Along with the awards at the annual association meeting, the SDRA members elected Maria Paris Newill of West Commerce Street to another term as president.

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association, a nonprofit organization which encourages the beautification and preservation of Smyrna's Historic District, presented its 2017 community service awards at its annual reception and meeting at the Historic Smyrna Opera House Nov. 12.

Sherri Hudson

Sherri Hudson was presented the Association's Star of Smyrna Award for her role in the restoration of the Historic Smyrna Opera House as the past president of the Smyrna-Clayton Heritage Association and for her steadfast support of, and service to, the Duck Creek Historical Society, the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association, and the Inn at Duck Creek Cultural Arts Gala.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper

Each year the association recognizes an outstanding public official for their work in promoting and improving the Town of Smyrna, and especially its historic district. This year, the association honored U.S. Sen. Tom Carper in recognition of his interest in, and support of, a transformative and inspirational USDA grant which encouraged local public officials, and inspired new initiatives that have made Smyrna's Historic District an even better place to live. The grant was instrumental in the rehabilitation of the buildings which are now the Lemon Leaf Cafe. The grant enabled a revolving restoration loan fund which is being used to revitalize other buildings in Smyrna. Sen. Carper received a standing ovation for his service as a former state treasurer, governor, congressman and senator where he has distinguished himself with his civility and dignity in representing the First State.

Alice Hill

The association's Ellen Sayers Civic Beautification Award was presented to Alice Hill for her continued efforts and dedication to beautify the community with her exquisite floral designs and holiday decorations, especially at public buildings and historic sites.

Ben Mace

Ben Mace, news editor for the Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times, received the Ken and Regina Brown Historic Education Award for his outstanding work promoting the history of Smyrna through his many articles and especially his weekly columns profiling the community's past. The association also expressed its appreciation to him for promoting events and activities sponsored by local historical organizations.

Dave and Robin Bruner, and Dave Dettra

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association works to encourage the preservation and improvement of both residential, commercial and institutional historic structures in Smyrna's Historic District. This year a residential award and grant was presented to Dave and Robin Bruner who reside on South Main Street and a commercial/institutional award and grant was presented to Dave Dettra in recognition of the transformational improvement of the facade of his Maverick Texas BBQ and Smyrna Music Hall on West Commerce Street.

Newill re-elected president

The members of the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association elected Maria Paris Newill of West Commerce Street to another term as president. Newill also is a member of Smyrna's Redevelopment Authority. Other officers elected at the meeting included former vice mayor Regina Brown of North Main Street as vice president, Allan Ryder who is an editor at the Delaware State News who resides on West South Street as treasurer, attorney William Wagner of East Commerce Street as assistant treasurer and Quentin Schlieder of South Main Street as secretary.

Association makes donations

This past year, the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association provided a $5,000 grant to the Duck Creek Historical Society to assist with the publication of a commemorative book about Smyrna's rich history for the town's upcoming 250th anniversary which will be celebrated throughout 2018.

The group supported the Friends of Duck Creek Regional Library's "Just Ducky Festival" as a business sponsor.

The association launched grants for historical markers for historic buildings and launched its Grant-a-Tree/Plant-a-Tree program. The association provided a $500 donation to the town for trees on Commerce Street and funded holiday decorations for the public streets.

Additionally, the association continued to maintain the planters on South Main Street and at the Four Corners and this year it took over the maintenance of the planters at the library. The group also maintains plantings to screen the South Main Street public parking area and the planting at the old post office.

The highlight of the year was the association's annual wine tasting fundraiser at historic Belmont Hall.

New members welcome

The Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association is looking forward to a busy and productive new year. Membership is open to the public and anyone interested in historic preservation or community beautification is invited to join. For more information, call (302) 653-6449 or visit the association's website at