Downtown growth defines past 12 months

Published 4:19 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

BY JORDAN BROOKS

jordan.brooks@middlesboronews.com

During a recent meeting of the Middlesboro City Council, Joanie Jasper with Middlesboro Mainstreet gave an update on downtown growth.

“From May of last year to this present day, we have 14 new businesses downtown,” Jasper said. “There is currently a waiting list for buildings, so we just need business owners just need to get their buildings ready.”

According to Jasper, there are currently six open spaces in the Middlesboro Main street district, but each one of those needs work.

“And I will build those,” said Jasper

Jasper also reported that Middlesboro Main Street is now fully accredited.

Community accreditation is a key component of participation in Main Street America. For nearly two decades, the accreditation process has helped designated Main Street communities review their progress, recognize accomplishments, and outline recommendations for continued growth and impact. A set of standards known as the “Ten Criteria” was developed by coordinating partners and at their recommendation, adopted by the National Main Street Center. These standards outline the following general guidelines for measuring performance:

• Broad-based Community Support

• Vision and Mission Statements

• Comprehensive Work Plan

• Historic Preservation Ethic

• Active Board and Committees

• Adequate Operating Budget

• Professional Management and Development

• Program of Ongoing Training

• Reporting of Key Statistics

• National Main Street Network Membership

In addition to confirming if each community meets these minimum set of standards, the accreditation process is an important tool to recognize strengths, understand specific challenges involved with local revitalization, and identify strategies and resources needed to continue to progress and succeed in their efforts.

“I received this today from the ARC, from Batina Jones, she says, ‘By the way, Middlesboro came up in a virtual ARC Event on infrastructure highlighting downtown revitalization efforts there. The governor himself highlighted the city, and he said some really positive comments about the city in the chat and said you all as an organization are really working to move the city forward,’” said Jasper. “I wanted to share that Middlesboro is being noticed in other areas.”

Police Chief Joe Holder said there had been a slight increase in burglary and auto theft in March, and as a result officers have increased patrols in the downtown area and business district. Holder also reported that officers have been focused on individuals traveling on foot and bicycles during the daytime. The police chief told the council that this would be the approach used until there is a decrease in burglary and theft.

Robert England with the Middlesboro Fire Department reported that currently the fire department is out of smoke alarms that they receive through the Red Cross, but after May 18, the department will receive more. England encouraged citizens and businesses to call the fire department for a free smoke alarm.

England also encouraged the council to order a new ambulance

“Looking across the industry, ambulances are not getting cheaper,” said England. “The 195 that we got six months ago is probably going to have about $10,000 or $15,000 added onto it right now.”

In other business, the council also:

Approved bills.

Approved a 4-way stop on Winchester and 38th St.

Approval for resolution addressing a request for an MOU for a solar panel brand.

Approval for resolution to apply for a grant from homeland security.