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Reformed merchants association moving forward
farmers market
A weekly farmers market helps draw people downtown.

The recently reformed Hinesville Downtown Merchants Association is apparently growing its members as it moves forward. The group drew about 25 people to its first meeting in June, and about 40 people – Realtors, small business owners and others – attended its second meeting Tuesday at Ameris Bank.

The association also chose a leader. Cathy Thomas with Coldwell Banker and Molly Maxine agreed to serve as association chair.

The group comes under the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce umbrella, and works in connection with the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority. “We want to bring downtown to light,” said Crystal Caines, Main Street program coordinator with the HDDA. “Downtown is the destination of a city.”

Matthew Barrow with P.C. Simonton and Associates briefed association members on a potential grant that would fund a streetscape project downtown and would utilize matching funds from the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve several intersections. Barrow said public meetings on the project should be scheduled later this summer.

Caines reminded members that HDDA and VIP Office Furniture and Supply were holding a Downtown Supplies Teachers event from 4-7 p.m. Aug. 23, during the weekly farmer’s market in Bradwell Park. Teachers who teach at Liberty and Long county schools, and at Department of Defense schools on Fort Stewart, can receive free classroom supply packs. Teachers should bring a school ID or proof of teacher employment at local schools.

“Our goal last year was 250 packs,” Caines said of the Downtown Supplies Teachers event. “This year our goal is 350 packs.” Supplies will include copy paper, pens, pencils, markers, hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes – supplies many teachers pay for out of their own pockets, she said.

HDDA will also sponsor its next Second Saturday Block Party Aug. 11 from 5-9 p.m. in Bradwell Park.

Chamber/CVB CEO Leah Poole reminded association members that Shop Small Saturday – the biggest day of the year for many local small businesses – will be held Nov. 24, the day after “Black Friday.”

Judi Mills, owner of Southern Sweets Café and Bakery on Commerce Street, suggested having an “Artist Walk” during Shop Small Saturday. Artists could station themselves with their work at each small business during the annual shopping event, she said.

“Because each artist brings their own group,” she said. Mills is involved with The Melting Pot of Art group.

 “We have until November, but November is coming quick,” Poole said. She also mentioned Hinesville would hold its holiday Christmas tree lighting Nov. 30.

The association meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at Ameris Bank, alternating between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 28. For more information, call Poole at 912-368-4445 or email 


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