Main Street Champions honored

Staff report

				                                John Cheek is recognized as Elkin’s Main Street Champion.
                                 Courtesy photo

John Cheek is recognized as Elkin’s Main Street Champion.

Courtesy photo

NEW BERN — The 2019 North Carolina Main Street Champions, individuals that work and advocate for revitalized downtowns, were recognized for their commitment at a recognition ceremony in New Bern recently. John Cheek represented Elkin among those recognized.

“Despite the short-term uncertainty in the global economy right now, vibrant downtowns will remain catalysts for North Carolina’s economic prosperity in the years ahead,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “These honorees have shown considerable creativity and dedication in improving their communities. We’re proud to honor their vision and hard work as Main Street Champions.”

In Elkin, John Cheek, owner of Dirty Joes Coffee (Downtown and North locations) and the Smoothie Station (downtown) was chosen as the downtown Elkin Main Street Champion this year by the Elkin Main Street Advisory Board. Cheek took over the responsibility as President of the downtown merchants association in 2018, the Downtown Elkin Business Association (DEBA), for one term. He also invested in a 2nd downtown Elkin shop in 2019 called the Smoothie Station, which is located at 150 Market Street. It shares a unique and innovative space with two other new businesses, The Barkery and Gwyn & Market Mercantile.

John oversaw needed changes with the DEBA group, and helped rewrite the bylaws, reorganize various downtown events, and brought fresh ideas to try during those events. When many were unable to manage the holiday parade, John was there to help complete the last scheduled festivity of the season, even after his tenure had expired.

“Knowing the amount of work involved, John remained vigilant with his responsibilities as President,” stated Laura Gaylord, Main Street and Community Manager. “Understanding the commitment needed to make a difference in downtown, John was always there, supporting the events and bringing new and exciting ideas to downtown. He truly cares about our community and has investment in three businesses here. He contributes not only to downtown, but participates in various ways throughout the year for the community. He’s a great person, innovative and hardworking, and committed to making Elkin special, so our board thought it fitting he be nominated to the NC Main Street Program award committee and honored as our Champion at the annual conference this year.”

N.C. Commerce and the N.C. Main Street program began recognizing Main Street Champions in 2000. “It’s long been well-known that successful downtown economic development doesn’t happen by luck,” said Liz Parham, director of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center. “There are always hardworking people behind these efforts, and we wanted to take time each year to put the focus on leaders who are making a real difference in their communities. Main Street Champions serve as a valuable thinktank for future projects and innovation,” Parham said.

Forty-five Champions received honors for contributions to their Main Street programs and downtown districts in 2019. Including this year’s group, 766 Champions have been recognized by the North Carolina Department of Commerce over the past 20 years.

The 2019 North Carolina Main Street Champions are:

· Peter Asciutto – Albemarle

· Angela Street – Belmont

· Ann Dergara – Brevard

· Kathy Hykes and the late Bob Hykes – Burlington

· Bob Barker – Cherryville

· Sampson County Extension Master Gardeners – Clinton

· Cabarrus Arts Council – Concord

· David and Rhonda Price – Eden

· Candace Thompson – Edenton

· James Flanigan and Kevin O’Leary – Elizabeth City

· John Cheek – Elkin

· Peter Ustach – Elon

· Melissa Cantrell – Forest City

· Mollie Stephenson – Fuquay-Varina

· Jason Waters – Garner

· Julie Metz – Goldsboro

· Jack and Beverly Maniscalco – Hendersonville

· Julie Owens – Hickory

· Frank Stewart – Kings Mountain

· Cory Hughes – Laurinburg

· City of Lenoir Public Works – Sanitation Division – Lenoir

· Robin Bivens – Lexington

· Tracy Cotton – Marion

· Kim Saragoni – Mooresville

· Jenn Williams – Morehead City

· Angela Shores – Morganton

· Bill Faulkenberry and David Griffith – New Bern

· Angela and Neal Powell – Newton

· North Wilkesboro Police Department -North Wilkesboro

· Lori Dutra – Oxford

· Ron Wheeler – Reidsville

· Adam Wolfe – Roxboro

· Warren Ormiston – Rutherfordton

· Pam Hylton Coffield – Salisbury

· Elizabeth Whitmore – Sanford

· David White – Shelby

· Jud Patterson and Suzanne Taylor – Smithfield

· David and Stephanie Whitson – Spruce Pine

· Steve Hill – Statesville

· Winston Dozier – Troy

· Wanda May – Tryon

· Douglas Pearce – Wake Forest

· Karen Johnson – Waxhaw

· Alex McKay – Waynesville

· Wilson City Council – Wilson