Archived Story

Repinski: Surveying Austin’s expansion

Published 10:38am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

William Shakespeare’s drama, “Hamlet,” has a line we can apply to the Vision 2020 event held downtown on Friday evening, May 31. The revelatory line: “The play’s the thing — wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

The “king” in the Austin area, is all of us. Are we not royalty? And conscience? Hey, we are moving. We citizens of this area are vibrating with a Vision!

The three hours on the north end of Main Street, despite the on-again, off-again faucets from the storm clouds, did not deter an enthusiastic company of persons who focused on the community we are becoming.

The following is a number of responses, some quotations, of a variety of people I walked among. They represent the many area residents keyed into this celebration.

A primary emphasis was in highlighting the accomplishments of the 10 committees that pledged to, in my words, change, sustain, expand the good and add pride to the city of Austin.

Some of the respondents wrote, at my request, feelings or thoughts about our Friday event. For instance, Holly Johnson, Hormel Historic Home executive director, wrote, “A fantastic way for Austin to kick off the summer. Great family entertainment with great music!”

The wife of our mayor, Sarah Stiehm, wrote, “I was born in Austin and have lived here my whole life. My parents owned the Steve’s Pizza building when my grandparents owned the old Fox Hotel and my uncle Herb Fisch had his practice upstairs in the Brick Furniture Store.”

I add this bit of history to better give a setting for the expansion and enlarged vitality we seek. I just have to add Kay Perry’s remark: “When there was a J.C. Penny store in my growing up years, on one visit to the store, I was there to buy my first training bra.” (I always tell the truth; I’m just quoting — and that was from the stage.) Kay literally shook the stage with a splendid singing voice.

I suppose I should add the reportage on the back room at the old Nemitz store. We heard it was kind of off limits — adults only? — and I’ll ask the citizen who mentioned it to say more at our next Vision 2020 event!

Laura Helle, director of this creation, this visioning process, wrote: “We’re building community. It happens one event, one relationship at a time. It’s great to see the sun shining and the crowds out enjoying our downtown.”

Actually, a moistening downpour did come a few times. Those of you who were at the event: did you laugh with glee as a couple with zest, danced together in front of the stage? Thank you! They did get soaking wet.

Jennie Knoebel spoke of the Downtown Destination Committee doing an amazing job of putting together a fantastic kickoff.

Jake Vela added to that: “It’s a great opportunity for the people of Austin to come together.” Jake, of course, is creating opportunities as the director of the Welcome Center.

The laudable memory I pass on is the fact that all ages were involved in this event. It was good to mingle with some of the youth. Sarah Schramel wrote: “I love having live music downtown and being able to come down to listen!”

My conversation with other ninth-grade students told me that Friday on Main Street hit the right key.

My formal interview with Brandon Sampson, lead singer of that amazing singing group, “Six Mile Grove,” made me proud. His roots are, as he said, in Lyle and Austin.

Commenting on my question — his take on “music as music,” Brandon reflected: “I write what I know. I speak from my heart.” About his group, he remarked: “We are trying our best. We are doing what we love. We can’t stop.” And everyone, I add, said, “Amen!”

A plus to all of the variety of offerings for our community, was the fact that stores on Main Street were open. And to the delight of the hungry, snacks and meals were available. Some of the eating establishments were “open for business.”

I was even cajoled by the Jaycees to indulge. Did you smell my breath? Yes, I had one beer! Remember, some of us are Bible people. Jesus turned water into wine. Did he counsel, “brothers and sisters, the word is moderation”? Yes!

Jerry Girton, known throughout our area from Riverland Community College and other settings, was a “behind-the-scenes” person in helping to organize the event that I call stellar. His statement to me: “It’s all kinds of things to all kinds of people.” I can only say, gratefully: “You got that right!”

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