Vicki Schulte (center) was awarded the 2013 Volunteer Award at Monday's Main Street Dinner. (Times Bulletin/Lindsay McCoy)
BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - Van Wert celebrated not only its downtown area Monday night, but also the street that runs through it.
Main Street Van Wert's Annual Dinner was held at the Black Swamp Bistro, honoring not only those who have improved the downtown area, but also celebrating the Lincoln Highway which serves as Main Street itself. Local historian Larry Webb gave a presentation on the history and importance of the road which was laid out 100 years ago this year. With pictures of local highway scenes and buildings as well as a video produced explaining the highway's roots, Webb told the story of the road and many of the family-owned businesses which popped up along the highway in the road's earlier years.Webb also brought the story full-circle, explaining that the historical roadway still brings in visitors from all over the country and even overseas. He noted that many people are amazed at the features that Van Wert has to offer, and the reason they are in the city is often the presence of the Lincoln Highway.
The main order of business for the night was the recognition of several businesses and individuals who have opened or moved to the downtown area in the past year. The 2013 Faces and Places Awards were presented to Travis Tribolet of Simply Irresistible, Brent Gibson and Ashley Baxter of Gibby's Photo/Shutterbugg Studio, Bradde Hamman and Bethany Nolin of Open Minded, Leslie Moser of Van Wert Massotherapy, and the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce.
Two special awards were also presented. The Best Restoration Award was given to the Van Wert County Courthouse in recognition of the restoration of the third floor Common Pleas courtroom. County Commissioner was called to accept the award, and he brought former commissioner Clair Dudgeon on stage to also accept.
Finally, the 2013 Volunteer Award was given to Vicki Schulte. Over the past year, Schulte has helped extensively with downtown projects including Market on Main, has been named to the Main Street Van Wert Board of Directors, and has been working on one downtown building where she and her husband will open a shop, Once I Was, later this spring.
"We were just thrilled with the turnout. There were over 100 attendees this year. It's the largest dinner we've held as a Main Street organization," reported Main Street Van Wert Interim Program Director Adam Ries. "I feel that it shows growing interest in what we are doing, growing interest in downtown once again. So many of these people are business owners or people who are helping us with our projects throughout the year. It's a great chance to celebrate everything that was accomplished last year. It was a great year, and we're looking forward to another great year just as our spring and summer event season is getting started."