Hotel Elliott, Liberty Theater, Kirwen building honored by downtown associationAstoria and Seaside combined to bring home four out of 11 statewide Downtown Achievement Awards from the Oregon Downtown Development Association at a ceremony Friday in Salem.

The mission of the Oregon Downtown Development Association is to help communities revitalize, develop and promote their downtowns and neighborhood business districts as economic, historic, civic and cultural centers. The annual awards are intended to spark interest in downtown revitalization and recognize people and groups that have done an exceptional job of improving their downtown environment.

In the Outstanding Sparkplug Volunteers category, Melba and Tim O'Bryant of Astoria were recognized for founding the Astoria Christmas Club, a group of volunteers who put up lights and decorations downtown every year during the holidays. Volunteers from Baker City, Corvallis and Mount Vernon also received awards in the Sparkplug Volunteers category.

The Energy/Synergy Award went to Liberty Restoration's board of directors, whose president is Steve Forrester, editor and publisher of The Daily Astorian, for their leadership and dedication in restoring the Liberty Theater, built in 1925 and featured recently on HGTV's "Restore America" series.

The Hotel Elliott received the ODDA's Stepping Up to the Plate Award. The formerly rundown building, located across the street from the Liberty, has been transformed into a luxury hotel through the efforts and financial investment of developer Chester Trabucco. The Elliott recently was named to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of Historic Hotels of America.

Astoria received two honorable mentions, one for the Explorer Train Partnership in the Community Partnership category, and one for the Astoria Sunday Market in the Special Event category.

The newly created Gateway to Downtown award went to Seaside's Kirwen building, owned by Kirk and Wendy Fausett, and the Gilbert block, owned by Avery Loschen and Will Perkins. The carefully renovated buildings are located at Broadway and Holladay Drives, at the entrance to Seaside's downtown. Both owners will receive framed awards to place in their buildings.

Seaside received an honorable mention for the annual Hot Rod Happenin' - a weekend show with hundreds of hot rods and classic cars. This year's event is set for Sept. 10-12.

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