SMART Looking To Restart

Managing Editor

A group supporting downtown businesses may have been knocked down because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it certainly isn’t out.

Laura Yelton, agent for State Farm Insurance on Spring Street, spoke on behalf of the St. Marys Area Resource Team (SMART) on Wednesday to Rotarians about what is next for the group moving forward.

Since SMART’s March meeting was canceled, the group has not been able to meet and the group has not participated in any Zoom meetings as it looks to hit the ground running again soon.

SMART’s biggest goal is to host movie nights downtown, which is still up in the air with Gov. Mike DeWine’s guidelines of gatherings of no more than 10 people still in place. A plan that Yelton and the group had had before the pandemic hit, movie night was originally a three-day event in July with family-friendly movies to be shown at Memorial Park with help from Rotary, St. Marys Kiwanis and the St. Marys Community Public Library.

“Just like with everything else, it is kind of a wait-and-see as to when we can do that,” Yelton said. “Right now we are in regroup mode and we will continue on.”

As for other potential events later in the year, Yelton said the group’s HallowNeon Night committee is still planning on having the downtown event again in coordination with the Rotary parade — which all takes place the Tuesday prior to Halloween. The inaugural event last October was a major hit and brought hundreds of people downtown after the parade. Yelton added that there is hope to have events downtown on a few weekends in October with events such as a ghost tour.

There is also hope to have another year of the Miracle on Spring Street event that was put on by Yelton’s niece, Lucy Spencer, last December.

“It was a wonderful event hosted by a 16-year-old and with the help of some SMART members,” Yelton added. 

As part of SMART’s efforts to provide a helping hand in revitalizing the downtown area, the State Farm agent pointed out a few buildings that are empty — including a storefront the St. Marys Community Improvement Corp. is advertising for at 110 W. Spring St. — and how the group is trying to reach out to other communities to let them know there are buildings they can occupy in St. Marys.

“The more people you have working on something, I think, the better,” Yelton added.

Yelton said businesses can still join SMART — either downtown or outside of the downtown area — by contacting her, the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce or any other downtown business. 

The group also has a Facebook page, but Yelton admitted that work needs to be done on it to make a public page instead of private so more people can be involved. Businesses, however, can still join SMART at any time. The cost to join the group is $20 monthly or $240 annually. 

Yelton added that any business who is paid for 2020, those dues will be carried over to next year so businesses will not have to pay until 2022 with the pandemic impacting so many