EDITOR'S DESK: Awards need new spirit

       The Spirit Awards are a great idea that look as if they could use an infusion of some kind.
       When Sallie Clark, the Westside's county commissioner, introduced the awards two years ago - coordinating them through the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) advocacy group - she described them as a way "to honor residents and businesses who have renovated, maintained and built new, in order to enhance our neighborhood."
       That's a concept just about everybody supports, and 27 residents or businesses nominated themselves or others for recognition. A large crowd was on hand at the November 2005 meeting when the winners were announced - with Westside City Council members among those judging and presenting the awards. There were so many entries that those who did not receive gold, silver or bronze awards at least got a certificate to show their work was appreciated. Clark proudly announced that the Spirit Awards would become an annual event.
       But for whatever reason, there wasn't as much excitement in November 2006. The entry deadline had to be extended and even then there were only eight nominations, including one that OWN volunteers put forward so as to have an entry in each of the categories.
       This year it's been even tougher. Despite publicity in OWN's quarterly paper, the Westside Story, as well as in the Pioneer, only one citizen nomination came in. OWN members themselves had to scour the older Westside for entries - with one of them being the Clark residence/business itself (the historically restored Holden House bed-and-breakfast). As it is, when the awards are presented Nov. 8, only one category (Landscape/Curb Appeal - Residential) will have had any competition (three entries).
       It would be a shame to have the awards limp along this way each year, or be cancelled altogether. We know people care. OWN is leading the older Westside toward its own historic overlay. Perhaps a little more incentive would be in order. Cash or gift prizes, perhaps? But that requires time for fundraising, and OWN is all volunteer; not even an office. Ideas, anyone?

- K.J.