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Street Talk

Main Street Projects Take Top State Awards

By Mickey Howley

Last Tuesday morning, June 28, 15 Water Vallians met downtown and took a ride to Jackson. They headed south to attend Mississippi Main Street’s Annual Awards Luncheon. Packed into the Old Capitol Inn ballroom were several hundred people representing the 58 main street towns in the program. Water Valley has been to the awards luncheon before, and we have won in the last several years one best in state award each year. This year we won three.

Let me put this in some context and give some background, because winning three statewide awards in one year is a real big deal.  Here is how the award process breaks down. Because Main Street is a comprehensive approach to downtown re-vitalization, each association has four areas of effort and those are organization, economic restructuring, design, and promotion. In this the WVMSA is a bit different from your average Main Street program in that we have added art as an effort area via the Water Valley Arts Council. So the award categories are broken down by those areas of effort. Each Main Street town may enter a maximum of three nominations total for the year. Every nomination the WVMSA entered won best in state this year.

In the area of design in the category of Best Adaptive Re-Use Project our statewide winner is The BTC Old Fashioned Grocery Building. Not only is a great re-use of a historic building, having a store, an office, and an apartment, but the story saving it from the brink of demolition for the sole purpose of harvesting the old bricks is truly a great downtown preservation one. Alexe van Beuren accepted the award.

In the area of organization in the category of Most Creative Fundraiser, one in which we won last year with the Chair-ity Art Auction, the Art Council once again shows the state that fun, art, and funds can make a winning combination. Winner this year is the “Come As You Aren’t” Costume and Dance Party. A fund raising art raffle and costume party all to support the Summer ArtCamp for Kids. Proof positive that adults will dress up in an outlandish fashion if it is for a good cause. Bill Warren accepted the award

In the area of promotion in the category of special event, a category that includes festivals and other events designed to generate traffic and interest in downtown, the Art Council’s Second Annual Studio ArtCrawl shows the state the power of art as a catalyst for a downtown energy and fun. This event, by the way mark your calendar for this year’s crawl for Friday October 7, is what is truly distinguishing Water Valley from the rest. Ramona Bernard accepted the award.

And while there were three recipients and 15 Vallians total present in Jackson, these awards represent the effort of many folks. Sure, there is a point person or two in every project, but each of these awards depended on deep community support. And while the awards are a nice recognition for hard work, the WVMSA having won five statewide awards in the last three years, the real reward is the differences one sees in downtown. Thanks Water Valley, you have earned these awards.

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