Garland has benefited from one resident's commitment to civic pride, and now he's promoting his plan to restore economic pride to other Utah towns and cities.
"Michael Hawthorne has been a good community spur," said Garland City Administrator Ray Limb.When the National Guard left its armory in Garland to the city, it was a mixed blessing. City officials knew the building had potential, but it also needed extensive renovation and necessary furnishings, such as banquet tables, chairs and kitchen equipment.
City Council members and Mayor Dean Potter became concerned with the cost of upkeep of the old building. Heating it alone was putting stress on the city's budget.
When Hawthorne heard about the city's dilemma, he volunteered his services. Hawthorne's appointment as chairman of Armory/Civic Center fund-raising in April turned the tide for the city.
He began his fund-raising by hand-delivering letters asking for contributions and by contacting businesses. Hawthorne's enthusiasm was contagious, and contributions began coming in.
Originally the city hoped only to raise enough money to buy tables and chairs so the armory could be rented out to various groups, making the building more self-sustaining.
Now instead of just obtaining tables and chairs, the project has turned into a drive to create a civic center. Thus far the fund-raising project has brought in more than $20,000 in services, materials, labor and cash donations, said Hawthorne.
The most unusual thing about this fund-raiser is that there have been no administrative costs. "All the money donated has gone directly to the project," said Hawthorne. "People in the whole area seemed to get behind this project."
Hawthorne wasn't satisfied with stopping there. The Armory/Civic Center became the "seed project" for his idea to help other Utah cities.
The idea, called Adopt-a-City Proj-ect, is a program designed to spur economic growth across the state by making everyone an active member, said Hawthorne. "Its goal is to bring together all civic groups, volunteer help, donations in cash, services or materials from citizens," said Hawthorne in a release sent to various state agencies.
"People and businesses don't know what's available. Big cities reap the benefits from the educational resource pool. Small towns aren't aware," said Hawthorne. "This program is designed for small cities and towns that are economically depressed or show slow or stagnant development."
The basic concept is to select an economically depressed city and work to upgrade it. With one city showing economic growth without loans to repay or higher taxes, Hawthorne said, "all residents will be spurred toward economic growth across the state."
Originally it was promoted as a state program. When state agencies seemed unsure of taking on the proj-ect, Hawthorne formed the Adopt-a-City Corp. in September.