The monthly meeting of the Historic Woodland Downtown Business Association (HWDBA) occurred on July 10, 2008, at Beehive Quilts (535 Main Street), whose owner Peggy Robles provided a comfortable venue within the spacious quilt-making area of the store. About twenty members attended, as well as liaisons from the local Stroll Through History event and former Mayor Dave Flory.

HWDBA has recently begun to formally organize as a non-profit community interest group, similar to the former Woodland Downtown Improvement Association, which played such a role for several decades before eventually dissolving. Topics at its July 10 meeting included adoption of a formal mission statement and brief discussion of what category of non-profit status to employ.

Mo Sadiq, owner of the Odd Fellows Building at 725 Main Street was formally honored by being presented with a nicely framed Certificate of Appreciation for “his beautification, refurbishment and maintenance of this 3 story structure,” described as a “significant presence in the “Historic Woodland Downtown.” This vast, prominent building on the northwest corner of Main and Third Streets serves a wide variety of commercial uses and can be seen in numerous historical photographs dating from the early part of the previous century.

Another highlight of the agenda was an update about the annual Stroll Through History event (strollthroughhistory.com), in 2008 observing its twentieth anniversary from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 6. Featuring a diverse scope of activities, this festival celebrates the history and architectural heritage of Woodland. Focus of organization for the event is Heritage Plaza, at Main and Second Streets.

This event has free guided tours of local historical architecture, a ticket-based program of open home tours, “from each period of Woodland’s history,” and free exhibits of historical: vehicles, fashions, photography, agricultural equipment, model trains and dollhouses.

There will be free entertainment and activities for children, a pet parade and face painting. Also included is a vendor fair with antiques, arts and crafts, accessories and food.

Organizers of the Stroll Through History are requesting the cooperation of the downtown business community in assuring that the 2008 event will be successful. Posters and brochures are presently available for distribution.

WHDBA took the step of adopting its mission statement, as “ to support the business, cultural, entertainment and governmental center for the region by recruiting business, encouraging economic development, revitalizing and promoting downtown, supporting existing businesses, and acting as a liaison between diverse interest groups and government.”

Describing itself as a “public – private partnership,” HWDBA recognizes the following to be “essential components of its mission[:] business recruiting, economic development, revitalizing downtown, promoting downtown, supporting existing businesses and acting as a liaison.” For each of these “components” there is a paragraph stating details of goals and activities. In addition, the organization is intended to contain four standing committees: “marketing, economic development, planning and urban design,” and one for providing various services to this “business district.”

In further action, HWDBA selected the date for the annual Christmas tree lighting event at Heritage Plaza (November 21). And after discussion, the group elected to attempt the planting of a live tree within the planter area on Heritage Plaza. Earlier plans had this space becoming a fountain installation, but maintenance costs have apparently derailed this notion.

Also apparently derailed is the Daily Democrat’s traditional, significant discount on the cost of promoting both Halloween and Christmas events within the downtown in its publication. This will elevate by a couple of thousand dollars, the events’ advertising cost to HWDBA members.

The group acted to choose colors (black and white) for t-shirts promoting its “1st Friday” (of each month) program of events. Plans have these t-shirts soon being available.

A series of other items were discussed in the HWDBA’s nearly two-hour meeting. Only a few members noticed any added downtown traffic related to the recent “Best Show on Tracks” event (celebration of early history of Caterpillar Company, born from development of machinery which could traverse local agricultural land in the flood plain). Perhaps only some added restaurant business was seen, but Peggy Robles said that visitors from Australia had made several purchases of her quilting supplies.

Reports on planters, trees, light poles (and potential, attached flower baskets) within the downtown area were received and considered, as well as information on printing and mailing expenses related to promotional postcards and brochures. Also, the concept was raised of forming a cadre of block captains for coordinating various activities.

City code enforcement items were discussed, including signage, window painting, banners, street vendors, solicitations, etc.. Graffiti problems and possible solutions were reviewed, with related talk about consequences, approaches and tactics for vandalized utility boxes and out-of-town ow3ners of vacant (and vandalized) properties, such as the old Muscle World building at 512 – 518 Main Street. Suggestions included documenting the relevant blight and sending this material to the property owners, along with a strongly worded request for their remedies.

Savory Cafe’s owner noted that she was experiencing busy Sundays and encouraged other merchants to consider opening on that day. Dave Flory mentioned that a new cafeteria was planned as part of any new courthouse complex, which may deflect such business from downtown eateries, owners of which reflected that they believed courthouse employees would still retain a steady desire and appetite to escape the confines of their workplaces.

The next meeting of HWDBA is planned for August 14, 2008, 6 p.m., at the Blue Wing Gallery (405 Main St.).