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Starkville Recognized at Mississippi Main Street Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon

Starkville was awarded several awards at this year’s Mississippi Main Street Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon. Starkville Main Street Board President Michelle Jones was named Main Street Hero, while the Starkville Police Department was awarded the organization’s Oustanding Rehabilitation Project & the city’s Russell Street Corridor was named Outstanding Public Improvement.

Pictured above are Scott Comish, Deb Shafer, Gary Shafer, Chief Frank Nichols, Saunders Ramsey, Mayor Lynn Spruill, Jennifer Prather, Mike Tagert, Jerome Nettles, Travis Wampler & Scott Maynard

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.

Michelle Jones (nominated by Starkville Main Street) & Award presented by Ed Gardner

Through her professional role with the MS Department of Archives and History and her commitment to serve her hometown of Starkville, Michelle Jones has served in many leadership capacities in the Starkville community. As Past Chairman of the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Michelle was instrumental in her role to partner with Mississippi Main Street to provide Starkville with a path for transformation of the Downtown area. Following Starkville’s designation as a certified MS Main Street Community in 2010, Michelle joined the Executive Board, later serving two terms as Chairman, a seat she currently holds today.

Michelle also serves as a member of the Mississippi Main Street Board of Directors and can be found across the state working with communities to preserve their rich history. For more than 10 years, Michelle has advocated to keep Starkville’s history intact while continually striving to take the steps to move the community forward.

Outstanding Rehabilitation Project – Starkville Police Department 

Pictured are Jennifer Prather, Chief Frank Nichols, & Mayor Lynn Spruill

The 1940 Art Moderne Starkville Armory was built for the local unit that was called to active duty before building completion. It was adapted for City Hall, Municipal Court and the Police Department. Over 60 years, these functions outgrew the building, as the interior was remodeled, reacting to current, pressing needs. In 2015, the City focused on the Police Department needs and made the significant choice to rehabilitate this local historic landmark rather than build a new building outside the downtown area. The Armory rehabilitation restored the original proscenium and stage. Original house lights were rehung, and doors and windows were restored.

The barrel-vault roof structure was uncovered and heavy timber construction exposed and restored. The City of Starkville re-investment in the Armory was $4,478,000. The dedication of the City of Starkville, Starkville Police Department and their design team Shafer, Zahner and Zahner to restore this building as a landmark with modern functionality and provides public use for another generation.

Outstanding Public Improvement – Russell Street Corridor, Entrance to Downtown Starkville

Pictured are Saunders Ramsey – Neel Schaffer, Mayor Lynn Spruill, Michelle Jones, Ed Gardner, Mike Tagert & Travis Wampler – MS Department of Transportation

A 2011 ARC-MMSA Charrette for Starkville Main Street encouraged growth of the Downtown District toward the Cotton District and MSU, recommending infrastructure improvements, creating connections and establishing a strong Downtown entrance. The City of Starkville embraced the Russell Street Plan and Neel Schaffer developed incremental plans to transform the corridor. In 2015, MSU received MDOT funding using FHWA’s Transportation Alternatives Program to improve the Plan with bike paths and enhanced pedestrian connectivity. MDOT addressed safety issues at Russell Street and Highway 12 including connectivity to a pedestrian bridge on University Drive that created an entrance to Downtown and connected the District and MSU. The Russell Street Boulevard opened the 2017 MSU Football season, enticing townspeople to walk toward the campus and alumni and visitors to walk downtown. This Plan involved federal, state, and local partners contributing $2.7 million, encouraging private investment of $69 million, and embodies what making connections within a Downtown can mean.