Lester named 2014 Main Street Champion

Feb 18, 2014
Photo by: Jessi Stone Mast General Store Manager Melanee Lester, center, stands with employees Wendy Purrman, left, and Jennifer Lane. Lester was recently named a 2014 Main Street Champion for her work with the Downtown Waynesville Association.

On Thursday, Jan. 30, the N.C. Department of Commerce, Office of Urban Development announced that Melanee Lester, manager of Mast General Store in Waynesvill, was honored as a 2013 Main Street Champion at the North Carolina Main Street Annual Awards Ceremony in New Bern.

Lester was selected by Downtown Waynesville Association, Inc. for this special recognition in appreciation of her exceptional contributions to the downtown revitalization process.

Along with Champions from 32 other communities, she received a certificate commemorating this designation, presented by N.C. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dr. Pat Mitchell and Office of Urban Development Director Liz Parham.

Since assisting with Mast General Store’s 1991 opening on Main Street, Lester has been involved in downtown Waynesville. She has worked actively with the Downtown Waynesville Association, serving in many capacities, including board president.

She is always the first to volunteer at any downtown event and also supports downtown promotions by providing in-kind contributions and helping to secure financial sponsorships.

As general manager of Mast, Lester has special insight into the important role downtown revitalization plays in business success, and she uses that insight to serve as an ambassador with fellow merchants, encouraging their involvement in downtown’s ongoing revitalization.

A well-respected member of the community, Lester is an invaluable partner for the Downtown Waynesville Association, Inc. and town of Waynesville in helping to create a thriving central business district.

Established in 2000 as part of North Carolina Main Street’s 20th anniversary celebration, the Main Street Champion designation acknowledges the extraordinary efforts of those persons who have played pivotal roles in the revitalization of their downtowns.

The dedication and hard work of countless volunteers is required to make a local Main Street program successful. Each of the state’s active Main Street programs is given the opportunity annually to recognize a local Main Street Champion.

Commenting on the importance of Main Street Champions, Parham said, “They are a glass half full kind of people — the type that recognizes the possibilities in their downtowns and strives to make those possibilities reality.

“Main Street Champions are the believers, the doers, the backbone of a successful revitalization effort that has brought new jobs, new businesses and a renewed spirit of vitality back to the heart of the community in small cities and towns throughout North Carolina,” she continued.

Main Street is a downtown revitalization program for smaller towns based on economic development within the context of historic preservation. The North Carolina Main Street program, which provides technical assistance to its communities, is part of the Office of Urban Development in the Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division.

In 1980, North Carolina was one of six original states, selected from 38 that applied, to launch the work of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center.