Dell-Mart owner rings up downtown award

Wildflower Cafe<of Mosier also wins state honor

Dell Charity, owner of Dell-Mart in downtown Hood River, has won a 2002 Oregon Downtown Achievement Award.

Charity was named Downtown Sparkplug in a category created to recognize his contribution and community commitment, according to an ODA press release.

Another Columbia Gorge business and its owners were also recognized in the annual awards. Mosier's WildFlower Cafe and developers Suzi Conklin and Mark Cherniack received the David E. Fredriksen Business Development Award.

This is the second straight year a local business garnered the Fredriksen honor; in 2001 Hood River Cinemas and its owners Andrew and Melissa McElderry claimed the same state prize. This is the third consecutive year that the Oregon Downtown Development Awards recognized a Hood River business or project. In 2000 the Hood River Overlook Park won the prize for small-scale public physical improvements. The awards are given annually by the Oregon Downtown Development Association. The 2002 awards will be presented at the Oregon Downtown Development Association's Downtown Achievements Awards Ceremony on April 25 in Eugene.

For the Downtown Sparkplug award, Charity was recognized for transforming the corner of Third and Oak into a marketplace for original art and basic groceries. After opening Dell-Mart in 2000, Charity went to work immediately to upgrade the station's building and its surroundings, according to the nomination submitted by the Hood River Downtown Business Association (DBA). Charity decided to give Columbia Gorge artists the showcase location, and the Made In The Gorge artists' cooperative found a new home. The corner has also become a draw for teens, giving them a positive place to channel their energies -- and offering the occasional job.

After Sept. 11, Charity offered his downtown retaining wall as a concrete canvas, where kids painted a vivid tribute to New York City.

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