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Uptown Jackson hosts annual meeting

Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization held its annual partners’ meeting on Jan. 17 at the Whistle Stop Train Depot. Over the past year, the organization has increased its beautification efforts to the Uptown area and contributed over 3,500 volunteer hours.

UJRO has committees that align with the Missouri Main Street Connection’s four points — design, organization, promotion, and economic vitality. Members of all four committees spoke at the meeting to give partners an overview of what they do and what they have planned.

The design committee, chaired by Craig Milde, is in charge of the visual attractiveness in the Uptown District through baskets, banners and benches. Milde mentioned that new “welcome” banners have been added to Uptown Jackson. There are plans to update the organi-zation’s branding on all its graphic materials.

The committee also provides its service for the rehabilitation of historical buildings, and will focus on improving the back entrances of businesses in the coming year. The committee will also analyze the amount of parking in the District, and look into adding directional signs in area parking lots.

The organization committee, chaired by Laura Dumey and Emma Evans, is responsible for funding, volunteer recruitment, communication, bylaws and other administrative duties.

Dumey said there currently is a strong funding balance, but the committee is always looking for ways to increase funding. The organization is looking at hiring a part-time assistant this year, so increasing funds are necessary for UJRO to grow.

Dumey added that they do a good job of keeping the board of directors informed, but want to increase communication with the community as a whole this year.

The organization committee will also work on a new event this year that can be a primary source of funding in the future. The “Picadilly” is a ladies night out, filled with games and prizes. The event is scheduled for March, with a committee forming soon.

The primary source of funding for the organization has been the Oktoberfest, which is held outdoors. With the fear that Oktoberfest could get rained out in the future, an additional indoor event provides less risk for the organization.

The promotion committee, chaired by Tyler Wolfsberger, is responsible for events like Oktoberfest and other ways of promoting the organization and the community.

Wolfsberger went over the upcoming events of the year, including the February Annual, Jackson in Bloom, Oktoberfest and the newly renamed Christmasfest. Each event has its own subcommittees, while the promotions committee looks broadly at those events and at other community events UJRO can support.

The next event will be the organization’s third February Annual, which brings a regional Missouri artist to Jackson. It will host Billyo O’Donnell at the History Center. A fifth grade class will create art with Billyo.

Jackson in Bloom is scheduled for April 14, and Oktoberfest will not be scheduled until Southeast Missouri State University announces when Homecoming will be. Planning for Christmasfest will begin in August. The committee will look for ways to expand the event after this past year’s success.

The economic vitality committee, chaired by Barbara Lohr, aims to recruit new businesses to Uptown Jackson and creatively converting unused spaces for new uses in the area. The committee works with the design committee to seek appropriate uses for historic buildings.

The committee is the smallest of the four and is currently working on creating a searchable database of unused spaces in Jackson and what they could be used for. The goal is for anyone who is interested in moving into Uptown Jackson to be able to find what they are looking for.

All four committees are open and looking for new volunteers. The design committee meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the History Center. The organization committee meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at various locations. The promotions committee meets the fourth Monday of every month, and the economic vitality committee meets at noon on the fourth Thursday of every month, usually at the University of Missouri Extension Office.

Dumey gave a treasurer’s report, stating that both their expenses and income grew because of Oktoberfest’s growth. She stated that the organization’s current bank balance is $64,365. Dumey added that is a healthy amount and has been a lot lower in the past. For 2018, the proposed income is $108,500 and proposed expenses of $85,210.

Tyler Wolfsberger was reelected to the board of directors. Emma Evans, Terry Tuschhoff and Lisa Walker were also elected and will start new terms on the board.

The partners approved adding an amendment to their bylaws that comply with the city’s requests when they gave the organization more funding this year. The amendment allows the city representative to be a voting member of the board.

Those who wish to become partners with UJRO can do so online at ujro.org. Partnership is $35 for individuals or $100 for businesses.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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