The 4th Annual Scarecrow Invasion

It’s time for the 4th annual Scarecrow Invasion!

The Scarecrow Invasion is a time when our downtown Laurel community comes alive with colorful and creative life-size scarecrows. We invite businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, civic groups, families and individuals to design and display their own whimsical scarecrows.  Anyone is welcome to create a scarecrow and join the fun! This year’s theme is Famous Mississippi: Persons, Places, and Things.

Last year, our downtown merchants’ creations ranged from sweet to spooky and everything in between!

Peddler’s Junktion was awarded third place for their “cheeky” display.

2019 Scarecrow Invasion – 3rd Place – Peddler’s Junktion

Magnolia State Bank took their scarecrows to frightening heights with zombies scaling the building and encouraging passersby to save lives by donating blood.

2019 Scarecrow Invasion – 2nd Place – Magnolia State Bank

The top prize went to the creative team at Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar! Shug’s is the perfect place for Cookie Monster to hang out, don’t you think?

2019 Scarecrow Invasion – Winner – Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar

This event is absolutely free to enjoy! All scarecrows will be installed by Friday, October 2, 2020, and judging will begin at noon. Scarecrows will remain on view through the month of October, and will be removed by Friday, November 6, 2020.

Laurel Main Street Recognized at Mississippi Main Street Annual Awards

Laurel Main Street was recently honored for Outstanding Creative Placemaking at the Mississippi Main Street Association’s annual awards. Leontyne Price musical park was a collaboration among multiple businesses and community organizations.

Laurel loves Leontyne Price. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art’s (LRMA) year-long celebration of the beloved opera singer and Laurelite’s 90th birthday proves that, along with Laurel’s new musical park. Leontyne Price Park represents the collaboration of almost a dozen different entities including the City of Laurel, Laurel Main Street, LRMA, the Price family, Laurel Machine and Foundry (LMF), Sonny & Cille Screen Printing, The Knight Butcher, and Central Creativity.

The “Treble Makers,” a Leadership Jones County team, raised over $15,000 to fund the project and worked hard to reach out to the community for both input and arts education. The park was built to enable people of all ages—but especially formative youth—to experience the enrichment that music can provide through both sheer enjoyment and gaining an understanding of musical concepts. The many students who come to the park to play and learn will be inspired by Laurel’s most famous daughter.

What is Creative Placemaking?

This award recognizes a creative placemaking endeavor that involves artists, arts organizations, and community development practitioners who have deliberately integrated arts and culture into community revitalization work. The placemaking project should show how it enhances quality of life for existing residents, increases creative activity, and creates a distinct sense of place.

The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities with a special virtual awards presentation this year. MMSA staff presented the 2020 awards from the Old Capitol Inn in downtown Jackson via Facebook Live. The annual awards honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.

“Mississippi Main Street is excited to celebrate the achievements of our Main Street communities,” said Steven Dick, MMSA Board President. “Our local leaders have worked tirelessly to provide economic opportunities, increase quality of life, and preserve what makes our downtowns special.” Thomas Gregory, MMSA State Coordinator, Jennifer Prather, Director of Community Development, and Jeannie Zieren, Director of Communication and Marketing, presented the awards.

MISSISSIPPI MAIN STREET ANNOUNCES 2020 AWARD WINNERS

JACKSON, Miss. (August 19, 2020) – The Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) celebrated achievements of Mississippi Main Street Communities with a special virtual Annual Awards presentation this year.

MMSA staff presented the 2020 awards from the Old Capitol Inn in downtown Jackson via Facebook Live. The annual awards honors Main Street directors, board members and volunteers and recognizes the most outstanding downtown development projects from Main Street communities in Mississippi.

“Mississippi Main Street is excited to celebrate the achievements of our Main Street communities,” said Steven Dick, MMSA Board President. “Our local leaders have worked tirelessly to provide economic opportunities, increase quality of life, and preserve what makes our downtowns special.”

Thomas Gregory, MMSA State Coordinator, Jennifer Prather, Director of Community Development, and Jeannie Zieren, Director of Communication and Marketing, presented the awards.

Laurel Main Street was honored with an award for Outstanding Creative Placemaking for the Leontyne Price Musical Park.
​​This award recognizes a creative placemaking endeavor that involves artists, arts organizations, and community development practitioners who have deliberately integrated arts and culture into community revitalization work. The placemaking project shows how it enhances quality of life for existing residents, increases creative activity, and creates a distinct sense of place.

In addition to announcing the 2020 award winners, all Main Street member communities were recognized as well as MMSA annual investors and MMSA board members for 2020-2021.

In addition, the 2020 nationally accredited programs were recognized, as well as new MMSA communities, and Main Street directors who have served for 10 years or longer in their communities.

The Mississippi Development Authority, Entergy Mississippi, and Mississippi Power were recognized as top investors of MMSA and sponsors of the annual awards.

In 2019, Mississippi Main Street’s Designated Communities generated 185 net new businesses, 62 business expansions to existing businesses, 633 net new jobs, 101 building rehabilitations and 331 downtown residential units. In addition, 178 public improvement projects were completed as well as 36 new construction projects in downtown business districts. More than $148 million was invested by the public and private sectors in 2019, and more than 43,211 volunteer hours were recorded.

Every dollar spent in this organization results in $80 of private investment, the highest return on investment of any economic activity in the state.

Since 1993, MMSA has generated more than $5.5 billion in private and public investment (including more than $1.3 billion in public investment).

MMSA currently has 45 Designated Main Street Community members, four Network members, and eight Associate members.

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Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) is a catalyst for the preservation and economic revitalization of Mississippi’s historic downtowns and districts. As a Main Street AmericaTM Coordinating Program, MMSA helps lead a powerful, grassroots network consisting of more than 40 Coordinating Programs and over 1,200 neighborhoods and communities across the country committed to creating high-quality places and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.

For individual project photos and awards narratives, please email jeannie@msmainstreet.com. For more information about MMSA, visit www.msmainstreet.com.

Be Golden

A lot of things are golden — rules, ratios, the Laurel High School mascot, silence — and most of the visitors to our hometown are golden as well. But an issue has arisen in our city that we cannot remain silent about any longer. The safety and comfort of our neighbors is being invaded, and we wouldn’t be good neighbors ourselves if we didn’t address it. If you live or own a business in Laurel, please read this. If you’re a fan of our hometown and you’re planning a visit, please read this. If you’re bored at work, heck, you can read this too.

What We Learned in Waco

When Laurel learned that it would be broadcast into homes across the country, the city leadership formed a book club and read What to Expect When You’re Expecting a TV Show, and met each week for coffee and discussion. KIDDING! If only it were that simple! In actuality, several of our city leaders took a trip to Waco, TX, the home of Fixer Upper and the Gaines’s empire. They spoke with business owners, homeowners, and city leaders there, and learned about what we should expect and how we should prepare. The team learned from the mistakes Waco made in the wake of the Fixer Upper frenzy. They decided on the way home from that trip that the city of Laurel, and any organization that worked in cooperation with the city, would never offer tours, maps, or reveal the location of homes featured on the show. The merchants of downtown Laurel whole-heartedly agreed.

It’s Personal

Laurel has welcomed Home Town fans from across the country and around the world. Through all of this interaction with such a vast cross-section of people, we have noticed that good manners and the notion of being a good guest mean different things to different people.

Some of our friends and neighbors have experienced some uncomfortable situations, but many have experienced things that are downright scary. The stories we’ve heard from friends and neighbors sound like they could be the beginning of a true crime TV show, but they’re actually the result of a home improvement TV show.

You may be wondering why Laurel Main Street, an organization that is committed to the economic vitality of downtown Laurel, is addressing this. To that, I’ll say, “It’s personal.” Its personal to all of us because this is our town. It’s personal because we loved Laurel before it was popular and we’ll love it long after the Home Town hype has faded. Laurel Main Street has worked for over a decade to make Laurel a great place to live and work, and we’d like it to stay that way.

If Good Fences Make Good Neighbors…

You know the saying, Good fences make good neighbors”? Its not about tall pieces of wood between two houses; its about respecting boundaries. For the first few years of the show, Home Town fans were happy for a glimpse into The City Beautiful on TV. Visitors to Laurel enjoyed driving down the avenues, trying to spot the homes, and we welcomed those visitors into our town and into our stores with open arms. However, in the past year, a new breed of fan has emerged. These fans don’t love our town. They don’t care about being good neighbors, and they’re not very respectful visitors either. We understand that many guests feel that Laurelites are their oldest and dearest friends. What can we say? Our locals are pretty amazing! Whether you’re a guest in someone’s home or in someone’s hometown there are a few guidelines to follow to make sure you’re respecting their boundaries and will remain friends even after you’re gone.

1. Follow the House Rules

Before you arrive, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the way things are done to avoid any misunderstandings.

  • Respect the personal space of others. Don’t ask where Home Town cast members live. Say hello if you see someone you recognize in public, but respect their privacy when they’re at home.

 

  • Don’t trespass. We have beautiful streets and avenues lined with sidewalks, and we LOVE seeing guests walking around, admiring the architecture and trying to guess who might be behind the front door. However, when someone enters a yard, garden, or porch uninvited, they are trespassing and nobody likes a trespasser.

 

  • Keep the noise to a minimum. Part of the reason that so many people choose to call Laurel home is because of its sleepy, small town qualities. Please don’t drive past homes while honking and yelling at the homeowners.

 

  • Observe polite parking protocol. If you suspect that you have found a home that was featured on Home Town, please do not park in front of it and wait for the home owners to exit. Please do not block driveways in the hopes that a local celebrity will come to personally ask you to move your vehicle and take a photo with you since they’re there.

2. Act More Appropriate Than Usual

Represent your neck of the woods. Make your mama proud. Put your best foot forward. There’s about a dozen ways to say it, but the bottom line is to be your best self. Isn’t that what Home Town does for you? The show features the best parts of small-town life and then invites you to experience it for yourself. Surely, you can return the favor when you visit.

3. Leave Things Better Than You Found Them.

  • Clean up after yourself, your pet, your kids.

Accidents and awkward situations are bound to happen. Be ready with an apology or a helping hand to try to mend the situation as quickly as possible. If you forget everything else, just follow the Golden Rule:

do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

(Matt. 7:12).

Would you want strangers peeking through the slit in your curtains to see what books are on your coffee table? Probably not. Would you want a group of tourists posing for pictures on your front porch swing? My guess would also be no. Would you want a strangers trying to photograph your kids while they play in your house? What about while they play in the yard? Is that ok? That’s a hard no. Children should be off limits.

There’s more to being a great guest than just showing up and being the life of the party. And speaking of parties, the city of Laurel and Laurel Main Street host multiple public events each year, and you’re invited to them all! This is a great way to get a feel for the city, and even to spot some familiar faces you might have seen on Home Town.

We have opened our town to you. We have invited you into our magical piece of the planet, and we are so glad you love Laurel. You can show your appreciation by being kind, courteous, and respectful.

Laurelites, be trustworthy. Show your neighbors you care by checking on them, looking out for their home and property, and protecting their privacy.

For the sake of our city and those who love it, we are asking you to Be Golden. Our city will thank you. Our neighbors will thank you. The Home Town family will thank you. We can make the world a better place one act of kindness at a time.

Laurel Main Street Director Announces Retirement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAUREL MAIN STREET DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Board Begins Search for Replacement

[LAUREL, MISSISSIPPI, July 30, 2020] Laurel Main Street (LMS) announced that the organization’s executive director, Judi Holifield, will retire at the end of this year. Judi Holifield, who oversaw many beloved city events including the Loblolly Festival, Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook-off, Touch a Truck, Farmers Market and more during her tenure, joined LMS in the fall of 2011.

“Nobody has cared more about the mission of this organization, worked harder despite challenges or advocated more passionately on behalf of LMS than Judi,” said Truitt Taylor, president of Laurel Main Street. “She successfully managed the organization through a period of significant growth and set us on a great path programmatically.”

While Holifield was executive director, LMS received several Mississippi Main Street awards including Outstanding Community Transformation for a mid-sized town and she was named Outstanding Main Street Director in 2019.

“Working together with the membership and board at Laurel Main Street has been a highly rewarding experience and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Holifield. “I look forward to the next chapter of my life and the opportunities to take time for myself and my family, while continuing to support LMS and its endeavors as a volunteer.”

The LMS board is conducting a search for a successor as executive director.

For more information on the executive director position, please visit www.laurelmainstreet.com.

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The Main Street program executive director coordinates activities within a downtown or commercial district revitalization program that utilizes historic preservation as an integral foundation for downtown economic development.  He/she is responsible for the development, conduct, execution and documentation of the Main Street program.  The program director is the principal on-site staff person responsible for coordinating all program activities and volunteers.  This includes management and attendance of all Laurel Main Street festivals and events, many of which are held on weekends or evenings.  He/she should represent the community regionally and nationally as appropriate.  In addition, the program director should help guide the organization as its objectives evolve.

 

If interested please submit resume and cover letter to:

 

Truitt Taylor

President – Laurel Main Street Board of Directors

trtaylor@crcgroup.com

 

Deadline for applications is August 7, 2020.