By Mickey Howley
This is the time of year when we all look back over the past year. How does 2012 look in the recent rear view? Sometimes one might need a little more distance and perspective to give a year and year’s events and efforts an honest appraisal. But we’re not patience people in that respect. We want to know now how we did. It is like waiting for test results. And partly this year in review is a good thing as we forget quickly. Maybe that is a blessing and curse at the same time. So here are the highlights from the past year downtown.
One of the biggest positive changes, one that will have a long-term positive effect if we choose to take advantage of it, is Water Valley’s Historic Commercial Downtown being a National Register of Historic Places District. Big time federal and state tax credits for those who are renovating historic commercial buildings. Plus finally recognition for the significance this downtown played in the development of the region.
There is a Mississippi Trails Blues Marker at Main and Blackmur, our busiest intersection. It is dedicated to Casey Jones and the people who wrote songs about Casey and also in someway to all those who worked for the railroad in this town. Water Valley is a railroad town. And this marker reminds residents and visitors alike of that.
The World’s Largest Crappie Festival brought 50 plus fishing teams to downtown and had music in the street. No one caught a world record breaking fish, but there was a $100,000 grand prize if someone did. The Art Council pulled off an even more intense ArtCrawl in this 4th version; more crawl stops, more artists, and a fashion show. The Farmers Market was under the big magnolia for its sixth season, a lot more music and fun this year plus the healthy local freshness as always.
Several new businesses opened in formerly empty buildings on South and North Main. Buildings fixed, inventory bought, sales made, people working. Okay, one business closed and one seems in limbo, but even counting those for the year Main Street is still up by several new businesses and new jobs.
On the state level, the WVMSA won four statewide awards, more than any town of any size in the state. And Water Valley was the featured town in the National Main Street Direc-tor’s speech at the National Convention.
Main Street had a great run this year in the national (and international) press, a three page and 22 photo article in the New York Times back in March was the largest piece. This fall, Food & Wine Magazine named Water Valley one of the Best Little Food Towns in America. The Wall Street Journal said last month if you visit north Mississippi for a weekend, visit Water Valley on Saturday afternoon, naming The BTC, Bozarts, Turnages, and Yalo as the places to see. Even the Shanghai BundPic had an article about what it is like to live here. No other town in Mississippi our size got that kind of positive attention. Not even close.
And the reason for the success and press is the hard work of WVMSA members, the business community as a whole, the on-going support from the City, and individual residents constantly believing in this town as a good place to work and live.