By Mickey Howley
Last Thursday night was the annual General Meeting for the Water Valley Main Street Association. The WVMSA is a couple of months past six years old as an “official” organization. It would be just short of eight years total if you counted the pre-official status early organizing. In that time there have been a number of positive changes on Main Street. More buildings fixed, more businesses in them, more jobs downtown, and more social life. And these changes have happened gradually, methodically, and consistently–and made down-town stronger.
None of this happens without key people taking action. So last Thursday we honored some important folks who have put in some serious effort over the years and especially last year in the return of downtown. J’s on Main was awarded Best Re-habilitation of a Main Street building, a joint building and business effort by Andi and Pierce Epes and Erin and Jonathan Sharp. Carline and Wilbur Herring were honored as Best Growers for the Farmers Market. They literally anchor that market.
Janet Dickey and Alexe van Beuren were both cited for three years of service as directors on the WVMSA board. Two very different personalities, but both very direct and straightforward about what the program should do and willing to help do it. Bill Rotenberry was lauded for bringing Pizza Getti to Main Street.
Anyone who met Bill knew he loved being back in the food business and loved being in the very center of town. Pati D’Amico was the 2013 Best Volunteer for the Water Valley Arts Council—a tough call as that is one very active group—and Pati is the person who takes ideas and brings initiative to them.
Eddie Ray was 2013 Volunteer of the Year for Main Street. Not only is Eddie president of the WVMSA board, but also in the past years he has logged thousands of miles pro bono in representing Water Valley around the state. Despite his essentially blunt manner, he is one of the best advocates for the town and the program. And he plans to continue doing so.
Downtown Person of the Year for 2013 goes to the person who has made a significant positive difference on Main Street. This year that is Dixie Grimes, head chef at the BTC Old-Fashioned Grocery. The Valley is getting a statewide reputation for being a “food place” and Dixie is leading the charge on that. Not only do we who live here eat better (the best outcome!) but folks visit the Valley just to eat. The latest proof was last week when Hank Holmes, the director for the Mississippi Depart-ment of Archives and History, was in town for a BTC lunch on his way to meet Chancellor Jones at Ole Miss. Hank’s wry comment was “the best sandwich in Oxford is in Water Valley.”
Also at the meeting Thur-sday night elected, as new board members were Coulter Fussell co-owner of Yalo Studio, Andy O’Bryan co-owner of Yalobusha Brewing, and Jennifer Pace owner of Pace Pottery—all business owners on Main Street.
Speaking of Pace Pottery, this coming Sunday Oct. 27 from 2 to 7 p.m. is the open house at the newly renovated building at 1302 N. Main Street. Stop and say “hi” to Jennifer and see what a great job she has done on the inside.