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Published: Thursday, 4/20/2006

Maumee a finalist in national All-America competition

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The uptown revitalization is part of Maumee's application for the All-America award. The uptown revitalization is part of Maumee's application for the All-America award.
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Maumee is celebrating one step on the way to becoming an All-America City after it was named a finalist by the National Civic League.

Officials hope a trip to California in June will impress the jury and help net them one of the 10 All-America City awards.

"It's an exciting time in Maumee," Mayor Tim Wagener said.

The award was established in 1949 by the civic league, a nonprofit group that advocates community democracy. It recognizes collaborations among governments, businesses, schools, nonprofits, and individual residents to improve the community.

"We're a finalist in this award because of who we are totally as a community," Mr. Wagener said.

He stressed that progress and the award are a community effort, not solely the work of the government. "It's the schools, everything," he said.

In Ohio, only Maumee, Columbus, and Fairview Park in Cuyahoga County are finalists this year.

The only northwest Ohio winner in recent years was Toledo in 1998.

Delegations from each finalist will go to Anaheim, Calif. June 10 to make 10-minute presentations.

To win, communities must demonstrate collaborations among government, businesses, schools, or nonprofits, and provide the civic league with three example projects.

Maumee's application cited uptown revitalization, in which the city government worked with business organizations and individual businesses; keeping Dana Corp. in the region, which involved cooperation with other area governments, and the school district's sale of Rolf Park to the city, which allowed the city to remodel the park and the schools to build a performing arts center, which opened last spring. The pool at Rolf Park opened in 2004.

"That was a huge improvement for us," Maumee Administrator John Jezak said.

Mr. Jezak said Maumee's collaboration with Toledo, Lucas County, Monclova Township, and the Regional Growth Partnership to keep Dana preserved about 200 jobs and brought in 200 more.

He said the company's recent struggles take nothing away from that cooperation.

The city recently received its third state grant for uptown revitalization, which has involved improving facades and the streetscape as well as demolishing some substandard buildings. "Uptown Maumee has never looked better in its entire history than it does now," Mr. Jezak said.

The city's application also mentioned nonprofits like the Lucas County Maumee Valley Historical Society and the Rotary, the involvement of citizens on 17 city boards and commissions, and the business success of Arrowhead Park.

Collaborations with other communities include the maintenance of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, membership in the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority, and countywide public services.

The application process is somewhat self-selective, Mr. Jezak said. Of the nearly 600 communities that began the process this year, only 36 completed it. Of those, 34 were chosen as finalists.

"Fortunately, I had a whole lot to work with in terms of writing up the application," he said.

The civic league said that past winners have used the award's prestige to help attract new businesses, residents, or tourism and to help keep up a sense of community pride.

The city was notified of its finalist status by voice mail last week. It is holding a thank-you ceremony at 5 p.m. today on the plaza between city hall and the police building, with refreshments and more information.

Contact Elizabeth A. Shack at:

eshack@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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