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West Branch is a Main Street Community


Iowa City Press-Citizen

June 5, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Press-Citizen, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.]

We're glad to hear that as a recently named Main Street Iowa Community, West Branch will receive some outside help in its effort to revitalize the city's downtown ("West Branch becomes a Main Street Iowa Community," June 2).

The goal of the Main Street Iowa program is to enliven downtowns, encouraging economic development while preserving historic aspects of the town. West Branch seems a perfect place for that to happen. As the birthplace of the only Iowa-born U.S. president, Herbert Hoover, and as the site of the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch is uniquely and deeply aware of its history. It's with that history firmly in place that city leaders want to concentrate on filling the six or seven downtown storefronts that are still open.

The city leaders have worked hard to earn such an honor. Volunteers spent for a year filling out the application for the program, raising money and assessing the current downtown. To qualify, the Friends of Historic Downtown West Branch had to raise $90,000; the group reports it has $116,000 in pledges.

Now the city's hard work will hopefully pay off as the Main Street Iowa program brings in national consultants, provides architectural design services and helps train volunteers and staff.

We're glad that West Branch is joining the other 49 communities that have been a part of the Main Street Iowa program, and we're excited about the possibilities opening up for the town.