Between 60 and 70 people were in attendance at the first annual Downtown Sedalia Awards Celebration/kick-off meeting Tuesday night at Maple Leaf Antiques and Tea Room according to Sedalia Downtown Development Inc., (SDDI) Executive Director Meg Liston.
This was the kick-off for the quarterly meetings to be held in which those associated with downtown Sedalia will have a chance to meet and discuss ideas.
“It is more of a networking opportunity than a corporate business meeting. We want to open it up to anybody associated with the downtown, or anybody in the community interested in the downtown,” Liston said.
During the meeting, Liston also announced the arrival of the very first SDDI Christmas ornament that will go on sale in time for the holidays.
“It is an image of the Hotel Bothwell on Thanksgiving evening with the wreaths and fireworks,” Liston explained.
The main focus of the evening was to honor and give thanks to those who have been instrumental in the longevity of downtown Sedalia.
Three awards were given out to those businesses downtown that have shown outstanding dedication and longevity over the years.
The first award recipient Gerald Cecil, owner/operator of Cecil’s Cyclery, has been operating his well-known bicycle shop in the downtown area since 1947. After opening Cecil’s Cyclery, Gerald Cecil, along with his brother Elver, expanded their business to include televisions and appliances. By 1950, Cecil expanded his business and soon owned five of the six buildings on his block. Cecil’s Cyclery is still located at 704 S. Ohio after all these years.
According to Liston, Gerald has been a strong advocate and supporter of downtown Sedalia. He could not think of operating his many businesses at any other location.
The next person and business to be honored was Allen Cusick with Cusick Shoe Repair. Mr. Cusick has run his business in the basement at 500 S. Ohio for many, many years. In 1953, Cusick opened Cusick Shoe Repair and he never looked back. Cusick has strong ties to downtown Sedalia. At the age of 12 he started working for Gerald Cecil, passing out handbills in the downtown area.
The final honoree for outstanding dedication and longevity in successful business was Frank Dick with Dick’s Barber Shop. Dick’s Barbershop has long been a staple in the downtown area, serving many of Sedalia’s boys and men at one time or another. Frank Dick began cutting hair and cracking jokes in Sedalia in 1959, when he worked for Nick Meyer.
Frank eventually purchased the business at 117 S. Ohio, and it has been located there ever since.
In 2004, Frank’s son Brian took over the family business and plans to continue the tradition of quality hair cuts for the men and children of Sedalia.
During the awards ceremony, Liston presented several people with the 2013 Preservation Awards.
Those award winners included Matt Fulson with the Fulson Housing Group. Fulson was honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation and Rehabilitative Restoration award. Fulson Housing Group was behind the renovation of the Commerce Building located at 3rd and Ohio in downtown Sedalia. They turned the building into quality, affordable housing for those looking to live in downtown Sedalia.
The Furnell family was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation award. The Furnell family have long been supporters of downtown Sedalia. Their many works have included the complete renovation of the Hotel Bothwell, turning it back to a destination spot for those coming in from out of town. Going back three generations, the Furnells have been an integral part of downtown Sedalia.
John and Michelle Swords, of Swords Family Pharmacy, were presented with the Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation award. Michelle Swords has worked in downtown Sedalia since 1982 and downtown Sedalia has become an important part of her life.
“It is so rich in history and I am really proud of the direction that it is going. I am proud that people are starting to recognize the value of downtown Sedalia,” Swords said.
Swords was pleased with receiving the award, but humble at the same time.
“It is a very nice acknowledgement. We would rather be behind the scenes, but we greatly appreciate it,” Swords said.
John and Michelle Swords own and operate six different locations in the downtown area, and they have put a lot of time and effort to make downtown Sedalia a destination for those inside and outside of the city. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.