‘Main Street’ designation for Vevay will help with community beauty

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A group of volunteers in Vevay have begun the process of applying to make Vevay a part of the Indiana “Main Street” program.

The purpose of the “Main Street” program is to encourage economic development and redevelopment in the downtown areas of Indiana towns and cities.

“As the traditional heart and hub of government, commerce, justice, and social interaction,” the mission statement of Indiana Main Street says, “the downtown business district plays a crucial role in the overall image of a community. The program is founded on community development that emphasizes the preservation and development of traditional downtown resources….”

The local group, which consists entirely of volunteers, has undertaken the process of being certified as an “Indiana Main Street” program — a process which can take up to two years to complete.

Until then, volunteers are working on a variety of programs and projects designed to beautify the downtown area, and is also working closely with the county’s Economic Development office on ways of creating economic growth here.

The local board has elected officers, with Teresa Bovard Lyons serving as president; Ron Hocker serving as secretary; and Donna Graham assuming the treasurer’s responsibilities. A board of directors will work closely with the officers and other volunteers to direct the program through the application stage.

One of the first items of business for the local group was to identify a “Main Street area” as called for in the requirements given by the state.

“It’s not that we don’t see other areas of town as important, because we obviously do,” Ron Hocker said of the designation. “It’s just that the state wants local groups to focus on particular areas in order to focus the energies of the group.”

The area identified by the board begins at the Switzerland County Historical Museum and goes west to Main Cross Street on the west side of the Switzerland County Courthouse. From Main Street, the area goes north to Pike Street and south to Market Street.

After identifying the area, the group then immediately began the process of beautifying the area. A total of 52 large pots were purchased in the middle of May, and on May 26th the volunteers began placing the pots filled with flowers around town within the boundaries of the designated area.

Ron Hocker said that more volunteers are needed to make the program a success, and that everyone interested is urged to participate. Participation can range from being a part of the group to simply volunteering to care for one or more of the pots that have been placed.

“Right now we’ve got commitments to care for about half of the pots that we have out,” Ron Hocker said. “We’re still looking for others who will donate some time to water and care for the plants. Everyone working together is the key to making this a success.”

Anyone interested in “adopting” a pot can contact Teresa Lyons at 427-3491; Ron Hocker at 427-9062; or Donna Graham at town hall, 427-3131.

The Main Street group here will be holding a meeting on Wednesday, June 15th, in the Vevay Town Hall with Ellen Harper, the Director of Indiana’s Main Street Program. She will be discussing the particulars of the program with local volunteers, and offering advise on moving the application for certification through the program. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m.

“She was just appointed when Governor Daniels assumed office, so we are her first application,” Ron Hocker said. “I guess we’re learning together to a degree, but her advise will be very valuable to our local group.”

The Main Street group also got some good news when it was announced the Indiana Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman will meet with the group on Thursday, June 23rd, while she is in Switzerland County to address a group at Belterra Casino Resort and Spa.

She will also meet with the Economic Development Commission at 2 p.m.; and will then meet with the Main Street volunteers at 3 p.m. that day. That meeting will also be held at the Vevay Town Hall, and everyone is invited to attend.

Ron Hocker said that once the local group is certified, one of the state requirements is that there be a director on site for the program. Ron Hocker said that the vast majority of the work is done by volunteers; and the group hopes that when a director is needed, that position may be able to be incorporated into an already existing position.

But the thing that will make the Vevay Main Street program successful is the willingness of individuals and businesses to come on board and help with projects and programs. Anyone who is interested in learning more is welcome to participate.