Create Your Anamosa works to rev up Main Street

Create Your Anamosa works to rev up Main Street

<>103 E. Main Street is for sale. The main floor has 1,700 square feet of commercial space and there are two apartments on the second floor. The building is listed for $14,995. Fridays in Anamosa have a new tint – Raider blue. The town’s library staff had worn the school colors on Fridays, and then the business community along Main Street embraced the idea. “It’s about community spirit,” said Jim Johnson, publisher of Anamosa’s newspaper, The Journal-Eureka, and president of the Anamosa Chamber of Commerce. It’s a sign of the times for the town of about 5,500 people north and west of Cedar Rapids where a grassroots community effort called Create Your Anamosa is working to rethink what’s possible now and in the future. Anamosa residents rallied together to host thousands of Spandex-clad Iowa cyclists when RAGBRAI rolled through a couple years ago. That’s no small feat, especially when the visitors out number the town’s population by three or four to one. The event got residents mobilized and the show of community coming togetherness got them thinking about how to push the momentum forward. That’s the inspiration for the months-old effort called “Create Your Anamosa.” More than 70 people attended a kick-off meeting in August, which We Create Here helped facilitate, and a second Create Your Anamosa community meeting was held in September where the group refined broader topic areas that emerged in the first meeting. Participants are determined to not leave their ideas confined to meeting rooms. “Having a project and working on a project as opposed to just sitting on a committee is what sets us apart,” said Dusty Embree, director of Jones County…
‘Spirit-filled’ Anamosa looks to the future

‘Spirit-filled’ Anamosa looks to the future

In Anamosa, you find the charm of small town life, but also the challenges that come with it. That’s what brought about 70 residents together for a solutions-minded discussion called “Create Your Anamosa” at the Lawrence Community Center on Wednesday evening. We Create Here facilitated the session. The hope was to find common ground to make positive changes in the community. Residents identified health and wellness, beautification, tourism, commercial potential/vacant buildings, alternatives for youth and strong successful school system as focus areas. Anamosa may be best known as the birthplace of American painter Grant Wood. It offers picturesque scenery of sunsets over rolling prairies, the 300-mile long Wapsipinicon River flows through on its way to the Mississippi, and the Wapsipinicon State Park sits just south of town. The state penitentiary and National Motorcycle Museum also call Anamosa home. It’s a classic small town, downtown. Main Street, which recently was modernized, is lined with two-story buildings on each side with antique shops, art galleries and places to grab of bite or drink on the ground floor. Locals offer a quick smile or ‘hello’ as you pass on the sidewalk. The town is “spirit-filled,” a few people said. “If there’s someone in need, the whole town pulls together,” one person commented. “If we could figure out how to do that when it’s not an emergency situation, we’d have the most booming town ever.” The beauty, friendly people and progressiveness were some of the other terms participants on Wednesday used to describe Anamosa. Community members said they think the history and natural beauty can help grow tourism. Dusty Embree, the executive director of Jones County...