Over the years, Donna Dow has been a frequent visitor to downtown Denison. Now, she will oversee the area that she loved to visit. In early September, the city of Denison announced that Dow would be the city’s new Main Street Program director.
“I’m excited and looking forward to it,” said Dow.
Dow, who was Durant’s MSP director for 13 years, will assume her new duties Oct. 1.
“I felt like it was beneficial to come to Denison,” explained Dow. “And help make a difference.”
Denison officials are hoping for the same thing.
“Donna’s credentials speak for themselves,” said Larry Cruise, Denison city manager. “She has been recognized by the State of Oklahoma and by the national organization.”
“We are excited about Donna coming to Denison,” continued Cruise. “We know there will be new challenges and experiences for her, but I am confident that Donna will be a success here.”
Remembering her trips to Denison when growing up in Caddo, Okla., Dow listed what she likes about Denison’s Main Street and downtown in general.
“I’m particularly interested in the architecture; Denison has a great historic background,” she said. “It is a good downtown area and this will be a great experience.”
Being from the area, Dow knows some of the business owners in Denison and even her son, Justin, was born here.
“It is a great place to be,” she said.
Dow already has a list of items she plans to do when beginning work in Denison. She will first introduce herself to downtown merchants and business owners; and find out what their ideas are. Then, there will be some social networking and Dow plans to study the recent Strategic Plan for Downtown.
“I want to know what we should work on first,” said Dow.
Former MSP Director Amy Lay, who recently moved to Bryan, Texas, was pleased with the selection of Dow as her successor.
“I think the Denison Main Street Program will be in good hands,” said Lay by phone. “She has a good reputation in Oklahoma and across the United States. She will be a great asset and she will do well in Denison.”
Lay added that she believes Dow will add to the success of Denison’s Main Street Program and downtown Denison.
Doug Coleman, owner of Boxseat Cards on Main Street, said it was ‘good’ to have someone in place so soon and he is looking forward to Dow’s ideas for Denison.
“I think it’s great,” said Coleman. “She has a great track record and she brings a wealth of experience to Denison.”
When informing the Durant MSP Board of Directors, President Greg Phillips told them that since it’s origination in 1997, the Durant Main Street program has made a great impact in reshaping downtown Durant; and that Dow was a big part of that.
“We have seen new sidewalks throughout our district. We have been named a Preserve American Community and had our downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Phillips. “Durant has been named one of the Top Three Main Streets in the state by Oklahoma Living Magazine.”
Dow was named to be the first Durant program director in 1997. According to Phillips, Durant Main Street has received the following awards from Oklahoma Main Street: Best Community Education/Public Awareness for website www.durantmainstreet.org; Outstanding Program Administration; Best Results in Strengthening Businesses; Top Economic Restructuring Project (The Group Health Insurance Program);The Three Valley Museum - Best Façade Renovation Over $10,000; Pool Hall/Domino Parlor - Best Façade Renovation Under $10,000; Mega Bull - Best Creative Fundraising Effort; Three Valley Museum - Best Interior Renovation; Newman Furniture - Best Window Display; Roma Italian Restaurant - Best New Business; Market Square - Best Public Improvement; Marie’s – Best Business Practices; Durant High School Service Learning Project – Youth Involvement; and Durant Main Street Online – Best Online Presence.
In addition, Durant won the prestigious Four Point Award for its work on Skating on the Square. Durant is only the second recipient of that award in the 25-year history of the Oklahoma Main Street Program, he added.
Before Dow was in Durant, she worked as an account in Bonham for almost eight years. She noted the experience was the ‘perfect background’ for Main Street work.
“Accounting work is so varied,” she explained. “It does come in handy.”
One of the reasons for the change in careers was the community service component of working for a local accounting firm. Due to her work, Dow was active in the Bonham Rotary Club and the Bonham Chamber of Commerce.
“My job took me to businesses where I got to meet the owners,” said Dow. “I began looking at what I really liked about the job; it was the community connection.”
When she heard of the Durant opening, Dow applied and put her experience to work.
Dow has degrees in Business Education and Accounting from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. She and husband, Steve, have one grown son, Justin, and a daughter-in-law, Jenny, who also live nearby in Bryan County. Steve is the Durant fire chief and will retire at the end of January.
“We are looking forward to this next new chapter in our lives,” said Dow.