In the summer blaze of downtown Hope on Saturday, a dedicated group of individuals were powerwashing old structures and doing the unglamorous task of cleaning debris from buildings and sidewalks.

In the summer blaze of downtown Hope on Saturday, a dedicated group of individuals were powerwashing old structures and doing the unglamorous task of cleaning debris from buildings and sidewalks.
Headed by downtown business owner Bob Irwin, folks like Mark Ross were driving a folklift, Toby Neff was elevated 30-feet with a sprayer, while John Akin and John Caldwell were hand picking weathered roofing, wood and nails from the ground as they spent a good portion of five hours cleaning up the old Tae Kwon Do building.
And everyone involved was gulping bottled water by the pallet.
Irwin, who also heads the fledging Hope Downtown Network, said “It was all in a day’s work,” and after pausing, says “there is still much to be done, but it has be done.”
But Irwin has been on the front lines of downtown renovation, especially the past two years, and the Hope Downtown Network, which he and others co-founded a year ago, is showing staying power and resolve.
The group now has a dedicated office space — a donated building — in one of the many decayed buildings in downtown, but Irwin says “We have something, and we are excited. This will likely be a two-year reclamation project, but we’ve come this far. We’re not going back.”
The efforts of the Hope Downtown Network, in collaboration with the City of Hope and the Hope Chamber of Commerce, has also brought an Arkansas Downtown Network designation to the city.
Being part of the Arkansas Downtown Network, a subdivision of the larger Arkansas Main Street organization, will bring quarterly trainings, organizational assistance and technical assistance to the downtown revitalization efforts locally.  Similar places like Mena and Prairie Grove also recently joined the Arkansas Downtown Network.
And on tap in 10-days is the second arrival of HDN’s Summer in the City downtown event on Saturday, June 16, from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., which again seeks to celebrate and bring recognition — and traffic — into downtown Hope.
Like the first event in 2017, Summer in the City will bring food and entertainment to the intersection of E Division Street and South Main Street along with its own Baggo Tournament, Dunk Tank, & activities for children.
The Hope Lions Club, as it did last year, will join the effort cooking up a fish and chicken dinners with a cost of $12 per plate, which will go to help the Downtown Network continue its efforts. Jeff Smith will provide the musical entertainment this year, performing from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Erwin said “All proceeds will benefit the Hope Downtown Network's current and future projects that we are undertaking. We encourage everyone to join us and enjoy a fish dinner and fellowship.”