Emphasis was placed on the unique qualities of downtown Cartersville including shops, restaurants and attractions as well as a friendly atmosphere and pleasant environment. Speaking to an assembly of shop owners, restaurateurs and museum directors, DDA Special Events Coordinator Sandy Lusk reminded those in attendance of what downtown Cartersville has to offer.
"We are so close to it sometimes we don't see it. We have something really special here. Everyone has a pride in the history and culture," Lusk said. "People that don't see it everyday, see the charm."
Each year, the DDA awards those businesses and individuals who have worked to better their establishments and promote downtown. Among those recognized was Loretta Brown named Volunteer of Year.
"This year's Volunteer of the Year Award goes to a lady who has worked with us for several years," Hood said. "She was at every concert, every car show, almost every event we've had over the past three years. She's almost become like family."
Awarded for work done to keep the city operational during snow and ice, the Cartersville Public Works Department was chosen for the Good Government Award. Public Works Director Bobby Elliott was joined at the event by several department employees as they were honored for diligently scraping roads and sidewalks to keep roads and businesses open during recent snow storms.
"We saw some of our sister cities that were shut down for a week -- well if you're shut down for a full week, that's 25 percent of your business that month. In Cartersville that doesn't happen, our city leaders and our public works department made the extra effort to stay up all night," said Liz Hood, DDA Executive Director. "We are very proud this year to thank public works for all of their efforts, not just during the snow storms but all year round."
In accepting the award, Elliott gave acknowledgment to public works crews who stayed overnight working around the clock to do the job.
"We had a good time but it's all about my people and what they do and how we respond. We try our best to operate as a team, we take the job very seriously and I got a good bunch of people," Elliott said.
Also recognized Thursday was the Booth Western Art Museum, given the first Friend of Downtown Award. The Booth has drawn a record number of guests with the Ansel Adams exhibit leading to increased traffic downtown. The impact was significant enough to alter January sales numbers for many downtown establishments.
"As we were looking at January sales and talking with restaurants and merchants, we saw that something unusual happened this year," Hood said. "In a month that is usually one of our worst months of the year, we saw good sales and lots of people were in the restaurants on the weekends. We're giving this to you this year especially because of Ansel Adams but in recognition of the hundreds of thousands of visitors you've brought to downtown through the years."
Twelve businesses were awarded facade and sign grants to support and encourage the beautification of downtown. Two additional businesses were recognized for their receipt of grants during 2010.
Enhancement Awards were given to Green Leaf Day Spa and Specialty Accounting for improvements under $20,000 in 2010. Recognized with the Golden Nail Award for improvement projects of more than $20,000 were Jim Agan at 16 Noble Street and Locks Salon a new business at 19 Public Square.
Wrapping up the evening was the unveiling of three prototype commercials to be aired on TV in Cherokee, Gordon, Floyd and Bartow counties. Footage was taken last year of downtown locations for a compilation of TV ads highlighting Cartersville's historic downtown. The DDA, partnering with Wynn Buick GMC, are collecting insight from downtown business owners in hopes of launching the commercials this spring promoting the charm, ambiance and attractions offered downtown.
"I think we all have a sense of community here in this town. This is the kind of town where you can walk down the streets and know your neighbors," Lusk said. "It's that kind of thing that we have here that people need to embellish, they need to cherish and they need to preserve."