Main Street leaders from West Tennessee experienced all this camp-related fun - and more - in the Tennessee Main Street Program's Regional Summer Camp for West Tennessee last week.
Dyersburg joined Morristown and Columbia as one of three sites across the Volunteer State to host the regional summer camp. Main Street officials representing five West Tennessee communities arrived in Dyersburg on Thursday, June 28.
Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce Downtown Development Director Steve Guttery hosted the event, which featured presentations from Tennessee Main Street Director Kimberly Nyberg, National Trust for Historic Preservation Senior Main Street Officer Kathy La Plante and consultant Bridgette Massongill of Chattanooga.
West Tennessee leaders attending included Collierville Main Street Executive Director Laura Todd, Marcia Mills of Tiptonville Main Street, Daisy Parks of Tiptonville, Frankie McCord of Ripley Downtown Development Corporation and Phyllis Rachle of Main Street Union City.
A welcome and opening ceremonies started the day, followed by campfire songs, "Kumbaya -- a Collaborative Discussion" about the similarities and differences of programs throughout the region and "Golden Nuggets - Reinvestment Statistics" on the importance of job creation in downtown.
At noon, campers broke for a lunch prepared by Blackberry Hill Catering before participating in a "trailblazing" walking tour of Dyersburg's Historic Downtown District.
On the walking tour, Main Street leaders were requested to complete a creative exercise. Armed with only a rolled-up sheet of paper, a clipboard, blank drawing paper and a Sharpie, each Main Street representative was asked to 'spy' details from the square and draw only that detail on the paper provided.
Nyberg said another advantage Main Street leaders can gain from participating in a similar exercise in their own hometowns is the chance to visit with merchants in the downtown district.
"We've talked about how important it is for directors to get out and meet with the local folks," said Nyberg. "It is very important for you guys to know them and for them to know you."
Nyberg and Guttery practiced what they preached, introducing campers to Mike Pennington of Pennington Seed and Supply and stopping in to Joe Enoch's office to take him up on his offer of a cold drink and a cool place to rest. At each establishment, campers commented on the unique details in the businesses and throughout the square.
After the walk, the sketches were combined to create a collage and another session was provided in tax-increment financing.
Although she visits Tennessee about six times per year, this is the first time La Plante has made the trip to Dyersburg.
"My impression of Dyersburg is there is a lot going on with the streetscape and rehabbed buildings," said La Plante. "Overall, it is a gorgeous Courthouse Square. A typical southern Courthouse Square with a lot of TLC going on, and that shows."
Nyberg commended the local Main Street on its progress and leadership.
"Downtown Dyersburg is a very vital district," said Nyberg. "It is not ever going to be the hub of business again, but it can be a really important part of it. The Main Street program really looks at revitalizing downtown and keeping it a vital part of the community. (You've got) a little bit of government, a little bit of retail, a little bit of service and a little bit of restaurants, so there is a mix in the downtown district ... a great mix where people will want to visit and to gather as a community."
Nyberg said the Main Street program is an asset-based program that demonstrates how residents feel about the heart of their community.
She commends Guttery for his hard work in the downtown area and his participation in the Main Street program.
"He gets it," said Nyberg. "He has the ability to listen and take it in and then, when he speaks, he puts it all in terms you understand. He really understands the vision behind the Main Street program."