Downtown La Grange
is hired to direct the
La Grange Main Street program
previously served in a similar position in Eminence
Helen E. McKinney
(March 2007) - Im really passionate about
historic preservation, said Jennifer Watson, the newly hired Discover
Downtown La Grange director. Even the smallest house is important.
by Helen E. McKinney
to use her experience
to help La Grange, Ky., merchants enhance
Watson, 53, in January replaced Keli Quinn, who at the
time held the dual position of Oldham County Tourism Director. The tourism
department is regrouping and will no longer be combined with the Discover
Downtown La Grange director position, officials said.
If you dont preserve and protect your architecture, you
lose some of the self knowledge of where you came from, said Watson.
She was chosen over other applicants mainly because of her extensive
experience relating to events she will coordinate as the Discover Downtown
La Grange director.
This, combined with the fact that she loves La Grange, helped
Watson win over Discover Downtown La Grange board members, said past
Discover Downtown La Grange chairperson Karen Eldridge.
Watsons position will entail overseeing and coordinating events,
aiding local merchants who are responsible for retail economic development
and helping residents preserve buildings. She will serve as a
source of information for everyone, said Eldridge.
Discover Downtown La Grange is a member of Kentuckys Main Street
program, and Watson plans to apply for funding and certification from
Kentucky Renaissance on Main.
Before taking her current position, Watson held a similar Main Street
Manager position with Eminence (Ky.) Tomorrow for nearly two years.
Due to heated elections and a new administration that was not as supportive
of Main Street programming as it had been in the past, Watson said it
was time to look for another job.
Although she no longer works in Henry County, she is still involved
in a Henry County Leadership Class, which she called a great learning
experience. She believes it is a good idea to include surrounding counties,
such as Henry County, in events and advertising for activities centered
in La Grange.
Being a Main Street Manager requires that you have a lot of different
kinds of experience, said Watson. Her background as a code enforcer
in Dayton, Ohio, encouraged her to become more interested in historic
Watson was responsible for preparing the Wright Brothers centennial
celebration in an area not aggressively pursuing growth in the surrounding
commercial strip. She assisted the Main Street program for that district.
Watson will also rely on her 20 years of experience in theater in the
area of marketing and event planning to promote and strengthen such
events as the Oldham County Farmers Market. She will be responsible
for improving Light Up La Grange.
Originally from north of Dayton, Watson attended college there before
traveling to San Francisco, Seattle and New Mexico in search of work.
Watson also has construction knowledge that she will couple with facade
work requirements for the Main Street Program.
Watson said she hopes to promote Main Streets varied offerings,
including antique and handmade furniture, home decorating tips, cooking
lessons, good music, book signings and childrens activities. Assisting
her in planning this special weekend was Scott Ferguson, owner of Shady
Scott Ferguson, owner of the new outdoor furniture store, Shady Palms,
is an active member of the Main Street organization. My long-term
vision for La Grange is to see more anchor stores supporting this annual
event, said Ferguson.
With more offerings and events, he believes people should want to drive,
lodge and dine in La Grange. He would like to compare La Grange in the
future to Brown County, Ind., or Asheville, N.C.
Watson, meanwhile, plans to use more signage written in Spanish to widen
interest in downtown businesses. She would like to institute an antique
show and a Spring Fling celebration the day before Mothers Day.
While still in the transition period, Watson is using space at Karens
Book Barn & Java Stop as an office. A more permanent space is being
sought in a new Visitors Center that will be ready in a few months
in a building often referred to as the Little Blue House.
The mayor (Elsie Carter) has offered space in the Little Blue
House for a Tourism Office, said Eldridge. Watson will be able
to move in there as well.
For more information about Discover Downtown
La Grange, call Jennifer Watson at (502) 269-0126 or visit: www.DiscoverDowntownLagrange.com.
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