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Thursday, May 24, 2018, 10:33 a.m.

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Gala to celebrate, support downtown

By Angela Spencer

This article was published January 21, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

decorator-crystal-slayden-from-left-lead-fundraiser-charlotte-king-gala-coordinator-jenifer-wallis-and-109-main-owner-cliff-brown-gather-at-the-restaurant-109-main-the-group-is-passionate-about-seeing-the-revitalization-of-batesvilles-downtown-area-and-is-therefore-part-of-the-nonprofit-organization-main-street-batesville-which-will-host-its-winter-gala-on-feb-2

Decorator Crystal Slayden, from left, lead fundraiser Charlotte King, gala coordinator Jenifer Wallis and 109 Main owner Cliff Brown gather at the restaurant 109 Main. The group is passionate about seeing the revitalization of Batesville’s downtown area and is therefore part of the nonprofit organization Main Street Batesville, which will host its Winter Gala on Feb. 2.

— Downtown Batesville has been seeing a resurgence lately, and Main Street Batesville, a nonprofit organization founded to support a flourishing downtown in the Independence County city, has been a large part of that revitalization.

“It’s thriving,” Jenifer Wallis, ex-officio officer for the board of directors for Main Street Batesville, said of the organization recently. “When we took it on five years ago, there were 15 empty storefronts, and now we’re down to about three or four.”

One of the newer businesses to open downtown is restaurant 109 Main. Owner Cliff Brown — who is also on the board of directors for Main Street Batesville — said he and a friend knew in 2015 that they had to get involved in the growing popularity of Main Street.

“We were downtown at the ribbon cutting of the Melba [Theater],” he said. “They were starting to pioneer that area. We decided we needed to invest in downtown Batesville. We went to the drawing board and started thinking about how we could invest.”

The restaurant, which opened in October 2016, resides in a building that was built in 1881 or 1882, and Brown — a Batesville native — said he is passionate about seeing Batesville grow while holding on to its heritage.

“As a kid, when you’re growing up, there’s a tendency to just want to get out of this town,” he said. “I stayed here, and it’s funny to look back at everyone who went off to college and didn’t think they’d ever come back here. They’ve come back to raise their families.”

Brown credits the city’s leaders with part of its revitalization.

“We’re growing because of the leadership right now,” he said. “We’re in a town of forward thinkers. I credit the [Batesville Area] Chamber of Commerce for a lot of what’s going on.”

And, of course, Main Street Batesville is a part of that leadership, he said.

Wallis said Main Street in any city is always important for its growth and survival.

“It’s our heritage,” she said of Main Street. “Any thriving community, their downtown is still going. If the downtown area dies, the town dies.”

One way people and businesses can support the nonprofit Main Street Batesville is through its annual Winter Gala, coming up Feb. 2.

“We’ve had lots of people calling about the gala,” said Wallis, who acts as gala coordinator. “Every year, we grow a little bit.”

This year’s event will be themed “Urban Cowboy,” with an emphasis on the television show Dallas. Wallis said guests typically fully embrace the chosen theme and dress accordingly.

“I always have a couples competition; then I throw a game in there,” Wallis said. “We also have silent and live auctions. Then we have started ending the night with a live band. Everyone seems to really enjoy that.”

Overall, Wallis said, the night is a fun way to be a part of Main Street Batesville’s mission.

“It’s a lot of entertainment, and it supports a great cause,” she said.

The 2018 Winter Gala will take place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at The Main Street Loft in the Barnett Building, 267 E. Main St.

Tickets are $35 each or $60 per couple and can be purchased at www.mainstreetbatesville.org/buy, the Citizens Bank main branch, the First Community Bank main branch, Studio Salon, the Main Street Batesville office and the Melba Theater.

For more information, call Main Street Batesville at (844) 462-4482 or email mainstreetbatesville@gmail.com.

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