The Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance met last week at the Walsworth Community Center in Marceline. There were representatives from St. Joseph all the way to Hannibal represented at this meeting. At the event, committee reports were given, as well as presentations on grant opportunities available to communities along the corridor.
The meeting started at 9 a.m. on May 7 with Kelly Petre of Macon, Board Chair, welcoming all attendees and making introductions. Marci Bennett of St. Joseph (Treasurer) and Amy Supple of Chillicothe gave an overview of the organization's history.
The Highway 36 Heritage Alliance was formed four years ago to highlight all of the tourism opportunities along the Missouri Highway 36 corridor, from St. Joseph to Hannibal. Along this way, which has been dubbed "The Way of American Genius," one can find stories of Walt Disney, the Pony Express, sliced bread, and Mark Twain. Megan Rapp of Hannibal (Vice-Chair), then reviewed the accomplishments of the organization.
Rapp then reported on the Inventory Committee. She noted the various themes that the organization had established. These themes are:
Innovation and Entrepreneurship: The people and processes that highlight American ingenuity, and reinforce the theme of "The Way of American Genius."
Biography and Culture: A collection of the iconic stories along the Highway 36 Corridor in Missouri.
Military Leadership: Site markers noting the various U.S. Military leaders along the corridor, such as General John J. Pershing in Laclede.
Arts and Architecture: Showcasing the designers, design, and spirit of the corridor.
Religious Settlements and Utopian Communities: Noting the past and present communities that were built on their ideals.
Nature and Outdoors: The natural pursuits and parks along the corridor.
Regional Food, Wine, and Agriculture: Featuring the places in North Missouri with the finest agricultural and culinary experiences.
"What The?": The weird and wonderful stories along the corridor.
Literature: The authors, characters and genres that are demonstrated in American literature.
Supple reported on the Marketing Committee, noting that many responsibilities of her committee seemed to overlap with other committees. Supple noted that the committee was working on ways to get people off of the highway and into the towns on the corridor. Supple also reported the need for more people to join her committee.
Supple then went on to report that her committee has a survey for members that will be sent out. It talks about awareness of efforts and what have participated in. Also, the survey will ask for what members want in future. Ideas proposed include brochures, and an expanded visitors guide.
Currently, the group has CDs, brochures, pop-up banners and signs available on a pay-for-play basis. The Alliance also participated in Governor Jay Nixon's inauguration party at the Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City.
Page 2 of 2 - Kaye Malins of Marceline then presented the Education Committee report. The committee is working to educate each member of the Alliance, and then they will work to further educate the public about the items and attractions along Highway 36 in North Missouri.
Bennett took the floor once again to report on Membership. She noted eight new members this past year, with all previous members re-upping their memberships. The organization has also filed for their 501(c)3 charitable status.
Jerry Eisterhold of Kansas City then reported on Development/Infrastructure. Eisterhold reaffirmed the themes along the corridor, as well as the new ones that are coming to light. He then noted the need for accommodations along the corridor. Eisterhold then showed the potential look of a Highway 36 Visitor's Center that could be placed at both ends of the state, showcasing the attractions on the corridor.
The afternoon sessions included a report on various USDA Rural Development Grants and Loans that are available for member communities in both the profit and not-profit sectors. If communities are interested in these grants, contact your local agency, or presenter Matt Moore of Columbia at 573-876-9321.