2013-11-27 / Front Page

Millen Better Hometown now “Main Street Millen”

By Art Johnson


Main Street Millen members shown are, from left, first row: Meagan Frye, Jane Johnson, Martha Sue Wilson, Claudette Sasser, Anna Burch, Beth Collins and Art Johnson; second row: Ann Gleason, Susan Welch, Diane Wade, Sue Gillis, Tony Gay, Kathy Gay, Sally Crowe, Janice Pennington, Linda Newton, Kathy Osborne, Harold Moore and Jerry Messex. Not pictured: Rodney Collins, Pam Dwight, Marah Johnson, Joey Kirkland and Evie Wiggins. (Photo contributed) Main Street Millen members shown are, from left, first row: Meagan Frye, Jane Johnson, Martha Sue Wilson, Claudette Sasser, Anna Burch, Beth Collins and Art Johnson; second row: Ann Gleason, Susan Welch, Diane Wade, Sue Gillis, Tony Gay, Kathy Gay, Sally Crowe, Janice Pennington, Linda Newton, Kathy Osborne, Harold Moore and Jerry Messex. Not pictured: Rodney Collins, Pam Dwight, Marah Johnson, Joey Kirkland and Evie Wiggins. (Photo contributed) The Office of Downtown Development has announced the merger of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Better Hometown and Main Street programs effective July 1.

These two signature programs of downtown development have become Georgia’s Classic Main Street Program. The Main Street program has been a state-coordinated downtown development initiative since 1980 and was initially geared towards communities with populations of at least 10,000. In 1997, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs launched the Better Hometown Program, a Main Street-oriented initiative for communities with a population under 5,000. Before the merger, there were 38 Better Hometown communities and 58 traditional Main Street communities. The new Classic Main Street level of service combines the two programs, regardless of population, into one of the largest Main Street networks in the country.

Since Millen was in the Better Hometown program, a name change was necessary; therefore, the volunteer organization formerly known as Millen Better Hometown has become “Main Street Millen.” The group’s mission remains the same: to make Millen a place where people want to stay and live through improvement of its economic, cultural, aesthetic, and social aspects while maintaining its historic quality and small town atmosphere.

Millen has been part of the program since January 2001. In the years since then the organization has been instrumental in numerous improvements in the city. The group has raised funds for the “Welcome to Millen” entrance signs; a sign on Highway 25 directing traffic to downtown Millen; landscaping, new tables and chairs, and blinds for the Millen Community House; benches and trash cans on Cotton Avenue; restoration of the marquee on the PAL Theater, and façade grants for downtown businesses.

The group started a number of annual events that have become a popular part of the community’s activities: the Produce Market, the Millen/Jenkins County Patriotic Celebration, the Harvest of Fun, and Keep Jenkins Beautiful. It frequently sponsors plays and musical shows, and home and garden tours. Since 2005 it has sponsored the annual Fair on the Square.

Main Street Millen consists of a part time paid manager and about 25 volunteers. Volunteers help make plans at meetings and volunteer time on projects. In the 13 years since the group began, it has raised approximately $210,000 to benefit the community.

Anyone is welcome to join this group of hard-working volunteers. The public can support Main Street Millen’s efforts by offering ideas about what can be done to make Millen better, support local businesses, shop at home, and attend Main Street Millen’s events. Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month at The Charm Barn.

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