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Thompson new OWN head as Clark starts ‘Alliance’

       After 11 years, the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) has a new president (Jim Thompson), but the past leader - Welling Clark - is far from retirement as a citizen activist.

Welling Clark stands at the front gate to the Holden House Bed-and-Breakfast, which he has owned and operated with his wife Sallie since 1986.
Westside Pioneer photo

       As he commented at a recent City Council meeting, “I have not stepped down, I'm shifting gears.”
       Clark has formed an umbrella group, aimed at “getting together all the Westside organizations so we can work together as a team for an integrated voice for the community,” he said. “When we're united, we're a pretty powerful community.”
       The informal group's name is the Old Westside Alliance (OWA). Its boundaries encompass much of the older Westside/Colorado Avenue corridor with about 8,000 housesholds that OWN has represented as a neighborhood advocacy group since 1978.
       Thompson, a licensed contractor and property services business owner for more than 20 years, first came onto the OWN board in 2015. He was serving as secretary until the OWN Town Hall March 9, when Clark announced that he was retiring from the group.
       Thompson praised Clark - who joined the board in 2005 and had been president since 2006 - as “a pioneer behind everything. He's worked tirelessly, and continues to do that to improve the Westside.”
       As for his own presidential tenure, just getting started, “I'm real excited,” Thompson said. He noted that all but two of the nine members on the board “have been there for a while,” which provides experience and continuity.
       Probably the most prominent OWN event every year is the Westside Neighbors Picnic, a barbecue to which all Westside residents are invited. A change for this year's 17th annual - slated June 25 - is to bring it back to Bancroft Park after six years at the Westside Community Center.
       A key reason for that venue change is to build support for city upgrades to Bancroft Park, following the late-January fire in the bandshell, Thompson said.
       During his 11 years, Clark worked to enhance public safety, improve networking among individuals and groups, support the Westside's historical heritage, promote tourism and monitor construction and transportation projects.
       Regarding the OWA, the idea is to work with other Westside groups to “cooperate for specific purposes that improve the Westside in all aspects,” according to the OWA charter.

Westside Pioneer article