By Mickey Howley
Kagan Coughlin is on Main Street early almost every day since last October. He and a crew are working on four buildings, street numbers 420 to 428 on North Main. I was visiting the jobsite last week and the crew was really busting hard. Jerry Vaughn was up on the scissors lift repairing bricks and mortar on the high alley wall, Jeremiah Gord was grinding metal structure clean, Scott Lexa was in the center of the building complex in a full sweat laying on paint, John Forsyth was up and down a ladder wiring a future apartment. Kagan was cutting long lengths of trim out on the sidewalk.
But it’s not all work, work, work. Some of it is planning.
Coulter Fussell came by to talk facade detail and colors. Andy Hall from Water Valley Electric stopped in to see about a temporary move for a power line. The glass delivery guy brought some panes and did a short impromptu drum solo on one of Forsyth’s drums. I thought that’s not something you see everyday.
The jobsite is a hub of activity—there are people coming and going. Joe Newman with steel. Arnold Carothers stops in with materials and solid advice. The Water Valley city crews have been getting the water and sewer and power utilities going. Marchbanks Specialty roofers are putting on a big new roof. Larry from Valley Lumber and Joey from Sartains are always on the phone with Kagan about stuff coming in. Kagan showed me a note somebody anonymously sent him about buying local when a Bruce lumber truck was delivering. Seems Kagan needed some 20-foot beams and Larry was out. I had to laugh; he buys out of town once and gets called out on it. That’s the “Buy Local” police. Like that!
From the Main Street Association perspective this project is a big deal. It is the first one of local National Register buildings to use the federal credits from the Water Valley Main Street Historic district.
What is important about this rehabilitation, beyond the construction payroll, local material purchasing, and local financing is the long-term effect—more retail, more jobs, more people living in town and downtown. And a couple of buildings that once tagged the whole town as “derelict” will be again productive and creative spaces.
Jean and Claude Hayles have their tomatoes in. They are local growers with a real tomato passion. Not only do they know how to grow them without chemicals, but also they know which variety of tomato is best from the really wide range they bring to the market. Great information. The market is going on strong and will be open this Saturday July 5th from 8 to 11. Poultry in Motion Farmer Kerry O will be there with her fresh baked breads and maybe Farmer Melissa O will sing for veggie sales like she did last week. And even if you don’t need the freshest bread, ripest tomatoes, or freshest veggies in Yalobusha, stop by for a full dose of Wilbur and one of Carline’s fried pies. Nothing says a Valley market morning better.