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Main Street director brings fresh eyes

Velinda Wheeles was hired as the new Covington Main Street director in May. She said her current focus is building relationships with the merchants on the Square. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)

Velinda Wheeles was hired as the new Covington Main Street director in May. She said her current focus is building relationships with the merchants on the Square. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)

COVINGTON — With nearly a month under her belt, Covington Main Street director Velinda Wheeles has stepped up to the role, bringing new ideas to the table.

Her current focus is finding a way to have more residents participate in the annual July 4th Independence in the Park event.

“I’ve got several ideas that I would love to put in place, but right now I’m going to just listen to the board to find out what works because they’ve got more experience here,” Wheeles said. “I’m just a fresh pair of eyes. I’ve never lived here so I can see things that others who live here don’t always notice.”

While she’s met a few of the Main Street board members, Wheeles plans to have her first board meeting on Monday to start discussing the future plans for the Christmas celebrations on the Square. Her goal is to put a new spin on the event that will continue to bring more families downtown for more than a visit with Santa.

“I’m trying to make it where there’s a lot going on so families will want to come every week not just to see Santa and that’s it,” Wheeles said. “That’s my future goal. I want to have more family-friendly events because that’s what brings people downtown.”

Since being named the Main Street director, Wheeles has spent her time getting to know the downtown merchants and meeting residents at the weekly Thursday Concerts on the Square.

“I’ve met a ton of new people and I’m just trying to remember everyone’s names,” Wheeles said. “Everyone has been so nice and introducing me at different meetings. I’m still finding my way, but people have been so patient with me.”

Wheeles was a life-long resident of Opelika, Ala., and served as the Main Street director for Opelika from 2003-2011.

While in her position, she was responsible for working closely with the city of Opelika and the various department heads, the Chamber of Commerce and the tourism department, property owners and downtown merchants.

Wheeles said her continued focus will be on the merchants in Covington and building relationships in order to work better as a team.

As the director her duties include:

• Organization of the Main Street board, volunteers, and committees;

• Maintaining the historic design values of the district, signage, and coordinated streetscape and landscape aesthetics;

• Promoting the brand management and drawing visitors and residents to the district; and

• Economic restructuring by connecting property owners and businesses in the district to financial and business solutions.

For more information about the Main Street program, contact Wheeles at 770-385-2077.