Group Eyes Downtown

ST. MARYS — A  fledgling group is hoping to bring some awareness to downtown St. Marys.

The recently formed St. Marys Community Partnership is made up of businesses and individuals with the goal of helping bring awareness to the downtown district. Group member Jeremy Holtzapple, whose wife Brenda operates Williams Tax Service, said the group had its first official meeting in August and held an event in July.

“We did a Christmas in July downtown and it was loosely organized,” Holtzapple told The Evening Leader. “Some businesses got together and talked about holding some events downtown. Most of the businesses that are involved are downtown but we do have some outside businesses and some individuals who want to help.”

Holtzapple said the group has two goals: to bring awareness to the downtown district as well as to tout the history of the area. To help in both these tasks, the group will be holding a historic tour during the Walk with Nature, scheduled for Oct. 16.

“We want to bring attention to St. Marys and what it has to offer,” Holtzapple said. “A lot of us have a strong love for history and in St. Marys, there is a lot of history.”

The historic tour will feature a train ride as well as haunted stories. The cost is $2 per person, which includes the train ride.

There also will be an opportunity to get entered into raffles for prizes.

“The businesses involved will raffle off items,” Holtzapple said.

At approximately 7 p.m. Oct. 15, the group, in cooperation with the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce, plans to show the 1936 film that was recently restored and transferred to DVD. Holtzapple said refreshments will be served.

“We are hoping to show it at the shelterhouse,” Holtzapple said, noting he is working with the Kiwanis Club and city officials on possibly holding a grand opening for the shelterhouse before the movie.

“If it’s not ready, maybe we will have it in the park.”

While the downtown landscape has changed in recent years, Holtzapple said he believes it has turned a corner.

“It does appear to have shrunk, but there is a lot going on,” Holtzapple said.

“We have a lot of good food with the Sugar Tin, the coffee shop and Generations and the city has done a great job updating the parks downtown, which is a huge attraction.”

As the city’s borders expand, Holtzapple encouraged residents to remember its historic downtown district.

“I love the additional businesses coming on the outskirts, but I think it’s important to remember history and where it came from,” Holtzapple said.

“And our downtown has such a great history.”

For more information, call Holtzapple at 419-733-1428 or e-mail him at The group also can be found on Facebook by searching St. Marys Community Partnership.