Surprise! SDDi’s Liston honored

By Faith Bemiss

December 11, 2013

Meg Liston, administrator for Sedalia Downtown Development Inc., was honored for 10 years of service to the community in a surprise reception Wednesday at the Hotel Bothwell’s Ivory Grill.

The reception was hosted at the conclusion of the regularly scheduled SDDi board meeting, with a surprise entrance of a chocolate cake with candles brought in by Betty Fore, manager of the Ivory Grill. Board members presented her with a trout fishing jacket.

“It has been a joint effort of the board to honor Meg and recognize her dedication of service to the downtown,” said Becky Imhauser, secretary for SDDi. “As a board, we feel she is dedicated, she oversaw the restoration of the Amtrak Depot and is overseeing the restoration of the Uptown Theater. This is the board’s opportunity to recognize Meg in a formal way for all she’s done and is doing to refurbish downtown.”

SDDi also has a letter of appreciation for Liston from the Missouri Main Street Association, Imhauser added.

“We have been working with Meg for 10 years now,” said Sedalia Community Development Director John Simmons, who attended the reception. “Meg has fought the good fight. She’s always good at helping with whatever she can to make the downtown better for the community. She has a tenacity and a passion for what she’s doing. We really appreciate her pushing through her projects.”

Simmons, who served as the administrator of SDDi before Liston, went on the say she has an excellent sense for what downtown Sedalia needs and was responsible for implementing the DREAM Initiative as well as making the Queen of the Prairies Festival successful.

“She works well with the Liberty Center and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and has gotten in the trenches and helped existing businesses,” he added. “She’s carried the touch and is doing a very good job. She’s been very good at making sure downtown’s voice has been heard.”

Marsha Scheesh, branch manager with U.S. Bank downtown and a SDDi board member, praised Liston’s hard work.

“I want to say I’ve been involved for a very long time, about 20 years. The difference in the last 10 years is we see action, where before we met and we talked a lot, but what I see now, is action,” Scheesh said. “It’s nice to see the passion she brings, and we know she does a lot more that what she gets paid for — she’s a treasure.”

A surprised Liston thanked the board members and was thrilled to receive the trout fishing vest.

“Thank you guys so much, I like that,” she said.

“If you already have one you can take it back,” joked Michelle Swords, her sister-in-law and SDDi board member.

“No,” said Liston checking the pockets. “Great pockets! Thank you all so very much!”

Simmons asked her if she had any words of wisdom about downtown.

“It’s ever changing,” she said. “I think we’ve made great strides and progress, but we still have a lot of major problems that have to be addressed. And we talked about a lot of them today.”

She cited the Trust and Broadway Arms buildings.

“And I think Mary McLaughlin’s building is such a great asset in bringing new business start-up in, and that’s one major area we’re lacking,” she said.

Liston was asked about the differences and changes she has witnessed downtown over the last 10 years.

“You know 10 years ago I came in, and we were just in the first phase of the (Amtrak) depot renovation,” she said. “And that was a three phase project, basically. I think it was a major undertaking for this group to even consider doing that, they should be really proud of that facility. And it’s great for the public. You see the people accessing the train, and coming into town, and it goes from town going on tours, and going to Herrman. It’s really recreational as much as it is an essential means of transportation.

“So, I think that’s great. Definitely, our SDDi and downtown as a whole relationship with the city of Sedalia, that is the best … we’ve come huge strides over the years. The city has been very supportive of us, and that’s evident just in the last couple of weeks with the inspections that are so critical.”