Southern Wisconsin towns compete for spot on HGTV show

MONTELLO, COLUMBUS, Wis. (WMTV) -- Small towns in southern Wisconsin are hoping for a spot on a new HGTV show, "Hometown Takeover."

If a town is picked, a crew will come in and give the town's businesses, buildings and homes a makeover.

Steve Starke and his wife own the Oyster Crackers diner in Montello. Starke is a proud Montello resident and business owner.

"We've been here three and a half years now," Starke said.

Starke loves the town, his fellow business owners and the sense of community, but he thinks Montello could use a little help.

"We had a flood that hurt a lot of businesses around here, a lot of homes," Starke explained.

Some businesses are still closed after flooding in 2018, and in a town that has been around since the 1850s, many other buildings need an upgrade.

"There's a lot of historic buildings in town too, fix those up, help grow that pride," Starke said.

With that in mind, Starke and fellow business owners Ginger Fisher and Jade Johnson entered Montello into the contest to pick a small town for "Home Town Takeover" hosts Erin and Ben Napier to remodel.

"It's really cool thing to have a bunch of people together with the same vision," Starke said.

However, Montello is not the only Wisconsin town looking for an upgrade.

Beath Reanee and Sarah Miller helped get Columbus into that same contest. Both are Columbus residents and have family history in the town.

"Everyone's working so hard, so if we can have that reward sooner rather than later, I think that would be amazing," Miller said.

Miller and Reanee hope if Columbus is chosen, they can renovate several historic buildings and homes, including a theater above Columbus' city hall they say has been closed since the 1930s.

"They just need that touch and that costs money," Reanee said.

Reanee said Columbus is a unique example because it already has momentum and just needs an extra boost.

"People really are opening up businesses and coming here, people are curious about this town, and we feel like this is just the next, this would be an amazing next chapter for us," Reanee explained.

Both Starke and Reanee said they are already proud of their home towns, but each thinks the town would benefit from a fresh coat of paint.

Columbus and Montello are not the only Wisconsin towns vying for this opportunity, but both Starke and Reanee said their home town is special.

Richland Center too is looking to welcome HGTV to their community.

Scores of people from the Richland County town came together in downtown Richland Center at the beginning of the month to record their video submission.

The drive for the makeover was started by its tourism director Lon Arbegust, who has since passed away. But, folks in Richland Center were proud to pick up the baton and finish the effort.

HGTV has not announced when the winner will be picked. "Home Town Takeover" is expected to air in 2021.

Richland Center gathers on February 1, 2020, to record their submission for HGTV. (Submitted)
Richland Center gathers on February 1, 2020, to record their submission for HGTV. (Submitted)
Richland Center gathers on February 1, 2020, to record their submission for HGTV. (Submitted)