New group to beautify downtown Lovelock

After six months of discussion, a new group of proactive citizens went public last week with ambitious plans for their community. Lovelock Revitalization Association projects for the holiday season include downtown store front window decorating and an LRA float for the Christmas Parade of Lights.

Monthly meetings will be open to all those with positive input willing to help implement future projects. Last week's agenda included awning restoration, a “big” Lovelock event for Nevada Day 2018, new maps of the city and county and more freeway metal art installations to attract more visitors.

When the 501(c)3 paperwork is complete, non-profit status will enable LRA to organize fundraisers, accept donations and serve as a central resource for the Lovelock business community. The group's outreach will include LRA fliers, a Facebook page and possibly a website in the near future.

A mission statement summarizes the group's objectives: “Revitalize the heart of Lovelock by enhancing its appearance and providing resources to rejuvenate commerce between consumers and local businesses to create a vibrant, sustainable community.”

A flier and logo are in the works to show the group is here to stay but there will be obstacles ahead.

Vacant, dilapidated buildings with absentee owners, a shortage of quality housing and the lack of commercial plumbing, electrical, roofing and other repair contractors are some of the challenges.

LRA Chairwoman Karen Lerner knows it will take time to make an impact on the downtown core.

“Right now, it's the basic bones of getting it off the ground and coming together with ideas,” she said. “We are prioritizing the projects and now it's the paper work because we're going to need to reach out for funding in the community and through grants.”

The “Nevada Main Street” community rejuvenation program makes state funding available for up to five towns a year. However, those towns must come up with matching funds of $50,000 contributed by local governments and businesses. The financial commitment is unrealistic for a small rural community said Heidi Lusby-Angvick, Pershing County Economic Development Authority Executive Director.

“It turned out that only two (Nevada communities) applied this round,” she told the group last week. “That's a lot of money and half of that $50,000 has to be fund-raised.”

The LRA membership so far includes local government officials, small business owners, banking, public relations and marketing representatives. For elementary school teacher and artist Michele Kommer, a proactive strategy is one of the essentials for her group to succeed.

“Our biggest thing is we want the attitude to stay positive,” she said. “In our world nowadays, everything is so negative, it's really hard to get something going in a positive direction. We have lots of great entities and our job is we want to see everybody come together and actually work together.”

Neglected properties will be a long-term challenge but Lusby-Angvick said good things are happening.

“We have a developer who is building some housing,” she said. “We are seeing positives. We need to be cute and clean and tourist-friendly.”

To help homeowners fix up their properties, Kommer suggested the local newspaper run a regular announcement or feature on community projects in need of volunteers, equipment and supplies.

“Up at home, it's called 'Our Neighbor in Need',” she said. “The paper posts each week, this person needs this, does anybody have that? You can call in or you type in whatever online and it's provided.”

Volunteers with extra holiday decorations are requested to help brighten up Main Street in time for holiday craft fairs and the Parade of Lights. The project is scheduled for Friday, December 1 at 1 p. m.

During the following week, a float will be built, possibly using recycled cardboard, plastic bottles and other materials, at the Big Meadows Recycling Center for the Christmas parade on Saturday, December 9. County Commissioner Larry Rackley volunteered his truck and a sixteen-foot trailer for the float.

Future LRA projects include ATV tours of the California Trail and additional metal art work for the I-80 freeway overpasses and underpasses in and around Lovelock. A metal pioneer wagon and oxen team dedicated to the California Trail were recently installed by a local artist near the freeway.

“All that metal work on the freeway (in Reno) looks so beautiful,” Lerner said. “Maybe we could get the high school metal class involved to make duck decoys or something Lovelock related.”

In the coming year, Lerner hopes to see some physical improvements in the downtown area and she would like the local newspaper be involved in the group's activities. There will be a face-to-face outreach to Lovelock business owners with fliers and email updates on LRA meetings and events.

“We've got some big stuff to do and we see potential in Lovelock,” Lerner said. “It's not going to happen overnight but we're in it for the long haul.”