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Street Talk

On a Mission: Preserve the Past, and Imprint the Future

By Susan Hart

Preservation is more than restoring old, historic buildings and homes. It’s about preserving history while making a thumbprint of our own. In the January/February 2009 issue of Preservation magazine, a national publication, our very own Fat Possum’s Matthew Johnson is highlighted for his work keeping the Mississippi Hill Country music preserved. Although Mr. Johnson is working with a more modern sound these days, Fat Possum Records is making a mark today while preserving history.

The magazine is released by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose mission is “Helping people protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them,” from

Owner/instructor of Valley Dance Studio, April Pullen, along with her husband Bill, are   doing their part to enhance, enjoy and protect one of our downtown buildings. (See photo on page 5) The studio, located at 403 N. Main Street shares space with Bozarts, an art gallery presented by the building owners, Annette Trefzer and husband, Mickey Howley. By beautifully renovating and bringing business and rental space to the historic structure, these Water Vallian’s are supporting the mission of WVMSA, which is “to promote Water Valley’s Main Street District as the focus of a community where history is preserved; businesses thrive; and citizens and visitors dine, shop, live, and enjoy the arts and entertainment.” Bozarts displays the works produced by artists of today, and Valley Dance is providing instruction for artists of tomorrow.

Do you have a mission for Water Valley? Do you like what you see, but want to see more? Make plans to participate in the Charrette Program. Monday-Wednesday, January 12-14, 2009.  Charrette is French for an action of doing work in front of public eyewitness. Charrette is an appropriate description of the three-day program as it is a community-driven initiative when dreams and aspirations are reproduced into real, viable, and well-planned possibilities. But for its success, the Charrette must have the input of the people who call this town ‘home’. The residents of Water Valley are in for a treat as they hear from experts about all the great features our town offers.

The planning team, assembled for Water Valley, wants to know what you have to say.  You are invited to the town-hall meeting scheduled Monday evening, January 12, 6 p.m. in the 2nd floor courtroom at the Water Valley Courthouse. Bring a list. Bring a sketch. Bring photographs. “The program will not be cookie-cutter,” said Bob Wilson, Mississippi Main Street director, “but will be tailored to the community.”

If you are not able to attend the charrette, but have input, please consider contacting the WVMSA office at 473-3796 or 473-6767. Mail suggestions to WVMSA, PO Box 104, Water Valley, MS 38965, or email:

 Water Valley’s  charrette team will feature building and landscape architects, urban planners, preservationists, recreation and housing planners as well as marketing and branding experts. But the residents of Water Valley are the real experts. You know what makes this place home; what it takes to keep Water Valley growing; and what needs to be done to revitalize our community center so that we, too, can protect, enhance, and enjoy the places that matter to us.

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