August 19, 2023

By Donnie Rodgers
Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street

Volunteers, community members, and local business owners were honored during the Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner last month in The Aspen Room at the Stanley.

The following individuals and businesses were recognized for their commitment to the revitalization and preservation of Downtown Lee’s Summit.

Karen Houck – Volunteer of the Year
This is a special award that recognizes a volunteer whose commitment to the downtown revitalization efforts has generated value for downtown.

Walking around downtown, you may have seen a small rock or two with a message of kindness. These small, but powerful messages are part of Karen Houck’s work to honor the memory of her daughter, Alyssa. Karen’s work with Alyssa’s Wishes has hosted many rock painting events in partnership with Fourth Friday Art Walk and other downtown events to help spread these positive messages not only in Downtown Lee’s Summit but across the world. We’re so thankful to have Karen helping to spread kindness right here in the heart of our community.

Local Foundery – Business of the Year
This award is presented to a business located in downtown LS that shows excellence in all areas of business, community involvement, and volunteerism.

Since starting Local Foundery, Dave Eames and Ben Wine created not only a home for their own creativity and interests, but also a home for dozens of other artists and creators.

They are active in committees including the Promotions and Design committees.

We’re not sure that Dave and Ben know the word “no” and we’re thankful they are always willing to lend a helping hand to any of their friends and neighbors.

Jim Eden – Downtown Champion
This award recognizes someone who does not own a business or property in downtown LS, but is consistently supportive of the downtown revitalization efforts.

We are delighted to honor Jim Eden with this award, to thank him for his acts of service and his dedication to keeping Downtown safe. His leadership with the Lee’s Summit Fire Department is such a gift to our community. There’s no one else like Jim. We rely on Jim constantly for his steady, calm demeanor to diffuse a conflict. He’s the voice of reason in the room. For instance, when a carnival company tries to set up a Ferris wheel on top of the train tracks. Jim is there with a sense of humor and a level head to keep everyone in line. He’s truly an indispensable person to have on our team. Jim spends hours setting and filling water barriers for Downtown Days to keep us all safe. He plays Santa’s bodyguard for his signature arrival by fire truck at the Mayor’s Tree Lighting. He loves to interact with the community, and to see families visit the fire department to take pictures and learn about the fire trucks. Our annual partnership, Boos, Barks & Badges is a tradition that we look forward to each year, and we appreciate your support for Downtown, Jim!

KD’s Books – New Member Dynamo
This award is given to a new DLSMS investor who instantly became involved with downtown committees, events and programming, and is a strong advocate for the downtown revitalization efforts.

Open Books Open Minds is the mantra at KD’s Books. Over the past year, owners Tina & Nicole Perne have created an inclusive and welcoming space where readers of all ages and backgrounds feel seen and celebrated. They kicked off Independent Bookstore Day with a Spirit Week, storytime, a photo booth, and hosted their first-ever Open Mic Night. A retired school teacher, Tina was quick to join the Earth Day celebration at the Farmers Market, leading story time, a veggie-themed craft station, and a pop-up shop featuring books on gardening. They’ve hosted local authors and illustrators, including our May story walk for Fourth Fridays. In June, they set up a display for Pride Month featuring books about LGBT characters and authors. This mother-daughter team is making a name for themselves in the Indie Bookstore community, and we are incredibly lucky to have this gem in Downtown Lee’s Summit!

Frost Coffee and Tea – Best Exterior Signage
This award recognizes outstanding new signage for a Downtown business.

Opening just in time for the Mayor’s Tree Lighting celebration, Frost Coffee and Tea created a new business with historic connections to the past. Honoring the legacy of one of the building’s beloved tenants, Jack Frost Donuts, Frost worked to develop a brand and signage that is reminiscent of the past while fresh and inviting. Frost Coffee and Tea partnered with Fossil Forge Design on the design, installation and fabrication.

Drake Development – Top Facade Rehabilitation
This award recognizes an outside rehab of the exterior of a building.

Constructed in 1887, 230 SW Main Street began it’s life as the home of the Bank of Lee’s Summit, the Commercial Hotel, and Browning Store. After 136 years, the iconic building has been preserved for another century. Now home to ReeceNichols and soon to be International Tap House later this summer. Thank you to Drake Development for preserving a part of our history and this iconic corner in Downtown Lee’s Summit.

A Thyme for Everything – Outstanding Window Display
This award goes to the downtown business which consistently re-designs and decorates their store window displays in creative, original, and eye-catching ways.

No matter the season, A Thyme for Everything is brimming with décor to make your home look beautiful and inviting all year round. Their store is the very essence of style and sophistication, as owners Jen & Marilyn and their staff put the golden touch on the layout and merchandising of the store. From the front entryway displays of tableware to the chocolate case, to the rotating selection of chilled drink carafes, you can’t help but feel like a kid in a candy store when you walk inside. Thank you for making Downtown Lee’s Summit beautiful!

The Purple Bench Project – Outstanding Special Project
Recognizes a special one-time project or activity that affects a downtown or neighborhood commercial district revitalization effort.

On a visit to downtown Wichita, Hilary Graves and John Beaudoin wandered across an idea that they instantly knew that they had to bring home to Downtown Lee’s Summit. Modeled after the Blue Bench Project, the Purple Bench Project pairs residents of a local senior living facility (Addington Place of Lee’s Summit) with a member of the community for a 10-minute conversation. Although a brief encounter, these conversations are impactful and enriching to both participants. Hilary and John received funding for the project from the HMF Beaudoin Family Foundation. The Purple Bench Project has been featured on FOX4 and in the Kansas City Star. The Purple Bench Project can be found popping up at the Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmers Market. We hope that you come by sometime, have a seat, make a friend, and share a story or two!

Brad Culbertson – The President’s Award
This award is given out each year solely at the discretion of the president of the DLSMS board of directors.

In honor of Brad’s years of service and leadership in establishing the Downtown Lee’s Summit Community Improvement District and its impact on Downtown Lee’s Summit.