ARC awards eight $3,000 ‘sparkplug’ grants

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Four Northeast Mississippi communities were awarded $3,000 grants this week from the Appalachian Regional Commission to complete Community Sparkplug projects.
Recipients include Vardaman, New Albany, Bruce and Ripley.
The Appalachian Community Learning Project held a workshop May 20-21, at the end of which the grants were awarded. The grants are awarded to communities that use citizen “sparkplugs” to create community change and jumpstart projects that benefit local communities.
“We are so excited about this project,” said Libbi Bryant, executive director of Ripley Main Street and one of Ripley’s community sparkplugs. Her sparkplug team includes Allison Windham, Whitney Bridges and Paige McKenzie.
“Our proposal is to create ‘Renfrow’s Corner,’ an open air building concept,” Bryant said. “By starting with small projects such as Renfrow’s Corner, a small community can gain the experience needed to move on to more complex strategic development activities.”
The Ripley sparkplug team plans to begin construction on Renfrow’s Corner right away. It will include a picnic area with movable tables, chairs and umbrellas for shade and color; an amphitheatre that uses the existing property slope; large border plantings to create the feeling of an entrance and walls along the property edge; and an outdoor movie screen and stage to be used for special events.
“Once completed this space will be available for public use,” she said.
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com