By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
OKLAHOMA CITY — A lot has changed in Downtown Newkirk in recent years. New paint adorns many building fronts, bringing art and color to their facades, and a new Fitness Pathway is in development to bring outdoor activities Downtown. Newkirk Main Street has been instrumental in these activities, and has recently been honored for those efforts at the annual Oklahoma Main Street banquet, which celebrated Main Street organizations across the state for their efforts to promote the community.
The event was held Monday, Sept. 20 at the Embassy Suites Downtown Medical Center Hotel, Oklahoma City.
In attendance from Newkirk were Walter and Jana Shafer, Geary and Alyssa McCleery, Newkirk Main Street program director and Kelly and Kelle Cross, along with their daughter, Hannah Cross.
“What was really amazing about this year’s wins is it is not about the (Main Street) program, it was about what a group of concerned, motivated citizens achieve in their towns by working together,” McCleery said.
Individual Main Street committees made nominations for activities in four divisions: Promotion, Events, Organization and Design. The nominations were written by the program director with the assistance of committee members.
NMS made 16 nominations in the four categories and one non-competitive nomination for board member of the year. Three of those nominations reached state finalist status: Children’s Christmas Shop for Best Retail Event under Promotion, and Paint Main for Best Volunteer Development and Hannah Cross for Main Street Hero, both under Organization.
NMS won awards for Paint Main and Hannah Cross.
Paint Main was a community effort to bring vibrant colors and decorations to building facades. Originally inspired by a rehab of the Charron building on North Main Street, volunteers would go on to decorate and refurbish four more facades, a park gazebo, four pocket parks, several dumpsters and six monuments in front of the Kay County Courthouse. Ninety volunteers spent nearly 300 hours over two weeks to complete the project.
Volunteers included Main Street board and committee members, Newkirk High School cheerleaders, basketball and softball players and Boy Scouts, to name some, according the Cross.
“It was a team effort, and we were able to paint five historical Main Street buildings,” Cross said.
Hannah Cross also was honored as a Main Street Hero for the Newkirk FitnessPath, which first started gaining traction in spring 2019.
“The Newkirk Pathway has a bike path and fitness path, and will place new concrete sidewalks along our Government Square, down Main Street and around Lions Park,” Cross said, adding that an Oklahoma Department of Transportation grant was obtained in 2019 for the sidewalks. “The Pathway gets people on Main Street, and to be able to enjoy our historic Main Street, the things that are going on, the businesses.”
Cross is grateful for the nomination.
“I would like to thank everyone who helped me out the last several years, and I’d like to thank NMS, and if it weren’t for the former NMS leader Karen Dye, who was the director at the time, it would not have come to life, because she is the person I presented it to,” Cross said. “She was fully supportive, and I appreciate that.”