Kosciusko seeks Home Town TakeoverBy KAREN FIORETTI,
HGTV show seeks to revitalize one American community in new 2021 special series
When Main Street Director Courtney Blaine first heard about HGTV’s Home Town Takeover contest, the December deadline had already passed.
HGTV had launched a national effort to locate towns under 40,000 in population needing some TLC to bring it back to life. The selected town would be the focus of Ben and Erin Napier’s new six-episode show to air in 2021. The pair who helped restore Laurel, was looking to help “create and foster a town persona that draws on its roots, history and traditions.”
When Blaine heard that the deadline was extended for six weeks, until early February, she quickly got to work putting an application together for Kosciusko, featuring The Strand theater on North Madison Street, just slightly off the downtown square.
301 Media, including videographer Griffin Frazure, a Kosciusko native, and his assistant, Colin Perry of French Camp, started videotaping shots of the downtown area, as well as the interior of The Strand.
Years ago, when the city took possession of The Strand, funding was located to repair the roof, protecting the building. But as further funding has been elusive, the former movie theater and downtown draw has remained dormant. The hope is that renovation of The Strand would be the centerpoint of any Home Town Takeover if Kosciusko is selected for the project.
“We wanted to do something that would benefit the whole community,” said Blaine, who said the vision for The Strand would be not just as a movie theater, but a location for other performances, conferences and even weddings.
The video portion of the application opens with an aerial view of the downtown water tower at sunset and includes views of the courthouse and other areas of the courthouse square. Segments featuring Mayor Jimmy Cockroft, Kosciusko-Attala Partnership Director Darren Milner and local historian Jewette Battles highlight the courthouse square history and value to the community, as well as historic photos of the thriving downtown of years past.
In addition to the video, the application also includes individual photographs, commentary and publications about Kosciusko and its history, according to Blaine.
The Main Street Director has looked at some of the videos other communities have submitted for the contest and said she thinks Kosciusko’s will stand out. Most communities, she said, focus on renovating residential properties, while Kosciusko’s features a main project that would serve the entire community.
“The Strand is something that really makes us stand out,” she said.
HGTV has yet to announce how many communities have applied or a timeline for selecting the community that will receive the Home Town Takeover.
As Kosciusko’s video comes to a close, viewers see the exterior of The Strand at dusk. Suddenly, the marquee lights up, as if it is reopening for business.