Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association presents annual awards

SMYRNA — The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association, a nonprofit organization which encourages the beautification and preservation of Smyrna’s Historic District, presented its 2015 community service awards at its annual reception and meeting at the Smyrna Opera House in November.

Dan Bloxom, longtime resident, won the association’s Star of Smyrna his outstanding work in the community and especially for his many contributions promoting historic preservation though his support of the Association and the Duck Creek Historical Society. Mr. Bloxom also previously served on Smyrna
Town Council and is active with Harmony Lodge No. 13 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons.

Each year the association recognizes an outstanding public official for their work in promoting and improving the town of Smyrna, and especially its historic district. This year, the association honored P. Brook Banta in recognition of his outstanding work in the community and especially for his leadership on the Kent County Levy Court.

Mr. Banta grew up in downtown Smyrna, and for a time in his youth resided in the Phillips Building which soon will be opening as part of the Inn at Duck Creek. His family also were merchants in the town’s commercial district.

This year, the Association’s Ellen Sayers Civic Beautification award was presented to Bob Merrill for his work on the Smyrna Redevelopment Authority, St. Peter’s Cemetery and Belmont Hall. Mr. Merrill has been particularly active in finding adaptive reuses for abandoned historic buildings including the Wright Mansion and Sage Cottage,

Jim Wolfe, a resident on North Main Street, received the Ken and Regina Brown Historic Education Award for his outstanding work in the community and especially for outstanding interpretive work at the Smyrna Museum and the countless programs and tours promoting Smyrna which he has presented.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association works to encourage the preservation and improvement of both residential, commercial and institutional historic structures in Smyrna’s Historic District. This year a residential award and grant was presented to Ginger and Jeff Flairty who reside on South Street and a Commercial Institutional award and grant was presented to Asbury United Methodist Church for their restoration of the historic steeple which dominates the downtown skyline.

The members of the Association thanked outgoing President Bill Wagner for his many years of service to the association. He will be succeeded by Maria Paris Newill who was elected unanimously by the members present.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association had a busy past year and underwrote the cost of new banners for the U.S. 13 corridor and downtown. The association also purchased, planted and maintained the planters along South Main Street in the Central Commercial District. Among other accomplishments, the association worked with the town to adopt ordinances to address problem landlords and tenants and conversions of large historic homes form single family to multifamily residences. The highlight of the year was the association’s Annual Wine Tasting Fundraiser which this year was held at the Painted Stave.

Membership is open to the public and anyone interested in historic preservation or community beautification is invited to join. For more information, phone 653-6449 or visit the association’s website at www.mydowntownsmyrna.org.

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