In August 2017 I wrote a “Letter to the Editor” of the Douglas County Herald. As a past resident of Ava, my wife and I were taking a tour of the “Old Home Town.”
After giving a brief history of a young man growing up in a small town in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, I then lamented upon what appeared to be the downward spiral of the past center of activity in Ava, the Ava Square. I pointed out the numerous vacant store fronts, which appeared to be more numerous than current tenants. It appeared that much of the economic activity had moved outward to the area of highway 5 and 14, without rebuilding in the “inner-city.” It appeared that stagnation had certainly set in.
Roll the calendar up to September 2021. After a brief fishing trip to southern Missouri, a fellow fishermen and I decided to go through Ava on our way back to Michigan. As I entered the City square, I could immediately see something was different. The infrastructure of the square had changed in its entirety. It was wonderful, with new curbs, new crosswalks and what appeared to be additional parking. I knew that work had been done on the gazebo, and funding had been achieved for improvements (I read the Herald), but I had no idea what tremendous and wonderful changes would take place through the cooperation of the City Leadership and Community Groups.
Not only the infrastructure, but also the vibrancy of the area. We parked in a very nice parking area next to the gazebo and watched the traffic. The passing of vehicles reminded me of Friday nights after a football game when I was a teenager. They were not just passing through the square, but stopping and going to the many commercial establishments.
Which brings me to my final observation. Although I did not do an inventory, there appeared to be only a single vacancy on the ground level of the square. When I inquired about it in the corner coffee shop, I was told that particular storefront was currently being rehabilitated for future occupancy. I noticed several of the second level spaces appeared to be occupied as well (possible residential?). As we drove down several streets that lead to the square, I noticed several buildings were occupied that had laid vacant for several years. So it is not just the square, but the entire community.
I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the COMMUNITY EFFORT that it had to take to make the improvements in my hometown. Ava is and always will be “My Home Town.” Thank you for all it took, from am “Ava Bear, Class of ‘66!”
David B. Miller