Featured Stories

St. Helens welcomes new Main Street coordinator

Anya Moucha takes job as Main Street Program coordinator for St. Helens

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Assistant City Planner Jenny Dimsho, left, and Main Street Program coordinator Anya Moucha look at a map outlining property the city now owns by the waterfront during a guided tour on Friday, Sept. 18. Moucha began working as the Main Street Program coordinator in St. Helens last week. At the St. Helens City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16, council members welcomed a new face to the community to fill the role of Main Street Program coordinator.

Anya Moucha, who started her 11-month assignment last week, came to St. Helens via the Rural Environments, or RARE, program as an AmeriCorps volunteer through the University of Oregon.

Applicants for the RARE program are matched up with various cities that are looking for help in specific areas of development.

The process is like speed dating for communities and small towns, Moucha says. Program applicants are interviewed and matched up with a city that is looking for help in a specific area.

In her role, Moucha will work primarily with the St. Helens Economic Development Corporation, or SHEDCO, and the city of St. Helens on various projects.

SHEDCO Design Committee chair Al Petersen described the job as a “domestic Peace Corps” position.

The city of St. Helens was looking specifically for help with its Main Street Program, which is part of a statewide and national effort to preserve downtowns, including areas such as the St. Helens historic waterfront and the Houlton Business District.

Moucha grew up just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, and earned a degree in 2014 from the University of Minnesota in global studies with an emphasis in sustainable development. She worked for a land trust in northern Wisconsin as a digital communications manager for one year. In 2014, Moucha also worked as an intern for the Institute on the Environment, where she helped fact check and edit articles for Ensia magazine, a publication that highlights new and developing solutions for ongoing environmental problems.

While much of Moucha's background is in environmental issues, communication development and event planning, she said she is interested in the how city planning and the environment work together.

“Personally, I'm super excited to learn about planning,” Moucha said. “It's kind of cool because I get to work with SHEDCO, which is a nonprofit, but also be working with the city and work around city government, which I haven't really had a chance to do yet.”

Moucha said she hopes to strengthen existing relationships within SHEDCO, but also build new ones by reaching out to local businesses. One initiative she's especially excited about continuing is the “Elf on Shelf” project started last year around the holidays by the previous main street program coordinator.

“There's a huge opportunity for SHEDCO to not only work with the city, but there are a bunch of other little organizations throughout St. Helens,” Moucha said. “I think it could be super strong if they all came together to see what your common goals are.”

Moucha's job as program coordinator is to help develop and expand projects, and to help SHEDCO build more capacity within the organization.

“When you think about any volunteer organization, you get a lot of people who all want to do good things,” Petersen said. “And she's kind of a coordinator of keeping all these things moving forward.”

The city has had at least four other Main Street Program coordinators through AmeriCorp Vista and AmeriCorps RARE. City planner Jacob Graichen oversees the person in the role and helps in various ways. He said each community coordinator handles his or her job differently and fulfills the role in a unique way.

“We try to provide some guidance about it, [but] we like to let them be innovative,” Graichen said. “It's always interesting to see how each personality addresses that.”