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Downtown Dickinson Association to be dissolved

Downtown Dickinson
Downtown Dickinson.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — After years of organizing community events and activities, the non-profit Downtown Dickinson Association has started the process to dissolve. In its place, the City of Dickinson has hired Joel Walters to serve as the city's marketing and events director while a special committee within the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce agreed to take on planning of future DDA organized events, such as Ladies Night Out and Trunk or Treat, for the rest of the year as he adjusts to his new role.

Downtown Dickinson Association President Shea Miller clarified that the group voted to begin the process of dissolving itself as an entity, but the process has not yet officially been completed. Miller added that she believes this is a positive development for the community.

“It's absolutely great for the city. There’s a lot of organizations with similar goals and, you know, by combining efforts we'll be able to still provide support and promote downtown Dickinson — I think even better than we did before,” Miller said.

Commissioner Suzi Sobolik agreed, explaining that the move has been in the works for approximately six months. Sobolik noted that the decision was made when the city opted to open a marketing position and realized it would be more efficient to combine marketing and event planning into a single role.

“The city was already assisting them in paying that (DDA) salary. So we felt it was just a good fit to bring that right on into the city. And then they can help us with other marketing things that we need in house,” Sobolik said.

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Joel Walters
Joel Walters is the marketing and events director for the City of Dickinson.
Contributed / Joel Walters

Walters said the downtown area and Downtown Square will be among his primary areas of focus, and that his role will be gradually broadened to encompass the entire city over the next two years. He said the square is slated for completion in May, and that First on First summer festivities may be moved to that location. When asked if these events will be brought under closer control of the city government, he said that is undetermined at the present time.

“Still in the works… There's the likelihood that that will be held in the downtown square, but I'm not gonna say exactly how that will happen yet until I have a better understanding of that myself,” he said. “ I would like it to be something that really becomes the city center, so to speak, for activity in the downtown area.”

Prior to his current position, Walters worked with the Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau for 16 years as well as teaching various arts and communications courses at Dickinson State University for several years. He currently serves as an adjunct instructor of music and piano at the university. In what spare time Walters has, he proudly wears a third hat as president of the Dickinson Area Concert Association.

“We bring in guest artists from around the country, sometimes around the world,” he said. “It’s a very similar role there… as it relates to programming.”

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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