Mississippi Hills Awards Over $300,000 in Grants | Business

BLUE MOUNTAIN • The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area awarded a record $301,485 through its annual community grants program.

The grants were announced Tuesday at Blue Mountain College.

Since 2016, MHNHA has awarded $1.292 million in grants.

MHNHA had $305,550 to award, and based on recommendations from its independent grant review committee, the board approved 34 applications to 28 organizations in 17 counties.

The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area is one of 55 designated National Heritage Areas in the United States and one of only three in the state. The Alliance includes all or parts of 30 counties bordered by Tennessee, Alabama, Interstate 82 and Interstate 55.

The Mission focuses for the Mississippi Hills on African American heritage, the Civil War, Native American heritage, music and literature.

Twelve applications totaling $108,735 were received from eight area Main Street programs. Nine of these requests, totaling $63,735, were granted. Three proposals totaling $45,000 were selected for funding through a partnership with the Mississippi Main Street Association and therefore were not awarded as grants. Combined with additional funding of $23,000 for MMSA projects, the total funding for Main Streets is $131,735.

This year’s Northeast Mississippi recipients:

• Alcorn County – Crossroads Museum, $5,000 for a new exhibit on Civil War railroads.

• Clay County – The Prairie Belt Blues Foundation, $4,650 for its “Praisin’ the Blues” performance series.

• Lafayette County – City of Oxford, $20,000 for renovations to Cedar Oaks.

Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, $15,000 to preserve 130 hours of fragile, reel-to-reel field recordings made by folklorist and scholar David Evans from 1969 to 1983. These recordings chronicle the secular and sacred music of African-American communities in the counties by Tate, Panola and Marshall, and the preserved material will be preserved at the University of Mississippi Blues Archive when completed.

• Lee County – Tupelo CVB, $20,000 for a mural by early muralist Brian Tull to be painted on the east side of the historic Tupelo Hardware building and will become the 19th mural on Tupelo’s Mural Trail. Rendered in Tull’s nostalgic and photorealistic painting style, the artwork will celebrate the arts in Tupelo as well as its Elvis story, and is coordinated by the GumTree Museum of Art as part of the GumTree Art & Wine Festival.

$11,750 to design and produce the Elvis’ Tupelo Driving Tour brochure, which will then be translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese. The tour takes visitors to 14 places that influenced Elvis’ life growing up in Tupelo, and currently non-English speaking international travelers are unable to experience this interpretive journey. The brochure will also contain information about the Elvis Guitar Track, Elvis Murals and the Tupelo Elvis Festival, which will encourage extended stays.

The Gumtree Museum, $5,000 for its Gumtree Festival singer-songwriter music showcase, which will showcase the rich musical traditions of the Mississippi hills while encouraging the next generation of regional artists.

The Dancing with the King program, $5,000 to provide participants with scholarships and informative tours of local Elvis-related sites.

Saltillo Main Street, $5,000 for its “Paint the Town” historic mural project.

Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center and Battlefields, $1,300 to design and print an updated visitor’s brochure containing a description of the interpretive center and a guide to two battlefields: Brice’s Battlefield 1,400 acre Crossroads and the 12 acre Battle of Harrisburg/Tupelo Battlefield.

• Marshall County – North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic Inc., $5,000 to support the production of the 2022 two-day picnic, which features Hill Country Blues.

Holly Springs Community Development Corporation, $5,000 for the Holly Springs Traditional Music Extravaganza, a three-day music festival celebrating local African-American heritage and traditional music styles from the hills of Mississippi, featuring descendants of the Cotton Patch Blues legend, Junior Kimbrough and Hill Country Blues originator RL Burnside, as well as RL Boyce, Holly Springs MB Church Gospel Choir, Rust College Drum Line Band and others.

Holly Springs Main Street Chamber, $5,000 to support its four-week Blues Alley Music Series, held in the historic Courthouse Square in downtown Holly Springs and featuring Hill Country music .

North Mississippi Roots and Wings, $2,500 to support “Faith, Love, Pride,” a nine-day series of workshops, performances and exhibits that will highlight the rich history and culture of African-American communities in the region, as well as their contributions to and impact on culture at large.

• Monroe County – Aberdeen Visitors Bureau, $4,000 to support its “Paradise Alley Re-imagination Project” in the downtown area. The alley is an official stop on the Black History Driving Tour of Aberdeen and was historically referred to as Paradise Alley by the African-American community when black customers were only allowed to enter commercial establishments through separate entrances . The history and vitality of this space will be captured in a heritage mural as well as a pop-art mural, and through these and other improvements, it will once again become a vibrant community gathering place.

• Oktibbeha County – Starkville CVB, $20,000 to develop exhibit space in the lobby of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership office building, located in downtown Starkville and serving as a visitor reception and visitor information. The CVB partners with MSU Libraries to feature artifacts from each of the library’s four museums: the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, the Frank and Virginia Williams Collection at Lincolniana, the John Grisham Room, and the Charles H. Templeton, Sr. Music Museum. Museum information will be highlighted to encourage visitors to explore these attractions.

Mississippi Heritage Trust, $5,000 to provide supervised internships for college students in the field of historic preservation, particularly those taking courses in the College of Art, Architecture and Design from Mississippi State University.

• Pontotoc County – Pontotoc County Chamber & Main Street Association and Town of Pontotoc, $14,400 to support the renovation and improvement of the visual and musical arts section of the Pontotoc Town Square Museum. Improvements will include the addition of a touchscreen that will allow visitors to learn about local visual and recording artists and listen to or view their work.

$3,250 to fund the restoration of a Walldog Art-era mural in downtown Pontotoc. An addition to the mural will pay homage to local Native American heritage.

• County of Prentiss – Booneville Main Street Association, $5,000 to place cast bronze plaques on all historic buildings in Booneville’s downtown historic district and to create a walking tour brochure to accompany these structures.

• Tippah County – Ripley Main Street Association, $20,000 to fund the first phase of the conversion of a unique structure in the downtown historic district into a multi-use community venue with outdoor artwork that reflects heritage Native American from Tippah County.

$2,500 to help the Alice Mae Blues Festival and the Blue Mountain Bluegrass Festival.

$1,085 to fund the creation of an African American Public Art Quilt Trail, which will showcase traditional African American quilt patterns, documenting them as both works of art and an important means of expression self.

Blue Mountain College, $20,000 to fund immediate repairs to the former Lowrey Memorial Baptist Church building, which was purchased by the college in 2021 and is now part of the main BMC campus. The structure is listed as one of the contributing features of the Blue Mountain College National Historic District and was designed by architect RH Hunt of Chattanooga.

$20,000 for the creation of an economic and community development master plan for Blue Mountain College and the Town of Blue Mountain, a joint planning initiative leading to the celebration of BMC’s 150th anniversary in 2023.

• Tishomingo County – Tishomingo County Tourism Board, $20,000 to improve the viewing area at the top of Woodall Mountain, the highest point in the Mississippi. The first phase will include cleaning, landscaping and new directional signage. The second phase will include the construction of an observation tower, the addition of an information center, as well as the installation of seats and lighting.

Iuka Heritage Inc., $5,000 for drainage improvements to the site of the former Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, a carpenter-gothic style church owned and maintained by the recipient.

• Union County – Union County Historical Society & Heritage Museum in New Albany, $15,000 for the design-development phase of the Creative Spirit exhibit, which will feature local writers, artists and musicians such as the Nobel laureate William Faulkner, blues musician/composer Sam Mosley, gospel blues artists Reverend Leon Pinson and NEA National Heritage Fellow Elder Roma Wilson. The resulting plan will detail exhibit features, including interactive components, specifications required for fabrication and installation, and funding and fundraising recommendations.

• Yalobusha County – Water Valley Main Street, $7,500 to assist with improvements to the Casey Jones Railroad Museum: old sleepers will be replaced, new signage and landscaping will be added, and car upgrades will be made. In addition, the museum’s photographs will be digitized and new interactive exhibits will be developed.

Michael J. Chiaramonte