My kind of town

campustownphoto1Ahhh, Campustown: Everyone had his or her favorite spots back in the day. But is your favorite place still there? What is Campustown like in 2013? Young Alumni News recently caught up with Kim Hanna of the Campstown Action Association to learn a little more about this corner of Ames…not just the night’s drink specials.

Young Alumni News: Tell us a little about the Campustown Action Association.

Kim Hanna: The Campustown Action Association (CAA) is made up of Ames and ISU community members who seek to improve and promote all that is the Campustown business district. We are passionate about the students, the residents, the businesses, the culture, and the overall atmosphere that makes Campustown such a unique and energetic place. We are business owners, community members, students, faculty, property owners, and people who love the area.

The board is comprised of Campustown business owners, two Iowa State students, a City of Ames staff person, an ISU staff person and two representatives from the greater Ames community.   We are a member-based organization with members from both the Campustown business district and the greater Ames community.  We are also starting a Friends of Campustown membership drive to bring in individual members who  have an interest in seeing Campustown grow and strengthen while still maintaining our fun and funky environment for college students.

YAN: What kind of relationship does Campustown have with Iowa State?

Hanna: Campustown has a great relationship Iowa State.  We work with GSB and the Campustown Student Association on issues pertaining to the student population and Richard Reynolds, the director of the Iowa State Memorial Union, is on our board.  Two thirds of ISU students live off campus and a growing number of those students live in and around Campustown.  Campustown has been a part of the Iowa State experience since the early 1900s.  We have volunteers from many ISU organizations, including the ISU Young Alumni Council, helping us Make Campustown Shine in our monthly clean-ups of litter as well.

YAN: What are some of the changes coming to Campustown in the upcoming year?

Hanna: People often talk about the current state of the buildings in Campustown.  Some of them are older and maintenance of the exterior may not be great. CAA is working on creating a Façade Grant Program, partnering with the City of Ames, to fund exterior renovations to buildings to help improve the look of the property, to make them more inviting to customers, and to improve the overall look of Campustown.  Two major property purchases in 2012 will affect Campustown in 2013 and 2014 as well, with a brand new Kum & Go on the east side of Welch Ave and redevelopment along the Lincoln Way corridor.  Small businesses are never static, so new businesses may be coming into the district in 2014 as well.

Names that you recognize from your time in Campustown, including Café Beaudelaire, Mayhem Comics & the Fighting Burrito (formerly the Flying Burrito) will continue to provide great food, huge selections of comics and games, and fun atmospheres for the next set of ISU students.

YAN: What is Campustown doing to ensure it keeps the integrity and history of the area alive?

Hanna: Like all business districts, Campustown has to evolve and change as customer demands evolve and change.  Campustown is the home of many small and independent business owners and independent franchise owners, and we want to maintain that while being aware of what the needs of the community are and will be five or ten years from now.  But don’t worry, Campustown will always be the place in Ames for nightlife!  The name on the front of your favorite bar from college may be different, but the fun you had hasn’t changed.

Regarding any changes to Campustown, CAA has compiled a list of priorities we would like every project to consider.  In order to continually improve the customers’ experience in our district, CAA would like all projects to consider adding a missing service to the current mix, maintain street-level retail businesses of all sizes, create spaces for university students, faculty and staff, and make accommodations for parking concerns in the area.

YAN: What are some things for alumni to do while they are back in town this fall for football games?

Hanna: If you are coming for the first game of the season against UNI on August 31, come back early!  The second annual Friday Afternoon in Campustown (or FAC) is being held Friday, August 30 from 4pm-8pm in the parking lot just south of Welch Ave Station and Pizza Pit. This free event includes a beer garden and performance by Standing Hampton, playing all of your favorites from the 70s through the 90s. For more information, visit This event is free.  You must be 21 to enter or kids (youth) can be accompanied by a parent

Coming back for a later game?  Stop in for dinner and a drink before (or after) the game, get all of the ISU gear you need to cheer on the Cyclones at Dogtown University and grab coffee  and breakfast at one of our amazing coffee shops to perk up before heading home on Sunday!  For a full list of Campustown businesses, please visit our website

YAN: What is the best part of the Ames and Iowa State community?

Hanna: I am not an ISU grad, but I grew up in Central Iowa and have been a Cyclone since birth, so I think the best part of Ames and the Iowa State community is the excitement surrounding a home football game!  One of the great things about Campustown is that we are a district for all ages!  There is something for everyone here and it is a great place to include in your football weekend plans.  I have been coming to Campustown for dinner and shopping since I was little, and I am so excited for a whole new generation of Iowa State families to come and experience all that we have to offer!

Catching up: With two young alums who have five ISU degrees between them

ImageBrandon Williams (’04 aero engr, M.S. ’06, PhD ’09) and Kelly Tanghe Williams (’04 food science and human nutr, Ph.D. ’09) are originally from Maple Grove, Minn., and arrived at ISU as freshmen in 2000. While at ISU they were both involved in the Greek community, leaders of several campus organizations, and heavily involved in graduate research. They currently live in Huntsville, Ala., with their daughter, Annika.

So, what are you up to now?
Brandon currently works as a contractor at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in the Fluid Analysis branch of the Propulsion Engineering department. His work supports NASA’s next generation Space Launch System vehicle through simulation and analysis of the rocket plumes during ignition and liftoff. As a postdoctoral fellow at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Kelly is researching the response to chemical exposures and stressors to determine if these factors have may be related to the development of Gulf War Illness in veterans of the Gulf War of 1991.

How did ISU help lead you to where you are now?
The research opportunities available, and the excellent mentoring we received during our graduate work and participation in the Preparing Future Faculty program, allowed us to pursue our professional interests.

What is your favorite ISU memory?
We often think about walking across campus on crisp, early autumn days, hearing the Campanille playing in the distance.  Our favorite special occasions were Homecoming (Yell Like Hell, Lawn Display) in the fall, and Greek Week (Polar Bear Plunge, Greek Olympics) in the spring.  The community involvement during these events, among both ISU students and Ames residents, generated a lot of unforgettable moments.

How do you “live Iowa State” in your everyday life?
Professionally, we have seen firsthand the influence of the work being done at ISU and how its effects reach beyond the state of Iowa. And proudly wearing our Iowa State gear (and old intramural T-shirts!) has helped keep us connected with the Iowa State family. Through the common bond of time spent at ISU we’ve met several local alumni, or their friends and family, and traded stories about our time at Iowa State.