Pictured (from left to right) are Leslie Knope Award winner Adam Ries, Mister Rogers Award winners from Thomas Edison Amber Cereghin, Linda Stoddard, Amielia Bridges, and Miranda Fleming, and Edison Award winner Dennis Cummings. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Pictured (from left to right) are Leslie Knope Award winner Adam Ries, Mister Rogers Award winners from Thomas Edison Amber Cereghin, Linda Stoddard, Amielia Bridges, and Miranda Fleming, and Edison Award winner Dennis Cummings. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Two individuals and a group were honored during Tuesday evening’s annual Main Street Live! award dinner. The Leslie Knope Award, the Edison Award, and the Mister Rogers Award was presented to those who continue to give back to the Main Street Van Wert organization.

Adam Ries was awarded the Leslie Knope Award. The award, named after the fictional character of the same name from the television show Parks and Recreation, is dedicated to the person who shows support and unending advocacy to MSVW and is the first in line to share the good word about what’s happening in downtown Van Wert.

“I think what it comes down to is you just try to find a way to make a difference where you live,” said Ries. “I think Main Street is really unique and I have so much love for the organization still. There are so many things in Van Wert that are making a difference but I think Main Street is making Van Wert a better place to live and that’s something I want to continue to be a part of it if I can.”

The Edison Award was presented to Dennis Cummings owner of Decor and Moore Gift Shoppe in downtown Van Wert. The Edison Award, named after the great inventor Thomas Edison, is dedicated to the person that markets creatively, has outstanding entrepreneurship, and has fresh and new ideas to an old approach.

Cummings took a business he already owned at 109 W. Main St. and then took a fresh, new concept and made it a reality. The store-front and interior have been completely restored and upgraded and now houses Decor and Moore Gift Shoppe and Brewed Expressions Cafe.

“It was a dream started by him,” said Cummings pointing to former Main Street Van Wert Director Adam Ries. “The building was in bad shape and we wanted to save it. I thought, ‘maybe.’ I talked to Adam and several other business owners and they said, ‘you can do it.’ It took us awhile – we did it; let’s keep doing more.”

The final award, the Mister Rogers Award, was presented to the Thomas Edison Center. The award, based on the show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is presented to those with passion and heart. It’s given to those that are a great neighbor, always willing to offer a helping hand to the quality of life downtown, and actively work to uplift the community.

“This group is always willing to go the extra mile for me,” said Main Street Van Wert Director Mitch Price. “I knew when I got this job that I needed help; I needed help with the downtown plants because that’s the last thing I wanted to hear, that they’re going to die. Every time I called this group they would always help me and they would always make me smile.”

“They have shown me a whole new world,” said Amber Cereghin who works with the individuals at Thomas Edison. “Growing up you think that there is a whole world, and you see that world. But their world is different, and to be a part of it and to be accepted without any questions is just amazing.”

In addition to the awards, Price gave a review of the past year at MSVW and expressed how much he loves his job as director and being part of Van Wert.

“I’m very excited to see where Main Street is going,” said Price. “I feel like we have some great momentum.”

“I’m very passionate about Van Wert,” added Price. “I’ve always been passionate about downtown. I love Van Wert; I love that I’m born and raised here… I think Van Wert as a whole is moving in the right direction and I’m excited for the future.”

Price provided a few statistics regarding MSVW in the past year since he’s been named director. He noted that volunteers have given over 2,800 volunteer hours to the organization, 78 board and committee meetings have been held, 10 events that MSVW is involved with have been held, four business have moved downtown, 40 supporting partner banners have been purchased, and 10 hanging flower baskets have helped to beautify downtown.

Other MSVW highlights over the past year include getting a wireless speaker system that will be set up downtown approved, becoming a Certified Local Government, turning in the National Historic District and getting accreditation from Heritage Ohio. Next week MSVW will host 40-90 Main Street Directors for training.

Those in attendance heard from keynote speaker Frances Jo Hamilton, Director of Revitalization for Heritage Ohio, and enjoyed a meal catered by Black Angus on Main with dessert by Truly Divine. Entertainment was provided by Dru and Michaella Johnson.