By Veronica Sandate Craker
More than 100 people were on hand to witness 2010’s “Downtowner’s of the Year” Paul and Joyce Scharold present the 2011 recipient to a long-time Tri-City resident.
“I was humbled,” said Mark Blotz, Clover Island Inn general manager. “I was surprised, I was very honored.”
Blotz was honored April 24 as the 23rd recipient during the annual Downtowner Banquet.
After spending more than 20 years in Kennewick Blotz, has been greatly involved with the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership. He joined the group in 2004 and has served on the Organization Committee and on the Board of Directors. He was president of the board in 2008 and 2009 and was board secretary in 2011.
“You know this whole thing, it’s not about me. It’s about the Downtown Kennewick Partnership, the downtown business owners, the people that volunteer their time and the people who know the struggles of running a small business,” he said. “The people that show pride in their building, that show pride in their business.”
For Blotz, taking an active role in the revitalization of the downtown area has always come naturally.
“It’s really easy because I really believe in the downtown, so it’s just doing things that feel right,” he said.
When Blotz isn’t concentrating on improving the downtown area he can be found at the Clover Island Inn. He has been managing the iconic hotel for the past eight years.
“We’re not the newest pen in the box, but we try to be friendly and clean and a good value,” Blotz said.
Although Blotz has lived in the Tri-Cities for more than three decades, he hasn’t always called the area home. Blotz was born and raised on an 80-acre farm in Iowa.
“We raised cattle, we raised a few pigs, we milked cows, we grew corn, we grew soybeans, we grew alfalfa and baled hay,” Blotz said.
When he was a teenager, Blotz’s father offered to help him and any of his older brothers get started running the farm, but it was not something he encouraged.
“My daddy said you know if any of you boys want to stay and farm the farm I’ll help you out, I’ll get you started,” Blotz said. “But then he said ‘I wouldn’t recommend it.’ ”
The Iowa native moved to the Tri-Cities in 1978 when he was just 18. From his very first days in the northwest Blotz said he has always worked in the hotel business.
“I was a busboy, I was a bartender, I was a night manager, I worked in sales and just got to know a lot of community people and that’s what got me here,” he said.
One of the people he met while working in the industry was his wife, Lucinda. They met in 1980 and were married five years later. They have two children, Heather and Zach, who attended the banquet honoring their father.
However, one person was missing from the evening’s event.
Lucinda died in October, Blotz said, motioning to his wife’s photo in his office.
“(I) wish my wife could have been there to enjoy that because I sacrificed a lot of my time volunteering to do this,” he said.
During his time with the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership Blotz has seen the downtown area transform significantly.
“We still have a lot of work to do in the downtown and on Columbia Drive,” Blotz said. “Columbia Drive has gotten a lot better … it’s a great community and I feel very fortunate to live here.”
The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership also honored Overturf Motors as the “2011 Business of the Year” and Anne Craff with the “2011 Ralph and Jo Benton Volunteer of the Year” award.