PERRY -- Its been 16 years since Kenneth Grossnickle, a civil servant at Fort Gillem Army Base, died the day before his 53rd birthday.
Ive always wanted to come up with a way to honor him, said son David Grossnickle just before revealing a memorial placard on a downtown Perry bench that reads: K.O. Grossnickle -- Loving Son, Husband, Great Father.
Most of the funds David Grossnickle, vice chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, paid for the placard will be the first toward a new Perry initiative to help downtown merchants market their businesses. Officials gathered Tuesday to announce the initiative.
We have redesigned our programs to really push downtown and to make downtown great, said Bryan Fountain, Downtown Development Authority chairman.
The new media grant program will match 50 percent of up to $500 of funds those business owners put toward advertising. A bench memorial program was renewed to help fund the media grant program, according to Grossnickle and Fountain.
Fountain said downtown has been booming in the past year, and now almost 100 percent of the downtown buildings are occupied.
But it wont stay that way if people dont come down and shop, Grossnickle said.
Grossnickle said the bench program was updated to cut in half the price of a memorial placard in an effort to attract more people to the program. It now costs $500.
According to Grossnickle, about 84 percent of the proceeds from the benches will go to the media grant program. The placards, done by a downtown merchant, will be paid for from the funds.
Grossnickle is the owner of Perrys Chick-fil-A and of Crossart Design: Commercial and Residential Interior Design, a downtown business in front of where his dads new bench sits.
Its kind of fitting since he always wanted me to be an entrepreneur, Grossnickle said. He was really a guy who wanted to give more than he got.
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.