I've been kicking myself all over the place this morning for not taking a camera along yesterday when we drove into Des Moines for Chariton's oral (and visual) application presentation before the Main Street Iowa Advisory Council. If there were Emmy awards for primetime Main Street presentations, we'd be a shoo-in. Seriously. It was that good.
That's said modestly because I had nothing to do with it, other than a brief speaking part near the beginning. The credit goes entirely to Karen Wilker and Kevin Graves with a strong graphics assist from Joe Milledge, of KIIC Radio.
Lacking a live photo, I'll make do with this stock photo of the main conference room of the Iowa Economic Authority, where the presentation took place. Imagine Wilker and Graves set up behind a remote radio bradcast table to the right of the screen up front; Shawn Garton, of Johnson Machine Works, who handled graphics presentation, at left; the chairs around the table filled with the advisory council and various Main Street Iowa personnel; and chairs against the wall entirely around the room filled with the Chariton delegation, perhaps 30 of us.
The up-front caution is that a strong presentation does not insure selection for Main Street Iowa and we're all too aware of our own areas of vulnerability, as I'd imagine the applicants from four other Iowa cities who also made presentations Thursday are, too. Selection announcements will be made during early February.
Karen and Kevin selected the format --- a live broadcast by talk-show hosts from the green room where the Chariton delegation had gathered prior to the presentation --- in part because we were the last presentation of the day, commencing at 3:30 p.m. and following four others. So it had to be lively and engaging. And it certainly was.
They worked nonstop on the presentation for two and a half days, after Kevin flew in from Colorado Springs where the consulting firm he operates is headquartered. We all got together Wednesday night for run-throughs which, admittedly, were a little rough. But everything had smoothed out by Thursday afternoon.
This was a carefully timed event. We had exactly five minutes in the conference room to set up --- and there were quite a few props involved. Then exactly 30 minutes for the presentation. Then 15 minutes for questions and answers.
We started exactly on time and finished exactly on time with county assessor Tim McGee as our personal timekeeper. It was bright, it was lively, the graphics were exceptional, no one fumbled or stuttered --- even once. And we got a couple of rounds of applause --- then some tough questions.
The Chariton delegation lined up around the room was pretty amazing, too. Students, the superintendent of schools, hospital administrator, city and county officials including the mayor, businesspeople, representatives of Hy-Vee and Johnson Machine Works, our resident legislators --- Iowa state Rep. Richard Arnold and state Sen. Paul McKinley (the three of us formed a subdelegation of Russell High School graduates). Many others.
This has been an amazing process that kind of began last May during the National Main Street Conference, which several of us attended, involving an incredible number of people and incredible community support. All sorts of people deserve all sorts of credit, but most of us I think will acknowledge Alyse Hunter, who chairs the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission and who always was working on some aspect of the application. And always, when the rest of us, faced by frequent setbacks, were wailing and gnashing our teeth and threatening to quit or hold our breaths until we turned blue, just glanced up and said quietly something to the effect, "Oh just calm down; it'll get better." And it always did.
The final question from the advisory council was, "what will you do if not selected?" The answer from Chamber president Dave Fletcher and Karen was, "get to work --- and see you next year." There's been a tremendous amount of growth in Chariton during this process, and that's most likely just what would happen I think.