COLUMBIA, 1/13/11 (Beat Byte) -- From historic preservation to visitor relations, small but important projects that needed a big voice in the halls of power, often when no other voices might be had, couldn't do better than Lorah Steiner.
Steiner recently announced she's leaving her long-time position as City of Columbia Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB) director in February for a similar position in sunny Florida.
Few senior level city managers reflect the face and feelings of Columbia's citizens the way Steiner (left) has for the past 23 years. Well known for helping make Columbia a destination for film and festival buffs, with her support of True/False, Roots and Blues and Barbeque, and other landmark events, Steiner's guidance also helped rally the first substantive interest -- meaning real money from real businesses -- in renovating the historic Heibel-March Store in North Central Columbia.
After she stepped in -- even offering to host meetings and get-togethers designed to get the building renovated -- businesses stepped up, replacing glass, roofing, and other structural components. Though the renovations stalled, a new business is interested in taking over the building. If they do, they can thank Mrs. Steiner for helping see to it that the building still stands.
On a cold March 2009 evening, the Shotgun House -- a small icon of Black history in Columbia -- left its home for nearly three quarters of a century, at the corner of Garth and Worley, for Boone Junction, the Boone County Historical Society's historic village.
Steiner helped assure the house got moved -- with CVB funds, moral support, and periodic negotiation assistance. It now stands straight and tall on a new foundation, the subject, I'm told, of a Ph.D. thesis and a big inspiration for local history buffs.
Without Steiner's guidance and interest, the Blind Boone Home -- another important piece of local Black history -- might also be in ruins. Long a supporter of a "museum district" that highlights all facets of Columbia's history, Steiner has quietly pushed, behind the scenes, to make that important restoration a reality.
Over the years, I've had the pleasure of lunching with Lorah in the District. Her popularity is evident in all the people who come by to say "hi" and wish her well. As a tireless proponent of everything that's right and great about Columbia, Lorah Steiner has our collective so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.
And a great big Thank You, so much.
Listen to "So Long, Farewell"