Support Of Local Business Critical To Effort
By Mickey Howley
On the way back from Jackson last week, some of the Vallians who went to the Mississippi Main Street awards luncheon took the long way home and made a stop in Yazoo City. One can still see plenty of tornado damage on the outside of town, but on Yazoo City’s Main Street, the obvious damage is from years of neglect.
Many buildings sit empty and in advanced stages of decay. Daylight shines through roofs, plants are taking over the parapet walls, masonry is crumbling. It is a shame to see, as the quality of the buildings and the style of architecture certainly shows the place was a thriving community.
There has been some effort to save downtown Yazoo City. There are newer “retro” streetlight standards, the street is lined with banners touting the downtown district, and there are even loud speakers from each light pole playing music downtown. But you can, as I did, walk down the middle of the street on a week day afternoon and not worry about being hit by a car. The traffic is almost nil. Zilch. The lack of traffic from both cars and pedestrians and this combined with the music playing from the loudspeakers with the almost all empty buildings gives the place a wild-west ghost town feel. One set of buildings is being knocked down and the bricks being loaded onto shipping pallets.
There is a figurate and literal bright spot in all this blight. Six historic brick commercial buildings have just recently been painted florescent hues of purple, blue, maroon, orange, green, and yellow. While those colors might be more appropriate on a swimsuit, at least some one is trying.
The last week of this month David Preziosi from the Mississippi Heritage Trust will be in town to asset map the buildings in our proposed National Register of Historic Places District. Having district status won’t stop a situation of Yazoo like decay (we have a few examples of this, too) or hinder a building owner from painting whatever color they want to paint, but it will provide significant financial incentives to those who want to preserve, update, and renovate historic commercial structures.
Also at the end of this month, the evening of July 30, Defining Moments Photography is having a grand opening for the other side of their building at 205 N. Main Street. Calling it “Studio B” this side will feature clothing and fashions and art. Local clothing designer Julia Ray will have her very hip dresses showing and Imagination Station artstar Karen Turnage will have some of her work displayed.
Owners Shelly Vanlandingham and Leigh Rounsaville have been in business for nine months and are moving along with this business expansion. This is a good thing, as business owners both new and old need have confidence that the community will support their efforts. This whole “buying local” and supporting local businesses is so critical to the survival of downtown. Those recent three statewide awards the WVMSA and WVAC re-ceived in Jackson are great, but without the local purchasing keeping our downtown alive and continuing to come back, the awards would mean little.