The Yalobusha Historical Society held its regular monthly meeting Nov. 18 in the former Presbyterian Church in Coffeeville. There were 25 members and guests present, including this writer’s sister, Sudie R. Knortz and her daughter, Genevieve “Gen” Hurley, of Easton, MD. We are always happy to have visitors.
President Mike Worsham called on Carl Vick for the opening prayer. Mike welcomed everyone, especially the speaker and other guests. He spoke of the new printer the Society has purchased, and about the election of officers at the January meeting. Joy Herron, Pat Brooks and Jimmie Pinnix were appointed as the Nominating Committee. They will present a slate of prospective officers to be voted on at the January meeting.
Program Chairman Opal Wright announced that our December meeting will be an informal Christmas party, with our own “Society Songbird,” Jackie Weibley and her accompanist, Sonny Hubbard, entertaining with their wonderful holiday songs. Opal also announced that she is resigning the position of Program Chairman, and that Julia York Fernandez will be the new one. Opal has done a fantastic job of obtaining speakers during the 14 years she has served. She thanked everyone for their cooperation, and urged everyone to be as supportive of Julia as they have of her. Thanks, Opal for your years of dedication in ensuring that the Society would have some of the best speakers in the State! And, Julia, we know that you will also do a good job, and we look forward to hearing all the good speakers you have been lining up.
The day’s speaker, Mickey Howley, was born and raised in New Orleans, went to the University of New Orleans and to Oklahoma State ( English major) He is married to the former Annette Treftzer, an English Professor at Ole Miss. They have one son, at the University of North Texas. He has worked as a teacher ( in US and overseas in Turkey), a commercial shrimper, a manager of a trucking company, and as a technician (Cadillac). He has lived in North Miss for 11 years: 3 in Oxford, 8 in Water Valley. He is starting his 5th year with the Main Street program, two of those years as WV Main St Director. He was just elected to be Managers rep on the State Main Street board. (a 2 year position)
Mickey’s subject, of course, was “The Water Valley Main Street Association.” Water Valley, one of the oldest, and prettiest, towns in N. Miss., was beginning to show its age, so to speak. Many small towns throughout the country have had their downtown area fall into a state of disrepair, with abandoned buildings creating an eyesore. Historic structures were being endangered, and lack of funding posed a problem for those wishing to improve the looks of the towns. But now, there is an organization that is helping communities stop the decline of downtown area, and the Water Valley Main St. Association is doing just that. Mickey passed out print-outs, explaining the work of the MSA, and later, an attractive poster-type picture of the City of Water Valley and the immediate surroundings. The by-line on the hand-out says: “Create local organizations with broad-base community support for the commercial district re-vitalization process, with strong support from both public and private sectors.” Another line reads: “Building sustaining economic development through historic downtown renovation and rehabilitation.”
The Association is made up of five committees: Organization, Design, Promotion, Economic Restructuring and the Arts Council. Some of the subjects Mickey covered were: low-interest loan program; Federal Home Loan Grants, Streetscape Renewal. Back Street clean-up, the Farmers’ Market, the “Movie on Main” and the annual Founder’s Day Festival. He spoke of the improvements being made in the downtown area, and the plans for the future. He spoke of the artists who now reside in ‘the Valley,’ many of whom have bought and restored old homes. The residents of the Valley can now visit their own art galleries, when the artists open their homes for tours.
There were many other aspects of Mickey’s program, all of it very interesting and informative. The town of Water Valley is definitely a better place to live because of its Main Street Association. It has a rich and colorful history, and it is good to know that it is looking to the future, ensuring that the town and surrounding area will be as quaint and attractive as it is now. The MSA workers are due a big ‘thank you,’ and Mickey, you get a big ‘thank you’ for such a wonderful program. Keep up the good work.
ATTENDING: Mickey Howley, Sudie R. Knortz, Gen Hurley, Betty Miller, Opal Wright, Dot Criss, Pat Brooks, Kay McCulley, Tom and Alma Moorman, Richard and Betty LaMantia, Bobby and Bobbie Hutchins, Carl VIck, Steve Cox, James Person, Mike Worsham, Helen Jones, Frances Stewart, Julia Fernandez, Dave and Emma Hovey, Robert and Nancy Barton and Jimmie Pinnix.
Betty R. Miller