Brad Culbertson is as vested in downtown Lee’s Summit as much as anyone in the city.
Suzanne Garrett has invested time and energy in the area, too.
Both hold the venerable area of Lee’s Summit near and dear to their heart.
Culbertson is proprietor of Culbertson Properties, which lists on its ownership papers a variety of buildings and properties in downtown.
Culbertson and his wife have lived in the area and purchased property there since the mid-1980s, so Culbertson’s involvement in that part of town is expected.
Garrett on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to the group of downtown business owners, stakeholders, residents and organizations promoting the area as a great place to live, work, play and dine.
Both are heavily involved in Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street. Culbertson has served on the Board of Directors since its inception, and Garrett has volunteered for the organization for the last five years after a move to an apartment complex only step away from the official downtown boundary.
So it should come as no surprise the two were recently recognized for their efforts with Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street during Missouri Main Street Connection’s annual Evening of Excellence dinner and Main Street awards ceremony July 31. The event took place at the Missouri Main Street Revitalization Conference in St. Louis.
Culbertson was recognized with the Stick Your Neck Out award for his service to DLSMS, and Garrett was honored as Volunteer of the Year.
The event capped three days of more than 40 educational workshops and in-the-field educational sessions sponsored by Missouri Main Street Connection. The conference culminated with the Evening of Excellence dinner and awards recognizing achievements in downtown revitalization in 18 categories. Competition for the awards came from all across Missouri.
“I wasn’t really clear about what that was about, but it covered a lot of things,” Culbertson said of the award during a brief conversation Aug. 7 outside of Neighborhood Café, one of the many properties under the Culbertson portfolio.
He was recognized for going above and beyond what is expected from an individual and/or business. Culbertson, his recommendation letter read, has been sticking out his neck for Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street for than 20 years.
“It covered the fact that we maybe took some risk early on, not only in property development but in investment in time with the (DLSMS) organization years ago,” he said. “I’ve never done any of this for recognition but it’s an honor to get called out on something like that, especially at the state level.”
This year is Culbertson’s last year on the DLSMS Board of Directors, as term limits ended his stint in July. Fortunately for downtown, he is to join five others on the Community Improvement District Board of Directors. The City Council was expected to approve the CID board Aug. 7.
Garrett was recognized for her long-term commitment to the downtown revitalization effort. Garrett, who doesn’t own a business or property in downtown, donates all of her volunteer time to DLSMS because she believes in giving back to the heart of the community, her recommendation letter read.
“I started volunteering because I walk up the street and I would go into the shops and I would see some of the events and I really wanted to be a part of it,” Garrett said during a break this week from her job as a director at a publishing company in downtown Kansas City.
She can be seen in downtown nearly every day before and after work, patronizing the businesses and checking in on DLSMS staff.
“Downtown is so special to me because it is so unique,” she said. “It may feel like a place you may come across when you are on vacation. Not many people have a place like this within walking distance of their home. When I go downtown, it’s almost like a get away from work and everything else.”
Toriano Porter is the business and education reporter for the Lees Summit Journal.