The Belton Alliance held it’s first membership meeting in two years on March 15 at the Listening Room. Over 100 people attended the event, which included a time of fellowship and networking, the Wickity Wack Seafood Shack food truck, a presentation by Alliance President Rex Maynard of 2021 accomplishments and 2022 strategic directions, plans and goals, an Irish dance exhibition followed by music and dancing with the Combo Kings.
The Alliance’s 2021 accomplishments included:
- Completed, paid for, named and dedicated the Bubblegum Rail Trail in May. The trail was a total community project which took over 3 years to complete and cost over $800,000. The trail was paid for primarily with private donations, grants and in-kind gifts and work. The City of Belton supported the project throughout, and continues to maintain the trail. However, the City only paid 1% of the total cost (using hospitality funds) of the project.
- Held the 2021 South Carolina Chili Cookoff Championships on May 15 in spite of Covid challenges. The event was held at the Belton Community Center where winners were determined to represent the state at the World Championships. The Cookoff generated $7,500 which was distributed to 6 local non-profit organizations.
- Maintained the gobelton.com website and social media posts with up-to-date information on things happening in the Belton community, including the “Business of the Quarter.”
- Worked with the Belton Beautification Committee to raise funds for an irrigation system On The Square.
The Alliance will be working in 7 strategic directions in 2022:
- Membership & Organization-Solicit membership renewals, recruit new members and communicate with members quarterly. The board plans to meet 7 times during the year and the committees will meet at least quarterly.
- Economic Development & Government Relations-Investigate changing the Alliance’s tax status to become eligible for more grants. Meet with city, county and state government officials to discuss needs and projects. This happened in February when Senator Mike Gambrell, Representative Jay West and County Councilman Ray Graham attended the board meeting. A needs assessment will be conducted to understand what businesses are needed most in Belton, followed by a plan to recruit these businesses.
- Outreach-Website & Social Media-Conduct a “B in Love with Belton” social media campaign to promote the “Belton…A Historic Heart with a New Beat!” brand. Post regularly on social media with news related to local businesses, schools, special events and people. Maintain and regularly update gobelton.com with activities and upcoming events and continue recognition of local businesses through the “Business of the Quarter.”
- Branding & Events-Add banners featuring Belton’s brand on the light poles on the Bubblegum Rail Trail. Plan and host the annual Membership Meeting. Schedule, coordinate, promote and implement 4 Standpipe Sounds events with the City of Belton featuring food trucks and entertainment On The Square. The first event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 with the Combo Kings. Host an event for newcomers to inform them abut the history and current activities in Belton.
- Revitalization-Schedule volunteer trash pickup days around Belton at least 4 times per year and involve community members and organizations to help. The first trash pick up day is scheduled for Saturday, March 26. Work with the City to improve dilapidated and upkept buildings, signs, homes and yards and schedule a walking tour with city officials to identify the biggest areas of need.
- South Carolina Chili Cookoff Championships-Host a public event On The Square on Saturday, May 14 where the winners qualify for the World Championships. Generate funds to be shared with local non-profit organizations.
- Bubblegum Rail Trai-Correct lighting issues on the north end of the rail. Add benches and landscaping to Phase III and continue making other improvements to the trail. Work with the City on trail maintenance and make a recommendation on the restroom facilities at Terry Martin Field.
Maynard encouraged businesses and individuals to support the Alliance with their 2022 membership. Dues are $75/year for businesses and $50/year for churches and non-profit organizations. Individuals can join at 3 levels, Silver-$25, Gold-$50 and Platinum-$100 or more. Checks can be made payable to the Belton Alliance and mailed to PO Box 111 in Belton. He also encouraged community members to volunteer to serve on a committee that addresses the Alliance’s strategic directions.
The Alliance is excited about the 2022 plans and goals and features a number of committed board members, including Jan Bratcher, Joseph Brice, Nathan Brown, Beth Cobb, Kevin Craft, Richard Dorn, Michael Gilreath, Gene Jameson, Dupre Keys, Michelle McCollum, John Neel and Tammy Roberts. Maynard said: “Many organizations like the Alliance put their plans and work on hold due to Covid. Although we were challenged, we continued to work, bot things done and made great progress the last 2 years. We have a number of new board and committee members who are engaged, dedicated, willing to work and focused on our strategic priorities and goals. Not only are the committees meeting and planning, but they are working. We’ve already reached a number of the goals we set in January. We look to make great progress as we all work together for a better Belton!”
Maynard continued: “A special thanks to Debbie and David Jones, The Listening Room and the Combo Kings for hosting our Membership Meeting. It’s a great venue and perfect for our needs. We shared a lot of good information and had great fellowship, networking, food and entertainment. We wanted it to be a productive meeting where we shared all the Alliance is doing, but also a fun time together in downtown Belton. I believe we accomplished both.”