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Flint Firestarter Award

Cyndi Wish, left, Arts Center director, and Angela Martini, Arts Center public relations director, hold the Flint Firestarter Award for Tourism Development Project, one of six tourism and travel awards presented by Gov. Doug Burgum Wednesday in Bismarck. John M. Steiner The Sun

When Cyndi Wish, Angela Martini and Laurel Haroldson traveled to Bismarck on Wednesday, they thought they were just going to hear Gov. Doug Burgum speak about the vitality of downtown areas.

They heard the governor's speech, but the three women representing the Jamestown Arts Center and the Jamestown Fine Arts Association were surprised when Burgum announced that the Hansen Arts Park was the recipient of the inaugural Flint Firestarter Award for Tourism Development Project.

"I was totally shocked," said Wish, the Arts Center director, about the Hansen Arts Park receiving the award.

Burgum handed out six awards Wednesday at the 2017 North Dakota Travel Industry Conference in Bismarck. The awards were given to people, organizations and projects recognizing the passion and dedication of North Dakotans who contribute to the growth of travel and tourism in the state.

Martini, public relations director for the Arts Center, said Searle Swedlund, Jamestown Tourism executive director who nominated the Hansen Arts Park for the award, had asked her, Wish and Haroldson to attend the meeting. She said Burgum was going to speak about his Main Street Initiative.

Swedlund said it was all a ruse to get Wish, Martini and Haroldson to Bismarck so they could receive the award.

Martini said she didn't know what was going on until the nominees for the Flint Firestarter Award were shown on a screen as part of the awards presentation.

"There were the three nominees," she said, "and I looked over and we were third on the list and I thought, 'How'd our name get up there?'"

Wish said seeing the Hansen Arts Park receive some statewide recognition is great.

"It feels insular here sometimes (in Jamestown)," she said. "For this community to be recognized by the governor on the state level, it's amazing."

Martini said a lot of community planning has gone into the Hansen Arts Park.

"We've had a lot of support, grantors and donations," she said. "It's a recognition for the community."

Haroldson, president of the Jamestown Fine Arts Association Board of Directors, said it was an "awesome" surprise for the Hansen Arts Park to be recognized by the governor.

"It (receiving the award) shows the diligence of all the people who conceived of the idea of a downtown park," she said, "to the people that worked to make it a reality."

Swedlund said the awards that the governor gave out Wednesday all had Burgum's "flare and taste" on them.

"We were thrilled to see an organization like the (Jamestown) Fine Arts Association being recognized for its long-standing hard work," he said.

Swedlund said what makes the recognition special is that Jamestown, unlike larger communities, such as Fargo, Bismarck or Grand Forks, has really had to work to make Hansen Arts Park a reality.

"In Jamestown we all had to come together to find the resources to make this (Hansen Arts Park) happen," he said. "This community rallied around and supported this."

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454