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Main Street director briefs Newton County leaders

By By William F. West / community editor
Nov. 13, 2002
NEWTON Civic leaders sat silent as they listened to the director of the Mississippi Downtown Development Association talk about revitalizing the local economy.
Meng spoke in detail to about half a dozen leaders about what it would take for Newton County communities to create a successful Main Street revitalization program.
The idea of a Main Street program in Newton County has been talked about but never put together prompting a luncheon at Newton's historic train depot followed by a round table gathering.
The gathering remained well into the early afternoon, later becoming a full-fledged discussion about preserving history and landmarks.
Meng said having a Main Street program requires hard work, a full-time director and payments to the state association.
But she said it is well worth the return investment for creating jobs, increasing sales tax revenue and having a downtown of which residents can be proud.
Meng also shared her story about a recent trip to Italy sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There, she said, she found a dedication to preserving towns.
Meng said she is particularly saddened by landmarks vanishing from Mississippi.
Kathy Stephens, director of Newton's Chamber of Commerce, said she returned here by choice eight years ago and hopes to die here.
Stephens said more than a few people in Newton are at such a crossroads in their lives.
She said she believes much of the problems in Newton stem from parents who have lost confidence in the town's schools and send their children to Newton County schools or private academies.