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Street Talk

Appalachian Grant Will Fund Main Street Program To Create Driving Tour Of Town

By Mickey Howley

It is a little known fact of legislative geography, but Yalobusha County is in the Appalachian Mountain zone.

I was amazed at this fact when I heard of it, thinking the Appalachians ended in the very northwest corner of Mississippi and that was even pushing the definition a bit. But the power of the legislative pen can move mountains and, in this case, we have benefitted.

Many years ago, when the Appalachian Regional Council (ARC) was formed (a multi-state development program), Senator John Stennis included the Appalachian zone all the way to the edge of the Delta.

Last February Water Valley Main Street received a letter from Mike Armour, who is Gov. Barbour’s liaison to the ARC. Mike wrote us to say we had been awarded another ARC grant, based on our performance in the Better Back Street project (Duncan Street).

So on April 23, a group of us went to Columbus to start the process of this new grant. The main focus of these grants is to bring an economic impact to the community and engage community members in organizing for their own benefit.

The project for this new grant is to develop a driving tour of Water Valley, and we have creatively named it the “Drivin’ the Valley” project. The idea came from a brochure made for Magnolia, a Coffeeville-size town just south of McComb. They have a number of older houses and buildings of architectural interest.

Our idea is to create a brochure that will feature 20 to 25 homes and buildings of historical and architectural interest, similar to what Magnolia has done. Plus we are adding a web/smart phone component, so that people taking the tour will have information in addition to what the printed brochure can provide. Plus we’ll have an audio feature so that you can hear people describe houses and give some historical background.

We would like a broad base of community support for this, not only from those who have the noteworthy  houses, but from all who would be interested in commenting on Water Valley’s past and present.

The economic goal of “Drivin’ the Valley” is to bring people in off the highways and down from Oxford to take a look around. It is our hope that any increase in visitors will bring some economic impact in terms of everything from increased milkshakes to home sales.

The first regular Farmers Market was under the big magnolia on Main last Saturday morning. We have some new vendors and the old regulars are back, all with new produce coming in fresh every Saturday morning from 8 to 11. Plus coffee under the new Main Street tent where we have our re-usable tote bags.

Last week’s survey on the Main Street Market Festival had two thirds of the responders saying live music was the favorite part of the fest. Visit for this week’s survey on your favorite style of house.

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