By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — During the early 1900s, business owners and professional people in the Colfax area formed the Colfax Commercial Club to promote the village.
Those who attended a meeting May 7 at Lynn’s Brewed Awakenings Coffee Shop with business owners and Eric Turner, director of the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation, decided that a revival of the Colfax Commercial Club would be useful for promoting the Colfax area and for planning the sesquicentennial celebration for 2014.
The club should be open to a variety of people and not just business owners, said Annie Schieber, village trustee and owner of A Little Slice of Italy.
Schieber said that many business owners might not be able to regularly attend meetings for the club and for the sesquicentennial planning but that employees might be willing to serve.
Schieber suggested devising a slip that could be put into paychecks inviting employees to the meetings.
Jackie Ponto, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, sent out a number of letters asking Colfax clubs, organizations and businesses if they would be willing to help in planning the sesquicentennial celebration.
Ponto said she received only four responses.
Peggy Richards, representing the Colfax Sportsmen’s Club, said club members would be happy be involved and to lend support for the commercial club and the sesquicentennial planning.
Those attending the meeting agreed that organizations such as the Sportsmen’s Club, along with employees of local businesses, and people involved in enterprise of some kind, such as selling jewelry or scarves, would be valuable assets to the Commercial Club because they would bring a variety of perspectives.
Carlton DeWitt, owner and publisher of the Colfax Messenger, said that professional people, such as physicians, dentists or attorneys, along with representatives from Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center, would be essential to the group as well.
Colfax needs a logo, Ponto told the group.
The letterhead for the Village of Colfax should have a logo that represents the village’s history in some way, she said.
Turner agreed that a logo would be a good way to “brand” the Colfax area.
In addition to village letterhead and brochures, the logo should be made available to all businesses and organizations if they want to use it on their letterheads or promotional materials as a way to market the Colfax area, Turner said.
Different entities could make minor changes to the logo, such as using different colors, but the overall theme of the logo would tie together businesses, clubs and organizations, he said.
Turner suggested that a logo contest would be a good idea, but also suggested that someone from outside the area and not from Colfax should judge the logo contest entries.
“That way you won’t run into someone on the street who stops you and says, ‘why didn’t you pick my logo?’” he said.
Power of 10
Those who attended the meeting also reviewed the Power of 10 report (Placemaking Downtown Colfax) issued by the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission for ideas to make the village more appealing to visitors.
One of the suggestions from the Placemaking workshop last summer was to paint a mural on the side of the Little Italy building facing Railroad Avenue.
“I’ve been wanting a mural forever,” Schieber noted.
The problem, she said, is finding someone who can paint a mural that is within her budget.
Ponto pointed out that when she was the clerk-treasurer in Glenwood City, the city wanted a historical mural.
People were able to “buy faces” for the mural as a way to fund it, she said.
That is, if people wanted to commemorate a family member or someone who was significant to Glenwood City in some way, they could pay for having that face painted on the mural, Ponto explained.
The Power of 10 report also suggests murals for the Cenex warehouse building, Commercial Testing, and on the building next to Tower Park.
Flowers and benches
Other short-term and relatively inexpensive suggestions for making Colfax more inviting to visitors include benches and flowers.
Beverly Schauer, village trustee, noted that flower planters had been tried before but that they were vandalized almost right away.
Turner suggested heavy concrete planters that would be all-but-impossible for someone to move.
The planters could be stained so that they do not look like concrete, he noted.
Planters at the entrances to the village and in the downtown area would provide continuity throughout the village, Turner said.
Benches also would be beneficial because they would provide places for people to sit and to let them know they are welcome in Colfax, he said.
People who attended the meeting agreed that issues surrounding the flowers planters also included who would provide the plants and who would be responsible for watering them.
Turner suggested that a “kick-off” party would be a good way to get people together for both the commercial club and for the sesquicentennial planning committee.
The next meeting date of the Colfax Commercial Club has not yet been determined, but anyone who is interested in receiving more information can contact Ponto at 715-962-3311, or Mark Johnson, owner of the Colfax Arts and Antique Mall, at 715-704-6086.