The new year officially brought the launching of Helper Revitalization 2.0, a community-wide effort to advance the progress of Helper City.
Following the Community Economic Council workshop in Helper on Jan. 21, proactive community members entered another meeting for Helper Revitalization 2.0. During this meeting, attendees were briefed on nine new committees that will compose the efforts to revitalize the city.
Helper Revitalization was organized two years ago and is co-chaired by Helper City Mayor Lenise Peterman and Councilwoman Malarie Matsuda. Shortly after the formation of the organization, a grant was secured by Peterman through the American Institute of Architects for a community assessment. This allowed for roughly $200,000 in professional services to be provided to the city through the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program. This brought a team of architects, engineers and others to Helper to join with over 200 community members to develop a road map for Helper to become a sustainable community.
The assessment focuses on the area from R&A Market to Pick & Rail and from the railroad to the river. The SDAT team, alongside community members, worked to develop ideas for the city to improve, including projects such as placemaking, activating alleyways, beautification, pop-up stores and more. Projects thus far have resulted in beautification of the area, installation of language plaques, a new boulder playground near the riverwalk, wayfinding signage, installation of benches and much more.
Since that time, Helper Revitalization team members have been working toward some of these projects presented by the SDAT team as well as goals of their own. Now, the revitalization team is reorganizing its structure to become even more effective moving forward. As part of this, nine new committees, outlined below, have been formed to work on direct, impactful projects to improve the cities.
Social Media – The social media committee is led by Kylie Ockey and Malarie Matsuda. This committee will bring broader awareness to events, businesses and outdoor recreation opportunities in Helper. Committee members will encourage the use of the #itshappeninginhelper hashtag as well as develop creative strategies to encourage event participants, tourists and locals to post on their social media accounts about Helper.
Trails and Recreation – Fuzzy Nance is spearheading the Trails and Recreation Committee. The committee will be cooperating with Helper City, various government agencies, local businesses and community volunteers to spearhead the maintenance of existing trails, the building of new trails for walking, hiking and biking, and creating trail maps for locals and tourists. The planning and coordination of races and events will also be a focus of the committee along with determining locations for public campgrounds and coordinating efforts to build them. Learn more about the committee on its Facebook page.
Main Street Activation/Utilization – Malarie Matsuda is the lead of this committee, which will work to coordinate several small projects to be placed throughout Main Street to create fun, free experiences for locals and visitors. Project ideas include old-fashioned, yard-type games for the Main Street Park, Helper-themed photo opportunities, coordinating music in the park, informational kiosks, installing bike racks and more.
Public Art Installations – This committee will be led by Mrs. Mike O’Shea. The Public Art Installations Committee will identify areas throughout Helper City for the placement of public art projects. Committee members will connect with local artists, schools and organizations to create and install public works of art. The committee will bring their suggestions and recommendations for project ideas to the Helper City Council for final approval before the projects are executed.
Historical Oversight – Dr. Tim Riley will spearhead this committee. The Historical Oversight Committee will lead projects that relate to and protect the history of Helper. This committee will also be tasked with seeing through the historical preservation ordinance. The development of a walking tour to highlight historic buildings and business on the city’s Main Street would also be a project undertaken by this committee.
Rio Theatre Crew – Ryan Piccolo will oversee the Rio Theatre Crew, which will help book events at the theatre. During the events, the team will assist with the needed operations, sound, lighting, greeting, concessions and clean up.
Community Outreach – This committee will be led by Michelle Goldsmith. The Community Outreach Committee will help with delivering information to the community about events and meetings as well as gather feedback when necessary. The committee will aim to reach the populations that do not use email or social media.
Business Alliance – Cindy Lund will lead this committee. The Business Alliance committee will work to continue the efforts of camaraderie between Helper businesses. Other efforts from the committee will revolve around pooling resources to advertise, working with local government, finding resources to improve signage and aiming to improve internet presence. This committee will also network regularly to learn more about programs, grants, ideas and issues. The Business Alliance committee will also work in conjunction with the Community Economic Council to benefit Helper. To learn more, please join the Helper Business Alliance Facebook group.
Community Spirit Recognition – Tonia Olsen will oversee the Community Spirit Recognition Committee. This committee will be tasked with recognizing homes/yards throughout Helper City that display holiday spirit and pride in their yards. Committee members will coordinate with local media and present certificates and yard signs to residents.
In conjunction with the nine committees, fundraising for the revitalization of Helper City will continue through the efforts of Mayor Lenise Peterman, who will actively seek grants and other sources of funding for city projects.
While there are multiple committees to be involved in, Matsuda of Helper Revitalization stressed that volunteers do not need to sign up for every committee, or even every project for a certain committee.
“You can give as much or as little as possible,” Matsuda said.
Matsuda has been with Helper Revitalization since its inception, seeing its growth not only on a community level, but on a personal level.
“I have been able to meet new people and make connections with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” she said. “It has given me a greater sense of community and purpose, and it has been very fulfilling.”
Matsuda stressed that volunteers do not need to be Helper residents to get involved. Anyone who wants to be a part of the city’s revitalization are encouraged to volunteer.
“I just want to encourage anyone who wants to get involved to do it. Reach out,” Matsuda concluded. “It is a fun group of passionate people. Everyone is really supportive of each other. It is fun to be a part of Helper’s revival. There is such a sense of camaraderie.”
To stay up to date on Helper Revitalization, follows its Facebook group or email [email protected] to receive updates or volunteer.