The Texas Historical Commission is recommending Kilgore’s Main Street Program for an official, national designation as a ‘Main Street community.’
According to a press release from the commission, the City of Kilgore initiative is one of 68 programs to be recognized this year and will be announced as ‘Nationally Accredited’ during the Main Street Now conference in Missouri, later this month.
Currently, the Kilgore program is ‘State Accredited,’ noted Sonya Trout, Kilgore’s Main Street manager and events coordinator. Taking the reins of the program earlier this year, she credits the past year’s progress to Carol Windham (the city’s Planning & Zoning director and interim Main Street supervisor) as well as local volunteers and supporters.
“It is due to the hard work over the last 12 months of Carol Windham, the Main Street Advisory Board and the downtown merchants,” Trout said in an email Tuesday, “that we have been able to meet the strict criteria that comes with being Nationally Accredited.”
According to this week’s release, the Texas Main Street Program began in 1981 as one of the first state coordinating programs in the country. Today, it has assisted 178 communities of all sizes throughout Texas.
“Local Main Street programs focus on responsibly utilizing a community’s historic assets for economic benefit and increased quality of life,” the historical commission announced. “During 2017, approximately $500 million was reinvested into Texas’ 89 Main Street districts. Additionally, 388 small businesses and 2,329 jobs were created.
“Main Street programs in Texas are minimally staffed but rely on community volunteers to carry out the program. In 2017, Main Street volunteers reported more than 119,178 hours of work donated in support of the program.”
The accreditation is pending final approval by the National Main Street Center/Main Street America before the upcoming announcement at the Main Street Now conference March 26-28.
“The Texas Main Street Program continues to provide substantial return on investment to local communities across the state,” said Mark Wolfe, Texas Historical Commission executive director.
Selection criteria for the accreditation consider annual progress in planning, partnerships, staffing, volunteer efforts, a preservation ethic, training and program assessment through reporting, per the commission.
“The state office also works with programs throughout the year by providing various services catered to local needs,” according to the release. “The THC’s Texas Main Street Program is a revitalization program for historic downtown and neighborhood commercial districts. It is based on a Four-Point Approach – organization, design, promotion and economic vitality – all within the context of historic preservation.”
Learn more about the national Main Street effort at mainstreet.org/home. For more information on the Texas Main Street Program visit thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-and-programs/texasmainstreet.
– By JAMES DRAPER