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Street Talk

Better BackStreet Volunteers Take On Duncan Street Side Of Town

By Alexe van Beuren

As many of y’all already know, this is my last column as Interim Director of the WVMSA. It’s been a great three months, and I am proud of all we have accomplished, but I admit I am looking forward to a slower pace for my family. WVMSA remains a passion of mine, but working as a volunteer will suit me better.

A replacement is CLOSE to being confirmed, but no word yet.

WVMSA hosted two successful events in the last week: the Homecoming Pep Rally and the Farmers’ Market Fiesta.

I stood on a bench last Thursday and tried to count the crowd. Easily 400 folks came down to cheer on the Blue Devils– isn’t that fabulous?

The Farmers Market ended the 2008 season with a bang. Doug and Rhonda Webb of Fiddlin’ Rooster Farm kept our feet tapping with bluegrass, and customers and vendors alike enjoyed the dishes people brought.

Janet Brewer’s tomato pie was about the best thing I’ve ever tasted– and there was so much more! Pecan pie, chili, French toast… all sorts of goodies. We’ve got some good cooks in this neck of the woods.

Also, the Better BackStreet volunteers have been busy getting a headstart on our October program to redo the backs of our Main Street. Drive on Duncan Street (between Fred’s and Turnage’s) and see the newly redone back of Lilly Bell’s.

WVMSA volunteers weeded, painted, fixed up the door, and built a white picket fence for the ac unit. Doesn’t it look great? If you’d like to help, sign up for a few hours any and every Saturday in October.

All-in-all, I am quite proud of WVMSA. In the last year, we’ve gotten several thousand people to come downtown for our various events, we’ve revamped one building and are going to have a big effect on the back of our Main Street merchants’ buildings, and we’re staying busy planning a host of new things.

 Movie on Main Street is coming up, October 17th!, our first-ever e-newsletter went out last week, and there’s a shopping and entertainment guide due out in time for Christmas.

Become a member and support us– with your money (always welcome) or your time (also always needed). Membership details are available on our website,, and check out our new events page! It includes non-WVMSA events like Blue Devils Home games and Chamber’s Music in the Park. If you have an event you’d like to be added (or if you’d like receive our quarterly e-newsletter), email

One last thing: downtown second-story living.

Getting folks to live in the second-stories above retail space is a key way of revitalizing downtowns. It’s worked for towns all across the USA. Here in Mississippi, Columbus is a good example, and that’s why Better BackStreet folks took a trip to Columbus a few weeks ago with all the Main Street property owners who could come.

Here in Water Valley, we have eight downtown apartments, all owned by Steve Thompson of Cornerstone Rehabilitation. And even in our little town, which has little evening nightlife, all eight of those apartments are rented– and he has had a WAITING LIST for the last year-and-a-half.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? If you’re a Main Street property owner wanting to make some money out of your empty second-story, now’s a good time to remind you of WVMSA’s low-interest loan pool. Just go to Renasant or Mechanics Bank – your choice – and talk to any loan officer.

Our low-interest loan pool is about the best deal you can get anywhere, and the chances are really, really good you’ll make your money back, as well as improve the value of your building and contribute to the downtown.

Thank you for listening to me for the last three months. I’ll see you downtown!

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