Bartlesville officials credit downtown investment, volunteers for Community of the Year nomination

BARTLESVILLE - Bartlesville was recently nominated as one of 10 cities up for the Oklahoma Main Street Center's Community of the Year Award. The city is also up for three other awards through the statewide program.

This is the first year Bartlesville has been named a finalist for Community of the Year, and only the second time the city has been nominated in any category, according to Chris Wilson, executive director of Downtown Bartlesville Inc.

"It's a real privilege to have such a nomination," Wilson said. "It is being recognized by cities all over the state that do Main Street programs, and people in general can see the success that we have been having here."

Bartlesville was also nominated in the categories of Best Creative Fundraising Effort for its Historic Ghost Walk;  Outstanding Web Presence for its What's Up Downtown E-Newsletter;  and Best Interior Design Project to local business, Andrea Mann Photography.

Andrea Mann, owner of Andrea Mann Photography, moved to the downtown district a little more than a year ago.

"This is huge to me," she said. "I work really hard to make my space beautiful, and for anyone to recognize it is an honor," she said.

For Mann, she says downtown Bartlesville is not only where her business is; it is an integral part of her family and their lifestyle.

"Everything my family does is in the downtown Bartlesville area," Mann said. "It is exciting to be a part of the development process of downtown and the revival process of this area. The city is bringing back a piece of Bartlesville that was starting to go away. They are really working to keep this area alive."

Bartlesville has poured about $3.5 million into renovations and development in the past three years, Wilson said. Along with the investment the city has made in the district, Wilson also credits the award to the strong network of volunteers present in the area.

"The main thing is the volunteerism that has shown up to the table," he said. "We have so many people in all of our committees. Some of our committees have as many as 18 active people that attend regular meetings. They have all been stepping up to plate."

On the horizon, Wilson said the city hopes to establish residential housing downtown, as well as create more retail and restaurant opportunities.

"We are seeing more and more people interested in Bartlesville because they see a good market here," Wilson said.

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