09/19/04 — Banquet celebrates downtown successes

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Banquet celebrates downtown successes

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on September 19, 2004 2:05 AM

Merchants, community leaders, business owners, local officials and supporters of downtown Goldsboro gathered Friday night at the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation's annual awards dinner.

The banquet, catered this year by Billie's Restaurant, was an opportunity to recognize both individuals and businesses that contributed to another successful year of innovative downtown projects.

It was held in the Wayne County Museum.

DGDC President Jimmie Edmundson updated the crowd regarding the organization's accomplishments in the past year, which included: recognition of Goldsboro as a 2004 Mainstreet Community by the National Main Street Center; a new sponsorship program that increased downtown sponsors from three to 57, and other accomplishments achieved through various partnerships.

The DGDC partnered with Preservation North Carolina to save two historic houses, the Bizzell House on Mulberry Street and the Nelson House on John Street.

The organization also partnered with the Appearance Commission to provide landscaping of the Pedestrian Plaza as part of an Arbor Day project.

In addition there were 11 new businesses that came downtown, and two businesses expanded during the past year.

The downtown also held its 13th De-Rail-A-Bration event, had nine Center Street Jams, four historic trolley tours, the annual lights up during the Christmas season and sponsored a Speaker's Forum.

Edmunson said that downtown had done relatively well during an unstable time.

Billie's Restaurant took home the award for outstanding downtown merchant.

Sherry Archibald, DGDC promotions coordinator, said that Linda Heekin began the restaurant in January 1982 as a "Backstreet" on Madison Avenue in a strip shopping center tucked away.

"She always had an interest in restaurants and saw a need here for a speakeasy, laid-back dining establishment with a great atmosphere," said Ms. Archibald.

The restaurant, now on Center Street in downtown Goldsboro, caters between 100 and 200 meals a week.

"What really makes it unique is that they wholeheartedly bring you into their world of fine foods and wines and pleasant surroundings, complete with piano music, fresh cut flowers, table linens and a friendly staff," said Julie Thompson, executive director of the DGDC. "This is all among friends in a laid-back, casual style that makes you relax."

Other awards given out Friday night included:

*Wayne County received the Award of Merit for Historic Preservation. This award is given to the property owner who best renovated or restored a building with thought and care to historic preservation.

*Richard Clarke, of R.A. Jefferey's, received the DGDC Volunteer of the Year award. This award goes to a non-board member that gives of their resources or other talents to help the DGDC.

*Jack Amirian received the DGDC Design Improvement Award. This award goes to a person who made a significant design improvement to their building.

*Charlie Gaylor received the DGDC Advocate of the Year Award. This award is given to the person who most served downtown by acting as a spokesperson throughout the community in support of downtown.

*Jimmie Edmundson received the DGDC Board Member of the Year Award. This award goes to the DGDC board member who best embraces the efforts of the organization and makes outstanding efforts to fulfill them.

*The News-Argus received the Most Valuable Supporter Award. This award goes to the annual sponsor that went out of its way to give financial support and other assistance to the DGDC.

*Henry Smith and Randy Sauls were honored last year with a lifetime achievement award, but the actual award was presented at Friday night's dinner.

"We were unable to actually give them their token of appreciation because we were having something special made," explained Mrs. Thompson.

The lifetime achievement award was a statute of Gidden's Clock, made by an artist in Maine. A relief of the Union Station was to the west, the Paramount Theater to the south, and the DGDC office to the east.

"In addition, the time reads 12:01 to signify the time the rail lines were removed back in 1926," said Mrs. Thompson.