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Small town New Zealand has in the last ten years or so have gone through an astonishing renewal and growth, all of this after many years of set backs and almost destruction as there was a down turn in manufacturing and engineering. Now the old city buildings and homes and cottages are all being returned to their glory! This has been achieved by private commercial lodges, bed and breakfast homes, book shops, antique shops, tourists shops, specialists cheese makers, grape growers, wine shops, herbs gardens, country gardens, farmers markets, organic food growers, you name it and business is booming all without big business! And yes, they are coming back again too, after leaving when they thought there was little profit in staying there. There are now cafes and restaurants everywhere. Country lifestyle farms 10-20 acres are being set-up by people from the city as weekender homes and retiree homes. All support and service companies are racing to these small towns. Community trusts (without more taxes) are being set up to compete with the big discount stores and now food stores and hardware shops are here where good value and profits are given each year to sport, schools, community projects, health provider development and many other small town people needs!
“They have begun to build resilient characteristics and to plan and implement a range of rural survival and revival strategies. This has resulted in positive outcomes for residents in terms of quality of life and economic opportunities.”
These positive outcomes include:
stabilising, and in many cases increasing, the size of population;
importantly retaining and attracting young men and women with vision;
the key is diversifying the economic and employment base of the community;
maintaining an adequate range of services and quality of life for residents;
increasing the levels of civic participation and community pride by residents; and
preserving what is special about the community.
As the great architect Louis Sullivan wrote in 1906:
"If you seek to express the best that is in yourself, you must search out the best that is in your people, for they are your problem, and you are indissolubly a part of them. It is for you to affirm that which they really wish to affirm. Namely the best that is in them. If the people seem to have but little faith, it is because they have been tricked so long. They are weary of dishonesty, more weary than they know, much more weary than you know. The American people are now in a stupor. Be on hand at the awakening."
These were hopeful words in 1906. Nearly a century later, they are urgent,
I hope the Brookfield that James Rawls from New York remembered returns in all its glory, for you and all of America!
I am a three year resident and business owner of The Main Street Emporium in Marceline, Missouri. My husband and I relocated here from San Diego, California. The experience that QuintusCinna had in Linn County disturbs me. I would like to take this opportunity to address issues in the original post. As in most small towns much of the activity is behind closed doors and not necessarily visible to the short-time visitors eyes. Yes, there is a lot of chuch activity in Marceline; however there are many active civic groups such as the Masons, The Red Hat Society, the Eagles, American Legion, American Business Women's Association, the Marceline Area Business and Community Coalition, just to name a few. These comunity groups are very active in sponsoring events and are in addition to the city boards who work very hard to promote and maintain Marceline. The town has the smallest operating Carnegie Library in the United States. They just underwent an interior expansion for display and office space. We also have one of the finest Community Centers you will see anywhere, built completely from community donation and not with taxes. The Walsworth Community Center hosts dances with live bands on the scarce off-weekends from weddings and other community uses. The center is made use of by over 40 community and school groups. Mr. Walsworth made the highest donation to the project, thus his name appears in the title. The Walsworth family and publishing businesses give back much to the community in both participatory and monetary means. The family decided long ago to live in town instead of anywhere else they could choose to live. Walsworth Publishing has a north and south plant in Marceline, a plant in Brookfield, and subsidiaries throughout the U.S. Yes, many townsfolk are dependent on Walsworth for their income, as they are on Jostens Publishing, D-Books Publishing, Herff-Jones Publishing (also with many U.S. subsidiaries), Moore Steel Fans, and many other employers as well. The wages are not all low. As with any job, experience, education, and position dictate the pay scale. Linn County is among the poorest counties in Missouri. Much of the high unemployment rate has to do with a few older businesses in the area closing down over the past few years, forcing many residents out of work at one time.
I don't know where you went shopping, but Marceline has a fine downtown area with a diverse group of businesses and merchandise. Indeed, Yokum's is a fine establishment, but we also have Busy Bee Floral and Gifts, Treasures and Trash for Antiques, Magnolia Antique Mall, The Main Street Emporium for antiques & gifts, Blooming Creations Floral and Gifts, Main Street Mercantile for gifts and souvenirs, Fra Angelicos for Christian items, and Bohemian Antiques. Main Street USA also has Murray's, an old-fashioned general mercantile for local needs and souvenirs. The business has been here since the late 19th century and is the shoppe where Walt Disney acquired his first pair of overalls! These are just some of the Main Street services. Many houses contain businesses as well, such as Odds and Ins for fishing supplies, etc., and The Home Place for country primitives. The stores are clean and well-kept with nice displays and caring owners. I have found the service nothing but helpful and friendly, even as a "transplant". Most of these stores offer Disney items, both new and vintage, as well as Marceline souvenirs.
Marceline restaurants include The Past Time for pool, snooker, darts, and fine pizza, calzones, bagel sandwiches, wraps, salads, and hot and cold grinders. The Pizza is among the best offered in all of Missouri! Zack's is long closed, however Conversations is open for cocktails and cafe drinks; Susie's features a great view of Ripley Park along with their hometown, comfort-food menu (you must try a Dusty Miller ice cream treat - invented and available only in Marceline!); and the O.K. Tavern features breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a full-service bar.
The condemned houses you saw in Marceline at the time have since been torn down with the help of a grant to the city for just such a purpose. You happened to be here when the houses had been tagged for removal. The neighborhoods look cleaner now and some new homes have been going up in their stead. Many business buildings have been undergoing renovations as well. Marceline seems to be experiencing a rennaissance with improvements and population growth. I don't know where you encountered the defacation as Marceline is one of the cleanest places I've ever been.
There are many sites to see here for the Disney fan including the Santa Fe Depot which houses the Walt Disney Museum; Walt's farmhouse, barn, and dreaming tree; Walt Disney elementary school; the Disney complex park with Disneyland's original Autopia track; Ripley Park with a Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad engine on display and the inspiration for the animated feature "The Band Concert": and, of course, Main Street USA, Walt's inspiration for the grand entrances found at all the Disney theme parks. Our annual events include The Come Home to Marceline Vintage Vehicle Show on Main Street USA the first Saturday before Mother's Day in May during our Alumni Weekend. Trophies are given for four categories: cars, trucks, motorcycles, and tractors. Toonfest - our 9th annual is in 2007. Games and events for kids in Ripley Park and seminars all day from famous cartoonists, critics, historians and animators from around the world. The fourth of July celebration - a week long carnival in Ripley Park culminating in one of Missouri's best fireworks shows! Peanut Night - 2006 saw the 45th year of this event begun by the Jaycees to kick off the holiday shopping season. Every November the Saturday night after Thanksgiving sees Main Street crowded with people to see Santa, the lighting of Main Street and Ripley Park, partake in refreshments, the living nativity, the yule log, live music, and the play at the Uptown Theatre. Oh, and of course to buy your bag of peanuts with a prize inside! The Uptown Theatre is one of the few continually running vintage theatres in the country. Opened in 1931, the movie house continues to operate with first run movies at only $5.00 a head! Marceline is continually expanding it's events roster with a Farmer's Market planned to start in 2007.
Regarding the kids in Marceline, as everywhere we have some problems, but overall the young ones are polite, well-behaved, mature, and involved in 4-H, church activities, the Youth Center, sports, school activities, and hanging out at the community pool during the summer months. I have many local kids come in my store after school and hang out with never a problem. Being as Marceline has one Motel (The Lamplighter) and one Bed and Breakfast (the Uptown, with differently themed rooms), I don't know what "hotel owners" you spoke with, but the lodgings are very clean and accessible and I have never witnessed vandalism on either property.
Bigots are encountered everywhere and I don't know where you were in Brookfield, but I have never witnessed behavior as was described in either town. I do encounter the occassional racial slur, which I do my best to correct. In fact, Marceline is growing in a positive diverse direction.
Yes, the area is beautiful with the rolling green hills dotted with centennial farms and provincial scenes. There are many outdoor activities including some of the best hunting anywhere.
Linn County, Brookfield, and Marceline have much to offer visitors and residents alike, including a clean and secure environment in which to live and raise children; and the experience of a community that sticks together to overcome adversities of every nature.
I can only hope you return to Marceline one day to experience what the town is really like.
Happy New Year!
I moved to Brookfield, MO just last year and have found it to be a very pleasant town. I have children in the public school and am very pleased with the quality of the education that this small community provides. I have also been very impressed with how child-oriented the entire community is. Of course, there are the regular politics associated with a small town, but overall I am pleased to live here. I am sorry after reading of your visit that the area was not what you were expecting, but believe me there is a good side.
A little bit of a different subject: In Marceline, I continually see that the Wrenn's Insurance guy buying up downtown Marceline and causing, from my interpretation, a bit of concern. I know that the buildings he was reworking were actually ruining the historical preservation of the building but I've also read concern from the community. Could somebody provide information on what is happening to Marceline's downtown and the city's interaction with the former owner of Wrenn's Insurance? (I say former because I see it was recently acquired by a larger company)
I have read this thread numerous times, and I have mixed feelings. I am currently considering purchasing a home in Marceline, but since I am in california, I cannot view it. I have seen pictures of it, and it is not an expensive home, but that is fine since I do not have a lot of money. I'm wondiering if anyone who lives near or in Marceline would be willing to assist me in seeing if this home is in living condition, good neighborhood, not condemned, etc?
QuintusCinna, you mentioned the Wrenn guy buying up a lot of property in downtown Marceline. This is true. There seems to be many people there who do not like this. I do not know all of the reasons why. I knew some people who were refusing to go to any place owned by him.
seeker54, Did anyone ever help you out with your house hunting? I thought somehow we could send individual email messages here, but I can't figure out how. I used to live in Marceline and still have family there. I might could help if you are still considering buying there.
Last edited by ShadowCaver; 12-28-2009 at 10:03 PM..
In case anyone else checks these old threads, I can tell you that the Linn County Missouri area is quite alive but it is neither dying nor growing - I'm OK with that. I haven't met any racists here (but if there are any I hope they leave). This isn't the city or even a regional hub and that doesn't bother me either. There's work to be had for honest hard workers, especially ones with skills (plumbers, welders, machinists and tool&die folks, brickmasons, produce growers, other skilled trades, family practice physicians, gunsmiths). This place is best suited for persons accustomed to hard work - to making their own opportunities. Most folks engage in lively trade with their neighbors and so are less dependent on institutional jobs. Most folks will consider a fair deal if you ask nicely. [Attention - Linn County still needs their own credit union.]
On the other hand:
Livestock confinement (CAFO) is frowned-upon in this county as is patented seed. Developers and speculators will find there's no profit for them out here. Absentee landowners aren't much appreciated either. Chains/franchises either failed or are failing. There is a Malwart but it is losing money. Most corporations are struggling and most people aren't feeling sorry for them.
It's amazing, 6 years later and I'm still continually updating myself on Marceline news from Springfield Oregon. My girlfriend and I have played with the idea that we could set up 3 or 4 shops in downtown Marceline reflective of our current large store that carries Hello Kitty, Disney, comics, pop culture, sci fi, science toys, and pirate merchandise. We figure let's get our business tame and 7 years from now we'll take a serious look at doing that. Until then, I'll keep reading the news about Linn County.
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