Danville’s proving it takes a community to put on a vice presidential debate.’ Many eyes across the nation will be focused on Centre College for Thursday’s meeting between the vice presidential candidates. Not that long ago, Main Street was where people gathered to talk politics. Today, much of the conversation is electronic, but, in downtown Danville, first person politics is still practiced. Brenda Willoughby heads the ‘Heart of Danville Main Street Program. “You won’t see vacant buildings. You will see artwork and flags and ribbons and we’re encouraging all the residents in the surrounding and in the businesses to do window displays,” said Willoughby.
Willoughbysays Danville businesses are providing the funds and citizens, the muscle as they spruce up the downtown. Just a few feet away is Karamel Kreations. Inside, at the back of the store, Beth King busily stirs a caramel mixture warming on top of a stove.
"It was my grandmother’s recipe and we used to give it for Christmas gifts all the time. And so, a few years ago we decided to turn it into our own company. So, we make her caramel candies and then we also, let me not burn you, make caramel corn, which is what I’m making now,” said King.
King and her family have been making A LOT of caramel corn. Centre College has hired Karamel Kreations to produce 15 hundred small bags of caramel corn for the media.
“And since we make every bit by hand, there’s no machines, it’s all what you’re seeing here. It takes quite a few man hours,” added King.
Next door, on Main Street, is Thoroughbred Threads. Owner Marty Sullivan says the store opened eleven years ago, soon after Centre hosted its first vice presidential debate. Sullivan’s crew worked last week filling orders for embroidery and silk screens.
“We’re doing T-shirts for the convention bureau. We’re printing the fronts, now we’re going to put the Danville logo, ‘Better in Danville’ on the back of the shirts. We’re running these, they need these for the volunteers that are gonna be staffing the hotels in town and greeting people as they come in,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan says they do the vast majority of their business in the last six months of the year, during football and basketball season. So, with the debate coming this October, he shifted their work schedule and production strategy.
“I now we’ve had to put several things on the back burner. Recently, for example, we just got the license for UK, U of L, Eastern, and Western apparel, and we’ve really only be able to touch that. We’ll get into that more in a couple of weeks,” said Sullivan.
A few blocks away, at Centre College, there are also new additions. Security for this debate is much tighter than it was in 2000, when Centre hosted its first debate. There are more concrete barriers and fences. With the vice president in town, Assistant to the President Clarence Wyatt says security must be tighter.
“This time we have an incumbent license holder. We have a sitting vice president this time. It was an open seat in 2000. So, that brings its own issues regarding security. So, it’s a different circumstance now. Like most everything else, it’s more complex, but like everything else we’re very confident it’s going to work,” said Wyatt.
The concrete sections along with chain-link, security fencing will come down, probably by the weekend. But, college officials and downtown merchants hope visitors this week will come back and take in a little more central Kentucky hospitality.