January 5, 2012 11:07:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Christmas lasts year-round in downtown Starkville.
The LED, or light-emitting diode, lights that have lined the top of Main Street buildings since early December are now permanent fixtures, said Jennifer Gregory, vice president of tourism for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership.
The lights, which cost the partnership close to $18,500 and cover three blocks downtown, add extra illumination and boosts the aesthetics of downtown at night, Gregory said.
"Other towns, like Louisville and Canton, have these lights but only turn them on for Christmas and special events," Gregory said. "But we've received so many compliments about how much the lights added to the atmosphere that we decided to leave them on all year. We think it adds a whimsical element to downtown."
The Partnership paid for the lights; the city -- through the Starkville Electric Department -- will pay for the electricity and maintenance of the bulbs. Additionally, funding for the electricity will come from the city's street lighting program, which funds the power for traditional streetlights. The white, Christmas-style string lights are tied into the city's timer for its other streetlights.
"One of the reasons in selection of the LEDs was it's much more energy efficient, and the life is longer," said Terry Kemp, electric department general manager. "They're consistent with the type of lighting we changed in our street lighting. We went from a fixture that was 68 watts down to 13 watts. The life on those are extended to be years instead of months. The operational expense is a huge benefit."
Gregory and Kemp lauded the teamwork of the city, Starkville Civic League, Convention and Visitors Bureau and Starkville Main Street Association in putting together a solid Christmas decoration plan for downtown, which led to the decision to leave the lights on.
"In the beginning, we knew this was something we couldn't undertake ourselves (CVB, Main Street) because of a lack of expertise and funding," Gregory said. "All of the entities involved have been instrumental in making downtown more visible. We also have a wonderful group or retailers who did a wonderful job decorating their stores for the holidays. This is where some of those membership dues are going."
Gregory hopes to extend the lighting into portions of the Cotton District and Russell Street.
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