Community Champion

Kathie Williams named first Community Champion for 2020
LDN recognizes those who go above and beyond to make Logan County a great place to live

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[January 27, 2020]  On Wednesday morning the staff of Lincoln Daily News was excited. This was a day everyone was looking forward to as they headed downtown to pay a surprise visit to local business owner Kathie Williams at Small Town Creations.

But this wasn’t just a social visit. On this special day Williams was the first recipient of the LDN Community Champion Award.

Lincoln Daily News will be making 12 such visits this year to local individuals, organizations and/or businesses that we feel have gone above and beyond to make Logan County a better, stronger community.

Williams was a natural for the first award as the staff considered the outcome of the efforts Williams put into promoting Lincoln this past year.

Reflecting on Williams most recent impact for the community, she makes no secret of the fact that she loves Christmas and she loves the warm feeling that the Christmas season can evoke in everyone.

She came up with the idea of putting decorated Christmas trees on the historic Logan County Courthouse lawn. It was an idea that was well received by the community and the Logan County Board to said, yes, they would permit the trees.

From there, it took no time at all for Williams working with the Logan County Tourism Bureau to find tree sponsorship for more than 40 businesses and individuals from the area.

The trees were placed on the lawn with assistance from the Land of Lincoln CEO program, and those who purchased the trees came and decorated them to their liking.

On the Friday night after Thanksgiving, the community came together for the official tree lighting ceremony. The turnout for the lighting was tremendous and it was awesome to see so many people come together to kick off the Christmas season in style in Lincoln.

Throughout the holiday season people were seen walking about the courthouse lawn looking at the trees. Some were designed to commemorate a special person or organization, and there were lots of selfies taken.

In the end, just about everyone who came to the downtown area reacted positively to the trees and many of the tree owners have already expressed that they would be participating in the new Lincoln holiday tradition come Christmas 2020.

In addition, Williams was instrumental in bringing a successful Small Business Saturday event to the downtown area on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

She is quick to say that she only got the ball rolling. All the participating businesses were enthused about the idea of doing Small Business Saturday, and Williams said from the first meeting ideas poured from everyone.

On that Saturday there were carolers in the streets; a gingerbread house contest, special performance from the Zion Lutheran Bell Choir, and an afternoon visit from Santa at the LCTB Depot visitor’s center.

Retailers in the heart of the city were thrilled with the turnout as shoppers came to town to enjoy all the festivities as well as get a good start on their Christmas shopping while supporting local business owners and keeping their dollars in our community.

In addition to her efforts at Christmas, Williams is a mentor for the 2019-20 CEO students, has promoted Lincoln in several other ways and is a member of the Logan County Tourism Bureau Board.

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She owns and operates Small Town Creations on the Square and has successfully merged three businesses into one, offering goods and services to the community that are needed and much appreciated.

Williams began her own small business a few years ago working in her home. When she outgrew the home space allotted for her paint party business, she moved into town to a location on Sangamon Street.

Timing was right for all concerned when the owners of the Award Shop decided it was time to take down their shingle and retire, as about the same time the popular coffee and gift shop, Beans and Such, came up for sale.

After a lot of thought and prayer, Williams and her husband Jim took the plunge and bought out both the Award Shop, and Beans and Such. They moved all three businesses into the former Beans and Such and they have become a popular stop for many shoppers who come to Lincoln.

Lincoln Daily News co-owner Jim Youngquist said of his team, “We came up with the idea of doing a community champion award because we feel that there are people, businesses and organizations that work quietly day-in and day-out to make our community better and stronger. Those people deserve a little bit of recognition. If we can give them a pat on the back and let them know that their efforts do not go unnoticed, then we should.”

LDN Director of Advertising Karen Hargis said, “We heard a lot of really good comments about the Christmas Trees on the square this year. We also did a tree of our own, and enjoyed seeing it in the line-up as we drove by every day. When we at LDN got together to talk about who would be the 2020 Community Champions, choosing Kathie as the first one was an easy and obvious choice.”

LDN News Director Nila Smith said, “In our line of work, we get to know a lot of people. In the time I have spent with Kathie, I know she is genuine. She loves this community, she loves downtown, and she wants to see everyone succeed. She’s one of those people who doesn’t just sit back and talk about what needs done, she takes action and she invests her whole self into making all of us look better. If that isn’t a champion, then I don’t know who is.”

On Wednesday morning, Williams was presented with ‘Goliath,’ the six feet tall traveling trophy and a beautiful combination planter with fresh flowers provided by Debbie’s Downtown Floral. She will have the trophy for about a week, and will also receive a certificate with her photo as keepsake.

Congratulations Kathie, you are a valuable part of our community and definitely a Community Champion.

[Nila Smith]

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