2020 has only just begun but the city of Kilgore has already outlined plans for a variety of events and activities in the coming months while keeping an eye towards the long-term goal of revitalizing the historic downtown area.
At a Dec. 17 meeting of the Main Street Advisory Board, Community Relations Manager Sonya Waters presented information to other board members on the success of programs held in December, as well as planned events for the coming year.
Waters reported the city spent $4,822 on advertising for Kilgore Christmas events, including Christmas in Kilgore, A Very Derrick Christmas and Mingle & Jingle. Advertisements were placed in Kilgore News Herald, Longview News Journal’s @play magazine, on KLTV and KDOK radio, as well as other venues.
She said, while street closures made the Mingle & Jingle event seem busier than in previous years, local vendors and shop owners reported fewer shoppers than at previous events.
However, other Kilgore events in 2019 showed improvement over previous years.
At the “Shop Small, Win Big” event held in downtown Kilgore throughout the month of November, 27 merchants participated with 278 ticket entries generated. That’s higher than the total of 248 in 2018. Shoppers could earn a Golden Ticket to be entered into a grand prize drawing by spending $25 or more at one of the 27 participating locations.
Waters also reported on the Downtown Building Improvement Program, which was approved unanimously by Kilgore City Council last November and aims to improve the integrity and accessibility of eligible downtown structures.
The key target of the project is economic development.
“We’re trying to increase economic development in our downtown, improve the downtown building occupancy level, address the safety and ADA issues that are currently impeding the occupancy level in downtown and to extend the life cycle of our existing historic buildings because, as you know, some of those buildings, if they don’t get saved pretty soon, they might be gone,” Waters said at the time of approval.
Projects eligible for the monies (up to $40,000 in a matching grant) include compliance with life safety codes as well as work that makes a building compliant with the equally-essential Americans with Disabilities Act.
Building owners can also get relief for upgrades to exterior doors and hardware.
The total grant amount will consist of a 50 percent direct reimbursement and a 50 percent rebate amount. The city has allocated $110,000 for the project for fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
In order to qualify for the grant, a matching grant recipient must be the owner of the downtown property, the property must be located within the eligible area, it must be a taxable business and the property owner must be willing to comply with all local and state laws and regulations affecting the property, its rehabilitation and future use.
Waters also announced upcoming dates planned for the downtown area in 2020, which are as follows:
■ Feb. 3-14: Valentine’s Day Campaign
■ Feb. 21 & 22: KilGogh Arts Festival
■ April 3: Fridays After 5
■ April 7- May 26: Tunes-day at the Acre (Every Tuesday)
■ May 1: Fridays After 5
■ May 2-10: Mother’s Day
■ June 5: Fridays After 5
■ June (TBA): Children’s Arts Festival
■ Aug. 7: Fridays After 5
■ Oct. 10: Oktoberfest
■ Oct. 31: Trick or Treat
■ Nov. 28: Mingle & Jingle
■ Dec. 12: Christmas in Kilgore
Waters also covered some of the city’s projects for 2020, which will include a Historic Survey in coordination with Gregg County led by David Reeves. Primary organizers will work in coordination with Waters and report back on project progress at regularly scheduled Main Street meetings.
Finally, she announced the Main Street program will have to elect new officer positions (Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary) at their next meeting set for Tuesday, Jan. 21.