Hollie Moore Barnidge, the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority’s Main Street program manager, addressed business leaders at the Hinesville Downtown Partners meeting Thursday at VIP Office Furniture and Supply.
Barnidge said the group meets quarterly to discuss upcoming events, provide networking opportunities and introduce new businesses or groups in the area.
First, they addressed upcoming downtown events. Barnidge reminded the group about the weekly Hinesville Farmers Market every Thursday evening.
"We are really making a concentrated effort this year to boost the Farmers Market up a notch by having themed market nights," she said. "… So far this year, we had the peanut butter and jelly night, the Army’s birthday night at the market. We’ve been having what we call fifth Thursdays. ... Anytime there are five Thursdays in a month, that fifth Thursday, we go the extra mile."
She said upcoming events at the Farmers Market include Back-to-School Night on July 28 and Blues Night on Sept. 8, which will promote the HDDA’s annual Blues, Brews and BBQ being held Sept. 24. Also on Sept. 8, there will be a cupcake war at the Hinesville Area Art Council building near Bradwell Park.
HDDA Executive Director Michelle Ricketson said the plan is to hand out 350 bags of school supplies at the July 28 market.
"We have 150 for elementary kids and 200 for middle and high school," she said.
Barnidge noted that those bags would be free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
"Last year, we gave out everything we had in an hour," she said.
Barnidge said the HDDA is still accepting school supply donations and needs volunteers to stuff the backpacks before they can be handed out.
She added that the city of Hinesville will host this month’s Business After Hours at City Hall from 5-7 p.m. Thursday in partnership with the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.
She also informed the group about the city’s upcoming centennial celebration, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"This marks the 100th anniversary of the chartering of the city of Hinesville," she said.
It will be held at Bradwell Park and like nearly every HDDA or city-sponsored event, it is free to the public. She said there will be a photo display inside City Hall depicting Hinesville throughout the century. There will be tours of the historic Liberty Jail and food and raffle prizes.
Barnidge spoke about the Veterans Memorial Walk at Bryant Commons. She said the project is underway.
"We have already broken ground on it and about to go full speed ahead," she said about the project, which is being done as a partnership between the HDDA and the Hinesville Memorial Walk board of directors under the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee. "We are still actively fundraising. … You can buy pavers of all different sizes. … You can honor a veteran or a loved one in your life. … We have paver sizes to fit any budget. You pick your inscription, and it will be a part of the Memorial Walk."
The Memorial Walk will cover 3½ acres of Bryant Commons and recognize every branch of military service.
Barnidge said this was her final week with the HDDA, as she was offered an unexpected job opportunity. She told the group the HDDA always needs volunteers to help with the many activities it runs. She said she plans to return as a volunteer at several upcoming events and that the HDDA was able to use youth volunteers that may need community service hours.
Ricketson spoke about planned October events, saying the Pumpkin Patch will take place Oct. 8 in Bryant Commons. She said Oct. 28 will be the annual Scarecrow Stroll.
"That is a big event," she said. "Fifteen thousand people in downtown."
For November, the group was encouraged to promote Small Business Saturday, which happens the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend and is an event that encourages everyone to support small businesses by shopping locally.
Ricketson noted that Christmas in the Park and the annual illuminated parade, both run by the Chamber, are still in the planning stages. She said the HDDA is looking to host Christmas in the Park on the Saturday following Friday’s parade but that details were still being hashed out.
She noted that the county has not set an official grand opening date for the new library; however, it is already open to the public.