Alba sees many signs of progress

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The Economic Development Corporation of Alba is making great strides toward town improvement and development. Since the committee was established in 2007, it’s been a gradual climb.

“We want to preserve what we got, but we don’t want it to die on the vine,” says City Secretary Lindy McCarty. The board is proactive and forward-facing. They are going after all opportunities, and applying for any grants they come across.

With 65% of the population over 65 years old, they are looking to attract families with children to the area with their award-winning schools and a safe space.  

McCarty fondly recalls growing up in downtown Alba. As a child, she remembers the yearly County Fair held in the fall with close to 3,000 people attending every year. It was always a fun time with carnival games, a dunking booth and food. Parents turned their kids loose to roam.  

During the winter, families would come to the square and drag each other around on pieces of cardboard or trashcan lids over the ice and snow.  

After school in the afternoons, the bus would let kids off on the square where they would grab snacks and a drink from the little grocery store and continue their walk home.

McCarty misses the nostalgic way of life. “I want my grandkids to experience those things, and make memories like that.”

Alba also has a new event committee that is working hard on drawing crowds and tourists to the area. The 5th annual car show to benefit the Alba-Golden food pantry is Sept. 28, with over 100 cars expected.

The EDC applied for and received $500 from hotel/motel taxes to advertise their upcoming fall festival Oct. 12, when they’re planning a full day of family-geared events.

Amber Bates, owner of Guys & Dolls Hair Salon, is also on the Alba Economic Development Corp. She loves seeing the changes taking place and that people are open to new things. It’s also important to her to be involved in the community.  

Guys & Dolls was voted September business of the month because of its involvement. Just last month, they raised $3,000 to benefit Talon Howard’s family, a young man diagnosed with lymphoma B-cell. Four ladies spent all day on a Saturday cutting hair for donations, all of which was given directly to the family.

In addition to the updated Alba Cafe, locals will also have other food options available. A new restaurant, Monkey Trunks, has begun construction, as has a new gas station and convenience store combined with a Subway restaurant.

Something new and unique is coming to Alba, too. The dilapidated building at 189 South Broadway will soon be Alba-Quirky, an artistic whimsical studio space and shop.  

Jan Thompson Noble moved to the area four years ago and is breathing new life into a once crumbling building on the square.

“I am turning chicken poop into chicken soup,” says Noble.  

The building was built in 1910 and has seen more than its share of changes. It has served as a restaurant and storage in the past among several other things. During the renovations, contractors discovered a back wall covered in graffiti and love notes. The first person from the area that was killed in World War Two even had written their name on the wall before being deployed.   

Half of the building is being dedicated to new living quarters for Noble, with the other half being used to bring in more business to Alba. Three offices being built will be leased by an insurance agency. Handicapped accessible restrooms will be in the back of the building, and the large central hallway will serve as an art gallery. It will be a venue for local artists to showcase their paintings, sculptures and other art work.

“I want local artists with original thoughts and dreams here,” says Noble.  

The front of the building will house a unique studio, workshop and store.   It will have an open, fish bowl effect, with large windows from floor to ceiling. It will be a place for people to stop by and see what Noble is working on. She may be refashioning clothes, making boas or painting shoes and boots, along with many other creations.

Noble excitedly says, “It’s going to be a fun place!”

Contractors are staying true to the building’s roots by reusing and refurbishing all they can of the original structure. The kitchen counter is the original butcher block that was in the building when it was a restaurant, and the reclaimed brick is being used as the kitchen backsplash and for the fireplace. Four original lights are also being used in the kitchen.  

Noble would like to have the names and years of previous owners engraved in bricks to be set as cornerstones at the entrance.

“I want to recognize every person who has had a hand in this Grand Lady,” she said.

She hopes to have construction complete by November with big plans for community connection including a dinner club and book club.

“This town is not dead,” says Noble. “We will keep the spirit alive!”

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