The Delta Bridge Project's (DPB) tourism action team met Tuesday afternoon at the Delta Cultural Center to discuss updating the group's tourism plan. The master plan includes cultural elements, local and regional projects, infrustructural directives, district development, and marketing.
According to the tourism plan, one of the objectives includes the development and implementation of a "plan to tell the stories of the diversity of the citizens of Phillips County" and to "create and implement a comprehensive plan to promote Civil War Helena and the 1863 Battle of Helena making Phillips County a national Civil War destination."
Arts, music, food, and river tourism were also discussed.
A lengthy discussion on district development ensued and included priority projects such as updates on condition assessment of commercial downtown properties. District development of the historic downtown business district, Midland Heights, and Plaza Street includes the rehabilitation of "key buildings and the improvement of streetscapes".
Among the various topics discussed in the meeting, the route to the Confederate Cemetery was updated. In lieu of routing visitors down the pot-holed deteriorating Holly Street, visitors will be directed down Pecan Street, linking the Helena Museum with the cemetery. Other topics discussed include the need for expanding research on Phillips County history to include the era following the Civil War through the 1920s. According to Shane Williams, this era is often overlooked and needs more attention. Other topics of discussion included the demolition of dilapidated structures adjacent to historical interpretative sites, including the area near Battery B.
One of the priority projects includes the placement of "interpretative wayside panels near Big Creek Bridge in Phillips County to create a small historic park interpreting the Battle of Big Creek of 1864." State archeologist Carl Drexler recently notified Helena historians and committee members that funding has been secured for battle site archeology for field studies starting early next year.
In Tuesday's meeting, two new co-chairmen were named to the Tourism Action Team: Ron Kelley and Shane Williams. Kelley is the historical researcher for the Delta Cultural Center and field reporter for the Helena World and Shane Williams is the new director of the Helena Museum of Phillips County.