Downtown Attractiveness Shows Our Visitors That We Care About Our Town
Mickey Howley asked me to write a column during his time out of the country and I am honored to do so because I am aware of the accomplishments that resulted from Mickey’s leadership. I also have a special appreciation for the important place that weekly newspapers, especially the Herald, serve in communities.
When I think about community projects, I naturally consider a project as how it fits into the context of the whole county and that holds true here, as I consider the events and the extraordinary improvements and additions to downtown Water Valley. It is easy to report on the advancement over the county because we have seen so many plant expansions and job creations brought about by the county supervisors and our Economic Development and Tourism District Board and our city leaders.
The subject here is downtown Water Valley’s improvement, which is an important part in that overall county proposition.
As we bring visiting business leaders in who want to expand their business, or establish a new operation, they routinely ask about medical services, education opportunities, and crime. However, they are also looking at the appearances of storefronts and businesses and the overall appearance of downtown, and we constantly hear positive responses from them as we tour downtown Water Valley.
They ask about outdoor recreation opportunities and that is easily answered because we live in the “water part” of the state, with the four big lakes; they ask about cultural activities and we are eager to boast about our art activities. That is an easy one as it allows us to talk about our still increasing art opportunities, but, it seems that the attractiveness of the stores and buildings along Main Street tell the visitors that we care about our town.
There has been, over the many generations, an existing cultural genteelness in “The Valley” that gave it an uniqueness and difference from other towns. That underlying classiness was the perfect foundation to be jump started by some well intentioned new comers. A Faulkner character, in Go Down Moses, said, “The past is never dead, it isn’t even past.”
And that holds true for Water Valley as the long standing genteel and classic culture existing here was the perfect foundation to be jumpstarted and expanded by new ideas by several well-intentioned new comers.
There is an old and important adage that controls any group situation and that adage states, “The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.” Whatever number of individuals or organizations are present, their efforts and production must be greater than that number. It is not necessary that the separate groups stand around talking about their togetherness, but it is important that each group and each individual works hard and diligently at their task so that the whole of Water Valley will be greater than its parts.
Tourism has increased dramatically over the county with such annual activities as the Chamber’s Watermelon Carnival in Water Valley; Coffeeville’s North Mississippi Archery Tournament; Oakland’s Tour of Homes and other events, attendance at the Education Center at the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery’s on going events, along with the Extension Service’s events at the well used Multipurpose Complex. Water Valley has become a routine destination point for in-state and out-of-state tourists.
And, we, as Yalobushians, have progressed a great way and now we can all work hard at our individual tasks, appreciate each other, and become even greater.
(Editor’s Note: Bob Tyler is the director of the Yalobusha County Economic Development and Tourism District.)