After several years without a director, Seymour Main Street has hired someone to help lead the charge for revitalizing the downtown.
Julie Huff of Deputy said she has plenty of enthusiasm and ideas for making the area vibrant again.
She was named director in mid-February and has spent her time meeting people and getting organized.
Her first big project is the installation and hosting of a professional art exhibit in the former Knights of Pythias building, which Seymour Main Street owns and continues to market to prospective buyers.
Although she doesn’t live in Seymour, Huff said she has a passion for not-for-profit work and helping organizations to meet their goals and carry out their missions.
“I’ve been volunteering with the not-for-profits here for at least eight years,” she said. “But I enjoy working with a variety of folks, not-for-profit and profit.”
Huff has a background in fundraising and a love for old buildings, which will come in handy when promoting the downtown, she said.
Her most recent experience has been with Southern Indiana Center for the Arts as art education coordinator. But she is excited about turning her efforts to downtown Seymour.
“I want to help create a place of vibrancy that my child can grow up in and other children can grow up in,” she said.
Ruth Ann Rebber, a member of Seymour Main Street’s board, said it was time to hire a director so people in the community have someone to turn to when they need information about the downtown.
“We’ve been without a director for a long time and have never really had a long-term person that has been around to move us to the next level,” Rebber said.
The position was advertised, but Rebber said she knew Huff from the arts center and talked to her about applying for the job.
“She has vision, and she has enthusiasm,” Rebber said.
The part-time position is being funded through money raised last year at the Dancing with the Seymour Stars benefit. That event raised more than $92,000 to be split between Seymour Main Street and the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour.
Huff’s title may be director, but she also is serving as a program manager, a volunteer coordinator, a grant writer and a person of contact for downtown property owners and potential investors.
“She wears all kinds of hats,” Rebber said.
Seymour Main Street has four main areas of focus — design or enhancing the physical appearance of the downtown, economic restructuring, organization and promotion.
Rebber said she is excited about the upcoming art exhibit, which was Huff’s idea.
“In the true spirit of Main Street, it will help bring people downtown,” Rebber said.
The exhibit, titled Silver Sandhills of Seymour, will feature a 1,000 silver paper origami cranes. It is being organized by St. Louis, Missouri, artist Wendy Eilers and will remain in Seymour for six months.
It’s scheduled to open in June.
The project also has led to new partnerships for Seymour Main Street with Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, the Jackson County Visitor Center, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Seymour schools and others, Rebber said.
Huff said she also is working with committees and downtown businesses to expand the Sidewalk Saturday events, which start the third Saturday in June.
“We’ll be adding music and food to Sidewalk Saturdays,” she said.
Other events, including Parking Lot Pickers, which is Saturday, and the annual Lawn, Garden and Patio Show in May, will continue to grow, too, she added.
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For information about Seymour Main Street, visit seymourmainstreet.org or facebook.com/seymourmainstreet.