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Jonesborough earns Main Street status, joins Keep America Beautiful

The Town of Jonesborough is making a connection with two national organizations that Town Administrator Bob Browning believes will offer the community a chance for enhanced networking and better opportunities for economic development.
It is those opportunities, Browning said, that make becoming a part of the Keep America Beautiful and the Main Street programs so worthwhile.
“We want to be involved with the Keep America Beautiful program because it can be very valuable to us,” he said. “In other nearby KAB communities, like Knoxville for instance, they have developed contacts where you can sell and market your recyclables. The networking can be very valuable.”
Director of Solid Waste and Recycling Jeff Thomas will be working to coordinate the program in Jonesborough, which is something Thomas is very interested in, Browning said.
In fact, Thomas is the one who initiated the involvement.
“While this is something we’ve been doing all along, the involvement with Keep America Beautiful is something that is so important,” Thomas said. “The organization will offer a lot of resources and contacts for us, expertise and let us know of available funding.”
The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen is very supportive in allowing Thomas to use some of his time to do this, Browning said.
“It will only add a little additional time to his workload, but it is all related to what he is doing,” he noted.
The KAB aims to bring citizens, businesses and government together, helping them find ways to prevent litter, reduce waste and beautify communities.
Browning remembers being somewhat involved with the program when it was run by the Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Chamber of Commerce.
“We participated a little, but it’s the kind of thing that for a program like that to work in Jonesborough, staff has to be assigned to it,” Browning said. “In fact, that’s a requirement. In the past, the issue was having a member of our staff dedicated to working with it. By working with KAB, Jeff felt like it was a good opportunity for him to take a leadership role in the community.”
Thomas will function as the CEO of the local KAB, or rather the Keep Jonesborough Beautiful program, and will be working with two other Town of Jonesborough staff members, Amber Crumley and Alicia Phelps.
The rest of the KAB team will be composed of community volunteers, bringing the team’s total to seven members.
Browning also said there has been some discussion about shifting the beautification program currently serviced by the Tree and Townscape Board to the KAB program.
While Jonesborough is just in the process of getting it started, the organization will have to have a separate board of directors, but it could possibly remain under the Tree and Townscape Board’s umbrella, Browning said.
Because formalization of the organization is necessary before the board can be organized or before a required training session can be planned, Browning said he hopes to present the plan to the BMA at the Monday, Nov. 12 meeting.
In addition to the KAB program, Jonesborough will soon become an official member of the Main Street Program, which is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Although an official announcement with representatives from the Main Street organization has yet to be made, Browning said the town has been approved as a Main Street community.
As a result of that acknowledgement, he has already tapped Melinda Copp, the town’s project coordinator, to become the director of the program.
Copp and Jonesborough Website Manager Terry Alexander have both already moved into new offices located inside the International Storytelling Center.
“We’re trying to get some of our staff into the downtown area – at least the ones who can have the biggest impact on enhancing our involvement there,” Browning said.
Browning cited the networking component the organization offers as one of the most important reasons of being part of the Main Street program.
“They have a state coordinator who works with the State of Tennessee’s economic development program,” Browning said. “They can be very helpful in showing how to strengthen our downtown community.”
While he feels Jonesborough is already a model for the preservation aspect of Main Street, “there is certainly a lot we can learn on how to enhance business activity,” he said.
According to the Main Street website, the organization offers a preservation-based economic development plan “that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets. Such assets include historic, cultural, and architectural resources to local enterprises and community pride.”
“We realize the importance of having an active and coordinated business community,” Browning added. “The Main Street program is involved in business recruitment and retention, and it offers support for activities that create local shopping.”