A Web-Site of "HomeTown Tributes" . . .

A Photographic Tribute to America's HomeTowns and to their People . . . throughout the Decades



An Open Letter

to Each


of America's 50 Great States


A Web-Site that Showcases the

Photographic Heritage of America's HomeTowns,

and Pays Tribute to their People throughout the Decades


Each of America's 50 States

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A Web-Site that Permanently Preserves

from Natural Disasters

the Photographic Heritage and History

of America's HomeTowns, and, of their People

from Yesterday . . . of Today, and, for Tomorrow

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And, a Web-Site where every Current and Former Resident

in every Town in America can actually participate in the

success of their Town’s own

"HomeTown Tribute"







Stephen Van Hecke

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Our 50

State Capital


. . . Today

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Juneau, AK
Montgomery, AL
Little Rock, AR
Hartford, CT
Dover, DE
Tallahassee, FL
Atlanta, GA
Honolulu, HI
DesMoines, IA
Boise, ID
Springfield, IL
Indianapolis, IN
Topeka, KS
Frankfort, KY
Augusta, ME
St. Paul, MN
Helena, MT
Raleigh, NC
( l - r ) - then Lt. Governor Phil Bryant (now Governor ), me & State FEMA Director J. K. Stringer- Hurricane Gustav Evacuation -- Jackson, MS - Sept. 4, 2008
Bismark, ND
Lincoln, NB
Concord, NH
Trenton, NJ
Santa Fe, NM
Carson City, NV
Albany, NY
Columbus, OH
Oklahoma City, OK
Salem, OR
Harrisburg, PA
Providence, RI
Columbia, SC
Pierre, SD
Nashville, TN
Austin, TX
Salt Lake City, UT
Montpelier, VT
Madison, WI
Charleston, WV



Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA
Denver, CO


Dear Governor, and your Staff;


Thank you for visiting this Web-Site, and for taking these few minutes to read the Site's Introductory Page. As well as, for reading this 'Open Letter' addressed to you, as the Governor of your State.

Let me, again, introduce myself. My name is Stephen Van Hecke, and the Author of this Web-Site. I am writing this 'Open Letter' to You, as Governor of your State, and to each of America's 50 Governors so that I may introduce You to this very unique Web-Site, and to its very special "HomeTown Tributes" that are planned for the Cities and Towns of your State, and for each of America's 50 Great States.

You probably noticed at the bottom of the Introductory Page, that a similar 'Open Letter' is also addressed to each of America's Town Mayors, and to the Town Residents in each of those Towns. Like their 'Open Letter', this 'Letter' is addressed to you because every Town, and every City, every Boro and Township . . . every Municipality in America is, indeed, located within the boundries of one of America's 50 States.

This Web-Site is an idea, as well as, an opportunity for each Town Mayor, and, for each elected Member of every Town Committee who may want to consider it for their own Town.

This 'Letter' to You will show how this Web-Site with its "HomeTown Tributes", is indeed:

A Web-Site that Showcases the Photographic Heritage

of America's HomeTowns.

The Photographs of Each Town from throughout the Decades.

And, from over the Years, Photographs Paying Tribute

to the People of those HomeTowns


Each of America's 50 Great States !

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Olympia, WA
Montpelier, VT
Richmond, VA


A Big 'Thank You'

I want to assume that the reason you are reading this 'Open Letter', now, is because someone on your Staff heard something about this Web-Site from someone else, and decided to check it out.

And, for that reason, I would like to thank that Staff Member for the curiousity to browse through America's FIRST "HomeTown Tribute" featuring my own HomeTown of Dayton, Ohio, and could, then, easily imagine similar "HomeTown Tributes" for their own HomeTown, and for the many Cities and Towns in your State.

And so, Governor, I want to take this opportunity through you, to Thank that Member of your Staff who, after reading this Letter took that next step. They could imaginative a new creative, 21st Century way to Pay Photographic Tribute to each of the Towns and their People in your State. For the Towns in your State, and, for the HomeTowns in each of America's 50 Great States.

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Your State's 'Welcoming Page'

And with that personal Thank You to You, Governor . . .

Let me tell you about the Page you'll be linked to directly from the bottom of this Page. That Page is entitled "Welcome to Our State" . It has been designed and is dedicated exclusively to feature each of the States, themselves, and to each of their current Governors. This "Welcome to Our State" Page will be the Page that everyone will first link to when they want to visit any of the "HomeTown Tributes" for the Cities and Towns in your State. And, of course, these Cities and Towns that You and they will be Clicking to and visiting on this Web-Site are those same Towns that each of your Residents call 'Home'.

As you scroll down through your State's 'Welcoming Page', you'll see your State Flag and State Seal, a photo of the State Capital Bldg. and State map. You will, also, see separate banners with their own links for both your State's Chamber of Commerce, and your State's League of Municipalities. You will also see the official Photograph of your State's current Governor. Of course, that Photo would naturally change over the years with that current Governor when each Town Mayor says 'Yes' for that Town to have their own "HomeTown Tribute" . Of course, on the Page entitled "Our Logging-On Ceremony", the Photo of that current Mayor would always remain of that current Governor when the first Mayor in your State said 'Yes' for their Town to have their own "HomeTown Tribute".

A special box can, also, be added just below the Governor's Photo for a special 'Welcome to Our State' text message from that State's current Governor.

From the bottom of your own State's 'Welcome to Our State' Page, with just a Click to America's FIRST "HomeTown Tribute" for my own HomeTown of Dayton. You can see exactly what the "HomeTown Tribute" will look like for each of the Towns in your own State. You'll want to give yourself a few minutes to browse through each of Dayton's 10 unique ''Feature Sections'.

While browsing through each of Dayton's 'Feature Sections' , I'm sure you'll find it easy to imagine for yourself what each of those same 10 'Feature Sections' would be like as they Showcase and Pay Tribute to the Towns in your own State . . . those Towns that each of your Residents call 'Home'.

From the bottom of your State's 'Welcome to Our State' Page, you can Click to your State's Capital City and preview that Town's "Our HomeTown . . . Today". It is the Introductory first 'Feature Section' of the 10 that make up each Town's "HomeTown Tribute" .

This Complimentary 'Feature Section' entitled 'Our HomeTown . . . Today' 'is being created by the Web-Site for the Capital City in each of the 50 States. Look for your own State's Capital City Our HomeTown . . . Today' Page, coming soon.


Augusta, ME
St. Paul, MN


As Governor, you are all too aware of . . .

Whether it be from a Hurricane, a Tornado, a Flood, or large-scale Fire, the human tragedy and personal suffering that inevitably follows has profound, longlasting, day after day effects on every Resident and every Family as a result of such a disaster. And, of course, the Town itself will, as well, be profoundly affected. A Hurricane, Tornado, Flood, or Fire can destroy town buildings, town vehicles and equipment. The Town's entire infrastructure can be thrown into long-lasting chaos.

How often, after a disaster, have we seen on TV, members of a very fortunate family being interviewed, and hearing them make the same very painful comment, "We're all OK, we were very, very lucky, and we'll be able to rebuild our house, but we couldn't save our Family Photo Album. All of our Family Photos are lost. For all of those many years in this Town. They're all gone."

And, after such a disaster, what of all the countless Photos of that Town, itself ? What of all the Town Photos taken and saved over the past 40 years? Over the past 100 years? What of the Town's own Photographic Heritage and History? What of the photos of each of the Town's Former Mayors that used to hang, before the desaster, on the Town Hall walls? And, what of all the framed Photos taken of their Town over those same 100 years hanging on so many of the walls at the Town Library, at the Police and Fire Stations, and at the other Municipal Buildings? What of the Decades of Photos taken at the Town's Official Ceremonies, at the Annual Parades, and Festivals, of the downtown district, of the neighborhoods?

What of all the countless Photos of their Town over the years that have been stored away in filing cabinets and desk drawers, even in cardboard boxes in the back room, or basement of the Town's Historical Society?

"With all of today's technology, we never thought to have them digitally preserved."

From such a devastating natural disaster, what about all those Town Photos - just like that Family's own Family Photo Album. Has that Town's Photographic Heritage been Preserved . . . as well?

or, would all be lost ?

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It was because of just such a disaster - Hurricane Katrina - that motivated me in Jan., 2008 to move from my home in Cranford, New Jersey to Mississippi so I could in whatever way I could help the small Gulf Coast Town of Bay Saint Louis. I had seen a CNN Docmentary about Kathleen Koch, then the White House Correspondent for CNN. She had travelled back to Bay Saint Louis with a camera crew to show what had happened to her childhood HomeTown as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Although much of the national news had been focused on New Orleans, the eye of Katrina had passed directly through Bay Saint Louis, and its neighbor Town to the east, Pass Christian . . . which was, interestingly, the childhood HomeTown of Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America. I ended up making that small Gulf Coast Town of Bay Saint Louis my Home for 2 1/2 years. And, while there I learned that, indeed, they had lost much of their Town's Photographic Heritage. Both the Town itself, as well as, so many of the family photo albums of that Town's Residents. The countless Photos of their family, and of their HomeTown throughout the years.

A Side Note. While living in Bay Saint Louis, I and a lot of other residents without our own cars were evacuated by school bus north to the State Coliseum in Jackson for 3 days while Hurricane Gustav blew through the southern part of Mississippi. Sleeping on a cot side by side with hundreds of others, and eating boxed meals 3 times a day was a unique experience. While there, Mississippi's Lt. Governor, Phil Bryant with his FEMA Director came to the Coliseum to see how everyone was doing. I decided to go over and introduce myself and mention why I had come to Bay Saint Louis from my home in Hew Jersey. I had a nice conversation with him, and then he asked if his aid could take a picture. He is now Mississippi's Governor. The photo is to the right, and above Bismark, ND.

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Trenton, NJ
Santa Fe, NM
Carson City, NV
Cheyenne, WY
Charleston, WV
Madison, WI


C. A. Snyder, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio - 1903-1906. Served for Dayton's 1905 ( First 100 Years ) Centennial Celebration.

Rhine McLin, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio - 2002-2009. Serving as Mayor during Dayton's 2005 Bicentennial Celebration.

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When was the last time a Dayton Resident ( or anyone ) had the easy opportunity to see this Photo of Mayor McLin when she was Mayor ?


And, when was a Dayton Resident ( or anyone ) able to see a Photo of Mayor C. A. Snyder from 1905 ?

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And, why am I mentioning the Names of Mayor Snyder and Mayor McLin?

After I had designed the format for the Web-Site's 'Feature Section' entitled - "Dayton's Current and Former Mayors and Committee Members " ( It was Listed on the previous Introductory Page as one of 10 'Feature Sections' ), I had to drive Downtown to Dayton's City Hall ( and then find a parking space ), walk up to second-floor hallway, and with my digital camera, I had to photograph, up very close so that I wouldn't include the 5"X 7" frame, and snapped a shot of each individual picture of each Mayor mounted in identical wooden frames hanging in 2 very long rows, one above the other down the wall, in Dayton's 'City Hall'.

Who would ever know where to look, or could easily be able to see the Photos of each of Dayton, Ohio's previous Mayors ?

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But now, on this one-of-a-kind Web-Site with this very special 'Feature Section' - "Dayton's Current and Former Mayors and Committee Members", for the first time, and, with just a Click, You can browse through this unique Photographic Retrospective that Pays Tribute to each and every one of Dayton's former Mayors going back to Dayton's beginning with Mayor D. Reid in 1805 ( Dayton's First ).

Beginning with the Name and Photograph of Dayton's current Mayor and then, through the Decades, You can scroll back, year-by-year, browsing through the Names and Photographs of each of Dayton's Former Mayors and Former Committee Members.

And imagine, as You browse, that this unique 'Feature Section' can, in fact, feature the Names and Photos of those past Mayors for each of the Towns in your own State.

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As explained on the Introductory Page , there are ten (10) distinctive 'Feature Sections' that comprise Dayton's, and will, in the future, comprise every Town's "HomeTown Tribute" . Another one of those 10 'Feature Sections' is entitled a Town's 'Logging-On Ceremony' . It memorializes the Date with a photo Press Event when the Mayor officially logs their Town's "HomeTown Tribute" onto the Web-Site. The Page features a group photo of current Town Officials, and an individual photo of the current Mayor. The photo of that Town's current Mayor who had the foresight to say 'Yes' for their Town to have its own "HomeTown Tribute" will permanently remain on their Town's "Logging-On Ceremony" Page.

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One last Important Mention

On the Introductory Page, I referred to this Web-Site with its "HomeTown Tributes" for each HomeTown as being America's HomeTown ( Family ) Photo Album. And in a 'unique' way, this Web-Site can, in fact, become America's, Only One-of-a-Kind, HomeTown Photo Album with lots and lots of America's Town's, each one with their own "HomeTown Tribute".

One of the 10 'Feature Sections' ( a very special 'Feature' ) that make up each "HomeTown Tribute" is entitled "The Photographic Memories of My Own HomeTown". It will allow every current, and former Resident of that Town to actually participate in the success of their Town's own "HomeTown Tribute".

Each Town, whose Mayor has said YES for their Town will have their own 'HomeTown Tribute' . And with 'the 'Feature Section' entitled "The Photographic Memories of My Own HomeTown" every Current and Former Residents of that Town will be able to just scan, and then up-load right from their own Family's Photo Album their own Photos of their Town and of their People. Also, all of the Photos from that Town's own Photographic Archive can, as well, be easily up-loaded and added to an ever growing Photographic 'Family Photo Album' featuring each of America's HomeTowns.

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With the completion of the 'HomeTown Tribute' for The City of Dayton, and hopefully planning for Dayton's Official 'Logging-On Ceremony' in the very near future, I am now introducing this Web-Site with America's FIRST 'HomeTown Tribute' to America and to each of America's HomeTowns . . . to their Mayors, to their Committee Members, and to their Residents in each of America's 50 States.

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Madison, WI
Charleston, WV
Cheyenne, WY


And now, Governor, and most Importantly at this time,

I ask for 'Your Comments and Your Suggestions'

There is a 'Your Comments and Suggestions' Page that you can Click to from the bottom of each of the 10 'Feature Section' Pages. I ask and would greatly appreciate hearing from You, as Governor of your State with any Ideas and Comments that you may have to help make it the "Wow . . . what a Great Idea" Web-Site that it can become.

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And, to our Ohio Governor John Kasick, I hope that You have found it to be a very unique Web-Site that currently Pays Tribute to my own HomeTown of Dayton, and that can in the near future Feature and Pay Tribute to many of Ohio's HomeTowns and their People. Being a Resident of Ohio, I look forward to hearing from You with your Comments and Suggestions.

And, of couse, I am hopeful for your Support.

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Thank You, again. for taking these additional few minutes to learn more about this unique Web-Site.

Stephen Van Hecke

And now, Browse and Enjoy !


Baton Rouge, LA
Boston, MA
Annapolis, MD


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