2017 Awards

2017 MMSA Award Winners


2018 Awards Application


View photos of 2017 Annual Awards Meeting.



Outstanding Community Education Campaign – This award recognizes excellence in a targeted campaign that educates the community about a streamlined effort to raise awareness on a particular aspect of a Main Street program.

Winner: Pontotoc County Chamber Main Street – Bicycle Sculpture Project
Director: Ellen Russell   
Accepting: Dr. Lee Waltress

The Bicycle Sculpture Project began in July 2015 as a community campaign to produce sculptures of taste that related to our community and the growing awareness of being a healthy community by welcoming bicycles as a form of art. The newly formed Pontotoc Artist Guild set the plan in motion to create the whimsical, colorful, and interesting pieces.  Selling the acceptance of bicycles in our communities became a major task. The Artist Guild wanted to help promote a healthy climate in our communities as well as the use for the trail. Helping educate our citizens on the effects of being healthy and using the trail, as well as added an artistic flavor to our community has given a spark to the Main Street district.  The attractive art pieces have been a catalyst for other additions, including Mini Libraries on the Trail and bird watching spots. 


Outstanding Creative Fundraiser – This award is granted to the downtown organization that has displayed the most creativity and success in securing funds for its downtown program or specific project.

Winner: West Point Main Street – West Point Pickers
Director and Accepting: Lisa Klutts

One city's trash is another person's sentimental treasure. So, West Point Pickers was created. Instead of throwing away old street signs or infinitely storing retired Christmas decorations, West Point Main Street coordinated a fundraiser to sell the surplus items and raise money for future downtown projects. Residents and collectors bid on popular street signs, purchased old Prairie Arts Festival posters, and revived Christmas decorations that hung on street poles they remembered as a kid. A live auction entertained the buyers as well as motivated them to give more to their community. Partnering with local businesses to sample Mississippi craft beer and taste local fare, attendees left nostalgic of the past and excited about the future projects in downtown West Point.


Outstanding Marketing – This award recognizes excellence in overall marketing by a downtown organization through its integrated communications efforts, including traditional and digital marketing.

Winner: Ocean Springs Main Street
Director and Accepting: Cynthia Dobbs Sutton and Shawn Sutton

Ocean Springs Main Street brands itself as a creative community with a walkable downtown, numerous festivals, and hundreds of shops, restaurants and galleries that showcase the attributes of this coastal, artsy community. Through the organization’s marketing collateral, Ocean Springs Main Street, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau tell the story of one of the oldest towns on the Gulf Coast. The collateral includes a comprehensive town tourism guide, downtown walking map, website and social media outlets - all proven successful to bring in nearly 500,000 visitors to the small town with a population of 17,500 and obtain numerous town awards and mentions including “One of the Top 10 Coolest Small Towns” by Budget Travel, “One of the South’s Best Small Towns” by Southern Living Magazine and “One of 7 Waterfront Towns Worth a Closer Look” by CNN.


Premier Partner – recognizes creative joint ventures between the Main Street organization and another local, community entity or entities (public or private). 

Winner: Team Cleveland Main Street – Wired for Sound
Director: Lisa Cooley
Accepting: Tricia Walker

When people come to the delta, they expect to hear live music. Unfortunately, regular live music is often hard to come by in Cleveland. On the flip side, the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University has an abundance of musical talent who are looking for venues in which to perform. In the fall of 2016, representatives from the DMI, Team Cleveland Main Street, and Keep Cleveland Boring came up with an idea to partner and kill two birds with one stone.

The group developed an initiative called Wired for Sound, which put DMI student musicians in local restaurants 2-3 nights a week for 10 weeks. Using money raised during their restaurant week promotion in January, Keep Cleveland Boring and Team Cleveland Main Street were able to pay for half the cost of live music. For only $25 a night, local restaurants were able to have weekly live music.


(1 of 2) Outstanding Creative Event – This award recognizes the downtown organization that has created a quality creative event, generating traffic for the downtown.

Winner: Main Street Clinton – Home Grown: A Farm to Table Dinner
Director: Tara Lytal

Accepting: Marsha Barham

Home Grown: A Farm to Table Dinner was held on the quaint brick streets of Olde Towne as a kickoff to the Fresh at Five Farmers Market season. Home Grown featured crops from local growers in delicious, creative dishes by Clinton chefs. The first-time event raised over $4,000 for the program and gave great exposure to local chefs and the farmers market. The menu was crafted to highlight the flavor and versatility of fresh produce and showcase each chef’s specialty. Home Grown was held underneath a tent strung with lights, an abundance of greenery and produce for décor, and a vintage truck for added flair. Live music continued through the night as attendees enjoyed this three-course meal in the heart of the community. Home Grown was sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi, a local partner with a commitment to supporting local growers and healthy eating habits.


(2 of 2) Outstanding Creative Event

Winner: Starkville Main Street – Night Market
Director and Accepting: Jennifer Prather

Under festive lights with local musicians providing a live soundtrack, the inaugural Starkville Night Market combined urban street vibes and county fair charm. The first 2016 New South Weekends event made the weekend complete for tourists and residents, featuring the best of Starkville’s creative economy in the heart of Main Street. Chefs offered culinary bites with specialty cocktails, and local artists, retailers and vendors offered an extensive range of art, fashion, décor, gifts and food. Night Market created an economic impact driving commerce to local merchants, resulting in increased sales tax collections and provided new artists and merchants a venue to introduce themselves. The event offered a glimpse into the Main Street nightlife, seeing attendees furthering their dining experience at nearby restaurants. New South Weekends celebrates the vibrant and thriving creative culture in Starkville. The Night Market was a perfect venue to showcase that culture to the world.


Outstanding Image Promotion – This award recognizes the downtown organization or business that has developed an effective public relations piece or specific promotional campaign.

Winner: Team Cleveland Main Street – Team Cleveland Branding
Director and Accepting: Lisa Cooley

Following the master planning charrette that was hosted by Mississippi Main Street, Team Cleveland Main Street began work on a branding campaign that encouraged shopping local. The plan included adding banners downtown and on streets that connect Hwy 61 and DSU to downtown. In total, 68 banners have been installed. Additionally, the Team Cleveland design committee and Cleveland Heritage Commission worked with MDOT for nearly 3 years to install a system of wayfinding and public parking signs in Cleveland. The signs direct passersby off the busy highways and toward our downtown area. Also, the Team Cleveland organization committee developed a ‘Shopping & Dining Guide’ that provides a description of every downtown retailer. More than 10,000 guides have been provided to visitors so far. In total, Team Cleveland has spent $63,440.45 in privately raised money on this project. Not $1 of City funding has been provided for this endeavor.


Outstanding Image Promotion – Honorable Mention

Winner: Main Street Columbus - Downtown Window Cling Promotion
Director and accepting: Barbara Bigelow

Downtown Columbus has a distinctive sense of historic character that displays the community’s rich heritage. Staying true to its history, Columbus

Main Street wanted to ensure that one did not forget about its cultural diversity as well. To unify history, diversity, and beautification, our design committee found a way to branch these three key foundations together that would brand Columbus Main Street and also provide eye-catching designs and details to our downtown businesses. Our design committee added customized window clings that would hang from the display windows of downtown buildings. The locals of Columbus believe that our cultural diversity is the strength and heartbeat of our small town and what keeps us grounded and close. Columbus’ diverse composition makes us the unique gems that we are, and the downtown window promotion puts that on display.


Outstanding Retail Promotion – This award honors the downtown organization that has developed an effective retail promotion(s) in conjunction with downtown merchants.

Winner: Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association – Shop Small Saturday
Director: Andrea Saffle
Accepting: Rosie Knop

In an effort to promote local holiday shopping among downtown merchants, Rosie Knop, owner of Playpen Kids & Maternity store, volunteered to be the American Express Neighborhood Champion in partnership with Hattiesburg Downtown Association, in order to organize and initiate the Shop Small Saturday holiday shopping weekend event.  Rosie Knop along with HHDA social media manager, Keenon Walker, ordered and distributed promotional materials to all merchants, including doormats, canvas shopping bags, stickers, balloons, pins, paper crowns, as well as other Shop Small logo items. Each merchant was also given a small tutorial on how to create free online ads for their websites and business Facebook pages. Keenon created a successful social media, print, and newsletter campaign to promote the event. Playpen Kids & Maternity created a map with each merchant that continues to be updated and given out to customers in various locations in downtown. Additionally, the merchants joined forces to do a downtown wide scavenger hunt.



Outstanding Rehabilitation Project – This award is granted to an individual or business that has completed an outstanding historic rehabilitation project that continues the use of the building.

Winner: Belinda Stewart Architects – Mantee Depot
Accepting: Belinda Stewart

The restoration and re-location of the Historic Mantee Depot has been a catalyst to boost development and restoration in this small town of less than 250 people. The depot was relocated close to its original location after sitting on private property for many years. The exterior non-original asbestos and Masonite siding was removed and the original board siding was restored. A new roof was installed along with new wood windows and original freight doors. The ticket area was rebuilt using new and old studs, the freight room was realigned, and ADA access was provided. The City has found new use for the Depot as a Community Room, City Hall offices and a Museum. Resurrecting the landmark, Mantee Depot has provided a platform for “new things to start happening” as the tiny little town of Mantee looks forward to tomorrow’s growth.


Outstanding Visual Merchandising – This award recognizes excellence in visual merchandising in a retail business in a Main Street district.

Winner: Team Cleveland Main Street – H Squared

Director: Lisa Cooley

Accepting: Eric Kelly

In 2012, Haley Kelly opened H Squared Ladies Wear in downtown Cleveland. At just 23, she opened her original 2,200 square foot location. Last November,

Haley moved into a historic 6,400 square foot building, which formerly housed Kamien’s department store. By moving into the larger space, Haley was able to once again provide a department store in Cleveland. The added room allowed her to triple the size of her inventory while also adding shoes, gifts, and cosmetics.

To make the much-needed improvements to her new building, Haley and her handy husband Eric worked with Mississippi Main Street for design services.

Eric and his crew renovated the building, which included a total overhaul due to termite and water damage. H Squared now features whitewashed hardwood floors, chandeliers everywhere, marble countertops, and unique furnishings to provide a big city feel in downtown Cleveland. H Squared also features a pink MG convertible that helps to display merchandise.


Outstanding Public Improvement Project – This award is given to the municipality or Main Street program that has designed and implemented attractive and sympathetic improvements for its district.

Winner: Pontotoc County Chamber/Main Street– 1st Choice Bank Gateway on the Trail
Director: Ellen Russell
Accepting: Mayor Jeff Stafford

In order to develop the Gateway project, a partnership of public and private funds was very necessary.  The City owns 10 acres of land connected to the Tanglefoot Trail that goes through the downtown area. Mayor Stafford took the plans to establish a gateway on the trail that would serve as an attractive place to rest, start exercising, and functional stopping area. Working in conjunction with the administration of the Trail, local architect, and private donors, the plans were set in motion. 

In February of 2016, local investors: 1st Choice Bank, Southern Motion, Archives and History, a private donor, and city employees broke ground on the project.  Six months later a grand opening was planned for the 1st Choice Bank Gateway. 

This project is an ongoing one that has visitors, downtown merchants and customers singing the praises of the Trail. Improvements are still being made, such as the addition of a fountain added to the water feature paid for by a private donor.



Outstanding Adaptive Reuse Project – This award is granted to the best adaptive reuse of a building that has outlived its former use.

Winner: Laurel Main Street – Slowboat Brewing Company
Director: Judi Holifield
Accepting: Kenny and Carrie Mann

In 2013, the old Laurel WAML radio station photos were displayed at a MMSA meeting on design. A re-use project idea for this building stumped the panel and we were all pretty confident that in reality the best option was demolition.

Then came not only the idea of a microbrewery in downtown Laurel, but also the creative vision of Kenny and Carrie Mann. The large, ugly building underwent months of repairs. The paint was applied and Slowboat Brewing Company was born! The conversion of this property has allowed a new business to become a thriving success and a welcome addition for places to go and things to do in downtown Laurel.


Outstanding Economic Impact – granted to an individual, business or municipality (or partnership of entities) that has undertaken a new development project within a downtown district.

Winner: Kosciusko Main Street – Pop Up Flea Market
Director: G.G. Holmes
Accepting: Mayor Jimmy Cockcroft

Bargains galore and community rapport happens the first Saturday of the month in downtown Kosciusko in a city owned parking lot. Pickers and sellers come together for one big yard sale to barter and banter over one of a kind items. This event started in August 2016 with 15 vendors and slowly continued to grow through November, took a break and resumed in March 2017 with 30 vendors and shoppers waiting for 7 AM to view the merchandise. Our downtown merchants have even gotten into this event by placing sale racks and tables in front of their stores. This event actually morphed into Picking 35, a 50-mile yard sale in conjunction with Attala and Leake counties that took place in April 2017.

(1 of 2) Outstanding New Business – granted to a new business in a downtown district that contributes to excellence in downtown revitalization.

Winner: Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association – Porter Public House
Director: Andrea Saffle
Accepting: Roy Windham

Inspired by the pub atmosphere in Nashville, Roy Windham, owner/operator of the Porter Public House, wanted to bring that experience to downtown Hattiesburg. He wanted to create a space that was truly an extension of the downtown community and where people felt at home.  In an effort to build interaction and engagement between its patrons and the community, the Porter hosts regular events hosted by local organizations like Extra Table, The Spectrum Center, and Pine Belt Young Professionals. They also host regular events like Trivia Tuesday, monthly beer-pairing dinners, and stand-up comedy nights. Roy’s desire to be an active participant in revitalizing downtown has manifested itself in a renewal of nightlife energy.  Since the Porter's opening, more businesses have sought to open in downtown, such as the Black Sheep’s Cafe & Speakeasy and the Blue Jazz Cafe. Roy plans to combine efforts with more businesses downtown and make Downtown Hattiesburg a real travel destination.

(2 of 2) Outstanding New Business

Winner: Downtown Tupelo Main Street – Thirsty Devil
Director: Debbie Brangenberg
Accepting: Matt Peay and Seth Renick

The Thirsty Devil has changed the energy of downtown Tupelo. Seth Renick and Matt Peay, a former welder and biological science technician, noticed the lack in nightlife and decided to take matters into their own hands. In October 2016, Seth and Matt arrived on the scene with an entrepreneurial ferocity, delicious eats and mean drinks to share with an impatient, hungry audience. The Thirsty Devil has been a catalyst for nightlife ever since, changing the pace of downtown “after hours” since its opening.

During lunch hours, two couches take over the stage, making it a great hangout spot. At night, those couches are moved outside to the sidewalk to make room for bands to play, creating an organic Placemaking area in downtown Tupelo. The Thirsty Devil maintains a close friendship with Tupelo Main Street program by eagerly involving their business whenever and wherever help is needed. The Thirsty Devil has made a large impact in its short time in downtown Tupelo.


“Innovation on Main Street” Award – The National Innovation Award recognizes Main Street America programs for successful, sustainable initiatives that represent new approaches to an existing downtown revitalization challenge or opportunity. Awards were announced as part of the Main Street Now Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 3, 2017.

Winner: Gulfport Main Street
Director and Accepting: Laurie Toups

The Fishbone Alley “Urban Living Room” project in an inspiring example of the power of Main Street to transform downtowns and rally communities. Gulfport Main Street Association helped to turn an underused, unattractive alley right in the middle of the downtown district into a vibrant public space, featuring century-old brick pavers, public art, and enchanting lighting.

The grand opening in 2016 drew thousands of locals and visitors alike who wanted to experience the essence of this “urban living room” – a space unlike any other on the Gulf Coast or the state of Mississippi.  Only four Main Street programs received awards at the national conference that drew approximately 1,600 attendees representing 45 states and 1,600 Main Street programs.


(1 of 2) Outstanding Community Transformation – This is an overall award that goes to a Main Street program that has achieved a successful, preservation-based downtown revival.

Winner: Batesville Main Street Program – The City of Batesville
Director: Colleen Clark
Accepting: Teddy Morrow

The City of Batesville began an extensive streetscape project in downtown Batesville in 2015. The project took place over a two-year period and was carried out in two phases. Phase one included new LED lights, ADA compliant sidewalks and parking, new crosswalks and the addition of green space. During this phase, many existing utility lines were placed underground dramatically changing the look of the downtown area. Phase two included realignment of Eureka Street, the addition of ADA compliant sidewalks, reconfiguring parking areas, additional landscaped areas and raised crosswalk. This phase also included the transformation of a vacant corner lot into a usable public space.

The project has positively impacted the economic climate downtown and brought a renewed sense of community pride for the downtown area. The streetscape enhancements, along with downtown façade rehabilitations, a gateway pocket park and energy from new businesses have also contributed to the beautiful facelift of the historic Batesville Square.

(2 of 2) Outstanding Community Transformation

Winner: Downtown Tupelo Main Street – Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail
Director and Accepting: Debbie Brangenberg
Accepting: Commissioner Mike Tagert and Councilman Buddy Palmer

The Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail connects downtown Tupelo to East Tupelo and the Elvis Presley Birthplace. The $11.5 million-project was funded by the City of Tupelo’s Major Thoroughfare Program, and a $2.3 million transportation enhancement grant was awarded by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The project took 11 years to complete and was finished in August of 2016. The trail connects two of Tupelo’s greatest historical landmarks—the Birthplace of Elvis Presley and Historic downtown Tupelo and improves traffic flow and efficiency as well as pedestrian comfort and safety. Enhancements included repaving and widening East Main Street to five lanes, synchronized traffic signal controls, street trees and green space, sidewalks with bricked pedestrian crosswalks, crossing signals, and decorative street lighting.

Another goal of The Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail is to enhance the commerce, community, and tourism experience of Main Street, as well as to promote the economic development projects that run along the route. The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, the City of Tupelo, the Community Development Foundation, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation spent years of planning to make this project possible.

Main Street Excellence in Design – in memory of Sam Kaye - Sam was an architect and community leader who served MMSA as a staff member and design consultant from 1994 until his passing in 2013. As a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sam’s involvement in historic preservation was nationally known and recognized.  The Sam Kaye Excellence in Design Award is given to the design professional(s) or firm that exhibits the spirit, compassion and talent of the man for whom the award is named.

Winner: Angela Clanton (nominated by the Batesville Main Street Program)

Angela Clanton joined the Batesville Main Street Design Committee in 2010. The owner of ILLUS Visual and Design Arts, Angela has volunteered countless hours to improving the appearance, functionality and safety of Batesville’s downtown area. Façade rehabilitations, an extensive streetscape project, Polar Express preparations, building signage and an improved entrance to the downtown are all areas that Angela has contributed her knowledge and talents to.

Angela has also served as a liaison to the City of Batesville in regards to public improvement projects in the downtown area. As a direct result of Angela’s design work and enthusiasm for downtown revitalization, the downtown has seen an increase in private and public investment. Her efforts have made downtown Batesville more inviting to visitors and residents.

(1 of 7) Main Street Hero – This award recognizes one outstanding community leader or public figure who has displayed an involved commitment to downtown and his or her Main Street program.

Winner: Sam Jaynes (nominated by Aberdeen Main Street)

A Mississippi Treasure is one description we use to promote our town, but within this town we have a hidden treasure in Mr. Sam Jaynes. Our treasure is a 90 year old that has a 70-year background in civil engineering, and like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps on giving. He has been a Main Street member since Aberdeen Main Street began in 1993.

With a grant from ARC, Aberdeen Main Street is renovating an old depot to be used as a cannery and education center. Most all of the help has been from inmate labor from the Monroe County Work Center, and Mr. Sam goes daily to oversee, instruct, and advise those working. Completion of this project will benefit our community for years to come and it would not have been possible without Mr. Sam!

Main Street Hero

Winner: “Mother Goose” (nominated by Main Street Columbus)

Edwina (EDWIN-a) Williams, who is known by all of the locals in Columbus, MS as “Mother Goose”, has portrayed this very character for over 30 years, and she is just as excited about it today as she was the first time she took on the role. Mother Goose faithfully reads to children at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, and without reservation or hesitation, she appears and volunteers at every event and activity held in the downtown Columbus community. Edwina Williams is an extraordinary woman and a pillar within our community and is easily the city’s most recognizable citizen and a key asset to Columbus.

Main Street Hero

Winner: Jeff Baldock (nominated by Main Street Pascagoula)

Jeff Baldock isn’t a community leader or a public figure but what he has been doing since his retirement makes him a Main Street Hero. In 2014, Jeff retired from First Chemical in Pascagoula where he had worked 29+ years.  Jeff considers himself an amateur photographer.  He had taken some pictures of local downtowns and received great feedback on Facebook.  He took to the road to take pictures of Main Street downtowns all across the state of Mississippi.

Jeff has photographed almost 75 percent of Mississippi’s downtowns and is working towards completing the rest in the near future.  Most of Jeff’s work is at nighttime when there is stillness and no one in site so he can catch the beauty of the downtown. If Jeff hasn’t been to your downtown, you can bet that he will be soon. Jeff does all of our downtowns proud!


Main Street Hero

Winner: Miriam Clark (nominated by Pontotoc Chamber Main Street)

Dr. Miriam Clark is an outstanding community leader who has been one of the Best Cheerleaders for our downtown Main Street Program since Pontotoc Main Street’s start in 2007.  After retirement, Dr. Clark has been working on her second career in retail sales.  A very creative and energetic individual in the Antique Business with three other ladies, Dr. Clark spends her time making customers feel welcome and at home in Pontotoc. 

Dr. Clark’s store, Antiques Downtown, along with her brother’s store of Antiques on Main, helps the growing enthusiasm of the antique businesses in Pontotoc. Dr. Clark is a member of the Pontotoc Art Guild that has provided art sculptures to our Main Street Area.  She is always seeing the bigger picture, knowing what is good for Antiques Downtown is good for all of Downtown.  Not only does Dr. Clark work on Main Street, she lives on Main Street and is an integral part of the positive growth of downtown Pontotoc.


Main Street Hero

Winner: Mary Ayers (nominated by Senatobia Main Street)

Mary Ayers has been a leader in the Senatobia Main Street program since day one of its rebirth in 2013. Her tireless efforts to improve the community have often been done with little to no recognition. Her servant attitude has helped Main Street grow more than most will ever realize. Her willingness to serve and her love of Senatobia are what make Mary a role model for all those in the business community.


Main Street Hero

Winner: The Reed Family (nominated by Downtown Tupelo Main Street)
Accepting: Jack Reed, Jr., Camille Reed Sloan, Catherine Reed Mize and Scott Reed

Downtown Tupelo has come a long way in the 27 years since our program started in 1990. This resurgence can be attributed to, in large part, the Reed family.  Before there was a Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, there was the Uptown Merchants Association, lead by President Jack Reed Jr., grandson to the founder of the Reed’s Department Store that opened in 1905.  Under the direction of the Reed family, the Uptown Merchants Association became the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, and from there the downtown revival of Tupelo began. Because of the groundwork the Reed family laid, along with their continued support of the Main Street Initiative, they are Downtown Tupelo’s Main Street Heroes.

Main Street Hero

Winner: Laura Beth Strickland (nominated by Vicksburg Main Street)

When it comes to involvement and commitment to success in downtown Vicksburg, Laura Beth Strickland has made her mark! From lending a hand in planning and being somewhere at the crack of dawn to doing whatever needs to be done for an event, she is there. Laura Beth is the Deputy Director of the Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau. She has shown exemplary leadership and commitment to downtown Vicksburg and the Main Street Program.


Main Street Trailblazer – Award in memory of Paul Coggin - Due to the commitment, time and enthusiasm that Paul Coggin brought to the Mississippi Main Street Association, a special award was established in his honor, given to an outstanding local board member or volunteer who has been active in a downtown organization for at least the last two years, and who has contributed energy and dedication to downtown revitalization.

Winner: Kristen Stevens (nominated by West Point Main Street)

Kristen Stevens has a passion for downtowns. Her work reviving downtown West Point over the past 20 years has made an impression that inspires others to follow her lead. She hasn't volunteered her time and talent by merely attending committee meetings with ideas and suggestions.  She has rolled up her sleeves and invested in her own downtown during a time when urban sprawl was rising.  She completed two residential and four commercial restoration projects, coordinated numerous beautification efforts, and held various positions on the board.

Kristen understands the importance of partnerships and buying local at every opportunity. Currently serving as West Point Main Street President, Kristen Stevens continuously energizes one of the oldest Main Street communities in the state of Mississippi today.

Outstanding Main Street Director of the Year & Charles Beasley Scholarship Award - Charlie Beasley was one of the founding members of MMSA and served on the Board and in various officer positions, including President. He was Board Member Emeritus at the time of his passing in 2007 and had served Main Street since its inception in 1989. This award is a $1,500 scholarship to attend the National Main Streets Conference, given to a Main Street Director who has shown outstanding service to his or her community and Main Street program. The scholarship is awarded annually, and the MMSA Staff and Board select the recipient.

2017 Winner: Tara Lytal, Main Street Clinton

A native of Clinton, Miss., Tara was hired in 2007 as the first director of the Main Street Clinton program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Tara holds two degrees from Mississippi College, a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design and a master’s in Public Relations. 

Tara has directed the Main Street Clinton program with steady leadership, careful planning, many dedicated volunteers and partners, including the City of Clinton and Mississippi College, and the passion and enthusiasm that is a MUST in Main Street work. Tara may seem quiet and unassuming but her work ethic is fearless and pretty much flawless. From the fabulous email marketing of Olde Towne Clinton’s monthly events and Farmers Markets to the impressive execution of every event and project.

Tara is also visionary – working hard with her board to recruit new businesses and restaurants to Olde Towne and even moving out of the Main Street office in Olde Towne to City Hall to recruit another restaurant to Olde Towne. The Olde Towne district continues to grow with appropriate new construction and mixed-use buildings. New plans and projects are always on the table! Tara uses interns to help with the ever-growing work, and was able to hire her first full-time assistant, Anna Boyd Hawks, four years ago.

Civically, Tara has been involved in numerous organizations in the community.  She is currently serving in her second term on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, she is a graduate of the Chamber’s Leadership Clinton Class of 1999, and she has served as President of both The Arts Council of Clinton and Junior Civic League. 

Not only does she serve her community well, but Tara has been a wise sounding board for other local Main Street directors and has been an asset to the MMSA staff and board as well. She is quick to share resources (like Clinton’s award-winning business recruitment packet) with other directors, and she keeps Main Street Clinton in excellent standing by attaining state certification and national accreditation annually.

With the help of many volunteers, Tara has guided the Main Street Clinton program to now 20 state awards for accomplishments in the Main Street districts and has received a personal award for Excellence in Main Street. Tara was elected by her Main Street director peers earlier this year to serve as a representative on the state Main Street board. We appreciate her service to the state program. Through her hard work, dedication, exceptional taste and love of her community, Tara is Mississippi Main Street’s Outstanding Director of the Year and recipient of the Charles Beasley Scholarship to attend the 2018 National Main Street Now Conference in Kansas City, MO. Congratulations, Tara!


Click here to view winners from 2016
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Click here to view winners from 2014
Click here to view winners from 2013
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