UPCO holds annual meeting
By Julie Weaver
For The Plain City Advocate
Uptown Plain City Organization (UPCO) held its first meeting of the year to elect officers, to allow the membership and visitors catch up with what is happening, and to discover what is planned.
To kick off the evening, guests filled up on subs, pizzas and salads and most enjoyed a locally vinted glass of wine as the meeting was held at Eldchrist Winery. After introductions all around it was down to business even though a casual atmosphere remained.
First up was treasurer, Bob Walter, giving an overview of the 2012 financial statement and presenting a draft budget for 2013. Walter also mentioned some areas that he sees as needing attention such as Farmers Market sponsorship and some sort of grant program before turning the floor over to the secretary for elections.
Elected to offices were Julie Weaver as president, Shannon Weigand as secretary, and Bob Walter as treasurer. This action re-elected all of the officers for a second term except for Kerri Ferguson as vice president. Ferguson declined to run so that she could focus on the many needs of the ever-growing business she shares with board member Linda Peters whose term was up. Elected to the board of directors was Dean Bollinger of DesigNetwork to replace Peters. UPCO welcomes suggestions, nominations or volunteers to fill the vice president position and will continue to pursue board members up to the nine members allowed per the bylaws. Currently, UPCO’s other board members are Paul Gibson and Karen Vance.
Up next was Weigand as organization chair discussing the committee’s needs and plans. One important need is an actual committee. Organization has been operating as a one person committee for a few years now and much help is needed to properly maintain memberships, apply for grants, and more. Another point of focus was the need for better communication between the organization and its members. Weigand notes that at times the officers and directors are so busy that “if you have to yell at us to get our attention, go ahead.”
A segue to the promotion committee report by chair Weaver brought on a quick review of Christmas Under the Clock indicating a successful event. UPCO was able to provide the Plain City Food Pantry with over $1,000 of auction income and donations from guests.
Discussing the problem with the aging sound system so graciously offered for loan to the event by volunteer and council member Shawn Kaeser brought a promise from WQTT 1270 Radio’s Pete Emmons for the use of their sound system for next year. There’s one problem solved. Farmers Market committee chair Chris Long talked about the upcoming Farmers Market committee meeting on Monday, Jan. 28, at the Plain City Public Library at 6:30 p.m. to put together plans for the 2013 season. All are welcome. The Cruise-In, Run/Walk, and Christmas Under the Clock will continue in 2013 as well.
Reporting for the economic development committee were both Weaver and Weigand. This is a committee that has been in flux since the beginning of UPCO. A renewed effort in 2013 will help form the direction of this committee. In 2012, in lieu of an UPCO economic development committee, the Plain City development committee was formed and worked to define a direction for the village. Not an actual part of UPCO and larger in scope than UPCO itself, this committee consisted of the village of Plain City, Madison County, Union County, and UPCO. This committee or team will continue into 2013. More information from Madison County, the village’s lead economic development organization, will be forthcoming and new volunteers will be encouraged.
Design committee chair Shannon Pine outlined the steps the committee took in 2012 to develop directional signage and ease parking issues within the uptown. The planning will be put into action in 2013 with signs directing visitors to available public parking and a sample lease agreement for parking between two or more businesses and/or property owners. Design initiated in 2012 a streetscaping plan and will continue its efforts in that area. One item that has unfortunately been crossed off the list was burying the utility lines in the uptown due to the cost in the millions. Still, the committee will look at different ways to improve the view of the uptown.
Draft goals and budgets for each of the committees were submitted and will be finalized in the coming months. New business within the organization includes looking at grants from UPCO for physical improvements, business marketing, and more. These would not be large grants but would look to cover less expensive needs or to supplement other grants from other entities. A new office copier/scanner/printer is needed and Weigand will research the suggestions offered and more. Heritage Ohio membership was tabled until February. Weigand reminded everyone of the Pathways Credit Union/Western Credit Union Borrow to Give program that is running a contest to determine which Plain City charitable organization will benefit from a 1 percent match on auto loans in April and May. Go to www.pathwayscu.com/charityvote to find out more and to vote for UPCO.
At one point in the meeting, Weaver talked about the health of the organization, noting that a few years ago the organization was hanging on by a thread with very few people available to help run the organization itself. Since that time the situation has improved but there is still a long way to go.
While UPCO’s focus is on the uptown the organization does what it can to make moves that will benefit the village as a whole. Membership is made up of individuals, some residents, some not, and of businesses in the uptown and outside of the uptown. Some members are not in Plain City at all. Of the UPCO officers and board members, only one is a business owner. All others are residents of the Plain City zip code area and all give of their time voluntarily. Since receiving the grant that helped with the creation of UPCO, the organization has been self-sufficient financially, raising all of its own funds via donations and sponsorships of events with only the $4,000 for seed funds and advertising from the village for the first two years of the Farmers Market. That’s volunteers working with Plain City businesses who have a desire to support their efforts. It’s about community. Our thanks go out to the businesses and individuals who support UPCO financially and with their own time.
For more information about UPCO go to www.uptownplaincity.com or our Facebook page Uptown Plain City. Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted on our Facebook page. We would like to hear from you.