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Street Talk

Grant Money And Volunteers Improve City

By Mickey Howley

Last week Water Valley put two checks in the bank account, each for $15,000.  It is not every day we get checks with five digits to the left of the decimal point. One check was from Mechanics bank and the other from Renasant Bank. This money came to them via the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, Texas.

The FHLB of Dallas which covers the five state area of MS, LA, AR, TX, and NM has a program for its member institutions (Mechanics and Renasant) where if they donate money to community based non-profit organizations, the FHLB will match that money up to 3 times the amount with a cap at 15 thousand.

Both Mechanics and Renasant, who are with the City of Water Valley our biggest supporters, have given Main Street more than 5 thousand dollars, so we were eligible for the maximum. This grant is an established program and this year we had everything in place to apply for it.  It is a one time deal. It is not Obama money, either.

The thing with grants, although some call it “free money”, they all come with strict parameters and stipulations and oversight. WVMSA has been awarded several grants, one of them winning a statewide award in the process. We felt early on that it was critical to set clear goals and have a performance track record with grants.

We want to use the money effectively and constructively. We are doing that now with a second Appalachian Regional Council grant for our Driving the Valley project. We will be just as meticulous with these funds from the FHLB in getting the most for the dollar and having the most impact on our downtown.

When Main Street looks at how to effectively apply these funds, we look at our four core goals for downtown revitalization: being organized, working on economic re-structuring, using good and proven design, and promoting Water Valley effectively and creatively.

Our membership comes from a broad spectrum of the community, from bank presidents to teachers, from retirees to twenty somethings. All believe that having a solid downtown anchors the city and makes it an economically strong and lively place to live.

There are already some ideas out there, many of them from our marketing and design Charrrette earlier this year, but if you have any ideas, suggestions, or comments please let us know (see contact info at web address below). We’d love to hear from you.

There is another big grant project just completed in town: the Baker Street Park. If you have not seen the park recently, I suggest you visit it. It is a positive example of the synthesis of what grant money and the volunteer spirit of a community can do.

Levert Hawkins took the lead in that project, and at the ribbon cutting last Saturday, the list he read of who helped was long and impressive. Support for the project came from across the board, from neighborhood kids to the mayor’s office.  

Last Saturday the Farmers Market had a big crowd; fresh stuff is still in season. I cooked up a pot of purple hulled peas. Very tasty.  The market is open on Wednesday afternoon, too.

Our survey last week had nobody really liking the start of the school year. Imagine that! But, many did vote for a quick end to summer and some cool fall weather moving in. Visit www.watervalleymainstreet.com for this week’s survey on how well the Water Valley Blue Devil football team will do this season.

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