By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
The Moapa Valley Revitalization Project (MVRP) is alive and well and celebrating its first anniversary this month. This small ad-hoc committee of local residents who are seeking a more beautiful and vibrant business community started last January.
On January 9, 2013, the PROGRESS published a Letter To The Editor from Overton resident Mary Kaye Washburn. In her letter, Washburn expressed concern about the decision to close the Echo Bay Marina on Lake Mead and about the impact that this decision would have on the local business community. She called upon Moapa Valley residents to band together to help restore the Moapa Valley as a beautiful desination for tourism. Finally she asked anyone interested in doing so to form a committee with her and explore ways to revitalize the community.
That letter started the ball rolling. A handful of people responded to the call and began to discuss ways to make a difference. And things grew from there.
Their first planned revitalization event, which took place in April last year. It was a modest clean up project in the downtown district. About 20 community members assembled in an effort to enhance the curb appeal in downtown Overton. The small group went to work pulling weeds, cleaning up and beautifying a few commercial properties downtown.
This project caused a bit of a ripple effect. Washburn explained that in the weeks after that project, several property owners along downtown caught the vision and did some clean up to their own properties; applying new coats of paint, clearing out weeds and doing other similar projects.
This first cleanup project brought in a core group of members to the MVRP. Soon the organization had gathered nearly twenty official members and had elected officers for the organization.
By summer, the MVRP had organized its next major initiative. For the traditional Independence Day celebration, the MVRP hosted a patriotic display contest. They encouraged local business owners to decorate their shop windows and buildings for the 4th of July. A story announcing this event, and explaining that the MVRP would be judging the participants and giving prizes to winners, was published in the PROGRESS during the weeks before the contest. In response, many business owners made an effort to decorate in festive red, white and blue for the holiday.
“It made a real difference seeing all of those patriotic colors decorating the shops throughout town,” said Washburn. “It was exciting to see.”
The winner of the contest was The Front Porch flower shop. Business owner Charlene Udall received a special plaque which is currently on display in the store. There it will stay until a new winner is announced in 2014, Washburn explained. Then it will move to the new winner’s shop to be displayed for another year.
Finally, in October, the MVRP decided to hold a special event for the nationally designated Make A Difference Day. They selected a highly visible downtown business, Sugar’s Restaurant; and they went to work sprucing up some of the more tired aspects of the building’s outside appearance.
Gathering supplies and equipment donations from other local businesses, the group painted the awning along the top of the Sugar’s building. Then local artist Joan Day, also an MRB member, painted a vibrant mural of famous, and favorite, sports figures on the front of the building. When it was finished it created an exciting and colorful scene to enhance the downtown landscape.
In addition to these key projects, the members of MVRP have been also worked on various smaller efforts. They have met with representatives of the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) to discuss ways that the state organization can help them in bringing more tourism visitation to the community. They have also held a monthly BE LOCAL campaign, where they have encouraged local residents to participate and be involved in their community in various ways.
And all of this is only the beginning, Washburn said.
“We already have a lot of things on our plate for the coming year,” she said.
On the weekend of February 28, the Valley of Fire Bicycle Stage Race will be coming to town again for its second year. The Moapa Valley Rotary Club is helping to organize this event. But the MVRP has been asked to coordinate an expo for the event. Vendor space will be available for businesses to show their wares at the expo. The event will be for the hundreds of cyclists who will converge on the community that weekend. But it will also be open to the community to enjoy.
“That weekend will really be a chance for the Moapa Valley community to put on its best for the racers and their teams,” Washburn said. “We hope that people will want to come out to the expo and then also go to watch the racing events and cheer on the racers. We want to do all we can to encourage them to come back and hold their event here year after year.”
The MVRP will be having a meeting this afternoon (1/8/2014) to discuss the organization of the expo event. Anyone interested in helping with the expo is welcome to attend the meeting and to help in the efforts. The meeting will be held at 3:00 p.m. at the Wild Horse Gallery in downtown Overton.
MVRP has also been asked to be a part of the upcoming Moapa Valley Days celebration which is planned to be held March 8-15. This event, being put on by the Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce plans to bring several major events to the community over a period of two weekends. These include a Car Show event, an Archery Shoot and a Street Fair.
MVRP has been asked to coordinate the Street Fair which will take place in downtown Overton. Washburn says that she hopes that local businesses will pitch in and get involved with making the Street Fair a success with special sales events, displays and celebrations.
Washburn says that the MVRP organization is geared up to assist in community events like this. In fact, she wants to form a stronger coalition between various entities in the communities to discuss community events and find out how the organization can help. These entities would include business owners, stakeholders, schools, citizens and groups who are interested in working together to improve communication, beautification and revitalization in Moapa Valley, Washburn said.
“We are inviting organizations, like the Chamber, Rotary Club, Art Guild and any others, to attend a coalition meeting so that we can coordinate the activities of the year and see how we can support them,” Washburn said.
The first coalition meeting is scheduled for January 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the North Shore Inn conference room in Overton.
All in all, Washburn said that she is happy with what has resulted, thus far, from her first Letter to the Editor written to the Progress last January. She feels like the MVRP has accomplished much in one year and that the outlook for the future is good.
“If nothing else, I think there has been a bit of a position shift in our town,” Washburn said. “There is a more positive spirit developing and the feeling isn’t all negative now. We hope that we can grow in membership and continue to build on the successes that we have experienced.”
Anyone interested in the revitalization of the Moapa Valley community is welcome to join the MVRP to lend a hand. Information is available at the MVRP Facebook page. Or call Washburn at 702-592-5070.