Downtown group geared for new year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2009

FERRIDAY — Stating that they hoped to see more community involvement in the coming year, the Ferriday Downtown Revitalization Committee elected new officers Wednesday.

The group needed to elect officers to file its 2008 paperwork, and it voted Leslie Keahey chairman, the Rev. Gary Howington vice-chair and Guylyn Boles secretary-treasurer.

It is important to keep the committee’s board in place for future efforts to be included in the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism’s Office of Cultural Development’s Main Street program, Secretary-Treasurer the Rev. Louis Sklar said.

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“This is the body the Main Street program will be evolved from,” Sklar said. “It needs to be cocked, locked and ready.”

The current officers, Chair Anna Ferguson, Vice Chair Carol Tomko and Sklar are term-limited by the non-profit groups’ charter and can no longer serve.

Being designated a Main Street community by the state would open several opportunities for the town to receive different development grants.

The town was one of 10 municipalities that applied for Main Street status in 2008 but was not one of the five communities selected.

The committee also voted to change its charter to read that a quorum is no longer a majority of the members but “a majority of members present.”

The change was made so the non-profit committee could conduct business at their monthly meetings even if fewer than 13 members show up.

But getting more active community involvement and membership was a major topic of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting.

“If there is no community involvement, (the committee and its projects) are not going to move forward,” Sklar said. “This is a community deal. All of the churches, the ministerial alliance — we need them all.”

One of the big reasons other towns were selected for Main Street status over Ferriday was because they were already actively working on revitalization efforts, Tomko said.

“We did everything right for the application, but the town isn’t doing anything visible,” Tomko said. “We need to refurbish downtown.”

Even though this year’s non-selection of Ferriday as a Main Street town was disappointing, committee members said they weren’t giving up hope.

“For a lot of the towns that were selected, this was their second application,” Ferguson said.

And the lack of visible change might end soon with the beginning of construction on a long-awaited pavilion and the renovation of a major building downtown that was recently donated to the town, she said.

“Maybe when that construction gets started it will get the ball rolling,” Ferguson said.