By Jef Rietsma
Downtown Vicksburg is poised to become a midweek destination this summer. Live music will be presented weekly starting in June.
Village Manager Jim Mallery told council members Feb. 20 that plans are being completed to feature two musical acts every Wednesday, beginning June 14.
The weekly performances are projected to continue through Aug. 16, with the exception of July 5, Mallery said. In all, the plan is to stage live a total of nine Wednesdays.
“How do we create in 2023 making our village relevant, and for people to come and experience, if only motivated by curiosity of what’s going on?” Mallery said, noting he and village staff brainstormed in search of an answer.
The result? Live music featuring separate acts performing simultaneously on Main Street and Prairie Street. He said contracts for musical talent are being finalized, as two performers per week would equal 18 different acts over the course of the nine Wednesday evenings.
The weekly attraction is expected to draw hundreds of people to town per event. With that, Mallery said there is an opportunity for not-for-profit organizations to benefit.
“We’re looking at identifying nine non-profits that we know have a very positive impact on the citizens of the village of Vicksburg, and we’ll offer them an opportunity – one per event night – to have fundraising opportunities,” he said. “We want people to experience what Vicksburg has to offer: a family-oriented atmosphere, very walkable, placemaking and of course Oswalt Park being a center focus.”
Village president Tim Frisbie said he is eager to see the village continue adding to its reputation as a destination community. Recent examples of successful downtown events include five different summertime activities last summer, the village’s 150-year celebration in October, Christmas in the village back in December and last month’s IceBurg Festival.
Mallery, meanwhile, said such events have consistently had a positive impact on downtown businesses as well as the village’s reputation.
Cost to stage the weekly shows – slated to run 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. – are expected to be covered through grant and sponsorship dollars. Mallery said it will take about $20,000 to help offset expenses related to the live music and other attractions, such as an inflatable obstacle course for kids. In addition, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center would be involved in the weekly programs and offer hands-on art activities for kids, he said.
Mallery indicated he expects to further elaborate on the live-music plan during the village’s March 20 meeting.
In other village council action last month, Mallery provided details related to an infrastructure project affecting the northeast quadrant of the village.
He said expenses related to the replacement of watermains, lead lines and connections to about 140 residences north of Vicksburg Middle School will include the use of $366,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds. In all, $1.5 million in grant money is being used to cover the project’s $4.1 million cost.
Mallery said the project is in the design phase. Bids will be let in the fall. Work would start in 2024 and conclude in 2025.
Also, Mallery announced a restructuring of jobs for a few village staff members.
Police chief Scott Sanderson will take on the additional role of assistant village manager. Mallery assured that Sanderson’s primary role with the village will remain as chief, but will have organizational authority to participate in leadership opportunities and check-signing authority. In a case of good timing, Sanderson was expected to step in and oversee the March 6 village council meeting, as Mallery had planned to be out of the office.
“I envision at one point the village is going to have an assistant village manager/planning and zoning officer,” Mallery said, suggesting the position eventually would justify a full-time employee but Sanderson will be a good fit for the position for the time being.
Next, treasurer Michelle Morgan will add director of finance to her job description. She will now be in charge of accounts payable as a result.
Christian Wines will continue to serve as village clerk. However, Mallery said Wines will eventually be adding payroll administrator to his day-to-day duties.
Frisbie provided levity during discussion on the added responsibilities, directing a question to Morgan.
“Michelle, I want to hear from you. Your job duty is now three pages long, are you good with that?” he said, eliciting a laugh from fellow council members.
Early-Wednesday-evening music set for downtown
By Jef Rietsma