Wednesday, November 11, 2009

DDA Names Margaret Ritchie as Clayton’s 2009 NC Main Street Champion

The Clayton Downtown Development Association announced at its Awards Dinner Monday night that the former editor of the Clayton News Star, the late Margaret Ritchie, was named Clayton’s 2009 NC Main Street Champion.

Each of the state’s active Main Street programs is given the opportunity annually to recognize a local Main Street Champion. Ms. Ritchie was selected for this special recognition by the DDA in appreciation of her support to the downtown revitalization process. As editor, she championed and challenged efforts made to revitalize downtown Clayton and on a personal level, she was a leading voice for public art in Clayton.

Mayor Jody McLeod said, “Margaret was indeed a champion of Main Street in Clayton. Her efforts to educate her readership on the importance of downtown Clayton were very successful even among the skeptics.”

Ms. Ritchie’s name will join past recipients Barry Woodard and Joyce Blackley, on the Clayton Main Street Champion plaque that is displayed in the Town Manager’s outer office.

A certificate commemorating this honor will be presented posthumously to Ms. Ritchie at the NC Main Street Annual Awards Dinner which is being held in New Bern on January 28, 2010.

In recognizing Ms. Ritchie for this designation, the Clayton Downtown Development Association offered the following:

The late Margaret Ritchie loved Clayton and was a vigorous supporter of downtown. Margaret passed away in August, but she has left a legacy for the future.

As editor of the local newspaper for a decade, she challenged and championed the efforts made to revitalize downtown Clayton.

She played an essential role in establishing an arts scene in town; she helped found Clayton Visual Arts 10 years ago and led it for eight years.

When the Downtown Development Association initiated a Public Art Vision, Margaret served on the planning committee. Their efforts led to the development of a town-appointed Public Art Advisory Board.

Margaret also served on the steering committee that transformed the old Clayton Elementary School into a performing arts center, known as The Clayton Center.

When doubters in town government worried about the high cost of renovating the old school, she said, “Clayton Elementary School can be saved to further the growth of downtown’s historical preservation effort and to serve the people of Clayton again, as it has for many, many years.” She continued, “Searching for liabilities and cost factors without considering the countless possibilities of that building – even its cost-saving possibilities – shows only a lack of foresight and confidence in the future.” The Clayton Center, a premier performance and meeting center now in its sixth year, has brought nearly 80,000 people to downtown.

Founding CVA, championing efforts to complete the Clayton Center and her support of downtown, Margaret was truly a Main Street Champion.

“Main Street” is a downtown revitalization program for smaller towns based on economic development within the context of historic preservation. Clayton has been a “Main Street Community” since 2006. The North Carolina Main Street Program, which provides technical assistance to its communities, is part of the Office of Urban Development in the Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Assistance.

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