Friday, March 26, 2010

Update on Leoti Business' Beautification

Earlier I discussed everything that local business people are doing to spruce up their businesses on Main Street. Lately, much more work has been done. People all over are talking about how nice everything is looking!

Recent work first started at John and Liz (Griem) Goulds' quonset building just to the north of Dollar General. Many years ago, it housed Vern Braun's trucking firm. Through the years, natural elements had caused a great deal of the outer shell to break down. The historical thunderstorm that rocked Leoti early last summer, did more than just a wee bit of damage also. Windows were broken out, the tin roof and walls had multiple hail dents, etc. At one time, it looked like the building was on it's last leg.

All of that changed in the past month or so. New metal was hung that covered the worn metal. It also covered up the broken windows which I am sure is a great deal! Not only will there no longer be any threat of additional broken windows, but the building should stay cooler longer on hot days and warmer longer on cold days.

For a short time, visible exterior work cut way back. However, the work is once again in full swing! The last couple of days, the carpenters doing the job have tackled the building's face. What a facelift this ol' gal is getting! One of the most noticeable changes that I have noticed is that there is now a nice wide door that faces towards the north about midway through the length of the building. (Actually, there has been quite a debate around Leoti. People are wondering if the door has always been there or if John and Liz decided to add it through their renovation.)

Anyway, you owe it to yourself to swing by and take a good long look at how this ugly duckling is turning into a beautiful swan!

Before I get off of the topic of John and Liz Gould, I also want to mention another MAJOR transformation that they have been a apart of. Have you had a chance to drive by their new homestead? It is located just to the south of the baseball fields in town. Originally, their house was set up many miles north of town. Driving back and forth every day was too cumbersome for the family. John and Liz both have thriving businesses in town plus their children are now in school. Along with school, other activities crop up quickly. It just made much more sense to move the home that they loved so dearly into Leoti. Over a year ago, their house made it's trek into town. It came to rest on some lots that they had previously purchased. The prior owners had planted some beautiful evergreen trees on the property. In addition to adding beauty, they also allowed for much protection from the north winds. Since they have been here, a new and GORGEOUS lawn has been planted complete with more trees and a pond in the back yard. To say that it looks like a park is a definite understatement. Thank you, John and Liz, for going above and beyond to make Leoti a beautiful place in which to live!!! (Maybe you should start ANOTHER business--landscaping.)

A few blocks south of the Gould building is Western Hardware. The Oldham family, Lee, Loy and Scott, owned this business for many a year. When they decided that it was time to slow down abit and just enjoy retirement, Wichita County was very fortunate that Russ and Cathy (Marcy) Wiegers purchased the business and carried on. Through the last few years, MUCH work was done there both inside and outside. Everything just looks great! The Wiegers have also brought in additional items that no one in Leoti had ever sold before. It is amazing to walk in and see what all has been done on the inside. Last summer, people actually parked in front of their building just to watch the exterior renovation as it progressed. A new sign was put up, etc.

The couple also bought the Oldhams' lumber yard. Since then, they have really dolled up it's exterior. They even added some pleasant landscaping in front. About a month ago, I had occassion to go into the lumberyard. OH, MY GOODNESS!!! They still sell the same items but the building looks like it never has before! Check it out!!!

Awhile back, the Wiegers purchased the lots between them and the Leoti Standard office. Many years ago, the historic Johnson's Grocery Store and home stood on this land. Very recently, a contractor came in, leveled out the ground and then poured a fairly large piece of concrete. I am ASSUMING that this concrete will hold the store's large array of rock, fertilizer, potting soil, etc. Today, we noticed that they are starting to set up a very attractive metal fence. I would guess that it is probably 6 feet tall and will be set up across the entire front and rear of the new lots. It is black and has large even spaces between poles which allow passersby to see what is available there but at the same time, provides much-needed security. Its sad to say, but as economic conditions continue to sag, theft continues to rise.

After all of this work began, equipment pulled up at Dave and Jenet Gardners NAPA Auto Parts Store. Earlier this winter, a vehicle got away from it's driver and caused a window or two to be broken. Since then, the Gardners have really updated their store front. It has really captured a lot of positiive attention! The equipment was used to remove the Northside sign which had originally stretched from one side of the building to the other. I have not noticed any changes in the last week or so there but I am sure that it will probably resume at any time. I am GUESSING that a new sign will be hoisted to take it's rightful place.

Lastly, I really want all of our area business people who have stepped up to the plate and spent a great deal of money to make our Main Street and Broadway sparkle once again! When Cafe 96 opened its doors, people opened the building and discovered out-of-this-world artwork on the walls! Karen Walk and others had located historic Leoti photographs and enlarged them. Oh, mercy! Leoti has really changed! Did you know that at one time, parking was also available right smack dap in the middle of the east to west Broadway Street and north to south Main Street? Yeppers. Traffic continued to flow on both sides of the major streets. Something else that was recently noticed by some Leotians looking through antique photographs is that there was a tremendous amount of daily foot traffic on the walkways on both sides of our business center. Oh, wouldn't it just been grand to have that kind of commerce available in Leoti again??? I also heard something else the other morning that I find to be really intriguing. I would actually LOVE to see a rebirth of the practice. Once upon a time, people from all over the county, would come to the Main Street/Broadway area on Saturday afternoons and evenings. They would park their vehicles. Some people chose to get out of the cars to walk around while others preferred to remain seated. Why??? Saturday afternoon and evening was a major social gathering day for all. People just gathered downtown so that they could visit their friends, family, neighbors, etc and get caught up on what was going on with everyone. This practice continued until the early 1960s. I imagine that the death of this ritual can be blamed on the popularity of the boob tube--television. It is too sad. I imagine that people enjoyed a much tighter relationship with one another...

Well, by now, you are probably snoozing so I should close.


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