WATER VALLEY – The seventh year for the Water Valley Main Street Association was a milestone – an estimated $3 million in renovations to 11 Main Street buildings, an investment that eclipsed the previous six years combined, Main Street Manager Mickey Howley reported during the annual meeting last Thursday.
But numbers weren’t the only way to tell the story of Water Valley’s bustling Main Street economy. Main Street President Amy McMinn shared a story that also pointed to the comradery on Main Street.
“Andy O’Bryan at the brewery makes beer, and the hops waste goes to Billy Brown, who feeds it to his cows, that produces milk that is sold to the B.T.C.,” McMinn explained. “Everything circulates back around,” McMinn explained, adding that was just one success story of many that highlights the town’s unique business atmosphere.
The hour-long meeting included a report from Howley that covered a long list of accolades Water Valley received the past year, input from McMinn and comments from Mayor Larry Hart before the association’s annual awards went to the hard-working city department heads.
Howley’s list of accolades ranged from the big boss visiting Water Valley as one of her two stops to Mississippi Main Street towns to a couple of movies filmed in town, including a full-length film shot back in the spring.
“There were only four murders in the movie, that’s not too bad,” Howley joked.
Hart identified challenges the town is facing, including replacing infrastructure that includes water and sewer lines that date back almost nine decades. Hart pointed to the impact grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission could have to help with these projects.
The mayor also pointed to the town’s success, including Main Street’s success with small businesses and jobs at the town’s larger employers.
“We have primarily grown through expansion of existing businesses, I have always felt that was the key to the comeback from the economic fall that we had just a few years back,” Hart said.
“We have some mighty good folks in our city that are working and volunteering. We also have a mighty good group of people employed,” Hart said about the labor force for the city departments before each department head was presented an award.
Main Street Awards
First on Howley’s award list was the town’s street department, who has made the biggest improvement to Main Street this year with the new pavement and corresponding markings including the new crosswalks. Department head Michael Scroggins accepted the award for his department.
Next was the electric department, and Howley pointed to the recent outage when power was restored within a half-hour after a motorist took out a light pole while using a cell phone.
“It wasn’t funny,” Electric Department Head Andy Hall quipped about the hours his department worked in the night following the accident.
The third award was the town’s sewer and water department, a group Howley identified as the biggest unsung heroes.
Next was the Parks and Cemetery department, and Howley pointed to the town’s clean-cut parks as evidence their dedication as department head William Beard picked up the award.
As for the police department, officers use just the right amount of force in Water Valley.
“Some times cops get it too heavy and sometimes too light. I think the Water Valley Police Department gets it just right,” Howley said as Chief Mike King picked up the award on behalf of his department.
The last award went to the Water Valley Fire Department.
“Like the police department, when you get in trouble you want to see that fireman. He is the guy is going to save you,” Howley said as Sherman Gooch was presented with the plaque, which like the others was made from a portion of a plaque from old heart pine dating back to an 1880-era building.
Howley then pointed to the strong board members serving the Water Valley Main Street Association, singling out McMinn for the last award. Howley said McMinn had invested countless hours fulfilling her duties.
“Most importantly, three years of rock steady,” Howley noted.
The final report came after the votes were tallied for the election of new board members for a three-year term. The new board members include Daryl Burney, Pierce Epes and Justin Showah.