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April 30, 1999

Perry's Main Street program, though barely five years old, has been cited by state leaders as a good example of what can be accomplished when communities pull together for the common good. In this case, that means the rejuvenation and restoration of our downtown business district. We are well on the way toward a goal of establishing that area as a place of fun, interesting things to see, and a good place to shop. Yes, a lot of work remains to be done, but the foundation is being laid and dividends already have become visible.

Last Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, at the annual awards banquet of the state Main Street organization, Perry was honored in several ways. Ed Malzahn, president of the Charles Machine Works, Inc., received a signal honor with his selection as the 1999 "Friend of Main Street." This came about largely because of the cooperation and assistance provided by Ed's company and its employees in the state Main Street rehabilitation workshop held here last summer. Local Main Street program managers from throughout the state were here for a two-day hands-on demonstration of the proper techniques to be used in stripping faux facades from the fronts of business buildings.

Perry was chosen as the host city for that workshop in competition with several other Oklahoma Main Street communities. We were selected largely because of the degree of cooperation provided by the city of Perry, the enthusiasm and dedication of local Main Street workers, and, notably, the extensive assistance made available by the folks at the Charles Machine Works, thanks to Ed Malzahn. Last year's recipient of this award was Oklahoma's First Lady, Cathy Keating, who is uniquely qualified to promote our state's Main Street cities in many ways.

In addition, two of our downtown business buildings were finalists for awards in the category of "best building facade renovation under $10,000." Our entries were the building of Butch and Sandy Ellis on the north side of the square, where a huge aluminum facade was removed during last year's rehab workshop; and Leroy Rolling's building on the south side of the square, once the home of Wes Marcy's Gem Cafe and Mrs. Marchbanks' used clothing store. Leroy completely rebuilt the front of that building, which he has now made available to the Perry High School Alumni Association for their use. Although neither of these entries won the ultimate award, both are obviously excellent examples of what can be done.

The point of all this is to call attention to the forthcoming fund-raising drive being launched by the Perry Main Street organization. For five years, Perry Main Street has been existing through the largess, the generosity, of other local organizations with similar goals. Now it is time for Main Street to stand alone, and that means you and I must provide the financial means. When you receive a Main Street solicitor in the next few days, remember what's been undertaken here and how much more remains to be done. Then give as liberally as you can to make sure this worthwhile effort continues to achieve at the level it has already demonstrated.