeing a cleaner, busier, more attractive, more vibrant, more prosperous business district around the square in just a few months.

The Main Street program, administered through, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, has worked wonders in a number of state cities both larger and smaller than Perry. Assisting locally with the public forum and the daylong committee meetings the next day were Les Hall and Melody Kellogg of the Oklahoma Main Street Program in Oklahoma City. The feeling here is that if those others can do it, surely we can succeed, too. You rarely if ever see the people of this community fumble away a golden opportunity such as this program affords.

Which is not to say that the goals can be easily reached. Doing so will take a dedicated and coordinated effort on the part of our downtown merchants -- all of them -- plus the investment of time, sweat and plain old hard work by all the rest of us. Yes, some money will have to be invested, but you don't expect things like this to be handed down on a platter, free of charge, from some beneficent oracle looking down on us from on high. The payoff from this program will accrue to everyone, not just the merchants, because our economic base will be stronger, more stable, and growing. It will benefit this entire community. Perry will be a better shopping and trade center and a more fun place for all of us.

Les Hall and Melody Kellogg are not members of the Perry Main Street program staff and they are not the ones charged with driving this vehicle. They are resource people, but the success or failure of Perry Main Street will lie solely in our own hands.

The recently announced "Hopes and Dreams Plaza" grant will give us a running start by embellishing the appearance of our courthouse park, which already is one of Perry's greatest assets. A few property owners around the square have stated their interest in restoring storefronts on their buildings to their original appearance, which in some cases dates back to the pre-statehood era. Mr. Hall and Ms. Kellogg both feel that many of the business buildings around the square need only a few minor alterations to give them an authentic look in keeping with the Cherokee Strip heritage of this area.

The Foucart building on the southeast corner of the square, home of the Perry Development Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce and the Perry High School Alumni Association, is an excellent example of what we have to start with. Its classic architecture has been well preserved through the years but some exterior work will make it even more handsome. An unfortunate automobile accident at that site several days ago resulted in considerable damage to metal railings on the south side of the building, but a source has been found to replace the steel pipes that were badly bent. Limestone trim on the building itself also was damaged, but there is reason to believe that also can be repaired.

Fresh ideas for even more downtown activities, fun things to involve and entertain all ages, will be brought forth and the Main Street folks will do all they can to complement and assist with the array of events already established on a regular basis by the Chamber of Commerce. You will be hearing much more about all this as committees announce their agendas and wheels are set in motion. Lois Malget is chairman of Perry Main Street, Clyde Speer is vice chairman, Kaye Talbot is secretary and Anna Lou Randall is treasurer. Betty Warner is director of Perry Main Street, and Karen Wilcox, interim director of the Perry Development Coalition, also is on the Main Street board of directors. Other board members are Fred Beers, Jim Davis, Norma Jerome, Deloris Layne, Vickie Malget, Marilee Macias, Randy Rupp and Tom Ruth.

You may be called upon to help with some of these programs, and of course it is hoped that everyone in Perry will join in enthusiastically, but you don't have to wait to be asked. Call Betty Warner at 336-1212 and tell her where you think you would best fit in, or just say you want to help out. Your support is the No. 1 need of this group right now.